<![CDATA[rss-News]]> All Rights Reserved for The Cairo post <![CDATA[News]]>]]> 100 29 <![CDATA[PM receives report on ending patients' waiting list for surgeries]]>
The report stated that the university hospitals had performed 3714 surgeries in different specialties from July 6 to August 15, 2018.

Working hours were extended for all the medics at Ain Shams, Cairo, Mansoura, Zagazig, and Assuit university hospitals to include weekends in order to treat additional cases, it elaborated.

Madbouli said the country made the health and education services a top priority in its working plan, highlighting the coordination between the government and other bodies concerned in these sectors to put an end to the waiting lists of patients who need surgeries according to President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi's directives. ]]>
8/18/2018 5:08:24 PM
<![CDATA[Sisi ratifies law on combating IT crimes]]>
The law stipulates that the providers of communications and IT services should be committed to preserving and storing IT system record for 180 consecutive days.

It also states that the service provider should offer to the users or any governmental body concerned the data and information related to its name and address besides the data license to determine the party which it will be submitted to its supervision.

The law stipulates punishing those who commit crimes of violating the safety of networks and IT systems besides using without right communications and IT services.

It criminalizes illegal logging on a website, private account or IT system which are banned to enter in addition to hacking e-mails, websites, private accounts and the governmental IT systems.

The law was published in the official gazette.]]>
8/18/2018 4:34:57 PM
<![CDATA[Arab League secretary general mourns death of Kofi Annan]]>
In press statements, Spokesman for Secretary-General of Arab League Mahmoud Afifi said Abul Gheit expressed his sincere condolences to the family of Annan, Ghanaian government and people.

Afifi underlined that Abul Gheit sent a cable of condolences to Annan's wife and the Ghanaian government, expressing his appreciation for the great commitment shown by Annan in dealing with many international issues, especially those related to the developing nations and to finding solutions to major international crises and conflicts, during his tenure as Secretary-General of the United Nations.

Abul Gheit underscored that he met with Annan on several occasions during his tenure as a permanent representative of Egypt to the United Nations in New York, Afifi added. ]]>
8/18/2018 4:28:35 PM
<![CDATA[In pics: More heavy rains likely in India's Kerala as flood death toll jumps]]>
The weather office warned of more heavy "red" category rains on Saturday as tens of thousands of people were still stuck on the rooftops of houses and community centres. Rescue workers have yet to reach many flooded areas, some too narrow for boats to navigate.

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People trapped without food, water and electricity worried about being left without help as their phone batteries were dying. An adviser to the state's chief minister put the initial loss estimate at $4 billion.

"There are seven families in this apartment now. We're safe compared to many others, but we're cut off," said James Joseph Moolakkaat, owner of an agricultural business who lives in a 10-story building across the southwestern state's Periyar river.

"This is my second phone and to save power I have been turning data on and off intermittently. If this goes out, I will have some charge left in my laptop and then it will be incommunicado."

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was taken by helicopter over inundated farmland and villages, promised more helicopters, boats and other equipment needed to expand the rescue operation in the still unfolding emergency.

He said the Army, Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard were assisting disaster relief agencies in the rescue, and a total of 38 helicopters had been pressed into service along with a number of aircraft and ships to ferry resources.

"More helicopters, boats and other equipment are being sought and Modi promised to provide all of these as fast as possible," Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told journalists. "The air marshal in charge of the air operations said more helicopters are on the way."

According to a lawmaker in Pathanamthitta district, some 10,000 people were stranded and in grave danger unless they were rescued urgently.

A Reuters witness in Aluva town, nearly 250 km (155 miles)from state capital Thiruvananthapuram, said army helicopters airlifted up to 14 marooned residents, including children and elderly people from an apartment.

FOOD SHORTAGES

With hundreds of thousands of people converging in halls and auditoriums of schools, temples, churches, and mosques with little or no toilet facilities, people from less affected areas moved in to help those badly in need.

But some people in the relief camps were finding it difficult to access food and water. Videos on social media showed groups of people breaking open shops to take food.

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Chief Minister Vijayan has estimated that more than two million people have been forced to move into relief camps since the monsoon season brought torrential rains three months ago. He put the death toll from floods and landslides since the start of the rainy season at 324.

One of his advisers, Prabha Varma, told Reuters 186 people had died since Aug. 8, when the waters began to rise. She said the floods had destroyed 26,000 homes and damaged crops across as much as 40,000 hectares, with estimated losses of 277 billion rupees.

Modi declared initial assistance of 5 billion rupees ($71 million) and promised more later. He also assured that the federal government would send desperately needed grains, as storage in the state had been flooded and stocks destroyed.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum of the United Arab Emirates, where many Keralites work, said he had formed a committee to extend emergency assistance to the flood victims of the state, whose people he said "have always been and are still part of our success story". ($1 = 70.09 rupees)

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8/18/2018 4:08:12 PM
<![CDATA[4 k.g of voodoo drug seized in Cairo]]>
The drug dealer was caught in Shubra district with 4 kilograms of voodoo drug and firearms in his possession.

All the required legal measures were taken against the man. ]]>
8/18/2018 3:52:38 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt to open Rafah border for one day only]]>
Egyptian authorities also announced on Friday that Rafah border crossing between Egypt’s Arish and Palestine’s Gaza will be closed from both directions for five days running, starting Monday.

The decision to close it came on the occasion of Eid al-Adha celebrations due to start on Tuesday. ]]>
8/18/2018 3:04:52 PM
<![CDATA[Italy mourns victims of Genoa bridge collapse with state funeral]]>
On Tuesday a 200-metre section of the Morandi bridge in Genoa gave way in busy lunchtime traffic, killing at least 38 people.

The mass for 19 of the victims was held at the Exhibition and Trade Centre of the northern port city and led by the city's archbishop, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco.

But some of the victims' families boycotted the event and held their own private services, as a protest against the state, seen as negligent in its role of overseeing safety on the privately run bridge.

A car was found on Saturday morning by rescue workers under slabs of concrete. The fire brigade and the Genoa prefecture said it was "compatible" with one believed to carry a family of three. But the official death toll has not yet been revised.

The government has declared Saturday a national day of mourning and declared a state of emergency for Genoa, one of Italy's largest ports.

Members of the fire brigade, rescue teams and the police force were welcomed with applause as they entered the exhibition centre, where the caskets, including a small white one for a child, were lined up in front of a temporary altar.

"These things should not happen but unfortunately they still do. Now they're looking for someone to blame but dead people cannot come back," said Giuseppe Rondinelli, a friend of one of the victims, who was among the mourners.

Players of the city's two soccer teams, Genoa and Sampdoria, sat among the crowd, having refused to play matches this weekend in sign of respect. Relatives of the dead stood beside the coffins, adorned with white and yellow roses, some with their hands on the caskets.

Albanian flags were draped over two caskets and the Chilean flag on two others. Another was covered with soccer memorabilia.

"The collapse of the bridge was a gash in the heart of Genoa, it's a deep wound," the archbishop said in his homily.

Italy's head of state, President Sergio Mattarella, and Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte attended the ceremony as well as Transport Minister Danilo Toninelli.

A Genoa court will try to establish the exactly why the 51 year-old bridge collapsed, but experts said problems with concrete-encased cable stays were a possible cause.

The disaster has dragged toll-road operator Autostrade per l'Italia (ASPI), controlled by infrastructure group Atlantia , into a political storm. The firm manages the section of the A10 motorway linking Genoa to the French border.

"Now it is the time of grief.. but we must think about the conditions of the roads of our region and the security of our infrastructure because these victims cannot be followed by other victims," Ilaria Caprioglio, the mayor of the town of Savona, said ahead of the ceremony.

REVOKING CONCESSIONS

Italy's populist ruling coalition on Friday launched a formal procedure aimed at revoking concessions held by Autostrade to operate toll highways.

"Evidently someone did not do their job well in terms of ordinary and extraordinary maintenance. The concessionaire has faults that appear very grave," Toninelli said in an interview with La Stampa, adding that it was up to investigators to establish who was responsible.

The Transport Ministry has given Autostrade 15 days to show it has met all its contractual obligations, failing which Rome could consider it in breach of the terms of its concessions.

Toninelli said he would deploy all necessary resources to avoid further disasters and said he was preparing contingencies in case the concessions were revoked.

Autostrade, which operates 3,000 km of motorways in Italy, said on Saturday it would hold a news conference in Genoa after the funerals, the company's first public appearance since the disaster.

The group's chairman and chief executive officer would outline initiatives to support victims' families and those evacuated from their homes, as well as efforts to help traffic flow in the city, Autostrade added in a statement.]]>
8/18/2018 2:41:17 PM
<![CDATA[President Sisi congratulates Egyptian expatriates on Eid al-Adha ]]>
Egypt raises the degree of preparedness in all slaughterhouses across Egypt ahead of Eid al-Adha taking place from Aug. 20 - 24.

The Ministry of Agriculture has formed operation rooms at Egypt’s Veterinary Medicine Directorates to receive citizens’ complaints and intensify its monitoring of veterinary campaigns to the markets of cattle, sheep and goats.

The head of the Central Administration of Public Health and Veterinary Services at the Ministry of Agriculture, Hassan Al Jawini, told Egypt Today that slaughtering services will be available for free at the government’s slaughterhouses to prevent slaughtering in streets to maintain public health.

In the same context, Head of the Central Administration for Veterinary Quarantines Ahmed Abdel Karim said that several veterinary committees with experienced veterans are supervising the live animal imports for Eid al-Adha.

For his part, Parliamentarian Mohamed al-Damti said that the decision is not applicable due to the difficulty of censorship; adding that the decision requires awareness campaigns in the media as it is included under the category of community behavior.

“It is a positive decision, no doubt. It also protects the health of citizens from diseases and epidemics caused by the mixing of blood and bones with garbage," Parliamentarian Mamdouh al-Husseni said.

Husseni also said that most of the sacrifices that are slaughtered in the streets are not subject to medical supervision; no one knows whether the sacrifice is healthy or diseased. He pointed out that the “Salkhana” (the place allocated by the government for slaughter) is subject to strict medical supervision.

He stressed the need to start awareness campaigns to improve the culture of the sacrificial ceremony, pointing out that this phenomenon should be prevented in all the governorates not only Cairo. He added that most Gulf countries prevented citizens from slaughtering animals in the streets.

On the other hand, Parliamentarian Mohamed Salah Abu Humalia said that this decision is difficult to implement, noting that if officials control main streets, they will not able to reach the lanes.

]]>
8/18/2018 12:05:15 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt opens Rafah border crossing Sunday in both directions]]>
After it had been open for several weeks, the border was closed on Friday and Saturday. However, it will re-open on Sunday, according to a statement from the Egyptian government on Friday.

The Palestinian Embassy in Cairo announced on Friday in a statement that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas ordered the distribution of food and drinks to Palestinians stranded at the crossing on Friday, until the opening of the crossing on Sunday.

On Aug. 4, President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi ordered the opening of the Rafah border in order to ease the travelling procedure for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip seeking a Hajj Pilgrimage to Mecca.

For performing Hajj, Palestinian pilgrims have to cross Sinai’s Rafah border prior to their destination to Saudi Arabia’s Mecca via the Cairo International Airport.

Egypt Air is offering 12 flights from Cairo International Airport to Jeddah to transport 3,321 Palestinian pilgrims.

The Hajj, a five-day ritual retracing the journey of Prophet Mohammad 14 centuries ago, is among the religious duties able-bodied Muslims are required to take part in at least once in a lifetime.
]]>
8/18/2018 12:02:14 PM
<![CDATA[757 Egyptians return from Libya through Salloum Crossing border]]>
While 610 people among the returnees traveled legally to Libya, 147 people traveled illegally, according to MENA.

Nasr mentioned that travel procedures for 1,521 persons, including 265 Egyptians and 1,256 Libyans, have been finalized.

Marsa Matrouh governorate’s security directorate announced that it is always coordinating with the armed forces to control the routes, seeking the prevention of illegal immigration.

Despite such efforts, 353 Egyptians were arrested trying to illegally escape to Libya in July 2015.

Since the beginning of the Libyan insurgency against the regime of Muammar Gaddafi, Libyan borders have been troubled especially since the borders between Egypt and Libya are porous, and cross-border crimes are not uncommon.
]]>
8/18/2018 12:00:19 PM
<![CDATA[Italian media: death toll rises to 41 in bridge collapse]]>
Office of Genoa's prefect said it didn't immediately have official confirmation of the reports by ANSA news agency and other Italian news media Saturday that the bodies were found by rescuers overnight.

ANSA said the bodies were found inside a car smashed under a huge block of concrete from the collapse on Tuesday. It said they were three family members, including a child, who had been traveling for a vacation when their car, with about 30 other vehicles, plunged when the bridge gave way.

Two other people are believed to be still missing as rescue work continues. ]]>
8/18/2018 11:58:28 AM
<![CDATA[Your weather forecast guide during Eid al-Adha ]]>
The north coasts of the country are expected to witness good weather, with a slight rise in temperatures in parts of the country, and a slight decline in temperatures during the night.

The forecast expects fog to form early in the morning on the roads leading to the cities of the Canal and northern coasts.


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File Photo: Egyptian enjoys beaches during summer.


Generally, the climate during Eid allows citizens to go out and enjoy the parks, river Nile picnics, as well as the beaches overlooking the Red Sea and the Mediterranean.

The north coast of the country is expected to see highs of 31°C and lows of 29°C. The capital is set to witness a high of 36°C.

Weather in the cities along the Mediterranean coast of Alexandria and Marsa Matrouh will be fair, making them nice places for families to spend a pleasant weekend.

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A morning Selfie along the Mediterranean coast of Alexandria - Karem Abdel Aziz


The weather forecast for Aswan and Luxor will see highs of 40-42°C.

Sharm el-Sheikh and Hurghada are expected to see temperatures of 36-38°C.
Citizens are advised not to be exposed directly to the sun and are advised to stay away from poorly ventilated places. They are adviced to wear caps/hats at peak heat.
Eid al-Adha, also called the "The Sacrifice Feast", is an annual Islamic holiday celebrated worldwide. This year it is celebrated from Monday 20/08/2018 until Friday 24/08/2018.]]>
8/18/2018 11:58:13 AM
<![CDATA[Former UN Secretary - General Kofi Annan dies at 80: Reuters]]>
Annan, of Ghanaian nationality, died in hospital in Bern, Switzerland, in the early hours of Saturday, according to British news agency.

In 2001, Anan won the Nobel Peace Prize for humanitarian work and for having revitalized the UN.

Annan served two terms as U.N. Secretary-General in New York from 1997-2006 and retired to live in a Swiss village in the Geneva countryside. His 10-year-old foundation promotes good governance and transformation of African agriculture.

"In many ways, Kofi Annan was the United Nations. He rose through the ranks to lead the organization into the new millennium with matchless dignity and determination," U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, whom Annan had chosen to head the U.N. refugee agency, said in a statement.

As head of U.N. peacekeeping operations, Annan was criticised for the world body's failure to halt the genocide in Rwanda in the 1990s.

As U.N. boss he was linked to peace efforts to reunite the divided island of Cyprus, submitting a reunification blueprint which was rejected in a referendum by Greek Cypriots in 2004.

'NOT PERFECT'

He staunchly opposed the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 and later served as the first U.N. envoy at the start of Syria's war, but quit after world powers failed to fulfil their commitments, saying: "I lost my troops on the way to Damascus".

"The U.N. can be improved, it is not perfect but if it didn't exist you would have to create it," he told the BBC's Hard Talk during an interview for his 80th birthday last April, recorded at the Geneva Graduate Institute where he had studied.

"I am a stubborn optimist, I was born an optimist and will remain an optimist," Annan added.

Raila Odinga, Kenyan opposition leader and former prime minister, said on privately-owned Citizen TV: "We didn't expect Kofi to pass that abruptly. Kofi Annan is a man of integrity; a great African, a great leader of the world."

The Elders, a group of former leaders including Gro Harlem Brundtland and Mary Robinson, paid tribute to their inspiring chairman, noting his visits to South Africa and Zimbabwe in July.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, paid tribute to Annan as "humanity’s best example, the epitome, of human decency and grace".

Zeid, who has criticised major powers and other countries during his four-year term that ends later this month, said that whenever he felt "isolated and alone politically", he would go for long walks with Annan in Geneva.

"When I told him once how everyone was grumbling about me, he looked at me — like a father would look at a son — and said sternly: "You’re doing the right thing, let them grumble." Then he grinned!"]]>
8/18/2018 11:46:51 AM
<![CDATA[U.S. judge approves plan to reunite separated immigrant families]]>
The plan negotiated by the U.S. government and immigrant rights advocates marked the second stage of federal efforts to reunite 2,551 children ages 5 to 17 with their parents.

These families had been separated under President Donald Trump's now-abandoned "zero tolerance" policy toward illegal immigrants.

As of Thursday, 541 of the children remained separated and under care of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, while another 24 under age 5 also remained in federal care. More than 2,000 children have already been reunited with their parents.

The plan sets out processes to locate parents outside the country, assess their fitness as parents, and determine their intentions for their children.

It also includes provisions negotiated this week, including that the government arrange travel for reunited children and not impair their right to seek future asylum.

"The joint proposed plan is approved wholeheartedly by the court," U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw said at a hearing in San Diego attended by U.S. Department of Justice and American Civil Liberties Union lawyers.

Trump abandoned the separation policy on June 20 after widespread criticism at home and internationally.

Sabraw said he would reserve judgment on a disputed issue of whether removed parents could be reunited with their children in the United States, instead of their original countries, including parents who may want asylum for their children.

Sabraw has been overseeing the reunification process since ordering on June 26 that families be reunited.

In a related case, Sabraw on Thursday put an indefinite freeze on deporting families who were separated at the border, including those who have been reunited.

Lawyers for the families had argued that some parents may have unknowingly waived their reunification rights, and that children have a right to their parents' help in seeking asylum.

Sabraw, who was appointed to the bench by President George W. Bush, on Friday acknowledged the challenges in efficiently bringing parents and children back together.

"This is an enormous undertaking involving a situation of the government's own making, but we will never be able to come up with a process that is perfect or restores all rights, as if this incident never happened," he said. "All we can do is the best we can do under the present circumstances."]]>
8/18/2018 6:30:00 AM
<![CDATA[Egyptian actor’s wife confirms husband is on Interpol terror watch list]]>
In a one minute and a half video posted on her Facebook account, Ghada Naguib argued that the local media tackled her husband’s arrest in wrongful manner, explaining that he was placed on a list that includes individuals with the highest record of international terrorism.



Abdullah, a host with the Turkish-based Al-Sharq TV Channel, was added to the list on grounds of “being dangerous to international security,” added his wife, Naguib, on Friday.

Police stopped Abdullah in the district where he lives in Turkey and arrested him on account of overstaying his visa and being placed by the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) on the terror list.

Naguib went on to explain that Turkish authorities explained that Abdullah’s arrest occurred per law, and that it is unlikely for her husband to be deported to Egypt.
She concluded her video saying that she was promised by authorities in Turkey that her husband’s crisis will end soon on Friday.

The sources also revealed that a number of Muslim Brotherhood supporters mediated and asked the Turkish authorities to release Abdullah, according to media reports.

Who is Abdullah?

Abdullah is an Egyptian actor who appeared in many films and drama series, including “Al-Tareeq ela Eilat” (Way to Eilat), and “Layaly Al-Helmiya” (Helmiya Nights). He participated in the January 25 revolution in 2011 against ousted President Hosni Mubarak, and also in the June 30, 2013 revolution against the Muslim Brotherhood group.

However, he moved to Turkey to work in Al-Sharq channel that was launched in 2014. Abdullah appears in his TV program on Al-Sharq, attacking Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi’s policies.

A few days before the Egyptian presidential election in March, Egyptian opposition activist, Ramy Jan, returned from Turkey. He accused the Muslim Brotherhood of committing violations against him.

"I thought I was fighting with the oppressed side, I wanted to... ascertain the extent of the Brotherhood's grievance," he said. "But after a long journey from 2012 until 2018, and after dealing directly with them, I realized that these people only have hatred for Egypt.”

Al-Sharq and Mekameleen channels are Turkey-based institutions known for extremely opposing the Egyptian government. Staffs of the two channels are dedicated to reporting incidents against the state and analyzing them in a way that distorts the image of the Egyptian leadership. Moreover, they incite people to speak against the state.]]>
8/18/2018 6:10:00 AM
<![CDATA[1,000 Egyptian relatives of army, police, and victims of violent acts reach Mecca]]>
The pilgrims include the parents of the victims who lost their lives during the terrorist attack that hit Al Rawda village in Bir al-Abd city, North Sinai in Nov. 2017.

Colonel Tamer Refae, the military spokesman, published a video clip for the 1,000 pilgrims travelling from Cairo to Mecca.



In a statement, Minister of Islamic Affairs, Call and Guidance Sheikh Abdullatif bin Abdulaziz Al-Sheikh announced that this year the Kingdom is welcoming its guests from all over the world noting that thousands of male and female pilgrims have benefited from this program since it started 22 years ago.

Upon reaching Mecca, the program organizers arranged a welcome reception offering them flowers and Zamzam water celebrating their arrival.

Additionally, they provided them with room keys, mobile SIM cards and bags filled with all needed equipment for pilgrimage.

The pilgrims expressed their happiness and gratitude to King Salman who invited them in recognition of their sacrifice in defending and protecting their homeland.

The King stressed the need to ensure a peaceful and reassuring atmosphere during Hajj as part of his constant concern to serve Islam and Muslims. ]]>
8/18/2018 4:50:00 AM
<![CDATA[8 killed, 14 injured in car accident on Red Sea road]]>
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Dr. Badawi Said, director of the Red Sea Ambulance Facility, received a notification of a bus and a microbus collision on the Qusair-Marsa Alam road; he sent 10 ambulances to the accident location. He said the casualties were transferred to the Qusair hospital.

Police rushed to the scene to investigate the reasons behind the accident.


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Dr. Najla Shata, Secretary of the Ministry of Health in the Red Sea, went to Al Qusair Central Hospital to provide all necessary medical support for the injured.
Traffic officers moved to the accident’s location, to prevent any traffic jam from occurring and to remove the damaged vehicles from the road.

5,343 road traffic deaths in Egypt during 2016: CAPMAS

CAIRO - 2 June 2017: More than 5,000 people were killed in road accidents over the past year in Egypt, the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) said in a statement on Friday. CAPMAS issues a monthly statistical bulletin to present the latest data on vital economic, social, and demographic indicators.



More than 5,000 people were killed in road accidents during 2016 in Egypt, the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) said in a statement.

CAPMAS issues statistical bulletins to present the latest data on vital economic, social, and demographic indicators. The agency reported an increase in the number of car accidents from 14,548 accidents in 2015 to 14,710 in 2016.

At the same time, the number of road traffic deaths decreased from 6,203 in 2015 to 5,343 in 2016.

Thousands of Egyptians die on the road every year due to traffic accidents. The country is among the 10 states enrolled in a UN program that aims to half the rate of road deaths by 2020.

Since 2014, Egypt launched a number of projects and campaigns to monitor road safety; including building new roads, maintaining dilapidated bridges and carrying out random drug tests on drivers.

Horrible car crash kills 12 quarry workers in Minya

CAIRO - 19 July 2018: A number of 12 quarry workers died and 28 others were injured in Minya governorate, after a truck pulling a trailer collided with a microbus packed with workers. A truck loaded with cement hit a workers' vehicle pulled over in front of a restaurant in Minya, crashing into the restaurant and a house, according to the Health Ministry on Thursday.

]]>
8/18/2018 3:50:00 AM
<![CDATA[India flood crisis mounts as 324 confirmed dead]]>
Hundreds of troops and local fishermen are staging desperate rescue attempts with helicopters and boats across the southern state, which draws international tourists to its tropical hills and beaches.

Kerala has been battered by record monsoon rainfall this year and is "facing the worst floods in 100 years", chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said in a Twitter statement, adding that 324 lives had been lost so far.

With thousands still trapped, power and communication lines down and fresh alerts of further torrential rain, authorities warned of more trouble ahead and further deaths to come.

"We are deploying more boats and the army to ramp up rescue operations," senior state government official P.H. Kurian told AFP.

More than 30 military helicopters and 320 boats are attempting rescues across Kerala.

Authorities said thousands of people have been taken to safety so far but 6,000 more are still waiting for rescue.

Helicopters have also been dropping emergency food and water supplies, while special trains carrying drinking water have been sent to Kerala.

According to India's weather bureau, since the beginning of June more than 321 centimetres (126 inches) of rain has fallen on the hilly central Kerala district of Idukki, which is now virtually cut off from the rest of the state.

With no end in sight to the deluge, people all over the state of 33 million have made panic-stricken appeals on social media for help, saying they cannot make contact with rescue services.

"My family and neighbouring families are in trouble," wrote Ajo Varghese, a resident of the coastal city of Alappuzha, in a Facebook post that quickly went viral.

"No water and food. Not able to communicate from afternoon. Mobile phones are not reachable... Please help," he added.

- 'Extremely grave' -

Other messages have been sent from people trapped inside temples and hospitals as well as their homes.

The Kerala government has said it faces an "extremely grave" crisis and state chief minister Vijayan warned of a further rainfall hitting the battered region over the weekend. Strong winds have also been predicted for Saturday and Sunday.

The gates of dozens of dams and reservoirs across the state have been opened as water levels reach danger levels, inundating many other villages.

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in the stricken state on Friday night, Vijayan's office tweeted, with media reports saying the premier would undertake an aerial survey of the worst affected areas on Saturday.

North and central Kerala have been worst-hit by the floods with the international airport in the main city of Kochi shut until at least August 26.

At least 310,000 people displaced from across the state are taking shelter in more than 2,000 relief camps.

On top of tourist cancellations, Kerala's valuable rubber industry has been badly hit by the floods.

The government says 10,000 kilometres (6,000 miles) of Kerala roads have been destroyed or damaged, along with thousands of homes.

Reports said electricity supplies to more than half the state have been cut. The state power company said that only one million people were affected, however.

The home ministry announced separately that 868 people have been reported dead in seven Indian states including Kerala since the start of the monsoon in June.]]>
8/18/2018 1:30:00 AM
<![CDATA[Mexico will hold referendum on new airport: president-elect]]>
The anti-establishment leftist, who takes office on December 1, has infuriated the business community with his attacks on the sleek $13-billion project.

He says the new airport is a "bottomless pit" rife with corruption.

But business leaders say the country desperately needs to replace the capital's current airport, which is aging and overstretched.

"The plan is to provide the Mexican people all the relevant information, truthfully and objectively, so that we can all decide together on this important matter of national interest," Lopez Obrador told a press conference.

He said the referendum would be held in late October, and vowed the outcome would be "binding."

Lopez Obrador, widely known as "AMLO," won a landslide election victory on July 1 -- a resounding rejection of the two establishment parties that have governed Mexico for the past 89 years.

After clashing with the business community during his campaign, he has recently sought to strike a more conciliatory tone.

The airport project, which is already under construction east of the capital, will be an early litmus test for the incoming administration.

Mexico's richest man, the telecoms billionaire Carlos Slim, has said that "canceling the project would amount to canceling the economic growth of the country."

Lopez Obrador's pick for transportation minister, Javier Jimenez, said there would be two choices in the referendum: continue the project or cancel it.

If voters opt to continue it, the government could then decide to use a mix of public and private financing to save taxpayer money, he said.

If they vote to cancel it, the government would continue to use the existing airport and repurpose an old military airbase to serve as a second airport.

Canceling the project would cost the country around $5.2 billion in sunk costs, he said, warning of "a considerable impact on the 2019 federal budget" and a "possible negative impact on the financial markets."

Activists and residents of nearby communities have criticized the environmental impact of the project.

Mexico City's current airport has an official capacity of 32 million passengers per year, but handled 44 million passengers last year.]]>
8/18/2018 1:20:00 AM
<![CDATA[New bill to legalize private real estate publicity offices in Egypt]]>
Al-Batikhi explained that the bill is based on allowing private entities to set up real estate publicity offices, saving effort and time, stressing that with the approval of the bill, the pressure on the courts will be greatly reduced.

As for those who will be eligible to provide the service, he confirmed that the ministry of justice is responsible for the development of the executive regulations of the service and personnel to provide it.
]]>
8/18/2018 1:00:45 AM
<![CDATA[Turkey ready to respond if US imposes more sanctions]]>
A Turkish court on Friday turned down another appeal to free the pastor in the third such rejection, his lawyer said.

As Ankara sought to reassure markets after the lira went into a tailspin over the deepening spat, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin warned more sanctions would be on the way until Andrew Brunson was released.

Last week, US President Donald Trump said he had doubled the tariffs on aluminium and steel tariffs from Turkey, prompting Ankara to sharply hike tariffs on several US products.

On Friday, Turkey's Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan said to expect more of the same.

"We've already responded based on the World Trade Organization rules and will continue to do so," state-run Anadolu news agency quoted him as saying.

The nearly two-year detention of Brunson, who is being held on terror charges, has soured relations between the two NATO allies and sent the lira tumbling.

The lira, which earlier this week traded at well over seven to the dollar, rebounded slightly over the last three days but on Friday it lost over five percent of its value around 1250 GMT.

By closing time, it had fallen to 6.03 against the greenback after touching 6.3 at one point.

Amidst the currency's sharp decline, the S&P and Moody's ratings agencies each downgraded Turkey's debt a notch, and S&P projected the country would face a recession next year.

On Thursday, Trump said Turkey had "taken advantage of the United States for many years" and referred to Brunson as a "great patriot" who was being held "hostage".

"We will pay nothing for the release of an innocent man but we are cutting back on Turkey!" he tweeted.

The court in the western city of Izmir ruled that Brunson, who faces 35 years in jail if convicted, would remain under house arrest, his lawyer Cem Halavurt told AFP.

- 'United'-

US sanctions and the declining lira created panic in the markets but on the streets, many Turks appeared to support the government's retaliatory measures.

Muharrem Bozkurt sounded upbeat despite the lira crisis.

"As we are a country where patriotic sentiments are high, no matter how much the dollar increases, we will get over this," he told AFP.

Others agreed. "American sanctions will have no effect on us as long as we remain united," said another man, Ibrahim Aktar.

Can Buyuker, who works in an exchange bureau in a busy Istanbul neighbourhood, said both Trump and Erdogan were playing up to nationalist voters.

"Both men are seeking to increase their votes by creating an enemy. That's politics," he said.

The latest US announcement came after Turkish Finance Minister Berat Albayrak tried to soothe the markets during an unprecedented conference call with hundreds of foreign investors, insisting Turkey would emerge "stronger" from the currency crisis and would not need an IMF bailout.

- 'Moderately convincing'-

William Jackson, chief emerging markets economist at London-based Capital Economics said in a note that Albayrak gave a "moderately convincing performance".

But he suggested Turkish "policymakers only really seem to have done the minimum needed."

S&P said the downgrade of the debt rating to "B+" "reflects our expectation that the extreme volatility of the Turkish lira" which will undermine Turkey's economy.

"We forecast a recession next year. Inflation will peak at 22 percent over the next four months, before subsiding to below 20% by mid-2019."

Moody's likewise cited the weakening lira and downgraded Turkey's debt to Ba3, as well as "heightened concerns" for the central bank's independence and "the lack of a clear and credible plan" to address the causes of recent financial troubles.

The Fitch ratings agency described Turkey's policy response to the lira's deprecation as "incomplete" and "unlikely on its own to sustainably stabilise the currency and the economy".

Analysts say a sharp hike in interest rates is needed to stop the declining value of lira, but Ankara is opposed to any rate hike which would likely undercut growth.

Erdogan has remained defiant in the face of the crisis with Washington, saying Turkey could turn to new alternative markets.

Despite its economic woes, Turkey did this week find support from friendly Qatar, which promised to make a $15 billion direct investment in the country.

Erdogan has also held talks with the German and French leaders, a sign that Ankara is moving closer to Europe after several years of sharp tensions.

There have notably been unexpected moves in key legal cases that have been bones of contention with the EU, although Ankara always insists its judiciary operates independently of politics.

An Istanbul court on Wednesday allowed the release of Amnesty International's Turkey chair Taner Kilic, who spent more than a year in jail over alleged links to a 2016 coup bid.

The previous day two Greek soldiers held by Turkey since March for illegally crossing the border were also freed in a move warmly welcomed by Athens.]]>
8/18/2018 12:50:00 AM
<![CDATA[Fury clouds funeral plans for Italy bridge victims]]>
The collapse of the Morandi bridge, a decades-old viaduct that crumbled in a storm on Tuesday killing at least 38 people, has stunned and angered the country, with Italian media reporting that some outraged families would shun Saturday's official ceremonies.

Italy's government has blamed the operator of the viaduct for the tragedy and threatened to strip the firm of its contracts, while the country's creaking infrastructure has come under fresh scrutiny.

Authorities plan a state funeral service on Saturday at a hall in Genoa, coinciding with a day of mourning.

Relatives who gathered at the hall on Friday embraced and prayed over lines of coffins, many adorned with flowers and photographs of the dead.

But according to La Stampa newspaper, the families of 17 victims have refused to take part, while a further seven have yet to decide whether they will attend.

980bd71efb0db2ed95f8386c5e12b458ed55cbe7
Genoa's Morandi bridge buckled without warning on Tuesday, sending cars, trucks and huge chunks of concrete plunging 45 metres (150 feet) onto railway tracks below


"It is the state who has provoked this; let them not show their faces, the parade of politicians is shameful," the press cited the mother of one of four young Italians from Naples who died.

The father of another of the dead from Naples took to social media to vent his anger.

"My son will not become a number in the catalogue of deaths caused by Italian failures," said his grieving father, Roberto.

"We do not want a farce of a funeral but a ceremony at home."

- 10-20 people still missing -

Despite fading hopes of finding survivors, rescue workers said they had not given up as they resumed the dangerous operation to search through the unstable mountains of debris.

"Is there anyone there? Is there anyone there?" one firefighter shouted into a cavity dug out of the piles of concrete and twisted metal, in a video published by the emergency services.

Between 10 and 20 people are still missing, according to Genoa's chief prosecutor.

Ten people remain in hospital, six of them in a serious condition.

Hundreds of rescuers are using cranes and bulldozers to cut up and remove the biggest slabs of the fallen bridge, which slammed down onto railway tracks along with dozens of vehicles.

"We are trying to find pockets in the rubble where people could be -- alive or not," fire official Emanuele Gissi told AFP.

Officials say about 1,000 people in all are working on the disaster site, 350 of them firefighters.

- Grief and anger -

The populist government has accused infrastructure giant Autostrade per L'Italia of failing to invest in sufficient maintenance and said it would seek to revoke its lucrative contracts.

Interior Minister Matteo Salvini demanded that the company offer up to 500 million euros ($570 million) to help families and local government deal with the aftermath of the disaster.

The dead also include children, one as young as eight, and three Chileans and four French nationals.

The French nationals, all in their 20s, had travelled to Italy for a music festival, and other victims included a family setting off on holiday and a couple returning from their California honeymoon.

More than 600 people were evacuated from around a dozen apartments beneath the remaining shard of bridge.

On Thursday evening the first residents of some buildings in the affected area were allowed to return home, though others are too badly damaged to save.

- Infrastructure alarm -

The Morandi viaduct dates from the 1960s and has been riddled with structural problems for decades, leading to expensive maintenance and severe criticism from engineering experts.

Its collapse prompted fears over ageing infrastructure across the world.

Italy has announced a year-long state of emergency in the region.

Autostrade, which operates and maintains nearly half of Italy's motorways, estimates it will take five months to rebuild the bridge.

It denies scrimping on motorway maintenance, saying it has invested over one billion euros a year in "safety, maintenance and strengthening of the network" since 2012.

ef3567e98e711569131c7057fd41af58370298fa
Hundreds of rescuers are using cranes and bulldozers to cut up and remove the biggest slabs of fallen bridge


Atlantia, the holding company of Autostrade which is 30 percent owned by iconic fashion brand Benetton, has warned that the government would have to refund the value of the contract, which runs until at least 2038.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said Autostrade "had the duty and obligation to assure the maintenance of this viaduct and the security of all those who travelled on it."

The disaster is the latest in a string of bridge collapses in Italy, where infrastructure generally is showing the effects of a faltering economy.

Senior government figures have also lashed out at austerity measures imposed by the European Union, saying they restrict investment.

But the European Commission said it had given Rome billions of euros to fix infrastructure.]]>
8/18/2018 12:46:33 AM
<![CDATA[Solidarity Ministry pays LE1.1bn under Takaful, Karama]]>
This sum was distributed through 3,800 post offices nationwide. The number of families benefiting from this program this month amounted to 2.25 million families, approximately 10 million individuals.

The program includes 5,630 villages in all the governorates of the country, while about 72% of the program budget is directed to the governorates of Upper Egypt, with Minya receiving the largest sum in August, up to LE148 million, followed by Sohag with LE124 million, and Asyut with LE114 million.

Takaful and Karama is a cash transfer programs that comes as part of a social protection net implemented by the government to protect the poor from the negative effects of Egypt’s reform program.

The aim of the move is to soften the effects of the austerity measures on those with limited incomes.

In 2015, Egypt launched the Takaful and Karama program to provide direct financial support to the neediest people in different villages. The budget allocation of the project was LE 4 billion in 2016.

Takaful and Karama program was funded by more than LE10 million from the state’s budget in the fiscal year 2017/2018.
]]>
8/18/2018 12:24:24 AM
<![CDATA[Militia threat hampers Ebola fight in Congo as disease kills 47]]>
Over 2,000 people have been potentially exposed to the virus that began in North Kivu province, but the violence means officials cannot be sure if they have identified all the chains by which it is spreading in the east of the vast country.

"We don't know if we are having all transmission chains identified. We expect to see more cases as a result of earlier infections and these infections developing into illness," WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic told a news briefing in Geneva.

"The worst-case scenario is that we have these security blind spots where the epidemic could take hold that we don't know about," he said.

Congo's Health Ministry said confirmed and probable cases numbered 87 in total, including 47 deaths. About 2,150 people have been identified as contacts of people infected with the disease, which causes fever, vomiting and diarrhoea.

Health workers "have a huge amount of work to do to follow up on these contacts, to continue the investigations and the active search for cases, as well as to prepare the ground for the vaccination teams," the ministry said in a statement late on Friday.

The outbreak is spreading across the lush farmlands of eastern Congo. Its epicentre is the town of Mangina in North Kivu province and it has already reached neighbouring Ituri province.

Congo has experienced 10 Ebola outbreaks since the virus was discovered on the Ebola River in 1976, altogether killing some 900 people.

An epidemic between 2013 and 2016 killed more than 11,300 people in West Africa.

The United Nations children's agency UNICEF said an unusually high proportion of the people affected in this outbreak were children.

Two children have already died from the disease, and centres in Beni and Mangina were treating six children infected by the disease or suspected to be.

UNICEF said it had also identified 53 orphaned children who have lost their parents to Ebola.

"The impact of the disease on children is not limited to those who have been infected or suspected," Gianfranco Rotigliano, the UNICEF representative in Congo, said in a statement.

"Many children are faced with the illness or death of their parents and loved ones, while some children have lost large parts of their families and become isolated. These children urgently need our support".

The WHO said more than 500 people including health workers have been vaccinated against the disease. It had deployed more than 100 experts to Mangina and Beni towns to oversee tracing, vaccination and safe burials.

There were, however, "red zones" near Mangina that aid workers could not enter for security reasons, Jasarevic said.]]>
8/18/2018 12:21:04 AM
<![CDATA[U.S. imposes sanctions on Myanmar military over Rohingya crackdown]]>
The sanctions by the Treasury Department marked the toughest U.S. action so far in response to Myanmar's crackdown on the Rohingya minority, which started last year and has driven more than 700,000 people into neighboring Bangladesh and left thousands of dead behind.

But the Trump administration did not target the highest levels of Myanmar's military and also stopped short of calling the anti-Rohingya campaign crimes against humanity or genocide, which has been the subject of debate within the U.S. government.

The measures were announced as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, according to U.S. officials, prepares to issue the findings of an intensive U.S. investigation of alleged atrocities by Myanmar authorities against the Rohingya in Rakhine state.

The release of the report, compiled from interviews at refugee camps in Bangladesh, is expected to be around the August 25 one-year anniversary of the bloody crackdown.

“Burmese security forces have engaged in violent campaigns against ethnic minority communities across Burma, including ethnic cleansing, massacres, sexual assault, extrajudicial killings, and other serious human rights abuses," said Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Sigal Mandelker, using an alternative name for Myanmar.

"Treasury is sanctioning units and leaders overseeing this horrific behavior as part of a broader U.S. government strategy to hold accountable those responsible for such wide-scale human suffering,” Mandelker said. The sanctions were imposed on military commanders Aung Kyaw Zaw, Khin Maung Soe and Khin Hlaing and border police commander Thura San Lwin, in addition to the 33rd and 99th Light Infantry Divisions. The measures call for freezes of any U.S. assets the individuals hold, a prohibition on Americans doing business with them as well as bans on travel to the United States.

A Reuters special report in June gave a comprehensive account of the roles played by the two infantry divisions in the offensive against the Rohingya.

The military in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, also known as Burma, has denied accusations of ethnic cleansing and says its actions were part of a fight against terrorism.

Myanmar's embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

"LONG OVERDUE STEP"

Critics have accused President Donald Trump of being slow in his response to the Rohingya crisis. Human rights groups noted that while Friday's sanctions list included generals, Myanmar's powerful army chief, Min Aung Hlaing, was spared.

Rich Weir, Myanmar researcher at Human Rights Watch, called the sanctions "an important but long overdue step."

"The avoidance of the top military leaders is striking," he added. "The likelihood that they did not know what was happening is close to infinitesimal."

In the Treasury statement, Mandelker said: "The U.S. government is committed to ensuring that Burmese military units and leaders reckon with and put a stop to these brutal acts."

In November, following the lead of the United Nations and the European Union, then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson declared that the Rohingya crisis constituted "ethnic cleansing," a designation that increased pressure on its civilian leader, Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

Pompeo has yet to decide whether, once he releases the State Department's Rohingya atrocities report, to ratchet up characterization of the violence as crimes against humanity or genocide or to avoid any such label, the officials told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Such terms could commit the United States to stronger punitive measures or help set the stage for charges at the International Criminal Court in the Hague. Some within the administration worry that this could complicate Suu Kyi's relationship with the powerful military and push Myanmar closer to China, Washington's regional rival.

Until Friday's announcement, the United States had only sanctioned a single Myanmar commander and had scaled back already-limited bilateral military ties.

On Friday, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell, a Democrat from Washington state, called on social media companies to better protect vulnerable communities by regulating hate speech on their platforms, citing a Reuters report that found more than 1,000 examples of content published on Facebook that attacked the Rohingya and other Muslims in Myanmar. ( https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/myanmar-facebook-hate/ )

"Facebook and other technology companies must find the means to address these problems head on and invest in solutions," said Cantwell in a statement.

Two Reuters reporters, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, are on trial in Myanmar on charges of violating a state secrets law after being arrested in December while reporting on the massacre of 10 Rohingya men. Both have pleaded not guilty and have told the court how they were "trapped" by police officials who planted documents on them.

This month Pompeo called for the immediate release of the two reporters. ]]>
8/18/2018 12:10:00 AM
<![CDATA[Trump defends ex-aide Manafort as jury weighs verdict]]>
Manafort's trial in federal court in Alexandria is the first stemming from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's 15-month-old investigation of Russia's role in the 2016 U.S. election.

U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis, presiding over the case, said he personally had received threats related to the trial and was being protected by U.S. marshals. The judge also rejected a motion by some news organizations to make public the names of the jurors, saying he was concerned about the jury's "peace and safety."

"I had no idea this case would excite these emotions ... I don't feel right if I release their names," the judge said.

In an indication that the six women and six men of the jury may not reach a verdict on Friday, they sent the judge a note asking that they be permitted to finish their work for the day at 5 p.m. (2100 GMT) because one juror has a social engagement.

In remarks to reporters at the White House, Trump again called Mueller's investigation, which had cast a cloud over his presidency, a "rigged witch hunt," but sidestepped a question about whether he would issue a presidential pardon for Manafort.

"I think the whole Manafort trial is very sad, when you look at what's going on there. I think it's a very sad day for our country," Trump said.

"He worked for me for a very short period of time. But you know what? He happens to be a very good person. And I think it's very sad what they've done to Paul Manafort."

Trump made his comments while the jurors deliberated behind closed doors on Friday morning. The jurors met for about seven hours on Thursday without reaching a verdict on 18 criminal counts with which Manafort is charged.

As president, Trump has the power to pardon Manafort on the federal charges. He has already issued a number of pardons, including for a political ally, former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio. Asked by a reporter on Friday if he would pardon Manafort, Trump said, "I don't talk about that now."

The charges largely predate Manafort's five months working on Trump's campaign during a pivotal period in the 2016 presidential race, including three months as campaign chairman.

Manafort, 69, faces five counts of filing false tax returns, four counts of failing to disclose his offshore bank accounts and nine counts of bank fraud. If convicted on all counts, he could spend the rest of his life in prison.

Jurors in the trial are not sequestered but have been instructed not to watch news reports or talk to others about the matter.

It is unusual for a U.S. president to make comments about the character of a defendant in an ongoing trial and criticize the legal proceedings. But it was not the first time Trump has weighed in since the Manafort trial began on July 31. On the first day the jury heard testimony, Trump said Manafort had been treated worse than 1920s gangster Al Capone.

Trump has made previous comments criticizing various federal judges and courts and has been harshly critical of Mueller. On Friday, he accused Mueller of having "a lot of conflicts," but said the special counsel should be allowed to finish a report on Russia's role in the 2016 election.

'HUMAN NATURE'

Prohibitions on jurors reading about a case they are deciding are difficult to enforce in the smartphone era, said Jens David Ohlin, a professor of criminal law at Cornell University.

"We trust jurors to be on their best behavior and wall themselves off but that kind of goes against human nature," Ohlin said.

"I think it was very ill-advised for the president to do this. He should have kept his mouth shut," Ohlin added.

The prosecution could request a mistrial, but such a maneuver was very unlikely, Ohlin said.

Prosecutors accused Manafort of hiding from U.S. tax authorities $16 million in money he earned as a political consultant for pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine to fund an opulent lifestyle and then lying to banks to secure $20 million in loans after his Ukrainian income dried up and he needed cash.

The jury sent a note on Thursday afternoon asking Ellis four questions including one about defining "reasonable doubt." In a criminal case, a jury must find a defendant guilty "beyond a reasonable doubt." ]]>
8/18/2018 12:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[World pays tribute to Aretha Franklin]]>
The 76-year-old music legend, who died on Thursday, influenced generations of singers with unforgettable hits including "Respect" (1967), "Natural Woman" (1968) and "I Say a Little Prayer" (1968).

The 18-time Grammy award winner cemented her place in music history with a powerful, bell-clear voice that stretched over four octaves, her generations of hits spanning from soul and R&B, to gospel and pop.

On Friday, fans continued to pay their respects, leaving mementos outside her father's New Bethel Baptist Church and queuing outside the Motown Museum, which will play her music on loudspeakers through the weekend and is hosting a book of condolence.

"It's just been amazing. Of course we're all very saddened and heartbroken with the thought of her passing, but people are flocking to the museum," general manager Sheila Spencer told AFP.

"She performed at our gala for our 20th anniversary and it was a phenomenal, phenomenal performance. So we're just so honored."

Some Detroit media reported that Franklin's family and the city were drawing up arrangements for a four-day celebration of her life, during which her body would lie in repose for two days, open to the public.

Her funeral will be held at Greater Grace Temple, a spokeswoman for the church confirmed to AFP, with the date and final arrangements still being worked out.

- 'Unifying' -

"It's difficult to conceive of a world without her. Not only was she a uniquely brilliant singer, but her commitment to civil rights made an indelible impact on the world," tweeted singer Barbra Streisand.

"I'm sitting in prayer for the wonderful golden spirit Aretha Franklin," said Motown legend Diana Ross, while former Beatle Paul McCartney called her "the Queen of our souls."

Franklin passed away Thursday morning surrounded by her family and loved ones at her Detroit home following a long battle with pancreatic cancer, her family announced in a statement issued by her publicist.

Fred Zilian, a university teacher from Rhode Island on a reunion with classmates from the US military academy West Point, danced with his wife to an Aretha track playing at the Motown Museum.

"I want to be sad because we lost Aretha Franklin, but I had to go in the street and dance," he told AFP, remembering how he loved her music and those of black artists who recorded at Motown in the 1960s.

"The country was riven by race relations tension and we, you can see, are all white -- we didn't give a damn," he said. "It's really a statement about the unifying effect that music can have."

In 1987, Franklin became the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2010, Rolling Stone magazine put her at the top of its list of the 100 greatest singers of all time, male or female.

She performed for several presidents, including at the 2009 inauguration of Barack Obama, the country's first African-American head of state.

- 'Divine' -

Obama and his wife Michelle paid heartfelt tribute to the woman who they said "helped define the American experience."

"Every time she sang, we were all graced with a glimpse of the divine," the Obamas said.

US President Donald Trump said the singer "brought joy to millions of lives and her extraordinary legacy will thrive and inspire many generations to come."

Franklin -- who was widely known by only her first name, in true diva style -- rose from singing gospel in her father's church to regularly topping rhythm and blues and pop charts in the 1960s and 1970s.

Other than "Respect" -- her powerful cover of the Otis Redding tune that became a feminist anthem and her calling card -- Franklin had dozens of Top 40 singles, according to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The singer lived in Detroit -- the Motor City, home of Motown -- most of her life.

In 2005, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest award for a US civilian, by then-president George W. Bush.

In 2010, she suffered serious health problems, but continued to perform until last year, her last public performance in November 2017 for the Elton John AIDS Foundation in New York.]]>
8/18/2018 12:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Upon Salman invitation, Egyptian terror victims' relatives in Mecca to perform Hajj]]>
The pilgrims include the parents of the victims who lost their lives during the terrorist attack that hit Al Rawda village in Bir al-Abd city, North Sinai in Nov. 2017.

Colonel Tamer Refae, the military spokesman, published a video clip for the 1,000 pilgrims travelling from Cairo to Mecca.



In a statement, Minister of Islamic Affairs, Call and Guidance Sheikh Abdullatif bin Abdulaziz Al-Sheikh announced that this year the Kingdom is welcoming its guests from all over the world noting that thousands of male and female pilgrims have benefited from this program since it started 22 years ago.

Upon reaching Mecca, the program organizers arranged a welcome reception offering them flowers and Zamzam water celebrating their arrival.

Additionally, they provided them with room keys, mobile SIM cards and bags filled with all needed equipment for pilgrimage.

The pilgrims expressed their happiness and gratitude to King Salman who invited them in recognition of their sacrifice in defending and protecting their homeland.

The King stressed the need to ensure a peaceful and reassuring atmosphere during Hajj as part of his constant concern to serve Islam and Muslims.
]]>
8/17/2018 4:42:42 PM
<![CDATA[Turkish court rejects U.S. pastor Brunson's appeal for release]]>
Brunson, an Evangelical pastor residing in the coastal province of Izmir, is standing trial in Turkey over terrorism charges. His case now lies at the heart of a diplomatic crisis between Turkey and the United States that has prompted a crash of Turkey's lira currency.

The lira, which has lost some 40 percent of its value this year, weakened beyond 6.21 against the U.S. dollar after the news, from 6.04 beforehand.]]>
8/17/2018 2:27:48 PM
<![CDATA[Turkish warships harass Cypriot fishing boat in intl. waters]]>
Aristos Aristidou, the owner of the fishing boat, told Cyprus News Agency (CNA) that the fishing trawler was in international waters, 16 nautical miles off Turkey’s shores, northern of Apostolos Andreas when two Turkish warships harassed it and asked the captain to leave the area.

“The captain contacted me at about 0200 hours (2300 GMT) and I then asked him to move away to 24 nautical miles (off Turkey’s shores) and to remain in international waters,” Aristidou said.

He added that the Turkish ships approached the vessel again at 4 am and threatened to tow the boat and arrest everyone on board if they did not leave.]]>
8/17/2018 1:31:35 PM
<![CDATA[Pentagon postpones Trump's military parade planned for November]]>
"We originally targeted November 10, 2018 for this event but have now agreed to explore opportunities in 2019," Defense Department Spokesman Colonel Rob Manning said in a statement.

A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it was unclear exactly what caused the postponement but the increased cost of the event had caused concern and could be one reason.

The parade to honor U.S. military veterans and commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War One could cost more than $90 million, the U.S. official said, citing provisional planning figures that were nearly three times an earlier White House estimate.

The official said the cost estimate of about $92 million had not yet been approved by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and could still be changed and more options could be included.

In February, Trump asked the Pentagon to explore a parade in celebration of American troops, after the Republican president marveled at the Bastille Day military parade he attended in Paris last year.

Earlier this year, the White House budget chief said the parade would cost U.S. taxpayers between $10 million and $30 million.

It was not immediately clear why the recent cost estimate was so much higher than the earlier one, and what exactly it included.

A Pentagon memo from March said the Washington parade route would have a "heavy air component at the end of the parade."

"Include wheeled vehicles only, no tanks - consideration must be given to minimize damage to local infrastructure," the memo said.

Critics say the government should not spend money on a costly display of troops and weapons when the Pentagon is struggling to cover the expenses of training, support and personnel.

The District of Columbia Council had ridiculed the idea of a parade on Pennsylvania Avenue, the 1.2-mile (1.9-km) stretch between the Capitol and the White House that is also the site of the Trump International Hotel.

Military parades in the United States are generally rare. Such parades in other countries are usually staged to celebrate victories in battle or showcase military might.

In 1991, tanks and thousands of troops paraded through Washington to celebrate the ousting of President Saddam Hussein's Iraqi forces from Kuwait in the Gulf War.]]>
8/17/2018 12:56:00 PM
<![CDATA[Yemeni government, Houthis invited to UN's Sept 6 peace talks]]>
U.N. Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths is trying to negotiate an end to the three-year conflict, which has killed more than 10,000 people and pushed Yemen to the verge of starvation.

"I can confirm the office of Special Envoy has sent invitations to the government of Yemen and to Ansarullah," U.N. spokeswoman Alessandra Vellucci told a Geneva news briefing. ]]>
8/17/2018 12:34:27 PM
<![CDATA[Fair Climate over Egypt’s North Coasts on Friday, Cairo 35°C]]>
Weather will be hot in other parts of the country, with a slight decline in temperatures at night.

Clouds will be low in northern Egypt. Winds are moderate northeasterly, active in the Gulf of Suez and the Red Sea, which may cause disturbance in navigation.

The Mediterranean Sea’s wavelength will be between light to mild, with 1.5 meters to two meters and northwesterly surface winds.

The Red Sea waves will be moderate to disturbed, with their lengths reaching two to 2.5 meters and northwesterly surface winds.



In the below lines, we display the expected temperature (in degrees Celsius) across some of Egypt's governorates:

Cairo: 35°C - 25 °C

Alexandria: 32°C - 26°C

Luxor: 42°C - 26°C

Aswan: 43°C - 28°C

Qena: 40°C - 26°C

Hurghada: 38°C - 28°C

Sharm El Sheikh: 38°C - 29°C

Al Minya: 37°C - 24°C

Suez: 34°C - 24°C

Halayeb: 34°C - 28°C

Shalateen: 36°C - 27°C]]>
8/17/2018 12:16:23 PM
<![CDATA[Sarcastic blogger Islam Refae “Khorm” released on bail]]>
The defendants in the case face accusations of joining an outlawed group (the Muslim Brotherhood group) and disseminating false news that harms national security. According to media reports, there are 63 defendants in the case.

Refae is a Twitter blogger who has about 74,000 followers. He is known for posting sarcastic tweets using nasty slang terms and ethically unacceptable photos for Arab culture. Khorm’s arrest last November stirred anger from his followers.

Others defendants in this case include Mohamed Al-Qasas, deputy chairman of Strong Egypt Party founded in 2012.The party is headed by Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh who is currently imprisoned and placed on the terror list by the Egyptian government.

On Monday, the Cairo criminal court ordered the sentence of Qasas for 45 days. According to judicial sources, the State Security Prosecution decided to arrest and detain Egyptian activist Ghada Nageeb’s two brothers over the same accusations.

Nageeb is an opposition activist whose writings extremely criticize the Egyptian government. She is also the wife of Hisham Abdullah, an Egyptian actor and TV presenter in the Turkey-based Al-Sharq TV known for supporting former Muslim Brotherhood regime.

The defendants of the case known in media as “Mekameleen 2” were arrested after investigations asserted that the Muslim Brotherhood had established a media wing following the June 30 revolution in 2013 which ousted the MB-affiliated former President Mohamed Morsi.

The media wing consisted of Facebook pages and other media channels, some of them funded by the MB elements, with the aim of disseminating false news about the situation in Egypt, according to the investigation.]]>
8/17/2018 12:14:17 PM
<![CDATA[Rights groups condemn Kabul school blast as outrage grows]]>
The Islamic State-claimed blast hit an education centre in a Shiite area of western Kabul where students were studying for college entrance exams.

The attack was just one of the most shocking in a blood-soaked week across Afghanistan that has left security forces and civilians reeling.

Two gunmen attacked an intelligence training centre in Kabul Thursday, firing on security forces for several hours before they were killed, police spokesman Hashmat Stanikzai said, adding that there were no other casualties.

Thursday's attack was also claimed by the Islamic State via their Amaq propaganda service.

In addition to the IS attacks, Taliban militants also delivered high-profile, demoralising blows in the strategic city of Ghazni -- which they attacked last week, forcing security forces backed by US air power to struggle for days to push them out -- and in Faryab, where they captured a northern base, killing at least 17 soldiers.

Security forces in Afghanistan, beset by desertions and killings, have suffered staggering losses since US-led NATO ended its combat mission in the country in 2014.

The week's violence has raised questions about their ability to hold off the resurgent Taliban.

But civilians have long taken the brunt of the violence in Afghanistan -- especially in Kabul, a target of both the Taliban and IS -- and Wednesday's attack on the school was branded a "war crime" by Amnesty International.

The majority of the victims were children, most aged between 16 and 18, authorities said, and were studying for their university entrance exams.

Amnesty warned it proved "beyond any doubt that Afghanistan and, in particular, its capital Kabul, are not safe", and said European countries must stop returning Afghan refugees to the war-torn country.

UNICEF, meanwhile, branded the attack "deplorable" and called for parties on all sides of the conflict to protect children.

Outrage was also growing on social media, where Afghans condemned the attack and angrily denounced those behind it -- as well as the government for failing to protect them.

Facebook user Ramazan Ali Ramazan described the victims as an "asset" to the country.

"Death and hatred to this government and filthy terrorist that everyday they are killing innocent Afghans," he added.

- 'They are killing us' -

Families of the dead held a mass funeral Thursday where mourners wept and clutched the wooden coffins.

An industrial-sized digger helped soften the arid ground for the fresh graves as men removed rocks from the soil with pickaxes.

Mourners decried the unrelenting bloodshed, while others dismissed murmurings of possible ceasefires and peace negotiations between the government and the Taliban, even though the attack was claimed by IS.

"Death to your ceasefire and death to your ghost peace talks," cried one of the funeral attendees. "They are killing our educated people and every day they are killing us."

The surge in violence comes just weeks after Afghans marked an unprecedented country-wide ceasefire between the Taliban and government forces in June, offering temporary relief to civilians.

The brief respite sparked hopes the truce could clear the way for talks to end the nearly 17-year-old conflict.

However the devastating attacks across the country in recent days have led many to question how such negotiations could move ahead.

"Everyday we are witnessing deadly attacks in Kabul and other major cities. So, I believe the Taliban do not believe in peace talks," said shopkeeper Shahenshah Shahin in Kabul.

Analysts have suggested the Taliban may be trying to shore up its position before any potential negotiations by proving they can hit government installations at will.

"The Taliban will try to have an upper hand during talks, so we can't rule out more attacks until a ceasefire," said Taliban expert Rahimullah Yusufzai.

"It's the fighting season and the Taliban will want to rack up victories before winter."

The group has been conducting blistering attacks on security forces across Afghanistan, including the massive, days-long onslaught on Ghazni during the past week.

Small pockets of Ghazni began opening up to humanitarian aid Thursday, while partial mobile service returned after telecommunications infrastructure and government buildings were destroyed during the onslaught.

The UN has warned of unconfirmed reports suggesting up to 150 civilians might have been killed in the fighting.

Militant attacks and suicide bombings were the leading causes of civilian deaths in the first half of 2018, according to a recent UN report.]]>
8/17/2018 4:30:00 AM
<![CDATA[Vatican feels "shame and sorrow" over U.S. grand jury report on abuse]]>
The grand jury on Tuesday released the findings of the largest-ever investigation of sex abuse in the U.S. Catholic Church, finding that 301 priests in the state had sexually abused minors over the past 70 years.

In a statement, Vatican spokesman Greg Burke also said the Catholic Church "must learn hard lessons from its past", and that the Vatican vowed to hold abusers and enablers accountable.

The statement stressed the "need to comply" with civil law, including mandatory reporting of abuse against minors and said Pope Francis understands how "these crimes can shake the faith and spirit of believers" and that he wanted to "root out this tragic horror".

Earlier on Thursday, U.S. Roman Catholic bishops called for a Vatican-led probe backed by lay investigators into allegations of sexual abuse by former Washington Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who resigned last month.]]>
8/17/2018 2:20:00 AM
<![CDATA[India warns of 'extremely grave' crisis as flood toll rises]]>
Helicopters airlifted stranded victims from rooftops and dam gates were thrown open as incessant torrential rain brought fresh havoc to the southern state that is a major international tourist draw.

Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the state now faces an "extremely grave" crisis with more downpours predicted. The region's main airport has been ordered closed until August 26.

The state, famed for palm-lined beaches at resorts such as Bekal and tea plantations, is always battered by the annual monsoon but this year's damage has been the worst in almost a century.

The death toll had jumped to 106 late Thursday, a state disaster management official told AFP.

Media reports said up to 30 more people were feared dead in landslides and rivers that burst their banks, flooding scores of villages.

At least eight people were killed when an irrigation dam burst and a landslide hit three houses in the town of Nenmara, Palakkad district, authorities said.

Vijayan said 80 dams have reached danger levels and appealed to the population not to ignore evacuation orders.

Army and coastguard helicopters, lifeboats and navy diving teams have been brought to the stricken state where an extra 540 troops were deployed Thursday. More are due in coming days.

The army said helicopters carried out scores of rescue operations. They also dropped food and water and appealed for victims to stand in open fields or on rooftops away from trees so helicopters were not damaged during rescue efforts.

One state official said more than 1,330 camps have been opened across Kerala and 147,000 people had sought shelter by Thursday evening.

"At least 6,500 people are stranded in different parts of Kerala and the situation in three districts is particularly grim," a separate state disaster management official told AFP.

Floods have also hit other states, including Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh, where eight people at a popular picnic spot were swept away by a sudden surge of water.

- 'Please help' -

In Kerala families could be seen paddling boats provided by the military, while in some areas families commandeered local wooden boats to ferry themselves to safety.

The government says 10,000 kilometres (6,000 miles) of Kerala roads have been destroyed or damaged and hundreds of homes lost.

It has ordered the opening of gates at 34 dams and reservoirs where water levels reached danger levels.

Indian television broadcast images of cars and livestock washed away in the floods while men and women waded through chest-high waters that flowed through village streets.

Many used social media to send rooftop distress calls, some with video.

A member of parliament from Kerala, Shashi Tharoor, shared on Twitter an appeal for help made by a woman who said she was trapped on the third floor of a temple with phone batteries running out.

"Over 36 people including myself and family stranded here. Phone network and charge finishing please help in any possible way," Devika Sreekumar said in the Facebook post.

Greeta Mathew pleaded for help for her family in a Twitter message.

"Anybody reading this,PLZ HELP. My relatives are stuck on the upper floor of house with an 8 months pregnant lady, in Edayaranmula, Pathanamthitta dist. All rescue control rooms' numbers busy. No rescue team reached yet. No contact with family since last evening," she said.

North and central Kerala has been worst hit by the floods but all 14 of the state's districts have been put on "red alert" as heavy rain is predicted for several days.

In the main city of Kochi, the international airport will remain closed until at least August 26, authorities said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Thursday on Twitter that he has ordered the defence ministry "to further step up the rescue and relief operations across the state. Praying for the safety and well-being of the people of Kerala".]]>
8/17/2018 1:50:00 AM
<![CDATA[Ex-CIA boss says he will not be scared into silence by Trump]]>
Retired Navy Admiral William McRaven, who oversaw the 2011 Navy SEAL operation that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, responded to Trump's move by praising Brennan and asking the president to revoke his security clearance as well.

In a statement on Wednesday, Trump said he revoked Brennan's authorization for making what he called "unfounded and outrageous allegations" about his administration and was evaluating whether to strip clearances from other former top officials. Brennan and the others have criticized the Republican president.

Trump later told the Wall Street Journal his decision was connected to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and alleged collusion by his campaign.

"I call it the rigged witch hunt, (it) is a sham," Trump told the newspaper in an interview on Wednesday. "And these people led it.

"It's something that had to be done," Trump added.

The president has denied any collusion. Russia has said it did not interfere, contrary to U.S. intelligence agencies' findings.

Brennan, who led the CIA under Democratic President Barack Obama, on Thursday called Trump's denials "hogwash" and vowed not to be silenced.

"The only questions that remain are whether the collusion that took place constituted criminally liable conspiracy, whether obstruction of justice occurred to cover up any collusion or conspiracy, and how many members of 'Trump Incorporated' attempted to defraud the government by laundering and concealing the movement of money into their pockets," Brennan wrote in an opinion article in the New York Times.

'REVOKE MY SECURITY CLEARANCE'

Former U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, another critic whose clearance Trump said he might target, cautioned that Brennan was expressing "an informed opinion." It remained up to Mueller to make a final conclusion, Clapper told CNN.

Mueller has indicted or secured guilty pleas from 32 people and three companies, including Russian intelligence officials and former Trump aides.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr said in a statement that if Brennan's conclusion that the Trump campaign colluded with Russians was based on intelligence he has seen since leaving office, "it constitutes an intelligence breach."

The Republican senator also said Trump has "full authority" to revoke Brennan's security clearance.

High-ranking government officials sometimes retain security clearances after leaving office to advise their successors as needed, and some private-sector companies can also require them.

Former FBI Director James Comey and former National Security Agency director Michael Hayden, among others, could also see their clearances revoked. Bruce Ohr, a Justice Department official currently in the criminal division, was also on the White House list.

"I don’t trust many of those people on that list," Trump told the Journal. "I think that they’re very duplicitous. I think they’re not good people."

In a letter to Trump published in the Washington Post, retired Admiral McRaven, calling Brennan "one of the finest public servants I have ever known," said he "would consider it an honor if you would revoke my security clearance as well, so I can add my name to the list of men and women who have spoken up against your presidency." McRaven's name was not on Trump's list. (https://wapo.st/2PaA0AK)

"Through your actions, you have embarrassed us in the eyes of our children, humiliated us on the world stage and, worst of all, divided us as a nation," wrote McRaven, who led the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command from 2011 to 2014.

Brennan does not face any formal charges of violating any regulations or laws. He has frequently criticized the president on television news shows and in blistering tweets that Trump on Wednesday called "wild outbursts."

Reactions from Republican lawmakers were mixed, with some critical of Trump while others blamed Brennan for acting inappropriately.

Democratic lawmakers blasted the president's move as dangerous. U.S. Representative Joaquin Castro said Mueller should also investigate the issue now that Trump has tied it to the Russia probe.

"It's an abuse of power because he's not doing it for a legitimate reason," Castro told CNN.]]>
8/17/2018 1:30:00 AM
<![CDATA[King Ramses II statue adorns 'Egypt Square" in Ecuador]]>
Egypt gifted the statue to Ecuador in November 2016 and was erected two months later in a ceremony attended by top Ecuadorian officials. The square also features miniature models of the Giza Pyramids.

The opening of the square reflects special relations between the two countries and Ecuador's appreciation of Egypt's culture and history, Egyptian ambassador in Ecuador Abdel Moneim Omar said.

Egyptians officials had previously said the move will help attract tourists and promote Egypt's ancient history.]]>
8/17/2018 12:31:47 AM
<![CDATA[U.S. Secretary of State names special representative for Iran]]>
The six men and six women received final instructions from U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis before retreating to a room in the federal courthouse in Alexandria, outside Washington, to weigh the 18 criminal counts brought against Manafort, 69, by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

The case is the first to go to trial stemming from Mueller's investigation into Russia's role in the 2016 U.S. election, although the charges largely predate Manafort's five months working on Trump's campaign, including three as chairman.

Trump has called Mueller's investigation a witch hunt and has complained about Manafort's treatment.

"You can't talk about the case unless all 12 of you are present," Ellis told the jurors, adding that they could take as long as they like to reach a verdict.

Ellis began the jury instructions on Wednesday after the prosecution and defense delivered closing arguments, and finished on Thursday morning. By midafternoon, jurors had not asked any questions of the judge as they deliberated.

If convicted on all counts, Manafort could face a sentence of up to 305 years in prison based on the maximum for each count, with the most serious charge carrying up to 30 years. However, if convicted, he likely would be given between seven and 12 years, according to a range of estimates from three sentencing experts interviewed by Reuters.

Prosecutors called 27 witnesses during about two weeks of testimony in the closely watched trial. The defense called no witnesses, arguing that prosecutors failed to prove their case.

The case involved millions of dollars Manafort received from pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine for work as a political consultant. Prosecutors accused Manafort of concealing more than $16 million in income from U.S. tax authorities and fraudulently securing $20 million in bank loans.

Witnesses described how Manafort routed $16 million in income hidden in foreign bank accounts to U.S. vendors to purchase real estate, expensive clothing and antique rugs, income he is charged with omitting from his tax returns.

Manafort, a veteran political consultant and prominent figure in Republican circles for decades, made his fortune helping to bring pro-Russian politician Viktor Yanukovych to power in Ukraine in 2010. When Yanukovych fled Ukraine in 2014, the political work dried up and Manafort lied about his finances to get loans from banks, prosecutors said.

Defense lawyers argued that prosecutors had not proved Manafort willfully committed any crimes. They said he trusted employees, his accountants and bookkeeper to handle his financial affairs, and at times misplaced that trust.

The defense attacked the credibility of key prosecution witness Rick Gates, Manafort's longtime right-hand man who also worked for Trump's campaign and inauguration team. Gates was indicted by Mueller but pleaded guilty and is cooperating with prosecutors.

While some legal experts predicted the jury would reach a verdict before the weekend, others felt jurors would likely deliberate longer, given the complexity and historic nature of the case.

On Thursday, Ellis invited others in the courtroom to remain while the jury deliberated and other cases were heard. He then called on a "Mr. Trump," prompting laughter and a smile from Manafort. Jim Trump, a federal prosecutor involved in another case, responded.]]>
8/17/2018 12:20:00 AM
<![CDATA[Italy launches investigation against Atlantia unit over bridge collapse]]>
In a statement, the Ministry of Transport said it had given the company 15 days to show it had previously met all its contractual obligations to ensure the proper functioning of the bridge and avoid accidents.

If the justifications provided by the company, a unit of infrastructure group Atlantia, were judged inadequate Rome would consider it a breach of the terms of the group's toll-road concession.

A section of the bridge gave way on Tuesday in busy lunchtime traffic, plunging dozens of vehicles 50 metres below.

The Transport Ministry said it wanted the Atlantia unit to immediately commit to rebuilding the bridge at its own expense and within a limited amount of time.

It also called on the company to foot the bill for work to restore the buildings and areas damaged by the accident.

Atlantia, controlled by the Benetton family, owns around 88 percent of Italy's biggest toll-road concessionary. ]]>
8/17/2018 12:20:00 AM
<![CDATA[Scientists detail full genome of wheat for first time]]>
Wheat feeds more than a third of the global human population, providing more protein than meat in the human diet and making about one-fifth of calories consumed by people.

But it is harder to grow in hot, dry weather, and these challenging conditions are expected to intensify as the planet warms due to climate change.

Experts say the world needs more disease-resistant varieties and breeds that can grow with less water in a warmer environment.

"This will greatly speed up our efforts on identification of agriculturally important wheat genes, including those that would help to combat major fungal diseases," said Kostya Kanyuka a functional genomics scientist at Rothamsted Research.

"This will also be hugely and immediately beneficial for wheat breeders, accelerating development of new elite varieties."

Mapping a comprehensive wheat genome was an "immense challenge" that took 13 years, because bread wheat contains five times more genes than a human, said the report in the journal Science.

The type of wheat detailed by 200 scientists from 20 countries is Chinese Spring (Triticum aestivum) a variety of bread wheat which is the world's most widely cultivated crop, said the study led by the International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium (IWGSC).

"Wheat productivity needs to increase by 1.6 percent a year to meet the demands of a projected world population of 9.6 billion by 2050," said the report.

The wheat genome contains 107,891 genes, and its complex genome contains 16 billion base pairs, which are the building blocks of DNA.

Humans, by contrast, have about 20,000 genes and three billion base pairs.]]>
8/16/2018 11:46:11 PM
<![CDATA[Sisi, Macron discuss several regional issues over phone]]>
During a phone call initiated by Macron, the two leaders discussed the latest development about several regional issues, topped by the Libyan file, in addition to means of supporting efforts to achieve a political settlement to the crisis, Rady added.

The spokesman noted that Sisi-Macron talks touched on the situation in Syria, with both of them calling on the international community to get together for a comprehensive and lasting solution.

The two presidents agreed to continue consultations and coordination on various issues of mutual concern.]]>
8/16/2018 7:59:00 PM
<![CDATA[Egyptian security delegation in Israel to discuss Gaza truce]]>
The visit that lasted for few hours is a resumption of Egypt’s efforts to deescalate the tension in Gaza Strip and accomplish the reconciliation between the Palestinian factions.

A state of calmness prevailed in the Gaza Strip, after the Egypt-brokered truce was reached between Palestinians and Israelis to put an end to the military escalation in the strip. However, two Palestinians including a medic were killed by Israeli fire on the Gaza border on August 11.

It was the third major escalation since July and came despite attempts by UN officials and Egypt to secure a long-term truce between Israel and Hamas, the Islamist movement that runs the Gaza Strip.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged all the regional powers to support the Egyptian efforts in coordination with the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, to curb any military escalation between the Israeli army and the Palestinian factions in Gaza. He welcomed on Wednesday the Israeli decision to reopen Kerem Shalom commercial crossing and the fishing zone off the coast of Gaza,

Guterrs said that the Israeli authorities agreed to the calls of the International arena to avoid the harms of closing a civil crossing, adding that citizens in Gaza are set to face huge living difficulties in case of the crossing closure.

Egyptian diplomacy along with the UN managed to realize a ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian factions in Gaza, following an Israeli military aggression against Gaza last week.

As for the inter-Palestine reconciliation, a source told Egypt Today on the condition of anonymity, that Fatah's Executive Committee member Azzam al-Ahmad is currently in Cairo, in order to conduct a number of positive talks with Egyptian officials regarding the mechanisms of the reconciliation process.

In October 2017, the rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah signed a preliminary reconciliation deal in Cairo in the presence of Egyptian intelligence officials, in the latest in a series of attempts to end a decade-long Palestinian territorial.
]]>
8/16/2018 7:34:40 PM
<![CDATA[AOI receives Angolan ministerial delegation ]]>
During his meeting, Tarras emphasized the keenness of the Egyptian government to cooperate with African counterparts in various fields, especially renewable energy, in which Egypt had made tremendous headway, referring to the largest solar power plant located in Aswan that is currently under construction.

He added that Egypt advanced manufacturing capabilities and distinguished human cadres in the fields of solar and wind energy. He also welcomed the «Commission» to harness its capabilities to serve the Angolan ambitious plan aimed at providing adequate and decent power to Angolan people.

He pointed out that President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi repeatedly affirmed Egypt’s full commitment to advance the mutual cooperation with African partners, with whom we share deep-seated historical relations.

For his part, the Angolan minister stressed his desire to boost cooperation with Egypt in various fields, expressing interests in collaborating with the Arab Organization for Industrialization.

The Angolan minister also affirmed the keenness of his country to restore the good mutual relations that the two countries enjoyed during the era of President Gamal Abdel Nasser, praising President Sisi's directives to expand horizon of mutual cooperation with African partners.

On Monday, President Sisi appointed Tarras as president of the board of directors of the Arab Organization for Industrialization (AOI), presidential spokesman Bassam Rady said.


]]>
8/16/2018 1:52:05 PM
<![CDATA[How come Zamzam’s well is never depleted?]]>
“Don’t forget to pray for us and bring Zamzam water on your way back,” said every family and friend to people on their way to Hajj or Umrah. This water is considered a blessing to Muslims.

The Zamzam well dates back to the days of Ismail Ibn Ibrahim, may peace be upon them, and is located east of the Holy Kaaba, 21 meters away, by the Al-Haram Mosque courtyard.

The well miraculously gave out water when Ibrahim’s son, Ismail, was thirsty and crying in the desert with his mother, Hajar.

Historical documents indicate that the arrival of Ismail to Mecca in the year of his birth, around 1910 BC, happens to be the year when Zamzam appeared. Between today and the day Zamzam first appeared is approximately 4000 years as per the Hijri calendar. This immediately raises the question of how Zamzam water was never depleted across all those years.

As per the scientific explanation of this phenomenon, Sharaqi, a professor of geology and water resources at the African Research Institute said that, “non-depletion in geology means that it is renewable water. Ground water can be renewable, such as that in Zamzam’s well, or non-renewable.”

He added, “Egypt has the Western Desert, the Nubian Sandstone reservoir located in the oasis. However, it is non-renewable. It has not renewed itself in years."

“Zamzam's water is renewable water. The source of water comes from the rain in Mecca. Mecca is a mountainous area and so one of the valleys contains the valley of Ibrahim that holds Zamzam’s well in a low-land area,” said Sharaqi.

The professor explained that there are 14 meters of river deposits caused by rainwater on mountains that fall into the lowlands and turn into sediment. This process took millions of years to create the 14-meter well of Zamzam.

At the very bottom, there are rocks that gather causing the well to have a total depth of 35 meters, 14 meters of sediment and 21 meters inside the rocks.

With the rainfall and storage process, water is renewed. “Water in Zamzam’s well is used as the pilgrim’s drinking water and drinking water is not used at a rate like, for example, water for agriculture,” said the professor.

The geology professor expressed that Egypt has wells similar to that of Zamzam that can store and take in water, making it renewable.

“Zamzam’s well has been used for 4,000 years, this makes us think that if there will be no rain in Saudi Arabia, the water will be depleted. However, considering that climate conditions are stable and unchanging, the well can continue as it is,” he said.

This subject, although coming from Islamic background, also has scientific and logical explanations that perfectly add up to the religious stories. ]]>
8/16/2018 1:48:37 PM
<![CDATA[1.6m citizens receive social solidarity's pensions: official ]]>
Kabbaj also added that the “Takafol Wa Karama” (Solidarity and Dignity) social protection program serves around 2,250,000 families.
Parliament’s Labor Force Committee approved the draft law to raise pensions by 15 percent starting July and to amend the social insurance law promulgated by Law No. 79, 1975.

Article 1 of the draft law stipulates that the pensions will be increased by 15 percent starting July, while Article 2 reads that the minimum pension for the insured or eligible pension in accordance with the Law No. 79, 1975 shall be increased from LE 500 to LE 750, including all the increases and subsidies.

According to the draft law, the maximum pension shall be 80 percent of the settlement fee, which is the last remuneration of the speaker of the House of Representatives, prime minister and his deputies, ministries and their deputies, and governors, or their last annual salary, and should not exceed the net maximum wage on the date of termination of office.
In this regard, Minister of Social Solidarity Ghada Wali stated on June 19 that the cost of increasing pensions by 15 percent is LE 21.3 billion ($1.1 billion), while the amount allocated to pensions in the new fiscal year’s budget is LE 150 billion.

Those decisions come in light of the government's efforts to make social security networks compatible with the impact of the Structural Adjustment Program (SAP) implemented by Egypt in exchange for loans from the Bretton Woods Institution, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

On November 3, 2016, the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) issued the decision to float the Egyptian currency, which incurred the rise in costs of raw materials and imported goods.
Inflation rates rose from 20.7 percent in November 2016 to 30.5 percent in May 2017.

In August 2016, Parliament approved the Value Added Tax (VAT) law applied on goods and services. It started at a value of 13 percent last year to become 14 percent this year.
There are also plans to cancel subsidies on goods gradually, especially fuel, while shifting to monetary subsidies to achieve greater efficiency.

Monetary subsidies are delivered to beneficiaries of poor families enrolled on the recent program adopted by the Ministry of Cooperation, Takafol Wa karama (Solidarity and Dignity), launched two years ago.
]]>
8/16/2018 1:45:07 PM
<![CDATA[Cambodia's ruling party won all seats in July vote -election commission]]>
Within hours of the National Election Committee (NEC) announcement, the United States said it was expanding visa restrictions on individuals responsible for "anti-democratic" actions in the run-up to the July 29 vote.

Rights groups say the poll vote was neither free nor fair given the absence of a significant challenger to Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has ruled the country for more than three decades.

NEC spokesman Dim Sovannarom told Reuters the CPP won all seats and took 4.8 million of 6.9 million votes.

The only viable opposition party, the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), was dissolved last year by the Supreme Court and 118 of its members were banned from politics for five years.

CNRP leader Kem Sokha was jailed on treason charges in September. He remains in pre-trial detention.

Authorities also launched a sweeping crackdown in the lead-up to the vote targeting non-governmental organizations, rights groups and independent media.

The CPP eventually contested the ballot along with 19 other parties, none of which were particularly critical of the government. The royalist Funcinpec party of Prince Norodom Ranariddh, once Hun Sen's main rival but now aligned with him, came second with 374,510 votes.

Mu Sochua, CNRP's vice president, who lives in self-imposed exile abroad, called the new members of parliament illegitimate.

"The CPP is leading the nation to a one-party state with one man making all decisions for the entire nation through a sham election rejected by democratically elected governments," she told Reuters.

"Sham elections cannot produce a legitimate National Assembly."

Voter turnout was 83 percent, the NEC said in a separate statement on Wednesday, up from 69.6 percent in the previous election in 2013.

The CPP was banking on a high voter turnout to bestow a veneer of legitimacy on the election which many, including the United Nations and some Western countries, had criticized.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the poll was "flawed" and "neither free nor fair."

She said the expanded visa restrictions may apply to individuals inside and outside the government "responsible for the most notable anti-democratic actions" in the run-up to the election and in certain circumstances to their immediate relatives.

"We reiterate our call for the Cambodian government to take tangible actions to promote national reconciliation by allowing independent media and civil society organizations to fulfill their vital roles," she said.

Nauert repeated U.S. calls for the release of Kem Sokha and other political prisoners and for an end to a ban on the political opposition.

Former CNRP leader Sam Rainsy, in exile in France since 2015, accused the NEC of "artificially inflating voter turnout" and being under the ruling party's control.

"The NEC was able to play all sorts of tricks because, after the forceful dissolution of the CNRP, the election body was placed under the absolute control of the CPP," he said in an emailed statement.

Sovannarom rejected the accusations.

Following the official result, Hun Sen thanked his supporters in a message posted on Facebook. "People have decided to choose peace, development and continue to democracy in the country," he said.]]>
8/16/2018 4:40:00 AM
<![CDATA[U.S. and Mexico to set up joint team to fight drug cartels]]>
The announcement of a fresh effort at co-operation on security issues comes at a time of strained relations between the two neighboring countries and around four months before President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, a left-leaning nationalist, is due to take power in Mexico.

Lopez Obrador has vowed to shake up Mexico's war on drug cartels and wants to rewrite the rules, aides have said, suggesting negotiated peace and amnesties rather than a hardline strategy that critics say has only perpetuated violence.

He has also said he wants to reset relations with the United States, which have been rocky since Donald Trump became U.S. president.

"We are sure the next president of the republic will be willing to collaborate in the fight against organized crime," Felipe de Jesus Munoz Vazquez, Mexico's deputy attorney general for the specialized investigation of federal crimes unit, told a joint U.S.-Mexican news conference in Chicago.

There was no immediate comment on Wednesday from Lopez Obrador's team, but his future security minister Alfonso Durazo has said all co-operation agreements between the two countries will be reviewed.

That includes the decade-old $2.9 billion Merida Initiative that directs aid from U.S. agencies to Mexico to fight organized crime and drug trafficking, said Durazo earlier this month.

Lopez Obrador wants to refocus aid to social and economic projects, he said.

Targeting cartel finances was key in stopping the flow of drugs because "the sole purpose of these entities is one thing and one thing only - money," said Anthony Williams, chief of operations for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, on Wednesday.

Mexico remains the principal highway for cocaine to the United States and has become the top source of heroin, which is fueling a surge in opioid addiction in the United States. It is also a major supplier of methamphetamines.

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said Mexican cartels were responsible for much of the illegal drugs flowing into the nation's third-largest city, which has been plagued by gang violence and shootings.

Officials and security experts in the United States have applauded long-running bilateral efforts to crack down on drug gangs during the administration of outgoing Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and previously.

For the past 12 years, Mexico has fought the violent cartels by deploying thousands of police, soldiers and intelligence officers.

On Wednesday, Mexico said it was offering a 30 million peso ($1.6 million) reward for information leading to the arrest of Nemesio Oseguera, whose cartel is blamed for driving heroin shipments to the United States.

Known as "El Mencho," Oseguera has risen to become Mexico's most-wanted drug lord after Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman was extradited to the United States last year to face trial.

In March, U.S. agents in Chicago named El Mencho public enemy No. 1 and blamed his gang for using "extreme violence" to expand their share of the heroin trade. The United States is offering $5 million for information leading to his capture.]]>
8/16/2018 4:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Malaysia court to deliver key ruling in Kim Jong Nam murder trial]]>
The court will decide whether there is sufficient evidence to support a murder charge against Siti Aisyah from Indonesia and Doan Thi Huong from Vietnam, who allegedly killed Kim Jong Nam at Kuala Lumpur airport.

If there is, the trial will continue with the court hearing the women's defence. But if not, the judge could acquit the women or amend the charge to something less serious than murder, which carries a mandatory death sentence in Malaysia.

Their families insist they did not carry out the Cold War-style hit that shocked the world, and were hopeful they would be acquitted.

Huong "could never be a killer as she had always been a charming, hard-working girl", Doan Van Thanh, the Vietnamese suspect's father, told AFP.

The women are accused of killing Kim Jong Nam -- the estranged relative of the North's leader Kim Jong Un -- by smearing toxic nerve agent VX on his face in February last year as he waited to board a flight to Macau.

The pair claim they fell victim to an elaborate murder plot hatched by North Korean agents, and believed they were taking part in a prank for a reality TV show when they attacked Kim with a chemical classified as a weapon of mass destruction.

But describing the murder as something out of a James Bond movie, state prosecutors have argued the pair were well-trained assassins who knew exactly what they were doing.

The trial at the Shah Alam High Court, outside Kuala Lumpur, heard that four North Koreans recruited the pair and were the masterminds, providing them with the poison on the day of the murder before flying out of the country.

The women's defence teams have argued the pair are simply scapegoats, with the authorities unable to catch the real killers, the North Koreans, and therefore desperate to secure some kind of conviction in the case.

The lawyers are confident the pair will be acquitted of murder, insisting that prosecutors have not shown they intended to kill Kim, who was heir apparent to the North Korean leadership before he fell from grace and went on to live in exile.

If one or both of the women are cleared, they will not necessarily walk free immediately however. Prosecutors could seek to appeal the ruling, and the authorities could still hold them over alleged visa violations.]]>
8/16/2018 3:50:00 AM
<![CDATA[Trump revokes ex-CIA chief's security clearance, slamming critic]]>
Trump, in a statement read to reporters by White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders, also announced he was evaluating whether other former high-ranking officials - all of whom have criticized him - should have their security clearances withdrawn as well.

The decision came a day after Brennan, who headed the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency under Democratic President Barack Obama, leveled a blistering attack against Trump for the president's tweeted criticism of former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman, who wrote a book critical of Trump.

"It’s astounding how often you fail to live up to minimum standards of decency, civility, & probity. Seems like you will never understand what it means to be president, nor what it takes to be a good, decent, & honest person. So disheartening, so dangerous for our Nation," Brennan wrote.

Trump, without mentioning specific comments made by Brennan, said the former CIA leader had engaged in "frenzied commentary" and had sought to "sow division and chaos" about the Trump administration.

"Mr. Brennan has recently leveraged his status as a former high-ranking official with access to highly sensitive information to make a series of unfounded and outrageous allegations – wild outbursts on the internet and television – about this administration," Trump said.

Brennan, in a tweet, said he would not back down.

"This action is part of a broader effort by Mr. Trump to suppress freedom of speech & punish critics. It should gravely worry all Americans, including intelligence professionals, about the cost of speaking out. My principles are worth far more than clearances. I will not relent," he said. Trump said he may also revoke the clearances of other critics, including former U.S. national intelligence director James Clapper, former FBI Director James Comey, former Obama national security adviser Susan Rice, former National Security Agency director Michael Hayden and former deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, among others.

Also on the list was Bruce Ohr, a current Justice Department official in the criminal division.

Brennan has frequently appeared on cable television news shows and punched out lashing tweets to attack Trump's foreign policy positions.

He was particularly biting about the president's joint news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki a month ago. Trump said he tended to believed Putin's denials about Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election despite the U.S. intelligence community view that Moscow was to blame.

Brennan in a tweet suggested Trump could be impeached, saying his performance in Helsinki "rises to & exceeds the threshold of 'high crimes & misdemeanors'” and was "nothing short of treasonous."

High-ranking government officials sometimes retain their security clearances after leaving office, allowing them the ability to provide advice as needed to their successors.

"At this point in my administration, any benefits that senior officials might glean from consultations with Mr. Brennan are now outweighed by the risks posed by his erratic conduct and behavior ... That conduct and behavior has tested and far exceeded the limits of any professional courtesy that has been due to him," Trump said.

A spokesman for Brennan declined to immediately comment.

Ned Price, a former National Security Council spokesman for Obama and former CIA official, said Trump was trying to shift public attention away from the critical book by Manigault Newman.

"The proximate target was John Brennan, but the real intent of today’s announcement was to simultaneously shift and silence," he said.

"The White House knows as well as anyone that Brennan, in his criticism of Trump, has never disclosed classified information. And that’s always been the metric when it comes to a revocation of a clearance," Price said.

Hayden, asked for his response to Trump’s announced review of his security clearance, replied in an email, “Meh.” “With regard to the implied threat today that I could lose my clearance, that will have no impact on what I think, say or write,” Hayden wrote. “If I were to lose my clearance, it would have a marginal impact on the work I do." ]]>
8/16/2018 2:40:00 AM
<![CDATA[Israel lets food, commercial goods back into Gaza as Egypt seeks truce]]>
But the prospect of an agreement between Israel and the Islamist group prompted concern within Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing government that Hamas would take advantage of any respite from fighting to build up its rocket arsenal.

Israel's security cabinet, a forum of senior ministers headed by Netanyahu, discussed the situation. In a statement issued by Netanyahu's office, an Israeli "diplomatic official" said Hamas would have to prove its commitment to the truce.

As well as wanting calm along the border, Israel has said Hamas must return the remains of two soldiers killed in the 2014 Gaza war and release two civilians whose fate is unknown, whom it says are being held by Hamas in the Strip.

"There will be no proper agreement with Hamas without the repatriation of our sons and citizens, and without (it) ensuring calm for an extended period," part of the statement from the prime minister's office said.

At Israel's Kerem Shalom commercial crossing with Gaza, consignments of fruits and vegetables, fuel and construction material moved into the territory of 2 million people.

Israel announced on Tuesday it would lift the commercial goods ban it imposed on July 9 in response to the launching by Palestinians of incendiary balloons across the frontier.

There have been fewer reports in recent days of such incidents, which have burned large tracts of agricultural land and forests in southern Israel.

Israel also expanded Gaza's fishing zone, in waters under Israeli naval blockade, from 3 to 9 nautical miles off the southern coast and to six nautical miles in the north, the head of Gaza's fishermen's union said.

The Oslo interim peace accords in the early 1990s set a 20 nautical mile limit, which was never implemented. Since then the zone has ranged in size between 3 and 6 nautical miles.

"We are hoping for a big catch at nine miles now," said Khader Baker, 25, who owns two fishing boats. "There had been almost no fish within three miles. We nearly starved."

Prior restrictions on the import of commercial goods that Israel says could also be used for military purposes remained in effect, a Palestinian border official said. He said they included balloons and tyres.

COMPREHENSIVE TRUCE

Egypt and the United Nations have been trying to broker a comprehensive truce to prevent more fighting and to ease the deep economic hardship in Gaza.

Hamas officials said Palestinian factions were in Cairo to discuss terms for a ceasefire with Israel.

Welcoming the reopening of the crossing, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement he was "encouraged to see that those concerned have responded to calls to avoid the devastating impact of yet another conflict on the civilian population in and around Gaza".

Guterres urged all parties "to support the efforts of U.N. Special Coordinator Nickolay Mladenov and Egypt to avoid an escalation and address all humanitarian issues in Gaza and the return of the Palestinian Authority to Gaza".

Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who heads the ultra-nationalist Jewish Home party in the governing coalition, put Netanyahu on notice that his faction would vote against an agreement with Hamas.

"This 'quiet' will give Hamas total immunity so that it can rearm itself with tens of thousands of rockets," Bennett said in a statement.

For more than a decade Gaza has been controlled by Hamas and subject to an Israeli-Egyptian blockade that has wrecked its economy, creating what the World Bank has described as a humanitarian crisis with shortages of water, electricity and medicine.

Israel says it has no choice but to enforce its blockade to defend itself against Hamas, a group that has called for its destruction.]]>
8/16/2018 2:30:00 AM
<![CDATA[U.S. youth activists will appeal setback to climate lawsuit, lawyer says]]>
The legal complaint arguing that the state of Washington must do more to cut carbon emissions was dismissed on Tuesday by a judge who said it was a matter for politicians, not courts.

The judge's ruling marked the first time a court has dismissed a case filed by youth demanding authorities ramp up efforts to curb climate change by arguing their constitutional rights to due process are being violated, experts said.

A half-dozen similar cases have been filed in states including Florida and Alaska, said Our Children's Trust, a youth advocacy group that provides legal assistance.

The Washington complaint, filed in February, asked that a statewide target to emit 50 percent fewer greenhouse gasses by 2050 be invalidated in favor of more ambitious goals, court documents said.

The dismissal will be appealed, lawyer Andrea Rodgers of Our Children's Trust told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Scientific consensus holds that the emission of greenhouse gasses from the burning of fossil fuels is the main cause of global warming.

Washington Superior Court Judge Michael Scott wrote in his dismissal that he hoped the activists "will not be discouraged," but Rodgers said they were "devastated" and wanted to "present their constitutional claims in a court of law."

Several of the cases by young people base their arguments on their rights to fair treatment and due process under the U.S. Constitution.

The remaining cases could still be effective in forcing authorities to strengthen climate change regulations, said Katherine Trisolini, a professor of environmental law at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.

"I wouldn't give up on the courts yet," she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Climate activists are particularly optimistic about a federal case, Juliana v. United States, brought by 21 young activists who say officials violated their rights by failing to address carbon pollution adequately.

Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a bid by President Donald Trump's administration to halt the lawsuit, filed in 2015.]]>
8/16/2018 1:40:00 AM
<![CDATA[Anger grows in Italy as bridge toll hits 39]]>
Search operations, meanwhile, were due to enter a second night with rescuers digging through mountains of crushed concrete.

A vast span of the Morandi bridge caved in during a heavy rainstorm in the northern port city on Tuesday, sending about 35 cars and several trucks plunging 45 metres (150 feet) onto railway tracks below.

Children aged eight, 12 and 13 were among the dead, Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said, adding that more people were still missing. Sixteen people were injured.

The driver of a green lorry left precariously close to the edge told Italian media how he had escaped the "hell" of the bridge collapse.

"It was raining very hard and it wasn't possible to go very fast," he told the Corriere della Sera daily.

"When a car overtook me I slowed down... (then) at a certain moment everything shook. The car in front of me disappeared and seemed to be swallowed up by the clouds. I Looked up and saw the bridge pylon fall," he said.

"Instinctively, finding myself in front of the void, I put the van into reverse, to escape this hell," he added.

Three Chileans, who live in Italy, and four French nationals were also killed.

The tragedy has focussed anger on the structural problems that have dogged the decades old Morandi bridge and the private sector firm Autostrade per l'Italia, which is currently in charge of operating and maintaining swathes of the country's motorways.

Deputy prime minister Luigi Di Maio said the tragedy "could have been avoided".

"Autostrade should have done maintenance and didn't do it," he alleged.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte also confirmed that his government would push to revoke the company's contract for the A10 motorway, which includes the bridge, while Transport Minister Danilo Toninelli said the company should be fined up to 150 million euros ($170 million).

The firm, which said the bridge had been undergoing maintenance work, however, released a statement refuting accusations of underfunding of motorway infrastructure.

"In the last five years (2012-2017) the company's investment in the security, maintenance and strengthening of the network has been over one billion euros a year," it said.

- 'I went down with the car' -

Survivors recounted the heart-stopping moment when the bridge buckled, tossing vehicles and hunks of concrete into the abyss.

Davide Capello, a former goalkeeper for Italian Serie A club Cagliari, plunged with his car but was unscathed.

"I was driving along the bridge, and at a certain point I saw the road in front of me collapse, and I went down with the car," he told TV news channel Sky TG24.

As cars and trucks tumbled off the bridge, Afifi Idriss, 39, a Moroccan truck driver, just managed to stop in time.

"I saw the green lorry in front of me stop and then reverse so I stopped too, locked the truck and ran," he told AFP.

While around a dozen apartment blocks that stand in the shadow of the viaduct were largely spared the impact of the falling concrete, the Liguria regional government said some 634 people had been evacuated.

Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said the homes would have to be pulled down.

- 'A tragedy waiting to happen' -

The incident is the latest in a string of bridge collapses in Italy, a country prone to damage from seismic activity but where infrastructure generally is showing the effects of a faltering economy.

The Morandi viaduct, completed in 1967, spans dozens of railway lines.

The bridge has been riddled with structural problems since its construction, which has led to expensive maintenance and severe criticism from engineering experts.

On Tuesday engineering website "Ingegneri.info" called it "a tragedy waiting to happen".

Conte also announced after a cabinet meeting Wednesday that a national day of mourning was being planned. Media reports said it would be held on Saturday to coincide with some of the funerals.

There would also be a 12-month state of emergency in and around Genoa, Conte added, with five million euros of funds going into recovery work.]]>
8/16/2018 1:20:00 AM
<![CDATA[U.S. clergy sex abuse revelation fuels push to reform assault laws]]>
State Representative Mark Rozzi, 47, said he has fought for years to give people who say they were sexually assaulted as children more time to report such crimes to police in Pennsylvania, one of 14 U.S. states considering bills to extend the statute of limitations for such offenses.

"We're going to get what the victims want," Rozzi said in a telephone interview on Wednesday, a day after a grand jury found that 301 priests had sexually abused about 1,000 children over the past 70 years in Pennsylvania.

"You either support victims or you support pedophiles," Rozzi said.

The grand jury report was the latest revelation in a scandal that has rocked the Catholic Church since the Boston Globe in 2002 reported that priests had preyed on young boys and girls and that church leaders had covered it up.

Similar reports have emerged in Europe, Australia and Chile, prompting lawsuits, sending dioceses into bankruptcy and undercutting the moral authority of the leadership of the Church, which has some 1.2 billion members around the world.

A statute of limitations is a law requiring that prosecutors bring a criminal case within a certain time frame. The advocacy group Child USA said such statutes can block justice as children may not realize they were victims of sex crimes for decades.

Amy Hill, a spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, the bishops' political arm in the state, declined on Wednesday to say whether bishops supported or opposed eliminating statutes of limitations.

"The time to discuss legislation will come later," she said. "Our focus now is on improving ways that survivors and their families can recover."

In the past, the group had spoken out against the idea.

The national bishops' conference did not respond to a request for comment.

Some 41 states have eliminated statutes of limitations for criminally prosecuting child sex abuse. Earlier this year, Michigan and Hawaii passed laws giving victims more time to report sexual assaults on children.

Pennsylvania was one of the first U.S. states to raise the age for reporting child sexual abuse. In 2002 it lifted the age to 30 from 23 and five years later raised it to age 50.

State legislators are ready to take up Rozzi's bill eliminating the limit, said Steve Miskin, a spokesman for House Majority Leader Representative Dave Reed. "It's definitely something that he's looking to bring up sooner than later," Miskin said.

Tuesday's report could help push through bills in states from California to New Hampshire that would relax the limits for criminal or civil action on sexual assaults on children, said Marci Hamilton, chief executive of the advocacy group Child USA.

Sexual abuse of children extends far beyond the Catholic Church, with teachers and sports coaches also facing accusations.

Given that child abusers in positions of power can continue to assault children for decades, making it easier to prosecute them could prevent future abuse if abusers are imprisoned or lose their positions, Hamilton said in a telephone interview.

"What we want to do is to find out who the hidden child predators are," said Hamilton, who is also a professor of religion and law at the University of Pennsylvania.

Costs related to such cases have taken a heavy toll on church coffers, reaching nearly $600 billion since July 2013, according to a May report by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

U.S. church leaders have said that they have implemented extensive new measures to prevent the sexual abuse of children by clergy. ]]>
8/16/2018 12:01:22 AM
<![CDATA[Ethiopian ambassador farewells Egypt, praises bilateral relations]]>
“The current period is the best in terms of Egyptian-Ethiopian relations,” said Atske-Selassie, who left for a job at the United Nations Security Council, during the press conference, held at a Giza hotel on Wednesday, underlining five important meetings made during the last 18 months between the leaders of the two countries, which contributed in bridging the gabs in point of views of both.

محمد الحصرى (6)
Ethiopian Ambassador in Cairo Taye Atske-Selassie during press conference to farewell Egypt on August 15, 2018 - Press photo/Egypt Today By Mohamed al-Hossary



The first of those was held between Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi and Ethiopian former Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn earlier this year. The other one was with his successor, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in June.

Atske-Selassie stressed Ethiopia’s firm commitment to Egypt’s interest in Nile water, regarding the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), praising Sisi’s handling to the whole issue by supporting the dialogue between both parties, which created an atmosphere allowed them to manage the issue in a rational manner.

“The Egyptian administration has enriched relations with other African countries,” Atske-Selassie stated during his speech, adding that a new fund between Egypt and Ethiopia will be launched to support development projects related to GERD.

Read more on

We will not cause any harm to Egypt's water: Ethiopian PM

CAIRO - 10 June 2018: Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, swore to God that his country will not cause any harm to Egypt's Nile water share, referring to the Egyptian concerns over the negative impacts of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).


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8/15/2018 9:39:02 PM
<![CDATA[Sisi orders aid to be sent to flood-affected Sudan]]>
Heavy floods at En Nahud town in West Kordofan have killed at least 23 people and injured 61 others in the past three weeks while more than 8,900 families have been evicted, according to WRAL.com website.

Dabanga Sudan reported that more than 4,000 people affected by floods are still in dire need of humanitarian intervention.

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Flood damage in Sennar - Photo Credit: Dabanga Sudan


The Red Crescent stated that the rainfall has affected over 45,000 people and caused big damage to the country’s infrastructure, however, more heavy rainfall is expected in other parts of Sudan.

Seasonal rains in Sudan regularly last from June to November, causing the Nile and its tributaries to overflow.

Earlier Wednesday, 22 students and their teacher drowned when a boat carrying more than 40 people sank while crossing the Nile in northern Sudan, state news agency SUNA said.

Civil defense forces were searching the waters for the missing passengers but had not recovered the bodies, the agency added. A female hospital employee also drowned.

Contributed by MENA and Reuters
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8/15/2018 9:10:02 PM
<![CDATA[Qatar supports Erdogan, challenges Trump ]]>
The U.S. based news agency reported also that during the meeting both Erdogan and Al Thani expressed their intention to strengthen ties between the two countries in all areas with no further information about the nature of these investments.

Through his facebook and twitter official pages, the Egyptian-American businessman and chief economic adviser at Allianz, Mohamed A. El-Erian, posted that Qatar’s support to Erdogan’s government will help Turkey find alternative sources of support to avoid IMF.









The Qatari investments challenges the U.S. administration, as both Turkey and the U.S. are living a diplomatic dispute as Erdogan refused to give in to pressures from the U.S. to release 50-year-old evangelical pastor, Andrew Brunson, who Turkey accuses of aiding a coup attempt against Erdogan two years ago. The Turkish move fueled a dispute between Turkey and the U.S. which voiced outrage at the pastor’s fate.


Earlier in August, the U.S. administration doubled its tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminum which helped encourage the Turkish Lira’s fall on Friday. Erdogan accused the U.S. of stabbing its ally, Turkey, in the back.
The Qatari support to Turkey brings to the scene the previous Turkish position of supporting Qatar amid the diplomatic dispute with Arab countries in 2017 generated from Qatar’s support to terrorist groups and funding unrest activities in many Arab countries including Egypt. Erdogan vowed in June, 2017 to keep supporting Qatar and approved legislation on deploying troops to Qatar.


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8/15/2018 6:36:18 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt’s railway launches application to book train tickets ]]>
Raslan added that the application aims to facilitate Egyptians' access to tickets, pointing out that the commission is seeking to launch the same service through the internet.
Chairman and CEO of Transport Information Technology Company Khaled Attia added that this application will launch in another governorate in the coming period, specifically in early October.

Attia confirmed that the application will not cancel ticket windows in stations.
In Aug. 7, 2018, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly signed a supply and maintenance contract with Austria’s Plasser & Theurer Company to provide Egypt with a Track Recording Car EM100U to measure and analyze defects in Egypt’s railway system and upgrade it.

In July 2017, ENR signed a $575 million deal with U.S.-based General Electric to supply 100 new locomotives for both passengers and freight rail services and refurbish 81 old engines. The deal includes a 15-year technical support agreement and technical training program for more than 275 engineers and technicians to improve their capabilities and technical skills.

In October 2017, Arafat declared during a press conference that Egypt will purchase 1,000 new trains worth LE 16 billion ($9 billion) to develop the old railway system, adding that he expects that the upgrade project will be finalized in 2020 to 2022.


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8/15/2018 5:31:58 PM
<![CDATA[Three French nationals among victims of Italy bridge collapse]]>
“It is with great sadness that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs must confirm that three French nationals were amongst the victims of the Genoa catastrophe. We send our condolences to their families,” the ministry said in a statement.

“We are in contact with the Italian authorities to determine whether there are further French nationals amongst the victims,” the statement continued.

A vast span of the Morandi bridge caved in during a heavy rainstorm in the northern port city on Tuesday, sending about 35 cars and several trucks plunging 45 metres (150 feet) onto the railway tracks below.

The victims include children aged eight, 12 and 13, Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said on Wednesday, adding that more people were still missing.

Italy's transport minister said he intended to revoke the contract of Autostrade per l'Italia, a private sector company owned by Atlantia, and slap it with a fine of 150 million euros ($170 million). He also demanded top Autostrade managers resign.

"I have given mandate to my ministry to start all proceedings to apply the agreement, that is to revoke the concession from these companies and seek significant sanctions which can reach up to 150 million euros based on the terms of
the contract," Danilo Toninelli said on RAI 1 state TV.

Atlantia and Autostrade did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

'Could have been avoided'

Deputy prime minister Luigi Di Maio, who is due to arrive in Genoa on Wednesday morning, said the tragedy "could have been avoided".

"Autostrade should have done maintenance and didn't do it," he said.

Rescuers recovered three bodies overnight, fire official Emanuele Gissi told AFP, after scouring the scene of devastation under floodlights.

"All accessible spaces have been explored, now we are moving the largest pieces of debris," Gissi said.

"We cannot know if there are survivors remaining, but it's our job to search."

He added that two large cranes would be used in the operation, which is set to take days.

Sources in the interior ministry told Italian media that 16 people were wounded, including 12 in serious condition.

The collapse came as the bridge was undergoing maintenance work while the Liguria region, where Genoa is situated, experienced torrential rainfall.

Italian President Sergio Mattarella said a "catastrophe" had hit Genoa and the whole of Italy.

"Italians have the right to modern and efficient infrastructure that accompanies them safely through their everyday lives," Mattarella said.

'I went down with the car'

Aerial footage showed more than 200 metres (650 feet) of the viaduct was completely destroyed.

Rescuers combed through the wreckage strewn among shrubland and train tracks, as helicopters winched survivors on stretchers from the rubble.

A thousand people have been mobilised in the rescue effort, according to the Civil Protection service.

As cars and trucks tumbled off the bridge, Afifi Idriss, 39, a Moroccan lorry driver, just managed to come to a halt in time.

"I saw the green lorry in front of me stop and then reverse so I stopped too, locked the truck and ran," he told AFP.

Some that plunged down with the bridge managed to escape unscathed, including a former goalkeeper for Italian Serie A club Cagliari.

"I was driving along the bridge, and at a certain point I saw the road in front of me collapse, and I went down with the car," Davide Capello told TV news channel Sky TG24.

The incident -- the deadliest of its kind in Europe since 2001 -- is the latest in a string of bridge collapses in Italy, a country prone to damage from seismic activity but where infrastructure generally is showing the effects of a faltering economy.

'Unacceptable' way to die

Genoa, home to half a million people, is located between the sea and the mountains of northwestern Italy.

Its rugged terrain means that motorways that run through the city and the surrounding area are characterised by long viaducts and tunnels.

The Morandi viaduct, completed in 1967, spans dozens of railway lines as well as an industrial zone with several factories.

One factory, immediately next to one of the viaduct's support columns, was virtually empty on Tuesday on the eve of a national holiday, and seems to have sustained minimal damage.

"I live nearby and I cross the bridge every day on foot," said Ibou Toure, 23, a translator. "I was never sure of it, you'd always hear these noises whenever lorries were going over.

"When I heard it had collapsed, I wasn't surprised."

In March last year, a couple were killed when a motorway overpass collapsed on their car near Ancona on the country's Adriatic coast.

A pensioner died in October 2016 when his car was crushed by a collapsing bridge over a dual carriageway between Milan and Lecco.

That incident was blamed on bureaucratic bungling which led to a fatal delay in the bridge being closed after it was reported to be showing significant cracks.]]>
8/15/2018 5:04:10 PM
<![CDATA[Saudi minister grants piece of Kaaba Kiswa to Egypt's Mufti]]>
The move was taken in recognition of Allam’s role in spreading Islamic ideology worldwide, confronting extremism and terrorism in addition to his efforts to rectify the image of Islam.

Delivering Egypt’s speech at the event, the mufti reviewed Saudi Arabia's efforts to facilitate Hajj rituals and take good care of the country's holy places.]]>
8/15/2018 4:59:28 PM
<![CDATA[Body of Egyptian killed in Kuwait arrives home]]>
According to Al-Rai, the 30-year-old Egyptian expat died from a fatal stab to the heart. The Kuwaiti Ministry of Interior has not yet revealed the name of the murdered expat or the identity of the Asian murderer. Kuwaiti authorities have found the knife the murderer used.

Makram added in a statement that the ministry follows up on the investigation of the accident with Kuwaiti officials, thanking their efforts for completing the procedures for the arrival of the body.

Erem News reported on Monday that Kuwaiti authorities managed to arrest two people accused of stabbing an Arab citizen to the heart in Bnied Al-Gar before they could flee the country.

An Egyptian was previously shot dead at Kuwait’s Jleeb Al-Shuyoukh in January 2013. Also, the Middle East News Agency (MENA) reported in April 2018 that an Egyptian working at a weaponry store was injured when a Kuwaiti citizen was checking a shooting gun.

In another incident, 16-year-old Abdullah al-Shishtawi’s body was returned to Egypt on a plane three months after he was killed in France during a fight with one of his colleagues that ended with the latter stabbing him, according to Egypt’s Al-Masry Al-Youm.

In late February, an 18-year-old Egyptian engineering student, Mariam Moustafa, was tragically attacked by 10 British women of African descent.

Fathy Abdullah Gado, an Egyptian citizen, was shot dead by armed criminals in South Africa, while he was driving a car laden with goods for sale.

In March, two Egyptian citizens – Tamer Sayed, 18, and Mohamed Abdel Sattar, 38 – were shot dead in Olievenhoutbosch, Centurion. The Egyptian Embassy in South Africa contacted officials to obtain body transport permits, and the two bodies were flown back to Egypt, the embassy said in a press statement.

Last November, Egyptian Mohamed Nawar was found dead in a shallow grave near a river in the reserve of Limpopo, South Africa. The investigation revealed that Nawar was killed and buried by a band of thieves who wanted his car.

Consequently, the Foreign Ministry urged Egyptian expats in South Africa to be cautious and not to walk around with large amounts of cash.
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8/15/2018 3:51:18 PM
<![CDATA[NCW launches mobile opinion poll app on women’s issues ]]>
In a press conference on Monday, NCW announced results of some of the polls published on the said application, stressing the keenness of the council to benefit from crowdsourcing approaches to gather open data in an aim to promote sustainable development.

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Introductory page of the opinion poll app "Nas'alak" (We Ask You), launched by National Council for Women (NCW)

In a poll tackling the issue of early marriage, the council stated that 76 percent of the respondents disapproved of girls getting married before completing their studies and another poll showed that 58 percent of the respondents agreed that the minimum age of marriage for a girl should be 21, while 29 percent of respondents believed that minimum marriage age should be 18 years old, while only 13 percent believed that the minimum age could be set at 16.

On the reproductive health, 40 percent of the respondents favored the two-child norm, while 26 percent thought family should include at least three children, 7 percent thought that one child is enough to make a family, and 24 percent believed that the number of children a family might have should only depend on the financial status of the family.

More than two-thirds of the respondents to an opinion poll on the proposed law that criminalizes denying women of inheritance hailed the legal move.

Last March, the National Council for Women (NCW) launched the Egyptian Women's Observatory, which monitors the implementation of the National Strategy aimed at advancing the Egyptian Women’s empowerment.

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8/15/2018 3:00:03 PM
<![CDATA[At least 22 students drown after boat sinks in northern Sudan]]>
Civil defence forces were searching the waters for the missing passengers but had not recovered the bodies, the agency added. A female hospital employee also drowned.]]>
8/15/2018 2:48:03 PM
<![CDATA[CAPMAS: Unemployment rate decreases to 9.9 percent during 2Q 2018]]>
The rate has been falling steadily in recent months amid a program of economic reforms carried out by the Egyptian government.

The Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics said in a statement that the number of unemployed was about 2.9 million in the second quarter of 2018, down by 219 thousand compared to the first quarter of 2018 and by 612 thousand compared to the same quarter of 2017.

The size of the work force reached 29.036 million people (including 22.665 million males and 6.371 million females) in the second quarter of 2018.]]>
8/15/2018 2:17:02 PM
<![CDATA[Death toll among Egyptian pilgrims hits 15]]>
The deceased woman, identified as Atiyat Mohamed Saeed Ahmed, from New Valley governorate, Upper Egypt, died as a result of a sharp drop in blood circulation, the ministry's spokesman, Khaled Megahed, said in a statement.

The Egyptian medical mission's emergency room is coordinating with authorities concerned to issue a death certificate for her. ]]>
8/15/2018 2:15:10 PM
<![CDATA[Govt attaches importance to renovating Sour Magra el Oyoun]]>
The government aims at finishing the area's renovation project as soon as possible as it is part of a comprehensive vision to revive the outer look of Cairo and attract more tourists to get acquainted with the Egyptian heritage and culture, he stressed.

This came during a meeting held by the prime minister to follow up the implementation of the project in the presence of ministers of finance and trade and industry, Cairo governor and the deputy chairman of the New Urban Communities Authority.

During the meeting, a protocol was inked to beef up cooperation among the Ministry of Finance, Cairo Governorate and the New Urban Community Authority on renovating the Sour Magra el Oyoun, the 700-year-old aqueduct in Old Cairo.]]>
8/15/2018 1:59:04 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt offers Italy condolences over Genoa bridge collapse]]>
A statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Cairo extended its condolences to the victims' families and wished the injured a speedy recovery.

Egypt stands by the Italian government and people in this ordeal, the statement asserted.]]>
8/15/2018 11:07:33 AM
<![CDATA[Police probe 'terrorist' car attack outside UK parliament]]>
A 29-year-old British man, not previously known to the security services, was arrested at the scene by armed officers. Three people were injured.

Police, who initially said the man was refusing to co-operate, were holding him at a London police station on suspicion of preparing a terrorist attack.

Prime Minister Theresa May said the suspected attack was "shocking" and an "appalling incident" as she condemned the "twisted aim of the extremists".

Last year, five people were killed when a car mowed down pedestrians in an attack outside parliament.

Footage from Tuesday's suspected attack shows the silver Ford Fiesta veering across an intersection, hitting cyclists and pedestrians, before speeding into a barrier outside the Houses of Parliament at 7:37 am (0637 GMT).

Armed officers swooped in to arrest the driver, removing him from the vehicle at gunpoint.

Images showed police holding the man, dressed in jeans and a black puffer jacket, in handcuffs.

"Given that it appears to have been a deliberate act, the method used and the iconic location, it is being treated as a terrorist incident," police said in a statement.

Police said there was nobody else in the vehicle, which remains at the scene and was being searched. No weapons have been recovered.

- 'Deadpan' driver -

A man and a woman were taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Both have since been discharged. Another man was also treated at the scene for minor injuries.

Witness Kirsty Moseley, 31, from south London, was a passenger in a nearby car.

"I heard a few shouts, looked up and this silver car was driving at high speed the wrong way into the cyclists," she said.

"It's absolutely amazing there was only one cyclist seriously injured, he went straight through them. People were thrown everywhere."

The driver "wasn't shouting anything, he wasn't screaming, he didn't look crazed or out of control -- he was just deadpan."

Searches are being carried out at two addresses in Birmingham and one in Nottingham in central England.

Police said the privately-owned car travelled from Birmingham to London late on Monday, arriving in the capital just after midnight.

It was in the Tottenham Court Road area from around 1:25am until 5:55am, then was driven around Whitehall and Westminster, where the parliament and government ministries are, from around 6:00am until the time of the incident.

May urged the public to "remain vigilant but also to come together and carry on as normal".

"The twisted aim of the extremists is to use violence and terror to divide us. They will never succeed," she said.

No other arrests have been made and police have said there is no intelligence of further danger to Londoners.

- Crazy animals, says Trump -

May's spokesman said there were 676 live investigations being carried out by the security services and counter-terror police at the end of June, up from more than 500 in March.

Some 13 Islamist and four far-right extremist plots have been foiled in the past 18 months, he added.

US President Donald Trump urged tough action.

"Another terrorist attack in London... These animals are crazy and must be dealt with through toughness and strength!" he tweeted.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said: "All Londoners, like me, utterly condemn all acts of terrorism on our city."

"We will never be cowed, intimidated or divided by any terrorist attack," he said.

Westminster was the scene of a terror attack last year when Khalid Masood, a 52-year-old British convert to Islam, drove a car at pedestrians on Westminster Bridge over the River Thames, before fatally stabbing a policeman on guard outside parliament.

The attack left five people dead and around 50 injured, and only ended when police shot Masood dead.

Britain endured a tumultuous period following the March 22 rampage, with four further terror attacks within months.

Britain's national terror threat level is set at severe, the second-highest of five levels, meaning an attack is considered highly likely.

It has not been lower than severe since 2014 and was twice briefly raised to critical in 2017.]]>
8/15/2018 4:40:00 AM
<![CDATA[Congo starts using experimental Ebola treatment]]>
Forty-one people are believed to have died from the haemorrhagic fever in Congo's tenth Ebola outbreak since it was discovered in the 1970s.

The outbreak has spread from its epicentre in North Kivu province to neighbouring Ituri province after an infected person returned home, Congo's health ministry said, complicating containment in a region beset by widespread militia violence.

Ebola, which causes fever, vomiting and diarrhoea, finds a natural home in Congo's vast equatorial forests. Continuing flare-ups have made the central African country a testing ground for new treatments against a virus that between 2013 and 2016 killed over 11,300 in a West African epidemic.

In an outbreak in western Congo which began in April and was declared over in July, an experimental vaccine manufactured by Merck was given to 3,300 people and was considered central in containing the virus when it reached a city.

The mAb114 treatment was developed in the United States by the National Institutes of Health using the antibodies of the survivor of an Ebola outbreak in the western Congolese city of Kikwit in 1995.

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news conference in Geneva that medics were already treating five patients with mAb114 and that he had been informed they were doing well.

"We will use it as much as needed," Tedros said. "But use of the molecules is decided by doctor and patient consent."

Several other experimental treatments have arrived in the regional hub of Beni and are awaiting approval from an ethics committee, including Remdesivir, Favipiravir and REGN3450, REGN3471 and REGN3479, the health ministry said.

Separately, authorities have vaccinated over 200 health workers and contacts of Ebola patients. He said the risk of international spread was currently considered low even though it poses a high regional risk due to its proximity to the Ugandan border, which is only about 100 km (60 miles) away.

In all, there have been 57 cases to date -- 30 confirmed and 27 that are considered probable.

The response is taking place against the backdrop of insecurity caused by dozens of militia groups who regularly kill and kidnap civilians in the region.

"Before I went there I was really worried because of the different nature of the Ebola outbreak in DRC," Tedros said. "But after the visit I am actually more worried because of what we have observed there first hand."

Authorities are reaching out to militia to convince them to allow access to zones they occupy, he said.]]>
8/15/2018 4:20:00 AM
<![CDATA[Nebraska conducts first US execution with fentanyl]]>
Carey Dean Moore, sentenced to death for two 1979 murders, was the first prisoner executed in the Midwestern state in 21 years, in what was its first ever lethal injection.

The 60-year-old was pronounced dead at 10:47 am (1547 GMT). The execution lasted approximately 20 minutes, according to Scott Frakes, director of the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services.

Moore's execution survived a last-minute legal challenge from a drug company and protests about the new lethal injection protocol.

It was a pivotal test for Nebraska, where the state legislature abolished the death penalty in 2015, only to see voters reinstate it the next year in a referendum. The state last performed an execution in 1997 by electric chair.

"I recognize that today's execution impacts many people on many levels," said Frakes.

The execution was carried out with "professionalism, respect for the process and dignity for all involved," he said.

- Questions about drugs used -

The lethal injection consisted of the sedative diazepam to bring on unconsciousness, the painkiller fentanyl citrate, the muscle relaxer cisatracurium to stop breathing, and potassium chloride to stop the heart.

Only potassium chloride has been used before in executions.

Robert Dunham, director of the Death Penalty Information Center, said the new procedure was an indication of the trouble states are having in acquiring death penalty drugs.

"It indicates that states are looking for drugs that are available," Dunham told AFP.

Pharmaceutical manufacturers and providers have been increasingly hostile to selling such drugs to states. Officials across the country have had to scramble to find the execution drugs they need or find alternatives.

Dunham said Nebraska's use of fentanyl was especially problematic, because use of the powerful opioid is closely controlled by law, and the state has not disclosed its source for the drug.

"The manner in which they obtained it is highly questionable," he said.

- Courts weigh in -

Last week, German drug maker Fresenius Kabi challenged Nebraska with regards to two other drugs in the protocol, claiming the company was the likely source of the substances, and if so, Nebraska improperly obtained them.

It demanded that the state disclose the source of its drugs.

But the state insisted the drugs were legally acquired and both a federal judge and an appellate court sided with Nebraska.

Even the pope himself was not able to change Moore's fate.

Two weeks ago, Pope Francis changed the Catholic Church's teaching, declaring the death penalty "inadmissible" in all cases.

Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts, a Catholic who supported the reinstatement of the death penalty, was resolute.

"While I respect the pope's perspective, capital punishment remains the will of the people," Ricketts said.

- 'I am guilty' -

Moore had been on death row for 38 years and did not want further delays of his execution.

In 1980, while still in his early 20s, he was sentenced to death for the killings the year prior of two Omaha taxi drivers five days apart.

Expressing contrition, he admitted to fatally shooting the first driver during a robbery committed with his brother, and killing the second driver to "foolishly" prove to himself that he could commit murder on his own.

In his final words, Moore alluded to a written statement dated August 2, in which he pointed to other Nebraska death row inmates who claim their innocence.

"I am guilty, they are not," he wrote. "Why must they remain there one day longer?"

Moore also asked forgiveness from his brother.

Moore's execution was the 16th in the United States this year, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.]]>
8/15/2018 3:40:00 AM
<![CDATA[Trump calls former aide Omarosa a 'dog']]>
Manigault Newman -- who first gained fame as a contestant on Trump's reality TV show -- has dripped out recordings of embarrassing private conversations at the White House as she promotes a memoir about her time with "The Donald."

Her book -- which paints Trump as a racist, liar and a "germophobe" with a "total lack of empathy" -- has plunged the White House and the president into fresh crisis, and her comments to the media have dominated US headlines for days.

Team Trump responded furiously, launching a campaign to discredit her and pursuing legal action against her for breaking an apparent non-disclosure agreement.

Trump had already branded "Omarosa" -- as she is commonly known in America -- a "lowlife" after she released a recording of her firing by chief of staff John Kelly, seemingly recorded in the White House Situation Room.

And after she released a recording of a conversation she had with Trump after her firing, he repeated called her "wacky."

But on Tuesday, he ratcheted up the war of words -- to a level of nastiness rarely seen, even from a president who has shown he does not pull punches when insulting his critics.

"When you give a crazed, crying lowlife a break, and give her a job at the White House, I guess it just didn't work out. Good work by General Kelly for quickly firing that dog!" Trump tweeted.

His comment immediately prompted criticism on both sides of the political aisle.

"This kind of language is unbecoming of a President of the United States. There is no excuse for it, and Republicans should not be okay with it," said Republican Senator Jeff Flake, a frequent Trump critic.

"How dare he? He has taken this country to its knees," said Democratic congresswoman Frederica Wilson.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders argued that Trump's insults have nothing to do with race or gender.

"The president is an equal opportunity person that calls things like he sees it. He always fights fire with fire and doesn't hold back on doing that across the board," Sanders said.

- 'In Trump World, everyone lies' -

The book and the recordings by the disgruntled 44-year-old Manigault Newman, once an ardent Trump ally, represents a stunning breach of presidential trust.

On Tuesday, she explained to CBS News why she made the recordings: "I'm the kind of person who covers her own back. In Trump World, everyone lies."

"Everyone says one thing one day and they change their story the next day. I wanted to have this type of documentation... in the event I found myself in this position where, as you said, they're questioning my credibility."

Just how much she documented of her time in the White House is now of keen interest to her former colleagues and, perhaps, to special counsel Robert Mueller.

Manigault Newman said she had already spoken to the man who is looking into Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election and whether Team Trump colluded with Moscow to tip the scales. She also says she is willing to do so again.

- 'Forgetfulness and frustration' -

Manigault Newman's book, "Unhinged: An Insider's Account of the Trump White House," hit bookstores and digital platforms on Tuesday.

Largely self-serving, it describes the daily firefighting of life on the Trump campaign and then in the White House.

"Donald Trump's single greatest character flaw as a leader and human being is his complete and total lack of empathy," she writes, describing the president as a "friend" but attacking him relentlessly.

"Nothing has more meaning to Donald than himself," she says, alleging that he and his wife Melania sleep in separate rooms and that Trump has brought a tanning bed with him to the White House.

Perhaps the sternest criticism is of Trump's abilities -- Manigault Newman describes him as a brilliant businessman but "just this side of functionally illiterate," prone to "forgetfulness and frustration" and in a state of "mental decline" that "could not be denied."

Manigault Newman has suggested that Trump has been recorded using racial slurs -- something Trump denies.

CBS News aired a recording of what appears to be her and other campaign aides hatching a plan to tamp down the damage if such a tape of Trump existed.

Katrina Pierson, one of those aides, denied Manigault Newman's account of that conversation in the book.

Despite Trump's denials, Sanders said she could not guarantee the president had never used racial slurs.

"I haven't been in every single room," she said.]]>
8/15/2018 2:10:00 AM
<![CDATA[Search for survivors after Italian motorway collapse kills at least 26]]>
While that remained the official death toll, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said from Genoa that the number would rise. The ANSA news agency reported that it could reach around 35, citing fire brigade sources.

A 50-metre (160-foot) high section of the bridge, including a tower that anchored several stays, crashed down with as many as 35 vehicles driving on it in torrential rain. Huge slabs of reinforced concrete plunged onto two warehouses, train tracks and a riverbed.

In its latest update, the government of the Liguria region tweeted that 19 bodies had already been identified and 15 people had been admitted to hospital, nine in critical condition.

More than 400 people were evacuated from buildings near or below the still-standing section of the bridge. The collapse appeared not to have killed anyone beneath the bridge, only people driving over it, the civil protection agency said.

Firefighters heard voices under the rubble and pulled out seven survivors, fire official Bruno Frattasi told the state broadcaster RAI.

"We hope to find more people alive," police official Alessandra Bucci said.

Within hours of the disaster, the anti-establishment government that took office in June said the collapse showed Italy needed to spend more on its dilapidated infrastructure, ignoring EU budget constraints if necessary.

"We should ask ourselves whether respecting these limits is more important than the safety of Italian citizens. Obviously for me, it is not," said Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, head of the right-wing League, which governs with the 5-Star Movement.

"THEY WILL PAY"

The government has already pledged to increase public investment and lobby the European Commission to have the extra spending excluded from EU deficit calculations.

Salvini also said he wanted the "names and surnames of those who are to blame, because a tragedy like this in 2018 is not acceptable."

"They will have to pay, pay for everything, and pay a lot," he said.

Aerial footage showed trucks and cars stranded on either side of the 80-metre long collapsed section of the Morandi Bridge, built on the A10 toll motorway in the late 1960s. One truck was shown just metres away from the broken end of what locals called their "Brooklyn Bridge".

Motorist Alessandro Megna told RAI state radio he had been in a traffic jam and seen the collapse:

"Suddenly the bridge came down with everything it was carrying. It was really an apocalyptic scene, I couldn't believe my eyes."

An official for the civil protection agency said there had been 30 cars and five to 10 trucks on the section that fell.

Some 300 firefighters were working in the wreckage, using sniffer dogs to try to locate survivors, along with 400 police.

"People living in Genoa use this bridge twice a day," said Deputy Transport Minister Edoardo Rixi, who is from the city. "We can't live with infrastructure built in the 1950s and 1960s."

Map of bridge location https://tmsnrt.rs/2OArKJj

BRIDGE 'CONSTANTLY MONITORED'

Transport Minister Danilo Toninelli told state television that the disaster pointed to a lack of maintenance.

Autostrade, a unit of the infrastructure group Atlantia , controlled by the Benetton family, manages the section of the toll highway that collapsed.

"The collapse was unexpected and unpredictable. The bridge was constantly monitored and supervised well beyond what the law required," Stefano Marigliani, the Autostrade official responsible for the Genoa area, told Reuters.

He said there had been no indication that the bridge was dangerous.

Autostrade said it would work with investigators, and that it was already assessing how to rebuild the bridge.

In a 2016 interview posted online, Antonio Brencich, a University of Genoa professor specialising in reinforced concrete construction, said: "This bridge is usually characterised as a masterpiece of engineering, but in reality it is a failure of engineering."

He did not say at the time that it was in danger of collapsing, but that it required continuous maintenance and would eventually have to be torn down and replaced.

The 1.2 km-long bridge was completed in 1967 and overhauled in 2016. The motorway it carries is a major artery from northern Italy's industrial centres to the Italian Riviera and to France's southern coast.

Autostrade said work to reinforce the slab under the road surface was going on at the time of the collapse.

Premier Conte visited the rescue teams in Genoa, saying afterward that Italy's infrastructure should be more closely monitored.

Atlantia shares closed down more than 5 percent.]]>
8/15/2018 12:20:00 AM
<![CDATA[Pennsylvania report details decades of sexual abuse by priests]]>
An 884-page report made public by Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro after a two-year investigation contained graphic examples of children being groomed and sexually abused by clergymen. It was largely based on documents from secret archives kept by the dioceses, including handwritten confessions by priests, he said.

"It was child sexual abuse, including rape, committed by grown men - priests - against children," Shapiro told a press conference.

Representatives of the six Pennsylvania dioceses included in the report could not be reached for comment.

The attorney general said it was the most comprehensive report on Catholic clergy sex abuse in American history, nearly two decades after an expose of widespread abuse and cover-up in Boston that rocked the Roman Catholic church.

Several of the dioceses issued statements apologizing to victims and saying they were taking steps to ensure any criminal behavior was stopped. "The grand jury has challenged us as a Catholic diocese to put victims first and to continue to improve ways to protect children and youth," Bishop Lawrence Persico of the Erie Diocese said in a statement.

As accusers wept behind him, Shapiro described alleged abuse by priests in six of the state's eight dioceses, including a group of Pittsburgh clergymen accused of ordering an altar boy to strip naked and pose as Christ on the cross while they photographed him.

"The pattern was abuse, deny and cover up," Shapiro said, adding that church officials sought to keep abuse allegations quiet long enough so they could no longer be prosecuted under Pennsylvania's statute of limitations.

"Priests were raping little boys and girls," Shapiro said. "They hid it all for decades."

The report cited 301 priests, some of whom have died. Only two of the priests are still subject to prosecution.

A few of the clergymen accused in the report succeeded in having their names redacted, and Shapiro said he would argue at a Sept. 26 court hearing for making all the names public.

He said the grand jury identified about a thousand victims, but believed there may be many more.

Shapiro said that one priest had molested five sisters in one family, he said. The diocese settled with the family after requiring a confidentiality agreement, he said.

The attorney general said that Catholic bishops covered up child sexual abuse by priests and reassigned them repeatedly to different parishes. “They allowed priests to remain active for as long as 40 years,” he said.

Describing the "weaponization of faith" to silence victims, Shapiro cited several examples including one priest who allegedly told children "how Mary had to lick Jesus clean after he was born" to groom them for oral sex.

"Children were taught that this abuse was not only normal but that it was holy," Shapiro said.

Since the Boston abuse scandal erupted in the 1990s, accusations involving American clerics have sporadically surfaced.

Theodore McCarrick, a former archbishop of Washington, resigned as a cardinal last month after accusations resurfaced that he abused a 16-year-old boy decades ago.

In recent months, Pope Francis accepted a number of resignations from Chilean bishops in a sex abuse scandal that has rocked that country. ]]>
8/15/2018 12:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Terrorist cell members accused of planning attack on church sent on 15-day remand]]>
The defendants faced charges of belonging to an outlawed terrorist group, preventing state institutions from carrying out their duties, damaging national unity and social stability, attempting to overturn the regime, and targeting Copts and places of worship.

The attempted suicide attack was foiled due to the intensified security measures outside the church, security sources announced on Saturday morning.

In press remarks, security sources said that the attacker was disguised as a construction worker in order to easily pass through the security barricades springing up along the church and that he was forced to retract; then his explosive belt exploded far away atop the Mostorod Bridge, killing only the attacker.

“The procedures posted outside the church make the infiltration of any terrorist carrying explosives an impossible feat to pull off, pointing out that the security guards are positioned through a series of multi-layered security cordons with intensified security measures buoyed up by ocular inspection of cars and people going into the church,” the sources added.

On Saturday, security forces thwarted a suicide attempt to attack the Virgin Mary church located near Shoubra El-Kheima district of Qalioubiya governorate.

The church of Virgin Mary is currently witnessing celebrations of the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary; the celebrations take place between Aug. 7 and Aug. 21.
]]>
8/14/2018 7:30:48 PM
<![CDATA[Sisi, Saudi King Salman, Crown Prince meet in NEOM]]>
The Saudi allies organized a large banquet, with many princes and ministers attending. Head of the Egyptian general intelligence, Abbas Kamel, was also present. The leaders discussed partnerships and means of cooperation.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced plans for the 26,500 square km (10,230 square mile) futuristic high-tech hub last year as part of reforms aimed at creating jobs, encouraging foreign investment and permitting new freedoms for Saudis steeped in religious puritanism and state dependency.

The authorities have announced few details since then and while some companies, including Japan's Softbank, have said they are prepared to invest in NEOM, major, concrete business ventures have not yet been announced.

NEOM, however, is expected to be a $500 billion business and industrial zone in which both Egypt and Jordan are to be partners in land, at least. It is also planned to be a massive entertainment project and a high tech town.

Sisi_3
President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia during their meeting on Tuesday in the futuristic city of NEOM – Press Photo


63512-2_Sisi
President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia during their meeting on Tuesday in the futuristic city of NEOM – Press Photo



43653-1_Sisi
President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia during their meeting on Tuesday in the futuristic city of NEOM – Press Photo
]]>
8/14/2018 6:21:32 PM
<![CDATA[Deputy agriculture minister denies increasing zoo tickets price]]>
In a statement on Tuesday, Mehrez asserted that the price of the zoo ticket stands at 5 pounds, seven days a week.

Mehrez pointed out that a proposal on upping the zoo ticket price to 25 pound, one day a week is currently under consideration, with the selected day to be decided later.

While, the zoo ticket price is set to remain unchangeable over the rest of the week, for students and during celebrations, trips and official holidays, she said.

The State allocated LE 35 million for modernizing the zoos nationwide, she said, adding that revenues from increasing the ticket price one day a week will go for the development plans of the zoo.]]>
8/14/2018 5:00:55 PM
<![CDATA[Medical tragedy takes place in Menoufia ]]>
Having stood in the health insurance queue for two months waiting for a turn in Ashmoun Hospital for his two sons to do a "purity operation", the father never imagined things to end in such a tragedy on August 4.

Hisham Ezzat Selim, who works in motorcycle maintenance and lives in the village of Subk Al- Ahad in Menoufia, said “God gave me two males and thank God they were in good health until they reached 5 years and 9 months. Their names are Ezzat and Abdo.

Due to a tight budget, I could not take them to a private doctor and had to refer to a health insurance hospital.”

Selim added that, to his surprise, his son complained about the operation but he took him home anyway, believing that things will eventually be okay. However, when his wife tried to reassure the 5 year old child, she came to learn that there was no gauze on the wound and that it appeared rather burnt.

Unfortunately, Selim had to wait until morning to take his child to any doctor only to realize that most of them refused to deal with this case for fear of being held responsible. “I kept looking for a doctor from 3 a.m. to 4 p.m.,” he said.

Everyone in the hospital confirmed that Selim needed to move to a larger, better equipped hospital for treatment. Having arrived at the Shebin El-Kom University Hospital, Selim signed an acknowledgment that his son had a serious condition of gangrene.

Selim confirmed that an operation was carried out so that his son could extract wastes and discharge water from his stomach after being unable to urinate normally. The doctor in the hospital explained that the boy has a serious case of gangrene and that it would require amputation.

The Ministry of Health decided to open an immediate investigation into the serious medical errors of the incident.
The Undersecretary of the Ministry of Health in Menoufia, Nassif Hefnawi, also formed a committee to investigate the incident and it was transferred to the Administrative Prosecution.
Medical mistakes that occur can often be drastic and life threatening. However, this is not the first one in Egypt this month.

A 1 year old girl died after being injected with a drug in a pharmacy. Her mother shared that the little girl was suffering from chest allergies and that she had previously taken her to a doctor who prescribed a specific antibiotic injection.

However, when the mother went to the pharmacy for the injection, the pharmacist asked her to wait outside. Meanwhile, the pharmacist injected the girl with an unknown type of syringe that caused her death.

]]>
8/14/2018 4:17:45 PM
<![CDATA[Terrorist cell members accused of planning attack on church sent on 15-day remand]]>
The defendants faced charges of belonging to an outlawed terrorist group, preventing state institutions from carrying out their duties, damaging national unity and social stability, attempting to overturn the regime, and targeting Copts and places of worship.

The attempted suicide attack was foiled due to the intensified security measures outside the church, security sources announced on Saturday morning.

In press remarks, security sources said that the attacker was disguised as a construction worker in order to easily pass through the security barricades springing up along the church and that he was forced to retract; then his explosive belt exploded far away atop the Mostorod Bridge, killing only the attacker.

“The procedures posted outside the church make the infiltration of any terrorist carrying explosives an impossible feat to pull off, pointing out that the security guards are positioned through a series of multi-layered security cordons with intensified security measures buoyed up by ocular inspection of cars and people going into the church,” the sources added.

On Saturday, security forces thwarted a suicide attempt to attack the Virgin Mary church located near Shoubra El-Kheima district of Qalioubiya governorate.

The church of Virgin Mary is currently witnessing celebrations of the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary; the celebrations take place between Aug. 7 and Aug. 21.


]]>
8/14/2018 4:10:10 PM
<![CDATA[Private schools’ fees increased for 2018/2019 academic year]]>
The Ministry of Education remarked that the fees for Arabic private schools and co-operative schools will increase by 25 percent annually for fees of less than LE 2,000, by 20 percent for fees between LE 2,000 - LE 3,000, by 15 percent for fees between LE 3,000- LE 5,000, by 10 percent for fees between LE 5,000- LE 10,000, and by 7 percent for fees of more than LE 10,000.

As for international schools, the ministry remarked that the fees will surge 7 percent instead of 14 percent, and it will be applied starting from students enrolled in the 2015/2016 base year.

The ministry referred that regulations were set to operate private and co-operative schools transport services and identify the services' fees for the 2018/2019 academic year.

The transport services will increase by 45 percent for prices starting from LE 1,000 - less than LE 2,000, by 40 percent for prices from LE 2,000 - less than LE 3,000, by 35 percent for prices from LE 3,000 - less than LE 4,000, and by 30 percent for prices of LE 6,000 or more, considering that this increase is applied to schools that did not undergo a revaluation of expenses.

Concerning school textbooks, the ministry pointed out that the cost of textbooks shall be calculated where 10 percent administrative expenses will be added to the actual cost of the books.

The ministry stressed that buying additional books is optional while ministerial books are obligatory, and that private schools are not allowed to sell or make summaries, references or booklets for textbooks without taking permission from the competent authority of the ministry.

The Ministry of Education explained that school uniforms should not be sold inside schools or be changed for at least five years, referring that schools will be monitored regularly to ensure commitment.

In 2017, the Ministry of Education took action to control private and international schools' rising fees for this academic year.

The increase is inevitable given the fact that these schools want to mitigate the negative consequences of the floatation of the Egyptian pound. Indeed, international schools with foreign staff members have been especially hit by the effects of the floatation. Parents fear that schools will place disproportionately high increases on the tuition fees.
In this regard, the ministry has already decided the increase for private and international school fees starting this year will be limited. Minister of Education, Tarek Shawki, announced that he has already placed a limit on the increases of the international and private schools' tuition fees.

Shawki had previously announced that international school fees will increase by 14 percent maximum, for the school year 2017-2018; and another 7 percent yearly, starting this year. He also announced that fees for private Arabic and language schools will increase by 7-11 percent for each stage segment.

Abeer Hani, director general of Private and International Education at the ministry, said that Shawki issued Decree no. 173 for the year 2017, amending Article 5 of Resolution no. 422 for the year 2014.

She explained that the decree stipulates that the increase would be 11 percent for schools with fees less than LE 2,000, 8 percent for schools with fees between LE 2,000 and LE 3,000, 5 percent for schools with fees of LE 7,000 and more, noting that the total number of private schools in Egypt are 6,664; 217 of which are international schools and 6,447 are languages schools.

According to the Ministry of Education, about 20 million students were enrolled in schools around Egypt in the year 2015/2016. Fewer than 2 million students joined private schools.

Additional report by Reem Leila]]>
8/14/2018 3:54:11 PM
<![CDATA[Explosion in Yemen's Aden targets provincial governor's convoy: witnesses]]>
They said a roadside bomb hit the convoy of the governor of Taiz province, who is a member of the internationally recognised government in exile. The governor survived the blast but others were injured, they said.]]>
8/14/2018 3:28:16 PM
<![CDATA[Kuwaiti newspapers highlight Sisi's rejection of turning Yemen to platform to threaten int'l navigation]]>
During a meeting on Monday with Yemeni President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, Sisi stressed that Egypt backs a political solution to the Yemeni crisis, urging political parties to reach a rapprochement.

Sisi confirmed Egypt's commitment to supporting Yemen's legitimate government and continuing efforts to realize stability and overcome the current challenges.

He added that the Yemeni stalemate is passing a watershed stage and its repercussions cast their shadow on the Arab region's stability and security in an unprecedented way.

He underlined the importance of Arab cooperation to change the situation in Yemen.

Sisi also stressed keenness on furthering ties with Yemen, expressing confidence that Yemen is capable of recovering from the current crisis.]]>
8/14/2018 2:26:29 PM
<![CDATA[Egyptian students design car that runs on air]]>
The undergraduate students, who built the vehicle as part of their graduation project from Helwan University just outside Cairo, are rolling out a prototype one-person vehicle that runs on compressed oxygen.

The go-kart-like vehicle comes as Egypt pushes ahead with painful economic reforms that include deep cuts to energy subsidies, measures tied to a three-year $12 billion IMF loan program it began in late 2016.

The students say their vehicle can hit 40 kilometers an hour and last 30 kilometers before needing to be refueled, and it only costs about 18,000 Egyptian pounds ($1,008.40) to build.

“The operational cost of the vehicle... will be almost nothing. You are basically using compressed air. You are not paying for fuel and also you do not need cooling,” said Mahmoud Yasser, a student who helped design it.

The team is now looking to raise funding to expand the project and mass produce the vehicles. They believe they can eventually get the vehicles to top 100 kilometers an hour and run for 100 kilometers before needing to come up for air.]]>
8/14/2018 2:24:06 PM
<![CDATA[Security alert level raised ahead of Rabaa dispersal 5th anniversary]]>
The security plan was constructed to avoid attempts of breaking the law and of undermining the nation and its capabilities, security officials told Egypt Today.

With the aid of the Civil Protection Sector and the use of police dogs, many areas were inspected, particularly around state institutions. Also, a number of security ambushes in Cairo as well as border ambushes between governorates were established to boost security across the country.

Assistants of the minister of interior and security managers ensured the successful deployment of police on the streets.

Egypt witnesses the fifth anniversary of the dispersal of Rabaa and Nahda sit-ins where members of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood had gathered and engaged into clashes with security forces on August 14, 2013.
]]>
8/14/2018 2:10:10 PM
<![CDATA[Erdogan says Turkey to 'boycott' US electronic goods]]>
"We will boycott US electronic goods," Erdogan said in a televised speech, raising the stakes in a spat that has seen the Turkish lira plunge to record lows.

"If (the United States) have the iPhone, there's Samsung on the other side," he said, referring to US giant Apple's iconic phone and the top South Korean brand.

"We (also) have our Venus and Vestel," he said about homegrown Turkish electronics brands.

Relations between the two NATO allies have plummeted in one of their worst crises in decades after the detention of US pastor Andrew Brunson on terror-related charges, sending the Turkish lira into free fall against the dollar.

Erdogan has been repeatedly photographed with Apple products including the iPhone and iPad.

He also made his now famous speech on the night of the July 2016 failed coup calling citizens out into the street through Facetime, an iPhone app.

The lira's plunge -- which had been ongoing for weeks -- was turned into a rout on Friday when US President Donald Trump tweeted that Washington was doubling aluminium and steel tariffs for Turkey.

Turkish Airlines also announced on Twitter that it would join a campaign circulating on social media with a hashtag #ABDyeReklamVerme (don't give ads to America).

"We, as the Turkish Airlines, stand by our state and our people. Necessary instructions on the issue have been issued to our agencies," Yahya Ustun, spokesman for the country's flag-carrier, wrote on Twitter.

Erdogan said Turkey was facing an "economic attack" and a "bigger, deeper operation" but showed no sign of making concessions to the United States.

"They don't hesitate to use the economy as a weapon," he said. "What do you want to do? What do you want to achieve," he added, referring to the US.

Erdogan admitted the Turkish economy had problems -- including a widening current account deficit and inflation of almost 16 percent but added: "Thanks to God, our economy is functioning like clockwork."]]>
8/14/2018 2:07:49 PM
<![CDATA[Death toll among Egyptian pilgrims hits 12]]>
The deceased man, identified as Yehia Mahfouz Taha, from Assiut governorate, Upper Egypt, died as a result of a sharp drop in blood circulation, the ministry's spokesman, Khaled Megahed, said in a statement.

The Egyptian medical mission's emergency room is coordinating with authorities concerned to issue a death certificate for him. ]]>
8/14/2018 2:04:24 PM
<![CDATA[In pics: Italy motorway bridge collapses over Genoa, "dozens" feared dead]]>
The head of the local ambulance service said there were "dozens of dead", Italian news agency Adnkronos reported.

a

The local fire brigade said also victims were likely after the bridge collapsed at around 11:30 a.m. (0930 GMT) during torrential rainfall.

An ambulance official told Reuters the service could only confirm two injured people so far, "but we suppose there are unfortunately a lot of dead."

Italian television showed images of the collapsed bridge, which was built on the A10 toll motorway in the 1960s. Restructuring work on the bridge was carried out in 2016.

It crumbled over a river, railroad tracks and buildings.

An witness told Sky Italia television he saw "eight or nine" vehicles on the bridge when it collapsed in what he said was an "apocalyptic scene".

Transport Minister Danilo Toninelli said in a tweet that he was "following with great apprehension what seems like an immense tragedy".

Shares in Atlantia, the toll road operator which runs the motorway, were suspended after falling 4.6 percent after news of the collapse.

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8/14/2018 1:44:31 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt large landfills to be shut: Environment official]]>
Salah said that there are random landfills in governorates, adding that the Environment Ministry has set a plan to deal with these landfills. He revealed that some machines were placed to control spontaneous fires that can start in the landfills.

Environment Minister Yasmine Fouad cited earlier this month the spontaneous combustion of landfills, emissions stemming from industrial facilities and vehicle exhaust as some of the main causes of air pollution in Egypt.

She also unveiled new measures to be applied to reduce air pollutants.

Among these measures is keeping a close eye, in coordination with different governorates, on random rubbish dumps for rapid intervention in case of fire eruption in addition to finding innovative solutions, with youths' involvement, to get rid of agricultural waste, the minister said.

Landfills that have increased in size over years in Egypt are subject to plans that would see them turned into recycling centers.



In April, former Environment Minister Khaled Fahmi said that Menoufia’s Abu Kharita, the biggest landfill in Egypt, will be replaced by the largest recycling plant in three months.

“The University of Alexandria will implement a plan for the disposal of the landfill, and we will provide experts to work on waste sorting,” Fahmi said.

“There is no society free from garbage, but we aim to solve the waste problem within four years. Once a new law [on garbage disposal] is passed by the House of Representatives, a company will be selected to run the processes of disposal,” he added.

“Sell your garbage”, a project launched by Cairo Governorate in early 2017, aims to establish kiosks in different neighborhoods where people are encouraged to sell their used cans, plastic bottles, paper and cardboard instead of throwing them away. It began with two kiosks in the Heliopolis district in Cairo, and other kiosks are being prepared in other locations in the governorate.
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8/14/2018 1:36:52 PM
<![CDATA[International Youth Day in Egypt]]>
The USAID aims to support efforts that would provide young adults with key life skills in terms of employability and entrepreneurial skills in Minya, Assiut, Sohag and Qena.

As a way to empower the youth and combat issues such as female genital mutilation (FGM), the USAID is taking part in building a cadre of professional guidance counselors from the Ministry of Youth and Sports as part of the “Meshwary” project.

According to UNICEF, the “Meshwary” project deals with lacking career opportunities that young adults face in Egypt. The project eventually grew to accommodate the youth in urban slums, Assuit, Sohag and Sharkeya by focusing on skills development and sharing, career guidance and work placement.

“Through the ‘Meshwary’ project, we are equipping the next generation of Egyptian youth with the skills they need to be successful in the labor market – and in life,” said the USAID Egypt Mission Director Sherry F. Carlin at the International Youth Day event.

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid said on Sunday that the youth of Egypt are the title of the current stage in Egypt and the priority of the country, according to Al-Masry Al-Youm.

“The world celebrates #InternationalYouthDay once every year while #Egypt celebrates its youth every day. Since the President’s announcement of 2016 as the year of the Youth, their empowerment has become the nation’s priority. Egypt’s future lies in rising its generation,” said Abu Zeid on twitter.

During the Sixth National Youth Conference, President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi named the year 2019 as the year of education, thus making education a top priority for the development of Egyptian youth.
]]>
8/14/2018 1:30:08 PM
<![CDATA[Construction at Administrative Capital to be completed in 3.5 years: CSCEC]]>
Xueyuan added to Xinhua News Agency that the project aims to provide thousands of jobs and stimulate the Egyptian economy, while the Egyptian government institutions are scheduled to move to the new capital during the second half of 2019. The project reflects the depth of Egyptian-Chinese relations.

“The center will feature a 345-meter of skyscraper, which will be the tallest building in Africa. It will also include 12 shopping malls, 5 residential buildings and 2 hotels,” Xinhua News Agency said.

Wang Xiangming, head of CSCEC, thanked the Prime Minister during his meeting one week ago."I want to assure you that we will implement this project according to our agreement,” he said.

“We will try to implement the two phases in the shortest possible time in the best way to work, and we will provide all the resources of the company to speed the implementation of the project with high quality,” he added.
]]>
8/14/2018 1:27:58 PM
<![CDATA[Man arrested after car hits barriers outside Britain's parliament-PA]]>
Footage on social media showed heavily-armed police response units arriving at the scene, with the area outside the parliament building in central London sealed off.

A man has been detained on suspicion of terrorist offences, British police said on Tuesday, after a car hit pedestrians and crashed into barrier outside the UK parliament.

Police said they were treating the incident as a terrorism-related and the driver, aged in his late 20s, was in custody at a south London police station.

"He was arrested on suspicion of terrorist offences," the Metropolitan Police said in a statement. "There was nobody else in the vehicle, which remains at the scene and is being searched. No weapons have been recovered at this stage."]]>
8/14/2018 12:40:36 PM
<![CDATA[Russia's Lavrov says conditions exist for Syria refugee return]]>
Lavrov was speaking after talks with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu.
]]>
8/14/2018 12:35:25 PM
<![CDATA[Man arrested, pedestrians injured as car hits barriers at UK parliament]]>
Police said none of the injuries were life-threatening and they could not immediately determine whether the incident was terrorism-related.

"The male driver of the car was detained by officers at the scene. A number of pedestrians have been injured. Officers remain at the scene. We will issue further info when we have it," London's police force said in a statement on Twitter.

A spokeswoman said: "We're still trying to piece it together."

Footage on social media showed a handcuffed man being led away by heavily armed police.

"Someone driving towards parliament at speed, it wasn’t a normal, it’s not a minor like accident, it’s not like a road traffic incident," witness Jason Williams told Sky News. "This is something in my opinion planned and very serious."

Television images showed police pointing their guns at a vehicle which appeared to have entered a lane used for access to the parliament building before it stopped at a security barrier.

Media reports said a cyclist was among the injured.

Westminster Underground station, close to parliament, was closed and the building cordoned off. No one was being allowed entry to parliament. As parliament is in recess for summer, most lawmakers are not using the building.

The crash occurred at 0637 GMT.

In March 2017, Khalid Masood, 52, killed four people on nearby Westminster Bridge before he stabbed to death an unarmed police officer in the grounds of parliament. He was shot dead at the scene. It was the first of five attacks on Britain last year which police blamed on terrorism.

Britain is on its second highest threat level of "severe", meaning an attack by militants is considered highly likely.

Last week, a Muslim convert admitted plotting to kill more than 100 people by driving a truck into pedestrians on London's Oxford Street, the capital's major shopping thoroughfare.]]>
8/14/2018 10:22:33 AM
<![CDATA[Saudi Arabia has freed three Iranian fishermen detained last year - IRNA]]>
Ardeshir Yarahmadi, the head of the fisheries department of Iran's Bushehr province, said the three Iranian fishermen, arrested in June 2017 in Saudi waters, had been released this week after foreign ministry negotiations with Riyadh. He did not specify the exact date of their release.]]>
8/14/2018 10:19:13 AM
<![CDATA[No life-threatening injuries in UK parliament crash: police]]>
Earlier police said a number of people had been hurt in the incident.]]>
8/14/2018 10:14:37 AM
<![CDATA[Pedestrians hurt as car hits barrier at UK parliament, man arrested]]>
“The male driver of the car was detained by officers at the scene. A number of pedestrians have been injured. Officers remain at the scene. We will issue further info when we have it,” London’s police force said in a statement on Twitter.

A spokeswoman said: “We’re still trying to piece it together.”

Footage on social media showed a handcuffed man being led away by heavily armed police.

Westminster Underground station, close to parliament, was closed and the building was cordoned off. No one was being allowed entry to parliament. As parliament is in recess for summer, most lawmakers are not using the building.

The crash occurred at 0637 GMT.

In March 2017, Khalid Masood, 52, killed four people on nearby Westminster Bridge before he stabbed to death an unarmed police officer in the grounds of parliament. He was shot dead at the scene. It was the first of five attacks on Britain last year which police blamed on terrorism.]]>
8/14/2018 10:12:42 AM
<![CDATA[Parliament to announce vacancy of two seats due to the death of two members]]>
The House of Representatives will wait for the fourth session until it informs the NEA that the two seats are free, in order to conduct complementary elections for the two seats under the individual system.

Article 392 of the Parliament’s internal regulations states, "The Minister of Interior shall inform the President of the parliament of the death of any of its members within three days from the date of death. The Parliament’s President shall notify MPs in the first session following the member’s death to perform a funeral oration and declare that the vacancy of his/her province’s seat in the parliament.”

According to the same article, if the seat of one of the members becomes empty by the disqualification of his membership or by resigning for any other reason, the president of the parliament declares his position vacant, and informs the NEA to take the necessary action.

MP Rifat Dagher, a member of the House of Representatives for the center of Zefta, died on Sunday, during a heart operation he underwent in his hometown.

Meanwhile, Maj. Gen. Ahmed Abdel Tawab, a member of the House of Representatives from Fayoum’s Tamiya Center and the Secretary of the Council’s National Defense Committee died on July 29 as a result of a health issue. He was buried in his hometown of Azizia at Fayoum’s Tamiya Center.

House speaker announces 3rd ordinary legislative session conclusion

CAIRO - 26 July 2018: Speaker of the House of Representatives Ali Abdel Aal announced the conclusion of the third ordinary session of the legislature. President Abdel Fattah El Sisi will issue a decree on the matter later after which the parliament will begin its summer break, the longest recess on parliament's calendar.




Speaker of the House of Representatives Ali Abdel-Aal announced the conclusion of the third ordinary session of the legislature in July.

President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi will issue a decree on the matter after which the parliament will begin its summer break, the longest recess on the parliamentary calendar.

At the closing session of the parliament's third year on Wednesday, Abdel Aal said that the fourth ordinary session of the legislature will start as per the date set in the president's decree.

Under Article 115 of the Constitution, the president is obliged to invite parliament to reconvene for a new parliamentary session before the first Thursday of October every year.
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8/14/2018 6:40:00 AM
<![CDATA[Egyptian veteran economist Samir Amin dies at 86]]>
The veteran economist was born in 1931 in Egypt for an Egyptian father and a French mother, both parents were medical doctors. Amin spent his early years in the city of Port Said, where he joined the French high school, receiving his Baccalauréat in 1947.

Amin gained a political science diploma in 1952 from a French University, he continued his studies in the politics and economy fields during the 1950s. The late economist joined the French Communist Party (PCF), where he acquired a wide knowledge about different circles in the Leftism arena, such as the Marxism and the Maoism.

After finishing his thesis, Amin went back to Cairo, where he worked from 1957 to 1960 as a research officer for the government's "Institution for Economic Management". Subsequently, Amin left Cairo, to become an adviser to the Ministry of Planning in Bamako (Mali) from 1960 to 1963.

In 1963 he was offered a fellowship at the Institut Africain de Développement Économique et de Planification (IDEP). Until 1970 he worked there as well as being a professor at the university of Poitiers, Dakar and Paris (of Paris VIII, Vincennes). In 1970 he became director of the IDEP, which he managed until 1980. In 1980 Amin left the IDEP and became a director of the Third World Forum in Dakar.

The Marxist economist took the post of the African Institute for Economic Development and Planning of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, along with several other international posts.

He wrote many books including The Liberal Virus 2003, A life Looking Forward 2006, Accumulation on a World Scale 1970 and Capitalism in the age of globalization 1997.
]]>
8/14/2018 4:20:00 AM
<![CDATA[U.S. rests its case against former Trump aide Manafort]]>
More than two dozen witnesses painted a picture of Manafort, 69, as a lavish spender with little regard for the law. A political consultant in the Ukraine, Manafort stashed his money in 31 undisclosed offshore bank accounts, and skirted taxes on that income by wiring it directly to vendors to snap up real estate, bespoke suits, cars and antique rugs, the witnesses said.
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8/14/2018 3:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[ Sisi’s visit to China: Agreements on electricity, housing and transportation]]>
The meeting discussed arrangements for the visit of President Sisi to China in September in the framework of developing historical ties between the two countries and promoting bilateral cooperation in various fields. The position of the projects to be agreed upon and signed in several sectors included electricity, transport, housing and education.

Madbouly confirmed Egypt's keenness to maximize the benefits of the comprehensive strategic partnership with China in various fields and enhance Egyptian-Chinese cooperation in the economic, investment, trade and industrial fields to finance and implement national projects and development services.

The meeting covered proposed areas of cooperation during the upcoming presidential visit, which include the transport sector through the implementation of the electric train project to connect the new cities and industrial areas to create more jobs. It also covers the education development sector and the electricity sector through the establishment of the Hamrawein coal-fired power plant, as well as an agreement to finance the construction of the second phase of the Central Business District at the New Administrative Capital.

Egypt, China sign grant for 'EgyptSat-2' worth $45M

CAIRO - 13 August 2018: Egypt and China signed Monday a grant worth $45 million for the construction of the satellite EgyptSat-2 for remote sensing applications. The grant was signed by Egyptian Minister of Investment and International Cooperation Sahar Nasr and Ambassador of China to Cairo Song Aiguo, in the presence of Minister of Higher Education Khaled Abdel Ghafar and representatives of the National Authority for Remote Sensing and Space Sciences.





Egypt and China signed on Monday a grant worth $45 million for the construction of the satellite EgyptSat-2 for remote sensing applications.

The grant was signed by Egyptian Minister of Investment and International Cooperation Sahar Nasr and Ambassador of China to Cairo Song Aiguo, in the presence of Minister of Higher Education Khaled Abdel Ghaffar and representatives of the National Authority for Remote Sensing and Space Sciences.

The Ministry of Investment clarified in a statement that this grant comes to perfect the satellite collection project’s grant amounting to $23 million, in cooperation with the Chinese Space Administration.

Nasr said that this grant affirms the strength of strategic ties with China, especially in the information technology and scientific research sector.

“This project aims to transfer Chinese technology in the satellite sector to serve the purposes of research projects and remote sensing,” she noted.

She emphasized the importance of cooperating with China in this field in light of the establishment of the Egyptian space agency.

Regarding the Egyptian-Chinese relationship, the minister stated that China is one of the closest partners to Egypt as it executes several development projects.

These projects are a Fish Collection and Integration Tests Center, a training center at the Suez Canal Economic Zone to provide a highly trained workforce to meet the requirements of industries and foreign investment in the Economic Zone, the Luxor Opera House project, and the development of the distance learning system "the first two phases."

Recently, the investment relations between the two countries witnessed progress as the Chinese firms in Egypt now rank the first in fields of information technology, electricity, communication and transport with a total of 1,558 companies.

Chinese Company to invest in Egypt by $100M

CAIRO - 9 August 2018: China's Sinoma International Engineering Company intends to establish an iron and steel plant with a production capacity of 2 million tons annually, and investments estimated at $100 million, Vice Chairman of the company Liu Zhijiang said.




On the same level, China’s Sinoma International Engineering Company intends to establish an iron and steel plant with a production capacity of 2 million tons annually, and investments estimated at $100 million, Vice-Chairman of the company Liu Zhijiang said.

This came during a meeting between Minister of Investment Sahar Nasr, a delegation from the Hebei Provincial Government of China and eight Chinese major companies, as well as the Chinese company CFLD, which is specialized in the field of construction of new cities, during their visit to Egypt.

During the meeting, Chinese companies expressed their desire to inject new investments into the Egyptian market during the upcoming period.

They also praised steps taken by Egypt to improve the business environment during the last period.

Nasr welcomed the Chinese investments in light of the appropriate economic climate as well as the recent basket of economic and legislative reforms.

The Egyptian government supports the private sector to participate in Egypt’s mega-national projects, headed by the development project in Suez Canal, the New Administrative Capital and New Alamein, the minister stated.

She added that the Egyptian government is actively encouraging private sector investments as an engine for economic growth, job creation and poverty reduction.

"Egypt has therefore carried out major economic and investment reforms," she noted.

Investment, trade ministers meet with Egyptian-Chinese business council

CAIRO - 10 August 2018: Investment and International Cooperation Minister Sahar Nasr and Amr Nassar, the Trade and Industry Minister, have held a meeting with a delegation of the Egyptian-Chinese Business Council, led by Ahmed el Suwaidi.



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8/14/2018 1:53:33 AM
<![CDATA[Egypt completes demolition of 75% of Maspero triangle slums]]>
Prime Minister and Minister of Housing, Utilities and Urban Communities, Mostafa Madbouly, witnessed on July 9 the signing ceremony of two cooperation protocols between Cairo governorate and the new Urban Communities Authority.

The agreements aim to transfer the ownership of a 5.5-feddan area in Maspero Triangle to the authority to build new housing units and provide the necessary services for the residents.

Maspero triangle’s residents were asked to choose between financial compensation, relocation to Asmarat or to remain in their homes until development finished. Ten percent chose to more to Asmarat and another 10 percent to remain in their place until development works are finished. Eighty percent chose to receive financial compensation.

Tenants of non-residential areas had four options. The first option was to receive 30 percent of the value of the land. The second is to move to another area in addition to getting a residential unit for rent in Badr city. The third option offered a new unit when the project is over. The fourth option is ownership of a residential unit in Asmarat.

The project is a part of an initiative launched in 2014 to develop slum areas all over Egypt.

77051-pic3
Tahya Misr residential complex (Al-Asmarat district)

The Maspero triangle was given its name because of its triangle shape on the map. The area covers 74 feddans (77 acres) and is home to at least 18,000 residents, according to 2014 estimates by Madd platform, an independent urban development institution.

The Ministry of Housing estimates that 40 percent of the population of Cairo lives in informal settlements, while the Informal Settlements Development Fund (ISDF), now part of the new Ministry for Urban Development, estimates that 75 percent of urban areas throughout Egypt isunplanned and 1 percent isunsafe.

Hence, President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi has sought to tackle housing problems in Egypt, and a plan was set to develop many unsafe areas in Cairo, which has the majority of Egypt’s slums, and to re-house residents of Egypt’s most dangerous slums. The government divided the slums into two categories. The first is the dangerous slums;thegovernment pledged to eliminate dangerous slums by the end of2018.

In May 2016, President Sisi promised to move all those living in slums to new flats over three years as part of an ambitious project expected to cost about LE 14 billion ($790 million).

In the same context, the Tahya Misr (Long Live Egypt) Fund, launched by Sisi in 2014, has been working on a three-phase strategy to eliminate Egypt’s shantytowns and re-house slum residents, including those living in Doueyka, Establ Antar and Ezbet Khair Allah. The project includes 15,000 housing units to re-house 60,000 slum residents. The first two phases of Tahya Misr are comprised of 12,000 flats. The third phase opened in 2017 and is comprised of 20,000 flats.
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8/14/2018 12:47:30 AM
<![CDATA[Trump aide Bolton met Turkey ambassador to discuss U.S. pastor ]]>
"At the Turkish ambassador's request, Ambassador John Bolton met with Ambassador Serdar Kilic of Turkey today in the White House. They discussed Turkey's continued detention of Pastor Andrew Brunson and the state of the U.S.-Turkey relationship," White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said.
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8/13/2018 11:47:08 PM
<![CDATA[Cairo int'l airport official imprisoned for 10 years over corruption charges]]>
The Cairo Criminal Court began its procedures against the quarantine general manger on Monday; meanwhile, the private company head was only considered a witness to the case. The judgment was issued by Chancellor Jaafar Najm al-Din.

The investigations revealed that the airport official received several bribes in exchange for easing the legal procedures of private companies.

Egypt’s government and interior ministry has recently battled corruption. Several officials were arrested for receiving bribes, including Head of Giza’s Al-Haram district earlier in August, the Head of the Customs Authority last July, a customs officer at Safaga port as well as head of the Food Industries Holding Company (FIHC) and his deputy.

A closer look at Egypt's ongoing anti-corruption battle

CAIRO - 10 August 2018: The Administrative Control Authority (ACA) - the regulatory body responsible for enforcing laws and regulations within state bodies - has ordered the arrest of numerous officials over the last two years, within the framework of the leadership's fight against corruption.




Bribery and corruption have been rife in Egypt for long decades, and were among the main causes for the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime President Hosni Mubarak.

President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi always stressed applying strict measures within government institutions to crack down on any violation. He hailed the role played by the ACA on different occasions.

Egypt ranked 108th out of 176 countries on Transparency International’s 2016 Corruption Perception Index, scoring 34 points, down two points compared to 2015.
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8/13/2018 7:42:25 PM
<![CDATA[Military Court delays trial of 304 Muslim Brotherhood members]]>
The defendants belong to the “Hasm” movement considered the armed group of the Muslim Brotherhood, held at the Institute of Police Secretaries in Batrah.

The list of those indicted include Mohammed Ali Bishr, a member of the Brotherhood's Guidance Bureau, and other leaders of the group.

The inquisition of the Supreme State Security related the movement of the "Hasm" commission of 17 terrorist incidents targeting army officers, police, clerics, and prosecutors.

It points out that the official of the Central Operations Chamber of the movement, Ahmed Mohamed Abdel Hafiz, left to Turkey, aided by a number of members of Brotherhood group members that include Ali Batikh, Majdi Shalash and Mohamed Ahmed Abdel Hadi.
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8/13/2018 7:34:57 PM
<![CDATA[Palestinian hajj pilgrims arrive to Cairo Airport en route to Mecca]]>
A number of employees from the Palestinian Embassy in Cairo welcomed the Palestinian pilgrims, distributing bottles of water and juice cans.

The 602 pilgrims will travel on Egypt Air flights 3278 and 3280 on Tuesday morning.

Egypt Air is offering 12 flights from Cairo International Airport to Jeddah during the upcoming days for the travel of 3,321 Palestinian pilgrims.

Civil Aviation Minister Younis al-Masry held a meeting on Monday attended by ministry officials and bodies involved in organizing the hajj season this year.
Al-Masry also discussed preparations for the return flights after the end of hajj.

EgyptAir to operate flights to carry 50K pilgrims

CAIRO - 1 August 2018: EgyptAir will begin operating flights to carry more than 50,000 pilgrims to perform Hajj rituals in Saudi Arabia as of Wednesday. Chairman of the national carrier company Sherif Ezzat said that the company is scheduled to fly pilgrims from both North and South Sinai to Jeddan International Airport on Wednesday, while the first flight to Medina will take off Thursday carrying pilgrims from Giza and Port Said governorates.




EgyptAir operated 17 flights on Saturday to carry a total of 3,675 Egyptian Muslims to Saudi Arabia's Mecca for performing pilgrimage ritual, due to start in the third week of August.

Nine flights were scheduled to fly from Cairo and Sharm el Sheikh to Jeddah, while eight others will leave for Medina, stated the state-owned news agency MENA on Saturday.

A total of 325 flights will carry 62,000 pilgrims to Saudi Arabia, including arrivals from Mali and Palestine for the 2018 Hajj season.

EgyptAir began operating flights as of Wednesday, when pilgrims from both North and South Sinai arrived Jeddah International Airport. However, the first flight to Medina took off Thursday, carrying pilgrims from the Giza and Port Said governorates, according to chairman of the national carrier company Sherif Ezzat.

Official hajj mission aimed at offering services to pilgrims: Gomaa

CAIRO - 5 August 2018: Minister of Awqaf Mohamed Mokhtar Gomaa said Sunday the aim of all official missions of Hajj (pilgrimage) is to offer services to pilgrims and highlight the upright image of Islam. The minister's statements came in a press conference with Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Omar Marwan who heads this year's Egypt's hajj mission to the holy lands in Saudi Arabia.




The hajj, a five-day ritual retracing the journey of Prophet Mohammad 14 centuries past, is among the religious duties able-bodied Muslims are required to take part in at least once in a lifetime.

Millions of Muslims from around the world travel to Mecca every year for the practice, which takes place in Mecca and Medina. Saudi authorities say more than two million Muslims participated in the 2017 hajj season.
]]>
8/13/2018 4:52:44 PM
<![CDATA[Court renews detention of 9 MB-affiliated "Hasm group" members]]>
The suspects are accused of planning attacks against state institutions.

Earlier security bodies announced the arrest of the nine Hasm members upon an order from the public prosecutor on charges of planning to carry out acts of sabotage across the country during the upcoming period.]]>
8/13/2018 3:49:32 PM
<![CDATA[Youths can play role in containing air pollution - minister]]>
In this regard, the minister, speaking at a press conference, said there are 19 projects that are being examined thoroughly in cooperation with the Investment Ministry to enhance youths' role in the environmental field.

She said the ministry is keen to contain emissions resulting from industrial facilities in a way that preserves the environment and at the same time does not affect work in these facilities.

The press conference was held to address measures taken by the Environment Ministry to face up to the "black cloud" phenomenon which occurs after the rice harvest each autumn, when thick layers of smog stemming from burning rice straw start looming over Cairo and the Nile valley for several weeks posing risk to public health especially to people suffering from respiratory problems and allergies.

Challenges are not easy though the quantities of rice cultivated this year are less than previous years but there are other factors causing air pollution, Fouad said, citing spontaneous combustion of landfills and emissions stemming from industrial facilities and vehicle exhaust.

She unveiled new measures to be applied all through the year and not just in autumn to reduce air pollutants.

Among these measures is keeping a close eye, in coordination with different governorates, on random rubbish dumps for rapid intervention in case of any fire in addition to finding innovative solutions, with youths' involvement, to get rid of agricultural waste, the minister said.
]]>
8/13/2018 3:07:41 PM
<![CDATA[Six terrorists killed in security raids in 6 October city]]>
According to an official statement issued by the Interior Ministry, the targeted terrorists were planning to participate in several terrorist operations to intimidate citizens, spread chaos, and negatively affect security and economic conditions of the country.

Most of the terrorist plans were set to come into force during Eid El-Adha. According to Mena news agency, the National Security Agency received a tip-off that a terrorist cell is taking shelter in an apartment in 6 October city to plan terrorist attacks.

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Six terrorists killed in security raids in 6 October city – Press photo



Police raided the apartment and engaged in a shootout with the terrorists, killing six of them, according to the statement. Several weapons were seized during the operation including machine guns, a birdshot rifle and bullets.

Three of the terrorists were identified and the investigation is still ongoing to identify the rest of the terrorists.

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Six terrorists killed in security raids in 6 October city – Press photo


On Sunday, Egypt’s national television announced that twelve terrorists were killed during the raids carried out by the Armed Forces in Arish, Northern Sinai.

Egypt’s national security sector was informed that a group of terrorists used a fenced land located at Malalha district of the Third Police Station, Al-Arish, as their hideouts. The terrorists were killed during an exchange of fire with the security forces, and four automatic rifles, a cartridge, ammunition, and two explosive devices were found in their possession.

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Six terrorists killed in security raids in 6 October city – Press photo


Due to the security forces' efforts, a suicide attack was foiled on August 11, near the Church of Virgin Mary in Shubra al-Khaimah city in Greater Cairo.

According to a statement issued by the interior minister regarding the incident, the attacker was surrounding his waist with an explosive belt, trying to sneak into the church, where Copts were celebrating the birth of Virgin Mary. It was said that he retracted from blowing himself at the very last minute and went away reportedly due to the excessive presence of security forces in the area. Later, the belt exploded when he was atop the bridge of Mostorod. The suicide bomber was killed immediately, and no casualties were reported after the bombing.

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Six terrorists killed in security raids in 6 October city – Press photo



Abdel Maseeh Basset, pastor of the Virgin Mary Church, said that the church witnessed an extensive security presence since January. Basset praised the Egyptian officers’ competence in press statements on Saturday, adding that the security forces intensified their patrols around the church to foil any possible attacks against Christian worshipers.


Police arrests suspect in Virgin Mary church foiled bombing

CAIRO - 13 August 2018: The Egyptian authorities arrested on Sunday a suspect allegedly involved in the failed bombing attack that took place near Virgin Mary church on Saturday during celebrating Virgin Mary's birthday in Mostorod, Cairo. A suicide attack near the church in Shubra al-Khaimah city, Cairo was thwarted due to tight the security measures set during Copts' religious celebrations.




Several proactive measures and procedures were launched by the security forces several months ago facing terrorist group’s threats especially with the approaching anniversary of the sit-in of Raba'a al-Adawiya on 14 August.

On July 25, 13 terrorists were killed by Egypt’s security forces in Masaid district, North Sinai's Arish.

Egypt’s security forces said in an official statement that they received information about a group of terrorists in one of the under construction houses in Masaid district; accordingly, the forces headed to the district and exchanged fire with the armed group.
It was added that the forces managed to seize four automatic rifles, two cartridge rifles, three explosive devices and a multi-shooting bar with 83 rounds.

On July 3, Egypt’s Air Forces killed three takfiri elements and arrested 59 criminals and suspects in North and Central Sinai, as part of the “Comprehensive Operation - Sinai 2018”, the army said in an official statement.

Also on July 11, security forces managed to eliminate 11 takfiri elements after fire exchange, while raiding a terrorist hideout in Al-Arish’s Omran district, according to security sources.

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Six terrorists killed in security raids in 6 October city – Press photo



Following the raid, the security forces could seize three machine guns, a cartridge firearm and two explosive devices possessed by the takfiris, according to the sources.
Egypt has been struggling for years to contain terrorist activities in Sinai.
Many military operations have been carried out by army and police forces, killing hundreds of militants and building a buffer zone along the border with Gaza, so that the Egyptian authorities can curb the flow of militants and weapons infiltrating through underground tunnels.

Egypt’s President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi authorized the army chief of staff to use “all brute force” against terrorism.

In February, the Egyptian Armed Forces launched a full-scale military operation titled "Sinai 2018" to confront terrorist elements in Sinai and other areas across the country. Military spokesman Tamer el-Rafei announced a major military operation to purge the country from terrorism.


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Six terrorists killed in security raids in 6 October city – Press photo
]]>
8/13/2018 3:06:46 PM
<![CDATA[CAPMAS: Total area of owned agricultural land increased to 10.2M feddans in 2017]]>
The agency said in its bulletin on Monday that the governorates of Lower Egypt in the Nile Delta region ranked first in the total area of agricultural land, which reached 6.1 million feddans in 2017, with a 60 percent increase compared to 2015.

The total area of agricultural land in the Upper Egyptian governorates was estimated at 3.2 million feddans in 2017, with a 31.4 percent increase compared to 2015, it also said.

The total area of arable land reached 9.1 million feddans in 2017, with an increase of 88.9 percent compared to 2015, it added.

The total area of non-arable land was estimated at 1.1 million feddans, with an increase of 11.1 percent compared to 2015. ]]>
8/13/2018 2:44:25 PM
<![CDATA[Arab League chief to meet Yemeni president]]>
The get-together will take up the latest Yemeni developments besides the endeavors of the pan-Arab body to find a solution to the crisis in the violence-hit country, said a statement issued by the AL on Monday.

The meeting comes as part of Hadi's visit to Egypt which is considered the third for him since March 2015.]]>
8/13/2018 2:06:38 PM
<![CDATA[Four children, a woman killed in Qena building collapse]]>
Five dead bodies were pulled out from the collapsed building, and the civil defense forces are still searching for more victims.

The dead bodies belong to a 35-year-old woman and children at the ages of 5, 9, 11, and 15.

On April 4, three people were killed and three others were injured after their building collapsed in Alexandria.

Egypt has a total of 13, 441, 680 buildings, 10, 111, 607 of which do not need to be repaired, while 3, 231, 852 buildings need to be overhauled, and 97,609 buildings need to be demolished, stated a report released in February by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Communities.

MP Yousry el-Moghazy, deputy head of the Parliamentarian Housing Committee, said that according to the statistics of the local development department, there are 90,000 buildings about to fall down, representing 15 percent of the total number of buildings in Egypt.

Since January 2015, the ministry has launched a campaign to remove violations that had been detected by the government on the Nile banks. As per the ministry’s latest data announced on Tuesday, a total of 26,322 encroachment violations on the Nile banks have been removed. Since March 2017, a total of 12,425 cases of encroachment have been removed, according to the data.
]]>
8/13/2018 12:08:29 PM
<![CDATA[Yemeni president to arrive in Egypt on Monday ]]>
In the same context, Yemeni Foreign Minister Khaled al-Yamani said that Hadi will express his thanks to President Sisi for housing many Yemeni refugees amid the difficult circumstances Egypt faces.

He added that Hadi will discuss during his meeting with Sisi the situation in Yemen and its latest developments, confirming that Egypt supports Yemeni people and is interested in ending Houthis’ attacks against Saudi Arabia as well as combating Iran’s regional attempts.

Yamani arrived in Cairo, Egypt, on Sunday to participate in several meetings, which will be held between President Sisi and Hadi during his two-day visit, in addition to his meeting with the House of Representatives Speaker Ali Abdel Aal. Moreover, he will pay a visit to the Arab League, during which he will hold talks with Secretary General of the Arab League Ahmed Aboul Gheit.

It is the third time for Hadi to visit Egypt since he came to power in March 2015 as he visited Sharm El- Sheikh to participate in the Arab Summit’s events, and attended the Suez Canal inauguration in August 2015.

]]>
8/13/2018 12:05:26 PM
<![CDATA[Police arrests suspect in Virgin Mary church foiled bombing]]>
A suicide attack near the church in Shubra al-Khaimah city, Cairo was thwarted due to tight the security measures set during Copts' religious celebrations. The suicide bomber put on an explosive belt which blew up before he could reach the church.

A security source told Al-Watan newspaper that the arrested suspect provided the bomber with explosives, and he was present in the scene when the explosion took place.

The man reportedly tried to sneak into the church, during the celebrations. He then retracted from blowing himself at the very last minute and went away, according to media reports, due to the excessive presence of security forces in the area. Later, the belt exploded when he was atop the bridge of Mostorod. The suicide bomber was killed immediately, and no casualties were reported after the bombing.

Tight security measures have been in full swing around vital installations and worship places, especially during celebrations and religious occasions.

Virgin Mary Church in Qalubiya governorate is hosting celebrations of the birth of Virgin Mary from Aug. 7 to Aug. 21.

Earlier attacks on churches

On Palm Sunday, April 9, 2017, twin suicide bombings took place at Mar Girgis Church in Tanta and Saint Mark's Coptic Orthodox Cathedral, the principal church in Alexandria and seat of the Coptic papacy.

IS claimed responsibility for the attack, which took the lives of 44 individuals and injured more than 100, Reuters reported.

On December 11, 2016, a bombing attack targeted Botroseya Church in Abbasiya during the Sunday mass, killing 30 people and injuring dozens others.

The bombing of the chapel, which is adjacent to Egypt's main Coptic Christian cathedral in Cairo, was also claimed by the (IS) terrorist group.
]]>
8/13/2018 11:25:38 AM
<![CDATA[Parliament is set to select new members of NCHR]]>
In press remarks on Saturday, Azer said that the committee is slated to discuss the reasons of the delay of the selection of new members for the council for two years and the preparations for setting the new structure of the council and the choosing of the new members soonest.

She also mentioned that the Parliament has already approved the new amendments of the law that regulates the work of said council last year.

According to the new amendments, the elections of the council’s new members must be held every four years and no one shall serve for more than two consecutive sessions.

For his part, Abdel Hady Kasabi, chairman of the Social Solidarity Committee in the Parliament, said that the formation of the National Council for Human Rights will be announced after the end of Parliament’s first session, pointing out that the Parliament is keen to choose the new members based on their competences and qualifications as well as distinguishable characteristics so that they could be capable of closely following the Human Rights situation in Egypt and communicating with international communities.

He further said that the Commission on Human Rights to coordinate with the Bureau of the House of Representatives to choose names is most eligible to be in place
based on a merit-based system.

The National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) was amongst the national organizations and entities that were entitled with monitoring the presidential election process that took place last April and resulted in the re-election of President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi.

During his meeting in September with Head of the National Council for Human Rights (NCHR), Mohamed Fayek, Sisi affirmed that Egypt will continue its efforts to maintain human rights and basic freedoms in line with confronting terrorism and protecting its national security from current dangers threatening the region.

]]>
8/13/2018 6:50:00 AM
<![CDATA[Sisi assigns new chairman for AOI]]>
Meantime, Sisi received Abdel Aziz Seif El Din, the former president of AOI to thank him for his efforts during his tenure, Rady added. ]]>
8/13/2018 5:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Euro on defensive as Turkish crisis sparks rush to safety]]>
Regional stocks also looked likely to suffer as Turkey's troubles tainted emerging markets in general, while boosting highly rated sovereign bonds.

Nikkei futures were pointing to an opening loss of around 200 points, while EMini futures for the S&P 500 were off 0.25 percent. Treasury futures were up a tick.

Much of the early action was in currencies with the euro gapping lower as the Turkish lira took another slide to all-time lows around 7.2400.

It was last at 6.7900, having found a sliver of support when Turkish Finance Minister Berat Albayrak said the country had drafted an action plan to ease investor concerns and the banking watchdog said it limited swap transactions.

The currency tumbled more than 40 percent this year on worries over Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan's increasing control over the economy and deteriorating relations with the United States.

"The plunge in the lira which began in May now looks certain to push the Turkish economy into recession and it may well trigger a banking crisis," said Andrew Kenningham, chief global economist at Capital Economics.

"This would be another blow for EMs as an asset class, but the wider economic spillovers should be fairly modest, even for the euro zone," he added.

Kenningham noted Turkey's annual gross domestic product of around $900 billion was just 1 percent of the global economy and slightly smaller than the Netherlands.

The Turkish equity market was less than 2 percent of the size of the UK market, and only 20 percent was held by non-residents, he added.

"Nonetheless, Turkey's troubles are a further headwind for the euro and are not good news for EM assets either."

Indeed, the single currency sank to a one-year trough against the Swiss franc in early trade around 1.1300 francs, while hitting a 10-week low on the yen around 125.45 .

Against the U.S. dollar, the euro touched its lowest since July 2017 at $1.13715. It was last at $1.1392 and still a long way from last week's top at $1.1628. The dollar eased against the safe haven yen to 110.69.

The Argentine peso and South African rand were also caught in the crossfire.

"Contagion risks centre on Spanish, Italian and French banks exposed to Turkish foreign currency debt, as well as Argentina and South Africa," warned analysts at ANZ.

"Turkey's massive pile of corporate debt denominated in foreign currencies, but a rapidly sliding currency – and inflation that's threatening to go exponential – is a toxic combination."

In commodity markets, gold had found little in the way of safety flows and was last a shade firmer at $1,212.52 an ounce .

Oil prices were mixed with Brent off 11 cents at $72.70 a barrel, while U.S. crude was flat at $67.63.
]]>
8/13/2018 3:30:00 AM
<![CDATA[Declassified CIA document shows MB radical plots]]>
The CIA prepared "Building Bases of Support" document in 1986, warning against the growing influence of Islamic extremists, whose number was estimated by the CIA at 30,000 from around 24 fanatic groups of different ideological backgrounds. Most of these elements were involved in perpetrating acts of terror, added the document.

It also pointed out that all extremist MB organizations were inspired by the writings of Sayyid Qotb, who became a strong reference to extremists.

The document underlined the key influential role played by Yusuf el Qaradawi within the MB group, warning of his future schemes.
]]>
8/13/2018 12:15:24 AM
<![CDATA[Another monk arrested over the murder of Bishop Epiphanius]]>
Monk Faltaous al-Makary, whose birth name was Raymond Rasmi Mansour, was kept under arrest by the security forces in a hospital, where he receives treatment after trying to commit suicide via deliberately slitting his wrist and then jumping off a high building inside the monastery.

After being accused of being involved in the murder of Bishop Epiphanius, the 33-year-old monk confessed that he helped the expelled monk Ash’eyaa of the St. Macarius Monastery, who is currently detained for 15 days pending the investigation, in killing the bishop.

Bishop Epiphanius was found dead on July 29 inside his monastery. Subsequently, the Coptic Church of Alexandria decided to strip Ash’eyaa of the St. Macarius Monastery of his rank following investigating him for committing “inappropriate actions” which contradict with monastic behavior and life.

Ash’eyaa tried to commit suicide a day after the murder, and he was detained at the monastery's clinic in Beheira governorate’s Natrun valley, but was released following the prosecution’s order. He reportedly used poison in his suicide attempt.

In a statement signed by Pope Tawadros II, the Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St. Mark, the Orthodox Church revealed that a monastic investigation was conducted with Ash’eyaa by a special committee formed by the Monastic Committee and the Monasteries Affairs Committee of the Holy Synod.
]]>
8/12/2018 5:53:21 PM
<![CDATA[Min. of Agriculture sets plan to supervise Eid al-Adha sacrifices ]]>
The Ministry of Agriculture has formed operation rooms at Egypt’s Veterinary Medicine Directorates to receive the complaints of citizens and intensify its monitoring of veterinary campaigns to the markets of cattle, sheep and goats.

كريم___عبد_العزيز_(13)
Egypt raises the the degree of preparedness in all slaughterhouses across Egypt ahead of Eid al-Adha-Karim Abdel Aziz/August 12

The head of the Central Administration of Public Health and Veterinary Services at the Ministry of Agriculture, Hassan Al Jawini, told Egypt Today that slaughtering services will be available for free at the government’s slaughterhouses to prevent slaughtering in streets to maintain public health.

In the same context, Head of the Central Administration for Veterinary Quarantines Ahmed Abdel Karim said that several veterinary committees with experienced veterans are supervising the live animal imports for Eid al-Adha.

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Egypt raises the the degree of preparedness in all slaughterhouses across Egypt ahead of Eid al-Adha-Karim Abdel Aziz/August 12

Cairo governorate has warned of the slaughter of Eid al-Adha sacrifices in the streets of the capital, in order to preserve the cleanliness of the streets and the aesthetic appearance and those who violate the law will pay a fine of LE 5,000.

The members of the local administrative committee in the House of Representatives were divided over the decision of the governor of Cairo to ban the slaughter of sacrifices in the streets and in front of the shops, with the need to commit a fine of LE 5,000 to the violators, while some saw the decision as correct, others felt it was impossible to implement.
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Egypt raises the the degree of preparedness in all slaughterhouses across Egypt ahead of Eid al-Adha-Hazm Abdel Samed/August 12
For his part, Parliamentarian Mohamed al-Damti said that the decision is not applicable in view of the difficulty of censorship; adding that the decision requires awareness campaigns in the media as it is included under the category of community behavior.

“It is a positive decision, no doubt. It also protects the health of citizens from diseases and epidemics caused by the mixing of blood and bones with garbage,"ParliamentarianMamdouh al-Husseni said.

Husseni also said that most of the sacrifices that are slaughtered in the streets are not subject to medical supervision; no one knows whether the sacrifice is healthy or diseased. He pointed out that “Salkhana” (the place allocated by the government for slaughter) is subject to strict medical supervision.

He stressed the need to start awareness campaigns to improve the culture of the sacrificial ceremony, pointing out that this phenomenon should be prevented in all the governorates not only Cairo. He added that most Gulf countries prevented citizens from slaughtering animals in the streets.

On the other hand, Parliamentarian Mohamed Salah Abu Humalia said that this decision is difficult to implement, noting that if officials control main streets, they will not able to reach the lanes. ]]>
8/12/2018 5:04:14 PM
<![CDATA[Customs authority botches attempt to smuggle cellphones, bugging devices worth LE800K]]>
A source at the authority said in a statement Sunday that a passenger coming from the United States and transiting from Morocco tried to smuggle the devices but on being searched customs officers found with him 79 Iphones and 7 iPads along with seven watches used in eavesdropping and photographing.

Legal measures were taken against the smuggler and the smuggled items were seized.]]>
8/12/2018 4:47:39 PM
<![CDATA[Court detains expelled monk Ash’eyaa for 15 days ]]>
MP MoustafaBakry revealed that public prosecution decided on Aug. 5 to hold in custody the expelled monk Ash’eyaa of the St. Macarius Monastery after he confessed to the murder of Bishop Epiphanius, head of St. Macarius Monastery.

Bakry added, during his TV show on Sada El-Balad on Thursday, that the monk admitted he killed Epiphanius through hitting him with an iron stick weighing about 12 kilograms on the head.

Bishop Epiphanius was found dead on July 29 inside his monastery. Afterwards, the Coptic Church of Alexandria decided to strip Ash’eyaa of the St. Macarius Monastery of his rank following investigating him for “inappropriate actions” he committed which contradicted with monastic behavior and life.

The church’s statement did not explain the "inappropriate actions" committed by Ash’eyaa; instead, it expelled him from the St. Macarius Monastery in Wadi El-Natrun, to return to his birth name, WaelSaad.

In a statement signed by Pope Tawadros II, the Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St. Mark, the Orthodox Church revealed that a monastic investigation was conducted with Ash’eyaa by a special committee formed by the Monastic Committee and the Monasteries Affairs of the Holy Synod.

The Coptic Church spokesperson Boules Halim denied any links between the expulsion of Ash'eyaa and the murder, saying that investigation is still ongoing.

Ash’eyaa tried to commit suicide a day after, and he was detained at the monastery's clinic in Beheira governorate’s Natrun valley, but was released following prosecution order. He reportedly used poison in his suicide attempt.

On the same day Ash’eyaa attempted to kill himself, Faltaous al-Makary, another monk in his mid-thirties, deliberately cut his wrist and then jumped off a high building inside the monastery, according to a source in the church that refused to give a name.

St. Macarius Monastery has had a special status for decades. Late father Matta el-Meskeen (1919-2006) spent much of his later years there, granting it semi-independence from late Pope Shenouda (1923-2012). The two great Coptic icons were at odds ideologically, where el-Meskeen was considered more on the progressive side.

The monastery’s monks are generally known for their deep religious knowledge and spirituality.

After Father Matta el-Meskeen’s death, monks affiliated with Pope Shenouda’s school joined the monastery. Faltaous al-Makary and Wael Saad Tawadros belong to the waves of monks who joined the monastery following el-Meskeen’s death. ]]>
8/12/2018 4:15:30 PM
<![CDATA[Haram district head remanded for 15 days over bribery accusations]]>
Egyptian law enables the General Prosecution to remand defendants before trial to prevent them from escaping justice, spoiling evidence or influencing witnesses.

Abdel Aaty, head of Giza’s Al-Haram district and three officials from three construction companies were earlier detained for four days after security forces arrested them on Tuesday. Abdel Aaty is accused of receiving bribes from construction companies.

According to a preliminary investigation, Abdel Aaty negotiated with the three companies to receive a bribe consisting of three apartments, bank cheques besides an amount of money, according to the state-owned Al-Ahram. He received LE 700,000, according to the investigation.

Abdel Aaty was caught red-handed after the prosecution carried out legal procedures that allowed the police to record some of his negotiations with the companies, according to the investigation.

The district head received a bribe from the companies to halt legal procedures that had to be carried out against some of the buildings that violate the law in al-Haram district, according to the investigation. The form of violation was not yet known by Egypt Today.

The accused major general denied all accusations. The prosecution ordered obtaining Abdel Aaty’s voiceprint as he also denies the recordings.

The prosecution listened to the representatives of the three construction companies, and formally accused Abdel Aaty of receiving bribes, misusing his authority and deliberately failing to perform his duties.

The Administrative Control Authority (ACA) – the regulatory body responsible for enforcing laws and regulations within state bodies – has ordered the arrest of numerous officials over the last two years, within the framework of the leadership’s fight against corruption.

President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi has always stressed on applying strict measures within the government institutions to crack down on any violations. He hailed the role played by the ACA in different occasions.


Additional reporting by Amr Mohamed Kandil ]]>
8/12/2018 3:46:10 PM
<![CDATA[Badie, 4 MB leaders sentenced to life imprisonment in ‘al-Bahr al-Azam’ case]]>
CAIRO - 12 August 2018: A Cairo Criminal Court sentenced former Muslim Brotherhood (MB) group supreme guide, Mohamed Badie, and four other Muslim Brotherhood members in the case known as “al-Bahr al-Azam” to life imprisonment (25 years in jail) on Sunday.


In September 2014, the defendants were sentenced to life imprisonment over charges of “inciting clashes” in al-Bahr al-Azam district, Giza, causing the death of five people. However, the Court of Cassation overturned the verdicts on Nov. 8, 2015, and ordered a retrial.

The four other convicts are Mohamed Beltagy, Safwat Hegazy, Essam El-Erian, and Hussein Antar. The court also handed down sentence of 10 years in prison against 10 other co-defendants belonging to the outlawed Muslim brotherhood group.


Video: Presiding Judge Hussein Qandil hands down the ruling




Badie was sentenced to life in prison in many other cases, including espionage for Hamas, as well as the guidance bureau and Istiqama mosque incidents; however, retrials were ordered in the cases.

Badie was found guilty in the trial of “cutting-off Qalyoubia Road”, in which 36 defendants were also convicted in October 2016. He is still being tried in 11 known cases, mainly over charges of “inciting violence”. However, he stated in a hearing over charges of inciting violence in Minya that he is facing 48 trials, Masrawy reported on Feb. 28.


He was arrested on Aug. 19, 2013, as part of a nation-wide crackdown on Brotherhood leaders in the wake of increasing violence and protests after two Brotherhood sit-ins were dispersed in 2013. The incidents caused the deaths of hundreds of policemen and supporters of the MB-affiliated former president Mohamed Morsi.


Badie, 74, was the eighth leader of the Muslim Brotherhood organization. He became leader of the organization in 2010 after his predecessor Mahdi Akef, who died in 2017.


On April 14, 2018, Egypt the Court of Cassation upheld a life imprisonment sentence (25 years) against Badie, over charges of inciting violence in the “Rabaa operation room case”.


On April 30, the Cairo Criminal Court has reordered placing the Muslim Brotherhood organization and 1,529 defendants, including Badie, and Morsi on the terror list.]]>
8/12/2018 3:07:05 PM
<![CDATA[Three 'terrorists' killed, five detained in Jordan raid]]>
Three members of the security forces also died in Saturday's raid, which came after the home-made bomb exploded under a patrol car at a music festival.

A joint unit of special forces, police and army troops raided a house in the town of Salt northwest of Amman in search of a suspected "terrorist cell", government spokeswoman Jumana Ghneimat said.

Three members of the security forces were killed in a shootout with gunmen holed up in a building, she said.

"The suspects refused to surrender and opened heavy fire toward a joint security force," Ghneimat said in a statement.

The suspects also "blew up the building in which they were hiding, and which they had booby-trapped earlier", she said.

In an update early Sunday Ghneimat said that the three bodies as well as automatic weapons were found under the rubble of the building, a four-storey block of apartments.

She added that two other "terrorists" were arrested, bringing the total number of people detained in Salt since Saturday to five.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Friday's bomb blast, which also wounded six other members of the patrol in Al-Fuhais, a mostly Christian town west of Amman.

The identities of the suspects were not known.

One of the members of the security forces wounded during the raid was in "critical condition", Ghneimat said

"A clean-up operation is still under way," she said, adding that units of the civil defence were at the scene to assess the damage at the building and sift through the rubble.

Ghneimat urged civilians to stay away, warning that "it could totally collapse at any minute".

Medical sources said that 11 people were wounded during the raid, including members of the security forces and civilians.

Women and children were among those hurt, they said, without giving further details.

- Crisis cell -

Jordanian television broadcast footage of the partially collapsed building and security forces conducting search operations.

Ambulances, bulldozers and police cars were deployed around the building in the Naqab al-Dabour residential neighbourhood in Salt, the footage showed.

The government set up a crisis cell to follow the developments, the state-run Petra news agency reported.

Prime Minister Omar al-Razzaz, who chaired the meeting, vowed Saturday that Jordan would "not be complacent in the hunt for terrorists".

Bomb blasts targeting security forces are rare in Jordan, although the tiny desert kingdom has had to struggle with a rise in Muslim fundamentalism in recent years.

Jordan has played a key role in the US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group in neighbouring Syria and Iraq, using its air force against the jihadists and allowing coalition forces to use its bases.

The kingdom was hit by a string of attacks in 2016, including a shooting rampage claimed by IS that killed 10 people including a Canadian tourist in Karak, known for its Crusader castle.]]>
8/12/2018 11:06:17 AM
<![CDATA[CAPMAS: youths constitute 21% of Egypt's population]]>
In a statement on the occasion of the International Youth Day that falls on August 12, the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) said 50.6 percent of the youth are males and 49.4 percent are females.

It added that 49 percent of youths are employed while 25.7 percent remain jobless.

Some 38.3 percent of the unemployed youth hold university degrees while 30.7 percent of them hold technical diploma degrees.

According to CAPMAS, 44.6% of youths use computers, 87.9% use mobile phones and 47.4% use the internet.

Cairo came first on the list of governorates recording high use of information technology tools among youths while border governorates came last.

The theme of 2018 International Youth Day is Safe Spaces for Youth as the United Nations highlighted that youth need safe spaces where they can come together, engage in activities related to their diverse needs and interests, participate in decision making processes and freely express themselves.]]>
8/12/2018 10:58:41 AM
<![CDATA[Ten people injured in Manchester shooting]]>
Greater Manchester Police received a report of gunshots at 2:30am on Claremont Road in the Moss Side area and a large number of unarmed and armed officers responded.

Several people were in the area after a carnival, which had finished a few hours before, with police trying to establish exactly where the shooting took place and identify those involved.

"We currently have a number of people in hospital all being treated for different injuries but thankfully most do not appear to be life-threatening at this time," Detective Superintendent Dobbie Dooley said.

"The area is being searched and examined while we are also trying to speak to as many people as possible and are reviewing CCTV to get all the facts.

"The Caribbean Carnival had been taking place earlier that day but had finished several hours prior to this incident occurring, which is why there were still a lot of people in the area."

Police said more officers would be patrolling the area over the next few days in a bid to reassure residents.]]>
8/12/2018 10:56:31 AM
<![CDATA[Egypt potential importer of American unmilled rice, media reports]]>
The report cited the statements of Missouri Rice Council and U.S. Rice Producers, saying that Egypt is very interested in buying Missouri’s unmilled rice, to be milled at home.

“Egypt has a lot of rice mills,” head of emerging markets for the U.S. Rice Producers Association Greg Yielding told Brownfield news. “What’s happening is those rice mills will be idle. They won’t be working. They’ll just be sitting there. No rice to mill.”

Yielding and a Southeast Missouri State University professor reportedly visited Egypt In July, with a proposal to export rough rice to the country, with no details about who they met and what was whether a deal was made or not.

Southeast Missouri is a major producer of medium grain rice, which Egypt prefers, according to the report.

Yielding said that the rice could be shipped across Egypt and re-exported to countries in the Middle East.



After being a rice exporter, Egypt has turned into an importer following the governmental measures reducing the rice-cultivated areas due to the water shortage crisis the country is suffering from.

On May 21, President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi ratified the newly-passed amendments to the Agriculture Law No. 53 of 1966, per which the government will determine the areas to cultivate certain water-intensive crops such as rice and sugarcane, amid the water shortage crisis in order to rationalize water usage.

Also, Article 101 of the law stipulates that those who violate the ministerial decrees issued to implement Articles 1, 2, 3, and 4 of the Agriculture Law shall be punished with a fine not less than LE 20,000 (about $1,119) and not more than LE 50,000.

On May 2, the Egyptian government agreed to increase the area allocated for rice cultivation by 100,000 feddans (one feddan equals 1.038 acres) for this season only, bringing the total area allocated for rice cultivation to 820,000 feddans, Abdel Latif Khaled, head of irrigation sector in the Ministry of Irrigation and Water Resources stated.

Thus, it is expected that Egypt will produce about 3.3 million tons this year as one feddan produces 4 tons, while the Egyptians’ annual consumption of rice is estimated at 4.3 million tons.

However, the cultivated areas will be shrunk in the coming seasons as a result of water scarcity, given that one feddan of rice consumes 7,000 cubic meters of water.

On July 9, Sisi approved to import rice and to start its marketing for the coming Year, besides putting good prices for the crop in cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture. He also ordered to control the markets and activate the system of price control, and consumer protection measures, and work to eliminate the phenomenon of monopoly and commercial fraud.

Egypt turns from rice exporter to importer due to water scarcity

CAIRO - 5 July 2018: After being a rice exporter, Egypt will turn into an importer following the governmental measures reducing the rice-cultivated areas due to the water shortage crisis the country is suffering from.


]]>
8/12/2018 9:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Monsanto owners call weed killer 'safe' after jury orders big payout]]>
While observers predicted thousands of potential future claims against the company in the wake of Monsanto's defeat, Bayer -- which recently acquired the US giant -- said the California ruling went against scientific evidence.

"On the basis of scientific conclusions, the views of worldwide regulatory authorities and the decades-long practical experience with glyphosate use, Bayer is convinced that glyphosate is safe and does not cause cancer," the company said in a statement.

It said other court proceedings with other juries might "arrive at different conclusions" than the jury which ruled in the California lawsuit, the first to accuse glyphosate of causing cancer.

Jurors unanimously found that Monsanto -- which vowed to appeal -- acted with "malice" and that its weed killers Roundup and the professional grade version RangerPro contributed "substantially" to Dewayne Johnson's terminal illness.

Johnson, diagnosed in 2014 with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma -- a cancer that affects white blood cells -- says he repeatedly used a professional form of Roundup while working at a school in Benicia, California.

"The cause is way bigger than me. Hopefully this thing will get the attention it needs," Johnson, 46, said after the verdict.

Johnson wept openly, as did some jurors, when he met with the panel later.

The lawsuit built on 2015 findings by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the UN World Health Organization, which classified Roundup's main ingredient glyphosate as a probable carcinogen, causing the state of California to follow suit.

"We are sympathetic to Mr Johnson and his family," Monsanto said in a statement, but promised to "continue to vigorously defend this product".

"The jury got it wrong," Monsanto vice president Scott Partridge told reporters.

But Johnson's attorney Brent Wisner said the verdict "shows the evidence is overwhelming" that the product poses danger.

"When you are right, it is really easy to win," he said.

- More to come? -

Wisner called the ruling the "tip of the spear" of litigation likely to come.

"The jury sent a message to the Monsanto boardroom that they have to change the way they do business," said Robert F. Kennedy Jr -- an environmental lawyer, son of the late US senator and a member of Johnson's legal team.

"You not only see many people injured, you see the corruption of public officials, the capture of agencies that are supposed to protect us from pollution and the falsification of science," he said.

Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond in the US state of Virginia, said the plaintiff's evidence that Monsanto "knew or should have known that Roundup caused his cancer" could benefit those currently seeking damages from Monsanto, as well as encourage new filings.

Tobias said Monsanto's promised appeal could result in the charges being reduced -- but said the company "might want to consider settling now, depending on its calculus of the risk that it might lose on appeal and the adverse publicity that might arise from losing or from continuing to contest the verdict."

But he cautioned that settling now could "make it appear that Monsanto believes it has a weak case."

Partridge, meanwhile, announced that Monsanto had no intention of settling the slew of similar cases in the legal queue.

"It is the most widely used and most widely studied herbicide in the world," Partridge said.

- 'Win for all of humanity' -

Roundup is Monsanto's leading product.

"The Johnson vs Monsanto verdict is a win for all of humanity and all life on earth," said Zen Honeycutt, founding executive director of non-profit group Moms Across America.

In France, a leading anti-Monsanto campaigner told AFP that the California ruling would strengthen the resolve of those doing battle with the agrochemicals giant across the world.

"I was thinking of them and I said to myself that this ruling will help them and give them lots of hope," said Paul Francois, author of "A farmer against Monsanto" ("Un paysan contre Monsanto").

France's minister for ecological transition, Brune Poirson, hailed the "historic decision," tweeting that it validated President Emmanuel Macron's push to ban glyphosate use within three years.

Records unsealed previously by a federal court lent credence to Johnson's claims -- internal company emails with regulators suggested Monsanto had ghostwritten research later attributed to academics.

Founded in 1901 in St Louis, Missouri, Monsanto began producing agrochemicals in the 1940s. It was acquired by Bayer for more than $62 billion in June.

Monsanto launched Roundup in 1976 and soon thereafter began genetically modifying plants, making some resistant to Roundup.]]>
8/12/2018 5:10:00 AM
<![CDATA[Three years on, Greece's Lesbos looks back at migrant crisis]]>
At the height of the influx, some 5,000 refugees and migrants, mostly from war-torn Syria, were landing on the island's beaches on a daily basis.

Hundreds never survived the journey across the Aegean Sea. More than 800 people, including many children, died in 2015 in the Eastern Mediterranean.

The situation quickly reached emergency proportions for beleaguered Lesbos authorities trying to regulate the flow, register the exhausted survivors, and find shelter for them.

Local residents hastened to lend support, providing blankets, clothes and food until the arrival of refugee agencies and volunteer groups.

Three years on, the situation has changed drastically.

An agreement brokered between the European Union and Turkey in March 2016, in which Turkish authorities promised to stop people-smugglers in return for EU aid, has limited the flow.

EU border agency Frontex vessels patrol the waters between Greece and Turkey, as do NATO ships.

Some 35-80 people currently arrive on a daily basis, but even this is enough to keep the island's holding camps near breaking point.

There are over 9,500 refugees and migrants currently on the island, with the main camp of Moria filled to more than double its capacity. Very few are allowed off the island -- mainly the ill and vulnerable -- and there are frequent outbreaks of violence.

Authorities are at pains to keep new arrivals out of the path of tourists. They are allowed to land at secluded beaches and directly transported to camps. The beaches are then quickly cleaned of life jackets, inflatable boats and other debris.

As they lounge in the sun, many visitors may not have an inkling that in the same spot where they have planted their towels and beach umbrellas, thousands of desperate people began a new chapter in their search for safety.]]>
8/12/2018 3:50:00 AM
<![CDATA[Houthis recruited 25K minors to fight among them, Arab Coalition spox]]>
The Iran-backed militia are misusing the bad conditions of families in Yemen and luring, according to Yemeni human rights organizations, Malki told Sky News Arabia, asserting that the coalition is working on providing the children with the necessary medical treatment.

“About 86 children recruited by Houthis were rescued, and returned to their families,” Malki added, revealing that Houhtis are responsible for the death of children at the battlefield.



On August 5, Saudi Arabia announced the dismantling of 919 mines in Yemen in two weeks, revealing that Houthis had planted 1 million mines over the past three years.

The gulf country launched in June the Saudi Project for Landmine Clearance (MASAM) to remove mines in Yemen, protect civilians and ensure the safe delivery of humanitarian supply.

Read more on

Arab Military Coalition operations in Yemen is legitimate: Malki

CAIRO - 10 August 2018: Spokesman of the Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen, Colonel Turki bin Saleh al-Malki, affirmed that targeting Saada Governorate, on Thursday, was completely legitimate and in conformity with International Humanitarian Law. He explained that this military action came as a response to the Houthi missile that targeted Jazan city in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday.



]]>
8/12/2018 2:17:00 AM
<![CDATA[Israel's Arab minority rallies against new nation-state law]]>
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has defended the law, which says only Jews have the right of self-determination in the country and downgrades Arabic from an official language, saying it is necessary in order to fend off Palestinian challenges to Jewish self-determination.

The protesters, mostly Israeli Arabs, waved Palestinian flags and held up signs that read 'equality' in Arabic and Hebrew.

"The law legitimizes racism," said Laila al-Sana, 19, from a Bedouin village in Israel's southern Negev desert. "It's very important to show we are here, to resist," she said.

Israel's Arab population comprises mainly descendants of the Palestinians who remained on their land after the 1948 war at the time of the creation of the modern state of Israel. Hundreds of thousands were forced to leave their homes or fled.

Many of Israel's Arab citizens also identify as Palestinian. They make up about a fifth of the state's 9 million people. Israeli law grants them full equal rights, but many say they face discrimination and are treated as second-class citizens.

"When I heard about the law I felt I should defend my hometown, our land, the land of my ancestors," said 68-year-old Sheikha Dabbah at the rally.

Largely declarative, the law was enacted just after the 70th anniversary of the birth of the state of Israel.

It stipulates that "Israel is the historic homeland of the Jewish people and they have an exclusive right to national self-determination in it". It also downgrades Arabic from an official language alongside Hebrew to a "special status."

"I feel ashamed that after 70 years I have to accentuate my nationalism instead of being generous towards all those who live here," said Gila Zamir, 58, a Jewish Israeli from the Arab-Jewish city Haifa.

Netanyahu posted on his Twitter page a video from the demonstration of a few protesters waving the Palestinian flag and chanting: "With spirit, with blood we shall redeem you, Palestine" and wrote: "There is no better evidence of the nation-law's necessity." Separate TV footage showed a few Israeli flags being waved.

Critics have said the new law is undemocratic because it differentiates between Jewish and non-Jewish citizens. Its defenders say civil equality is guaranteed in existing legislation.

Arab leaders in Israel have said the law verges on apartheid. Rights groups and Jewish groups in the Diaspora have spoken against the legislation, as have the EU, Egypt and Israel's own president.

Last Saturday a protest against the law by Israel's Druze community, which numbers about 120,000 citizens, drew a far larger crowd.

The Druze are ethnic Arab members of a religious minority that is an offshoot of Islam incorporating elements of other faiths.

Their outrage over the law has had more resonance in Israel, despite their small numbers, because of their reputation as loyal supporters of the state. Unlike the wider Arab population, many Druze serve in Israel's conscript military and security forces, and some have risen high in the ranks.

Druze leaders have voiced a deep sense of betrayal over the law, striking a chord among many Israelis. However, efforts by Netanyahu to appease the Druze community have so far failed. ]]>
8/12/2018 2:10:00 AM
<![CDATA[Second night of Romania demos after hundreds injured]]>
Police came in for criticism after they used water cannon and tear gas on Friday to disperse protesters calling on the leftwing government to resign.

Many demonstrators needed treatment after inhaling pepper spray and tear gas, while others suffered blows, hospital sources said.

Around 30 police were also injured, 11 of whom were taken to hospital.

Massive crowds gathered in downtown Bucharest on Saturday night, watched by security forces as they chanted: "Down with the government" and "Justice, not corruption".

"I came after seeing what happened on Friday on television -- the brutality of the police against peaceful people," said Floarea Toader, 64, the national yellow, blue and red flag draped across her shoulders.

"My children work in Spain and they would like to come back. But for now that's not possible as the politicians are only interested in themselves and do nothing for anyone else."

Around four million people have left the country -- one of the European Union's poorest -- in the last 15 years, seeking a better life than that offered by Romania's average monthly wage of just 520 euros ($590).

Police rejected criticism from the centre-right opposition that its officers had used excessive force on Friday, saying its response to violence by dozens of protesters had been "gradual and proportionate".

- Criticism of violence -

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, whose country currently holds the EU rotating presidency, criticised the violence, in which a cameraman for Austria's public broadcaster was also hurt.

"We strongly condemn the violent clashes in Bucharest where numerous demonstrators and journalists were injured. We expect full explanations," he said on Twitter.

Local media said up to 80,000 people had taken to the streets, among them many Romanian expatriates who returned home to show their anger at the graft in one of the EU's most corruption-plagued member states.

About 1,000 officers in riot gear intervened to clear the crowds assembled in a central square outside the main government building after some protesters tried to break through the police cordon.

Eugene, a 62-year-old construction worker, travelled specially to Bucharest on Friday to protest at what he said was "endemic corruption".

"But things quickly turned bad: they fired tear gas at us, it was unbearable."

Another demonstrator, Madalina, 22, said of Friday's clashes: "We couldn't breathe and we had to seek shelter in the surrounding streets."

Romania's centre-right President Klaus Iohannis, a critic of the government, said he "strongly condemned the brutal intervention of the police, which was disproportionate to the attitude of most demonstrators" but added that "any form of violence is unacceptable".

Prime Minister Viorica Dancila, in turn, accused Iohannis of "inciting the population against the authorities".

- Waves of protests -

In a controversial move last month, Romania sacked top anti-graft prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi -- considered a symbol of the country's fight against corruption.

With Kovesi at the helm, the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office (DNA) had led a crackdown on corruption among local and national elected officials, earning the enmity of many in Romania's political class and prompting critics to accuse it of abuse of power.

Before Kovesi's sacking, thousands of protesters took to the streets in support of her. There have also been long-running waves of protests against judicial reforms -- at their peak drawing an estimated half a million people nationwide in February 2017.]]>
8/12/2018 2:10:00 AM
<![CDATA['Suicidal' airport worker steals, crashes empty plane from Seattle airport]]>
Authorities also ruled out any link to terrorism in the incident, which took place late on Friday, and saw the man, who was killed in the crash, hold a conservation with an air traffic controller in which he seemed to apologize for what he was doing.

"He had access legitimately" to the plane said Mike Ehl, director of aviation operations at the airport in the US state of Washington, adding that "no security violations were committed."

Video taken by a bystander showed the 76-seat plane making a big, slow loop-the-loop as F-15 fighter jets gave chase, then flying low over Puget Sound before crashing into Ketron Island, a sparsely-populated area in the northwestern US state of Washington.

Gary Beck, CEO of Horizon Air, told reporters that "to our knowlege, he didn't have a pilot's license."

"Commercial aircraft are complex machines," Beck said. "No idea how he achieved that experience."

The crash sparked a fire in the dense forest. Flames lit up the night as they spread from the burning wreckage to nearby trees. Officials said there were no victims on the ground.

"At this time, we believe he was the only one in the aircraft but of course, we haven't confirmed that at the crash site," Jay Tabb, chief of the FBI's Seattle division, told the press conference Saturday.

The stolen plane was a twin-engine turboprop Q400 belonging to Horizon Air, its parent company Alaska Airlines said on Twitter.

The Pierce County Sheriff's office ruled out terrorism Friday.

- Joyrider or suicidal? -

"Most terrorists don't do loops over the water," said Sheriff Paul Pastor. "This might have been a joyride gone terribly wrong."

But Ed Troyer, who also works at the sheriff's office, described him as "suicidal."

He was identified as a 29-year-old ground service agent called Rich or Richard, who lived locally and had acted alone. His full name was not given. Initial information had said he was an airline mechanic.

Alaska Airlines CEO Brad Tilden told Saturday's press conference that the man had worked for Horizon Air since February 2015.

According to Horizon Air CEO Gary Beck, his role involved "loading, unloading bags and cargo, tidying the aircraft and ... he was also a member of the tow team, which allowed him, qualified him to tow aircraft."

The plane was stolen at around 8:00 pm (0300 GMT Saturday) and crashed 90 minutes later, officials said.

The sheriff's office said the F-15s arrived minutes after the plane was stolen and kept the aircraft "out of harm's way and people on the ground safe."

The fighter jets flew at supersonic speed, triggering a boom first taken to be an explosion, as they raced to intercept the plane.

President Donald Trump was briefed and the White House praised authorities' quick response to the crisis.

- 'Bizarre' -

John Waldron, who captured the plane's loop-the-loop on video, told CNN he was out for an evening stroll when he saw two fighter jets following a turboprop plane, initially thinking they were practicing for an air show.

"So I started to capture video, just because I thought it was kind of bizarre," he said, later realizing that the jets were chasing the plane.

Then the plane "did a complete loop... I couldn't believe he recovered."

He estimated that the plane, at its lowest point, was no more than 100 feet (30 meters) above the water.

Then the pilot pulled the plane "pretty much straight up. And kind of at an angle. And almost stalled the aircraft. Somehow he got it leveled back off. And then made his way down toward the island."

Waldron said he had been prepared to "run and take cover." He briefly turned away, then turned back and saw the explosion as the plane crashed.

- 'A broken guy' -

In a conversation with the control tower, the pilot, who identified himself only as "Rich," came across as excitable, confused, and even apologetic.

"Congratulations, you did it," the control tower tells him, according to an audio feed aired on CNN.

"Let's turn around the air and land it and not hurt anybody on the ground."

"I don't know, man," the pilot answers. "I don't want to. I was kind of hoping that was going to be it, you know."

During the conversation, he says he had put some fuel in the plane "to go check out the Olympics" -- the Olympic Mountains which lie about 100 miles (160 kilometers) away.

But he later worried he was running low, saying the fuel had burned "quite a bit faster than I expected."

The control tower then pushed him to land at a nearby military base.

"I wouldn't want to do that. They probably have anti-aircraft," he responds.

"This is probably jail time for life, huh?" he later says, according to a recording published by the Seattle Times.

"I've got a lot of people that care about me. It's going to disappoint them to hear that I did this," he said.

"I would like to apologize to each and every one of them. Just a broken guy, got a few screws loose, I guess. Never really knew it until now."]]>
8/12/2018 1:50:00 AM
<![CDATA[Turkey is a 'target of economic war', Erdogan says]]>
Speaking after U.S. President Donald Trump doubled tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminium imports, Erdogan described Friday's 18 percent fall in the lira to a record low as the 'missiles' of an economic war waged against Turkey.

Erdogan said those who plotted against Turkey in a failed coup attempt in July 2016 were now trying to target the country through its economy, and pledged to fight back. He did not name any countries.

"Those who can't compete with us on the ground have brought online fictional currency plots that have nothing to with the realities of our country, production and real economy," Erdogan told a provincial meeting of his AK Party in the Black Sea coastal town of Rize.

"The country is neither crumbling, nor being destroyed or bankrupt or in a crisis," he said, and added that the way out of the 'currency plot' was to boost production and 'minimise interest rates'.

The Turkish lira has lost about 40 percent this year alone, largely over worries about Erdogan's influence over the economy, his repeated calls for lower interest rates in the face of high inflation and deteriorating ties with the United States.

The two governments have been at odds over a wide range of topics - from diverging interests in Syria, to Turkey's ambition to buy Russian defence systems, and the case of evangelical pastor Andrew Brunson, who is on trial in Turkey on terrorism charges.

Erdogan also appeared to allude to a 'deadline' for handing over Brunson, although he did not name the United States as having set any such deadline or say precisely when it might have expired. "(They are) threatening, saying you will send (him) until 6 pm ... This is not some random country. This is Turkey," he said.

A Turkish delegation visited Washington for talks this week but left with no signs of a breakthrough.

After almost 20 months in a Turkish jail, Brunson was moved to house arrest in July by a court. Since then Trump and his vice president Mike Pence have repeatedly called for his release while Ankara said the decision was up to the courts.

Washington in response sanctioned two Turkish ministers and Trump on Friday announced it was doubling the tariffs on steel and aluminium imports from Turkey, saying relations with Ankara were "not good at this time".

LANGUAGE OF THREATS

An important emerging market, Turkey borders Iran, Iraq and Syria and has been mostly pro-Western for decades. Financial upheaval risks further destabilising an already volatile region.

A meeting on Friday unveiling a new economic approach by Turkey's finance minister Berat Albayrak, Erdogan's son-in-law, did little to offer support for the free-falling lira as investors sought concrete steps such as an interest rate increase to restore confidence.

"I am asking you. What possible reason could there be behind the lira which was at 2.8 against dollar in July 15, 2016 to slide below 6 yesterday? During this period, Turkey has set records in its exports, production and employment," Erdogan said.

He repeated a long-standing plan to shift to trading in national currencies and said Turkey was preparing for such a step with Russia, China and Ukraine.

He also repeated his call to Turks to sell their dollar and euro savings to shore up the lira. "If there are dollars under your pillow, take these out... Immediately give these to the banks and convert to Turkish lira and by doing this, we fight this war of independence and the future," he said.

He also said it was a pity that Washington chose Brunson over Turkey, its partner in NATO, and in an opinion piece in the New York Times, he warned the United States that Ankara had other alternatives as allies.

Washington "must give up the misguided notion that our relationship can be asymmetrical", he said in the opinion piece.

Turkey, home to the Incirlik air base which is used by U.S. forces in the Middle East, has been a NATO member since the 1950s. It is host to a critical part of the Western alliance's missile defence system against Iran.

In a separate opinion piece in the pro-government newspaper Daily Sabah, Erdogan's spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said Turkey's efforts to solve the crisis with diplomatic methods had been dismissed by the Trump administration, warning that "the U.S. runs the risk of losing Turkey" as an ally.

"The entire Turkish public is against U.S. policies that disregard Turkey's legitimate security demands. Threats, sanctions and bullying against Turkey will not work," he said.]]>
8/12/2018 1:40:00 AM
<![CDATA[Suicide attack foiled due to intensive security, Virgin Mary’s pastor]]>
Basset praised the Egyptian officers’ competence in press statements on Saturday, adding that the security forces intensified their patrols around the church to foil any possible attacks against Christian worshipers.

Basset said that the church will set preparations to receive the Feast of the Dormition of Mother Mary, excluding the existence of fear among the Christian worshipers.

A suicide attack near the Church of Virgin Mary in Shubra al-Khaimah city in Greater Cairo has been thwarted due to tight security measures set during Copts' religious celebrations.

The man was surrounding his waist with an explosive belt, trying to sneak into the church, where Copts were celebrating the birth of Virgin Mary. It was said that he retracted from blowing himself at the very last minute and went away, reportedly due to the excessive presence of security forces in the area. Later, the belt exploded when he was atop the bridge of Mostorod. The suicide bomber was killed immediately, and no casualties were reported after the bombing.

Tight security measures have been in full swing around vital installations and worship places, especially during celebrations and religious occasions.

Virgin Mary Church in Qalubiya governorate is hosting celebrations of the birth of Virgin Mary, which started on Aug. 7 and last until Aug. 21.]]>
8/12/2018 1:24:08 AM
<![CDATA[Trump condemns 'all types of racism' a year after Charlottesville]]>
That protest left one person dead and highlighted the growing boldness of the far right under Trump. Another far-right rally is scheduled for Sunday, right outside the White House.

On Saturday, anti-fascist marchers in Charlottesville held peaceful demonstrations against white supremacy as many people laid flowers on a makeshift memorial to Heather Heyer, who was killed in last year's violence while protesting the extreme right.

Trump drew scorn after the Charlottesville bloodshed for initially avoiding any condemnation of the torch-bearing white nationalists who took part in that rally.

But on Saturday, he tweeted: "The riots in Charlottesville a year ago resulted in senseless death and division."

"We must come together as a nation. I condemn all types of racism and acts of violence. Peace to ALL Americans!"

Democrat Mark Warner, a US senator from Virginia, insisted Trump cleared the way for white nationalists to spread "hate and bigotry."

"These purveyors of hate and bigotry were emboldened to take their message public by a President who has refused to categorically and unequivocally condemn them in clear terms," he wrote on Twitter.

"We must show that what sets us apart as citizens of this country are our values of respect, openness, and tolerance towards one another."

Officials declared states of emergency for both the city of Charlottesville and the state of Virginia to help law enforcement mobilize state and local resources for security reasons.

A heavy security presence descended on the city, where concrete barricades and official cars encircled the downtown area, with just two entry points for pedestrians.

Auhthorities said two people were arrested, one for trespassing and the other for disorderly conduct. Both were released on misdemeanor summons.

- 'Blame on both sides' -

Last year's protests began August 11 and saw hundreds of neo-Nazi sympathizers, accompanied by rifle-carrying men, yelling white nationalist slogans and wielding flaming torches in scenes eerily reminiscent of racist rallies held in America's South before the Civil Rights movement.

They had gathered to protest efforts to remove statues of Confederate leaders, including one of the Confederacy's top general, Robert E Lee.

On August 12, fighting broke out between neo-Nazi supporters and anti-fascists from a black-clad group called Antifa.

The violence culminated with a man driving a car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing Heyer and injuring 19 people.

In the immediate aftermath, Trump drew broad criticism when he initially appeared to establish a moral equivalence between the two groups of protesters and refused to criticize the extreme rightwingers.

He did eventually yield to immense political pressure and condemn white nationalism.

But just a day later, Trump said there was "blame on both sides" for the violence in Virginia, pointing to anti-fascists who came "with clubs in their hands."

"I think there's blame on both sides," Trump said. "But you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides."

Trump is constantly fending off charges that he is misogynist and racist. He denies the allegations.

Trump has retweeted white nationalist material, said Mexicans crossing the US border are rapists and drug dealers, once referred to a Hispanic Miss Universe as "Miss Housekeeping" and employed Steve Bannon, a central figure of the new "alt-right" in America, as his campaign chief and top strategist for a time.

In one of the most recent race-related flareups, a black former White House employee, Omarosa Manigault Newman, has written in an upcoming memoir that Trump was caught on mic uttering a racial slur "multiple times" while making his hit reality TV show "The Apprentice" prior to his presidential run, and that there are tapes to prove it.

Manigault Newman is a former "Apprentice" star. She served as director of communications for the White House office of public liaison until she was fired in December.

She cites three unnamed sources as having heard the taboo language, and adds that she experienced "truly appalling things" with Trump, according to The Guardian, which obtained a copy of the book ahead of its publication next week.

The White House dismissed the account as riddled with lies and false accusations. Trump called her a "lowlife."]]>
8/12/2018 12:56:16 AM
<![CDATA[Trump condemns 'all types of racism' a year after Charlottesville]]>
That protest left one person dead and highlighted the growing boldness of the far right under Trump. Another far-right rally is scheduled for Sunday, right outside the White House.

On Saturday, anti-fascist marchers in Charlottesville held peaceful demonstrations against white supremacy as many people laid flowers on a makeshift memorial to Heather Heyer, who was killed in last year's violence while protesting the extreme right.

Trump drew scorn after the Charlottesville bloodshed for initially avoiding any condemnation of the torch-bearing white nationalists who took part in that rally.

But on Saturday, he tweeted: "The riots in Charlottesville a year ago resulted in senseless death and division."

"We must come together as a nation. I condemn all types of racism and acts of violence. Peace to ALL Americans!"

Democrat Mark Warner, a US senator from Virginia, insisted Trump cleared the way for white nationalists to spread "hate and bigotry."

"These purveyors of hate and bigotry were emboldened to take their message public by a President who has refused to categorically and unequivocally condemn them in clear terms," he wrote on Twitter.

"We must show that what sets us apart as citizens of this country are our values of respect, openness, and tolerance towards one another."

Officials declared states of emergency for both the city of Charlottesville and the state of Virginia to help law enforcement mobilize state and local resources for security reasons.

A heavy security presence descended on the city, where concrete barricades and official cars encircled the downtown area, with just two entry points for pedestrians.

Auhthorities said two people were arrested, one for trespassing and the other for disorderly conduct. Both were released on misdemeanor summons.

- 'Blame on both sides' -

Last year's protests began August 11 and saw hundreds of neo-Nazi sympathizers, accompanied by rifle-carrying men, yelling white nationalist slogans and wielding flaming torches in scenes eerily reminiscent of racist rallies held in America's South before the Civil Rights movement.

They had gathered to protest efforts to remove statues of Confederate leaders, including one of the Confederacy's top general, Robert E Lee.

On August 12, fighting broke out between neo-Nazi supporters and anti-fascists from a black-clad group called Antifa.

The violence culminated with a man driving a car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing Heyer and injuring 19 people.

In the immediate aftermath, Trump drew broad criticism when he initially appeared to establish a moral equivalence between the two groups of protesters and refused to criticize the extreme rightwingers.

He did eventually yield to immense political pressure and condemn white nationalism.

But just a day later, Trump said there was "blame on both sides" for the violence in Virginia, pointing to anti-fascists who came "with clubs in their hands."

"I think there's blame on both sides," Trump said. "But you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides."

Trump is constantly fending off charges that he is misogynist and racist. He denies the allegations.

Trump has retweeted white nationalist material, said Mexicans crossing the US border are rapists and drug dealers, once referred to a Hispanic Miss Universe as "Miss Housekeeping" and employed Steve Bannon, a central figure of the new "alt-right" in America, as his campaign chief and top strategist for a time.

In one of the most recent race-related flareups, a black former White House employee, Omarosa Manigault Newman, has written in an upcoming memoir that Trump was caught on mic uttering a racial slur "multiple times" while making his hit reality TV show "The Apprentice" prior to his presidential run, and that there are tapes to prove it.

Manigault Newman is a former "Apprentice" star. She served as director of communications for the White House office of public liaison until she was fired in December.

She cites three unnamed sources as having heard the taboo language, and adds that she experienced "truly appalling things" with Trump, according to The Guardian, which obtained a copy of the book ahead of its publication next week.

The White House dismissed the account as riddled with lies and false accusations. Trump called her a "lowlife."]]>
8/12/2018 12:56:16 AM
<![CDATA[Afroto murderers’ trial adjourned to Sep. 8]]>
South Cairo Prosecution had referred a police officer and a police conscript of Mokattam police station to an emergency trial, accusing them of beating a citizen called Afroto to death, and unlawfully detaining him.

The Forensic Medicine Department has confirmed that Mohamed Abdel Hakim (aka Afroto) died after being beaten, refuting former claims of his death as a result of a drug overdose.

By measuring the concentration of drugs in Afroto’s body, the forensic report found that the victim did not abuse a deadly overdose of drugs. The report also found that the severe injuries caused by assaulting the victim were the certain cause of his death.

Two policemen including an officer have been charged with beating Afroto to death. Interrogations showed that Afroto, accused by the police of abusing drugs, was illegally kept in custody.

The accused officer’s lawyer, Tarek Gamil, called on the Cairo Criminal Court to summon the members of the committee formed by the Forensic Medicine Department to ask them some questions concerning their report.

According to the prosecution’s decision, policeman, Mohamed A., is accused of pushing down Afroto, while the other defendant, police officer, Mohamed S., is accused of kicking him in the chest causing him the injuries cited in a former forensic report. In its statement, the prosecution accused both policemen of beating the victim to death without the intention to kill him.

A former forensic report revealed that the cause of Afroto’s death was an internal bleeding caused by a broken rib, and a laceration in the left lung due to a severe hit on a solid object. The report, thus, contradicts with some police allegations that Afroto died due to drugs over dose.

Moreover, the forensic report said that the rolls possessed by Afroto were filled with about 10 grams of a green plant which is not on the Egyptian prohibited list of drugs.

Dozens of people demonstrated in January 2017 in front of Al-Mokattam police station after the death of Afroto. A total of 102 demonstrators were subsequently arrested and accused by court of damaging public and private property in violent demonstrations against the police.

The defendants face charges of attacking the Mokattam police station and the Mokattam Specialized Hospital. They are also accused of damaging public and private property, and taking part in illegal demonstrations. Nine policemen were reportedly injured during the attacks.

Highlights of Afroto's death case as trial begins

CAIRO - 15 February 2018: Two policemen are accused of beating Mohamed Abdel Hakim Mahmoud, aka Afroto, to death. Afroto was held in custody at Cairo's Mokattam Police Station last month. The first court session considering the case is set to start on Thursday.


]]>
8/12/2018 12:05:00 AM
<![CDATA[Russia downs drone near its Syria air base - TASS]]>
The drone caused no casualties or damage, and the Hmeimim air base is operating as normal, the agency said.
]]>
8/11/2018 11:43:13 PM
<![CDATA[17 killed, injured in raid to arrest Jordan blast perpetrators]]>
The raid targeted the perpetrators at a building in Naqab Al Dabour district in northern As-Salt city in Balqa governorate, west of Amman, according to local media.

An explosion hit the building as the police were searching the site, Al Ghad newspaper quoted local security sources as saying, adding that an exchange of fire occurred.

Yesterday's blast left one policeman dead and others injured.
]]>
8/11/2018 9:33:18 PM
<![CDATA[Saudi king orders hosting of 1,000 pilgrims from Egyptian martyrs' families]]>
The decision comes as part of the king's Hajj Guests Program, annually supervised by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Call and Guidance.

In a statement, Minister of Islamic Affairs, Call and Guidance Sheikh Abdullatif bin Abdulaziz Al Al-Sheikh said this year's guests are coming from the continents of Asia, Africa and Europe, noting that thousands of male and female pilgrims have benefited from this program since it started 22 years ago.]]>
8/11/2018 4:32:36 PM
<![CDATA[Khadija Arafat, sister of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, dies Saturday]]>
The Palestinian National Liberation Organization, Fatah, mourned with deep sorrow the death of Khadija, calling her “the Revolutionary Adult”.

Since she came to Gaza, Khadija headed a charitable organization providing services to the Palestinian people.

In a press interview during the commemoration of her brother’s martyrdom in 2013, Khadija said: "My mother died very early and left us very young, then my uncle moved with us from Cairo to Jerusalem where he took care of us… We grew up there with our family and Al Saud family.”

"Since the birth of Abu Ammar, he was fighting the Israeli occupation. When he was four years old, he used to gather children and stones from Al-Aqsa Mosque and throw them against the Jewish worshipers beside the Wailing Wall," she followed.

President Mahmoud Abbas mourned her death highlighting her national role during the Palestinian Revolution led by her deceased brother, the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

As noticed, Khadija was the only remaining sister of Arafat.

Arafat was the president of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) (1996–2004), chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) (1969–2004), and the Leader of Fatah, the largest of the constituent PLO factions. In 1993, he led the PLO to a peace agreement with Israel. Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres of Israel were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1994.

]]>
8/11/2018 4:25:36 PM
<![CDATA[As Eid al-Adha nears, parliament divided on the place of animal sacrifice]]>
The members of the local administrative committee in the House of Representatives were divided over the decision of the governor of Cairo to ban the slaughter of sacrifices in the streets and in front of the shops, with the need to commit a fine of LE 5,000 to the violators, while some saw the decision as correct, others felt it was impossible to implement.

For his part, Parliamentarian Mohamed al-Damti said that the decision is not applicable in view of the difficulty of censorship; adding that the decision requires awareness campaigns in the media as it is included under the category of community behavior.

“It is a positive decision, no doubt. It also protects the health of citizens from diseases and epidemics caused by the mixing of blood and bones with garbage,"Parliamentarian Mamdouh al-Husseni said.

Husseni also said that most of the sacrifices that are slaughtered in the streets are not subject to medical supervision; no one knows whether the sacrifice is healthy or diseased. He pointed out that “Salkhana” (the place allocated by the government for slaughter) is subject to strict medical supervision.

He stressed the need to start awareness campaigns to improve the culture of the sacrificial ceremony, pointing out that this phenomenon should be prevented in all the governorates not only Cairo. He added that most Gulf countries prevented citizens from slaughtering animals in the streets.

On the other hand, Parliamentarian Mohamed Salah Abu Humalia said that this decision is difficult to implement, noting that if officials control main streets, they will not able to reach the lanes.

]]>
8/11/2018 3:58:16 PM
<![CDATA[Alarming churches’ security measures prevent real tragedy: Sources]]>
In press remarks, security sources said that the attacker was disguised as a construction worker in order to easily pass through the security barricades springing up along the church and that security forces forced him to retract and then his explosive belt exploded far away atop the Mustrad Bridge, killing only himself.

“The procedures posted outside the church make the infiltration of any terrorists carrying explosives an impossible feat to pull off, pointing out that the security guards are positioned through a series of multi-layered security cordons with intensified security measures buoyed up by ocular inspection of cars and incomers of the church,” they added.

On Saturday, security forces thwarted a suicide attempt to attack the Virgin Mary church located near Shoubra El Kheima district of Qalioubiya governorate.

The church of Virgin Mary is currently witnessing celebrations of the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which will take place between Aug. 7 and Aug. 21.]]>
8/11/2018 3:14:45 PM
<![CDATA[Attempted bomb attack near church in Shubra fails, suicidal killed]]>
The man was surrounding his waist with an explosive belt, trying to sneak into the church, where Copts were celebrating the birth of Virgin Mary. It was said that he retracted from blowing himself at the very last minute and went away, reportedly due to the excessive presence of security forces in the area. Later, the belt exploded when he was atop the bridge of Mostorod. The suicide bomber was killed immediately, and no casualties were reported after the bombing.

Tight security measures have been in full swing around vital installations and worship places, especially during celebrations and religious occasions.

Virgin Mary Church in Qalubiya governorate is hosting celebrations of the birth of Virgin Mary, which started on Aug. 7 and last until Aug. 21.]]>
8/11/2018 2:30:39 PM
<![CDATA[Iran foreign minister says no meeting planned with U.S. counterpart]]>
Asked about the likelihood of a meeting with U.S. officials, including Pompeo, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, Zarif said: “No, no such meeting is planned. We have repeatedly announced our position,” Tasnim reported.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani dismissed a U.S. call for talks without preconditions last Monday, hours before Washington moved to impose new sanctions in line with President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of a 2015 agreement over Iran’s nuclear program.

“About the recent offer by Trump, our official position has been announced both by the president (Rouhani) and myself. The Americans lack honesty,” Zarif was quoted as saying by Tasnim.

Asked whether a message from the United States was to be delivered to Iran by Omani officials, Zarif said: “There is no such message,” Tasnim reported.

Zarif said earlier this week that Oman and Switzerland had acted as mediators in talks with America in the past but that there were currently no direct or indirect talks being held with the United States.]]>
8/11/2018 12:19:07 PM
<![CDATA[Trump, France's Macron discuss Iran, Middle East and trade]]>
“Had a very good phone call with @EmmanuelMacron, President of France. Discussed various subjects, in particular Security and Trade,” Trump, who is vacationing at his New Jersey golf club, said on Twitter.

The two leaders discussed “a broad range of trade and security issues, including the situation in Iran and the broader Middle East,” the White House said in a statement.

The Elysee Palace said in a brief statement the two leaders discussed Syria, Iran and the Israel-Palestinian conflict, but did not mention trade.

Trump and Macron last met at a NATO summit in Brussels in July, where the U.S. president chastised members of the alliance that have not met its defense spending targets.

At the summit, Macron said France would met the NATO goal of spending 2.0 percent of GDP on defense by 2024. Trump caused an uproar when he pressed alliance members to reach the target by January.

On trade, the United States and the European Union are embroiled in a spat after Trump imposed tariffs on imports of aluminum and steel from France and other countries. The EU responded with retaliatory tariffs on some U.S. goods.

Trump had also threatened to impose tariffs on EU auto imports but reached an agreement to hold off on taking action after meeting with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker at the White House last month.

Macron and Trump are at odds over the U.S. decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal and reimpose sanctions on Tehran. Trump tweeted this week that companies doing business in Iran will be barred from doing business in the United States.

Among large European companies that have suspended plans to invest in Iran after the U.S. action are France’s oil major Total and its big carmakers PSA and Renault.

In the Middle East, France opposed Trump’s decision to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.]]>
8/11/2018 12:11:56 PM
<![CDATA[Death toll rises in Indonesia earthquake]]>
The shallow 6.9-magnitude earthquake Sunday levelled tens of thousands of homes, mosques and businesses across Lombok, just one week after another tremor surged through the Indonesian island and killed 17.

“It’s predicted the death toll will continue to grow because there are still victims who are suspected of being buried by landslides and under rubble, and there are victims that have not been recorded and reported to posts,” national disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said.

The number forced from their homes in the disaster has soared to 387,000, Nugroho said, with around 13,000 injured.

The hardest hit region of Lombok has been in the north, where 334 people have died and nearly 200,000 have been forced from their homes, according to latest official tolls.

Two people were also killed by the quake on the neighbouring tourist island of Bali.

Nugroho said the emergency response period has been extended another 14 days, which would allow authorities to deal with the “many problems” that still existed in the field.

Most of the displaced are sleeping under tents or tarpaulins near their ruined homes or in evacuation shelters, while makeshift medical facilities have been set up to treat the injured.

Six days after the quake hit some evacuees have still not received assistance, particularly in the mountainous north of the island.

“The main problem is the distribution of supplies to thousands of refugee points,” Nugroho said.

“Most of the roads in North Lombok were damaged by the earthquake.”

Survivors of the quake have been shaken by hundreds of aftershocks, including a shallow 5.9-magnitude quake Thursday which caused people to flee evacuation shelters crying and screaming.]]>
8/11/2018 12:04:41 PM
<![CDATA[Romanian police tear gas anti-government protesters]]>
The protests were organised and promoted by groups of Romanians working abroad, angry at what they say is entrenched corruption, low wages and attempts by the PSD to weaken the judiciary in one of the European Union’s most corrupt states.

In Bucharest, some protesters attempted to force their way through security lines guarding the government building. Others threw bottles and rocks at riot police, who said groups of “provocateurs” were present in the square.

As the protest continued well into the night, riot police used a water canon and increasingly sprayed tear gas into the crowd. Video footage posted on social media show police beating non-violent protesters holding their hands up.

More than 400 people required medical assistance, the emergency intervention agency ISU said, including two riot police who got separated from their unit. Tens of thousands staged peaceful protests in other Romanian cities.

Centrist Romanian President Klaus Iohannis condemned the police’s disproportionate use of force.

“I firmly condemn riot police’s brutal intervention, strongly disproportionate to the actions of the majority of people in the square,” he said on his Facebook page.

“The interior ministry must explain urgently the way it handled tonight’s events.”

Diaspora protest

Among the crowds in Bucharest were truck driver Daniel Ostafi, 42, who moved to Italy 15 years ago in search of a future he says Romania could not offer his family, and Mihai Podut, 27, a construction worker who left in 2014, first for France and later Germany.

They joined tens of thousands outside government headquarters in scorching temperatures, waving Romanian and European Union flags and demanding the cabinet’s resignation. Messages projected on buildings around the square said “We are the people” and “No violence”.

An estimated 3 to 5 million Romanians are working and living abroad, the World Bank has said, up to a quarter of the European Union state’s population, ranging from day labourers to doctors. They sent home just under $5 billion last year, a lifeline for rural communities in one of the EU’s least developed countries.

“I left to give my children a better life, which was not possible here then,” said Ostafi.

“Unfortunately, it is still not possible, the ... people who govern us are not qualified and they are corrupt,” he said, adding he hoped the next parliamentary election would see a bigger turnout.

Peaceful protests have repeatedly been held since the Social Democrats took power in early 2017 and tried to decriminalise several corruption offences.

Earlier this year, they pushed changes to the criminal code through parliament that have raised concerns from the European Commission and the U.S. State Department. The changes are pending Constitutional Court challenges.

Romania ranks as one of the EU’s most corrupt states and Brussels keeps its justice system under special monitoring.

Some politicians from the ruling coalition derided the rally in the run up, saying they did not understand why the diaspora would protest.

“Almost all of the public sector is malfunctioning, it must be changed completely and replaced with capable people,” said Podut. “I would ask our ruling politicians to switch places with us, work the way we do and see what that is like.”]]>
8/11/2018 12:02:05 PM
<![CDATA[U.S. airline worker steals plane, takes it for flight before crashing it]]>
An Horizon Air ground service agent took the controls of a Bombardier Q400 turboprop airplane in a maintenance area at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport at about 8 p.m. local time Friday and took off, embarking on flight over Seattle before crashing about an one hour later on Ketron Island in Puget Sound, Horizon sister carrier Alaska Airline said online.

The 29-year-old man, who has not been identified, was suicidal and appeared to have acted alone, the Pierce County Sheriff's Department said on Twitter, adding the employee was probably killed in the crash.

"Doing stunts in air or lack of flying skills caused crash into Island," the sheriff said on Twitter.

The Federal Aviation Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Transportation Safety Board were investigating the incident, said Brad Tilden, the CEO of Alaska Air Group, in an online statement.

“We’re working to find out everything we possibly can about what happened," he said.

There was no indication that the incident was an act of terror and no passengers were aboard the plane, the FBI said in a series of Tweets.

"The FBI continues to work with our state, local, and federal partners to gather a complete picture of what transpired with tonight's unauthorized Horizon aircraft takeoff and crash," the agency said.

It is unclear how the employee was able to taxi the plane on a runway and take off without authorization. An Alaska Air spokesman said he did not have information about how the incident occurred.

"Okay this insane. A pilot on the plane in front of us just went rogue and took off on an empty plane bypassing orders from the tower," tweeted Ben Schaechter, a passenger on an airplane that was taxiing to take off before the incident.

Video footage on social media showed a large plane flying above the Seattle area with a F-15 fighter jet following it. Two F-15s pursued the plane but were not involved in the crash, the sheriff said.

"Told F-15s made it within a few minutes of theft of plane. Pilots kept plane out of harm's way and people on ground safe," the sheriff said on Twitter.

Alaska Air said the F-15s were scrambled from a Portland air base.

The sheriff said earlier that the employee was a airline mechanic, but the airline said he was a ground service agent.

Fire crews were working on putting out the fire from the crash on Ketron Island in Puget Sound. No one was injured on the ground, authorities said. Ketron Island is a sparsely populated island 25 miles (40 km) southwest of the airport.

The Bombardier Q400 turboprop airplane is designed for shorter-distance flights and can seat 76 passengers, Alaska Air said on its website.]]>
8/11/2018 11:45:01 AM
<![CDATA[Egyptian crew rescues 30 German tourists from drowning in Hurghada]]>
According to the official statement, the Rescue and Environmental Protection Society received a notice that another speed boat was in danger during their sea cruise, and another nearby speed boat rushed to the location of the drowning boat and rescued all of the tourists on board. No injuries were reported in the incident.

Last May, Hurghada city came in the 21st place of a list by TripAdvisor that recommended its readers to visit the Egyptian resort for several reasons.

“Stunning coral reefs and turquoise waters perfect for windsurfing have made Hurghada, on Egypt's Red Sea Coast, a busy resort town. Within easy reach of the stunning Giftun Islands and the Eastern Arabian Desert,” TripAdvisor wrote on its official website.

“Hurghada has seen enormous amounts of development in the past decade, it does seem overrun with tourists at times. But it’s a relatively easy beach escape for Europeans, and some of the world's best diving and snorkeling sites are just offshore. Walk or catch a cab to explore the old quarter, El Dahar,” it added.

The Egyptian resort was followed by New Delhi in India, Cusco in Peru, Rio de Janeiro in Brazil and Sydney in Australia, while the French capital of Paris topped the list as the most attractive city in the world for tourists, followed by London, Rome, Bali in Indonesia and Crete in Greece.

TripAdvisor is the world's largest travel site; it enables travelers to unleash the full potential of every trip, with over 630 million reviews and opinions covering the world's largest selection of travel listings worldwide, covering approximately 7.5 million accommodations, airlines, experiences, and restaurants. The list is based on the voting of holiday-makers and tourists of the most appealing cities in the world.
]]>
8/11/2018 11:21:30 AM
<![CDATA[Mechanic steals empty plane from Seattle's airport, crashes]]>
There was no indication that the incident was an act of terror, the Pierce County Sheriff's Department said on Twitter.

No passengers were onboard and normal operations have resumed at the airfield, the airport said on Twitter.

2018-08-11T054435Z_695719001_RC1A512E44C0_RTRMADP_3_SEATTLE-AIRPLANE
Air Alaska maintenance workers walk through the the terminal, following an incident where an airline employee took off in an airplane, at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Seattle, Washington, U.S., August 10, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

The 29-year-old pilot was suicidal and appeared to have acted alone, the sheriff said, adding he was probably killed in the crash. The pilot's identity has not been made public.

"Was doing stunts in air or lack of flying skills caused crash into Island," the sheriff said on Twitter.

Constance von Muehlen, chief operating officer of Horizon Air, a sister carrier of Alaska Airlines, said that at about 8 p.m. an employee of the airline undertook an unauthorized take-off of a Q400 twin-engine turboprop airplane.

It is unclear how the employee was able to taxi the plane on a runway and take off without authorization. An Alaska Air spokesman said he did not have information about how the incident occurred.

Two F-15s fighter jets pursued the plane but were not involved in the crash, local TV station KIRO7 reported.

"Told F-15s made it within a few minutes of theft of plane. Pilots kept plane out of harm's way and people on ground safe," the sheriff said on Twitter.

Video footage on social media showed a large plane flying above the Seattle area with an F-15 following it.

"Okay this insane. A pilot on the plane in front of us just went rogue and took off on an empty plane bypassing orders from the tower," tweeted Ben Schaechter, a passenger on an airplane that was taxiing to take off before the incident.

Fire crews were working on putting out the fire from the crash on Ketron Island in Puget Sound. Ketron Island is a sparsely populated island 25 miles (40 km) southwest of the airport.

The Bombardier Q400 turboprop airplane is designed for shorter-distance flights and can seat 76 passengers, Alaska Air said on its website.
]]>
8/11/2018 9:52:01 AM
<![CDATA[California blazes threaten populated areas]]>
The man suspected of starting one of the blazes was due in court, where he faces life in prison if convicted of arson and other charges.

After almost a month of wildfires, the National Weather Service warned that satellite images showed "widespread smoke this morning from the Western US fires drifting northeastward across the northern Rockies into western and central Canada and then southward over the northern Plains."

The Kaibab National Forest service in neighboring Arizona warned that "wildfires across the West are creating regional haze."

But it was northern California where most air quality alerts were being issued, with warnings of "unhealthy conditions" for "vulnerable" groups such as the very young and old.

The Mendocino Complex, made of two separate blazes, has been declared the most destructive fire in the state's history, authorities said.

Its largest blaze, the Ranch Fire, was only 53 percent contained compared to 87 percent for its twin River Fire.

Further north, the Carr Fire was declared 51 percent under control, after scorching 180,000 acres (73,000 hectares) of land and claiming the lives of three firefighters and five civilians, making it California's third deadliest fire ever.

- 'This place will burn' -

The man accused of deliberately starting the latest fast-moving blaze refused to leave his cell for his arraignment hearing initially scheduled for Thursday.

Forrest Gordon Clark, 51, stands accused of starting the Holy Fire, which in four days has burned more than 18,000 acres of Cleveland National Forest 60 miles (100 kilometers) north of San Diego. It is still spreading.

Prosecutors say Clark started the fire, which is only five percent contained, with the intention of causing damage to others and burning a forest. The blaze has razed a dozen properties so far.

He has also been charged with threatening neighbors -- one of whom lost his cabin in the fire -- and resisting arrest. He faces sentences ranging from 10 years to life imprisonment.

Mike Milligan, the local volunteer fire chief who owns a cabin near Clark's, told The Orange County Register that Clark had long-running feuds with neighbors in the area.

Milligan said that Clark had recently sent him an email warning, "this place will burn."

The head of the Orange County team fighting the Holy Fire said the blaze had started near Clark's cabin in Jim Canyon.

Before his arrest, Clark told a reporter he had nothing to with the fire.

"I was asleep. I had two earplugs in," he told the reporter. "I woke up and my stuff was all on fire," he said. He also claimed he had been threatened by the MS-13 gang.

The blaze has already forced the evacuation of 7,400 homes and more than 21,000 people. Many schools have been forced to close, and more evacuation orders were being issued.

InciWeb, the interagency incident information management system offering updates on more than a dozen fires in the tinder-dry west of the country, said that "steep inaccessible terrain will continue to allow the fire to spread into new areas."

High temperatures were expected to worsen conditions and "increase the likelihood of extreme fire behavior as well as heat illness issues for the firefighters and the public," it said.

The forest service said: "We continue to actively engage, but cannot get ahead of the fire."

California Governor Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency for Orange and Riverside counties, where the fire is concentrated.]]>
8/11/2018 3:50:00 AM
<![CDATA[Pope meets with Chilean bishop and victims' advocate over Church sex abuse]]>
The scandal has rocked the Church in Chile. In June, the country's 34 bishops were summoned to Rome by the pope after Vatican investigators produced a 2,300-page report alleging that senior Church officials in Chile had failed to act on abuse claims and in some cases hid them.

Pope Francis has accepted resignations by five of those bishops.

The Vatican said that the pope has been closely following actions being taken by the Church in Chile to address the crisis.

Chilean prosecutor Emiliano Arias said on Thursday that the office of Bishop Santiago Silva, who serves as bishop to the armed services, had been raided as part of investigations into accusations that senior Roman Catholic Church officials covered up claims of sexual abuse by clergymen in Chile.

The raid was one of eight on offices of senior church figures as prosecutors search for evidence of accusations of sexual abuse by clergy not reported to the civilian police, and evidence of cover-ups, according to Arias.]]>
8/11/2018 3:30:00 AM
<![CDATA[Two killed in fresh Gaza protests but Israel-Hamas truce holds]]>
At least 131 Palestinians were shot by Israeli fire in the protests, Gaza's health ministry said, with volunteer medic Abdullah al-Qatati killed after being hit in the chest east of Rafah in southern Gaza.

Relatives of the 21-year-old medic gathered in the morgue of a hospital in Khan Yunis where his body lay, while outside his colleagues mourned.

A 55-year-old Palestinian, Ali al-Alul, was killed by Israeli fire on the same stretch of the border.

A few thousand protesters had gathered in different locations along the border with Israel, setting tyres ablaze and throwing stones, but there were fewer people demonstrating that in previous weeks, AFP correspondents said.

In Friday's demonstrations a total of 307 people were wounded, some by tear gas, including two journalists and five medics.

The Israeli army said a grenade had been thrown at troops in northern Gaza which did not injury any soldiers.

"In response to the violent riots, IDF (army) tanks struck two Hamas posts in the northern Gaza Strip," the military said on Twitter.

The protests came after a deal to end all rocket fire into Israel and air strikes on the Gaza Strip appeared to go into effect around midnight (2100 GMT) on Thursday.

There was no official confirmation from Israel or Gaza's Islamist rulers Hamas but there were no fresh strikes Friday.

- 'Dangerously close' to conflict -

Thursday had seen extensive Israeli raids in retaliation for the launching of more than 180 rockets and mortar rounds by Hamas and its allies on Wednesday night.

Three Palestinians were killed in the Israeli strikes, including a pregnant woman and her 18-month-old daughter, while seven Israelis were wounded by Palestinian rocket fire as hundreds took refuge in bomb shelters.

The European Union on Friday said "the death of the pregnant Palestinian mother and her child in this latest escalation is a tragic loss".

It was one of the most serious escalation since the 2014 Gaza war and followed months of rising tensions.

Late on Thursday, an Israeli air raid flattened a five-storey building which hosted a cultural centre in Gaza City but which the army said was used by Hamas security forces.

The Israeli security cabinet and the Hamas leadership met separately on Thursday, with the truce offer brokered by Egypt and the United Nations on the table.

Neither Israel nor Hamas officially confirmed any truce had gone into effect, although that has also been the case with previous informal arrangements.

It would be the third such truce in a month.

Reserve General Doron Almog, former head of Israel's southern command which deals with Gaza, told army radio on Friday morning that the next 24 hours would be crucial.

"We are closer to an arrangement than we have been in the past because Hamas's interest in a deal is greater than its wish for escalation," he said.

The European Union said Gaza and Israel are "dangerously close" to a new conflict, calling for urgent "de-escalation" to keep civilians from further risk.

Hamas and Israel have fought three wars since 2008.

- Diplomatic efforts -

The Israeli daily Maariv wrote that during the security cabinet meeting on Thursday Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman was a lone voice in support of a new war in Gaza.

"He was the only one who demanded to launch a large-scale operation in the Gaza Strip. Netanyahu was opposed. The (Israeli army) also didn't recommend it," he said.

Palestinians have been protesting along the Gaza-Israel border on Fridays since late March.

They are calling for an end to the decade-long Israeli blockade of Gaza and the return of Palestinian refugees to their ancestral homes inside Israel, which they fled or were expelled from during the war surrounding Israel's creation in 1948.

Israel says its blockade is necessary to isolate Hamas, although critics say it amounts to collective punishment of Gaza's two million residents.

It says any significant return of refugees would mean the end of it as a Jewish state.

At least 167 Palestinians have been killed since protests began on March 30.

Most were killed by Israeli fire during the protests but others died in air strikes.

One Israeli soldier was shot dead by a Palestinian sniper.]]>
8/11/2018 2:30:00 AM
<![CDATA[Manafort witness says bank CEO coveted Cabinet job, pushed to approve loans]]>
Dennis Raico, a former Federal Savings Bank executive testifying under immunity, said the bank's chief executive, Stephen Calk, expressed interest in such posts as Treasury secretary or Housing and Urban Development secretary.

Manafort later asked the incoming administration to consider tapping Calk for secretary of the Army, according to testimony earlier in the week. Calk, a retired Army officer and helicopter pilot, did not get the job.

Raico was one of several witnesses scheduled for Friday as the trial resumed after a recess that lasted into the midafternoon. He and James Brennan, a Federal Savings executive, were granted immunity against prosecution by Special Counsel Robert Mueller before testifying.

The witnesses were the latest in the government's case against Manafort, who faces 18 felony counts of bank fraud, tax fraud and failing to disclose about 30 foreign bank accounts.

Four of Manafort's felony counts involve the $16 million of loans prosecutors have said were extended by Federal Savings in late 2016 and early 2017.

The bank and Calk, who was named an economic adviser to the Trump campaign in August 2016, did not respond to requests for comment.

On Friday, Raico testified that Calk asked him to call Manafort shortly after the Nov. 8, 2016, election, to see if he could be a candidate for the Treasury or HUD post.

Raico also described a July 27, 2016, meeting with Manafort during which Calk indicated he would be interested in serving with Trump. The loan was approved the next day.

When asked by prosecutor Greg Andres whether he had ever seen a loan approved in that short amount of time, Raico replied, “No.”

On cross-examination, defense attorney Richard Westling sought to show that Manafort had provided adequate collateral for both the $9.5 million loan he got on a Hamptons property and a $6.5 million loan on a New York City property.

Rick Gates, the deputy chairman of Trump's inaugural committee, who also worked on his campaign, testified earlier this week that Manafort had told him to ask about making Calk secretary of the Army.

Gates was indicted along with Manafort, but pleaded guilty and has been cooperating with Mueller's investigation. In a filing on Friday, Mueller said Gates is continuing to cooperate with the investigation following his testimony this week.

Andres had said in court that he planned to call the prosecution's final witnesses, three of them current or former employees of Federal Savings, on Friday.

Friday's lengthy recess derailed the prosecution's plans to wrap up its case by the end of the week. The prosecution is expected to call Brennan and at least one other witness to testify on Monday.

T.S. Ellis, the federal judge overseeing the case, said the recess could not be avoided and that he had matters to attend to. He reminded jurors to "keep an open mind," and said that Manafort is presumed innocent. He gave the jury explicit instructions to not talk about the case.

It was not clear why, but the afternoon session also was delayed.

Andrew Chojnowski, whose LinkedIn profile describes him as chief operating officer of home lending at Federal, is also on the witness list.

In addition, prosecutors are expected to call Irfan Kirimca, senior director of ticket operations at the Yankees, to testify about payments for Manafort's season tickets for the baseball team.

On the stand on Friday, Raico testified about Gates' claiming he borrowed Manafort's American Express card for the tickets. Earlier this week, Gates said Manafort asked if he would "do him a favor" and sign a letter that attributed the cost of the tickets to him. The box seats cost between $210,000 to $225,000 a year, Gates said.

Raico testified the large outstanding balance was counted as debt when being considered for a loan. Other witnesses also have testified that Manafort tried to represent lower debt and higher income in order to obtain loans. ]]>
8/11/2018 2:30:00 AM
<![CDATA[Trump announces 'doubling' of tariffs on steel, aluminum from Turkey]]>
"I have just authorized a doubling of Tariffs on Steel and Aluminum with respect to Turkey as their currency, the Turkish Lira, slides rapidly downward against our very strong Dollar!" Trump said on Twitter.

"Our relations with Turkey are not good at this time!"

Trump's announcement came as Turkey's embattled lira hit new record lows against the US dollar and euro, losing nearly nine percent in value as strains with the United States showed no sign of abating and fears grew over the exposure of European banks.

However, the White House later clarified that Trump's announcement "authorized the preparation of documents" to raise the tariffs. That means it likely will take some time to implement.

Washington imposed the metals tariffs on national security grounds, claiming the glut of steel and aluminum harmed US companies and the economy. It is unclear how that would justify higher tariffs on Turkey but not other countries.

Economist Chad Bown, who specializes in trade issues, said Turkey accounted for just over four percent of US steel imports in 2017, but a very small fraction of the aluminum brought into the country.

Turkey remains at loggerheads with the United States in one of the worst spats between the two NATO allies in years over the detention for the last two years of American pastor Andrew Brunson and a host of other issues.

Washington this month imposed sanctions on senior Turkish officials, angering President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and prompting retaliatory measures by Ankara.

Meanwhile, markets are deeply concerned over the direction of economic policy under Erdogan, with inflation at nearly 16 percent but the central bank reluctant to raise rates in response.

Erdogan on Friday called on Turks to support their struggling currency.

"We will not lose the economic war," state-run TRT Haber television quoted Erdogan as saying.

"If you have dollars, euros or gold under your pillow, go to banks to exchange them for Turkish lira. It is a national fight."

Harsher US tariffs were likely to punish Turkey's already faltering steel exports to the United States.

In the first three months of 2018, Turkish steel exports to the United States fell nearly 50 percent over the same period in 2017, making it the only top-10 source of US steel imports to see a decrease, according to the US Commerce Department.]]>
8/11/2018 2:20:00 AM
<![CDATA[Two police officers among four fatally shot in Canada]]>
Police in Fredericton, a city of about 56,000 that is the capital of the province of New Brunswick, said a suspect was in custody and was being treated for serious injuries. A local health official said multiple shooting victims were being treated at one hospital.

Witnesses said the shooting occurred at an apartment complex, and local media showed emergency vehicles converging on a tree-lined residential street. Nearby facilities were closed and authorities imposed a lockdown for residents before issuing an all-clear message.

Officials identified the slain officers as Sara Mae Burns, 43, and Lawrence Robb Costello, 45. They did not release the names of the two civilians who were killed, and said only that the suspect was a 48-year-old Fredericton man. They did not release information about a possible motive or the weapon.

"It was scary," said Marlene Weaver, who was in bed on Friday morning when she heard shots. "It takes you back to the shooting in Moncton."

She was referring to a 2014 incident in which three Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) officers were killed and two wounded in Moncton, New Brunswick, about 195 km (121 miles) from Fredericton in one of the worst incidents of its kind in Canada.

Friday's shooting occurred three weeks after a gunman walked down a busy Toronto street, killing two people and wounding 13 before killing himself.

Canadian Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale told reporters the RCMP were assisting Fredericton authorities in the investigation.

"We'll see where this investigation leads in terms of what exactly happened, who did it, what was the motivation for doing it and the instruments of destruction that were used," he said.

"But broadly speaking, the government of Canada is obviously taking the issue of gun violence very seriously."

Gun laws in Canada are stricter than in the United States but a proliferation of weapons has led to an increase in gun-related crimes in recent years.

New Brunswick had three homicide shootings in the entire year of 2016, according to Statistics Canada.

"Awful news coming out of Fredericton," Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Twitter. "My heart goes out to everyone affected by this morning’s shooting. We’re following the situation closely."

"THIS MORNING I HEARD THOSE NOISES"

Fredericton police said their officers responded to a report of shots fired early on Friday morning and found two victims on the ground.

Burns, who had two years on the force and had spent two years as an auxiliary officer, had three children, Chief Leanne Fitch told reporters. Costello was a 20-year veteran, and left behind four children.

Jeff Magnussen, general manager of a golf course near the site of the shooting, said by phone that he heard multiple gunshots before 8 a.m. local time.

"You hear a lot about gun violence in the United States," he said, "but this morning when I heard those noises, what's starting to sink in is that those noises were people losing their lives. To have it happen so close to us is shocking. Now we're becoming the story that nobody wants to hear."

Scott Hill said he was walking his dog by a golf course when an employee told him to get inside because of the shooter. He said he could still hear sporadic gunfire coming from the apartment complex two hours later, when he was at the office of his property development agency.

"This sort of thing never happens here," Hill said. "It's happening."

In the wake of the Toronto bloodshed last month, the city council voted overwhelmingly to urge the federal government, which has jurisdiction over gun laws, to ban the sale of handguns in the city.

"Why does anyone in this city need to have a gun at all?" Toronto Mayor John Tory said. Canada's largest city has had 241 shooting incidents this year, resulting in 30 deaths, a 30 percent increase in fatalities over the same period last year.

Bill Blair, the government minister tasked with tackling gun violence, said officials are considering giving provinces the power to designate gun-free cities.

"It's possible that we could work with the provinces and territories and allow them the authority to designate certain municipalities as places where guns could not be purchased or possessed," Blair told Reuters.

In 2016 Canada had 0.61 firearm-related homicides per 100,000 people, a 23 percent increase from 2015 and the highest rate since 2005, according to Statistics Canada. For the United States, the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation reported 3.85 deaths per 100,000 that year.

Canada’s Liberal government unveiled proposals in March to tighten already tough gun control laws to address a spike in crimes involving firearms, including a deadly attack on a mosque last year.

The measures would enhance background checks on people seeking to buy firearms, especially those with a history of violence.

Experts said that although Canada’s gun laws ban dozens of assault rifles, some permitted firearms can easily be modified for greater damage, and lax U.S. regulations make smuggled weapons accessible.

On Thursday, Ontario pledged more money for police and to keep suspects behind bars while they await trial on gun crime charges. ]]>
8/11/2018 1:20:00 AM
<![CDATA[Turkey lira crashes as Trump piles on pressure]]>
Compounding the lira's agony, President Donald Trump said he had doubled steel and aluminium tariffs on Turkey, noting that relations between the NATO allies were "not very good".

The lira's plunge is one of the most serious economic crises that Erdogan has faced since coming to power in 2003 in the wake of a financial crisis in 2001 that brought the economy to near meltdown.

The currency turbulence coincides with the most bitter dispute with the United States since the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus, which so far shows no sign of abating.

Fears over contagion even pushed global equity markets lower, with some European banks coming under heavy selling pressure due to their exposure to Turkey.

The lira was trading at 6.47 to the dollar at 1900 GMT, a loss on the day of 16.6 percent. Earlier it had fallen as much as 22 percent.

"The Turkish Lira is in a state of crisis, as a result of investor confidence in Turkish assets remaining at alarmingly low levels," said Jameel Ahmad, Global Head of Currency Strategy & Market Research at FXTM.

The tumult also affected Wall Street, which finished the week on a sour note, with the Dow Jones, S&P 500 and Nasdaq all finishing down on Friday.

- 'National fight' -

But Erdogan, who had remained unusually silent until now as the lira crisis mounted, urged Turks to take matters into their own hands.

"If you have dollars, euros or gold under your pillow, go to banks to exchange them for Turkish lira. It is a national fight," he said.

"This will be the response to those who have declared an economic war," he said, blaming Turkey's woes on what he described as an "interest rate lobby" seeking to push the country to higher rates.

Erdogan had raised eyebrows Thursday when he appeared to invoke divine intervention, saying: "If they have dollars, we have our people, we have our right and we have Allah!"

Turkey remains at loggerheads with the United States over the detention for the last two years of American pastor Andrew Brunson and a host of other issues.

Trump intensified the alarm on financial markets with his new tweet doubling the tariffs, noting for good measure the lira was sliding "rapidly downward against our very strong Dollar!."

"Our relations with Turkey are not good at this time!" he added.

But Erdogan said Turks should not be alarmed by exchange rate movements. "The dollar, the mollar, will not cut our path," said Erdogan, adding Turkey had alternatives "from Iran, to Russia, to China and some European countries".

Erdogan also Friday held telephone talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, discussing economic and trade issues as well as the Syria crisis, the Turkish presidency said.

The Turkish foreign ministry hit back at Trump's comments, saying that the "only result will be harming our relationship" and vowing unspecified retaliation.

It added that Trump's remarks were "not possible to reconcile with state seriousness".

- 'Increasingly unlikely' -

Markets are deeply concerned over the direction of domestic economic policy under Erdogan with inflation at nearly 16 percent but the central bank reluctant to raise rates in response.

UBS chief economist for EMEA emerging markets Gyorgy Kovacs said a giant rate hike of 350-400 basis points would be "consistent with real rate levels that in the past helped to stabilise the currency" but warned a deal to normalise ties with the US may also be needed.

And it remains unclear if the bank would be willing to sharply lift rates, with analysts saying the nominally independent institution is under the influence of Erdogan, who wants low rates to keep growth humming.

After winning a June election with revamped powers, Erdogan tightened his control over the central bank and appointed his son-in-law Berat Albayrak to head a newly-empowered finance ministry.

"President Erdogan's strengthened powers under the new presidential system have made it increasingly uncertain whether policymakers will be able to act to stabilise the economy," said William Jackson, chief emerging markets economist at Capital Economics in London.

Concerns mounted Friday after a report in the Financial Times that the supervisory wing of the European Central Bank had over the last weeks begun to look more closely at eurozone lenders' exposure to Turkey.

The report said the situation is not yet seen as "critical" but Spain's BBVA, Italy's UniCredit and France's BNP Paribas are regarded as particularly exposed.

Albayrak, who formerly served as energy minister, on Friday announced what he has described as a "new economic model" for Turkey but he focused on macro-economic issues and steered well clear of tackling the currency crisis.

The lira's plunge has featured remarkably little on Turkish television channels and newspapers -- most of which after recent ownership changes are loyal to the government -- with media focusing instead on recent flooding by the Black Sea.]]>
8/11/2018 1:20:00 AM
<![CDATA[Iran test-fired anti-ship missile during drills last week -U.S. source]]>
The official, however, did not suggest that such a missile test was unusual during naval exercises or that it was carried out unsafely, noting it occurred in what could be described as Iranian territorial waters in the Strait.

Iran's Revolutionary Guards confirmed on Sunday it had held war games in the Gulf over the past several days, saying they were aimed at "confronting possible threats" by enemies.

U.S. Army General Joseph Votel, head of the U.S. military's Central Command, said earlier this week the scope and scale of the exercises were similar to ones Iran had carried out in the past. But the timing of this particular set of exercises was designed to get Washington's attention.

"It's pretty clear to us that they were trying to use that exercise to send a message to us that as we approach this period of the sanctions here, that they had some capabilities," Votel told reporters at the Pentagon.

Iran has been furious over U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to pull out of an international agreement on Iran's nuclear program and re-impose sanctions on Tehran. Senior Iranian officials have warned the country would not easily yield to a renewed U.S. campaign to strangle Iran's vital oil exports.

Last month, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei backed President Hassan Rouhani's suggestion that Iran may block Gulf oil exports if its own exports are stopped.

Votel said the U.S. military was keenly aware of Iran's military activities.

"We are aware of what's going on, and we remain ready to protect ourselves as we pursue our objectives of freedom of navigation and the freedom of commerce in international waters," Votel said. ]]>
8/11/2018 12:10:00 AM
<![CDATA[Calmness prevails in Gaza after Egypt-brokered ceasefire enacted]]>
Since Wednesday evening, the Gaza Strip was shelled by Israeli rockets, killing three Palestinians, including a pregnant women and her 18-year-old infant. Twelve others were injured in Israeli raids.

Israeli rockets resumed on Wednesday although the military wing of the Palestinian movement Hamas announced its acceptance of mutual ceasefire. Since then, the Egyptian authorities made a series of communications with several organizations and bodies to cease fire in Gaza and stop the escalation.

As for the inter-Palestine reconciliation, a source told Egypt Today on the condition of anonymity, that Fatah's Executive Committee member Azzam al-Ahmad has been in Cairo since Wednesday in order to conduct a number of positive talks with Egyptian officials regarding the mechanisms of the reconciliation process.

In October 2017, the rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah signed a preliminary reconciliation deal in Cairo in the presence of Egyptian intelligence officials, in the latest in a series of attempts to end a decade-long Palestinian territorial.





]]>
8/10/2018 9:48:55 PM
<![CDATA[No link between expelled monk Ash’eyaa and Epiphanius’s murder: source ]]>
Many media outlets have revealed that public prosecution decided on Sunday to hold in custody the expelled monk Ash’eyaa of the St. Macarius Monastery after he confessed to the murder of Bishop Epiphanius, head of St. Macarius Monastery
They claimed that the monk admitted he killed Epiphanius by hitting him with an iron stick weighing about 12 kilograms on the head.

The case of the murder of Bishop Epiphanius was transferred on Friday to the Court of Appeals of Alexandria to investiagate.

Bishop Epiphanius was found dead on July 29 inside his monastery. Afterwards, the Coptic Church of Alexandria decided to strip Ash’eyaa of the St. Macarius Monastery of his rank after investigating him for the “inappropriate actions” he committed which contradict monastic behavior and life.

The church’s statement did not explain the "inappropriate actions" committed by Ash’eyaa; instead, it expelled him from the St. Macarius Monastery in Wadi El-Natrun, to return to his birth name, Wael Saad.

In a statement signed by Pope Tawadros II, the Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St. Mark, the Orthodox Church revealed that a monastic investigation was conducted with Ash’eyaa by a special committee formed by the Monastic Committee and the Monasteries Affairs of the Holy Synod.

The Coptic Church spokesperson Boules Halim denied any links between the expulsion of Ash'eyaa and the murder, saying that the investigation is still ongoing.

Ash’eyaa tried to commit suicide a day after, and he was detained at the monastery's clinic in Beheira governorate’s Natrun valley, but was released following the prosecution’s order. He reportedly used poison in his suicide attempt.

On the same day Ash’eyaa attempted to kill himself, Faltaous al-Makary, another monk in his mid-thirties, deliberately slit his wrist and then jumped off a high building inside the monastery, according to a source in the church that refused to give a name.

St. Macarius Monastery has had a special status for decades. Late father Matta el-Meskeen (1919-2006) spent much of his later years there, granting it semi-independence from late Pope Shenouda (1923-2012). The two great Coptic icons were at odds ideologically, where el-Meskeen was considered more on the progressive side.

The monastery’s monks are generally known for their deep knowledge and spirituality.

After Father Matta el-Meskeen’s death, monks affiliated with Pope Shenouda’s school joined the monastery. Faltaous al-Makary and Wael Saad Tawadros belong to the waves of monks who joined the monastery following el-Meskeen’s death.

]]>
8/10/2018 9:46:47 PM
<![CDATA[Afghanistan: Up to 150 Taliban militants suffer casualties in Ghazni]]>
Four security personnel were also killed and several others wounded as the clashes continued for several hours, Ghazni police spokesman Col. Farid Ahmad Mashal told Pajhwok Afghan News.

Earlier, Mashal said Taliban waged attacks at 12:00 am midnight on security posts soon after entering the city from various directions.

The Taliban had called in fighters from central Maidan Wardak and southern Zabul province and they attacked security posts, the police headquarters and other military installations. ]]>
8/10/2018 5:00:00 PM
<![CDATA[Cairo's Specialized Gardens Project confirms: it was a ‘fake zebra’]]>

Egypt's zoo denies their 'zebra' is a donkey, experts assert it is

CAIRO - 28 July 2018: Cairo's International Garden municipal park, located in Nasr City, has denied painting a donkey with black strips to make it appear like a zebra following a series of images that went viral on social media sites. Egyptian student Mahmoud Sarhan, 18, was visiting the zoo when he noticed the suspiciously-striped creature.




The zoo is currently closed after the ‘donkey painting’ incident allegedly carried out by the zoo’s officials.

Sultan further explained that the zoo is closed since the donkey painting incident became exposed to the public and will not be operating until the end of the investigations currently being undertaken regarding the incident.

Replacing the zoo’s current renter and cancelling the contract with him is currently being suggested to the Governor of Cairo, Atef Abdel Hamid.

Sultan further explained that the zoo located in the International Gardens was specialized after an agreement with the main zoo in Giza to supply it with animals to display in the specialized spaces.

An investor that requested anonymity is supporting the zoo monetarily; unfortunately the investor did not comply with the contract and painted a normal donkey to make it seem like a zebra.

This incident caused great controversary in the Egyptian community and caused great havoc for the International Garden ever since.]]>
8/10/2018 4:20:00 PM
<![CDATA[Russia tells Washington curbs on its banks would be act of economic war]]>
The warning, from Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, reflects Russian fears over the impact of new restrictions on its economy and assets, including the rouble which has lost nearly six percent of its value this week on sanctions jitters.

Economists expect the economy to grow by 1.8 percent this year. But if new sanctions proposed by Congress and the State Department are implemented in full, something that remains uncertain, some economists fear growth would be almost cut to zero in future.

Moscow's strategy of trying to improve battered U.S.-Russia ties by attempting to build bridges with President Donald Trump is backfiring after U.S. lawmakers launched a new sanctions drive last week because they fear Trump is too soft on Russia.

That in turn has piled pressure on Trump to show he is tough on Russia ahead of mid-term elections.

On Wednesday, the State Department announced a new round of sanctions that pushed the rouble to two-year lows and sparked a wider sell-off over fears Russia was locked in a spiral of never-ending sanctions.

Separate legislation introduced last week in draft form by Republican and Democratic senators, dubbed "the sanctions bill from hell" by one of its backers, proposes curbs on the operations of several state-owned Russian banks in the United States and restrictions on their use of the dollar.

Medvedev said Moscow would take economic, political or other retaliatory measures against the United States if Washington targeted Russian banks.

"I would not like to comment on talks about future sanctions, but I can say one thing: If some ban on banks' operations or on their use of one or another currency follows, it would be possible to clearly call it a declaration of economic war," said Medvedev.

"And it would be necessary, it would be needed to react to this war economically, politically, or, if needed, by other means. And our American friends need to understand this," he said, speaking on a trip to the Russian Far East.

FEW GOOD RETALIATORY OPTIONS

In practice however, there is little Russia could do to hit back at the United States without damaging its own economy or depriving its consumers of sought after goods, and officials in Moscow have made clear they do not want to get drawn into what they describe as a mutually-damaging tit-for-tat sanctions war.

The threat of more U.S. sanctions kept the rouble under pressure on Friday, sending it crashing past two-year lows at one point before it recouped some of its losses.

The Russian central bank said the rouble's fall to multi-month lows on news of new U.S. sanctions was a "natural reaction" and that it had the necessary tools to prevent any threat to financial stability.

One tool it said it might use was limiting market volatility by adjusting how much foreign currency it buys. Central bank data showed on Friday it had started buying less foreign currency on Wednesday, the first day of the rouble's slide.

The fate of the U.S. bill Medvedev was referring to is not certain.

The full U.S. Congress will not be back in Washington until September, and even then, congressional aides said they did not expect the measure would pass in its entirety.

While it was difficult to assess so far in advance, they said it was more likely that only some of its provisions would be included as amendments in another piece of legislation, such as a spending bill Congress must pass before Sept. 30 to prevent a government shutdown.]]>
8/10/2018 4:00:00 PM
<![CDATA[Environment Min. denies offering protectorates to right of use ]]>
In a report submitted to the Cabinet's Information and Decision Support Center (IDSC), environment ministry reviewed its plan to develop the neglected nature reserves, and ways to transform them into touristic sites by developing the reserves infrastructure through specialized private companies.

However, Minister of Environment Yasmine Fouad announced on August 5 a plan that offers 30 nature reserves to the right of use for five to 10 years.

This offer aims at developing the infrastructure of the reserves to create value add and encourage investments in this field, the minister said, adding that Egypt is considered to be one of the least countries in the world spending on garbage index.

Fouad stated that the ministry will begin with the reserves of Nabq and Wadi Degla, highlighting that the offer will be firstly presented to local companies and that foreign firms will be included at a further stage.

According to Article 33 of the Egyptian Constitution, the natural reserves are considered as public property of the State that cannot be sold, traded off, or owned by anyone under any circumstances.

Former Minister of Environment Khaled Fahmy said earlier that the ministry has developed sustainable development plan for these reserves.

The plan will focus on protecting the environment and providing services for visitors, which will increase investment in this field.

Egypt to offer protectorates to right of use: Minister

CAIRO - 5 August 2018: The Ministry of Environment is preparing to offer 30 nature reserves to the right of use for fiveto 10 years, Minister of Environment Yasmine Fouad said at the sideline of at the annual meetings of the African Caucus for the World Bank (WB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).


]]>
8/10/2018 3:45:19 PM
<![CDATA[Arab alliance warplanes destroy Houthis' weapons depot in Yemen's Hodeidah]]>
In statements to Sky News channel, the sources added that an airstrike launched by the Arab alliance forces has targeted and destroyed a Houthis’ weapons depot in al Tuhayta district.

The Houthis have been inflicted heavy losses as a result of the attack, they said. ]]>
8/10/2018 3:00:00 PM
<![CDATA[Sudan's ruling party backs Bashir for 2020 election]]>
Bashir, who has been in power for nearly 30 years, has previously said he would step down in 2020, and has not explicitly stated his intention to run again.

Sudan's constitution, amended in 2005, limits a president's number of terms to two.]]>
8/10/2018 2:31:34 PM
<![CDATA[At least four people killed in Canada shooting - police]]>
The Fredericton police said in a post on Twitter the incident was ongoing and there were multiple fatalities. The police urged people to stay inside and lock doors.

In 2014, another mass shooting in New Brunswick led to the deaths of three Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers and the wounding of two more in Moncton. At the time, the incident was one of the worst of its kind in Canada, where gun laws are stricter than they are in the United States and deadly attacks on police are rare. But a proliferation of weapons has led to an increase in gun crimes in recent years.

Last month, a gunman walked down a busy Toronto street, killing two people and wounding 13 before turning his gun on himself.

On Thursday, Ontario pledged more money for police and to keep suspects behind bars while they await trial on gun crimes charges, as the Canadian province grapples with rising shootings involving domestically obtained weapons.]]>
8/10/2018 2:00:24 PM
<![CDATA[PM to establish center for effective communication with media]]>
The to-be-launched center “will be responsible for clarifying facts for the public, disproving rumors on different issues, and presenting the government’s activities and achievements to solve people’s problems via a simple media message.”

The center will consist of four main units: a unit to communicate with media, visual and audio production unit, electronic and social media unit and a unit monitoring and analyzing what is published on different media outlets.

According to the prime minister’s decision, Naayema Zaghloul will chair the new media center. The center will be located in the headquarters of the Information and Decision Support Center, which is also affiliated with the Cabinet.

Madbouly assured that the government is keen to effectively communicate with media outlets, which goes in line with President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi’s directives to clarify the facts for citizens. ]]>
8/10/2018 2:00:00 PM
<![CDATA[UAE plans oil pipeline from Ethiopia to Eritrea]]>
The pipeline will run from Eritrea's port city of Assab to Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, an Ethiopian official said.

Landlocked Ethiopia began extracting crude oil on a test basis from reserves in the country's southeast in June and will need access through Eritrea in order to export it.

Ethiopian broadcaster Fana first reported the pipeline plan earlier on Friday following a meeting in Addis Ababa between Ethiopia Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Reem Al Hashimy, the UAE's minister of state for international cooperation.

The UAE played a behind-the-scenes role in helping Ethiopia and Eritrea end a two-decade state of war last month, Reuters reported this week.

Hashimy, who last month publicly referred to herself as the UAE's policy lead on sub-Saharan Africa, said after meeting Abiy that the UAE is keen to exploit investment opportunities in Ethiopia, a country of 100 million people with the fastest growing economy in Africa, Fana reported.

Abiy's chief of staff, Fitsum Arega, told Reuters that the talks were largely on investment in "industries, agriculture, real estate, (the) oil pipeline, (and) resorts".

"Most are under study," Fitsum said in a text message.

REGIONAL RIVALRY

The UAE is also driven by a fear that rivals such as Iran or Qatar could gain a foothold. Both Qatar and Turkey are strong supporters of Somalia's government. Earlier this year ties frayed between Mogadishu and Abu Dhabi and the two countries ended a UAE military training programme in Somalia.

Abu Dhabi has a military base in Assab which it uses in its military campaign in the war in Yemen, located just across the Red Sea.

Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir arrived in Addis Ababa on Thursday and met with Abiy, although there were no detailed announcements from the meeting.

Last month, Reuters reported that Ethiopia had asked Saudi Arabia for a year's supply of fuel with payment delayed for 12 months to ease severe foreign currency shortages.

Eritrea's foreign minister and a close adviser to President Isaias Afkwerki arrived in Ethiopia on Friday to discuss progress on implementing the agreement they signed last month.

The rapprochement ended Africa's longest major military stalemate and holds great potential for both economies, which were held back by the "no war, no peace" status quo.

Though the two countries have re-opened embassies in each other's capital and resumed flights, details ranging from border demarcation to war reparations have not been worked out.]]>
8/10/2018 1:56:45 PM
<![CDATA[As Trump cracks down on Pakistan, U.S. cuts military training programs]]>
The move, which has not been previously reported, is one of the first known impacts from Trump's decision this year to suspend U.S. security assistance to Pakistan to compel it to crack down on Islamic militants.

The Pentagon and the Pakistani military did not comment directly on the decision or the internal deliberations, but officials from both countries privately criticised the move.

U.S. officials, speaking to Reuters on the condition of anonymity, said they were worried the decision could undermine a key trust-building measure. Pakistani officials warned it could push their military to further look to China or Russia for leadership training.

The effective suspension of Pakistan from the U.S. government's International Military Education and Training program (IMET) will close off places that had been set aside for 66 Pakistani officers this year, a State Department spokesperson told Reuters.

The places will either be unfilled or given to officers from other countries.

Dan Feldman, a former U.S. special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, called the move "very short-sighted and myopic".

"This will have lasting negative impacts limiting the bilateral relationship well into the future," Feldman told Reuters.

The State Department spokesperson, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the IMET cancellations were valued at $2.41 million so far. At least two other programmes have also been affected, the spokesperson said.

It is unclear precisely what level of military cooperation still continues outside the IMET programme, beyond the top level contacts between U.S. and Pakistani military leaders.

The U.S. military has traditionally sought to shield such educational programmes from political tensions, arguing that the ties built by bringing foreign military officers to the United States pay long-term dividends.

For example, the U.S. Army's War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, which would normally have two Pakistani military officers per year, boasts graduates including Lieutenant General Naveed Mukhtar, the current director-general of Pakistan's powerful spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI).

The War College, the U.S. Army's premier school for foreign officers, says it has hosted 37 participants from Pakistan over the past several decades. It will have no Pakistani students in the upcoming academic year, a spokeswoman said.

Pakistan has also been removed from programmes at the U.S. Naval War College, Naval Staff College and courses including cyber security studies.

"LIES AND DECEIT"

In his first tweet of 2018, Trump slammed Pakistan, saying the country has rewarded past U.S. aid with "nothing but lies & deceit." Washington announced plans in January to suspend up to roughly $2 billion in U.S. security assistance to Pakistan.

But weeks later, Pakistan's foreign secretary was quoted by local media saying that Islamabad had been told the United States would continue funding IMET programs.

Officially allies in fighting terrorism, Pakistan and the United States have a complicated relationship, bound by Washington's dependence on Pakistan to supply its troops in Afghanistan but plagued by accusations Islamabad is playing a double game.

Tensions have grown over U.S. complaints that the Afghan Taliban militants and the Haqqani network that target American troops in Afghanistan are allowed to shelter on Pakistani soil.

Current and former U.S. officials said Defense Secretary Jim Mattis argued against excluding Pakistani officers from IMET courses.

"I am shocked... We worked so hard for this to be the one thing that got saved," said a former U.S. defence official, who was involved in the conversations.

The Pentagon declined to comment on internal government discussions, but Dana White, a Pentagon spokeswoman, said Mattis long believed in the value of the IMET programme as a way to build relations between foreign militaries.

Pakistani Senator Mushahid Hussain, chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, told Reuters that a U.S. decision to cut off such exchanges would be counter-productive and push Pakistan's military towards other countries.

"It is one of those silly, punitive measures that they have deployed," said Hussain, who sat next to a Chinese and Pakistani flag in his office.

Russia and Pakistan signed an agreement earlier this week that would allow for Pakistani military officers to train at Russian institutes.

Pakistan's military has ruled the country for about half of its history and traditionally seen the country's foreign policy in its domain.

IMET courses have been able to withstand poor relations between the two countries in the past, even after al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed in a U.S. Navy SEAL raid in the Pakistani town of Abbotabad in 2011.

A NATO helicopter raid killed 28 Pakistani troops later that year in a friendly fire incident on the Afghan-Pakistan border.

Feldman said that after the raid, when relations were at a low point, the United States limited large security assistance items, but made active efforts to continue the IMET programme.

UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCE

In the 1990's former U.S. President George H.W. Bush refused to certify that Pakistan did not have nuclear weapons, triggering the so-called "Pressler Amendment" that required cutting off all military assistance. That included IMET courses.

"The unintended consequence was we didn't know a decade of the Pakistani military leadership as well, and therefore couldn't engage as effectively with them when we needed to," Feldman said.

Mattis, in private discussions within the government, had warned that excluding Pakistani officers from IMET courses could contribute to a similar situation in years to come, the former U.S. defence official said.

Pakistan had been the largest recipient of IMET between 2003 and 2017, according to the Security Assistance Monitor which tracks U.S. assistance.

"You can advocate for cutting off everything else and this was the one thing we were not supposed to touch," the former official said.]]>
8/10/2018 1:48:14 PM
<![CDATA[EgyptAir operates 15 flights, transport 3350 pilgrims to KSA]]>
The national airlines is operating 10 flights to Jeddah and 5 other to Medina carrying a total of 3350 pilgrims to perform Hajj rituals due to start in the third week of August.

The first flight to Medina took off Thursday, carrying pilgrims from Giza and Port Said, according to the chairman of EgyptAir.

Earlier Friday, Ministry of Health announced the death of the fifth case among Egyptian pilgrims in Saudi territories, named Ramadan Abdel Sattar, 66, from Fayoum Governorate.

Hajj, a five-day ritual retracing the journey of Prophet Mohammad that took place 14 centuries ago, is a religious duty to be carried out once in a lifetime for every Muslim who can afford it physically and financially.

It is the world's largest annual Muslim gathering, with over 2.3 million people attending this year. The faithful come from almost all country in the world, speaking dozens of different languages and sometimes practicing different Islamic sects.

Saudi authorities announced more than 2 million Muslims participated in 2017’s hajj season.]]>
8/10/2018 1:17:45 PM
<![CDATA[Arab Military Coalition operations in Yemen is legitimate: Malki]]>
He explained that this military action came as a response to the Houthi missile that targeted Jazan city in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday. Malki affirmed in statements to media outlets that the coalition’s actions in Saada Governorate, in Yemen was against militants who have killed thousands of civilians.

“The coalition will take all necessary measures against the terrorist, criminal acts of the terrorist Iranian-Houthi militia, such as recruiting child soldiers, throwing them in battlefields and using them as tools and covers to their terrorist acts,” Malki stated.

Malki assured that Houthi militants responsible for launching ballistic missiles and killing civilians will be punished for their actions by the coalition. He said that they are responsible of preventing terrorist elements from compromising regional and international security.

On Aug. 5, Saudi Arabia announced the dismantling of 919 mines in Yemen in two weeks, revealing that Houthis had planted one million mines over the past three years.

The gulf country launched in June the Saudi Project for Landmine Clearance (MASAM) to remove mines in Yemen, protect civilians and ensure the safe delivery of humanitarian supply. The mines disposed of so far were located in Taiz, Red Sea Coast, Beihan, Osailan, Saada, Shabwa and Marib. The explosive charges have killed 1,000 civilians until now, MASAM Director-General Osama al-Qasibi said.

Egypt is one of the Arab countries that participated in the military intervention in Yemen in 2015 to back legitimacy inside the country. The struggle, however, has been escalating with the existence of several armed factions inside the state, which is trying to find stability through political solutions.

On April 18, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said that reaching a political solution in Yemen is up to only the Houthi militia, not to Saudi Arabia or any other international organization or country.

He affirmed during a joint press conference with United Nations Secretary General António Guterres that the Houthis, who illegally took over Yemen, are the party standing in the way of reaching a political and final solution.

“They took over the country, transformed it into military barracks, used children in the war, planted mines, blocked villages and caused famine,” Jubeir stated, adding that all of their actions are completely unacceptable.

The Saudi minister said that after the assassination of former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh last December, Houthis have become isolated. “The public opinion turned against them and the political parties avoided cooperating with them,” he stated, adding, “they violate international laws constantly.”

Jubeir assured that the only accepted political solution to end the Yemeni war should come from Arab initiatives.

Former President Saleh was assassinated in a shooting on Dec. 4, 2017 by the Houthi militia while he was heading to his home in Sanhan, Sana’a. Photos and videos of the brutal assassination went viral on social media, shortly after announcing his death by the rebel militia.

In a televised speech following the assassination, Yemeni President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi called on Yemenis to rise up against the Iran-aligned Houthis. He also called for a new approach in the battle against the rebel militia, who had been allied with Saleh before he turned against them by backing the Saudi-led coalition.]]>
8/10/2018 12:11:23 PM
<![CDATA[Taliban fighters storm Afghanistan's Ghazni]]>
U.S. attack helicopters and drone aircraft provided government forces with air support. But as smoke rose across the city and witnesses reported bodies lying in the streets, and it was unclear how much of Ghazni was under government control.

The attack on a strategic city straddling the main route between the capital Kabul and southern Afghanistan demonstrated the Taliban's strength, underscoring how volatile the security situation remains less than three months before parliamentary elections in October.

The defence ministry in Kabul said the attackers had been driven off but were still present in one area of the city and had occupied civilian houses, from where they were still keeping up occasional fire on security forces clearing the area.

It said around 150 attackers had been killed or wounded but gave no estimate of casualties for civilians or security forces.

A statement from U.S. military headquarters in Kabul said fighting had ceased by 8.00 a.m. (0330 GMT) and Afghan forces had held their ground and maintained control of all government centres.

"U.S. forces responded with close-air support (U.S. attack helicopters) and conducted one strike (drone). In addition, U.S. aircraft conducted a show of presence," Lt Col. Martin O'Donnell, spokesman for U.S. Forces-Afghanistan said in an emailed statement.

Officials said clashes between security forces and the Taliban started at around 2.00 a.m., forcing the closure of the main highway linking Ghazni to the capital Kabul, 150 kilometres (95 miles) to the northeast.

"The Taliban are dropping missiles near residential and commercial areas. There has not been a single minute of silence for the last eight hours," said a senior government official in Ghazni early on Friday.

Ghazni police chief General Farid Ahmad Mashal said the Taliban seized several parts of the city, which has been under threat for months with heavy fighting in surrounding districts.

As helicopters circled overhead in the early morning, a second government official said it was too dangerous for people to leave their homes and he had no immediate details on casualties.

"It is not possible to get out of our homes to help the injured or collect bodies," he said.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid issued a statement saying multiple attacks were launched overnight in Ghazni. Dozens of Afghan soldiers and police had been killed and large quantities of weapons and equipment had been seized, he said.

However, O'Donnell said initial reports indicated minimal casualties among Afghan security forces.

"This is yet another failed Taliban attempt to seize terrain, which will result in yet another eye-catching, but strategically inconsequential headline," he said.

The attack came amid growing hopes of talks to end 17 years of war in Afghanistan and less than two weeks before the Eid al-Adha festival, when the Western-backed government in Kabul had been considering offering a ceasefire.

In June, a three-day truce over the Eid al-Fitr holiday brought unprecedented scenes of unarmed Taliban fighters mingling with security forces in Kabul and other cities, offering a glimpse of peace and fuelling hopes of negotiations to end the war.

The Taliban have so far failed to take and hold any provincial centre since they overran the northern city of Kunduz in 2015 before being driven off with the support of U.S. air strikes and Special Forces units.

They came close to repeating the feat in 2016, and in May this year they nearly overran the western city of Farah before being beaten back with the aid of U.S. forces. ]]>
8/10/2018 10:32:40 AM
<![CDATA[Israel, Gazan militants in new exchange of fire after deadly flare-up]]>
It was not clear if the exchange marked the start of another escalation between the two sides or if Gazan militants would return to a ceasefire they had declared earlier in the day.

The strike on the building in Gaza City wounded 18 Palestinians. The rocket that hit an open area outside the major Israeli city of Beersheba caused no damage or injuries.

It was the first time since a 2014 war that a rocket had hit that deep inside Israel, according to Israeli media. Beersheba is some 40 kilometres (25 miles) from the Gaza Strip.

Gaza militants had at around noon halted fire after targeting Israel with some 180 rockets and mortars beginning Wednesday night and into Thursday.

The rocket fire provoked a wave of Israeli strikes across the enclave overnight that killed three Palestinians, including a toddler.

It was the third major escalation since July and came despite attempts by UN officials and Egypt to secure a long-term truce between Israel and Hamas, the Islamist movement that runs the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli strike later Thursday, after the rocket landed near Beersheba, hit a building that Palestinians say housed a cultural centre and other offices in the middle of the city.

Israel's military said the five-storey building was used by Hamas's "interior security forces for military purposes."

The Said Meshal Cultural Centre confirmed on its Facebook page the offices in Gaza City had been destroyed, saying the building also hosted offices for the Egyptian community in Gaza.

The building was not publicly known to include facilities for Hamas.

- 'Never leave' -

Beginning on Wednesday night and into Thursday, fireballs and explosions shook the Gaza Strip while plumes of smoke rose from the enclave.

In nearby Israeli communities, residents were sent scrambling to bomb shelters.

Most of the rockets fired by Palestinian militants landed in open areas, but at least two hit the Israeli town of Sderot and sirens sounded throughout the night.

Medics reported at least four wounded taken to Israeli hospitals, including a seriously injured 30-year-old Thai woman.

Israel's military reported seven civilians wounded.

Those killed in the Gaza Strip included Enas Khammash, 23, and her 18-month-old daughter Bayan, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-controlled enclave.

They were killed in an air strike in Jafarawi in central Gaza, the ministry said, while her husband was injured. The ministry said Khammash was also pregnant.

A Hamas militant was also killed in the overnight strikes and at least 12 others injured, the health ministry said.

"Bayan was sleeping with her mother and father. The rocket hit their house and smashed it, you can see the damage," said Abdullah Khammash, 31 and a cousin of the woman and child killed.

In Sderot, the Israeli city near the Gaza Strip, a gaping hole could be seen in front of a small, three-storey building. A car parked nearby was smashed.

"I will never leave, never," said Hagit Shetreet, 45, who had to run to a shelter due to the rocket fire.

- 'Deeply alarmed' -]]>
8/10/2018 2:10:00 AM
<![CDATA[Sisi orders immediate state-paid treatment for child Marwa]]>
Seven-year-old Marwa Rabie, a resident of el-Bagour town in Menufia governorate, was immediately admitted at a specialized hospital in Cairo, where she will undergo a neck surgery.

Marwa’s mother, Hala Ibrahim, expressed her delight and gratitude for President Sisi's rapid response to offer her daughter suitable treatment at the expense of the state.

“Thanks President Sisi! The one who responds to the treatment of mentally handicapped child will be sure rewarded by God," Ibrahim said.

The Program of Treatment at the Expense of State (PTES) is the main alternative available for underprivileged Egyptian patients who cannot afford to pay for adequate medical treatment. Although the system is openly criticized, the perceptions differ according to the roles and experiences of the different stakeholders.

Officials maintain that strict rules and regulations were lately implemented to insure the effectiveness and efficiency of the system. Patients acknowledge that the PTES is providing them with the medical services that they cannot afford, however, they point out to some deficiencies in the system such as the time it takes to get the approval and to renew it and the insufficient funds allocated per patient in some cases.

During the 6th National Youth Conference (NYC) held at Cairo University late July, Minister of Finance Mohamed Moeit said that the healthcare system in Egypt has been fragmented. For instance, patients whose treatment required very high costs had to go through a long process to be granted treatment at the expense of the state, highlighting the importance of having a unified universal healthcare system. Meanwhile, Minister of Health and Population Hala Zayed delivered a presentation on efforts deployed to provide immediate treatments for patients on waiting lists to undergo critical surgeries.

The World Bank decided early July to invest $530 million in a project to improve Egyptian health care. The money will go toward a five-year project being implemented by the Ministry of Health and Population and will be an integral component of Egypt’s ambitious health reforms, the World Bank said.
]]>
8/10/2018 1:46:40 AM
<![CDATA['Time has come' to create US Space Force, sixth military branch: Pence]]>
President Donald Trump ordered the creation of Space Force in June, arguing the Pentagon needs it to tackle vulnerabilities in space and assert US dominance in orbit.

Its creation however is not a done deal, as it needs to be approved by Congress, and the concept has met with some skepticism from lawmakers and defense officials who are wary of the cost and added bureaucracy.

But Pence was unequivocal in presenting the administration's wish for it to become a reality -- preferably by 2020, the end of Trump's term in office.

"The time has come to write the next great chapter in the history of our armed forces, to prepare for the next battlefield where America's best and bravest will be called to deter and defeat a new generation of threats to our people, to our nation," Pence told an audience at the Pentagon.

"The time has come to establish the United States Space Force," he said, repeating Trump's call for Congress to invest an additional $8 billion in US space security systems over the next five years.

Shortly after Pence's speech, Trump tweeted: "Space Force all the way!"

- Countering Russia and China -

The creation of a US Space Force reflects the drastically changed reality of space's role in national security.

When president John F. Kennedy delivered a speech in 1962 explaining why America was sending men to the Moon, he famously said, "There is no strife, no prejudice, no national conflict in outer space as yet."

But 56 years later, space plays a vital role in just about every aspect of modern warfare, with many military technologies reliant on a network of sensors and satellites floating in orbit.

Pence said an independent Space Force was essential to counter Russia and China, which are "aggressively" working toward anti-satellite capabilities.

"China and Russia have been conducting highly sophisticated on-orbit activities that could enable them to maneuver their satellites into close proximity of ours, posing unprecedented new dangers to our space systems," he said.

The White House said in a statement that "President Trump knows that space is integral to our American way of life and economic prosperity, and is a vital domain for national defense."

Currently, the Air Force oversees most space capabilities and there is some push back from officials who worry Space Force's mission would be duplicative and create turf wars.

Given the stakes surrounding building a new branch of the military, the issue is likely to be a political football.

Democratic Senator Brian Schatz said on Twitter that Space Force "won't happen."

No Republican is willing to tell Trump it's a "dumb idea," added the lawmaker from Hawaii. "It's dangerous to have a leader who cannot be talked out of crazy ideas."

The Pentagon's existing military branches are: the Navy, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, Army and Air Force.

- US Space Command -

Pence outlined a series of steps the Pentagon will undertake ahead of the creation of Space Force.

Key among these is the creation of US Space Command, a new organizational body that would draw in members of existing military branches.

The vast US military divides the globe into various commands, such as Central Command in the Middle East or Indo-Pacific Command in Asia, and so a new Space Command would be on an equal footing with these.

It would require a new headquarters and major organizational changes.

The Pentagon sent a report to Congress on Tuesday detailing steps towards meeting Trump's order.

The document outlines how America's military is at risk in space due to adversaries pursuing "counter-space" capabilities to neutralize America's satellites during a conflict, such as by jamming or hacking them.

"It is imperative that the United States adapts its policies, doctrine, and capabilities to protect our interests," the document states.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said this week that Pence is Trump's "point man" for Space Force, and Pentagon officials are working closely with his office.

But just last year, Mattis voiced skepticism on the need to create a separate Space Force.

In a letter to a US congressman, he said he did "not wish to add a separate service that would likely present a narrower and even parochial approach to space operations," adding it would create extra bureaucracy and cost.

On Tuesday, however, the Pentagon chief said he fully supported the idea of creating a new US Space Command.

"We need to address space as a developing, war-fighting domain and a combatant command is certainly one thing that we can establish," he said.]]>
8/10/2018 1:40:00 AM
<![CDATA[Expelled monk Ash’eyaa confessed murdering Epiphanius: Bakry]]>
Bakry added, during his TV show on Sada El-Balad on Thursday, that the monk admitted he killed Epiphanius through hitting him with an iron stick weighing about 12 kilograms on the head.

Bishop Epiphanius was found dead on July 29 inside his monastery. Afterwards, the Coptic Church of Alexandria decided to strip Ash’eyaa of the St. Macarius Monastery of his rank following investigating him for “inappropriate actions” he committed which contradicted with monastic behavior and life.

The church’s statement did not explain the "inappropriate actions" committed by Ash’eyaa; instead, it expelled him from the St. Macarius Monastery in Wadi El-Natrun, to return to his birth name, Wael Saad.

In a statement signed by Pope Tawadros II, the Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St. Mark, the Orthodox Church revealed that a monastic investigation was conducted with Ash’eyaa by a special committee formed by the Monastic Committee and the Monasteries Affairs of the Holy Synod.

The Coptic Church spokesperson Boules Halim denied any links between the expulsion of Ash'eyaa and the murder, saying that investigation is still ongoing.

Ash’eyaa tried to commit suicide a day after, and he was detained at the monastery's clinic in Beheira governorate’s Natrun valley, but was released following prosecution order. He reportedly used poison in his suicide attempt.

On the same day Ash’eyaa attempted to kill himself, Faltaous al-Makary, another monk in his mid-thirties, deliberately cut his wrist and then jumped off a high building inside the monastery, according to a source in the church that refused to give a name.

St. Macarius Monastery has had a special status for decades. Late father Matta el-Meskeen (1919-2006) spent much of his later years there, granting it semi-independence from late Pope Shenouda (1923-2012). The two great Coptic icons were at odds ideologically, where el-Meskeen was considered more on the progressive side.

The monastery’s monks are generally known for their deep knowledge and spirituality.

After Father Matta el-Meskeen’s death, monks affiliated with Pope Shenouda’s school joined the monastery. Faltaous al-Makary and Wael Saad Tawadros belong to the waves of monks who joined the monastery following el-Meskeen’s death.
]]>
8/10/2018 1:27:56 AM
<![CDATA[Judge orders migrants returned to U.S. in midst of deportation flight]]>
The pair were among 12 plaintiffs in a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) challenging changes in asylum policies ordered by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Washington D.C. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan was hearing a request to stay the plaintiffs' deportations, when the ACLU learned that two of them were already on a flight to Central America, the civil rights group said.

Upon hearing the news, Sullivan ordered their flight returned and suggested that Sessions could be held in contempt of court, according to the ACLU.

An official from the Department of Homeland Security said in an emailed statement that the agency is "complying with the court’s order, and upon arrival in El Salvador, the plaintiffs did not disembark and are currently en route back to the United States.”

During the hearing, the judge ordered a temporary stay on deporting the nine women and three children who filed the lawsuit, according to a court filing.

The lawsuit was filed on Tuesday in the District of Columbia by the ACLU. It challenges a recent tightening on standards for seeking U.S. asylum, which makes it far more difficult for those fleeing domestic or gang violence to win the right to remain in the United States.

Sessions has led efforts by the Trump Administration to crack down on illegal immigration, including the adoption of a zero tolerance policy that briefly included separating immigrant parents from their children while they were in U.S. detention.

The family separation policy led to widespread criticism and was abandoned in June.]]>
8/10/2018 12:26:00 AM
<![CDATA[Confirmation hearings for U.S. top court nominee Kavanaugh open Sept. 4]]>
Opening statements by committee members will take place on Sept. 4, and the questioning of Kavanaugh will start the following day, the committee statement said. The hearings are expected to last three or four days.

Republican President Donald Trump nominated Kavanaugh, 53, on July 9 to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy. Before he can assume the lifetime job on the nine-member court, the Republican-controlled Senate must vote to confirm him.

"He's a mainstream judge. He has a record of judicial independence and applying the law as it is written," Grassley said in a statement, noting that Kavanaugh has met with dozens of senators.

"With the Senate already reviewing more documents than for any other Supreme Court nominee in history, Chairman Grassley has lived up to his promise to lead an open, transparent and fair process," White House spokesman Raj Shah said in a separate statement.

But Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, who has promised to fight Kavanaugh's nomination, said in a statement that Republicans were in a "mad rush" to hold hearings after deciding to block nearly all of Kavanaugh's records from public release.

Democrats are seeking documents from Kavanaugh's service from 2001 to 2003 as a White House lawyer under Republican former President George W. Bush. Earlier this week, several Democratic senators filed requests under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act to try and compel the government to release the records.

Schumer said on Friday that Republicans were only planning to release a small portion of documents that would be "cherry-picked by a Republican operative" currently working for the former president Bush.

Kavanaugh has amassed a solidly conservative judicial record as an appeals court judge for 12 years. His confirmation will require a simple majority in the 100-seat Senate, where Republicans hold a 51-49 edge over Democrats and independents.

If the Republicans stick together, they can get Kavanaugh confirmed, but that could be a challenge, given the divisive issues swirling around the conservative nominee, including abortion, gay rights, healthcare and tariffs.

Conservatives also hope to pressure some Democrats into voting for Kavanaugh, especially those who are up for re-election this year and come from states that voted for Trump in 2016, like Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Donnelly of Indiana. All three voted last year for Trump's first Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch. ]]>
8/10/2018 12:10:00 AM
<![CDATA[Sisi, PM follow-up on establishment of 12 new cities in Egypt: Spokesman]]>CAIRO – 10 August 2018: Egyptian Presidential Spokesman Bassam Radi said Thursday the Cabinet has met to follow-up on all the developments and updates regarding the establishment of 12 new cities in Egypt.


Ambassador Radi added during a phone interview with Al-Hayah satellite channel that the meeting also focused on setting a national plan to establish new cities and urban communities all over Egypt.


The meeting came on the sidelines of a meeting between President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouli and Executive manager of Dar Al Handasah Co. Mohamed Yehia Zaki.


This, according to Radi, will provide various job opportunities and will be based on cutting edge designs to be an example of new-generation cities.


He also added that the new cities will include green space, mosques, churches, schools and universities; “These new cities will change the surface of urban communities in Egypt.”


]]>
8/10/2018 12:05:00 AM
<![CDATA[At least 29 children killed in strike on Yemen bus]]>
The coalition said it had carried out a "legitimate military action", targeting a bus in response to a deadly missile attack on Saudi Arabia on Wednesday by Huthi rebels.

Coalition spokesman Turki al-Maliki told AFP that claims by aid organisations that children were inside the bus were "misleading", adding that the bus carried "Huthi combatants".

The International Committee of the Red Cross said the strike hit a bus filled with children at the Dahyan market in the Huthi stronghold of Saada.

"A hospital supported by our team in Yemen received the bodies of 29 children under the age of 15 and 48 wounded, including 30 children," the ICRC said on Twitter.

A spokesman for the Red Cross in Sanaa told AFP the toll was not final as casualties from the attack were taken to several hospitals.

The Huthis' Al-Masirah TV, quoting the rebel health ministry, reported that 50 people were killed and 77 wounded, "mostly children", though it was not possible to verify that toll.

The Save the Children charity, quoting its staff, said that at the time of the attack the children were on a bus heading back to school "from a picnic when the driver stopped to get a drink".

"Save the Children condemns this horrific attack and is calling for a full, immediate and independent investigation into this and other recent attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure," it said.

- 'Innocent children's lives' -

Geert Cappelaere, the UN Children's Fund regional director in the Middle East and North Africa, said the children were "reportedly under the age of 15".

"Does the world really need more innocent children's lives to stop the cruel war on children in Yemen?".

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said "civilians continue to pay the highest price after three years of war in Yemen, thousands of them have been killed, injured or maimed".

Footage provided by the rebels' Ansarullah Media Centre showed a number of wounded children lying two to a hospital bed, while in a separate shot medics tend to casualties in a crowded room.

The coalition, which also includes the United Arab Emirates, intervened in 2015 to try to restore the internationally recognised government after the rebels drove it out of the capital Sanaa.

Coalition spokesman Maliki confirmed the strike had hit a bus, telling AFP "the elements inside the bus were Huthi combatants".

He said the rebels have "ballistic missiles threatening our national security, Saudi cities and villages on the border. The attack today was a follow-up process to neutralise that threat".

Earlier, Maliki accused the Huthis of "recruiting child soldiers, throwing them in battlefields and using them as tools".

Saudi Arabia shot down a missile fired by the Huthis on Wednesday, with debris killing a Yemeni man and wounding 11 others, the coalition said.

The missile was fired from the rebel-held Yemeni province of Amran towards the Saudi city of Jizan, the coalition said.

- Huthis ramp up missile attacks -

The Huthis have in recent months ramped up missile attacks against Saudi Arabia, which Riyadh usually says it intercepts.

Wednesday's attack brings the tally to 167 rebel missiles launched since 2015, according to the coalition, which that year joined the Yemeni government's fight against Huthi rebels.

On August 2, attacks on a hospital and a fish market in the strategic rebel-held port city of Hodeida killed at least 55 civilians and wounded 170, according to the ICRC.

The coalition denied responsibility for those attacks.

Aid agency CARE International noted that Thursday's strike came a week after the Hodeida bombardment.

"This latest air strike, only a week after the attacks on Hodeida city, demonstrates a continued disregard for human life and suffering," said Johan Mooij, the agency's country director in Yemen.

"It is beyond cruel; innocent children's lives have been lost."

The war in impoverished Yemen has left nearly 10,000 people dead and unleashed what the UN describes as the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

The United Nations envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, last week told the Security Council "a political solution" to end the Yemen war was "available" and that the warring sides would be invited to talks on September 6 in Geneva.

UN-brokered negotiations on Yemen broke down in 2016 amid demands for a rebel withdrawal from key cities and power-sharing with the Saudi-backed government.]]>
8/10/2018 12:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Sisi greets Ecuador, Indonesia on national days]]>
Sisi delegated Presidential Secretary Ahmed El Ansary to Ecuador's embassy in Cairo to convey his greetings on the occasion.

Meanwhile, President Sisi sent a similar cable to Indonesia's President Joko Widodo on the occasion of the Asian country's Independence Day.

Presidential Secretary Mohammed Yahia was delegated by Sisi to the Indonesian embassy in Cairo to deliver greetings on the occasion. ]]>
8/9/2018 5:14:05 PM
<![CDATA[Azhar, Brazil discuss cooperation means to face extremism]]>
This came during a meeting on the sidelines of Shouman's visit to Brazil.

In a statement issued by Al Azhar on Thursday, Shouman asserted full appreciation of Brazil where Muslims live freely, adding that Islam is the religion of peace.

Cooperation will help in removing misunderstanding, Shouman said, urging the media means to contribute to spreading the moderate image of Islam.

Al Azhar is ready to support the Islamic institutions which are supported by the Brazilian government, he said.

Meanwhile, Marun lauded the role of Al Azhar, asserting the importance of cooperation to eradicate fanaticism that spread recently against the Muslims in Brazil.

The visit of Shouman to Brazil will be a strong beginning to open vistas of cooperation with Egypt, Marun said.]]>
8/9/2018 4:35:12 PM
<![CDATA[Dozens dead, wounded in attack on Yemen bus carrying children: Red Cross]]>
"Following an attack this morning on a bus driving children in Dahyan Market, northern Saada, (an ICRC-supported) hospital has received dozens of dead and wounded," the organisation said on Twitter without giving more details.

"Under international humanitarian law, civilians must be protected during conflict," it added.

The Huthi rebels' Al Masirah TV reported that 39 people had been killed and 51 wounded, "mostly children".

It accused the Saudi-led coalition fighting the Shiite rebels on the side of the government of hitting the bus in an air strike.

It was not possible to verify the toll or who was behind it.

There was no immediate comment from the coalition, which intervened in 2015 to try to restore the internationally recognised government to power after it was driven out of the capital Sanaa by the rebels.

Yemen's war has left nearly 10,000 people dead and unleashed what the United Nations describes as the world's worst humanitarian crisis.]]>
8/9/2018 12:58:19 PM
<![CDATA[PLO official urges world countries to reconsider their relations with Israel]]>
The PLO official asserted that as long as Israel continues violating the international law and legitimacy, it should never be regarded as a partner of any country that respects international law and human rights.

Erekat made the remarks in the wake of a series of Israeli air strikes launched since Wednesday on the Gaza Strip, during which three Palestinians, including a pregnant woman and her toddler, were killed.

Erekat urged for an immediate intervention by all parties concerned to implement a truce, end the Palestinian division and reconcile the Palestinian factions, pointing out that this is the only way to protect the Palestinian people and end the occupation.

Meantime, Erekat sent an official message to all world countries through the countries' diplomatic representatives in Palestine after the new "Jewish Nation-State bill" that has been recently approved by the Knesset.

The message explained the goals of the racist legislation which aims to legitimize Israel's political program and adopt two different regimes inside a single State.

Separately, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas held intensive international contacts at all levels with the aim to end the Israeli escalation against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

Abbas warned that any further deterioration Israeli may drag the region into a greater extent of destruction and instability. ]]>
8/9/2018 12:31:20 PM
<![CDATA[Israel renews shelling of Gaza Strip]]>
Israel also fired a number of rockets at targets in Rafah city.

Palestinian sources said no casualties were reported.

In a statement on Thursday, the Palestinian popular resistance movement stressed that all resistance factions continue to retaliate against the Israeli escalation in the Gaza Strip.

The resistance said it is shelling Israeli settlements adjacent to the enclave.

Meanwhile, Jason D. Greenblatt, the US envoy to the Middle East, tweeted a comment on the deteriorating situation in the Gaza Strip in the early hours of Thursday morning.

He said "Hamas regime again is launching rockets at Israeli communities. Another night of terror & families huddling in fear as Israel defends itself. This is the Hamas regime’s choice. Hamas is subjecting people to the terrifying conditions of war again."

United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov expressed his deep “alarm” late Wednesday over the military escalation along the Gaza-Israel border.

He warned that if the current escalation “isn’t contained immediately, [the] situation can rapidly deteriorate with devastating consequences [for] all.”]]>
8/9/2018 12:28:49 PM
<![CDATA[South Sudan president Kiir grants Machar, other rebels amnesty]]>
The amnesty order was read out on state-run television late on Wednesday, three days after Kiir, SPLM-IO leader Machar and the heads of other groups signed a ceasefire and power-sharing agreement in the Sudanese capital Khartoum.

A political row between Kiir and Machar degenerated in 2013 into a war that has killed tens of thousands, forced a quarter of the population to flee their homes and wrecked the country's oil-dependent economy.

The conflict has often been fought along ethnic lines. Previous deals to end it have failed, including one in 2015 that briefly halted hostilities but fell apart after Machar returned to the capital Juba the following year.

SPLM-IO is the largest of the rebel groups fighting Kiir's government, and fighters allied to it control several areas close to the capital. Other anti-government groups have also emerged, some of which have fought against each other.

Lam Paul Gabriel, SPLM-IO's deputy military spokesman, said the amnesty will only be genuine once Kiir observes all the conditions agreed upon in the deal signed on Sunday.

"Machar can only come to Juba after the pre-interim period when the unified forces are deployed in Juba and other major towns in South Sudan," he said.

Machar was freed this year from house arrest in South Africa where he had been held since fleeing South Sudan in 2016.

"It will now give Machar much confidence, including others (who are) estranged a genuine reason to return to the country without the fear of the replication of the 2016 incident," Majak Daniel, a Juba-based journalist, told Reuters.

Human Rights Watch called on Thursday for the release of a number of government critics jailed by the intelligence services, including Peter Biar Ajak, a prominent economist who has criticised both sides in the war.

"South Sudanese authorities should release everyone being held arbitrarily and change the way the national security agency operates," Jehanne Henry, associate Africa director at the New York-based rights organisation said in a statement.

Biar, a country director for the London School of Economics' International Growth Centre and a former World Bank economist, was arrested by officers of the agency in July.

"A lot still is needed such as the cessation of hostilities and ending the war of words," said Samuel, a 32-year-old resident of Juba. ]]>
8/9/2018 12:25:06 PM
<![CDATA[University of Canada in Administrative Capital opens door for 2018-2019 students ]]>
The study will begin at the university on Sept. 23 at the three faculties of engineering, business administration and science, according to Amr Sherif, director of marketing and communications department, at Canwell Education Consultancy Group.

Sherif said that UCE received a total of 1,750 applicants, adding that there will be financial grants varying between $1,000 and $4,000 Canadian dollars for outstanding students, including top Thanaweya Amma (high school) students.

He further said that they are currently negotiating cooperation with different Canadian universities worldwide to launch joint programs.

Students were received at the UAE Headquarters by Magdy el Qady, the Chairman of Canwell Company, and Debbie McClellan, the President of the University of Canada in Egypt, who will explain the application process.

The university has also posted on its official Twitter account a tweet inviting applicants to its Open House on Wednesday, detailing all necessary documents for them to bring on to the appointment. According to the tweet, applicants attending the Open House event will be informed if they were conditionally accepted on Wednesday.




The New Administrative Capital will include six international universities from the United States, Britain, Hungary, Canada, Sweden and France.

“The universities will improve our educational system, as they will qualify graduates for competing internationally,” Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research Khaled Abdul Ghaffar stated previously, adding that the universities' role will not be limited to education only, as part of the budget will be spent on scientific research.

The Egyptian government is concerned with providing all the necessary needs of the Egyptian youth regarding higher education through inserting different fields in both governmental and private universities, as well as providing international education in Egypt.

Egypt seeks to restore its position among high education centers in the Middle East and Africa and to double the number of overseas students. This would increase its national income, attract foreign investments in the higher education sector and help establish branches of international universities in the New Administrative Capital. ]]>
8/9/2018 12:21:29 PM
<![CDATA[New York City votes to cap Uber, Lyft vehicle licenses]]>
The first such cap by any major U.S. city was part of a package of measures aimed at reducing traffic congestion and increasing driver paychecks in the wake of the explosive growth of for-hire vehicles and a rash of suicides among New York's "Yellow Cab" drivers who have seen their incomes fall.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said he intended to sign the package into law.

"This action will stop the influx of cars contributing to the congestion grinding our streets to a halt," he said in a statement.

The number of ride-hailing vehicles operating in the city has jumped from about 12,600 in 2015 to about 80,000 this year, according to the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission. About 14,000 yellow cabs operate in the city.

The effort to cap the services in New York, Uber's largest U.S. market, was opposed by ride-hailing businesses, including Uber Technologies Inc, Lyft and Via.

"The City’s 12-month pause on new vehicle licenses will threaten one of the few reliable transportation options while doing nothing to fix the subways or ease congestion," Uber said in a statement.

Lyft said: "These sweeping cuts to transportation will bring New Yorkers back to an era of struggling to get a ride, particularly for communities of color and in the outer boroughs."

In emails to nearly 5 million New Yorkers last month, Uber said riders would be hurt most by the limit on numbers, and would face higher prices, longer wait times, and less service in the city's outer suburbs by drivers. ]]>
8/9/2018 4:50:00 AM
<![CDATA[Chile's Bachelet picked to be UN rights chief]]>
Bachelet, 66, is set to replace Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein of Jordan, a sharp critic of US President Donald Trump's policies, who held the post of UN high commissioner for human rights since September 2014.

A two-time president who ranks among the world's most powerful women in politics, Bachelet also served in 2010 as the first director of UN Women, the UN agency promoting gender equality worldwide.

Guterres informed the General Assembly of his decision in a letter on Wednesday following consultations with the heads of regional groups at the United Nations, a UN statement said.

The 193-nation assembly will meet on Friday to vote on the appointment, which is expected to win approval, diplomats said.

Bachelet will step into a position that has drawn much controversy under Zeid, who decided not to seek a second term after losing support from powerful countries.

After clashing with the United States, Russia and China, Zeid decided to bow out, telling staff in a message in December that "in the current geopolitical context," to stay "might involve bending a knee in supplication."

During a farewell news conference last week, Zeid defended his no-holds-barred approach to denouncing abuses and naming countries that fail to uphold human rights.

"Silence does not earn you any respect," he said, adding that his advice to his successor would be to "be fair and don't discriminate against any country" and "just come out swinging."

Zeid steps down on August 31.

- One of the world's most difficult jobs -

With Zeid under fire during his tenure, rights groups were concerned that Guterres would seek to appoint a less vocal human rights boss.

"If selected, Bachelet will be taking on one of the world's most difficult jobs at a moment when human rights are under widespread attack," said Human Rights Watch executive director Kenneth Roth.

"As a victim herself, she brings a unique perspective to the role on the importance of a vigorous defense of human rights. People worldwide will depend on her to be a public and forceful champion, especially where offenders are powerful."

The daughter of a general who opposed Augusto Pinochet's overthrow of president Salvador Allende, Bachelet was detained in 1975 and held for several weeks at the infamous Villa Grimaldi interrogation and torture center in Santiago.

"I was mainly tortured psychologically, and some beating, but they didn't 'grill' me," Bachelet said in an interview, using prisoners' slang for electric shocks administered to detainees.

"I was lucky compared to so many others. Many of them died," said Bachelet in the 2014 interview, one of the few times that she has discussed the ordeal.

The pediatrician and socialist who was Chile's first woman to hold the presidency was in office from 2006 to 2010, and then again from 2014 to 2018.

Last year, Guterres appointed her to be on a high-level UN panel on mediation that provides him with advice on UN peace efforts.

The UN chief described her as a "long-time champion of women's rights" with a "history of dynamic global leadership, highly-honed political skills and a recognized ability to create consensus."

Born in Santiago, Bachelet was studying medicine when she was detained for several weeks. After her release, she went into exile with her mother to Australia and then moved to East Germany.

Bachelet returned to Chile in 1979, but was prevented from working as a doctor for political reasons. She continued studying, specializing in pediatrics and public health.

After democracy was restored to Chile in 1990, she worked for the health ministry and in 2000 was appointed health minister, followed by defense minister four years later.

As president, Bachelet offered a dramatic break from Chile's highly conservative political class. She reformed the pension system and improved health and social services, focusing on Chile's working poor.]]>
8/9/2018 4:20:00 AM
<![CDATA[Firefighters make progress in California but weather not promising]]>
Nearly 20 major fires have ravaged the sprawling western state over the past two weeks, fanned by strong winds and sweltering temperatures.

The wildfires have left at least nine people dead, including four firefighters, and forced tens of thousands of residents to abandon their homes.

"It's scary, it's nerve-wracking," said Jay Michael, who was resting in a van in a parking lot in Clearlake Oaks with Gretchen Fritsch after fleeing their home.

"I got a feeling my home's still there," Michael told AFP. "My gut's telling me it's still there but..."

He said it was the eighth time they have evacuated since living in the area north of San Francisco, and the third time this year.

The National Weather Service said conditions were expected to remain very hot and windy until at least Saturday evening.

While no respite was expected from the weather, authorities said the 14,000 firefighters battling the blazes have made progress against the Mendocino Complex Fire comprising twin blazes in the state's north -- the River Fire and the Ranch Fire.

The Mendocino Complex Fire has swept through over 300,000 acres (120,000 hectares) -- approximately the size of Los Angeles -- and is California's largest wildfire since record-keeping began a century ago.

The River Fire is 81 percent contained, having burned 48,920 acres, Cal Fire said.

Its partner blaze, the Ranch Fire, has grown to 251,000 acres and is 46 percent contained.

- Fire sweeps over barriers -

Overall, the Mendocino Complex Fire has destroyed at least 221 structures, 116 of them residences, Cal Fire said. More than 10,000 other structures are threatened.

The Ranch Fire, which poses the biggest challenge, has swept across natural barriers like rivers, and a ditch dug with earth-moving machinery.

Helicopters and airplanes, including two massive DC-10s and a 747 jumbo jet, have supported firefighters by dousing the flames with water.

Besides firefighters from around the country and abroad, about 1,000 National Guard personnel are supporting wildfire operations in California, with another 450 in Oregon and 170 in Washington state.

The Carr Fire, near the town of Redding, has engulfed more than 173,000 acres since igniting July 23, killing seven people so far including two firefighters.

As of early Wednesday, firefighters had managed to get it 47 percent contained.

Another major fire, Ferguson, has left two people dead and forced the closure of part of Yosemite National Park. It is currently 43 percent contained.

In southern California near San Diego, hundreds of firefighters have been deployed to tackle the fast-moving Holy Fire in the Cleveland National Forest.

Cal Fire officials said a shift in the weather can make a big difference for firefighting crews.

"Weather was a big factor today and due to the winds aloft covering the fire area in smoke, it caused lower than predicted temperatures," Cal Fire said Tuesday evening.

"The temperature decrease allowed crews to continue valuable work to contain the fire perimeter edge, slowing fire growth," it added.

On Monday alone, 127 wildfires were burning on 1.6 million acres of land in 11 states, the National Interagency Fire Center said.

The Mendocino Complex Fire is the second blaze to break records in California in as many years, following the Thomas Fire in December 2017 that destroyed 281,893 acres.]]>
8/9/2018 4:10:00 AM
<![CDATA[Jordan says Palestinian refugees at risk with U.N. agency in crisis]]>
Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said after meeting visiting U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl the budget crisis facing the agency could deprive refugees of core education, healthcare and food security service that would only "deepen their humanitarian plight".

"UNRWA faces a dangerous financial deficit that threatens catastrophic consequences on refugees if it is not covered before its financial allocations run out," Safadi was quoted as saying in a foreign ministry statement.

UNRWA has faced a cash crisis since the United States, long its biggest donor, slashed funding to the agency, providing just $60 million of a promised $365 million this year.

U.S. President Donald Trump withheld the aid after questioning its value and saying Washington would only provide more assistance if the Palestinians agreed to renew peace talks with Israel.

The largest ever reduction in UNRWA's funding has cast doubts about the agency's' long term outlook and has already begun to impact some services. U.N. officials have said it could even affect the opening of schools at the start of the next academic year

The agency operates around 700 schools, educating 500,000 refugee children in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan.

Jordan, which hosts the largest number of Palestinian refugees in the Middle East outside Palestinian territories, was engaged in intensive lobbying with donors, Safadi said.

Officials privately have said they were was also worried about any U.S. drive to dismantle the agency as part of a nascent Middle East peace plan that Washington has promised to unveil soon

According to diplomats, the plan diverges from longstanding U.S. support for a Palestinian state and backing for a full Israeli withdrawal from territory captured in 1967.

"Jordan warns of the danger of touching the role of the UNRWA that should continue to provide its services under its international mandate," the foreign ministry statement said.

Safadi said the international community must continue to shoulder its political and moral responsibilities towards Palestinian refugees under U.N. Security Council resolutions that maintain their right of return and compensation.

Among several disputes deadlocking Middle East peace talks has been a demand that as many as 5 million Palestinians be granted the right to return to lands in Israel that they or their kin lost

Founded in 1949, UNRWA serves Palestinian refugees in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, in Gaza, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. It is funded mainly by voluntary contributions from U.N. member states.]]>
8/9/2018 2:30:00 AM
<![CDATA[Hamas fires rockets, Israel bombs Gaza despite talk of truce]]>
A senior member of Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist group that controls Gaza, said talks mediated by the United Nations and Egypt on a deal to tamp down tensions were in "advanced stages". The remarks were echoed by a top Israeli lawmaker, suggesting a possible breakthrough after four months of confrontations and clashes that stirred mutual threats of war.

The Israeli army said Wednesday's violence began with militants firing guns at an Israeli engineering vehicle, and Israeli troops responding with tank fire. Later, Palestinians fired about 70 rockets across the border, and Israeli aircraft struck at least a dozen militant targets.

One Israeli was hurt by the rockets, rescue services said. One Hamas militant was killed and two others were wounded in the Israeli air strike, Palestinian officials said. Five civilians were also injured.

"I am deeply alarmed by the recent escalation of violence between Gaza and Israel, and particularly by today’s multiple rockets fired towards communities in southern Israel," said U.N. Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov.

The U.N., he said, has engaged with Egypt in an "unprecedented effort" to avoid serious conflict, but warned "the situation can rapidly deteriorate with devastating consequences for all people."

Gaza has been controlled by Hamas for more than a decade, during which time it has fought three wars against Israel, most recently in 2014. Along with Egypt, Israel maintains a blockade that has brought the territory's economy to a state of collapse.

Around two million people live in Gaza, mainly stateless descendants of Palestinians who fled or were driven out of what is now Israel at its founding in 1948.

Gazans have held weekly protests against Israel at camps on the border since March 30, some of which have become violent. The Israeli army has killed at least 158 Palestinians during those protests, and a Gaza sniper killed an Israeli soldier.

Neither Hamas nor Israel appears keen on another full-blown conflict. Public demands by both sides for the other to release detainees appear to have been a stumbling block in securing a long-term truce.

"We can say that actions led by the United Nations and Egypt are in advanced stages and we hope it could yield some good from them," Khalil Al-Hayya, deputy Hamas chief in Gaza, told Al Jazeera television.

"What is required is for calm to be restored along the border between us and the Zionist enemy."

"NEW DAY"

Avi Dichter, head of the Israeli parliament's foreign affairs and defence committee, struck a cautiously upbeat note on Wednesday. "I very much hope that we are on the brink of a new day on the matter of Gaza," he told reporters.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called off a trip to Colombia this week to attend to the Gaza truce talks and was due to meet with security chiefs for late-night consultations.

Israel has played down prospects for a comprehensive ceasefire, speaking in terms of a more limited quid-pro-quo.

In return for calm in Gaza, Israeli officials said on Sunday they would reopen a commercial border terminal that had been shuttered in response to damage caused by fires set by burning Palestinian kites and balloons lofted over the frontier. They would also expand a Palestinian fishing zone.

Neither the United Nations nor Egypt have publicly detailed their proposals for Gaza, beyond saying they should bring extensive economic relief.

Hayya said foreign donors were collecting "hundreds of millions of dollars" for electricity, water, health and job-creation projects in Gaza, but that these "require stability".

In exchange for any truce, Israel wants to recover the bodies of two soldiers killed in Gaza and gain freedom for two of its civilians who wandered into the enclave.

For its part, Hamas demands that Israel free Palestinian security prisoners - a proposal that Netanyahu's far-right coalition partners balk at.

"We want to free our brave prisoners and we have no objection to beginning now," Hayya said. "Let it be a prisoner swap deal, (Palestinian) prisoners in return for Zionist soldiers." ]]>
8/9/2018 12:40:00 AM
<![CDATA[Oscars to add 'best popular film' award, shorten gala]]>
"Change is coming to the Oscars," tweeted the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which has traditionally put together the glittering awards gala each year in late February or early March.

Earlier this year, the 90th Oscars on March 4 lasted nearly four hours, and posted all-time low television ratings with 26.5 million viewers.

For 2019, organizers are hoping to produce a "more accessible" three-hour show -- by presenting some of the awards during commercial breaks, Academy president John Bailey and chief executive officer Dawn Hudson told members.

Edited excerpts of those presentations will then be shown during the broadcast.

They will also create a new award for "outstanding achievement in popular film" -- a response to accusations that for the past decade or more, the Academy has honored arthouse fare only seen by limited audiences.

The Academy did not offer specifics about how the category will be defined.

The final reform will be to hold the ceremony earlier in the calendar year -- in 2020, it will shift to February 9. In 2019, the date already set -- February 24 -- will be maintained.

Industry observers have complained that sometimes, the Oscars come nearly two months after the Golden Globes, making Tinseltown's awards season a marathon of gowns, glitz -- and stress.

"We have heard from many of you about improvements needed to keep the Oscars and our Academy relevant in a changing world," Bailey and Hudson said in a letter to members, a copy of which was sent to AFP.

"The board of governors took this charge seriously."

But the new measures were immediately met with criticism -- with some suggesting the new "popular film" would mean critical and box office hits like "Black Panther" might be snubbed in the race for the coveted best picture statuette.

"The last thing that the Academy should now be doing is creating a reactionary new category that is, in effect, the Popular Ghetto," said Owen Gleiberman, the chief film critic for Hollywood news outlet Variety.

"Instead, it should be working to take off its blinders and make more room in the big tent for every movie that comes out. That's how to win viewers back to the Oscars without trashing the essence of what movies are."]]>
8/9/2018 12:32:37 AM
<![CDATA[Russia chides Canada over row with Saudi Arabia]]>
Saudi Arabia froze new trade and investment with Canada and expelled the Canadian ambassador this week in a retaliatory move after Canada publicly called for the release of arrested human rights activists.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that human rights should be promoted with respect for specific national customs and traditions.

"We have always said that the politicisation of human rights matters is unacceptable," Zakharova said.

"What one probably needs in this situation is constructive advice and assistance rather than criticism from a 'moral superior'," she said.
]]>
8/8/2018 5:18:37 PM
<![CDATA[Sisi greets Singapore, Bolivia on national days]]>
Also, Sisi delegated Presidential Secretary Mohamed Adel Mokhtar to the Embassy of the Plurinational State of Bolivia in Cairo to extend greetings on Bolivia Independence Day.]]>
8/8/2018 4:43:00 PM
<![CDATA['Stateless' Thai cave boys and coach granted citizenship]]>
Their 25-year-old coach, Ekapol Chanthawong, also gained citizenship.

Ekapol and 12 boys had gone to explore the Tham Luang caves in Chiang Rai province on June 23, when a rainy-season downpour flooded the cave system and trapped them underground.

They survived for nine days on water dripping from rocks before they were discovered. An international effort to rescue them ended on July 10 when they all were brought out safely.

Three of the boys and Ekapol were considered stateless, even though they were born in Thailand, until local authorities checked their qualifications, including birth certificates, and approved their requests for Thai citizenship.

The four were also given Thai national identification cards on Wednesday.

"They have all the qualifications," said Somsak Kanakam, chief officer of Mae Sai district in Chiang Rai. "All children born in Thailand must have Thai birth certificates in order to qualify for Thai citizenship."

Citizenship requests for some twenty other people, most of them children, were also approved, Somsak added.

Many stateless people in Thailand come from areas where national borders have changed, leaving their nationality in question. Some belong to "hill tribes" living in remote areas with limited access to information about nationality procedures, according to the United Nations refugee agency.

The cave ordeal highlighted the plight of people from Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar living in Thailand who are denied some rights and opportunities because they are not citizens.

More than 486,000 people are registered as stateless, according to official data. Of that number 146,269 are younger than 18 years old.
]]>
8/8/2018 4:17:32 PM
<![CDATA[Ministry of Health launches strategy to reduce birth rate in Egypt ]]>
Minister of Health and Population Hala Zayed said in statements to Egypt Today that the new plan includes working on several axes to achieve the anticipated goal. These axes include raising the awareness about birth control methods to 71.6 percent.

“Family birth planning and health, education, as well as youth and women's empowerment and media” will be among the axes included in the ministry’s plan to raise awareness about overpopulation risks.

President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi talked several times during public conferences and meetings about overpopulation risks and how it affects the country’s policies and economics. During the fifth edition of the National Youth Conference in Cairo last May, Sisi affirmed that the growing population is detrimental to development.

Sisi urged politicians, media, and citizens to discuss the issue of the booming population in Egypt, saying the state has failed over decades to convince people to reduce the birthrate.

He emphasized that responsibility towards a child is not confined to feeding it, and that the requirements of education, healthcare, and jobs have completely changed and become expensive.

Also in May, the Ministry of Social Solidarity launched a family planning campaign under the slogan “Two is enough”, aiming to control the dangerously growing population.

During a press conference held on July 29, Minister of Awqaf (Endowments), Moukhtar Gumaa, stressed that birth control has become necessary and not optional, confirming that family planning strategies were practiced during the lifetime of Prophet Muhammed, who instructed his companions to opt for the pull out methods for the benefit of the family and the whole community.

“We must find a solution to the problem of the growing population rates, given that it is considered to be Egypt’s second biggest problem after terrorism," said Goma’a.
The endowments minister also pointed out that population increases by 2.5 million annually, which entails the establishment of 2,500 new schools and 50 hospitals each year alongside other infrastructure projects.





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8/8/2018 3:03:52 PM