World - Climate Change - World at risk of heading towards irreversible 'hothouse' state
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by FricNews
Aug 08, 2018 - 9:08
The world is at risk of entering “hothouse” conditions where global average temperatures will be 4-5 degrees Celsius higher even if emissions reduction targets under a global climate deal are met, scientists said in a study published on Monday.The report comes amid a heatwave that has pushed temperatures above 40C (104 Fahrenheit) in Europe this summer, causing drought and wildfires, including blazes in Greece in July that killed 91 people.

Around 200 countries agreed in 2015 to limit temperature rise to “well below” 2C (3.6F) above pre-industrial levels, a threshold believed to be a tipping point for the climate.

However, it is not clear whether the world’s climate can be safely “parked” near 2C above pre-industrial levels or whether this might trigger other processes which drive further warming even if the world stops emitting greenhouse gases, the research said.

Currently, global average temperatures are just over 1C above the pre-industrial period and rising at 0.17C each decade.

Scientists from the Stockholm Resilience Center, the University of Copenhagen, Australian National University and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research said it is likely that if a critical threshold is crossed, several tipping points will lead to abrupt change.

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Such processes include permafrost thaw; the loss of methane hydrates from the ocean floor; weaker land and ocean carbon sinks; the loss of Arctic summer sea ice and the reduction of Antarctic sea ice and polar ice sheets.

“These tipping elements can potentially act like a row of dominoes. Once one is pushed over, it pushes Earth towards another,” said Johan Rockström, co-author of the report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and executive director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre.

“It may be very difficult or impossible to stop the whole row of dominoes from tumbling over. Places on Earth will become uninhabitable if ‘Hothouse Earth’ becomes the reality,” he said.

Maximising the chances of avoiding such a “hothouse” state requires more than just reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the report said.

For example, improved forest, agricultural and soil management; biodiversity conservation and technologies that remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it underground are needed.

Commenting on the research, some experts said uncontrolled warming is still uncertain but not implausible.“In the context of the summer of 2018, this is definitely not a case of crying wolf, raising a false alarm: the wolves are now in sight,” said Phil Williamson, climate researcher at the University of East Anglia
World - 20 years after a shocking attack, US aid groups grapple with countering violent extremism
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by FricNews
Aug 08, 2018 - 9:08
This is the first story in an ongoing series examining the rise of “countering violent extremism” as a U.S. global development priority.

On the morning of Aug. 7, 1998 — a Friday — United States Ambassador to Kenya Prudence Bushnell, who goes by “Pru,” asked her political counselor at the embassy to preside over the weekly country team meeting in her office so that she could take a short walk across the street to the top floor of a high-rise building, where Kenya’s minister of commerce had finally agreed to meet with her about an upcoming U.S. trade delegation.Before she left the embassy, Bushnell asked the country team to discuss, among other issues, whether the State Department was striking the right balance on issues related to security — alerting people to the alarming murmur of threats they had been receiving, but not paralyzing them with fear.

Bushnell had made repeated attempts to convince officials in Washington that the embassy building was overly-exposed — “an ugly, brown, square box of concrete located on one of the busiest street corners in Nairobi,” she told Charles Stuart Kennedy, director of the Foreign Affairs Oral History Program in 2005. This account is drawn from that interview.

Across the street from the train station, the building’s front entrance was only a few feet from the sidewalk, where a daily assortment of “street preachers, homeless children, muggers, hacks and thousands of pedestrians” shuffled by. In back, a small parking lot separated the embassy from the Cooperative Bank building, where Bushnell’s meeting with the minister was set to take place on the 21st floor.

Earlier in the year, a group of counterterrorism officials had visited the embassy. On their way out, when they asked Bushnell if there was anything they could do for her, she told them they could answer her “goddamn” emails. She wanted them to know she was annoyed and frustrated by Washington’s apparent lack of interest in the embassy’s glaring vulnerability.

By the summer of 1998, the terrorist group al-Qaida, led by Osama bin Laden, had already carried out deadly attacks — mostly in the Middle East. Bushnell was aware of al-Qaida’s presence in Kenya, but believed the government had largely broken up the cell that operated there. As far as she knew at the time, bin Laden was viewed more as a terror financier than an activist.

She saw U.S. intelligence teams come and go from the country where she represented the U.S., but only later learned of the degree to which al-Qaida featured in U.S. law enforcement and national security efforts. The information about U.S. counterterrorism operations — even those operating in the country where she was ambassador — was compartmentalized and out of sight.

As the country team was gathering for their meeting, two light-colored trucks made their way from an upscale residential neighborhood toward central Nairobi. The first truck, a pick-up, led the second to the U.S. embassy, where it approached the entrance to the rear parking lot.

On the top floor of the bank building, Bushnell and the minister of commerce had just finished fielding questions from a group of reporters the minister had invited for a short briefing. As the ambassador and the minister were preparing to transition into their closed-door conversation, a loud “boom” interrupted them. Bushnell asked the minister if there was construction happening nearby. It sounded like a building was being torn down.

The minister and several others in the room walked toward the window, and Bushnell rose to join them. She had only taken a few steps when an explosion ripped through the building and threw her off her feet. The next moments, or minutes, dissolved into a series of sensations — the shaking building, a white cloud, the rattle of a teacup. Bushnell, barely conscious, steeled herself for the building’s collapse and prepared to die. When she looked up, the only other person left in the room — who she had assumed was dead — raised his head too. Then a colleague from the commerce department rushed in to evacuate her.

At least 220 people died instantly from the explosion, produced by a 2,000-pound bomb built from hundreds of cylinders of TNT. Twelve of the dead were Americans. Thirty-two were foreign service nationals. Cars waiting at the corner for a traffic light to turn green were incinerated. A seven-story office building next to the embassy collapsed. More than 4,000 people were injured, many of them suffering wounds to their chests and faces. Such as those on the top floor of the bank building — they had gone to look out their windows after the first, smaller explosion.

Later, they would learn it had been the sound of a stun grenade, thrown by one of the assailants at a security guard who was blocking the attackers’ entrance. They would also learn about a second, nearly-simultaneous attack at the U.S. embassy in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

After Bushnell changed from her bloody suit and had her lip stitched at the children’s hospital, she returned to the temporary operations center that had taken over the U.S. Agency for International Development’s headquarters to help save as many lives as possible. When she finally left at 10 p.m., she was exhausted.

“I was too tired to even wash off the clots of blood stuck in my hair,” she said in 2005.

Breaking the cycle

In the aftermath of the attacks on its embassies in East Africa, the U.S. increased its support for and cooperation with partner government anti-terrorism programs around the world. Kenya joined the U.S. Anti-Terrorism Assistance Program, the primary provider of law enforcement training and equipment to partner countries around the world.

These efforts intensified after Sept. 11, 2001, when al-Qaida carried out attacks against targets in the U.S. that would overshadow the 1998 embassy bombings in their brazenness and brutality. Nine days after the World Trade Center towers fell, President George W. Bush told the U.S. Congress a “war on terror,” would begin with al-Qaida, but would not end, “until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated.” While the “war on terror” moniker has fallen out of favor, the global policing and enforcement effort it launched continues today.

“Many Americans remember 9/11 as the first time al-Qaida struck the United States, but the first battle in our struggle against terrorism took place on August 7, 1998, outside our embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam,” Ed Royce, member of the House of Representatives from California, wrote in a congressional statement honoring the victims on the 20th anniversary of the attacks this week.

While more direct military and police enforcement continues — and still commands the vast majority of counter-terrorism resources — these programs, now dubbed “countering violent extremism,” or CVE — aim to change the conditions that can lead people to violent extremist groups in the first place. They emerged out of a sense of frustration that military and enforcement efforts against individual terrorists and terrorist cells were doing little to address the conditions that gave rise to violent extremism in the unstable places where it continued to emerge.

In the past two decades, America’s counterterrorism partnerships in developing countries have evolved to include a new element, aimed not at finding and eliminating terrorists but at using tools more often associated with global development programs to counter their messaging and erode their appeal.

That has included efforts to improve people’s perceptions of their local governments, amplifying moderate voices on social media and in religious circles, working with police to improve public safety, research to better understand the drivers of radicalization, and a wide range of other interventions. The programs focus on parts of the world where extremist organizations are known to recruit — and where their ideologies circulate in pursuit of sympathizers and converts.

“After 9/11 we got very good at investigating, arresting and prosecuting, and we got very good at producing a lot of new laws … to allow for greater information sharing for investigative and prosecutorial measures, but we weren’t seeing a lot of new development for preventing terrorism in the first place,” a U.S. State Department official told Devex. “We were good at being reactive, but we were not very good at being proactive.”

When U.S. government officials involved in interagency counterterrorism efforts first began to look for options to prevent and counter violent extremism around 2005, there wasn’t much in the way of research or programmatic experience to draw on. As a result, some of the early forays into CVE relied more on speculation about what might work to deter people from joining extremist groups, as opposed to what had been proven to work. Early programs focused on job creation, based on the assumption that radicalization must stem from economic frustration, and that jobs would provide people a preferable alternative.

“At the time, the big theory was jobs. It’s poverty. It’s jobs. We were, around 2005, just throwing programming around jobs. That was one of the things the research then started to show as well, that that wasn’t actually correct. That wasn’t one of the major causes of extremism,” said Elizabeth Hume, vice president at the Alliance for Peacebuilding, who helped create USAID’s office of conflict management and mitigation.

“We were a bit blind and kind of feeling our way around and trying to figure out — What research is out there? Who’s doing any research? How do we know even what we’re doing is addressing the sources of violent extremism? How do we know we’re not having unintended consequences?” she said.

It is difficult to assess how much money the U.S. government currently spends on CVE programs, in part because of a lack of clarity about what CVE actually is — and what it isn’t.  The State Department official — who was not authorized to speak on the record — suggested the State Department’s budget for CVE programs is less than $100 million per year, while other activities are funded by USAID.

Worth the risks?

The humanitarian and development organizations that choose to pursue CVE activities find themselves grappling with an array of difficult questions, which carry both programmatic and moral implications. Some organizations have opted to steer clear of this work altogether, out of concern that the risks it poses still outweigh what they see as questionable benefits.

CVE programs insert development professionals into situations that are defined by conflict and politics, where they have designated allies and enemies, and where they are often aligned with an American military objective. Those factors run counter to traditional humanitarian principles of neutrality, impartiality, and independence, and some groups have raised alarms that when aid and development organizations get involved in this work, they threaten to undermine these basic tenets of humanitarianism.

“The premise of CVE is there are good guys and bad guys. That’s, I think, true in the real world, but it’s counter to humanitarian thinking, which tries to base itself on objective analysis of need,” said Joel Charny, director of the Norwegian Refugee Council USA.

The language some CVE experts use to describe their work sounds like a sharp departure from humanitarian neutrality. As implementing partners for the U.S. government, these groups don’t claim to be neutral in their support of U.S. foreign policy and national security. Kimberly Field, who retired from the U.S. Army as a brigadier general and was the senior military advisor in the Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization leads CVE efforts at Creative Associates, a Washington, D.C.-based USAID contractor that has established a standing practice to integrate countering violent extremism programs into its development portfolio.

“If you want to stop individual radicalization, it’s not just about grievances. It’s also understanding that this is a competition for influence. A competition for influence means that you better look at the ideology. You better make sure you know how the enemy — yes I’m a military person — how the enemy is pulling, so that you actually know what you’re trying to counter,” she said.

The CVE outcomes these organizations pursue may carry benefits for local communities that view violent extremism as a major problem, but they stem from U.S. concern that a country or region represents a national security threat. Some critics of CVE argue that it puts communities in service of U.S. national security interests, instead of putting development efforts in service of a community’s own aspirations.

“We have to stop instrumentalizing their [communities] participation in these programs. Number one, it pulls them away from what they should be working on, which is to have their own assessment, of their own challenges, to develop their own solutions, to achieve their own vision. Instead we’re saying just focus on what helps us get our objectives achieved,” said Aaron Chassy, director of the technical integration unit at Catholic Relief Services.

These programs can also carry a risk of unintended consequences for the people they are ostensibly meant to serve, critics warn. On one hand, CVE programs risk stigmatizing groups or individuals — frequently Muslims — as “potential terrorists.” In the hands of an undemocratic government, or a political figure vying to quash opposition, branding civil society groups or political opponents as extremists is one way to justify their repression.

“It’s not so much what we are doing in Washington, or what other donors are doing in London or Brussels. This programming sends a signal, and it enables these host-country governments to justify the repression and further marginalization of political opponents, which of course is only counterproductive to stability in the first place,” Chassy said.

On the other hand, because these programs specifically target places where there is deemed to be a violent extremist threat, individuals who participate in them risk being labeled as collaborators with the American government, or the national government against whom these extremist groups are waging war. That can put them — and their families — at risk of retaliation by the very groups these programs seek to undermine.

The body of evidence linking development interventions to CVE outcomes remains shallow, though many of the agencies and organizations at the forefront of this field are investing in research to better chart those connections.

“I think it’s been a big learning curve for all of us. The environments that we’ve been working in have gotten more and more complex, and the number of actors that one has to take into account when you’re conducting humanitarian or development missions has grown,” said Beth Cole, former director of USAID’s office of civilian-military cooperation.

Representatives from organizations that refuse to participate in CVE programming raise doubts that the evidence of what works is sufficient to justify the potential risks this work can entail.

“It’s a worthy objective in the abstract, but I don’t think anyone fundamentally knows how to get there, and I think the danger of mistakes in the name of countering violent extremism … is so great, that to me it strikes at the viability and credibility of the entire thing,” Charny said.

While the risks associated with aid and development organizations getting involved in CVE might be threatening to long-held humanitarian principles, some experts find the risks of not doing anything to counter violent extremist organizations in developing countries even more untenable.

“By definition, the countries that USAID works in, that are chronically underdeveloped, also are countries that frequently experience conflict and are targeted by terrorist networks and smugglers, the worst of humanity. If you take that as a given, USAID has to address conflict and terrorism, because it immediately affects development goals,” Cole said.

“It’s not as simple as — that’s dirty. We have to stay out of it. It’s inescapably connected to development goals. You cannot separate these things. USAID is part of the U.S. government,” she said. “How can you be neutral in the face of some of the things that are going on?”
Rescuers and officials stand at the site in front of U.S. embassy on August 12, 1998 in Nairobi after a ceremony for those killed in the Aug. 7 bomb attack at the embassy. Photo by: Thomas Coex / AFP
World - Trump’s election: UK parliament summons Zuckerberg over role of Facebook
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by Reality, Nigeria
Mar 21, 2018 - 9:03
Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg has been called on by a British parliamentary committee to give evidence about the use of personal data by Cambridge Analytica.

The United Kingdom-based political consulting firm is accused of using the data of 50 million Facebook members to influence the 2016 United States presidential election. Damian Collins, the chairman of the Commons inquiry into fake news, accused Facebook of “misleading” the committee.

Mr Collins has asked for a response to his request by 26 March, 2018. London-based firm Cambridge Analytica denies any wrongdoing. Collins said earlier in the week that he wanted to hear from Mr Zuckerberg but has now put the request into writing.  In the letter, he said “It is now time to hear from a senior Facebook executive with the sufficient authority to give an accurate account of this catastrophic failure of process.”

It came after the UK’s Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said she would be applying to court for a warrant to search the offices of Cambridge Analytica. The firm insists it followed the correct procedures in obtaining and using data, but it was suspended from Facebook last week.

Facebook shares fell by a further 3% yesterday, following a 6.7% drop on Monday which wiped almost $37bn from its market value. The company will hold an open meeting with its employees later to discuss the matter, tech news website The Verge is reporting.

In the letter, Collins criticised other Facebook executives who had already given evidence to his committee. “The committee has repeatedly asked Facebook about how companies acquire and hold on to user data from their site, and in particular about whether data had been taken without their consent,” he wrote.

Meanwhile, Kenya’s main opposition coalition has said full investigation must be carried out into Cambridge Analytica firm which helped take Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta to victory.

National Super Alliance (NASA) official Norman Magaya accused the firm and the ruling party of trying to “subvert the people’s will”.
World - Donald Trump plans death penalty for drug traffickers
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by Reality, Nigeria
Mar 20, 2018 - 10:03
Donald Trump has called for drug traffickers to be given the death penalty, declaring: "This isn't about nice anymore."

Announcing his plans to tackle the US' opioid epidemic, the President said a tough stance was required because "toughness is the thing they most fear".

Opioids, including prescription opioids, heroin and synthetic drugs, killed more than 42,000 people in the US in 2016, the highest total ever recorded.

Mr Trump unveiled his plans in New Hampshire, a state that has been hard hit by the drug scourge.

The move represents the laying down of an early marker in the 45th President's re-election campaign for 2020.

Mr Trump called for improved education about drug addiction, with greater access to treatment and recovery programmes.

But at the heart of his plan is much tougher punishments for drug traffickers.

"This is about winning a very, very tough problem and if we don't get very tough on these dealers it's not going to happen folks... I want to win this battle," the President told the event in the city of Manchester.

Mr Trump has in the past spoken approvingly of other countries around the world that harshly punish drug dealers.

During a trip to Asia last year, he did not publicly condemn Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who has authorised the extrajudicial killings of drug dealers.

Outside a local fire station that Mr Trump visited before his speech, someone compared the two leaders with a sign that read: "Donald J. Duterte."

Mr Trump came in for criticism last year when leaked transcripts of a telephone call with Mexican President Enrique Nieto showed he had described New Hampshire as a "drug-infested den".

In his address, the President said: "Drug traffickers kill so many thousands of our citizens every year.

"That's why my Department of Justice will be seeking so many tougher penalties than we've ever had and we'll be focusing on the penalties that I talked about previously for big pushers, the ones that are killing so many people, and that penalty is going to be the death penalty."

He added: "Other countries don't play games... But the ultimate penalty has to be the death penalty."

The federal death penalty is available for limited drug-related offences, according to the Justice Department, including violations of the "drug kingpin" provisions in federal law.

But there are questions as to whether bringing in the death penalty for drug traffickers, even for those whose product causes multiple deaths, would be constitutional.

Doug Berman, a law professor at Ohio State University, predicted the issue would end up at the US Supreme Court.

And the President's plan came in for criticism from some Democrats.

Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois said "we can't arrest our way out of the opioid epidemic" and noted that "the war on drugs didn't work in the 80s".
World - Russia’s Vladimir Putin Wins Another Term
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by Reality, Nigeria
Mar 19, 2018 - 12:03
Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, has won won a fresh term of office, following a landslide victory of 73.9% of the vote, defeating the closest competitor, according to exit poll.

With the victory, Putin will lead Russia for another six years.

According to BBC, the main opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, was barred from the race.

The scale of victory - which had been widely predicted - was a marked increase in his share of the vote from 2012, when he won 64% of the votes.

Vladimir Putin Getty Images
A state exit poll put the turnout at 63.7%, down on 2012. 
Mr Putin's campaign had hoped for a large turnout, to give him the strongest possible mandate.

Video recordings from polling stations showed irregularities in a number of towns and cities across Russia. Several videos showed election officials stuffing boxes with ballot papers.

Early results showed that with just 21.3% of boxes counted, Mr Putin had almost 72% of the votes.

Exit polls, published as soon as voting ended, showed that Mr Putin's closest opponent, Pavel Grudinin, was only projected to win 11.2%.

Mr Navalny was excluded from the election because of an embezzlement conviction that he said was manufactured by the Kremlin.
World - Chemical weapons experts storm UK in Russia spy case
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by Reality, Nigeria
Mar 19, 2018 - 9:03
Britain is to target wealth linked to the Kremlin in response to the poisoning of a former spy, foreign minister Boris Johnson said yesterday ahead of a visit by international chemical weapons experts.

“Where people have obtained wealth by corruption and where we can see a link with the Kremlin, with Vladimir Putin, it may be possible to have unexplained wealth orders and other sanctions on those individuals,” Johnson told BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.

Former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia are in a critical condition after being exposed to a nerve agent in the English city of Salisbury on March 4, leading Britain to expel 23 Kremlin diplomats.

Technical experts from Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons will visit Britain on Monday to collect samples of the nerve agent used in the attack.

“These will then be despatched to highly-reputable international laboratories selected by the OPCW for testing with results expected to take a minimum of two weeks,” said a Foreign Office statement.

Johnson said the government was considering something similar to the US “Magnitsky Act” which was adopted in 2012 to punish Russian officials accused of human rights violations.

The act imposed a visa ban and froze the assets of Russian officials implicated in the death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, a tax fraud whistleblower who died in Russian custody in 2009.

Johnson accused the Russians of “smug sarcasm and denial” in response to the accusations, and said the international community was behind Britain.

Moscow’s “malign, disruptive behaviour” internationally was the reason why allies were “inclined not to give Russia the benefit of the doubt,” he added. However, the minister faced awkward questions over a tennis match he played with the wife of former Kremlin minister Vladimir Chernukhin, in return for a £160,000 ($223,000, 181,500 euros) donation to his Conservative Party.

Also at the weekend, Russia’s ambassador to the European Union, Vladimir Chizhov, said Moscow “had nothing to do” with the attack, accusing Johnson of “acting in an inappropriate manner” by pointing the finger at Putin.

“Russia has stopped production of any chemical agents back in 1992,” he told Marr, the day after Moscow expelled 23 British diplomats in a tit-for-tat measure. But the Foreign Office dismissed the claim, saying it had “information indicating that within the last decade, Russia has investigated ways of delivering nerve agents likely for assassination.
World - Bridge Collapses, Kills Several People In Florida
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by Reality, Nigeria
Mar 16, 2018 - 10:03
A pedestrian walkway in Miami, Florida collapsed on Thursday, killing several people. 

The fatalities were confirmed by the Florida Highway Patrol after multiple vehicles were crushed by the bridge near Florida International University's campus. 

According to Miami-Dade County Fire Rescue, there were people on the bridge and several cars underneath it. 

The walkway weighed 950 tons and was 174 feet long, according to FIU. 

The bridge was designed to withstand hurricane-force winds and was scheduled to open early 2019.

The Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Department is said to be searching for victims as well as securing the structure. 

Meanwhile, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, White House Press Secretary, reported that President Donald Trump was aware of the bridge collapse and would provide government assistance as needed to the area. 

The National Transportation Safety Board said that it would also provide assistance by sending a team to investigate the collapse. 

The bridge was worth $11.4 million and was meant to connect the Florida International University school to the city of Sweetwater, Florida. 

According to the college, the bridge was built and designed by Munilla Construction Management in partnership with FIGG Bridge Engineers. 

World - Saudi Arabia threatens to acquire nuclear bomb if Iran does
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by Reality, Nigeria
Mar 15, 2018 - 14:03
Saudi Arabia says it would rapidly acquire a nuclear weapon if arch-rival Iran develops one, the country’s Crown Prince has warned.

Mohammed bin Salman said the Saudis ‘do not want’ nukes but would be forced to develop them should their Shia counterparts acquire them.

The 32-year-old heir to the Saudi throne made the comments in an interview in which he likened Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei to Hitler.

‘Saudi Arabia does not want to acquire any nuclear bomb, but without a doubt if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, we will follow suit as soon as possible,’ Prince Mohammed bin Salman told CBS in an interview that will air on Sunday.

The kingdom, locked in a tussle for influence with Iran across the Middle East and beyond, is stepping up plans to develop a nuclear energy capability as part of a reform plan led by Prince Mohammed to reduce the economy’s dependence on oil.

The United States, South Korea, Russia, France and China are bidding on a multi-billion dollar tender to build Saudi Arabia’s first two nuclear reactors.

The world’s top oil exporter has previously said it wants nuclear technology only for peaceful uses but has left unclear whether it also wants to enrich uranium to produce nuclear fuel, a process which can also be used in the production of atomic weapons.

The government approved a national policy for its atomic energy programme on Tuesday, including limiting all nuclear activities to peaceful purposes, within the limits defined by international treaties.

Reactors need uranium enriched to around five percent purity but the same technology in this process can also be used to enrich the heavy metal to a higher, weapons-grade level. This has been at the heart of Western and regional concerns over the nuclear work of Iran, Saudi Arabia’s arch-rival which enriches uranium domestically.
Nigeria - Britain Expels 23 Russian Diplomats Over Chemical Attack On Ex-Spy
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by Reality, Nigeria
Mar 15, 2018 - 11:03
Britain expels 23 Russian diplomats in response to a nerve agent attack on a Russian former double agent in southern England, Prime Minister Theresa May said on Wednesday, adding it was the biggest single expulsion in over 30 years.

May told parliament Britain would also freeze Russian state assets wherever there was evidence of a threat and downgrade its attendance at the soccer World Cup this summer.

Former spy Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, were found unconscious on a bench in the city of Salisbury on March 4 and remain in hospital in a critical condition.

May has said the pair were attacked with Novichok, a Soviet-era military-grade nerve agent.

She had asked Moscow to explain whether it was responsible for the attack or had lost control of stocks of the highly dangerous substance. Russia has denied any involvement, and May told parliament Moscow had provided no credible explanation for the attack.

“There is no alternative conclusion, other than that the Russian state was culpable for the attempted murder of Skripal and his daughter, and for threatening the lives of other British citizens in Salisbury,” she said.

“This represents an unlawful use of force by the Russian state against the UK.”

May said the expulsion of the 23 diplomats, identified as undeclared intelligence officers, was the biggest single expulsion for over 30 years and would degrade Russian intelligence capabilities in Britain for years to come.

“We will freeze Russian state assets wherever we have the evidence that they may be used to threaten the life or property of UK nationals or residents,” May said. She said no ministers or members of the royal family would attend the World Cup in Russia.
World - Erdogan threatens to crush militants in northern Iraq
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by Reality, Nigeria
Mar 14, 2018 - 13:03
Turkish President, Tayyip Erdogan, on Wednesday threatened that soon, the country would crush militants in northern Iraq.

This is coming after recent statement by Turkey’s Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, that Ankara and Baghdad would carry out a joint offensive against Kurdish militants in Iraq.

“We are checking the terror nests in northern Iraq at every chance. Soon, we will stomp very strongly on the terrorists there,” Erdogan told local administrators in Ankara.

Cavusoglu had said that Turkey and Iraq’s central government could start a joint military operation against Kurdish militants after Iraqi parliamentary elections scheduled for May, 2018.

Turkish warplanes regularly launch strikes against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has camps in the mountains of northern Iraq, near the border with Turkey.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
World - Turkish forces 'encircle' Syrian Kurdish city
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by Reality, Nigeria
Mar 13, 2018 - 11:03
The Turkish military says it has surrounded the Kurdish-held city of Afrin in northern Syria, the focus of an offensive against a Kurdish militia.

A statement said troops and allied Syrian rebels had also captured "critically important areas".

Kurdish sources said all roads into Afrin were being targeted by shellfire, but denied that it was encircled.

Hundreds of civilians reportedly fled the city to nearby areas controlled by the Syrian government on Monday.

Why is Turkey targeting Kurdish forces?
How Afrin became a prize worth a war
Why the battle for northern Syria matters
Who are the Kurds?

The Turkish operation aimed at driving the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) militia out of Afrin began on 20 January.

The Turkish government says the YPG is an extension of the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has fought for Kurdish autonomy in south-eastern Turkey for three decades, and considers it a terrorist group.Media captionAfrin: What is going on in Syria's other battle?The YPG denies any direct organisational links to the PKK - an assertion backed by the US, which has provided the militia and allied Arab fighters with weapons and air support to help them battle the jihadist group Islamic State (IS).

Turkey says 3,393 "terrorists" have been "neutralised" - a term it says means they have surrendered, been captured or been killed - since the Afrin offensive began.

The Kurdish Red Crescent says more than 230 civilians, including 35 children, have also been killed and 688 civilians wounded. However, Turkish commanders deny targeting civilians or civilian infrastructure.
Syrian rebel fighters are supporting Turkish troops in the offensive on Afrin
Mali - Four UN peacekeepers killed in Mali
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by Reality, Nigeria
Mar 01, 2018 - 9:03

Four dead and four wounded after peacekeepers' vehicle hits a landmine a day after six Malian soldiers killed.

Four UN peacekeepers have been killed and four more were wounded after their vehicle hit an explosive device in Mali's central Mopti region. 

The UN's mission in Mali, MUNISMA, said the vehicle transporting the blue helmets struck an improvised explosive device on Wednesday. The medical evacuation of the four "seriously injured" peacekeepers was under way, a statement said. 

The incident happened a day after six Malian soldiers were killed in another blast. 

"MINUSMA is currently upgrading its security presence in central Mali," mission chief Mahamat Saleh Annadif said. "Cornered, the terrorists are multiplying their attacks of unspeakable vileness."

The UN mission in Mali, which has more than 11,000 troops and was established in 2013, is one of the most dangerous peacekeeping operations in the world, with troops and convoys regularly coming under attack from armed groups.

According to UN figures, more than 146 members of the mission have been killed since 2013.

The security situation in Mali has been fragile since 2012 after armed groups captured the entire northern part of the country and were only pushed back a year later following a military intervention by France.
The UN mission in Mali is one of the most dangerous peacekeeping operations in the world
World - US condemns Syria's 'contempt' for UN as Ghouta attack continues
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by Reality, Nigeria
Mar 01, 2018 - 8:03

US denounces failure to implement ceasefire in Eastern Ghouta during UN Security Council meeting.

The United States has accused Russia and the Syrian government of violating the Eastern Ghouta ceasefire at a United Nations Security Council meeting.

The 30-day ceasefire, enshrined in Resolution 2401, was voted for unanimously by members of the Security Council on Saturday.

It came on the back of an offensive launched by the Bashar al-Assad's forces, with the support of Russian warplanes, on the enclave that began on February 18 and has resulted in the deaths of more than 550 civilians, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor said.

Speaking on Wednesday, the US representative to the UN Kelley Currie condemned the Syrian government's continued aerial bombardment on Eastern Ghouta, a rural area outside of the capital Damascus that has been under opposition control since 2013.

"Despite the unanimous call for a ceasefire, the regime's attacks continued unabated," Currie said. "Hundreds of Syrians have been killed or injured since we passed the resolution on Saturday." 

Such an attack demonstrates Syria's complete and utter contempt for this council and the United Nations," she added.On Monday, Russia, a key ally of Bashar al-Assad, said it will implement five-hour "humanitarian pauses" to allow for the evacuation of civilians and the entrance of aid convoys. However, shelling and air strikes did not stop and have resulted in the deaths of at least four people.

Currie described Russia's humanitarian pauses as "cynical, callous and in flagrant defiance of the demands of 2401".

Stranded in Eastern Ghouta

Residents of the enclave said government warplanes launched several attacks in the early hours of Wednesday, and stressed the most intense have been in three towns - Douma, Misraba and Harasta - near the front lines.

"There have been no evacuations whatsoever - not medical, not humanitarian, nothing," one resident, who asked to remain anonymous, told Al Jazeera.

"The regime has launched a psychological game - that's all. Bombardment has been ongoing since last night."

Al Jazeera's correspondent Osama Bin Javaid said many people are still stranded in Eastern Ghouta.

"The second day of this so-called truce or pause went away without any major developments on the ground," he said, speaking from the Turkish border city of Gaziantep.

"No aid convoys went inside because the United Nations and other aid workers have been saying that this is too short of a window without any guarantees of whether they would be able to make it back."

Bin Javaid also said rebels in Eastern Ghouta, which has been besieged by government forces since mid-2013, have no faith in the UN.

"More air strikes and more shelling is being reported on Eastern Ghouta and rebels are saying that the UNSC resolution is just words," he said.

Russia blames rebels

Vassily Nebenzia, the Russian ambassador to the UN, told the Security Council that Russia is doing everything it can to ensure the effectiveness of the daily five-hour humanitarian pauses, but blamed rebel forces for targeting the corridors designated for humanitarian operations with mortar shelling.

"We trust that the opposition leaders have a serious-minded approach and that their words will be met with deeds," he said.

"We understand that terrorists remain a legitimate target for military operations and that there will be no ceremonial approach for them," he continued, adding efforts must be undertaken to "effectively neutralise" the presence of the al-Qaeda offshoot in Eastern Ghouta, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, formerly known as Nusra Front.

Speaking from the UN headquarters in New York, Al Jazeera's diplomatic editor James Bays said some rebel factions were looking for a truce.

"It's worth noting that some of the armed groups have actually written to the Security Council saying they are willing to support the ceasefire and are willing to kick any Nusra Front elements out of Eastern Ghouta," Bays said.
World - Saudi military leaders replaced amid stalemated war in Yemen
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by Reality, Nigeria
Feb 27, 2018 - 10:02

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Saudi Arabia replaced its military chief of staff and other defense officials early on Tuesday morning in a shake-up apparently aimed at overhauling its Defense Ministry during the stalemated and ruinous war in Yemen.

The kingdom also announced a new female deputy minister of labor and social development as it tries to broaden the role of women in the workplace.

Saudi Arabia made the announcement in a flurry of royal decrees carried by the state-run Saudi Press Agency. The announcement in the ultraconservative Sunni kingdom was short on details.

King Salman "approved the document on developing the Ministry of Defense, including the vision and strategy of the ministry's developing program, the operational pattern targeting its development, the organizational structure, governance and human resources requirements," one statement said.

Chief among the changes was the firing of military chief of staff Gen. Abdulrahman bin Saleh al-Bunyan. Another announcement said the general would become a consultant to the royal court.

Al-Bunyan was replaced by Gen. Fayyadh bin Hamid al-Rwaili, who once had been the commander of the Royal Saudi Air Force, among the nation's premier military forces.

The decisions come as the Saudi-led coalition, chiefly backed by the United Arab Emirates, remains mired in a stalemate in Yemen, the Arab world's poorest country. Over 10,000 people have been killed in the war in which Saudi-led forces back Yemen's internationally recognized government against Shiite rebels and their allies who are holding the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, and much of the north of the country.

The kingdom faces wide international criticism for its airstrikes killing civilians and striking markets, hospitals and other civilian targets. Aid groups also blame a Saudi-led blockade of Yemen for pushing the country to the brink of famine.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the heir to the throne after his father King Salman, is the Saudi defense minister and architect of the Yemen war. While the crown prince has burnished his reputation abroad with promises of business-friendly reforms and other pledges, his role in Yemen haunts that carefully considered public personae.

But the overhaul in the Saudi defense forces should not be seen only as a reaction to the Yemen war, said Becca Wasser, a Washington-based RAND Corp. analyst specializing in Gulf security who has traveled to Saudi Arabia in the past.

The war in Yemen functions "to push these reforms forward, but it's not the driver," Wasser told The Associated Press.

In general, Wasser said such an overhaul would include improving training and recruitment of troops, allocating better resources and changing a military's leadership to one willing to hear new ideas and make changes.

Also noticeable was an effort to include a "careful balancing" of appointments of others in the Al Saud royal family, said Kristian Coates Ulrichsen, a research fellow at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University

It seems the Saudi shakeup is more about moving forward with Mohammed bin Salman's attempt to put in place a new generation of leadership in tune with his vision to transform the structure of Saudi decision making," Ulrichsen told the AP.

The appointment of a woman in a ministerial position, Tamadhir bint Yosif al-Rammah as deputy minister of labor and social development, comes as the kingdom prepares to allow women to drive this year and pushes to have more women in Saudi workplaces.

Also appointed was Prince Turki bin Talal Al Saud as deputy governor of the Asir region. The prince's brother is billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, who recently was detained for months at the Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh as part of what the government described as an anti-corruption campaign.

As with the anti-corruption purge, Wasser said the military overhaul also fit into the consolidation of power by Crown Prince Mohammed."Reform is a tricky thing to do. To create change in a larger bureaucratic structure like a military is difficult. To create change in Saudi Arabia ... is incredibly difficult," she said. "It is not going to be easy and change is not going to happen tomorrow. This is much more of a long-term endeavor
Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud attends Riyadh International Humanitarian Forum in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Monday
World - Four dead in explosion in UK city
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by Reality, Nigeria
Feb 26, 2018 - 13:02
Four people have died in an explosion at a shop in Leicester, police have confirmed.

Leicestershire Police declared a "major incident" after reports of a blast in Hinckley Road at about 19:00 GMT on Sunday.

Four other people remain in hospital, one with serious injuries, the force said.

Supt Shane O'Neill said police believe there may be more people unaccounted for and rescue efforts were continuing.

At this stage the explosion is not being linked to terrorism, he added.

The building consisted of a shop premises on the ground level and a two-storey flat above it.

Witnesses said the shop was formerly a Londis but recently became a Polish supermarket.

Supt O'Neill said: "It is a dangerous scene so trained officers from the fire service and police took over as soon as possible.

"I can't say at this stage [what may have caused it] but it is a joint investigation between the fire service and the police and the priority is to make the area safe."

Angel Namaala, who lives opposite the shop, told the BBC she heard "this big thud, like an earthquake".

She said: "The building had gone down and people were trying to help where they could by taking the bricks off. But the fire was getting bigger and bigger so people were told to leave the scene."

Hinckley Road, from its junction with Bolton Road to its junction with Woodville Road, remains closed in both directions and motorists are advised to avoid the area.

Matt Cane, group manager at Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service, said crews worked through the night in a bid to find survivors and casualties.

He added: "The cause of the explosion and fire is still yet to be determined and we will work closely with colleagues from the police as our inquiries into the circumstances continue today."

Electricity to a number of homes was affected by the explosion and a cordon was put in place, but no neighbouring properties were evacuated.
World - Boxer Scott Westgarth tragically dies aged 31
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by Reality, Nigeria
Feb 26, 2018 - 13:02

Boxing world rocked as Scott Westgarth tragically dies after winning English title eliminator

Light-heavyweight Scott Westgarth (7-2-1) has died at the age of 31 after he was rushed to hospital following a fight with Dec Spelman (11-1) on Saturday night.

Westgarth won his light-heavyweight English title eliminator against the unbeaten "Kid Nytro" on points at the Doncaster Dome on a Stefy Bull Promotions show, but appeared to be in pain during the post-fight interviews, later collapsing backstage.

His promoter, Stefy Bull, who announced the news the entire boxing world were fearing to hear on Monday morning.

“God bless Scott Westgarth,” he said. “To promote a boxing show and a young man doing a job he loves losing his life, I have no words. RIP lad, thoughts go out to your family and your team.

“It's been the hardest few days I've had to endure; no idea what to do moving forward.”

26-year-old opponent Dec Spelman was equally hearbroken as he also paid tribute to Westgarth, "Absolutely heartbroken and lost for words [I'll] continue to pray for Scott's family and the people close to him,” he wrote. “Rest easy my friend.”

As a result of Westgarth’s injuries, the rest of the card, which featured former footballer Curtis Woodhouse, was cancelled.

Woodhouse was one of those to pay his respects to Westgarth, tweeting: “Prayers are with Scott Westgarth this evening, sometimes with all the hype around boxing you forget how dangerous this sport is.

“My fight with [Wayne Hibbert] is irrelevant and means nothing compared to life.”
World - Pope Francis warns against 'fake news'
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by FricNews
Jan 25, 2018 - 10:01
Pope Francis has warned against the temptation of fake news, drawing a parallel between ethically compromised journalism and the biblical tale of Adam, Eve, the snake and the forbidden fruit.

In his annual World Communication Day message held on the feast day of Francis de Sales, the patron saint of journalists, the Pope referred to Eve being fooled by the snake as "the first fake news".

"We need to unmask what could be called the 'snake-tactics' used by those who disguise themselves in order to strike," he said.

'Fake news' was popularised as a phrase by Donald Trump during his victorious 2016 US presidential election campaign and first year in the White House.

Trump uses it as a barb towards what he believes is a mainstream media biased against him, but it has come to be used as a way of describing the proliferation of outlets and websites publishing invented news stories as a tool of political propaganda.

Pope Francis used the story of Adam and Eve, from the Old Testament's Book of Genesis, to highlight that "there is no such thing as harmless disinformation; on the contrary, trusting in falsehood can have dire consequences.

Even a seemingly slight distortion of the truth can have dangerous effects".
In the story, the snake convinces Eve and then Adam into eating the forbidden fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, an act which leads to God expelling them from the Garden of Eden.

"Spreading fake news can serve to advance specific goals, influence political decisions, and serve economic interests. The effectiveness of fake news is primarily due to its ability to  mimic real news, to seem plausible," added Francis.

"The most radical antidote to the virus of falsehood is purification by the truth."
In order to discern the truth from the lie, the Pope suggests that people look at the results and see "whether they provoke quarrels, foment division, encourage resignation; or, on the other hand, they promote informed and mature reflection leading to constructive dialogue and fruitful results".

He also looked towards journalism as "not just a job" but "a mission", and journalists as "protectors of news" who should promote a "journalism of peace".
"I mean a journalism that is truthful and opposed to falsehoods, rhetorical slogans, and sensational headlines," he said.
Pope Francis gives a weekly general audience in St Peter's square on January 24, 2018 in Vatican. PHOTO | ANDREAS SOLARO | AFP
Nigeria - Apostle Johnson Suleman Releases 50 Shocking Prophecies for 2018
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by The Savanna Griot1, South Africa
Jan 03, 2018 - 13:01
The Founder and Senior Pastor of the Omega Fire Ministry, Auchi, Apostle Johnson Suleman, has released 50 shocking prophecies for the year 2018.
He talked about the sacked President of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, Nigerian economy and series of bombing in the country.
Read Apostle Suleman's prophesies:
1. Economy to get better in Nigeria in 2018
2. Year of serial bombings in Nigeria
3. Imo State Governor to make governorship a family affair
4. Donald Trumps health needs attention
5. A new strategies of killing perceived political
enemies in Nigeria will arise
6. Wildfire outbreak in an American state
7. Manhunt for Ekiti state Governor by the Federal Government of Nigeria
8. Government of Nigeria to disobey court orders
9. God says " Let Sambo Dasuki go"
10.President Buhari to be flown abroad on emergency
11. A former Nigerian military President laid to rest
12. Many bloggers to be arrested and jailed
13. Bola Tinubu to have public showdown with President Buhari
14. Robert Mugabe, former president of Zimbabwe, rest in peace
15. Political blackmail to be on the rise
16. I saw two great northern kings in open conflict
17. Church buildings collapse, tears, tears
18. EFCC boss to have major setback
19. Nollywood, new stars to take over
20. 2018 budget, Senate and presidency lockjam
21. NAFDAC to pray against fire disaster
22. Senate President To Be harassed embarrassed. Many publications and threatened arrest.
23. DSS boss, to attend to his health
24. Fresh charges against Abubakar
Atiku and friends to be embarrassed
25. I saw major bombings in Egypt
26. Attempt on the life of Chief Femi Fani Kayode's wife
27. South African Jacob Zuma to be humiliated
28. Atiku's men will betray him
29. U.K bombings, biggest in history
30. Channels TV in court crisis
31. America, Canada, Asia, to experience hurricanes.
32. Ibe Kachikwu to be removed and replaced
33. NTA to pray against losing a top boss
34. Shoprite Lagos to beef up securities, I see a major raid.
35. I see Fulani herdsmen entering Lagos and Rivers State massively
36. Oh America, I see war in 2018
37. Let's pray against train accident. I saw a train going out of the rail
38. I saw the naira gaining relevance
39. I see a new political party that will divide APC and PDP
40. 2019, power will not move from the North
41. I see serious politics against Osibanjo
42. Nigeria pray against air crash
43. I saw a young Nigerian musician
experiencing major media attack sponsored by a fellow musician of same genre
44. Kardashian family, topsy-they in 2018
45. I see some Nollywood stars permanently leaving Nigeria for better opportunities
46. 2018, the year of the Army. So much military presence and control
47. Good luck Jonathan should pray not to be bereaved
48. Nnamdi Kanu to be embarrassed both locally and internationally
49. God will give people good health and there will be cure to incurable diseases
50. I see a group rising in the North and asking for their own nation.
World - Children increasingly used as weapons of war, Unicef warns
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by FricNews
Dec 28, 2017 - 10:12
2017 was a brutal year for young people caught in conflict, UN agency says, citing their recruitment as fighters and bombers

Children caught in war zones are increasingly being used as weapons of war – recruited to fight, forced to act as suicide bombers, and used as human shields – the United Nations children’s agency has warned.

In a statement summarising 2017 as a brutal year for children caught in conflict, Unicef said parties to conflicts were blatantly disregarding international humanitarian law and children were routinely coming under attack.

Rape, forced marriage, abduction and enslavement had become standard tactics in conflicts across Iraq, Syria and Yemen, as well as in Nigeria, South Sudan and Myanmar.

Some children, abducted by extremist groups, are abused again by security forces when they are released. Others are indirectly harmed by fighting, through malnutrition and disease, as access to food, water and sanitation are denied or restricted.

Some 27 million children in conflict zones have been forced out of school.

“Children are being targeted and exposed to attacks and brutal violence in their homes, schools and playgrounds,” said Manuel Fontaine, Unicef’s director of emergency programmes. “As these attacks continue year after year, we cannot become numb. Such brutality cannot be the new normal.”

Much of the fighting affecting children occurred in long-running conflicts in Africa.

Across 2017:

Boko Haram, the militant jihadist organisation active across Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon, forced at least 135 children to act as suicide bombers, nearly five times the number in 2016.

Children have been raped, killed and forcibly recruited in the Central African Republic, after a surge in the sectarian conflict that has seized the country since a coup in 2013.

Political and militia violence has driven more than 850,000 children from their homes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, while more than 200 health centres and 400 schools have been deliberately attacked.

In Somalia nearly 1,800 children were recruited to fight in the first 10 months of 2017, while in South Sudan more than 19,000 children have been recruited into armed groups since 2013.

In Yemen three years of fighting has left at least 5,000 children dead or injured and 1.8 million are suffering from malnutrition.

“2017 was a horrible year for the children of Yemen,” Unicef’s Meritxell Relaño said from Sana’a.

Children have also been affected by conflict in the Middle East and in central and south-east Asia.

In Iraq and Syria children have reportedly been used as human shields, trapped under siege and targeted by snipers, while in Afghanistan nearly 700 children were killed in fighting in the first nine months of the year.

Rohingya children in Myanmar were subject to systematic violence and driven from their homes. More than half of the 650,000 Rohingyaforced over the border into Bangladesh are under 18.

Unicef has called on all parties in conflicts to respect international humanitarian law and immediately end violations against children and the targeting of civilian infrastructure, including schools and hospitals. The agency also called on states with influence over non-state parties to conflict to use their influence to protect children.

Pope Francis, in his traditional Christmas message, drew attention to the plight of children in war zones. “We see Jesus in the children worldwide wherever peace and security are threatened by the danger of tensions and new conflicts,” he said, citing Syria, Iraq, Yemen and several African states.
A five-year-old Syrian refugee. ‘Children are being targeted and exposed to attacks and brutal violence in their homes, schools and playgrounds,’ Unicef says. Photograph: Muhammed Muheisen/AP/DPA
World - Trump reportedly said all Haitians have AIDS, Nigerians own huts at immigration meeting
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by FricNews
Dec 24, 2017 - 2:12
President Trump exploded with vitriolic and racist comments — saying all Haitians have AIDS and mocking Nigerians — during a heated White House meeting about immigration, according to a report on Saturday.

Trump grumbled as he entered the Oval Office, dressing down his national security team and railing against the number of immigrants who had entered the country since he took office.

He said he looked like a fool as the number climbed and he failed to make good on his promise to curtail the number of foreigners coming to America, sources told The New York Times.

Trump fumed at his top security team, reading from a list and complaining that 15,000 immigrants arrived from Haiti.

Court rules against President Trump's travel ban

They “all have AIDS,” he said.

He read on, complaining that 40,000 people had come from Nigeria.

They would never “go back to their huts” in Africa, the President griped, a pair of officials told The Times.

Trump exploded at staff and cabinet members, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson as John Kelly, then the secretary of homeland security, cleared the room of underlings and tried to assert order, sources told the newspaper.

The White House did not deny the heated nature of the meeting, but insisted Trump never used the words “AIDS” or “huts.”

Several participants in the meeting told The Times they did not recall Trump using those words and did not think he had.

Frank Sharry, the executive director of America’s Voice, a pro-immigration group, said he wouldn’t be surprised if the comments came from the President’s mouth, arguing that his immigration agenda is motivated by racism.

“He’s basically saying, ‘You people of color coming to America seeking the American dream are a threat to the white people,’” Sharry told The Times.

Since the beginning of his term, Trump has pushed to curb the number of refugees and immigrants accepted into the U.S.

He has recently railed against chain migration and the diversity visa lottery program — pointing to the deadly lower Manhattan truck attack carried out by Sayfullo Saipov, who came to the U.S. through the lottery program as an example.

He has also used Akayed Ullah, a Bangladeshi national who attempted to detonate a bomb in the subway near the Port Authority Bus Terminal, who came to the U.S. through chain migration after his aunt was selected through the lottery program.

Chain migration is a term often misused by anti-immigration hardliners. It is essentially the same process that families of immigrants have used to enter the U.S. for generations.

Trump’s presidential campaign offered a clear picture of what his White House policies would look like.

Anti-immigration rhetoric and the demonizing of foreigners as a group of people bringing crime or radicalization into the country has permeated the President’s speeches and public comments following tragedies and terror attacks.

The nationalist approach to immigration is in part thanks to senior policy adviser Stephen Miller.

The 33-year-old staffer has made restricting the flow of immigrants and refugees to the U.S. his main priority since joining the Trump team.

Miller drew heat in January for the botched roll-out of the Trump administration’s initial travel ban that targeted Muslim immigrants.

On Friday, a U.S. appeals court said the most recent version of the ban targeting people from six Muslim-majority countries should not be applied to people with strong U.S. ties.

“We conclude that the President’s issuance of the Proclamation once again exceeds the scope of his delegated authority,” the panel said.

In June, the same month that tempers flared in the Oval Office meeting, Miller was warring with State Department staffers over reports about the costs of resettling refugees.

When department specialists proposed including refugees’ economic contributions in the studies to produce a more balanced assessment, Miller rebuffed the idea, one current and one former U.S. official told Reuters.

Miller’s anti-immigration leanings were on full display according to officials who said Miller and the administration wanted to make a case to restrict refugee flows by creating a skewed analysis.

“It’s a policy outcome in search of a rationale,” a former U.S. official told Reuters.

Miller reportedly targeted Tillerson at the June meeting, according to The Times, blaming him for the high number of foreigners entering the country.

The young adviser has relished his role in combating bureaucracy and overturning decades of immigration policy.

“We have taken a giant steamliner barreling full speed,” Mr. Miller said in a recent interview. “Slowed it, stopped it, begun to turn it around and started sailing in the other direction.”
Sherider Anilus, 28, and her daughter, 9-month-old Monica, sit on the spot where her home collapsed during an earthquake in Haiti. Trump reportedly said all Haitians have AIDS. (CHIP SOMODEVILLA/GETTY
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