North Korea 'fires three ballistic missiles into sea'

North Korea has fired three ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan, say US and South Korean military officials.

The missiles were launched from the western city of Hwangju, said South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The US said the first two were believed to be short-range Scud missiles while the third was presumed to be a mid-range Rodong.

It comes after the US and South Korea said they would deploy an anti-missile system to counter the North's threats.

North Korea is barred by UN sanctions from any test of nuclear or ballistic missile technology. But tensions have soared since it carried out its fourth nuclear test in January.

It has also conducted several launches in recent months, including a test of mid-range missiles in June which were considered its most successful yet.

Seoul has said activity detected recently in North Korea indicates it could be preparing to conduct a fifth nuclear test imminently.

The latest launches happened between 05:45 local time (20:45 GMT on Monday) and 06:40, the South's military said, in a statement quoted by Yonhap news agency.

North Korean missile range

"The ballistic missiles flight went from 500km (310 miles) to 600km, which is a distance far enough to strike all of South Korea including Busan," South Korea's military said in a statement. Busan is a port city in the south.

The US Strategic Command said it had tracked the launches, but that they had posed no risk to US interests.

Earlier this month, Seoul and Washington agreed to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) anti-missile system in the South. The system will be based in the town of Seongju, in the south-east.

The North's military had warned it would retaliate with a "physical response".

China has also criticised the decision, saying it will destabilise security in the region.

Source: bbc.com

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Germany axe attack: Assault on train in Wuerzburg

A teenage Afghan refugee armed with an axe and knife injured four people on a train in southern Germany before being shot dead by police, officials say.

Three people were seriously hurt and one suffered minor injuries in the attack in Wurzburg, police said.

Initial reports said up to 20 people had been injured but it was later revealed that at least 14 had been treated for shock.

The motive for the attack is not yet clear.

Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann said the attacker was a 17-year-old Afghan refugee who had been living in the nearby town of Ochsenfurt.

He told public broadcaster ARD that the teenager appeared to have travelled to Germany as an unaccompanied minor.

Mr Herrmann said authorities were looking into reports that the attacker had yelled out "an exclamation". Some witnesses quoted by German media said they had heard him shout "Allahu akbar" ("God Is Great") during the attack.

Bloodstains on the floor of the train carriage. 18 July 2016

Bloodstains could be seen on the floor of the train carriage

The incident happened at about 21:15 (19:15 GMT) on the train which runs between Treuchlingen and Wurzburg.

"Shortly after arriving at Wurzburg, a man attacked passengers with an axe and a knife," a police spokesman said.

Police said the attacker had fled the train but was chased by officers who shot him dead.

Although the motive has not been established, the BBC's Damien McGuinness in Berlin says there is nervousness in Germany about attacks by Islamist extremists following the attacks across the border in France.

In May, a man reportedly shouting "Allahu akbar" killed one person and wounded three others in a knife attack at a railway station near the German city of Munich.

He was later sent to a psychiatric hospital and authorities said they found no links to Islamic extremism.

Source: bbc.com

 

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Nice attack: Sarkozy blames government for failing to prevent attacks

In the wake of the attack in Nice, former French President Nicolas Sarkozy has criticised the government for not doing enough to provide security.

The centre-right opposition leader called for any foreign nationals with links to radical Islam to be expelled from France.

More than 80 people died when an attacker ploughed a lorry into people celebrating Bastille Day on Thursday.

Eighty-five people remain in hospital, 18 of them in critical condition.

Many survivors are still waiting for news of their loved ones. Only 35 bodies have so far been officially identified.

Prosecutors say painstaking measures are needed to avoid errors of identification.

Forceful message

Speaking to French television, Mr Sarkozy said "Democracy must not be weak, nor simply commemorate. Democracy must say 'We will win the war'."

He said he supported stronger measures like expulsion of radicalised Muslims, and electronic tagging for those at risk of radicalisation.

France's government has said it is at war with violent jihadists.

But a third major attack in 18 months has led to criticism of the country's leaders.

Forensic team examining the lorry cab

Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel was shot dead after ramming his lorry into crowds

Radicalised too quickly?

There is no indication that the Nice attacker, Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, was a jidhadist.

Neighbours have described him as a violent loner who liked to drink, lift weights and go salsa dancing.

But France's Prime Minister Manuel Valls has suggested he may have been radicalised too quickly to trigger the authorities' attention.

He was shot dead by police when his vehicle's path along the Promenade des Anglais was eventually halted.

French media reported that he researched the route in the days before the attack.

The reports say Lahouaiej-Bouhlel drove through the seafront promenade area of the French city on Tuesday and Wednesday in preparation.

Europe 1 radio said CCTV footage from the days beforehand showed him driving through the area in the lorry, closely observing the scene.

Tunisian security sources have told the BBC he visited Tunisia frequently, most recently eight months ago.

So-called Islamic State said the attacker was acting in response to its calls to target civilians in countries that are part of the anti-IS coalition.

At the scene - By Tom Burridge

Tributes to Nice victims on promenade

An impressive air of normality in much of tourist-packed Nice is deceptive. As well as grief, bewilderment hangs in the sea air.

There are tears, hugs and silence at the mountain of candles, flowers and cuddly toys on the beach promenade, where joggers stop and parents bring young children to read the messages.

A large white banner says: Why children? And, in a child's handwriting: Why do you want war?

The bloodstains on the tarmac are gradually disappearing. The lampposts the lorry smashed into will be replaced.

But for those who knew or loved the victims, things will never be the same. More armed police and soldiers guarding the streets will serve as a reminder.

Amid the fear and sadness, and the unanswerable questions, defiance acts as a source of comfort.

He will never defeat us, says one message on the promenade. Another reads: Love defeats hate.


Six people are being held in connection with the killings.

The latest arrests, of an Albanian couple who have not been identified, were on Sunday morning, French judicial sources said.

Lahouaiej-Bouhlel's estranged wife, who was detained on Friday, was released on Sunday.

Source: bbc.com

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Baton Rouge shootings: Obama calls for calm after three police officers killed

President Obama has called for restraint after three police officers were shot dead in the city of Baton Rouge in Louisiana.

The gunman, an African-American who had served for five years in the Marines, was also killed.

Tensions in the city have been high since a black man Alton Sterling was shot dead by police two weeks ago.

It remains unclear whether Sunday's incident was related to that death and a second police killing in Minnesota.

Those two deaths spared protests across the United States and triggered a revenge attack by a black army veteran who shot dead five officers in the city of Dallas.

In a live broadcast from the White House, President Obama called upon all Americans to unite and refrain from divisive language.

"Regardless of motive, the death of these three brave officers underscores the danger that police across the country confront every single day, and we as a nation have to be loud and clear that nothing justifies violence against law enforcement," he said.

"Everyone right now focus on words and actions that can unite this country rather than divide it further," he added, as the US begins two weeks of political conventions with Republicans meeting in Cleveland later on Monday.

"We need to temper our words and open our hearts... all of us," said the president.

A vigil was attended by police officers and members of the public on Sunday evening at Saint John the Baptist Church in Zachary, just north of Baton Rouge.

Vigil at Saint John the Baptist Church in Zachary, Baton Rouge, 17 July 2016

Exchange of fire

The incident began on Sunday morning with shots being fired at a petrol station on Airline Highway in Baton Rouge.

Police received reports of a man with an assault rifle.

Witness Brady Vancel told WAFB TV he saw what may have been gang members shooting at each other before police arrived.

Another witness said she saw a gunman wearing a black mask and military-style clothing.

Shots were exchanged over a period of more than 15 minutes, leaving three police officers and the suspect dead, with three other officers wounded, one in a critical condition.

The dead officers were named as Montrell Jackson, 32, and Matthew Gerald, 41, of the Baton Rouge police department, and Sheriff's Deputy Brad Garafola, 45. All three men had families.

The suspect was named as 29-year-old Gavin Long, of Kansas City, Missouri, a former Marine.

He received an honourable discharge, and won several medals while in the military, including one for good conduct.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards told a news conference it was an "absolutely unspeakable, heinous attack."

Although no other suspects have been identified, police said they were investigating whether the gunman had help from unknown others.

"We are not ready to say he acted alone," said state police spokesman Major Doug Cain.

Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden said he had spoken to White House officials who had offered assistance. He said it was "a defining moment" for community relations.

But he also told local media the "rhetoric from some people" after the death of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge may be connected to the shootings, without elaborating who.

"Everything's been anti-police," he said.

Source: bbc.com

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Nice attack: Lorry driver confirmed as Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel

The driver of a lorry that killed 84 people in an attack in the French city of Nice has been confirmed as Tunisian Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, 31.

Ten of the dead were children. Some 202 people were injured; 52 are critical, of whom 25 are on life support.

Prosecutors said Lahouaiej-Bouhlel had driven the lorry 2km (1.2 miles) along the famous Promenade des Anglais and fired at police before being shot dead.

The attack happened as thousands in Nice marked Bastille Day on Thursday.

Other weapons found inside the lorry were replicas or fake.

What the prosecutor said

Francois Molins said no group had admitted carrying out the attack but that it bore the hallmarks of jihadist terrorism.

Lahouaiej-Bouhlel drove the 19-tonne lorry into crowds at about 22:45 local time (20:45 GMT).

He fired at officers with a 7.65mm calibre automatic pistol when the vehicle was close to the Negresco hotel and continued for another 300m, where his vehicle was stopped near the Palais de la Mediterranee hotel and he was shot dead.

Also found in the lorry were an ammunition magazine, a fake pistol, replica Kalashnikov and M16 rifles, and a dummy grenade.

There was also a bicycle, empty pallets, documents and a mobile phone. Items were later seized from Lahouaiej-Bouhlel's Nice home.

Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, a chauffeur and delivery man, had three children but had separated from his wife, who was taken into police custody on Friday, Mr Molins said.

He was known to the police as a petty criminal, but was "totally unknown to intelligence services... and was never flagged for signs of radicalisation", the prosecutor added.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said he could not confirm links to jihadism.

However, Prime Minister Manuel Valls told France 2 television that Lahouaiej-Bouhlel was a "terrorist without doubt linked to radical Islamism in one way or another".

 

What has the president said?

Francois Hollande, who arrived to Nice on Friday, said the attack was of "an undeniable terrorist nature".

He said the battle against terrorism would be long, as France faced an enemy "that will continue to attack those people and those countries that count liberty as an essential value".

Mr Hollande said the attack was carried out "to satisfy the cruelty of an individual or possibly a group" and that many of the victims were foreigners and young children.

"We will overcome the suffering because we are a united France," he said.

A state of emergency, in place since November's Paris attacks carried out by militants from the so-called Islamic State group, in which 130 people died, has been extended by three months.

What witnesses saw

Simon Coates, a solicitor from Leeds told the BBC: "I saw one woman lying on the ground talking to her dead child, as other people desperately did what they could to save their loved ones.

"As the lorry passed by me a young boy of 10 or so just managed to leap to one side and escape by inches. Tragically dozens of those on foot, young and old alike, were not so lucky. Virtually everyone I saw on the promenade was either dead or beyond real help with truly terrible injuries."

Source: bbc.com

 

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Dutchman jailed for 30 days for 'insulting' the king

A court in the Netherlands has sentenced a man to 30 days in jail for insulting the king on Facebook.

The 44-year-old Dutchman "intentionally insulted" King Willem-Alexander, accusing him of being a murderer, thief and rapist, the Dutch judiciary said.

He was convicted of breaking seldom-used royal defamation laws.

A Dutch political party has proposed scrapping the laws and the king has pledged to accept the outcome of any debate on the issue.

Profile: Willem-Alexander, King of the Netherlands

How the Dutch fell in love with their new queen

The court in Overijssel suspended 16 days of the sentence and the man will not spend any more time in jail, having already spent 14 days in preventative custody last year.

He was found to have doctored images of executions online to include the king's face in place of those of the actual victims, the judiciary said.

"This behaviour is unacceptable in our society and demands that a penalty be imposed on the suspect," it said in a statement.

The Dutch D66 political party is campaigning to abolish the lese majeste law, which was last used in 2014 after an activist shouted obscene slogans about the royal family during a protest.

Prosecutors initially charged the protester but reversed the decision after the move was condemned as an attack on freedom of speech.

The Netherlands' lese majeste law dates from 1881 and carries sentences of up to five years jail or a fine of 20,000 euros ($22,200; £16,700).

In total 18 prosecutions were brought under the law between 2000 and 2012, half of which resulted in convictions, Dutch TV reported.

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US police shootings: Obama urges unity amid racial tension

US President Barack Obama has urged police, and black communities to come together, saying it should not be "us versus them", in a town hall meeting on race and policing.

Mr Obama and ABC News held the forum amid an increase in racial tensions in the US in recent weeks.

Last week a gunman killed five Dallas police at a Black Lives Matter protest.

Micah Xavier Johnson told police he was angry after recent shooting deaths of black men at the hands of officers.

Alton Sterling was killed by police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on 5 July. A day later, Philando Castile was shot and killed during a traffic stop outside Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Videos of both shootings were widely publicised.

"I don't want a generation of young people to grow up thinking either that they have to mistrust the police or alternatively, that the police who are doing a good job and out there... that they're constantly at risk not just from criminals but also because the community mistrusts them," Mr Obama said.

He added: "It's going to require all of us not to close ourselves off and go to corners but rather require us to come together and listen to each other."

Guests in the town hall meeting included Sterling's 15-year-old son, Cameron, and Castile's girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds - who live streamed the aftermath of Castile's shooting.

Mr Obama tried to bridge the divide between police and the black community.

He empathised with victims of police violence but also acknowledged that police face huge challenges - challenges they can't handle alone.

"It is absolutely true that the murder rate in the African-American community is way out of whack compared to the general population," Mr Obama said in response to a question from Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn.

"We can't put the burden on police alone," Mr Obama said. "It is going to require investments in those communities."

Mr Obama also offered a rare personal account about how he has been affected by racism.

He talked about how, when he was a child growing up in Hawaii, a female neighbour once refused to go in a lift with him.

She was just "worried about riding the elevator with me," Mr Obama said.

He said that sense of being feared as a black man continued as he grew older.

"Over time you start learning as you're crossing the street, suddenly the locks start going on doors," Mr Obama said.

In one tense exchange, Texas Lt Governor Dan Patrick - who has been critical of the Black Lives Matter movement and the president - pressed Mr Obama on his commitment to law enforcement.

Mr Obama insisted that it was possible to be critical of police while still being supportive.

"We shouldn't get too caught up in this notion that somehow people who are asking for fair treatment are somehow automatically anti-police," the president said.

Source: bbc.com

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Attack in Nice: Many dead as lorry hits crowd

A lorry has struck a crowd after Bastille Day celebrations in the southern French city of Nice, killing at least 80 people and injuring dozens, officials say.

It happened on the famous Promenade des Anglais after a firework display. The driver was shot dead and guns and grenades were found inside the lorry.

President Francois Hollande said the attack was of a "terrorist nature".

He said he was extending a state of emergency by three months.

France had been on high alert following last November's attacks in Paris in which 130 people died and hundreds were wounded.

The state of emergency had been due to end on 26 July.

"France is badly hit," Mr Hollande said, adding that "we need to do everything we can to fight against" such attacks.

"All of France is under the threat of Islamic terrorism."

About 50 people were injured, 18 of them critically, in the incident on Thursday evening.

Prosecutor Jean-Michel Pretre said the lorry drove 2km (1.2 miles) through a large crowd, the AFP news agency reports.

One image on Twitter showed about a dozen people lying on the street.

Live updates

Attack in pictures

The mayor and police urged residents to stay indoors.

Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet denied earlier reports of hostage situations and said the driver of the lorry had been "neutralised".

He added that officials were investigating whether the driver acted alone.

No group has so far claimed responsibility, however, prosecutors said the inquiry would be handled by anti-terror investigators.

Some reports spoke of shots being exchanged between police and the occupants of the lorry but these have not been confirmed.

Social media video showed people running through the streets in panic following the incident.

A journalist with the Nice Matin newspaper reported from the scene that there was "a lot of blood and without doubt many injured".

An AFP reporter said the incident took place as the firework display was ending, adding: "We saw people hit and bits of debris flying around."

Another image on Twitter showed a white lorry stopped in the middle of the promenade with damage to its front, and four police officers observing it while taking cover behind a palm tree.

One eyewitness told BFM TV: "Everyone was calling run, run, run there's an attack run, run, run. We heard some shots. We thought they were fireworks because it's the 14th of July.

"There was great panic. We were running too because we didn't want to stick around and we went into a hotel to get to safety. "

Another witness, Roy Calley told the BBC that there were "thousands of people on the promenade" when the incident happened.

"The police have completely taken over the city, the promenade has now been closed down. Everybody was physically pushed away from the site and told to get back in no uncertain terms by the police."

"I live 200m from the promenade and it took nearly one hour 30 minutes to get back to my flat because all the roads have been closed down."

US President Barack Obama condemned "in the strongest terms what appears to be a horrific terrorist attack in Nice", the White House said.

The president had been briefed about the situation "and his national security team will update him, as appropriate", National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said.

On Friday, flags will be flying at half-mast, and Nice's jazz festival has been cancelled.

map

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Oldham 'urinating' row: Man charged with actual bodily harm

A 46-year-old has been charged with assaulting a pensioner who had asked a man to stop urinating in the street.

Derek Laidlaw, 70, was attacked after confronting a man near the wall of his partner's house in Failsworth, Oldham.

Mr Laidlaw suffered severe bruising to his face and head during the incident at about 22:45 BST on 2 July.

Stephen Anthony Glynn, from Massey Avenue, Failsworth, is due to appear before magistrates on Monday charged with actual bodily harm.

Source: bbc.com

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Arizona police hunt for serial killer linked to seven deaths

Police in the US state of Arizona say a single suspect may be responsible for a series of shootings that have left seven people dead.

The first attacks were reported in March when two men were shot while walking outside; both survived.

The last incident was reported on 12 June when three women were shot and killed outside a home in west Phoenix.

All of the shootings occurred at night, and the victims appear to have been targeted at random.

A witness to one of the shootings helped detectives develop a sketch of the suspect.

Police described the suspect as a white or Hispanic man between 20 and 30 years old. He may have an accomplice, police said.

"Someone out there knows who did this," Phoenix Police Chief Joseph Yahner said. "We need our community to help us solve these cases."

Source: bbc.com

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Zimbabwe pastor Evan Mawarire calls for more protests

A Zimbabwean pastor who was briefly detained after organising a nationwide strike last week has called on people to keep protesting.

Evan Mawarire told the BBC people should stay at home as part of a campaign against corruption, economic mismanagement and unemployment.

He said the campaign was serious about wanting change.

Mr Mawarire was freed on Wednesday when a court in Harare dismissed a legal case against him.

His lawyers successfully argued that the charge of subversion had been added at the last minute, denying him a fair trial.

Zimbabwe's flag fury

The pastor has been at the heart of a social media campaign denouncing the government's management of the economy.

He said the #ThisFlag movement's goal was to "get as many citizens as possible involved in nation-building".

His latest call for people to stay away from work in protest at the economic crisis went largely unheeded, with most businesses opening as normal on Wednesday.

Mr Mawarire admitted the protest was not as successful as last week's - when the country's cities were deserted - but said the strike should continue on Thursday.

He said: "Let's all shut down and send a message to our government that enough is enough, we need changes in very simple things, in very simple areas.

"And our protest - non-violent, non-inciting, stay-at-home, is the best because it is within the confines of the law.

"Every Zimbabwean who does not participate is robbing us of a great opportunity to add to the momentum of where our country is going."

Source: bbc.com

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Islamic State confirms key commander Omar Shishani dead

A news agency linked to so-called Islamic State has confirmed the death of key leader Omar Shishani, who the US said it killed in March.

The Amaq news agency said Shishani was killed in combat in the town of Shirqat, south of Mosul in Iraq.

The Pentagon said in March he had died from injuries sustained in a US air strike in north-eastern Syria.

Shishani's real name was Tarkhan Batirashvili but he was also known as Omar the Chechen.

The red-bearded jihadist was said to be a close military adviser to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

The confirmation came on the Amaq website, which IS regularly uses to issue news and which had denied the Pentagon's claims in March.

Amaq said he died trying to repel forces campaigning to retake the city of Mosul.

It did not specify when, but the statement conflicts with the US claims made in March.

It said its strike on 4 March had taken place near the north-eastern town of Shaddadi, where Shishani had reportedly been sent to bolster local IS forces.

Last year, the US offered a $5m (£3.5m) reward for Shishani.

It said he had held numerous senior military positions within the group, including "minister of war".

Source: bbc.com

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US sentences Chinese hacker for stealing military information

A Chinese businessman who pleaded guilty to hacking sensitive military information has been sentenced to nearly four years in prison in the US.

Su Bin admitted collaborating with hackers in the Chinese military to steal data from US defence companies between 2008 and 2014.

He was arrested in Canada in 2014 and extradited to the US.

The Chinese government has repeatedly denied any involvement in hacking foreign companies or governments.

In addition to the 46-month prison sentence, the Los Angeles court also ordered Su to pay a $10,000 (£7,600) fine.

"Su Bin's sentence is a just punishment for his admitted role in a conspiracy with hackers from the People's Liberation Army Air Force to illegally access and steal sensitive US military information," assistant attorney general John Carlin said in a statement.

"Su assisted the Chinese military hackers in their efforts to illegally access and steal designs for cutting-edge military aircraft that are indispensable to our national defence," he explained.

Financial gain

Mr Su pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to gain unauthorised access to a protected computer and to violate the Arms Export Control Act.

He said he helped the hackers for personal financial gain, admitting he passed on information to Chinese hackers about which persons, companies and technologies to target.

He also pleaded guilty to translating the stolen material into Chinese.

The hack had targeted information on transport planes and fighter jets that was then offered for sale to Chinese companies.

China and the US have regularly swapped accusations about who is behind the cyber-attacks they each suffer.

In 2015, China arrested a group of hackers after the US government supplied them with a list of cybercrime suspects, accused of having stolen research and development information.

Source: bbc.com

 

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Theresa May to hand out more jobs in first cabinet

New Prime Minister Theresa May will continue to form her new government later - as she begins her first full day in Downing Street.

Leading Brexit campaigner Boris Johnson said he was "humbled" having been named new foreign secretary, in one of Mrs May's first cabinet appointments.

Philip Hammond became chancellor, Amber Rudd is home secretary, and Eurosceptic David Davis is new Brexit secretary.

Mrs May later told European leaders she was committed to the UK leaving the EU.

In a series of congratulatory phone calls taken by Mrs May on Wednesday evening, the UK's second female prime minister spoke to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

A Downing Street spokesman said Mrs May had "emphasised her commitment to delivering the will of the British people to leave the European Union".

"The prime minister explained that we would need some time to prepare for these negotiations and spoke of her hope that these could be conducted in a constructive and positive spirit," the spokesman added.

Mrs May will continue to fill out her new cabinet later on Thursday, with the new secretaries of state for health, education, and work and pensions among those expected to be appointed.

Mrs May began forming her new cabinet shortly after her arrival into 10 Downing Street.

Her first cabinet announcement was former foreign secretary Mr Hammond as chancellor - replacing George Osborne.

Mr Osborne had been fired because his "brand" was seen as "too tarnished", BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg said.

Mrs May also appointed Liam Fox to the new position of secretary of state for international trade, while Michael Fallon was retained as defence secretary.

By Laura Kuenssberg, BBC political editor

Whenever she happens to be near a microphone, Theresa May tends to say - absolutely truthfully it appears - that she just wants to "get on with the job".

Well she certainly has done that, wasting no time in announcing the most senior jobs in her cabinet, the first appointment only an hour or so after she walked in.

No surprise on appointment one - Philip Hammond, the former foreign secretary, becomes the money man. He's the embodiment of the phrase, "a safe pair of hands", and takes on the biggest role as Mrs May's supporter.

The biggest surprise is the appointment of Boris Johnson, the Tory members' darling, as the foreign secretary - one of the greatest offices of state, with a hugely different role as the UK contemplates life outside the EU.

Read more from Laura


Speaking on Wednesday night, Mr Johnson said he was "very humbled" and "very proud" at the appointment.

"Clearly now we have a massive opportunity in this country to make a great success of our relationship with Europe and with the world and I'm very excited to be asked to play a part in that," he told the BBC.

However, Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron predicted Mr Johnson would "spend more time apologising to nations he's offended" than working as foreign secretary.

After visiting Buckingham Palace, where she was formally appointed as prime minister by the Queen, Mrs May made her first speech outside 10 Downing Street.

She vowed to lead a government that worked for all, not just the "privileged few", promising to give people who were "just managing" and "working around the clock" more control over their lives.

For an "ordinary working class family", she added, "life is much harder than many people in Westminster realise".

She highlighted the "precious bond" between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and between "every one of us".

Mrs May also paid tribute to her predecessor, David Cameron, saying he had been "a great modern prime minister".

Mr Cameron had earlier given his final speech as prime minister outside Number 10, saying the job had been "the greatest honour" of his life and that the UK was "much stronger" than when he took over.

He took part in his final Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, where he was given a standing ovation by Conservative MPs, before formally tendering his resignation to the Queen.

Source: bbc.com

 

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Brexit: Tensions emerge over UK-EU trade negotiations

UK and EU politicians have given very different accounts of how the UK's Brexit negotiations should proceed.

The EU's Trade Commissioner, Cecilia Malmstrom, says the UK cannot begin negotiating trade terms with the bloc until after it has left.

"First you exit then you negotiate," she told BBC Newsnight.

But the BBC understands other EU Commission officials privately believe it is "inconceivable" that trade talks would not start before the UK's exit.

One of the candidates to be next UK prime minister, Liam Fox, called Ms Malmstrom's stance "bizarre and stupid", saying the Brexit talks would include trade.

But the BBC's Chris Morris in Brussels says Ms Malmstrom's view of two consecutive sets of negotiations appears technically correct.

'Divorce' proceedings

At the EU summit this week the 27 government leaders - without the UK - agreed Brexit "divorce" talks should begin and end before any talks on a new settlement for the UK, Chris Morris says.

Brussels sources told our correspondent there was a real determination among the leaders not to mix the two.

The statement from the 27 said they wanted the UK to be "a close partner of the EU". But they also spoke of an agreement to be "concluded with the UK as a third country".

The phrase "third country" means the UK post-Brexit.

Outside the EU, the UK would trade with the bloc under World Trade Organization rules, pending a possible new deal on free trade.

WTO conditions would mean trade tariffs and non-tariff barriers, as the UK would no longer be in the EU single market.


When do Brexit talks start?

Not until a new Conservative leader is elected, who will replace David Cameron as prime minister by October.

Then it will be up to the new leader to decide when to trigger the EU's Article 50, the procedure for withdrawing from the EU.

Article 50 sets a two-year deadline for withdrawal from the EU. But the detailed negotiations on the UK's future relations with the EU could last years longer.


What sort of deal does the UK want?

Much depends on who wins the Conservative leadership. There are also divisions in the Leave camp over which of the UK's current EU arrangements should be kept.

Immigration was such a key issue in the referendum there is likely to be hard bargaining over free movement of EU workers.

But EU leaders have said access to the single market requires the free movement of people.

Achieving continued preferential access to the EU single market of 500m consumers would be a big prize for the UK. But there are also voices in the Leave camp urging a UK focus on trade with other partners.

Could there be free trade without free movement?


Who will negotiate with the UK?

Once the UK has given notification under Article 50, the European Council - that is, the other 27 governments and council president - will adopt guidelines for the negotiations.

It is not yet clear how the EU will organise its negotiating team, but the European Commission will take charge of the details.

The final deals on UK withdrawal and a future UK-EU relationship will have to be agreed by the EU's top institutions - the European Council, Commission and European Parliament.

Source: bbc.com

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Gunmen take hostages in Bangladeshi capital Dhaka

Gunmen have stormed a popular cafe in the diplomatic area of the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka, taking a number of hostages, officials say.

Several foreigners are among those being held by eight or nine armed men in the city's Gulshan district, they add.

Two police officers have been killed about 30 others injured in a gun battle, a spokesman said.

So-called Islamic State has said it carried out the attack.

A statement on the group's self-styled news agency Amaq said militants had attacked a restaurant "frequented by foreigners." It said that more than 20 people "of different nationalities" had been killed, but this has not been confirmed.

Security forces say they are trying to negotiate the hostages' release.

Initial reports said that as many as 20 foreigners were among those taken captives.

"We want to resolve this peacefully. We are trying to talk to the attackers," said Benazir Ahmed, chief of the Rapid Action Battalion, Bangladesh's elite police force.

"Our first priority is to save the lives of the people trapped inside."

Police said the gunmen burst into the Holey Artisan Bakery Cafe at about 21:20 (13:20 GMT) and opened fire.

The cafe is described as being popular with expatriates, diplomats, and middle-class families.

Bangladeshi security forces near restaurant attacked by unidentified gunmen in Dhaka. July 2, 2016

Police and officers of Bangladesh's Rapid Action Battalion are at the scene

Media reports quoted witnesses as saying that "Allahu Akbar," meaning "God is greatest," was heard as the attack took place.

An eyewitness said she heard a loud noise, followed by continuous gunfire.

"The glass of my drawing room shattered," Rashila Rahim said.

"My auntie, her daughter, and two friends went there for Iftar (breaking of the Ramadan fasting), and they have not come back. We cannot even check where they are."

Another local resident, Tarique Mir, said he could hear sporadic gunfire nearly three hours after the attack began.

"It is chaos out there. The streets are blocked. There are dozens of police commandos," he said.

BBC South Asia editor Jill McGivering says that although high-profile gun attacks are rare in Bangladesh, the latest incident follows a series of murders widely blamed on Islamist extremists.

Source: bbc.com

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North Korea test-fires missiles in defiance of UN sanctions

North Korea has test-fired two mid-range ballistic missiles from its eastern coast, says South Korea.

The first launch was considered to have failed, travelling about 150km (90 miles) before landing in the sea.

The second, launched hours later, flew about 400km. Military officials in the South said both were intermediate-range Musudan missiles.

A confirmed successful test would mark a step forward for North Korea after four failed launches in recent months.

South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said Seoul and the US were "carrying out an in-depth analysis" of the second launch, and did not say whether it was considered a success.

North Korea, which is developing nuclear weapons, is banned by UN resolutions from any use of ballistic missile technology.

South Korea's presidential office announced that it would hold a national security meeting to discuss the launch.


Analysis: Stephen Evans, BBC News, Seoul

North Korea has tested these medium range missiles six times now in three months. Outside experts and intelligence agencies believe the first five launches were certainly failures, but aren't sure about the sixth (today's second launch).

It seems to have gone about 400km (250 miles), far short of its maximum range. That may be because it failed or it may be because a decision was taken not to send it over Japan which had said it would shoot any missile down.

So why is North Korea conducting tests so frequently?

Some Western scientists say that the more conventional way of testing is to conduct the test, and if it fails, to go away and work out why before trying again some months or even a year later.

If this steady method over a long period isn't being followed by North Korea, it may be because of intense pressure from the top, a pressure the scientists on the ground will no doubt feel.


'Provocative actions'

The US State Department has strongly condemned the launches, with spokesman John Kirby saying the tests would only increase efforts to stop North Korea's weapons programme.

A Musudan missile on display at a military parade in North Korea (2010)

North Korea has yet to conduct a full flight test of a Musudan missile

"We intend to raise our concerns at the UN to bolster international resolve in holding [North Korea] accountable for these provocative actions," said Mr Kirby in a statement.

North American Defense Command (Norad), which tracked the missiles, determined they did not pose a threat to North American territories.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said such tests "clearly cannot be tolerated".

The Musudan is believed to have a range of about 3,000km (1,800 miles), enough for it to hit South Korea, Japan and the US territory of Guam in the Western Pacific.

North Korea is thought to have dozens of them but has never successfully tested one.

The four other missiles tested in the last two months either exploded mid-air or crashed.

Surrounding countries had detected preparations for a launch in the past few days and warned that it was about to happen.


The Musudan missile

  • The Musudan, also known as the Nodong-B or the Taepodong-X is an intermediate-range ballistic missile.
  • Estimates differ dramatically on its range, with Israeli intelligence putting it at 2,500km and the US Missile Defense Agency estimating about 3,200km. Other sources put its upper limit at 4,000km.
  • The lower range of the Musudan will enable it to hit the whole of South Korea and Japan. At its upper range it would be able to target US military bases on Guam.
  • Its payload is unknown, but is estimated at 1.0-1.25 tonnes, according to AFP news agency.

Source: bbc.com

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Trump says US should consider profiling against crime

The presumptive Republican candidate in the US presidential election, Donald Trump, has suggested the country should consider using profiling to combat crime.

Mr Trump made the remarks when asked if he supported more profiling of Muslims in the US, in the context of last week's shooting at an Orlando gay club.

Profiling uses ethnicity, race and religion to determine whether a person has or is likely to commit crimes.

Critics say it could alienate Muslims.

In an interview with CBS, Mr Trump said other countries had "successfully" adopted the measure.

"I hate the concept of profiling but we have to start using common sense," he said.

"I think profiling is something that we're going to have to start thinking about as a country... It's not the worst thing to do."

'Orlando justifies my Muslim ban' says Trump

21 things that Donald Trump believes

Mr Trump has stepped up his rhetoric since a gunman, New York-born Omar Mateen, killed 49 people at a night club in Orlando, in the worst mass shooting in recent US history.

The attacker claimed allegiance to so-called Islamic State as he carried out the massacre, but US officials believe he was "self-radicalized".

In the wake of the attack, Mr Trump called for a ban to people from all countries with a history of terrorism against the US.

He had previously expressed support for a temporary ban on foreign Muslims entering the country.

Orlando shooting: Special report

In the interview, the Republican also repeated a call for the Muslim community to report suspicious activities and reiterated his support for more scrutiny of mosques.

He said this could resemble a controversial surveillance programme in New York City that was shut down following lawsuits and complaints.

His proposals have been heavily criticised by some fellow Republicans and also by political opponents and campaigners.

In a separate interview, Attorney General Loretta Lynch said such measures could backfire by severing contacts with the Muslim community.

"It's very important for us to maintain our contacts within the Muslim community," she said in an interview on CNN.

"Because, often, individuals, if they're from that community and they're being radicalised, their friends and family members will see it first. They will see activity first. And we want that information to come to us."

Source: bbc.com

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UN says refugee numbers at record level

The number of people displaced by conflict is at the highest level ever recorded, the UN refugee agency says.

It estimates that 65.3m people were either refugees, asylum seekers or internally displaced at the end of 2015, an increase of 5m in a year.

This represents one in every 113 people on the planet, it adds.

Meanwhile, the UN refugee chief says a worrying "climate of xenophobia" has taken hold in Europe as it struggles to cope with the migrant crisis.

The influx of people, the biggest since World War Two, has led to greater support to far-right groups and controversial anti-immigration policies.

In its annual report marking World Refugee Day, the UN said it was the first time ever that the number of refugees worldwide passed the 60m mark.

Over half of all of them came from war-torn Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia, it added.

Are more people on the move?

Migrant crises through history

Refugees wait for registration process prior the asylum procedure at the Helliniko refugee camp in Athens on 13 June

Europe has introduced a number of measures to curb the influx of migrants and refugees

Despite the huge focus on Europe's migrant crisis, the UN said 86% of the refugees were being sheltered in low and middle-income countries.

It pointed out that Germany received the most asylum requests, reflecting what was described as the country's readiness to accept refugees.

More than 1,011,700 migrants arrived in Europe by sea last year, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), although other agencies put that number much higher.

Some 35,000 arrived by land, the IOM said.

The preferred destination for most of them were richer northern countries like Germany and Sweden.

'Climate of xenophobia'

The crisis has caused significant political rifts within the EU, with some states inside the border-free Schengen area putting up fences and reimposing frontier controls.

The European bloc reached an agreement with Turkey in an attempt to stem the flux, a deal that has been heavily criticised by human rights groups.

People try to jump in the water right before their boat overturns off the Libyan coast on 25 May

Thousands of people continue to make dangerous journeys in trying to reach Europe

Some of the world's many migration routes

Source: bbc.com

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Health: Obesity boom 'fuelling rise in malnutrition'

Malnutrition is sweeping the world, fuelled by obesity as well as starvation, new research has suggested.

The 2016 Global Nutrition Report said 44% of countries were now experiencing "very serious levels" of both under-nutrition and obesity.

It means one in three people suffers from malnutrition in some form, according to the study of 129 countries.

Being malnourished is "the new normal", the report's authors said.

Malnutrition has traditionally been associated with children who are starving, have stunted growth and are prone to infection.

These are still major problems, but progress has been made in this area.

The report's authors instead highlighted the "staggering global challenge" posed by rising obesity.

The increase is happening in every region of the world and in nearly every country, they said.

Hundreds of millions of people are malnourished because they are overweight, as well as having too much sugar, salt or cholesterol in their blood, the report said.

'Totally unacceptable'

Professor Corinna Hawkes, who co-chaired the research, said the study was "redefining what the world thinks of as being malnourished".

"Malnutrition literally means bad nutrition - that's anyone who isn't adequately nourished.

"You have outcomes like you are too thin, you're not growing fast enough… or it could mean that you're overweight or you have high blood sugar, which leads to diabetes," she said.

While many countries are on course to meet targets to reduce stunted growth and the number of underweight children, very few are making progress on tackling obesity and associated illnesses such as heart disease.

In fact, the report says, the number of children under five who are overweight is fast approaching the number who are underweight.

Co-chairman Lawrence Haddad said: "We now live in a world where being malnourished is the new normal.

"It is a world that we must all claim as totally unacceptable."

The report calls for more money and political commitment to address the problem. It says for every $1 (70p) spent on proven nutrition programmes, $16 (£11.25) worth of benefits ensue.

Source: bbc.com

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French police chief's killer 'claimed allegiance to IS'

A man claiming allegiance to so-called Islamic State (IS) stabbed a French policeman to death before being killed when police stormed a house, in what officials say was a "terrorist act".

The attacker took the officer's partner and their son hostage in their home in Magnanville, near Paris. Officers of an elite police unit stormed the house in Magnanville.

The partner was found dead but the child was rescued.

French media say the attacker had been sentenced in 2013 for involvement with jihadist groups with links to Pakistan.

Unnamed sources identified him as 25-year-old Larossi Abballa, who lived in nearby Mantes-La-Jolie and was convicted for "criminal association with the aim of preparing terrorist acts".

He was sentenced to a three-year term, with six months suspended, they said.

Islamic State's Amaq news agency said an IS "fighter" carried out the attack.

If that is confirmed, it would be the first militant attack in France since a state of emergency was imposed following last November's attacks which left 130 dead in Paris.

And it happens as the country is in high alert as it hosts the Euro football championship, which started on Friday.

French prosecutors launched an anti-terror investigation, AFP news agency reported.

'Abject act of terrorism'

French Interior Minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, said the attack was an "abject act of terrorism".

He spoke as a cabinet meeting was being held by President Francois Hollande.

Man attacked policeman before entering house and taking a woman and child hostage, witnesses said.

In a statement earlier, Mr Holland called it an "abominable drama."

Witnesses quoted by AFP said that the knife-wielding man may have shouted "Allahu akbar" (God is greater) when he attacked the 42-year-old policeman, who was not in uniform, outside his home.

The attacker then went inside the house and took a woman and child hostage.

He is reported to have claimed allegiance to IS while talking to police negotiators.

Interior ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said France's elite police Raid unit was brought in after the officer's killer took hostages at around 21:00 (19:00 GMT).

He said negotiations had been unsuccessful and a decision had been made to "launch an assault" at about midnight.

Witnesses reported hearing loud explosions as the officers from the Raid unit moved in.

"The toll is a heavy one," Mr Brandet later told reporters at the scene.

"This commander, this police officer was killed by the individual... (and) we discovered the body of a woman. The assailant, the criminal was killed. Thankfully, a little boy was saved. He is safe and sound."

A source later told AFP: "The anti-terror department of the Paris prosecution service is taking into account at this stage the mode of operation, the target and the comments made during negotiations with the Raid."

The victims have not yet been named. Magnanville is about 55 km (35 miles) north-west of the French capital.

Source: bbc.com

 

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Orlando shooting: Vigils held around world to honour victims

Vigils have been held in Orlando, Florida, and around the world for the victims of Sunday's deadly gun attack on a gay nightclub.

A Muslim cleric told those attending the Orlando event that Muslims stood united with them against "the ideology of hatred, death and destruction".

Similar gatherings have been held in countries including France, Australia, the UK and Germany.

The attack on Orlando's Pulse nightclub left 49 people dead and dozens wounded.

US authorities say gunman Omar Mateen pledged allegiance to so-called Islamic State (IS) shortly before the attack.

Several Pulse customers have told US media that Mateen was a regular visitor to the nightclub.

"Sometimes he would go over in the corner and sit and drink by himself, and other times he would get so drunk he was loud and belligerent," Ty Smith told the Orlando Sentinel.

Other witnesses said they recognised him from gay dating apps.

President Barack Obama is due to travel to Orlando on Thursday to pay his respects to the victims.

How attacks unfolded

Who was Omar Mateen?

US gun companies see share price rise

Orlando shooting: Special report

Thousands of people gathered in central Orlando on Monday night, holding candles and flowers in tribute to the victims.

Imam Muhammad Musri, of the Islamic Society of Central Florida, said the attack had been "an act of terror, an act of hate".

"We condemn the ideology of hate and death and destruction and we call for all Muslim leaders and communities across this nation and across the world to stand up and to deal with this cancer and to remove it once and for all," he said.

Vigil for victims of Orlando nightclub shooting outside Admiral Duncan pub on Old Compton Street, Soho, London. 13 June 2016

The vigil in London brought crowds on to the streets of Soho

The vigil was held outside the area's main performing arts venue, the Dr Phillips Center, which has become the site of a makeshift memorial.

"Pulse gave me confidence, made me realise I was normal and so much like everyone else," said Cathleen Daus, a former employee at the club who attended the vigil.

In New York, the lights of the Empire State Building were turned off as thousands attended a memorial event for the Orlando victims.

A vigil was also held in London's Soho district, the hub of the city's gay community, and there were cheers as 49 balloons were released, one for each of those who died.

Australia's landmark Sydney Harbour Bridge was lit in the rainbow colours of the gay community flag as hundreds gathered to pay tribute.

"This could have happened anywhere," Paul Savage told AFP news agency at the candlelit vigil.

Paris's Eiffel Tower was also lit up in rainbow colours, as well as the colours of the US flag, as people held a memorial to honour those killed and injured in Orlando.

In Berlin, more than 100 people gathered outside the US embassy to light candles, lay flowers and wave rainbow flags.

Vigil in Paris. 13 June 2016

The Eiffel Tower was lit up in tribute to the Orlando victims

Vigil for Orlando victims in Sydney, Australia. 13 June 2016

Flags and candles formed a makeshift memorial in Sydney, Australia

The deadliest mass shooting in recent US history ended when police shot Mateen dead. The attack also left 53 people injured, five of them in a serious condition.

On Monday, President Obama said the inquiry was being treated as a terrorist investigation.

However, he said there was no clear evidence that Omar Mateen was directed by IS.

FBI Director James Comey said there were "strong indications of radicalisation and of potential inspiration by foreign terrorist organisations".

"We're highly confident this killer was radicalised at least in some part through the internet," he said.

The two presumptive candidates running for US president spoke about what they would do to stop similar attacks.

Republican Donald Trump said changes were needed to the US immigration system which he blamed for allowing Omar Mateen's family to come to the US from Afghanistan.

Democrat Hillary Clinton called for action to stop militants getting hold of assault rifles, saying weapons of war had no place on America's streets.

What happened on the night?

Mateen began shooting inside the club around 02:00 (06:00 GMT) on Sunday, when the club was holding a Latin night and was packed with revellers.

An off-duty police officer working at the club fought Mateen in a gun battle before police reinforcements arrived.

Plan of the Pulse nightclub showing the layout of the venue

Graphic showing layout of Pulse nightclub and sequence of events

Forced to retreat into a toilet, Mateen took hostages, Orlando police chief John Mina said.

Another 15 or so people were in another toilet, across the hallway, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said.

Believing Mateen would kill again imminently, police used explosives and an armoured vehicle to break through a wall of the building and survivors began streaming through the hole they had created.

Mateen himself followed them out shooting and was killed, police say.

Cities around the world have been flying rainbow gay pride flags and illuminating buildings in solidarity with the victims of the shooting in Florida.

Clockwise from top left: Images of Orlando shooting victims Edward Sotomayor, Stanley Almodovar, Luis Omar Ocasio-Ocampo, Juan Ramon Guerrero, Luis Vielma and Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera

Clockwise from top left: Orlando shooting victims Edward Sotomayor, Stanley Almodovar, Luis Omar Ocasio-Ocampo, Juan Ramon Guerrero, Luis Vielma and Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera

The names of 48 of the 49 victims have now been released: 41 men and seven women. They include:

  • Edward Sotomayor, 34, who worked for a company that organised gay cruises
  • Stanley Almodovar, 23, a pharmacy technician who was remembered as "kind and sassy"
  • Kimberly Morris, 37, who had only recently moved to Orlando and worked at Pulse as a bouncer
  • Luis Vielma, 22, who worked at the Harry Potter section at Universal Studios - author J K Rowling paid tribute to him online
  • Eddie Justice, 30, who sent his mother a series of text messages while inside the club - read more on him here
  • Akyra Murray, 18, who graduated from high school a week ago - her school described her as a "superstar"

The Pulse nightclub was holding its Latino night when the attack took place and many of the victims have Latino or Hispanic names.

Read more about the victims here

LGBT community under siege

Graphic showing numbers of victims in major US shootings

Source: bbc.com

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Dutch woman arrested in Qatar after making rape claim

A Dutch woman is being detained in Qatar on suspicion of adultery after she told police she had been raped.

The 22-year-old, who was on holiday, was drugged in a Doha hotel and woke up in an unfamiliar flat, where she realised she had been raped, her lawyer says.

She was arrested in March on suspicion of having sex outside of marriage. She is due to appear in court on Monday.

The alleged rapist is also being held, but says the sex had been consensual.

A Dutch foreign ministry spokeswoman said the woman, who she named as Laura, had been arrested but not yet been charged.

"We have provided assistance to her since the first day of detention. For the sake of the defendant's case we will not make further comments at this point," the Dutch embassy said in a statement.

'Great horror'

The woman had gone dancing at a hotel in Doha where alcohol was allowed, "but when she returned to the table after the first sip of her drink... she felt very unwell" and realised she had been drugged, her lawyer Brian Lokollo told Dutch broadcaster NOS-Radio1.

Her next memory was waking up in an unfamiliar apartment where she "realised to her great horror that she had been raped," Mr Lokollo added.

The woman may also be charged with an alcohol-related offence, news website Doha News reported.

It is an offence to drink alcohol or be drunk in public in Qatar, although alcohol is allowed at certain hotels and expatriates can obtain a permit for purchasing alcohol.

In 2013, a Norwegian woman in neighbouring United Arab Emirates was given a 16-month prison sentence for perjury, extramarital sex and drinking alcohol after she told police she had been raped.

She was later pardoned and allowed to return to Norway.

Source: bbc.com

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EU referendum: Sir James Dyson says Britain better off out

Britain will gain more from leaving the EU than it will lose, billionaire entrepreneur Sir James Dyson has said.

The inventor said the idea that Britain could not trade successfully outside the EU was "absolute cobblers".

He said the single market did not work because exporters had to adapt products like his to cater for different languages and different types of plugs.

Britain Stronger In Europe said: "James Dyson wanted the UK to join the Euro. He was wrong then and he is wrong now."

Court battle

Speaking to the Daily Telegraph Sir James, who is best known for designing a bagless vacuum cleaner, said the UK "will create more wealth and more jobs by being outside the EU than we will within it".

 

"When the Remain campaign tells us no one will trade with us if we leave the EU, sorry, it's absolute cobblers. Our trade imbalance with Europe is running at £9bn a month and rising. If this trend continues, that is £100bn a year."

Sir James argued that if, after a vote to leave, the EU imposed a 10% tariff on UK goods, Britain would do the same on imported EU goods. He said that because Britain imported far more from the EU than it exported there, it would bring in an extra £10bn a year for the UK.

The entrepreneur, who is worth over £3bn, also criticised the EU's free movement for not allowing the talented staff he needed to work in the UK.

Dyson vacuum

Sir James has been involved in several battles with the European Court against the EU's energy labelling policy

"We're not allowed to employ them, unless they're from the EU," he said. "At the moment, if we want to hire a foreign engineer, it takes four and a half months to go through the Home Office procedure. It's crazy.

"Why on earth would you chuck out researchers with that valuable technology which they then take back to China or Singapore and use it against us?"

Sir James has been involved in several battles with the European Court against the EU's labelling policy for vacuum cleaners.

"It's a politically motivated court of justice," he said. "Politically motivated to protect vested interests."

But Britain Stronger in Europe accused Sir James of "wanting to have his cake and eat it when it comes to the EU".

It highlighted that in 2000 Sir James had said Britain would be "suicidal" not to join the single currency and that in 2014 he had called for the free movement of people within the EU to be retained.

Sir James's announcement comes as a new poll suggests the Brexit camp has a 10-point lead. The latest online survey of 2,000 people on Wednesday and Thursday by ORB for the Independent put the scores at 55% to 45% in favour of pulling out, after allowing for an individual's likelihood to vote.

Vote Leave has tweeted that it does not believe the poll, adding it thinks the split is closer to 50-50.

In other developments:

  • Jeremy Corbynwill make a fresh push to persuade Labour supporters to back keeping Britain in the EU. Amid questions over his commitment to the cause, he told Channel 4's The Last Leg that he was "not a huge fan" of the EU but was 70-75% in favour of staying
  • A group of 13 Nobel prize-winning scientists have urged voters to back Remain saying leaving the EU was a "key risk" to the future of British science
  • The Remain campaign has also been backed by some of Britain's largest developers and house builders who say a vote for Brexit will make the housing crisis worse
  • Nigel Farage says he thinks the Leave campaign is on course for victory in the EU referendum with its "upbeat" message about life outside the EU

Source: bbc.com

 

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How South African women are reclaiming the headscarf

African women have worn headscarves for many years for religious, cultural reasons and even as a fashion statement but they were traditionally worn by older, usually married women.

They are a common feature in ceremonies such as weddings and even funerals.

Many also love the convenience of it - it can be a quick fix for a bad hair day.

And young South African women are embracing the doek (as it is known in Afrikaans).

One of the most popular forms of headscarves across Africa is the gele from West Africa. It can be incredibly elaborate and is usually starched so the material becomes stiff to hold its shape.

In Nigerian how a Yoruba woman wears her headscarf can be a sign of her marital status - if worn with the ends facing down its means a woman is married and if worn with the ends up, she is single.

Here in South Africa, there is a necessary debate about the doek in the corporate world.

Reporters in the ENCA newsroom, showing their support for colleague Nontobeko Sibisi (F)

Reporters in the ENCA newsroom, showing their support for colleague Nontobeko Sibisi (F)

A news reporter for ENCA, an independent news channel trended on social media after it emerged that her story had been taken off air because she filmed it wearing a doek.

Cue social media storm.

The hashtags #RespekTheDoek and #DoekTheNewsroom trended for a number of days here last week with many people - including men and even women from all racial groups - wearing a doek to show their support for the young journalist.

The channel, while explaining that its dress code does not allow on-air journalists to wear headgear to work, has said it is now reviewing that policy.

But many believe the channel's reaction showed how the workplace has not changed with the times.

Some say it shows an intolerance to black culture.

"We are, after all, in South Africa where we have to be sensitive to everyone's culture and not just of those that don't wear doeks," says former entertainment writer Itumeleng Motuba.

"But don't forget that the workplace also insinuates that black natural hair is unprofessional. It seems looking African is unprofessional, which is rather ludicrous."

Kgothatso Maditse, a poet, agrees.

"It just goes to show just how far we are from accepting anything African if it doesn't have the 'right' stamp of approval. The longer we keep avoiding these topics, the longer we prolong and pacify an obviously stale way of thinking," she says.

'Good woman'

Pumza Fihlani

Wearing a headscarf, as a married woman, is a part of my Xhosa culture

In Xhosa culture, my culture, a married woman must wear iqhiya, which is what we call it, around her in-laws. This is seen as a sign of respect.

The in-laws will often show their makoti (daughter-in-law) how they'd like her to wear her scarf. In my case, mine needs to always cover my hair and ears.

My mother-in-law, who has been married for more than 40-years, wears it the same way.

For a while I had a love-hate relationship with the doek - it felt like a throwback to the past. It seemed like yet another way society was controlling how black women should look.

But a new generation of young women have now reclaimed the look - sporting a range of prints from all around Africa, they see the doek as an expression of what it is to be African.

And so I've grown to appreciate the delicate balance between ancient symbolism and modern identity - and made it my personal mission to celebrate its new-found power.

Kamogelo Seekoei, a Johannesburg writer, describes her headscarf as "a crown".

"Only a matriarch will know that a covered head means queen. We as black girls are out here celebrating our existence like never before," she says simply.

She says headscarves are a sign of "Queening" - a term used to refer to a social movement of black women from around the world who are embracing black beauty and power.


A selection of names for headscarves around Africa:

  • South Africa - Doek
  • Malawi/ Zimbabwe - Dhuku
  • Ghana - Duku
  • Nigeria - Gele
  • Sudan - Tarha
  • Sierra Leone - Enkeycha
  • East Africa (Swahili) - Kilemba
  • DR Congo (Lingala) - Kitambala
  • Rwanda/ Burundi - Igitambara
  • Uganda - Ekitambala (Luganda)/ Latam wich (Acholi)
  • Zambia - Chitambala

From oppression to power

A number of high-profile African women are often pictured in elaborate headscarves, such as Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, African Union (AU) head Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.

But the doek here is also rooted in racial politics.

Boitumelo Ndaba, owner of Tuku Affair

The doek has become a popular fashion accessory among young South Africans

In South Africa, black domestic workers have worn it as part of their cleaning uniform for decades and it has served as a not-so-subtle reminder of that person's social standing.

It is a way of exerting control - an outward symbol of the gulf between servant and master.

This perhaps explains my reservations about headscarves at first.

Some say it is beginning to shed that image.

Kamogelo Seekoei (C) with friends in Johannesburg

Kamogelo Seekoei (C) says wearing a headscarf is also about convinience

"Africans are going through a state of being woke [awakened]. Africans are coming back to themselves," says Tumi Ndaba, the owner of Tuku Affair, a Pretoria-based company that sells headscarves from materials bought all over Africa.

"The doek never left, it was just worn in a way that wasn't really appealing us, but the more we fall in love with ourselves, the more we work harder at perfecting and beautifying everything that belongs to us," she tells me.

South Africa, whose constitution is rooted in celebrating cultural diversity, is growing up and its people are now more than ever using their voice and asserting their identity.

And so on days when I wear a doek (which is admittedly sometimes on bad hair days), I feel regal.

Like many young people here, I now wear it as a statement, to celebrate Africa - with all its flaws and beauty and its journey to finding itself.

Read Pumza's article about the politics of African hair

Source: bbc.com

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Award-winning Lagos lagoon school collapses

An award-winning floating school that provided classes to children on a lagoon in Nigeria's biggest city, Lagos, has collapsed during heavy rains.

It had been out of use since March and no-one was injured. The school had been in use for three years in Lagos' Makoko waterfront slum.

Makoko school

This was the three-storey floating school when it was in use

"The structure collapsed at around 10:00 on Tuesday following a rainstorm," the school's head teacher Noah Shemede, told the AFP news agency.

He said 58 students who had been taught there had been relocated to the main school nearby.

Architect Kunle Adeyemi said the building was a prototype which had been used "intensively" over the last three years and a new building would be constructed to replace it.

Makoko school children

Makoko school children are going to a main school at the moment

Source: bbc.com

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Ghana: Accra hit by more flood after heavy rain

Heavy downpours in Ghana's capital city Accra have caused widespread flooding today.

The city is still recovering from the deadly floods of June 2015 when around 100 people were killed when the petrol station that they were sheltering in following floods exploded.

Collins Pobee, from Modern Photos Ltd, used a drone to capture the extent of the flooding around Kwame Nkrumah Circle, where the deep flood water brought traffic to a halt.

Ariel shot of flood water in Accra

Deep flood water beneath the circle bridge area stopped traffic passing through

Buildings and shops in rising flood waters

Shops and building were abandoned because of the rising flood waters

Source: bbc.com

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Suspect extradited for people smuggling 'is wrong man'

Friends of a man extradited to Italy on Tuesday on people smuggling charges say police have the wrong man.

Prosecutors believe Mered Medhanie, known as The General, is at the heart of the operation to smuggle migrants from Africa to Europe.

An Eritrean man authorities say is Mr Mered was held in Sudan in May and flown to Rome on Tuesday.

But the man's friends told the BBC there had been a case of mistaken identity and he was innocent.

He was named by friends as Mered Tesfamariam.

A spokesman for Britain's National Crime Agency (NCA), that was involved in the operation, told the Press Association they were "liaising with our partners".

It added: "This is a complex multi-partner operation and it is too soon to speculate about these claims."

An Italian police official told the BBC that he was unaware of any investigation into the identity of the suspected smuggler. The BBC understands that the Italian police still believe they have the right person.

Has Eritrea's migration problem been exaggerated?

Europe's migrant story enters new phase

Crisis in seven charts

Left: An image of the man believed to be Mered Medhanie previously released by the UK National Crime Agency; Right: the man extradited to Italy

Left: An image of the man believed to be Mered Medhanie previously released by the UK National Crime Agency;

Right: the man said to be to be Mered Medhanie who was extradited to Italy

The NCA said it had tracked the suspect down to an address in Khartoum, where he was then arrested.

Images of him arriving in Rome were distributed by Italian police on Wednesday.

The BBC spoke to one man, Hermon Berhe, who lives in Ethiopia and said he grew up in Eritrea with the man shown in the pictures.

"I don't think he has any bone in his body which can involve such kind of things," he said. "He is a loving, friendly and kind person."

Another Eritrean man told the BBC's Will Ross he recently shared a house in Sudan with the man who was arrested.

Meron Estefanos, a Swedish-Eritrean journalist who interviewed Mr Mered last year, told Swedish media the man in the images was not him, but was instead a 28-year-old man with the same name.

"He's just a refugee who was in Khartoum, poor guy," she told Aftonbladet newspaper.

Eritrean people attend the commemoration ceremony for the victims of the boat sinking disaster off the Lampedusa coast on October 21, 2013 in San Leone near Agrigento, Italy

Mr Mered is believed to have planned a boat trip during which more than 350 migrants died

Italian news agency Ansa said Mr Mered was accused of being "the leader and organiser of one of the largest criminal groups operating between central Africa and Libya".

Prosecutors accuse Mr Mered of running the network alongside an Ethiopian accomplice, who is still at large.

The two men are accused of buying up kidnapped migrants from other gangs and sending those migrants on barely seaworthy ships across the Mediterranean towards Europe.

Known as "The General", as he styled himself on late Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi, Mr Mered is also said to have driven around in a tank and boasted: "Nobody is stronger than me."

The NCA says Mr Mered is thought to have arranged the transit of a boat that sank near the Italian island of Lampedusa in October 2013.

At least 359 migrants died when the boat, travelling from Libya, capsized. Most were from Eritrea and Somalia.

Source: bbc.com

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Papua New Guinea moves to block more student protests

The University of Papua New Guinea has obtained an injunction to stop protests after a number of people were hurt when a demonstration turned violent.

Police opened fire as students were trying to march from their campus in the capital, Port Moresby, towards parliament.

Police say 23 people were hurt.

The students want Prime Minister Peter O'Neill to stand down to answer corruption allegations, which he denies.

Mr O'Neill is also facing a possible no-confidence motion in parliament.

'Fight will continue'

On Thursday, protest leader Noel Anjo told Reuters news agency that the students' demonstrations would continue despite the ban.

"We're not going to give up," he said. "The students are not going to give up until and unless the prime minister resigns or surrenders himself to police and is arrested and charged. This fight will continue."

The court order also bans students from boycotting classes, which they have been doing for the past five weeks.

A statement by Mr O'Neill's office said an investigation was under way to determine to what extent the protests were "promoted by individuals outside the student body".

"The inquiry will also seek to uncover the source of external funding that has underwritten student protest in recent weeks," the statement said.


What are the students protesting about?

Papua New Guinea PM Peter O'Neill

Mr O'Neill has rejected calls for his resignation

In 2014 a warrant was issued for Mr O'Neill's arrest, in an investigation into whether he authorised millions of dollars in illegal government payments to a large legal firm.

He has consistently evaded the warrant with court orders, and disbanded the anti-corruption watchdog.

Thousands of UNPG students have been boycotting classes for five weeks, demanding he resign. Classes were officially suspended last month.

What has Peter O'Neill said?

In May, Mr O'Neill responded to a petition from students saying that he would not be resigning.

He said the corruption allegations against him were of "questionable political intent", as reported by ABC.

Why is PNG so turbulent?

Papua New Guinea was ranked one of the most corrupt countries in the world in 2012 by Transparency International.

According to the World Bank, 70% of the country, the most linguistically diverse in the world, lives in poverty.


The country's higher education minister, Malakai Tabar, welcomed the injunction, Australia's ABC News reported.

An injured man is helped into a hospital, during clashes between protesters and police in Port Moresby. Photo: 8 June 2016

A number of people were reported injured during the clashes

"The overwhelming majority of students simply want to go to class, sit their exams and proceed to the next semester," he said, while blaming the violence on "thuggery".

Police commissioner Gari Baki said 23 students were injured, four seriously, local news site EMTV reported. He said an investigation would determine if they were shot.

A handful of police officers were also injured, he added.

Footage obtained by the BBC appeared to show a large crowd of students at the campus running away as shots and tear gas were fired.

Images circulating on social media also showed injured students being carried away.

Opposition MPs had told parliament on Wednesday that four people were killed, but the government and hospitals have denied there were any deaths.

Source: bbc.com

 

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Tel Aviv shooting: Four killed in shopping centre attack

Two Palestinian gunmen killed four people and wounded six others after opening fire at a popular open-air shopping and restaurant area of central Tel Aviv, Israeli authorities say.

The attacks took place in two locations in Sarona Market, close to Israel's defence ministry and main army HQ.

Police said the gunmen were from Yatta, a Palestinian village near the West Bank town of Hebron.

Both are in custody. One is undergoing surgery in hospital, police added.

There has been a rise in Palestinian attacks on Israelis since last year, with a series of shootings, stabbings and car rammings, although the number of incidents had dropped in recent months.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who visited the scene of the attack late on Wednesday, called it "a savage crime of murder and terrorism".

'Ran like lightning'

The attacks happened at around 21:30 (18:30 GMT) as people were relaxing in the market's restaurants and bars.

Video footage showed crowds running from the scene and ambulances arriving. Pictures showed upturned tables and chairs at one restaurant.

One woman told Israel's Channel 10 TV that she had been celebrating her son's birthday when she heard shots and "immediately understood it was a terror attack".

"We ran like lightning with the baby and the stroller," Meital Sassi said. "I yelled at people who didn't understand what was happening to run."

Ichilov hospital said four wounded people brought there had died and at least others were in a critical condition.

Tel Aviv police chief Chico Edri called it a "pretty serious terrorist incident" but said fears of a third attacker were unfounded.

"Two terrorists arrived at the complex and while firing, and to our regret, nine people were injured to different degrees," he said.

"Of the two terrorists, one was arrested and the other wounded by gunfire. The weapons they were carrying have been seized."

The director of the market, Shlomi Hajaj, told Channel 10 that security guards at the entrance had "prevented the attackers from entering the facility, averting a bigger disaster as the compound was packed with people".

"I think a larger tragedy was avoided by the resolute action of citizens, of security people, police," said Mr Netanyahu.

"We're going to take the necessary steps to attack the attackers and defend those who need to be defended."

Source: bbc.com

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Papua New Guinea police open fire on student protest

Police in Papua New Guinea have opened fire on students protesting against Prime Minister Peter O'Neill.

Several students were injured but local media say there have been no fatalities.

They were marching from their campus in the capital, Port Moresby, towards parliament, where Mr O'Neill faces a possible motion of no confidence.

The students are demanding that he stand down over corruption allegations, which he denies.

Footage obtained by the BBC appeared to show a large crowd of students at the campus running away as shots and tear gas were fired.

Medical officials in Port Moresby told Reuters that at least 10 students had been admitted "in a difficult situation".

Images circulating on social media also showed injured students being carried away.


What are the students protesting about?

Political tension in the country has been rising for weeks, with thousands of students at the University of Papua New Guinea boycotting classes demanding the resignation of PM O'Neill over alleged corruption. Classes were officially suspended last month.

What has Peter O'Neill said?

In May, Mr O'Neill responded to a petition from students saying that he would not be resigning. He said the corruption allegations against him were of "questionable political intent", as reported by ABC.

Why is PNG so turbulent?

Papua New Guinea was ranked one of the most corrupt countries in the world in 2012 by Transparency International.

In 2014, Mr O'Neill himself was accused of fraud by the national anti-corruption watchdog, which issued a warrant for his arrest. The warrant has not been carried out so far.

According to the World Bank, 70% of the country, the most linguistically diverse in the world, lives in poverty.


One eyewitness, David Rupa, told the BBC he was on his way to work when he became caught in the protest at about 08:50 local time (23:50 GMT Tuesday).

He said he could see tear gas and people running for cover and heard shots fired.

"I saw policemen hit and kick girls who couldn't run [fast enough] and were bashed up. I cried and was told I will be shot if I was going to take photos or video."

He also said he had seen smoke coming from a dormitory at the university, and that parents were coming down to the campus to make sure their children were not hurt.

Gary Juffa, an MP and vocal critic of the prime minister, said on Twitter he had been told the shooting began with an argument between one student and a police superintendent.

Reports suggest the students had refused to hand over their protest leader to police.

Opposition figures told parliament that four people had died, while some reports said one person was dead. But local news site EMTV told the BBC there had been no confirmed fatalities.

EMTV said the university had suspended classes to deal with the student boycott, but they were supposed to resume this week.

The students were continuing their boycott, however, as opposition parties lodged a no confidence motion against Mr O'Neill.

Mr O'Neill, who has a majority in parliament, has consistently denied wrongdoing and has refused to stand down.

Source: bbc.com

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Scientists grow human organs for transplant inside pigs

Scientists in the United States are trying to grow human organs inside pigs.

They have injected human stem cells into pig embryos to produce human-pig embryos known as chimeras.

The embryos are part of research aimed at overcoming the worldwide shortage of transplant organs.

The team from University of California, Davis says they should look and behave like normal pigs except that one organ will be composed of human cells.

The human-pig chimeric embryos are being allowed to develop in the sows for 28 days before the pregnancies are terminated and the tissue removed for analysis.

The BBC's Panorama was given exclusive access to the research for Medicine's Big Breakthrough: Editing Your Genes.

Creating a chimera

Creating the chimeric embryos takes two stages. First, a technique known as CRISPR gene editing is used to remove DNA from a newly fertilised pig embryo that would enable the resulting foetus to grow a pancreas.

This creates a genetic "niche" or void. Then, human induced pluripotent (iPS) stem cells are injected into the embryo. The iPS cells were derived from adult cells and "dialled back" to become stem cells capable of developing into any tissue in the body.

The team at UC Davis hopes the human stem cells will take advantage of the genetic niche in the pig embryo and the resulting foetus will grow a human pancreas.

chimera embryo

Human stem cells being injected into a pig embryo - the cells can be seen travelling down the tube on the right of screen

Pablo Ross, a reproductive biologist who is leading the research told me: "Our hope is that this pig embryo will develop normally but the pancreas will be made almost exclusively out of human cells and could be compatible with a patient for transplantation."

But the work is controversial. Last year, the main US medical research agency, the National Institutes of Health, imposed a moratorium on funding such experiments.

The main concern is that the human cells might migrate to the developing pig's brain and make it, in some way, more human.

Pablo Ross says this is unlikely but is a key reason why the research is proceeding with such caution: "We think there is very low potential for a human brain to grow, but this is something we will be investigating."

Biological incubator

His team has previously injected human stem cells into pig embryos but without first creating the genetic niche. Prof Ross said although they later found human cells in several parts of the developing foetus, they "struggled to compete" with the pig cells. By deleting a key gene involved in the creation of the pig pancreas, they hope the human cells will have more success creating a human-like pancreas.

Other teams in the United States have created human-pig chimeric embryos but none has allowed the foetuses to be born.

Walter Low, professor in the department of neurosurgery, University of Minnesota, said pigs were an ideal "biological incubator" for growing human organs, and could potentially be used to create not just a pancreas but hearts, livers, kidneys, lungs and corneas.

He said if the iPS cells were taken from a patient needing a transplant then these could be injected in a pig embryo which had the key genes deleted for creating the required organ, such as the liver: "The organ would be an exact genetic copy of your liver but a much younger and healthier version and you would not need to take immunosuppressive drugs which carry side-effects."

But Prof Low stressed that the research, using another form of gene editing called TALENs, was still at the preliminary stages, trying to identify the target genes which must be removed in order to prevent the pig from developing a particular organ.

His team is also trying to create dopamine-producing human neurons from chimeric embryos to treat patients with Parkinson's disease.

These embryos have been allowed to develop for up to 62 days - the normal gestation period is around 114 days.

Like the team in California, Prof Low said they were monitoring the effects on the pig brain: "With every organ we will look at what's happening in the brain and if we find that it's too human like, then we won't let those foetuses be born".

Animal viruses

Gene editing has revitalised research into xenotransplantation, and the concept of using animal organs for humans.

In the mid-90s there were hopes that genetically modified pigs might provide an endless supply of organs for patients, and that cross-species transplants were not far off.

But clinical trials stalled because of fears that humans might be infected with animal viruses.

Last year, a team at Harvard Medical School used CRISPR gene editing to remove more than 60 copies of a pig retrovirus.

Prof George Church, who led the research, told me: "It opens up the possibility of not just transplantation from pigs to humans but the whole idea that a pig organ is perfectible.

"Gene editing could ensure the organs are very clean, available on demand and healthy, so they could be superior to human donor organs."

Animal suffering

But organisations campaigning for an end to factory farming are dismayed at the thought of organ farms.

Peter Stevenson, from Compassion in World Farming, told me: "I'm nervous about opening up a new source of animal suffering. Let's first get many more people to donate organs. If there is still a shortage after that, we can consider using pigs, but on the basis that we eat less meat so that there is no overall increase in the number of pigs being used for human purposes."

In Greek mythology, chimeras were fire-breathing monsters composed of several animals - part lion, goat and snake. The scientific teams believe human-pig chimeras should look and behave like normal pigs except that one organ will be composed of human cells.

Scott Fahrenkrug, whose Minnesota-based company Recombinetics is teaming up on the chimera research with Prof Low, told me: "Perhaps the term chimera is going to take on a new meaning and it will be one that's much more affectionate: chimeras will be seen to be what they are which is a saviour, given that they will provide, life-saving, sustaining organs for our patients."

Seven thousand people in the UK are on the transplant waiting list and hundreds die each year before a donor can be found.

Source: bbc.com

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Australia storm leaves three dead and homes in danger

Three people are confirmed dead after massive storms flooded rivers, uprooted trees and tore into beaches along Australia's east coast.

Rain and wind continue to batter southern New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania.

Erosion at Sydney's Collaroy Beach has forced the evacuation of multi-million dollar homes, which are now in danger of collapsing.

The storms cut power to 86,000 homes in New South Wales at the weekend.

On Monday morning, a man's body was found in the Cotter River near Canberra. Police said the 37-year-old was caught in floodwaters at a river crossing.

Police divers have also retrieved the bodies of two men whose cars were washed off roads in separate incidents.

A 65-year-old man was caught inside his vehicle at Bowral, while another man was killed after his utility vehicle was washed off the road on Sydney's south-west fringe.

Flood warnings have been issued across several states, with northern Tasmania facing its worst flooding in decades on Monday.

Drone shot shows beach at Collaroy

A swimming pool attached to a mansion at Collaroy has collapsed on the beach and residents have been evacuated from waterside mansions

Picture taken from a drone shows a long shot of Collaroy beach

Collaroy, located in Sydney's north, is considered a prestigious suburb, but the beach is considered an erosion hotspot

Damage to the beach at Collaroy, NSW

Another king tide is expected to hit Collaroy Beach on Monday and residents have been evacuated

Source: bbc.com

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US journalist and translator killed in Afghan ambush

A veteran US photojournalist and a translator have been killed in Helmand province in southern Afghanistan.

David Gilkey of National Public Radio (NPR) and Zabihullah Tamanna were travelling with the Afghan army when they came under fire and their vehicle was hit by a shell, NPR said.

The attack also killed the driver of the vehicle, an Afghan soldier.

Two other NPR employees travelling with the pair were unharmed, the US public radio network said in a statement.

The vehicle Mr Gilkey, 50, and Mr Tamanna, 38, were travelling in was struck by shellfire near the town of Marjah, NPR said.

Mr Tamanna was a photographer and journalist in Afghanistan, as well as a translator.

This undated photo provided by NPR shows Zabihullah Tamanna, left, and David Gilkey

Zabihullah Tamanna (left), pictured with David Gilkey, also worked as a photographer

Michael Oreskes, senior vice president at NPR, paid tribute to the photographer.

He said: "David has been covering war and conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan since 9/11. He was devoted to helping the public see these wars and the people caught up in them. He died pursuing that commitment.

"As a man and as a photojournalist, David brought out the humanity of all those around him. He let us see the world and each other through his eyes."

Mr Gilkey is the first US journalist outside the military to be killed in the conflict in Afghanistan.

He received a series of awards during his career, including a 2007 national Emmy for a video series about US Marines from Michigan serving in in Iraq.

In 2011, he was named still photographer of the year by the White House Photographers' Association, one of nine first-place awards he received from the body.

His work on an investigation into veteran medical care and his coverage of the Ebola crisis helped secure awards for NPR.

Last year, he received the Edward R Murrow Award for his coverage of international breaking news, military conflicts and natural disasters.

Source: bbc.com

 

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Fort Hood: Bodies of soldiers missing in Texas floods found

The bodies of four missing US soldiers have been recovered after their vehicle overturned while crossing a flooded riverbank at Fort Hood, Texas.

The discovery brings the death toll from the accident to nine.

Three soldiers were found dead shortly after the incident and two more bodies were recovered late on Thursday night.

Foot Hood officials said the 2.5-ton vehicle was conducting a routine exercise when it was swept away by the current amid heavy flooding.

Three of the occupants survived and were discharged from Fort Hood's hospital on Friday.

The four bodies were found downstream from the Owl Creek Tactical Crossing where the vehicle was swept away, said Maj Gen John Uberti, deputy commander at Fort Hood.

The army has not identified any of the victims while it notifies relatives.

"This tragedy extends well beyond Fort Hood and the outpouring of support from the country is sincerely appreciated," said Gen Uberti.

The Light Medium Tactical Vehicle was at a low-water crossing point when it was swept away, said Fort Hood spokesman Chris Haug.

The vehicle was in the "proper place for what they were training", Mr Haug said, adding: "It's just an unfortunate accident that occurred quickly."

Aircraft, canine search teams and swift-water rescue watercraft were deployed to sweep the 20-mile (32km) Owl Creek for the missing soldiers.

News of the deaths comes as torrential rains and flooding continue to grip large swathes of Texas. May saw record-breaking downpours. At least six people have died as a result.

Gov Greg Abbott declared a state of disaster in 31 counties across Texas. Severe storms were expected to hit the state Friday and Saturday, intensifying floods caused by swelling waterways and rivers.

Source: bbc.com

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MH17 crash: Prosecutors increase pressure on Russia

Prosecutors have sought to put pressure on Russia to provide information about the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine in July 2014.

They said they wanted information about the Buk missile that shot down the airliner, killing 298 people on board.

The criminal inquiry was at "a very advanced stage", they said, and results would be presented after the summer.

The West and Ukraine say Russian-backed rebels were responsible but Russia accuses Ukrainian forces.

In a statement, the Dutch-led prosecutors said they had made "several requests" for assistance - but were still waiting for information from Moscow.

They said a few issues, including forensic tests, were taking more time than expected.

However, the first conclusions regarding the type of the weapon used and the exact launch site are expected to be published in autumn.

Ongoing cases

Flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashed at the height of the conflict between Ukrainian government troops and pro-Russian separatists.

Last year, a Dutch report concluded it was downed by a Russian-made Buk missile, but did not say who fired it.

Some families of the victims are suing Russia and its President Vladimir Putin in the European Court of Human Rights.

MH17 route

Their claim is based on the violation of a passenger's right to life, News.com.au reported earlier this month.

They are seeking A$10 million Australian dollars ($7.2m; £4.9m) for each victim, and the lawsuit names both the Russian state and its president as respondents.

A senator with Mr Putin's party was quoted in state media as saying the claim was "legally nonsensical and has no chance".

Separately, families of six Malaysia Airlines crew members who were killed filed a lawsuit on Thursday blaming the carrier for the tragedy.

They accuse the company of negligence and breach of contract.

Source: bbc.com

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Paris floods: Seine at 30-year high as galleries close

The River Seine in Paris is at its highest level for more than 30 years, with floods forcing closed parts of the metro systems and major landmarks.

The Louvre and Orsay museums were shut while staff moved artworks to safety as flood levels climbed above 6m (18ft).

The Seine is set to reach as high as 6.5m and unlikely to recede over the weekend, with more downpours forecast.

At least 15 people have died across central Europe as heavy rainfall caused flooding from France to Ukraine.

While two people died in France, 10 were killed in southern Germany as several towns were devastated.

Two more fatalities were reported in Romania and one in Belgium. Austria, the Netherlands and Poland have also been affected.

Tens of thousands of people have been forced from their homes.

The flooding could cost French insurance companies more than 600 million euros (£470m), according to the industry association AFA.

In Paris, the Cluny - La Sorbonne and St Michel metro stations were closed as a precaution while the river spilled onto the city's streets.

Bridges were closed and non-emergency boats were banned from the Seine as its swelling forced the closure of museums, parks and cemeteries.

At the Louvre, curators scrambled to move 250,000 artworks to higher ground from basement storage areas at risk of inundation from what President Francoise Hollande called "exceptional flooding".

graphic showing historic water levels against statue of Zouave

Authorities have even taken initial steps to transfer the presidency and key ministries to secure areas, AP news agency reported.

An apparent equipment fault led to the river's depth being wrongly measured for several hours on Friday.

Many locals have preferred to benchmark the rise against the statue of a soldier - known as the Zouave - standing below the Alma bridge: His frame is currently submerged up to the waist.

While France's rainfall levels in May were the highest since 1873, the current crisis is eclipsed by the 1910 floods that saw Paris submerged for two months, when the Zouave was up to his neck in the Seine.

The river level peaked at 8.62m that year, and has since reached 7.1m in 1955 and 6.18m in 1982.

Source: bbc.com

 

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Thailand Tiger Temple: Forty dead cubs found in freezer

Forty dead tiger cubs have been found in a freezer at a Thai Buddhist temple accused of wildlife trafficking and animal abuse.

Police and wildlife officials started an operation on Monday to remove all the living tigers at the Tiger Temple.

Pictures from journalists at the scene posted to social media showed the 40 cubs lined up on the floor.

The site in Kanchanaburi is a popular tourist attraction but has been closed to the public since the raid.

Temple's long history of controversy

Police colonel Bandith Meungsukhum told AFP news agency that wildlife officials would file new criminal charges after the discovery, and added that the cubs were just one or two days old when they died.

He said it was not yet clear how long they had been dead for.

The dead cubs "must be of some value for the temple", Adisorn Nuchdamrong, from Thailand's Department of National Parks, told Reuters news agency. "But for what is beyond me."

Tiger bones and body parts are used in traditional Chinese medicine.

Monks at the temple were not available for comment but have previously denied trafficking allegations.

A dead tiger cub is held up by a Thai official after authorities found 40 tiger cub carcasses during a raid on the controversial Tiger Temple,

The temple has long been accused of mistreatment, though the monks deny the allegations

In a statement on its Facebook page, the temple said the mortality rate for tiger cubs at the temple was "comparatively low" and that it used to cremate dead cubs but the policy changed in 2010.

The statement did not say why the temple started freezing cubs' remains, and also denied selling cubs.

Body parts from other animals were also found in a freezer, Tom Taylor, from Wildlife Friends Foundation, told the BBC.

A reporter from the Khaosod news website said he had seen animal intestines in containers, a dead boar and other animal parts.

Thai DNP officers collect samples for DNA testing from the carcasses of 40 tiger cubs found undeclared at the Wat Pha Luang Ta Bua Tiger Temple on June 1, 2016 in Kanchanaburi province, Thailand.

The cubs were found during a week-long raid of the temple to remove all living tigers

Dozens of living tigers have already been removed, out of 137 at the temple. The 1,000-strong police operation is due to continue all week.

Some workers and volunteers at the temple spoke out against the operation.

On Facebook, Canadian Gary Agnew, who has worked at the temple for more than a decade, said "the fatality rate could be catastrophic" as tigers were being transported in the heat of day before being fully sedated.

He said the cats were not being moved to spacious surroundings and would be auctioned off for "the highest price". He said hearing the tigers would be moved was "news worse than [staff and volunteers] could have ever dreamed".

But the World Wildlife Fund welcomed the news and called on the Thai government to prohibit the temple from keeping tigers in future.

Since 2001, authorities have been locked in a battle with the monks at the temple to confiscate the tigers after allegations of wildlife trafficking and abuse surfaced.

The monks deny any wrongdoing.

The temple, officially known as Wat Pha Luang Ta Bua, has been a stop on many tourists' itineraries for decades. Visitors could pose for photographs with the tigers or help with their exercise routine.

But animal rights campaigners have long campaigned to close it down. Peta said animals there are "imprisoned and denied everything that is important to them".

Source: bbc.com

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Kenya announces Dadaab refugee camp will close by November

he world's largest refugee camp will close in November, Kenya's Interior Minister Joseph Nkaisserry has announced.

The Dadaab camp in Kenya is home to more than 300,000 Somalis.

Mr Nkaisserry said Kenya would work closely with the UN and the Somali government to repatriate the refugees.

Dadaab was set up in 1991 to house families fleeing conflict in Somalia, and some people have been living there for more than 20 years.

Kenya says it wants to close the camp over security concerns, saying attacks on its soil have been planned there.

Mr Nkaisserry said the decision was final.

Kenya did not follow through on a previous threat to close down the camp, made last April following the deadly attack by Somali militant group al-Shabab on a university 100km (62 miles) away.

The al-Qaeda linked group has staged several attacks on Kenya in recent years.

Kenya has set aside $10m (£6.8m) for repatriation, which Mr Nkaisserry insisted would carried out in a humane manner.

Source: bbc.com

 

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Chinese stowaway found in hold of Emirates flight to Dubai

A Chinese teenager has been found hiding in the cargo hold of an Emirates passenger jet that had flown from Shanghai to Dubai.

Emirates said on Tuesday the stowaway had been found on Flight EK303 from Shanghai last Friday and had been handed over to Dubai police.

The airline did not name the stowaway but China's official Xinhua news agency said he was a 16-year-old boy named Xu.

The boy is reported to have said he was "very comfortable" in the hold.

However, he said he had eaten nothing during the nearly nine-hour flight. Gulf News said the cargo hold was pressurised.

He said he had heard that even beggars in Dubai could make a lot of money, Xinhua reported.

"We are co-operating fully with authorities in Dubai and as this is a police matter we are unable to comment further at this time," Emirates said in an emailed statement.

Xinhua said that consulate staff had been sent to the airport to learn more about the situation.

According to a translator appointed by prosecutors, the boy said he had jumped over a fence at Shanghai airport and climbed into the cargo hold while a security guard looked away, Xinhua added.

Source: bbc.com

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World's longest and deepest rail tunnel to open in Switzerland

The world's longest and deepest rail tunnel is to be officially opened in Switzerland, after almost two decades of construction work.

The 57km (35-mile) twin-bore Gotthard tunnel will provide a high-speed rail link under the Swiss Alps between northern and southern Europe.

Switzerland says it will revolutionise European freight transport.

Goods currently carried on the route by a million lorries a year will go by train instead.

Switzerland's engineering triumph

The tunnel will overtake Japan's 53.9 km Seikan rail tunnel as the longest in the world and push the 50.5 km Channel Tunnel linking the UK and France into third place.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and Italy's Prime Minister Matteo Renzi are due to attend the grand opening.

Tunnel map

The project, which cost more than $12bn to build, was endorsed by Swiss voters in a referendum in 1992. Voters then backed a proposal from environmental groups to move all freight travelling through Switzerland from road to rail two years later.

The completed tunnel travels up to 2.3 km below the surface of the mountains above and through rock that reaches temperatures of 46C.

Engineers had to dig and blast through 73 different kinds of rock, some as hard as granite and others as soft as sugar. More than 28m tonnes of rock was excavated. Nine workers died during the work.

Now the completed tunnel - delivered on time and within budget - will create a mainline rail connection between Rotterdam in the Netherlands and Genoa in Italy.

Its trajectory will be flat and straight instead of winding up through the mountains like the old rail tunnel and a road tunnel opened in 1980.

About 260 freight trains and 65 passenger trains will traverse it in as little as 17 minutes every day once testing ends later this year.

The tunnel is being financed by value-added and fuel taxes, road charges on heavy vehicles and state loans that are due to be repaid within a decade.

Swiss bank Credit Suisse has said is economic benefits will include the easier movement of goods and increased tourism.

the northern gates of the Gotthard Base Tunnel near Erstfeld

The Gotthard tunnel runs 2.3 km under the mountain at its deepest point

Source:bbc.com

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Migrant boat rescue: Two Britons charged over Channel incident

Two British men have appeared in court charged with immigration offences after a boat carrying 20 people was rescued off the Kent coast on Sunday.

Robert Stilwell, 33, from Dartford, and Mark Stribling, 35, from Farningham, appeared at Medway Magistrates Court accused of people smuggling.

Those rescued included 18 Albanian migrants, two of them children.

An ex-chief immigration inspector said earlier people would die unless more were done to stop crossing attempts.

Mr Stilwell and Mr Stribling were charged with conspiring to facilitate the entry of non-EU nationals, and remanded in custody to appear before Maidstone Crown Court on 27 June.

The UK coastguard said it was called just before midnight on Saturday to an incident off the coastal village of Dymchurch.

Residents: 'It's a bit of a worry'

How is the UK-France border policed?

Those on board the boat reportedly alerted their families in Calais after their inflatable boat started taking in water.

Rescuers said a helicopter from nearby Lydd and two lifeboats from Dungeness and Folkestone were sent to the incident off Dymchurch.

At about 02:00 BST on Sunday, a rigid-hulled inflatable boat, known as a "rhib", with 20 people on board was found.

Trevor Bunney, who was part of the RNLI lifeboat rescue team, said the people they rescued were "a bit dishevelled, [had] obviously been at sea a long time and not in the best of conditions".

"One lady had the first signs of hypothermia," he said.

After being rescued, the group were handed over to the UK Border Force and taken to Dover.

A second vessel - which officials say could be linked to the incident - was discovered on the beach at Dymchurch.

'Not doing enough'

Since the rescue on Sunday, concerns have been raised that sea tragedies, similar to those seen on the voyage to Turkey, Greece or Italy, could occur in the English Channel.

There is an "equal chance" of migrants drowning in the Channel as in the Mediterranean, former chief inspector of borders and immigration John Vine said.

Mr Vine, who was chief inspector until 2014, said: "We have seen the tragedies that have occurred in the Mediterranean.

He added that the hazards of Channel sea traffic, weather and sea conditions "are going to mean there is an equal chance of people losing their lives unless this is stopped."

"Clearly if this is now the start of something new, then really that needs to be reassessed and resources need to be put in," he added.

Analysis

By Simon Jones, BBC correspondent

Many people living along the Kent coast are shocked, but not surprised at what's happened.

The Channel is a huge stretch of water to patrol - and the authorities are often relying on tip-offs to try to catch those responsible.

Some residents are asking how many migrants are managing to get through without being detected.

The fear is that with the recent security clampdown at the Port of Calais and Eurotunnel, more and more migrants will attempt to cross the Channel on small boats, putting their lives at risk.

At the Port of Dover, the boat from which the migrants were rescued has been painstakingly examined.

It would have been a tight fit to get 20 people on board, crammed into the small craft in the busiest shipping lane in the world.


Damian Collins, MP for Folkestone and Hythe, however, said it was "too early to say whether this is a new trend".

He told BBC Radio 5 live it was wrong to say the UK's coastline was "undefended", saying the Channel was "probably the most monitored stretch of water in the world".

'Biggest onslaught'

UKIP Leader Nigel Farage said it was "essential that a clear message is sent that no migrant arriving on our shores by boat is allowed leave to remain".

"We have all seen the horrors of the Mediterranean, with thousands crossing and hundreds dying, we cannot allow that to happen off the shores of Kent and Sussex."

Lucy Moreton, general secretary of the Immigration Services Union, which represents border agency and immigration staff, said large stretches of Britain's coastline were being left unpoliced, and officials simply did not know how many migrants have entered the country undetected.

Her "gut feeling" and anecdotal evidence suggested Britain's coasts are facing the biggest ever onslaught of people smugglers, she said.

Map of the English Channel

Sunday's incident comes after 17 men, thought to be Albanian migrants, were detained when a catamaran arrived at Chichester Marina in West Sussex on Tuesday, along with a 55-year-old British man wanted on suspicion of murder in Spain.

The Briton, who was the subject of a European Arrest Warrant, was detained on suspicion of facilitating illegal immigration and the 17 men were held on suspicion of entering the UK illegally.

Also last month, two Iranian men were found floating in a dinghy in the Channel.

Meanwhile, Greek coastguards rescued 29 migrants adrift off the island of Lefkada, in the Ionian Sea, as they attempted to reach Italy 150 miles (241km) away.

They are the first migrants known to have attempted the sea crossing from Greece to Italy since the northern land route via Macedonia was closed in March.

Source: bbc.com

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The prisoner 'trapped' 10 years into a 10-month jail sentence

Justice Secretary Michael Gove has ordered a review of the position of thousands of prisoners serving a sentence known as an IPP or Imprisonment for Public Protection.

Many are considered to be languishing inside because they are several years over the minimum sentence they were given.

James Ward was given a 10-month IPP for arson in 2006. Now nearly 10 years on, he is still inside and has no release date.

He regularly self-harms, sets light to his cell, barricades himself in and has staged dirty protests. With a low IQ, and mental health problems, he cannot cope with prison life.

His sister, April, fears what he might do next.

"I do believe that one day we'll get the phone call that Jimmy has taken his own life, definitely."

'Trapped in a box'

Now 31, James has been writing to Radio 4's Today programme to explain what life is like for him inside.

"I find prison hard to cope with, being trapped in a box," he writes. "Prison is not fit to accommodate people like me with mental health problems. It's made me worse. How can I change in a place like this? I wake up every morning scared of what the day may hold."

James' teenage years were troubled. He was in and out of trouble with the police and his parents could not cope with his behaviour.

He got into a scuffle with his father, Bill, over the family dog and lashed out resulting in a year in prison for actual bodily harm. But Bill says James regrets what he did.

"He's told me it was the worst mistake he's ever made... he was young, he is a nice lad, everybody likes James," Bill says.

Close to the end of his year-long sentence, but unable to cope with prison life, James set fire to the mattress in his cell. Because of this, a judge gave him an IPP for arson and told him he would have to serve a minimum of 10 months. That was 10 years ago.

Since then, James has set light to his cell several times. His solicitor, Pippa Carruthers, says it is linked to his mental health.

"He becomes overwhelmed," she says. "He loses sight of what he needs to do to prove to a parole board that he is no longer a risk and he acts destructively."

'Kafkaesque'

IPPs were introduced by Labour in 2003. The then-government estimated the sentence would apply to 900 serious violent and sexual offenders but was actually applied far more widely and at its peak 6,000 people were serving the sentence - some for relatively minor offences such as stealing a mobile phone.

The sentence was abolished by Conservative Justice Secretary Ken Clarke in 2012 who called them a "stain" on the criminal justice system.

But 4,000 people remain in prison and nearly 400 have served more than five times the minimum term they were given.

The sentence has been called Kafkaesque as prisoners remain trapped inside because they cannot prove to a parole board that they are no longer a threat to the public.

They may have to wait years to get a parole review, or are unable to get on courses to deal with their behaviour.

Mr Clarke told Radio 4's Today programme: "It is quite absurd that there are people who might be there for the rest of their lives, in theory, who are serving a sentence which Parliament agreed to get rid of because it hadn't worked as anybody intended.

"The trouble is this ridiculous burden on the Parole Board of saying they can only release people if it's proved to them that they're not really a danger to the public.

"No prisoner can prove that - you never know when people are going to lose their control, what's going to happen to them when they're released."

He added that the key thing was to protect the public by making sure fewer criminals go on to reoffend, through helping them find work and accommodation upon release from jail.

Michael Gove has now asked chairman of the parole board Nick Hardwick to review how IPP prisoners are treated.

While the justice secretary has said that dangerous offenders must be kept inside, he says he wants the majority of IPP prisoners to be "given hope and a reason to engage in rehabilitative activity". He wants to see the prison population reduced.

'Lost and confused'

James' mother, father and sister visited him recently in prison. They said they were worried by his appearance describing him as "lost and confused".

The Parole Board has not reviewed James' case for two years and because the system has failed to carry out a required psychological and psychiatric assessment of him, it could be another year before he gets a parole board hearing.

He could be in prison for several more years.

In his last letter to the Today programme, James said he felt like he was "rotting" in the prison system.

Source: bbc.com

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Tearful end to 11-year US church protest

Parishioners in Massachusetts have admitted defeat in their efforts to keep their church open, bringing to a tearful end their 11-year protest.

A group of about 100 worshippers at St Frances X Cabrini Church in Scituate have kept an around-the-clock vigil.

This month, the US Supreme Court refused to hear their final appeal against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston's decision to close it.

But on Sunday the protest came to an end at an emotional final service.

It was described as a "celebration of faith and transition" and many of the parishioners shared an embrace and cried.

As the service came to an end, quilts depicting each year of the vigil were taken from the walls of the church and carried down the aisles and out of the church door.

The archdiocese decided to close St Frances X Cabrini and more than 75 other parishes due to dwindling attendances, a shortage of clergy and buildings in decline.

Churchgoers hug outside church

Worshippers fought a decade-long fight to prevent the church closing

Nancy Shilts hugs another parishioner before the final service

Nancy Shilts hugs another parishioner before the final service

Several of the churches earmarked for closure held vigils in protest but St Frances X Cabrini was the last church to keep up its occupation.

In parallel with the sit-in was a legal challenge that went through civil courts and even reached the Vatican, but all in vain.

A judge at the state's Superior Court ruled that the archdiocese was legally able to evict the protesters, as the legal owner of the property.

That ruling was upheld by the Massachusetts Appeals Court.

An archdiocese spokesman said he hoped the protesters would be able to attend another church within the district.

Source: bbc.com

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Iraq troops in 'final assault' on Islamic State in Falluja

The Iraqi army is facing fierce resistance and counter-attacks as it attempts to storm Falluja, a bastion of so-called Islamic State (IS).

The army's dawn offensive came a week after it began efforts to retake the city, just 30 miles (50km) west of Baghdad and held by IS since 2014.

An estimated 50,000 civilians are trapped inside, with only a few hundred families escaping so far.

Meanwhile IS militants launched a wave of bombings in and around Baghdad.

The attacks in the Iraqi capital killed at least 21 people.

The commander of the army operation in Falluja, Lt Gen Abdul-Wahab al-Saadi, said: "The counter-terrorism troops along with other armed forces and Anbar [province] police have started pushing into the city. Violent clashes took place on the outskirts."

The Iraqi air force and international coalition jets carried out strikes in support of ground troops.

IS is thought to have about 1,200 fighters, the majority from the city itself.

The BBC's Jim Muir in Baghdad says government forces have taken over two townships on the southern fringes of Falluja, but on other fronts they are some way from the edge of the city itself.

The impression is that the army is trying to close a ring of steel around the city, he says.

Militia leaders taking part have said there is likely to be a pause before the assault on the city centre begins so, to allow more civilians to escape.

There is alarm over conditions faced by civilians, with reports of people starving to death and of being killed for refusing to fight for IS.

The Iraqi military has urged those remaining to either leave the city or stay indoors, though IS is preventing civilians from fleeing.

Falluja fell to IS in January 2014, a key moment in the jihadist group's rise that saw it declare a caliphate across swathes of Iraq and Syria.

Along with Mosul, it is one of two major cities held by IS in Iraq.

Map showing movement of Iraqi forces towards Falluja (24 May 2016)

Meanwhile three districts of Baghdad have been targeted in attacks.

  • In the worst incident, a car bomb detonated at an army checkpoint in the mainly Shia area of Shaab, killing at least 11 people
  • Another suicide attacker, on a motorbike, targeted Sadr City, a Shia area of Baghdad, killing three people
  • A suicide bomber struck a market in Tarmiya, a town 50km (30 miles) north of Baghdad, killing at least seven

All three bombings have been claimed by IS in an online statement.

IS frequently targets Shia Muslims, whom the extremist Sunni militant group regards as apostates.

The attacks may also be an attempt to deflect attention from the operation in Falluja.

Falluja. Photo: August 2010

Falluja - key facts:

  • had population of more than 300,000 before it was seized by first al-Qaeda and then by IS in 2014
  • has always been a hotbed of Sunni defiance, becoming a symbol of resistance to US forces in violent battles in 2004
  • controls main highway from Baghdad to both Jordan and Syria
  • is known as the "city of mosques" - more than 200 mosques in city and surrounding area

Source: bbc.com

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Hissene Habre: Chad's ex-ruler convicted of crimes against humanity

Chad's ex-ruler Hissene Habre has been convicted of crimes against humanity and sentenced to life in prison at a landmark trial in Senegal.

The judge convicted him of rape, sexual slavery and ordering killings during his rule from 1982 to 1990.

Victims and families of those killed cheered and embraced each other in the courtroom after the verdict was given.

It was the first time an African Union-backed court had tried a former ruler for human rights abuses.

Habre, who received strong backing from the US while in power, has been given 15 days to appeal.

Survivors from the Habre era welcomed the verdict.

"This is a historic day for Chad and for Africa. It is the first time that an African head of state has been found guilty in another African country," Yamasoum Konar, a representative of one of the victims' groups, told the BBC.

"This will be a lesson to other dictators in Africa," he added.

After he was sentenced, Habre remained defiant, raising his arms and shouting to his supporters as he was led from the courtroom.

"Down with France-Afrique!" he shouted, using a term which is critical of France's influence in its former colonies.

Throughout the nine-month trial, he refused to recognise the court's legitimacy, frequently disrupting proceedings.

The ex-president denied accusations that he ordered the killing of 40,000 people during his rule from 1982 to 1990.

His critics dubbed him "Africa's Pinochet" because of the atrocities committed during his rule.

Survivors had recounted gruesome details of the torture carried out by Habre's feared secret police.

One of the most notorious detention centres in the capital N'Djamena was a converted swimming pool.


Analysis: Abdourahmane Dia, BBC Afrique, Dakar

The verdict will be seen as a major step forward by those who are campaigning for African leaders to be tried on the continent for war crimes.

They have been pushing for a permanent African court of justice to be set up, believing war crimes suspects should be prosecuted on the continent rather than at the Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC).

But some people were critical of the AU-backed court, set up specifically to try him. They argued that it was under Western influence as it had been partly funded by the European Union and US.

However, survivors of Habre's atrocities did not seem to care who funded the court. They were just relieved that justice had been done, 25 years after his rule ended.


His critics dubbed him "Africa's Pinochet" because of the atrocities committed during his rule.

Survivors had recounted gruesome details of the torture carried out by Habre's feared secret police.

One of the most notorious detention centres in N'Djamena was a converted swimming pool.

Witnesses said victims endured electric shocks, near-asphyxia, cigarette burns and having gas squirted into their eyes.

Pencil sketch of a man being tortured with a rope around his head

Victims drew sketches of torture techniques for the case

Some were subjected to "supplice des baguettes" (torture by sticks), when the victim's head is put between sticks joined by rope which is then twisted.

Gberdao Gustave Kam, president of the special court, said Habre had also committed three acts of rape.

Habre was arrested in Senegal, where he was exiled, in 2013.

Many of his victims campaigned for him to be tried following his overthrow in 1990.

"Today will be carved into justice as the day that a band of unrelenting survivors brought their dictator to justice," said Reed Brody from Human Rights Watch, who has worked on the case for 17 years and was in court for the judgement.

In 2005, a court in Belgium issued a warrant for his arrest, claiming universal jurisdiction but, after Senegal referred the issue to the African Union, the AU asked Senegal to try Mr Habre "on behalf of Africa".

In 2013, a court in Chad sentenced him to death in absentia for crimes against humanity.

Who is Hissene Habre?

• Born in 1942 to ethnic Toubou herders in northern Chad

• Given scholarship to study political science in France

• First came to the world's attention in 1974 when his rebels captured three European hostages to ransom for money and arms

• Seized power in 1982 allegedly with the help of the CIA

• Ousted by current President Idriss Deby in 1990

• Accused of systematically persecuting groups he distrusted

Source: bbc.com

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At least 6 dead, 2 missing after floods in Texas, Kansas

HOUSTON –  Authorities in central Texas found two more bodies along flooded streams Sunday, bringing the death toll from flooding the state to six.

It's unclear whether a body found in Travis County near Austin is one of the two people still missing in Texas. An 11-year-old boy is still missing in central Kansas, too.

The latest flooding victim identified by authorities was a woman who died when the car she was riding in was swept from the street by the flooded Cypress Creek about 1:30 a.m. Sunday, Kendall County sheriff's Cpl. Reid Daly said.

The car, with three occupants, was in Comfort, about 45 miles north of San Antonio. The driver made it to shore, and a female passenger was rescued from a tree. But Daly said 23-year-old Florida Molima was missing until her body was found around 11 a.m. Sunday about 8 miles downstream. She becomes the sixth flood-related death in Texas this Memorial Day weekend.

In Bandera, about 45 miles northwest of San Antonio, an estimated 10 inches of rain overnight led to the rescues of nine people. The rain caused widespread damage, including the collapse of the roof of the Bandera Bulletin, the weekly newspaper, KSAT-TV in San Antonio reported. Photos from the area showed campers and trailers stacked against each other, but no injuries were reported.

Torrential rains caused heavy flash flooding in some parts of the U.S. over the last few days, and led to numerous evacuations in southeast Texas, including two prisons. But the threat of severe weather has lessened over the long Memorial Day holiday for many places, though Tropical Depression Bonnie continued to bring rain and wind to North and South Carolina.

Near Austin, a crew aboard a county STAR Flight helicopter found a body Sunday on the north end of a retention pond near the Circuit of the Americas auto racing track, which is close to where two people were reported to have been washed away by a flash flood early Friday, Travis County sheriff's spokesman Lisa Block said. The body still must be recovered and no identification has been made.

To the southeast along the rain-swollen Brazos River near Houston, prison officials evacuated about 2,600 inmates from two prisons to other state prisons because of expected flooding, Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman Jason Clark said. Inmates in a low-level security camp at a third prison in the area are being moved to the main prison building, Clark said.

All three prisons are in coastal Brazoria County, where the river empties into the Gulf of Mexico.

"TDCJ officials continue to monitor the situation and are working with our state partners as the river level rises," Clark said, noting that additional food and water has been delivered to prisons that are getting the displaced inmates and sandbags have been filled and delivered to the prisons whereflooding is anticipated.

Another prison that's about 70 miles northwest of Houston saw a brawl between inmates and correctional officers on Saturday that began when flooding caused a power outage. Clark estimated as many as 50 inmates in the 1,300-inmate prison were involved.

The rising water in several Houston-area rivers and creeks prompted Harris County officials on Saturday to ask about 750 families in the Northwood Pines subdivision to voluntarily evacuate their homes and apartments. Officials also warned residents living near the west fork of the San Jacinto River, north of Houston, that rising waters were likely to flood homes, even those that are elevated, Sanchez said.

"The skies are clear and things look good. But we want to make sure people understand that we are not out of the woods yet. We have to keep an eye on water that's coming through our bayou system," said Francisco Sanchez, a spokesman for the Office of Emergency Management in Harris County.

In Kansas, the search for the missing 11-year-old resumed Sunday and expanded beyond the swollen creek he fell into Friday night, according to Wichita Fire Department battalion chief Scott Brown. "We are more in body-recovery mode than rescue," Brown said Saturday night.

Four people died from flooding in rural Washington County, Texas, located between Austin and Houston, where more than 16.5 inches of rain fell in some places Thursday and Friday. The bodies of two missing motorists were found Saturday in separate parts of the county, according to Judge John Brieden.

Tropical Depression Bonnie reached the South Carolina coast early Sunday, bringing heavy rain and rough tides to an area packed with tourists for the Memorial Day weekend. Forecasters say up to 8 inches of rain have fallen in parts of southern South Carolina. About 3 inches of rain fell in Charleston in 24 hours and more is expected, according to the National Weather Service.

Source: foxnews.com

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Okinawa base imposes curfew on US troops after woman's death

The US military base on Japan's island of Okinawa has imposed a midnight curfew and a ban on alcohol after the arrest of an ex-Marine suspected of killing a Japanese woman.

There would be no "celebrations and parties while the Okinawan people are in mourning", the military said. The restrictions will run until 24 June.

Kenneth Shinzato, 32, was arrested on 19 May but has not yet been charged.

Many Okinawans resent the US base and the incident has reignited tension.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe raised the woman's death with US President Barack Obama ahead of the recent G7 summit in Japan.

'Terrible act'

The Okinawa facility, home to some 30,000 US troops, has banned them from visiting clubs and bars and drinking alcohol off-base.

Festivals and concerts at the base have been postponed.

Kenneth Shinzato , 20 May

Kenneth Shinzato has not yet been charged

Marine Corps commander in Japan Lt Gen Lawrence Nicholson said at a news conference: "We should not be out shooting fireworks... If we really believe we are part of the Okinawan community, then we too must be in mourning. And we do."

He said: "There are no words in the English language that can adequately convey our level of shock, pain and grief at the loss of life of this innocent victim.

"My request to the Okinawa people is simple: please do not allow this terrible act of violence to drive a wedge between our two communities."

The ban also applies to military families and civilians employed by the military.

Kenneth Shinzato, a US military worker in Okinawa, was arrested on suspicion of dumping a woman's body.

The body of the 20-year-old woman, missing since April, was found at a location he gave.

Police say the man admitted abandoning the body. They also suspect he killed her but have not charged him with this yet.

A suspect can be held for 21 days before charges must be brought.

In 2013, US troops throughout Japan were placed under a night-time curfew after two US sailors pleaded guilty to the rape of a Japanese woman on Okinawa.

In 1995, the rape of a 12-year-old girl on Okinawa by US servicemen prompted mass protests.

The Okinawa base houses about half of all US troops in Japan. There are plans to relocate part of it - the Futenma air base - to a less-populated area of the island, but many Okinawans want the air base removed altogether.

Source: bbc.com

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European migrant crisis: Weekly boat rescues reach 13,000

The rescue of more than 600 migrants off Libya on Saturday by a flotilla of EU ships took the weekly total to at least 13,000, Italian authorities say.

The rescues were the latest by a patrol of Italian, German and Irish ships operating in the Mediterranean.

Spring weather has led to a surge of people attempting the perilous crossing from Africa to Europe.

It is now the main migration route since an EU-Turkey deal curbed numbers sailing to Greece.

An Irish vessel saved 123 migrants from a people's smugglers' rubber dinghy on Saturday, the Irish military said, while the Italian coastguard said a German ship had carried out four rescue operations from similar unseaworthy vessels.

Meanwhile, about 4,000 migrants plucked from the sea earlier in the week arrived in Italy on Saturday. Many others are known to have drowned.

In one dramatic operation caught on camera by Italian rescuers on Wednesday, a migrant boat overturned after spotting a patrol boat. The Italian navy rescued 562 people, whil five died.

The same patrol boat rescued a further 108 migrants in another incident later that day.

On Tuesday, another 3,000 people were rescued from smugglers' boats.

Most migrants are fleeing conflict and poverty in Africa and the Middle East.

Under a European Union plan, tens of thousands of those rescued at sea were supposed to be relocated to other EU countries from Italy and Greece, where most land.

However anti-migrant sentiment in other countries have meant that few of have actually been transferred.


A note on terminology: The BBC uses the term migrant to refer to all people on the move who have yet to complete the legal process of claiming asylum. This group includes people fleeing war-torn countries such as Syria, who are likely to be granted refugee status, as well as people who are seeking jobs and better lives, who governments are likely to rule are economic migrants.

Source: bbc.com

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Islamic State: Iraqi army makes gains in Falluja offensive

Iraqi government forces have made gains in their offensive to drive Islamic State militants from Falluja - one the country's two major cities in IS hands.

The nearby town of Karma, the first line of IS defence, is now in the army's hands, a BBC correspondent says.

Large numbers of elite combat troops have also been deployed near Falluja, about 45km (28 miles) west of Baghdad.

But IS hit back north of Falluja, killing and injuring some Iraqi forces in a suicide car bomb attack.

A counter-attack south of the city was repelled with the help of helicopter gunships, the BBC's Jim Muir in Karma reports.

This comes just days after the IS commander in Falluja, Maher al-Bilawi, was killed along with dozens militants in US-led coalition air strikes, according to Washington.

How tough will it be to take Falluja?

Islamic State: The full story

Ghost town

Karma is now firmly under control of government forces, including rapid reaction troops and federal police, our correspondent says.

Iran-backed Shia militias, which also took part in the fighting, have left graffiti on the walls of buildings in the town, including one saying: "Thank you, Iran."

But Karma is now a ghost town, with not a single civilian to be seen and with rows of shops battered and burnt out and some bigger buildings badly damaged, our correspondent adds.

Large number of the elite Counter-Terrorism Force have been brought up in preparation for an assault on the city itself.

However, it is not clear when the attack will begin.

Falluja. Photo: August 2010

Falluja - key facts:

  • had population of more than 300,000 before it was seized by first al-Qaeda and then by IS in 2014
  • has always been a hotbed of Sunni defiance, becoming a symbol of resistance to US forces in violent battles in 2004
  • controls main highway from Baghdad to both Jordan and Syria
  • is known as the "city of mosques" - more than 200 mosques in city and surrounding area

Some 50,000 civilians remain trapped in the city and have been told via leaflet drops to avoid IS areas and put white sheets on their roofs, the US military says.

The UN says it has reports of people dying of starvation and being killed for refusing to fight for IS.

Falluja fell to IS in 2014, a key moment in its rise that saw it declare a caliphate across swathes of Iraq and Syria.

The other major Iraqi city still controlled by IS is Mosul.

Map showing movement of Iraqi forces towards Falluja (24 May 2016)

Source: bbc.com

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