Schedule Monday - Friday
Program Title Start Stop
Dance Hall Arena 12:00: AM 1:30 AM
Reggae Arena 1:30 AM 3:00 AM
Africa Mix 3:00 AM 5:00 AM
Worship Arena 5:00 AM 6:30 AM
Songs of Praise 6:30 AM 8:00 AM
Hip-Life Arena 8:00 AM 10:00 AM
Hip-Pop Arena 10:00 AM 11:00 AM
Variety ShowTime 11:00 AM 12:00 PM
Afro-Pop Arena 12:00 PM 2:00 PM
Proudly African 2:00 PM 3:30 PM
Lovers Corner 3:30 PM 5:00 PM
African Reggae/Dancehall 5:00 PM 6:30 PM
Pop Arena 6:30 PM 7:00 PM
Live Band Special 7:00 PM 9:00 PM
Adadamu (GH Old School) 9:00 PM 11:00 PM
  Variety Night 11:00 PM 12:00 AM

 

Saturday
Program Title Start Stop
Dance Hall Arena 12:00 AM 1:30 AM
Reggae Arena 1:30 AM 3:00 AM
Africa Mix 3:00 AM 5:00 AM
Worship Arena 5:00 AM 6:30 AM
Songs of Praise 6:30 AM 8:00 AM
Hip-Life Arena 8:00 AM 10:00 AM
Hip-Pop Arena 10:00 AM 11:00 AM
Variety ShowTime 11:00 AM 12:00 PM
Afro-Pop Arena 12:00 PM 2:00 PM
Time With Bakus 2:00 PM 3:30 PM
Lovers Corner 3:30 PM 5:00 PM
African Reggae/Dancehall 5:00 PM 6:30 PM
Pop Arena 6:30 PM 7:00 PM
Live Band Special 7:00 PM 9:00 PM
Adadamu (GH Old School) 9:00 PM 11:00 PM
  Weekend Special 11:00 PM 12:00 AM

 

Sunday
Program Title Start Stop
Dance Hall Arena 12:00 AM 1:30 AM
Reggae Arena 1:30 AM 3:00 AM
Africa Mix 3:00 AM 5:00 AM
Worship Arena 5:00 AM 6:30 AM
Songs of Praise 6:30 AM 8:00 AM
Hip-Life Arena 8:00 AM 10:00 AM
Hip-Pop Arena 10:00 AM 11:00 AM
Dance to the Beat 11:00 AM 12:00 PM
Gospel Arena 12:00 PM 2:00 PM
Proudly African 2:00 PM 3:30 PM
Party Corner 3:30 PM 5:00 PM
African Reggae/Dancehall 5:00 PM 6:30 PM
Pop Arena 6:30 PM 7:00 PM
Live Band Special 7:00 PM 9:00 PM
Adadamu (GH Old School) 9:00 PM 11:00 PM
  Weekend Special 11:00 PM 12:00 AM

 

 

 

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US man Kim Dong-chul jailed for spying in North Korea

North Korea has sentenced a US man to 10 years of hard labour for spying.

Kim Dong-chul, a 62-year-old naturalised US citizen born in South Korea, was arrested last October.

Kim had made an apparent confession in Pyongyang last month in front of reporters, saying he was paid by South Korean intelligence officers.

The US has previously accused North Korea of using its citizens as pawns in a diplomatic game. Pyongyang denies the accusations.

In March, US student Otto Frederick Warmbier was jailed for 15 years for stealing a propaganda sign and "crimes against the state".

North Korea has previously said Kim had a USB stick containing military and nuclear secrets on him when he was arrested in the special economic zone of Rason.

Kim, who used to live in Virginia, had said he was introduced to South Korean spies by US intelligence officers.

Forced public confessions by foreign prisoners are common in North Korea.

Kim's imprisonment comes amid a period of high tensions. North Korea has recently conducted a series of missile tests following its fourth nuclear test in January, both of which break UN sanctions.

Pyongyang attempted to launch two mid-range ballistic missiles on Thursday which crashed shortly after their launches, prompting an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council.

It is believed it will attempt a fifth nuclear test soon.

The recent burst in activity is thought to be a ramp-up to a rare party congress due to be held on 6 May, where leader Kim Jong-un is expected to consolidate power.


Foreigners detained in North Korea

Other recent cases include:

  • Otto Frederick Warmbier, a US student who was sentenced to 15 years of hard labour in March 2016 for trying to steal a propaganda sign from a hotel and "crimes against the state".
  • Hyeon Soo Lim, a Canadian Christian pastor of South Korean origin, was sentenced to a life term of hard labour in December, also for "crimes against the state".
  • Sandra Suh, an American aid worker, was arrested then expelled in April 2015, accused of gathering and producing anti-North propaganda.
  • Matthew Todd Miller was sentenced to six years' hard labour in September 2014 for what North Korean state media described as "hostile acts", but was released in November the same year.
  • Kenneth Bae was arrested in November 2012 and accused of using his tourism business to form groups to overthrow the government. Sentenced to 15 years' hard labour in May 2013 but was released along with Mr Miller.
  • Jeffrey Fowle, held for five months and charged with "anti-state" crimes, was released in October 2014.
  • Korean War veteran Merrill Newman, held in October 2013 on charges of "hostile acts", was released in December the same year.

Source: bbc.com

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US election 2016: Former House Speaker Boehner calls Ted Cruz 'Lucifer'

US presidential hopeful Ted Cruz has been called "Lucifer in the flesh" by the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner.

Mr Boehner, a fellow Republican, has also reportedly said he will not vote for Mr Cruz if he becomes the nominee.

Their rift dates back to when Mr Cruz led a group of hard-core conservatives to force a government shutdown in 2013, against his party's leadership.

Meanwhile, Mr Boehner has described Donald Trump as a "texting buddy".

He also said they have played golf together for years and that he would vote for the billionaire if he were the Republican nominee, the Stanford Daily reported.

The billionaire is the front-runner on the race for the Republican nomination, ahead of Mr Cruz.

The Texas senator is seen by many Republicans as the only option to prevent Mr Trump from being the party's candidate. Others, however, dispute this, saying he is a divisive figure.

Mr Boehner, who was the most powerful Republican in US politics for a time until he resigned last October, used strong language when he spoke about Mr Cruz during a talk at Stanford University.

"I have Democrat friends and Republican friends. I get along with almost everyone, but I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life," he said.


Inside divisions, by Anthony Zurcher, BBC News, Washington

Former Speaker of the US House of Representatives John Boehner

Mr Boehner had once called Mr Cruz a "jackass"

John Boehner tells us how he really feels.

At a time when Ted Cruz is struggling to save his presidential campaign, having a former high-ranking member of the Republican Party compare him to Beelzebub is, shall we say, unhelpful. It further reinforces the perception - hammered time and time again by Donald Trump - that Mr Cruz is too divisive, too abrasive, too unliked to be a successful leader.

The Texas senator likely would counter that he has made the right kind of enemies and the ire of the party establishment is a badge he will proudly wear. Unfortunately for him, however, the party establishment is just about the only thing left keeping his candidacy afloat. He has become the vessel for the #NeverTrump efforts - the last realistic candidate between Mr Trump on the nomination - and that movement is populated by insiders who, in any other situation, would not hesitate to stick a knife in Mr Cruz's back.

It seems Mr Boehner, happy in his retirement from politics, had no such reservations.

More about their rift


Mr Cruz is credited with having a large role in the federal government shutdown in 2013, when Mr Boehner was Speaker of the House.

The Texas senator is seen as having an aggressive posture and considers himself as an anti-establishment politician.

He reacted to Mr Boehner's remarks on Twitter, saying: "Tell me again who will stand up to Washington? Trump, who's Boehner's "texting and golfing buddy," or Carly & me?", he wrote, referring to Carly Fiorina, his pick for vice-president in an eventual candidacy."

When asked about the Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, Mr Boehner reportedly impersonated her saying "Oh I'm a woman, vote for me," which received a negative reaction from the crowd.

He later said they had known each other for 25 years and that he finds the former secretary of state to be very accomplished and smart.

Source: bbc.com

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African leaders meet for Giants Club elephant summit

African leaders are to meet in Kenya to discuss how to save the continent's elephants from extinction.

The inaugural summit of the so-called Giants Club will be led by the Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta.

As well as heads of state, the conservation group will bring together business leaders and scientists.

Experts say Africa's elephant population has fallen by 90% over the past century and warn that the animal could be extinct within decades.

Among those expected to attend the summit are Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and President Ali Bongo from the west African nation of Gabon.

After the summit, Kenya will set fire to nearly its entire confiscated stock of ivory, 105 tonnes, equivalent to the tusks of more than 6,700 elephants.

The ivory has been piled into a dozen giant pyres, which will be lit by dignitaries at the summit.

The mass burning on Saturday will be seven times the size of any stockpile destruction so far, and represents about 5% of global ivory stores.

Some 1.35 tonnes of rhino horn will also be burned.

The street value of the ivory destroyed is estimated at more than $100 million (£70m), and the rhino horn at $80 million (£55m).

"We don't believe there is any intrinsic value in ivory, and therefore we're going to burn all our stockpiles and demonstrate to the world that ivory is only valuable on elephants," said Kitili Mbathi, director general of the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS).

Africa is home to between 450,000 to 500,000 elephants, but more than 30,000 are killed every year for their tusks.

Elephants in Amboseli National Park, file picture

There are up to 500,000 elephants in Africa....

A wildlife ranger strokes a northern white rhino near Nanyuki, Laikipia County, Kenya 28 April 2016

... but there are only three northern white rhino left in the world

Source: bbc.com

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Liberia ex-footballer George Weah to run for president again

The former international footballer George Weah will run for president of Liberia for a second time.

He said he had the "vision" to transform the country.

Mr Weah, who played for teams including Paris Saint-Germain, AC Milan and Chelsea, was the highest-ranking African footballer in Fifa's list of greatest players of the 20th century.

His previous presidential bid, in 2005, was defeated by current president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

Her second term in office will end in 2017 and under the country's constitution she cannot run again.

During his football career, Mr Weah became a UN goodwill ambassador.

Later he turned to politics. He is currently a senator for the western province of Montserrado, which includes the capital Monrovia.

In 2011 he ran for vice-president under Winston Tubman but did not win.

Mr Weah belongs to the opposition Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) party.

Announcing his presidential bid in Monrovia, he said he had been a "victim of poverty" like many of his supporters, and said he would boost vocational education.


Anthem and portraits - Jonathan Paye-Layleh, BBC News, Monrovia

Liberia's national anthem was played before Mr Weah took to the stage.

First, he held a moment of silence in memory of the thousands of people who died of Ebola.

He told his crowd of supporters: "Our gathering here today is about the future of our country and our people.

"In the last ten years our people have continued to live in abject poverty, education a mess, health delivery system a disaster, electricity and pipe-borne water elusive."

"Like many of you, I have been a victim of poverty," he said. "There were times I didn't have school fees."

A leading research organization has recently rated Mr Weah's performance in the Senate as low.

Party members from across Liberia presented a petition asking him to run, saying they believed he was the man "to solve Liberia's numerous problems".

Some party members paraded up and down the sandy party headquarters, beneath giant portraits of Mr Weah.

They sang: "George Weah is the man we want, George Weah is the man we want."

Mr Weah pledged to increase the national budget, work towards religious harmony, and support vocational education.

To wild applause, he said: "God is with us, and hope is alive."

a crowd of faces, and one sign that reads

Thousands of CDC supporters turned out to petition George Weah to contest the presidential elections

Source: bbc.com

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Hitomi: Japan to abandon costly satellite sent to study black holes

Japan's space agency had said it will abandon efforts to restore or retrieve the ASTRO-H satellite.

Also called Hitomi, the satellite was launched in 17 February to observe X-rays coming from black holes.

Contact was lost with $273m satellite on 26 March sparking a scramble by Japanese scientists to find out what had happened.

The next time a similar satellite will be launched is in 2028 by the European Space Agency.

Hitomi was a joint effort between Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), NASA and other groups.

A H-IIA rocket, carrying X-ray astronomy satellite

The rocket carrying the ASTRO-H satellite lifted off from Tanegashima Space Centre in Japan

"We concluded that the satellite is in a state in which its functions are not expected to recover," Saku Tsuneta, director general of JAXA's Institute of Space and Astronautical Science, told a press conference on Thursday.

"JAXA will cease the efforts to restore ASTRO-H and will focus on the investigation of anomaly causes," the space agency said in a statement.

It added that it was likely two solar arrays had broken off their bases.

Until now, there was hope that the satellite could be recovered after JAXA said it had received three signals from Hitomi. It said on Thursday that it now thinks those signals were not sent by the spacecraft.

Source: bbc.com

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Prince death: Search warrant issued at musician's home

A search warrant was obtained in relation to the home of Prince shortly after he died, court documents show.

The musician's Minneapolis home and recording studio, Paisley Park, was searched on 21 April, the day he died.

But authorities won a court order on Thursday to keep the warrant sealed, arguing that making it public would hamper their work.

Prescription painkillers were in the singer's possession following his sudden death, officials tell US media.

But it is unclear what role, if any, those drugs may have played.

Carver County Deputy Sheriff Jason Kamerud said reports that the Drugs Enforcement Agency (DEA) had been called in were not accurate.

A post-mortem last week discounted suicide - but a medical examiner said full results could take several weeks.

Prince, 57, was found dead in a lift on his Paisley Park estate.

Paisley Park

Mourners gathered at Paisley Park

There was no sign of trauma on the body, Sheriff Jim Olson said, suggesting the singer had died alone.

There have been suggestions the star was addicted to the painkiller Percocet, which he had been taking since 2009 to relieve hip pain.

His former percussionist, Sheila E, told the news agency Prince had suffered the effects of years of jumping off speakers on stage while wearing high heels.

However, claims of drug dependency have been refuted by the singer's long-time lawyer, L Londell McMillan.

Although Mr McMillan admitted that Prince may have taken pills to manage pain, he said the musician was "not on any drugs that would be any cause for concern".

Prince had been rushed to hospital in Illinois six days prior to his death, while flying home from a concert in Georgia, but was treated and released a few hours later.

Source: bbc.com

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Ghanaian crowned first 'Miss Africa Continent'

Johannesburg (AFP) - Barefoot, wearing traditional costumes including animal hide skirts and elaborately beaded headdresses, the contestants strutted the stage before Ghanaian Rebecca Asamoah was crowned the first 'Miss Africa Continent'.

The 24-year-old dental hygienist beat 11 finalists drawn from an original list of 40 contestants from across the continent in the inaugural pageant at Johannesburg's Gold Reef City casino on Saturday night.

Runner-up was Michelo Malambo of Zambia, while South Africa's Jemimah Kandimiri was placed third.

The swimsuit contest was also a departure from the beauty contest norm, with contestants wearing black t-shirts and tight shorts while dancing barefoot to music such as "Africa" by Mali's legendary afro-pop musician Salif Keita.

The pageant is the brain child of South African film producer Neo Mashishi, who says it aims to empower young African women.

"This is the first ever Miss Africa Continent," said Mashishi, adding that it had been five years in the making.

"This is about Africa, we are selling Africa to the world, and we are proud to be Africa".

"The way everything was done was African, we didn't emulate anything from Miss Universe, or Miss World," he said.

Asamoah, who wore braids, entered the stage in a traditional Ghanaian Ashanti gold-coloured beaded crown and then returned in a evening dress made from the country's trademark kente cloth.

She walked away with a grant to study business management at Monash university in Johannesburg.

Runner up in the 2015 Miss Ghana competition, Asamoah said she wanted to see young people help uplift the continent.

"There are a lot of things to be fixed in Africa -- water, education, environmental issues," she told AFP.

"My main concern is the empowerment of youths... so we can work hand in hand and put our continent in the best place it should be."

In the weeks running up to the event, the 12 finalists embarked on a series of pre-pageant activities, including showing off their culinary skills in cooking traditional meals from their native countries.

Ultimately, the organisers hope to involve the continental body, the African Union, "so our winner can play a role in uplifting Africa"and spearhead campaigns to fight Africa's woes such as malaria, poverty and xenophobia.

Source: yahoo.com

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Trump accuses China of 'raping' US with unfair trade policy

Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump has accused China of "raping" the US, in renewed criticism of China's trade policy.

He told a rally in Indiana that China was responsible for "the greatest theft in the history of the world".

Mr Trump, a billionaire businessman, has long accused China of manipulating its currency to make its exports more competitive globally.

This, he says, has badly damaged US businesses and workers.

"We can't continue to allow China to rape our country, and that's what we're doing," he told the campaign rally on Sunday.

"We're going to turn it around, and we have the cards, don't forget it," he added. "We have a lot of power with China."

Donald Trump's deal diplomacy

Trump's foreign policy - still no details

Newspapers react to Trump's foreign policy

Trump's foreign policy: So crazy it might just work?

Trump favours high tariffs on China exports


What China thinks of Trump

Premier Li Keqiang has said the US election "has been lively and has caught the eye", but many in China see it as more than that.

They consider the flamboyant New York billionaire an inspiration rather than an antagonist.

Read more: China's complex relationship with Donald Trump


In his campaign manifesto, Mr Trump pledges to "cut a better deal with China that helps American businesses and workers compete".

He sets out four goals that include immediately declaring China "a currency manipulator" and putting "an end to China's illegal export subsidies and lax labour and environmental standards".

Latest figures from the US government show the trade deficit with China reached an all-time high of $365.7bn (£250.1bn) last year. By February this year it had already reached $57bn.

Protesters

This is the first time Mr Trump has used the word "rape" in the context of China and trade, but his campaign has been punctuated by inflammatory comments.

He was confronted by hundreds of protesters in California on Friday before giving a speech to the state's Republican convention. Mr Trump was forced to enter the building by the back entrance.

Protesters were angry at his views on immigration: he has advocated building a border wall with Mexico, and has also referred to Mexicans as "rapists" and criminals responsible for bringing illegal drugs into the US.

Anti-Trump protesters were also out in force during the annual May Day rallies in California.

Protestors display giant effigy of Trump at demonstrations in California on 1 May 2016

Donald Trump was the focus of anger for some at the May Day protest in Los Angeles on Sunday

The Trump campaign had to cancel several rallies in March after hundreds of protesters threatened to disrupt events in Chicago and St Louis.

Mr Trump has called himself the Republican "presumptive nominee" after a string of primary wins.

In terms of delegate support, the property tycoon is far ahead of his nearest rivals, Texas Senator Ted Cruz and John Kasich, the governor of Ohio.

On the other side of the race, Hillary Clinton is expected to beat Bernie Sanders to the Democratic nomination and fight for the presidency in November's general election.

Source: bbc.com

 

 

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Zika virus: Risk higher than first thought, say doctors

The mosquito-borne Zika virus may be even more dangerous than previously thought, scientists in Brazil say.

They told the BBC that Zika could be behind more damaging neurological conditions, affecting the babies of up to a fifth of infected pregnant women.

Rates of increase in Zika infection in some parts of Brazil have slowed, thanks to better information about preventing the disease.

But the search for a vaccine is still in the early stages.

And Zika continues to spread across the region.

What you need to know: How dangerous is Zika?

2.2 billion in 'at risk' Zika areas

Travel advice: Countries affected and what you should do

Most doctors and medical researchers now agree that there is a link between the Zika virus and microcephaly, where babies are born with abnormally small heads because of restricted brain development.

While it is estimated that 1% of women who have had Zika during pregnancy will have a child with microcephaly, leading doctors in Brazil have told the BBC that as many as 20% of Zika-affected pregnancies will result in a range of other forms of brain damage to the baby in the womb.

A separate study, reported in the New England Journal of Medicine, said that "29% of scans showed abnormalities in babies in the womb, including growth restrictions, in women infected with Zika".

Graphic showing babies' head size

Zika: What are the symptoms?

Deaths are rare and only one in five people infected is thought to develop symptoms.

These include:

  • mild fever
  • conjunctivitis (red, sore eyes)
  • headache
  • joint pain
  • a rash

A rare nervous system disorder, Guillain-Barre syndrome, that can cause temporary paralysis has been linked to the infection.

There is no vaccine or drug treatment so patients are advised to rest and drink plenty of fluids.

But the biggest concern is the impact it could have on babies developing in the womb.

Source: bbc.com

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Russia challenges US after Baltic jet face-off

Russia says it was right to confront a US Air Force reconnaissance plane over the Baltic Sea on Friday.

The Pentagon said a Russian jet fighter acted in an "unsafe and unprofessional manner", and performed a barrel roll over its plane.

Russia said that the American jet had turned off its transponder signal, which helps others identify it.

It is the second incident in the Baltic this month in which the US has accused Russian planes of flying aggressively.

"All flights of Russian planes are conducted in accordance with international regulations on the use of airspace," a statement by the Russian defence ministry said. "The US Air Force has two solutions: either not to fly near our borders or to turn the transponder on for identification."

US jets "regularly" try to approach Russia's borders with transponders switched off, the statement said. Over the past 18 months, Russia has been repeatedly accused of the same practice over the Baltic and near UK waters.

It is not clear how close to Russia's waters Friday's incident occurred.

On Friday, Pentagon spokesman Daniel Hernandez said there had been "repeated incidents over the last year where Russian military aircraft have come close enough to other air and sea traffic to raise serious safety concerns".

"The US aircraft was operating in international airspace and at no time crossed into Russian territory," he said.

"This unsafe and unprofessional air intercept has the potential to cause serious harm and injury to all air crews involved."

Such actions could "unnecessarily escalate tensions between countries," he said.

Mr Hernandez said the Su-27's "erratic and aggressive manoeuvres" also threatened the safety of the US aircrew, coming within 7.6m (25ft) of the fuselage of the American plane before conducting its barrel roll.

Military encounters between Russia and the US and its allies have escalated significantly over the past two years, ever since Russia's annexation of Crimea and the breakdown of relations between East and West.

Two Russian planes flew close to a US guided missile destroyer almost a dozen times in the Baltic on 13 April.

The BBC's Gary O'Donoghue in Washington reported after the destroyer incident that Russia's actions were regarded by defence analysts as a flexing of muscle, a reminder that Russia has military might and cannot be pushed around.

Source: bbc.com

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Colombia legalises gay marriage

Colombia's top court has legalised same-sex marriage, making the country the fourth in Latin America to do so.

Gay couples were already allowed to form civil partnerships, but Thursday's ruling extends them the same marriage rights as heterosexual couples.

Earlier this month the constitutional court dismissed a judge's petition against equal marriage rights for heterosexual and homosexual couples.

Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay have previously legalised same-sex marriage.

Argentina was the first Latin American country to take the step in July 2010.

In Mexico, gay marriage is legal in the capital and in certain states.

Source: bbc.com

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Migrant crisis: EU 'to back' visa-free travel for Turkey

The European Commission will give conditional approval for Turks to travel without visas to Europe's passport-free Schengen area, sources have told the BBC.

The move is part of a deal in which Turkey is taking back migrants who have crossed over the Aegean Sea to Greece.

But Turkey must still meet EU criteria, and the deal must be approved by the European Parliament and member states.

The EU fears that without a visa deal, Turkey will not control migration.

What is the Schengen agreement?

Turks look to EU to scrap visas

The large influx of migrants and refugees arriving in Europe from Turkey, and from North Africa, has caused a political crisis among EU states.

A formal announcement from the European Commission is due on Wednesday.


Analysis by Katya Adler, BBC Europe Editor

If the European Commission (the EU's executive body) does make the recommendation this Wednesday that Turks be granted visa-free travel in Europe's Schengen area, as whispers from well-placed EU sources suggest, then it will be doing so holding its nose and its breath.

The freedom of speech; the right to a fair trial; and revising terrorism legislation to better protect minority rights - these are just some of the criteria demanded by the EU of countries before it lifts visa requirements, even for short-term travel.

It is hard to see how Turkey could be described as meeting these conditions. The government in Ankara increasingly cracks down on its critics in a manner more autocratic than democratic.

But these are desperate times for the EU. The European Commission and most EU governments are under huge public pressure to ease the migrant crisis.

My sources say the commission will therefore keep to the agreed script. But they insist this is no blank cheque. Turkey will get the green light over visas this week to keep it sweet. But it will also be informed of the outstanding criteria it still needs to meet.

Read more from Katya


Under the EU-Turkey agreement, migrants who have arrived illegally in Greece since 20 March are to be sent back to Turkey if they do not apply for asylum or if their claim is rejected.

For each Syrian migrant returned to Turkey, the EU is to take in another Syrian who has made a legitimate request.

Under the agreement, Turkey must meet 72 conditions by 4 May to earn access to the EU's Schengen area by the end of June, subject to full EU approval. Diplomats have suggested that fewer than 10 still need to be met.

Human rights groups question the deal's legality and argue that Turkey is not a safe place to return people to.

Last month, however, European Council President Donald Tusk said the deal had begun to produce results.

He praised the Turkish government as "the best example in the world on how to treat refugees", despite criticism by rights groups of the agreement.

At the same time, Turkish PM Ahmed Davutoglu said his country had fulfilled its part of the agreement and that the issue of the visa waiver for the EU's Schengen area was "vital" for Turkey.

Map locator

Source: bbc.com

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China investigates search engine Baidu after student's death

China has launched an investigation into search giant Baidu after the death of a student who tried an experimental cancer therapy he found online.

Wei Zexi, who died last month from a rare form of cancer, had sought the treatment from a hospital that came top of the list on his Baidu web search.

Baidu has come under fire for allegedly selling listings to bidders without adequately checking their claims.

In a statement Baidu said it was investigating the matter.

The company told the BBC: "We deeply regret the death of Wei Zexi and our condolences go out to his family.

"Baidu strives to provide a safe and trustworthy search experience for our users, and have launched an immediate investigation of the matter."

Baidu owns search engine and social media services, and is often compared to Google. Shares slumped in the US on news of an investigation by China's internet regulator, with Baidu's Nasdaq-listed shares falling 7.92%.

According to state news agency Xinhua, Wei was diagnosed with synovial sarcoma in 2014.

He and his family said he found out about a controversial treatment at the Second Hospital of the Beijing Armed Police Corps through an advertisement on Baidu.

But the treatment was unsuccessful and the 21-year-old student died on 12 April.

Before his death, Wei publically accused Baidu of promoting false medical information and the hospital of misleading advertising.

Baidu has said on its Weibo account that it had filed a request for the hospital to be investigated. The hospital has yet to comment and efforts to contact hospital officials have been unsuccessful.

In addition to the Cyberspace Administration of China, several other government agencies including the State Administration of Industry and Commerce, and the National Health and Family Planning Commission are looking into the matter.

The outcry over the case follows a similar scandal in January involving ethical practices regarding healthcare advertising.

The story has also reignited public concern over Baidu's advertising ethics, following an earlier scandal where it admitted it allowed healthcare companies to moderate online health forums.

On popular microblogging network Sina Weibo, the hashtag #Wei Zexi Baidu Advertising Incident# has been trending for days as netizens have called for a boycott of Baidu.

Source: bbc.com

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Groups of parents keep children off school in test protest

Groups of parents are keeping their children off school for the day in a protest about primary tests in England.

More than 40,000 parents have signed a petition calling for a boycott of primary school tests, which are due to be taken later this month.

Parents supporting the Let Our Kids Be Kids campaign have complained of a damaging culture of over-testing.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan says taking pupils out of school "even for a day is harmful to their education".

It remains uncertain how many primary school children are being kept off school, but a social media campaign has been urging parents to take children on educational activities for the day.

The campaign organisers say children are "over-tested, over-worked and in a school system that places more importance on test results and league tables than children's happiness and joy of learning".

They have raised concerns about the impact of primary tests, so-called Sats tests, taken by seven-year-olds and 11-year-olds, which are being made more difficult.

They have challenged what they claim is a "dull, dry curriculum" based around tests.

test paper

Parents have claimed that the tests are causing stress for primary pupils

In an open letter to the education secretary, campaigners have warned of schools becoming "exam factories" and that testing causes stress and can make young children feel like "failures".

Fiona Robertson, a parent and primary teacher who is keeping her children out of school on Tuesday, says that such tests can "turn children off" school.

She says that a narrow emphasis on testing and completing targets was taking away children's creativity.

"They're not producing really imaginative pieces. They're too scared to," she said.

'It's too hard'

Dawn Slater is keeping her six-year-old twins George and Josie away from lessons at Cheam Fields Primary School, Surrey on Tuesday. She said they had been stressed since returning to school this term.

Her son had been having tantrums and her daughter suffered nightmares.

"She's been saying things like 'I can't do it, it's too hard', in her sleep," she said.

"When I do the literacy test, it's hard," said Josie. "When we have the story, when we're we're stuck on a word, we can't read it. So the story won't make sense."

Instead, the family are going to Nonsuch Park to "find birds, trees and insects", Josie added.

'Basket case'

But Education Minister Nick Gibb said tests improved standards.

He said: "Schools should not be putting pressure on young people when taking these assessments. I've been to many schools where the children don't even know they're taking the tests, they don't have an effect on the children themselves because they have no consequences for the children.

"They [the tests] are to hold schools to account, to make sure that every school in the country is equipping children with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed."

And parent's and teachers' claims were dismissed by Chris McGovern, chairman of the Campaign for Real Education.

He said that any short-term stress was worth it if in the longer term it meant that children finished school with better results.

Mr McGovern said that tests in England's schools needed to be tougher to catch up with international competitors.

"We're three years behind the Chinese at the age of 15. We are a bit of a basket case internationally.

"We've got to do something, we've got to act early, and a health check at seven is a good idea."

Ministers have already had problems with the administration of primary school tests this year.

The baseline tests, which were intended to be a benchmark for measuring progress, were found to have unreliable results and have been postponed.

Tests for seven-year-olds in spelling, punctuation and grammar also had to be called off when it was found that test questions had mistakenly been published on a Department for Education website.

Labour's shadow education secretary Lucy Powell said she did not "condone children being taken out of school".

But she accused the government of "creating chaos and confusion in primary assessment".

Russell Hobby, leader of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: "I think the gap between the profession and the government has never been wider than it is at the moment."

He warned of "an enormous number of mistakes, delays and confusions around testing".

But Ms Morgan has argued that raising standards will improve creativity and not restrict it and keeping children home, "even for a day, is harmful to their education".

Source: bbc.com

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Source: bakusradio.com

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US election: Trump closes in on Republican nomination

Donald Trump has become the US Republican presidential nominee in all but name after victory in Indiana forced rival Ted Cruz from the race.

Mr Trump, unpopular with many in his own party, now has a clear path to the 1,237 delegates needed to claim his party's crown.

That would mark a stunning victory for a businessman few took seriously when he launched his campaign last year.

Bernie Sanders has defeated Hillary Clinton in Indiana's Democratic race.

He trails Mrs Clinton in the all-important delegate count but after this victory he said the contest was still alive.

"Clinton campaign thinks this campaign is over. They're wrong," he said.

What will Clinton v Trump look like?

As it happened - reaction to Cruz quitting

Indiana results as they come in

Mr Cruz's advisers had targeted Indiana as the Texas senator's best hope of halting Mr Trump's march to the nomination.

"We gave it everything we've got, but the voters chose another path," he told supporters in Indiana.

His departure means Mr Trump is now the presumptive Republican nominee, with plenty of state contests this month and next to reach the 1,237 delegates required to win.

The New York businessman is the first nominee since Dwight Eisenhower in 1952 to lack any previous experience of elected office.

Ohio Governor John Kasich has vowed to remain in the Republican race, but trails far behind Mr Trump in terms of delegates.

The Cruz party is over - Anthony Zurcher, BBC News, Indianapolis

Turn out the lights, the party's over. Ted Cruz and the #NeverTrump movement threw everything they had at Donald Trump in Indiana, and it wasn't enough. It wasn't even close to enough.

They outspent him by more than a million dollars. Mr Cruz practically took up residence in the state for the past two weeks. He named Carly Fiorina as his running mate. Nothing worked.

If there was a defining moment of the Indiana campaign, it was Mr Cruz's fruitless attempt to reason with a group of pro-Trump supporters on Sunday.

Every argument he advanced was rebuffed. Every bit of evidence of Trump malfeasance was denied. Mr Cruz was shouting in the wind.

In the coming days there will be a great reckoning, as the party comes to terms with the prospect of Mr Trump as their standard bearer in the autumn. Some will make peace. Some will despair. Others will say "I'm with her" and reluctantly move to Hillary Clinton's side.

It will be an unprecedented spectacle in modern US political history.

"It is a beautiful thing to watch, and a beautiful thing to behold," Trump said during a victory speech. "We are going to make America great again."

He praised Mr Cruz as a "tough, smart competitor", which marked a sharp reversal in tone after a day when the two men slung mud at each other from close quarters.

The verbal attacks reached a new level of intensity when Mr Cruz attacked the billionaire businessman as a "pathological liar" and "serial philanderer".

That was provoked by a bizarre claim from Mr Trump that Mr Cruz's father was linked to one of the most traumatic episodes in US history, the assassination of President John F Kennedy.

Trump links Cruz's father to JFK death

It is now increasingly likely that Mr Trump will face Mrs Clinton in the autumn in the battle to succeed President Barack Obama, who will be leaving the White House after two terms.

But Republicans have expressed reservations about Mr Trump's outspoken remarks, which have offended women and Hispanics.

There are also concerns about some of his policies on immigration and national security, like building a wall on the southern US border paid for by Mexico, a ban on Muslims coming to the US and the killing of the families of terrorists.

Source: bbc.com

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Canada wildfire forces mass evacuation in Fort McMurray

A huge wildfire has forced the evacuation of about 60,000 people from Fort McMurray - the entire population of the Canadian city.

The blaze has destroyed a number of homes, dropping ash on the streets of the city in the province of Alberta.

Fleeing residents have caused gridlock on the main road leading from the city, 380km (235 miles) north of Edmonton.

The evacuation from Fort McMurray - which lies in an oil sands region - is the biggest in Alberta's history.

"If you just walk outside, you feel it (ash) falling on you. You see it floating in the air. I can take a broom and brush it off my deck," resident Mark Durocher was quoted as saying by the Globe and Mail.

Plumes of smoke rise in the air, as people flee the wildfire in their cars in Fort McMurray

Roads were packed as people fled the wildfire in their cars

Homes in at least two neighbourhood have been gutted, and the fire has now spread to Highway 63 - the main road into Fort McMurray from the south.

Firefighters are continuing to tackle the blaze, but the local authorities have called for reinforcements, including a water-dumping helicopter.

So far there have been no reports of any injuries.

map

Source: bbc.com

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Instagram hacked by 10-year-old boy

A 10-year-old boy Finnish boy named Jani has been given $10,000 (£7,000) after he found a security flaw in image-sharing social network Instagram.

The boy, who technically is not allowed to even join the site for another three years, discovered a bug that allowed him to delete comments made by other users.

The issue was "quickly" fixed after being discovered, said Facebook, which owns Instagram.

Jani was paid soon after - making him the youngest ever recipient of the firm's "bug bounty" prize.

After discovering the flaw in February, he emailed Facebook.

Security engineers at the company set up a test account for Jani to prove his theory - which he did.

The boy, from Helsinki, told Finnish newspaper Iltalehti he planned to use the money to buy a new bike, football equipment and computers for his brothers.

Facebook told the BBC it had paid $4.3m to bug bounty recipients since 2011.

Many companies offer a financial incentive for security professionals - and young children, evidently - to share flaws with the company, rather than selling them on the black market.

Source: bbc.com

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Italian court rules food theft 'not a crime' if hungry

Stealing small amounts of food to stave off hunger is not a crime, Italy's highest court of appeal has ruled.

Judges overturned a theft conviction against Roman Ostriakov after he stole cheese and sausages worth €4.07 (£3; $4.50) from a supermarket.

Mr Ostriakov, a homeless man of Ukrainian background, had taken the food "in the face of the immediate and essential need for nourishment", the court of cassation decided.

Therefore it was not a crime, it said.

A fellow customer informed the store's security in 2011, when Mr Ostriakov attempted to leave a Genoa supermarket with two pieces of cheese and a packet of sausages in his pocket but paid only for breadsticks.

In 2015, Mr Ostriakov was convicted of theft and sentenced to six months in jail and a €100 fine.

'Right and pertinent' ruling, say papers

For the judges, the "right to survival prevails over property", said an op-ed in La Stampa newspaper (in Italian).

In times of economic hardship, the court of cassation's judgement "reminds everyone that in a civilised country not even the worst of men should starve".

An opinion piece in Corriere Della Sera says statistics suggest 615 people are added to the ranks of the poor in Italy every day - it was "unthinkable that the law should not take note of reality".

It criticised the fact that a case concerning the taking of goods worth under €5 went through three rounds in the courts before being thrown out.

The "historic" ruling is "right and pertinent", said Italiaglobale.it - and derives from a concept that "informed the Western world for centuries - it is called humanity".


However, his case was sent to appeal on the grounds that the conviction should be reduced to attempted theft and the sentence cut, as Mr Ostriakov had not left the shop premises when he was caught.

Italy's Supreme Court of Cassation, which reviews only the application of the law and not the facts of the case, on Monday made a final and definitive ruling overturning the conviction entirely.

Stealing small quantities of food to satisfy a vital need for food did not constitute a crime, the court wrote.

"The condition of the defendant and the circumstances in which the seizure of merchandise took place prove that he took possession of that small amount of food in the face of an immediate and essential need for nourishment, acting therefore in a state of necessity," wrote the court.

Source: bbc.com

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Is Pep a one team coach?

Atletico Madrid reached their second Champions League final in three years by edging past Bayern Munich on away goals in a pulsating semi-final.

Trailing 1-0 from the first leg in Spain, Bayern levelled the tie through Xabi Alonso's deflected free-kick.

Atletico keeper Jan Oblak saved Thomas Muller's low penalty, before Antoine Griezmann coolly fired in an equaliser.

Robert Lewandowski's header set up a tense finish, but Atletico held on after Fernando Torres missed a penalty.

Bayern, backed by a vociferous home crowd, desperately pressed for a third goal that would send them through.

However, they could not find a way past Oblak, who blocked David Alaba's 20-yard volley in injury time.

Atletico, aiming to be crowned European champions for the first time, will meet Manchester City or Real Madrid in the final in Milan on 28 May.

City face Atletico's neighbours at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday after the teams drew 0-0 in last week's first leg.

Relive an eventful night in Munich

Decisions, decisions, decisions...and drama

There was a tense atmosphere throughout the second leg in Munich, with the tie delicately balanced until the final whistle.

Bayern's opening goal, Muller's penalty miss and tempers flaring on the touchline - Pep Guardiola and Diego Simeone animatedly disagreeing over a decision - had already made for an entertaining first half.

Griezmann's vital away goal and Lewandowski's close-range finish - nodding in Arturo Vidal's headed cross from four yards - pointed towards even more drama in the final 15 minutes.

However, the anticipated Bayern onslaught failed to materialise.

Instead, Atletico won a penalty, despite Torres being fouled outside the box, before Simeone lost his cool again when he appeared to strike a member of his own staff.

Still Bayern needed only one goal to progress - and had five minutes of added time to score it. But Atletico survived, sparking wild celebrations among Simeone and his players.

Third time lucky for Atletico?

Atletico have lost twice in the final of Europe's leading club competition - to Bayern in the 1974 European Cup and against neighbours Real two years ago.

Against a team playing in their fifth successive semi-final, they produced another display of remarkable defiance at the Allianz Arena.

German champions Bayern had 33 attempts on goal and 72% of possession - but it still was not enough to beat the gritty Spaniards.

The hallmark of Atletico's recent success has been their strength in defence, with Simeone's side developing a reputation as one of the toughest teams in Europe to break down.

However, the quality of their clinical attack should not be overlooked.

Atletico had not even managed a single touch in the Bayern penalty area until Griezmann fired in from the edge of the box.

The France striker marginally beat the Bayern offside trap, latching on to Torres' through ball before coolly drilling underneath Bayern keeper Manuel Neuer.

More Spanish misery for Pep

Guardiola is regarded as one of the world's greatest coaches, having won trophies galore with both Barcelona and Bayern Munich.

But the Spaniard will leave for Manchester City in the summer having failed to deliver the Champions League in his three-year spell in Bavaria.

Guardiola had acknowledged that winning the club's sixth European crown - or not - would be how his reign at Bayern was judged.

His side lost against Spanish opposition in the semi-finals in each of the past two seasons - to Real Madrid in 2014 and his former club Barcelona last year.

Atletico were well placed to make it an unwanted hat-trick after Saul Niguez's sublime first-leg goal in Madrid put them in control.

The Spanish title hopefuls rode their luck at times after Alonso's opener, particularly in the first half when they were outclassed by an aggressive and high-pressing Bayern side.

But they regrouped after the break, keeping their discipline and shape as Bayern's 12th successive Champions League home win proved meaningless.

"We tried to press them high, have counter-attacks and this was why we got the goal," said former Liverpool and Chelsea striker Torres.

Not Muller time

Muller was named in the Bayern starting line-up after he was surprisingly left on the bench in Madrid last week.

Guardiola was heavily criticised in the German media for that decision, with Muller - who has scored 32 goals in 46 matches this season - so often a match-winner for club and country.

But the Germany forward's most decisive contribution in the second leg was failing to convert his first-half spot-kick.

That would have put Bayern ahead in the tie for the first time, just as Atletico's usually unruffled defence started to look rattled.

"The missed penalty gave us life," said Atletico coach Simeone, who was close to tears after Griezmann's goal.

The stats you need to know

  • Atletico Madrid progressed to the final after their 100th tie in Europe's leading club competition.
  • Antoine Griezmann is Atletico Madrid's top scorer in Champions League history with nine goals.
  • Thomas Muller has missed his past two penalties in the Champions League, scoring seven out of 10 in the competition.
  • Jan Oblak has saved two of the three penalties he has faced as Atletico Madrid's keeper (all competitions).
  • All six of Xabi Alonso's goals for Bayern have been scored from outside the box.
  • Alonso's goal was the first Atleti had conceded in 632 minutes in any competition.
  • Only Cristiano Ronaldo (10) has more goals in the Champions League semi-finals than Robert Lewandowski (six).
  • Pep Guardiola has been knocked out in his past four Champions League semi-finals.

What next?

Before Atletico can turn their attention to the Champions League final, they must focus on a thrilling Spanish title race.

Simeone's second-placed side, who won La Liga in 2014, are level on points with defending champions Barcelona with two games left. Third-placed Real Madrid are a point further behind.

Bayern, meanwhile, can still win the domestic double in Guardiola's final season in charge.

Two more points will clinch their fourth straight Bundesliga title even if nearest rivals Borussia Dortmund win both of their final two games.

They face Dortmund in the German Cup final on 21 May.

Source: bbc.com

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Etihad turbulence: More than 30 passengers injured

More than 30 people were injured when an Etihad Airways flight hit "severe and unexpected turbulence" flying into Indonesia, the airline said.

The flight from Abu Dhabi was about 45 minutes away from Jakarta on Wednesday when the turbulence hit.

The plane, an Airbus A330-200, landed safely after the incident, but 10 people were taken to hospital.

Video footage apparently from the flight showed passengers crying out as the plane shook.

The United Arab Emirates' national airline told AFP news agency the cabin luggage bins were damaged and passengers said oxygen masks were released during the shaking.

The airline did not provide details on the severity of the injuries but nine passengers and one crew member were taken to hospital. The rest were treated by airport paramedics.

Etihad said it had cancelled the return flight and was booking alternative flights and providing accommodation.

Airport and Indonesian National Transportation Safety Committee officials are inspecting the plane, the airport said.

Source: bbc.com

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John Kasich, last Republican Trump rival, quits race

Ohio Governor John Kasich has dropped out of the presidential race after struggling to gain traction against Republican front-runner Donald Trump.

"As I suspend my campaign today I have renewed faith, deeper faith that the Lord will show me the way forward," he told supporters in Columbus.

Mr Kasich only won his home state but had hoped to lobby for his candidacy at July's Republican convention.

Mr Trump holds a commanding lead and is closing in on the nomination.

His likely opponent will be Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, who lost the Indiana primary to Bernie Sanders.

It was a surprise win for the Vermont senator who continues to attract huge crowds to his rallies, but his opponent has an almost insurmountable lead in votes and delegates.

Speaking to CNN about taking on Mr Trump, Mrs Clinton said he was a "loose cannon" who had run a "negative, bullying" campaign.

The New York businessman has made a series of controversial remarks ever since he launched his White House bid by labelling Mexicans as rapists and criminals.

Several senior Republicans said on Wednesday they would not back him, with some saying they would prefer to vote for Mrs Clinton.

Trump nomination divides Republicans

The race for the Republican presidential nomination has taken more than a year to unfold, but in a flash it is over.

Ted Cruz's withdrawal from the race Tuesday night meant John Kasich's long-shot path to the nomination - deadlocked delegates in a contested convention turning to him as a compromise candidate - was definitively closed.

The Ohio governor, once thought to be the saviour of the moderate, establishment wing of the Republican Party, could have soldiered on, but with little money and no hope of winning, such a course bordered on the absurd.

Although Mr Trump had effectively sewn up the nomination regardless of what Mr Kasich decided to do, his withdrawal does have one benefit. Now the New York businessman will not have to make even pro forma campaign stops in California, which holds its primary on 6 June.

Just last week the front-runner faced massive protests while attending the state's Republican convention. California looked to be a powder keg for Mr Trump in the coming weeks. Thanks to Mr Kasich, it has been defused.


Texas Senator Ted Cruz dropped out of the race on Tuesday after losing heavily to Mr Trump in the Indiana primary.

It is now certain Mr Trump will have the 1,237 delegates needed to become the nominee before the July convention in Cleveland, Ohio.

Mr Kasich had been widely seen as the most moderate and electable Republican candidate but this did not garner him enough support among Republican primary voters.

Republicans are now divided over whether to support Mr Trump as the Republican nominee.

"If we nominate Trump, we will get destroyed... and we will deserve it," South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham said on Tuesday.

Mr Kasich's named has been floated as a possible vice presidential pick but he has denied that he would accept it.

Source: bbc.com

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US election: How Trump defied all predictions

America tonight stands on the doorstep of greatness, or the precipice of doom.

Under a candidate this divisive, there's not much room for feeling anything in between, as the realisation dawns that Donald Trump now has a plausible shot at being America's next president.

There has never been a candidate for the White House quite like this. He came into the race something of a joke, he conducted his campaign in ways that sometimes seemed like a joke (remember the steaks) but he won the nomination with totally serious conviction, demolishing his large field of competitors.

One by one, the primary wins stacked up and the other candidates fell. It was extraordinary to watch. The man almost no-one in the American political world took seriously defied all the predictions.

How did he do it?

Trump tapped into something we all should have seen, but failed to. For years, working class Americans have suffered from low employment and stagnant wages. They've watched the spread of globalisation, immigration and free trade and they felt left behind.

The US economy appeared to boom, but their lives didn't reflect that triumph. They had got a bad deal. Add to that an America that seemed to have faltered on the global stage and a president congenitally averse to nationalistic chest-thumping and Donald Trump was a gift.

From the billionaire's New York penthouse, he somehow understood the concerns of less educated Americans, particularly less educated American men.

Coal miners in Pennsylvania

The coal industry in places like Pennsylvania has been drawn to Trump's message

He appeared to have an intuitive understanding of their loves and hates. He even said at one point in this absurdly long campaign that he loved the poorly educated. He knew they felt shackled by political correctness, and he gave them freedom to rail against it.

He knew they were afraid that their country was changing around them, increasingly populated by people whose first language was Spanish not English. When he suggested that Mexico was sending rapists across the border, he vindicated those fears. When he proposed to ban all Muslims from America, he gave voice to the anti-Islamic sentiment that's simmered in the US since 9/11.

It has been a remarkable display of political instinct from a man who's never been in politics. His supporters are so devoted to him that he could do no wrong. When he said Vietnam torture victim and war vet Senator John McCain wasn't a war hero, his approval ratings went up.

When he suggested a female reporter posed a tough question because she was menstruating, his numbers improved again.

Mexico, Muslims, Lyin' Ted... they all just fuelled the Trump train. And they love him most because he doesn't sound like all the politicians who have promised much and delivered little.

Families crossing from Mexico to US

The southern border has become a key Trump issue

And yet, at the risk of being churlish on the night Mr Trump celebrates a stunning victory, it is worth noting how he has also alienated millions of Americans in a way we have not seen here in modern history.

Never has a candidate for the presidency been this reviled and rejected by some members of their own party. There is a long list (literally, you can find it on the website of The Hill newspaper) of Republican politicians and strategists who have said they will never vote for Trump.

In private there are many more who have said they will vote for Hillary rather than Donald.

These are the people - and I have spoken to many of them - who say their party's candidate is a "bigot", "racist", "misogynist". They call him "crass", "rude", "a bully".

Some of these people may now fall in line with the party leadership, hold their nose and tick the Trump box, but they don't like him.

If you broaden the surveys out to all Americans, Trump breaks records with his unfavourability ratings.

Protest against Trump

Protests against Trump are common in California

Which is why two groups are cheering tonight, team Trump and team Clinton.

The Clinton campaign remains convinced that this is the perfect race for them. They see Trump's negatives and they believe he is the best candidate they could have hoped for as their Republican opponent.

Moreover, the demographics of America would suggest that whoever is the Democratic nominee stands an odds-on chance of winning the White House - there are just more Democratic than Republican voters in the country.

But this is a curious year, the political rule book has been shredded and Donald Trump hates losing almost more than he loves winning.

The Clinton camp would be wrong to get too confident too soon. If we have learned one thing in this crazy campaign, it is that predictions are foolish.

Call me a fool, but I'm prepared to make just one more - the Clinton-Trump match-up is going to be brutal.

You thought the last 24 hours was ugly. You haven't seen anything yet.

Source: bbc.com

 

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City miss out on Champoins League final spot

Manchester City failed to reach their first Champions League final after an uninspiring semi-final second-leg display at 10-time winners Real Madrid.

After a goalless draw in the first leg, Real took the lead when Gareth Bale's cross deflected off City's Fernando.

Fernandinho clipped the post in a rare City chance, but Real dominated as Bale hit the bar and Joe Hart saved from Luka Modric and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Real saw out the win to meet Atletico Madrid in the final later this month.

The English side knew they potentially only needed one away goal to progress, but appeared reluctant to go for broke in the final stages - despite being encouraged to attack by the vocal 4,500 away supporters.

The home side's only other moment of concern came in the closing minutes when Sergio Aguero's speculative effort flew on to the roof of the goal.

Now they will meet Atletico at Milan's San Siro on 28 May, in a repeat of the 2014 final which Real won 4-1 after extra-time.

No dream goodbye for Pellegrini

City started the second leg knowing there would be no potentially awkward meeting with incoming manager Pep Guardiola in the final, his Bayern Munich side having fallen in their last-four tie against Atletico on Tuesday.

Now Pellegrini, like his Spanish successor at Bayern, will end his three-year reign without a dream goodbye in the San Siro.

Nevertheless, the Chilean will always be remembered for taking the Blues into the Champions League knockout stage for the first time.

Pellegrini finally succeeded where predecessor Roberto Mancini failed, but City's demanding owners will be expecting Guardiola to take their club into the latter stages as a minimum requirement.

Judging by their performance over the two legs against Real, the former Barcelona coach may decide his inherited squad needs an injection of world-class talent to regularly compete with Europe's elite.

For large periods, City lacked pace and energy against the Spanish title hopefuls - and, crucially, offered little attacking threat.

Key centre-back Vincent Kompany's early departure through injury left them lacking defensive organisation, while Yaya Toure's return failed to add any intensity to a midfield lacking bite in the Bernabeu.

And mustering only one shot on target in each leg was a telling statistic.

City's hopes hit by Kompany injury

City suffered a cruel blow inside the opening 10 minutes when skipper Kompany trudged off, a familiar sight this season.

The Belgium centre-half's miserable luck with injuries continues, and the English visitors looked far less assured at the back without their leader.

His departure disrupted an encouraging start by the visitors - and they were punished shortly afterwards.

The away defence, still regrouping, stood off a Madrid attack down the right, allowing Bale to run behind them on to right-back Carvajal's pass and thump the ball in off Fernando's outstretched foot.

Hart rightly described the winner as "lucky", but in truth City could have conceded more over the two legs.

At the Bernabeu, the home players - particularly Bale and the returning Ronaldo - often ghosted between centre-halves Eliaquim Mangala and Nicolas Otamendi too easily.

England keeper Hart, who saved City from losing the first leg, again came to the rescue to give City hope until the final whistle.

Should Real have been reduced to 10 men?

Raheem Sterling has struggled to live up to his £49m price tag since arriving from Liverpool last summer, but the England international's introduction as a second-half substitute provided a little more spark for the visitors.

The attacking midfielder was scythed down by home substitute Lucas Vazquez, who lunged in with an awful challenge close to the corner flag.

Vazquez was booked by Slovenian referee Damir Skomina - but was lucky to escape a red card for the 83rd-minute tackle.

Had he been dismissed, the numerical advantage might just have given City a better chance in the final 10 minutes.

Bale 'turns a corner' in Spain

While all the pre-match talk centred around the threat to City from Ronaldo, Wales forward Bale again demonstrated his emergence as one of Real's most important players - little over a year after he was jeered by fans.

"I feel like I am maturing," said the 26-year-old, who cost a world-record £85m fee when he joined Real in September 2013.

"My Spanish is getting better and I'm integrating more with the team. I feel like I have turned a corner in that sense and I'm enjoying my football here."

What's next?

City must put this disappointing defeat behind them and focus on making sure they play in the Champions League under Guardiola next season.

The Blues currently occupy the Premier League's fourth and final qualification spot, four points ahead of fifth-placed Manchester United who have played a game fewer.

Pellegrini's side host third-placed Arsenal on Sunday - a key game in deciding the top four.

Meanwhile, Real Madrid have a Spanish title race to concentrate on. Zinedine Zidane's third-placed side trail both Barcelona and Atletico by one point with two rounds of matches left.

The stats you need to know

  • Real Madrid have reached their 14th European Cup/Champions League final, a record in the competition.
  • It will be the third time in the past four years that the Champions League final has been contested by teams from the same nation.
  • The Spanish giants have won all six of their Champions League home games this season, keeping a clean sheet each time.
  • Cristiano Ronaldo played in his 17th Champions League semi-final - the joint most in the competition along with Xabi Alonso.
  • Sergio Aguero has failed to score in his past five Champions League games - his joint-longest drought in the competition with Manchester City (also between November 2011 and December 2012).
  • Aguero has not managed a shot on target in his last 522 minutes of Champions League action.
  • Keylor Navas has kept 11 clean sheets in his 12 Champions League appearances, including all six at the Bernabeu.
  • Manchester City have been eliminated by Spanish opposition for the third consecutive Champions League season.
  • For the third season in a row, a manager has reached the Champions League final in his first season in the competition (Diego Simeone 2014, Luis Enrique 2015, Zinedine Zidane 2016).

Source: bbc.com

 

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“Lord Kenya Should Appreciate Today`s Rap” – Quata

Rapper Quatta has responded to veteran Ghanaian rapper Lord Kenya’s interview with radio host Bola Ray on Star FM that Sarkodie is a braggart and for that matter Sarkodie is not the best rapper in Ghanaian.

Speaking on Joy Prime’s Countdown show last weekend, Quata said Lord Kenya is a legend but respect is reciprocal so he needs to respect and appreciate what the young ones are doing with what he himself has fought for all these years. “Sarkodie needs to be commended for taking rap music in Ghana a notch higher,” he said.

Speaking on the best rapper issue, the Wind and Go Low hit maker noted that every child thinks his or her father is the strongest man. “Every rapper thinks he is the best because yes he has a fan base and the fans think he is the best because the content of his music inspires them in a way to do positive things, so Sarkodie may be the best but in his own corner and same applies to anybody who does music.”

Source: flexgh.com

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“We should appreciate what Sarkodie is doing” – Quata

Rapper Quatta has responded to veteran Ghanaian rapper Lord Kenya’s interview with radio host Bola Ray on Star FM that Sarkodie is a braggart and for that matter Sarkodie is not the best rapper in Ghanaian.

Speaking on Joy Prime’s Countdown show last weekend, Quata said Lord Kenya is a legend but respect is reciprocal so he needs to respect and appreciate what the young ones are doing with what he himself has fought for all these years. “Sarkodie needs to be commended for taking rap music in Ghana a notch higher,” he said.

Speaking on the best rapper issue, the Wind and Go Low hit maker noted that every child thinks his or her father is the strongest man. “Every rapper thinks he is the best because yes he has a fan base and the fans think he is the best because the content of his music inspires them in a way to do positive things, so Sarkodie may be the best but in his own corner and same applies to anybody who does music.”


Source: flexgh.com

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Supreme court orders cleaning of register before November polls

A seven-member Supreme Court panel chaired by the Chief Justice, Georgina Wood, has ordered the Electoral Commission to clean the voters register before the 2016 elections.

The ruling follows a suit filed by former PNC youth organiser Abu Ramada challenging the credibility of the 2012 voters’ register as a valid database for the November general polls.

The Supreme court ordered the EC to delete names of deceased persons, persons who registered using the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) cards as well as ineligible persons whose names are on the register, but also asked the commission to make provisions for those affected to register again under the law.

Abu Ramadan in the suit claims the voters’ register contains the names of persons who have not established qualification to be registered and therefore inconsistent with Article 45(a) of the Constitution thereby making same unconstitutional, null, void and of no effect.

Abu Ramadan in the suit was seeking the following reliefs:

1. A declaration that upon a true and proper interpretation of Article 45(a) of the Constitution of the Republic of Ghana, 1992 (hereinafter, the “Constitution”) the mandate of the Electoral Commission of Ghana to compile the register of voters implies a duty to compile, fair and transparent register.

2. A declaration that the 2012 Voters Register which contains the names of persons who have not established qualification to be registered is inconsistent with Article 42 and 45 (a) and therefore unconstitutional, null, void and of no effect.

3. An order setting aside the 2012 Voters Register and compelling the Electoral Commission to compile fresh Voters Register before any new public election or referendum is conducted in this country.

The Supreme Court a year ago ruled that the National Health Insurance card (NHIS) does not qualify anyone to be registered as a voter. That suit was filed by Abu Ramadan.

Source: kasapafmonline.com

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BBC's Rupert Wingfield-Hayes and team expelled from North Korea

BBC correspondent Rupert Wingfield-Hayes and his team are being expelled from North Korea after being detained over their reporting.

Our correspondent, producer Maria Byrne and cameraman Matthew Goddard were stopped by officials on Friday as they were about to leave North Korea.

He was questioned for eight hours by North Korean officials and made to sign a statement.

All three were held over the weekend but have now been taken to the airport.

The BBC team was in North Korea ahead of the Workers Party Congress, accompanying a delegation of Nobel prize laureates conducting a research trip.

The North Korean leadership was displeased with their reports highlighting aspects of life in the capital.

A BBC spokesman said: "We are very disappointed that our reporter Rupert Wingfield-Hayes and his team have been deported from North Korea after the government took offence at material he had filed.

"Four BBC staff, who were invited to cover the Workers Party Congress, remain in North Korea and we expect them to be allowed to continue their reporting."

Source: bbc.com

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US Election 2016: Donald Trump softens stance on Muslim ban

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump appears to have softened his stance on temporarily barring Muslims from travelling to the US.

Responding to remarks by London Mayor Sadiq Khan, Mr Trump told Fox News Radio the ban was "just a suggestion".

Mr Khan has expressed concern that he would not be able to travel to the US under a Trump administration because of his Muslim faith.

Mr Trump had offered to make an "exception" for Mr Khan.

Mr Khan refused Mr Trump's offer, saying the New York businessman's views were "ignorant" and would make the UK and the US "less safe".

Mr Trump proposed a ban on Muslims entering the US after attacks in Paris killed 130 people last year.

The suggested ban has been widely criticised in the US and abroad but Mr Trump until now has stood by the proposal, saying it was needed to ensure US security.

"It's a temporary ban. It hasn't been called for yet," Mr Trump said on Wednesday. "This is just a suggestion until we find out what's going on."

Mr Trump has shifted positions in the past on a variety of issues only to change his stance days later.

Analysis: Anthony Zurcher, BBC North America reporter

Donald Trump and Paul Ryan

House Speaker Paul Ryan (right) says he is not ready to support Donald Trump's bid for presidency

It's likely no coincidence that Donald Trump has softened the rhetoric surrounding his call for a sweeping ban on Muslim immigration into the US on the eve of his closely watched Washington meeting with House Speaker Paul Ryan.

When Mr Trump first unveiled his proposal, Mr Ryan's response was short and sharp.

"This is not conservatism," he said.

At the time Mr Ryan's voice was just one of many in the Republican establishment condemning what seemed an extremely controversial proposal from the New York businessman.

Now Mr Trump is the presumptive nominee, and that Republican establishment has been moving - grudgingly - toward backing their new standard-bearer. Mr Ryan has been a holdout, however, saying he wants evidence that Mr Trump shares conservative values and principles.

Mr Trump's latest rhetorical swivel could be an olive branch to the speaker - and, perhaps, a fig leaf allowing Mr Ryan to eventually offer his support.

He has often given conflicting accounts on issues including his tax plan, abortion and transgender people accessing public toilets.

This flexibility has led to concerns among Republican Party leaders about his candidacy.

Top Republicans including House Speaker Paul Ryan have said they are not ready to support Mr Trump in the general election.

Mr Trump will meet Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Mr Ryan and others on Thursday in an attempt to resolve differences.

Also on Wednesday, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney - who ran against President Barack Obama in 2012 - separately raised questions about Mr Trump's tax returns.

Mr Trump has so far refused to release his tax records - a common practice among presidential nominees. Mrs Clinton has posted her past eight tax returns on her website.

"It is disqualifying for a modern-day presidential nominee to refuse to release tax returns to the voters, especially one who has not been subject to public scrutiny in either military or public service," Mr Romney said.

Source: bbc.com

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London receptionist 'sent home for not wearing heels'

A London receptionist was sent home from work after refusing to wear high heels, it has emerged.

Temp worker Nicola Thorp, 27, from Hackney, arrived at finance company PwC to be told she had to wear shoes with a "2in to 4in heel".

When she refused and complained male colleagues were not asked to do the same, she was sent home without pay.

Outsourcing firm Portico said Ms Thorp had "signed the appearance guidelines" but it would now review them.

More on this story and other news from London

High heels and flip-flops: Work dress code victims

PwC said the dress code was "not a PwC policy".

Ms Thorp said she would have struggled to work a full day in high heels and had asked to wear the smart flat shoes she had worn to the office in Embankment.

But instead she was was told she should go and buy a pair of heels on her first day, back in December.

"I said 'if you can give me a reason as to why wearing flats would impair me to do my job today, then fair enough', but they couldn't," Ms Thorp told BBC Radio London.

"I was expected to do a nine-hour shift on my feet escorting clients to meeting rooms. I said 'I just won't be able to do that in heels'."

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The office in Embankment where Nicola Thorp was told to wear high heels for work by Portico

Ms Thorp said she asked if a man would be expected to do the same shift in heels, and was laughed at.

She then spoke to friends about what had happened, and after posting on Facebook realised that other women had found themselves in the same position.

"I was a bit scared about speaking up about it in case there was a negative backlash," she said. "But I realised I needed to put a voice to this as it is a much bigger issue."

She has since set up a petition calling for the law to be changed so women cannot be forced to wear high heels to work. It has had more than 10,000 signatures, so the government will now have to respond.


Is this legal?

As the law stands, employers can dismiss staff who fail to live up to "reasonable" dress code demands, as long as they've been given enough time to buy the right shoes and clothes.

They can set up different codes for men and women, as long as there's an "equivalent level of smartness".

Read more here.


"I don't hold anything against the company necessarily because they are acting within their rights as employers to have a formal dress code, and as it stands, part of that for a woman is to wear high heels," Ms Thorp said.

"I think dress codes should reflect society and nowadays women can be smart and formal and wear flat shoes.

"Aside from the debilitating factor, it's the sexism issue. I think companies shouldn't be forcing that on their female employees."

Simon Pratt, managing director at Portico, said it was "common practice within the service sector to have appearance guidelines", which Ms Thorp had agreed to.

"These policies ensure customer-facing staff are consistently well presented and positively represent a client's brand and image."

However, he said the firm had "taken on board the comments regarding footwear and will be reviewing our guidelines".

A PwC spokesman said the company was in discussions with Portico about its policy.

"PwC outsources its front of house and reception services to a third party supplier. We first became aware of this matter on 10 May, some five months after the issue arose," the spokesman said.

"PwC does not have specific dress guidelines for male or female employees." Ms Thorp said she did not blame the company involved but the law should be changed so women could not be required to wear high heels.

Source: bbc.com

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India Hindu group prays for Donald Trump win

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has gained some unlikely fans - including a right-wing Hindu group in India.

Members of the Hindu Sena held a prayer in support of Mr Trump winning the US presidential election.

The little-known group said they supported Mr Trump "because he is hope for humanity against Islamic terror".

Mr Trump has proposed a ban on Muslims entering the US - drawing widespread criticism at home and abroad.

He has also advocated killing the families of terrorists and invading Syria to eradicate the so-called Islamic State group and appropriate its oil.

Around a dozen members of Hindu Sena lit a ritual fire and prayers in a park in Delhi on Wednesday, and hung a banner declaring their support for Mr Trump.

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Surrounded by statues of Hindu gods, they threw offerings such as seeds, grass and ghee (clarified butter) into a small ritual fire.

"Only Donald Trump can save humanity," Vishnu Gupta, founder of the group, told the Associated Press news agency.

He also told The Indian Express newspaper that the group had planned "several events to express its wholehearted support for Mr Trump".

The nationalist group has previously been known for vandalism and assault, attacking the office of a political party in 2014, and spraying a legislator who protested against a ban on eating beef.

Source: bbc.com

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Brazil impeachment: New leader Temer calls for trust

Brazil's new interim President Michel Temer has addressed the nation after the Senate voted to back the impeachment trial of Dilma Rousseff.

"Trust in the values of our people and in our ability to rebuild the economy," Mr Temer said.

He has named a business-friendly cabinet that includes respected former central bank chief Henrique Meirelles as finance minster.

Ms Rousseff denounced her removal as a "farce" and "sabotage".

Mr Temer was the leftist Ms Rousseff's vice-president before withdrawing his party's support in March. She has accused him of involvement in a "coup".

After Wednesday's all-night session that lasted more than 20 hours, senators voted by 55 votes to 22 to suspend her and put her on trial for budgetary violations.

In her final speech on Thursday afternoon, she again denied the allegations and vowed to fight what she called an "injustice" by all legal means.

Mr Temer, 75, has now taken over as president for up to 180 days - the maximum time allowed for the impeachment trial of Ms Rousseff, 68.

He said: "It is urgent to restore peace and unite Brazil. We must form a government that will save the nation."

Stressing that "economic vitality" was his key task, he added: "It is essential to rebuild the credibility of the country at home and abroad to attract new investments and get the economy growing again."

But he also said Brazil was still a poor nation and that he would protect and expand social programmes.

"Let's stop talking about crisis. Let's work instead," he said.


Who is stand-in President Michel Temer?

Michel Temer became interim president as soon as Ms Rousseff was suspended.

  • The 75-year-old law professor of Lebanese origin was Ms Rousseff's vice-president and was a key figure in the recent upheaval
  • Up until now, he's been the kingmaker, but never the king, having helped form coalitions with every president in the past two decades
  • He is president of Brazil's largest party, the PMDB, which abandoned the coalition in March
  • In recent months, his role has become even more influential; in a WhatsApp recording leaked in April, he outlined how Brazil needed a "government to save the country".

Michel Temer also said he would support the sweeping investigation into corruption at state oil company Petrobras that has embroiled many politicians and officials.

Mr Temer has nominated a 22-strong cabinet.

There are no women, although two more names are expected to be added to the cabinet. Ms Rousseff had earlier suggested that sexism in the male-dominated Congress had played a key part in the impeachment process.

Mr Meirelles, the new finance minister, built a reputation for calming nerves in the markets when heading the central bank, and helped tame inflation to create one of the country's biggest economic booms.

But analysts say Mr Temer's popularity ratings are as bad as Ms Rousseff's and he faces many challenges.

During the overnight debate, Senator Jose Serra, who has been named the new foreign minister, said the impeachment process was "a bitter though necessary medicine".

"Having the Rousseff government continue would be a bigger tragedy," he said.

Brazil is suffering from its worst recession in 10 years, unemployment reached 9% in 2015 and inflation is at a 12-year high.

'Fraudulent'

In her TV speech, flanked by ministers at the presidential palace, Ms Rousseff said that she may have made mistakes but had committed no crimes, adding: "I did not violate budgetary laws."

She said: "What is at stake is respect for the ballot box, the sovereign will of the Brazilian people and the constitution."

Branding the process "fraudulent" and saying her government was "undergoing sabotage", she vowed to fight the charges against her and said she was confident she would be found innocent.

Her removal ends 13 years of leftist rule.


What happens next?

The 180 days allocated for the trial to take place expire on 8 November.

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Source: bbc.com

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US naval commander demoted after Iran's capture of sailors

The US Navy has fired the commander of the 10 US sailors who in January entered Iranian territorial waters and were briefly detained.

In a statement, the US Navy said it had lost confidence in Eric Rasch, who was in charge of a riverine squadron at the time of the incident in the Gulf.

A Navy official said Mr Rasch had been re-assigned, the Associated Press says.

The sailors were released after intense diplomacy between US Secretary of State John Kerry and senior Iranian officials.

On Thursday, the US Navy official said that Mr Rasch had failed to provide effective leadership, leading to a lack of oversight, complacency and failure to maintain standards in his unit.

The official - who spoke on condition of anonymity - did not say what the former commander's new role was.

In January, the sailors - nine men and a woman - were detained when one of their two vessels broke down while training in the Gulf.

They were then taken to Farsi Island, in the middle of the Gulf, where Iran has a naval base.

The incursion was "unintentional", the Iranian Revolutionary Guards were quoted as saying at the time.

The sailors were released after about 15 hours, and after Iran said they apologised.

But Vice-President Joe Biden later said that the boat had had simply a problem and there was "nothing to apologise for".

The US said at the time it was investigating how the sailors entered Iranian waters.

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Sourcee: bbc.com

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US Congressmen: Drop baggage fees to cut airport congestion

Two US senators have urged airlines to temporarily stop charging passengers baggage fees in an effort to speed up security queues.

Senators Richard Blumenthal and Edward Markey said passengers often bring extra items through the security screening process to save money.

They asked major US airlines to suspend the fees during the busy summer season.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has struggled with long queues at major airports.

"Passengers report waiting for so long in these lines that they miss flights, despite arriving at the airport hours in advance." the senators wrote in a letter to the airlines.

"Travel officials, including TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger, have expressed fears of a meltdown this summer as travel increases."

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Senators Blumenthal and Markey said baggage fees encourage passengers to bring more luggage into the cabin

A spokeswoman representing the many of the airlines said the senators plan is a misguided attempt to re-regulate airline and would raise ticket prices.

Jean Medina of Airlines for America said the TSA should hire additional staff at the busiest airports instead.

Federal budget cuts have recently reduced the number of TSA screeners.

American and Delta airlines said they planned to loan employees to the TSA to handle low-level tasks.

The TSA was created in response to the 9/11 attacks, but the agency has been often accused of mismanagement and using inept screening procedures.

American Airlines recently complained to Congress about TSA checkpoints, saying more than 6,000 American passengers missed flights in one week because of security delays.

"The lines at TSA checkpoints nationwide have become unacceptable," said Ross Feinstein, a spokesman for American.

Many airlines introduced baggage fees in 2008 to cope with soaring fuel costs.

Despite historically low oil prices and record airline profits, the fees have not been revoked.

Source: bbc.com

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How Donald Trump captures the White House

In the week since Donald Trump effectively secured the Republican presidential nomination, a great deal of ink and airtime have been devoted to explaining why he will have a difficult time winning the presidency in the autumn.

The Republican Party is too badly divided. His rhetoric is too incendiary. Republican voters may be "idiots", but the general public is wiser. The US electoral map, which places a premium on winning key high-population "swing" states, is tilted against the Republican Party.

About that last point. On Tuesday a survey of three key swing states - Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania - revealed a virtual dead heat between the two likely standard-bearers.

Those states - which account for 67 electoral votes - all went for Democrat Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. Add them to the states Republican Mitt Romney carried in 2012, and it delivers 273 electoral votes - three more than the 270 necessary to win the presidency.

Throw in a national tracking poll released on Wednesday that has Donald Trump surging to within striking distance of Hillary Clinton, and it's a recipe for acute hyperventilation on the part of Democrats.

But… but… but… cooler-heads respond.

The Reuters/Ipsos national poll, which has Mrs Clinton ahead 41% to Mr Trump's 40% and 19% undecided, was conducted online.

That Quinnipiac swing-state poll oversampled white voters - a demographic group that is more inclined to Republicans. In addition, it doesn't represent that big a shift from the group's battleground-state poll from last autumn, which undermines the theory that Mr Trump's support is growing.

The news caused election guru Nate Silver to go on a Twitter tirade, asserting that it's way too early to start gaming out the state-by-state electoral map based on opinion polls.

"The election will go through a lot of twists and turns, and polls are noisy," he writes. "Don't sweat individual polls or short-term fluctuations."

Sweating polls is what US pundits and commentators do, however. And at the very least, signs that Mr Trump is within reach of Mrs Clinton should cast doubts on the early predictions that the Democrats will win in the autumn by historic, Goldwater-esque margins. Mr Trump has a pathway to the presidency.

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Several recent polls show Hillary Clinton may be in for a tight general election race against Donald Trump

He may not get there. It is not the most likely outcome. But it's real.

That linchpin of a Trump victory centres on the so-called Rust Belt - states like the aforementioned Pennsylvania and Ohio, as well as Michigan and Wisconsin. Even if Florida, due to its rapidly growing Hispanic population, goes to Mrs Clinton, Mr Trump could still win if he sweeps those states.

It's a strategy that Mr Trump already appears to understand.

"We'll win places that a lot of people say you're not going to win, that as a Republican you can't win," Mr Trump said at an April rally in Indiana. "Michigan is a great example; nobody else will go to Michigan. We're going to be encamped in Michigan because I think I can win it."

The challenge for Mr Trump is that the mid-west, particularly, Wisconsin and Michigan, have served as a Democratic firewall that Republicans have been unable to penetrate since 1988.

"These states constantly intrigue Republican presidential strategists because the Democratic advantage in them depends largely on an act of political levitation: the ability to consistently win a slightly greater share of working-class white voters here than almost anywhere else," writes the Atlantic's Ronald Brownstein.

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Disaffected white voters could be the key to unlocking the mid-west for Mr Trump

If Mr Trump is to find success, then, he likely will have to finally win over this stubborn portion of the mid-western electorate or, perhaps, energise what Sean Trende of RealClear Politics has called the "missing white voters".

Trende points to a national drop-off more than 3.5 million white voters from the elections of 2008 to 2012, when population growth should have resulted in an increase of 1.5 million.

These voters, he theorised, were largely working-class whites who had previously supported iconoclasts like Ross Perot, the 1992 anti-free-trade independent candidate.

It's the type of voter that Mr Trump, with his populist economic pitch, has been turning out in the Republican primaries.

In 2012 Mr Obama beat Mr Romney by roughly 5 million votes. If Mr Trump can bring those disaffected white voters back to the polls in 2016, it would cut into that margin. If Mrs Clinton is unable to produce the record-setting turnout among young and minority voters that Mr Obama achieved, the gap shrinks further still.

That's a lot of "if's", of course. Young and minority voters - particularly Hispanics - may yet turn out to the polls in high numbers, if only to cast ballots against Mr Trump. There are already indications of record-setting Hispanic voter registration in places like California.

There's also the risk that Mr Trump's reliance on populist rhetoric and controversial views on immigration could lead white-collar voters to favour Mrs Clinton. For every disaffected member of the working-class he brings in, he could lose a suburban mum or college-educated businessman.

Even giving Mr Trump the benefit of the doubt, and viewing the recent polls as a trend and not a blip, there are still more electoral scenarios that end up with Mrs Clinton in the White House come 2017.

For Mr Trump, the political stars have to re-align in his favour. For Mrs Clinton, a general-election status quo likely means victory.

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Mr Trump could win the presidency if he takes key states in the industrial mid-west

Source: bbc.com

 

 

 

 

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US election: Trump and Ryan 'totally committed' to party unity

Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan have said they are "totally committed" to party unity in a statement following their meeting.

The two are trying to find common ground after Mr Ryan said he could not endorse the presumptive Republican nominee.

He has said the businessman lacked conservative principles.

"We had a great conversation this morning," the two wrote in a joint statement.

"While we were honest about our few differences, we recognise that there are also many important areas of common ground."

They said they would be having "additional discussions" but think they can unify the party and win the election.

At a press conference following the meeting, Mr Ryan said he was "very encouraged" by what he heard from Mr Trump.

Trump v Paul Ryan - the split explained

How Trump captures the White House

Trump softens stance on Muslim ban

Mr Trump arrived for the meeting at the Republican National Committee (RNC) headquarters in Washington amid protesters brandishing placards.


Analysis - Anthony Zurcher, BBC News, Washington

Paul Ryan sounds like a man trying to make peace with his shotgun marriage. Sure, the circumstances are unfortunate, but maybe life together won't be that bad.

The House speaker, who once condemned Trump's proposed Muslim ban as "not conservatism", now says there are "core principles" of conservatism that tie them together. They both love the Constitution, it seems, and they're all about the separation of powers between the branches of government.

Beyond that? Who knows. Mr Ryan declined to go into details during his Thursday press conference, instead talking about the processes being started, seeds being planted and differences being bridged.

It was not the endorsement, full-throated or otherwise, that Mr Trump desires, but it was a first step toward the reconciliation of a party that desperately wants to win back the White House in November.

If Mr Ryan eventually makes peace with what he called a "whole new wing" of the Republican Party that Mr Trump represents, this desire for power - for a prize that has been denied Republicans for two straight presidential elections - will be the driving force behind it.


Afterwards, RNC chairman Reince Priebus, who mediated the talks in his office, said it was a success.

Reince Priebus tweet

In December 2015, Mr Ryan harshly criticised Mr Trump's proposal to ban Muslims from entering the US.

He said it was "not what this party stands for and more importantly it's not what this country stands for".

But on Wednesday, Mr Trump appeared to soften, saying it was "just a suggestion".

Mr Ryan, who ran as 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's vice president, clashes with Mr Trump on many issues, including religious freedom and trade.

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Mr Trump has said he would be fine without Mr Ryan's support

He has remained popular on Capitol Hill, after being urged to take over as Speaker of the House of Representatives in the autumn.

Many who view him as a more electable figure than Mr Trump have urged him - in vain - to run for president.

But more Republicans are throwing their support behind Mr Trump, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

The New Yorker is one of the least politically experienced nominees in US history, having never held elected office.

That outsider status has appealed to voters who feel let down by Washington.

A recent Gallup Poll shows that two in three Republican-leaning voters view Mr Trump favourably.

But protests have plagued his campaign, with particular focus on his plan to build a wall on the Mexican border and deport 11 million undocumented immigrants.


Top Republicans divided over Trump

Supporting:

  • New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte
  • Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson
  • New Jersey Governor Chris Christie
  • Former Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal
  • Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
  • Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval
  • Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker
  • Former Texas Governor Rick Perry
  • Florida Senator Marco Rubio

Not supporting:

  • House Speaker Paul Ryan
  • Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush
  • Former President George H W Bush
  • Former President George W Bush
  • Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney
  • Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse

Yet to comment:

  • Texas Senator Ted Cruz
  • Ohio Governor John Kasich

Source: bbc.com

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Hezbollah killing: Thousands mourn Badreddine at Beirut funeral

Thousands of people have attended the funeral in Lebanon's capital, Beirut, of top Hezbollah military commander Mustafa Amine Badreddine.

He died in an explosion near Damascus airport, the Lebanon-based group said, adding it would announce "within hours" its report into the killing.

Hezbollah has sent thousands of troops to support Syria's President Assad.

In 2015, the US said that Badreddine was behind all Hezbollah's military operations in Syria since 2011.

He was also charged with leading the assassination of former Lebanese PM Rafik Hariri in Beirut in 2005.

Obituary: Mustafa Badreddine

Profile: Lebanon's Hezbollah

Who stands accused of Hariri killing?

Images from the funeral showed the coffin being carried among a mass of supporters in the southern suburbs of Beirut, some of them chanting "Death to America" and Shia slogans.

The BBC's Quentin Sommerville, in the capital, says some at the funeral blamed Israel for the killing, with one mourner saying: "Hezbollah has many spies."

Another said that without Badreddine, "Daesh [another name for so-called Islamic State] would be here".


A thousand conspiracy theories: Quentin Sommerville, BBC News, Beirut

The crowd at the funeral pointed the finger at the usual suspect. Who carried out the attack, I asked three young women in black abayas: "Israel!" they replied in unison.

But the circumstances around Mustafa Badreddine's death are unclear, and have already sparked a thousand conspiracy theories.

It appears he was the militant group's top commander in Syria. Hezbollah is already stretched thin there, more than 1,600 of its fighters have been killed, and the pictures of its fresh "martyrs" increasingly show very young, or older men, rather than fighters in their prime. The group has promised to retaliate, but that will be difficult. It is already preoccupied in Syria.

And despite a pledge to avenge the death of its previous military commander, Imad Mughniyeh, killed in Damascus in 2008, it failed to do so. Mughniyeh was Badreddine's brother-in-law, the two men are now buried side by side in the same cemetery in Beirut's southern suburbs.


What do we know of the killing?

An initial report by Lebanon's al-Mayadeen TV said that Badreddine, 55, had died in an Israeli air strike. But a later statement by Hezbollah on al-Manar's website did not mention Israel.

Israel's government traditionally refuses to comment on such deaths and has done so again.

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Hezbollah deputy leader Sheikh Naim Qassem spoke at the funeral, flanked on his right by leader Hassan Nasrallah

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Hezbollah says it will soon report on who it believed killed Badreddine

But Israel has been accused by Hezbollah of killing a number of its fighters in Syria since the conflict began.

The group was established in the wake of the Israeli occupation of Lebanon in the early 1980s, and has called for the "obliteration" of Israel.

Asked who might have carried out the attack, Hezbollah deputy leader Sheikh Naim Qassem said that, within hours "we will announce in detail the cause of the explosion and the party responsible for it", adding there were clear indications of those responsible.

One Hezbollah MP in Lebanon, Nawar al-Saheli, said: "This is an open war and we should not pre-empt the investigation but certainly Israel is behind this. The resistance will carry out its duties at the appropriate time."

Yaakov Amidror, a former national security adviser to Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu said: "We don't know if Israel is responsible for this. Remember that those operating in Syria today have a lot of haters without Israel.

"But from Israel's view, the more people with experience, like Badreddine, who disappear from the wanted list, the better."

However, any of the armed groups seeking to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad might have have sought to kill the man co-ordinating Hezbollah military activities.

What is Badreddine's background?

Born in 1961, Badreddine is believed to have been a senior figure in Hezbollah's military wing. He was a cousin and brother-in-law of Imad Mughniyeh, who was the military wing's chief until his assassination by car bomb in Damascus in 2008.

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Badreddine was on a US sanctions list

According to one report, a Hezbollah member interrogated by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), described Badreddine as "more dangerous" than Mughniyeh, who was "his teacher in terrorism".

They are alleged to have worked together on the October 1983 bombing of the US Marine Corps barracks in Beirut that killed 241 personnel.

Badreddine is reported to have sat on Hezbollah's Shura Council and served as an adviser to the group's overall leader Hassan Nasrallah.

An indictment from the ongoing Special Tribunal for Lebanon in The Hague details Badreddine's role in bombings in Kuwait in 1983, that targeted the French and US embassies and other facilities, and killed six people.

He was sentenced to death over the attacks, but later escaped from prison.

Was he involved in the killing of Hariri?

Badreddine was tried in absentia by the Hague tribunal over the killing of Rafik Hariri.

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Former Lebanese PM Rafik Hariri was killed in a huge explosion in Beirut in February 2005

He was indicted on four charges and was said by the tribunal to be "the overall controller of the operation" to kill Mr Hariri.

Three other Hezbollah members also stand accused of their role in the assassination.

One mourner at the funeral asked about Badreddine's involvement said simply "lies".

What is Hezbollah doing in Syria?

The Lebanese Shia Islamist movement has played a major role in helping Iran, its main military and financial backer, to prop up the government of President Assad since the uprising erupted in 2011.

Thousands of Hezbollah fighters are assisting government forces on battlefields across Syria, particularly those near the Lebanese border, and hundreds are believed to have been killed.

 Source: bbc.com

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Trayvon Martin death: Zimmerman handgun 'auction reaches $65m'

An online auction for the pistol used to kill unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin has apparently reached $65m (£45m), organisers say.

The sale has been plagued by fake bidders including "Racist McShootface".

George Zimmerman, who shot and killed the teenager, had planned to auction what he called "an American icon" on the website Gun Broker on Thursday.

But the web posting was removed just as the auction was due to begin with a reserve price of $5,000 (£3,450).

United Gun Group is now hosting the auction.

In a statement on Twitter they defended the sale of the gun on their site. They were "truly sorry" for the Martin family's loss but said it was their goal to "defend liberty".

"Unless the law has been violated, it is the intention of the United Gun Group to allow its members to use any of the available features. While not always popular this is where we stand."

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Mr Zimmerman said the gun was recently returned to him

On Friday afternoon, the top bidder was a user named Craig Bryant.

Mr Zimmerman, 32, a neighbourhood watchman, was cleared over the death of the 17-year-old in February 2012 after saying he acted in self-defence.

Does the gun belong in a museum?

In an online posting to announce the auction, Mr Zimmerman said that he would use the profits to "fight" the Black Lives Matter movement and oppose Democrat Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.

A lawyer for the Martin family told the Washington Post that "it is insulting to this family that he would decide that he would sell the gun that he killed their child with".

"Think about what that means: This is a gun that took a child's life and now he wants to make money off of it."

On the auction site, Mr Zimmerman said it was recently returned to him by the US Department of Justice.

He claimed that the Smithsonian museums had expressed interest in buying the 9 mm handgun, but Smithsonian officials denied that in a statement.

Speaking to a Florida television station, Mr Zimmerman had defended the auction saying "I'm a free American, and I can do what I'd like with my possessions."

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Zimmerman has had several encounters with police since being acquitted

Analysis - Nick Bryant, BBC North America correspondent

Few cases in recent years have been more racially sensitive or led to such an anguished national conversation as the killing of Trayvon Martin. It sparked demonstrations around the country, prompted President Obama to remark that if he had a son, he'd have looked like the black teenager and brought about the first use on social media of the hashtag "Black Lives Matter."

So the decision of the former neighbourhood watchman, George Zimmerman to put the gun he used up for auction not only seems extraordinary but also cruel and callous - especially since he refers to the weapon on the online site as an "American icon."

This is not the first time that Zimmerman has sought to cash in on his notoriety. His first painting of an American flag, emblazoned with the words "God One Nation with Liberty and Justice For All," sold on eBay for the staggering sum of $100,000. But it did not impress critics, who called it "primitive" and "appalling."

Harsher language will no doubt be used to describe the sale of the pistol that killed Trayvon Martin.

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Protests were launched nationwide following Martin's death, which helped to create the Black Lives Matter movement

Congressman Hakeem Jeffries said on Thursday that "Trayvon Martin's cold-blooded killer should be in prison. Instead, he is trying to profit from the stunning miscarriage of justice."

Florida police did not arrest Mr Zimmerman for six weeks after the shooting in Sanford, Florida, provoking mass rallies in Florida and throughout the US.

Police justified their decision not to detain him by citing the state's controversial "stand your ground" law, which allows a citizen to use lethal force if he or she feels in imminent danger. Police initially said the law prevented them from bringing charges.

Profiles: Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman

Mr Zimmerman's defence said Trayvon Martin had punched their client, slammed his head into the pavement and reached for Mr Zimmerman's gun. Prosecutors accused Mr Zimmerman of telling a number of lies.

The case led to protests in several cities in the US and to the birth of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Mr Zimmerman's name has been in news headlines several times since his closely watched trial.

Twice, assault charges against his girlfriend were dropped.

Source: bbc.com

 

 

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Transgender toilet use: US schools 'must respect gender identity'

The Obama administration has told schools to let transgender pupils use toilets matching their gender identity.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch said schools that don't comply may face lawsuits or lose federal aid if they do not comply.

One senior Republican politician has condemned the move as the "beginning of the end" of the current school system.

In a separate move, the president also strengthened protections for LGBT people receiving health care.

The federal government is fighting the state of North Carolina in court over a law requiring people to use toilets according to their gender at birth.

However the Obama administration education and justice departments say public schools must respect transgender pupils' gender identity even if their education records or identity documents indicate a different sex.

"There is no room in our schools for discrimination of any kind, including discrimination against transgender students on the basis of their sex," Ms Lynch said.

Mapping safe toilets for transgender Americans

How one woman's 'bathroom bill' campaign went viral

Why bathrooms matter to trans rights

Campaigners hailed the move.

"This is a truly significant moment not only for transgender young people but for all young people, sending a message that every student deserves to be treated fairly and supported by their teachers and schools," said Chad Griffin from Human Rights Campaign, a gay, lesbian and transgender rights organisation.

But the directive, which has been sent to all public schools, was immediately rejected by senior Republican Party politicians meeting at a convention in Texas.

Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick said: "This will be the beginning of the end of the public school system as we know it."

"President Obama, in the dark of the night - without consulting Congress, without consulting educators, without consulting parents - decides to issue an executive order, forcing transgender policies on schools and on parents who clearly don't want it," he told 5NBC television.

A new gender identity comes into force as soon as a parent or guardian notifies the school that their child's identity "differs from previous representations or records" and must be respected even if it makes others uncomfortable, the directive says.

Ms Lynch said North Carolina's new state law had echoes of policies of racial segregation and efforts to deny gay couples the right to marry.

The federal government and the state are suing each other over the law, which the federal authorities say violates the Civil Rights Act.

North Carolina's Governor Pat McCrory has said the law is a "common sense privacy policy" and that the justice department's position is "baseless and blatant overreach".

However, many businesses and entertainers have criticised the measures as discriminatory.

Musicians have cancelled concerts in the states and several companies have pledged to curtail their business in North Carolina.

Last month a US appeals courts ruled that a Virginia school policy that barred a transgender pupil from using the boys' toilet was discriminatory.

Transgender health care

On Friday afternoon, President Obama and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) gave the LBGT community further protections when receiving health care.

A new rule in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act guarantees equal treatment for transgender people by insurance companies and health care providers.

It states people must be treated in line with their gender identity, including access to facilities such as toilets, and given the same treatments which are available to their chosen gender.

The rule applies to all federal funded health care and insurers.

The Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell said the measure was a step towards "realizing equity within our health care system and reaffirms this Administration's commitment to giving every American access to the health care they deserve."

Transgender Americans can make civil rights claims if denied coverage or care based on their sex, which will be assessed by HHS's Office for Civil Rights (OCR).

HHS said the new rule was the first federal civil rights law that tackled sex discrimination in government-funded health care.

Source: bbc.com

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West Virginia mom dies while getting 'Brazilian butt lift'

A West Virginia mom who traveled to Florida to undergo cosmetic surgery died Thursday after police say she suffered medical complications during the procedure, WSVN reports.

Heather Meadows, 29, who has a 6-year-old and a newborn, was rushed to a Hialeah ER from Encore Plastic Surgery and pronounced dead after experiencing medical complications.

CBS Miami reports Meadows was having a "Brazilian Butt Lift" done at Encore; the procedure begins with a liposuction, with the removed fat then injected into the buttocks.

The Miami-Dade Medical Examiner says death was caused by fat clots in the arteries of her lungs and heart. When the fat was injected, it probably was introduced to her bloodstream via a vein, reports the Miami Herald.

Per the New York Daily News, although there aren't any active complaints against Encore, two doctors listed as working there, Orlando Llorente and James McAdoo, are also tied to a practice called Vanity Cosmetic Surgery, where a 51-year-old woman died in 2013 after a breast augmentation.

A third doctor listed in Yelp reviews for Encore has been deemed "an immediate serious danger" to public health by state health officials and banned from performing lipo and fat transfers to the buttocks after four patients were reportedly badly injured as he performed those procedures.

A woman set to have surgery at Encore and standing outside its Hialeah office tells WSVN, "I'm not having surgery here. Are you kidding me? This is a chop shop." The station says she got her $4,000 back, while NBC Miami notes she said it could have cost up to $12,000 at another practice.

(What happens when people get cheap leg-lengthening.)

This article originally appeared on Newser: WV Mom Dies While Getting 'Brazilian Butt Lift'

Source: foxnews.com

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Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton vie for Kentucky and Oregon

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is hoping to keep his campaign alive with strong showings in the Kentucky and Oregon primaries.

Front-runner Hillary Clinton is almost certain to secure the nomination in July, with a significant delegate lead.

She has been campaigning in Kentucky, saying husband and former President Bill Clinton would take charge of revitalising the economy.

Both races could be fairly competitive, national polls predict.

Mrs Clinton has won 94% of delegates needed to win the nomination, a total of 24 states to Mr Sanders' 19.

Republicans will vote in Oregon on Tuesday, but that race is all but decided, with front-runner Donald Trump having pushed out all of his competitors.

The Kentucky Democratic primary will award 60 delegates to go to the party's convention in Philadelphia while Oregon's primary will award 74.

Kentucky's primary is closed, meaning only registered Democratic voters can participate.

In Oregon, voters cast ballots entirely by mail.

Pressure is rising on Mr Sanders, a senator from Vermont who has historically been an independent, not a Democrat, to drop out of the race.

Some Democrats worry that his presence is hurting their chances of beating Mr Trump, a billionaire businessman with no political experience, in the general election in the autumn.

Mr Sanders recently won primaries in Indiana and West Virginia, but that did not help him cut into Mrs Clinton's delegate lead.

"I don't think they think of the downside of this," said Senator Dianne Feinstein, who supports Mrs Clinton.

"It's actually harmful because she can't make that general election pivot the way she should. Trump has made that pivot."

Vice President Joe Biden has said he is confident Mrs Clinton will be the nominee.

Mr Sanders has argued that he still has a path to the Democratic nomination.

On the Republican side, Mr Trump is slowly gaining support among the GOP establishment.

He met House Speaker Paul Ryan last week and the two had a "productive" conversation but Mr Ryan has yet to formally support him.

Mr Trump is only 103 delegates short of the 1,237 needed to clinch the Republican nomination and Mrs Clinton is 143 short of the 2,383 Democratic delegates she needs.

Source: bbc.com

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Canada fires cost oil sands production $763m

A new report into the financial impact of the McMurray fires says some C$763m (£527m) in oil sands production has been lost.

The analysis says the blaze has meant the loss of 1.2 million barrels of oil a day over two weeks.

The sum is equivalent to 0.33% of the province of Alberta's projected GDP this year, as well as representing 0.06% of the country's projected GDP.

"These are big numbers," Kevin Birn, an analyst at IHS Energy, said.

"The industry was already feeling the impact of a very low price environment in the first quarter of the year, with prices lower than in the rest of the world," he told the BBC's Bill Wilson.

The analysis, by economic research organisation the Conference Board of Canada, projects that national economic impacts will be "minimal".

He said the oil sands firms affected were among the biggest energy companies in the world, and that they would be "pushing to get facilities up and running as soon as possible".

"Some facilities had already started ramping up ready to restart production, but have had to stand down again and evacuate workers. There is rain forecast for this weekend which will hopefully bring an end to this disruption."

Mr Birn added that most of the Canadian sands oil produced was sent to the US mid-west for processing, and that a knock-on effect would be that refineries there would be having to look for alternative sources, "which comes with additional costs for them".

The fire is now 1,366 square miles (3527km) and conditions are getting more dangerous for fire fighters north of Fort McMurray.

It is moving east and encroaching the border with Saskatchewan, officials said on Tuesday, and continuing to "burn out of control".

The Alberta government is taking a "second look" at plans for re-entry into Fort McMurray, said Alberta premier Rachel Notley.

"We're not going to have people going back until we know it's safe," she said.

She said said it is unclear when oil production can resume.

Gas service has returned to 60% of the city and electricity is restored in undamaged areas, she said.

Workers who were sent to Fort McMurray to begin working on the hospital have now been evacuated.

Alberta Highway 63 is likely to be threatened and could be closed for a period of time, she said.

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Canada's oil sands industry

  • Oil sands are a mixture of sand, water, clay and a thick, heavy oil called bitumen
  • Bitumen is extracted using surface mining and drilling, and must be treated before it can be turned into petrol and other usable fuels
  • Canada has the third largest oil reserves in the world after Venezuela and Saudi Arabia
  • The Alberta oil sands produced about 2.3 million barrels a day in 2014

Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau told CBC News that the cost of the disaster was still being evaluated.

"We're obviously going to stand shoulder to shoulder with the people in Fort McMurray and rebuild the city," he said.

Source: bbc.com

 

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Rio 2016: Up to 31 athletes could be banned after Beijing retests

Up to 31 athletes from six sports could be banned from competing at the Rio Games, Olympic chiefs have said.

The announcement comes after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) retested 454 selected doping samples from the 2008 Games in Beijing.

The IOC said the retests were conducted using the very latest scientific analysis methods.

It also revealed it is awaiting the results of 250 retests from the 2012 Olympics in London.

"All these measures are a powerful strike against the cheats we do not allow to win," IOC president Thomas Bach said.

"They show once again that dopers have no place to hide. We keep samples for 10 years so that the cheats know that they can never rest.

"By stopping so many doped athletes from participating in Rio, we are showing once more our determination to protect the integrity of the Olympic competition."

More than 4,500 tests were carried out at the Beijing Games in 2008 - but just nine athletes were caught cheating.

The IOC said the retests were focused on athletes who could potentially take part in Rio.

It added 12 affected national Olympic associations would be informed in the coming days.

However, the IOC said it would not be revealing the names of athletes who had returned adverse findings until B-samples had been tested and individuals informed.

The British Olympic Association said it has not been contacted by the IOC.

The organisation also confirmed it is to start re-testing samples from the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics. Last week, a whistleblower alleged Russian secret service agents helped to protect drug cheats in Sochi, although the Russian authorities denied the claims.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) is now investigating those allegations and on Tuesday announced it had appointed former Interpol agent and French Gendarmerie major Mathieu Holz to lead the inquiry.

IOC steps up doping fight

The latest measures taken by the IOC come after Russia and Kenya were found to have breached anti-doping rules in recent months.

Russia was banned from athletics competition in November after a Wada commission report recommended the sanction.

The nation's athletics federation accepted its ban from international competition, with sports minister Vitaly Mutko saying this week Russia was "very sorry" and "ashamed" of cheating athletes who were not caught by its anti-doping systems.

But he argued not lifting the ban for the Rio Games would be "unfair and disproportionate" and that clean athletes should not be punished.

Meanwhile, Kenyan sports minister Hassan Wario is confident the nation will not be banned from Rio despite being judged to be non-compliant with the global anti-doping code.

Wada has written to Kenya, outlining what it must do to meet the anti-doping code.

The IOC said it is funding Wada to carry out intelligence-gathering before the Rio Games to make pre-event testing "as efficient and independent as possible".

Source: bbc.com

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Euro 2016: Diego Costa, Juan Mata & Fernando Torres not in Spain squad

Chelsea striker Diego Costa has been left out of Spain's provisional squad for Euro 2016.

Coach Vicente del Bosque has also overlooked Manchester United midfielder Juan Mata and Atletico Madrid's former Liverpool forward Fernando Torres.

Holders Spain are in Group D, along with Croatia, Czech Republic and Turkey as they chase a third successive European Championship title.

Brazil-born Costa has scored one goal in 10 games since switching allegiance.

The 27-year-old netted 16 goals in 41 appearances for Chelsea this season, but missed their final two games with a persistent hamstring injury.

"We didn't want to have too many players with doubts regarding their physical condition," said Del Bosque, who led Spain to the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012 titles.

Mata, 28, featured in both of Spain's friendly matches in March, but misses out after a season where he scored nine goals and provided eight assists for his club.

Torres, 31, has scored seven goals in his past 11 games, leading to speculation he might be recalled for the first time since Spain's embarrassing exit at the group at the 2014 World Cup.

Bayern Munich defender Javi Martinez and Arsenal midfielder Santi Cazorla are other notable omissions, while coach Del Bosque has included Athletic Bilbao's 35-year-old striker Aritz Aduriz.

There were also call-ups for uncapped pair Saul Niguez of Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid's Lucas Vazquez.

The Premier League-based players are: Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea, Chelsea trio Pedro, Cesar Azpilicueta and Cesc Fabregas and Manchester City playmaker David Silva.

Squad

Goalkeepers: Iker Casillas (Porto), David de Gea (Manchester United), Sergio Rico (Sevilla)

Defenders: Jordi Alba, Gerard Pique, Marc Bartra (all Barcelona), Sergio Ramos, Dani Carvajal (Real Madrid), Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea), Juanfran (Atletico Madrid)

Midfielders: Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta (both Barcelona), David Silva (Manchester City), Mikel San Jose (Athletic Bilbao), Koke, Saul Niguez (both Atletico Madrid), Cesc Fabregas (Chelsea), Thiago Alcantara (Bayern Munich), Isco (Real Madrid), Bruno Soriano (Villarreal)

Forwards: Pedro Rodriguez (Chelsea), Alvaro Morata (Juventus), Aritz Aduriz (Athletic Bilbao), Nolito (Celta Vigo), Lucas Vazquez (Real Madrid)

Source: bbc.com

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Four more ways the CIA has meddled in Africa

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has a long history of involvement in African affairs, so Sunday's reports that the 1962 arrest of Nelson Mandela came following a CIA tip-off don't come as a huge surprise. Nelson Mandela was imprisoned in 1962 and later convicted of trying to violently overthrow the government.

Most incidents came during the Cold War, when the US and the Soviet Union battled for influence across the continent.

CIA covert operations are by their very nature hard to prove definitively. But research into the agency's work, as well as revelations by former CIA employees, has thrown up several cases where the agency tried to influence events.

Here are four examples:


1) 1961 - Patrice Lumumba's assassination in Congo

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Patrice Lumumba became the first prime minister of the newly-independent Congo in 1960, but he lasted just a few months in the job before he was overthrown and assassinated in January 1961.

In 2002, former colonial power Belgium admitted responsibility for its role in the killing, however, the US has never explained its role despite long-held suspicions.

US President Dwight D Eisenhower, concerned about communism, was worried about Congo following a similar path to Cuba.

According to a source quoted in Death in the Congo, a book about the assassination, President Eisenhower gave "an order for the assassination of Lumumba. There was no discussion; the [National Security Council] meeting simply moved on".

However, a CIA plan to lace Lumumba's toothpaste with poison was never carried out, Lawrence Devlin, who was a station chief in Congo at the time, told the BBC in 2000.

A survey of declassified US government documents from the era notes that the CIA "initially focussed on removing Lumumba, not only through assassination if necessary but also with an array of non-lethal undertakings".

While there is no doubt the CIA wanted him dead, the survey does not indicate direct US involvement in his eventual killing.


2) 1965 - Overthrow of Kwame Nkrumah in Ghana

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Ghana's first President Kwame Nkrumah was overthrown in a military coup in 1966 while he was out of the country.

He later suspected that the US had a role in his downfall and in a 1978 book, former CIA intelligence officer John Stockwell backed this theory up.

In In Search of Enemies he writes that an official sanction for the coup does not appear in CIA documents, but he writes "the Accra station was nevertheless encouraged by headquarters to maintain contact with dissidents.

"It was given a generous budget, and maintained intimate contact with the plotters as a coup was hatched."

He says that the CIA in Ghana got more involved and its operatives were given "unofficial credit for the eventual coup".

A declassified US government document does show awareness of a plot to overthrow the president, but does not indicate any official backing.

Another declassified document written after the coup describes Nkrumah's fall as a "fortuitous windfall. Nkrumah was doing more to undermine our interests than any other black African".


3) 1970s - Opposition to the MPLA in Angola

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In Angola three competing groups fought for control after independence from Portugal in 1975, with the MPLA under Agostinho Neto taking over the capital Luanda.

Mr Stockwell, chief of CIA's covert operations in Angola in 1975, writes that Washington decided to oppose the MPLA, as it was seen as closer to the Soviet Union, and support the FNLA and Unita instead, even though all three had help from communist countries.

The CIA then helped secretly import weapons, including 30,000 rifles, through Kinshasa in neighbouring Zaire, now known as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mr Stockwell says in a video documentary.

He adds that CIA officers also trained fighters for armed combat.

A declassified US government document detailing a discussion between the head of the CIA, the secretary of state and others indicates the support the CIA gave to the forces fighting the MPLA.

The US continued to support Unita through much of the civil war as Cuba was backing the MPLA.


4) 1982 - Supporting Hissene Habre in Chad

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Hissene Habre failed in his attempt to take power by force in Chad in 1980.

But his efforts led President Goukouni Oueddei to call on help from the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, whose soldiers successfully beat back Habre's challenge and forced him into exile.

A proposed alliance between Libya and Chad began to unsettle the US especially as Gaddafi began to be seen as a supporter of anti-US activities.

In Foreign Policy magazine Michael Bronner writes that the CIA director, with the secretary of state, "coalesced around the idea of launching a covert war in partnership with Habre".

It is alleged that the US then backed Habre's overthrow of the president in 1982 and then supported him throughout his brutal rule.

Source: bbc.com

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US consumer prices rise at fastest pace in three years

US consumer prices rose at their fastest pace in three years in April as energy prices climbed, figures show.

The Labor Department's Consumer Price Index rose 0.4% last month, the biggest one-month increase since February 2013.

A steady build-up in inflation could increase the likelihood that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates later this year.

Other data shows housing starts rose by more than expected last month, suggesting an economy gaining strength.

Commerce Department figures showed housing starts rose by 6.6% in April to a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 1.17 million units.

'Picking up steam'

The Labor Department's inflation figures showed energy prices increased by 3.4% in April, the biggest rise in three years, mainly due to an 8.1% increase in petrol prices.

The annual pace of CPI inflation rose to 1.1% last month from 0.9% in March.

"We have the CPI which came in more than expected and that's going to put us again on Fed watch," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at First Standard Financial in New York.

"We also had the housing starts come in stronger than expected, so that's another indication that the economy is picking up steam."

Investors are keenly assessing data to try to predict when the Fed will actually raise interest rates.

In December 2015, the US Federal Reserve raised interest rates by 0.25 percentage points - its first increase since 2006.

At the time the Fed said it would continue to monitor a number of factors, including inflation and economic performance, to determine if and when further rises were justified.

Some Fed officials have so far suggested two increases this year, but traders are pricing in only one rise at the end of the year. The Fed's next meeting is in June.

Meanwhile, US industrial production in April rose 0.7%, its biggest increase since November 2014, as utility output surged.

That gain in factory output also supports the view that the economy is making progress.

Source: bbc.com

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9/11 bill passes US Senate despite Saudi 'warning'

A bill that would allow the families of 9/11 victims to sue the Saudi government has passed a key hurdle in the US Senate.

The Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) now moves to the House of Representatives.

Saudi Arabia's foreign minister warned that the move could cause his government to withdraw US investments.

President Barack Obama said he will veto the bill, but a Democratic senator is "confident" he'd be overruled.

If it became law the legislation would allow victims' families to sue any member of the government of Saudi Arabia thought to have played a role in any element of the attack.

Saudi Arabia denies any involvement in the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, which killed nearly 3,000 people.

Fifteen out of the nineteen hijackers in 2001 were Saudi citizens.

In 2004 the 9/11 Commission Report found "no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded the organisation".

A White House spokesman said President Obama had serious concerns about the bill, and it was difficult to imagine he would sign it into law.

It was sponsored by Democrat Senator Chuck Schumer of New York and Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas and is expected to be passed by the House of Representatives as well.


Analysis - Barbara Plett Usher, BBC News, Washington

The 9/11 bill puts Congress on a collision course with the Obama administration, which has lobbied intensely against it.

The White House argues the legislation would remove the sovereign immunity that prevents lawsuits against governments, and could expose Americans to a legal backlash overseas.

For Congress, however, this is about fighting terrorism and pursuing justice for victims, and there is unusual bipartisan support for the bill. Some of its most outspoken supporters are Democrats who are confident that Congress has the necessary two-thirds vote to override a presidential veto.

There is no evidence to support claims that Saudi officials provided financial support to the hijackers, although some believe a classified section of the report into the 9/11 attacks might show otherwise.

But Congress is also playing to the strong emotions triggered by this dispute - the relative of a victim recently told the New York Times it was "stunning" to think the government would back the Saudis over its citizens. One suspects many Americans might agree.


Senator Schumer said: "Today the Senate has spoken loudly and unanimously that the families of the victims of terror attacks should be able to hold the perpetrators even if it's a country a nation accountable.

"It will serve as a deterrent and warning to any other nation who assists in terror attacks against American."

He said he was confident the bill would be passed by a large margin in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia denied it had threatened to sell its US bonds, which would pull billions of dollars from the US economy.

"We said that a law like this is going to cause investor confidence to shrink," Foreign Minister Ahmed Al-Jubeir said while attending a conference in Geneva. "Not just for Saudi Arabia, but for everybody".

Last year an inmate in US custody, Zacarias Moussaoui, claimed that a Saudi prince had helped finance the attack that flew passenger planes into the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Virginia.

A fourth plane crashed into an empty field in western Pennsylvania.

Saudi Arabia had rejected the accusation from a "deranged criminal" with no credibility.

Source: bbc.com

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