Brussels attacks: Zaventem and Maelbeek bombs kill many

More than 30 people are believed to have been killed and dozens injured in attacks at Brussels international airport and a city metro station.

Twin blasts hit Zaventem airport at about 07:00 GMT, with 11 people reported killed.

Another explosion struck Maelbeek metro station near EU headquarters an hour later, leaving about 20 people dead.

Brussels police have issued a wanted notice for a man seen pushing a luggage trolley through the airport.

He was pictured in CCTV footage with two other suspects who are believed to have died in the blasts.

The Islamic State (IS) group said it was behind the attacks in a statement issued on the IS-linked Amaq agency.

Belgium has raised its terrorism alert to its highest level. Three days of national mourning have been declared.

Prime Minister Charles Michel called the latest attacks "blind, violent and cowardly", adding: "This is a day of tragedy, a black day... I would like to call on everyone to show calmness and solidarity".

'The worst thing I've seen'

Two blasts tore through the departures area of Zaventem airport shortly after 08:00 local time (07:00 GMT).

A suicide bomber was "probably" involved, the Belgian prosecutor said.

Eleven people were killed and 81 wounded in the blasts, Belgian Health Minister Maggie de Block said.

"People were running over others that had fallen, I couldn't breathe. I can't believe I'm alive," 15-year-old Antoine told me as he walked with his school friends in a line of hundreds being escorted on foot and by bus to a sports hall, now a makeshift reception centre.

Three hearses passed, heading towards the ruins of the airport departure hall. People sobbed at the sight of them.

Several tourists were asking police what they should do now, where it was safe to go - and when the airport might reopen.

The police were confused too, but offered what little information they had, telling people to head to a reception centre. An officer repeatedly shouted: "Quickly, keep moving, evacuate, this is serious."


Carnage on the Metro

The metro blast occurred shortly after 08:00 GMT during the rush hour at Maelbeek station.

It struck the middle carriage of a three-carriage train while it was moving away from the platform.

Alexandre Brans told AP: "The metro was leaving Maelbeek station when there was a really loud explosion. It was panic everywhere. There were a lot of people in the metro."

Brussels Mayor Yvan Mayeur said "about 20" people had died and more than 100 had been injured, 17 of them severely.

Eyewitnesses recall explosions

In pictures: Brussels explosions

Full coverage

The station is close to EU institutions. The European Commission, the EU's executive arm, has told employees to stay indoors or at home. All meetings at EU institutions have been cancelled.

Ryan McGhee, a catering worker at a college in Brussels, told the BBC: "The entire city is in lockdown. People are calm at the moment but the atmosphere is tense."

Security raised

Local and international travel has been suspended or disrupted and security tightened across Europe.

All flights have been cancelled. The airport is due to reopen on Wednesday.

Eurostar has cancelled all trains to and from Brussels. The Thalys France-Benelux train operator says the entire network is closed.

In the UK, security has been stepped up at Gatwick and Heathrow airports. The UK Foreign Office has advised British nationals to avoid crowded areas in Belgium.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron chaired a meeting of the Cobra response committee on Tuesday.

In France the cabinet has held an emergency meeting. There is also extra security at Dutch airports.

'Outrageous' attacks

There has been strong international condemnation:

  • US President Barack Obama called the blasts "outrageous attacks against innocent people".
  • The 28 EU leaders said the bombings were an "attack on our open democratic society" in a joint statement.
  • "The terrorists have struck Belgium but it is Europe that was targeted," said French President Francois Hollande.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin called the attacks "barbaric".

Belgium's Interior Minister Jan Jambon had said on Monday that the country was on the highest level of alert for possible revenge attacks after the capture on Friday of Salah Abdeslam, the main surviving suspect from the Paris attacks in November.

Mr Jambon told Belgian radio: "We know that stopping one cell can... push others into action. We are aware of it in this case."


Gaps in intelligence: By Chris Morris, Europe correspondent

European security experts had been braced for another attack for months. But it is always a huge shock when it actually happens.

If this was "revenge" for the arrest of Salah Abdeslam on Friday, it will be a source of considerable concern that a functioning terrorist network was able to respond so quickly and with such devastating effect.

It is possible that a cell linked to Abdeslam brought forward the timing of a future attack because they thought he might blow their cover.

Either way, it shows how advanced the planning was in terms of logistics, explosives, weapons and people willing to carry out such attacks on civilian targets.

The priority now will be to ensure that anyone else who poses an imminent threat to the public is apprehended as soon as possible. But it is clear that there are still huge gaps in intelligence, and Brussels is seen as a soft target.

In the words of French President Francois Hollande, the response from Europe will need to be "calm, lucid and determined" - and it will have to last for a long time.

Source: bbc.com

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Brussels explosions: Why has Belgium's capital been attacked?

These are the darkest days Belgium has known since World War Two, according to one Belgian politician.

The attacks, claimed by jihadist group Islamic State (IS), murdered people at Brussels international airport and in a metro train in the heart of the Belgian capital.

And the targets were among the most sensitive in Europe. Brussels is home to the EU, Nato, international agencies and companies, as well as Belgium's own government.


Why has Brussels been attacked?

Not only is Brussels a high-profile target for Islamists, Belgium has struggled with Islamist groups for years and hundreds of its citizens have been lured into fighting for IS in Syria and Iraq.

Several cities have housed Islamist cells, but the most active have been in Brussels and in the south-western suburb of Molenbeek in particular - an area with a high ethnic Moroccan population.

Several of the bombers and gunmen who targeted Paris last November, killing 130 people, had been living in Molenbeek. The main suspect not to die in the Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, returned to Belgium the day afterwards and managed to evade police until 18 March. He and an accomplice were captured alive, again in Molenbeek.

Many Belgians were expecting a response from jihadists. "I had certainly expected something else would take place, but not that it would happen on this scale," says Belgian jihadism expert Pieter Van Ostaeyen.

More about the attacks


Pre-planned attacks or revenge?

So were Tuesday's bombings retaliation for last Friday's success in capturing two Islamists alive? The arrests were clearly a blow to IS and Belgian jihadists.

Abdeslam has been described as the logistics expert in the Paris attacks. He rented flats, drove militants across Europe and bought bomb-making equipment. Days before his arrest, an accomplice who had been hiding with him, Mohamed Belkaid, was shot dead by police. He had been wrapped in an IS flag.

"What seems likely is that attacks were already being planned and due to specific arrests they were accelerated because the terrorists knew they were being hunted," says Prof Dave Sinardet of Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Free University Brussels).

In fact Brussels had already tried to guard against multiple attacks following an apparent threat 10 days after the Paris attacks. For several days the city went into lockdown, much as it did on Tuesday, with public transport at a standstill and people told to avoid travelling around.


Did Belgium's security forces fail?

Heavily armed men were able to enter the airport at Zaventem, open fire and blow themselves up. An hour or so later another man was able to enter a metro train a stone's throw from the headquarters of the EU and blow himself up.

Security forces had a dry run in November, the terror threat was at its second highest and soldiers were already deployed on the streets of several cities.

A beleaguered police force has clearly buckled under the weight of an almost non-stop Islamist threat. And yet it suffers from institutional problems too.

Brussels is a relatively small European capital, and yet it still has six police zones. Its CCTV system is far less developed than London or Paris.

"It's clear there are inefficiencies in the level of security services. For years we haven't put enough energy into issues of security and terrorist threats," says Prof Sinardet. However, he argues this kind of terrorist attack is very difficult to avert, as witnessed in Madrid, London and Paris.


Are further attacks likely?

For Belgians, this is the most awkward question. Several suspects are still urgently being sought by police.

One of the suspected airport attackers (the man in the hat on the right of the picture) was on the run on Tuesday and police were already actively hunting two other suspects after the Paris attacks who were both accomplices of Salah Abdeslam.

One of the missing Paris suspects is Najim Laachraoui, whose fingerprints were found in the Brussels flat where Paris bombs were made, and the other is Mohamed Abrini, another Belgian Islamist.

After the Paris attacks, US counter-terrorism expert Clint Watts wrote of the "iceberg theory of terror plots": for every attacker, there were usually several others helping to facilitate the plot, but what one saw was just the tip of the iceberg.

Mr Watts believes that the Brussels bombings are the fallout from the Paris attacks. What is not clear is whether those still on the run plan further bloodshed.

Source: bbc.com

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US Election 2016: Donald Trump struggles to win over Mormons

US presidential candidate Donald Trump has won over large blocs of religious voters, but one group of faithful conservatives has resisted - Mormons.

He lost contests in Idaho and Wyoming, which have large Mormon populations, and polls show him a distant second in Utah, where the church is based.

Tuesday's Republican caucuses in Utah could signal a weakness for Mr Trump.

Some early polls show that if Mr Trump advances to the general election, Utah voters would choose a Democrat.

The last time the state voted for a Democrat in a presidential election was 1964.

A win in Utah by Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders - the two battle in the state's Democratic caucuses on Tuesday - would represent a major shift in the typically static electoral map.

Also on Tuesday, Democrats will vote in Idaho while both parties are holding a primary races in Arizona.

One of the most prominent Mormons in the US, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, has recently led the charge against the Republican front-runner.

Mr Romney, who was the last Republican presidential nominee, has condemned the New York businessman, saying Mr Trump's campaign has become associated with "racism, misogyny, bigotry, xenophobia, vulgarity and, most recently, threats and violence".

Other religious groups have criticised Mr Trump's campaign rhetoric. This week a group of rabbis protested his speech to an American-Israeli lobbying group in Washington.

In February, Pope Francis expressed concerns about Mr Trump's plans to build a wall between the US and Mexico.

But these condemnations of have done little to halt the Trump campaign's momentum.

Election results and polling data have shown the candidate is extremely popular with working-class Catholics and evangelical Christians.

Founded in 1830, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the fourth largest religious group in the US and has throughout much of its history been associated with the Republican Party.

In recent years the church's membership has grown globally with 8 million of its 15 million followers living outside US.


More on the US presidential race

Jorge Ramos on Donald Trump's rise - Meet the Republican front-runner's nemesis

Who is funding the US election? - Money is a big issue in the 2016 US presidential race

Could Hillary Clinton face jail time? - The case of David Petraeus may signal how she will fare


It has a growing presence in Mexico, which Mr Trump has accused of sending criminals into the US and encouraging illegal immigration.

Unlike Mr Trump, the church has generally been supportive of immigration and the rights of immigrants.

Also, Mormons, once persecuted as a religious minority, have been unsettled by his plan to ban Muslims from entering the US.

"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is neutral in regard to party politics and election campaigns," the church said in a statement after Mr Trump first proposed the ban in December. "However, it is not neutral in relation to religious freedom."

The statement went on to cite the founder of Mormonism, Joseph Smith, who preached respect for other religions.

While other US governors sought to block Syrian refugees from their states in late 2015, Utah Governor Gary Herbert welcomed them.

McKay Coppins, a reporter for BuzzFeed who is Mormon, has written extensively about Mr Trump's problems with Mormon voters.

"His blatant religious illiteracy, his penchant for onstage cursing, his habit of flinging crude insults at women, his less-than-virtuous personal life and widely chronicled marital failures — all of this is anathema to the wholesome, family-first lifestyle that Mormonism promotes," Mr Coppins wrote.

Source: bbc.com

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Nigerian state oil firm 'withheld $25bn over five years'

Nigeria's state-owned oil company has failed to pay the government $25bn (£17.5bn) over five years, the nation's fiscal commission has said.

It includes $15bn that the nation's auditor general last week said the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) failed to pay in 2014 alone.

Oil revenue accounts for roughly two-thirds of the government's funding.

President Muhammadu Buhari has promised to crack down on corruption since coming to office last May.

In a statement, the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), an independent body, said: "Records at the Commission's disposal indicate that between January 2011 and December 2015, the total indebtedness of NNPC to the Federation Account was 4.9 trillion naira."

Previous allegations

Under the current set-up, the NNPC hands over its oil revenue and money is then paid back based on a budget approved by parliament.

The state oil giant has been mired in corruption allegations and losing money for many years.

Last month, the government announced that the NNPC would be broken up into seven different companies.

A separate audit ordered under former President Goodluck Jonathan and carried out by global accountancy firm PwC, found that the NNPC had failed to pay the government $1.48bn between January 2012 and July 2013.

Nigeria is Africa's biggest oil producer, but the economy has suffered because of the recent decline in the price of oil.

Source: bbc.com

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US Election 2016: Clinton condemns Trump's plans for Nato

Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton rebuked Republicans and defended Nato in a counter-terrorism speech after deadly attacks in Brussels.

Her comments contrasted sharply with her Republican counterparts, namely Donald Trump, who has suggested scaling back US commitments to Nato.

Mrs Clinton said the US should consult more deeply with Arab partners and stand with Europe in its time of need.

"Our European allies stood with us on 9/11. It's time to return the favour."

America should not turn its back on its allies, she said during remarks at Stanford University in California, and insulting them is not a good way to fight terrorism.

She addressed Mr Trump's calls to reinstate the use of torture and water boarding to glean information from those accused of terrorism.

"I am proud to have been part of an administration that outlawed torture," the former secretary of state said.

The deadly attacks in Brussels that killed more than 30 people are the "latest brutal reminder" that more must be one to defeat to so-called Islamic State (IS) militant group, she said.

The US and Europe should take a "harder look" at airport security protocols, and other "soft targets" that IS may attack.

Mrs Clinton also said proposal in Congress to make a national commission on encryption could help fight online radicalisation.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz has suggested in the wake of the attacks that police patrol Muslim neighbourhoods to fight terrorism, and has also suggested "carpet-bombing" IS in Syria.

Mrs Clinton called his suggestion "wrong, counterproductive and dangerous," and that it would be similar to "treating American Muslims like criminals".

Mr Trump has said it is acceptable to kill terrorists' families and that the US should not admit any Muslims into its borders.

"If Mr Trump gets his way, it will be like Christmas in the Kremlin," she said of Mr Trump's foreign policy views.

Source: bbc.com

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Brussels attacks: Scores remain critical after bombings

Scores of people remain in intensive care following suicide Tuesday's bomb attacks in Brussels that left 31 people dead, Belgium's health minister says.

Maggie de Block said that of about 300 wounded people, 61 were still in a critical condition, and suggested that the death toll could rise further.

Earlier, prosecutors confirmed they had identified two of the four attackers as brothers Khalid and Brahim el-Bakraoui.

Two other attackers have yet to be named. One died, another is on the run.

Brahim el-Bakraoui blew himself up in the attack at Zaventem airport that killed 11 people while Khalid struck at Maelbeek metro, where 20 people died, prosecutors said.

Unconfirmed reports say another of the attackers was the wanted jihadist Najim Laachraoui, who is thought to have links with last year's attacks in Paris.

So-called Islamic State (IS) has said it was behind the attacks.

EU interior and justice ministers are due to hold a crisis meeting in Brussels on Thursday to discuss their response to the bombings.


More about the attacks

What we know so far

Why was Brussels attacked?

Victims and survivors


Ms de Block said in a statement (in French) that the injured were from 40 nationalities, and 150 were still being treated in hospitals across Belgium.

Many are suffering from burns or wounds normally seen on a battlefield, such as shrapnel injuries. The death toll, the statement said, was still "provisional".

Ms de Block added that four patients were in a coma and had not yet been identified, which was delaying the process of naming victims.

Belgium's king and queen visited the airport on Wednesday and also met some of those injured in the attacks. A minute's silence was held at midday.

Federal Prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw said Brahim el-Bakraoui had been identified as the middle of three suspects caught in a CCTV image at the airport.

CCTV grab of suspects

The airport CCTV image. The man on the left has not been officially identified and is believed to have died. Brahim el-Bakraoui is in the middle and was also killed. The man on the right has not been identified and is on the run

The man on the left is believed to have died at the airport. The man on the right, wearing the hat, is thought to have fled the scene.

Mr Van Leeuw said the man in the hat had left a bag containing "the biggest bomb", which later partially exploded after police had evacuated the terminal, injuring no-one.

Reports in Belgian and French media suggest the man on the left is Najim Laachraoui, but this is not confirmed. Analysts say Laachraoui is believed to be a key bomb maker, and French media say he played a key role in the terror attacks in Paris.

Mr Van Leeuw said a taxi driver had told police he had picked up the three men from an address in the Schaerbeek area of Brussels.

The apartment was raided later on Tuesday and bomb-making materials, including 15kg (33lb) of high explosive, were found.

A note from Brahim el-Bakraoui was found in a nearby rubbish bin. In it, he wrote: "I'm in a hurry (...) they're looking for me everywhere. I'm not safe any more. If I give myself up they'll put me in a cell."

Mr Van Leeuw said the brothers, who were Belgian nationals, were known to police and had criminal records. They were identified by DNA records.

Broadcaster RTBF quoted a police source saying that Khalid el-Bakraoui had used a false name to rent a flat in the Forest area of Brussels where police killed a gunman in a shootout last week.

It was during that raid that detectives found a fingerprint of Salah Abdeslam, the main suspect in the Paris terror attacks of 13 November.

He was arrested in a raid in Brussels last Friday.

Turkey said on Wednesday that Brahim was detained by Turkish officials on the border with Syria in June 2015 and deported to the Netherlands.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Belgium had "ignored our warning that this person is a foreign fighter".

Belgian Justice Minister Koen Geens said he was aware that the suspect had been deported from Turkey but denied that he had been flagged as a possible terrorist.

Belgium has raised its terrorism alert to the highest level, and its international airport will remain closed on Thursday.

Map of Brussels attacks

Source: bbc.com

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Moon used to spin 'on different axis'

The Moon used to spin on a different axis and show a slightly different face to the Earth, a new study suggests.

Using data collected by Nasa's Lunar Prospector mission in the late 1990s, scientists spotted two hydrogen-rich regions near the Moon's poles, probably indicating the presence of water ice.

The icy patches are opposite each other - the line between them passes through the middle of the Moon - so it appears that this used to be its spin axis.

The work appears in the journal Nature.

It describes a gradual wobble, or "true polar wander", adding up to about a six-degree shift altogether.

A likely explanation for this shift, which the researchers suggest took place over several billion years, is volcanic activity in a region called the Procellarum.

This swathe of territory includes most of the Moon's dark patches that are visible from the Earth. Volcanoes and associated geological activity would have made it warmer and lighter than the rest of the Moon.

According to Matt Siegler, from the Planetary Science Institute in Arizona, and his colleagues, that drop in density produced enough wobble to explain the two "palaeopoles" they detected in the Lunar Prospector data.

"The Procellarum region was most geologically active early in lunar history, which implies that polar wander initiated billions of years ago," they write.

illustration of the location of the ancient poles

The presumed icy patches are opposite each other, nearby the present lunar poles

Dr Siegler and his colleagues discovered the hydrogen-rich patches in data from the Lunar Prospector's neutron spectrometer: measuring the neutrons bounced off the Moon's surface by incoming cosmic rays.

That hydrogen signal is taken to indicate the presence of water ice, which can - and does - exist in permanently shaded craters at the Moon's poles.

Precisely why it has persisted in these regions, which have now drifted away from the poles and into sunlight, is a mystery.

The researchers suggest it may have been buried by asteroid impacts, but this will require further investigation.

Previous studies have suggested that the Moon may have wobbled around to an even greater extent - perhaps as much as 35 degrees.

The lead author of one of those earlier papers, Ian Garrick-Bethell from the University of California Santa Cruz, wrote in a comment piece for Nature: "A key goal will be to reconcile these many stories of the changing orientation of the Moon, and to determine what density changes drove it to wander."

Source: bbc.com

 

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MH370 search: Mozambique debris 'almost certainly' from missing plane

Australia's transport minister says two plane parts found in Mozambique "almost certainly" came from missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370.

The two pieces of debris were found separately by members of the public and were flown to Australia for analysis.

Darren Chester said the finds were "consistent with drift modelling" of how debris from the missing plane may have been carried by ocean currents.

MH370 vanished in March 2014 with 239 people on board.

It was flying from the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur to Beijing and is widely believed to have gone down in the Indian Ocean after veering off course.

The fate of the plane, its passengers and crew remains one of aviation's biggest unsolved mysteries.

The only confirmed piece of debris found so far has been a section of wing called a flaperon, which was found on the Indian Ocean island of Reunion.

'Search continues'

One of the parts retrieved in Mozambique was found on a sandbank by an amateur US investigator in late February and the other in December by a South African tourist.

Plane part found in Mozambique in February

Mr Chester said the investigation team had finished examining the debris and found both were "consistent with panels from a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 aircraft".

"The analysis has concluded the debris is almost certainly from MH370," he said in a statement.

He said it showed that the vast deep-sea search for the plane in the southern Indian Ocean, being led by Australia, was focusing on the right place.

Map

The search, also involving experts from China and Malaysia, is scanning the sea floor, much of it previously unmapped, in the hope of locating the wreckage.

Mr Chester said it would continue for now, with 25,000 sq km (10,000 sq miles) of ocean still be to searched.

"We are focused on completing this task and remain hopeful the aircraft will be found."

But the three countries have said that barring significant new evidence, they will end the operation once the area has been fully searched. The search is expected to be completed in the coming months.

Map showing the last-known movements of flight MH370

Source: bbc.com

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Ghana's US Embassy To Issue Travel Certificates Instead of Visas

The Ghana Embassy in the United States has directed individuals wishing to travel to the West African country to apply for Travel Certificates instead of Visas as they work to resolve the passport-printing crisis that has bedeviled the outfit.

The embassy has been unable to print passports for a long while causing massive discomfort to Ghanaians and other travelers seeking to come to the oil producing country. Starr News sources say most travelers, especially Ghanaians seeking to go home for the Easter festivities have been left stranded.

The embassy has not yet disclosed the reasons for the failure to print passports.

However in a notice posted at its premises, the embassy said it is working round the clock to fix the challenge which has existed since last year.

Below are details of the notice


The embassy of Ghana hereby informs that due to technical challenges the issuance of Ghana passport is temporary on hold.

Whiles we work tirelessly to resolve this challenge, the embassy takes this opportunity to express our sincere apologies for the inconvenience.

You may have to apply for travel certificate in writing. Now this comes with its own issues.

1.Not all airlines accept travel certificates
2.You can only use it for a one way trip to Ghana only
3.You will have to make your own arrangement to get a passport once you get to Ghana
4.The fee for travel certificate is $50

Source: starr FM

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North Carolina revokes transgender and gay protections

The US state of North Carolina has enacted a law that bars its cities and counties from having their own anti-discrimination rules.

Legislators pushed for the bill after Charlotte passed an ordinance allowing transgender people to use restrooms according to gender identity.

A Republican-controlled General Assembly voted on Wednesday to invalidate the ordinance.

The governor, who signed the bill, called it a matter of "basic privacy".

Governor Patrick McCrory said in a release that "the basic expectation of privacy in the most personal of settings" was violated by "government overreach and intrusion" by Charlotte's city council.

Lawmakers several other US states have proposed similar legislation - sometimes referred to as "bathroom bills".

A Houston anti-discrimination ordinance that offered protections for gay and transgender people was overturned by voters in November.

Democrats in North Carolina's Senate walked off their chamber floor in protest as the bill was being debated. It later passed 82-26.

Republican leaders booked the one-day session for $42,000 (£30,000) because the ordinance was set to take place on 1 April.

Local governments cannot prohibit discrimination in public places based on gender identity and sexual preference under the new law.

"We choose not to participate in this farce," said Dan Blue, a Democratic state senator.

Transgender people in North Carolina must use restrooms that match the gender listed on their on their birth certificate

Transgender people in North Carolina must use restrooms that match the gender listed on their on their birth certificate

North Carolina Republicans said they felt it was necessary to intervene to protect women and children from Charlotte's "radical" action, arguing that men could enter women's restrooms by calling themselves transgender.

"It's common sense, biological men should not be in women's showers, locker rooms and bathrooms,'' said Republican representative Dean Arp.

Gay rights advocates said the law places a stigma on the transgender community and spreads dubious claims about increased risk of sexual assault. The law will deny the LGBT community basic protections, the groups said.

"McCrory's reckless decision to sign this appalling legislation into law is a direct attack on the rights, well-being and dignity of hundreds of thousands of LGBT North Carolinians and visitors to the state,'' Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said in a statement. "Civil liberties groups pledged to push for repeal and were weighing legal options."

The law requires public schools, government agencies and college campuses bathrooms and locker rooms marked by gender. Transgender people in North Carolina now must use restrooms that match the gender listed on their on their birth certificate .

Source: bbc.com

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Brussels attacks: Belgian police arrest six suspects

Belgian police have arrested six people in Brussels as a major investigation continues into attacks that claimed 31 lives in the city on Tuesday.

The arrests were made in the Schaerbeek district. There is no word yet on the identities of the suspects or their possible connection to the attacks.

Separately, in France, a suspect who was plotting an attack has been arrested near Paris, officials said.

The Brussels bombings have been linked to last November's Paris attacks.

So-called Islamic State (IS) has claimed the attacks in both Paris and Brussels.


More about the attacks

Why have jihadists targeted Belgium?

Why Brussels warning signs were missed

From Paris to Brussels: Why the attacks are linked

What we know so far

Victims and survivors


The arrests in Schaerbeek were made late on Thursday, and followed house-to-house searches in the area.

Also on Thursday evening, French police launched an anti-terror operation in Argenteuil, north-west of Paris, following the arrest hours earlier of a man suspected of planning an attack.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said the suspected militant, of French origin, was in an "advanced stage" of a plot, adding that no connection had been made to either the Brussels or the Paris attacks.

Last November, 130 people died after militants opened fire and detonated bombs in a number of locations in the French capital.

Earlier on Thursday, Belgium admitted that it had made "errors" relating to one of the Brussels attackers.

Turkey has said it arrested and deported Brahim el-Bakraoui last June, warning Belgium he was a "foreign fighter" - but was "ignored". The Dutch authorities had also been alerted, Ankara said.

The Belgian interior and justice ministers said they had offered to resign over this but added that the prime minister refused to let them.

Brahim el-Bakraoui is one of three men - pictured in the middle on a CCTV image of them - who carried out the bombings at Zaventem airport that killed 11 people.

Turkey police photo of Brahim el-Bakraoui taken in July 2015

Brahim el-Bakraoui was arrested in Gaziantep on the Turkey-Syria border

Unconfirmed reports say another of the Brussels airport attackers was the wanted jihadist Najim Laachraoui, whose DNA was found on explosives linked to the attacks in Paris.

The third suspected airport attacker has not yet been identified and is on the run.

Bakraoui's brother, Khalid, struck at Maelbeek metro station, where 20 people died.

There are reports of a second suspect being sought for that attack. One source told AFP news agency that a man with a large bag had been seen beside Khalid el-Bakraoui on surveillance footage at the metro station.

Meanwhile, VRT reported that investigators were working on the assumption that the cell had been planning a far bigger attack, involving Paris-style shootings as well as suicide bombings.

Links have also emerged with Salah Abdeslam, a suspect in the Paris attacks.

Abdeslam was arrested and wounded in a police raid on a flat in the Forest area of Brussels last Friday - four days before the attacks in the Belgian capital.

Investigators say Khalid el-Bakraoui used a false name to rent the same flat.

On Thursday, Abdeslam's lawyer said he had changed his mind and would not fight extradition from Belgium to France.

Abdeslam, a 26-year-old French national born in Belgium, did not have prior knowledge of the Brussels bombings and had stopped co-operating with police following the attacks, his lawyer Sven Mary said.

A court hearing on Thursday on the detention of Abdeslam and two other suspects has been postponed until 7 April.

The director of the EU's police agency, Europol, has told the BBC the network of jihadists in Europe is "more extensive than perhaps we first feared".

Robert Wainwright said there were concerns about "a community of 5,000 suspects that have been radicalised in Europe, that have travelled to Syria and Iraq for conflict experience, some of whom - not all - have since come back to Europe".

Connections between Paris and Brussels attacks

Source: bbc.com

 

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Adam Johnson jailed for six years

Footballer Adam Johnson has been jailed for six years for grooming and sexual activity with a girl aged 15.

Sentencing the ex-Sunderland player, Judge Jonathan Rose told him he had abused a position of trust and caused his victim "severe psychological harm".

The judge told Johnson, 28, he had engaged in sexual activity with her knowing she was under 16.

It can now be reported police found extreme pornography involving animals on Johnson's laptop.

The matter is not being taken any further, Bradford Crown Court heard.

The sexual activity with the girl happened in the footballer's Range Rover in January 2015 after he had groomed her using social media apps.

Johnson jailed: Updates

Judge Rose told the footballer, who played 12 times for England, there had been "an abuse of trust - you are trusted by young fans to behave properly".

He said: "She had only just turned 15 when you began grooming her, because, as you were to admit, you found her sexually attractive."

The judge told Johnson the offences happened "at a time when you were engaged in frequent sexual intercourse with multiple partners".

At the start of his trial last month, Johnson had admitted grooming the girl and one charge of sexual activity, relating to kissing her. He was found guilty of sexual touching and cleared of one charge relating to another sexual act.

Judge Rose said Johnson had had "every opportunity" to enter guilty pleas to the charges he finally admitted. He ordered the footballer to pay £50,000 of the prosecution's £67,132 costs.

During the three-week trial the jury heard the former winger met the girl after agreeing to sign football shirts for her.

How apps helped to convict Adam Johnson

He admitted kissing the teenager but told the jury an encounter in his Range Rover "went no further".

The girl told the court he had "put his hands down her pants" and she performed a sex act on him.

The jury cleared Johnson over the sex act claim but convicted him by a 10-2 majority on the sexual touching charge.

Restrictions have now been lifted that prevented it being reported that, when Johnson was arrested, police found medicines in a safe indicating he may have been suffering from sexually transmitted infections.

In a victim impact statement read to court, the girl said she had been forced to endure thousands of malicious and slanderous remarks on social media and had been approached by a stranger asking about her relationship with the footballer.

She felt at risk going out and her schoolwork had suffered "massively", the court was told.

"I have entered many dark places over this 12-month period," she said.

"Ultimately, it was like I was being taunted as if to say he could do what he wants and get away with it."

In another statement to the court, her mother said there "had been no winners" and defended the decision to report the matter to police in order to "protect other vulnerable children".

She stressed the family had never sought financial gain.

Why Johnson's chances of playing again are "very remote"

Earlier, Dr Philip Hopley, a consultant psychiatrist giving evidence for the defence, told the court: "This is a man who, at the age of 28, is socially and psychologically immature."

The doctor said he found no evidence in Johnson of an attraction to pre-pubescent children or "sexual perversion".

Speaking after Johnson was sentenced, Det Insp Aelfwynn Sampson, of Durham Police, said: "Fame, celebrity and a position of power does not give you the right to break the law in pursuit of whatever you desire.

"This girl should have been safe but she was used by the public figure she looked up to most."

Jon Brown, from children's charity the NSPCC, questioned whether the Football Association's "really comprehensive high quality rules and regulations and policies" for child protection were followed throughout the game's hierarchy.

"We are concerned about the extent to which they're actually being embedded and implemented at club level," he said.

"We're concerned that may not be the case right across the country."

Outside the court, Gerry Wareham from the Crown Prosecution Service, said: "Adam Johnson exploited a young star-struck fan, actively grooming her over a number of months in single-minded pursuit of his own sexual gratification."

Earlier, the court was told the player had lodged an appeal against his conviction for sexual activity with the girl.

Johnson began his career at Middlesbrough before moving to Manchester City and then on to Sunderland in 2012.

Adam Johnson's car

The footballer met the girl in his luxury car

Source: bbc.com

 

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Quata Budukusu to release “Wind N Go Low' Visuals

Quata Budukusu to release “Wind N Go Low' Visuals

The originator of tongue - twisting rap, Quata Budukusu, is warming up to unleash the visuals for his latest single 'Wind N Go Low'.

The talented musician who won the souls of music lovers when he released video for “One Life to Live” will definitely do it again.

With the video shot and directed by ace film maker, Pascal AKA, “Wind n Go Low” is definitely going to gain some international recognition for its quality and content.

The video also feature some beautiful Ghanaian ladies doing energetic dance.

The video will officially be premiered on TV3 Network on Friday, April 1, 2016

Take a look at some photos taken during the video shoot and listen to the song below as well.

 

Source: www.fredericknoamesi.com

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Quata Budukusu ready to release “Wind N Go Low' Visuals

Quata Budukusu to release “Wind N Go Low' Visuals

The originator of tongue - twisting rap, Quata Budukusu, is warming up to unleash the visuals for his latest single 'Wind N Go Low'.

The talented musician who won the souls of music lovers when he released video for “One Life to Live” will definitely do it again.

With the video shot and directed by ace film maker, Pascal AKA, “Wind n Go Low” is definitely going to gain some international recognition for its quality and content.

The video also feature some beautiful Ghanaian ladies doing energetic dance.

The video will officially be premiered on TV3 Network on Friday, April 1, 2016

Take a look at some photos taken during the video shoot and listen to the song below as well.