Erdogan Calls on Europe to Back Turkey's Moves in Libya

VOICE OF AMERICA - 10 min 20 sec ago

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called on Europe to support its work in Libya, where it is providing military support to the internationally recognized government, if it wants to end the conflict there. 

Erdogan made his remarks in a column published on the Politico website on Saturday, ahead of a summit in Berlin on Sunday that will try to stabilize the country. 

At the meeting, Germany and the United Nations will push rival Libyan camps fighting over the capital, Tripoli, to agree to a truce and monitoring mechanism as first steps toward peace, diplomats and a draft communique said. 

Turkey supports the government of Fayez al-Serraj in Tripoli and describes Khalifa Haftar, who heads the eastern Libyan National Army (LNA), as a coup plotter. 

"Keeping in mind that Europe is less interested in providing military support to Libya, the obvious choice is to work with Turkey, which has already promised military assistance," Erdogan wrote. 

"We will train Libya's security forces and help them combat terrorism, human trafficking and other serious threats against international security," he added. 

Conversation with Merkel

As the summit loomed, the Turkish president spoke by phone with its host, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, to discuss developments in Libya and the region, Erdogan's office said. 

In a sign of tensions surrounding the Libyan issue, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu criticised Greece for hosting Haftar ahead of the summit in a tweet directed at Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias. 

"Inviting Haftar to Greece and highlighting Greek national agenda sabotage the efforts to bring peace to Libya. We would like to remind our Greek friends that these futile efforts are in vain. @NikosDendias," Cavusoglu wrote. 

Sunday's summit will put pressure on Haftar and the LNA to halt a nine-month offensive against Tripoli after a weeklong lull in fighting. But it will not try to broker power-sharing between the two sides, said diplomats briefed on preparations. 

India plans to fix its cattle sex ratio

TIMES OF INDIA - 27 min 13 sec ago
India has a skewed sex ratio problem. No, we’re not talking about humans but cattle. With bull numbers rising rapidly, especially after strict implementation of anti-cow slaughter laws, and no easy fixes in sight, the Centre now hopes to find a solution in ‘sexed semen’ (sex-sorted semen) technology to ensure birth of female calves through artificial insemination.

Contractual workers also entitled to PF benefits: SC

TIMES OF INDIA - 41 min 21 sec ago
Holding that an employer cannot differentiate between contractual and permanent employees, the Supreme Court has ruled that casual workers are also entitled to social security benefits under the Employees’ Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act.

Iran football body slams AFC ban on hosting international matches

AL JAZEERA - 1 hour 1 min ago
Iranian Football Federation says if ban was not reversed, all Iranian teams would withdraw from AFC Champions League.

Govt to revamp official data for clearer picture of economy

TIMES OF INDIA - 1 hour 31 min ago
Faced with criticism over quality of data as well as allegations of manipulation, the government has begun discussions on a much-delayed revamp of official statistics, which have been at the centre of a political slugfest during the last few years.

Police use tear gas in new 'yellow vest' protests in Paris

AL JAZEERA - 1 hour 46 min ago
Demonstrators shouted slogans denouncing the police, President Macron and his pension reforms on Saturday.

Harry, Meghan to give up 'royal highness' titles

TIMES OF INDIA - 2 hours 6 min ago
Prince Harry and his wife Meghan will no longer be working members of Britain's royal family and they will not use their "royal highness" titles as they embark on a more independent future, Buckingham Palace said on Saturday. The palace says the couple will repay some 2.4 million pounds ($3.1 million) of taxpayers' money that was spent renovating their home near Windsor Castle.

Why is the United Kingdom acting against Hezbollah?

AL JAZEERA - 2 hours 8 min ago
The UK puts squeeze on Lebanon’s Hezbollah, adding the entire group, political and military, to its terrorist blacklist.

Germany to host meeting aimed at ending Libya war

AL JAZEERA - 2 hours 11 min ago
Berlin's bid comes after a recent attempt by Russia and Turkey to broker a truce failed, raising fears of a prolonged conflict.

India's anti-CAA protesters launch postcards to PM Modi campaign

AL JAZEERA - 2 hours 11 min ago
Demonstrators opposed to 'anti-Muslim' Citizenship Amendment Act plan to send thousands of letters, urging its repeal.

Cameroon Teachers Protest, Seek Reinstatement of Corporal Punishment Amid Rising Violence

VOICE OF AMERICA - 2 hours 49 min ago

Cameroon teachers are protesting what they say is growing violence against them by both students and their parents, and the teachers are urging the government to protect them and reinstate corporal punishment. The teachers say the absence of corporal punishment is encouraging abuse of teachers. This week, several attacks on teaching staffs were reported, including one in which a teenage student fatally stabbed his teacher, in the capital.

Students shout Saturday at a government-run school in Obala, a town on the outskirts of Cameroon's capital, Yaounde, protesting the principal's decision to destroy all mobile phones and knives seized from children Friday at the school.  One of their senior discipline masters, Narcisse Ateba, says the students use mobile phones to access social media platforms that promote violence, and they also use sharp objects such as knives to attack their peers and teachers.

Messages carried by Cameroon teachers while protesting, Bamenda, Cameroon, May 24, 2019.Cameroon Teachers Protest Escalating Violence in Separatist Areas As students in Cameroon began their annual exams Monday, hundreds of their teachers in English-speaking regions were on the streets protesting. The teachers are demanding better security after three teachers and a student were abducted, adding to scores captured, killed, or whose property was torched during a two-year separatist conflict.Teachers dressed in dark clothes and holding signs demanding better security walk down a street in Bamenda, the capital of Cameroon’s northwest region. …

He says that some parents and students will want to harass or beat him up, but he has nonetheless decided to publicly destroy the 15 mobile phones found and seized by teachers from students Friday because it is illegal to use them in classrooms. He says he will not allow students to come to school with razor blades, box-cutters and knives.

The destruction of the mobile phones and the peaceful marches to administrative offices and palaces are part of protests by teachers at Obala against what they say are increasing acts of violence against them.

This week, a 16-year-old student at the public school Nkolbisson in a neighborhood in Yaounde is accused of using a knife to stab his mathematics teacher who died of excessive bleeding as he was being rushed to a hospital. The school said the student insisted on using his mobile phone in class against the teacher's instruction. The student was arrested and detained by police, and will be answering to charges, including premeditated killing.

Another teacher this week was battered by students in Douala for questioning why they were late to school, and yet another teacher in Douala was beaten by a parent and fell into a coma. The parent was said to be angry with the teacher's decision to use corporal punishment on his son as punishment for making noise in class. In another incident, a student used a machete to chop off another student's finger in Obala after a fight during a soccer match.

Elvis Yisinyuy, an official with the Cameroon Teachers Trade Union in Yaounde, says attacks by students on teachers intensified in 2015 when Cameroon prohibited teachers from beating or severely punishing students.

"When a minister says that teachers are not supposed to administer corporal punishment to students, the student will now see that he [the minister] has the right to bring disorder because there is nothing the teacher can do in class," said Yisinyuy. "The minister should revisit the text and permit teachers to administer corporal punishment with caution."

FILE - Teneng Sidonie Weteck sings and dances in class at a school for displaced Nigerian children at the Minawao camp, northern Cameroon, February 18, 2015.Cameroon Teachers Celebrate Teachers Day Amid Growing Challenges October 5 is World Teachers Day, set aside to mobilize support and to ensure that the needs of future generations will be met by teachers. Some teachers, who work with Central African refugees in camps in eastern Cameroon or on the border with Central African Republic (C.A.R.), face especially difficult challenges. Emmanuel Mbiydzenyuy asks students to be quiet and follow English language classes here at the government school in Dhahong in eastern Cameroon. Eighty of the 110 students in one class are…

Yusinyuy said the high wave of drug consumption by students and the inability of teachers to use corporal punishment because they have been prohibited from doing so is also responsible for the wave of attacks.

Nalova Lyonga, Cameroon minister of secondary education, says corporal punishment can not be tolerated because it is an abuse on the rights of students who are mostly children.

"What I have told the teachers is that they themselves have to make a distinction between a disciplinary case and a case which becomes a criminal case, and they should be able to report to the special police at the disposal of the schools," said Lyonga.

Lyonga said Cameroon students are exposed to other cultures of the world because of the increasing use of mobile phones, and they gain access to social media platforms that promote violence, while neglecting the peace and unity that Cameroon traditionally preaches.

Carol Kayum, president of Reference Citizens, a non-governmental organization that promotes citizenship education, has been visiting schools in Yaounde to educate both teachers and students against violence. She says Cameroon should uphold it's culture of non-violence to prevent the growing number of assaults on other students and teachers.

"Our cultures are rich. Parents should transmit them to children, and also there should be communication between schools and parents so that we know what our children are doing in school, and we also tell the school authorities what the children do at home," said Kayum. "School authorities and parents should control the use of drugs.

Kayum said many people now join the teaching profession because they lack jobs, and not for the love of teaching, and as such, they are not loved by students.

The students also have complained they are harassed by some teachers whom they accuse of behaving poorly or not teaching well.

The Cameroon Ministry of Secondary Education has recorded 40 violent attacks by students on their peers, 22 attacks on teachers and 15 attacks by parents on teachers within the past  month. 

Millions Going Hungry in Haiti 10 Years After Devastating Earthquake

VOICE OF AMERICA - 3 hours 16 min ago

The World Food Program is appealing for $62 million to provide life-saving food assistance over the next six months to 700,000 people suffering from severe hunger in the Caribbean island of Haiti.

Millions of Haitians still lack proper shelter, food and other basic necessities 10 years after a devastating earthquake killed 300,000 people and displaced one-and-one-half-million.

The World Food Program says one in three Haitians need urgent food assistance in both rural and urban areas.  It says one million of them are suffering from severe hunger, causing rates of acute malnutrition to rise.  

Homes are seen in the Taba Isa earthquake survivor camp in Port au Prince, Haiti. (Renan Toussaint/VOA Creole)Homes are seen in the Taba Isa earthquake survivor camp in Port au Prince, Haiti. (Renan Toussaint/VOA Creole)

WFP spokeswoman Elizabeth Byrs says her agency is scaling up its operation to provide emergency food aid to hundreds of thousands of the most vulnerable people.  

“Ten years after the earthquake, WFP is still concerned about a decline in food security, with 3.7 million people severely food insecure and affected also by rising prices, drop in agricultural production, and social unrest, of course, which has heavily disrupted economic activity in Haiti,” Byrs said.

Anti-government riots last year disrupted the ability of humanitarian agencies to bring food and other aid to people in the impoverished country.   Byrs says the WFP responded to this emergency by providing food to more than 230,000 of the most vulnerable.  She says it also furnished 300,000 school children with daily food, including hot meals.

Byrs says donors have contributed $5 million since WFP launched its emergency appeal in December.  That means the agency still needs $57 million to continue its life-saving operation for the next six months.  

She notes 80 percent of the 700,000 beneficiaries are women and children, many of whom can barely manage to find enough food for one meal a day.

Syria's Idlib protesters: 'Talks of ceasefires turn out to be lies'

AL JAZEERA - 3 hours 24 min ago
Frustration is growing in Syria after a ceasefire agreement was violated, killing 21 people in rebel-held province of Idlib.

UN Envoy Hopes for, but Cannot Predict, Speedy Reopening of Libya Oil Ports

VOICE OF AMERICA - 3 hours 26 min ago

The United Nations envoy to Libya said on Saturday he hoped but "could not predict" whether eastern oil ports shut ahead of a pending Berlin summit aimed at reaching a truce in Libya would be reopened soon.

Ghassan Salame said the Berlin summit scheduled for Sunday would likely discuss the closures to avoid them dragging on for weeks or months like previous seizures of facilities.

"If the thing is not solved between today and tomorrow I expect the issue to be raised, yes," Salame told Reuters in Berlin, where Germany and the UN are expected to push for an
extended truce.

Oil export terminals across eastern and central Libya were shut on Friday by tribesmen allied to commander Khalifa Haftar, whose Libya National Army (LNA) based in the east has been locked in a nine-month war with government forces over control of the capital, Tripoli.

Diplomats see the closures as a power play by the LNA aimed at choking off oil revenue to the internationally recognized Tripoli government.

The National Oil Corp (NOC) on Saturday declared force majeure on oil exports from the eastern ports of Brega, Ras Lanuf, Hariga, Zueitina and Es Sider, saying the closures would result in the loss of 800,000 barrels (bpd) day in oil output.

Production in Libya, which was plunged into chaos with the toppling of longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, was estimated at 1.3 million bpd last week.

Salame said he hoped Haftar would be willing to consider extending a truce which has largely held for a week despite the two sides failing to sign a deal at talks in Moscow mediated by Russia and Turkey on Monday.

Haftar is expected to attend the summit opposite Tripoli-based Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj.

The war over Tripoli is backed by foreign powers with the LNA supported by the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and most recently Russian mercenaries, and Turkey sending troops and fighters from Syria's civil war to help al-Serraj.

"I can confirm the arrival of fighters from Syria," Salame said, putting estimates at 1,000 to 2,000.

There have been a series of failed conferences and negotiations to stabilize Libya.

Salame said he had started the process of a new intra-Libyan dialog between the rival parliaments in Tripoli and the east, an approach that has failed since 2017.

"What is different now is that we have 2017 there was no pressure, but now you have thousands of people who have been killed," he said.

Gun Rights Activists Scheduled to Rally Monday in Virginia

VOICE OF AMERICA - 3 hours 35 min ago

A major gun rights rally is scheduled for Monday in the capital of the U.S. southeastern state of Virginia.

Thousands of pro-gun activists, included armed militia members, are expected to gather in Richmond at a time when Democrats have full control of the state legislature for the first time in a generation.

Democratic lawmakers have made passing tougher gun control laws a central campaign theme.

FILE - In this June 14, 2018, file photo, the FBI seal is seen before a news conference at FBI headquarters in Washington. The FBI is grappling with a seemingly endless cycle of money laundering schemes that law enforcement officials say they’re…FBI Arrests 3 White Supremacists Ahead of Pro-gun Rally Two are charged with transporting a firearm and ammunition with intent to commit a felony; the third is charged with transporting and harboring aliens

The Virginia Senate approved legislation late Thursday requiring background checks on all firearm sales and limiting handgun purchases to one a month. The senate also passed a bill to restore local government right to ban weapons from public buildings and other venues.

Neo-Nazi, militia and other gun-rights groups have promised to gather enmasse on the capital for Monday’s rally, which is organized annually by the Virginia Citizens Defense League.

The planned demonstration harkens back to a violent white supremacist rally in nearby Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017, when one woman was killed and more than 30 other people injured as a white supremacist rammed his car into a crowd of counter-protesters.

Amid threats of violence and a possible heavy turnout, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, a Democrat, declared a temporary state of emergency Wednesday that bans all weapons from Richmond’s Capitol Square during Monday’s rally to prevent “armed militia groups (from) storming our capitol.”

Gun-rights groups, which contend the constitution guarantees their right to own any firearm, asked the Virginia Supreme Court rule the temporary ban unconstitutional, but the court upheld the ban on Friday.

Northam said authorities have received credible threats of violence, including the deployment of weaponized drones over Capitol Square.

Extremist groups have also inundated social media and the internet with threatening messages and hints of violence.

The FBI arrested three alleged members of a white supremacist group on gun charges Thursday, partly due to concern that they planned to incite violence at the rally.

Both houses of the Virginia legislature are expected to approve even more restrictive gun control laws, including a ban on assault rifles and “red flag” laws aimed at taking guns from people who are considered risk to communities.

U.S. President Donald Trump had words of support late Friday for gun rights supporters in Virginia, tweeting, “That’s what happens when you vote for Democrats, they will take your guns away.”

Supporters of tighter gun control laws say they would help reduce the number of people killed by guns each year.

Pro-Haftar forces 'block oil exports' from key Libya ports

AL JAZEERA - 4 hours 7 min ago
Groups loyal to Khalifa Haftar, whose forces control eastern Libya, seized several large oil export terminals on Friday.

UK Plans Brexit Celebrations but Warns Businesses May Suffer

VOICE OF AMERICA - 4 hours 11 min ago

The British government has announced plans for special events on the night of Jan. 31 when the country officially leaves the European Union but the country’s treasury chief has admitted that some U.K. business sectors will suffer as a result.

Sajid Javid told the Financial Times in an interview Saturday that Britain’s regulations will not be aligned with the EU in the future and that those changes may hurt some businesses. Currently the EU is Britain’s largest trading partner.

“There will not be alignment, we will not be a rule-taker, we will not be in the single market and we will not be in the customs union — and we will do this by the end of the year,” he said, referring to a deadline at the end of 2020 for conclusion of what are expected to be contentious trade talks with the then-27 member EU.

Britain will officially leave the EU bloc on the night of Jan. 31, even though it will keep following EU rules for an 11-month transition period. It will be the first nation ever to leave the bloc. The British government plans to mark the occasion with a series of upbeat events.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson plans to make a speech to the nation that night after holding a rare cabinet session in the north of England to emphasize his government’s plan to spread opportunity to that economically beleaguered region.

The government also plans to mark Brexit by projecting a clock onto the prime minister’s official residence at 10 Downing Street in London that will count down until 11 p.m., when the break takes place.

The entire government neighborhood of Whitehall is to be illuminated for the occasion as part of a light show, with Union flags flown on all the poles in Parliament Square. The government will also create a commemorative coin that will enter circulation that day.

But Johnson’s Conservative government is no longer actively pushing a plan to have the familiar chimes of the Big Ben clock tower at Parliament sound at 11 p.m. despite a private fundraising push in support of activating the chimes, which are under repair.

Britain voted in a 2016 referendum to become the first nation to leave the 28-nation EU, but the process has moved more slowly than expected. A stalemate last year kept a withdrawal bill from passing, leading to a rare December election that gave Johnson’s pro-Brexit Conservative Party a strong majority in Parliament.

The Brexit divorce bill quickly passed when the new Parliament convened. A transition period will last until the end of 2020 as negotiators try to forge a trade arrangement between Britain and the remaining EU nations.

Johnson, who is also seeking a trade deal with the United States, has ruled out seeking an extension of the deadline for the EU talks.

Report: N. Korean Foreign Minister Replaced

VOICE OF AMERICA - 4 hours 23 min ago

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho has been replaced,  Seoul-based NK News reported on Saturday.

Ri's replacement has not been identified but Pyongyang is set to reveal his successor about next Thursday, the report said, citing unnamed sources.

South Korea's unification ministry, which is in charge of North Korea affairs, has said that any change in Ri's status should be assessed cautiously.

Born in 1956, Ri is the son of Ri Myong Je, former deputy director of the Organization and Guidance Department (OGD), a shadowy body within the ruling Workers’ Party that oversees the appointment of management positions within the state, according to the South Korean unification ministry.

His father was also an editor at the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), the state media body that publishes Pyongyang’s propaganda statements.

A fluent English speaker who studied at Pyongyang’s prestigious University of Foreign Languages, Ri has for years held a number of high-level posts dealing with the West.

From 2003 to 2007, he was North Korea’s ambassador in London and served as vice foreign minister, representing North Korea at six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear program.

Over 1,000 Central American Migrants Try to Enter Mexico

VOICE OF AMERICA - 4 hours 33 min ago

More than a thousand Central American migrants on Saturday surged onto a bridge spanning the Suchiate River between southern Mexico and Guatemala as Mexican National Guardsmen attempted to impede their journey north.

Mexican officials allowed several dozen migrants to enter the country via the bridge, while a voice over a loudspeaker warned that migrants may not be granted asylum in the U.S., even if they make it there.

Nearby, hundreds of guardsmen lined the river to prevent migrants from crossing into Mexico clandestinely. The voice on the loudspeaker warned, over and over, that those crossing the river “are entering Mexico illegally.”

Mexico’s government has said migrants entering the country without registering will not be allowed to pass from its southern border area. But those seeking asylum or other protections will be allowed to apply and legalize their status in Mexico.

Guatemalan officials have counted more than 3,000 migrants who registered at border crossings to enter that country in recent days and there were additional migrants who did not register.

The bridge to Mexico was closed on Saturday after being open on the previous day. Migrants who had wanted to cross and request asylum or seek to regularize their status and find work could do so.

But the migrants were wary of a trap. Mexico’s offer of legal status and potential employment carries a stipulation that would confine them to southern Mexico, where wages are lower and there are fewer jobs than elsewhere in the country.

Meanwhile, Guatemala’s human rights defender’s office said there were more than 1,000 migrants gathering at another point on the Mexican border far to the north in the Peten region and there were reports that Mexican forces were gathering on the other side of the border there.

In the Mexican border town of Ciudad Hidalgo, Francisco Garduño, commissioner of Mexico’s National Immigration Institute, was emphatic that migrants who try to enter the country irregularly would go no farther.

“They cannot enter because it would be in violation of the law,” he told The Associated Press. He declined to talk specifics about border reinforcements, but said there were “sufficient” troops to keep things orderly.

Lebanon: Anti-government protests turn violent in Beirut

AL JAZEERA - 4 hours 50 min ago
Police use tear gas, water cannon to disperse protesters in Beirut who tried to reach parliament square.


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