• Twelve migrants 'drown as wooden boat sinks' off Turkey

    17/Oct/2015 // 432 Viewers

    ANKARA (AFP) - 

    Twelve migrants drowned Saturday when their boat sank off the Turkish coast as they were seeking to reach Greece, while around 25 others were rescued, the Anatolia news agency reported.

    The Turkish coastguard recovered the bodies from the wooden boat, which had sailed from northwest Turkey's seaside town of Ayvalik headed for the Greek island of Lesbos, the Turkish news agency said.

    The rescuers managed to save about two dozen others on board the sinking boat who had called for help on their cellphones, Turkish media reported.

    Anatolia did not indicate the migrants' nationalities.

    Turkey has been swamped with an influx of refugees due mainly to the civil war in neighbouring Syria.

    More than 3,000 migrants and refugees have died while trying to get to Europe this year, most of them drowning in the Mediterranean.

    With many refugees currently failing to lodge asylum requests upon arriving in Greece, fearing they will be trapped in the recession-hit country, the European Union's top migration official warned that a recent deal to share out refugees in the bloc could flounder.

    On Friday the EU's much-hyped deal with Turkey to stem the flow of migrants looked shaky after Ankara said Brussels had offered too little money to cope with the two and half million Syrians who have sought refugee on Turkish soil.


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  • Pope Francis calls on Europe's Catholics to shelter refugees

    17/Sep/2015 // 163 Viewers

    Pope Francis called on Sunday on every European parish and religious community to take in one migrant family each in a gesture of solidarity he said would start in the tiny Vatican state where he lives.

    “I appeal to the parishes, the religious communities, the monasteries and sanctuaries of all Europe to ... take in one family of refugees,” he said after his Sunday address in the Vatican.

    The pope’s call goes out to tens of thousands of Catholic parishes in Europe as the number of refugees arriving over land through the Balkans and across the Mediterranean to Italy and Greece hits record levels.

    There are more than 25,000 parishes in Italy alone, and more than 12,000 in Germany, where many of the Syrians fleeing civil war and people trying to escape poverty and hardship in other countries say they want to end up.

    The crowd in St. Peter’s Square applauded as the pontiff, himself the grandson of Italian emigrants to Argentina, said: “Every parish, every religious community, every monastery, every sanctuary of Europe, take in one family.”

    The Vatican’s two parishes will take in a family of refugees each in the coming days, said Francis, whose first trip after his election was to the Italian island of Lampedusa, halfway between Sicily and Tunisia, where many migrants arrive by boat.

    The Italian coast guard said on Saturday it had coordinated the rescue of 329 migrants who made distress calls from their rubber boats.

    Francis said taking in migrant families was a “concrete gesture” to prepare for the extraordinary Holy Year on the theme of mercy which is due to begin on Dec. 8.

    (REUTERS)


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  • Romanian PM Ponta to stand trial for corruption: prosecutors

    17/Sep/2015 // 289 Viewers

     AFP/File | Prime Minister Victor Ponta will be the first Romanian head of government to stand trial while still in office
    BUCHAREST (AFP) - 
    Romania's Prime Minister Victor Ponta is to face trial for corruption, the country's anti-graft prosecutors said Thursday.

    The 42-year-old Social Democratic leader, who denies the charges, will be the first Romanian head of government to stand trial while still in office.

    ? 2015 AFP


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  • Ukraine Slammed For Banning Dozens Of Foreign Reporters

    17/Sep/2015 // 276 Viewers

     AFP/File | Ukraine ranks 129th out of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders' 2015 world press freedom index
    KIEV (AFP) - 
    Ukraine faced global media condemnation Thursday for banning dozens of foreign reporters as it expanded sanctions against Russia for its actions in the war-torn former Soviet state.

    The blacklisted reporters included three Moscow-based journalists with the BBC. The list also named a Spanish correspondent and a writer who Germany's Die Zeit weekly later identified as a freelance contributor to one of its supplements.

    "We are appalled by this ban, which represents an absurd, counter-productive breach of freedom of information," the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders said in a statement.

    The New-York based Committee to Protect Journalists said it also "deplores" Ukraine's pro-Western President Petro Poroshenko's decision and questioned his committment to media rights.

    The group said it had counted 41 reporters and bloggers on Poroshenko's list.

    "While the government may not like or agree with the coverage, labelling journalists a potential threat to national security is not an appropriate response," said the media protection lobby.

    The BBC's foreign editor also denounced the one-year travel restriction as out of step with Ukraine's new commitment to European values and attempts to wrest itself from Russia's influence.

    "This is a shameful attack on media freedom," Andrew Roy said in a statement released to AFP.

    "These sanctions are completely inappropriate and inexplicable measures to take against BBC journalists who are reporting the situation in Ukraine impartially and objectively and we call on the Ukrainian Government to remove their names from this list immediately."

    Poroshenko signed a decree late Wednesday enacting targeted measures against some 400 officials and 90 companies held responsible for the Ukraine's bloody pro-Russian uprising and Moscow's annexation of Crimea last year.

    The list included several major state-owned Russian media companies as well as such financial giants as the national flag carrier Aeroflot and Gazprom Bank.

    Russia portrays Ukraine's 17-month crisis as a "civil war" in which it has played no part.

    "Does this correspond with our two country's national interests? Clearly not," Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters in Moscow.

    But Ukrainian officials were on the back foot Thursday because of the measures taken again against foreign correspondents for alleged crimes that Kiev failed to specificity.

    The deputy head of Ukraine new information policy ministry said Poroshenko's must be carefully reviewed and more explicitly explained.

    "I believe that we either have to rationally explain a sound reason why they were included in the list, or to exclude them from it," Tetyana Popova told AFP.

    The United Nations estimates that the conflict has killed nearly 8,000 people -- most of them civilians -- since April 2014.

    ? 2015 AFP


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  • Breaking: British Prime Minister stuns the world calls for early election on JUNE 8 halfway into Gov't's 5-year term

    18/Apr/2017 // 801 Viewers

     

    PARIS, APRIL 18, 2017: (DGW) THE British Prime Minister Theresa May is set to call for an early  general election, CNN reports.

    This is to enable British seek a stronger mandate in talks over leaving the EU.

    She made this unexpected statement at No 10 Downing Street in less than halfway through the government's five-year term and this however did not draw criticisms from the opposition parties thus activating election mode.

    Reacting the European Union says May's announcement will not change Britain planned exit from the EU.  But May's decision means that Europe's three most powerful nations -- France, Germany and Britain -- will be convulsed by internal election campaigns as the clock ticks on the two-year deadline to complete Brexit negotiations.


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  • Mother Teresa to be made a saint as second miracle recognised by pope

    18/Dec/2015 // 246 Viewers

     

    © AFP / Dibyangshu Sarkar | An Indian nun from the Catholic Order of the Missionaries of Charity leaves after taking part in a mass to commemorate the 105th birthday of Mother Teresa in Calcutta on August 26, 2015

    Mother Teresa of Calcutta, the Nobel laureate who dedicated her life to helping the poorest of the poor, will be made a saint of the Roman Catholic Church, the Vatican said on Friday.

    Pope Francis has cleared the way for her sainthood by approving a decree recognising a miracle attributed to her intercession with God.

    Mother Teresa, who died in 1997 at the age of 87, was beatified in 2003 by the late Pope John Paul. Beatification, which requires one miracle, is the last step before sainthood.

    The second miracle attributed to the intercession of Mother Teresa, which is required for canonisation, involved the inexplicable healing of a Brazilian man who was suffering from a multiple brain tumours, according to Catholic media reports.

    Relatives prayed to Mother Teresa and he recovered, leaving doctors at a loss to explain how.

    Known as the “saint of the gutters”, the diminutive nun is expected to be canonised in early September. It was not clear if the ceremony would take place in Rome or if the pope would travel to India to preside over it.

    Mother Teresa was born Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu of Albanian parents in Macedonia in 1910 in what was then part of the Ottoman Empire.

    She founded the Missionaries of Charity to help the poor on the streets of Calcutta and the religious order later spread throughout the world. She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979.

    (REUTERS)


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  • Joint call for EU citizens to stay in UK, British Prime Minister gives conditions - BBC reports

    18/Dec/2016 // 1040 Viewers

     

    Businesses and trade unions have called on Theresa May to guarantee immediately the right of EU citizens to stay in the UK after Brexit.

    The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), which represents companies with a combined workforce of five million people, and the TUC made the call in an open letter to the prime minister.
    Failure to do so would damage the UK economy, the two bodies said.

    Downing Street said Mrs May wanted to protect the status of EU nationals.
    The bluntly-worded letter was jointly signed by TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady and BCC director-general Adam Marshall.

    "We call upon you to demonstrate leadership by providing EU citizens in the UK with the reassurance we would expect to be shown to UK citizens across the Continent - not by making one conditional upon the other," they wrote.

    "Now is the time to end insecurity for EU workers and for British businesses alike."

    There were 2.1 million people from EU member nations working in the UK as of March this year, according to the ONS. That was 224,000 more than the total for the first three months of 2015.
    'Right thing'

    Mr Marshall said the government could give an early Christmas present to both businesses and workers by making an "unequivocal commitment" to EU citizens working in the UK.

    "Business communities across the UK are deeply frustrated that ministers have declined to guarantee the residence rights of their EU employees and colleagues. Some firms are already losing key members of staff due to this avoidable uncertainty," he said.

    "Such a move before the start of a complex Brexit negotiation would be bold, but it is the right thing to do."

    Jess Hurd
                          TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady

     
    Ms O'Grady said: "Continued doubt about the status of workers from the rest of the EU is bad for business, and it puts services like the NHS at risk."

    The joint call echoed one made by the TUC and the CBI, which represents businesses employing about seven million workers, the week after voters backed taking Britain out of the European Union.
    The two bodies said that the government needed to allay the concerns of EU nationals working in the UK, as well as UK citizens in the EU, as a "matter of urgency".

    Last week peers said the UK had a "moral" duty to guarantee the status of EU nationals living in Britain before Brexit negotiations begin.
    The Lords EU Justice sub-committee called for an immediate "unilateral undertaking" that EU nationals could continue to live, work and study in the UK after Brexit.

    A Downing Street spokesman said: "The prime minister has been clear that she wants to protect the status of EU nationals already living here, and the only circumstances in which that wouldn't be possible is if British citizens' rights in European member states were not protected in return." - (BBC)


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  • Dozens killed as large explosion rocks Turkish capital Ankara

    18/Feb/2016 // 296 Viewers

     

    Twenty-eight people were killed and dozens wounded in Turkey's capital Ankara on Wednesday when a car laden with explosives detonated next to military buses near the armed forces' headquarters, parliament and other government buildings.

    The Turkish military condemned what it described as a "contemptible and dastardly" attack on the buses as they waited at traffic lights in the administrative heart of the city.
    Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said 28 people including soldiers and civilians had been killed and 61 wounded in the blast, which took place near a busy intersection less than 500 metres from parliament during the evening rush hour.
    Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag described the attack as an act of terrorism and told parliament, which was in session when the blast occurred, that the car had exploded on a part of the street lined on both sides by military vehicles.
    In a statement, French President François Hollande called the bombing an “odious attack” and expressed “support and solidarity with the Turkish authorities and the Turkish people”.
    A senior security source said initial signs indicated that Kurdish militants from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) were responsible. Separate security sources in the southeast, however, said they believed Islamic State (IS) group militants may have been behind the bombing.
    There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
    Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu immediately scrapped his trip to Brussels for a mini-summit on Europe's refugee crisis, diplomats said Wednesday. The talks, taking place ahead of a full summit of the 28-nation European Union, were to gather the leaders of 11 EU countries and the Turkish PM to focus on how to resettle Syrian refugees who have fled to Turkey.
    Multiple threats

    “I heard a huge explosion. There was smoke and a really strong smell even though we were blocks away,” a Reuters witness said. “We could immediately hear ambulance and police car sirens rushing to the scene.”
    Images on social media showed the charred wreckage of at least two buses and a car. The explosion sent a large plume of smoke above central Ankara.
    Turkey, a NATO member, faces multiple security threats. It is part of a US-led coalition fighting the IS group in neighbouring Syria and Iraq, and has been shelling Kurdish militia fighters in northern Syria in recent days.
    It has also been battling militants in its own southeast from the PKK, who have fought a three-decade insurgency for Kurdish autonomy. The group has frequently attacked military targets in the past, although it has largely focused on the mainly Kurdish southeast.
    Wednesday’s bombing comes after an attack in Ankara in October that was blamed on the IS group when two suicide bombers struck a rally of pro-Kurdish and labour activists outside the capital’s main train station, killing more than 100 people.
    A suicide bombing in the historic heart of Istanbul in January, also blamed on the IS group, killed 10 German tourists.
    Meanwhile in Sweden on Wednesday an explosion severely damaged part of a building that housed a Turkish cultural association.

    Police said all the windows of the centre, in a Stockholm suburb, were blown out and that technicians were on site to investigate the cause. “No one was inside. No one was injured. It had been locked since earlier in the evening,” a police spokesman said. No one has been arrested and there are currently no suspects, he added.
    (FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)


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  • Avalanche kills five soldiers during training in French Alps

    18/Jan/2016 // 333 Viewers

     

    Five French Foreign Legionnaires were killed Monday in an avalanche as they were on a training exercise in the French Alps, police sources said.

    Another six were injured near the resort of Valfrejus, with one in intensive care in hospital after suffering hypothermia.

    They were among a group of 50 soldiers taking part in the skiing exercise.

    Three helicopters were involved in the search.

    The nationalities of the victims were not immediately known. The French Foreign Legion attracts recruits from around the world.

    The accident comes after two teenagers on a school trip and a Ukrainian tourist were killed in an avalanche in the French Alps last Wednesday.

    A French teacher who took the students onto a closed skiing piste in that incident has been charged with involuntary manslaughter.

     

     

     

    (AFP)


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  • Turkey Coup: EU wades in, cautions Turkey on coup plotters

    18/Jul/2016 // 428 Viewers

     

    Turkey must protect the rule of law as it cracks down after the failed coup, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said Monday, as the bloc said it looked like the government had prepared a list of people to arrest beforehand.

    “We are the ones saying today rule of law has to be protected in the country, there is no excuse for any steps that take the country away from that,” Mogherini said as European Union foreign ministers met in Brussels.

    “As we have been the first ones to say that in that tragic night (of Friday’s coup attempt), the democratic and legitimate institutions needed to be protected,” she told reporters.

    “Today we will say together with ministers that obviously doesn’t mean that rule of law and the system of checks and balances in the country does not count. On the contrary it needs to be protected for the sake of the country.

    “So we will send a strong message on that.”

    Would-be EU member Turkey carried out fresh raids on Monday as the EU ministers were meeting, prompting growing international concern over the scale of the crackdown.

    Judges and military commanders are among 6,000 people who were arrested over the weekend as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vows to stamp out the “virus” of the coup plotters.
     
    The EU commissioner dealing with Turkey’s long-stalled bid for membership of the bloc meanwhile said it appeared that the government had already prepared a list before the coup of people to be rounded up.
    “I mean, (that) the lists are available already after the event indicates that this was prepared and at a certain moment should be used,” EU enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn told reporters.

    Turkey’s attempts to join the 28-nation European Union have been hobbled in recent years by concern over the increasingly authoritarian Erdogan’s record on human rights and press freedom.

    But the EU agreed to speed up its membership bid and give visa-free travel to Turks as part of a migrant crisis deal in which Ankara agreed to take back people landing in the Greek islands.
    French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said that “the rule of law must prevail”.

    “France has condemned the coup, you can’t accept the military taking power,” he said. “At the same time we have to be vigilant that the Turkish authorities don’t put in place a system which turns back democracy.”

    Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders also urged restraint, saying: “It’s normal to punish those involved in the coup, but it’s normal to ask for respect for the rule of law.”


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