• Woman killed on busy Istanbul street in 'suicide pact': report

    03/Oct/2015 // 353 Viewers

     AFP/File | Istanbul's Istiklal Avenue is the city's best known shopping street



    A Turkish woman was killed and her male partner badly wounded in an apparent double suicide bid on Istanbul's best known shopping street, reports said Saturday.

    The woman, Zeren Buke Toku, and her partner, Nazif Tugrul Saglam, sat on a pavement on the bustling Istiklal Avenue, where several other young people were out late Saturday, some drinking and others making music, Dogan news agency reported.

    Toku then pulled out a gun from her bag, shot herself in the head with a single bullet, which exited her skull and hit her partner, Dogan said.

    Toku died in hospital and Saglam remained in critical condition as the gunshot blew away parts of his brain.

    The suicide attempt caused panic on Istiklal Avenue, which is a colourful mix of high-street brands, bustling cafes and bazaars.

    Police cordoned off parts of Istiklal and an investigation has been launched, according to Dogan.

    The motive behind the suicide was not immediately clear but witnesses told Dogan that they had been drinking beforehand.

    DailyGlobeWatch with AFP

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  • Before bishops meet, discordant voices on gays' place in Church

    03/Oct/2015 // 405 Viewers

    AFP/File / by Fanny Carrier | American Michael Ellis (R) and Filipino Jesus Bascal (L) hold hands during a "Rite of Holy Union" ceremony for the Lesbians Gays Bisexual and Transgenders (LGBT) community in Manila on June 28, 2015


    ROME (AFP) - 

    In the days leading up to a synod of bishops at which the Church's approach to homosexuality will come under review, representatives of gay Catholics from nearly 40 countries have descended on Rome.

    Seminars, meetings and conferences have echoed to the sound of sometimes sharply discordant voices seeking to influence the direction of the debate.

    The official stance of the Church remains clear: homosexuality is an "intrinsic disorder" and individuals attracted to the same sex should live a life of abstinence.

    But at all levels of its global structure, there are important differences of view on how variations in human sexuality should be dealt with, both in Catholic teaching and in the pastoral activities of priests across a world in which broader societal views of the question also vary greatly.

    "Without wishing to offend anyone ... a man is nothing without a woman, and neither of them is anything without being open to life. Homosexuality is closed to life," conservative Guinean Cardinal Robert Sarah told a seminar in the run-up to the synod.

    A related perspective is offered by Father Paul Check, head of Courage, an organisation which describes its mission as helping people with homosexual desires to live a more Christian life.

    "There is much more to their humanity and their Christianity than their feelings," he told AFP TV.

    "I'm not diminishing these feelings, I say there is much more that makes you a human, a Christian. And part of engaging that is how I'm going to choose to respond to what's inside me."

    Then there is 23-year-old Frenchman Clement Borioli, who says has overcome his gay tendencies and now aspires to "an exclusive and affectionate" but chaste friendship with another man.

    Yet while Pope Francis and most of his bishops all concur in their condemnation of the trend towards legalising gay marriage, there are important voices in the church supporting a more profound reflection on the evidence that sexuality is innate.

    "For me, this inclination is a question mark: it does not reflect God's original design, and yet it is a reality, because you are born gay," German Cardinal Walter Kasper, the most influential reformist theologian in the upper echelons of the Church, wrote recently.

    Kasper is widely thought to have the ear of the pope; the book in which he made that observation was subtitled "my journey with Francis."

    Mexican bishop Raul Vera Lopez was reprimanded in 2010 for telling priests in his diocese to offer a pastoral welcome to homosexuals.


    - A step forward -


    "What a scandal!" he said. "People think homosexuals are perverse, that they are sick. But the sickness is in our heads not in theirs," he said on the sidelines of a meeting here of umbrella group the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics (GNRC).

    Hailing from both developed countries like the United States, Spain and Germany as well as from Zambia and Chile, these "rainbow Catholics" have decided to live openly as homosexuals but do not demand much of the men inside the ornate halls that will host the synod.

    In a reference to the pope's famous "who am I to judge" comment about gays, GNRC spokesman Andrea Rubera says the fact a discussion has been opened within the Church at all represents major progress.

    "The fact that a Pope said the word 'gay' in itself was a historic event," said the 50-year-old from Rome, who is bringing up three children with his husband.

    References to homosexuals and their children in official synod documents "amount to a recognition of a phenomenon that is a reality and that in itself is already a step forward," said Rubera.

    The next step, he says, is to turn words into action by getting the Church to approve the universal adoption of a new pastoral approach which would see priests help families to be accepting of their homosexual children, encourage parishes to embrace the children of gay couples and recognise the value of loving, stable same-sex relationships.

    The last point figured in a working document at last year's first round of synod discussions but caused so much hostile reaction it was excised from the final text.

    For now, it is greater tolerance not pride that is on the Church's agenda.

    by Fanny Carrier

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  • Turkey's Erdogan faces tough EU talks on refugees, Syria

    03/Oct/2015 // 296 Viewers

    AFP / by Bryan McManus | Refugees and migrants arrive at the Greek island of Lesbos after crossing the Aegean sea from Turkey on October 2, 2015



    Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan meets EU leaders Monday but they will find it hard to bridge gaps on the migrant crisis and the Syrian war that has produced so many of the refugees they must both deal with, analysts say.

    Russian air strikes in Syria have upped the ante in a conflict which has destabilised a region in which Ankara plays a pivotal role, with Turkey taking around two million refugees from Syria.

    Erdogan faces crunch elections on November 1 and analysts say he will want some solid signs of progress to take home without giving ground in his implacable campaign against Kurdish rebels.

    For the European Union, the focus will be on getting Turkey to do more to halt the flow of migrants making the dangerous crossing to Greece, with more than 500,000 having made it to Europe's shores this year.

    Against this complex backdrop, analysts say Erdogan and his hosts, EU President Donald Tusk and European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker, will be looking to strike a delicate balance between two sides who have little option but to work together.

    "In this massive exodus, driven by the Syrian conflict and now added to by the Russian military intervention which makes people feel things can only get worse, Turkey and the EU are in the same boat," said Marc Pierini of the Carnegie Europe think-tank in Brussels.

    "It is destabilising for them and it is destabilising for the EU," Pierini told AFP.

    - 'Something new and special' -

    Monday's talks will be yet another attempt to "reset" ties between Brussels and a leader it has repeatedly criticised for human rights issues.

    Harsh words have been spoken recently, with Erdogan accusing the EU of turning the Mediterranean into a "cemetery" after global outrage erupted over pictures of Aylan Kurdi, a drowned Syrian Kurdish toddler whose body was washed up on a Turkish beach.

    The Turkish leader took a softer tone this week, telling parliament he wanted to open a "new page" and saying Ankara still wanted to join the European Union despite Brussels effectively closing the doors to all newcomers until 2020.

    "We are carrying on with our efforts for full membership of the EU as we struggle to find solutions to the problems we are facing in our region," Erdogan told parliament Thursday.

    One answer to the migrant crisis is more aid for Turkey, and EU leaders agreed at an emergency migrant summit last week to offer just that to Ankara as well as other countries in the region.

    But the EU believes Ankara could do more to tackle what it says is some 30,000 people smugglers in Turkey.

    It also wants to set up "hotspots" for registering asylum seekers on Turkish soil, but Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu recently ruled that out.

    However Erdogan, who last visited Brussels in 2014, is looking for new ways of tackling the problem.

    "Erdogan wants some new agreement on assistance for the refugees, something new and special, not something coming out of existing aid for Turkey," said Ian Lesser, director of the German Marshall Fund think-tank in Brussels.

    - 'Safe zone' and Kurdish issue -

    The Turkish president in particular pushed hard during a recent visit by Tusk on plans for a "safe zone" for civilians in northern Syria.

    In Brussels the suspicion is that this is less about people fleeing for their lives and more about Turkey's political strategy in the region -- particularly its campaign against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

    While the EU deems the PKK a terrorist organisation, it was disappointed to see Erdogan focus his attention on the Kurds rather than the Islamic State group, despite saying he would launch air strikes on both after a bloody bomb attack near the Syrian border in July.

    That torpedoed a 2013 truce between Turkey and the Kurds that the EU would like to see restored.

    "He is going to have some explaining to do on this," said Lesser of the German Marshall Fund.

    "Turkey is once again looking for support but the EU and the United States are dismayed by how the fight against IS has turned into a fight against the PKK."

    by Bryan McManus

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  • Shocking! At least 77 badly hurt after gas cylinder explodes

    03/Oct/2016 // 1418 Viewers


    NO fewer than seventy-seven , (77) people have been injured, five of them seriously, after a gas cylinder exploded on Saturday in a restaurant at about 1:00 p.m during a festival 

     The incident reportedly occurred in the Spanish town of Velez-Malaga  which is 40 km east of the popular tourist destination of Malaga on the southern coast, a spokesman for the Andalucia region's emergency unit said.

    Video footage posted on social media showed people fleeing a fire inside a small restaurant called "La Bohemia" close to the center of Velez-Malaga, with the street outside covered in debris.

    None of those seriously injured were at risk of death, a spokesman for the local hospital said. The majority of injuries were cuts and bruises.

    El Pais newspaper said a cook at the restaurant was able to alert customers to a fire in the kitchen, which gave most enough time to escape serious injury.

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  • Breaking: Eleven armed soldiers, one guardsman brutally killed by militants

    03/Sep/2016 // 2073 Viewers


    Militants showed no mercy in their latest attacks as none other than eleven armed soldiers were brutally killed and a village guardsman in two separate attacks on Friday in the eastern province of Van, Turkey, state media told AFP.  

    Eight Turkish soldiers were killed during clashes with rebels in the eastern province of Van on Friday, the governor’s office said, quoted by state-run news agency Anadolu.

    Eight soldiers were also injured in the same operation against the “separatist terror organisation”, the name Turkey gives to the PKK, Anadolu reported.

    Late on Friday, two soldiers and a village guard were killed in an attack on a checkpoint in Mardin in the restive southeast blamed on the PKK, the agency reported.

    The guard killed was part of a group of local residents who cooperate with Turkish security forces against the PKK, listed as a terror group by Ankara and its Western allies. Three security guards were also wounded.

    In a statement, the Van governor’s office said the condition of those in hospital was “good”, although their treatment continued.

    Thirteen PKK fighters were killed by Turkish jets around Tendurek mountains in Van province, the office said, while Anadolu reported that the operation supported by the air force continued.

    Since the collapse of a two-year ceasefire in July, Anadolu reported over 600 Turkish security force members have been killed by the PKK in renewed fighting.

    The government has responded with military operations against the group, killing more than 7,000 militants in Turkey and northern Iraq, the agency said. It is not possible to independently verify the toll.

    Activists claim innocent civilians have also been killed in the offensives.

    More than 40,000 people have been killed since the PKK first took up arms in 1984.


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  • British court convicts Maoist sect leader of rape

    04/Dec/2015 // 361 Viewers

    © AFP | Aravindan Balakrishnan brainwashed his followers and fathered a daughter with one of them, imprisoning her for 30 years
    LONDON (AFP) -
    A British court on Friday convicted a Maoist cult leader of raping two of his followers and imprisoning his own daughter for 30 years in the London commune that he ran.
    Aravindan Balakrishnan, 75, known as Comrade Bala, was at the heart of a communist group in the 1970s.
    The defendant was stone-faced as the guilty verdicts were read out but one of his former followers shouted: "You are sending an innocent man to prison. Shame on you!"
    He "used psychological and sexual oppression and violence to force his followers into believing he was a god," said Baljit Ubhey of the Crown Prosecution Service, which pursued the case against him.
    Balakrishnan came to Britain from Singapore in 1963 and enrolled at the London School of Economics.
    The trial heard that he had brainwashed his followers and fathered a daughter with one of them in 1983.
    The daughter, who has not been identified for legal reasons, was beaten and banned from going to school, singing nursery rhymes or making friends.
    She told the court that her father allowed her to read Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings after her 19th birthday because he believed he represented heroes in both novels -- Harry and Aragorn.
    But when she read the books she said she was instead inspired by her own likeness to Harry and Frodo, both little people fighting an "invincible dark lord".
    She fled in 2013 aged 30 with the help of a charity, and Balakrishnan was charged on multiple counts of violence against her and his followers.
    "I felt like a caged bird with clipped wings, like a fly in a spider's web," she told London's Southwark Crown Court earlier.
    Balakrishnan was at the height of his influence in the 1970s but his group later dwindled to six women including his wife Chandra.
    Balakrishnan convinced followers he controlled the sun, moon, wind and fire. They believed he had a mind control machine monitoring their thoughts.
    The two women he sexually abused were "cowed into submission" and forced into "deliberately degrading and humiliating" sex acts, prosecutor Rosina Cottage said during the trial.
    After raping one woman, he told her he was "purifying her", the prosecutor said.
    Source: France24

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  • London residents to elect new mayor

    04/May/2016 // 334 Viewers

    Residents in the British capital London will go to the polls Thursday to elect a new mayor, in a bitterly fought election that has exposed tensions and divisions within UK party politics.

    Surveys show the Labour Party’s Sadiq Khan, a former government minister, poised to defeat Conservative Party candidate Zac Goldsmith, the environmentalist scion of a billionaire businessman.

    Khan’s predicted victory over Goldsmith comes after a campaign marred by accusations of smears related to Khan’s Muslim faith and now, a worsening feud in the Labour Party over anti-Semitism.

    Ken Livingstone, Labour’s last mayor of London, was suspended from the party last week after defending a Member of Parliament(MP) who shared an anti-Semitic meme on her Facebook page.

    In lending support to Naz Shah, Livingstone claimed that Hitler had been a Zionist before he “went mad,” and then repeatedly refused to retract or apologize for his remarks.

    Meanwhile, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn — like Livingstone, a product of Labour’s far Left — was accused of failing to take a strong enough stand against anti-Semitism.

    Among his critics was Khan, who moved to distance himself from Corbyn and his party over the weekend. “I am an advocate of the Labour leadership … actually receiving some training on this stuff as clearly they don’t understand what racism is, and there is no hierarchy when it comes to racism,” he told The Observer. “There are too many examples in our party of people having these views, and action does not appear to have been taken quickly enough.”

    The affair threatens to widen the rift between the party’s establishment and its left wing, already yawning in the wake of Corbyn’s elevation from the party’s margins to its leader last year. - Press TV

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  • BREAKING: Whatsapp is down as messages sent from it refuse to go across the net

    04/May/2017 // 605 Viewers


    PARIS, MAY 4, 2017: (DGW) Whatsapp, the world's most popular chatting app is down across the world. The reason for it is yet unknown as messages sent from it refuse to go across the net.

    However, a worker and spokesperson in the employ of the networking company say the engineers are working to fix the problem and restore services to its clients and users worldwide.

    We will bring the details of this unfolding story. Stay connected.

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  • Spanish police arrest suspected terrorist cell with links to IS group

    04/Nov/2015 // 354 Viewers

    Spanish authorities said Tuesday they had broken up a "terrorist cell" linked to the Islamic State jihadist group with the arrest of three Moroccan men who aimed to carry out attacks in Madrid.

    Police arrested the trio, legal residents of Spain between the ages of 26 and 29, in pre-dawn raids in two neighbourhoods of the capital Madrid, the interior ministry said in a statement.

    "National police broke up in Madrid an active jihadist terrorist cell," it said.

    It added that authorities acted quickly to detain the men because "their reactions were very unpredictable" and they had "manifested their clear willingness to carry out an attack in Madrid".

    Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz said that, unlike in other recent cases of suspected jihadists arrested in Spain, the men were "not devoted to attracting, indoctrinating, radicalising, recruiting" people to travel to Syria or Iraq to join IS.

    "Their goal was to act in Spain," he said on Cadena Ser radio.

    The suspects "were ready to conduct indiscriminate attacks", including knife attacks like those recently conducted by Palestinian militants in Israel or deadly assaults with rifles, he added.

    The cell's leader recruited others by spreading IS doctrine while the other two detained men were "operatives" in charge of carrying out potential attacks, the interior ministry said.

    One of the suspects was detained in a large shantytown in southern Madrid and "had easy access to an illegal market for all types of weapons".

    No weapons were seized during the operation. The investigation remains open, the ministry said.

    Fears of attacks on home soil

    Like other European nations, Spain has been grappling with a growing number of jihadist cells on its territory and radicalised Muslims leaving to fight for IS or other Islamist groups in Iraq and Syria.

    More than 100 people from Spain are suspected of having joined jihadist fighters in Iraq and Syria and authorities fear they may return to launch attacks.

    Some 171 suspected jihadists have been detained in Spain since December 2011, according to the interior minister, most of them accused of recruiting for IS rather than actually planning attacks themselves.

    But in April, police arrested 11 people in the northeast region of Catalonia, suspected of links to IS and accused of planning local attacks.

    In January, police arrested four men in Spain's tiny north African territory Ceuta, accusing them of belonging to a group "prepared" to launch possible attacks in Spain.

    Spain raised its terror alert to four on a scale of five on June 26 following deadly attacks in France, Tunisia and Kuwait.

    It is the highest alert level since Al-Qaeda-inspired bombers blew up four packed commuter trains and killed 191 people in Madrid on March 11, 2004.

    The heightened alert calls for an increasing police presence on the streets of Spanish cities as well as at airports, railway and bus terminals, nuclear power plants and electrical installations.


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  • Tory MP Stephen Phillips quits over 'irreconcilable differences'

    04/Nov/2016 // 230 Viewers


    Conservative MP Stephen Phillips has quit over "irreconcilable policy differences" with the government.

    The MP, who has held the Lincolnshire seat of Sleaford and North Hykeham since 2010, backed leaving the EU but has accused ministers of ignoring Parliament since the Brexit vote.

    He said he was "unable properly to represent the people who elected me".
    It comes as Theresa May said she was confident she would win a legal battle over her approach to Brexit talks.

    On Thursday, three High Court judges ruled the government cannot officially notify the EU of its intention to leave, thus beginning formal talks, without Parliament's support.

    In a series of phone calls, the prime minister told European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker and Germany's Angela Merkel that the government believed it would win its Supreme Court appeal against the ruling and she was committed to triggering Article 50 by March 2017.

    'Growing differences'

    Although Mr Phillips represents a safe Conservative seat, his surprise departure increases the pressure on Mrs May's government - which has a working majority of 17.

    It is not yet clear whether Mr Phillips, who won the seat last year with a majority of more than 24,000, will stand as an independent in a future by-election although this is thought to be unlikely.

    Analysis by Ross Hawkins, BBC political correspondent

    The government's values were no longer his values. On child refugees, on the use of aid money, on the handling of Brexit, he dissented from a party he thought was heading inexorably to the right.

    That is the view from sources close to Stephen Phillips. One said he twice rejected a meeting with the prime minister.

    Will other Tories follow? Some on the party's left tell me they'd rather stay and fight. Others reflect ruefully that unlike him they have no well-paid alternative career as a barrister.

    A by-election in a safe seat won't much trouble party bosses. But while Downing Street doesn't want one, the departure of - yet another - Tory MP means the voices calling for a swift general election will grow a little louder.

    The politician and barrister is the second Conservative MP to stand down in as many weeks - Zac Goldsmith last week forced a by-election over his opposition to expanding Heathrow airport.

    Sources say Mr Phillips informed party whips earlier this week that he would resign as an MP because he felt his values were not the values of the government.

    He has been critical of the government's approach to Brexit since June's Leave vote, accusing Theresa May of trying to "ignore the views" of Parliament and avoiding scrutiny of the government's negotiating position.

    'Plain wrong'

    In a recent newspaper article, he suggested the government was "lurching to the right" and that its attempt to start negotiations with the EU without the explicit approval of Parliament was "divisive and plain wrong".

    In a statement, he did not spell out the specific reasons for his resignation but said: "It has become clear to me over the last few months that my growing and very significant policy differences with the current government mean that I am unable properly to represent the people who elected me.

    "This decision has been a difficult one and I hope that everyone will respect the fact that I have tried to act in the best interests of all of my constituents."

    In last year's election, Mr Phillips won a majority of 24,115, with 56% of the vote. Labour finished second, closely followed by UKIP.

    Labour said the impending by-election would be "more about Tory failure and in-fighting than what is in the best interests of the country".
    "It's clear that even Theresa May's own MPs realise that she has failed to lay out a convincing plan to deliver for Britain," said national campaign co-ordinator Jon Trickett.

    UKIP leadership contender Suzanne Evans has said she would like to be considered to be the party's candidate in the by-election.

    Asked about the resignation during a visit to Berlin, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson suggested it was part of the prevailing "sturm und drang" (storm and stress) over Brexit - a reference to the movement of 18th Century German writers who gave free expression to emotions and ideas which sought to break with tradition.

    He told reporters he did not believe that the legal battle over Parliament's role would "interfere" with the UK's Brexit timetable - insisting that the High Court ruling was "one stage" in the legal process and the British people had made their views clear.

    Mrs May has also been seeking to reassure EU leaders about the UK's commitment to Brexit following Thursday's legal setback.

    No 10 said she had explained the government was "disappointed" by the ruling but felt it "had strong legal arguments ahead of the case moving to the Supreme Court".

    The European Commission said the timetable for beginning talks was in the UK's hands.

    "The president explicitly said the legal order and the constitutional order of the UK will be respected and we won't speculate on a possible delay," a spokeswoman said.

    The UK voted by 52% to 48% to leave the European Union in a referendum on 23 June.

    The EU's other 27 member states have said negotiations about the terms of the UK's exit - due to last two years - cannot begin until Article 50 has been invoked. - BBC

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