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Sunday, March 17, 2019

World News, World News Updates, World News Headlines, Latest World News, Current Affairs

World News, World News Updates, World News Headlines, Latest World News, Current Affairs


Former Putin Advisor Who Died in the U.S. Had a Fractured Neck: Report

Posted: 16 Mar 2019 01:19 PM PDT

(WASHINGTON) — Newly released documents show that a former adviser to Russia’s president had a complete fracture of his neck “at or near the time of his death” in a Washington hotel room in 2015.

The documents from the city’s medical examiner were released to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.

In a report published Saturday, RFE says the finding offers no clear-cut evidence of foul play in the death of Mikhail Lesin, who was a key adviser to Russian leader Vladimir Putin during Putin’ rise to power.

But RFE says the documents provide “the most precise scientific description” yet of a death that’s been shrouded in suspicion. The official ruling was that Lesin died of blunt force trauma after falling repeatedly while intoxicated.

Teen in Viral Video Eggs Australian Politician Who Blamed Immigration for New Zealand Mosque Shootings

Posted: 16 Mar 2019 12:26 PM PDT

A video of a teenager egging an Australian senator who sparked international outrage with comments that he made about the New Zealand mosque shootings is going viral.

After the mass shooting on Friday, far-right Sen. Fraser Anning put out a statement in which he blamed Muslim immigrants for the terror attack on two Christchurch mosques that took the lives of 49 people and injured at least 40.

“Whilst this kind of violent vigilantism can never be justified, what it highlights is the growing fear within our community, both in Australia and New Zealand of the increasing Muslim presence,” Anning said in the statement. “The real cause of bloodshed on New Zealand streets today is the immigration program which allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place.”

A 17-year-old, who has not been identified by authorities, performed the egging during a Saturday event in Melbourne. He can be seen holding up his phone, seemingly to record the incident, before breaking a raw egg on the back of Anning’s head. Anning responds by turning around and hitting the boy in the face.

The senator then lunges for the teen and strikes him again before the two are separated.

A group of bystanders tackled the boy to the ground and held him until police arrived.

The teenager was briefly arrested but later released without being charged, according to Victoria police.

“The incident is being actively investigated by Victoria Police ‘in its entirety’ including the actions of [Anning] and others,” the department said in a statement.

Analysis Begins on the Voice Recorder Box From the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max Crash

Posted: 16 Mar 2019 11:50 AM PDT

BEA, the French agency for civil aviation safety, has begun technical work on the cockpit voice recorder from the Boeing 737 Max that crashed in Ethiopia, it said in a tweet on Saturday.

The work is being done in coordination with the Ethiopian investigation team. The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing Co. are also taking part.

In Ethiopia today, Transport Minister Dagmawit Moges said that it would take between five and six months to identify the victims of the Ethiopian Airlines jet.

BEA posted photos on its Twitter account of the recorder provided by the Ethiopian investigation team.

Ethiopia and France signed a memorandum of understanding to formalize the technical work to be done on the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder on Friday.

U.S. Navy Veteran Has Been Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison in Iran

Posted: 16 Mar 2019 11:36 AM PDT

(DUBAI, United Arab Emirates) — A U.S. Navy veteran from California has been sentenced to 10 years in prison in Iran, his lawyer said Saturday, becoming the first American known to be imprisoned there since President Donald Trump took office.

Though the case against Michael R. White remains unclear, it comes as Trump has taken a hard-line approach to Iran by pulling the U.S. out of Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers.

Iran, which in the past has used its detention of Westerners and dual nationals as leverage in negotiations, has yet to report on White’s sentence in state-controlled media. Its mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“Obviously the concern is that the Iranians are using this as a tool against the United States, given the other individuals who are in custody,” Washington-based lawyer Mark Zaid told The Associated Press.

White’s arrest was first reported by IranWire, an online news service run by Iranian expatriates, which interviewed a former Iranian prisoner who said he met White at Vakilabad Prison in the northeastern city of Mashhad in October.

In the time since, White has been convicted of insulting Iran’s supreme leader and posting private information online, Zaid said. He said the information surrounding the case remained vague. He learned of the sentence from the State Department, which in turn learned of it from the Swiss government, which looks after American interests in Iran.

The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment Saturday. The New York Times first reported White’s 10-year sentence.

White’s mother, Joanne White, had told the Times that her son, who lives in Imperial Beach, California, went to Iran to see a woman she described as his girlfriend and had booked a July 27 flight back home to San Diego via the United Arab Emirates. She filed a missing person report with the State Department after he did not board the flight. She added that he had been undergoing treatment for a neck tumor and has asthma.

White worked as a cook in the U.S. Navy and left the service about a decade ago.

Zaid said Saturday that White apparently traveled to Mashhad without informing the woman in advance. It remains difficult for Americans to get visas to Iran, 40 years after the Islamic Revolution and the U.S. Embassy hostage crisis.

“That’s certainly our concern, that’s he’s being used as a pawn,” Zaid said. “But we’re more in a confused state than an aware state.”

There are three other Americans known to be held in Iran.

Iranian-American Siamak Namazi and his octogenarian father Baquer, a former UNICEF representative who served as governor of Iran’s oil-rich Khuzestan province under the U.S.-backed shah, are both serving 10-year sentences on espionage charges. Iranian-American art dealer Karan Vafadari and his Iranian wife, Afarin Neyssari, received 27-year and 16-year prison sentences, respectively. Chinese-American graduate student Xiyue Wang was sentenced to 10 years in prison for allegedly “infiltrating” the country while doing doctoral research on Iran’s Qajar dynasty.

Iranian-American Robin Shahini was released on bail in 2017 after staging a hunger strike while serving an 18-year prison sentence for “collaboration with a hostile government.” Shahini has since return to America and is now suing Iran in U.S. federal court.

Also in an Iranian prison is Nizar Zakka, a U.S. permanent resident from Lebanon who advocated for internet freedom and has done work for the U.S. government. He was sentenced to 10 years on espionage-related charges.

Former FBI agent Robert Levinson, who vanished in Iran in 2007 while on an unauthorized CIA mission, remains missing. Iran says that Levinson is not in the country and that it has no further information about him, though his family holds Tehran responsible for his disappearance.

Chelsea Clinton Confronted at Vigil for New Zealand Mosque Shooting Victims Over Her Criticism of Rep. Ilhan Omar

Posted: 16 Mar 2019 10:04 AM PDT

While attending a New York City vigil for the victims of mass shootings at two mosques in New Zealand on Friday, Chelsea Clinton was confronted by a NYU student over recent criticism of Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar.

Clinton was one of numerous public and political figures who condemned Omar’s controversial comments on Israel last month as perpetuating “anti-Semitic tropes.” Omar is one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress.

In a since-deleted tweet, Omar suggested that politicians only support Israel because of donations from wealthy Jewish people. Clinton called out the freshman Democrat for allegedly trafficking in anti-Semitism. “We should expect all elected officials, regardless of party, and all public figures to not traffic in anti-Semitism,” Clinton tweeted.

In a viral video from the vigil, a student can be seen confronting Clinton for rhetoric that she says “stoked” the hatred of Muslims that led to Friday’s terror attack on two Christchurch mosques that took the lives of 49 people and injured at least 40. Twitter user @vivafalastin has claimed to be the student featured in the video.

“This right here is the result of a massacre stoked by people like you and the words that you put into the world,” the student tells Clinton in the video. “And I want you to know that and I want you to feel that deeply — 49 people died because of the rhetoric you put out there.”

“I’m so sorry that you feel that way,” Clinton responds. “Certainly, it was never my intention. I do believe words matter. I believe we have to show solidarity.”

Prominent conservatives such as President Donald Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., and Fox News host Tucker Carlson have spoken out in support of Clinton since the video began making the online rounds.

“It’s sickening to see people blame @ChelseaClinton for the NZ attacks because she spoke out against anti-Semitism,” Trump Jr. tweeted. “We should all be condemning anti-Semitism & all forms of hate. Chelsea should be praised for speaking up. Anyone who doesn’t understand this is part of the problem.”

Australia Struggles to Make Sense of Its Role in the New Zealand Massacre

Posted: 16 Mar 2019 08:58 AM PDT

Flags flew at half-mast against a grey sky over the Sydney Harbour Bridge on Saturday, as Australia tried to make sense of what just happened on the other side of the Tasman Sea. Some Muslim women ventured out of their homes only after removing their hijab. Others stayed indoors, still in a state of shock and fear. Parents struggled to explain the tragedy to children, some of whom watched it unfold; a live-stream of the atrocity was widely seen and shared, despite all efforts to stop it from spreading.

The terror attack in Christchurch, New Zealand, claimed 49 lives as a man armed with semi-automatic weapons covered in white supremacist iconography opened fire inside two mosques where scores of people, including children, gathered for Friday prayers. The episode sent shock waves around the world, but it also exposed divisions over who belongs in Australia, where the suspect was born and raised. In parts of the commonwealth, academics and rights advocates say white nationalism has seen a resurgence and Islamophobia has become normalized amid the nation’s struggle to cope with immigration.

Outside Australia’s multicultural urban centers, divisions can sometimes be hidden in plain sight. The rural town of Grafton, about 310 miles northeast of Sydney in New South Wales, is best known as the host of an annual festival celebrating its jacaranda trees — purple-coated canopies lining streets dotted with Victorian architecture. Of its roughly 17,000 people, one quietly — unexpectedly, some who know him said — turned to violent extremism.

Read more: New Zealand Picks Up the Pieces After the Worst Massacre in Its History

Not much is known about Brenton Harrison Tarrant, 28, who on Saturday appeared in a Christchurch court to face a charge of murder. New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who characterized the event as a “terrorist attack,” has said that more charges will follow. In a press conference shortly after Tarrant and three other people were arrested, Ardern said those responsible had “absolutely no place in New Zealand and in fact… no place in the world.” Her counterpart across the sea, Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison, condemned the “violent, extremist, right-wing terrorist attack,” upon learning the suspected killer was bred within his country’s borders.

Colleagues and neighbors say they didn’t see it coming. Tarrant attended the local high school, then got a job at the Big River Squash and Fitness Center. His former boss, the facility’s owner Tracey Gray, told the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age that he trained excessively, was dedicated to health and fitness, and didn’t show any outward sign of “extremist views” or “crazy behavior.” She said that during his employment he never seemed to run afoul of the values of the fitness industry: inclusivity, helping people of all kinds achieve their physical potential.

Others were less surprised, particularly those among the Muslim community, some of whom say the political climate in Australia has become hospitable to hatred. Mariam Veiszadeh, a young Afghan-born lawyer and president of the Islamophobia Register, says she has observed a steady uptick of threats and abuse against Muslims for years. Hijab-wearing acquaintances have been verbally demeaned. A friend, walking through Sydney’s central railway station, was spat on squarely in the face. “In broad daylight,” Veiszadeh said, “with hundreds of people walking by.”

Much attention has been paid, she says, to preventing the radicalization of Muslim youth, while less has been done to assess the reach and root causes of radicalization among young, disenfranchised white men. In her view, they’re two sides of the same coin. “In fact, one feeds the other,” she says.

The past year alone has seen a number of alarming developments in Australian politics that some say hint at a growing problem. Late last year, far-right politician Pauline Hanson proposed a motion to formally acknowledge a rise in what she considered anti-white racism that borrowed language from the white supremacist movement. Also late last year, a political party from New South Wales, the NSW Nationals, banned 22 of its members for life after discovering that they had links to neo-Nazi and fascist groups. The party further forbid its members from joining any of a number of so-called alt-right groups that appeared to be gaining some currency in the country: Squadron 88, the Lads Society, the Dingoes, New Guard and Antipodean Resistance.

The social fault lines that underpin nationalist sentiment are increasingly spilling out into the open. On Friday, Senator Fraser Anning of Queensland suggested on Twitter that Muslim immigration was ultimately to blame for the violence in Christchurch, just hours after the attack. The following day he was met by protestors at a media event in Melbourne and struck in the back of the head with an egg. The conservative senator, who in 2018 drew widespread criticism when he called for a “final solution” to Australia’s “immigration problem,” responded by punching the young demonstrator in the face.

But the causes of Australia’s divisions are multifold and cannot be blamed on leaders alone, says Anne Aly, the first Muslim member of Australia’s national parliament. “We can’t look at terrorism in a vacuum; it grows within a social context and environment,” she tells TIME. “I think we’ve had such context and environment that allows the white supremacist, anti-Muslim discourse, to thrive.”

Bilal Rauf, a spokesperson for the Australian National Imams Council, tells TIME that public figures in Australia who allow divisive rhetoric to spread are creating “an environment where people who have radical views and ideas feel emboldened to act.” In the wake of the attack in Christchurch, he says, “it’s even more important that we stand in solidarity against it.”

— With reporting by Hillary Leung / Hong Kong

Pittsburgh Jewish Group Raises Money for New Zealand Muslim Community After Mosque Shootings

Posted: 16 Mar 2019 07:56 AM PDT

A Pittsburgh Jewish group is raising money for the victims of mass shootings at two mosques in New Zealand as a show of gratitude for the previous generosity shown by Muslim groups.

Last October, after a gunman killed 11 people at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue, Muslim groups were quick to raise money for the Jewish community there.

In the wake of Friday’s terror attack on two Christchurch mosques that took the lives of 49 people and injured at least 40, the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh is working to reciprocate the support that Pittsburgh’s Jewish community received from Muslim groups in its own time of need.

Last October, a crowdfunding campaign called “Muslims Unite for Pittsburgh Synagogue” raised more than $200,000 in four days for the Pittsburgh shooting victims. In a Friday statement, the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh said it is now accepting donations to help repay that kindness.

“Unfortunately, we are all too familiar with the devastating effect a mass shooting has on a faith community,” said Meryl Ainsman, chair of the board of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh. “We are filled with grief over this senseless act of hate. May those who were injured heal quickly and fully, and may the memories of the victims forever be a blessing.”

According to the statement, donors can give online at the Jewish Federation’s website, or send checks to 2000 Technology Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15219.

‘Yellow Vest’ Protestors Set Fires in France on 18th Straight Weekend of Demonstrations

Posted: 16 Mar 2019 07:17 AM PDT

(PARIS) — French yellow vest protesters set life-threatening fires, smashed up luxury stores and clashed with police Saturday in the 18th straight weekend of demonstrations against President Emmanuel Macron. Large plumes of smoke rose above the rioting on Paris’ landmark Champs-Elysees avenue, and a mother and her child were just barely saved from a building blaze.

The resurgent violence came as protesters are seeking to breathe new life into a movement that seemed to be fizzling, and get attention from French leaders and media whom they see as underplaying their economic justice cause and favoring the elite.

Paris police appeared to be caught off guard by the speed and severity of the unrest. French police tried to contain the demonstrators with repeated volleys of tear gas and water cannon, with limited success.

Cobblestones flew in the air and smoke from fires set by protesters mingled with clouds of tear gas sprayed by police, as tensions continued for hours along the Champs-Elysees.

One perilous fire targeted a bank on the ground floor of a seven-story residential building. As firetrucks rushed over, a mother and her child were rescued as the fire threatened to engulf their floor, Paris’ fire service told The Associated Press. Eleven people in the building, including two firefighters, sustained light injuries, as other residents were evacuated.

Protest organizers had hoped to make a splash Saturday, which marks the 4-month anniversary of yellow vest movement that started Nov. 17. It also marks the end of a two-month national debate that Macron organized to respond to protesters’ concerns about sinking living standards, stagnant wages and high unemployment.

The violence started minutes after the protesters gathered Saturday, when they threw smoke bombs and other objects at officers along the famed Champs-Elysees — scene of repeated past rioting — and started pounding on the windows of a police van, prompting riot police to retreat.

Simultaneous fires were also put out from two burning newspaper kiosks, which sent black smoke high into the sky. Several protesters posed for a photo in front of one charred kiosk.

Demonstrators also targeted symbols of the luxury industry, as shops including brands Hugo Boss and Lacoste were smashed up and pillaged, and mannequins thrown out of the broken windows. A posh eatery called Fouquet’s, which is associated with politicians and celebrities, was vandalized and set on fire. A vehicle burned outside the luxury boutique Kenzo, one of many blazes on and around the Champs-Elysees.

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said on French television that an estimated 10,000 yellow vest protesters were in Paris and another 4,500 protesters were demonstrating around France. He also said the crowd included 1,500 “ultraviolent ones who are there to smash things up.”

Still, the numbers paled beside the 30,000 people estimated to be taking part in a separate climate march that was weaving through Paris at the same time, according to Castaner.

And the number of yellow vest protesters remains smaller than early in the movement, when it drew masses to the streets nationwide and polls showed a majority of French people supporting their cause. Since then, repeated rioting by the protesters and economic concessions by Macron have diminished public support for the yellow vest cause.

Paris police told The Associated Press that 109 people were arrested in Paris on Saturday.

Yellow vest groups representing teachers, unemployed people and labor unions were among those that organized dozens of rallies and marches.

Protesters dismiss Macron’s national debate on the economy as empty words and a campaign ploy to gain support for the European Parliament elections in May. Protesters are angry over high taxes and Macron policies seen as coddling business.

Many protesters, particularly those on the political extremes, see the national debate as a failure.

“As long as we don’t get any results, we will continue (to protest) for all we asked for: pay rises, pensions, purchasing power, food waste. Everything,” said Martine Sous, a protester from the Eure region west of Paris.

While the rioters drew most attention Saturday, most of the protesters remain peaceful.

“We are pacifists,” Sous insisted.

Conservative Commentator Milo Yiannopoulos Not Allowed in Australia After New Zealand Mosque Shooting Comments

Posted: 16 Mar 2019 07:12 AM PDT

Australia said conservative commentator Milo Yiannopoulos won’t be allowed to enter the country for a tour this year after his comments on the mass shooting in New Zealand.

The alt-right provocateur and former Breitbart journalist said on Facebook that attacks such as the one in Christchurch happened “because the establishment panders to and mollycoddles extremist leftism and barbaric, alien religious cultures.”

A shooter walked into a packed mosque in the South Island city of Christchurch on Friday afternoon and opened fire on worshipers, filming and live-streaming the act to social media. He drove to another mosque and continued the massacre, killing 49 people and leaving several still fighting for their lives.

“Yiannopoulos’ comments on social media regarding the Christchurch terror attack are appalling and foment hatred and division,” David Coleman, Australia’s minister for immigration, citizenship and multicultural affairs, said in a statement. “The terrorist attack in Christchurch was carried out on Muslims peacefully practicing their religion. It was an act of pure evil.”

Yiannopoulos defended his comments after the ban was announced.

“I explicitly denounced violence,” he said. “And I criticized the establishment for pandering to Islamic fundamentalism. So Australia banned me again.”

Twitter banned Yiannopoulos, who is British but has lived in the U.S., from its platform in 2016.

Earlier this month, he was granted permission to visit Australia for a speaking tour that would take place before an election in May, the Australian Associated Press reported. His trip there in December 2017 sparked violence after opposing protesters clashed outside a venue where he was speaking, the report said.

Tropical Cyclone Kills Over 140 People in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi

Posted: 16 Mar 2019 07:01 AM PDT

(HARARE, Zimbabwe) — Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi have been hit by a vicious cyclone that has killed more than 140 people, left hundreds more missing and stranded tens of thousands who are cut off from roads and telephones in mainly poor, rural areas.

U.N. and government officials report that Cyclone Idai has affected more than 1.5 million people in the three southern African countries.

Hardest hit is Mozambique’s central port city of Beira where the airport is closed, electricity is out and hundreds of homes have been destroyed. The storm hit Beira late Thursday and moved westward into Zimbabwe and Malawi, affecting thousands more, particularly in eastern areas bordering Mozambique.

Homes, schools, businesses, hospitals and police stations have been destroyed by the cyclone. Thousands have been marooned by the heavy flooding.