DDMA Headline Animator

Friday, July 22, 2016

Second aid shipment for Gaza by September Eid

15 July 2016 Friday

Turkey will ready another aid ship to Gaza before the Eid-al-Adha holiday in September, Deputy Prime Minister Veysi Kaynak said on Thursday.

Speaking in Turkey's capital Ankara, Kaynak confirmed that another aid ship will be readied before the Eid of Sacrifice.

Following a breakthrough restoration of Turkish-Israeli ties, a Turkish aid ship carrying 11,000 tons of supplies for the Gaza Strip arrived at Israel’s Ashdod port on July 3, just before the post-Ramadan Eid al-Fitr holiday.

The Panama-flagged Lady Leyla delivered 10,000 toys and 10,000 packages of food and aid for children in Gaza.

Kaynak recalled how Turkey and Israel froze their ties in 2010 after Israeli troops stormed the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara aid ship in international waters, killing 10 Turkish activists.

"Israel realized our terms to revive relations between the two countries,” he said. “Israel agreed that Turkey will be the coordinating country in delivering humanitarian aid to Gaza."

Kaynak said that distribution of the aid shipment -- food, toys, and packages of aid for children -- began on the first day of the Eid al-Fitr holiday and still continues.

He also confirmed that the new shipment will deliver as much aid as the first.

Under the deal reached between Turkey and Israel -- in addition to agreeing to Turkey’s humanitarian presence in Gaza -- Israel will pay $20 million in compensation to the families of the Mavi Marmara victims.

Source: World Bulletin.
Link: http://www.worldbulletin.net/todays-news/174968/second-aid-shipment-for-gaza-by-september-eid.

Hamas says to take part in Palestinian vote

15 July 2016 Friday

The Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas which controls the Gaza Strip said Friday it will participate in local elections set for October, after boycotting the last round four years ago.

Its rival, the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority headed by president Mahmud Abbas, has said local and municipal polls will be held on October 8 throughout the Palestinian territories.

The movement boycotted the last round of elections held in 2012 and Gazans have been unable to vote since the Islamists took power in the territory in 2007.

"Hamas will work for the success of these elections and will facilitate them in the interest of the people and the (Palestinian) cause," the statement said.

Hamas and Fatah agreed a unity deal in April 2014 that was supposed to lead to a technocratic government taking over administration of Gaza and the West Bank.

However, Hamas never accepted relinquishing its authority in Gaza, and the two sides remain at loggerheads.

Source: World Bulletin.
Link: http://www.worldbulletin.net/todays-news/174992/hamas-says-to-take-part-in-palestinian-vote.

Venezuelan opposition says hurdle cleared in Maduro recall

July 20, 2016

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuela's opposition said Wednesday that officials have validated enough signatures to proceed to the next phase of a referendum to recall unpopular President Nicolas Maduro.

Opposition leader Jesus Torrealba said election officials confirmed the validity of some 407,000 signatures that were under review, more than double the 200,000 signatures required. "There is no formal, legal or technical excuse for them not to immediately convoke the next phase" of the referendum process, Torrealba told The Associated Press.

The National Election Council has not confirmed the validation of the signatures, but Torrealba said he expects an announcement soon. If confirmed, the opposition can begin collecting the roughly 4 million signatures needed to hold the referendum. If a vote is held, the president would be removed only if the number of anti-Maduro votes exceeded the 7.6 million votes he received in the 2013 election. In December's parliamentary elections, opposition candidates mustered 7.7 million votes even and currently control the legislature.

Opposition leaders blame Maduro's socialist policies for rampant inflation and shortages of food, medicine and other basic goods. They are also demanding the release of jailed activists they call political prisoners. Maduro denies there are political prisoners and blames the shortages on an "economic war" by his enemies.

In May, the opposition turned in petitions that it said carried the signatures of 1.8 million voters seeking the removal. But Maduro alleged there was fraud in the process, and many of the signatures were under review by election authorities. Government officials have also presented legal claims against the recall drive to the Attorney General's Office and the National Election Council.

Opposition leaders accuse government officials of dragging their feet on the referendum. Maduro's term expires in 2019. "The road to the referendum will no longer be a circuitous route but a highway to change," said Torrealba, hoping the plebiscite can be held this year.

Polls indicate that Maduro's popularity is around 23 percent. A study by the Venezuelan Observatory of Social Conflict said there were an average of 24 protests a day in June, about a third of them triggered by food shortages.

Prominent journalist killed in car bombing in Ukraine

July 20, 2016

MOSCOW (AP) — A prominent journalist was killed in a car bombing in Ukraine's capital, Kiev, on Wednesday, sending shockwaves through the Ukrainian journalist community that was shaped by the gruesome killing of the publication's founder 16 years ago.

The country's top online news website Ukrainska Pravda said its journalist Pavel Sheremet died in an explosion early on Wednesday as he got into his car to drive to work. The publication said the car was owned by its editor-in-chief. Images from the scene showed the charred car stranded in the middle of a cobbled street.

Anton Gerashchenko, advisor to the Ukrainian interior minister, said in a Facebook post that the explosion was triggered by a remotely operated bomb planted underneath the car. Ukraine's media community was deeply affected by the brutal slaying of Ukrainska Pravda founder Heorhiy Gongadze in 2000. Police never found the killers of the investigative journalist although the probe dragged on for years and Ukraine's then-president was accused by rights groups of involvement in the murder based on tape recordings made by the president's bodyguard.

Current President Petro Poroshenko offered his condolences to Sheremet's friends and family and said he has instructed law-enforcement agencies to conduct "a speedy investigation into this crime." The 44-year old Belarusian-born journalist irked officials in Belarus and Russia before he moved to Ukraine, where he said there were fewer hurdles to independent reporting. Outpourings of grief came Wednesday morning from politicians and journalists in all three countries.

In 1997, Belarus convicted Sheremet of illegally crossing its border and sentenced him to three years in prison for his investigation on the porous border between Belarus and Lithuania. He served three months in prison before he was released. Sheremet faced threats and harassment in Belarus and was badly beaten in 2004 while covering an election. Several years later he moved to Russia to work in television.

In a media landscape sanitized by the authoritarian Belorussian government, Sheremet — while living abroad — founded Belaruspartisan.org which went on to become one of the country's leading independent news websites. He moved to Ukraine in 2014 after what he said was pressure from his Russian television bosses over the reporting of ongoing opposition protests in Kiev.

Sheremet is survived by a son and a daughter who live in Minsk.

Serbia to send army, police on borders because of migrants

July 16, 2016

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Serbia says it will deploy joint army and police patrols on the borders with Bulgaria and Macedonia to curb illegal entry of migrants and people smuggling. Serbia's move comes days after EU member Hungary started applying harsher border control rules that include sending migrants back across the border to Serbia.

Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said Saturday that "Serbia cannot be a parking ground for people from Afghanistan or Pakistan whom no one else in Europe wishes to accept." Vucic adds that "Serbia must protect its national interests," but that refugees who apply for asylum in Serbia will be granted help.

Greece: 8 Turkish military personnel sentenced to 2 months

July 21, 2016

ALEXANDROUPOLIS, Greece (AP) — A Greek court on Thursday sentenced eight Turkish military personnel who fled to Greece aboard a helicopter during an attempted coup in their country to two months in prison on charges of illegal entry into Greece.

All eight — six pilots and two engineers — received the same sentence, with the recognition of mitigating circumstances of having acted while under threat. The pilot was acquitted of an additional charge of violating flight regulations, and the other seven of being accomplices in the violation.

The sentence was suspended for three years, but they were being held in custody pending resolution of their asylum applications. Turkey has demanded their return to stand trial for participation in Friday's coup attempt. The eight deny involvement and have applied for asylum, saying they fear for their safety amid widespread purges in Turkey in the aftermath of the attempted overthrow of the government.

The eight arrived at the courthouse in handcuffs and with their heads covered by T-shirts or towels in an attempt to protect their identities. Their asylum applications were being examined, and they will appear before immigration authorities on July 27 for the second time for interviews.

The eight landed at the airport of the northeastern Greek city of Alexandroupolis early Saturday in a Black Hawk helicopter after issuing a mayday signal and requesting permission for an emergency landing, which was granted.

During Thursday's court proceedings, all testified that they were crew members of three helicopters and had been unaware that a coup attempt was underway. They said they had been tasked with transporting wounded soldiers and civilians and that their helicopters had come under fire from police and others on the ground.

They said they landed at a military base near a hospital and came under fire again, and were told by their unit not to return to their home base because the situation was too dangerous. After heading to another location, the personnel decided to flee for their lives in one helicopter, they said.

The eight spent the night in a clearing in woodland, where they found out from the internet on mobile phones that an attempted coup had taken place and that anyone in military uniform was being detained.

After debating on whether to flee to Bulgaria, Romania or Greece, they decided on the latter. A Greek policeman also testifying in the trial said all eight were unarmed and cooperative after landing, offered no resistance to arrest, surrendered immediately and asked for political asylum.

French workers get fewer protections under new law

July 20, 2016

PARIS (AP) — French workers lost some of their famed labor protections Wednesday, as the government tries to keep up with the global economy by weakening union powers and giving employers more freedom to fire people and lengthen their hours.

It was a bitter victory for President Francois Hollande. The bill unleashed months of violent protests and tore apart his Socialist Party, and the government had to force it through Parliament without a vote. And conservative critics say it doesn't go far enough and won't make a difference.

At Paris' Republique plaza, the nucleus of the protest movement, a couple dozen die-hards remained Wednesday amid tourists, drinkers and vagrants. A 26-year-old named Adele said their failed fight against the law was "just one of the struggles. ... Now we've learned to lose one."

Despite the tensions, it is a watershed moment for France. Here are some key things in the new law:


The bill formally maintains the 35-hour workweek, but allows companies to organize alternative working time. Workers would be able to put in a 46-hour workweek, and up to 12-hour shifts, during a temporary period. In cases of "exceptional circumstances," employees could work up to 60 hours a week. The changes are aimed at allowing companies to adapt to business booms and off-peak periods. One measure allows some workers to give up days off in exchange for higher salaries.


The most sensitive part of the reform is a measure allowing businesses not to follow industry-wide union agreements if they have their own specific company deal instead - as long as it is negotiated with union representatives. Lawmakers compromised on some aspects of this measure, but labor unions still fear companies will use it to exploit their workers.


Shedding workers is complex in France and cited as a big reason employers hesitate to hire people on long-term contracts. The bill spells out more clearly the motives allowing layoffs in businesses of less than 300 employees in case of financial difficulties - such as a drop in orders, or lower revenue for a certain number of quarters. The idea is to limit lawsuits from fired employees and create more flexibility for businesses.


While some worker protections were reduced in the law, one 21st-century protection was added: The law aims at helping employees apply their "right to disconnect." Companies of more than 50 people would need to negotiate a "charter of good conduct" with union representatives. The text would detail the hours, usually in the evening and over the weekend, when employees are not expected to be connected to their "digital tools," from emails to smartphones and laptops.

Associated Press writer Raphael Satter in Paris contributed to this report.

New British foreign secretary arrives for first EU meeting

July 18, 2016

BRUSSELS (AP) — New British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who recently likened the European Union to Adolf Hitler's vision for Europe, came to Brussels Monday to meet for the first time with his EU colleagues, and said he hopes to cooperate closely.

Johnson led a winning campaign to persuade British voters to leave the European Union, but said the referendum's outcome last month "in no sense means we are leaving Europe." "We are not going to be in any way abandoning our leading role in European cooperation and participation of all kinds," Johnson said before the start of an EU foreign ministers' meeting. He said last week's attack in Nice, France, showed the need for European countries to coordinate their response to terrorism, and that he would support an EU call for "restraint and moderation" in Turkey following the failed military putsch there.

Despite Johnson's anti-EU stance, Federica Mogherini, the bloc's foreign policy chief, told reporters that "our common work on foreign and security policy continues and today we will welcome him as a new member of the family."

Johnson and Mogherini met privately in Brussels on Sunday evening and "had a good exchange on the main issues on the agenda today," the EU official said. French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, who has said Johnson "lied a lot" to turn British public opinion against the EU, vowed to speak to him "with the greatest sincerity and frankness." Ayrault also called for a quick start to formal talks on Britain's exit from the 28-nation bloc to end what he called the current situation of uncertainty as to the country's intentions and relationship with its European partners.

Johnson, 52, a former London mayor and Brussels-based journalist, was appointed foreign secretary by new Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday. "It is very good to be here for my first overseas trip," he told reporters Monday morning as he arrived at EU headquarters, also referring to his colleagues from other member states as "our friends."

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph in May, during the referendum campaign, Johnson said the EU was trying to build a super-state, recreating the Roman Empire. "Napoleon, Hitler, various people tried this out, and it ends tragically. The EU is an attempt to do this by different methods," he was quoted as saying.

At Monday's foreign ministers' meeting, Johnson "did not present his excuses" to his colleagues for those remarks, Ayrault said, but he added that he didn't feel personally slighted. The Frenchman said he and his colleagues are conscious that the EU grew out of attempts to build a more peaceful and prosperous Europe on the ruins of World War II.

Ayrault told a post-meeting news conference that the frequently flamboyant Johnson behaved with "a certain modesty" at the session. Britain's new top diplomat didn't hold a news conference of his own, but emerged for about two minutes to speak with journalists. Johnson said he'd had a "long, productive day."

Asked what sort of reception he was given by the other EU ministers, he answered simply: "very good."

Fortune, friction and decline as casino 'Chinatown' matures

July 22, 2016

UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP) — No ornate archway marks it. No obvious business district with exotic signs and storefronts sets it apart. But in the quiet neighborhoods around two of the nation's largest casinos, a sort of suburban Chinatown has been growing for over a decade.

Drawn from New York and Boston by good-paying jobs at the Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods resorts, Chinese and other Asian immigrants have been buying homes, raising families and growing their own food in what had once been largely white communities along Connecticut's Thames River.

"Fresh air and more trees. I can even fish," Xu Song Mu, a 62-year-old former Mohegan Sun worker who moved from Queens with his family about eight years ago, said through a translator as he loaded his SUV with fishing gear one July day. "In New York, I couldn't do that."

The influx has caused tension with some locals, who complain about too many people crammed into single-family homes and of front lawns in well-manicured neighborhoods turned into miniature farms to feed large families.

Enforcement, education among the Chinese community and, more recently, big job cuts at the casinos have all helped diminish risky practices like "hot-bedding" — workers cramming into houses and sleeping in shifts — town officials say. But some longtime residents remain unhappy.

"I kind of wish it was quiet like before," said Peter Bulyk, a 70-year-old retiree whose house abuts a wooded trail many casino workers traverse to get from their homes to Mohegan Sun. "It's a nuisance hearing them walking and talking all hours of the night."

Stephen Fan, a 34-year-old Norwich native who has spotlighted his hometown's Chinese community in an architecture and photo exhibit next on display in Oslo, Norway, said the persistent grumbling shows relations still need work.

"Had these been hipsters from Williamsburg doing the same things — starting little gardens, living communally, walking to work — I think it would have been received very differently," the Brooklyn designer said.

What's happening in Connecticut can be seen — or anticipated — elsewhere. A similar demographic shift is at work near the Sands Casino in the old steel town of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, said Chloe Taft, a former Yale lecturer and author of "From Steel to Slots: Casino Capitalism in the Postindustrial City." Other states in the Northeast, where more casinos open each year, can expect the same, she said.

Many casinos actively recruit Chinese-speaking workers to cater to Chinese patrons, adherents to an ancient gambling tradition who tend to bet big and play for hours. The Chinese community around Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods started to take shape in the early 2000s as the two casinos, which opened in the 1990s, expanded, and garment factories in New York City, where many Chinese immigrants worked, began closing.

A smattering of Asian markets, restaurants and other enterprises has cropped up along the strip malls, historic main streets and busy throughways leading to the mega-resorts. But the change is most apparent in cul-de-sacs nearest the casinos.

Many homes bought by Chinese immigrants like Xu Song Mu and his two brothers are immediately recognizable by the rows of bamboo and fruit trees, string beans, tomatoes, eggplant, squash and other crops that cover nearly every inch of their lawns.

The changes are also apparent in the public schools, where report cards and other notices sent home with students are translated into Chinese dialects and interpreters are on hand for parent-teacher meetings.

All non-native English speaking Chinese who attended Montville High School from 2003-2014 went to college, with many earning scholarships or admission into top-tier schools like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said Robert Thorn, head of the school's English Language Learners program.

Among those success stories is Yang Xu, a 24-year-old engineer at UTC Aerospace Systems who graduated from the University of Connecticut. His parents left jobs as high school teachers in China for lower-skill jobs at Mohegan Sun over a decade ago so he could get an American education.

"It was a huge sacrifice for my parents," said Xu, unrelated to Xu Song Mu. "It was almost like they gambled their future for mine." But as the Chinese community matures, new challenges are emerging. The casinos have slashed their workforce as revenues plummet in the face of new competition throughout the Northeast. The contraction means fewer new immigrant families. And some that bought homes just a few years ago are trying to sell so they can seek work elsewhere, town officials and Chinese community leaders said.

Xu Song Mu, a father of two grown children, is among those at a crossroads. He was laid off from Mohegan Sun in May, and his wife and brothers have also seen their casino hours cut. The couple's four-bedroom raised ranch home is likely worth less today than when they bought it in 2007 for $220,000, with similar houses in the area, which hasn't fully recovered from the recession, selling for closer to $150,000.

For now, though, he and his wife have no plans to pull up stakes. The two say they're in good health, and Xu, who has been in the country for 30 years and is a U.S. citizen, can draw from his Social Security benefits while his wife works a little longer.

"We'll be here," he said. "At least as long as I can drive a car and get around."

Zambia's election watchdog threatens to ban parties

15 July 2016 Friday

Zambia’s political parties were threatened with bans Friday following violence between opposing supporters in the run-up to next month’s elections.

The Electoral Commission of Zambia also warned candidates they could be barred from standing if they are found to be inciting or taking part in violence.

“It is not the wish of the commission to disqualify political parties or candidates from taking part in an election but if the violent activities continue… the commission will have no option but to invoke the electoral laws and disqualify erring parties and candidates,” commission Chairman Esau Chulu said.

The weeks leading up to the Aug. 11 presidential, parliamentary and local polls have been marked by clashes between the supporters of the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) and the opposition United Party for National Development (UPND).

On July 9, campaigning was suspended in the capital Lusaka by the commission following PF-UPND confrontations that left four dead. “We don’t want this to happen either in the remaining campaigns days before the elections or after the elections,” Chulu said.

He added that campaigning had also been suspended in Namwala district, southern province, after outbreaks of violence.

The disqualification of a party would mean all its candidates -- from the presidential hopeful to local government candidates -- would be barred from standing for election.

Chulu said it was the responsibility of all political parties to ensure the campaigns are held in a peaceful atmosphere.

“As for the Zambia police, the commission would like to see that the police apply the POA [Public Order Act] fairly as they maintain law and order ahead of the general elections in August,” he added.

“We believe the selective application of the POA is partly to blame for the violence being witnessed in some parts of the country.”

Source: World Bulletin.
Link: http://www.worldbulletin.net/todays-news/174994/zambias-election-watchdog-threatens-to-ban-parties.

South Sudan government rejects foreign troops, backs protest

July 20, 2016

JUBA, South Sudan (AP) — South Sudan's government on Wednesday organized a protest against the deployment of foreign troops to secure its capital after recent clashes between opposing army factions left hundreds dead.

The African Union this week called for a "regional protection force" to bolster a 12,000-strong U.N. peacekeeping mission in the East African country and separate warring parties. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has supported reinforcing the mission.

The spokesman for South Sudan's former rebel leader Riek Machar, now first vice president, says Machar has also called for a "third force" to secure the capital, Juba, after President Salva Kiir's forces bombed his house during the fighting that raised fears of a return to civil war.

The spokesman, James Gatdet Dak, said Machar fled Juba and will not return, despite Kiir's invitation, until such an outside force is in place. Hundreds marched Wednesday denouncing the intervention of foreign troops.

"If the international community continues to bring in all their alleged military in South Sudan, we will fight them whether they come by air or by road," protest organizer Ajongo Ajongo said. "We will be malicious. South Sudan will become even worse place than Afghanistan. Let the peace come from us. Don't impose things on us. It will be regrettable."

Army spokesman Lul Ruai Koang said that "any deployment of a foreign force that is not authorized by the political leadership is going to be resisted." The recent violence has threatened a fragile peace deal reached in August between Kiir and Machar, who fought a civil war since December 2013 that killed tens of thousands and inflamed ethnic tensions.

Tens of thousands of Juba residents have been displaced, with many sheltering in crowded U.N. compounds.

S.Sudan fighting forces 40,000 to flee in 4 days

15 July 2016 Friday

A fragile ceasefire appeared to be holding in South Sudan's capital Juba after four days of gun battles that have left hundreds of people dead and sent nearly 40,000 fleeing.

It was too early to tell on Tuesday whether the ceasefire called by both President Salva Kiir, and his longtime opponent Vice President Riek Machar, would last, but the lull allowed civilians to leave their homes.

There were no helicopter gunships in the sky, no tanks on the streets, no artillery barrages and soldiers in their machine gun-mounted pick-up trucks appeared to have stayed in their barracks.

The calm was welcomed by Juba residents who have stayed mostly indoors for days as fighting intensified between Kiir's government forces and former rebels loyal to Machar.

Traders returning to once-busy markets found their shops and stalls looted.

Volunteers and officials from South Sudan's Red Cross set about the grim task of collecting bodies of the dead.

There has been no estimate so far of civilian or military casualties from the heavy clashes Sunday and Monday but Adama Dieng, the United Nations' Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide, said some civilians, "were reportedly targeted based on their ethnicity."

Kiir is from the Dinka tribe and Machar a Nuer. South Sudan's civil war has been characterised by ethnic massacres between the two groups -- including in Juba -- as well as rape, sexual slavery, murder and the use of child soldiers.

Source: World Bulletin.
Link: http://www.worldbulletin.net/todays-news/174878/ssudan-fighting-forces-40000-to-flee-in-4-days.

Ex-Philippine leader Arroyo freed from years of detention

July 21, 2016

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Former Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was freed Thursday from years of hospital detention after the Supreme Court cleared her of a plunder charge in what anti-corruption advocates called "a sad day" for justice.

The 69-year-old Arroyo was whisked off a military veterans' hospital in suburban Quezon city and driven to her home in the upscale La Vista residential enclave in the Manila metropolis, her lawyer, Lawrence Arroyo, said.

She did not appear before throngs of journalists who have waited for her release. Back at home, Arroyo had dinner with some of her children and grandchildren and expressed eagerness to return to the House of Representatives, to which she was re-elected in May despite her detention. She planned to attend President Rodrigo Duterte's state of the nation address on Monday, lawyer Ferdinand Topacio, an Arroyo supporter, said.

She is the second former president to spend time in detention over allegations of largescale corruption. Arroyo's predecessor, Joseph Estrada, was forced from the presidency by a 2001 public uprising then later convicted of plunder. He was pardoned by Arroyo in 2007 and was re-elected Manila city mayor in May.

Arroyo has denied any wrongdoing and called her detention a political persecution. "Once again, justice for the rich and powerful triumphs in the Philippines," said Renato Reyes, a leader of the left-wing Bayan group which had staged protests and worked for Arroyo's ouster in her time.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros, who was among those who sued Arroyo for plunder, said the criminal case against her was strong, adding she would back any effort to find a way to criminally prosecute Arroyo. "It's a sad day for justice," Hontiveros said.

The Supreme Court justices on Tuesday voted 11-4 to grant Arroyo's petition to dismiss the plunder charge against her for a lack of evidence in the final criminal case that kept the once-powerful leader in detention. The case involved the alleged misuse of 366 million pesos ($7.8 million) from the state lottery agency. Her release was delayed by paperwork.

Arroyo finished her tumultuous nine-year tenure in 2010 but was arrested the following year on an election fraud charge, for which she was allowed to post bail after eight months of detention. Three months later, she was charged with plunder for which she was again detained for nearly four years.

Arroyo was detained under former President Benigno Aquino III, who accused her of corruption and misrule. Aquino's successor, Duterte, however, has said the plunder case against her was weak. She rejected Duterte's offer of a pardon because it would have required her conviction, preferring instead to fight the allegation.

Associated Press writer Jim Gomez contributed to this report.

Spain announces Lopetegui as Del Bosque's replacement

July 21, 2016

MADRID (AP) — Spain's football federation named Julen Lopetegui as the new coach of the national team on Thursday, replacing Vicente del Bosque. Del Bosque stepped down after eight years in charge following Spain's elimination in the round of 16 of the European Championship last month.

The 49-year-old Lopetegui had been without a job since January after being fired from FC Porto, his only head coaching job with a major club. He failed to win a title during almost two years in Portugal.

A former goalkeeper who started a handful of games for Real Madrid and Barcelona, Lopetegui played for Spain in the 1994 World Cup. Lopetegui coached Spain's youth squads from 2010-14. Del Bosque left after leading Spain's most successful generation of players to titles at the 2010 World Cup and the 2012 European Championship.

One of Lopetegui's main tasks will be to rebuild the team as many of its top players have started to fade. His familiarity with some of Spain's younger players from his stint as its youth team coach could help him move on from an aging group led by the 32-year-old Andres Iniesta.

In a statement to the federation's website, Lopetegui recognized the challenge ahead. "A national team coach has very little time to transmit what he needs to a player before a big competition," Lopetegui said.

His first match will be Spain's friendly in Belgium on September 1. Four days later Spain starts its 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign with a home match against Liechtenstein.

Russia loses appeal against Olympic track and field ban

July 21, 2016

LONDON (AP) — Russia lost its appeal Thursday against the Olympic ban on its track and field athletes, a decision which could add pressure on the IOC to exclude the country entirely from next month's games in Rio de Janeiro.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport rejected the appeal of 68 Russian athletes seeking to overturn the ban imposed by the IAAF following allegations of state-sponsored doping and cover-ups. The court, based in Lausanne, Switzerland, upheld the "validity" of the IAAF ban, saying a country whose national federation is suspended is ineligible from entering international competitions, including the Olympics.

The three-person panel ruled that the Russian Olympic Committee "is not entitled to nominate Russian track and field athletes to compete at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games considering that they are not eligible to participate under the IAAF competition rules."

CAS, however, said it had no jurisdiction on whether the International Olympic Committee can accept or refuse the entry of Russian track and field athletes, either those representing their country or as "neutral athletes."

The Russians argued against a collective ban of its track athletes, saying it punishes those who have not been accused of wrongdoing. "Today's judgment has created a level playing field for athletes," the IAAF said in a statement. "The CAS award upholds the rights of the IAAF to use its rules for the protection of the sport, to protect clean athletes and support the credibility and integrity of competition."

IAAF President Sebastian Coe said it was "not a day for triumphant statements." "I didn't come into this sport to stop athletes from competing," he said. "It is our federation's instinctive desire to include, not exclude."

Thursday's ruling is likely to weigh heavily on whether the IOC could bar the entire Russian team — across all sports, not just track — following new allegations of a vast government-organized doping program.

Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren, who was commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency, issued a report Monday that accused Russia's sports ministry of orchestrating a vast doping system that affected 28 summer and winter Olympic sports.

The IOC executive board said Tuesday it would "explore the legal options" for a possible total ban on Russia but would wait until after the CAS ruling before making a final decision. The IOC has scheduled another executive board meeting on Sunday to consider the issue.

Had the IAAF ban been thrown out by CAS and the Russian track athletes let back in, that would seemingly have ruled out the IOC imposing a blanket ban. With the track ban upheld, however, the option remains open.

As it stands, the IAAF has approved just two Russians to compete, as "neutral athletes," after they showed they had been training and living abroad under a robust drug testing regime. One is doping whistleblower Yulia Stepanova, the other is Florida-based long jumper Darya Klishina.

The case dates back to November, when the IAAF suspended Russia's track and field federation following a WADA commission report that alleged systematic and state-backed doping. The International Association of Athletics Federations upheld the ban last month, a decision accepted by the IOC.

In extending the ban, the IAAF said Russia's entire drug-testing system had been corrupted and tainted and there was no way to prove which athletes were clean. Letting Russian athletes compete in the games would undermine the credibility of the competition, according to the IAAF.

Pluto's Subsurface Ocean Likely Exists Today

Tucson AZ (SPX)
Jun 24, 2016

Ongoing geological activity on Pluto seen by NASA's New Horizons spacecraft could be caused by the partial freezing of a subsurface ocean that likely still exists today, a new paper in Geophysical Research Letters says.

Noah P. Hammond, Brown University, is lead author on the paper, "Recent Tectonic Activity on Pluto Driven by Phase Changes in the Ice Shell." Planetary Science Institute Senior Scientist Amy C. Barr is Hammond's academic graduate adviser and co-author on the paper.

"Our model shows that recent geological activity on Pluto can be driven just from phase changes in the ice - no tides or exotic materials or unusual processes are required. If Pluto's most recent tectonic episode is extensional, that means that Pluto may have an ocean at present. This lends support to the idea that oceans may be common among large Kuiper Belt objects, just as they are common among the satellites of the outer planets," said Barr, who helped formulate the numerical model and interpret the results.

"In our paper, we look at tectonic features on the surface of Pluto to understand the interior and we run thermal evolution models to help us understand how Pluto's interior may have evolved over time," Hammond said. "Our study further supports that hypothesis by showing that if the ocean froze, ice II would likely form, causing compressional tectonic features which are absent from the surface.

"The formation of ice II would cause Pluto to experience volume contraction and compressional tectonic features to form on the surface," Hammond said. "Since the tectonic features on Pluto's surface are all extensional and there is no obvious compressional features, it suggests that ice II has not formed and that therefore, Pluto's subsurface ocean has likely survived to present day."

Ice II is a phase of ice that is 25 percent more dense than the ice we are familiar with on Earth, which floats on water. Ice II forms at high pressures and low temperatures, the kind of conditions expected in Pluto's ice shell.

"We have been waiting a long time to see the surface of Pluto, and it did not disappoint," Barr said. "Many people thought that Pluto would be geologically 'dead,' that it would be covered in craters and have an ancient surface.

"Our work shows how even Pluto, at the edge of the solar system, with very little energy, can have tectonics. We are grateful to the New Horizons team for working so hard to guide the craft to Pluto and return the beautiful images that motivated our study. They have provided another piece in the puzzle of the comparative planetology of icy worlds."

Source: Space Daily.
Link: http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/Plutos_Subsurface_Ocean_Likely_Exists_Today_999.html.

NASA Scientists Discover Unexpected Mineral on Mars

Pasadena CA (JPL)
Jun 24, 2016

Scientists have discovered an unexpected mineral in a rock sample at Gale Crater on Mars, a finding that may alter our understanding of how the planet evolved.

NASA's Mars Science Laboratory rover, Curiosity, has been exploring sedimentary rocks within Gale Crater since landing in August 2012. In July 2015, on Sol 1060 (the number of Martian days since landing), the rover collected powder drilled from rock at a location named "Buckskin."

Analyzing data from an X-ray diffraction instrument on the rover that identifies minerals, scientists detected significant amounts of a silica mineral called tridymite.

This detection was a surprise to the scientists, because tridymite is generally associated with silicic volcanism, which is known on Earth but was not thought to be important or even present on Mars.

The discovery of tridymite might induce scientists to rethink the volcanic history of Mars, suggesting that the planet once had explosive volcanoes that led to the presence of the mineral.

Scientists in the Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science (ARES) Division at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston led the study. A paper on the team's findings has been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"On Earth, tridymite is formed at high temperatures in an explosive process called silicic volcanism. Mount St. Helens, the active volcano in Washington State, and the Satsuma-Iwojima volcano in Japan are examples of such volcanoes.

"The combination of high silica content and extremely high temperatures in the volcanoes creates tridymite," said Richard Morris, NASA planetary scientist at Johnson and lead author of the paper.

"The tridymite was incorporated into 'Lake Gale' mudstone at Buckskin as sediment from erosion of silicic volcanic rocks."

The paper also will stimulate scientists to re-examine the way tridymite forms. The authors examined terrestrial evidence that tridymite could form at low temperatures from geologically reasonable processes and not imply silicic volcanism. They found none. Researchers will need to look for ways that it could form at lower temperatures.

"I always tell fellow planetary scientists to expect the unexpected on Mars," said Doug Ming, ARES chief scientist at Johnson and co-author of the paper.

"The discovery of tridymite was completely unexpected. This discovery now begs the question of whether Mars experienced a much more violent and explosive volcanic history during the early evolution of the planet than previously thought."

Source: Mars Daily.
Link: http://www.marsdaily.com/reports/NASA_Scientists_Discover_Unexpected_Mineral_on_Mars_999.html.

India police seize newspapers amid Kashmir unrest

16 July 2016 Saturday

Police seized tens of thousands of newspapers in Indian-occupied Kashmir early Saturday and detained printing press workers, ramping up an information blackout after a week of unrest left 39 dead, officials and media outlets said.

Teams of officers swooped on major newspaper offices in the restive region overnight, seizing printing plates in an attempt to curb news of fatal clashes from spreading as a curfew was extended into its eighth day.

With internet and mobile networks already suspended, authorities halted cable television, fearing news of protesters' deaths could fuel further protests after the restive region's worst violence in years.

"Police on Saturday night raided the printing press and seized the printed copies of Kashmir Reader," the English language daily said on its website, adding that eight of its workers had been arrested.

Newspaper copies that had reached some distributors in the main city of Srinagar were also taken by police, said Irfan, a local who gave only one name.

"The policemen seized the plates of Greater Kashmir (newspaper) and more than 50,000 printed copies of (Urdu-language daily) Kashmir Uzma and closed down the GKC printing press," said another group that publishes the region's highest-circulation newspaper, adding that three of its workers had been detained.

The disputed territory has been gripped by a week of intensifying unrest sparked by the killing of a popular, young rebel commander, Burhan Wani, in a firefight with government forces on July 8.

"These are difficult times here. This is one of the ways to contain the mayhem," a senior local government official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Also on Saturday, the Indian army said it had killed three "terrorists" who tried to enter from the Pakistan side of the unofficial border that divides Kashmir between the two countries.

Protesters in the past week have torched police stations and armored vehicles, and hurled stones at military camps in the restive territory where an estimated 500,000 Indian troops, deeply resented by locals, are stationed.

More than 3,000 people have been injured, including around 200 police, while hospitals have struggled to cope with the rush of injured protesters.

Hundreds have bullet wounds including many who suffered severe eye injuries caused by shotgun pellets fired by the police.

The violence is the worst since 2010 when huge rallies were crushed, leaving 120 dead.

New Delhi has rushed in more troops to contain the violence and flown in eye specialists to deal with injuries caused by pellets.

Muslim-majority Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since Partition in 1947, but both claim the territory in its entirety.

Several rebel groups, including Wani's Hizbul Mujahideen have fought for decades against Indian troops deployed in the region, demanding independence for Kashmir or its merger with Pakistan.

The fighting has left tens of thousands, mostly civilians, dead since 1989 when the armed rebellion against Indian rule began.

The latest unrest has heightened tension between the nuclear-armed rivals, with Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif calling on his nation to observe a "black day" on July 19 in solidarity with the people of Kashmir.

Source: World Bulletin.
Link: http://www.worldbulletin.net/todays-news/175043/india-police-seize-newspapers-amid-kashmir-unrest.

51 people injured in clashes in Armenia

July 21, 2016

YEREVAN, Armenia (AP) — More than 50 people have been injured in clashes near a police station in Armenia's capital where armed men have been holding hostages for four days and protesters erected barricades on a nearby avenue.

Police moved in late Wednesday night to clear out the protest camp. The health ministry said Thursday morning that 51 people have been hospitalized, 28 of whom were police. The country's interior ministry said some 30 protesters have been detained.

The police station in the capital Yerevan was seized on Sunday by a group of gunmen seeking the release of an opposition figure who was arrested in June for illegal weapons possession. Investigators claimed he and his supporters were planning to seize government buildings.

5 Armenian policemen still held hostage a day after attack

July 18, 2016

YEREVAN, Armenia (AP) — Armenia's security forces say armed supporters of a jailed opposition leader are still holding five policemen hostage a day after attacking a police station in the capital and killing one officer and wounding four others.

The National Security Service said in Monday's statement that one of the officers held hostage and also an ambulance driver were freed overnight as a result of prolonged negotiations and undefined "special measures."

More than 20 armed men took over the police station in Yerevan on Sunday to demand the release of Jirair Sefilian, who was arrested last month. Sefilian, a leader of the opposition group Founding Parliament, was charged with illegal acquisition and possession of weapons. His group has called for the government of the former Soviet republic to step down.

1 dead, hostages taken in attack on Armenian police station

July 17, 2016

YEREVAN, Armenia (AP) — Armed supporters of a jailed opposition leader attacked a police station in Armenia's capital on Sunday, killing one officer, wounding two and taking several others hostage, the National Security Service said.

The attackers demanded the release of Jirair Sefilian, who was arrested last month, and called for the ouster of the government. Police cordoned off the area around the station in Yerevan's Erebuni district. The National Security Service said negotiations were being conducted with the attackers for the release of the hostages. Few details of the attack were released.

A high-ranking police official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information, said the attackers numbered about 20 and were holding at least eight officers hostage.

Sefilian, a leader of the opposition group Founding Parliament, was arrested June 20 and charged with illegal acquisition and possession of weapons. Investigators said he and his supporters were planning to seize government buildings and the television transmission tower.

Varuzhan Avetisian, a spokesman for the group, said they were demanding the release of all "political prisoners" and calling on Armenians to take to the streets to force the government to step down.