Suicide Blast in Somalia’s Capital Kills 3

June 22, 2017
A Somali soldier stands near a destroyed building outside the police traffic station in Mogadishu, Somalia, Monday, May, 9, 2016. A Somali police official says a suicide car bomber struck the entrance of the East African country's traffic police headquarters in the capital, killing four people and injuring others. Somalia's Islamic extremist rebels, al-Shabab, claimed responsibility for the attack, which shattered a period of calm in the seaside city. (AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh)
File Photo — Somalia’s capital Mogadishu

MOGADISHU, Somalia — The Latest on a suicide car bombing in Somalia’s capital (all times local):

3:30 p.m.

A police officer says at least three people have been killed and several others wounded in a suicide car bomb blast at a police station in Somalia’s capital.

Capt. Mohamed Hussein says the bomber was trying to drive into the police station’s gate but detonated against the wall instead.

Ambulance sirens are echoing across Mogadishu, with dozens of soldiers at the scene.


3:10 p.m.

A Somali police officer says a suicide car bomber has detonated near the gate of a police station in the capital, Mogadishu.

Col. Ahmed Warsame says the blast targeted Waberi district’s police station on the busy Maka Almukarramah road.

He says several people are hurt.

The Somalia-based al-Shabab extremist group often targets high-profile areas in Mogadishu.

SE Asian nations commit to cohesive approach to terrorism, militants

June 22, 2017


By Neil Jerome Morales and Manuel Mogato | MANILA/MARAWI CITY, PHILIPPINES

The Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia agreed on Thursday to pool intelligence and tackle militant financing as fears grow that protracted fighting in a southern Philippine town could be the prelude to an Islamic State infiltration of the region.

Foreign ministers and defense officials of the three neighboring countries agreed to work together to share information, track communications and crack down on the flow of arms, fighters and money, amid what experts says is the biggest security threat facing Southeast Asia in decades.

Despite signs that the rebels battling government forces in Marawi City were on the back foot, authorities are worried that the fighting – now in its fifth week – might be the beginning of a wave of violence as the ultra-radical Islamic State group tries to establish a foothold.

Militants holed up in Marawi were cornered and their firepower was flagging, the military said on Thursday, estimating the number of remaining fighters at just over 100, and all within a 1 square kilometer area.

Malaysia Foreign Minister Anifah Aman told the meeting the that extremism needed an immediate response, and constant engagement between the three countries that must be a “cohesive unit”.

“This is an urgent task that we need to undertake as clearly evidenced through the current situation in Marawi,” he said.

“This means our enforcement agencies must constantly engage with one another, not only in intelligence sharing but new active and innovative measures.”

Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines have launched joint patrols to control militant movements across their archipelagic region.

Smoke billows are seen as government troops continue their assault against insurgents from the Maute group, who have taken over parts of Marawi city, Philippines June 22, 2017. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco

But experts point to how they have previously failed to work together to prevent festering militancy and banditry from worsening, plagued as they are by mistrust, dormant territorial disputes and limited capabilities.

The Philippines in particular is widely seen as the weaker link.

Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said Thursday’s meeting aimed to revisit existing security programs between the three and draw up a plan to strengthen and implement them.


His country was now a clear target for extremists, he said, and the region only needed to look at how quickly Islamic State, or ISIS, managed to recruit fighters and carve out strongholds in Iraq and Syria

“These jihadists will be looking for land bases or areas outside Iraq and Syria,” Cayetano told reporters.

“Everyone has their vulnerability, no one is perfect.

“If other countries have nationals in Marawi and Mindanao and are extremists, they are as much a threat to their home country as here.”

A Philippine officer, Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Tampus, said troops were blocking escape routes out of Marawi and rebels were hemmed-in and using civilians dressed in black as human shields.

“Our forces are coming from the east and the north and we are blocking the three bridges,” he said.

Tampus said the militant snipers were firing from “strategic nests” in schools and mosques, and their bombs were hampering his troops’ operations.

Malaysia is worried that militants could flee to its eastern state of Sabah.

Malaysia has a wanted list that includes two militants who spearheaded the attempt to capture Marawi.

They are a leader of the Abu Sayyaf group, Isnilon Hapilon, who was proclaimed by Islamic State last year as its “emir” of Southeast Asia, and Abdullah Maute, whose followers accounted for a large number of the estimated 400-500 fighters who overran parts of Marawi, killing Christians and taking dozens of civilians hostage.

According to official estimates, 369 people have been killed, three-quarters of them militants. The number of security forces and civilians killed stood at 67 and 26, respectively.

(Additional reporting by Simon Lewis in MARAWI, Karen Lema in MANILA, Rozanna Latiff in KUALA LUMPUR; Writing by John Chalmers and Martin Petty; Editing by Robert Birsel)

Iran sends 1,100 tonnes of food to Qatar daily

June 22, 2017


© AFP/File | Iran began exporting food to Qatar days after an unprecedented Gulf crisis erupted, leaving the emirate without the land transport links it relies on to import food
TEHRAN (AFP) – Iran is shipping more than 1,000 tonnes of fruits and vegetables to Qatar every day after Gulf countries led by Saudi Arabia cut relations with Doha, Fars news agency reported Thursday.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain are among several countries which announced on June 5 the suspension of all ties to Qatar over what they say is its support for extremist groups and its political proximity to Iran.

Qatar denies the allegations.

Iran, an arch-rival of Saudi Arabia, began exporting food to Qatar days later as the unprecedented Gulf crisis left the isolated emirate without the land transport links it usually relies on to import food.

Mohammad Mehdi Bonchari, director of ports in Iran’s Boushehr province, said Tehran was shipping 1,100 tonnes of food each day to Qatar, Fars reported.

Iran has also flown food to the emirate.

On June 11, Iran’s national airline told AFP that it had sent five planes of vegetables to Qatar.

On the same day Fars quoted the head of Iran’s cattle exporting association as saying 66 tonnes of beef had been exported to Qatar, with another 90 tonnes of beef expected to follow.

Qatar’s air lines have been forced to re-route some of their flights to go over Iran to avoid the newly banned skies over Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Bahrain.

That has increased traffic in Iranian air space by 17 percent, the official state news agency has reported.

Iran has urged Qatar and Gulf neighbours to engage in dialogue to resolve their dispute.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has called for a permanent mechanism in the Gulf to resolve crises like the blockade against Qatar.

Boris Johnson gives ‘worst interview by politician ever’ on live radio

June 22, 2017

RT (Russia Today)

Image may contain: 1 person, closeup

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson’s competency has yet again been called into question following a botched BBC interview in which the Tory minister failed to answer key questions on the government’s program set out in the Queen’s Speech.

During the interview on BBC Radio 4 with Eddie Mair, Johnson repeatedly stumbled over questions about the Tories’ policies announced in the state opening of Parliament on Wednesday.

John Prescott @johnprescott

THE worst interview by a politician EVER. I expect @BBCNews & @itvnews will cover it & it’ll be in every newspaper 🤔

3:30 PM – 21 Jun 2017
9,622 9,622 Retweets 11,517 11,517 likes
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Mair asked what policies outlined in the Queen’s Speech would tackle the “burning issues” highlighted by Prime Minister Theresa May a year ago when she entered Downing Street.

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© Don’t Panic LondonMichael Gove pranked by Game of Thrones ‘producer’ casting ‘ruthless backstabber’ (VIDEO)
He asked how the government intends to tackle discrimination against black people in the criminal justice system.

“Well, there are measures, I believe, in the bill on the courts which I think is supposed to address some of those issues,” Johnson replied.

“I think one thing in particular that we are looking at is measures to … hang on a second … there are all sorts of measures that we want to take to ensure that we do not discriminate against everybody.”

Mair fired another question at the befuddled foreign secretary, asking him what policies are in place to help white working class people access education.

Johnson, however, appeared to dodge the question completely, saying instead that the Queen’s Speech focuses on “economic growth” and coming out with a “successful Brexit.”

He did though add that the government aims to ensure a “fantastic educational system” and “make sure there is a ladder of opportunity for everybody.”

Turning to the issue of mental health, Mair accused the government of merely announcing proposals for “review and discussion” rather than “concrete policies.”

Johnson once again digressed from the challenge and tried to answer Mair’s previous question.

Boris Johnson © Brendan Smialowski  Theresa May to ‘send Boris Johnson on foreign trips,’ keeping him away from election campaign
At that point the BBC presenter lost his patience. “It’s not a Two Ronnies sketch – you can’t answer the question before last,” Mair said, referring to the popular UK comedy double act from the 1970s and 80s.

Mair asked the Tory MP why Conservative manifesto pledges were ditched so easily, to which Johnson replied: “I’m not going to hide it from you that the election did not turn out exactly as we would have hoped.”

He insisted, however, that the Queen’s Speech had been “very progressive.”

Image may contain: one or more people, suit and closeup

Boris Johnson. Credit Toby Melville – Reuters

Johnson also dismissed speculation he is trying to snatch the leadership from Theresa May, insisting the prime minister is a “great leader,” pointing out that the public currently has little appetite for another election.

But as support for the Tory party withers and May’s pledge for a “strong and stable leadership” loses credibility, Mair challenged Johnson on what being a prime minister actually entails, to which, again, the foreign secretary seemed to give a fumbling answer.

“The point of the prime minister is to lead the country, to give a …er… lead on these key issues … and to take this Queen’s Speech through.

“And she will, and she will do a great job.”

Social media users mocked Johnson’s performance.

Phil Jerrod @PhilJerrod
When I worked in Tesco’s on the trolleys we fired people more capable than Boris Johnson.
4:58 AM – 22 Jun 2017
Rachael @Rachael_Swindon
Wow…This isn’t a car crash. This is a 20 car pile-up. Boris Johnson has just about blown his chance of being PM.
2:33 PM – 21 Jun 2017

Polly Toynbee @pollytoynbee
Blethering bluster from flailing Boris on PM prog. NEVER does any homework,ignorant of own policies, should NEVER be PM or let near EU negs
1:37 PM – 21 Jun 2017

UAE runs ‘informal prisons’ in Yemen: HRW

June 22, 2017


© AFP/File | The Saudi-led coalition launched air strikes in 2015 against the Shiite Huthi rebels in Yemen

BEIRUT (AFP) – The United Arab Emirates runs at least two “informal detention facilities” in Yemen and has reportedly transferred detainees to a base in Eritrea, Human Rights Watch said Thursday.

The UAE is a key member of a Saudi-led military coalition that entered Yemen’s conflict in 2015 to battle on the government’s side against Iran-backed Huthi rebels.

HRW said UAE officials appeared to have “moved high-profile detainees outside the country” including to a base in Eritrea.

The rights group said it had documented 49 cases, including those of four children, who had been “arbitrarily detained or forcibly disappeared” — at least 38 of them by UAE-backed forces.

The New York-based group said the UAE also runs detention facilities in southern provinces home to Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and a local affiliate of the Islamic State group.

Children are among those detained in the centres, it said.

It said Shiite Huthi rebels and their allies, forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, had also “arbitrarily detained and disappeared scores of people in northern Yemen”.

The World Health Organization estimates more than 8,000 people have been killed in two years of conflict in Yemen, which also faces a deadly cholera outbreak and the threat of famine.

All parties in Yemen’s war have drawn harsh criticism for causing civilian suffering.

The United Nations and HRW have said air strikes by the Saudi-led alliance have killed many civilians and may amount to war crimes.

UN Urges Egypt to Halt Execution of 6 Men in ‘Flawed’ Trials

June 22, 2017

CAIRO — U.N. human rights experts have urged Egypt to halt the execution of six men, sentenced to death over killing a policeman, saying that their trials were “flawed” and “did not meet international standards of fairness.”

Thursday’s statement comes after Egypt’s top appeals court upheld the death sentences against the men, charged with killing the guard of a judge who was on a panel of judges in the trial of former President Mohamed Morsi.

The guard was killed in 2014.

U.N rights experts say that evidence  used against the men, as well as testimonies from state security members, showed major inconsistencies.

Three of the men appeared on TV following their arrest and in the footage, confessed to carrying out the attack. Rights groups have said the testimonies were coerced through torture.

What We Need—and Don’t Need—From Government in the Robot Age

June 22, 2017
Michael R. Bloomberg on how to think about wages, health insurance, and education in the wake of technological advances.
June 22, 2017, 5:00 AM EDT
A robotic arm transports sheets of glass during the manufacturing of photovoltaic cells at SolarWorld AG in Freiberg, Germany.


Capitalism has brought opportunity to billions of people around the world and reduced poverty and disease on a monumental scale. Driving that progress have been advances in knowledge and technology that disrupt industries and create new ones. We celebrate market disruptions for the overall benefits they generate, but they also present challenges to workers whose skills are rendered obsolete.

Today, as the age of automation affects more industries, those challenges are affecting more and more people. Attempting to slow the pace of technological change to preserve particular jobs is neither possible nor desirable, and there may be no better example than in the energy industry.

In the 1920s more than 800,000 Americans worked in the coal mines. Many developed debilitating and deadly health problems. In 2008 national coal production peaked, yet technology had cut the number of jobs by 90 percent.

Today, as consumers turn to cleaner and cheaper sources of energy, the societal benefits are widespread: Deaths from coal pollution have dropped 40 percent, and jobs in the renewable energy industry have soared. But this trend has also left coal miners, whose numbers have dwindled, in difficult positions, particularly since their employers have been walking away from their pension and health-care obligations.

We can both embrace the societal benefits of technological change and confront the challenges it poses for individual workers and their communities—but only if we expect government leaders to look forward instead of backward and to develop effective responses rather than pitting groups against one another.

There are no panaceas, including the idea that the wealthy should pay more in taxes, with the money redistributed to support those who lose jobs—which I’m not averse to, if the money is spent wisely. But work is an important part of what gives our lives meaning and direction. Giving people a check isn’t the same as giving them an opportunity to pursue their ambitions and fulfill their potential. Industriousness, and the chance to shape your own destiny, has always been a critical part of what’s made America an exceptional nation.

Finding more ways to reward and encourage work will be essential to coping with automation. The Earned Income Tax Credit is one way to do that. It’s effectively a wage subsidy for low-income earners—and expanding it, or using other subsidies to encourage employment as we do with investment, may become increasingly necessary.

It may even be that governments will experiment with direct employment programs, putting Americans to work performing jobs that produce some public benefits, however limited. Whatever the approach—and all have their costs—keeping working-age adults in the labor market, rather than them sitting at home, is a goal worth pursuing.

Disruption from automation will also have an impact on Americans’ health. Some 150 million Americans get health insurance through their work. Employer-sponsored health insurance is an accident of history—businesses began offering the benefit as a way around World War II wage controls—and the Affordable Care Act left the system largely in place. One way to mitigate the harmful effects on workers who lose their jobs would be to de-link health insurance from employment to ensure that everyone can receive care when they need it, including when they are between jobs or unable to find one.

We will also have to rethink our approach to education, which follows an antiquated model: School years are based on an agricultural economy that required children to work the fields during the summer months. Education laws stifle innovation and parental choice. And vocational training programs are based on an industrial past, turning off many students who might opt for such programs and often leaving those who do enroll ill-prepared for careers.

At the same time, community colleges too often saddle students with debt without doing enough to ensure they earn a degree and marketable skills. And continuing education and training programs, which could help save adults from getting locked out of the evolving labor market, are often divorced from the needs of employers.

There will always be politicians making promises the market won’t allow them to keep. But to spread the benefits of the age of automation far and wide, we’ll need more cooperation among government, business, education, and philanthropic leaders.

London Mayor Calls on UK to Retain Single Market Membership After Brexit

June 22, 2017

“The Brexit goalposts have been moved,” Khan said in a statement, adding that single market access should be ensured at least for the transition period during which Britain extracts itself from the EU.

“The government must now listen to the will of the people by putting aside ideology and negotiating a sensible Brexit that ensures continuing UK membership of the Single Market,” Khan said.

May has said she wants a clean break from the EU bloc, leaving the single market.

(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge, editing by James Davey)

Stabbing of Police Officer at Michigan Airport Called Terrorism

June 22, 2017

FBI has charged Amor Ftouhi, a 49-year-old Canadian, after a police officer was stabbed in the neck at Bishop International Airport in Flint

A flare is set to block a lane into Bishop International Airport Wednesday in Flint, Michigan. The attacked officer is now in stable condition.

A flare is set to block a lane into Bishop International Airport Wednesday in Flint, Michigan. The attacked officer is now in stable condition. Photograph: Shannon Millard/AP

A police officer in Flint, Michigan, was stabbed in the neck at the city’s airport on Wednesday morning, in an attack US officials are describing as an “act of terrorism”.

FBI has charged Amor Ftouhi, a 49-year-old Canadian from Quebec, with causing violence at an international airport, special agent David Gelios told reporters on Wednesday evening.

The officer, Jeff Neville, was rushed to hospital and is now in stable condition.

The FBI said Ftouhi entered the US legally through a New York border crossing on 16 June. Days later he made his way to the Bishop International Airport. “He spent a little time in the restroom. Dropped both bags and came out, pulled out a knife, yelled ‘Allahu akbar’, and stabbed Lt Neville in the neck,” Gelios said. “He made a statement something to the effect of, ‘You have killed people in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan and we are all going to die.’”

The suspect, who had attacked the officer with a 12-inch serrated knife, was taken into custody shortly afterwards. There was little to suggest that the attack was part of a wider plot, said Gelios. “At this time, we view him as a lone wolf attacker.”

US attorney general Jeff Sessions said he had spoken to the FBI about the attack, which is being investigated as an act of terrorism. He was “proud of the swift response” by authorities of both nations, he said in a statement. “I want to assure all our law enforcement across the nation, any attack on someone who serves and protects our citizens will be investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

Canada’s public safety minister Ralph Goodale issued a statement calling the incident a “heinous and cowardly act”. Canadian law enforcement agencies are in touch with their US counterparts and assisting them in every way possible, Goodale said.

Cherie Carpenter, a witness to the stabbing, told local news the male assailant appeared “blank, just totally blank” after he was arrested by local police.

Ftouhi reportedly lives in Montreal where he works for a large insurance company. On Wednesday afternoon, local media reported a large police presence outside an apartment believed to be connected to Ftouhi.

Read the rest:

Car bomb in Afghanistan targets security forces waiting for pay

June 22, 2017

LASHKAR GAH, Afghanistan: A car bomb exploded outside a bank in Lashkar Gah, capital of the southern Afghan province of Helmand on Thursday, killing and wounding dozens of civilians and members of the security forces waiting to collect their pay, officials said.

Omar Zwak, spokesman for the provincial governor, said at least 20 people had been killed and more than 50 wounded, including members of the police and army, civilians and staff of the New Kabul Bank branch where the attack took place.


Latest update : 2017-06-22

There was no immediate claim of responsibility but insurgent groups, including the Taliban and Islamic State have in the past targeted banks where police, soldiers and other government employees collect their pay.

Last month, at least three people were killed and many wounded in an attack on a bank in the eastern city of Gardez.

(Reporting by Mohammad Stanekzai and Abdul Malek; Editing by Robert Birsel)

Source: Reuters