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Mohammad Javad Zarif, Mohammed al-Hakim Zarif - Iran, Iraq

Iran will defend itself against any military or economic aggression, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Sunday, calling on European states to do more to preserve a nuclear agreement his country signed. Speaking at a Baghdad news conference with his Iraqi counterpart Mohammed al-Hakim, Zarif said Iran wanted to build balanced relations with its Gulf Arab neighbors and had proposed signing a non-aggression pact with them. “We will defend against any war efforts against Iran, whether it be an economic war or a military one, and we will face these efforts with strength,” he said. Strains have increased between Iran and the United States after this month’s attack on oil tankers in the Gulf region. Washington, a firm backer of Tehran’s regional rival Saudi Arabia, has blamed the attacks on Iran. Tehran has distanced itself from the bombings, but the United States has sent an aircraft carrier and an extra 1,500 troops to the Gulf, sparking concern over the risk of conflict in a volatile region. Iraq stands with Iran and is willing to act as an intermediary between its neighbor and the United States, Hakim said. Baghdad does not believe an “economic blockade” is fruitful, he added in a reference to U.S. sanctions. “We are saying very clearly and honestly that we oppose the unilateral actions taken by the United States. We stand with the Islamic Republic of Iran in its position,” Hakim said. The United States and Iran are Iraq’s two main allies. Meanwhile, Iranian Deputy ForeignHere's the full story.

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Felix Tshisekedi - Democratic Republic of Congo

Congo’s President Felix Tshisekedi has finally named veteran technocrat Prof Sylvestre Ilunkamba Ilunga as the prime minister but his choice has not only brought friction within the ruling coalition but also raised doubts among the opposition. First, Prof Ilunga, who has worked with former presidents Mobutu Sese Seko, Laurent Kabila and Joseph Kabila is seen as a frontman for the younger Kabila. Prince Buloko, a member of Congolese civil society, told The EastAfrican that Prof Ilunga will be likely to take orders from Mr Kabila and not President Tshisekedi, with the potential of derailing most of the reforms the new president had planned. Second, there is friction within the Common Front for the Congo (FCC) coalition of President Tshisekedi and former president Joseph Kabila the latter’s People’s Party for Reconstruction and Democracy (PPRD) is taking all leadership positions without considering smaller partners. Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (AFDC) officials said Mr Kabila’s PPRD has taken the Speaker of the National Assembly, the PM and is now angling for the presidency of the Senate without considering other partners in the FCC Coalition. With only the Senatorial presidency remaining, Mike Nendaka of AFDC asserted that his party is the second largest political force in the country and deserve to be considered for one of the three leadership potions. In the opposition, Eve Bazaiba, the secretary general of Jean Pierre Bemba’s Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC) expressed doubts about the ability of Prof Ilunga to bring changeHere's the full story.

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Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu - Nigeria Politics

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Thursday declined comments about whether it had launched an investigation to find out how former Lagos governor, Bola Tinubu, came about the bullion vans that drove into his home in February. Nigerians have mounted pressure on the anti-graft office to open money laundering probe against Bola Tinubu, after the ruling APC party chieftain was seen on February 22 receiving at least two armoured vehicles believed to be bearing cash. The development raised controversies because it came a day to the presidential election on February 23. Mr Tinubu is a senior leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), and a strong ally of President Muhammadu Buhari, who was seeking reelection at the time. Critics said there was no doubt the vehicles were conveying cash to bribe voters with, especially since such trucks are used in Nigeria almost exclusively to convey cash by banks, government institutions and cash-in-transit firms. Mr Tinubu’s action was widely deemed contrary to Nigerian anti-money laundering laws, which places a cap of N5 million ( about $14,000) on cash handling by individuals. The former Lagos governor admitted the next day that the bullion vans were conveying money to his house, but he defended his action as out of public’s interest because he was not a government official. Transparency deferred Many Nigerians expected the EFCC to investigate the incident for possible violation of Nigerian laws. But the anti-graft office has declined to comment on the matter — and there isHere's the full story.

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Muhammadu Buhari - Nigeria Politics Headlines

President Muhammadu Buhari inherited an energy crisis in Nigeria when he took charge of the country in May 2015. Now elected for a second term of four years, it is safe to assume that the policies he worked with would not change significantly. Mr Buhari took over an upstream sector gasping for breath: even as crude oil prices were crashing down as he took the oath of office, there were problems that were self-inflicted by the previous administration, which were wrestling with the sector’s legacy challenges. Operations in the oil fields of the Niger Delta had not entirely recovered from the historic MEND attack of February 2006, which had reset the dynamics in the region around the distinctions between licence to – and freedom to – operate. The state hydrocarbon company, NNPC, was owing cash calls in a way that effectively disabled work programmes of operating companies. And by insisting on operatorship without the wherewithal to do so (competencies, governance, processes and funding), the NPDC, the operating E&P arm of the NNPC, had strangled investment in assets that Shell & Co. had sold to five Nigerian independents since 2012. At the time Buhari came in, those companies had lost three years’ worth of aggressive investment to boost production. Midstream, the lresident met proposals to diversify the gas market from export-led to an inclusive, part export, part domestic beneficiation, which could establish an industrial economy with huge absorptive capacity. A crucial part of the challenge here was that a disproportionate percentageHere's the full story.

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Japan's Shinzo Abe Charm Offensive to Donald Trump Cheeseburger

President Donald Trump presented a special U.S.-made trophy to the winner of a sumo tournament Sunday as he got a taste of one of Japan’s most treasured cultural institutions. The honor given to Trump was part of a charm offensive by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as he courted Trump with three things close to the American leader’s heart: wrestling, cheeseburgers and golf. Sumo diplomacy, to sum it up. The president, first lady Melania Trump, Abe and his wife, Akie, joined an estimated 11,500 fans at Ryogoku Kokugikan Stadium to watch massive and muscular men, in bare feet and loin cloths, battle for supremacy in a small ring of dirt. At the match’s end, Trump stepped into the ring and presented the eagle-topped “President’s Cup” to the champion, Asanoyama. Trump, the first American president to participate in such a ceremony, said later it was an “incredible evening.” “That was something to see these great athletes,” Trump said before having dinner with the Abes at a hibachi restaurant. Trump’s four-day state visit to Japan is designed to demonstrate the strength of the U.S.-Japan alliance. Earlier Sunday, Abe warmly welcomed Trump to Mobara Country Club, south of Tokyo, for a round of golf, their fifth since Trump became president. Abe is trying to placate Trump amid growing U.S.-Japan trade tensions and the threat of auto tariffs. Japan also is contending with the continued military threat from North Korea , a concern seemingly heightened by Trump’s apparent dismissal of the North’s recent testsHere's the full story.

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Theresa May Tears - UK News Headlines

Theresa May became prime minister in 2016 with one overriding goal: to lead Britain out of the European Union. Three years on, the U.K. is still in the EU, and May’s time in 10 Downing St. is ending. She announced Friday that she will step down as Conservative leader on June 7, remaining as caretaker prime minister during a party leadership contest to choose her successor. She will be remembered as the latest in a long line of Conservative leaders destroyed by the party’s divisions over Europe, and as a prime minister who failed in her primary mission. But history may also see her as a leader who faced a devilishly difficult situation with stubborn determination. The daughter of a rural Anglican vicar, May attended Oxford University and worked in financial services before being elected to Parliament in 1997. She was quiet and diligent, but also ambitious. One university friend later recalled that May hoped to be Britain’s first female prime minister, and “was quite irritated when Margaret Thatcher got there first.” She was not a natural political campaigner; her stiff public appearances as prime minister landed her the nickname “The Maybot.” Her only touches of flamboyance are a fondness for bold outfits and accessories like brightly patterned kitten-heel shoes. But she soon established a reputation for solid competence and a knack for vanquishing flashier rivals. May served for six years in the notoriously thankless job of home secretary, responsible for borders, immigration and law and order. In 2016, sheHere's the full story.

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Leo Varadkar - Theresa May - Michel Barnier - Brexit Deal - Ireland - UK - EU

As British Prime Minister Theresa May announced her departure with a Brexit plan nowhere near success, European Union leaders offered kind words. But it was quite another matter during the years of negotiations with the bloc that often produced exasperation, miscommunication and even some ridicule of her. EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, whose office led the Brexit negotiations, on Friday called May “a woman of courage for whom he has great respect,” saying he watched her resignation speech “without personal joy.” And Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said: “I just want to express my full respect for Theresa May and for her determination.” But they expressed plenty of frustration during the rocky ride that May engineered over nearly three years that saw good relations go sour. After the U.K.’s 2016 referendum in which voters decided to leave the EU, officials in Europe complained that May waited almost a year to begin the negotiations and that her team was ill-prepared for the task and later turned on her after failing to make progress. They were dismayed after she called a general election in June 2017 to bolster her Conservative Party’s numbers to help the negotiations, only to lose its majority and weaken her government. That made her beholden to special Northern Ireland interests that complicated the talks. Perhaps the lowest point came in September 2018 at Salzburg Castle when EU president Donald Tusk publicly mocked her for being too greedy in the negotiations. “A piece of cake, perhaps? Sorry, no cherries,” TuskHere's the full story.

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Cyril Ramaphosa - South Africa Politics Headlines News

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Saturday urged the country to pursue “an extraordinary feat of human endeavor” as he was sworn in for a five-year term with a delicate fight against government corruption ahead of him. “The challenges our country face are huge and real. But they are not insurmountable. They can be solved. And I stand here today saying they are going to be solved,” Cyril Ramaphosa told some 30,000 people in the capital, Pretoria, with several African leaders in attendance. He promised a new era in which officials will improve the lives of South Africans instead of enriching themselves. He called for a state free from graft and “resources squandered,” and urged fellow citizens to end poverty in a generation. Both would be immense achievements: Corruption and mismanagement have consumed billions of rand, and South Africa is the world’s most economically unequal country . Ramaphosa’s inauguration followed his ruling African National Congress party’s 57.5% victory in this month’s election. It was the party’s weakest showing at the ballot box since the ANC took power at the end of the harsh system of racial apartheid in 1994, as voter turnout and confidence fell. Ramaphosa first took office last year after former president Jacob Zuma was pressured to resign amid corruption scandals that badly damaged public faith in the ANC. A former protege of South Africa’s first black president, Nelson Mandela, Ramaphosa is seen by many as having the potential to clean up both the government and the rulingHere's the full story.

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EU Citizens - European Union News

As voters in all 28 European Union countries elect a new shared parliament , here are some key races to watch in the battle to fill the 751 seats in the European Parliament: ITALY: Italy’s anti-migrant, anti-Islam interior minister, Matteo Salvini, has been campaigning hard to boost his right-wing League party to become the No. 1 party in Italy and possibly Europe. Salvini has been using his hard-line credentials to expand a parliamentary group of European populists that already includes far-right politicians in France, Germany and Austria. Salvini is promising to restore sovereignty over key issues like immigration to national capitals, thwarting the EU’s drive toward closer integration of its members. In Europe, the populists will find it difficult to deliver on their transformation promises. But Salvini is also looking to capitalize on the outcome of the European elections to boost his power at home in the League’s uneasy populist ruling coalition with the left-wing 5-Star Movement. Salvini could use European electoral gains to leverage his position in the government and pass policies important to his base of northern Italian entrepreneurs, like a flat tax or the high-speed train connecting Lyon, France, with Turin. Most analysts believe that Salvini is unlikely to seek an early election in Italy even with a big victory on the European stage. The 5-Star Movement, on the other hand, could decide to pull the plug on the coalition government. FRANCE: France is looking at an epic battle between pro-EU centrist President Emmanuel Macron and anti-immigration,Here's the full story.

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Nancy Pelosi - Donald Trump - USA Politics Headline Today

Nancy Pelosi ’s calling for an “intervention” to save the nation from him. He says she’s “crazy.” The enmity between President Donald Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi deteriorated Thursday into rude-and-then-some questioning of his fitness for office and her sanity, with personal attacks flowing from both the nation’s top elected officials after a dramatic blow-up at the White House. However intended, the exchanges left uncertain ahead of the 2020 election whether Trump and the Democrats will be able to work together on serious, must-pass tasks, such as funding the government and raising the federal borrowing limit, let alone thornier issues such as immigration, national security and more. Pelosi went first, with demure shrugs and practiced sass. Then, as a tornado warning blared across Washington, Trump followed with a derisive nickname — something he had declined to give her, up to now. “She’s a mess,” Donald Trump told reporters at an afternoon news conference in which he lined up White House staff to testify to his calmness the day before when he walked out after three minutes at a meeting with Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Charles Schumer. “Crazy Nancy. … I watched Nancy and she was all crazy yesterday.” As for himself, he declared, “I’m an extremely stable genius.” Pelosi scolded back: “When the ‘extremely stable genius’ starts acting more presidential, I’ll be happy to work with him on infrastructure, trade and other issues,” she tweeted. There was more, before and after that exchange, for political enthusiasts with theHere's the full story.

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Abortion

Even as the anti-abortion movement celebrates the sweeping bans passed in several states, it’s divided by a widening rift over whether those prohibitions should apply to victims of rape and incest. The debate pits those who believe any abortion is immoral against those who worry that a no-exception stance could be harmful to some Republican candidates in upcoming elections. A Gallup poll last year found that 77% of Americans support exceptions in cases of rape and incest. “There is a media spotlight shining on this issue,” said Clarke Forsythe, senior counsel with Americans United for Life. “State leaders need to be prudent and reflect not only on state elections but also national elections, and the pace of change the public might accept.” There’s potential for even more division. The Federalist, an online magazine influential in conservative and anti-abortion circles, ran an article this week by two abortion opponents suggesting that women who induce their own abortions should be prosecuted for murder. The position is at odds with the pro-women rhetoric of leading anti-abortion groups. “We’re 100% percent against prosecuting women.” said Kristi Hamrick, spokeswoman for Students for Life of America. Divisions over rape-and-incest exceptions have existed within the anti-abortion movement for years, but have become more apparent as several states in the South and Midwest enacted tough bans on abortion. Only the ban in Georgia includes an exception for victims of rape or incest — and then only if the woman files a police report first. Measures enacted in Alabama,Here's the full story.

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Donald Trump - USA Politics News Headline

President Donald Trump said that he has been considering pardons for several American military members accused of war crimes, including headline-grabbing cases of shooting unarmed civilians and killing an enemy captive. Trump, leaving the White House for a trip to Japan, said he was “looking” at the pardons after being asked about reports that he was considering clemency for the soldiers around the upcoming Memorial Day holiday. “Some of these soldiers are people that have fought hard and long,” the president said. “You know, we teach them how to be great fighters, and then when they fight, sometimes they get really treated very unfairly.” But, Trump cautioned, “I haven’t done anything yet. I haven’t made any decisions.” “There’s two or three of them right now,” Donald Trump continued. “It’s a little bit controversial. It’s very possible that I’ll let the trials go on, and I’ll make my decision after the trial.” A number of veterans groups have registered opposition to the possible pardons, including one that could reportedly go to Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher, a Navy SEAL. Gallagher is charged with killing a wounded Islamic State prisoner under his care in Iraq in 2017. Dozens of Republican congressmen have championed Gallagher’s cause, claiming he’s an innocent war hero being unfairly prosecuted. Trump got him moved from the brig to better confinement in a military hospital with access to his lawyers and family. Prosecutors said Gallagher fatally stabbed a wounded teenage Islamic State fighter, shot two civilians in Iraq andHere's the full story.

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Julian Assange NEWS

A new indictment against Julian Assange could further delay what was already expected to be a protracted battle to get the WikiLeaks founder out of a London jail cell and into a U.S. court, opening the door for his legal team to argue that the Espionage Act charges are political and thus not covered by an extradition treaty between the two countries. U.S. authorities want to extradite Assange to face charges that he directed the publication of a huge trove of secret documents that disclosed the names of people who provided confidential information to American and coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. Julian Assange, 47 and originally from Australia, is serving a 50-week sentence in London after being evicted from the Ecuadorian Embassy in April. He has insisted he will fight extradition. Though the United States and the United Kingdom have a longstanding extradition treaty, one exception is for political offenses. The criteria aren’t clearly spelled out, but Assange and his lawyers are likely to use the charges filed Thursday to argue that the Justice Department wants to put him on trial for crimes that are inherently political in that they involve the acquisition and publication of government secrets. “At least on the face of it, it seems like it would complicate the ability of the United States to extradite Assange from the U.K. because we often think of espionage as one type of political offense,” said Ashley Deeks, a University of Virginia law professor and national security and internationalHere's the full story.

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Gretchen Whitmer - USA NEWS - Gretchen Esther Whitmer

Michigan’s Legislature on Friday passed a landmark bill that would cut the country’s highest auto insurance premiums by letting drivers forego a one-of-a-kind requirement to buy unlimited medical coverage for crash injuries. The votes followed the announcement of an agreement between Republican legislative leaders and Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. She said the legislation would guarantee rate reductions for every motorist and offer choice among personal injury protection, or PIP, levels. PIP, on average, makes up half of car premiums. The measure — approved 94-15 by the House and 34-4 by the Senate — also would prohibit the use of several non-driving factors in setting rates and scale back reimbursements for health providers that treat accident victims to 190% to 230% of what Medicare pays. Unlike several other no-fault insurance states, Michigan does not have a fee schedule for care covered by auto insurers. They pay much more for the same services than is paid by employer plans or government insurance such as Medicare or Medicaid. A driver choosing to stick with unlimited coverage would see a 10% PIP reduction. Someone who fully opted out would get a 100% cut, if they have health insurance, and potentially also avoid paying much of a $220 annual per-vehicle fee that reimburses car insurers when severely injured motorists’ expenses exceed a certain amount. People on Medicaid would have to get at least $50,000 in benefits and would pay 45% less. People picking one of two other options — $250,000 or $500,000 of coverage —Here's the full story.

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Scott Morrison and his family - Australia

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison named his new cabinet on Sunday, with most positions staying the same, saying the government had “a significant agenda” to deliver and it was time to get back to business. “I have high expectations of my ministry and clear goals for each of their roles,” Scott Morrison said in an emailed statement. Incoming Defence Minister Linda Reynolds, who served in the Army Reserves for almost three decades and rose to the rank of brigadier, replaces Christopher Pyne who has retired. Foreign Minister Marise Payne retains her position as does Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, Trade Minister Simon Birmingham, Energy Minister Angus Taylor and Attorney General Christian Porter. Morrison also created a national agency for Indigenous Australians which would report directly to new Indigenous Affairs Minister Ken Wyatt, the first Aboriginal cabinet minister. Mr Morrison said he intends to recommend Arthur Sinodinos, a senator from the eastern state of New South Wales, for the plum diplomatic post of ambassador to the United States, replacing Joe Hockey. Communications Minister Mitch Fifield will be Australia’s representative at the United Nations. A priority of the re-elected Liberal National coalition is to deliver tax cuts by July 1, a cornerstone of its election campaign, as the central bank has called for stimulus to aid a slowing economy. Morrison entered this month’s election at the head of a minority government after a series of defections, unable to pursue its legislative agenda without the supportHere's the full story.

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Benjamin Netanyahu - Politics Israel Headline Story

Thousands of Israelis protested on Saturday against legislative steps that could grant Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu immunity from prosecution and limit the power of the country’s Supreme Court. The demonstration in Tel Aviv was attended by nearly all opposition parties, a rare show of unity for Israel’s splintered political system. Police did not say how many people attended. Organizers put the figure at 80,000. In office for the past decade, Netanyahu won a fifth term in April despite an announcement by Israel’s attorney general in February that he intended to charge him with fraud and bribery. The prime minister is a suspect in three graft cases. Benjamin Netanyahu has denied wrongdoing, calling the allegations a political witch-hunt. The right-wing leader has said that with a renewed public mandate to govern he has no plans to resign, even if charged. Although the prime minister is under no legal obligation to step down if charged, Netanyahu loyalists in his Likud party have pledged to seek parliamentary immunity from prosecution for him while he is in office. Expecting legal challenges, they also have been advocating legislation that would annul any Supreme Court ruling rescinding immunity. Since the election, Netanyahu has not said whether he would seek immunity. On May 13, Netanyahu said on Twitter that his policy had always been to preserve a strong and independent Supreme Court, but that changes were needed in order to restore balance between Israel’s executive, legislative and judiciary branches. The opposition has described any attempt to shieldHere's the full story.

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Cameroon Defense Ministry Opens Investigation Into Burning of Homes

Brussels — Cameroonian soldiers went on a rampage in the English-speaking North-West region on May 15, 2019, burning over 70 homes in Mankon, Bamenda. Soldiers dragged one man from his house, shooting him dead in the street. In a news release issued on May 16, the defense ministry announced that it had opened an investigation into the burning of homes and destruction of property. The government should hold soldiers involved accountable. “The government’s move to investigate these attacks on civilians and their property is an important step to ensure accountability,” said Lewis Mudge, Central Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “The investigation should be prompt, independent, and impartial, but it should not end there. The government should immediately review other cases of alleged abuses by its security forces and prosecute those responsible.” Human Rights Watch interviewed 15 residents of Mankon, including 10 witnesses, who described how soldiers from the Air Force and the Rapid Intervention Battalion coordinated the attack. Human Rights Watch also reviewed satellite imagery showing over 70 buildings affected by fire and photographs and videos showing extensive destruction of property. Over the past three years, Cameroon’s Anglophone regions have been embroiled in a cycle of violence that has led to 1,800 deaths and uprooted half a million people from their homes. Government forces and armed separatist groups have committed serious human rights abuses against the civilian population. On May 15, following the killing of two Air Force soldiers by suspected armed separatists, security forces killed Nwacha Christopher Neba,Here's the full story.

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