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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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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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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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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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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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Judge Michael Kwan - USA NEWS

A longtime Utah judge has been suspended without pay for six months after making critical comments online and in court about President Donald Trump, including a post bashing his “inability to govern and political incompetence.” Judge Michael Kwan’s posts on Facebook and LinkedIn in 2016-2017 violated the judicial code of conduct and diminished “the reputation of our entire judiciary,” wrote Utah State Supreme Court Justice John A. Pearce in an opinion posted Wednesday. Kwan’s Facebook account was private but could have been shared by friends, Pearce wrote. “Judge Kwan’s behavior denigrates his reputation as an impartial, independent, dignified, and courteous jurist who takes no advantage of the office in which he serves,” Pearce said. Kwan has been a justice court judge in the Salt Lake City suburb of Taylorsville since 1998. He deals with misdemeanor cases, violations of ordinances and small claims. He was first appointed by elected city officials to a six-year term and was retained in the position by voters. Kwan argued the suspension was inappropriate and an unlawful attempt to regulate his constitutionally protected speech, Pearce wrote in the opinion. Kwan’s attorney, Greg Skordas, said the judge is disappointed with the severity of the suspension but accepted that he would get some reprimand. Like many people after the 2016 election, Kwan felt strongly about the results and said some things “in haste,” Skordas said. He knows judges are held to a higher standard and must be careful, the lawyer said. “He certainly regrets making those statements andHere's the full story.

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Court Order - Judge Judgement

Kenya’s High Court on Friday upheld sections of the penal code that criminalize same-sex relations, a disappointment for gay rights activists across Africa where dozens of countries have similar laws. The judges’ unanimous ruling in the closely watched case was followed by activists’ vows to appeal. Many in Kenya’s vibrant gay community had hoped the court would make history by scrapping the British colonial-era laws and inspiring other countries in Africa to do the same. Activists argue that the laws criminalizing consensual same-sex relations between adults are in breach of the constitution because they deny basic rights. The state should not regulate intimacy between gay couples, they say. One law punishes “carnal knowledge against the order of nature” and prescribes up to 14 years in prison for people convicted of homosexual acts. Another says “indecent practices between males” can bring up to five years in prison. The laws create an environment of fear and harassment even if they are not always enforced, activists say. “The issue is violence, discrimination and oppression,” one activist, Tirop Salat, said. The judges, however, said the petitioners had failed to prove how the laws violated their right to health, dignity and privacy and said the laws do not single out gay people. Kenya has no social pressure to legalize homosexuality, they added. “Acknowledging cohabitation among people of the same sex, where they would ostensibly be able to have same-sex intercourse, would indirectly open the door for (marriage) of people of the same sex,” said theHere's the full story.

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Donald Trump USA News Today

President Donald Trump has granted Attorney General William Barr new powers to review and potentially release classified information related to the origins of the Russia investigation, a move aimed at accelerating Barr’s inquiry into whether U.S. officials improperly surveilled Trump’s 2016 campaign. Trump on Thursday directed the U.S. intelligence community to “quickly and fully cooperate” with Barr’s investigation of the origins of the multiyear probe of whether his campaign colluded with Russia. Former intelligence officials and Democratic lawmakers criticized Trump’s move, which marked an escalation in his efforts to “investigate the investigators” as he works to undermine the findings of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe . Trump’s announcement came amid mounting Democratic calls to bring impeachment proceedings against him. Press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement that Trump is delegating to Barr the “full and complete authority” to declassify documents relating to the probe, which would ease his efforts to review the sensitive intelligence underpinnings of the investigation. Such a move could create fresh tensions within the FBI and other intelligence agencies, which have historically resisted such demands. Trump is giving Barr a new tool in his investigation, empowering him to unilaterally unseal documents that the Justice Department has historically regarded as among its most highly secret. Warrants obtained from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, for instance, are not made public — not even to the person on whom the surveillance was authorized. Trump explicitly granted Barr declassification power — noting it would not automatically extend to another attorneyHere's the full story.

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Theresa May - UK Conservative Party Politics Headline News Today

The end of Theresa May’s premiership will usher in an even more turbulent phase of Britain’s exit from the European Union as any new leader is likely to seek to strike a tougher divorce deal, and there could be an election within months. Ultimately, the United Kingdom will either leave with a transition deal of some kind to smooth its way out, leave abruptly without a deal, or not leave at all. Another delay is likely. Boris Johnson, the face of the official Brexit campaign in 2016 and the bookmakers’ favourite to succeed May, wants a harder divorce than May was proposing. Other top candidates for the job are Sajid Javid, Michael Gove and Jeremy Hunt. Opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn wants to implement a range of classic socialist policies. He voted against EU membership in 1975, gave only reluctant backing to the 2016 campaign to remain in the EU, and has signalled only lukewarm backing for another referendum. 1) ‘NO-DEAL’ BREXIT Whoever succeeds Theresa May as Conservative Party leader will almost certainly have to demand a tougher Brexit deal from Brussels – yet the EU has repeatedly said it will not rework the Withdrawal Treaty. That means a confrontation of some kind with the bloc before the scheduled departure date of Oct. 31. To strengthen the hand of a future prime minister, some ministers want to step up preparations for a no-deal exit. This is the nightmare scenario for many big businesses; by stripping the world’s fifth-largest economyHere's the full story.

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Julian Assange Officially and Forcibly Arrested

In a case with significant First Amendment implications, the U.S. filed new charges Thursday against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, accusing him of violating the Espionage Act by publishing secret documents containing the names of confidential military and diplomatic sources. The Justice Department’s 18-count superseding indictment alleges that Julian Assange directed former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning in one of the largest compromises of classified information in U.S. history. It says the WikiLeaks founder, currently in custody in London, damaged national security by publishing documents that harmed the U.S. and its allies and aided its adversaries. The case comes amid a Justice Department crackdown on national security leaks and raised immediate fear among news media advocates that Assange’s actions — including soliciting and publishing classified information — are indistinguishable from what traditional journalists do on a daily basis. Those same concerns led the Obama administration Justice Department to balk at bringing charges for similar conduct. Assange’s lawyer, Barry Pollack, said Thursday that the “unprecedented charges” against his client imperil “all journalists in their endeavor to inform the public about actions that have been taken by the U.S. government.” The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press called the case a “dire threat” to media freedom, and the American Civil Liberties Union said it was the first time in history a publisher was charged for disclosing truthful information. But Justice Department officials sought to make clear that they believed Assange’s actions weren’t protected under the law, though they declined to discuss theHere's the full story.

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UNRWA - United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees

The head of the United Nations agency that has supported Palestinian refugees for seven decades hit back on Thursday at a U.S. proposal to have host countries take over the services it provides across the Middle East. The suggestion, from U.S. Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt at a U.N. Security Council meeting on Wednesday, that UNRWA should be effectively dismantled was the latest U.S. attack on an agency that began operations in 1950. Formerly UNRWA’s largest donor, the United States halted its funding to the agency in 2018, deeming its fiscal practices “irredeemably flawed” and stoking tensions between the Palestinians and U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration. “We need to engage with host governments to start a conversation about planning the transition of UNRWA services to host governments, or to other international or local non-governmental organizations, as appropriate,” Greenblatt said after the Security Council was briefed by UNRWA chief Pierre Krahenbuhl. Asked at a Gaza news conference on Thursday about Greenblatt’s remarks, Krahenbuhl said UNRWA’s mandate was a matter for the entire U.N. General Assembly to consider, not by “one or two individual member states”. “Therefore, Palestinian refugees should remember that the mandate is protected by the General Assembly, and of course we will engage with member states to ensure what we hope is a safe renewal of that mandate,” Krahenbuhl said. STRONG BACKING IN U.N. GENERAL ASSEMBLY UNRWA’s mission is due to come up for renewal later this year in the General Assembly, where support for the agency has beenHere's the full story.

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Narendra Modi - India Politics News Headlines

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has swept to a huge election victory, his foreign minister said on Thursday, giving his party a mandate to pursue policies that put Hindus first, are mainly business-friendly and take a hard line on national security. Official data from India’s Election Commission showed Modi’s Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ahead in 294 of the 542 seats available, more than the 272 seats needed for a majority in the lower house of parliament. That would give it the first back-to-back majority for a single party since 1984. The main opposition Congress Party was ahead in 50 seats, figures showed. Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, also a senior BJP leader, said on Twitter the BJP had won a “massive victory”. The mood was upbeat at BJP headquarters in New Delhi, with party workers setting off firecrackers and cheering as TV channels reported the margin of victory. Official data from India’s Election Commission showed Modi’s Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ahead in 294 of the 542 seats available, more than the 272 seats needed for a majority in the lower house of parliament. That would give it the first back-to-back majority for a single party since 1984. The main opposition Congress Party was ahead in 50 seats, figures showed. Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, also a senior BJP leader, said on Twitter the BJP had won a “massive victory”. The mood was upbeat at BJP headquarters in New Delhi, with party workers setting off firecrackers and cheering as TV channelsHere's the full story.

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Theresa May - UK Politics News Headline Today

British Prime Minister Theresa May is expected on Friday to announce her departure from office, The Times reported, without citing a source. May would remain as prime minister while her successor is elected in a two-stage process under which two final candidates face a ballot of 125,000 Conservative Party members, the newspaper said. May’s premiership had already been seen as hanging by a thread, with a high-profile Cabinet minister having quit and a growing revolt over Brexit looking set to force the U.K. leader from power. The resignation came from Leader of the House of Commons Andrea Leadsom, who said she no longer believed the government’s approach would honor the result of the 2016 referendum. Theresa May’s office said the prime minister was “disappointed” but would stay focused on delivering Brexit. Leadsom and other ministers spent much of Wednesday in private talks plotting to kill May’s last-gasp plan to use a possible second referendum to get her divorce agreement through Parliament. As the pro-Brexit faction within May’s Cabinet discussed how to coordinate their revolt, the most senior rank-and-file members of her Conservative Party held a crisis meeting to weigh up whether to throw her out altogether. The pound fell as investors braced for the prospect that a pro-Brexit hard-liner could succeed May, and might rip Britain out of the European Union with no deal to cushion the blow. It was a day when May’s authority could almost be seen draining away. As she spoke in the Commons, May’s colleagues paidHere's the full story.

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Donald Trump and Hassan Rouhani- USA, Iran News Headline

The Pentagon on Thursday will present plans to the White House to send up to 10,000 more troops to the Middle East, in a move to beef up defenses against potential Iranian threats, U.S. officials said. The officials said no final decision has been made yet, and it’s not clear if the White House would approve sending all or just some of the requested forces. Officials said the move is not in response to any new threat from Iran, but is aimed at reinforcing security in the region. They said the troops would be defensive forces, and the discussions include additional Patriot missile batteries, more ships and increased efforts to monitor Iran. Thursday morning’s meeting comes as tensions with Iran continue to simmer, and it wasn’t clear if a decision would be made during the session. Any move to deploy more forces to the Middle East would signal a shift for President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly emphasized the need to reduce America’s troop presence in the region. U.S. officials have provided few details about possible Iranian threats, but indicated they initially involved missiles loaded onto small Iranian boats. This week officials said the missiles have been taken off the boats near Iran’s shore, but other maritime threats continue. Sending more troops could also raise questions on Capitol Hill. During back-to-back closed briefings for the House and Senate on Tuesday, defense leaders told congressional officials the U.S. doesn’t want to go to war with Iran and wants to de-escalate theHere's the full story.

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Emmanuel Macron and Khalifa Hifter - Khalifa Haftar - Libya - France News

Libyan commander Khalifa Hifter said in a meeting on Wednesday with French President Emmanuel Macron that he cannot work toward a cease-fire because he has no one with whom to negotiate. Hifter opened a military offensive on the Libyan capital of Tripoli in early April despite commitments to move toward elections in the North African country. Libya is divided between Khalifa Hifter, whose self-styled Libyan National Army controls the east and much of the south, and Libyan Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj, who runs the U.N.-supported but weak government in Tripoli. During a more than hour-long closed door meeting, Macron asked Hifter to work toward a cease-fire and a return to the political process, according to a statement from Macron’s office. When the question of a cease-fire is put on the table, “the reaction of … Hifter is ‘with whom can I negotiate a ceasefire today?’ ” an official of the presidential Elysee Palace said. Hifter considers the Sarraj government is being eaten from within by armed militias and considers “it’s not for him (Hifter) to negotiate with representatives of these militias,” the official said. The official wasn’t authorized to speak publicly about the delicate talks and asked to remain anonymous. The closed-door meeting came two weeks after Macron hosted Libya’s struggling U.N.-backed prime minister, who has denounced Hifter’s offensive as an attempted coup. Macron’s office has expressed support for Sarraj. The official rejected claims that France is secretly backing Hifter, saying that France is trying “to create a dynamic” betweenHere's the full story.

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Social Media in Africa News

Indonesia has introduced curbs on social media in a bid to prevent the spread of hoaxes, some calling for violent post-election attacks, and quell two days of protests in the capital. Fact-checkers say hoaxes and calls for violence on social media networks have spiked since Tuesday when an official election count confirmed President Joko Widodo as the winner, a result contested by his challenger, Prabowo Subianto. Six people have been killed in unrest that gripped parts of Jakarta since Tuesday night. Chief security minister Wiranto said to “avoid provocations, the spread of fake news through the community, we will limit access to certain features on social media”. The move imposes limits on the ability to upload videos or photos on social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and its platforms Instagram and Whatsapp. Communications Minister Rudiantara told reporters the restrictions were meant to slow visual content that could inflame “emotions” and would be temporary in Facebook’s third-largest market globally with 130 million accounts. Reuters reviewed half a dozen posts forwarded via the Whatsapp messenger system calling for violence and attacks to protest the election results, as well as shared doctored videos. One called for protesters to attack prominent Jakarta sights by hiding explosives in books, water bottles or walking sticks. Another video widely circulated on social media showed a since disproved siege of a mosque by police. Several versions of the video were captioned saying that the police officers were disguised as “Chinese people” wanting to attack Indonesian worshippers, whileHere's the full story.

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