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Juan Guaido vs Nicolas Maduro - Venezuela News

Venezuela’s government late Wednesday halted negotiations with the opposition in protest of the Trump administration’s freezing of its U.S. assets, thrusting into crisis the country’s best chance of peacefully resolving a political standoff that has kept the nation on the edge for more than six months. The decision surprised representatives of opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who were already on the Caribbean island of Barbados awaiting what was to be the start Thursday of the sixth round of talks that began in May under the auspices of Norway. “We Venezuelans have watched with profound indignation how the chief of the opposition, Juan Guaidó, celebrates, promotes and supports these harmful actions against our nation’s sovereignty and our peoples’ most basic human rights,” the government said in a statement Wednesday night. The government stopped short of abandoning the talks altogether, saying only that it would “review the mechanisms of this process to ensure its continuation is truly effective and harmonious with the interests of the people.” For weeks, representatives of Maduro and his would-be successor have been shuttling back and forth to Barbados trying to agree on a common path out of the country’s prolonged political standoff. The meetings have been slow-going and shrouded in mystery, with neither side disclosing details. But Maduro’s supporters have accused the U.S. of trying to blow up the fragile process with sweeping new sanctions announced this week that freeze all of the government’s assets in the U.S. and even threaten to punish companies from third countries thatContinue reading

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Hemedti, General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo - Sudan News

When Sudan’s protest leaders signed a preliminary power-sharing agreement with the ruling military council in early July, they had no choice but to shake hands with the man many of them accuse of ordering a massacre just a month earlier. Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, a paramilitary commander from Darfur who is widely known as Hemedti, has emerged as Sudan’s main power broker in the months since the military overthrew President Omar al-Bashir. He boasts tens of thousands of paramilitary forces who have spent years battling insurgents across Sudan as well as rebels in Yemen on behalf of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Experts say he can draw on his family’s vast livestock and gold mining operations in Darfur, as well as funding from Gulf Arab countries, to buy the support of tribal leaders and other local elites. That could be the recipe for a new patronage system like the one that kept al-Bashir in power for three decades. But he also faces considerable headwinds: from the pro-democracy movement that has brought tens of thousands into the streets; from rival tribes and rebel groups that have battled his forces; and from elites in Khartoum, who view the onetime camel trader from distant Darfur as an outsider. This week the protesters and the military announced a new breakthrough in their efforts to form a joint government that would pave the way to civilian rule. But the democratic transition remains fragile, and Hemedti’s rise — along with the growing resistance toContinue reading

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Ibrahim Yaqoub El Zakzaky, Ibrahim Zakzaky, El Zakzaky, Nigeria News

Nigeria’s government has taken the controversial decision to ban a pro-Iranian Shia group, accusing it of unleashing violence and being an “enemy of the state”. The Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) is challenging the ban, arguing that it is a peaceful movement which has, in fact, borne the brunt of state-orchestrated violence. These developments have raised fears of oil-rich Nigeria becoming the latest battleground in the conflict between the world’s two main Muslim sects, Shia and Sunni. Formed about four decades ago, it advocates the creation of an Iranian-style Islamic state in Nigeria. It was heavily influenced by the Iranian revolution, which saw Ayatollah Khomeini take power in 1979 after the overthrow of the US-allied Shah in a popular uprising. Khomeini remains the group’s main inspiration: IMN supporters first pledge allegiance to him at their gatherings, and then to their local leader, Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky. The IMN views itself as a government, and Sheikh Zakzaky – who has been in detention since 2015 – as the only legitimate source of authority in Nigeria. It does not recognise the authority of the Nigerian government, and views its leaders – both Muslims and Christians – as corrupt and ungodly. It has well-organised branches and administrative structures in most of Nigeria’s 36 states to give it the semblance of a government. The IMN also operates its own schools and hospitals in some states in northern Nigeria, where most Muslims live. “The Islamic Movement has a registered Foundation called the Fudiyya Foundation under whichContinue reading

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US Elections - Election News in Politics

High-ranking Polish politicians used a side door to get to the VIP section of Sowa & Przyjaciele, a posh Warsaw restaurant. Sealed off from other patrons, government ministers and lawmakers felt free to speak their minds while enjoying continental cuisine and wine at taxpayer expense. But the privacy was an illusion, the special dining room a trap. For about a year, waiters secretly recorded public officials at Sowa & Przyjaciele and another restaurant. When a newsmagazine published transcripts from some of the recordings, it spawned a scandal dubbed “Waitergate” that helped topple a pro-European Union government. Suspicions that Russia and the nationalist political party that won Poland’s 2015 election were behind the illegal eavesdropping persisted even after a Polish multimillionaire was convicted as the mastermind. With the country’s next election coming up this fall, a Polish journalist and the jailed tycoon have provided fresh fuel for claims that Waitergate was a prelude to Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Grzegorz Rzeczkowski, a respected investigative reporter for the Polityka newsmagazine, argues in a new book that Russian intelligence services carried out the restaurant buggings on behalf of the Kremlin. He also presents evidence to allege that Polish intelligence figures conspired to use the recordings to bring the right-wing Law and Justice party, or PIS, to power. In his book, titled “In a Foreign Alphabet: How People of the Kremlin and PIS Played with the Eavesdropping,” Rzeczkowski maintains that, just as with the U.S. election meddling that special counsel RobertContinue reading

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Kim Jong Un News in North Korea

North Korea said Saturday its leader Kim Jong Un supervised another test-firing of a new multiple rocket launcher system that could potentially enhance the country’s ability to strike targets in South Korea and U.S. military bases there. The report by Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency came a day after South Korea’s military said it detected North Korea firing projectiles twice into the sea off its eastern coast in its third round of weapons tests in just over a week. Experts say the North’s increased testing activity is aimed at ramping up pressure on Washington and Seoul over stalled nuclear negotiations with the United States and planned U.S.-South Korea military exercises, and that its weapons displays could intensify in the coming months if progress in talks isn’t made. North Korea has said Kim supervised the first test of the same rocket artillery system on Wednesday. KCNA said Kim expressed “great satisfaction” over Friday’s tests, which it said confirmed the system’s “altitude control level flight performance, track changing capability, accuracy of hitting a target and warhead explosion power of the guided ordnance rocket.” The report didn’t include any direct mention of the United States or South Korea. South Korea’s presidential office had said the U.S. and South Korean militaries shared an assessment that Friday’s launches were likely of short-range ballistic missiles. South Korea’s military had also concluded the weapons North Korea tested on Wednesday are ballistic missiles and maintained its assessment even after the North described them as a newly developedContinue reading

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Donald Trump - Nancy Pelosi - USA Politics Today

Freshman Democratic Rep. Andy Kim came face to face with impeachment fervor at a town hall in New Jersey. “Do your job!” shouted one voter. Several states away, a woman held up a copy of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report and told freshman Rep. Elissa Slotkin at a Michigan town hall she hoped she would “be the person that puts us over the top to start an impeachment inquiry.” And in semi-rural Virginia, newcomer Rep. Abigail Spanberger encountered voters with questions, if not resolve, about impeaching President Donald Trump. “I don’t have blood dripping from my fangs for or against impeachment,” said David Sussan, 70, a retired U.S. Postal inspector from Chesterfield, who favors starting an inquiry. “I just want the truth to come out.” It’s these freshman lawmakers, and others like them, who will likely decide when, if ever, House Democrats start formal efforts to impeach the president. Neither Kim, nor Slotkin, nor Spanberger supports impeachment. But with half the House Democrats now in favor of beginning an inquiry, the pressure will only mount on the holdouts to reach a tipping point. And with lawmakers returning home to voters during the August recess, what happens next may prove pivotal. The pro-impeachment group Need to Impeach is running television ads and, along with activists from other groups, fanning out to congressional districts to push lawmakers, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, to move more swiftly toward impeachment proceedings. The organization’s lead strategist Kevin Mack says his counsel to lawmakers, especially thoseContinue reading

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Syria Starvation

Mohammed Haji Abed drives his yellow taxi through the busy streets of the Syrian capital for about 12 hours a day, toiling in the sweltering summer heat but earning barely enough for his family of five to get by. It was easier for him to make ends meet at the height of his country’s civil war, when rebels regularly lobbed mortars into Damascus from their strongholds on the outskirts of the city. In the past year, as the Trump administration tightened sanctions on Syria and re-imposed sanctions on its chief regional ally, Iran, living conditions have become steadily worse, compounding the daily struggles of a worn-out population that has lived through eight years of conflict. “The economic sanctions are affecting the whole country,” said Haji Abed, sitting behind the wheel of his car in an eastern Damascus neighborhood that until last year was a front-line with insurgents. “People can’t take any more,” added the gray-haired man in his late 50s. Sanctions by the U.S., European Union and some Arab countries have been in place since 2011, after President Bashar Assad’s security apparatus cracked down on protests against his rule. The sanctions targeted the oil industry, money transfers and a number of institutions and officials, including Assad. The Trump administration has hiked up the punishment, particularly by moving to stop oil exports by Iran — including its shipments to its ally Syria. In November, the U.S. Treasury Department added a network of Russian and Iranian companies to its blacklist for shippingContinue reading

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Donald Trump - US Politics News

The Donald Trump administration said Wednesday it will set up a system allowing Americans to legally and safely import lower-cost prescription drugs from Canada for the first time, reversing years of opposition from federal health authorities amid a public outcry over high prices for life-sustaining medications. The move is a step toward fulfilling a 2016 campaign promise by President Donald Trump, and it weakens an import ban that stood as a symbol of the political clout of the pharmaceutical industry. It’s unclear how soon consumers will see benefits, as the plan has to go through time-consuming regulatory approval and later could face court challenges from drugmakers. It comes as the industry is facing a crescendo of consumer complaints over costs, as well as legislation from both parties in Congress to rein in costs, along with a sheaf of proposals from the Democratic presidential contenders. Ahead of the 2020 election, Trump is feeling pressure to deliver on years of harsh rhetoric about the pharmaceutical industry. Making the announcement Wednesday, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the administration’s decision recognizes that prescription drug manufacturing and distribution is now international. “The landscape and the opportunities for safe linkage between drug supply chains has changed,” Azar said. “That is part of why, for the first time in HHS’s history, we are open to importation. We want to see proposals from states, distributors, and pharmacies that can help accomplish our shared goal of safe prescription drugs at lower prices.” Most patients take affordableContinue reading

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Abdel Fattah el-Sisi - Egypt Politics News

Security forces detained Lotfy Ibrahim, a young construction worker, as he left a mosque near his home on the Nile Delta in the spring of 2015. When his family finally saw him again nearly three months later, he was in jail, looking badly brutalized. “He rolled his sleeves down so we couldn’t see the signs of torture,” said Ibrahim’s mother, Tahany. “But I saw burns on his arm. His face was pale, and his hair was shaved off.” Ibrahim, then 20, was eventually tried on charges of murdering three military academy students in a roadside bombing. He swore his innocence. His family said his lawyer had proof in the shape of a confession by the real perpetrators. But the lawyer was arrested and the new evidence was ignored by the authorities, the family said. Reuters didn’t see the confession. In early 2016, almost a year after Ibrahim’s arrest, a military court found him guilty and sentenced him to death. From his prison cell, he wrote a letter to his family. It contained a message to the father of one of the murdered cadets. “I don’t have your son’s blood on my hands and everyone knows that,” Ibrahim said. “Please pray for me, I forgive you.” When he put down his pen he was led away to the gallows, Ibrahim’s mother said. He was hanged in January 2018, a few months after his lawyer’s arrest. Egyptian courts have sentenced some 3,000 people to death since 2014, when President Abdel Fatah al-SisiContinue reading

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