Christchurch Attacks - New Zealand

An inquiry into Christchurch’s mosques shooting massacre began hearing evidence on Monday, as New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern prepared to co-host a meeting in France that seeks global support to tackle online violence.Trends For You 🔥 Trump and His Controversial Peace Plan For Palestine and Israel Donald Trump Exacting Swift Punishment Against Those Who Crossed Him Sanders Finds Unusual Ally in Trump A lone gunman killed 51 people at two mosques in Christchurch on March 15 while livestreaming the massacre on Facebook. It was New Zealand’s worst peace time shooting. New Zealand’s Royal Commission inquiry will look into the suspected gunman’s activities, use of social media and international connections, as well as whether there was inappropriate priority settings in counter terrorism resources. “The commission’s findings will help to ensure such an attack never happens here again,” Jacinda Ardern said in a statement announcing a second commissioner to the inquiry. The Royal Commission’s website said it would gather information until August. It will report its findings to the government on December 10. Some in the Muslim community called for better communication about the inquiry. “Many of us in the Muslim community have not received any information about the process for hearings…..so many of us in the community very much feel out of the loop,” said Wellington-based community advocate Guled Mire. “Ultimately, we want our voices to be heard and to no longer be ignored, so hopefully steps are taken to ensure information is directly communicated to members of the MuslimContinue reading

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Narendra Modi - India Politics News Headlines

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling coalition is confident of a second term in office but opposition parties are talking to each other to seal an alliance, hoping to topple him after general election results are announced on May 23.Trends For You 🔥 Trump and His Controversial Peace Plan For Palestine and Israel Donald Trump Exacting Swift Punishment Against Those Who Crossed Him Sanders Finds Unusual Ally in Trump The seven-phase election started on April 11 and ends on May 19. Below is how India’s biggest parties are aligned. NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC ALLIANCE (NDA) BHARATIYA JANATA PARTY (BJP): Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist BJP leads the NDA and won 282 seats in the last election five years ago. There are 545 seats in the lower house of parliament, two of which are nominated by the president from the Anglo-Indian community. ALL INDIA ANNA DRAVIDA MUNNETRA KAZHAGAM (AIADMK): The third-biggest party and Narendra Modi’s biggest partner in the south of the country, the BJP’s weakest region. The AIADMK won 37 of the 40 seats it contested the last time, but the death of its charismatic leader, J. Jayalalithaa, in 2016 could affect its performance. SHIV SENA: The hardline Hindu party, based in India’s financial capital Mumbai, is in an on-off relationship with the BJP. The parties sealed an alliance before this election, with the construction of a Hindu temple at a controversial site in the north being one of Shiv Sena’s key demands. Shiv Sena won 18 seats the last time, making itContinue reading

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Wahhabism - Wahhabi Islam

Sri Lankan authorities have arrested a Saudi-educated scholar for what they claim are links with Zahran Hashim, the suspected ringleader of the Easter Sunday bombings, throwing a spotlight on the rising influence of Salafi-Wahhabi Islam on the island’s Muslims.

Mohamed Aliyar, 60, is the founder of the Centre for Islamic Guidance, which boasts a mosque, a religious school and a library in Zahran’s hometown of Kattankudy, a Muslim-dominated city on Sri Lanka’s eastern shores.

“Information has been revealed that the suspect arrested had a close relationship with ... Zahran and had been operating financial transactions,” said a police statement late on Friday.

The statement said Aliyar was “involved” with training in the southern town of Hambantota for the group of suicide bombers who attacked hotels and churches on Easter, killing over 250 people.

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Philippines, Philippine, Sara Duterte News Headline

During Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s first two years in office, his daughter Sara had barely any interest in politics. One year on, she is front and centre in a midterm election that she isn’t even running in, playing kingmaker for candidates allied with her father in what’s being widely seen as a not-so-subtle trial balloon for her own presidential run in 2022.

Monday’s elections are to a great extent a referendum on the Duterte administration, testing his popularity and giving him a chance to tighten his grip on power by retaining his Congressional majority, and keeping the opposition on the fringes of the all-important Senate for the remainder of his term.

Sara Duterte opted out of running for the Senate, choosing instead to manage the campaign of some of her father’s loyalists, which experts say will boost her political capital and build alliances that could come in handy ahead of the next presidential election.

“She’s projecting herself as a national personality. What’s happening today is her testing the water,” said Ramon Casiple, who heads the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform.

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North Korea Weapons - War News

North Korea’s second missile test on Thursday signals it is serious about developing new, short-range weapons that could be used early and effectively in any war with South Korea and the United States, analysts studying images of the latest launches say.

Last week, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un oversaw the first flight of a previously untested weapon - a relatively small, fast missile experts believe will be easier to hide, launch, and manoeuvre in flight.

Photos released by state media on Friday showed Thursday’s test involved the same weapon. The tests have increased tensions after the last U.S.-North Korea summit collapsed in February in Hanoi with no agreement over Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programme.

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U.S. Seizes North Korean Cargo Ship

The U.S. said Thursday that it has seized a North Korean cargo ship that was used to violate international sanctions, a first-of-its kind enforcement action that comes amid a tense moment in relations between the two countries.

The "Wise Honest," North Korea's second largest cargo ship, was detained in April 2018 as it traveled toward Indonesia. It's now in the process of being moved to American Samoa, Justice Department officials said.

Officials made the announcement hours after North Korea fired two suspected short-range missiles toward the sea, the second weapons launch in five days and a possible signal that stalled talks over its nuclear weapons program are in trouble. The public disclosure that the vessel is now in U.S. custody may further inflame tensions, though U.S. officials said the timing of their complaint was not a response to the missile launch.

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Prayuth Chan-ocha - Thailand Headlines Today Story

Thailand’s pro-army Palang Pracharat party was looking for coalition partners on Thursday from a wide field of potential allies as it seeks to keep military junta leader Prayuth Chan-ocha, who led a 2014 coup, in office as prime minister.

The party is expected to easily form the next government, since it needs only a few more votes in the elected House of Representatives to choose the prime minister under complicated new electoral rules written by the military regime.

Palang Pracharat is expected to be joined by the Democrat and Bhumjaithai parties as well as 11 other smaller parties that are not affiliated with either the pro-army camp or the Democratic Front of parties opposing the military, said Yuttaporn Issarachai, a political scientist from Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University,

“Prayuth will certainly be prime minister,” under this scenario, he said, but he added that the government would likely be unstable, with only a slim majority in the House.

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Kim Jong-un - North Korea Politics Today

North Korea fired an unidentified projectile on Thursday, the South’s military said, less than a week after its leader Kim Jong Un oversaw the test-firing of multiple rockets and a missile. The projectile was fired at about 4:30 p.m. (8.30 a.m. BST) from the northwest town of Sino-ri, in an easterly direction, the South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement. It did not immediately release further details.

A South Korean official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the projectile was believed to have flown around 420 km (260 miles).

“You don’t know what missile it is just from how far it flew,” said Yang Uk, senior research fellow at the Korea Defence and Security Forum.

“But one thing is clear - there’s no doubt that it is a missile.”

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North Korea Missiles

North Korea’s “strike drill” last week at which leader Kim Jong Un oversaw the launch of rockets and at least one short-range ballistic missile was “regular and self-defensive,” the North’s foreign ministry said on Wednesday, according to state media.

“The recent drill conducted by our army is nothing more than part of the regular military training, and it has neither targeted anyone nor led to an aggravation of the situation in the region,” an unidentified ministry spokesperson said in a statement to the state-run KCNA news agency.

Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan told a congressional hearing on Wednesday that North Korea launched “rockets and missiles”, the first time the Pentagon has detailed what it believes Pyongyang fired.

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Prayuth Chan-ocha - Thailand

Long-delayed results of Thailand’s first election since a 2014 military coup released on Wednesday produced no clear winner but gave a pro-army party a clear advantage in its bid to install the current junta leader as an elected prime minister.

The opposition threatened legal action against Wednesday’s results, saying that a new seat allocation formula robbed the “democratic front” alliance of a majority in the 500-seat House of Representatives.

The results are likely to set up a period of coalition building, since neither the pro-military bloc of parties nor a “democratic front” opposition alliance so far has enough votes to elect a prime minister under rules written by the junta.

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Hong Kong New Extradition Law

A proposed new extradition law in Hong Kong could extend China’s “coercive reach” into the financial hub and create serious risks for U.S. national security and economic interests there, a U.S. congressional commission said.

Various groups in Hong Kong, including democracy activists, have objected to the proposed legislation, which would allow case-by-case extraditions from the city to countries without formal extradition agreements, including mainland China.

“The extradition bill could pose significant risks to U.S. national security and economic interests in the territory,” the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission said in a report released on Wednesday.

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Bill Shorten's Emotional Tribute to his mother - Australia News

Australians have rallied behind Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and his emotional story of his mum with Twitter users sharing accounts of their own mums who gave up careers to look after their families.

The hashtag #MyMum was trending after Mr Shorten fought back tears during a press conference after questions were raised about his mother’s story.

The Labor leader’s voice broke as he described his mother’s circumstances, to counter claims that he didn’t tell her full story during an appearance on Q&A this week.

“My mum suffered a catastrophic heart attack in her sleep … she never woke up,” he said. “It’s been about five years to last month when she passed away. I miss her every day.

“But I’m glad that she wasn’t here today to read that rubbish,” he said of the reports.

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Belt and Road - Silk Road - China News

New Zealand is willing to work with China on its Belt and Road initiative and can offer its expertise in areas such as regulation and the environment, officials from the Pacific nation’s government said on Monday.

The investment policy championed by Chinese President Xi Jinping has become mired in controversy, with some partner nations bemoaning the high cost of projects. But China’s recent efforts to put a greener face on its infrastructure initiative could smoothen ties with some countries.

“It seems more likely that we can find a win-win situation with China, whether it’s greening the Belt and Road, or helping address some of the issues...around transparency or whether it’s using our regulatory systems, which are amongst the best in the world,” New Zealand’s trade minister David Parker said at an annual China-focused business summit in Auckland.

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Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump - Russia News - USA Politics News

Donald Trump said that Russian President Vladimir Putin isn’t seeking to “get involved” in the crisis in Venezuela, despite assertions by the American president’s top national security advisers that the Kremlin is offering critical support to Nicolas Maduro’s regime.

“He is not looking at all to get involved in Venezuela other than he’d like to see something positive happen for Venezuela,” Trump told reporters at the White House on Friday, following a call with the Russian leader earlier in the day. “And I feel the same way. We want to get some humanitarian aid -- right now people are starving, they have no water, they have no food.”

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Maha Vajiralongkorn, King of Thailand

Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn on Saturday completed Buddhist and Brahmin rituals to symbolically transform him into a living god as the Southeast Asian nation crowned its first monarch in nearly seven decades. The coronation of King Vajiralongkorn, 66, took place inside the Grand Palace throne hall in Bangkok after a period of official mourning for his revered father, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who died in October 2016 having reigned for 70 years.

The king sat on a golden throne under a nine-tiered umbrella to receive royal regalia including a gold-enameled, diamond-tipped crown in ceremonies that mixed glittering pomp with solemn religious rites.

The monarch was joined by new Queen Suthida after a surprise announcement three days before the coronation that the thrice-divorced monarch had married for a fourth time.

His coronation comes amid the uncertainty of an unresolved election battle between the current military junta chief and a “democratic front” trying to push the army out of politics.

“I shall continue, preserve, and build upon the royal legacy and shall reign with righteousness for the benefit and happiness of the people forever,” the king said in his first royal command.

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North Korea Missiles

North Korea fired several “unidentified short-range projectiles” into the sea off its east coast on Saturday, prompting South Korea to call on its communist neighbour to “stop acts that escalate military tension on the Korean Peninsula”. The South Korean military initially described it as a missile launch, but subsequently gave a more vague description. The latest firing came after the North’s test of what it called a tactical guided weapons system in April.

Analysts suspected the flurry of military activity by Pyongyang was an attempt to exert pressure on the United States to give ground in negotiations to end the North’s nuclear programme after a summit in February ended in failure. South Korea’s presidency urged North Korea to refrain from further action in one of the most stiffly-worded statements since the two Koreas embarked on reconciliation efforts early last year.

“We are very concerned about the North’s latest action,” South Korea’s presidential spokeswoman said in the statement, adding that it violates an inter-Korean military agreement.

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Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Nicolas Maduro - Russia, USA , Venezuela

Russia's support for Venezuela's embattled President Nicolas Maduro has become the latest flashpoint in deteriorating relations between the United States and Russia, moving to the top of a list of long-simmering spats between the Cold War foes.

As the dispute intensifies with both sides trading accusations and entrenched in diametrically opposed positions from which they are unwilling to retreat, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo plans to meet Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov next week in Finland to discuss the matter.

A senior State Department official said Pompeo would use the opportunity of being at the same meeting of Arctic Council with Lavrov to express U.S. "concerns about Russian behavior." ''That includes Ukraine and certainly Venezuela," said the official, who was not authorized to discuss the meeting publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

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