Istanbul Ataturk Airport Attack: 41 Dead And More Than 230 Hurt

Wednesday, June 29, 2016
A gun and bomb attack on Istanbul's Ataturk airport has killed 41 people, at least 13 of them foreigners, and injured more than 230, officials say.
Three attackers arrived in a taxi and began firing at the terminal entrance late on Tuesday. They blew themselves up after police fired back.
PM Binali Yildirim said early signs pointed to so-called Islamic State but no-one has so far admitted the attack.
Recent bombings have been linked to either IS or Kurdish separatists. Tuesday's attack looked like a major co-ordinated assault, says the BBC's Mark Lowen.
  • Ataturk airport has long been seen as a vulnerable target, our Turkey correspondent adds, reporting from a plane stuck on the tarmac in Istanbul. 
  • There are X-ray scanners at the entrance to the terminal but security checks for cars are limited. 
  • Pictures from the airport terminal showed bodies covered in sheets, with glass and abandoned luggage littering the building. 
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the attack should serve as a turning point in the global fight against militant groups. 
"The bombs that exploded in Istanbul today could have gone off at any airport in any city around the world," he said.

Source: BBC
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Philippines’ Duterte Looking To Destroy ‘Imperial Manila’

Tuesday, June 28, 2016
MANILA: Philippine president-elect Rodrigo Duterte takes office this week looking to end the domination of “Imperial Manila” with a radical shift to federalism that he says is vital to fighting poverty and ending a deadly Muslim separatist insurgency. 
Duterte, who won last month’s elections in a landslide, has vowed to have the constitution rewritten to achieve his bold plans — which would see power devolved from the central government in the capital to newly created states governing the current 81 provinces. 
It (the current system) is an excuse for them to hang onto power in Imperial Manila. 
They have always been there in one single office, running the Philippines,” Duterte said in a speech during the election campaign. 
Such comments are typical fare for Duterte, an anti-establishment figure who relentlessly rails against the elites who have mostly ruled the Philippines since independence from the United States after World War II. 
Duterte will on Thursday take over from Benigno Aquino, who remains a generally popular figure but nevertheless comes from one of the remarkably small number of wealthy clans that have long dominated national politics and overseen one of Asia’s biggest rich-poor divides.
Duterte will become the first president from the vast southern region of Mindanao, which is one of the nation’s poorest areas and home to decades-old communist and Muslim insurgencies that have claimed tens of thousands of lives.

Source: FMT...More
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Donald Trump Appears To Shift On Muslim Ban

Sunday, June 26, 2016

The Muslim ban has been a central pillar of Trump’s campaign for president. Given his penchant for saying virtually anything with little regard for the facts or previous statements, it’s unclear whether he will stick by what he said on Saturday.
However, Donald Trump appeared to shift his position on a blanket ban on all Muslims entering the United States, saying on Saturday he wouldn’t be bothered if a Muslim from Scotland or Great Britain entered, according to reporters from CBS and CNN. 
Trump first called for a “total and complete shutdown” on Muslim immigration in December.After a gunman killed 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, Trump called for a complete immigration ban from countries with a history of terrorism against the United States.
    • But on Saturday, Trump shifted, telling CNN’s Jeremy Diamond he only wanted to focus on “people coming from the terror states.
    • ” Hope Hicks, a spokeswoman for the Trump campaign, also told Diamond that Trump no longer supports a blanket ban and only wants to ban Muslims from terror states.
    • It’s unclear which countries, exactly, this applies to. The three countries on the State Department’s official list of state sponsors of terrorism are Syria, Iran and Sudan, but terrorist groups are complex organizations that can have members in several countries, including U.S. allies. 
    Several of the suspected terrorists involved in the Paris attacks, for example, were French nationals. Two of the brothers involved in the March Brussels attack were Belgian-born. 
    Hicks did not respond to an additional request for comment from The Huffington Post.

    Source:  The Huffington Post.

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    Lightning Kills 93, Mostly Farmers, In India

    Thursday, June 23, 2016
    NEW DELHI: At least 93 people have been struck by lightning and killed in India over the past two days, disaster management officials said Wednesday, as annual monsoon rains swept the country. 
    Lightning strikes are relatively common in India during the June-October monsoon, which hit the southern coast earlier this month, but this week’s toll is particularly high. 
    Most deaths occurred in the eastern state of Bihar, where an overnight storm killed at least 56 people and injured another 28.
    • “The death toll has climbed to 56 and 28 are injured.
    • Many of the victims are children and women,” Anirudh Kumar, a senior official at Bihar’s diaster management agency, told AFP. 
    • Another 37 people were killed across Uttar Pradesh, Jharkand and Madhya Pradesh states, according to figures compiled by local disaster management authorities. 
    Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted that he was “deeply anguished” by the loss of life. 
    Lightning kills thousands of Indians every year, most of them farmers working the fields. 
    More than 2,500 people were killed by lightning in India in 2014 according to the National Crime Records Bureau, the most recent figures available.

    Source: AP
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    Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia Agree To Act vs Abu Sayyaf

    Monday, June 20, 2016
    MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia agreed Monday to take possible coordinated actions, including sea and air patrols, to stop an alarming wave of cross-border kidnappings and boat attacks by Abu Sayyaf extremists and other outlaws. 
    Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said no accord was signed during talks with his Malaysian and Indonesian counterparts in Manila because he wanted the administration of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte, to formalize any such border security arrangement. 

    Gazmin's designated successor, retired army Maj. Gen. Delfin Lorenzana, joined the meeting at his invitation. 
    • It follows an initial meeting by the three foreign ministers last month that was hosted by Indonesia and underscored the alarm over the Abu Sayyaf's continuing attacks despite repeated assurances of tighter security by Malaysia and the Philippines. 
    • "The ministers raised concern over the recent incidents of kidnappings and armed robbery at sea in the maritime areas of common concern," the defense chiefs, who included Hishammuddin Hussein of Malaysia and Ryamizard Ryacudu of Indonesia, said in a joint statement. 
    • They reaffirmed the need and collective responsibility of the countries to address such threats, it said. 
    • After staging ransom kidnappings of Malaysian and foreign tourists in Malaysia's Sabah state in recent years, Abu Sayyaf gunmen and allied militants successively attacked three tugboats starting in March, kidnapping a total of 18 Indonesian and Malaysian crewmen. 
    • The captives were freed in batches from the militants' jungle bases in the southern Philippine province of Sulu reportedly in exchange for huge ransoms. The militants have separately beheaded two Canadian hostages, who were seized from a southern Philippine marina, after a ransom deadline lapsed, sparking condemnations from Canada and a major Philippine military offensive. 
    • Gazmin told The Associated Press by telephone that the proposed actions include setting up a database on extremists and establishing joint military command posts in designated areas. 
    • Coordinated security actions are delicate because the Philippines has a territorial claim to Malaysia's easternmost state of Sabah on Borneo Island. The proposals would be studied before being formalized in an agreement that may be signed within the year, he said. 
    A template for their coordination will be the anti-piracy actions by Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand that have reduced the high number of piracy attacks in the Malacca Straits to zero so far this year, Gazmin said. 
    "The aim is to send a warning or information to the other side which may face an imminent attack or to us when kidnap victims are about to be brought in," he said. 
    The Abu Sayyaf has carried out deadly bombings, kidnappings for ransom, beheadings, piracy and extortion, and is considered a terrorist organization by the Philippines and the United Nations. 
    The militants still hold at least five hostages, including a Norwegian resort manager and a Filipino woman kidnapped with the beheaded Canadians in September last year and a Dutch bird watcher, who was abducted more than three years ago.

    Source: AP
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    Israel Cuts Water Supplies To West Bank During Ramadan?

    Wednesday, June 15, 2016
    Israel's national water company has cut crucial water supplies to large areas of the occupied West Bank.
    This  leave tens of thousands of Palestinians without access to safe drinking water during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
    Mekorot, the main supplier of water to Palestinian towns and cities, siphoned off water supplies to the municipality of Jenin.
    Also several Nablus villages and the city of Salfit and its surrounding villages. 

    • Ayman Rabi, the executive director of the Palestinian Hydrology Group, told Al Jazeera on Tuesday that in some areas people had not received water for more than 40 days.
    • "People are relying on purchasing water from water trucks or finding it from alternative sources such as springs and other filling points in their vicinity.
    • "Families are having to live on two, three or 10 litres per capita per day," he said, adding that in some areas they had started rationing water". 

    The city of Jenin, which has a population of more than 40,000 people, said its water supplies had been cut by half, and warned that it would hold Mekorot solely responsible for any tragedies resulting from water shortages during the hot summer months. 
    Mekorot did not respond to Al Jazeera's request for comment. 
    According to the UN, 7.5 liters per person per day is the minimum requirement for most people under most conditions but in some areas of Palestine - where temperatures exceed 35C - the minimum requirement is much higher. 
    Since 1967, Israel has limited the water available to Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip since its forces occupied the territories. 
    Israelis, including settlers, consume 5 times more water than Palestinians in the West Bank, 350 liters per person per day in Israel compared with 60 liters per Palestinian per day in the West Bank. 

    Source: Al Jazeera
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    Shooter Kills Around 20 In Orlando Florida Gay Nightclub

    Sunday, June 12, 2016
    Around 20 people have died, including the assailant, and at least 42 injured in an attack inside a gay nightclub in Orlando, in the US state of Florida, according to police.
    Officials said on Sunday morning that the shooter, who was armed with assault-type rifle, handgun and some type of other device, died in a shootout with the police force.
    The injured had been transferred to nearby hospitals, police said, adding that the exact number of dead and injured people inside the Pulse nightclub could not be confirmed. 
    "Unfortunately there are people who died from gunshot wounds, maybe around 20, inside the night club," Ron Harper, an FBI special agent, said, adding that one officer was injured. 
    • John Mina, Orlando police chief, said: "This did turn into a hostage situation. At approximately 05:00 hours (09:00 GMT) this morning, the decision was made to rescue hostages that were in there." 
    In a statement, the White House press office said US President Barack Obama was briefed of the incident by Lisa Monaco(photo), top advisor for Homeland Security and Counter terrorism.  
    Florida authorities said the attack was being treated as an "act of domestic or international terrorism". 

    Source: Al Jazeera ...More...
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    Four Malaysians Released By Filipino Kidnappers

    Wednesday, June 08, 2016
    KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian police today confirmed the release of four Malaysian sailors who were kidnapped and held captive for over two months in an undisclosed location in Sulu.
    Deputy Inspector General of Police Tan Sri Noor Rashid Ibrahim told the New Straits Times that the news, which had been circulating since afternoon, was true. 
    “It’s true (they have been released). They are okay,” he said when contacted earlier. 
    Philippine authorities had confirmed that the 4 kidnapped  victims  had been 
    released unharmed.
    • News portal in a report, quoted Sulu Provincial Police director Senior Superintendent Wilfredo Cayat as confirming that the victims had been freed. 
    • Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) spokesperson Major Filemon Tan Jr, meanwhile said the victims were confirmed to have been released as on Wednesday morning.Tan said intelligence units are still gathering information on when and where the Abu Sayyaf released their Malaysian captives. 
    • No additional details were offered by the police and military sources there on the release procedure, which was believed to have happened before midnight on Tuesday.

    The four Sarawakians are Wong Teck Pang, 31; Wong Hung Song, 34; Wong Teck Chi, 29; and Johnny Lau Jung Hien, 21. 
    On April 1, the four, who were travelling in a tugboat coming from Manila heading towards Tawau, when they were abducted by gunmen who intercepted their vessel. 
    They were later taken to the southern Philippines. 

    Source: News Straits Times
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    Playboy Mansion Sold To Neighbour For Over $100 Million

    Tuesday, June 07, 2016
    The Playboy mansion, a stately 1927 home famous for exotic parties where movie stars, athletes and billionaires frolicked with scantily clad women, is to be sold to the most familiar of buyers: the neighbor Daren Metropoulos(photo), a principal at private-equity firm Metropoulos & Co. who bought the adjacent property in 2009, is in contract to purchase the property. 
    He said in a statement he is less interested in the fame the mansion earned over the last four decades as a playground for Playboy bunnies and more interested in preserving its architectural pedigree. 
    The home's architect is Arthur Rolland Kelly, who designed hundreds of homes in the Los Angeles area. 
    "The heritage of this property transcends its celebrity, and to have the opportunity to serve as its steward would be a true privilege," Mr. Metropoulos said. 
    He declined to disclose the purchase price. 
    • The home was listed for US$200 million (S$270.8 million) by broker Mauricio Umansky of The Agency, as well as Gary Gold and Drew Fenton of Hilton & Hyland. 
    • Jeffrey Hyland, the president of Hilton & Hyland, said the price was "nine digits" and would set a record for the highest-priced residential sale in Los Angeles. 
    He said there were multiple offers for the property.ricio Umansky of The Agency, as well as Gary Gold and Drew Fenton of Hilton & Hyland. 

    Source: Wall Street Journal....More...
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    Best-Selling Author Pleads To Be Freed From Guantanamo

    Thursday, June 02, 2016
    A Mauritanian man whose best-selling book provided a rare window into US prison life at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and alleged torture tactics that have been shrouded in secrecy is asking a review board to clear him for release after 14 years of being held without charge. 
    Mohamedou Ould Slahi "understands his past mistakes", denounces any forms of "violent jihad", and has "never taken any hostile action" against the United States, according to his lawyers. 
    • The US alleges that Slahi, 45, swore an oath to al-Qaeda and was a recruiter who also helped to facilitate the travel of alleged September 11 attacks planner Ramzi bin al-Shibh, currently in Guantanamo, and two other 9/11 hijackers.
    Retired Colonel Morris Davis, a former chief prosecutor for the Guantanamo Bay military commissions - who years ago met Slahi and examined his case closely - told Al Jazeera he could find no grounds on which to charge Slahi with any offence.
    "He's spent a long time in confinement for someone [for whom] there is no evidence that he committed a crime," Davis said. 

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