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Donald Trump confirms US will pull out of nuclear arms pact with Russia

President Donald Trump has announced he will pull the United States out of a Cold War-era nuclear weapons deal with Russia. The president has accused Russia of violating the 1987 pact, but provided no further details. The United States will withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia, President Donald Trump announced Saturday. Trump justified the move by accusing Moscow of violating the 1987 nuclear arms pact , but refused to provide further details. "[Russia] has been violating it for many years. I don't know why President Obama didn't negotiate or pull out," the president said following a campaign stop in Elko, Nevada. "We're not going to let them violate a nuclear agreement and go out and do weapons [while] we're not allowed to. We are going to terminate the agreement and then we are going to develop the weapons." Trump went on to indicate that he would reconsider, provided Russia and China agreed to sign up to a fresh nuclear deal. China is party to the current pact. "We'll have to develop those weapons, unless Russia comes to us and China comes to us and they all come to us and say let's really get smart and let's none of us develop those weapons, but if Russia's doing it and if China's doing it, and we're adhering to the agreement, that's unacceptable," Trump said. The landmark agreement, signed by then-leaders Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, prohibits the US and Russia from possessing, producing or testing ground-launched cruise missiles with a range of 300 to 3,400 miles (500 to 5,500 kilometers). US dreaming of 'unipolar world': Russia Russia has responded to Washington's impending withdrawal from the arms treaty by accusing it of striving to become the world's only superpower. "The main motive is a dream of a unipolar world. Will it come true? No," Moscow's state-run news agency RIA Novosti quoted a foreign ministry official as saying. "This decision is part of the US policy course to withdraw from those international legal agreements that place equal responsibilities on it and its partners and make vulnerable its concept of its own 'exceptionalism.'" Russian Senator Alexei Pushkov took to Twitter to condemn the move as "the second powerful blow against the whole system of strategic stability in the world," with the first being Washington's 2001 withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told the TASS state news agency that Trump's planned move was dangerous. "This would be a very dangerous step that, I'm sure, not only will not be comprehended by the international community but will provoke serious condemnation," he said. Second Trump-Putin summit still in the pipeline Trump's announcement comes just as US National Security Adviser John Bolton is set to begin a series of visits to Russia, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia. In Moscow, Bolton is expected to begin preparations for a second summit between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Although no date has yet been announced, a meeting is expected in the near future. That could be in November, when the two leaders will be in Paris for a commemoration ceremony marking the end of World War I. Another possibility would be around the time of the next G20 leaders' summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, slated to begin November 30. Tensions between Russia and the US remain strained over the Ukraine crisis, the conflict in Syria and allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential vote and the upcoming midterm elections.

President Donald Trump has announced he will pull the United States out of a Cold War-era nuclear weapons deal with Russia. The president has accused Russia of violating the 1987 pact, but provided no further details. The United States will withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia, President Donald Trump announced Saturday. Trump justified the move by accusing ... Read More »

Women struggle to survive Greece’s notorious refugee camp

Women stranded as refugees on the Greek island of Lesbos face daily violence, never-ending asylum procedures and horrible living conditions. DW's Marianna Karakoulaki spoke with some of them about their experiences. Amal, a young woman in her 20s, and her family fled the ongoing conflict at home in Yemen as well as limited opportunities for women. After a treacherous journey across the Aegean she arrived at Lesbos. Here she thought she would finally find the freedom she was looking for. Instead she was taken to Moria, Greece's largest refugee camp, which resembles an open-air prison. She describes it as hell on earth. Moria has been in the international spotlight repeatedly because of the dreadful circumstances. More than 7,000 people live in an area built for 3,100. High walls and a barbed-wire fence separate the main camp site from the tent city that spreads around it. The living conditions do not meet international standards and are not adequate for thousands of residents. People have to wait in lines for hours to receive their meals; the restrooms and showers are unhygienic; sewage water runs constantly through the camp to the road in front. Violence seems to have become the new normal, and people struggle to carry out every day activities. A recent report by Amnesty International on women and girls in Greek refugee camps describes how the severe overcrowding can be especially threatening to women. Indeed, living in Moria is even worse for women than it is for men. 'Better off dead' Amal recounts in vivid detail how she witnessed a man beating a woman until she bled. The assault took place in front of Greek police who ignored it and later blamed the woman for 'hanging out with such men.' "The situation in Moria is unfair for women," Amal says. Her portrayal of daily life at the camp is striking. Even simple tasks such as going to the restroom can be dangerous. Although men are not allowed near the women's restrooms, they are always there, she says. One of her friends was recently harassed by an older man at the women's restrooms. She managed to run away before anything worse happened. "Sometimes I think it would have been better to have died in the sea rather than be in this place," Amal says. "As a feminist I learned that I should not be afraid of anything. But I am afraid of never leaving this place," she continues. This fear is the reason why Amal would prefer to be anonymous. She has heard rumors that if refugees say something negative about the camp, their asylum cases may be affected. That fear was shared by every person living in Moria who spoke to DW. "Being a feminist and a refugee at the same time is extremely hard. We have so many words to say during our asylum interview, but we have to keep quiet, because we want to leave here," Amal says. Amal wants to follow in the footsteps of her role model, Egyptian feminist Nawal El Saadawi, who defied patriarchal norms in her country and achieved her goals thanks to her education. Fix patriarchy and you fix everything Somayeh, who comes from Afghanistan, struggles to find something positive to say about Moria. She's thankful that she no longer lives there but in PIKPA, a self-organized camp for vulnerable refugees that is run by volunteers. Life in Moria was extremely difficult not only because of unhygienic conditions and long food lines but also because of the continuous violence in the camp When Somayeh speaks of her experiences as an Afghan woman her voice trembles even as she spits fire. She was a student at university before she got married, when her husband forced her to quit her studies. "Afghanistan is the country where the power is in the hands of the man. We can't work for women's rights there. I want equality but how can I face all men? I fight a lot for women, but I struggle for my [own] life," she says. Somayeh was a women's rights activist at home, neither an easy or safe task in such a patriarchal society. She firmly believes that women are not given many opportunities anywhere. Refugee women have even fewer. But to her, the solution to the problems displaced women in Europe face is not very complicated. "Europe needs to give women refugees knowledge; they need to educate them about women's rights. This will give them self-confidence. But they also need to provide them with safety," she says. 'Treat people as human beings' Even Kumi Naidoo, surely inured to sights such as Moria as a world-renowned activist and head of Amnesty International, was shocked by what he saw at the camp during a visit earlier this month. He was astonished by the women's strength in such a horrible situation, he told DW, and underlined a specific need to focus on women refugees. "Women suffer more vulnerabilities; just based on the reality of the amount of sexual harassment and sexual violence that, sadly, women, especially from poor communities, face. On the other side, the resilience of the women — just to be able to survive, to keep a smile on their face and look for solutions to sort things out — takes emotional and spiritual resilience on a very high level," he told DW. Amal is one of those survivors. "My life is in the bottom of a lake in Iran, where I lost all of my documents," she says. But she has not let that stop her. Once she is granted asylum in Greece she plans to return to Moria to help other women refugees find the strength to fight inequality. Just as her feminist role models have done in the past. * Some quotes have been edited for clarity. Refugees' names and details that may identify them or their families have been altered or omitted

Women stranded as refugees on the Greek island of Lesbos face daily violence, never-ending asylum procedures and horrible living conditions. DW’s Marianna Karakoulaki spoke with some of them about their experiences. Amal, a young woman in her 20s, and her family fled the ongoing conflict at home in Yemen as well as limited opportunities for women. After a treacherous journey ... Read More »

Israel postpones forced eviction of West Bank Bedouin village

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has suspended plans to demolish a Bedouin village in the West Bank amid international concern. The ICC has warned that evacuating Khan al-Ahmar could constitute a war crime. A Bedouin village in the occupied West Bank scheduled for demolition by Israel has received a temporary reprieve after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu put a hold on plans to evacuate and raze it. Israeli authorities say that the small village, Khan al-Ahmar, which is home to just 180 residents, was built illegally, and had ordered villagers to leave their houses and pull them down by October 1. Since that deadline expired without compliance, residents have been waiting for bulldozers to move in. "The intention [of the postponement] is to give a chance to the negotiations and the offers we received from different bodies, including in recent days," a statement from the premier's office said on Saturday. On Sunday, Netanyahu himself told reporters that the postponement would be only temporary. "I have no intention of postponing this indefinitely, despite reports to the contrary, but for a short time," he said. He said his security Cabinet would set what he called a "short" timetable at a meeting on Sunday. Possible war crime Israel's plans to demolish Khan al-Ahmar have drawn international concern, with the UN and EU member states, including Germany, all calling on the Israeli government not to go ahead in view of the possible impact such a demolition could have on prospects for Israeli-Palestinian peace. Palestinians say that it is virtually impossible to obtain building permits. They maintain that razing the village is part of an Israeli plan to make room to expand Jewish settlements so they would, in effect, divide the occupied West Bank, thus further fragmenting the territory sought for a future Palestinian state. On Wednesday, the International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, said in a statement that Israel's planned "evacuation by force" of Khan al-Ahmar could constitute a war crime. The plans for evacuating the village include relocation to an area about 12 kilometers (7 miles) away next to a landfill. The village is currently located east of Jerusalem on a highway leading to the Dead Sea.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has suspended plans to demolish a Bedouin village in the West Bank amid international concern. The ICC has warned that evacuating Khan al-Ahmar could constitute a war crime. A Bedouin village in the occupied West Bank scheduled for demolition by Israel has received a temporary reprieve after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu put a hold ... Read More »

Central American migrants vote to reform caravan, continue march toward US

Some 2,000 Central American migrants who managed to cross from Guatemala into Mexico have vowed to continue marching toward the US. President Donald Trump has politicized the caravan ahead of the midterm elections. About 2,000 Central American migrants who successfully crossed the Guatemalan border into Mexico voted in a show of hands on Saturday to reform their caravan and continue marching toward the US border. The migrants in question, most of whom are from Honduras, had entered Mexico without registering by crossing the Suchiate River on the border with Guatemala, either by swimming or on makeshift rafts. It followed a chaotic day at the border on Friday when thousands surged through a series of police lines and barricades, only to ultimately be pushed back by Mexican officers in riot gear. Thousands remain stranded on the bridge connecting the two nations. Rodrigo Abeja, one of the caravan's leaders, told The Associated Press the group that crossed the border would move toward the Mexican city of Tapachula on Sunday morning. "We don't yet know if we will make it to the (US) border, but we are going to keep going as far as we can," he said. The migrants gathered in a park on the Mexican side of the river crossing shouting "Let's all walk together!" and "Yes we can!" Mexico allows women, children to register as migrants Meanwhile, authorities at Mexico's southern border on Saturday allowed small groups of women and children to enter the country and be processed by immigration officials. Those migrants were then taken to a shelter in Tapachula, some 25 miles (40 kilometers) from the border. Most of the women and children had spent the night sleeping out in the open, either on the packed border bridge or in the Guatemalan border city of Tecun Uman. Mexican authorities have insisted that those still stranded on the bridge crossing will have to file asylum claims one-by-one to gain access to the country. It remains unclear whether their applications are likely to be accepted. Meanwhile, the Guatemalan government has organized a fleet of buses to take the migrants back to their native Honduras. Initial estimates suggest over 300 people have already taken up the offer. Trump: Migrant caravan politically motivated The migrant caravan's decision to continue travelling toward the US comes despite assertions by US President Donald Trump on Friday that not a single one of them would be allowed to enter the United States "on [his] watch." Trump has sought to make the caravan and US border security a central issue ahead of midterm elections in just over two weeks' time. The president kept up that rhetoric during a rally in Elko, Nevada, on Saturday. "The Democrats want caravans, they like the caravans. A lot of people say 'I wonder who started that caravan?'" he said. Trump went on to praise Mexican authorities for trying to halt the caravan's progress. "Mexico has been so incredible. Thank you Mexico and the leaders of Mexico, thank you," he said. "And you know why, because now Mexico respects the leadership of the United States." However, Mexico's increasingly no-nonsense approach to the large inflows of migrants has largely come on the back of Trump's threats to cut aid and shut down the US-Mexico border if authorities did not stop them. Back in Guatemala, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez and his Guatemalan counterpart Jimmy Morales echoed Trump's politicized theme as the pair met Saturday to discuss the crisis. "This migration has political motivations," said Morales, "which is violating the borders and the good faith of the states and of course putting at risk the most important thing, people." Hernandez also deplored "the abuse of people's needs" for "political reasons." Honduras, where most of the migrants are from, has seen violent street gangs brutally rule over large swathes of turf for years. With a homicide rate of nearly 43 citizens per 100,000, the country ranks among the poorest and most violent in the Americas

Some 2,000 Central American migrants who managed to cross from Guatemala into Mexico have vowed to continue marching toward the US. President Donald Trump has politicized the caravan ahead of the midterm elections. About 2,000 Central American migrants who successfully crossed the Guatemalan border into Mexico voted in a show of hands on Saturday to reform their caravan and continue ... Read More »

Saudi Arabia says journalist Jamal Khashoggi died after ‘fistfight’ at consulate

Early findings from a Saudi investigation into the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi confirm he is dead. A high-level intelligence official has been fired and 18 Saudi nationals have been arrested. The preliminary results of a Saudi investigation into missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi confirm that he died at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Saudi state media reported on Saturday. Khashoggi died following a "fistfight" at the consulate, according to the state-run Saudi Press Agency (SPA). "The discussions between Jamal Khashoggi and those he met at the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul ... devolved into a fistfight, leading to his death," SPA reported, citing the public prosecutor. Read more: Saudi Arabia: Powerful, but not omnipotent after Khashoggi affair "The investigations are still underway and 18 Saudi nationals have been arrested," a statement from the Saudi public prosecutor said, adding that royal court adviser Saud al-Qahtani and deputy intelligence chief Ahmed Asiri have been sacked from their positions. Khashoggi, a critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, went missing after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 to obtain documents for his upcoming marriage to a Turkish citizen. Pro-government Turkish media have repeatedly claimed Khashoggi was tortured and decapitated by a Saudi hit squad inside the consulate, but Turkey has not yet revealed details about the investigation. Saudi Arabia had previously rejected accusations that Khashoggi died at the consulate as "baseless." State media also downplayed allegations from Turkish officials that a Saudi "assassination squad," including an official from Crown Prince Mohammed's entourage and an "autopsy expert," flew in ahead of time and laid in wait for Khashoggi. Intelligence agency revamp Saudi King Salman ordered the formation of a ministerial committee, which Crown Prince Mohammed will head, to restructure the general intelligence agency, according to SPA. The committee will also include the interior minister, the foreign minister, the head of the intelligence agency and the chief of homeland security. According to the king's order, the committee is to report back to him within a month. The Saudi leadership said it is keen "to prevent the recurrence of such a grave error in the future," SPA reported, quoting a Foreign Ministry source. The disappearance of Khashoggi, who was a US resident and Washington Post columnist, caused tension between Saudi Arabia and Western allies, with countries including the UK, Germany and France pressing the Saudis for information on his disappearance. US offers condolences Shortly before Saudi Arabia's announcement, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and King Salman agreed via phone to continue cooperating in the investigation into Khashoggi's disappearance. Erdogan and Salman "emphasized the importance of continuing to work together with complete cooperation," an anonymous Turkish presidential source told the Associated Press news agency. White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the US was "saddened to hear confirmation of Mr. Khashoggi's death, and we offer our deepest condolences to his family, fiancee and friends." "We will continue to closely follow the international investigations into this tragic incident and advocate for justice that is timely, transparent and in accordance with all due process," she said. US President Donald Trump said on Friday that consequences would "have to be very severe" if it turned out that Saudi Arabia was responsible for Khashoggi's death, adding that it was still "a little bit early" to draw conclusions and that he found the explanation of Khashoggi's death credible. Trump also called Saudi Arabia a "great ally." The United Arab Emirates, a Riyadh ally, hailed Saudi Arabia's response in the case. The Gulf Arab state "commends directives and decisions of Saudi King Salman on the issue of Kashoggi," the official news agency WAM said on Twitter. Call for further probe Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said further investigations are needed after Saudi Arabia's acknowledgment that Khashoggi had died. "A lot still remains uncertain. What happened? How did he die? Who is responsible? I expect and I hope that all relevant facts will be clear as soon as possible," Rutte told reporters in Copenhagen. "Thorough investigation is necessary". Britain said it was considering the "next steps." "We send our condolences to Jamal Khashoggi's family after this confirmation of his death. We are considering the Saudi report and our next steps," the foreign ministry said in a statement. "As the Foreign Secretary has said, this was a terrible act and those responsible must be held to account."

Early findings from a Saudi investigation into the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi confirm he is dead. A high-level intelligence official has been fired and 18 Saudi nationals have been arrested. The preliminary results of a Saudi investigation into missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi confirm that he died at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Saudi state media reported on Saturday. Khashoggi ... Read More »

India: Scores dead as train plows into revelers at religious festival

A speeding train has run over a crowd of revelers celebrating the Hindu Dussehra festival in the Indian state of Punjab. Some 60 people died in the accident, making it India's worst train disaster this year. A speeding passenger train struck a crowd celebrating the Hindu Dussehra festival in the Indian city of Amritsar in Punjab state on Friday, killing some 60 people and injuring scores more. The large crowd had gathered to watch the ceremonial burning of an effigy near the railway tracks when the train struck. According to witnesses, the train failed to stop after the accident. Most of the victims died instantly, while limbs lay scattered around the site. According to local news agencies, another 50 people were rushed to various hospitals for treatment. Regional railways chief Vishweshwar Chaubey said many people were standing on the tracks to see the burning of an effigy of the demon king Ravana. Those who were crushed could not hear the train approaching because of the loud firecrackers, he added. Speaking to a local TV channel, one eyewitness described scenes of "utter commotion" as some people in the crowd noticed a train "coming very fast" towards them. "Everyone was running helter-skelter and suddenly the train crashed into the crowds of people," he said. A former state government official said most of the victims were migrant workers who had left their families in neighboring states to work in local factories and shops. The city of Amritsar is located around 465 kilometers (290 miles) to the north of the capital, New Delhi. Who bears responsibility? The accident raises questions of negligence on behalf of the rail operator and the administration as to why the festival was held so close to the rail line and why no barriers had been put up to stop people from getting onto the track. Immediately after the accident, people rushed to the site and shouted at officials for not taking precautions. Navjot Kaur Siddhu, a local Congress party politician who was the chief guest at the festival, said the celebrations take place in the same area every year and that the railways are warned to run trains at slow speeds. Siddhu, however, had arrived late, delaying the ceremony for several hours so it coincided with the train's arrival time. The junior minister for railways, Manoj Sinha, insisted after visiting the scene of the accident that organizers had not alerted authorities about their plan to hold the religious festivity there. Officials promise compensation Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter to say he was extremely saddened by the "heart-wrenching tragedy" and urged officials to provide immediate assistance to the injured and the victims' families. Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said he had ordered an investigation into who was responsible for the accident. He also announced that each of the victims' families would receive monetary compensation of 500,000 rupees ($6,800, €5,900). India's sprawling rail network is the fourth-largest in the world and is the primary means of travel across the vast country. However, the service remains poorly funded and accidents are relatively common. In 2016, 146 people were killed when a train slid off the tracks in eastern India. A government report in 2012 described the loss of 15,000 lives to train accidents each year in India as a "massacre." Modi's government has pledged to invest some $137 billion over five years to modernize the country's run-down rail network.

A speeding train has run over a crowd of revelers celebrating the Hindu Dussehra festival in the Indian state of Punjab. Some 60 people died in the accident, making it India’s worst train disaster this year. A speeding passenger train struck a crowd celebrating the Hindu Dussehra festival in the Indian city of Amritsar in Punjab state on Friday, killing ... Read More »

Macedonian lawmakers back North Macedonia name change

Macedonian parliamentarians have voted in favor of starting the process to change the country's name to North Macedonia. The name change would clear the path for the country's entry into NATO and possibly the EU. After a delay of more than 10 hours, lawmakers in Macedonia voted 80 to 39 on Friday in favor of the proposal to change the constitution, a key step in accepting the deal struck with neighbor Greece back in June. "The parliament adopted the proposal by the government to start the procedure for changes in the constitution," parliament speaker Talat Xhaferi said after the late-night vote. Prime Minister Zoran Zaev's Social Democratic government had initially struggled to win the necessary support of conservative opposition members. The final vote, however, saw Zaev just achieve the necessary two-thirds majority needed inside the 120-seat house. Some conservative lawmakers accused the government of offering bribes of between €250,000 and €2 million (between $288,000 and $2.3 million) in exchange for votes. Zaev's party denied the allegation and said it would respond with legal action. Zaev had promised to call early elections if the government had lost the vote. Greece dispute close to resolved Zaev and his Greek counterpart, Alexis Tsipras, had reached a deal in June calling for Macedonia to change its name to the Republic of Northern Macedonia. Athens would in return stop blocking its neighbor from joining NATO and opening EU membership talks. Greece has argued that the name "Macedonia" implied territorial claims to a Greek province of the same name. The name change would end a 27-year dispute that began after Macedonia emerged from the disintegrating Yugoslavia in 1991. Read more: Opinion: Macedonia's bitter lesson Following Friday's vote, Tsipras took to Twitter to congratulate Zaev. "Tonight's vote is a big step towards our common success. A very important step to a peaceful and prosperous future for our people!" the Greek prime minister said. Conservatives in Macedonia vehemently oppose the name change and boycotted a referendum last month on the issue. The referendum failed to reach a turnout hurdle of 50 percent, leaving the issue to parliamentarians to decide. The amendment process must now formally start within the next two weeks. The procedure could be lengthy, however, and requires several votes. Once Macedonia formally changes its constitution, Greece's lawmakers will also have to vote on the deal. It remains unclear whether that will come to pass, however, as several nationalist Greek lawmakers oppose allowing Macedonia to use the name in any form.

Macedonian parliamentarians have voted in favor of starting the process to change the country’s name to North Macedonia. The name change would clear the path for the country’s entry into NATO and possibly the EU. After a delay of more than 10 hours, lawmakers in Macedonia voted 80 to 39 on Friday in favor of the proposal to change the ... Read More »

Taiwan’s independence rally draws thousands, irks China

The first large-scale pro-independence rally in a generation has brought thousands of people onto the streets of Taipei. China has recently strengthened its determination to bring the self-ruled island under its control. Several thousand pro-independence activists have rallied in Taiwan's capital, Taipei, to push the Taiwanese government to hold a referendum on whether to declare independence from China. Organizers claimed more than 100,000 people turned out for the march against Beijing's increasing hostility toward the self-ruled island. Some carried placards bearing the message: “No more bullying; no more annexation." The demonstration was organized by a new political outfit, the Formosa Alliance, which is backed by two pro-independence former Taiwanese presidents, Lee Teng-hui and Chen Shui-bian, as well as leaders of several other smaller political parties. Read more: Will China-Vatican deal have a diplomatic domino effect for Taiwan? Independence activist George Kuo founded the alliance in February 2018 to pressure the government to amend the island's Referendum Act and initiate the process for organizing a public referendum on independence from China. "In order to help Taiwan be recognized as a sovereign state internationally, our government needs to amend the Referendum Act to allow the Taiwanese people to express their desire to achieve Taiwanese independence through votes," Kuo told DW, ahead of the rally. Maintaining the status quo China sees self-ruling democratic Taiwan as part of its territory to be reunified, despite the two sides being ruled separately since the end of a civil war on the mainland in 1949. Taiwan views itself as a sovereign state, with its own currency, political and judicial systems, but has never declared formal independence from the mainland. Beijing has warned it would respond with force if Taiwan tried an official split. China also demands its international allies forfeit diplomatic recognition of the island. Furthermore, China's growing international political and economic clout in recent years have allowed Beijing to curtail Taiwanese presence on the international stage, by blocking it from global forums and poaching its dwindling number of diplomatic partners. Taiwan's currently ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is traditionally independence-leaning, but President Tsai Ing-wen has said she wants to maintain the status quo with China. Tsai's measured approach has alienated some pro-independence supporters of her party. This hasn't prevented relations between Beijing and Taipei from further deteriorating since Tsai took office in 2016, as she has refused to adhere to Beijing's line that Taiwan is part of "one China." Read more: US to sell Taiwan military gear worth $330 million Kuo argued that the pro-independence rally gave the Taiwanese people the opportunity to come out and show to China that they disapprove of Beijing's "barbaric way of intimidating Taiwan and its people." Chinese authorities, meanwhile, have said the Formosa Alliance should not go down what they called a "dangerous path." Electoral considerations? Saturday's protest took place at a sensitive time in Taiwan, ahead of local elections in November. Even though the Formosa Alliance denied that its decision to organize the demonstration was influenced by electoral considerations, some analysts believe otherwise. Kharis Templeman, an expert on Taiwanese democracy and security at Stanford University, pointed out that Tsai and the DPP are struggling domestically, and, therefore, it's understandable that these pro-independence activists are now coming to their rescue. "It makes sense for independence activists to hold events now to rally support for their cause, as the DPP is in danger of getting trounced in the local elections," Templeman told DW. Read more: Is Taiwan's tourism industry too reliant on China? A high-risk gambit A vote on independence in Taiwan would require an amendment to current laws, which bar referendums on changing the constitution or sovereign territory. Many believe Tsai would be unlikely to allow such an amendment due to fears that it would enrage Beijing. "Acknowledgement of Taiwan's existing de facto independence is high, but because of the risks involved in pursuing de jure independence, the mainstream position in Taiwan is to support the status quo," Jonathan Sullivan, director of China programs at Nottingham University, told DW. According to local media reports, the DPP prohibited its officials and candidates from attending Saturday's protest, which was held outside the party headquarters. But some independence activists say this is the right time to press forward, given the DPP holds the presidency as well a parliamentary majority for the first time. Yi-Chih Chen, the chairperson of the pro-independence Taiwan Radical Wings, argues that the key for Taiwan to achieve independence is for the government to turn the Taiwanese people's collective will into a parameter that Western allies have to take into account when dealing with China. "President Tsai's government should tell the US that there is a consensus among the Taiwanese people that Taiwan should become independent, and it is not purely DPP's political agenda," Chen told DW.

The first large-scale pro-independence rally in a generation has brought thousands of people onto the streets of Taipei. China has recently strengthened its determination to bring the self-ruled island under its control. Several thousand pro-independence activists have rallied in Taiwan’s capital, Taipei, to push the Taiwanese government to hold a referendum on whether to declare independence from China. Organizers claimed ... Read More »

German professor goes to court to challenge €2,250 library book fine

The psychology professor's lawyer has told a judge that the fine, for the late return of 50 books, was extortionate. She is facing a fine of €1,000 and a further €1,250 in admin fees after missing a deadline by 40 days. A German university professor is challenging the library fine system in the state of North Rhine Westphalia after being landed with a €2,250 bill for the late return of dozens of books. Professor Gina Kästele, who lectures at the Niederrhein University of Applied Sciences in the western city of Mönchengladbach, went to court on Friday to challenge the penalty which was imposed after she returned the books nearly six weeks late. Kästele's lawyer claims the charge — made up of €1,000 ($1,153) in library book fines and a further €1,250 in administration fees — was disproportionately high. Read more: Sensational archaeological find is likely Germany's oldest library The university allows professors to keep books for research purposes for long periods without a fee but an extension must be applied for at the end of the academic year, according to several German media outlets. The plaintiff borrowed 50 books for her scientific work from the university library at the beginning of the 2015 summer semester. Books returned 40 days too late The books were, therefore, due back at the start of the summer recess at the end of July, but Kästele didn't return them until September. The university says the library sent several reminders that the books were overdue, which Kästele's lawyer insists she didn't see because she was on holiday. Initially the library fined the plaintiff €2 per book, and then €5. After 30 days, the fine rose to €20 per book. In addition, after such a long period administrative fees of €25 for each book were applied. Read more: US Library of Congress to stop archiving all tweets The German news agency Deutsche Presse-Agentur said the fee structure was set by the state government in 2005. Kästele is also arguing that because the university system in Germany has since been reformed, the regulations no longer apply. If Kästele were to win her case, DPA said the ruling could have consequences for all German university libraries. A university representative acknowledged that the fine was not an accurate calculation of the library's expenses for late returns. Even so, the presiding judge said that fines of this kind were allowed to be issued as a deterrence, to ensure others return the books on time. The court is expected to issue a decision in the coming weeks.

The psychology professor’s lawyer has told a judge that the fine, for the late return of 50 books, was extortionate. She is facing a fine of €1,000 and a further €1,250 in admin fees after missing a deadline by 40 days. A German university professor is challenging the library fine system in the state of North Rhine Westphalia after being ... Read More »

Brexit: Jewish families in UK who fled Nazis seek German passports

As Brexit approaches, figures show that Germans who made Britain their home are increasingly applying for repatriation. The majority are the families of those who fled because they were persecuted by the Nazi regime. An increasing number of people living in the UK have applied for repatriation to Germany since the June 2016 referendum result for Britain to leave the EU, according to government figures. Individuals who were persecuted by the Nazis and their descendants made up the majority of those applying, a report on Friday said. Of the 3,731 applications since 2016, 3,408 referred to the German Constitution's Article 116. Under the article, former German citizens who were deprived of citizenship on "political, racial, or religious grounds" — and their descendants — are entitled to have citizenship restored. Read more: Will Brits say 'au revoir' to French dream post-Brexit? Tens of thousands of Jews fled Germany for the UK before and during World War II. They included some 10,000 children who were evacuated as part of the so-called "Kindertransport” between December 1938 and August 1939, most of whom never saw their families again. Sharp rise in applications The increase in those applying for repatriation increased significantly after the UK's Brexit referendum, according to figures published by the Funke Mediengruppe newspaper group. In 2015, there were only 59 applications, while in 2016 — the year the UK Brexit vote took place in June — there were 760. In 2017, 1,824 applied, and 1,147 applied in the first eight months of 2018. The Funke Mediengruppe figures were obtained in response to a parliamentary question from Germany's pro-business Free Democrats (FDP). Read more: Germany preparing for no deal on Brexit, says Merkel Aside from Jews, many other groups fled Germany and the Nazi regime, including members of the Roma community, homosexuals and political opponents. 'Not surprising' According to FDP interior affairs spokesman Konstantin Kuhle, the development showed that many UK citizens were keen to retain "the benefits of European citizenship" within the EU. "This is not surprising given the British government's chaotic Brexit negotiation line," Kuhle said, adding that the EU should not forget "that many people in the UK feel close to the EU." Read more: Plotting Conservatives reject Theresa May's Brexit plan The 2016 referendum, called by then Prime Minister David Cameron, ended with 52 percent voting in favor of Brexit, and 48 percent against. The number of Britons living in Germany who seek German citizenship has also increased significantly since June 2016.

As Brexit approaches, figures show that Germans who made Britain their home are increasingly applying for repatriation. The majority are the families of those who fled because they were persecuted by the Nazi regime. An increasing number of people living in the UK have applied for repatriation to Germany since the June 2016 referendum result for Britain to leave the ... Read More »

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