You are here: Home » Top Stories (page 10)

Category Archives: Top Stories

Feed Subscription

Mexico: Hurricane Willa makes landfall

Hurricane Willa slammed into Mexico's west-central coast late Tuesday. According to the US National Hurricane Center, the storm still had maximum sustained winds of 195 kph (120 mph), with forecasters warning it would be a deadly storm. The hurricane came ashore near Isla del Bosque in Sinaloa state about 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of the resort town of Mazatlan. It first swept over the Marias islands, the location of a Mexican federal prison. Willa began losing power overnight to become a Category 3 storm as it moved inland. Authorities warned it could cause heavy rains in Jalisco, Nayarit and Sinaloa states. Flash flooding and landslides could happen in mountainous areas. A state of alert had ben declared in all three states and schools closed. How much damage? Damage assessments were still coming in but officials said there were reports of power blackouts and damage to flimsy structures with tin roofs. The interior ministry did not immediately respond to questions on whether it had evacuated the 1,000 inmates from the island or what other emergency measures were in place for the penal colony. "We do not have any reports of damage there so far," the head of Mexico's emergency services, Luis Felipe Puente, told a press conference. More than 4,250 people were evacuated from high-risk areas, including tourists who were on vacation at the beach, Felipe Puente said. They are being housed in 58 temporary shelters. Residents in storm's path At a shelter in Escuinapa, a town of 30,000 people, residents waited nervously and worried about their homes. "You feel bad leaving everything behind, but what can you do? We're up against nature," farmer Epigmenio Cardenas told AFP. Many residents had boarded up their windows with plywood. "They told us it was going to hit hard, and that we had to come here" to the shelter, said cook Maria Virginia Cardenas. The Mexican army has deployed troops to roll out a disaster response operation in the area. In the tranquil beach town of Mazatlan, the hotels that line the coast were largely empty. Residents had stocked up on food and water, but there were no signs of shortages so far. Mexico's Pacific coast has already been hit by deadly storms and rains this hurricane season. In September, at least 15 people were killed when flash floods hit the states of Sinaloa and Michoacan. Last week, 11 more people died in Oaxaca, including seven children.

Hurricane Willa slammed into Mexico’s west-central coast late Tuesday. According to the US National Hurricane Center, the storm still had maximum sustained winds of 195 kph (120 mph), with forecasters warning it would be a deadly storm. The hurricane came ashore near Isla del Bosque in Sinaloa state about 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of the resort town of Mazatlan. ... Read More »

Turkey using Jamal Khashoggi’s killing as political leverage

Turkey using Jamal Khashoggi's killing as political leverage The killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Saudi Arabia's Istanbul consulate has put a strain on Turkey's relationship with the Gulf monarchy. Until recently, Turkey had been at pains to maintain good ties with the Saudis, while also keeping friendly relations with the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood — an organization Khashoggi supported, incidentally. Now, it seems, Turkey's political balancing act has come to an end; the gloves are coming off and Ankara wants Saudi Arabia to come clean about the killing. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has vowed that Khashoggi's murder will be fully investigated. Former Turkish Foreign Minister Yasar Yakis believes Erdogan's tough new stance vis-a-vis Riyadh is not only a result of Khashoggi's death, but part of his broader political agenda. Turkey's ties to the Muslim Brotherhood Turkey's relationship to the Muslim Brotherhood — one of the most important political movements in the Arab world, which has its roots in Egypt — always played an important role in ties between Ankara and Riyadh. Indeed, it is well-known that the Saudis disapproved of Turkey's relationship with the Brotherhood. Even so, and despite the complicated state of Middle Eastern politics, Turkey is trying to uphold its ties to the organization, along with Iran, according to Yakis. In response to Turkey's Brotherhood relationship, Saudi Arabia has sought closer ties with Israel, he said. And the Gulf monarchy is also cooperating with the Kurds, a group long at odds with Erdogan's government — especially in Syria. "The Kurds are America's closest ally in the fight against [Islamic State] in Syria," said Yakis, noting that they recently received arms worth $200 million (€174 million). "The weapons were provided by the US, the Saudi kingdom footed the bill." What's more, Turkey was rather irritated that the Kurds received such support, he added. In light of the complicated Saudi-Turkish ties, Erdogan is using Khashoggi's murder as leverage against Riyadh, Yakis said. Erdogan has signaled that he has information which he could use against them, without revealing everything he knows, he explained, which will keep the Saudis and Turks busy in talks. Deeply at odds These talks could indicate that Turkey wishes to play a greater role in the Arab world. Indeed, during a visit to Egypt in early 2018, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman accused Turkey of supporting Iran and Islamist organizations, and blamed the country for working towards building an Arab caliphate. Burak Bilgehan Ozpek, a political researcher at Ankara's TOBB University of Economics and Technology, said that Turkey has by and large ignored these accusations. Turkey did, however, severely criticize Saudi Arabia when it, together with several other Arab states, imposed an economic embargo on Qatar in 2017. So while Turkey was helping Qatar fight the embargo, it was simultaneously trying to keep tensions with the Saudi kingdom to a minimum. Ozpek believes Khashoggi's murder has pushed Erdogan to pressure the Saudis. If Saudi Arabia reconsiders its stance in the region and with regard to Turkey, tensions may be reduced, he said, but noted he is nonetheless skeptical about whether the Khashoggi affair will be fully resolved. "Turkey is acting as if it were in control of the case, and is feeding expectations of a transparent investigation," Ozpek said. Only time will tell if these expectation are met, he added, explaining that until that happens, there is no certainty over what really happened to Khashoggi.

Turkey using Jamal Khashoggi’s killing as political leverage The killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Saudi Arabia’s Istanbul consulate has put a strain on Turkey’s relationship with the Gulf monarchy. Until recently, Turkey had been at pains to maintain good ties with the Saudis, while also keeping friendly relations with the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood — an organization Khashoggi supported, ... Read More »

Migrant caravan ‘could not be larger gift’ for Donald Trump

In a replay of his 2016 campaign, President Trump is whipping up anti-immigrant sentiment to stoke his base for the midterm election. But it will do nothing to stop what is a slow moving train wreck in Latin America. "Remember the midterms", US President Donald Trump reminded his 55 million followers on Twitter on Tuesday in a sequence of tweets focused on the so-called migrant caravan that is making its way through Mexico towards the US border. If there was ever any doubt that Trump would forego the attention-grabbing visuals of thousands of Latin American migrants braving brutal conditions to trek tens of miles per day in hopes of reaching the US, a series of presidential tweets sent out in the past couple of days erased it. Using military jargon to describe the caravan and alleging — without offering evidence — that criminals and "unknown Middle Easterners" were part of the group, Trump faulted Democrats and US courts for standing in the way of a tougher immigration policy, and El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, the home countries of most of the migrants, for not preventing them from making the journey. "The timing of this could not be a larger gift to President Trump and the Republican Party in advance of the midterm elections", said Cynthia Arnson, director of the Wilson Center's Latin America program. She noted that, ahead of competitive midterm elections, Trump — by associating immigrants with crime — was simply going back to his electorally successful 2016 campaign playbook. "I think that's precisely why President Trump is going to his Twitter account and making all kinds of harsh statements to appeal to his base and to stoke that kind of fear", said Arnson. "There has been a consistent messaging from this White House to equate migrants with violent crime and the evidence is actually quite the contrary." Trump's controversial effort to turn the plight of thousands of migrants desperate enough to make the consequential decision to leave their homes to go on an arduous journey they hope will somehow enable them to find a safe haven in the United States is unlikely to sway any undecided voters. But it may well succeed in rallying his core base of supporters, which in a close election could be enough to eke out a victory. "This election is going to be won by turnout", said Karen Alter, a political scientist at Northwestern University. "Trump is trying to dial up the fear dial to distract to an area where he is being perceived as stronger, mainly his willingness to crack down on immigration, in hopes that that affects the turnout." Key issue for GOP A Pew Research Center poll published earlier this month appears to support the strategy of focusing on immigration to boost Republican turnout. "Illegal immigration is the highest-ranked national problem among GOP voters, but it ranks lowest among 18 issues for Democratic voters", found Pew researchers. Trump's push to elevate the migrant caravan to an urgent national security issue may bring in Republican votes, but it is disingenuous and does nothing to solve a migrant crisis that has been ongoing in ebbs and flows since 2014 when the first groups of unaccompanied minors entered the US during the Obama administration, noted the scholars. "The larger issue is that there is a slow moving train wreck going on in Latin America of governments that are falling apart and they are generating refugee crises", said Alter. In El Salvador, Honduras and other countries the security situation for people has become so dire now that families simply feel they cannot stay there. With governments unable to provide even the most basic protection for the people, corrupt police forces and ultra-violent gangs and drug cartels taking over, the choice for citizens is easy. Complete desperation "They are leaving out of complete desperation", said Alter. "And since they are leaving out of desperation, nothing that President Trump yells in his tantrum — 'I am going to remove foreign aid, I am going to build a wall' — none of that can stop desperate people who are literally facing life and death situations." What's more, nixing foreign aid to the deeply impoverished nations of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras will only increase the country's troubles and potentially cause even more people to seek refugee in the US. "There is nothing that could be more counterproductive in the medium and long term, because the only lasting resolution to the migrant crisis is to be found in the region and to changing the conditions of deprivation and violence that continue to cause people to flee because they feel they have no future and no safety within their own borders", said Arnson. Address root causes But that, said the scholars, would require the change of US policy toward a region that it has ignored far too long to its own and the region's detriment. "We are going to need to pay much more attention to our backyard than we have been paying attention to it recently", said Alter. "And the good news is that we don't actually have Muslim fundamentalist terrorists in Latin America and that these are really internal crises that you actually might have a chance to address." But instead of focusing on the much more difficult task, of addressing the root causes of the ongoing migrant crisis in the region, Trump has chosen the very convenient path "to throw these chaos bombs to distract the media, to distract the American public and to try to motivate people to turn out in the midterm elections."

In a replay of his 2016 campaign, President Trump is whipping up anti-immigrant sentiment to stoke his base for the midterm election. But it will do nothing to stop what is a slow moving train wreck in Latin America. “Remember the midterms”, US President Donald Trump reminded his 55 million followers on Twitter on Tuesday in a sequence of tweets ... Read More »

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 »

Scroll To Top