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  • US firefighter saves lifeless dog with mouth-to-mouth

    A US firefighter has been praised for giving a dog 20 minutes of "mouth-to-snout" resuscitation after the animal was rescued from a house fire.

    The dog was overcome by the heat and smoke of the blaze in Santa Monica, California, and was unresponsive.

    But firefighter Andrew Klein managed to bring 10-year-old Nalu, a Bichon Frise/Shih Tzu, "back from the dead".

    Mr Klein discovered Nalu unconscious in a back bedroom after crawling on all fours into the blazing apartment

    "He was totally lifeless," the firefighter told the Associated Press news agency. "I picked him up and ran out of the apartment because time is key, especially with a small dog... Failure was not an option.''

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  • EthZena | 'Black Day' in Mediterranean: 250 feared dead in new African migrants boat sinkings

    More than 250 African migrants were feared drowned in the Mediterranean Thursday after a charity's rescue boat found five corpses close to two sinking rubber dinghies off Libya.

    The UN's refugee agency (UNHCR) said it was "deeply alarmed" after the Golfo Azzuro, a boat operated by Spanish NGO Proactiva Open Arms, reported the recovery of the bodies close to the drifting, partially-submerged dinghies, 15 miles off the Libyan coast.

    "We don't think there can be any other explanation than that these dinghies would have been full of people," Proactiva spokeswoman Laura Lanuza told AFP. "It seems clear that they sunk."

    She added that the inflatables, of a kind usually used by people traffickers, would typically have been carrying 120-140 migrants each.

    "In over a year we have never seen any of these dinghies that were anything other than packed."

    Lanuza said the bodies recovered were African men with estimated ages of between 16 and 25. They had drowned in the 24 hours prior to them being discovered shortly after dawn on Thursday in waters directly north of the Libyan port of Sabrata, according to the rescue boat's medical staff.

    Vincent Cochetel, director of the UN refugee agency (UNHCR)'s Europe bureau, said NGO boats patrolling the area had been called to the aid of a third stricken boat on Thursday afternoon, raising fears others may have perished on what Proactiva called "a black day in the Mediterranean."

    Despite rough winter seas, migrant departures from Libya on boats chartered by people traffickers have accelerated in recent months from already-record levels.

    250,000 arrivals in 2017?

    Nearly 6,000 people have been picked up by Italian-coordinated rescue boats since the end of last week, bringing the number brought to Italy since the start of 2017 to nearly 22,000, a significant rise on the same period in previous years.

    Aid groups say the accelerating exodus is being driven by worsening living conditions for migrants in Libya and by fears the sea route to Europe could soon be closed to traffickers.

    Prior to the latest fatal incident, the UN had estimated that at least 440 migrants had died trying to make the crossing from Libya to Italy since the start of 2017. Its refugee agency estimates total deaths crossing the Mediterranean at nearly 600.

    Those figures, which are also sharply up on previous years, are based on a combination of bodies recovered and testimonies from survivors of shipwrecks: what noone knows is how many people die without any trace, as in the case of the latest apparent tragedy.

    Despite the growing risks, migrants trying to reach Europe still stand a good chance of making it by getting on a trafficker's boat.

    More than half a million got to Italy in that fashion between late 2013 and the end of last year.

    And if the trend of the opening weeks of 2017 continues, another 250,000 will have to be accommodated this year by Italy's over-stretched facilities for asylum seekers, according to Italian interior ministry projections.

    Squalid, dangerous camps

    Against that backdrop, Italy has stepped up cooperation with Libya with the aim of deterring boat departures by ensuring the north African country's own coastguard turns boats back to port before they reach international waters.

    The plans involve equipping and training the Libyan coastguard and helping the former Italian colony to upgrade holding camps for migrants in Libya pending their deportation to their countries of origin.

    But the moves have caused concern among human rights bodies because of the squalid, dangerous conditions in the detention camps, and the inherently unstable state of the conflict-scarred country.

    Italy has also stepped up its efforts to persuade other European countries to accept some of the asylum-seekers and other migrants landed at its southern ports, with limited success so far.

    The overwhelming majority of the migrants reaching Italy are from Africa.

    The Italian government insists most of them are economic migrants.

    But rights bodies point out that some 40 percent of those who apply to stay in Italy are eventually allowed to, either because they qualify as refugees under international law or because they have a case for leave to remain under Italy's own humanitarian provisions.

    "Defeating the business model of traffickers requires the existence of credible legal pathways for those in need of international protection," UNHCR's Cochetel said.

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  • Pope Francis asks for forgiveness for church's role in Rwanda genocide

    Pope Francis has asked for forgiveness for the Catholic church’s role in the 1994 Rwandan genocide, in which 800,000 people were slaughtered in 100 days of violence. The “sins and failings of the church and its members” had “disfigured the face” of Catholicism, he said.

    Speaking after meeting the Rwandan president, Paul Kagame, the Vatican acknowledged that some Catholic priests and nuns had “succumbed to hatred and violence” by participating in the genocide.

    According to the Vatican, Francis “expressed the desire that this humble recognition of the failings of that period, which unfortunately disfigured the face of the church, may contribute to a ‘purification of memory’ and may promote, in hope and renewed trust, a future of peace”.

    Between April and June 1994, an estimated 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed by Hutu extremists in a wave of violence sparked by the death of the Rwandan president, Juvénal Habyarimana – a Hutu – when his plane was shot down. Violence spread from the capital, Kigali, throughout the country, encouraged by the presidential guard and radio propaganda.

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  • Breaking News : Dylann Roof Sentenced to Death for Charleston Church Massacre

    An admitted white supremacist was sentenced to death Tuesday for massacring nine black worshipers who'd invited him to study the Bible with them at a Charleston, S.C., church, ending a two-phase federal trial that exposed the killer's hate-fueled motives and plumbed the chasms of grief left by the victims' deaths.

    The jury, the same that convicted Dylann Roof in the murders last month, announced its verdict after deliberating less than three hours.

    Roof, 22, who represented himself in the penalty phase, did very little to persuade the panel to spare his life. He declined to present any witnesses or evidence, blocked standby defense lawyers' attempts to raise questions about his mental health, and suggested in his closing statement that arguing for life in prison wasn't worth the effort.

    As the verdicts were announced, Roof stared straight ahead, or looked down. U.S. District Court Judge Richard Gergel scheduled formal sentencing for Wednesday morning. Roof then asked for a lawyer to help file a motion for a new trial, which Gergel said he'd consider before the sentencing, but added that the request didn't seem justified.

    Roof now becomes the 63rd person on federal death row, and the first to be put there since Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was convicted in 2015.

    Nevertheless, it will likely be years before he is put to death; the federal government has put executions on hold out of concerns about lethal injection drugs, and appeals could put off the date even further. The last federal execution took place in 2003.

    And Roof still faces a second trial, by the state of South Carolina, where he also faces the death penalty. The date of that trial has not been determined.

    From the start of the trial, Roof's guilt was hardly in doubt.

    It took the 12-person jury a little over two hours to convict Roof last month on all 33 counts, including two dozen that fall under federal hate crime statutes.

     
    Mourning the victims of the Charleston church shooting 2:46

    During that phase of the trial, defense lawyer David Bruck put no witnesses on the stand and raised no objections when prosecutors played Roof's videotaped confession to the FBI, which was made following his arrest. In it, Roof admitted he was guilty and that the motive was to spark a race war. He told the FBI men he was surprised he was able to kill as many people as he did with his .45-caliber Glock pistol.

    Witnesses included two women who survived the shooting, Felicia Sanders and Polly Sheppard, who testified that Roof told her, "I'm going to leave you here to tell the story."

    Related: Charleston Massacre Survivor Says Suspect Dylann Roof Opened Fire as Victims Stood to Pray

    For the penalty phase, a judge allowed Roof to represent himself, but only after conducting a competency hearing that remains under seal. Roof told the jury that "there is nothing wrong with me psychologically," and that he chose to mount his own defense to prevent lawyers from presenting mental health evaluations.

    Image: Police tape surrounds the parking lot behind the AME Emanuel Church

    Police tape surrounds the parking lot behind the AME Emanuel Church as FBI forensic experts work the crime scene, in Charleston, South Carolina on June 19 2015. Stephen B. Morton / AP

    Prosecutors focused on the lives of the victims — the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, 41; the Rev. Daniel Simmons, 74; Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 45; Depayne Middleton-Doctor, 49; Cynthia Hurd, 54; Myra Thompson, 59; Ethel Lance, 70; Susie Jackson, 87; and Tywanza Sanders, 26. The government used photos, video, audio recordings and testimony from loved ones to explore the killings' aftermath.

    Also key to the government's case was was showing Roof's planning for the June 17, 2015 massacre, in which Roof targeted a group of worshipers who'd invited him to study the Bible with them on a Wednesday night, waiting nearly an hour before opening fire.

    The government has also stressed Roof's apparent lack of remorse afterward.

    Prosecutors shared with the jury portions of Roof's jailhouse journal, dated six weeks after the killings.

    "I do not regret what I did," Roof wrote. "I am not sorry."

    After the verdict, U.S. Sen Tim Scott of South Carolina said the jury had made the right decision, and that it would mark "a pivotal moment" in the victims' families' "road toward some sort of closure."

     

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  • Department of State Actions in Response to Russian Harassment

    Press Statement

    Mark C. Toner
    Deputy Department Spokesperson
    Washington, DC
    December 29, 2016

     


    The State Department today declared persona non grata 35 Russian officials operating in the United States who were acting in a manner inconsistent with their diplomatic or consular status. The Department also informed the Russian Government that it would deny Russian personnel access to two recreational compounds in the United States owned by the Russian Government.

    The Department took these actions as part of a comprehensive response to Russia’s interference in the U.S. election and to a pattern of harassment of our diplomats overseas that has increased over the last four years, including a significant increase in the last 12 months. This harassment has involved arbitrary police stops, physical assault, and the broadcast on State TV of personal details about our personnel that put them at risk. In addition, the Russian Government has impeded our diplomatic operations by, among other actions: forcing the closure of 28 American corners which hosted cultural programs and English-language teaching; blocking our efforts to begin the construction of a new, safer facility for our Consulate General in St. Petersburg; and rejecting requests to improve perimeter security at the current, outdated facility in St. Petersburg.

    Today’s actions send a clear message that such behavior is unacceptable and will have consequences.

     

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  • Thirty five Russian Diplomats expelled from United States

    As president Barack Obama is wrapping up his term in office, United States is expelling thirty five Russian Diplomats from the country.

    The Diplomats will have seventy two hours before they leave the United States.

    President Obama is said to have described expelled Russian diplomats as “intelligence operatives.” His administration implicated them in involvement during US election by way of cyber operation. The action is “in response to the Russian government’s aggressive harassment of US officials and cyber operations aimed at the US election,” RTquoted Obama.

    A report by CNN seem to suggest that Obama’s action is a retaliation against Russia for “significant Malicious Cyber-Enabled Activities.”

    Apparently, Obama’s action is informed by intelligence consensus regarding alleged Russian involvement in US election. The White House condemned what it calls Russian involvement as “unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”

    To say that Russian cyber activities influenced US election, including the outcome, certainly implies that there is a conviction that the election was somewhat defective,at least, which in turn amounts to saying that Donald Trump didn’t win though legitimate means.

    A section of statement from The White House cited by CNN reads “Russia’s cyberactivities were intended to influence the election, erode faith in US democratic institutions, sow doubt about the integrity of our electoral process, and undermine confidence in the institutions of the US government…”

    Russian Staff will no longer have access to Russian Federation premises in New York and Maryland, indicated reports from CNN and RT.

    So far no official response from the Kremlin regarding the expulsion of Russian Diplomats. When the US imposed economic sanctions against Russia, Russia reciprocated United States’ action by imposing economic sanction on the United States.

    Without disclosing details, Russian president stated that Russia will respond adequately for what the US called “sanctions” ; the expulsion of Russian diplomats.

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  • The Virtue of Democracy: Barack Obama's half-brother to vote for DONALD TRUMP

    In a shocking admission that is set to raise eyebrows among the current American president's clique, Malik Obama says he plans to travel back to Maryland, US, to back Mr Trump. The 58-year-old accountant, who lives in Kenya, says it was his "deep disappointment" in his half brother's administration that led him to to recently switch to support the "party of Lincoln". His half-brother, Barack Obama, has served as President of the US for the Republicans' main political rival, the Democrats, since 2009. But Mr Obama turned his back on the Democrats after the scandal over Hillary Clinton's use of private email service while she was President Obama's Secretary of State. He said: "She should have known better as the custodian of classified information." Mrs Clinton is hoping to clinch the US presidential title when the American population goes to the polls in November.


    But Mr Obama said he is hedging his bets on billionaire businessman turned politician, Mr Trump. He told the New York Post: "I like Donald Trump because he speaks from the heart. "Make America Great Again is a great slogan. I would like to meet him." Mr Obama also blasted his half brother and Mrs Clinton over the killing of Libyan leader Moammar Khadafy, who he says was his best friend.

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