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Sunday, 28 May 2017 16:20

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Afrasianet - Two people were stabbed to death and another person sustained injuries when they attempted to diffuse an Islamophobic attack against two women on board a local commuter train in Portland, Oregon Friday.

Officers responded to reports of a stabbing on a MAX train at the Hollywood Transit Station at 4:30pm local time.

One man died at the scene and another was taken to the hospital where he was later pronounced dead. A third victim sustained injuries in the attack, but they are not believed to be life-threatening, according to a police statement.

Suspect Jeremy Joseph Christian, 35, of North Portland fled the scene but was quickly arrested by officers. He has been charged with two counts of aggravated murder, one count of attempted murder, two counts of intimidation in the second degree, and one charge of being a felon in possession of a restricted weapon.

He is being held without bail and will be arraigned Monday, and may face additional charges.

Christian initially received medical treatment before being handed over to investigating homicide detectives.

According to the police statement, Christian shouted comments that could be “characterized as hate speech toward a variety of ethnicities and religions.”

Two women were targeted in the initial verbal attack, and one was reportedly wearing a hijab according to eyewitness statements made to police.

Once an autopsy has been carried out on the two deceased men, all three victims will be named.

“We do not know if the suspect was drunk, on medication, had mental issues or anything else,” Simpson said.

Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley expressed his outrage at the incident on Twitter.










Afrasianet - Kim Jong-un has ordered the mass-production and deployment of a new type of anti-aircraft guided weapon system which the North Korean leader personally witnessed being test fired recently, state media reported.

Without revealing the date and location, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said Kim watched “the test of a new-type anti-aircraft guided weapon system” aimed at “detecting and striking different targets flying from any direction.”

The latest demonstration, organized by the Academy of National Defense Science, reportedly showed significant improvements since a similar test of the system in April 2016.

“Weapon system’s efficiency to detect and track targets has remarkably improved and its hitting accuracy has also increased, compared with those of last year,” the statement read.

A year after the initial test, Kim ordered the mass production of system in the country.

“This weapon system… should be mass-produced and deployed all over the country like forests so as to completely spoil the enemy’s wild dream of air supremacy,” KCNA quoted Kim as saying.

Pyongyang has conducted dozens of missile launches and tested two nuclear bombs since the start of last year in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions.

North Korea has also boasted about its plans to develop a missile capable of striking the United States and has ignored all calls to halt its weapons programs, insisting that it’s necessary to counter US aggression.

To mitigate the North Korean threat, Washington has deployed additional forces to the region and has placed the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system on the Korean Peninsula, despite strong objections from China.

The US has also been pressing Beijing to put pressure on North Korea, as China is Pyongyang’s sole economic lifeline.

The Chinese have repeatedly called for all sides to remain calm and level-headed during the North Korean stand-off and has urged the parties to “stop irritating each other.”

Moscow and Beijing have also been calling for a revival of the six-nation denuclearization talks which have been frozen since 2009.












Afrasianet - Syria has demanded an immediate halt to US-led airstrikes after another 35 civilians were killed by a coalition airstrike this week. In a letter to the UN, Damascus says these strikes create chaos and help terrorist launch attacks against government troops.

 “Syria condemns the attacks of the alliance which target civilians and cause massive material damage to the infrastructure, facilities, and properties in Syria,” the Foreign and Expatriates Ministry said in a letter addressed to the UN Secretary-General and the President of Security Council.

At least 35 civilians, including women and children, were killed on Thursday night when US-led coalition warplanes targeted the city of Al Mayadeen in the southeastern countryside of Deir ez-Zor province.

Damascus denounced the strike as an attack on “Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity under the pretext of combating terrorism.”

While the coalition admitted it had conducted strikes near Al-Mayadin on May 25 and 26, in a statement to Reuters, its spokesman said they were still “assessing the results.”

The action of the US and its coalition partners only contribute to spreading “chaos and destruction” which benefit terrorists, “particularly ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra,” Damascus said.

The letter also accused the coalition of often targeting the “Syrian Army which is fighting terrorism,” noting, that such strikes conveniently coincide with offensives launched by ISIS and al-Nusra on the ground.

The ministry reminded the UN that since the US has never received Damascus’ consent to operate in their airspace, the coalition’s actions “blatantly” contradict UN Security Council’s resolutions, international law and international humanitarian law.

“Syria reiterates the importance of halting the illegal US-led coalition’s actions and implementing Security Council resolutions related to counter-terrorism, including resolution no. 2253,” the letter said, according to the state news agency, Sana.










Afrasianet - Heavy battles continue to rage in Tripoli as rival factions duel for control of the Libyan capital. The assault on the UN-backed government is led by a Misrata commander whose success in the anti-Gadaffi rebellion was secured by the 2011 NATO intervention.

Clashes persisted in Tripoli Saturday between militias loyal the self-proclaimed National Salvation Government (GNC) and forces loyal to the internationally-recognized Presidential Council (PC) which presides over the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA).
Fierce fighting erupted on Friday after the GNC’s militia’s top commander, Salah Badi, launched an attack on the GNA-allied Central Security militia in an attempt to recapture parts of the capital, the Tripoli Herald reported.

The gunfire and artillery explosions then continued in the districts of Abu Salim, Salahedeen, and Qasr Bin Ghashthen through Saturday.

Forces supporting the UN-backed government announced they lost 52 of their fighters by Saturday morning the Tripoli Herald reported, adding, that “dozens” had been injured.

GNC forces lost at least 14 of their fighters from the city of Misrata as well as an unknown number of local militants.

The health ministry said at least 47 people were killed while 183 others were wounded. It is unclear how many of those were civilians or combatants.

Martin Kobler, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in Libya condemned the violence in Tripoli, calling on all sides to cease hostilities, protect civilian lives and to work towards national reconciliation.

The UN official expressed full support for the PC as the “sole legitimate executive authority in Libya,” as stipulated in UN Security Council Resolution 2259 (2015) and 2278 (2016).

The assault of the capital is led by Badi – one of the Misrata’s top militant commanders who, actively supported by NATO’s aerial campaign, led his men against the government of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

Since 2011, Misrata militias remain one the biggest armed groups in the country. Badi, who served as a Misratan member of Libya’s post-revolutionary parliament is now leading them into battle against the UN-backed government.

Some voices in Egypt – who on Friday struck militant targets in neighboring Libya in retaliation for the murder of Coptic Christians by Islamist gunmen – believe that Misratan fighters are also terrorists.

“We should annihilate Misrata along with all those who people in it,” Egyptian MP Murtada Mansour said Saturday.

“Qatar and Turkey are sending weapons to Misrata fighters… Misrata, our target is Misrata, and all Libyans know that. We should support Khalifa Haftar and his army to help annihilate Misrata.”

Libya has descended into chaos after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi, with multiple ‘governments’ and centers of powers competing for the control of the oil-rich country.

Libya has three major centers of power at present.

The first is the Presidential Council (PC), which has been based in Tripoli since March 30, 2016 and created following the signing of the UN-brokered Libyan Political Agreement (LPA) in December 2015. The Presidential Council presides over the internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA).

The second ‘government’ is the rival National Salvation Government (GNC) headed by Prime Minister Khalifa Ghwell. The GNC was installed after a coalition of armed groups supporting it won the battle for control of Tripoli in 2014.

The third center of power is based in Tobruk and is aligned with Egypt. It completely rejects the GNC, partially recognizes the authority of GNA, and is headed by an anti-Islamist general Khalifa Haftar, who leads the Libyan National Army (LNA).

 “Forces in Tripoli never accepted the authority of the GNA and at the same time, they have not been able to reach an agreement with the government that is based in Tobruk,” Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of Pan-African News Wire told RT.

“So all of these identifiable factions have their own interests inside the country and of course, this is a direct result of the failed United States, British, EU, NATO policy to topple the Jamahiriya some six years ago.”

Azikiwe went on to blame Western powers for the continued destabilization of Libya.

“They (the Western powers) are still interfering in the internal affairs of Libya by imposing the Government of National Accord. They are still arming specific factions inside the country as well,” he said.

“Egypt has a role in this entire process. They have backed Khalifa Haftar. And of course, now Egypt is stepping up its bombardments inside of Libya itself because they too are getting impacted by the instability,” Azikiwe added.










Afrasianet - Around 100,000 fan passports - also known as FAN ID - have been issued for the FIFA 2017 Confederations Cup, according to Nikolay Nikiforov, Russia’s minister of communications and mass-media.

The fan passports are an important component of the Confederations Cup, which will attract a predicted 700,000 fans, as they will give supporters access to matches and double as Russian entry visas for foreign fans.

 “There have been about 100,000 Fan ID passports issued, and a further 200,000 applications have been submitted,” said Nikiforov, TASS reported.

The official was speaking during a visit to Kazan Arena, which will be one of the four host stadiums for the tournament.  

Nikiforov also said that Fan ID passports for the 2018 World Cup, held in Russia next summer, will be given out separately.

Nikiforov said there have already been instances in which passports have been canceled.

“There have already been some cancelations. I’m not ready to say how many, it’s better to put that question to the security services, but the fact is that there have been such cancelations,” Nikiforov confirmed.  

Some 37,000 security personnel will be deployed to the tournament to identify the appropriate security measures, and fan passports include built-in chips with information about the fans themselves.

“It’s logical to check and know everything from the point of view of security history about every visitor to a large sporting or any kind of other event. Today, with the help of modern data technology, it’s absolutely realistic,” Nikiforov said.  

 “It allows to carry out physical control much quicker, because theoretically we already know everything about every person, the level of risk by them is evaluated,” he added.

The Confederations Cup is one of the major events in the world football calendar and serves as a precursor to the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018.

In 2017, the Confederations Cup will be held from June 17 to July 2 at Krestovsky Stadium in St. Petersburg, Otkrytie Arena in Moscow, Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi, and Kazan Arena.

It will be the first time the tournament is held in Russia.









Afrasianet - The Egyptian Air Force has targeted militant camps in Libya in retaliation for the deadly attack on a bus carrying Coptic Christians, which left at least 28 dead and 24 injured.

•    27 May 2017

01:40 GMT

Footage of the airstrikes was released online, allegedly showing the Egyptian jets attacking targets around the Libyan coastal city of Derna. A few strikes were recorded with plumes of smoke rising up in the sky. A crater left by one of the missile strikes is also shown in the video.

•    26 May 2017

22:32 GMT

Eastern Libyan forces led by close Egyptian ally, Khalifa Haftar, said they “participated” in the airstrikes on terrorist positions in the city of Derna, Reuters reports citing the air force's media office.

Derna residents heard at least four powerful explosions, witness told the agency, adding, that the strikes apparently targeted the Mujahideen Shura camps.

•    22:17 GMT
•    22:02 GMT

The Egyptian strike on terrorist positions in Libya is “not unprecedented,” retired US Air Force Colonel Karen Kwiatkowsi told RT, recalling a similar retaliatory strike in 2015.

“The timing is important. It certainly connects to what Donald Trump’s trip has been about,” Kwiatkowsi said. “In some ways it is a response to the new American president, even though the American policies have not changed much in the past 15 or so years… Sisi has definitely connected this with some of the things that Donald Trumps has been saying both in Washington and on his trip just recently to Saudi Arabia.”

•  •  21:37 GMT

The Egyptian strikes targeted and “completely destroyed” the main center of the Shura Council of the Mujahideen of Derna in Libya, Arabic media report.

•  21:13 GMT

Egyptian military released a short video, confirming that the strikes were carried out on terrorists in Libya “after confirming their involvement in planning and committing the terrorist attack in Minya governorate on Friday.”


•  20:57 GMT
US President Donald Trump has condemned the attack on Egypt’s Coptic Christians denouncing the “evil organizations of terror” and their “depraved, twisted, and thuggish ideology.”

•  20:46 GMT

Michael Maloof, a former Pentagon official, also believes that Washington likely provided Cairo with intelligence and the coordinates for the air raid.

“Al Sisi takes any attack from terrorists like this as very important,” Maloof said. “He probably also received intelligence from the Unites States that helped pinpoint locations.”

“Having Egypt undertake this kind of response sends an important message to [the terrorists] that Egypt is not fooling around any longer, and there will be response,” the expert emphasized.

“Libya still remains a very important jump off point. In fact, ISIS one time saw Libya as their base for the continent of Africa,” Maloof added.

•  20:35 GMT

The Egyptian air campaign in Libya should focus not only on militants, but also on those entities which support terrorists, Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of Pan-African News Wire told RT.

“Identifying the states and the entities within these states who are arming and financing and providing all types of diplomatic and political cover for these organizations to continue to operate in this fashion” must be one of Egypt’s priorities when in its battle against extremists, Azikiwe said.

“We do know that Libya has become a base for instability throughout North Africa and even beyond to West Africa and of course into Europe as Well,” he added.

•  20:09 GMT

Egypt is ready to continue fighting terrorists regardless of their location, the country’s President Abdel Fattah Sisi said in a televised speech on Friday. He also reiterated that the countries financing, training and otherwise supporting terrorists should not get away unpunished.

“Egypt will not hesitate in striking any camps that harbor or train terrorist elements whether inside Egypt or outside Egypt,” the al-Ahram news agency quoted Sisi as saying.










Afrasianet - Two Chinese jets got uncomfortably close to a US surveillance plane flying off the coast of China this week, the same day a US Navy ship was sailing near a group of islands claimed by Beijing in the South China Sea, according to US officials.

A P-3 Orion surveillance plane was flying 150 miles (240 km) south east of Hong Kong when it was approached by two Chinese fighter jets, officials told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

In what the officials termed an “unsafe intercept,” the Chinese aircraft came within 200 yards (182 meters) of the P-3 and one plane flew in front of the US aircraft, “restricting its ability to maneuver.”

On the same day, a US Navy warship sailed within 12 nautical miles of the Spratly island chain – claimed by Beijing – in the South China Sea, marking the first 'freedom of navigation' operation since President Donald Trump took office.

The intercept took place a week after a US Air Force WC-135 was buzzed by two Chinese jets over the East China Sea. US officials described the intercept as “unprofessional,” saying, the SU-30 jets came within 150 feet of the US aircraft and that one of them even flew upside-down.

Reacting to that incident, China’s Defense Ministry said the US account did “not accord with the facts” and urged Washington to stop its surveillance flights near Chinese borders.

“The relevant action [of the Chinese pilots] was professional and safe,” the ministry said in a statement, quoted by Reuters. “We hope that the US side stops relevant surveillance activities, to avoid this kind of incident happening again.”










Afrasianet - At least 28 people have been killed and over 120 wounded in the Libyan capital of Tripoli, where rival factions vying for control in the fractured country clashed on Friday using tanks, armored vehicles and pickup trucks mounted with anti-aircraft guns.

Heavy gunfire and artillery explosions rocked the districts of Abu Salim, Salahedeen and Qasr Bin Ghashir since early morning, when forces allied to the self-proclaimed National Salvation Government (GNC) tried to capture the territory controlled by the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA).

A third Tobruk-based government, aligned with military commander Khalifa Haftar, urged the people of Tripoli to “stand hand in hand with the GNA and its security apparatus to defeat the saboteurs.”

At least 28 people were killed in the urban combat and more than 120 injured, according to health officials.

Armored vehicles, pickup trucks mounted with anti-aircraft guns and even tanks were seen rolling in the streets, of Tripoli according to witnesses and videos posted on social media.

It was not immediately clear how much territory either faction gained or controlled following a day of heavy clashes.

The UN Security Council condemned the escalating violence in Tripoli, urging all parties to “exercise restraint” and reiterating that “there can be no military solution” to the conflict.

The UNSC also discussed the recent massacre at the Brak Al-Shati airbase, where some 140 troops and civilians were reportedly slaughtered after GNA-allied militia raided the facility under control of Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA). The council said it “welcomes” the PM’s decision to launch an investigation and noted the words of condemnation from other “political institutions.”

The Tripoli-based GNA is the faction which has secured international UN recognition after Colonel Muammar Gaddafi was deposed and assassinated amid the NATO-led intervention in Libya. However, the group has failed to assert centralized control of the fractured state, and is constantly challenged by rival governments and dozens of armed gangs and militias.

The political vacuum that engulfed Libya following Gaddafi’s demise has allowed Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) Al-Qaeda and other terrorist and jihadist groups gain traction and use the country’s territory to launch attacks in neighboring states.

On Friday, Egypt launched airstrikes on terrorist training camps near Derna in eastern Libya in retaliation for a horrendous attack on Coptic Christians that left 28 people killed and 24 injured. Egypt’s military believes the these facilities were used to train the gunmen. The strike was apparently coordinated with Libya, since the air force under control of Haftar stated they had “participated” in the operation.









Afrasianet - Egyptian fighter jets have struck militant camps following the deadly attack on Egypt’s Coptic Christians, President Abdel Fattah Sisi has announced. The strikes were carried out in eastern Libya, state television said.

Egypt’s president also vowed to continue striking bases used to train militants and who carry out terrorist attacks in his country, regardless of the camps' location.

He also reiterated that the countries financing, training and arming terrorists should not get away unpunished.

"We will not hesitate to protect our people from the evil," he said in a televised speech on Friday.

“Egypt will not hesitate in striking any camps that harbor or train terrorist elements whether inside Egypt or outside Egypt,” the al-Ahram news agency quoted Sisi as saying.

Egypt carried out six air strikes in Derna in eastern Libya, state television reported adding that it is where the militants who carried out the deadly attack on the Coptic Christians were trained.

Following the Libyan incursion, Egyptian armed forces released a short video which was aired on state television following the president’s speech. The voiceover in the army video said its air force carried out strikes on targets in Libya “after confirming their involvement in planning and committing the terrorist attack in Minya governorate on Friday."

Egypt’s military said that the air strikes are ongoing, local media reports.

Footage of the airstrikes was released online, allegedly showing the Egyptian jets attacking targets around the Libyan coastal city of Derna. A few strikes were recorded with plumes of smoke rising up in the sky. A crater left by one of the missile strikes is also shown in the video.

Egyptian security forces have destroyed some 300 vehicles over the past two months which attempted to cross the border from Libya in order to bring in “evil,” according to Sisi, who emphasized the huge efforts his country has undertaken to battle terrorism.

The Egyptian president also directly addressed Donald Trump to take the lead in fighting terrorism.

“I direct my appeal to President Trump: I trust you, your word and your ability to make fighting global terror your primary task,” he said.

On Friday President Trump condemned the attacks on Egypt’s Coptic Christians, denouncing the “thuggish ideology” and “evil organizations of terror.”

"We are probably going to see more action particularly following the meeting that just took place in Riyadh in Saudi Arabia, in which Donald Trump himself called for greater response to terrorism... and president el-Sisi gave Trump those kind of assurances," former Pentagon official Michael Maloof told RT.

Speculating that Egypt "probably received intelligence from the United States that helped pinpoint the locations," Maloof said Egypt will continue its attacks against terrorist groups, adding, "it's not the first time they struck in Libya."

The Egyptian air campaign in Libya should focus not only on militants, but also on those entities which support terrorists, Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of Pan-African News Wire told RT.

“Identifying the states and the entities within these states who are arming and financing and providing all types of diplomatic and political cover for these organizations to continue to operate in this fashion” must be one of Egypt’s priorities when in its battle against extremists, Azikiwe said.

“We do know that Libya has become a base for instability throughout North Africa and even beyond to West Africa and of course into Europe as Well,” he added.

At least 28 Coptic Christians were killed and 23 others injured earlier Friday, when gunmen, disguised as army soldiers, opened fire on a bus heading to the Monastery of St. Samuel the Confessor, located 135km (85 miles) south of Cairo, in the Minya governorate.

No militant group has yet claimed responsibility for the deadly attack on the bus.











Afrasianet - The Trump administration's $4.1 billion budget proposal calls for increased spending on law enforcement, the military and the US-Mexico wall, but cuts spending for programs for the poor by slashing funding for Medicaid and cutting food stamps.

“We looked at this budget through the eyes of the one’s paying the bills,” said Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mick Mulvaney told reporters at the White House on Tuesday.

“[F]or years and years we’ve looked at the budget in terms of the people in the back end of the program, the recipients of the taxpayer’s money, and we haven’t spent nearly enough time focusing our attention on the people who pay the taxes. Compassion needs to be on both sides of that equation,” he said.

Under this view, Medicaid, a federal-state health care program for the poor and disabled, would be slashed by more than $600 billion over 10 years. It also envisages capping payments to states and providing more flexibility to manage Medicaid recipients.

During question time, a reporter asked Mulvaney about Donald Trump's announcement as a candidate that he would “Save Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid without cuts – gotta do it," and whether the Trump was keeping his promises now that he's president.

“We are not kicking anyone off any program who really needs it,” Melvaney responded. “We have plenty of money in this country to take care of everyone who needs help. But not enough for everyone who doesn’t need help.”

Trump is the first president to propose parental leave, Mulvaney said.

The budget outlines a paid parental leave program that accesses a state’s unemployment insurance scheme, but doesn’t include how the federal government will allocate funds to the program or how much. That’s because the states are being asked to figure out how to fund the program, which will probably fall on employers to fund, as unemployment insurance does in most states.

“The proposal will allow states to establish paid parental leave programs in a way that is most appropriate for their workforce and economy. States would be required to provide six weeks of parental leave and the proposal gives it broad latitude to design and finance the program,” stated the budget.

Under the budget plan, $191 billion would be cut from the food stamp program over a decade, representing a 30 percent reduction. The program currently serves 42 million people, a number that hasn’t changed much in a sluggish, recovering economy.

“We need people to work,” Mulvaney told reporters on Monday. “If you are on food stamps, we need you to go to work. If you are on disability and you should not be, we need you to go back to work.”

More than eight in 10 food stamp recipients, or 83 percent, are for households with children, the elderly or a disabled person. The average food stamp benefit is $133.85 a month, or the equivalent of $1.50 a meal. Working people who rely on food stamps are often times using it to supplement their lower income jobs where state and federal minimum wages have not been adjusted to meet living expense increases.

The food stamp program represents just 2 percent of the budget, whereas defense makes up 19 percent.

Under the budget proposal, military spending would increase by 10 percent, or an additional $54 billion. It would be financed by cuts to non-defense programs such as medical research and foreign aid.

Law enforcement and border security are also in line for increases.

The budget director coined a new term, "Trumponomics," which he explained was  achieving and sustaining 3 percent economic growth, which would represent "a healthy American economy.”

“We have been attacked, stunningly, by some folks on the left and even in the mainstream who say that’s an unreasonable assumption,” Mulvaney complained.

“Ten years ago it was normal. The 1.9 percent growth rates that the previous administration assumed towards the end of their administration… we reject that pessimism.”

Budget watchers like Larry Summers, the treasury secretary under President Bill Clinton, called the budget "simply ludicrous."

Other cuts are planned for federal workers' pensions and higher contributions toward those pension benefits, as well as trimming refundable tax credits paid to the working poor.

Under the proposal, 66 federal programs would be slashed, representing a savings of $26.7 billion. Some of these would receive funding in 2018 as part of a phase-out plan, The Hill reported.

Highway funds for the states could lose $95 billion, while the proposed US-Mexico border wall would get funding.

“We’re absolutely dead serious about the wall,” Mulvaney said.

The Department of Homeland Security would get $44.1 billion, while the Justice Department would receive $27.7 billion for law enforcement, public safety and immigration enforcement programs and activities. The Justice Department will also receive $214 million to hire 75 additional immigration judge teams, bring the total number of funded immigration judge teams to 449.

The proposal calls for investing $2.6 billion in infrastructure and border security technology “including funding to plan, design and construct a physical wall along the southern border.”

Around $300 million will be used to recruit, hire and train 500 new Border Patrol Agents and 1,000 new Immigration and Customs Enforcement law enforcement personnel plus support staff.

An additional $1.5 billion is earmarked for “expanded detention, transportation and removal of illegal immigrations.”

The plan was released while Trump is on his maiden overseas trip as president.

Tucked under the Infrastructure Plan, the budget said the $1 trillion will be met by a combination of “new Federal funding incentivized through non-Federal funding, and expedited projects (like Keystone XL pipeline),” with $200 billion allocated in outlays related to infrastructure initiatives.

The budget falls short on how this will come about, but it later says the Trump administration proposes to privatize US air traffic control. The administration admits that the country has maintained an excellent aviation safety record while operating the world's most congested airspace.

“[T]he proposal to shift the air traffic control function to an independent non-governmental organization beginning in 2021, with a cap reduction in discretionary spending of $72.8 billion, and a reduction in aviation excise taxes of $115.6 billion,” the budget says.

On taxes, Trump promises an overhaul that would cut tax rates to 10 percent, 25 percent and 35 percent, instead of the current rates. The proposal also  promises to lower corporate tax rate to 15 percent. There is no detail to prove it would deliver on Trump's promise for "massive" tax cuts.

Democrats' response to the budget were swift, like Senator Ron Widen (D-Oregon) who is the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee.











  • 2 killed, 1 injured while attempting to stop Islamophobic attack in Portland

  • Kim Jong-un observes test & orders mass production of ‘next-gen air defense system’

  • Syria urges UN to immediately halt US coalition strikes, which ‘spread chaos & benefit terrorists’

  • Tripoli death toll mounts as ‘Libya revolution hero’ clashes with UN-backed govt forces

  • 100,000 ‘FAN ID’ passports issued for Confederations Cup

  • Egypt strikes militants in Libya after deadly attack on Christians Live updates

  • ’Unsafe intercept’: US officials accuse China of buzzing spy plane

  • Dozens killed, 120+ wounded in Tripoli as rival factions clash for Libyan capital

  • Egypt strikes 'terrorist camps' in Libya in response to attack on Coptic Christians

  • Trump’s budget slashes $3.6 trillion from domestic programs over 10 years

Afrasianet - Some 39 people, including 16 foreigners, were killed and dozens of others injured when at least one gunman reportedly dressed as Santa opened fire in an Istanbul night club, Turkey’s interior minister said. The manhunt for one terror suspect is underway.
Turkey’s interior minister, Suleyman Soylu, told Turkish media on Sunday morning that 21 victims have been identified so far, of whom 16 were foreign nationals and five Turkish citizens.

Soylu said that the shooter is still at large. Conflicting reports have been claiming that two gunmen were involved.

“The search operation for the terrorist is ongoing,” the minister said.

Immediately after the attack, Istanbul’s governor Vasip Şahin said 35 people were killed and 40 wounded, calling the incident a terrorist attack.

The attack took place at the well-known Reina nightclub in the Ortakoy neighborhood, in Istanbul’s Besiktas district.

"A terrorist with a long-range weapon... brutally and savagely carried out this incident by firing bullets at innocent people who were there solely to celebrate the New Year and have fun," Sahin told media at the scene of the attack.

The Guardian cited “government officials” as saying that the attacker was killed and police were leaving the scene. The report could not, however, be immediately confirmed. Few updates have emerged amid a reported media blackout.

Speaking about the circumstances of the attack, Şahin said that the assailant first killed the police officer, who was standing at the door of the club, and then went on a rampage inside, killing innocent civilians.

Eyewitnesses at the club said that the attacker was speaking Arabic, Turkish media are reporting.

The gunman was dressed in a Santa Claus outfit, wielding an assault rifle, Turkish media said.

The attacker opened fire on clubgoers, injuring at least 20-30, according to NTV. One of the gunmen has reportedly hidden inside the club, while the whereabouts of the second one were not immediately clear.

The number of casualties may rise, as it is estimated that between 700 and 800 people could have been in the club at the time of the attack, Mynet Haber reports.

Emergency crews have been evacuating injured people from the building as police search the area.

After the attacker stormed into the building, some club-goers jumped into the sea in panic, Turkish media cited eyewitnesses as saying. A search and rescue operation for those who jumped in the water is being carried out by maritime police.

The owner of the Reina’s nightclub, Mehmet Koçarslan, has claimed that the club had been warned  about a possible attack, and that the information came from US intelligence services. Security measures had been taken, he added.

“US intelligence warned about such an attack about one week or 10 days ago – and measures have been taken, including [on] the sea front. And look what has happened,” Koçarslan told Turkish daily Hurriyet.

US President Barack Obama has offered to help Turkey with the investigation, White House spokesman Eric Schultz said in a statement, saying that Obama “directed his team to offer appropriate assistance to the Turkish authorities.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been informed of the terrorist attack and is being updated on the latest developments in the situation, CNN Turk reports.

Messages of condolence have been pouring in for Turkey in the aftermath of the attack.

“Our thoughts are with victims and their loved ones. We continue to work to prevent these tragedies,” EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini published in Twitter message.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg called the attack “a tragic start to 2017.”

He posted on Twitter: "My thoughts are with those affected by the attack on people celebrating New Year and with the Turkish people.”
Apple’s CEO Tim Cook extended his condolences to the Turkish people in another Twitter post, this one penned in Turkish.

“Dear Turkey, we share your pain and sorrow. Istanbul, our heart is with you,” the message read.







Afrasianet - A plane carrying Brazil's Chapecoense football team has crashed in Colombia, injuring at least 10 people, according to media reports. It was reportedly carrying 72 passengers en route to the Copa Sudamericana finals.

The plane crashed due to lack of fuel at around 10:15pm local time in Cerro Gordo in the municipality of La Union, according to Mi Oriente.

At least 10 people have been injured and are being evacuated from the scene, the commander of La Union fire department said, according to the website.

The plane was flying to José María Córdova International Airport in Rionegro, the second largest airport in Colombia.

The team was traveling to compete in the Copa Sudamericana finals. Chapecoense was scheduled to compete against Colombia's Atlético Nacional at 6:45pm local time on Wednesday.








Afrasianet - The US military has carried out a series of “limited self-defence strikes” in Yemen, the Pentagon has announced. The attack, authorized by President Obama, was carried out in retaliation to recent attacks on the US naval destroyer, USS Mason.

According to the Pentagon’s initial assessments, three “radar sites” in the Houthi rebel-controlled area of Yemen were destroyed in the attack.

The attack on coastal targets was carried out by Tomahawk cruise missiles launched from the destroyer USS Nitze, NPR reported. According to US officials all targets were “in remote areas, where there was little risk of civilian casualties or collateral damage.”

“These limited self-defense strikes were conducted to protect our personnel, our ships, and our freedom of navigation in this important maritime passageway,” the statement reads.

President Barack Obama authorized the strikes on the recommendation of Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Joseph Dunford, Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said in a statement.

The US military vowed to respond to “any further threat to our ships and commercial traffic.”

Earlier on Wednesday, USS Mason fell under fire for the second time in four days. At least one rocket was fired at the destroyer, causing “no damage to the ship or its crew,” Cook said.







Afrasianet - Former Israeli President and Nobel Peace Prize winner Shimon Peres has died at a hospital near Tel Aviv at the age of 93, after his condition deteriorated following a stroke, local media report.

The former leader died with his family at his bedside.

Peres was admitted to Sheba Medical Centre in Ramat Gan two weeks ago, where he was intubated and sedated. Doctors expressed cautious optimism in the days immediately following his hospitalization.

However, on Tuesday, the former top politician suffered a serious setback incurring irreversible brain damage, The Times of Israel reported.

The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement of mourning following news of Peres' death.

"Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara express deep personal sorrow over the passing of the nation's beloved former president, Shimon Peres," the statement said.

US President Barack Obama also offered his condolences, saying: "There are few people who we share this world with who change the course of human history, not just through their role in human events, but because they expand our moral imagination and force us to expect more of ourselves. My friend Shimon was one of those people."

Former US President Bill Clinton called Peres a "brilliant and eloquent friend."

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called Peres a "man of peace."

In January, Peres was transported to a hospital following a heart attack. He underwent emergency surgery but had to be admitted to hospital again just over a week later due to an irregular heartbeat.

Peres was active in Israeli politics for nearly 70 years and retired in 2014 after serving a seven year term as the country’s ninth president.

Prior to that, he held nearly every position in the Israeli government. He served as Prime Minister three times, including once as interim. He also held the post of Israeli Defense and Foreign Affairs Minister and joined the cabinet as the Minister for Transportation and Finance.

As foreign minister, Peres was the one to finalize the interim Israeli Palestinian Oslo Peace deal.

While it did not turn into a lasting treaty, in 1994 he was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts, along with the late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

Peres has been a staunch advocate of the two-state solution with Palestine, trying to boost the process following Rabin's assassination in 1995. However, his position in the matter weakened following a string of suicide attacks by Palestinians and mounting pressure from Israeli nationalists.

He remained a vocal supporter of the peace process with the Palestinians, but stressed that the recognition of an independent Palestinian state outside a UN-proposed plan would be wrong.








Afrasianet - Police have confirmed they are sweeping an East Baltimore area for three shooters thought to be in possession of a shotgun and handguns. At least eight people have been shot, including a parent and a three-year-old child.

Three suspects fled the scene, including one bearing a shotgun and two who had handguns, Chief of Media Relations at Baltimore Police, T.J. Smith, tweeted. Eight people were wounded, he confirmed, but the injuries were “all non-life threatening.”

Smith added that a father and his three-year-old daughter had been among those wounded.

The shooting took place at around 8:45pm local time at the intersection of E. Preston Street and Greenmount Avenue, not far from Baltimore Penn Station.

Police told CBC’s local affiliate WJZ TV that at least three people were sent to local hospitals. The hunt for the suspect remains underway.







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