World

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FILE PHOTO - U.S. President Donald Trump boards Marine One to depart for Japan
FILE PHOTO – U.S. President Donald Trump leaves the Oval Office to speak to the news media before boarding Marine One to depart for travel to Japan from the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, U.S., May 24, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis

May 24, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump, saying there is a national emergency because of tensions with Iran, is clearing the sale of billions of dollars worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia and other countries, U.S. senators said on Friday, despite strong resistance to the plan from both Republicans and Democrats.

The administration has informed congressional committees that it will go ahead with 22 arms deals worth some $8 billion, congressional aides said, sweeping aside a long-standing precedent for congressional review of such sales.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by James Dalgleish)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO - U.S. President Donald Trump boards Marine One to depart for Japan
FILE PHOTO – U.S. President Donald Trump leaves the Oval Office to speak to the news media before boarding Marine One to depart for travel to Japan from the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, U.S., May 24, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis

May 24, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump, saying there is a national emergency because of tensions with Iran, is clearing the sale of billions of dollars worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia and other countries, U.S. senators said on Friday, despite strong resistance to the plan from both Republicans and Democrats.

The administration has informed congressional committees that it will go ahead with 22 arms deals worth some $8 billion, congressional aides said, sweeping aside a long-standing precedent for congressional review of such sales.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by James Dalgleish)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Civil war veterans protest during the commemoration of the 26th anniversary of the signing of the peace accords in San Salvador
FILE PHOTO: Civil war veterans protest during the commemoration of the 26th anniversary of the signing of the peace accords that ended El Salvador Civil War in San Salvador, El Salvador, January 16, 2018. REUTERS/Jose Cabezas/File Photo

May 24, 2019

By Nelson Renteria

SAN SALVADOR (Reuters) – Lawmakers in El Salvador agreed on Thursday to suspend a controversial amnesty bill following an outcry from victims’ families, the United Nations and rights groups who said it aimed to whitewash crimes committed during a bloody civil war.

A 12-member congressional commission representing a range of political parties voted unanimously for a technical committee to review two other proposals and consult with members of civil society, the armed forces and the Catholic Church on Monday.

A new proposal could be ready for a vote by Wednesday, the legislators said.

The amnesty bill aimed to prohibit jail time for former military personnel and leftist guerillas accused of atrocities during the 1980-1992 war in which 75,000 people were killed and 8,000 went missing. The bill instead proposed community service.

Lawmakers with roots in opposing sides of the war were in a race against time to pass the bill, since President-elect Nayib Bukele opposed it and could veto the legislation if it was not on the books when he takes office on June 1.

In July 2016, the Supreme Court of Justice declared unconstitutional a 1993 amnesty law that prevented investigation, prosecution and imprisonment of people responsible for war crimes. Judges ordered Congress to adopt a new law to promote national reconciliation before July 2019.

The last-minute attempt to soften punishments is part of a backlash in Central America against attempts to bring justice for excesses in the region’s Cold War-era conflicts. It follows a similar bill in Guatemala that could lead to the release of former soldiers convicted of massacres.

Backed by the ruling leftist Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) and the opposition right-wing Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA), the amnesty bill known as the “national reconciliation law” would have released former combatants in prison in 2016.

The two parties dominate the Legislative Assembly, controlling 60 of the 84 seats, and needed a simple majority to approve the bill.

“IMPUNITY FOR THE MASTERMINDS”

However, victims’ families said they were not consulted on the bill.

Human rights groups feared there would be no justice for those killed in notorious massacres like El Mozote and El Sumpul, as well as crimes including the 1980 murder of Archbishop Oscar Romero and the 1979 disappearance of former South African ambassador Archibald Gardner Dunn.

U.N. Human Rights chief Michelle Bachelet, a former Chilean president who herself was detained during a military dictatorship in her country, urged lawmakers to refrain from “adopting provisions that contravene international law.”

“If passed, these provisions will unduly benefit people who, during the armed conflict, were directly responsible for crimes against humanity and war crimes,” she said in a statement.

“They will also result in impunity for the masterminds and military leaders who ordered such crimes, or failed to adopt measures to prevent or stop them.”

U.S. Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs Kimberly Breier said any national reconciliation law in El Salvador should protect the rights of victims to seek justice.

A small group of relatives of victims gathered on Thursday in front of the official residence of President Salvador Sanchez Ceren, a civil war leader of the FMLN, to protest.

“This law has many conflicts of interest,” said Andres Garcia, 64, who said his father was killed in 1985 by members of the military.

The bill proposed community service instead of jail time.

“(The penalty of imprisonment) will be replaced by a penalty of community service, with work days set out in the respective ruling, whose minimum limit will be three years and whose maximum will be 10 years,” the draft of the law read.

(Reporting by Nelson Renteria; Editing by Phil Berlowitz and Darren Schuettler)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Civil war veterans protest during the commemoration of the 26th anniversary of the signing of the peace accords in San Salvador
FILE PHOTO: Civil war veterans protest during the commemoration of the 26th anniversary of the signing of the peace accords that ended El Salvador Civil War in San Salvador, El Salvador, January 16, 2018. REUTERS/Jose Cabezas/File Photo

May 24, 2019

By Nelson Renteria

SAN SALVADOR (Reuters) – Lawmakers in El Salvador agreed on Thursday to suspend a controversial amnesty bill following an outcry from victims’ families, the United Nations and rights groups who said it aimed to whitewash crimes committed during a bloody civil war.

A 12-member congressional commission representing a range of political parties voted unanimously for a technical committee to review two other proposals and consult with members of civil society, the armed forces and the Catholic Church on Monday.

A new proposal could be ready for a vote by Wednesday, the legislators said.

The amnesty bill aimed to prohibit jail time for former military personnel and leftist guerillas accused of atrocities during the 1980-1992 war in which 75,000 people were killed and 8,000 went missing. The bill instead proposed community service.

Lawmakers with roots in opposing sides of the war were in a race against time to pass the bill, since President-elect Nayib Bukele opposed it and could veto the legislation if it was not on the books when he takes office on June 1.

In July 2016, the Supreme Court of Justice declared unconstitutional a 1993 amnesty law that prevented investigation, prosecution and imprisonment of people responsible for war crimes. Judges ordered Congress to adopt a new law to promote national reconciliation before July 2019.

The last-minute attempt to soften punishments is part of a backlash in Central America against attempts to bring justice for excesses in the region’s Cold War-era conflicts. It follows a similar bill in Guatemala that could lead to the release of former soldiers convicted of massacres.

Backed by the ruling leftist Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) and the opposition right-wing Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA), the amnesty bill known as the “national reconciliation law” would have released former combatants in prison in 2016.

The two parties dominate the Legislative Assembly, controlling 60 of the 84 seats, and needed a simple majority to approve the bill.

“IMPUNITY FOR THE MASTERMINDS”

However, victims’ families said they were not consulted on the bill.

Human rights groups feared there would be no justice for those killed in notorious massacres like El Mozote and El Sumpul, as well as crimes including the 1980 murder of Archbishop Oscar Romero and the 1979 disappearance of former South African ambassador Archibald Gardner Dunn.

U.N. Human Rights chief Michelle Bachelet, a former Chilean president who herself was detained during a military dictatorship in her country, urged lawmakers to refrain from “adopting provisions that contravene international law.”

“If passed, these provisions will unduly benefit people who, during the armed conflict, were directly responsible for crimes against humanity and war crimes,” she said in a statement.

“They will also result in impunity for the masterminds and military leaders who ordered such crimes, or failed to adopt measures to prevent or stop them.”

U.S. Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs Kimberly Breier said any national reconciliation law in El Salvador should protect the rights of victims to seek justice.

A small group of relatives of victims gathered on Thursday in front of the official residence of President Salvador Sanchez Ceren, a civil war leader of the FMLN, to protest.

“This law has many conflicts of interest,” said Andres Garcia, 64, who said his father was killed in 1985 by members of the military.

The bill proposed community service instead of jail time.

“(The penalty of imprisonment) will be replaced by a penalty of community service, with work days set out in the respective ruling, whose minimum limit will be three years and whose maximum will be 10 years,” the draft of the law read.

(Reporting by Nelson Renteria; Editing by Phil Berlowitz and Darren Schuettler)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Civil war veterans protest during the commemoration of the 26th anniversary of the signing of the peace accords in San Salvador
FILE PHOTO: Civil war veterans protest during the commemoration of the 26th anniversary of the signing of the peace accords that ended El Salvador Civil War in San Salvador, El Salvador, January 16, 2018. REUTERS/Jose Cabezas/File Photo

May 24, 2019

By Nelson Renteria

SAN SALVADOR (Reuters) – Lawmakers in El Salvador agreed on Thursday to suspend a controversial amnesty bill following an outcry from victims’ families, the United Nations and rights groups who said it aimed to whitewash crimes committed during a bloody civil war.

A 12-member congressional commission representing a range of political parties voted unanimously for a technical committee to review two other proposals and consult with members of civil society, the armed forces and the Catholic Church on Monday.

A new proposal could be ready for a vote by Wednesday, the legislators said.

The amnesty bill aimed to prohibit jail time for former military personnel and leftist guerillas accused of atrocities during the 1980-1992 war in which 75,000 people were killed and 8,000 went missing. The bill instead proposed community service.

Lawmakers with roots in opposing sides of the war were in a race against time to pass the bill, since President-elect Nayib Bukele opposed it and could veto the legislation if it was not on the books when he takes office on June 1.

In July 2016, the Supreme Court of Justice declared unconstitutional a 1993 amnesty law that prevented investigation, prosecution and imprisonment of people responsible for war crimes. Judges ordered Congress to adopt a new law to promote national reconciliation before July 2019.

The last-minute attempt to soften punishments is part of a backlash in Central America against attempts to bring justice for excesses in the region’s Cold War-era conflicts. It follows a similar bill in Guatemala that could lead to the release of former soldiers convicted of massacres.

Backed by the ruling leftist Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) and the opposition right-wing Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA), the amnesty bill known as the “national reconciliation law” would have released former combatants in prison in 2016.

The two parties dominate the Legislative Assembly, controlling 60 of the 84 seats, and needed a simple majority to approve the bill.

“IMPUNITY FOR THE MASTERMINDS”

However, victims’ families said they were not consulted on the bill.

Human rights groups feared there would be no justice for those killed in notorious massacres like El Mozote and El Sumpul, as well as crimes including the 1980 murder of Archbishop Oscar Romero and the 1979 disappearance of former South African ambassador Archibald Gardner Dunn.

U.N. Human Rights chief Michelle Bachelet, a former Chilean president who herself was detained during a military dictatorship in her country, urged lawmakers to refrain from “adopting provisions that contravene international law.”

“If passed, these provisions will unduly benefit people who, during the armed conflict, were directly responsible for crimes against humanity and war crimes,” she said in a statement.

“They will also result in impunity for the masterminds and military leaders who ordered such crimes, or failed to adopt measures to prevent or stop them.”

U.S. Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs Kimberly Breier said any national reconciliation law in El Salvador should protect the rights of victims to seek justice.

A small group of relatives of victims gathered on Thursday in front of the official residence of President Salvador Sanchez Ceren, a civil war leader of the FMLN, to protest.

“This law has many conflicts of interest,” said Andres Garcia, 64, who said his father was killed in 1985 by members of the military.

The bill proposed community service instead of jail time.

“(The penalty of imprisonment) will be replaced by a penalty of community service, with work days set out in the respective ruling, whose minimum limit will be three years and whose maximum will be 10 years,” the draft of the law read.

(Reporting by Nelson Renteria; Editing by Phil Berlowitz and Darren Schuettler)

Source: OANN

U.S. President Trump delivers remarks to U.S. troops in an unannounced visit to Al Asad Air Base, Iraq
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks to U.S. troops in an unannounced visit to Al Asad Air Base, Iraq December 26, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

May 24, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Friday he will send about 1,500 American troops to the Middle East, mostly as a protective measure, amid heightened tensions with Iran.

He said the deployment involved a relatively small number of troops.

The forces would help strengthen American defenses in the region, two sources told Reuters earlier on condition of anonymity. They said the forces included engineers.

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton and Phil Stewart; Writing by Doina Chiacu; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

Source: OANN

U.S. President Trump delivers remarks to U.S. troops in an unannounced visit to Al Asad Air Base, Iraq
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks to U.S. troops in an unannounced visit to Al Asad Air Base, Iraq December 26, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

May 24, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Friday he will send about 1,500 American troops to the Middle East, mostly as a protective measure, amid heightened tensions with Iran.

He said the deployment involved a relatively small number of troops.

The forces would help strengthen American defenses in the region, two sources told Reuters earlier on condition of anonymity. They said the forces included engineers.

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton and Phil Stewart; Writing by Doina Chiacu; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan testifies before a House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee
FILE PHOTO: Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan testifies before a House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee hearing on the Department of Defense – FY2020 Budget request on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., May 1, 2019. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas/File Photo

May 24, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan will meet China’s defense minister on the sidelines of an Asia defense forum in Singapore, a senior U.S. defense official said on Friday, at a time of strained tensions between Beijing and Washington over trade and security.

“We’re doing a pull aside with the Chinese counterpart at Shangri-La,” said the official, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe will deliver a speech on June 2 at the Shangri-La Dialogue, the first time since 2011 that a Chinese defense minister will be at the forum, having in recent years sent lower level officials.

(Reporting by Idrees Ali; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

Source: OANN

A demonstrator carries a banner during an anti-government protest in Algiers
A demonstrator carries a banner as she walks past police officers standing guard during an anti-government protest in Algiers, Algeria May 24, 2019. The banner reads: “Give me my freedom”. REUTERS/Ramzi Boudina

May 24, 2019

By Hamid Ould Ahmed

ALGIERS (Reuters) – Thousands of protesters took to the streets in the capital and other Algerian cities on Friday to demand the postponement of a presidential election and the removal of the ruling elite following the end of Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s 20-year-rule last month.

A political source meanwhile told Reuters the interim government was expected to extend the current transition period to allow time for preparations for the election.

Friday’s protest marked the 14th consecutive week of demonstrations. They have continued through the Muslim holy month of Ramadan although numbers of the crowds are smaller than at the peak of the anti-Bouteflika protests.

They are calling for political reforms and the removal of all the clique of officials who have governed the North African nation since independence from France in 1962.

Bouteflika’s removal paved the way for a transition period that is due to end with a presidential election on July 4. But

demonstrators now demand the resignation of interim officials in charge of supervising the vote, including interim president Abdelkader Bensalah, who replaced Bouteflika for 90 days until the election, and Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui.

“No to the July 4 election,” protesters draped in national flags chanted as they marched in central Algiers. Many held up banners that read: “Bensalah go, Bedoui go”.

Similar protests broke out in Algeria’s other main cities, including Annaba, Oran and Constantine.

The political source said the transition period, which is due to end a few days after the scheduled July 4 election, could be extended by at least three months.

“Time is running out and organizers have not finished preparations for the vote,” the source said.

Armed forces chief of staff Lieutenant General Ahmed Gaed Salah said last week that elections were the only way to get out of the crisis, but did not mention a date for the vote.

He reietrated calls for appeasement, mentioning the army’s positive response to demonstrators’ demands for the prosecution of people seen as corrupt.

Bouetflika’s youngest brother Said and two former intelligence generals have been put in custody on charges of harming the army’s authority and plotting against state authority.

Several businessmen have also been detained over allegations of involvement in corruption cases.

(Reporting by Hamid Ould Ahmed; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

Source: OANN

Pope Francis leads the opening of the Italian Episcopal Conference at the Vatican
Pope Francis leads the opening of the Italian Episcopal Conference at the Vatican, May 20, 2019. REUTERS/Remo Casilli

May 24, 2019

By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis appointed women on Friday to a key Vatican department for the first time since it was founded more than 50 years ago, a move welcomed by Catholic women’s groups as a significant advance.

Three nuns and one lay woman were appointed councillors in the office of synods, which prepares major meetings of world bishops held every few years on a different topic.

Pope Paul VI founded the Synod of Bishops in 1965 as a body to advise popes. A Vatican spokesman said they were the first women members in its history.

Two of the four are Italian – Sister Alessandra Smerilli, an economics professor, and Cecilia Costa, a sociology professor. The others are Sister Maria Luisa Berzosa Gonzalez of Spain and Sister Nathalie Becquart of France.

“It is great news because until now there were no structures for women to have an influence on synods while they are being prepared,” said Zuzanna Fliosowska, general manager of Voices of Faith, an international advocacy group that promotes a greater role for women in the Church.

More than half of the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics are women and the membership of female religious orders is about three times larger than that of male orders.

Women’s rights was a recurring theme at a month-long synod of bishops at the Vatican last October on the topic of young Christians.

As in all synods so far, only “synod fathers”, including bishops and specially appointed or elected male representatives, could vote on final documents sent to the pope.

Two “brothers” – lay men who are not ordained – voted in their capacity as superiors general of their religious orders but an American nun with the same rank could not.

More than 10,000 people signed a petition demanding that women get the vote at future synods.

“We hope this is a first step toward women delegates getting the vote in the next synod,” Fliosowska told Reuters.

The International Union of Superiors General (UISG), an umbrella group of Catholic nuns whose leaders have been pushing for women’s vote, also welcomed the surprise appointments.

“With these positions, they will be able to help make decisions and not just be invited observers at meetings,” USIG spokeswoman Patrizia Morgante said.

The next synod, scheduled for Oct. 6-27, will discuss the needs of the Church in the vast Amazon region, including how to deal with an extreme shortage of priests.

(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Susan Fenton)

Source: OANN


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