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Showing posts with label World. Show all posts
Showing posts with label World. Show all posts
July 18, 2018

Indian parliament to debate no-trust motion against Modi's government

Indian parliament to debate no-trust motion against Modi's government
Indian parliament to debate no-trust motion against Modi's government

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India's parliament will debate a no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government moved by the opposition, the house speaker said on Wednesday.

Modi's government has a clear majority in the 545-member lower house of parliament, but the opposition is hoping to make political gains by focusing attention on slow job growth and deteriorating law and order.

National elections are due next year.
July 17, 2018

Israeli lawmakers vote to ban some left-wing groups from schools

Israeli lawmakers vote to ban some left-wing groups from schools
© Reuters. Israeli lawmakers vote to ban some left-wing groups from schools

By Maayan Lubell

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel's parliament passed a law on Tuesday that could see groups critical of government policies toward the Palestinians banned from entering Israeli schools and speaking with pupils.

Critics of the law, which passed with 43 votes in favor and 24 against in the 120-seat Knesset, said it was a blow to core democratic values like free speech and part of the Israeli government's effort to delegitimize rights groups and NGOs.

The amendment to the education act grants new powers to Education Minister Naftali Bennett, head of the religious-nationalist Jewish Home party, to order schools to bar certain groups from giving lectures to students.

The legislation has been dubbed the "Breaking the Silence" law, a reference to the Israeli group of that name which collects and publishes testimony from Israeli veterans about the military's treatment of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and during conflicts with militants in Gaza.

Bennett has been critical of the organization along with other right-wing politicians who accuse the group of damaging Israel's image abroad and putting soldiers and officials at risk of prosecution for alleged war crimes.

"Anyone who wanders around the world attacking IDF (Israel Defence Forces) soldiers, will not enter a school," Bennett said in a statement.

Breaking the Silence said the law is meant to weaken it and other rights groups.

"It's really about trying to silence and cover up what's been going on in the occupied territories for 51 years," said the group's director, Avner Gvaryahu.

Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Middle East war. Palestinians, who seek the territory, along with the Gaza Strip for a future state, exercise limited self-rule there.

Israeli forces and settlers pulled out of Gaza in 2005 and the enclave is now ruled by the Islamist group Hamas.

Ram Cohen, a headmaster at Tel Aviv's Tichonet high school, said he hosted Breaking the Silence at the school last year and planned to invite the group again, even if it meant breaching the law.

"As a principal, as an educator, it is my duty to stand up and say - no more," Cohen said. "These laws are meant to harm democracy. I shall not be a part of it. I do not agree with it and I shall object to it."

Amir Fuchs, who heads the Israel Democracy Institute's Defending Democratic Values Program, said the law was part of a wider phenomenon in Israel of trying to discredit left-wing groups.

"Education is about thinking critically. It's about hearing people you don't agree with. And this is what we want to teach our children," Fuchs said.

"In order for us to educate our young people to be democratic, to be liberal, they have to hear the other side," he added.

U.S. judge suspends deportations of reunited immigrant families

U.S. judge suspends deportations of reunited immigrant families
Immigrant children, many of whom have been separated from their parents under a new "zero tolerance" policy by the Trump administration, are shown walking in single file between tents in their compound next to the Mexican border in Tornillo, Tex

By Marty Graham

SAN DIEGO (Reuters) - A federal judge temporarily barred the U.S. government on Monday from the rapid deportation of immigrant parents reunited with their children, while a court considers the impact on children's rights to seek asylum.

The government is working to meet a court order to reunite around 2,550 children who were separated by U.S. immigration officials from their parents at the U.S.-Mexican border.

The families had been separated as part of a broader crackdown on illegal immigration by the administration of President Donald Trump, sparking an international outcry. The president ordered the practice stopped on June 20.

The American Civil Liberties Union said in court papers on Monday that, once reunited, immigrant parents who face deportation should have a week to decide if they want to leave their child in the United States to pursue asylum separately.

"A one-week stay is a reasonable and appropriate remedy to ensure that the unimaginable trauma these families have suffered does not turn even worse because parents made an uninformed decision about the fate of their child," the rights group wrote.

U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw in San Diego asked the government to respond and set a July 24 date for the next hearing. In the meantime, he halted rapid deportations.

In a related lawsuit filed on Monday in New York City, the Legal Aid Society sought a federal court order requiring U.S. immigration officials to give 48 hours advance notice of planned family reunifications, allowing parents a better chance to consult with lawyers about asylum or other options for their children.

At Monday's hearing in California, the judge pressed back on a suggestion by a government attorney that quick deportations aided reunifications by creating more room for families in detention.

"The idea this would slow or stop reunifications, that's not an option," said Sabraw. "If space is an issue, the government will make space."

Sabraw last month set a July 26 deadline for the government to reunite children who were separated from their parents at the border.

The majority have been matched with a parent, but the government is still trying to find parents for 71 children in its care, Jonathan White, from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, told the court. All children under the age of 5 have been reunited, the government said.

However, Lee Gelernt, an attorney with the ACLU, said after the hearing that he found it "extremely troubling that there are 71 children whose parents they haven't been able to identify, much less reunify."

Many immigrants separated from their children were seeking asylum after fleeing violence and crime in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.

Children were sent to multiple care facilities across the country, and their parents were incarcerated in immigration detention centers or federal prisons - in keeping with the government's "zero tolerance" policy under which all adults crossing the border illegally would face prosecution.
July 16, 2018

Violent Nicaragua protests claim another 10 lives: rights group

Violent Nicaragua protests claim another 10 lives: rights group
An anti-government protester takes part in a caravan of car and motorcycles to demand an end to violence in Ticuantepe

By Oswaldo Rivas

MANAGUA (Reuters) - Nicaraguan police and paramilitary groups loyal to President Daniel Ortega killed at least 10 people on Sunday, a human rights association said, as the death toll from violent clashes in the Central American country continues to rise.

The people were killed when government forces attacked the community of Monimbo and nearby city of Masaya, about 25 kilometers (16 miles) southeast of the capital, Managua, said Alvaro Leiva of the Nicaraguan Association for Human Rights.

"We are talking about more than 10 deaths at this time," Leiva told a local television station.

The government could not immediately be reached for comment.

Nearly three months of clashes between pro-Ortega forces and demonstrators calling for his removal have claimed over 300 lives, in the bloodiest protests in Nicaragua since the country's civil war ended in 1990.

On Saturday, bishops secured the release of dozens of student protesters trapped overnight inside a church under a hail of gunfire from armed pro-government supporters, who killed at least one person inside, a human rights group said.

Nicaragua has been convulsed by unrest since April, when Ortega, a former Marxist guerrilla leader, proposed reducing pension benefits to ease budgetary pressures.

Though the plan was later dropped, it provoked violent clashes and calls for Ortega to step down.

Student leader Lester Aleman, who is among the protesters spearheading the demand for Ortega to step down, told reporters that he wanted a "halt to the repression."

A nationwide strike emptied streets on Friday as businesses shut their doors, heeding calls by civil society groups who want Ortega to resign and stage early elections.
July 15, 2018

Germany to accept 50 rescued migrants after Italy's plea

Germany to accept 50 rescued migrants after Italy's plea
Migrants, intercepted aboard two dinghies off the coast in the Strait of Gibraltar, wait on a rescue boat to disembark after arriving at the port of Tarifa

MILAN/BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany will take 50 of 450 migrants Italy helped to rescue from an overcrowded boat in the Mediterranean on Saturday, the German government said, following an Italian plea for EU states to share responsibility.

France and Malta have already agreed to take 50 migrants each after two ships - one operated by EU border agency Frontex and a vessel owned by Italy's tax police - picked up the migrants on Saturday near the Italian island of Linosa, more than 100 nautical miles of Malta.

Other EU countries were set to follow after Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte sent letters to the heads of state and government of the 27 other EU members asking them to share responsibility with Rome for the migrants, who had sailed from Libya.

"Germany and Italy have agreed that, in view of the ongoing talks on closer bilateral cooperation on asylum, Germany is ready to accept 50 people in this case," the German government spokeswoman said on Sunday.

Malta had rejected pressure from Rome on Friday to rescue them, but said on Saturday it was ready to host 50 asylum seekers. France will take another 50, Conte said in a message posted on his Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) profile.

Conte said Italy would host some of the rescued people if other countries also agreed to share the burden.

The Czech Republic, however, refused the request.

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis tweeted that the country would not accept any of the 450 asylum seekers.

Babis called the Italian approach a "road to hell" and reiterated his stance that boats should be stopped and turned back and that migrants should be helped in their countries instead of being let into the European Union.

Before other EU members agreed to accept some of the migrants, Italy's far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, who is leading a high-profile campaign to ban humanitarian rescue ships from Italian ports, had said on Saturday that the migrants could be sent back to Libya.

Under international law, refugees cannot be returned to a place where their lives are in danger. Both the United Nations and EU have ruled that Libya is not safe.

A spokesman for Libya's coastguard said Libya would not take in migrants from other countries.

"No, we will not accept any illegal migrants after they are rescued by rescue ships...," the spokesman , Ayob Qassem, told Reuters on Saturday.

Rights groups urge better treatment for Mongolia child jockeys

Rights groups urge better treatment for Mongolia child jockeys
A horse trainer or uyach prepares for the send-off ceremony next to a jockey at the Mongolian traditional Naadam festival, on the outskirts of Ulaanbaatar

By Munkhchimeg Davaasharav

ULAANBAATAR (Reuters) - At the opening of Mongolia's traditional Naadam festival, red-cheeked child jockeys in brightly colored outfits and helmets raced over the muddy steppe in a 24-km (15-mile) endurance race, excitedly whipping their mounts.

The festival held last week highlighted a sport that is a source of prestige in Mongolia, where nomadic families take pride in their children becoming jockeys and racing their horses.

But the practice also faces criticism for putting children at risk and international organizations called for an end to what they say is the "exploitation" of vulnerable children, many of whom miss school to prepare for races, and work long hours for low wages at large stables.

The minimum age for a jockey is just seven, though authorities have struggled to enforce that.

Last year, as many as 10,435 children participated in 394 races nationwide, official figures show. More than 600 were thrown from their horses, 169 were injured and two were killed, the figures show.

Some children as young as five have been hurt in contests in previous years, Mongolia's National Traumatology and Orthopaedics Research Centre says.

"Studies show that horse racing violates the right of children to survive, be educated and be protected," said Tsolmon Enkhbat, program coordinator with Save the Children in Mongolia.

"There is no legal regulation to determine and punish perpetrators in the case of a child fatality," she said.

Organizers of the Naadam festival said they were introducing new safety standards and registration methods.

Mongolia's Authority for Family, Child, and Youth Development - responsible for child jockey safety - launched a fingerprinting registration system this year to improve regulation and enforce age restrictions.

"With public awareness rising on issues of child safety, of course child protection gets better," says Enkhbaatar Altangerel, an official with the authority.

"This is not about prohibition. This is about better regulation and better protection," he said.

Though regulators plan to raise the minimum age for a jockey to nine years old, Tsolmon of Save the Children said Mongolia should impose strict limits on racing and that should include banning child racing in winter and spring, when conditions are most dangerous.

"We are against involving children in commercial racing. It is child labor exploitation," she said.

During the endurance race on Wednesday, nine out of 338 child jockeys were involved in falls and two suffered injuries. Despite the concerns, many riders and their parents think the risk is worth taking.

"I like to race," said 11-year old Usukhbayar Otgonbayar ahead of the race. "This time I will win."
July 13, 2018

Ousted Pakistan PM flying home to face jail, authorities lock down Lahore city

Ousted Pakistan PM flying home to face jail, authorities lock down Lahore city
Ousted Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif, appears with his daughter Maryam, at a news conference at a hotel in London

By Drazen Jorgic and Mubasher Bukhari

ISLAMABAD/LAHORE (Reuters) - Ousted Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam, both sentenced to lengthy jail terms in absentia, are due to return to Pakistan on Friday in a high-stakes gamble to galvanize their beleaguered party ahead of a July 25 general election.

Authorities have mobilized more than 10,000 police officers ahead of their arrival and plan to block roads with shipping containers to shut down the city of Lahore. Supporters of Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party say they will march to the airport there, where the former prime minister is due to land, in defiance of a ban on all public rallies.

Sharif is returning from Britain one week after an anti-corruption court handed him a 10-year jail term over the purchase of luxury London flats and sentenced his daughter and political heir to seven years in prison.

Their return could shake up an election race marred by claims Pakistan's powerful military was skewing the contest in favor of ex-cricket hero Imran Khan.

Sharif alleges the military is aiding a "judicial witchhunt" against him and his PML-N party. The party's past five years in power has been punctuated by the civil-military discord that has plagued Pakistan since its inception.

"Nawaz really believes this is about democracy and his legacy," Musadik Malik, Sharif ally and former PML-N cabinet minister, told Reuters.

"That is why he is willing to lose 10 years of his life over this."

Sharif's PML-N expects a groundswell of support as he returns from London, where his wife Kulsoom is critically ill and undergoing cancer treatment.

To prevent PML-N workers staging a hero's welcome on the streets, authorities said they will arrest the father and daughter upon landing and transport them to the capital Islamabad by helicopter, local media reported.

Party officials say the police have started a crackdown against them, detaining hundreds of workers in the early hours on Friday.

Recent opinion polls suggest PML-N has lost its lead nationally to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party of arch-rival Khan, whose anti-corruption message has resonated with many Pakistanis.

Khan has painted Sharif as a "criminal" who has looted the state for decades, and welcomes his prison term as overdue accountability.

Sharif was ordered jailed after failing to explain how the family acquired the London flats in a case stemming from 2016 Panama Papers revelations that showed they owned the apartments through off-shore companies. Maryam was convicted for concealing ownership of the apartments. The both deny wrongdoing.

MILITARY FAVORITE

Sharif, 68, has cast himself as a defender of democracy, a far cry from the start of his political life when he was the protege of military dictator General Zia ul-Haq and had his career nurtured by the generals in the 1980s.

He was elected prime minister in 1990-93. A second stint in power was ended by a military coup in 1999, prompting a period in jail for Sharif and years in exile in London. When he returned to power in 2013, he clashed with the military over how to deal with Islamist militants and his desire for friendlier relations with arch-foe India.

After the Supreme Court disqualified Sharif in July 2017 for not declaring a small source of income which he denied receiving, he toured the nuclear-armed country urging voters to protect the "sanctity of the vote".

"Despite seeing the bars of prison in front of my eyes, I am going to Pakistan," Sharif told Pakistani journalists this week in London, where he vowed to re-assert "civilian supremacy".

The opposition Pakistan People Party (PPP) has also alleged "pre-poll rigging" this week, but did not specifically name the armed forces.

The military, which has ruled Pakistan for about half its history since 1947, has denied interfering in modern-day politics. It plans to place 371,000 soldiers around polling stations so there can a "free and fair" elections, it added.

"WE ARE WINNING"

Sharif's return comes at a time of dwindling fortunes for his party, which one year ago was considered a run-away favorite to retain power.

After the Supreme Court ousted Sharif last July, the courts barred him from heading the PML-N party he founded. His brother Shehbaz became PML-N's president, but Sharif remains the power behind the throne.

Since then, a host of his allies have been either disqualified by the courts, or face corruption cases. Many PML-N lawmakers have also defected to Khan's party.

PML-N has also been riven by internal divisions. Sections of the party oppose Sharif's combative approach against the army and fear it will turn off voters in a deeply conservative and patriotic Muslim nation of 208 million people.

The kind of reception Sharif receives on the streets of Lahore will be viewed carefully in Pakistan, where political popularity is often measured by the size of rallies that politicians can attract.

PML-N leaders say authorities have began a crackdown against union council leaders, the street-level party workers who bring out people on the streets.

"Those who think they can scare us...open your ears and hear this: we are winning this election," Shehbaz Sharif told reporters in Lahore on Thursday.
July 12, 2018

After Trump's spending demands, NATO summit turns to Afghanistan

After Trump's spending demands, NATO summit turns to Afghanistan
NATO Alliance Summit in Brussels

By Robin Emmott

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - NATO leaders will try on Thursday to move beyond U.S. President Donald Trump's demands for higher defense spending, and focus on ending the long war in Afghanistan, in the second day of a summit in Brussels underscored by transatlantic tensions.

On a trip that will also take Trump to Britain and to Helsinki to meet Russia's Vladimir Putin, the president spent the first day of the NATO summit lambasting allies for failing to spend the targeted 2 percent of GDP on defense and accused Germany of being a prisoner to Russian energy.

Trump, in a late-night post on Twitter, wrote: "Billions of additional dollars are being spent by NATO countries since my visit last year, at my request, but it isn’t nearly enough. U.S. spends too much."

It followed an uncomfortable first round at the summit where anxious Western allies were subjected to the U.S. president's "America first" approach. His comment that Germany was controlled by Russia earned a rebuke from Berlin.

On day two, leaders will welcome non-NATO partners including Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Ukraine's Petro Poroshenko to the alliance's new glass-and-steel headquarters as they seek to focus on policy rather than politics.

British Prime Minister Theresa May tried to set the tone on Wednesday by announcing more troops for NATO's Afghan training mission.

"We will be deploying an additional 440 personnel to NATO's Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan and I think that shows when NATO calls, the UK is one of the first to step up," May told reporters.

North Atlantic Treaty Organization chief Jens Stoltenberg wants leaders to agree to fund Afghan security forces until 2024, despite public fatigue in Western countries about their involvement in the conflict.

Funding has averaged at about $1 billion annually and Stoltenberg has said he expected that level to be met.

Leaders will be keen to hear more about Trump's military approach to Afghanistan, which he revamped last August to include a surge in air strikes to force Taliban militants to the negotiating table.

U.S. officials have told Reuters that Washington is preparing another review of strategy, a year after Trump begrudgingly agreed to extend involvement in the 17-year-old war.

Trump was opposed to remaining in America's longest war, but his advisers convinced him to give it more time. He authorized the deployment of an additional 3,000 troops, bringing the total to around 15,000.

PIPELINE

Trump's late tweet also repeated his insistence from earlier in the summit that Germany was wrong to support an $11 billion Baltic Sea pipeline to import even more Russian gas while being slow to meet targets for NATO spending. "Pipeline dollars to Russia are not acceptable!" he wrote.

But Trump appeared earlier to substantially overstate German reliance on Russian energy and to imply Berlin was funding a pipeline that Chancellor Angela Merkel says is a commercial venture.

Having chided NATO members for failing to reach a target of spending 2 percent of national income on defense, Trump told fellow leaders on Wednesday he would prefer a goal of 4 percent, similar to U.S. levels, officials said.

That would represent a massive upheaval of budgetary priorities in Europe where Germany and many others have pledged only to reach 2 percent by 2024 or later, and it was not clear what allies would spend the money on.

At the summit on Thursday, leaders will discuss ties with Georgia and Ukraine, two NATO membership hopefuls that contribute to troop levels in Afghanistan but have seen their chances of joining the alliance hampered by Russian incursions into their territory.

Under NATO rules, countries with territorial conflicts cannot join the Western alliance and neither country is expected to progress in membership talks.

Macedonia, however, which was formally invited to start accession talks on Wednesday, will be part of a special ceremony on Thursday as the alliance sets the stage for expanding to its 30th member state.
July 11, 2018

'Mission accomplished' as Thailand and the world welcome cave rescue

'Mission accomplished' as Thailand and the world welcome cave rescue
Rescue workers take out equipment after 12 soccer players and their coach were rescued in Tham Luang cave complex in the northern province of Chiang Rai

By Panu Wongcha-um and John Geddie

CHIANG RAI, Thailand (Reuters) - Thais reacted with relief, gratitude and exhilaration on Wednesday after the successful rescue of the last group of 12 boys and their soccer coach from a flooded cave complex, ending a 17-day ordeal that gripped Thailand and the world.

The last members of the group of 13 from the "Wild Boars" soccer team were brought out of the flooded cave on Tuesday night and taken by helicopter and then by road to a hospital about 70 km (45 miles) from the Tham Luang cave.

They joined their team mates in quarantine there and will remain in hospital.

The group was rescued after 17 days inside the vast cave complex in northern Thailand where they had ventured after soccer practice on June 23.

The rescue dominated front page headlines in Thailand.

"All Wild Boars Saved," read one headline.

"Hooyah! Mission accomplished," read another, echoing the rallying cry of the Thai navy SEALs involved in the rescue.

The hashtag #Hooyah was also hugely popular with Thai netizens wanting to show their support for the hundreds of rescuers, including divers from around the world, who helped to get the boys out.

Rescue mission chief Narongsak Osottanakorn thanked people in Thailand and around the world at a news conference on Tuesday for their well wishes and support.

"This mission was successful because we had power. The power of love. Everybody sent it to the 13," Narongsak told reporters. He confirmed that three navy SEALs and a doctor who had been with the boys inside the cave also emerged safely.

The boys' parents would be able to visit them, he said.

"They have gone home to shower ... and then they will be able to visit them, through a glass panel, at the hospital," Narongsak told reporters.

'AMAZING NEWS'

Audiences around the world cheered the team's successful rescue after the saga generated messages of help, prayers and - finally - expressions of relief.

The drama in Thailand has even resonated as far as Russia, where the World Cup is reaching its final stages. Players from France and England welcomed news of the rescue and sent their best wishes to the "Wild Boars" on Twitter.

"This victory goes to the heroes of the day, well done boys, you are so strong," French midfielder Paul Pogba tweeted after his team beat Belgium 1-0 overnight to reach the final.

Manchester City and England defender Kyle Walker, whose team faces Croatia in the second semi-final later on Wednesday, said he wanted to send shirts to the boys.

"Amazing news that all of the Thai kids are out of the cave safely!" Walker tweeted.

A Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) search on Tuesday for the words "Thai cave rescue" revealed 359 million results, with interest peaking since last week when British divers found the boys and the rescue mission began.

Araya Hargate, one Thailand's top actresses and a L'Oreal cosmetics brand ambassador, shared a cartoon of the boys surrounded by rescuers on her Instagram page, which has 7.9 million followers.

"After all ... the world is not such a bad place #humanityfaithrestored #thailandcaverescue," the actress, known in Thailand as "Chompoo", wrote.

Thai officials were expected to hold a news conference on Wednesday to provide updates on the health of the 12 boys and their 25-year-old coach.

Narongsak told reporters that a detailed breakdown of the escape route and rescue mission would also be provided.
July 10, 2018

Assad, aided by Russia, poised to snuff out 'cradle' of revolt

Assad, aided by Russia, poised to snuff out 'cradle' of revolt
FILE PHOTO: A woman holds a Syrian flag in Deraa

By Tom Perry and Suleiman Al-Khalidi

BEIRUT/AMMAN (Reuters) - President Bashar al-Assad is poised to snuff out the Syrian rebellion in the place it first began more than seven years ago, as rebels in Deraa city enter talks with his Russian allies on withdrawing or accepting a return of state authority.

Government forces backed by Russia have seized most of Deraa province in the campaign that got underway last month and on Monday encircled rebel-held parts of Deraa city and seized the entire Jordanian frontier that was once in opposition hands.

Assad, whose control was once reduced to a fraction of Syria, now holds the largest chunk of the country with crucial help from his Russian and Iranian allies.

Deraa was the scene of the first anti-Assad protests that spiraled into a war now estimated to have killed half a million people. The conflict has driven over 11 million people from their homes, with some 5.6 million Syrian refugees in neighboring states alone and many more in Europe.

Rebels holed up in part of Deraa city are due to hold talks with Russian officers on Tuesday, a spokesman for the rebels, Abu Shaimaa, said. Some are seeking evacuation to opposition-held areas of the north while others are negotiating to remain as a local security force, he said.

"Today there is a session with the Russians over the forced displacement," he said in a text message, referring to the expected evacuation of a yet-to-determined number of rebels to opposition areas of the northwest at the border with Turkey.

A pro-Syrian government newspaper, al-Watan, said "the coming hours will be decisive on the level of ending the chapter of terrorism in Deraa city".

As Assad pushes for outright military victory, there seems little hope of a negotiated peace settlement to the conflict.

The north and much of the east however remain outside his control and the presence of U.S. and Turkish forces in those areas will complicate further advances for Damascus.

"EXTREMELY SCARED"

Government forces began thrusting into Deraa province last month. Heavily outgunned rebels surrendered quickly in some places as the United States, which once armed them, told opposition forces not to expect its intervention.

Deraa rebels agreed to a wider ceasefire deal brokered by Russia last Friday and to surrender the province in phases. Syrian and Russian forces then took control of the main crossing with Jordan, which has been in rebel hands since 2015.

On Monday, government forces extended their control all the way along Deraa province's border with Jordan up to a pocket of territory held by Islamic State-affiliated militants, severing a once vital opposition lifeline to Jordan.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the war, said army helicopters dropped leaflets on the rebel-held town of al-Haara saying "there is no place for militants".

The government offensive is expected to turn next to nearby rebel-held areas of Quneitra province, at the border with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

The offensive has triggered the biggest single displacement of civilians in the war, uprooting more than 320,000 people. Large numbers of people have moved again in the few days since the ceasefire was agreed, some returning to their villages.

Rachel Sider, Syria advocacy and information adviser with the Norwegian Refugee Council, said displaced people had been crossing back to areas that are subject to the agreement "because the expectation is that now there is a ceasefire that is holding, that will be the most stable and safe place".

"But we also know that people still feel extremely scared. They are not very clear about who is in control of the places that they are from. We have seen a lot of confusion amongst people who are trying to make a decision about their families' safety and their future," she said.

Tens of thousands of displaced people are still thought to be sheltering in the Tel Shihab area of Deraa province, and many more are at the frontier with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

Rescuers gear up for final push to save remaining five from Thai cave

Rescuers gear up for final push to save remaining five from Thai cave
A stretcher which is believed to be carrying a boy rescued from the Tham Luang cave is moved from an ambulance in the northern province of Chiang Rai

By Panu Wongcha-um

CHIANG RAI, Thailand (Reuters) - Rescuers resumed preparations on Tuesday for a third rescue operation deep into a cave complex in northern Thailand to free four remaining boys and their soccer coach in a race against time and monsoon weather.

Four more of the boys were carried on stretchers out of the labyrinthine Tham Luang cave on the Myanmar border on Monday, bringing to eight the total number brought out so far after two rescue pushes in successive days.

The head of the operation, Narongsak Osottanakorn, said rescuers had learned from experience and were two hours faster in bringing the second batch of survivors out as scattered monsoon rains continued to risk flooding the tunnels with water.

A crack team of foreign divers and Thai Navy SEALs guided the boys during a nine-hour operation through nearly 4 km (2.5 miles) of sometimes submerged channels from where they have been trapped for more than a fortnight.

People across Thailand cheered the rescue operation, including at the Mae Sai Prasitsart school where six of the trapped boys are students.

"I am very happy about those who already made it out and I think everyone will be out today," said Waranchit Karnkaew, 14, who also said the football-mad boys had been closely following games at the World Cup in Russia before they were trapped.

"I want to take my friends to lunch and we will play football together," he told Reuters.

Soccer's governing body, FIFA, has invited the boys to the World Cup final in Moscow on Sunday if they make it out in time.

REPLAN, REPLENISH

Rescue organizers say they need 20 hours to replan and replenish oxygen supplies, with the next rescue mission expected to come some time on Tuesday afternoon, weather permitting.

However, organizers declined to confirm whether they would attempt to bring all five out in the third push, with the plan so far being to bring out four at a time.

"It is up to the environment. If the rain god helps us, then we may be able to work fast. But if the rain god doesn't help, then it could be challenging," Narongsak said.

The plight of the boys and their coach has drawn international attention, with divers, engineers and medics among others flying in from around the world to assist.

Technology billionaire Elon Musk went into the cave on Monday and left the rescue team with a "kid-sized" submarine his company SpaceX had built, Thailand's interior Minister Anupong Paochinda said.

Musk said on Twitter: "Just returned from Cave 3. Mini-sub is ready if needed. It is made of rocket parts & named Wild Boar after kids' soccer team. Leaving here in case it may be useful in the future."

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha visited the cave to inspect the operation and was quoted by Narongsak as saying he didn't want to see this kind of incident happen again on Thai soil.

The "Wild Boars" team became trapped on June 23 when they set out to explore the cave after soccer practice and rains flooded the tunnels.

President Trump Announces Brett Kavanaugh As Nominee For Supreme Court 7/9/18


President Donald Trump was effusive in his praise of Brett Kavanaugh — his nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court — in a Monday night White House ceremony. Speaking from the East Room of the White House, the president said that there’s “no one in America more qualified” to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the highest court in the land. “Tonight it is my honor and privilege to announce that I will nominate judge Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court,

”Trump said. He added, “Throughout legal circles, he is considered a judge’s judge, a true thought leader among his peers. He’s a brilliant jurist with a clear and effective writing style universally regarded as one of the finest and sharpest legal minds of our time.”

President Donald Trump announced that he will nominate D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Brett Kavanaugh to replace retiring justice Anthony Kennedy on the U.S. Supreme Court. Trump announced the pick at a White House ceremony on Monday night, and the White House subsequently issued a statement. Kavanaugh was considered one of the most likely choices to receive the nomination, though judges like Raymond Kethledge, Thomas Hardiman, and Amy Coney Barrett were also reported to have been up for consideration.

A Yale graduate and lifelong D.C. resident, Kavanaugh has been a prominent legal figure in the Capital for years. He previously worked as an assistant and adviser to former President George W. Bush, but after his nomination to the D.C. Circuit Court, Kavanaugh built up a significant network of key legal minds and political actors around the city.

Kavanaugh’s record could draw support among moderates during his confirmation hearings, but it could also invite criticism from other factions of Congress. Even though he previously wrote against a woman’s right to have an abortion in a case, he has never issued any public opinion on whether or not Roe v. Wade is settled law.

The nominee is also likely to face scrutiny over his record on Obamacare. Kavanaugh made a ruling in 2011 in which he found that the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate was “a significant expansion of Congressional authority with no obvious principled limit.” Yet he also ruled that it functioned like a tax, which gave ACA a degree of legal protection. Beyond his judicial record, Kavanaugh’s critics might also have questions about his relationship with former 9th Circuit judge Alex Kozinski. Kavanaugh worked for Kozinski as a clerk in 1991, and the two have maintained professional ties over the years, including when they worked for Kennedy. Kosinski was recently forced into retirement due to accusations of sexual harassment, and there are outstanding questions about whether Kavanaugh knew of the allegations against him.
July 09, 2018

No 'reluctant conscript', Brexit minister quits in blow to Britain's May

No 'reluctant conscript', Brexit minister quits in blow to Britain's May
FILE PHOTO: Steve Baker, a Minister at the Department for Exiting the European Union, leaves Downing Street, in central London

By Elizabeth Piper and William James

LONDON (Reuters) - Brexit Secretary David Davis has resigned because he was not willing to be "a reluctant conscript" to Prime Minister Theresa May's plans to leave the European Union, delivering a blow to a British leader struggling to end divisions among her ministers.

The late-night resignation was praised by Brexit campaigners in May's Conservative Party, who felt her plan to press for the closest possible trading ties with the EU had betrayed their desire for a clean break with the bloc.

His resignation seemed to spur others to follow suit, with a source saying that a junior minister in the same department had also quit, just two days after May had held a crisis meeting with ministers to overcome the deep divisions over Brexit.

With nine months before Britain leaves and just over three before the EU says it wants a deal, May has been under intense pressure from the bloc and from many businesses to show her negotiating position.

She thought she had done enough to move on with that fraught process at the meeting at her Chequers country residence. The resignations further complicate that process, and put a question mark over whether she can get the backing of parliament for her Brexit plans and whether there may be a leadership contest.

"The general direction of policy will leave us in at best a weak negotiating position, and possibly an inescapable one," Davis said in his resignation letter to May.

He criticized May's decision to maintain a "common rule book" with the EU, mirroring the bloc's rules and regulations, saying it would hand "control of large swathes of our economy to the EU and is certainly not returning control of our laws".

"It seems to me that the national interest requires a Secretary of State in my Department that is an enthusiastic believer in your approach, and not merely a reluctant conscript."

May replied to his letter to say she did not agree "with your characterization of the policy we agreed at cabinet on Friday". She thanked him for his work.

In another blow, a government source said that Steve Baker, a minister who worked for Davis and who while in government gave many Brexit campaigners faith in the process, had also resigned.

Another minister from the Brexit department, Suella Braverman, was also reported by local media to have resigned, although there was no official confirmation and she did not respond to a request for comment.

PEACE DEAL?

After the hours-long meeting at Chequers, May seemed to have persuaded the most vocal Brexit campaigners in the cabinet, including Davis, to back her plan to press for "a free trade area for goods" with the EU and maintain close trade ties.

It won the backing of one other high-profile Brexit campaigner. Michael Gove, May's environment minister, said on Sunday that while the agreed negotiating stance was not perfect, he believed it delivered on handing back control to Britain.

But Davis had expressed his unease over a compromise plan right up until the eve of the meeting, writing a letter to May describing her proposal to ease trade and give Britain more freedom to set tariffs as "unworkable".

Davis has form on resigning if he disagrees with his party. In 2008, when the Conservatives were not in government, Davis quit as a member of parliament to raise the profile of a debate over what saw as the erosion of civil liberties.

Shortly afterwards he stood as the Conservative candidate and was re-elected.

Other Brexit-supporting Conservative lawmakers have criticized the Chequers "peace deal", saying that May's plans offered a Brexit in name only, a betrayal of what they saw as her promise for a clean break with the EU.

Their complaints raise a question mark over whether May can win backing in parliament for her plans if any deal with the EU is agreed later this year, and some suggest several of them could try to trigger a leadership contest against her.

"Will others ... be able to sell this to parliament?" asked one senior Conservative member. "I assume he has resigned to speak."

"Fantastic news. Well done David Davis for having the principal and guts to resign," Brexit campaigner and Conservative lawmaker Andrea Jenkyns said on Twitter.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, the leader of a group of Brexit supporters in the Conservative Party, said Davis' resignation proved that their concerns were well-founded.

"It is crucially important as it shows how well founded concerns over the Chequers conclusions are," he told Reuters. "If the Brexit Secretary could not support them they cannot genuinely be delivering Brexit."

Thai boys await resumption of rescue mission after first four freed from cave

Thai boys await resumption of rescue mission after first four freed from cave
Police officers stand as they block to rod of Tham Luang cave complex in the northern province of Chiang Rai

By Patpicha Tanakasempipat and Panu Wongcha-um

CHIANG RAI, Thailand (Reuters) - Eight boys and their soccer coach who remain trapped in a flooded cave in northern Thailand waited for a rescue operation to resume on Monday, a day after the first four were brought out safely and whisked away to hospital.

The daring and dangerous bid to rescue the boys - aged between 11 and 16 - was suspended by the mission chief late on Sunday to replenish oxygen supplies and make new preparations, which he said would take at least 10 hours.

Divers had to hold the boys close to their bodies to bring them out and each had to wear an oxygen mask to enable normal breathing, authorities said.

Bursts of heavy rain soaked the Tham Luang Cave area in Thailand's northern Chiang Rai province overnight, increasing the risks in what has been called a "war with water and time" to save the boys.

The story of the "Wild Boars" soccer team, who first ventured into the caves more than two weeks ago before flood waters trapped them inside, has gripped Thai and international media.

"Football's Coming Home. First Wild Boars Out," a headline on one online Thai paper said on Monday, referring to a song chanted by English soccer fans at the World Cup currently underway in Russia.

The boys were discovered huddled on a muddy bank by British divers a week ago. A video showed one of them was wearing an England soccer shirt.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, leader of the Thai military junta that seized power in 2014, planned to visit the cave site on Monday.

OUT SAFELY

Thirteen foreign divers and five members of Thailand's elite navy SEAL unit are the main team guiding the boys to safety through narrow, submerged passageways that claimed the life of a former Thai navy diver on Friday.

Some of the boys are not strong swimmers and none has diving experience.

The head of the rescue mission, Narongsak Osottanakorn, announced late on Sunday the first four children were brought out safely. There were no further official details on the boys' identity or their medical condition on Monday.

Narongsak said earlier on Sunday the mission may take three or four days to complete.

Thai media identified the first boy to come out as Mongkol Boonpiem, 13.

A source inside the Chiang Rai Prachanukroh hospital where the boys are being kept said their condition was "not bad" but said doctors were watching for signs of emerging conditions such as hypothermia.

A short official video released by the rescue operation late on Sunday showed four ambulances with their lights flashing driving up the muddy dirt track that leads to the cave complex.

It also showed about six soldiers carrying a stretcher towards a waiting ambulance. The stretcher was loaded into the back of the ambulance as medics rushed in the side door.

Narongsak was then seen shaking hands with a senior army figure and watching intently at the entrance of a long green medical field tent beside around 15 soldiers.

The video also showed a Caucasian diver walking heavily up a muddy slope carrying a face mask and a small oxygen tank, wearing a backpack with his flippers dangling behind his legs.

The diver was being applauded by a group of onlookers

Japan races to find survivors of floods that killed nearly 100

Japan races to find survivors of floods that killed nearly 100
A helicopter flies over Mabi town which was flooded by the heavy rain in Kurashiki

By Kiyoshi Takenaka and Issei Kato

MIHARA, Japan (Reuters) - Rescuers in Japan dug through mud and rubble on Monday, racing to find survivors after torrential rains unleashed widespread floods and landslides that killed nearly 100, with dozens missing.

Rain tapered off across the western region battered by last week's downpour, revealing blue skies and scorching sun forecast to push temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius (86°F), fuelling fears of heatstroke in areas cut off from power or water.

"We cannot take baths, the toilet doesn't work and our food stockpile is running low," said Yumeko Matsui, whose home in the city of Mihara has been without water since Saturday.

"Bottled water and bottled tea are all gone from convenience stores and other shops," the 23-year-old nursery school worker said at an emergency water supply station.

About 12,700 customers had no electricity on Monday, power companies said. Tens of thousands had no water, Japanese media said.

The death toll from the rains reached at least 94 after floodwaters forced several million people from their homes, NHK national television said, the highest toll since 98 people were killed in a typhoon in 2004.

Another 58 were missing, NHK added.

Industry operations have also been hit, with Mazda Motor Corp saying it was forced to close its head office in Hiroshima on Monday.

The automaker, which suspended operations at several plants because of the rains last week, said the halt would continue at two plants until Tuesday, as it cannot receive components, though both were undamaged.

Refineries and oil terminals were not affected, but blocked roads limited access to one Showa Shell (LON:RDSa) oil terminal in the city, causing gas and diesel shortages nearby.

At one landslide in Hiroshima, shattered piles of lumber marked the sites of former homes, television images showed. Others had been tossed upside down.

"Nobody's heard from my next door neighbor," one man told NHK. "I hope they find him soon."

Water still swirled through most of the hard-hit city of Kurashiki, despite ebbing floods that opened the route to a hospital where nearly 100 patients and staff had been stranded on Sunday.

Thousands flocked to evacuation centers in the city's district of Mabi.

"Nobody has anything to wear. We need shirts, trousers, underwear, socks and even shoes," its mayor, Kaori Ito, told the Asahi Shimbun newspaper.

Although evacuation orders were scaled back from the weekend, nearly 2 million people still face orders or advice to keep away from homes, fire and disaster officials said.

An emergency management center has been set up at the prime minister's office, with about 54,000 rescuers, drawn from the military, police and fire departments, fanning out across the west and southwest.

Japan monitors weather conditions and issues warnings early, but its dense population means every bit of usable land is built on in the mostly mountainous nation, leaving it prone to disasters.
July 08, 2018

Thai rescuers prepare to raise sunken tourist boat, 41 confirmed dead

Thai rescuers prepare to raise sunken tourist boat, 41 confirmed dead
Thai Rescue workers sit next to the body of a victim on a stretcher, after a boat capsized off the tourist island of Phuket

BANGKOK/PHUKET, Thailand (Reuters) - Rescuers in Thailand prepared to lift a sunken tourist boat on Sunday and said 15 people are still missing after the craft capsized off the coast of Phuket island, killing at least 41 people.

The Phoenix - which had 105 people on board, including 93 Chinese tourists and 12 Thai crew - went down in bad weather on Thursday evening, in one of Thailand's worst recent accidents.

Police on Saturday said they have charged the ship's captain with negligence leading to damages, injury and death.

The captain, who was police did not name, has denied the charges.

"The captain of the boat has been charged with negligence causing damages and loss of life," Police Lieutenant General Sorasak Yenprem, provincial police commissioner, said on Saturday.

A note circulated by rescue workers invited reporters to join an effort on Sunday to raise the sunken Phoenix.

Forty-one of those on board have been confirmed dead and another 49 rescued, officials said, leaving 15 unaccounted for.

Divers have been searching inside the submerged vessel for any survivors. Helicopters have also joined the search.

Friends and relatives of those injured and deceased have arrived in Phuket to identify their loved ones.

Visibly distraught relatives were seen being escorted through one hospital on the island's east coast to a waiting room.

The Phoenix overturned in the Andaman Sea off the coast of Ko He, which is a popular one-day trip from Phuket.

The islet is known for its powdery beach and coral reefs.

Two other boats, including a yacht, also capsized in the same area on Thursday, but their passengers were brought safely to shore, officials said.

Some Thais have questioned why the boat was even at sea during bad weather.

In an urgent circular on Saturday, China's Ministry of Culture and Tourism said tourism departments across China should carry out security checks against hidden risks to ensure travel safety during the summer period.

It also stressed the importance of researching online travel companies when booking overseas trips.

Many of the tourists involved in the Phuket accident booked their trips independently via online tourism platforms, the ministry said.
July 07, 2018

Death toll from Thai tourist boat sinking climbs to 41

Death toll from Thai tourist boat sinking climbs to 41
Thai Rescue workers carry the body of a victim on a stretcher, after a boat capsized off the tourist island of Phuket

By Philip Wen and Chayut Setboonsarng

PHUKET/BANGKOK (Reuters) - The death toll from a tourist boat accident off the coast of Thailand's Phuket island climbed to 41 on Saturday with 15 people still missing, officials said.

Rescuers have resumed a search for those still missing from the sunken vessel, the Phoenix, which capsized in rough waters on Thursday carrying 93 Chinese tourists and 12 Thai crew and tour guides in one of Thailand's worst recent accidents.

Earlier in the day authorities said a hospital morgue in Phuket was running out of space and called on donors to help provide freezers for the bodies.

Forty-one of those on board have been confirmed dead and 49 rescued, officials said.

"Deceased: 41. Missing: 15," the Thai government said in a statement.

The Phoenix sank after being hit by five-meter (16-ft) -high waves in a storm off Phuket, whose beaches and night life draw tourists.

Some Thais and tour operators have questioned why the boat was at sea during bad weather. The Chinese government has also pressed for a quick investigation into the cause of the accident, the Thai government's media office in Phuket said.

Thai junta number two Prawit Wongsuwan has ordered an investigation into why the Phoenix appeared to have ignored a weather warning.

FREEZER APPEAL

Ambulances unloaded bodies at the hospital on Phuket's east coast that received most of the casualties, as staff escorted visibly distressed family members to a waiting room.

The hospital was storing some bodies in a makeshift morgue built from two refrigerated containers, a Reuters reporter at the site said.

"Urgent! The Chinese embassy is calling for 40 freezers," the Thai government said in an appeal, urging potential donors to contact the hospital.

About 20 freezers have been donated, said Jessada Chokdamrongsook, a Health Ministry official.

Rear Admiral Charoenpol Kumrasri, a deputy commander of the Thai navy, who is helping to lead the rescue effort, said he was confident divers would complete their search of the sunken vessel by Saturday.

"After this evening, if we do not find any more missing in the wreckage, the missing will float to the surface and we will be able to find them," he told reporters.

Tourism is a key driver of growth in Southeast Asia's second-largest economy, making up 12 percent of gross domestic product, and the most foreign visitors come from China.

China's Ministry of Culture and Tourism on Saturday called on Thai tourism authorities to make the risks of travel, including weather conditions, clearer to tourists.

Thailand is in the middle of its rainy season, which usually runs from May to mid-October and often generates high winds and flash storms in coastal areas.

Accidents like the Phoenix disaster are bad for Thailand, said tourist police official Surachate Hakparn, adding: "We have to be more stringent."

Thailand is already in the global spotlight as a multinational effort to rescue 12 schoolboys and their soccer coach trapped for days in a northern mountain cave picks up pace.

Iranian oil minister calls Trump's order to OPEC insulting

Iranian oil minister calls Trump's order to OPEC insulting
FILE PHOTO: Iran's Oil Minister Zanganeh talks to journalists at the beginning of an OPEC meeting in Vienna

LONDON (Reuters) - Iran's oil minister on Saturday accused U.S. President Donald Trump of insulting OPEC by ordering it to increase production and reduce prices, adding that Iranian output and exports had not changed as a result of U.S. pressure.

Trump on Wednesday accused the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries of driving fuel prices higher, and urged Saudi Arabia to pump more if it wanted Washington to continue protecting it against its top rival Iran.

"Mr Trump sends every day a new message that creates uncertainty in the market," Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said in an interview with state television.

"Trump's order to OPEC members to increase production is a great insult to those governments and nations, and destabilizes the market."

Zanganeh called the tension between Tehran and Washington a "trade war" and said it had not led to changes in Iranian oil production and exports.

Iran, OPEC’s third-largest producer, is facing U.S. sanctions on its oil exports that are prompting some buyers to cut purchases.

Washington said in May it was walking away from an international deal on Iran's nuclear program, and said it would impose fresh sanctions on Iran's energy sector.

South Korea halted all Iranian oil shipments in July for the first time in six years amid U.S. pressure.

The EU, once Iran's biggest oil importer, has promised to try keep the 2015 nuclear deal alive without the United States by trying to keep oil and investment flowing.

Foreign ministers from the five remaining signatory countries offered a package of economic measures to Iran on Friday to counter the U.S. sanctions, but Tehran said the package did not go far enough.

"I have not seen the package personally, but our colleagues in the foreign ministry who have seen it were not happy with its details," Zanganeh was quoted as saying by Tasnim news agency.

Iran has threatened to block oil exports through a key Gulf waterway in retaliation for U.S. efforts to reduce Iranian oil sales to zero.

Zanganeh said Iran's stance on this issue was clear.

French say cockpit fire likely caused 2016 EgyptAir crash, contradicting Egypt

French say cockpit fire likely caused 2016 EgyptAir crash, contradicting Egypt
People light candles during a candlelight vigil for the victims of EgyptAir flight 804, at the Cairo Opera house in Cairo

PARIS (Reuters) - A Paris-Cairo EgyptAir flight crash that killed everyone on board in May 2016 was likely to have been caused by a cockpit fire, but Egyptian authorities have not appeared to follow up on calls for further probes, French investigators said.

The statement, by France's BEA air accident investigation agency, contradicts an earlier assessment by Egyptian authorities who cited the discovery of trace elements of explosives on human remains, suggesting it was a malicious act.

The crash killed all 66 people on board, including 12 French nationals.

"The BEA considers that the most likely hypothesis is that a fire broke out in the cockpit while the aeroplane was flying at its cruise altitude and that the fire spread rapidly resulting in the loss of control of the aeroplane," the statement said.

The BEA said Egyptian investigators had not published their final report and not followed up on its proposals for further work on the debris.

EgyptAir was not immediately available for comment. The case was handed to judicial authorities after the Egyptian assessment of the cause given in December 2016.

"The BEA considers that it is necessary to have this final report in order to have the possibility of understanding the cause of the accident and to provide the aviation community with the safety lessons which could prevent future accidents," it said in the statement, adding that it was ready to resume work with Egyptian authorities, if they were to restart the probe.

It is extremely unusual that investigators from the country that is not leading the investigation would publicly comment on it. Any disagreement would usually be expressed confidentially and public comments could be a sign of serious divergences.

France and Egypt have in the past disagreed over how crash investigations are handled.

One person gored on opening day of Pamplona bull runs

One person gored on opening day of Pamplona bull runs
© Reuters. San Fermin festival in Pamplona

PAMPLONA, Spain - One person was gored on the first day of Spain’s Pamplona bull running festival, the Red Cross said on Saturday.

The person was caught by a bull’s horn during the 875-metre run through the northern Spanish city. Four other people suffered minor injuries such as grazes after falling. All five were taken to hospital for treatment.

Around 2,000 people, most of them dressed in white and wearing red neck scarves, attend the sprint, running alongside six bulls and six bullocks on a narrow route that weaves through central Pamplona.

Lasting just under two and half minutes, and taking place on wet ground following rain the night before, this year’s sprint was slightly faster than average.

Saturdays are statistically the most dangerous day of the week-long San Fermin festival, leaving around seven people hurt each year.

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