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India detains 23 men with suspected links to group behind deadly Kashmir attack

India detains 23 men with suspected links to group behind deadly Kashmir attackThe 23 men included members and sympathizers of Jaish-e-Mohammad, the militant group which has claimed responsibility for Thursday's attack, the deadliest on Indian security forces in decades. The attack has fueled tensions between India and Pakistan. India has demanded Pakistan close down the Jaish and other Islamist militant groups that operate from its soil, while Islamabad has rejected suggestions it was linked to the attack.




POSTED FEBRUARY 17, 2019 9:30 AM

Jihadi bride Shamima Begum gives birth and says 'people should have sympathy for me'

Jihadi bride Shamima Begum gives birth and says 'people should have sympathy for me'The British schoolgirl who ran away to join Isil has appealed for public sympathy following the birth of her son, as a row intensifies over whether she should be allowed to return to the UK. Shamima Begum, 19, went to Syria in 2015 and was discovered there in a refugee camp last week, heavily pregnant and insisting she wanted to go home. The birth of her child over the weekend prompted calls for the baby to be subject to care proceedings should Begum be able to return from Syria, as it emerged that the Family Division of the High Court had presided over cases involving at least 150 children deemed at risk of radicalisation in the last five years. In an interview with Sky News recorded at the Kurdish-controlled camp she fled to from the last pocket of Isil-controlled territory, Begum said there was “no evidence” she had done anything wrong and she could not see “any reason” why her child should be taken  from her when she had simply been living as a housewife. Speaking just hours after giving birth, her baby at her side, she said she had no regrets about fleeing the family home in Bethnal Green, east London, to support Isil, claiming the experience had made her “stronger, tougher”. Shamima Begum's Dutch-born husband Yago Riedjik She said she could see a future for herself and her son, whom she has named Jarah after one of the two children she lost to malnutrition and disease in the last three months, “if the UK are willing to take me back and help me start a new life again and try and move on from everything that’s happened in the last four years”. She added: “I wouldn’t have found someone like my husband [Yago Riedijk, 26, a Muslim convert from the Netherlands] in the UK. I had my kids, I had a good time there.” Her other children, Jarah and Surayah, a daughter, died aged 18 months and nine months. Asked how she felt about the debate over whether she should be allowed to return home, Begum said: “I feel a lot of people should have sympathy for me, for everything I’ve been through. “I didn’t know what I was getting into when I left, I just was hoping that maybe for the sake of me and my child they let me come back.  “I can’t live in this camp forever. It’s not really possible.” Isil bride Shamima Begum | Read more In the interview, Begum apologised for the first time to her family for running away, and said that though she knew it was “like a big slap in the face” for her to ask after she had previously rejected their calls for her to return, “I really need their help”. Tim Loughton, deputy chairman of the home affairs select committee, said he thought it “extraordinary” that Begum was asking to come back while showing “not a scintilla of regret”. The Conservative MP added: “My own feeling is in line with most others, that she has made her bed and should lie in it. But the law must prevail and we are probably going to have to let her back. “However, I think her child should be subjected to care proceedings due to the threat of radicalisation.” He said a forthcoming report by the Henry Jackson Society disclosed that the Family Division of the High Court had presided over cases involving at least 150 children deemed at risk of radicalisation in the last five years. Isil schoolgirls' journey into Syria Sajid Javid, the Home Secretary, said last week that he would “not hesitate” to prevent the return of anyone who supported terrorist organisations abroad. He reiterated his stance in a Sunday newspaper article, expressing compassion for any child born or brought into a conflict zone, but stating that the safety and security of children living in this country had to be the priority. Jeremy Wright, the Culture Secretary and former Attorney General, said Britain was “obliged” to take back British citizens.  However, he added: “That doesn’t mean that we can’t put in place the necessary security measures to monitor their activities. It doesn’t mean either that we can’t seek to hold them to  account for their behaviour thus far.”  He said the nationality of Begum’s baby was a “difficult question”, but the pair’s health was the most pressing matter. “In the end she will have to answer for her actions,” he added. “So I think it is right that if she’s able to come back to the UK that she does so on the understanding that we can hold her to account for her behaviour thus far.” Begum said  she was attracted to Isil by videos that she had seen online, which she said showed “how they’ll take care of you”. She said she knew that the group carried out beheadings, but that she “was OK with it at first. I started becoming religious just before I left and from what I heard Islamically that is all allowed”. “At first it was nice,” she said of life in the so-called Islamic State. “It was how they showed it in the videos, you know, you come, make a family together, but then things got harder.  “We had to keep moving and moving and moving. The situation got fraught.” Begum acknowledged that it would be “really hard” to be rehabilitated after everything she had been through.   “I’m still in that mentality of planes over my head, emergency backpacks, starving... it would be a big shock to go back to the UK and start again,” she said. Writing in The Sunday Times, Mr Javid said that decisions about what to do with potential returnees had to be made on a case-by-case basis, based on the “facts of each case, the law and the threat to national security”. He added: “I think about the children that could in future get caught up in dangerous groups if we don’t take a firm stance against those who support them… And that means sending a message to those who have backed terrorism: there will be consequences.” His comments were described as “sick” by Begum’s lawyer on Sunday. Tasnime Akunje told Radio 4’s The World This Weekend: “We are talking about a newborn baby who poses no risk or threat to anybody, [who is] not even cognitive, and yet he’s speaking about a child who’s a British citizen in terms of a security threat.” Mr Akunje suggested that the birth of Begum’s child increased pressure on the British authorities to allow her to return home. He also revealed that Begum’s family has struggled to make direct contact with her and is now considering the possibility of getting out to Syria themselves. Her family has indicated that if she is jailed for supporting a terrorist group, they want to step in and raise her son themselves.




POSTED FEBRUARY 17, 2019 5:15 PM

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders questioned by investigators probing Russian election meddling

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders questioned by investigators probing Russian election meddlingRobert Mueller‘s team has questioned Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary has confirmed. In a statement to CNN, Ms Sanders, 36, said she had been questioned last year by the special counsel probing Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 election, and possible collusion with the Trump campaign. “The president urged me, like he has everyone in the administration, to fully cooperate with the special counsel,” she said.




POSTED FEBRUARY 15, 2019 8:38 PM

The Latest: Cardinal calls McCarrick punishment 'important'

The Latest: Cardinal calls McCarrick punishment 'important'VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Latest on the defrocking of former U.S. cardinal Theodore McCarrick (all times local):




POSTED FEBRUARY 16, 2019 6:21 PM

Southwest declares operations 'emergency' amid labor dispute with mechanics

Southwest declares operations 'emergency' amid labor dispute with mechanicsThe airline sent a strongly worded memo to mechanics ordering all hands on deck in response to a higher than usual number of planes out of service.




POSTED FEBRUARY 15, 2019 9:00 PM

Global stocks surge on hopeful signs from US-China trade talks

Global stocks surge on hopeful signs from US-China trade talksNew York (AFP) - European and US stock markets leapt on Friday as positive signs emerged from US-China trade talks aimed at averting an escalation of a tariff war between the world's top two economies.




POSTED FEBRUARY 15, 2019 8:24 PM

North Koreans pay tribute to Kim's father in freezing cold

North Koreans pay tribute to Kim's father in freezing coldThe Day of the Shining Star dawned bitterly cold in Pyongyang. Kim, the son of the isolated North's founder Kim Il Sung and the father and predecessor of current leader Kim Jong Un, was born on February 16. According to Pyongyang's orthodoxy, he came into the world in 1942, in a snow-covered hut at a secret camp on the slopes of Mount Paektu, the spiritual birthplace of the Korean people, where his father was fighting occupying Japanese forces.




POSTED FEBRUARY 16, 2019 4:00 AM

Netanyahu's main rival in Israeli election voices agreement with him on Iran

Netanyahu's main rival in Israeli election voices agreement with him on IranFormer general Benny Gantz, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's strongest challenger in an election scheduled for April, voiced support on Sunday for the right-wing leader's tough policy toward Iran. "I am standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Prime Minister Netanyahu in the fight against Iran's aggression," Gantz, a former chief of Israel's armed forces and a centrist candidate, told the Munich Security Conference. Polls predict that Netanyahu's Likud party will win the April 9 election, taking about 30 of parliament’s 120 seats - enough to form a coalition of right-wing and religious factions similar to one he now heads.




POSTED FEBRUARY 17, 2019 6:38 AM

Amazon pays zero federal taxes for second year in succession despite doubling profits, says new report

Amazon pays zero federal taxes for second year in succession despite doubling profits, says new reportAmazon has paid zero federal taxes for the second year in succession, despite a doubling of its profits, according to a new report. Although the tech giant founded by Jeff Bezos saw its profits grow from $5.6bn (£4.3bn) in 2017 to $11.2bn (£8.7bn) in 2018, it will actually receive a tax rebate of $129m (£100m). “The company’s newest corporate filing reveals that, far from paying the statutory 21 per cent income tax rate on its US income in 2018, Amazon reported a federal income tax rebate of $129m,” said the report by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), which describes itself as a “non-partisan, non-profit think tank”, based in Washington DC.




POSTED FEBRUARY 16, 2019 3:49 PM

Retired Indian general urges caution against Pakistan strike

Retired Indian general urges caution against Pakistan strikeSRINAGAR, India (AP) — As India considers its response to the suicide car bombing of a paramilitary convoy in the disputed region of Kashmir that killed dozens of soldiers, a retired military commander who oversaw a much-lauded military strike against neighboring Pakistan in 2016 has urged caution.




POSTED FEBRUARY 16, 2019 7:30 PM

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