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15 killed in Baghdad car bomb attack




Baghdad, March 21 : At least 15 people were killed and 33 others wounded on Monday in a car bomb explosion at a marketplace in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, a police source told Xinhua.

The attack occurred in the evening when a booby-trapped car parking at a crowded marketplace detonated at the predominantly Shiite neighbourhood of Amil in southern Baghdad, the source said on condition of anonymity.

The massive explosion destroyed several nearby shops and many stalls, along with damaging several nearby civilian cars and buildings, the source said.

The toll could rise as ambulances, police and civilian vehicles were evacuating the victims to the city’s hospitals and medical centres, the source added.

No group has so far claimed responsibility for the attacks, but the Islamic State, in most cases, was responsible for such attacks targeting crowded areas, including markets, cafes and mosques across Iraq.

Terrorist acts, violence and armed conflicts killed 385 Iraqis and wounded 609 others in February across Iraq, the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq said.

The attacks came as the Iraqi security forces backed by anti-IS international coalition are carrying out a major offensive to drive out the IS militants from its last major stronghold in Iraq’s northern city of Mosul.



Trump names ex-ambassador John Bolton as new National Security Adviser



Washington, March 23: US President Donald Trump has named former ambassador and Fox News analyst John Bolton as his new National Security Adviser replacing Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, media reports said.

The President announced the news in a tweet on Thursday, saying that Bolton would take the job starting April 9, making him Trump’s third National Security Adviser in the first 14 months of his presidency, reports The Washington Post.

“I (am) pleased to announce that, effective 4/9/18, @AmbJohnBolton will be my new National Security Advisor. I am very thankful for the service of General H.R. McMaster who has done an outstanding job and will always remain my friend. There will be an official contact handover on 4/19,” he tweeted.

Bolton’s appointment does not require Senate confirmation.

Following Trum’s tweet, McMaster said in a statement released by the White House: “After 34 years of service to our nation, I am requesting retirement from the US Army effective this summer after which I will leave public service… I am thankful to President Donald Trump for the opportunity to serve him and our nation as National Security Adviser.”

Trump and Bolton have been discussing for weeks how he could replace McMaster, CNN quoted an informed source as saying.

Shortly after the news broke, Bolton said on Fox News that he was not expecting an announcement to be made Thursday afternoon.

According to the source, Trump and Bolton had met earlier on Thursday.

Bolton’s hard edged, hawkish views on issues like North Korea, Iraq and Syria make him a controversial pick especially ahead of a proposed meeting between Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un.

Bolton is a fierce North Korea hawk who, in his prolific writings and television commentary, has said that pre-emptive war would likely be the only way to stop North Korea from obtaining the capability to attack the US with a nuclear missile, reports The Washington Post.

Bolton had touted “the legal case for striking North Korea first” in an editorial in the Wall Street Journal.

However, Bolton, who had dismissed negotiations with North Korea as a waste of time, moderated his views slightly after Trump announced he would sit down with Kim, suggesting that the encounter between the two leaders would be short and largely devoid of traditional diplomacy.

Regarding Iran, Bolton told Fox News in January that Trump should dump the nuclear deal, re-impose economic sanctions on Tehran and work toward an overthrow of the government there.

Bolton had previously served in the George W. Bush administration in a key arms-control job.


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Court orders arrest of former S.Korean President



President Lee Myung-bak
Former South Korean President Lee Myung-bak (L, Front) is seen out of his house in Seoul, South Korea, on March 22, 2018. He was taken into custody Thursday night as a Seoul court accepted state prosecutors' request to arrest him over a series of corruption allegations.

Seoul, March 23: A South Korean court on Thursday issued a warrant to arrest former South Korean President Lee Myung-bak over a series of corruption charges.

The Seoul Central District Court decided to put Lee, who served his five-year presidential term through early 2013, under custody as he denied almost all of alleged wrongdoings, reports Xinhua.

The denial raised a possibility for destroying evidence and several of Lee’s offences were justifiable, the court was quoted as saying.

Lee posted a message in his social media account after the arrest decision, saying he was responsible for everything though he tried his best during his presidency.

Lee was summoned last week for questioning and the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office requested a warrant on Monday to arrest him for multiple charges, including bribery, embezzlement, tax evasion and slush fund creation.

The former president refused to present himself in the court to be arraigned, saying he already clarified his position while being grilled by prosecutors.

The court made the detention decision by examining documentary evidences and testimonies provided by prosecutors.

Lee had awaited the court’s decision at home in central Seoul. Investigators would soon take him to a detention centre in southern Seoul.

Lee’s arrest came about a year after former President Park Geun-hye, Lee’s successor, was detained last March after her impeachment over an influence-peddling scandal involving her longtime friend Choi Soon-sil.

Prosecutors demanded 30 years in jail for Park, who was detained for her dismissal of all charges levied against her.

A Seoul court will hand down a ruling on the country’s first-ever impeached president next month.


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Israel opens probe into Facebook after data scandal



Cambridge Analytica data scandal

JERUSALEM: Israeli authorities said Thursday (Mar 22) they had launched an investigation into Facebook’s activities following a scandal over the hijacking of personal data from millions of the social network’s users.

Israel’s privacy protection agency “informed Facebook” of the probe after revelations over data transfers from the tech giant to consultant Cambridge Analytica, the agency said.

It said it was also looking into “the possibility of other infringements of the privacy law regarding Israelis”, it said in a statement released by the justice ministry.

Britain’s Guardian newspaper has reported that Israeli hackers offered material to Cambridge Analytica.

But an Israeli justice ministry spokeswoman said the probe did not involve hackers, focusing rather on whether Israeli users’ rights were violated.

Under Israel’s privacy law, personal data may only be used with consent and for the purpose for which it was handed over, the privacy protection agency said.


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