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Tackle Mediterranean migrant deaths:UN to European leaders

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United Nations

Geneva, Oct 18 :Concerned over the record rate of drownings in the Mediterranean Sea,the United Nations called on European leaders to tackle  migrant deaths.

UNHCR and IOM urged European leaders to focus this week’s summit discussions “on the practical solutions that are urgently needed and ensuring responsibilities are properly being shared among European States.”

“Arrival numbers are falling but the rate at which people are losing their lives is on the rise,” said Filippo Grandi, chief of the UN refugee agency UNHCR.

The two UN agencies voiced concern over the “dangerously toxic” political rhetoric on refugees and migrants being touted in some countries even as arrivals to Europe have plunged since last year.

“The current tenor of the political debate – painting a picture of Europe under siege – is not only unhelpful but completely out of touch with reality,” said Grandi. “Debate is welcome – scapegoating refugees and migrants for political gain is not,” he said.

With more than 1,700 lives lost since the start of 2018, the rate at which people are perishing while trying to cross the Mediterranean – the world’s most perilous waterway – has risen sharply this year.

The current political climate is stoking groundless fears and hampering progress towards solutions by making it harder for countries to work together, according to Grandi and International Organisation for Migration boss Antonio Vitorino.

“Perilous irregular migration is in no one’s interest,” said Vitorino.
“Together we must invest more in regular migration, enhanced mobility and integration to foster growth and development that benefits both sides of the Mediterranean.”

Besides strengthening search and rescue capacity, UNHCR and IOM said they have proposed “a workable regional arrangement” that would make disembarkation and processing predictable and swift.

 

Election

Kamala Harris to run for US President in 2020

The 54-year-old portrayed herself as a fighter for justice, decency and equality in the video.

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 Kamala Harris

Washington, Jan 21 : Democrat Kamala Harris, the first Indian-American to serve in the US Senate, launched her campaign for the White House on Monday while appearing on ABC’s Good Morning America.

In a brief video from her campaign that was released on the social media at the same time she appeared on the show, Harris called on her supporters to join with her to “claim our future”. She made the announcement on Monday — America’s Martin Luther King Jr Day holiday — to honour the legacy of her hero.

The 54-year-old portrayed herself as a fighter for justice, decency and equality in the video.

“They’re the values we as Americans cherish, and they’re all on the line now,” Harris said.

“The future of our country depends on you and millions of others lifting our voices to fight for our American values… That’s why I’m running for President of the US. I’m running to lift those voices, to bring our voices together.”

Harris’ announcement followed the entrance of her fellow senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York in the presidential race.

She is the daughter of an Indian mother and Jamaican father who met in Berkeley, California, at the height of the civil rights movement.

Harris said the time had come to fight against what she called “the injustices of the past two years of the Donald Trump presidency”. She has accused Trump of stoking racist and xenophobic rhetoric, while aligning his administration with white supremacists at home, and cozying up to dictators abroad.

She said that the needs of the middle class had been ignored, citing the federal shutdown over the President’s “vanity project” — a border wall — as the latest example.

The Senator had earlier turned up the heat on the President by blasting his insistence on holding out for funding for his border wall before reopening the government — comparing his behaviour to how her 11-year-old godson might have behaved with his toy train.

Harris’ campaign will be headquartered in Baltimore – giving aides an East Coast hub in a racially diverse city that has struggled with wide income disparities – and Oakland, where Harris was born to immigrant parents who came to the US to advance their academic careers, CNN reported.

She began her career as a deputy district attorney in Alameda county, California, before becoming District Attorney of San Francisco, where she focused on crime prevention.

In 2010, she narrowly beat her Republican opponent to become California’s Attorney General. Six years later, she was elected to the Senate, where she became the second black woman ever to serve in the chamber.

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Middle East

Netanyahu: Iran to face consequences for threatening Israel

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Benjamin Netanyahu

Jerusalem, Jan 21 (IANS) Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned on Monday that Iran would face consequences for threatening Israel, hours after Israeli fighter jets struck targets in Syria’s capital Damascus.

“We are acting against Iran and the Syrian forces that abet the Iranian aggression. Whoever threatens to destroy us will bear the full responsibility,” Netanyahu said in a speech.

He said that the overnight assault targeted mainly Iranian sites in Syria, which was a response to a rocket fired by Iranians in Syria towards the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights, Xinhua news agency reported.

“We will not ignore such acts of aggression as Iran attempts to entrench itself militarily in Syria,” Netanyahu said.

Earlier in the day, Damascus said that it intercepted multiple Israeli guided missiles targeting the country’s south. Some 11 pro-government fighters were killed, according to reports.

In a rare public acknowledgment, the Israeli military confirmed it carried out the attacks.

Israel says it is not part of the eight-year war in Syria but its military has carried out hundreds of air attacks over the past years against Iranian targets, which Israel accuses of attempting to entrench itself in Syria, in addition to Syrian Army positions.

It also bombed weapons convoyed to Hezbollah, a Lebanese Shia militia.

Israel has mostly kept silent on its actions against Iranian targets in Syria, fearing such comments might trigger an escalation. That policy started to change under Netanyahu, who confirmed earlier in January that the Air Force had struck Iranian sites in Syria hours after the attack.

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America

Lady Gaga slams Donald Trump for government shutdown

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Lady Gaga US President Donald Trump
Lady Gaga and US President Donald Trump (File Photo)

Las Vegas, Jan 21: Singer Lady Gaga has slammed US President Donald Trump for the ongoing government shutdown.

During her show here, Gaga took out a moment to criticise Trump and urged him to put the government back in business, reports variety.com.

“And that the f****ng president of the United States could please put our government back in business. There are people who live paycheck to paycheck and need their money.”

The “A Star is Born” actor then called out Vice President Mike Pence, whose wife Karen is under fire for accepting a job at a school that excludes the LGBTQ community.

She said: “And to Pence, who thinks it’s acceptable that his wife work at a school that bans LGBTQ, you are wrong. You say we should not discriminate against Christianity; you are the worst representation of what it means to be a Christian.

“I am a Christian woman and what I do know about Christianity is that we bear no prejudice and everybody is welcome. So you can take all that disgrace Mr. Pence and you can look yourself in the mirror and you’ll find it right there.”

The government closed on December 22, 2018 after Trump was refused funding for a southern border wall.

IANSi

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