Tuesday, 17 September, 2019
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German court allows slaughter of male chicks to continue

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Germany’s top administrative court ruled Thursday that the slaughtering of male chicks may continue in the poultry industry until a method is found to determine the sex of an embryo in the egg.

According to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture around 45 million male chicks are slaughtered in Germany each year.

The killings are highly controversial and opposed by Agriculture Minister Julia Kloeckner in Angela Merkel’s government.

“Chick killing is ethically unacceptable and must be stopped as soon as possible,” Kloeckner told daily Rheinische Post, adding that eight million euros ($9 million) had been allocated to help find alternatives.

Several methods for the testing of a chick embryo’s sex — which would allow the destruction of eggs before hatching — are being tested, but not yet ready for use on an industrial scale.

On Thursday, Leipzig’s Federal Administrative court decided the killing of male chicks is in accordance with the first article of the Animal Protection Act, which stipulates “no one is entitled to inflict pain, suffering or damage on animals without reasonable cause”.

Judge Renate Philipp said there were “reasonable grounds” for the current practise to continue “until methods to determine sex in the egg” are ready.

Young male hatchlings are usually condemned to a violent end simply because of their sex, as roosters are deemed largely useless in the world of livestock farming.

In many cases, they are mechanically shredded, gassed or crushed to death and used as animal feed.

Just as in the two previous cases, the court in Leipzig ruled that the economic interests of the egg industry took precedent in the immediate future.

The dispute dates back to 2013 when the state of North Rhine-Westphalia outlawed the killing of male chicks under the Animal Protection Act.

However, two hatcheries challenged the decision at district level, which took the matter up to federal court.

The Central Association of the German Poultry Industry (ZDG) has warned against hastily banning the killing of male chicks.

The industry also wants to end the unethical killings, said association president Friedrich-Otto Ripke, but a mass method of identifying sex in the egg had to be found first.

Algeria’s former PM Ouyahia jailed in anti-corruption case

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Algeria’s Supreme Court on Wednesday placed ex-prime minister Ahmed Ouyahia in custody as part of a raft of anti-graft investigations opened into senior figures linked to the country’s former longtime ruler, Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

A close ally of Bouteflika, Ouyahia is the most senior figure to be detained since mass protests broke out earlier this year demanding the removal of the ruling elite and their prosecution.

Ouyahia, who left the government in March as part of a cabinet reshuffle, is being investigated over corruption cases including “awarding illegal privileges”, state television reported.

His former transport minister, Abdelghani Zaalane, also appeared before the Supreme Court on Wednesday in connection with a corruption investigation.

Bouteflika stepped down on April 2 under pressure from the army and protests that broke out on Feb. 22. Zaalane had been named campaign manager for Bouteflika for an April 18 presidential election, which was cancelled.

The army is now the most powerful institution and its chief Ahmed Gaed Salah has urged the judiciary to investigate all people suspected of being involved in corruption.

Several senior figures including another former prime minister, Abdelmalek Sellal, and eight former ministers appeared last month in a court in Algiers on suspicion of corruption.

Bouteflika’s youngest brother, Said, and two former intelligence chiefs have been placed in custody by a military judge for “harming the army’s authority and plotting against state authority”.

Several prominent businessmen, some of them close to Bouteflika, have been detained pending trial.

Protesters are now seeking the departure of interim President Abdelkader Bensalah and Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui, both seen as part of the elite that has ruled the North African country since independence from France in 1962.

Ouyahia is the leader of Algeria‘s second largest party, the Democratic National Rally (RND), which supports the interim government but is not part of it.

Authorities have postponed a presidential election previously planned for July 4, citing a lack of candidates. No new date has been set for the vote.

Aston Villa sign Anwar El Ghazi on permanent deal

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Newly promoted Aston Villa announced on Monday they had completed the signing of Netherlands international Anwar El Ghazi on a permanent deal from French club Lille.

The 24-year-old midfielder has agreed a four-year contract, having spent last season on loan at Villa Park.

El Ghazi starred in the Championship play-off final win against Derby last month, scoring the opening goal in the 2-1 victory that clinched Villa’s return to the Premier League.

Villa boss Dean Smith told the club’s official website: “Anwar proved to everybody at Wembley how good a player he can be for Aston Villa.”

Smith added: “He’s ready for the step up to the Premier League and he’s a young player who has an awful lot of potential.

“It’s now my job and the job of the coaching staff and Anwar himself to fulfil the potential that he undoubtedly has. He’ll be a great addition to the squad for next season.”

As well as his goal at Wembley, El Ghazi, who has played twice for the Netherlands, scored a further five times during the course of the regular season as Villa finished fifth in the Championship table.

El Ghazi is Villa’s second signing of the summer, following last week’s addition of Birmingham City forward Jota.

Trump accuses Twitter of gagging conservatives

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US President Donald Trump took to Twitter once again Sunday to accuse the messaging platform of gagging conservative voices — a “Giant Mistake!” that he said runs counter to freedom of expression.

“Twitter should let the banned Conservative Voices back onto their platform, without restriction,” he wrote.

“It?s called Freedom of Speech, remember. You are making a Giant Mistake!”

Twitter, and other social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, have recently moved to block personalities accused of inciting violence, and using the platforms to promote anti-Semitism, racism and conspiracy theories.

The decisions were taken under pressure from critics who think the social networks are not acting quickly enough to remove shocking or problematic material.

Those banished by one or more of the platforms include Alex Jones, a notorious purveyor of conspiracy theories toward whom Trump has expressed sympathy in the past, and Paul Nehlen, a white supremacist who ran unsuccessfully in Republican primaries for a US congressional seat.

It’s not the first time the US president has accused Twitter, Facebook or Google of discriminating against right-wing users.

The Republican billionaire, whose Twitter account is followed by nearly 61 million people, regularly attacks the high-tech giants as politically biased or, as he put it in a recent tweet, “sooo on the side of the Radical Left Democrats.”

Goalkeeper turned rebel fighter dies in northwest Syria

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A Syrian goalkeeper turner rebel fighter who starred in an award-winning documentary died Saturday of wounds sustained fighting regime forces in northwestern Syria, his faction and a war monitor said.

Abdel-Basset al-Sarout, 27, was a goalkeeper from the central city of Homs, who became its most popular singer of protest songs after the Syrian uprising broke out in March 2011.

Following a brutal government crackdown on peaceful protests, he took up arms against the forces of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

Sarout starred in the documentary “Return to Homs” by Syrian director Talal Derki, which tracked his evolution from protest leader to fighter, and won a top prize at the Sundance film festival in 2014.

Jameel al-Saleh, the commander of the rebel faction Jaish al-Izza, announced Sarout’s death in a message on Twitter, describing him as a “martyr” who died “fighting for the sake of God”.

The message was accompanied by a video showing Sarout singing “We will be back, Homs”.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Sarout was wounded in clashes in the northern Hama countryside in the night of Thursday to Friday while fighting in the ranks of Jaish al-Izza.

“He died of his wounds on Saturday,” the head of the Britain-based Observatory, Rami Abdel Rahman, said.

Sarout was evacuated from Homs in 2014 under a surrender deal with the regime to end a two-year siege of its historical centre, according to the Observatory.

His father and four of his siblings were killed during bombardment and clashes in Homs, it said.

– ‘Goalkeeper, bard’ and fighter –

On Saturday, Syrian activists and opposition figures took to Twitter to mourn the loss of the footballer turned fighter.

“The goalkeeper of freedom, the icon of Homs, the bard of the squares, the unforgettable sound of the Syrian revolution has been martyred,” researcher and opposition supporter Ahmad Abazeed said.

Hadi al-Bahra, a member of the opposition Syrian Negotiations Commission, posted: “Sarout will remain alive.”

“He died hoping to realise the dreams of Syrians,” he added.

Sarout was wounded in the push to take the village of Tal Maleh from regime forces, the Observatory said.

The village lies on the southwestern edge of the Idlib region, which is dominated by an alliance led by Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS).

Almost half of the region’s three million residents have been displaced from other parts of the war-torn country, including after deals to return government control to those areas.

Late Thursday, HTS and rebel allies launched a counterattack against government forces in the north of Hama province, after weeks of deadly regime bombardment on the Idlib region.

More than 100 fighters have since been killed, according to the Observatory.

The Idlib region is supposed to be protected by a months-old buffer zone deal, but the regime and its Russian ally have ramped up air strikes and rocket fire on the area since late April.

More than 300 civilians have been killed in that bombardment, according to the Observatory, and the United Nations says the violence has forced 270,000 people to flee their homes.

Malaysian village cannons greet Eid with a bang

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Dozens of steel cannons are fired by the villagers of a sleepy Malaysian hamlet for several hours into the night, carrying on a decades-old tradition celebrating the beginning of the Muslim holiday of Eid.

The festival marks the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, with devotees in Malaysia celebrating with solemn prayer, music and feasting.

For decades, the Malay-Muslim villagers of Kampung Talang, some 40 kilometres (25 miles) northwest of Ipoh in the northern state of Perak, have greeted the holiday by firing of homemade cannons.

In one of six sites facing a paddy field just outside the royal town of Kuala Kangsar, some 13 steel pipes repurposed as home-made howitzers aim skywards as young men stand by with flaming torches.

A bubbling mixture of calcium carbide and water had been stuffed into the pipes.

Then leader Amar Ehzan Mohamad Shahiry barked an order through a loud hailer, and the torches touched a small opening, igniting the mixture which blasted into the air.

“Cannons have been fired in our village since the 1930s. If there are no cannons here, there is no Eid,” the 32-year-old told AFP.

He said the cannons fired back in the past were made of bamboo and used to frighten wild animals so that villagers would be able to celebrate Eid safely.

The tradition of greeting Eid with a bang stuck, and later generations of village cannoneers upgraded the bamboo to steel.

The ones Amar and the rest of the village’s “artillerymen” use are repurposed from sand pumping pipes, coated with anti-rust paint, and marked with football club logos and other insignia.

This year, thousands of people came to witness the firing of the village’s 80-plus cannons, which went off regularly from Tuesday night until Wednesday morning.

With the exception of two brands of crackers, most other fireworks are banned in Malaysia, with those selling or using them facing stiff penalties.

Activists have called for the stricter regulation of illegal fireworks, with some even calling for a complete ban as local reports of children injuring themselves surface every year.

State news agency Bernama reported recently that a 10-year-old boy in the central state of Pahang faced going blind after playing with firecrackers.

Amar says he and his fellow villagers are resolute in carrying on their tradition, saying he hasn’t seen anyone seriously injured in 15 years.

“If you follow the rules (of safety), God willing, everything will be safe,” he said.

“I hope our tradition will be here to stay, for our children and our grandchildren to come, from generation to generation,” he said.

Trump Middle East adviser Kushner to meet EU leaders

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President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and Middle East peace adviser Jared Kushner will hold talks with European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker in Brussels on Tuesday.

Kushner will travel to Brussels from London, where his father-in-law is making a state visit, and the trip comes with international hopes for a US peace plan for the Middle East running low.

“The president will meet Jared Kushner, senior adviser to the president of the United States of America, Donald Trump. They will discuss the Middle East situation and other geopolitical issues,” commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva told reporters.

Trump, whose administration has staunchly backed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, acknowledged doubts about the plan himself on Monday, while Kushner suggested Palestinians weren’t ready to govern themselves.

The US is to lay out an economic component of the plan, which has been spearheaded by Kushner, on June 25 and 26 in Bahrain, where Gulf Arab states are expected to make pledges to boost the troubled Palestinian economy.

But it is not clear when the political aspects of the plan — which are expected to avoid calling for the creation of a Palestinian state — will be unveiled.

Abandoning the call for a Palestinian state would end years of US support for the so-called “two-state” solution, which envisages separate homelands for Jews and Palestinians.

The EU is still firmly behind the two-state solution with Jerusalem as capital of both states — in contrast to Washington, which has recognised the city as Israel’s capital.

From a bicycle without tyres: Ecuador’s Carapaz conquers Giro d’Itala

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Richard Carapaz became the pride of Ecuador on Sunday after becoming the country’s first cyclist to win the Giro d’Italia, in a journey that has taken him from riding a bicycle without tyres in his native Andes to seeing off all-comers in the Alps and Dolomites of northern Italy.

The against-the-odds triumph capped the 26-year-old’s incredible rise from a humble background, riding a ‘skeleton’ bicycle his father found in a junk yard, to the highest level of the sport.

“We keep it as a family relic,” Carapaz’s 27-year-old sister Cristina told AFP, as she proudly showed off the rusty old blue BMX which sparked the dream.

Carapaz, now known as ‘The Locomotive’, used the makeshift bike to climb the dusty roads around the family’s modest house in the village of Playa Alta, high in the mountains of northern Ecuador, near the border with Colombia.

Selling milk represented the main source of income for the family, and young Richie worked in the fields.

“When I was a teenager. My mother had cancer and for some time I looked after the (three) cows,” he said.

Their father Antonio arrived home one day when with the small BMX which had no seat, no brakes or pedals.

The bicycle is now kept as a prized possession.

The walls of their home are also covered with medals, photos, and memorabilia, including the white jersey for the best young rider Carapaz won at the 2018 Giro d’Italia, with a dedication: “With a lot of love to my parents Ana and Antonio”.

There is also the jersey in which he won the Vuelta a Asturias in 2018.

If he had his first bike aged eight, Carapaz only began competition much later.

At 20 he was the best young rider at the Tour of Guatemala, the same year he won the U23 title at the PanAmerican Games.

Carapaz raced on local teams in Ecuador before his talent captured the attention of talent scouts.

Still in the U23 ranks, Carapaz linked up with a Colombian team, and became the first non-Colombian to win the Vuelta de la Juventud de Colombia.

– ‘Historic moment’ –

Colombian coach Luis Alfonso Cely describes Carapaz as a talented all-rounder.

“He is a great climber, he has a great power in the high mountains, he is a racer who defends well in the time trial,” Cely, who coached him at the Strongman-Campagnolo team, told AFP.

“He’s a very calm person, I think he is sensible enough to be able to cope,” added Cely of Carapaz’s Giro d’Italia success.

Carapaz moved to the Spanish Lizarte team in 2015 as a step towards Movistar, the team of 2014 Giro winner Nairo Quintana of Colombia and Spaniard Alejandro Valverde, the 2018 world champion, which he joined the following year.

His sister said Lizarte invited Carapaz for a six months trial and without pay. “As always it was risky, but Richard said ‘I’m going’,” she recalled.

Carapaz’s parents watched as he became the first Ecuadorian cyclist to win a stage in a Grand Tour in Italy in 2018.

They travelled to Verona along with his wife Tanya Rosero and two children, Santiago aged five, and two-year-old Sofia, to celebrate his achievement on Sunday.

“It’s an historic moment in Ecuador,” said Tanya.

When he returns he will be honoured in his village with his favourite food — grilled Cuy (guinea pig) with potatoes, mellocos (a vegetable that grows in the Andes) and beans, and sweetened morocho (hard corn) with milk.

A cycling school in his native village bears his name and a dozen students aged between nine and 17 years train there.

“It’s a largely unknown sport in my country,” said Carapaz. “I want to be an example to those young people, those children, if they have a dream in life that they fight, work for it.

North Korea ‘executed’ officials after failed Trump summit: report

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North Korea executed its special envoy to the United States following the collapse of the second summit between leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump, a South Korean newspaper reported Friday.

The Chosun Ilbo said Kim Hyok Chol, who laid the groundwork for the Hanoi meeting and accompanied Kim on his private train, was executed by firing squad for “betraying the supreme leader” after he was “won over to the US” during pre-summit negotiations.

“Kim Hyok Chol was executed in March at Mirim Airport along with four senior foreign ministry officials following an investigation,” the newspaper quoted an unidentified source as saying.

The other officials were not named.

Asked about the account, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington was trying to verify it.

“We’ve seen the reporting to which you’re referring. We’re doing our best to check it out,” he told reporters on a visit to Berlin.

“I don’t have anything else to add to that today.”

Kim Hyok Chol was the North’s counterpart of US special representative Stephen Biegun in the run-up to the Hanoi summit in February.

South Korea’s Unification Ministry, which handles inter-Korean relations, declined to comment on the report.

‘Sent to prison camp’

Some previous South Korean reports of North Korean purges and executions have later proved inaccurate.

The paper also said Kim Jong Un’s interpreter Shin Hye Yong was sent to a prison camp for a mistake at the summit.

She failed to translate Kim’s new proposal when Trump declared “no deal” and walked away from the table, Chosun reported, citing another unnamed diplomatic source.

Kim Jong Un and Trump left the Vietnamese capital without a deal after they failed to reach agreement on rolling back Pyongyang’s nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief.

The North has since sought to raise the pressure and carried out two short-range missile tests in May.

Senior party official Kim Yong Chol, the North’s counterpart to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in nuclear talks, was also sent to a labour camp, the paper said.

In April, South Korea’s parliamentary intelligence committee said Kim Yong Chol had been censured over his handling of the Hanoi summit, despite the fact he had recently been named a member of the State Affairs Commission, a supreme governing body chaired by Kim Jong Un.

The Chosun Ilbo itself incorrectly reported in 2013 that Hyon Song Wol, head of the North’s Samjiyon Orchestra, was executed by firing squad for distributing and watching pornographic material.

And the Unification Ministry also mistakenly announced in February 2016 that Ri Yong Gil, chief of the general staff of the North Korean People’s Army, had been executed.

News of the reported purge came as North Korea’s official Rodong Sinmun newspaper, mouthpiece of the ruling party, Thursday warned that officials who committed anti-party or anti-revolutionary acts would face the “stern judgement of the revolution”.

Second seed Pliskova knocked out of French Open

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Second seed Karolina Pliskova was knocked out of the French Open on Friday after a 6-3, 6-3 defeat by Croatia’s Petra Martic.

Czech Pliskova produced an error-strewn display against the 31st seed, who will face either Russian Veronika Kudermetova or Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi for a place in the quarter-finals.

Her defeat means Naomi Osaka will retain the world number one spot after Roland Garros.

Martic has now won 14 matches on clay this season, more than any other player on the WTA Tour.

Former world number one Pliskova remains without a Grand Slam title in her career, despite arriving in Paris with high hopes after powering her way to Italian Open triumph in Rome.

The game which saw her broken to fall 5-3 behind in the second set encapsulated an erratic display — as she served two double faults, missed perhaps the easiest volley seen on the newly-rebuilt Court Philippe Chatrier, and capped it off by drilling the simplest of forehands several feet past the baseline.

Pliskova finished with 28 unforced errors in total, against only 23 winners, while Martic sealed victory with an ace.

The 28-year-old Martic put in a solid performance and is rewarded with a fourth-round tie against an unseeded player as she bids to reach the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time.

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