NEWS

Donald Trump rescued from stalled elevator in Colorado city

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The Colorado Springs Fire Department says that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump had to be rescued from an elevator that was stuck between the first and second floors of a resort.

In a statement released Saturday, the department says that it was called at 1:30 p.m. Friday to rescue about 10 people, including Trump, trapped inside the elevator at The Mining Exchange, A Wyndham Grand Hotel & Spa resort.

The department says the firefighters opened the top elevator hatch and lowered a ladder into the elevator. Trump and the others used the ladder to climb out of the elevator to the second floor. The department says no injuries were reported.

Trump’s security team was given control of the hotel’s elevators during the event, said Perry Sanders Jr., an attorney who co-owns the hotel.

“The party were model guests but security insisted on having manual control of the elevators,” Sanders said.

After the occupants were rescued, technicians for the company that services the elevator determined that the machine became stuck because someone turned the manual key while the car was in motion, Sanders said.

The problem was fixed and the 4-year-old elevator was immediately put back in service, he added.

The Trump campaign confirmed that the incident occurred but offered no further details.

During a rally Friday at University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, Trump criticized the city’s fire marshal for limiting the number of people allowed to attend his speech at the building where the event was held. Fire Marshal Brett Lacey told the Colorado Springs Gazette that he had already agreed to allow a 10 percent increase in seating at the venue.

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Turkey issues travel ban on academics after failed coup

BY: Ali Haji

Turkey’s higher education council has banned academics from leaving the country for academic purposes and urged those overseas to quickly return home, according to state media and a Turkish official.

“It is a temporary measure that we were compelled to take due to flight risk of alleged accomplices of coup plotters in universities,” a Turkish official, who asked to remain anonymous, told Al Jazeera on Wednesday.

“Universities have always been crucial for military juntas in Turkey, and certain individuals are believed to be in contact with cells within the military,” the official said.

The decision to restrict academics working for Turkish universities from traveling comes as the government engages in a widespread crackdown on bureaucrats suspected of being involved in last Friday’s attempted coup. Thousands of people in the judiciary, police forces and military have been sacked or detained.

At least 290 people, including plotters, died after rebel soldiers attempted to overthrow the government on Friday night, bombing state buildings and killing civilians and security forces.

Sackings and suspensions

The travel ban on academics follows a day after the higher education council demanded the resignation of 1,577 deans at universities across the country.

In a separate move on Tuesday, the education ministry also revoked the licences of 21,000 teachers working in private institutions. The government also suspended 15,200 state education employees.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused exiled Turkish businessman and cleric Fethullah Gulen of orchestrating the attempted coup and is demanding that the US extradite him.

Gulen lives in Pennsylvania but retains vast interests in Turkey, ranging from media to finance to schools, and wields influence in various arms of the state, including the judiciary and police.

US Secretary of State John Kerry told his Turkish counterpart in a phone call that Turkey needs to respect due process as it investigates those it believes were involved in the coup plot.

At least one senior Turkish official has directly blamed the US for the attempt to topple Erdogan.

That prompted Kerry to tell Turkey’s foreign minister that “public insinuations” about a US role are “utterly false” and harmful to US-Turkish relations.

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An elephant returns to Somalia for first time in 20 years

An elephant marched hundreds of kilometres and briefly crossed into Somalia this month marking the first time the animal has been seen in the country in 20 years, conservationists said Wednesday.

Morgan, a male bull in his 30s, was fitted with a tracking collar in December in Kenya’s coastal Tana River Delta, but in mid-February began an unexpected march northwards to Somalia, reaching the border nearly three weeks later.

His march has excited conservationists who say it shows the elephant remembered ancient routes after decades of absence due to war.

“He obviously had something in his mind about where he’s going,” said Iain Douglas-Hamilton of Save the Elephants, a conservation organisation that has put tracking collars on hundreds of African elephants.

Morgan’s journey suggests that the Kenya-Somalia border area is becoming less dangerous and that if security were to return to southern Somalia so might the exiled elephants.

From Tana River, Morgan trudged 20 kilometres (12 miles) on the first night and then hid in thick forest the following day, before continuing his march under cover of darkness. He maintained this pattern for the next 18 days.

“He’s adopted this extreme form of survival strategy to traverse one of the most dangerous places for elephants in their African range,” said Douglas-Hamilton.

African elephants are threatened everywhere by criminal poaching gangs and armed groups, who kill them for their tusks, the ivory fetching around $1,100 (1,000 euros) per kilogramme (2.2 pounds) in China.
At least 20,000 elephants were killed last year, according to figures released this month by the Convention on the Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), an international organisation.

– Morgan’s long march north –

In some parts of Africa elephants are being killed quicker than they reproduce, but Kenya has seen recent successes with the number of elephants poached in 2015 falling to 93 from 164 the previous year.

In the early 1970s it is estimated there were as many as 20,000 elephants in Kenya’s coastal area, but that number has fallen to 300 at most today.

Some credit a Kenyan security operation in the area with suppressing poaching.

“We’re seeing more elephants now,” said Charles Omondi, a commander in the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) which is patrolling the Lamu area alongside Kenyan soldiers and police deployed to defend against regular deadly attacks by Islamic militants.

There have been no confirmed sightings of elephants in Somalia in two decades, since soon after the start of a civil war that has continued in different forms ever since.

Despite the time that has elapsed, Morgan appeared to have remember the old migration routes.

“A mature bull like Morgan is not wandering aimlessly. He’s likely following a route that he learnt earlier in his life, one that has been used by elephants for generations,” said Ian Craig, conservation director at the Northern Rangelands Trust, a Kenya-based conservation group that establishes reserves across the country, including in the area where Morgan lives.

In the end, after walking 220 kilometres (137 miles) Morgan spent just less than 24-hours actually in Somalia — and only went three kilometres over the border — before turning back, presumably after failing to find any willing females with whom to mate.

But the fact of his journey is what excites the conservationists.

“Out of all the tracking we’ve done in Africa, these movements –- and these circumstances –- are exceptional,” said Douglas-Hamilton. “The wandering of this one bull across the entire expanse of Lamu district, from the Tana river to the Somali border, no-one has seen anything like this before.”

 

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I was misquoted, Somalia President says on report 200 KDF troops killed in El Adde

The Somalia President has denied reports that he said between 180 and 200 KDF troops were killed by al Shabaab in El Adde on January 15.

Through spokesman Daud Awes, Hassan Mohamud said he was “misquoted” and that he did not not mean the figures were of soldiers massacred in the ambush.

Mohamoud said he was only describing the size of a camp and the number of soldiers believed to have been present during the attack.

He told Somali Cable TV during an interview last Thursday that: “When 180 or close to 200 soldiers who were sent to us are killed in one day in Somalia, it is not easy.”

“The soldiers had been sent to help us get peace in our country and their families are convinced that they died while on duty.”

Sources at Villa Somalia (State House) said the retraction followed a protest letter to Mogadishu in which Kenya termed the claims “grossly out of order”.

KDF spokesman David Obonyo told the Star on phone on Thursday that the matter of the number of casualties in the ambush should not be trivialised

He said he has not talked to any media house about the number of troops killed.

“We should stop trivializing the dead . They are not mere statistics. They ought to be treated with honour and respect,” he said.

“The number the Somalia president quoted is way beyond a company size.”

A company is a military unit led by a Major or Captain, comprising three platoons each commanded by a Lieutenant with a total number of between 80 and 250.

Mohamoud mentioned the figures during an interview concerning his recent visit to Kenya soon after an attack on Lido beach attack in Mogadishu.

He joined President Uhuru Kenyatta and Nigeria’s Muhammadu Buhari in honouring slain Kenya Defence Forces in Eldoret.

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Syria War: What you need to know about the ceasefire

The ceasefire in Syria that took effect on Saturday was part of a negotiated deal, based on United Nations Security Council Resolution 2254, passed in December 2015.

The deal that contained three main commitments around humanitarian access, a negotiated ceasefire and a political transition was reached in Munich by the International Syria Support Group (ISSG), a group of international actors mandated to find a resolution to the Syrian conflict.

The ISSG, which includes major regional actors, such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Qatar, as well as regional bodies, such as the Arab League and the European Union, has emerged out of previous attempts, notably the Geneva process, to negotiate a political solution to the Syrian conflict.

The major difference between the ISSG’s success in negotiating a deal in February had little to do with its structure or political agreement among the key sides.

Instead, the February deal has everything to do with the changing dynamics on the ground and the ability of Russia and its allies to impose a political vision for ending the conflict that suits their interests.

Below are answers to some key questions about what these commitments entail, what their chances of success are, and how the Munich agreement may shape the future of Syria.

What does the ceasefire in Syria mean on the ground? Which areas will observe it and which areas will not?

In theory, the ceasefire should apply to all of Syria. However, Russia has insisted that, along with its allied forces, it reserve the right to attack the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group and al-Nusra Front forces as these two groups are outside the framework of the ceasefire, as are other groups labelled as ‘terrorist’ by the UN.

This means that the ceasefire is not geographically demarcated. This exception to the ceasefire is very problematic, however, because Russian forces have attacked many rebel groups and civilian areas under the justification of attacking ISIL and Nusra.

These two groups have become convenient scapegoats for Russian attacks throughout Syria. Russia has essentially reserved the right to militarily engage any armed groups in Syria under the pretext of fighting ISIL and Nusra.

The United States has been working with Russia in an attempt to designate whether certain areas are ceasefire-abiding areas or not, but they have yet to agree on the specific geographic contours of the agreement. The absence of such contours will give Russia greater military latitude.

Practically speaking, this means that large swaths of Syrian territory in which these groups are present, particularly in the eastern and northwestern parts of the country, will remain active conflict zones.

Groups outside of the ceasefire, such as Ahrar al-Sham and others labelled as terrorist groups, remain present in parts of Homs and Hama provinces, as well as near Damascus, meaning these areas also potentially lie outside of the ceasefire zones

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Guantanamo being planned to be closed by Barack Obama

President Barack Obama presented a long-shot plan Tuesday to shutter the Guantanamo Bay detention centre, hoping to fulfill an elusive campaign promise before he leaves office next year.

Describing the jail as a stain on America’s reputation and a catalyst for jihadists, Obama said “I don’t want to pass this problem on to the next president.”

“For many years, it’s been clear that the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay does not advance our national security. It undermines it,” Obama said from the White House’s Roosevelt Room.

He outlined a $290-475 million plan to move the 91 remaining detainees abroad and to one of 13 possible — unnamed — facilities in the United States.

Obama has tried for almost eight years to close the jail, but has been thwarted by Congress, the Pentagon, some in his own party and foreign allies who refuse to host the terror suspects abroad.

As a candidate and as president, Obama has argued that the indefinite detention without trial of Guantanamo inmates harms America’s image and its national security.

“It undermines our standing in the world,” he said. “This is about closing a chapter in our history.”

Lawmakers in the Republican-controlled Congress have blocked the most obvious path to closing the facility by banning the transfer of detainees to the United States, and there is little prospect of Republicans changing tack in the runup to the November presidential election.

House Speaker Paul Ryan immediately rejected the proposal, saying bringing “Guantanamo terrorists” to the United States was neither smart nor safe.

“It is against the law, and it will stay against the law, to transfer terrorist detainees to American soil,” he added.

Obama appealed for the closure plan to be given “a fair hearing, even in an election year.”

CONGRESS

But Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican presidential candidate, doubled down on opposing it, promising to increase the Guantanamo population if elected.

“Not only are we not going to close Guantanamo — when I am president, if we capture a terrorist alive… they are going to Guantanamo and we are going to find out everything they know,” he said.

Obama also has faced opposition from within his own administration, with the Pentagon accused of slow-pedalling transfers and overstating closure costs.

The president could still try to force the closure through an executive order, but such a move would expose him to accusations of ruling by decree.

Obama got strong backing from one prominent Democrat, presidential contender Hillary Clinton.

“Closing Guantanamo would be a sign of strength and resolve,” she said, urging Congress to implement the plan “as quickly and responsibly as possible.”

Her campaign also pointed to her efforts to help close the facility while serving as Obama’s secretary of state.

The Guantanamo Bay closure plan, which took months to produce, offers no specifics on the potential location of a US facility.

But military officials have previously listed Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, or the US Navy brig in Charleston, South Carolina, among possible destinations for inmates.

Those locations, however, face objections from local politicians.

Obama has long argued that many Guantanamo prisoners should be transferred overseas and some should be tried by military courts.

A small number — those deemed too dangerous to release but too difficult to prosecute — would be held in the United States.

TRANSFERS

Human rights groups worry this would only extend detentions without trial and create a “Guantanamo North.”

“The possibility of a new, parallel system of lifelong incarceration inside the United States without charge would set a dangerous precedent,” Amnesty International said in a statement.

The plan says a US facility would save money over time. It currently costs about $455 million each year to run Guantanamo, and a US site would reduce that amount by up to $180 million.

Most of the savings would come from a decrease in the number of troops guarding the reduced population on the US mainland, although it could cost up to $475 million in one-time expenses to move the men and build or update a facility to hold them.

Efforts to transfer prisoners overseas have been stymied by unrest in Yemen — a likely destination for many — and by recidivism among those already released.

Still, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has in recent weeks signed off on a flurry of transfers, and last month, the prison’s population dropped below 100 for the first time.

Today, 91 inmates remain. Of them, 35 have been approved for release. The rest face ongoing, indefinite detention.

Perhaps the most notorious prisoner is Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who along with four co-defendants is charged with plotting the September 11, 2001, attacks.

Guantanamo opened in January 2002 on a US naval base on a coastal spit of land in southeastern Cuba leased from Havana under a treaty dating back to 1903.

It was set up after the 9/11 attacks under then-president George W.Bush’s administration to deal with “enemy combatants” denied many US legal rights.

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Turkey will continue to support Somalis to live in peace, Erdogan says

BY:   Ali Haji

Turkey will maintain its support for Somalis to live in peace and safety, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Tuesday in Istanbul during an opening speech at the sixth Somali Compact High-Level Partnership Forum (HLPF), which he is co-chairing along with Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mahmoud and U.N.’s Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliassoin.

Somali and foreign delegates from 51 countries have converged in Istanbul for a two-day forum to discuss Somalia’s reconstruction process. “As you all know, Somalia is going through a critical period. … On this rocky road, we need to support Somalia and never leave [Somalis] in the lurch,” Erdoğan said in his speech, referring to the country’s political, security and development agenda, focusing on terrorism.

Somalia’s security needs are being addressed in efforts to seek tangible solutions to fight al-Shabaab terrorist activities in the country. Al-Shabaab is an al-Qaeda-linked militant group and was among the topics covered throughout the forum.

“I believe that the improvements that we will make for easing our Somalian brothers’ daily lives and increasing their welfare will also contribute to the country disposing of its terror problem. Essentially, the thing that lies under the success of the Turkish model in Somalia, which you all watch with interest, is our acting with this mentality. We also expect international cooperatives to support Somalia with the same attitude,” Erdoğan said.

Explaining that Turkey shouldered the country’s reconstruction process through universities, orphanages, roads, hospitals and even street lamps that are put into service through humanitarian institutions, Erdoğan said: “We will continue our work until Somalia finds tranquility and becomes a peaceful, stable country with the cooperation of the international community and regional countries, hopefully.”

He also said that Somalia has become the symbol of Turkey’s perspective on Africa and the relations that it wants to have with Africans.

Turkey’s role in Somalia has gained significance since Erdoğan’s visit in 2011 as prime minister, the first head of the Turkish government to visit Somalia.

Turkey’s engagement in Somalia has made visible changes to the country in many areas from health to infrastructure. Bilateral agreements have also been signed, including treaties to train the Somali national army, and Turkish Airlines has started flights to the capital of Mogadishu. Turkey’s efforts have paid off, and the increasing relationship between the two states has brought attention to the region and many have started to question Turkey’s involvement in Somalia.

Turkey also provided Somalia with over $400 million in the biggest aid campaign to the country in its struggle to fight starvation. Turkey is set to open its first military base in Africa at which Turkish military officers will train Somali soldiers and troops from other African countries to fight al-Shabaab, military sources said in January.
Erdoğan also said that Syria has turned into a place with terrorist organizations running wild:

“The chaos in Syria has provided an environment for terrorist organizations such as DAESH, al-Nusra Front, the PYD [Democratic Union Party] and YPG [People’s Defense Units] to grow and disperse.”

“All countries should adopt a common stance against terrorism and countries that support terrorism. Saying ‘but’ in this matter, making a differentiation between good terrorist and bad terrorist, and overlooking the link [between terror organizations] seen before, is supporting terrorism,” he said.

“Everyone needs to understand that with such a stance, there can be no struggle against terrorism,” he further added.

Erdoğan was referring to the U.S.’s stance defining the PKK and PYD as two separate, unlinked organizations; whereas, a 2014-dated document from the U.S. National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), a U.S.
government organization, describes the PYD as the Syrian affiliate of the Kongra-Gel (KGK), under which the PKK is also listed. The U.S. does not consider the PYD and its armed YPG wing to be terrorist organizations, despite Ankara’s warnings.

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