Detained German Migrant Rescue Ship Captain Flooded With Support, Donations

Thousands of people rallied to the support of a German captain of a migrant rescue ship who was arrested after she defied orders to stay out of Italian waters.Carola Rackete remained under house arrest Sunday after her ship, the Sea-Watch 3, rammed the Italian border police motorboat that was blocking the entry to the port at Italy’s Lampedusa island.The Sea-Watch 3 picked up the migrants adrift in the Mediterranean Sea off Libya on June 12 and had remained on open waters after being denied entry by several European countries.On Wednesday, Rackete ignored Italian warnings and headed to Lampedusa island.The captain “had no intention of hurting anyone” and only wanted to get her passengers to land, Italian lawyer Salvatore Tesoriero said.Two German radio personalities appealed for donations for Rackete. In just over 24 hours, some 20,000 people had donated more than $745,000.Rackete also received the support of German leaders. “Italy is at the heart of the European Union, a founding state of the European Union,” President Frank-Walter Steinmeier told German public broadcaster ZDF.” And that’s why we can expect a country like Italy to deal with such a case differently.”Italy’s anti-immigration Interior Minister Matteo Salvini was quick to respond. “We ask the German president to keep busy with what’s happening in Germany and possibly invite his fellow citizens to avoid breaking Italian laws, risking the killing of Italy’s law enforcement forces,” Salvini said in a tweet Sunday evening.No one was hurt when the Sea-Watch 3 collided with the police boat.Salvini has promised fines, arrests and seizures for any vessel that enters Italian waters without authorization. “We will use every democratic means to stop this mockery of law,” Salvini said. “Italy cannot be the landing spot for anyone deciding to unload human beings.”He has repeatedly accused charity rescuers of being complicit with people smugglers by waiting off the Libyan coast to pick up migrants from unseaworthy vessels that couldn’t make it all the way to Europe.  Until recently, Italy had been the preferred landing spot for migrants fleeing North Africa for Europe. But in June 2018, the far-right government closed its ports to migrant rescue vessels.Migrant arrivals to Italy have plummeted since Salvini took office a year ago. So far this year, just 2,456 have arrived across the Mediterranean, according to official data, down 85% for the same period in 2018 and down 96% from 2017 levels. 

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5 Killed as Thousands Rally in Sudan to Demand Civilian Rule

A Sudanese doctors group says five people have been killed and several seriously wounded in a day of demonstrations against continued military rule in Sudan.Tens of thousands of protesters rallied across the country Sunday calling for a civilian government nearly three months after the army forced out the long-ruling autocrat Omar al-Bashir.Marchers demand the generals who took over power from al-Bashir make way for civilians.The protesters, some of them waving Sudanese flags, chanted “Civilian rule! Civilian rule!” and “Burhan’s council, just fall,” targeting General Abdel-Fattah Burhan, the head of the military council. Security forces fired tear gas at the demonstrators.”We’re fed up with the military. For decades, this country has been ruled by the military. It didn’t work and it will not work,” one demonstrator said.Sunday’s protests were the first since June 3 when security forces violently broke up a protest camp in Khartoum. The opposition says at least 128 were killed while the government puts the death toll at 61.”Despite what they did at the sit-in, despite the people they killed…the revolution will not die in the hearts of the youth,” the demonstrator said.General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, deputy head of the military council, said the generals want to reach an “urgent and comprehensive agreement with no exclusion. We in the military council are totally neutral. We are the guardians of the revolution. We do not want to be part of the dispute.”The European Union and several Western countries have called on the generals to avoid bloodshed.The June 3 raid followed the collapse of talks on a new government, whether it should be led by a civilian or soldier.Ethiopia and the African Union have offered a plan for a civilian-majority body, which the generals say could be the basis for new negotiations. 

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Thousands of Protesters Demand Civilian Rule in Sudan

Tens of thousands of protesters rallied across Sudan on Sunday against the ruling generals, calling for a civilian government nearly three months after the army forced out the long-ruling autocrat Omar al-Bashir.The mass protests, centered in the capital, Khartoum, were the first since a June 3 crackdown when security forces violently broke up a protest camp. In that confrontation, dozens were killed, with protest organizers saying the death toll was at least 128, while authorities claim it was 61, including three security personnel.Sunday’s demonstrators gathered at several points across Khartoum and in the sister city of Omdurman, then marching to the homes of those killed in previous protests.The protesters, some of them waving Sudanese flags, chanted “Civilian rule! Civilian rule!” and “Burhan’s council, just fall,” targeting Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, the head of the military council. Security forces fired tear gas at the demonstrators.Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, deputy head of the military council, said the generals want to reach an “urgent and comprehensive agreement with no exclusion. We in the military council are totally neutral. We are the guardians of the revolution. We do not want to be part of the dispute.”The European Union and several Western countries have called on the generals to avoid bloodshed.The June 3 raid followed the collapse of talks on a new government, whether it should be led by a civilian or soldier.Ethiopia and the African Union have offered a plan for a civilian-majority body, which the generals say could be the basis for new negotiations.         

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White House: Trade Agreement with China Not Close

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said Sunday resumption of trade talks between the U.S. and China “is a very big deal,” but acknowledged there is no immediate prospect for an agreement between the world’s two largest economies.”The talks will go on for quite some time,” Kudlow told the Fox News Sunday interview show.He said the countries had reached agreement on 90 percent of a new deal by early May, before talks broke down in what has turned out to be a seven-week stalemate. U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed Saturday on the sidelines of the Group of 20 economic summit in Japan to restart negotiations.U.S. President Donald Trump attends a bilateral meeting with China’s President Xi Jinping during the G-20 leaders summit in Osaka, Japan, June 29, 2019.But Kudlow assessed that “the last 10 percent could be the toughest,” with such unresolved issues as cyberattacks, Chinese demands that U.S. companies turn over proprietary technology they use, Chinese government support for its companies and the sale of U.S. technology components to the giant Chinese multinational technology giant Huawei.Trump agreed in his meeting with Xi to ease sales of some U.S.-made components to Huawei, a policy change that some of Trump’s Republican colleagues in the U.S. disagree with because they contend that Huawei can insert Chinese intelligence eavesdropping chips in their consumer products sold overseas. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida called it a “catastrophic mistake.”Kudlow said he realizes “there are national security concerns” with sales to Huawei. “We will look at this carefully,” Kudlow said, adding that Trump’s easing of sales of components to Huawei “is not a general amnesty.”Trump, in a series of Twitter comments, said, “I had a great meeting with President Xi of China yesterday, far better than expected. I agreed not to increase the already existing Tariffs that we charge China while we continue to negotiate. China has agreed that, during the negotiation, they will begin purchasing large amounts of agricultural product from our great Farmers. At the request of our High Tech companies, and President Xi, I agreed to allow Chinese company Huawei to buy product from them which will not impact our National Security.”I had a great meeting with President Xi of China yesterday, far better than expected. I agreed not to increase the already existing Tariffs that we charge China while we continue to negotiate. China has agreed that, during the negotiation, they will begin purchasing large…..— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 29, 2019He said the U.S. relationship with China “continues to be a very good one. The quality of the transaction is far more important to me than speed. I am in no hurry, but things look very good! There will be no reduction in the Tariffs currently being charged to China.” ….again with China as our relationship with them continues to be a very good one. The quality of the transaction is far more important to me than speed. I am in no hurry, but things look very good! There will be no reduction in the Tariffs currently being charged to China.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 29, 2019China Daily, an English-language daily Beijing often uses to relay messages, agreed with Kudlow’s assessment that a trade agreement is not close.”Even though Washington agreed to postpone levying additional tariffs on Chinese goods to make way for negotiations, and Trump even hinted at putting off decisions on Huawei until the end of negotiations, things are still very much up in the air,” the Chinese Daily editorial published late Saturday said.”Agreement on 90 percent of the issues has proved not to be enough, and with the remaining 10 percent where their fundamental differences reside, it is not going to be easy to reach a 100-percent consensus, since at this point, they remain widely apart even on the conceptual level,” the editorial said. 

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Hong Kong Braces for More Protests on Handover Anniversary

More than 50,000 people rallied in support of the Hong Kong police on Sunday as the semi-autonomous territory braced for another day of protests on the anniversary of the former British colony’s return to China. 
The crowd filled a park in front of the legislature and chanted Thank you'' to the police, who have been criticized for using tear gas and rubber bullets during clashes with demonstrators that left dozens injured on June 12. Some carried Chinese flags. Police estimated the turnout at 53,000.A protest march has been called for Monday, the third in three weeks, this one on the 22nd anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong to China on July 1, 1997. Activists have also said they will try to disrupt an annual flag-raising ceremony attended by senior Hong Kong and mainland Chinese officials in the morning.
 
Police have erected tall barriers and shut off access to Golden Bauhinia Square, where the flag-raising will be held, to prevent protesters from massing there overnight.
 
The anniversary always draws protests, but this year's is expected to be larger than usual because of widespread opposition to a government proposal to allow suspects to be extradited to mainland China to face charges. More than a million people took to the streets in two previous marches in June, organizers estimate.
 
The proposal has awakened broader fears that China is eroding the freedoms and rights that Hong Kong is guaranteed for 50 years after the handover under a
one country, two systems” framework.
 
The government has already postponed debate on the extradition bill indefinitely, leaving it to die, but protest leaders want the legislation formally withdrawn and the resignation of Hong Kong’s leader, Chief Executive Carrie Lam. They also are demanding an independent inquiry into police actions on June 12.
 
Hundreds of people gathered Sunday at the Education University of Hong Kong to hold a moment of silence and lay flowers for a 21-year-old student who fell to her death the previous day in an apparent suicide. Hong Kong media reports said she wrote a message on a wall stating the protesters’ demands and asking others to persist.
 
 “It’s reminding us we need to keep going on the process of fighting with the, I wouldn’t say fighting with the government, but we need to keep going on fighting not to have the extradition law,” said student Gabriel Lau.  

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Conservative Contenders Harden Brexit Language, Prompting EU Warnings

Both candidates to succeed Theresa May as Conservative leader and Britain’s next prime minister are now laying the political groundwork for a so-called “hard Brexit” — and are ready to leave the European Union without any withdrawal deal, an outcome independent observers and analysts warn could poison relations between Britain and its European neighbors for decades.The exit Boris Johnson and his rival Jeremy Hunt, the country’s current foreign minister, are plotting would likely involve Britain withholding all or some of the $50 billion the country already agreed formally it would owe the EU for past financial obligations on exiting.Johnson, the frontrunner, former London mayor and onetime journalist, is turning to hardline Brexiters in his party to draw up his plans and says the withdrawal agreement Theresa May struck with Brussels last November, and which she failed three times to get approved by a deadlocked House of Commons, is dead.His rival is also hardening his Brexit rhetoric in what is turning into a ‘bidding war’ between the contenders as they vie for the votes of the 160,000 Conservative party members who will choose between them. The party members are being balloted by mail with the result scheduled for July 22. In recent months the party has seen a wave of new members with an estimated 30,000 new recruits being dubbed ‘Brexit entryists.’Jeremy Hunt, a leadership candidate for Britain’s Conservative Party, leaves BBC studios in London, June 30, 2019. (Reuters)On Sunday Hunt said in a newspaper interview that he wants “to change the withdrawal agreement” but if it isn’t possible, “I’ll take us out without a deal.” In a no-deal exit Hunt would withhold about half of the withdrawal money already agreed between London and Brussels. “Anyone who thinks I am going to write a blank check to the European Union is sorely mistaken,” he said.Hunt has recruited the former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to lead his Brexit team, if he wins the keys to Downing Street, to help him to try to negotiate a free-trade deal with Brussels along the lines of the one agreed after seven years of talks between Ottawa and the EU.But such a deal would only cover the trade in goods and not in services, which account for 79 percent of Britain’s economic output.“Stephen Harper knows how you negotiate trade deals with both the EU and the U.S.. He’s got the T-shirt,” Hunt said.The hardline positions being crafted by Johnson and Hunt would put whoever is elected on a collision course with Brussels and the national leaders of the EU 27. The French government warned both candidates Saturday that the divorce deal May brokered with EU is not up for renegotiation, echoing warnings from Brussels and across the continent all last week.“If the United Kingdom wants to leave the union and to leave in an orderly fashion, the deal on the table is the deal we negotiated over two years,” France’s newly appointed European Affairs minister Amelie de Montchalin told the Anglo-American Press Association of Paris. “To reopen the withdrawal agreement, the position of the Council [of EU leaders] is very clear, it’s: ‘no’,” she added.FILE – British Prime Minister Theresa May leaves the podium after addressing a media conference at the conclusion of an EU summit in Brussels, April 11, 2019. (AP)May’s premiership was wrecked after she failed to get her Brexit deal approved by the British parliament — the agreement is unpopular with both hardline Brexiters, who say it keeps Britain too closely tied to the bloc, and by Europhiles, who favor greater participation in the EU. She was forced to delay, with reluctant EU agreement, the deadline for Britain’s departure, to October 31.EU national leaders and senior officials in Brussels have insisted for months that there can be no renegotiation of the withdrawal deal, although they say they are amendable to amending an accompanying political declaration outlining in more detail Britain’s possible future trade relationship with the bloc, which will be negotiated following Brexit.May herself has warned her possible successors that they will face the same political impasse she did, as well as a parliament determined to block Britain leaving the EU without a withdrawal deal, which is designed to limit the economic pain Brexit will cause on both sides of the English Channel.Neither Johnson nor Hunt have outlined what the trade-offs would be, if Britain left without a withdrawal agreement, say Conservative critics and EU officials. “Johnson’s sole contribution to the conversation about the difficult trade-offs involved in Britain’s most important political challenge since the Second World War has been a reheating of his two-decade-old adage: ‘My policy on cake is pro having it and pro eating it,’” said Matthew Parris, a former Conservative lawmaker and now a columnist at The Times of London.Both Britain and the EU — especially the near neighbors of Ireland, France, Belgium and The Netherlands — would be hurt economically by a no-deal and the reimposition of trade barriers and tariffs between the bloc and Britain.According to a study by the University of Leuven in Holland, there will be close to two million job loses across the continent as a result of a no-deal Brexit. With Germany possibly losing nearly 300,000 jobs as a result. But the biggest immediate impact would likely be felt in Britain, which could see more than half-a-million jobs lost and the country’s GDP take a 4.4 percent, according to the study. Bank of England economists have predicted a recession in Britain, if there is a hard Brexit.Johnson’s supporters say such studies should give Brussels pause and will convince EU leaders to cave to British demands.EU officials fear both Conservative candidates — especially Johnson — are backing themselves into a corner in a competition of political machismo. Johnson is stating unequivocally that he will, if in Downing Street, lead Britain out of the EU on October 31, deal or no deal, pledging to do so “do or die.” Hunt has allowed himself some wiggle room, saying the deadline could be passed if there is a chance of a new deal. 

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IOM: Migrant Deaths Globally Top 32,000 Since 2014

The International Organization for Migration says more than 32,000 migrants worldwide have died or gone missing between 2014 and 2018, with most fatalities occurring on the deadly Mediterranean Sea crossing from North Africa to Europe.The U.N. migration agency says its global figures underestimate the true nature and extent of the problem as many migrant deaths are never reported and many bodies are never recovered. Nevertheless, researchers say the statistics paint a very grim picture of the perils awaiting the hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants risking their lives in search of protection or a better life.The report shows nearly 18,000 people have died or gone missing in the Mediterranean between 2014 and 2018. It says the remains of almost two thirds of those victims have not been found.IOM spokesman, Joel Millman said Rohingya refugees comprise the vast majority of the 2,200 deaths recorded in South-East Asia and most of the 288 deaths recorded in South Asia since 2014 were of Afghan migrants.”Despite the conflict in Yemen, people continue to attempt the sea crossing from the Horn of Africa across the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. At least 125 people drowned off the shores of Yemen in 2018, compared with 53 in 2017. An increasing number of deaths on the United States—Mexico border have been recorded each year since 2014, with the total we have over the five years is 1,907,” he said.Millman told VOA that the numbers included in IOM’s Missing Migrants Project are defined as people in transit. He said there is a separate category for people who die in custody, though exceptions do occur. He said recent cases of people who have died while in custody for less than two hours are included in the current data base.”In general, in transit is the rule of thumb. But we have had some cases, I think six or seven already this year of recently in custody in the U.S. or recently released from custody that resulted in deaths within a few days and those we parse the best we can in the data base,” he said.A related report recently released by IOM and the U.N. children’s fund focuses on the growing number of children embarking on dangerous migrant journeys. The data finds nearly 1,600 children, about one every day, were reported dead or missing between 2014 and 2018. Researchers add the full extent of this tragedy is unknown as many of these migrant child deaths go unrecorded. 

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Trump Meets Kim at DMZ, Crosses Into North Korea

Donald Trump on Sunday became the first sitting U.S. president to visit North Korea, stepping across the border during a meeting at the demilitarized zone with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. At the impromptu summit, Trump said they agreed to resume working level negotiations, which had been stalled, as VOA’s William Gallo reports from Seoul.  

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