EarthLink – News

EarthLink – News

The Latest: US, EU promise support to tackle Ebola
Mon, July 15, 2019 08:54 EDT
BENI, Congo (AP) — The Latest on Ebola (all times local):
2:55 p.m.
The top U.S. diplomat in Geneva says the United States will “provide more in the coming months” to help respond to the Ebola outbreak, while the European Union ambassador says the bloc will examine possibilities to scale up its response.
U.S. Charge d’Affaires Mark Cassayre also told a U.N. conference on Ebola Monday that the United States is calling on member states to increase their contributions to the response, which the World Health Organization says is underfunded.
EU ambassador Walter Stevens noted that the bloc has provided some $20 million in support since last year, plus in-kind and logistical support, and “will look into possibilities to scale up the response.”
Nearly 1,700 people have died in Congo in the outbreak, and a first case appeared in the eastern city of Goma over the weekend.
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2 p.m.
The head of the World Health Organization says he is reconvening the U.N. agency’s expert committee to assess whether or not the continuing Ebola outbreak in Congo warrants being declared a global emergency.
At a meeting convened in Geneva by WHO on Monday, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the spread of Ebola to Goma, a city of 2 million people was a potential “game-changer.” He said the development was one WHO and Congolese officials had been prepared for and described the situation as one of the most complex humanitarian emergencies ever faced.
Still, Tedros said the U.N. agency is “confident” in the response measures put in place and predicted there would be no further Ebola cases in Goma.
Tedros did not say when the expert committee would be convened; the group has met three times previously and decided each time against declaring the epidemic to be an international emergency.
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12 p.m.
With Ebola reaching Congo’s eastern city of Goma, authorities are tracking down bus passengers who rode with a pastor who became the first confirmed case in the regional capital.
Dr. Harouna Djingarey with the World Health Organization’s Ebola response said they have located the two buses that the man took before he reached Goma on Sunday.
Djingarey said Monday that the case is worrying because Goma is “the door of this region to the rest of the world.” The city of more than 2 million is on the border with Rwanda.
Health officials have feared since the beginning of the outbreak last August that cases could emerge in Goma.
The Ebola outbreak has killed nearly 1,700 people in Congo and two others who returned home to Uganda while sick.

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Cuban singer becomes pioneer of #MeToo movement on island
By ANDREA RODRIGUEZ | Mon, July 15, 2019 08:56 EDT
HAVANA (AP) — Dianelys Alfonso has a bold presence — brightly colored tattoos, spandex bodysuits, Technicolor hair — and a clarion voice that won her the label “Goddess of Cuba” for her turns on songs ranging from ballads to reggaeton.
Now she’s also the center of a new phenomenon in Cuba after publicly accusing another renowned musician, flutist and bandleader José Luis Cortés, of repeatedly assaulting and raping her during their yearslong relationship while she was a vocalist for NG La Banda, one of the best-known Cuban bands of the last three decades.
Since Alfonso’s accusations against Cortés on an internet video program last month, many Cubans have declared their support for her online, calling her the pioneer of the #MeToo movement in a country where open discussion of violence against women is rare.
Cortés has not publicly responded to the allegations or to messages seeking comment left by The Associated Press on his band’s social media accounts or with his promoters.
Within hours of speaking to video host Alex Otaola and alleging that she had been abused by Cortés, hundreds of Cubans on the island and in its diaspora in the United States, Latin America and Europe began posting messages of support for Alfonso with the hashtags #IBelieveYouGoddess, #MeTooInCuba and #YouAreNotAlone.
Alfonso also has received reams of abusive messages calling her a liar and accusing her of besmirching Cortés’ reputation to win greater renown.
“I look at everything happening online and I’m really stunned,” the 38-year-old singer told The Associated Press. “I can’t really understand what’s happening online. I’m just trying to keep getting professional psychological help to deal with everything that’s come at me for having told the truth.”
Online activism of any kind is relatively new to Cuba, which only began permitting mobile internet this year. Until recently, open discussion of domestic abuse also has been rare in a communist society where the government portrays itself as able to take care of every social problem and where there are only a handful of non-governmental women’s rights groups.
The government last year organized a publicity campaign to raise consciousness of domestic violence, with posters and announcements in official media under the slogans “You Are More” and “Evolve,” though that appeared to focus more on physical than sexual abuse.
Some 500 Cuban artists and intellectuals have signed an open letter of support for Alfonso that condemns violence against women on a Facebook page titled, “I Believe You.”
Actress and producer Violeta Rodríguez, daughter of Cuban singer Silvio Rodríguez, wrote on her Facebook page last month that she had been abused by a “famous and powerful” Cuban man but had remained silent for years. The post was later deleted, without explanation.
Alfonso was lead singer for NG La Banda from 2003 to 2009, and was involved romantically with Cortés for much of that time. She said Cortés repeatedly hit her, raped her and verbally abused her, in private and in public, during their relationship and after it ended. She said the abuse finally stopped after she left the group in the middle of an Italian tour in 2009 and did not return to Cuba until 2014.
Alfonso’s lawyer, Deyni Terry, said Cortés sent the singer a threatening text message after she went public with the accusations. Alfonso reported the threat to police, Terry said, adding that she and her client were investigating whether they can bring charges of abuse and sexual assault against Cortés so many years after the alleged crimes took place.
“Many victims wait years to say what happened and that complicates judicial action, especially in Cuba where many laws are outdated,” the lawyer said.
Cuban authorities did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the case.
Terry said the online reaction to Alfonso’s accusations appeared to be a sign of changing attitudes on the island.
“People are being more daring, speaking out, talking about taboo topics,” she said. “They’re taking risks and have more freedom to speak out.”
A national poll conducted in 2016 and published this year showed that some 27% of 10,698 women who responded to a questionnaire reported being mistreated or abused by a man over the past 12 months but less than 4% sought help.
The availability of the internet in Cuba has allowed activists for various causes — from animal rights to LGBTQ freedoms — to better organize and advocate over the last seven months. The same may now be happening for women’s rights, observers said.
“The internet allows us to have a greater diversity of debates and struggles and bring many problems to light,” said Francisco Rodríguez, a gay-rights advocate and blogger.
Follow Andrea Rodríguez on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ARodriguezAP

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Russian planes continue to deliver S-400 parts to Turkey
Mon, July 15, 2019 11:55 EDT
ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey hopes to co-produce high-tech weaponry systems with Russia in the future, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, further defying its NATO ally the United States, which has warned the country of possible sanctions over its purchase of a Russian-made missile defense system.
The Turkish leader made the comments Monday, hours after two more Russian cargo planes landed in Turkey to deliver parts of the Russian-made S-400 missile system that Ankara is acquiring from Russia despite strong U.S. objections.
“They said ‘They can’t buy them.’ They said ‘They can’t deploy them anywhere.’ They said ‘It’s not right to buy them’ and as of today, the eighth plane has arrived and has started to unload its contents,” said Erdogan, adding that the system would be fully deployed in less than a year.
“God willing, in April 2020 we’ll bring (the deployment) to an end, and with that, we’ll be among the limited number of countries in the world in terms of air defense systems,” he said. “Now the goal is joint production with Russia.”
Earlier, the Turkish defense ministry said two more Russian cargo planes landed at the Murted Air Base near the capital, Ankara, bringing the Russian-made S-400 systems’ components for the fourth day running. They were the eighth and ninth planes to land at Murted since Friday.
The U.S. has repeatedly warned Turkey that it will impose sanctions on the NATO-member country and exclude it from the F-35 stealth fighter jet program if Ankara doesn’t drop its S-400 purchase.
Washington says the Russian S-400s are incompatible with NATO equipment and may lead to Russia acquiring sensitive data concerning the F-35s.
Turkey has refused to bow to U.S. pressure, saying its defense purchase is a matter of national sovereignty and that the agreement with Russia is a commercial deal it can’t cancel.

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Telescope foes tie together, block road to Hawaii summit
By CALEB JONES and JENNIFER SINCO KELLEHER | Mon, July 15, 2019 02:58 EDT
MAUNA KEA, Hawaii (AP) — Hundreds of demonstrators gathered Monday at the base of Hawaii’s tallest mountain to protest the construction of a giant telescope on land that some Native Hawaiians consider sacred.
At about daybreak, a group of kupuna, or elders, tied themselves together with rope at the road to the summit of Mauna Kea. Another group of protesters were on the ground, attached to a cattle grate.
Around them, protesters sang and chanted.
The road was later officially closed, hours after it was essentially blocked by protesters. The prone elders tied together were expecting to be arrested.
After two protest leaders spoke with police, they addressed the crowd and told them anyone who didn’t move would be arrested. The group would move aside, but the elders were expected to remain, protest leaders Kaho’okahi Kanuha and Andre Perez said.
Officials said anyone breaking the law will be prosecuted. Protesters who blocked the roadway during previous attempts to begin construction have been arrested. No arrests were immediately reported Monday morning.
Telescope opponent Jennifer Leina’ala Sleightholm said she expects protests to remain peaceful. “I don’t anticipate anybody will get out of hand,” she said. “We have never given them any reason to think that we would.”
She said she hopes the construction convoys turn around and leave.
“I think I know what will happen, but what I hope will happen is I hope that they would just turn around and save our kupuna,” she said, using the Hawaiian word for elders.
A puuhonua, or place of refuge, set up at the base of Mauna Kea won’t be swept by authorities, Kanuha and Perez told protesters after consulting with police. Protesters planned to stay there overnight.
Scientists hope the massive telescope they planned for the site — a world-renowned location for astronomy — will help them peer back to the time just after the Big Bang and answer fundamental questions about the universe.
But some Native Hawaiians consider the land holy, as a realm of gods and a place of worship.
Groups of activists sang and prayed at the base of the mountain on Sunday afternoon. They declared the area, which is well off the highway at the intersection of the mountain’s access road, a place of refuge and safety.
“This is Hawaiian homelands,” said Kealoha Pisciotta, one of the protest leaders. “We’re clearly out of their way, we’re not obstructing anything, everyone is in ceremony.”
The project already has been delayed by years of legal battles and demonstrations, drawing attention from the likes of “Aquaman” actor Jason Momoa, who has Native Hawaiian ancestry and has voiced opposition to the telescope.
Scientists selected Mauna Kea in 2009 after a five-year, worldwide search for the ideal site.
Protests disrupted a groundbreaking and Hawaiian blessing ceremony at the site in 2014. After that, the demonstrations intensified.
Construction stopped in April 2015 after protesters were arrested for blocking the work. A second attempt to restart construction a few months later ended with more arrests and crews pulling back.
But Hawaii’s Supreme Court has ruled the construction is legal, permits are in place, and the state has given the company behind the telescope a green light to resume its efforts. The company is made up of a group of universities in California and Canada, with partners from China, India and Japan.
According to the University of Hawaii, ancient Hawaiians considered the location kapu, or forbidden. Only the highest-ranking chiefs and priests were allowed to make the long trek to Mauna Kea’s summit above the clouds.
Today, the university leases the land at the summit from the state for existing telescopes and observatories on the summit. A road built for telescope access decades ago is used by thousands of tourists and locals each year, including Native Hawaiians who go there to pray.
Supporters of the $1.4 billion giant telescope say the cutting-edge instrument will not only make important scientific discoveries but bring educational and economic opportunities to Hawaii.
The telescope’s primary mirror would measure 98 feet (30 meters) in diameter. It would be three times as wide as the world’s largest existing visible-light telescope, with nine times more area.
Gov. David Ige said unarmed National Guard units will be used to transport personnel and supplies and enforce road closures, but they will not be used in a law enforcement capacity during planned protests.
In a news conference Sunday, Ige said that he “respected the right of people to protest” at the telescope site as long as protesters behave lawfully.
“As construction begins, our number one priority is keeping everyone safe,” Ige said, adding that he wants to make sure construction workers and truck drivers have unimpeded access to the telescope site.
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Kelleher reported from Honolulu.
Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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The Latest: Mexico ‘does not agree’ with new US asylum rule
Mon, July 15, 2019 02:31 EDT
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the Trump administration’s new rule for Central American migrants seeking U.S. asylum (all times local):
2:25 p.m.
Mexican Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard says his country “does not agree with any measure that limits access to asylum. That was a reference to measures announced Monday by the U.S. government to end asylum protections for most migrants who arrive at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Ebrard said at a news conference that a “safe third country” agreement with the United States “is not going to happen,” though he later appeared to hedge on that, saying only it would need prior congressional approval.
He said Mexico would maintain its current asylum practices.
Mexico’s asylum system is also currently overwhelmed by a rise in requests.
The U.S. published a new rule in the Federal Register that says asylum seekers who pass through another country first will be ineligible for asylum at the U.S. southern border. The rule, expected to go into effect Tuesday, also applies to children who have crossed the U.S.-Mexico border alone.
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10:10 a.m.
Guatemala’s top court has blocked any move by the country’s president to sign a “safe third country” agreement with the United States, a deal that would complicate efforts by other nationalities to seek asylum in the U.S.
A “safe third country” agreement would mean that people from El Salvador, Honduras or other nations generally would have to seek asylum in Guatemala if they cross that country rather than in the United States.
The Constitutional Court granted three injunctions late Sunday to prevent President Jimmy Morales from signing such an agreement. The injunctions had been sought by a group including three former Guatemalan foreign ministers.
Earlier in the day, Guatemala called off a planned Monday meeting in Washington between Morales and President Donald Trump to discuss immigration and security issues.
A new Trump administration rule published Monday would bar Central American migrants from seeking asylum in the U.S. if they’ve traveled through another country first.
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9:50 a.m.
An American Civil Liberties Union attorney says a new Trump administration rule that bars most Central American migrants from seeking asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border is “patently unlawful.”
Attorney Lee Gelernt says the rule, if it goes into effect, would effectively eliminate asylum for those at the southern border.
Under the Immigration and Nationality Act governing asylum in the U.S., anyone can claim asylum at the border regardless of how he or she arrived. There are some exceptions, including whether an asylum seeker passed through a “safe” country first.
The new rule published Monday states that anyone who has crossed through another country to get to the U.S. is ineligible for asylum. It’s expected to take effect Tuesday. Tens of thousands of migrant families from Central America have been crossing the U.S.-Mexico border each month.
Attorney General William Barr says the new rule uses “a lawful exercise of authority.”
A legal challenge is expected.
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9:35 a.m.
Attorney General William Barr says a new rule by the Trump administration uses “a lawful exercise of authority” to crack down on asylum claims at the U.S.-Mexico border.
The rule was published Monday and will go into effect Tuesday, blocking migrants from seeking asylum in the United States if they’ve traveled through another country first. Tens of thousands of migrant families from Central America travel through Mexico to the U.S. each month, many claiming asylum.
Barr says the U.S. is being “completely overwhelmed” by migration at the southern border.
Homeland Security acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan says the new rule “will help reduce a major ‘pull’ factor driving irregular migration.”
The rule is almost certain to face a legal challenge.
Immigrant rights groups say the Republican administration’s policies are a cruel effort to keep immigrants out.
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8:45 a.m.
The Trump administration is moving to end asylum protections for most Central American migrants.
A rule published Monday bars migrants from seeking asylum in the United States if they’ve traveled through another country first.
Tens of thousands of migrant families from Central America travel through Mexico to the U.S. each month, many claiming asylum. The Trump administration claims families are taking advantage of legal loopholes it says allow migrants a free pass to the country while they wait out phony asylum requests.
The rule is almost certain to face a legal challenge.
U.S. law allows refugees to request asylum when they arrive at the U.S. regardless of how they did so. But there’s an exception for those who have come through a country considered “safe.”
Immigrant rights groups say the Republican administration’s policies are a cruel effort to keep immigrants out.

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