EarthLink – News

EarthLink – News

AP PHOTOS: German herdsmen lead autumn Alpine cattle drive
09:51 EDT
BAD HINDELANG, Germany (AP) — Bavarian herdsmen have gathered together in the Alps in for an annual autumn ritual, driving their herds of cattle from high mountain pastures to the valley below in preparation for the cold winter to come.
Dressed in traditional lederhosen pants and felted hats garnished with flowers and other adornments, the herdsmen of all ages drove about 700 cattle Wednesday down from their pastures high above the town of Bad Hindelang as tourists watched on.
The annual ritual sees the animals, some themselves adorned with wreaths of autumn flowers, brought down from Alpine pastures, between 800 and 1,200 meters (some 2,600 to 4,000 feet) above sea level, to winter in the warmer areas below.

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Saudis condemn Israeli PM’s West Bank annexations plans
By ARON HELLER | 02:51 EDT
JERUSALEM (AP) — Saudi Arabia on Wednesday denounced Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s pre-election vow to annex parts of the West Bank as a “very dangerous escalation,” adding to a chorus of international condemnations and injecting the issue of Palestinian statehood into an election campaign that had all but ignored it.
The strongly worded statement from the Saudi royal court, which runs the affairs of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, marked a significant rebuke from a regional power that had grown closer to Israel in recent years over its shared concerns about Iran’s growing belligerency.
Netanyahu said Tuesday he’d extend Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley if he is re-elected in the vote next week and would move to annex Jewish settlements. Critics said this could inflame the Middle East and eliminate any remaining Palestinian hope of establishing a separate state.
Netanyahu has made similar pledges to annex West Bank settlements before and hasn’t followed through. The move was widely viewed in Israel as Netanyahu’s latest campaign stunt to try and draw in more right-wing voters. It appeared unlikely to spark a major reaction in the Arab world, where championing the Palestinian cause has waned in favor of more pressing regional concerns.
But Jordan and the United Nations immediately rejected the proposal and Saudi Arabia made it clear that “there is no peace without the return of the occupied Palestinian territories” as it called for an emergency meeting of Arab foreign ministers.
“The Arab and Islamic worlds’ preoccupation with many local and regional crises will not affect the status of the Palestinian cause,” the royal court said in a statement. “Israel’s attempts to impose a fait accompli policy will not obliterate the inalienable and protected rights of the Palestinian people.”
Turkey’s Foreign Ministry joined in denouncing Netanyahu, calling his statement “a new manifestation of Israel’s decades-long occupation and unlawful practices.” Ankara called on the international community “not to remain silent.”
The 57-nation Organization for Islamic Cooperation also condemned Netanyahu’s proposal, saying it would convene to “take urgent political and legal measures to address this aggressive Israeli position.”
The six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council likewise condemned Netanyahu’s announcement. Some members of the GCC, which includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, had been edging closer to forming open ties with Israel in recent years — something Netanyahu himself had touted as one of his major diplomatic achievements.
Netanyahu said it was important to act now as President Donald Trump prepares to unveil his Mideast peace plan after the Sept. 17 elections in Israel.
Ayman Odeh, leader of the Joint List of Arab parties in Israel’s parliament, responded to Netanyahu’s proposal saying that “anything that prevents the establishment of a Palestinian state means apartheid.”
Israel captured the West Bank and east Jerusalem from Jordan in the 1967 war. Over 2.5 million Palestinians now live there, in addition to nearly 700,000 Jewish settlers. Israel already has annexed east Jerusalem in a move that is not internationally recognized. The international community, along with the Palestinians, overwhelmingly considers Israeli settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem illegal.
The Jordan Valley is relatively sparsely populated and seen by Israel as a key strategic asset since it provides a buffer zone against potential attacks from the east. Even moderate Israelis believe Israel should retain some element of control in the area under a peace deal.
Netanyahu did not detail what would happen to the Palestinian residents of the Jordan Valley if he went forward with his plan.
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Associated Press writers Jon Gambrell and Aya Batrawy in Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Alon Bernstein in Jerusalem and Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey, contributed to this report.

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South Korea initiating WTO complaint over Japan trade curbs
By KIM TONG-HYUNG | 12:46 EDT
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea said Wednesday it will initiate a complaint to the World Trade Organization over Japan’s tightened export controls on key materials South Korean companies use to make computer chips and displays.
South Korea, which has accused Tokyo of weaponizing trade to retaliate over political disputes, will formally request bilateral consultations with Japan on Wednesday as the first step in the WTO dispute settlement process, said Yoo Myung-hee, a senior official at South Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.
She said the country is also considering whether to pursue WTO action over Japan’s move to delist South Korea as a preferential trade partner.
Japan in July imposed tighter export controls on three chemicals South Korean companies use to produce semiconductors and displays for smartphones and TVs, citing unspecified security concerns over South Korea’s export controls on sensitive materials that could be used for military purposes.
The measures, which weeks later were followed by Japan’s move to exclude South Korea from its “white list” of countries with fast-track trade status, triggered a full-blown diplomatic row that saw relations sink to a low unseen in decades.
South Korea says Japan’s trade measures threaten its export-dependent economy, where many manufacturers rely on materials and parts imported from Japan. It claims Tokyo is retaliating over South Korean court rulings that called for Japanese companies to offer reparations to aging South Korean plaintiffs over World War II forced labor.
Japan insists that all compensation matters were settled when the two countries normalized relations under a 1965 treaty and that the South Korean court rulings go against international law.
“Japan’s export restriction on the three materials were based on political motivation related to rulings by our Supreme Court on forced labor,” Yoo said at a news conference. “It was a discriminatory measure that directly targets only our country.”
Hiroshige Seko, Japan’s minister of economy, trade and industry, told reporters in Tokyo he thought hardly any WTO member countries were sympathetic to South Korea’s position.
“Regardless, it is clear that our action is consistent with the WTO,” he said.
Seko added that Tokyo would study the demands and respond according to the proper WTO procedures.
If Japan accepts South Korea’s request, the countries must hold consultations for a minimum 60 days. If Japan refuses the consultations or if the talks fail, South Korea could request a WTO panel ruling on the dispute. The process usually takes about 15 months but may also last years, said Jeong Hae-seong, a South Korean trade ministry official.
The measures Tokyo introduced in July require Japanese companies to receive case-by-case inspections and approval on the shipments of the three materials to South Korea, which takes up to 90 days, compared to the previous fast-track process that took one or two weeks, South Korean officials said. Yoo said Japan approved the shipments of the materials only three times since the measures took effect on July 4.
Seoul has vowed countermeasures and announced plans to similarly downgrade Japan’s trade status and terminate a bilateral military intelligence-sharing pact with Japan that symbolized the countries’ three-way security cooperation with the United States in face of North Korea’s nuclear threat and China’s growing influence.
Following an angry reaction from Washington, Seoul later said it could reconsider its decision to end the military agreement, which remains in effect until November, if Japan relists South Korea as a favored trade partner.
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Associated Press writer Yuri Kageyama in Tokyo contributed to the report.

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Rocket blast at US Embassy in Kabul on 9/11 anniversary
By CARA ANNA 05:26 EDT
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A rocket exploded at the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan just minutes into Wednesday, the anniversary of the 9/11 attack on the United States, but officials at the compound declared all-clear about an hour later and reported no injuries.
A plume of smoke rose over central Kabul shortly after midnight and sirens could be heard. Inside the embassy, employees heard this message over the loudspeaker: “An explosion caused by a rocket has occurred on compound.”
There was no immediate comment from Afghan officials. The NATO mission, which is nearby, also said no personnel had been injured.
It was the first major attack in the Afghan capital since President Donald Trump abruptly called off U.S.-Taliban talks over the weekend, on the brink of an apparent deal to end America’s longest war.
Two Taliban car bombs shook Kabul last week, killing several civilians and two members of the NATO mission. Trump has cited the death of a U.S. service member in one of those blasts as the reason why he now calls the U.S.-Taliban talks “dead.”
The 9/11 anniversary is a sensitive day in Afghanistan’s capital and one on which attacks have occurred. A U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan shortly after the 2001 attack toppled the Taliban, who had harbored Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaida leader and attacks mastermind.
In the nearly 18 years of fighting since then, the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan soared to 100,000 and dropped dramatically after bin Laden was killed in neighboring Pakistan in 2011.
Now about 14,000 U.S. troops remain and Trump has called it “ridiculous” that they are still in Afghanistan after so long and so many billions of dollars spent.
It is not clear whether the U.S.-Taliban talks will resume.

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Charity ship takes on 34 migrants off Libya, rejects port
By RENATA BRITO 01:51 EDT
ABOARD THE OCEAN VIKING (AP) — A group of 34 migrants that included a pregnant woman and a small child safely moved during a thunderstorm from a charity-operated sailboat responsible for their rescue to a larger humanitarian ship in the Mediterranean Sea north of Libya.
Wrapped in shiny thermal blankets, 22 men, six women and a 1-year-old boy were transferred late Monday in international waters about 120 kilometers (75 miles) off the Libyan coast, near the Bouri offshore oil field.
The crew of a 14-meter-long sailboat operated by German charity Resqship picked up the migrants from a rubber boat with a broken engine earlier Monday.
The passengers were relocated in pouring rain to the Ocean Viking, a much bigger aid ship jointly run by Doctors Without Borders and SOS Mediterranee, after the sailboat declared a state of emergency.
One of the women was 8 months pregnant, according to a midwife on the Norwegian-flagged ship. An Associated Press journalist who also was on board witnessed the transfer.
The Ocean Viking is now carrying more than 80 migrants. The ship rescued 50 migrants over the weekend, including a pregnant woman at full term.
The ship has requested a safe place to disembark passengers. Libya’s rescue coordination center gave authorization to enter the Libyan port of Zawiyah. Doctors Without Borders, known by its French initials MSF, said the Ocean Viking’s crew declined the assignment because the U.N. refugee agency doesn’t consider Libya safe.
“From our work providing medical care in Libyan detention centers, MSF know this all too well, having witnessed how people are trapped in inhumane conditions and vulnerable to abuse, often caught in the crossfire of ongoing conflict,” the group said in a statement.
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Follow AP’s full coverage at: https://www.apnews.com/migrants

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