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Activists riot against G-20 summit for 3rd night in Hamburg

(Associated Press)

Photo:Policemen stand behind a burning barricade in the so-called 'Schanzenviertel' area, on the sidelines of the G-20 summit, early Sunday, July 9, 2017, in Hamburg. Rioters set up street barricades, looted supermarkets and attacked police with slingshots and firebombs. (Daniel Bockwoldt/dpa via AP)

HAMBURG — Anti-globalization activists rioted for a third consecutive night in Hamburg early yesterday even after Group of 20 leaders had already left the port city in northern Germany.

Police again used water cannon trucks against rioters attacking them with iron rods and pavement stones. They arrested 186 protesters and temporarily detained another 225 people. Officials say 476 officers have been injured in the violence since Thursday. The number of injured protesters wasn't clear.

Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel condemned the violence, saying "Germany's reputation is severely affected internationally by the events in Hamburg."

Gabriel told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper that a Europe-wide investigative team should search for suspects.

Hamburg's police president Ralf Meyer told reporters at a news conference that while he was proud of the 20,000 police officers who managed to provide security for the many international leaders and their delegations, it was deplorable that so many of them were injured and that the violent riots couldn't be prevented.

The city's interior minister said they hadn't expected this kind of brutality by leftist extremists.

"We had to deal — detached from the actual events at the summit — with ruthless acts of violence by criminals," Andy Grote said.

The city's officials reiterated that those who suffered from the destruction would quickly receive financial support from the government. Cars were torched, stores looted, bikes burned in street barricades and windows smashed during the three-day violence.

The overwhelming majority of the tens of thousands who took to the streets protested peacefully against the G-20 summit, demanding quicker action against global warming and more help for refugees.

The summit, which took place on Friday and Saturday, was hosted by German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Guests included President Donald Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin and many other international leaders who held talks on contentious issues like climate, trade, terrorism and migration.

North Korea missile launch: Trump berates China on trade

-BBC

Photo: Missiles fired during US-South Korea drills serve as warning to North Korea


Donald Trump has criticised China following North Korea's test of a long-range missile, condemning it for increasing trade with Pyongyang.
"So much for China working with us," the US president tweeted.
The US and South Korea conducted a ballistic missile fire exercise in the Sea of Japan in response to the North.
China and Russia have urged both sides to stop flexing their military muscle and said they oppose any attempts at regime change in North Korea.
"It is perfectly clear to Russia and China that any attempts to justify the use of force by referring to [United Nations] Security Council resolutions are unacceptable, and will lead to unpredictable consequences in this region which borders both the Russian Federation and the People's Republic of China," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.
"Attempts to strangle the DPRK [North Korea] economically are equally unacceptable," he added.
The missile launch, the latest in a series of tests, was in defiance of a ban by the UN Security Council.
The US has asked for an urgent meeting of the Security Council to discuss the issue. A closed-door session of the 15-member body will take place later on Wednesday.
Donald Trump and Melania Trump depart for travel to Poland and the upcoming G-20 summit in Germany, from the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, U.S. (July 5, 2017)Image copyrightREUTERS
The US president held talks with China's leader Xi Jinping at his Mar-a-Lago retreat in Florida in April.
Mr Trump hailed "tremendous progress" with China after those meetings.
The trade figures showing an increase in trade between China and North Korea, which he was apparently referring to in Wednesday's critical tweet, cover the period before that April meeting.
The US president is now en route to Poland and Germany, where he will meet Mr Xi for the second time.
Is the new missile test a game-changer?
Can the US defend itself against N Korea?
China, which is Pyongyang's main economic ally, and Russia have called on North Korea to suspend its ballistic missile programme in exchange for a halt on the large-scale military exercises by the US and South Korea.
Mr Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin, who met in Moscow on Tuesday, said "the opposing sides should start negotiations".
Japan on Tuesday said "repeated provocations like this are absolutely unacceptable" and lodged a protest.
Possible solutions to crisis
What has North Korea said?
Tuesday's launch was North Korea's first-ever test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
State news agency KCNA quoted leader Kim Jong-un as saying the test was a "gift" to the Americans on their independence day.
The report warned of the possibility of more tests, saying he ordered officials to "frequently send big and small 'gift packages' to the Yankees".
Pyongyang said earlier the Hwasong-14 ICBM had reached an altitude of 2,802km (1,731 miles) and flew 933km for 39 minutes before hitting a target in the sea.
Have North Korea's missile tests paid off?
North Korea, it said, was now "a full-fledged nuclear power that has been possessed of the most powerful inter-continental ballistic rocket capable of hitting any part of the world".
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What is an ICBM?
ICBM flight track
A long-range missile usually designed to carry a nuclear warhead
The minimum range is 5,500km (3,400 miles), although most fly about 10,000km or more
Pyongyang has previously displayed two types of ICBMs: the KN-08, with a range of 11,500km, and the KN-14, with a range of 10,000km, but before 4 July had not claimed to have flight tested an ICBM. It is not clear what differentiates the Hwasong-14
North Korea's missile programme in detail
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Does North Korea really have a long-range weapon now?
Some experts believe that Tuesday's test proves that North Korea has a missile that could travel across the globe and reach Alaska.
Map showing estimates of North Korean missile ranges
Physicist David Wright said it could reach a maximum range of about 6,700km on a standard trajectory, while South Korea's defence ministry on Wednesday put the range between 7,000 and 8,000km.
But whether that missile could deliver a warhead is still a question.
Pyongyang claimed the rocket carried a "heavy warhead" and that it "accurately hit the targeted waters without any structural breakdown".
South Korea said there was no evidence proving the missile could withstand high temperatures and successfully re-enter the atmosphere, reported Yonhap news agency.
Experts believe Pyongyang does not yet have the capability to miniaturise a nuclear warhead, fit it onto a long-range missile, and ensure it is protected until delivery to the target.
They say many of North Korea's missiles cannot accurately hit targets.
But others believe that at the rate it is going, Pyongyang may overcome these challenges and develop a nuclear weapon that could strike the US within five to 10 years.
How advanced is North Korea's nuclear programme?
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What now for Washington? - Dr John Nilsson-Wright, Chatham House
The intercontinental ballistic missile Hwasong-14 is seen during its test launch in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang, 4 July 2017Image copyrightKCNA
Image caption
North Korean media released this image of Tuesday's missile launch
By bringing Alaska within range, the new missile test is an unambiguous game-changer in both symbolical and practical terms.
US territory (albeit separate from the contiguous continental US) is now finally within Pyongyang's cross-hairs.
For the first time a US president has to accept that the North poses a "real and present" danger not merely to north-east Asia and America's key allies - but to the US proper.
President Trump's weakness lies in having overplayed his hand too publicly and too loudly.

German bus inferno killed 18 in Bavaria, police say

BBC
Eighteen people are believed to have died when their tour bus crashed and burst into flames on the A9 motorway in southern Germany, police say.
The bus was in a collision with a lorry near Stammbach in north Bavaria.
Thirty people escaped the fire, two of whom are critically hurt. The bus was carrying German pensioners from Saxony.
Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann said rescuers were delayed by "gawpers" driving slowly and by the intensity of the blaze.
It is not clear why the bus crashed - traffic was reportedly moving slowly at the time. Nor is it clear why flames engulfed the whole bus so quickly.
The lorry's trailer was also incinerated and the burnt-out wreck ended up a short distance ahead of the bus. The German news website Frankenpost reports that it was carrying mattresses and pillows.
The lorry driver was unharmed and told police the bus had crashed into his vehicle and burst into flames, it said.
There were 46 passengers and two drivers on the bus. One driver was among those killed. The passengers were men and women aged 41 to 81, from the Dresden area, heading to Lake Garda in Italy for a holiday.
Forensic teams have recovered the charred remains of 11 people so far.
Bavaria map showing crash site
Five rescue helicopters joined emergency workers at the scene.
Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was distressed by the accident and expressed sympathy for the injured and bereaved relatives.
She thanked the rescuers for looking after people "in an appalling situation".
A police spokesman told German news channel n-tv that there were good medical facilities in Bayreuth, not far from the scene.

Germany set for snap gay marriage vote

 

 

 

 

Photo: A balloon chain in rainbow colours is seen in front of the Reichstag building housing the German parliament as activists of the LGBT movement demonstrate against homophobia. Photo: 17 May 2017Image copyrightDPA

The reform would give gay men and lesbians full marital rights
German MPs are expected to vote to legalise same-sex marriage, days after Chancellor Angela Merkel dropped her opposition to the idea.
The reform would give gay men and lesbians full marital rights, and allow them to adopt children.
At present, German same-sex couples are limited to civil unions.
On Monday Mrs Merkel, who previously opposed a vote on gay marriage, said she would allow MPs from her CDU party to "follow their conscience".
How did Merkel prompt the vote?
During her 2013 election campaign, Angela Merkel argued against gay marriage on the grounds of "children's welfare," and admitted that she had a "hard time" with the issue.


German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Photo: 29 June 2017Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES

 


Mrs Merkel says she had a "life-changing experience" when she met a lesbian couple who cared for eight foster children
But at an event hosted by the women's magazine "Brigitte" on 26 June, she shocked the German media by announcing on stage that she had noted other parties' support for it, and would allow a free vote in the future.
The usually-cautious chancellor said she had had a "life-changing experience" in her home constituency, where she had dinner with a lesbian couple who cared for eight foster children together.
As the news spread on Twitter, supporters rallied under the hashtag #EheFuerAlle (MarriageForAll) - and started calling for a vote as soon as possible.
Will the vote pass?
Yes, with strong cross-party support it is expected to.
A recent survey by the government's anti-discrimination agency found that 83% of Germans are in favour of marriage equality.
The day after the Republic of Ireland voted to legalise gay marriage in May 2015, almost every German newspaper splashed a rainbow across its front page.
"It's time, Mrs Merkel" Green party leader Katrin Goering-Eckhart exclaimed then. "The Merkel faction cannot just sit out the debate on marriage for everyone."
Why is this happening now?
Because of an upcoming general election.
Germans go to the polls on 24 September, and the sudden Merkel turnaround will deprive her opponents of a campaign issue.
The Greens, the far-left Linke, and the pro-business Free Democrats all back same-sex marriage. In fact, they have refused to enter a future coalition deal unless reform is agreed on.
Mrs Merkel's current coalition partners - the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) - have done the same.
The right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) is now the only party to oppose same-sex marriage.
Conservatives within Mrs Merkel's party, the Christian Democrats (CDU), are against a change in the law, however.
They have argued that a gay marriage bill would require a change to the constitution, and that marriage between a man and a woman should enjoy special protection.
The CDU's Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), has also expressed opposition.
Its members champion "traditional" families - and pragmatist Mrs Merkel needs their votes in the September election.
Commentators say this partly explains why she has rejected a vote on marriage equality until now.
How did Merkel's opponents react?
Amid a groundswell of public support for a vote, Mrs Merkel's rivals have moved to capitalise politically.
A day after her comments, the SDP's candidate for the chancellorship Martin Schulz declared - "we will take her at her word," and called for an immediate vote.
The Greens and Linke promptly backed the prospect.
The CDU responded by condemning the SDP, its coalition partner, for its "breach of trust" after four years of joint rule.
The angry exchange came just days after Mr Schulz angered conservatives by accusing Mrs Merkel of an "attack on democracy", saying she was deliberately making politics boring so that opposition supporters wouldn't bother to vote.
Has the vote been politicised?
On Wednesday, Mrs Merkel branded the political dispute "totally unnecessary" in an interview with business weekly Wirtschafts Woche (in German)..
"This isn't about some legislative footnote, but... a decision that touches on people's deepest convictions and on marriage, a cornerstone of our society", she said.
Die Welt, a German national daily agreed.
"This could have been a great moment for Germany's parliament. But the CDU/CSU have been forced into a corner and all the joy has been drained," it wrote.
Where else in Europe has same-sex marriage?
A host of European countries have beaten Germany to a same-sex marriage law.
Civil marriages are legally recognised in Norway, Sweden, Denmark (excluding the Faroe Islands), Finland, Iceland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Luxembourg, France, the UK (except Northern Ireland and Jersey), and the Republic of Ireland.
But in Austria and Italy - as in Germany - gay couples are restricted to civil partnerships.-BBC

Vatican Sex Abuse Scandal Reveals Blind Spot for Francis

By JASON HOROWITZ and LAURIE GOODSTEIN/NY TIMES


Photo: Cardinal George Pell, at the Vatican on Thursday, said he would return to Australia to defend himself. Credit Gregorio Borgia/Associated Press

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis came to power promising not only to create a more inclusive church and to clean up an ossified Vatican bureaucracy, but also to remove the stain of child sex abuse.

A global pedophilia scandal plagued his two immediate processors. With Francis’s election in 2013, many expected progress. Francis talked about powerful committees to safeguard children, tribunals to try bishops and a “zero tolerance” policy for offending priests.

It hasn’t exactly worked out that way.

On Thursday, the Vatican announced that Francis had granted a leave of absence to Cardinal George Pell, now the highest-ranking Roman Catholic prelate to be formally charged with sexual offenses, and one the pope had brought into his inner circle even as a cloud of allegations swirled over the cardinal in Australia.

“We talked about my need to take leave to clear my name,” Cardinal Pell, 76, stone-faced in simple black cleric’s clothes, said as he sat next to the Vatican’s spokesman and reiterated his innocence. “So I’m very grateful to the Holy Father for giving me this leave to return to Australia.”

 

It was unusual and jarring, bad news for a pontificate that has mostly bathed in global adoration and done wonders to improve the public image of the church.

But for all of Francis’s good works, good will and popularity, disappointed critics saw Cardinal Pell’s removal as only the latest evidence that a pope who has focused the world’s attention on issues from climate change to peace on earth has his own blind spot when it comes to sex abuse in his ranks.

“What happened today clearly demonstrates that the revolution of Francis in the church, when it comes to the issue of sex abuse, is in name only, and not in deeds,” said Emiliano Fittipaldi, an Italian journalist and the author of “Lust,” a book published this year about sex abuse in the Vatican that begins with a chapter about Cardinal Pell.

He said that despite the pope’s talk, “the fight against pedophilia is not a priority for Francis.”

Some have long questioned why Francis brought Cardinal Pell to Rome in 2014 in the first place, charging that he had offered the prelate an escape hatch just as the Australian Royal Commission examining institutional responses to child sexual abuse had begun its work in earnest.

At the very least, the choice seemed to demonstrate that the pope’s determination to dismantle the power hierarchies of the Roman Curia, which he had hoped Cardinal Pell could help him with, was a greater priority and had led him to overlook warning signs.

Despite serious ideological differences, Francis handpicked the arch-conservative Cardinal Pell to lead his Secretariat for the Economy, bringing him to Rome to use his well regarded financial acumen to clean up the church’s muddied finances. Right away, Cardinal Pell acknowledged that “hundreds of millions of euros” had been “tucked away” off the Vatican’s books.

Pope Francis then brought Cardinal Pell onto his powerful Council of Cardinals, a nine-person group that wields enormous power in the Curia. The Australian’s brashness made him enemies among entrenched Vatican officials who took his calls for financial transparency as a threat to their power.

Even as Cardinal Pell struggled to improve one aspect of the church’s image, he came with a separate cloud of scandal. The Australian Royal Commission found more than four thousand people who alleged they had been sexually abused in the church as children.

Cardinal Pell testified that he had made “enormous mistakes” in failing to remove priests accused of abuse when he served as archbishop of Melbourne, and then Sydney.

But if the Pope was displeased with Cardinal Pell, it was not publicly evident.

When allegations that Cardinal Pell had been an abuser himself began leaking into the Australian press, and when he testified for hours to the Royal Commission in February 2016 via video link from a Rome hotel, the cardinal insisted that he had “the full backing of the pope.”

Victims rights groups generally see the pontificate of John Paul II as a disaster with respect to sex abuse in the church, as he presided over vast cover-ups and a period of little accountability.

His successor, Pope Benedict, who read many of the ghastly reports during his time as the Vatican’s doctrinal watchdog, made key policy changes to protect children and hold priests accountable for abuse. But he largely left bishops untouched.

Francis initially raised expectations that he would be more serious than his predecessors about rooting out abusers and demanding accountability.

Nine months after he became pope, he created a commission of outside experts to advise the church on how to protect children and prevent abuse.

Skeptics pointed out that the commission was announced in the midst of hearings by a United Nations panel in Geneva that subjected the Vatican to blistering criticism over the handling of sexual abuse cases.

The commission initially included two survivors of sexual abuse who had been openly critical of the church. Since then, one was forced out and the other left, with both saying the Vatican had failed to follow through on its promises.

Pope Francis acted on the commission’s proposal to create a tribunal to discipline bishops who covered up abuse — but then dispensed with the tribunal when it hit resistance within the Vatican.

The pope later issued an edict, titled “As a Loving Mother,” saying that the Vatican already had all the offices necessary to investigate and discipline negligent bishops, and would do so. But no discipline or sanctions have ever been announced.

“Pope Francis has a lot of explaining to do,” said the Rev. James E. Connell, a priest in Milwaukee, a canon lawyer, and a founding member of Catholic Whistleblowers, a group of priests, nuns and others who advocate for victims. “He sets up these things and then kills them and doesn’t follow through. And these are all matters of justice.”

Father Connell said the group had sent files of documents to Pope Francis and the Vatican on three American bishops the group accused of particularly egregious cover-ups of child abuse, and heard nothing back.

Pope Francis’ focus on mercy as a central teaching may also be a blind spot, Father Connell said. “We hear a lot from the pope about mercy, and fine, we hope the Lord is merciful. But at the same time, justice must be rendered,” he said.

Marie Collins, one of the two survivors who served on the commission that Francis created, said in a blog post on Thursday that it was already clear that Cardinal Pell was guilty of the “appalling mishandling” of priests who abused children while he served as a bishop.

She said Cardinal Pell should have stepped down from his Vatican position long ago, even before he faced charges of sexual offenses.

“He should never have been allowed to hide out in the Vatican to avoid having to face those in his home country who needed answers,” she wrote, adding that Cardinal Pell’s case has shown “how little reliance we can put on assurances from the Catholic Church that bishops and religious superiors will face sanctions if they mishandle abuse cases.”

Francis also provoked outrage when he appointed as bishop Juan Barros, an acolyte of Chile’s most infamous serial abuser connected to the church — the Rev. Fernando Karadima. Bishop Barros stood by Father Karadima, who was tried and found guilty by the Vatican and was forced to retire.

Then Francis stood firmly by Bishop Barros when priests and parishioners disrupted his installation ceremony and wrote letters pleading with the pope to rescind the appointment. Francis was later caught on videotape in Rome calling the Chileans who objected to the bishop “stupid” and “leftists.”

Advocates of sex abuse victims were affronted once again in February when, in keeping with his vision for a more merciful church, he reduced sanctions against some priests convicted of pedophilia. The Vatican has also been criticized as retreating into a bunker mentality when accusations were made against its own.

“It is important to recall that Cardinal Pell has openly and repeatedly condemned as immoral and intolerable acts of abuse committed against minors,” the Vatican spokesman, Greg Burke, said on Thursday after Cardinal Pell read his statement.

He added, “the Holy Father, who has appreciated Cardinal Pell’s honesty during his three years at work in the Roman Curia, is grateful for his collaboration.”

Jason Horowitz reported from the Vatican, and Laurie Goodstein from New York.

US armed services seek delay in taking in transgender recruits

By Reuters

US soldiers prepare to offload an M1 Abrams tank from a train at the Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base in Romania. (Reuters)
The Pentagon said on Friday it was reviewing recommendations from the U.S. military chiefs that included calls for more time to implement plans to allow new transgender recruits to join the U.S. armed forces.

Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said no decision on the matter had been made yet.

“Different services had different takes. So, some asked for time,” she said.

The Pentagon ended its ban on openly transgender people serving in the U.S. military in 2016 under the Obama administration. It was expected to also start allowing transgender individuals to begin enlisting this year, provided they had been “stable” in their preferred gender for 18 months.

News of a potential delay under President Donald Trump’s administration alarmed transgender advocates.

“There are thousands of transgender service members openly and proudly serving our nation today … what matters is the ability to get the job done — not their gender identity,” said Stephen Peters of the Human Rights Campaign.

Last year, then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter cited a study by the RAND Corporation saying there were about 2,500 transgender active-duty service members and 1,500 reserve transgender service members.

Rand’s figures were within a range, which at the upper end reached 7,000 active duty forces and 4,000 reserves.

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