Al Qaeda-linked Islamist group al Shabab claimed responsibility for hotel the attack in Somalia killing 26.

MOGADISHU/GAROWE, Somalia (Reuters) – Islamist gunmen killed 26 people, including Kenyans, Americans, a Briton and Tanzanians, when they stormed a hotel in Somalia’s southern port city of Kismayo, a regional state president said on Saturday, the deadliest day in the city since insurgents were driven out in 2012.
A car bomb exploded at the hotel where local elders and lawmakers were having a meeting on Friday night, and then three gunmen stormed in, police said. It took 11 hours before security forces ended the all-night siege, police officer Major Mohamed Abdi told Reuters.
The dead included a presidential candidate for August’s regional elections, Jubbaland state president Ahmed Mohamed Madobe said in a statement. At least two journalists and a U.N. agency staff member were also reported to have been killed.

 

 
Al Qaeda-linked Islamist group al Shabaab, which is trying to topple Somalia’s weak U.N.-backed government, immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.
Abdiasis Abu Musab, the group’s military operations spokesman, said on Saturday the militants had killed 30 people and four al Shabaab fighters had also been killed. The jihadist group and government officials tend to give differing casualty figures for attacks.
Regional president Madobe said three Kenyans, one Briton, two Americans and three Tanzanians were among those killed.

“Among the dead was also a Jubbaland presidential candidate named Shuuriye. Four militants attacked the hotel. One of them was the suicide car bomber, two were shot dead and one was captured alive by Jubbaland security forces,” he said.
He said 56 people were wounded in the attack, including two Chinese citizens.

Police had said earlier all the attackers had been killed.
The UK Foreign Office said in a statement it was in touch with local authorities seeking more information. U.S. authorities did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Kismayo resident Osman Nur told Reuters the explosion had destroyed huge parts of the hotel and nearby businesses and security forces were deployed all over the city. TV footage showed walls peppered with bullet holes and furniture strewn across the hotel courtyard.

Another anguished resident said she lost relatives in the attack.

“I have been looking for the whereabouts of my nephew who worked at the hotel. I got his dead body this morning and have just buried him,” Halima Nur, a mother of four, told Reuters by phone.
“And this afternoon I will attend the burial of other relatives.”

NAMING THE DEAD
The Somalia office of the U.N.’s International Organization for Migration said one of its local staff members, Abdifatah Mohamed, was among those killed. SADO Somalia, a local non-governmental organisation, said its executive director Abdullahi Isse Abdulle had died in the attack.

Two journalists were among the dead; Somali-Canadian Hodan Naleyah, the founder of Integration TV, and Mohamed Sahal Omar, a reporter for SBC TV in Kismayo.
Jubbaland president Madobe said Jama Fariid, Naleyah’s husband, had also been killed.

“Through her work as a journalist, Hodan highlighted the community’s positive stories and contributions in Canada. She became a voice for many. We mourn her loss deeply, and all others killed in the #KismayoAttack,” Ahmed Hussen, Canada’s immigration minister, said on Twitter.

Also among those killed was Mahad Nur, a Tanzanian hotelier, property developer and supermarket owner.

“Saddened by the death of Mahad Nur following a bomb blast in Kismayu yesterday… My thoughts and prayers are with his family.” Tanzanian deputy health minister Faustine Ndugulile said on Twitter.

Jubbaland’s minister of planning, Just Aw Hersi, confirmed the deaths of several prominent Somalis on Twitter. He said some of the foreigners held dual Somali citizenship.

Al Shabaab was forced out of Mogadishu in 2011 and has since lost most of its other strongholds.

It was driven out of Kismayo in 2012 by Kenyan forces supporting a regional militia headed by Madobe. The city’s port had been a major source of revenue for the group from taxes, charcoal exports and levies on arms and other illegal imports.
Kismayo is the commercial capital of Jubbaland, a region of southern Somalia still partly controlled by al Shabaab.
The group remains a major security threat, with fighters frequently carrying out bombings in Somalia and neighbouring Kenya, whose troops form part of the African Union-mandated peacekeeping force that helps defend the Somali government.
Somalia is scheduled to have parliamentary elections this month and presidential elections next month. But relations between the central government and its federal states have sometimes been rocky amid arguments over power and resources.

 

SOURCE:

http://www.msn.com/en-xl/africa/africa-top-stories/car-bomb-and-all-night-hotel-siege-kill-26-in-somalias-kismayo/ar-AAEfxpB?li=BBQbcGp&ocid=spartanntp

 

 

 

 

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Saudi Arabia will soon allow women to leave the country without needing permission from a male relative.

Saudi Arabia could be planning to relax the country’s strict male guardianship laws to allow women to leave the country without needing permission from a male relative, according to reports.

Travel restrictions for women over the age of 18 are due to be lifted this year, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday, quoting Saudi officials familiar with the matter.

The planned changes would also lift restrictions on international travel for men under the age of 21 without the consent of designated male family members.

 

Potential reforms to travel rules for women were also mentioned in Saudi Arabia’s Okaz newspaper on Tuesday.
Such a move would have a radical impact on life in the conservative kingdom, where human rights organisations say the male guardianship system makes women second-class citizens.

Saudi women still need the permission of a male relative to make major life decisions, including marriage, divorce and obtaining a passport. The system also makes it difficult for women to seek help for domestic and sexual violence issues or win child custody cases.

 

The kingdom’s guardianship laws have been under renewed scrutiny this year after a series of young Saudi women fled the country seeking asylum. In January, 18-year-old Rahaf Mohammed Mutlaq al-Qunun made headlines after escaping alleged abuse at the hands of her family and barricading herself in a hotel room in Thailand. She was eventually given refugee status in Canada.

The reported changes to travel rules are understood to be recommended by a government committee set up in 2017 to review the country’s often ad hoc implementation of the guardianship laws.

“There is no question that the leadership, the government and the people want to see this system changed,” a Saudi royal with knowledge of the planned changes told the Journal.

 

“The current discussion is about how to make this happen as soon as possible without causing a stir.”

The impetus to reform the travel rules had come “from the top”, another senior adviser said.

The Saudi interior ministry, through which such changes would have to be implemented, did not immediately respond to the Guardian’s request for comment.

The reported lifting of travel restrictions was met with a mixture of optimism and caution by Saudi women’s rights activists and human rights organisations on Thursday.

Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East and North Africa division, said:

 “We certainly hope it’s true. It’s odd that this news has not come from an official announcement, but it could be a sign that internally there is an effort to leak information like this to pressure [Saudi crown prince] Mohammed bin Salman into actually making this move’.”

Hala al-Dosari, a Saudi activist and academic based at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said:

“If it does happen it would lead to a spike in women seeking asylum. It would also be a huge fanfare for [Bin Salman’s] supposed credentials as a reformer.”

Bin Salman, the kingdom’s de facto ruler, has implemented sweeping social and economic reforms designed to wean the country off its dependence on oil revenue since he was appointed heir to the throne in 2017.

A royal decree ended the kingdom’s long-standing ban on women driving in 2018 and women no longer need their guardian’s permission to get a job, enroll at university or undergo surgery.

However, the move towards greater freedom for women has been accompanied by a crackdown on dozens of women’s rights activists, many of whom remain in prison where their families allege they have been tortured.

“If confirmed, the news marks a small and long-overdue concession to domestic and international calls on the kingdom to improve its record on women’s rights,” said Taif al-Khudary, a legal officer at the Gulf-focused legal advocacy NGO MENA Rights Group. “If the Saudi authorities were truly committed to women’s rights they would release and drop all charges against the women activists, who have been persecuted precisely for advocating for the male guardianship system to be abolished. The report today must not be used as an excuse to ease international pressure on Saudi Arabia.”

 

SOURCE:

 

https://www.msn.com/en-xl/middleeast/middleeast-top-stories/saudi-arabia-planning-to-relax-male-guardianship-laws/ar-AAEfDNE?OCID=newswrap

 

Forecasters said Louisiana could see up to 12 inches (30 centimeters) of rain by Monday.

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A storm swamped New Orleans streets and paralyzed traffic Wednesday as concerns grew that even worse weather was on the way: a possible hurricane that could strike the Gulf Coast and raise the Mississippi River to the brim of the city’s protective levees.

The storm was associated with an atmospheric disturbance in the Gulf that forecasters said was on track to strengthen into a hurricane by the weekend. The National Hurricane Center expected the system to become a tropical depression by Thursday morning, a tropical storm by Thursday night and a hurricane on Friday.

Lines of thunderstorms ranged far out into the Gulf and battered New Orleans, where as much as 8 inches (18 centimeters) of rain fell over a three-hour period Wednesday morning, officials said.

 

Mississippi and Texas were also at risk of torrential rains.

In New Orleans, streets turned into small, swift rivers that overturned garbage cans and picked up pieces of floating wood. Water was up to the doors of many cars. Other vehicles were abandoned. Kayakers paddled their way down some streets.

Chandris Rethmeyer lost her car to the flood and had to wade through water about 4 feet (1.22 meters) deep to get to safety. She was on her way home after working an overnight shift when she got stuck behind an accident in an underpass and the water started rising.

“I was going to sit in my car and let the storm pass,” she said. “But I reached back to get my son’s iPad and put my hand into a puddle of water.”

Valerie R. Burton woke up Wednesday to what looked like a lake outside her door.

“There was about 3 to 4 feet of water in the street, pouring onto the sidewalks and at my door. So I went to my neighbors to alert them and tell them to move their cars,” she said.

Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency and said National Guard troops and high-water vehicles would be positioned all over the state in advance of more heavy rain.

“The entire coast of Louisiana is at play in this storm,” Edwards said.

 

Forecasters said Louisiana could see up to 12 inches (30 centimeters) of rain by Monday, with isolated areas receiving as much as 18 inches (46 centimeters).

The additional rain could push the already swollen Mississippi River precariously close to the tops of levees that protect New Orleans, officials said.

A spokesman for the Army Corps of Engineers in New Orleans said the agency was not expecting widespread overtopping of the levees, but there are concerns for areas south of the city. The river was expected to rise to 20 feet (6 meters) by late Friday at a key gauge in New Orleans. The area is protected by levees 20 to 25 feet (6 to 7.6 meters) high, he said.

The Corps was working with local officials to identify any low-lying areas and reinforce them, he said. He cautioned that the situation may change as more information arrives.

“We’re confident the levees themselves are in good shape. The big focus is height,” spokesman Ricky Boyett said.

New Orleans officials have asked residents to keep at least three days of supplies on hand and to keep their neighborhood storm drains clear so water can move quickly. As the water from Wednesday morning’s storms receded, people worried about what might come next.

Tanya Gulliver-Garcia was trying to make her way home during the deluge. Flooded streets turned a 15-minute drive into an ordeal lasting more than two hours. She was supposed to head out of town for a weekend trip but now wonders whether the flights will take off.

“This is going to be a slow storm …. That’s what I’m concerned about,” she said.

Wednesday’s flooding was reminiscent of floodwaters that surprised the city during an August 2017 rain. That flood exposed major problems at the agency overseeing street drainage. It led to personnel shake-ups at the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board and required major repair efforts.

On Wednesday, the board said 118 of 120 drainage pumps were operational and the agency was fully staffed. But the agency’s director says that much rain in such a short time would have overwhelmed any drainage system.

 

SOURCE:

 

http://www.msn.com/en-xl/northamerica/top-stories/flooding-swamps-new-orleans-possible-hurricane-coming-next/ar-AAE9mAG?ocid=spartanntp

Why blind ex-rebel leader is wanted in the U.S. on charges of conspiring to traffic cocaine?

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — Colombia’s Supreme Court issued an arrest order for a blind ex-rebel leader wanted in the U.S. on charges of conspiring to traffic cocaine after he failed to appear Tuesday for questioning in a case that has touched a nerve in Colombia.

Seuxis Hernandez went missing in late June after abandoning his security detail while visiting a transition zone for former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia rebels making the shift to civilian life under a 2016 peace accord.

There was no order for his capture at the time, but the United Nations peace monitoring mission expressed concern for his safety while others openly speculated that he fled in order to escape potential prosecution.

 

Arriving at court Tuesday, attorneys for the man best known by the alias Jesus Santrich said they have had no contact with him but believed he likely skipped his scheduled court date over concerns for his life. Over 100 former ex-combatants have been killed since the peace accord’s signing.

President Ivan Duque and others who have been clamoring for Santrich’s arrest praised the Supreme Court’s decision.

“This decision is the one expected by all Colombians who are angry over this show of evading justice by the now fugitive alias Jesus Santrich,” he said.

The case has inflamed tensions over the peace accord to end Latin America’s longest-running conflict.

Many Colombians were incensed when the country’s nascent peace tribunal ordered Santrich released after a year behind bars. He was later allowed to take a seat in congress as stipulated in the peace agreement, and the sight of the former combatant in a house of power further angered his critics.

 

Members of the political party formed by former FARC rebels denounced Santrich’s failure to appear and urged him to comply with the accords.

“Those who don’t abide by the agreement should have to deal with the consequences,” said Carlos Lozada, a former rebel who is now a senator.

Santrich was an early proponent of peace who served in a key role during four years of negotiations held in Cuba with the Colombian government.

He denied U.S. charges that he conspired to ship 10 tons of cocaine and promised to comply with the legal system as the Supreme Court investigated the case.

Colombia’s Special Jurisdiction for Peace ruled in May that Santrich should be released, contending authorities hadn’t provided conclusive evidence to prove the alleged crimes took place after the accord signing. The agreement allows rebels to avoid extradition and jail time for crimes that happened before the signing if they provide a full account of any wrongdoings and make reparations to victims.

Santrich was quickly put behind bars again as part of a new investigation based on additional information provided by U.S. authorities. But the Supreme Court later ordered him freed a second time, saying that because he is a lawmaker, Santrich is afforded limited immunity and only the highest court can rule on his case.

The son of two school teachers, Santrich joined a local youth communist group as a student and entered the guerrilla movement in his early 20s. He gradually rose through the rebel ranks to eventually join the central high command.

Santrich is one of a handful of high-profile former rebel leaders who initially complied with the peace process but then apparently changed their minds. The majority of the 13,000 former rebels who chose peace are fulfilling the accord’s stipulations, authorities have said. A relatively small but still important faction has returned to arms.

 

SOURCE:

 

http://www.msn.com/en-xl/northamerica/top-stories/colombia-court-orders-ex-rebel-leader-wanted-in-us-detained/ar-AAE6bgX?ocid=spartanntp

Kim Darroch is “a very stupid guy” and a “pompous fool.”—President Donald Trump.

President Trump early Tuesday ramped up his criticism of the U.K, ambassador to the United States who called him “inept” in leaked cables, saying Kim Darroch is “a very stupid guy” and a “pompous fool.”

“The wacky Ambassador that the U.K. foisted upon the United States is not someone we are thrilled with, a very stupid guy. He should speak to his country, and Prime Minister May, about their failed Brexit negotiation, and not be upset with my criticism of how badly it was handled,” Trump tweeted.

 

Trump also again attacked British Prime Minister Theresa May over Brexit, saying he told her “how to do that deal, but she went her own foolish way-was unable to get it done.”

“A disaster!” he continued. “I don’t know the Ambassador but have been told he is a pompous fool. Tell him the USA now has the best Economy & Military anywhere in the World, by far … and they are both only getting bigger, better and stronger…..Thank you, Mr. President!”

…handled. I told @theresa_may how to do that deal, but she went her own foolish way-was unable to get it done. A disaster! I don’t know the Ambassador but have been told he is a pompous fool. Tell him the USA now has the best Economy & Military anywhere in the World, by far…
– Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 9, 2019

….and they are both only getting bigger, better and stronger…..Thank you, Mr. President!
– Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 9, 2019

Darroch reportedly described Trump as “incompetent” and “inept” in memos and notes sent to the British Foreign Commonwealth Office. Barroch also described conflicts within the Trump administration as “knife fights” and said he doesn’t believe the White House will “ever look competent.”

 

Trump tweeted on Monday after the leaked cables were reported that he would “no longer deal with” Darroch.

“I do not know the Ambassador, but he is not liked or well thought of within the U.S. We will no longer deal with him,” he said.

Shortly after Trump’s tweet, an administration official said Darroch was disinvited from a Monday night dinner hosted by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin with Trump and the emir of Qatar.

 

SOURCE:

 

http://www.msn.com/en-xl/northamerica/top-stories/trump-wacky-uk-ambassador-a-very-stupid-guy/ar-AAE51Lt?ocid=spartanntp

“You don’t know what you did for me,” she imagined herself telling him. “I’m finally coming into my own. I made the honor roll.”—Ex-inmate tells Obama.

Ex- President Barack Obama granted Danielle Metz clemency in 2016. Out of prison, she made the dean’s list in college. She wished she could thank Obama for his help.

In a story published Monday in USA TODAY, Metz expressed her gratitude toward the former president.

“You don’t know what you did for me,” she imagined herself telling him. “I’m finally coming into my own. I made the honor roll.”

 

This week, Obama wrote her a letter, wishing Metz all the best.

“I am so proud of you, and am confident that your example will have a positive impact for others who are looking for a second chance,” Obama wrote to Metz. “Tell your children I say hello, and know that I’m rooting for all of you.”

Metz was arrested in 1993 for drug offenses related to her husband’s cocaine trafficking ring. At 26, she was sentenced to three life sentences plus another 20 years.

In federal prison, Metz earned her GED. She began writing letters and making appeals for her freedom. In 2016, Obama commuted her sentence, and Metz enrolled in Southern University in New Orleans the following year. At 50 years old, she was a college freshman.

In her second semester at Southern, she earned a 3.75 grade point average and made the dean’s list.

In a heartwarming twist, Obama came across the USA TODAY story and sent a personal note to the woman whose life he dramatically changed.

 

SOURCE:

 

http://www.msn.com/en-xl/northamerica/top-stories/obama-sends-letter-to-prisoner-he-freed-who-made-the-deans-list-i-am-so-proud-of-you/ar-AAEdPGa?ocid=spartanntp

How R.Kelly was arrested again by the New York Police Department and federal Homeland Security agents.

R&B singer R. Kelly was arrested Thursday in Chicago on federal sex trafficking charges, law enforcement sources told CBS News. Kelly was arrested by the New York Police Department and federal Homeland Security agents, a law enforcement source said.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in northern Illinois said Kelly is facing 13 counts, including child pornography, enticement of a minor to engage to engage in criminal sexual activity and obstruction of justice.

Kelly has already been charged with over 20 counts of sexual abuse. He was first charged in February with 10 counts of sexual abuse involving four women, some of them minors. In May, he was charged with an additional 11 felony counts, including some that carry a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.

 

 

KELLY

 

The charges in May stemmed from accusations from Jerhonda Pace, whose allegations were recounted in the Lifetime docu-series called “Surviving R. Kelly.”

 

In an explosive interview with “CBS This Morning” co-host Gayle King in March, Kelly insisted none of the allegations against him were true, including accusations that he had has beaten, starved and held other women against their will — a so-called “sex cult.”

 

“Believe me, man! This is not me! They lying on me! They’re lying on me! I’m cool, bro,” he said standing and screaming.

 

SOURCE:

 

http://www.msn.com/en-xl/northamerica/northamerica-life-arts/r-kelly-arrested-on-federal-sex-trafficking-charges/ar-AAEcDlS?li=AAB4Qbx&ocid=spartanntp