Tag Archives: fears

Scared Muslim refugees flee Sri Lankan homes over attack fears

Scared Muslim refugees flee Sri Lankan homes over attack fearsHundreds of Muslim refugees in western Sri Lanka have taken refuge in mosques and a police station after facing intimidation following the deadly Easter bombings, activists said Thursday. At least 359 people died in Sunday’s coordinated suicide blasts, including more than 100 Christians attending mass at St Sebastian’s church in Negombo on the island’s west coast. The attacks have been condemned by leaders of the country’s Muslim minority who have said mosques will not bury the bombers, and the community has been left in fear of a backlash.



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'We are nervous': Sri Lankan PM warns of suspects with bombs at large amid fears of new attacks

'We are nervous': Sri Lankan PM warns of suspects with bombs at large amid fears of new attacksDespite the arrest of dozens of suspects in Sri Lanka's Easter massacre, the nation remained fearful over the possibility of attacks this weekend.



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Hopes, fears as Ukraine braces for comedian president

Hopes, fears as Ukraine braces for comedian presidentAnna, a 24-year-old from the government-held eastern port city, said her vote was going to Volodymyr Zelensky — a comedian with no political experience who is the favourite to win the presidency. Anna said incumbent Petro Poroshenko, 53, had done “nothing tangible for us” after being elected shortly after a popular uprising in 2014. Others disagree, praising Poroshenko for securing an Orthodox Church independent of Moscow and containing the fighting in the country’s east.



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Libya fighting could trigger new refugee crisis, says EU, amid fears of civil war

Libya fighting could trigger new refugee crisis, says EU, amid fears of civil warForces loyal to Libya’s beleaguered UN-backed government carried out airstrikes on Saturday to try to stop rebel troops advancing on Tripoli, raising fears the country may be heading back to full-blown civil war.  As the army of Khalifa Haftar, a military strongman in control of eastern Libya, claimed to have seized control of Tripoli's airport, EU officials warned that instability could trigger a fresh flow of migrants and refugees heading towards Europe.  A meeting of G7 foreign ministers called on Gen Haftar to halt his offensive and even his traditional supporters Russia and Egypt expressed concern that his sudden advance would plunge Libya into chaos.  The 75-year-old general’s advance on Tripoli appears to be a power play designed to strengthen his negotiating position ahead of a UN-brokered conference on Libya’s future scheduled for later this month.  Since the fall of Gaddafi in 2011, the country has been fractured and its government divided. A UN-backed government controls Tripoli with the support of several militias from western Libya while Gen Haftar is in charge of most of the east.  Territorial control in Libya The UN hoped that the conference would pave the way for national elections but Gen Haftar decided to use military force against his western rivals.   “Haftar felt that Tripoli players had not submitted enough to him ahead of the national conference," said Jalel Harchaoui, research fellow at the Clingendael Institute. "So he chose military force to change the facts on the ground.” The UN’s envoy for Libya, Ghassan Salame, said he hoped the conference would still go ahead as planned.  Gen Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) said Saturday they had seized control of Tripoli’s main airport, which has not been functional since large parts of it were destroyed in fighting in 2014.   Militia forces supporting the government carried out at least one airstrike south of Tripoli against his troops. No casualties were reported. The LNA said it would shoot down any aircraft over western Libya and target the airfields from which they took off.  Up to 1 million refugees and migrants are estimated to be in Libya, many being held in horrific conditions in militia-run detention centres. The EU has supported Libyan militia coastguards to stop migrants crossing the Mediterranean towards Europe.  The U.N. Envoy for Libya, Ghassan Salame, speaks during a news conference in Tripoli, Libya April 6, 2019.  Credit: REUTERS/Hani Amara Antonio Tajani, president of the European parliament, warned that fighting in Libya would “risk generating a new migratory crisis, with increased flows heading mainly towards Italy and other Mediterranean countries”. He called on the EU to “intervene immediately” to prevent a chaotic escalation.  The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) also raised concerns about the fate of migrants being held in detention centres if fullscale fighting broke out around them. “The safety of migrants in detention is especially concerning should there be an escalation in military action,” the IOM said.  G7 foreign ministers meeting in France called on Gen Haftar to “halt all military activity and movements towards Tripoli”. Jean-Yves Le Drian, the French foreign minister, said: ”There is a fundamental principle in Libya. There will be no military victory. The solution can only be a political solution.” The foreign ministers of Russia and Egypt, which have both backed the military strongman, met in Cairo on Saturday and also said there needed to be a political solution in Libya.  However, Russia also warned against efforts to blame Gen Haftar for the insecurity in the country.  While Gen Haftar’s troops have advanced rapidly over 48 hours, it is not clear they have the strength to defeat the coalition of militias supporting the government and seize control of Tripoli.  Nearly 150 of his soldiers and dozens of vehicles were captured by pro-government forces on Friday as they tried to join the offensive towards Tripoli.



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Trump office cleared 25 officials originally disqualified over security fears, whistleblower claims

Trump office cleared 25 officials originally disqualified over security fears, whistleblower claimsA White House whistleblower has claimed that at least 25 officials originally denied security clearance later had their rejections overturned during Donald Trump’s presidency.  Tricia Newbold, a White House security adviser who has worked for the executive office of the president for 18 years, made the allegation during an interview with a congressional committee.  She said the reasons why the 25 officials had been initially rejected included foreign influence, conflicts of interest, concerning personal conduct, financial problems, drug use and criminality.  Explaining her decision to come forward, Ms Newbold said: “I would not be doing a service to myself, my country, or my children if I sat back knowing that the issues that we have could impact national security.” Two of those people whose rejections were overturned are “senior White House officials” who remain in their jobs to this day, according to Ms Newbold.  Changes to the security clearance system have been adopted since Donald Trump, the US president, took office in January 2017 Credit: Al Drago/Bloomberg None of the 25 officials were named publicly by Ms Newbold, who gave evidence to the House Oversight and Reform Committee over the weekend. A summary of her comments was circulated to members on the committee on Monday.  Figures on the committee, which is controlled by the Democrats, have said previously they are scrutinising how Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, the president’s daughter and son-in-law, gained their security clearance. They have denied any wrongdoing.  The White House carries out checks before granting people security clearance to make sure they are not compromised in any way or could cause the president embarrassment.  The system helps ensure that figures who gain access to sensitive classified material are not exposed to potential blackmail from foreign adversaries.  The US president has the power to overturn any initial rejection, as do senior staff in the vetting process.  Ms Newbold said she decided to give evidence because she feared her repeated warnings about how the clearance system was working under Mr Trump were not being heeded.  “I feel that right now this is my last hope to really bring the integrity back into our office,” Ms Newbold said, according to the summary of her comments.  Donald Trump, the US president, in the Oval Office Credit: MANDEL NGAN / AFP During her testimony, Ms Newbold, who has worked in Republican and Democrat administrations, outlined three real but anonymised examples of White House officials whose cases she has concerns about.  The first, a “senior White House official”, had their security clearance initially denied because of fears over foreign influence, business links and personal conduct. The decision was overruled by a more senior official who allegedly failed to address all the disqualifying concerns.  The second, also a “senior White House official”, was going to be rejected for a security clearance by Ms Newbold, who outlined a 14-page summary describing “multiple disqualifiers” including foreign influence. She was allegedly told “do not touch” the case. It was later approved.  The third, a “high-profile official” at the White House’s National Security Council, was denied the clearance by Ms Newbold. She says she was then urged to change her recommendation by a colleague. She refused and the denial was sustained. The official is no longer in the White House.  As well as the examples, Ms Newbold detailed a list of other concerns about how the clearance system has changed under the Trump presidency and how she was treated when raising red flags.  Ms Newbold said that the system of automatic credit checks, which helps ensure proposed employees are not susceptible to blackmail, has been stopped.  A row of US flags for the "Celebration of America" at the White House in June 2018 Credit:  AFP PHOTO / Brendan SMIALOWSKI  She said a senior colleague defended the change by arguing that the FBI does credit checks as part of its screening. But she noted that only applied to totally new White House employees and not those coming from other government agencies.  Ms Newbold also expressed fears that interim clearances – which allow an official to temporarily get access to classified material while waiting for full approval – were being used too much.  She “expressed concern about the amount and sensitivity of classified information that was provided to officials who operated for extended periods of time with interim clearances,” according to the summary circulated to the committee.  Ms Newbold raised concerns about the security of personnel files and the lack of staff to meet demand, saying she has “never seen our office so ill-staffed and with such lack of experience”.  She also expressed frustration with how her complaints were handled, noting she had recently been suspended for 14 days without pay for not following a new policy about scanning certain documents in separate pdf files rather than a single pdf file.  Ms Newbold accepted that Mr Trump had the power to overturn rejections of security clearance but questioned whether the right process was being followed.  “[If] the President wants to override us, he can, but that doesn’t mean at any time that we should alter the way we do business based on what someone may have come out with in the end,” she said.  The White House has not yet commented.



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Safety fears about Boeing 737 MAX grip US passengers

Safety fears about Boeing 737 MAX grip US passengersUS airlines are standing behind Boeing despite the wave of countries and carriers that have grounded the 737 MAX, but fear has gripped crews and passengers, and many are refusing to fly on the plane. Following the second deadly crash of one of its aircraft, some US politicians also have called for the plane to be grounded while the investigation continues, but regulators so far have not taken that step. A growing number of Americans are expressing similar doubts on social media, and some are cancelling or rebooking flights on this single-aisle aircraft, which accounted for one-third of Boeing’s profits in 2018.



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Safety fears about Boeing 737 MAX grip US passengers

Safety fears about Boeing 737 MAX grip US passengersNew York (AFP) – US airlines are standing behind Boeing despite the wave of countries and carriers that have grounded the 737 MAX, but fear has gripped crews and passengers, and many are refusing to fly on the plane.



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India airstrikes in Pakistan raise fears of escalation

India airstrikes in Pakistan raise fears of escalationBALAKOT, Pakistan (AP) — Tensions escalated sharply on the Asian subcontinent Tuesday with nuclear-armed neighbors Pakistan and India trading accusations and warnings after a pre-dawn airstrike by India that New Delhi said targeted a terrorist training camp.



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Trump's threat raises Venezuelan fears – and hopes

Trump's threat raises Venezuelan fears - and hopesUS President Donald Trump’s threat to the Venezuelan military enraged government loyalists on Tuesday and raised hope among its critics in a potentially volatile standoff over aid shipments. Trump raised the tension on Monday when he warned Venezuelan military commanders would have “no safe harbor” if they did not abandon Maduro and start letting US food and medical aid into the country. “It would be good if we could get some of the medicine and food that we are lacking, because we need it for sure,” said Melida Rojas, a 55-year-old housewife on Caracas’s central Bolivar Square.



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Trump Fears Schiff Is Recruiting White House Employees for Probe

Trump Fears Schiff Is Recruiting White House Employees for ProbeSchiff has hired one former career official at the National Security Council, Abigail Grace, who left the White House last year, the people said. A second career employee detailed to the Trump White House is also considering joining Schiff’s staff, according to people familiar with the matter.



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