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Sri Lanka accused of violating North Korean sanctions

The Institute for Science and International Security, a Washington based think-tank alleged that 49 countries have violated United Nations sanctions on North Korea including Sri Lanka, China, France, Germany and India. The report was compiled after analysing North Korean procurement data published by the UN Panel of Exports for the last three and a half years.

The report further stated that 13 governments were found to be involved in military related cases of North Korean sanctions violations, including Angola, Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Iran, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Sri Lanka, Syria, Uganda, and the United Republic of Tanzania.

High Corruption among these 13 Countries

It has also come to light that the aforementioned countries named in the report score poorly on the on the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) by Transparency International, which ranks 176 countries on a scale from 1 to 176, where a ranking of 176 is most corrupt. The aforementioned countries have an average rank of 127 in the CPI with none of them being ranked above 50.

Experts are sceptical about how effectively sanctions can rein in North Korea's nuclear program, given that the comprehensive existing restrictions haven't left too many goods or entities to sanction.

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Israeli MPs to pass ‘Netanyahu bill’ banning police from publicizing corruption probe results

Israeli MPs have backed a law to prevent police from publishing recommendations on whether to charge criminal suspects, with those allowing leaks facing jail. Israeli PM Netanyahu, currently being investigated over graft, may be the main beneficiary.

The bill, which would curb the powers of police to consult with the federal attorney over pressing charges in individual cases, was passed by Israeli lawmakers in its first reading late Monday. The bill is expected to be streamlined through the parliament, the Knesset, by the ruling coalition, but it has been blasted by the opposition as being tailored to the needs of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, currently facing two separate corruption investigations.

“They made sure that this law would apply to the Netanyahu investigations,” said Yair Lapid, leader of the opposition Yesh Atid party, as cited by The Times of Israel.

“It’s a law made for a single person,” he said.

Yesh Atid is regarded as the main rival to Netanyahu’s Likud party, should snap elections be held. A recent poll by Israel’s Channel 10 found that both parties are projected to gain 24 parliamentary seats in case the elections take place immediately.

The proposed legislation, nicknamed by the opposition “the Netanyahu bill,” will see police withholding conclusions they present for the attorney general from public in existing cases, meaning that this clause will also apply to Netanyahu and his two longstanding, separate graft probes. The bill envisions severe penalties of up to a year behind bars for any official, including a police officer or a prosecutor, for disclosing the police’s recommendations.

As far as new cases are concerned, the attorney general will be barred from having consultations with police on whether to press charges altogether.

READ MORE: Netanyahu likely to be investigated for bribery, fraud following ‘secret probe’ discovery – report

The critics of the bill argue that by clamping down on police’s ability to communicate its view on high-profile criminal cases to the public, the sponsors of the bill want to spare Netanyahu from igniting early public outcry when the investigation is finally wrapped up.

“The goal of the law is to prevent the publication of negative recommendations, after which it becomes evident they were not justified and the cases are closed,” Likud MP David Amsalem, a sponsor of the bill, was cited as saying as he promoted it in the Knesset.

Although the PM has officially distanced himself from the bill, his government has come under fire, with the opposition Zionist Union chairman accusing the ruling coalition of having “crossed the point of no return” by behaving like “low-level gang members who are sent to disrupt investigations,” as cited by the Times of Israel, apparently referring to decisions pending in Netanyahu’s police probes.

Police have begun grilling Netanyahu on two suspected cases of corruption since January, the last time on November 19, when he endured a more than a four-hour interrogation in his residence. It was the sixth time the Israeli Prime Minister has been questioned by police about accepting gifts, such as expensive wine and cigarettes from his billionaire acquaintance Arnon Milchan and an alleged intention to strike a deal with the top-selling Yediot Aharonot newspaper for favorable coverage.

Netanyahu has denied all the allegations, and insisted that Milchan, an Israeli-American movie producer, was his best friend and that the sums equivalent to the gifts he received, estimated at $100,000-150,000 in the police reports leaked to the media, are greatly exaggerated.

READ MORE: Israeli PM’s wife faces fraud charges over wasting $100k of public funds – report

It was reported that in return for Milchan’s generosity, Netanyahu allegedly repeatedly asked the then US Secretary of State John Kerry to provide a long-term US visa for the producer. While Netanyahu reportedly acknowledged the request, he denied that it had been connected to the pricey gifts he was showered with by the Milchan family.

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Argentina judge seeks arrest of ex-leader Cristina Fernández

A judge in Argentina says he is seeking the arrest of former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner over accusations she took part in a political cover-up.

Ms Fernández, who governed for eight years from December 2007, was recently elected a senator and as such enjoys parliamentary immunity.

For her to be arrested, the Senate would have to lift that immunity with a two-thirds majority vote.

She called the move a "nonsense... [which] violates the rule of law".

Senators said they would consider the judge's request once they received it.

'Criminal plan'

Federal judge Claudio Bonadio, who is seeking the arrest, alleges Ms Fernández took part in "an orchestrated criminal plan" to cover up the alleged involvement of senior Iranian officials in a 1994 bomb attack against a Jewish centre in Buenos Aires.

Judge Bonadio also ordered that Héctor Timerman, who was a foreign minister under Ms Fernández, be placed under house arrest in connection with the same case.

Two more close allies of Ms Fernández were arrested on Thursday morning. They are Carlos Zannadi, a senior legal official in the Fernández administration, and political activist Luis D'Elía.

On Thursday, Ms Fernández called a news conference to once again deny the allegations against her and to denounce the judge's investigation.

"It is a case fabricated on facts that never existed. What is happening is a nonsense, a true excess," she said.

Source : BBC
Pic Source: Al Jazeera

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Facebook to expand suicide prevention AI following successful US tests

Facebook announced on Monday that, following successful tests in the US, it will roll out its pattern recognition software designed to scan for posts with suicidal intent to other countries, except in the EU.
“When someone is expressing thoughts of suicide, it’s important to get them help as quickly as possible,” the company’s vice president for product management, Guy Rosen, said in a statement.

The software uses pattern recognition to detect what could be indications of suicidal thoughts in posts, live streams and comments. According to Rosen, things as innocuous as comments with the questions “Are you ok?” and “Can I help?” can trigger the suicide alert software. A specialized team of human workers is then alerted to deal with the potentially suicidal person posting or commenting.

The world’s largest social networking site began testing the software in the US in March and has released few technical details about the program’s inner workings.

When the company launched its Facebook live video broadcasting service last year, a raft of violents acts including murders, rapes and suicidesproliferated on the platform - and the company’s image suffered from the resulting outrage.

As a result, Facebook announced that it would hire an additional 3,000 people to monitor content.

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Jerusalem: Israeli troops clash with Palestinian protesters in West Bank, Gaza

At least 31 people have been injured by Israeli army gunfire and rubber bullets, medics say, in Palestinian protests in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip after the United States recognised Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

In the West Bank cities of Hebron and Al-Bireh, thousands of demonstrators rallied with chants of "Jerusalem is the capital of the state of Palestine", according to witnesses.

Soldiers had used "riot-dispersal gear" against hundreds of rock-throwers, a military spokeswoman said.

In the Gaza Strip, dozens of protesters gathered near the border fence with Israel and threw rocks at soldiers on the other side.

Seven protesters were wounded by live fire, one was in a critical condition, the health ministry said.

Four people were wounded by live gunfire in the West Bank and another 20 were hit by rubber bullets, according to health officials.

An Israeli military spokeswoman had no immediate comment.

Palestinian authorities called a general strike in protest at US President Donald Trump's announcement about Jerusalem on Wednesday.

(ABC)

Pic Source: ABC Australia

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53 killed in Russian air strikes

At least 53 civilians have been killed in Russian air strikes in east Syrian village of Al-Shafah, a monitoring group says.

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Doctors fired over mistaking baby for dead

A hospital in the Indian capital Delhi has fired two doctors for mistakenly declaring a newborn dead.

The doctors at the privately run Max Hospital had pronounced the baby dead hours after his twin who was stillborn on 30 November.

The parents found that the baby was alive while they were on their way to his funeral.

The incident sparked outrage and a debate over the quality of private healthcare which is often costly.

The privately run Max Hospital said in a statement that "this strict action has been taken on the basis of our initial discussions with experts".

"While the inquiry by the expert group which includes external experts from Indian Medical Association is still in process, we have decided to terminate the services of the two treating doctors," the hospital added.

The government's inquiry into the incident is ongoing.

The incident came to light when the parents noticed one of the babies squirming inside the plastic bag that doctors placed the infants in.

According to the twins' grandfather, the stunned family rushed the newborn to a nearby hospital where they were told that their baby was still alive, local media reported.

This was the second instance in recent months where a private hospital in India has been called out for negligent care. Last month, a girl died of dengue fever in another hospital and the parents allege they were overcharged for her treatment.

(BBC News)

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Zimbabwe fmr. Min. of Finance in Prison for attempting to defraud Central Bank

Zimbabwe’s former Minister of Finance -Ignatius Chombo- is in prison for attempting to defraud the Zimbabwean Central Bank.

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