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Japan floods: Dozens killed in deluges and landslides

Flooding and landslides have killed at least 50 people and left dozens missing in western areas of Japan.

Most of the deaths have occurred in Hiroshima prefecture, which has been hit by torrential rain since Thursday. Hundreds of homes have been damaged.

About 1.5 million people have been ordered to leave their homes and three million more advised to do so.

Thousands of police, firefighters and soldiers are taking part in search-and-rescue operations.

Some of the victims have been buried alive by landslides, Japan's Kyodo news agency reports.

In the town of Motoyama, about 600km (370 miles) west of the capital Tokyo, 583mm (23in) of rain fell between Friday morning and Saturday morning, Japan's meteorological agency said.

More rain is expected over the next few days.

Source : BBC

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Ex-Malaysian PM Najib Razak arrested for corruption

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak was arrested on Tuesday, three sources familiar with the matter told Reuters, amid an investigation into how billions of dollars went missing from a state fund he founded almost a decade ago.

Authorities picked up Mr. Najib from his home after serving him with a remand order, two sources close to the family said. One of the sources said Mr. Najib was expected to be charged in court on Wednesday.

Malaysia’s anti-graft agency also said Mr. Najib had been arrested, according to state news agency Bernama.

A spokesman for the former premier did not immediately have a comment. Mr. Najib has consistently denied wrongdoing in dealings with state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

Since his shock election loss to Mahathir Mohamad in May, Mr. Najib has been barred from leaving the country, quizzed by the anti-graft agency and had his personal and family houses searched as part of the 1MDB probe.

Mr. Mahathir said in an interview with Reuters last month that embezzlement and bribery with government money were among the charges that Malaysia was looking to bring against Mr. Najib, adding they had “an almost perfect case” against him.

Founded by Mr. Najib in 2009, 1MDB is being investigated in at least six countries for alleged money laundering and graft.

Civil lawsuits filed by the U.S. Department of Justice allege that nearly $4.5 billion was misappropriated from 1MDB.

Source : Reuters

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Japan hangs seven for 1995 sarin attack on Tokyo subway

Japan on Friday (July 6) executed the former leader of a doomsday cult and six other members of the group that carried out a sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway in 1995, killing 13 people and shattering the country’s myth of public safety.

The Aum Shinrikyo, or Aum Supreme Truth cult, which mixed Buddhist and Hindu meditation with apocalyptic teachings, staged a series of crimes including simultaneous sarin gas attacks on subway trains during rush hour in March 1995. As well as killing the 13, the attack injured at least 5,800 people, some permanently.

Some Tokyo residents said they felt there would now be closure for the victims and the bereaved, but that it was regrettable an apology was never issued. One relative of the sarin attack said she wished the execution had happened sooner so those who did not survive the 25 years since the incident could hear the news.

At its peak, Aum had at least 10,000 members in Japan and overseas, including graduates of some of Japan’s top universities. A resident living near a building run by the religious group Aleph, which is made up of former Aum members, said he felt the group had been more active recently and was worried about their next move.

Executions are rare in Japan but surveys show a vast majority of people supports the death sentence.

Source : Reuters

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Theresa May vows to eradicate ‘abhorrent’ gay conversion therapy as part of LGBT+ equality plan

Theresa May has vowed to eradicate the “abhorrent” practice of gay conversion therapy as she today publishes the world’s largest LGBT+ survey and a government plan aimed at addressing discrimination and health inequality.

Writing exclusively for The Independent, Penny Mordaunt, the women and equalities minister, said that conversion therapy – sometimes referred to as “gay cure” – is “abuse of the worst kind and must be stamped out”.

The decision comes after ministers found the controversial practice, which aims to alter a person’s sexual orientation, to be more prevalent than previously thought after analysing the survey of 108,000 LGBT+ individuals across the UK.

It forms one of 75 commitments in the action plan – alongside a £4.5m fund – to tackle issues raised by the LGBT+ community in the survey last summer that aimed to gain an in-depth understanding of experiences of life in Britain.

Results in the survey suggested that 5 per cent – 5,400 people – had been offered the widely discredited therapy by a range of faith organisations, healthcare providers, and family members while two per cent (2,160) had undergone it.

Ms. Mordaunt said the practice – described as “unethical and potentially harmful” by NHS England in 2014 – can “range from pseudo-psychological treatments to in the most extreme cases, surgical interventions and ‘corrective rape’.”

Her department will now consider “all legislative and non-legislative options” to prohibit promoting, offering or conducting the therapy in the UK.

Other results of the survey included:

Two in three people (68 per cent) said they avoided holding hands with a same-sex partner in public for fear of a negative reaction2 per cent have undergone conversion therapy while 5 per cent have been offered itNearly a quarter (23 per cent) said people at work reacted negatively to them being LGBT+70 per cent said they avoided being open about their sexual orientation for fear of a negative reactionOf trans respondents, 59 per cent said they avoided expressing their gender identity for fear of negative reactionLaunching the action plan on Tuesday, the prime minister said it sets out “concrete steps” to “deliver real and lasting change across society”.

Ms May continued: “I was struck by just how many respondents said they cannot be open about their sexual orientation or avoid holding hands with their partner in public for fear of a negative reaction. No one should ever have to hide who they are or who they love.

“We can be proud that the UK is a world leader in advancing LGBT+ rights, but the overwhelming response to our survey has shone a light on the many areas where we can improve the lives of LGBT+ people.”

(The Independent)

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Delhi mass hangings: CCTV footage backs suicide theory

India police investigating the deaths of 11 family members found dead in their home in the capital Delhi say they have recovered CCTV footage which supports a theory of mass suicide.

The footage shows family members carrying stools and wires used in the hangings into the house, police said.

A post-mortem report confirmed that all 11 died due to hanging.

Police told the BBC that despite the footage, they had not ruled out murder and are still investigating.

Many questions remain unanswered in the case, which has gripped the country.

For instance, all the dead were blindfolded and gagged, with their hands tied behind their backs. It is not clear how they would have been able to do this before killing themselves.

"We have to sift through CCTV footage for the last three months to get a better idea of what could have transpired," a police officer told BBC Hindi's Salman Ravi.

After the bodies were found, investigators said the case could be one of "mass suicide linked to spiritual and mystical practices" based on notes recovered from inside the house.

The 11 dead are members of the Bhatia family. They include 75-year-old Narayan Devi, her daughter, two sons, their wives and five grandchildren aged between 33 and 15.

Police have also found 11 diaries, which they believe belonged to Lalit Bhatia, who was Narayan Devi's youngest son. They suspect that Mr Bhatia believed he was "possessed by the spirit" of his father, who died in 2008.

"Notes found in one of the diaries hint that a strong belief that supernatural forces would intervene and save them could have motivated the family to hang themselves," an investigating officer said.

The family lived in a three-storey house in Burari, a largely middle-class area of North Delhi.

Neighbours say the family were active members of the community and describe them as "religious, happy and financially comfortable".

The oldest grandchild, Priyanka, who was 33, was among the dead. She got engaged two weeks ago and the family had thrown a large party to celebrate, inviting many people in the area.

Source : BBC

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PM Mahathir tells young to forget race and be 'pure Malaysian'

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad wants Malaysia's young citizens to forget racial origins and think of themselves as "pure Malaysians".

In an interview with Channel NewsAsia on Monday (Jun 25), Dr Mahathir was asked what he could promise millennials about the Malaysia they will be living in in the years to come.
 
"(Malaysia is) not only multiracial, it is multilingual, multireligious, multicultural," he said. "Despite the differences, we still live together, more or less at peace with each other (but) of course, there are little conflicts ... and I think this is what they are going to inherit."
 
He said Malaysians "have to learn to understand each other".
 
"And to forget - slowly forget the racial origins and think of themselves as pure Malaysians."
 
Ethnic Malays like Dr Mahathir and indigenous people make up close to 70 per cent of the population with almost a quarter of the country Chinese. The rest are Indians as well as from other ethnic groups. 
 
Source : Channel News Asia

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33 dead in Quebec heat wave

Quebec health authorities say 33 people in the province have died from heat-related complications over the last few days.

The number includes 18 in Montreal, which has been hit hard by muggy temperatures for several days.

Other areas affected are the Eastern Townships (seven), central Quebec (five), the Monteregie region south of Montreal (two) and Laval (one)
Public Health Minister Lucie Charlebois told a news conference Thursday none of the deaths occurred in a hospital or long-term care facility and that the people who died were already suffering from health problems.

No deaths have been reported in other provinces.

The ambulance service that serves a large swath of the Montreal area has called on people to refrain from calling unless it is a real emergency.

Urgences-sante says it has been inundated by the volume of calls -- 1,200 calls per day in Montreal and nearby Laval over the past four days, which is 30 per cent more than usual on busy days.

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Paris helicopter prison break for gangster

A notorious gangster is on the run after escaping by helicopter from a prison in the Paris region. Redoine Faid was helped by three heavily-armed men with assault rifles.

Two gunmen in balaclavas used smoke bombs and angle-grinders to break into the visitors' room where Faid was talking to his brother. A third man in the prison courtyard guarded the helicopter and its pilot - a flying instructor whom the men had taken hostage.

The helicopter flew to the nearby Gonesse area, where it was found by local police.

Faid, 46, has been serving a 25-year sentence for a failed robbery during which a police officer was killed.

This is the armed robber's second prison break: in 2013, he escaped after seizing four guards as human shields and blowing several doors off with dynamite.He staged that escape less than half an hour after arriving at a prison in northern France, and spent six weeks on the run.

Nearly 3,000 French police have been drafted into the manhunt, a police source told AFP. "Everything is being done to locate the fugitive," an interior ministry official said.
 
Source : BBC

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Lions eat 'rhino poachers' on South African game reserve

At least two suspected rhino poachers have been mauled to death and eaten by lions on a South African game reserve, officials say. Rangers discovered the remains of two, possibly three, people in a lion enclosure in the Sibuya reserve, near the south-east town of Kenton-on-Sea.

A high-powered rifle and an axe were also found. There has been an rise in poaching in Africa in recent years, to feed growing demand for rhino horn in parts of Asia.

In China, Vietnam and elsewhere, rhino horn is believed to have aphrodisiac qualities. Sibuya reserve owner Nick Fox said in a statement on the reserve's Facebook page that the suspected the remains were first spotted at 16:30 local time on Tuesday (14:30 GMT).

An anti-poaching team arrived on the scene, where a hunting rifle with silencer, a long axe and wire-cutters - equipment generally used by rhino poachers - were also found. Several lions had to be tranquilised before the remains could be recovered, Mr Fox added.

Poachers entered the reserve late on Sunday night or early on Monday morning. "They strayed into a pride of lions - it's a big pride so they didn't have too much time," Mr Fox told AFP news agency.

"We're not sure how many there were - there's not much left of them." 

Police have been patrolling the area in case any of the suspected poachers survived. Nine rhinos were killed by poachers in Eastern Cape province, where the reserve is located, this year alone.

More than 7,000 have been killed in South Africa in the past decade.
 
Source : BBC

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Five dead in 'targeted attack' at Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis,US

A gunman blasted his way into the Capital Gazette newsroom in Annapolis with a shotgun Thursday afternoon, killing five people, authorities said.

Journalists dived under their desks and pleaded for help on social media. One reporter described the scene as a “war zone.” A photographer said he jumped over a dead colleague and fled for his life.

The victims were identified as Rob Hiaasen, 59, a former feature writer for The Baltimore Sun who joined the Capital Gazette in 2010 as an assistant editor and columnist; Wendi Winters, 65, a community correspondent who headed special publications; Gerald Fischman, 61, the editorial page editor; John McNamara, 56, a staff writer who had covered high school, college and professional sports for decades; and Rebecca Smith, 34, a sales assistant hired in November.

Two others were injured in the attack that began about 2:40 p.m. at the Capital Gazette offices at 888 Bestgate Road in Annapolis.

Police took a suspect into custody soon after the shootings. He was identified as Jarrod W. Ramos, a 38-year-old Laurel man with a long-standing grudge against the paper.

Ramos was charged with five counts of first-degree murder, according to online court records. He did not have an attorney listed; a bail review hearing is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Friday in Annapolis.

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Thailand cave rescue: Search teams unsure how to free trapped boys

The initial relief that greeted the dramatic discovery of the trapped Thai soccer team has given way to questions over why the boys are still inside the flooded cave network and not on their way to the surface and their waiting families.

Part of the concern about attempting to bring the boys out of the cramped, pitch-black chamber where they have spent the better part of nine days is that they are around two kilometres (1.2 miles) inside the cave, and nearly a kilometre below the surface, according to rescuers.

The boys, who were found alive by British divers in the early hours of Monday morning, are now being tended to by seven Thai Navy Seals, including a doctor and nurse, Thai Navy Seal Chief Rear Adm. Aphakorn Yoo-kongkaew told reporters at a news conference late Tuesday.

The children were being given access to telephone lines to be able to reach their families, but the focus, said Yoo-kongkaew, was on building their strength so they can attempt the journey out. However, options for the rescuers working in and around the Tham Luang Nang Non-cave system in northern Thailand are limited.

The area in which the group remains stranded is accessible only via a narrow, flooded channel, and attempts to pump water from the cave or find a natural opening in the roof of the chamber, have so far been unsuccessful.

Capt. Akanand Surawan, a commander with the Royal Thai Navy, said authorities would now supply the group with four months' worth of food and begin teaching the boys how to scuba dive.

Surawan's reference to four months has been interpreted as a potential sign that authorities are considering waiting until after the rainy season ends in October to begin the rescue operation.

But with heavy rain expected to continue in the coming days, rising water levels could force rescuers to act sooner rather than later.

Diving is considered among the least preferable escape methods, with experts cautioning that any attempt to traverse the narrow passageways will be fraught with difficulties and potential complications, especially if the children can't swim.The boys, who are between 11 and 16 and are members of the Wild Boars soccer team, had been exploring the cave network with their soccer coach on June 23, when heavy seasonal rains flooded the cave's entrance, forcing the group further and further into the labyrinth of tunnels in search of high ground.

Their sudden disappearance sparked a desperate nine-day race against time as hundreds of volunteers and specialist international search teams battled against the heavy rains to locate the missing group.

Source : CNN

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Donald Trump wants to deport illegal immigrants with 'no judges or court cases'

n a series of tweets fired off on Sunday, US President Donald Trump described people entering the country from Mexico as "invaders" trying to "break into the country," and suggested sending them back to their country of origin without legal proceedings.

"When somebody comes in, we must immediately, with no Judges or Court Cases, bring them back from where they came," he wrote.

American civil rights advocates immediately responded that such a procedure would violate the US Constitution.

"What President Trump has suggested here is both illegal and unconstitutional," a tweet from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) read. "Any official who has sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution and laws should disavow it unequivocally."

Trump's tweets were the latest to display his hardline stance on immigration, a core part of White House policy that has increasingly raised ethical concerns from Democratic and even some Republican lawmakers recently.

Trump gave in to bi-partisan pressure last week and reversed a policy that ordered the separation of children from their parents who enter the US unlawfully. However, his "zero-tolerance" policy of criminally prosecuting all undocumented border-crossers remains in place.

Source : Deutsche Welle

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