Afghan national defense control of Zibak region from Taliban hands

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The Afghan National Defense Forces (ANF), control of the Zibak region, have been recaptured by the Taliban in the province of Badakhshan in northeastern Afghanistan.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defense, General Dulat Waziri – reported by the Afghan news agency (Khama Press), on Thursday – that the Afghan security forces recovered “Zbak”, the Taliban insurgents, and the Taliban insurgents, suffered heavy losses.

He said the full details of the operation would be issued later, while anti-government armed groups, including Taliban rebels, have not commented on the report so far.

Trump signs an executive order on electronic security

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President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Thursday aimed at strengthening the federal government’s electronic security and protecting the country’s vital infrastructure from cyber attacks, a senior administration official said.

A copy of the signed order, Trump’s first major action to address what he calls a top priority for his administration, has yet to be seen.

The long-delayed executive came after Trump almost signed a similar order on electronic security days after taking office in January but was withdrawn to allow more input from various federal agencies and consult with experts.

Mexico is trying to convince the US administration of free trade agreement

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Mexico has handed Washington an 11-page document in the process of negotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in an attempt to convince the benefits of the two countries, the Mexican newspaper El Prociso reported.

“Mexico is the largest consumer of American products, and NAFTA encourages job creation in the United States, and the US has a moderate trade deficit with Mexico,” the State Department said.

The White House announced at the end of April that the three signatories to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the United States, Canada and Mexico, agreed to renegotiate the agreement quickly.

The White House said US President Donald Trump had so far agreed not to break the NAFTA agreement, and the leaders agreed to act quickly to allow renegotiation of the deal.

Trump had previously described NAFTA as a “disaster,” saying it had contributed to the transfer of millions of jobs in the US industry to Mexico

Belgian minister proposes to transfer illegal immigrants to Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco

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Belgian Foreign Minister Theo Franken told Reuters on Thursday that the European Union should not accept the entry of African migrants who are pushing human smugglers to cross the Mediterranean Sea but must return them.

Only then can the Union open legal avenues to accept refugees and migrants to Europe and airlift them in accordance with a maximum year instead of the uncontrolled outflow of 1.6 million people to the shores of Europe between 2014 and 2016, he said.

We have to fix this by being clear: getting a ticket in a boat to smuggle people does not give you free access to the European continent, “said Farken, who belongs to the Flemish National Party.

“The current system is not human at all,” he said, adding that it has revived international crime networks that deal with human smugglers at the expense of thousands dying as they cross the sea.

About 50,000 people have cut across the Mediterranean to Europe since the beginning of the year, most of them African migrants who are unlikely to be granted asylum in Europe.

Franken said Europe was applying humanitarian laws loosely, and that people intercepted at sea should be returned from where they came or delivered to other African countries such as Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt and Algeria.

“I will do it for two weeks and it will stop right away, one of thousands of euros will not be paid to end up in Tunisia, Egypt or Morocco,” he said.

Such a proposal for refugee repatriation is controversial, however, as aid groups warn that the return of migrants who are already suffering from difficult and deteriorating conditions leads to more miserable prospects that violate human rights.

Despite escalating tension between the EU and Turkey, Franken said he hoped a deal to curb immigration with Ankara, which he described as an important Greek partner for the EU, would tackle issues ranging from immigration management to combating terrorism and dealing with the Syrian file.

UK seaside towns fight back against seagull attacks

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Fed up with holidaymakers being divebombed by greedy seagulls in “horror movie” scenes, one British costal area is fighting back by making it an offence to feed the birds.

The district council of east Devon which includes the popular resorts of Exmouth and Sidmouth is introducing an 80-pound ($100) fine.

“Seagulls become accustomed to being fed by people and will attack them if they are not offered food,” said local councillor Iain Chubb.

“It isn’t very nice when they do come – it’s almost like a horror movie,” Chubb said, comparing it to British director Alfred Hitchcock’s film “The Birds”.

Tourists and local business owners have long been pressing for stronger measures against feeding the gulls than mere warning signs, he told Reuters.

But only regular feeders and restaurants that leave their rubbish bins open were at risk of being sanctioned.

“Quite often the seagulls will sort of swoop over you and if you’re a small child and a thing with a three-foot wingspan comes towards you like a pterodacytl you might just throw your food up in the air,” he added.

“If you were to feed a seagull a couple of chips, there’s nobody going to pounce out the bushes and say ‘you’ve got a fine.’”

(Reporting by Emily Roe; editing by Stephen Addison)

Singer Janet Jackson to go back on tour after time off for family

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LONDON Singer Janet Jackson has announced she is going back on tour later this year, returning to the stage in the United States and Canada after taking time off to give birth to her first child.

In a video message to fans, the pop star also referred to media reports that she had split from her Qatari businessman husband Wissam Al Mana, saying: “Yes I separated from my husband, we are in court and the rest is in God’s hands”.

Jackson, 50, last year said she was postponing her “Unbreakable” music tour due to a “sudden change” in the couple’s plans to start a family. She gave birth to son Eissa in January.

“I’m continuing my tour as I promised, I’m so excited,” the singer said in the video posted on her Twitter feed, thanking fans for their patience and support.

“I decided to change the name of the tour, ‘State of the World’ tour. It’s not about politics, it’s about people, the world, relationships and just love.”

The youngest child in the famed musical Jackson family, the Grammy Award winning singer began her “Unbreakable” tour in summer 2015. She will kick off the four-month, 56-date North American “State of the World” tour on Sept. 7 in Lafayette, Louisiana.

“I am so excited,” Jackson said. “I cannot wait to see you on stage September 7th.”

(Reporting by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; Editing by Tom Heneghan)

Bassong among five internationals let go by Norwich

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LONDON Sebastien Bassong and John Ruddy are among five internationals released by Championship side Norwich City, the club said on Tuesday.

Defender Bassong, 30, who has won 15 caps for Cameroon, and goalkeeper Ruddy, who played once for England in 2012, are among seven players let go by the Canaries, who are eighth in the table.

Also released are Democratic Republic of Congo midfielder Youssouf Mulumbu, Scotland full back Steven Whittaker and 58-cap striker Kyle Lafferty, who scored seven goals in Northern Ireland’s qualifying campaign for Euro 2016.

Norwich are restructuring their squad following their relegation from the Premier League in 2016.

(Reporting by Neil Robinson, editing by Ed Osmond)

Man United's Shaw set for another spell on sidelines

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<span class="articleLocation”>Manchester United full back Luke Shaw will see a specialist after damaging ligaments in his foot during the Premier League game against Swansea City, British media reported on Tuesday.

Shaw left the field nine minutes into the match at Old Trafford on Sunday, and manager Jose Mourinho said after the 1-1 draw that he suspected the 21-year-old had sustained a “big injury”.

United, who also lost centre back Eric Bailly to injury during the match, have a lengthy casualty list, with defenders Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Marcos Rojo all sidelined along with top scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Shaw has endured a difficult time since returning from a double leg break that kept him out for nearly a year, with Mourinho publicly questioning his commitment and ambition earlier in the season.

United, who are fifth in the Premier League table, a point and a place behind Manchester City with four games to play, take on Celta Vigo in the first leg of their Europa League semi-final in Spain on Thursday.

(Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond)

Budget deal may map U.S. Congress road ahead, via Trump bypass

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By Richard Cowan and Ginger Gibson| WASHINGTON

The U.S. Congress, bitterly divided for years along party lines, may be mapping a bipartisan path forward that skirts around President Donald Trump when he refuses to engage constructively with lawmakers, Democrats and some lobbyists said on Monday.

The path was discernible in a nearly $1.2 trillion federal spending deal carved out over the weekend to avert a government shutdown. It had Democratic fingerprints all over it, even though Republicans control Congress and the White House.

White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said Trump will sign the 2017 budget bill when he receives it from Congress on Thursday or Friday. Trump, in an interview with Bloomberg on Monday, said he was “very happy” with the deal announced late on Sunday.

Democrats claimed victory on issue after issue in the agreement, which will keep the lights on in Washington through the end of the federal fiscal year on Sept. 30, provided it holds up and wins final approval as expected.

Trump scored a partial win, getting a commitment for up to $15 billion in additional funding for a military buildup. That was about half of what he originally asked for.

No money was included for Trump’s proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall. Democratic opposition to it was solid and support from Trump’s fellow Republicans was soft. Mulvaney said Trump will seek wall funding in a budget proposal coming in late May.

At a White House briefing, Mulvaney defended the concessions Trump made to reach an agreement, saying Democrats gave up on some items they had wanted as well in order to find a compromise.

“Everything we got in this deal … lines up perfectly with the president’s priorities,” he said.

Democrats took an opposite view.

Describing the work on Capitol Hill that went into the temporary spending pact, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer told reporters: “Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate were closer to one another than we were to the president on so many of the different issues.”

Schumer and Senator Patrick Leahy, the senior Democrat on the Appropriations Committee, said they were bolstered in negotiations by the fact that several Republican senators opposed funding for Trump’s wall and his call for deep domestic spending cuts.

Schumer and Leahy said the White House never tried to work with Democrats in the process.

Trump treats engaging with lawmakers on legislation as “an afterthought,” said Doug Heye, a Republican strategist who worked in Congress as an aide to former House Republican leader Eric Cantor.

“The power of the Oval Office can provide a lot of leverage when trying to move something on Capitol Hill,” Heye said. “We just haven’t see that level of engagement from Trump, whether it’s healthcare, or building a wall, or tax reform.”

But John Feehery, a Republican strategist in Washington, said the spending bill may not be indicative of Trump’s ability to negotiate with Congress because the legislative body should have dealt with this year’s funding months ago and never have been allowed to go into the current year.

“He knows that this bill was probably not going to reflect his priorities because it was old business,” Feehery said. “When it comes to new business, he has a lot more leverage in getting his priorities accomplished.“

PLANNED PARENTHOOD, OBAMACARE FUNDED

The spending deal preserved funding for healthcare provider Planned Parenthood, which has drawn Republican ire because it performs abortions; for the Obamacare healthcare law; and for an array of environmental and other domestic programs Trump wanted to slash.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer said because the legislation needs to win a supermajority of 60 votes in the 100-member Senate that cannot be achieved without Democratic support, “we couldn’t have our entire way” on the deal.

Spicer said the “president’s priorities will be reflected much more” in spending yet to be worked out for the 2018 fiscal year that begins on Oct. 1. He said Trump was pleased to see the increase in military spending, a “down payment” on border security and money for scholarships to help low-income children in Washington attend private schools.

The fiscal 2017 funds, which should have been locked into place seven months ago, would pay for federal programs from airport and border security operations to soldiers’ pay, medical research, foreign aid, space exploration and education.

The Pentagon would win a $12.5 billion increase in defense spending for the fiscal year, with the possibility of an additional $2.5 billion contingent on Trump delivering a plan to Congress for defeating the Islamic State militant group.

Congressional negotiators settled on $1.5 billion more for border security, including money for new technology and repairing existing infrastructure.

Under the deal, Puerto Rico would get an emergency injection of $295 million for its Medicaid health insurance program for the poor. The impoverished U.S. territory faces a severe Medicaid funding shortfall.

The U.S. government and coal companies would be required to pay out healthcare to retired coal miners, guaranteeing benefits to workers even as coal companies face bankruptcy, under the spending agreement.

The deal also would reimburse New York City for money spent securing Trump and his family at Trump Tower in Manhattan.

(Additional reporting by Doina Chiacu, Susan Heavey, Tim Ahmann and Steve Holland; Writing by Will Dunham; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh, Chizu Nomiyama, Meredith Mazzilli and Jonathan Oatis)

Trump questions why U.S. Civil War had to happen

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Donald Trump has shown a fascination with populist 19th-century U.S. president Andrew Jackson since he has occupied the Oval Office, hanging “Old Hickory’s” portrait in the Oval Office, visiting his plantation in Tennessee and placing a wreath at his tomb.

In an interview that aired on Sirius XM satellite radio on Monday, Trump suggested that if Jackson had governed a little later than his 1829-1837 presidency, the American Civil War might have been averted. Trump also questioned why the bloody conflict had to happen.

“Had Andrew Jackson been a little later, you wouldn’t have had the Civil War. He was a very tough person, but he had a big heart,” Trump told Sirius XM. He said that although Jackson was a “swashbuckler,” after his wife died, Jackson visited her grave every day.

Jackson, a slave owner who was instrumental in the forced removal of Native American tribes from the U.S. Southeast in the so-called Trail of Tears, died nearly 16 years before the start of the Civil War.

But Trump told Sirius XM that Jackson “was really angry that he saw what was happening with regard to the Civil War.””He said, ‘There’s no reason for this,'” Trump said. “People don’t realize, you know, the Civil War — if you think about it, why? People don’t ask that question, but why was there a Civil War? Why could that one not have been worked out?”

It was not clear what Trump believed Jackson would have done to avert the 1861-65 conflict, which cost 620,000 lives.

In a tweet later on Monday, Trump acknowledged that Jackson had died 16 years before the start of the war but said he “saw it coming and was angry. Would never have let it happen!”

The events leading to the Civil War have been extensively researched, with slavery being one of the root causes. Slavery and its legacy have been a source of division in the United States since.

By the time of his death, Jackson owned about 150 slaves who lived and worked at his plantation, the Hermitage. During his time in office, Jackson denounced the growing activity of abolitionists seeking an end to slavery.

Trump and his supporters have likened his election victory to Jackson’s triumph in 1828, when Jackson became the first U.S. president from what was then the western frontier of Tennessee.

The populist Democrat famously opened the White House to all comers after his inauguration, turning the normally dignified executive mansion into a mob scene.

(Reporting by David Alexander; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Peter Cooney)