EU agrees to impose new sanctions against Venezuelan officials: reports

Following Venezuela’s vote, which lacked credibility, the European Union is calling for “fresh presidential elections” as it prepares to impose more targeted sanctions against officials in the South American country.

On May 20, Nicolas Maduro was re-elected for a second six-year term as Venezuela’s president in an election flawed by low turnout, the main oppositions either barred or imprisoned and other several voting irregularities.

The EU’s foreign ministers at a regular meeting in Brussels on Monday said in a statement that the vote “lacked any credibility as the electoral process did not ensure the necessary guarantees for inclusive and democratic elections.

“The EU will act swiftly, according to established procedures, with the aim of imposing additional targeted and reversible restrictive measures, that do not harm the Venezuelan population, whose plight the EU wishes to alleviate,” it added.

According to reports, the sanctions are expected to be formally adopted at a meeting on June 25 in Luxembourg.

It is reported that the bloc was considering imposing sanctions on 11 officials.

The EU had in January 2017, issued a travel ban and an asset freeze to seven Venezuelan individuals and in November, imposed an arms embargo.

According to official results, Maduro won the election by securing 5.8 million votes, while his main opponent, Henri Falcon, garnered a total of 1.8 million votes.


Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says U.S. diplomats ‘traeted badly’ in Pakistan

States are being “treated badly” in Pakistan, adding that the South Asian country would continue to receive diminishing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has told a U.S. congressional hearing that diplomats from the United U.S. aid.

Pompeo who was testifying before the U.S. house foreign affairs committee on Thursday, made the remarks as relations continues to deteriorate between the once allies.

“My officers, our state department officers, are being treated badly as well, folks working in the embassies and councils [and] in other places are not being treated well by the Pakistani government either,” Pompeo said, during a debate on the US State Department’s budget for the 2019 fiscal year.

Earlier this month, the United States issued new restrictions for Pakistani diplomats posted in the country, requiring them to remain with a 25-mile (40.2km) radius of the city to which they were posted.

Pakistan says the restrictions are due to security reasons.

The spokesperson for the U.S embassy in Pakistan said in a statement to Al Jazeera, alleged that “the harassment faced by American and local U.S. Embassy and Consulate personnel in Pakistan restricts their ability to carry out their mission.

“We have also documented numerous cases in which ordinary Pakistani citizens participating in our educational, cultural, and development programs have faced harassment by Pakistani government officials.”


Harvey Weinstein surrenders to police, charged with first-degree rape

Law enforcement officials said movie mogul Harvey Weinstein has agreed to surrender himself at a police precinct on Friday morning and will be arrested on a criminal complaint. He will then be taken to Manhattan Criminal Court to be arraigned on the charges that he raped one woman and forced another to perform oral sex on him.

The charges follow a series of accusations brought against him that led woman around the world, some of them famous and many not, to come forward with accounts of being sexually harassed and assaulted by famous and powerful men.

Mr. Weinsrein, 66, had until recently seemed untouchable, harnessing his wealth and influence in the movie industry to intimidate women out of speaking publicly and, only three years ago, withstand an investigation into groping allegations.

A law enforcement agent who spoke on the condition of anonymity said Weinstein would be charged with first-degree rape and third-degree rape in one case, and with first-degree criminal sex act in another.

In an already bail package negotiated in advance, Mr. Weinstein will put up $1 million in cash and will agree to wear a monitoring device. He will surrender his passport and his travel will be restricted.


British woman expose to nerve agent died: reports

A British woman has died Sunday night after being exposed to Novichok, which was used in the poisoning of a former Russian spy Sergie Skripal and his daughter Yulia, in March

Dawn Sturgess, 44, was exposed to the deadly nerve agent alongside her boyfriend Charlie Rowley, and are being treated for poisoning from Novichok, a military-grade chemical weapon, according to British authorities.

Prime Minister May announced in a tweet later Sunday that Sturgess’ death is being investigated as a murder.

It is not clear how the couple came in contact with the nerve agent or if it came from the same batch that poisoned a former Russian spy in March. Friends of the couple who spoke to the British press said that Rowley would often search dumpsters, making some investigators to ascertain that Sturgess and Rowley accidentally touched items contaminated with the nerve agent probably thrown away by the assailants.

Authorities said Sturgess absorbed the nerve agent through her hands.

Ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, were both attacked with the nerve agent four months ago. They fell into comas but were revived and released. British authorities have accused Russia of being behind a deliberate attack, and expelled 23 Russian diplomats as a result.

According to British authorities, around 100 detectives are working to identify the source of the Novichok.


Private plane crash kills five people in Mumbai

A plane crash in the city of Mumbai, India’s financial and entertainment capital claimed the lives of five people including one person on the ground after a small private plane crashed Thursday into a busy area in the city. A former aviation minister said the pilot avoided a much higher toll by hitting an open area at a construction site.

The Press Trust of India news agency said two pilots and two technicians on the aircraft lost their lives. Police officer Vishnu Kolekar, said one person on the ground was killed and two others were injured. Police earlier said two were killed on the ground.

Police said the 12-seat Beechcraft King Air C90 crashed on a test flight after it was repaired and had taken off from Mumbai’s Juhu airstrip, which is used by small planes.

It was reported that it plowed into an open area at a construction site for a multistory building in the Ghatkopar district, a crowded area with many residence apartments. Fortunately, workers at the construction site had left for lunch.

The pilot prevented many more casualties by avoiding residential buildings, said a Mumbai resident and former Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel.

“Salute to the pilot who showed presence of mind to avoid a big mishap, saving many lives at the cost of her own,” he tweeted.


Prince William spends private time with Holocaust survivors’ family in Israel

Prince William spends private time with Holocaust survivor’s family during his historic visit to Israel. The prince met with the descendants of a Jewish family who escaped the Holocaust after being protected by Princess Alice, the Duke of Cambridge’s great-grandmother. The family expressed their gratitude and thanked him personally for her heroism saying: “We all owe our existence to the courage of Princess Alice”.

The Cohen family who had a private time on Tuesday with the Duke at the residence of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, told him of their ‘’ difficult but beautiful ’’ family history, in an ‘’extremely moving’’ encounter during his visit to Israel.

The Duke, who later found himself caught up in the Middle Eastern peace process  after being asked to convey diplomatic messages, said the deeds of Princess Alice, the mother of the Duke of Edinburgh who protected Jews from the Gestapo in her Athens residence, were of ‘’ great pride for my whole family’’ .

The private time was a deeply personal moment for the Duke on a day when he also visited the  Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, where he honored the memory of six million Jews killed by the Nazis.

He said later: “I am well aware that the responsibility falls now to my generation to keep the memory alive of that great crime as the Holocaust generation passes on – and I commit myself to doing this.”

The Duke also met with the Prime Minister and his wife Sara, before spending time with Reuven Rivlin, Israel’s president.


Police search continues for novichok contaminated item

Police have continued search for the item contaminated with the nerve agent that poisoned the couple. On Friday, investigators in protective clothing entered a John Baker House in Salisbury, where one of the victims, Dawn Sturgess, 44, lives.

Police believe Charlie Rowley, 45, and Ms Sturgess were exposed to Novichok after handling the unknown object.

The pair remains in a critical condition in hospital.

A government scientist who spoke with BBC News said the item was unlikely to have been left in the open before they touched it.

BBC home affairs correspondent Daniel Sandford also said the search for the item could take “weeks or months” and that no objects have yet been collected for testing.

Over time, rainwater and sunlight can weaken the effectiveness of Novichok , meaning the couple came in contact with the contaminated item in a contained space, the government scientist said.

However, other experts have said the nerve agent was designed to be persistent and not break down.

“Novichok is so toxic that it can pass through the skin and need not to be ingested” says the government scientist who spoke to BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner.

The source added that Mr. Rowley and Ms Sturgess’s symptoms were the exact shown by former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

They were both poisoned with the deadly nerve agent in nearby Salisbury in March.



A magnitude 6.1 earthquake hits Japan, killing 4: reports

At least four people have died while more than 350 others injured after a magnitude 6.1 earthquake rocked the Osaka region of western Japan on Monday, NHK reported.

The temblor struck shortly after 8 a.m. local time, causing severe damage to roads, bursting water pipes and setting fires across the prefecture.

The Japanese news agency reported government officials confirmed at least two people died under toppling walls. One of the victims was a 9-year-old girl who was crushed by a concrete wall at a local elementary school while the other was an 84-year-old man who was killed by a falling bookshelf, according to the AP.

Another 14 cases of people trapped in elevators were reported, NHK said, while dozens of residents fled to local evacuation centers.

However, no tsunami warnings have been issued.

President Abe has also instructed agency leaders to “swiftly collect information on damage, make utmost efforts in rescuing and saving lives” and urged them to keep the public informed, according to Channel News Asia.

All 15 nuclear reactors in the neighboring prefecture of Fukui were unaffected by the earthquake.

The temblor affected thousands of morning commuters traveling during rush hour. Most subways and trains, including the bullet train, were brought to a standstill while lines were checked for damage.



Israel retaliates as Hamas launches 45 rockets: reports

A total of 45 rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip in the early hours of Wednesday prompting Israel to ring sirens throughout the city and launch counterattacks, Israeli authorities said.

Army spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, said no casualties were reported in Israel. He told journalists that only one home was directly hit by the rocket, while “the vast majority” of the 200,000 Israelis living in neighboring communities spent the night in bomb shelters. However, Gazan authorities said two people were lightly wounded by the Israeli strikes.

Israel’s Iron dome missile defense system intercepted seven of the 45 rockets over the course of the night, the military said. In response, the Israeli fighter hit 25 targets belonging to Hamas, the militia that governs the Palestinian territory.

At least five of the rockets fell within Israeli communities, two landed near a community center and one next to a kindergarten where children later arrived for the last day of the school year.

The night-long airstrikes came after two Israeli air force strikes against infrastructure belonging to Hamas on Tuesday. The strikes came in response to an ongoing wave of burning balloons and kites being launched from Gaza into Israel, a tactic that has left the Israeli army with few retaliatory options.



Search begins for suitable option to fill U.S. vacant seat at UN

Washington’s decision to withdraw from the United Nations Human Rights Council has left a great vacuum that will be difficult to fill as China, Britain, and the European Union began search for a suitable option for the coveted seat.

The United States withdrew Tuesday from what it called the “hypocritical and self-serving” forum over what it called chronic bias against its close ally Israel and a lack of reform after a year of negotiations.

The decision is the latest U.S. rejection of multilateral engagement after it pulled out of the climate agreement and the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

“It is bad news, it is bad news for this Council, it is bad news I think for the United Nations. It is bad news, I think for the United States, it is bad news for everybody who cares about human rights,” Slovenian President Borut Pahor told the 47-member forum in Geneva where the U.S. seat was empty.

The European Union, Australia and Britain echoed his comments: “We have lost a member who has been at the forefront of liberty for generations. While we agree with the U.S. on the need for reform, our support for this Human Rights Council remains steadfast, and we will continue to advance the cause of reform from within its ranks,” Britain’s ambassador Julian Braithwaite said.