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Obama says change in U.S. policy toward Taiwan would have consequences with China
| Reuters
World

Obama says change in U.S. policy toward Taiwan would have consequences with China | Reuters

By Roberta Rampton and Jeff Mason | WASHINGTON WASHINGTON President Barack Obama said on Friday it was fine for President-elect Donald Trump to review Washington's "one-China" policy toward Taiwan, but he cautioned that a shift could lead to significant consequences in the U.S. relationship with Beijing."For China, the issue of Taiwan is as important as anything on their docket," Obama said at a news conference.

Dispute holds up evacuation from 'hell' of  Aleppo
| Reuters
World

Dispute holds up evacuation from 'hell' of Aleppo | Reuters

By Laila Bassam, Lisa Barrington and John Davison | ALEPPO, Syria/BEIRUT ALEPPO, Syria/BEIRUT The evacuation of the last opposition-held areas of the Syrian city of Aleppo was suspended on Friday after pro-government militias demanded that wounded people should also be brought out of two Shi'ite villages being besieged by rebel fighters.The second day of the operation to take fighters and civilians out of Aleppo's rebel enclave ground to a halt amid recriminations from all sides after a morning that had seen the pace of the operation pick up."Aleppo is now a synonym for hell," U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told reporters.

As Gambians lose fear, President Jammeh's isolation grows
| Reuters
World

As Gambians lose fear, President Jammeh's isolation grows | Reuters

By Edward McAllister | BANJUL BANJUL Lawyers, trade unions, teachers and journalists have joined a growing chorus of demands for Gambian President Yahya Jammeh to accept his defeat in a Dec.

Germany plans tougher measures against hate speech, fake news
| Reuters
World

Germany plans tougher measures against hate speech, fake news | Reuters

BERLIN Top officials in Germany's ruling coalition said on Friday they planned legislation to crack down on "hate speech" and fake news on Facebook and other social media platforms, and impose stiff penalties if such messages were not quickly removed.Politicians are worried about how hate speech and fake news could sway public opinion ahead of elections next year in which Merkel will be running for a fourth term and facing an increasingly popular far right."There has only been talk for too long. Now we in the coalition will take action at the beginning of next year," Volker Kauder, a senior member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU), said in a statement.Facebook Inc FB.O said on Thursday it would take measures to prevent fake news spreading on its platform. Users would find it easier to flag fake articles as a hoax, and organizations would be deployed to check facts.The statement suggested the ruling coalition was not altogether convinced by the steps announced by Facebook.Kauder said the legislation would require social media companies to set up offices that would respond to complaints from people affected by hateful messages within 24 hours

Putin turned Russia election hacks in Trump's favour - U.S. officials
| Reuters
World

Putin turned Russia election hacks in Trump's favour - U.S. officials | Reuters

WASHINGTON Russian President Vladimir Putin supervised his intelligence agencies' hacking of the U.S. presidential election and turned it from a general attempt to discredit American democracy to an effort to help Donald Trump, three U.S

Charleston church gunman found guilty of federal hate crimes
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World

Charleston church gunman found guilty of federal hate crimes | Reuters

By Greg Lacour | CHARLESTON, S.C. CHARLESTON, S.C. A jury on Thursday found avowed white supremacist Dylann Roof guilty of federal hate crimes resulting in the deaths of nine black parishioners at a historic church in Charleston, South Carolina, last year.Jurors also said Roof, 22, was guilty of firearms violations and obstructing the exercise of religion for those he shot and killed during a Bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church on June 17, 2015

Peace can transform Colombia into breadbasket for world, president says
| Reuters
World

Peace can transform Colombia into breadbasket for world, president says | Reuters

By Alex Whiting ROME (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Curbing poverty and hunger in rural areas is crucial to building lasting peace in Colombia and in turn will help the nation become a breadbasket for the world, President Juan Manuel Santos said on Thursday.Rural reforms to address unequal land distribution and boost development are key to the peace agreement signed last month by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and Santos, who won a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to reach an accord."We are all aware that there is no peace where hunger exists, and also that conflict creates an environment of scarcity," Santos told government representatives gathered at the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)."Peace in our country is a peace that will benefit the whole world on many fronts, one of which is that of food security and agricultural development," he said.More than 220,000 people died in the 52-year war that began as an uprising by the Marxist-inspired FARC rebels over unequal land distribution.The conflict forced nearly seven million people, many of them poor farmers, from their homes, leaving Colombia with one of the world's largest displaced populations.

Canadian diplomats visit pastor imprisoned in North Korea
| Reuters
World

Canadian diplomats visit pastor imprisoned in North Korea | Reuters

OTTAWA Diplomats from Canada this week paid a rare visit to North Korea and were able to see a Canadian pastor serving a life sentence for subversion, a foreign ministry official said on Thursday.Hyeon Soo Lim, who served at one of Canada's largest churches, was sentenced to hard labor for life in December 2015 for what North Korea says was an attempt to overthrow the regime. He is the only Western citizen known to be held currently in North Korea.Chantal Gagnon, a spokeswoman for Canadian Foreign Minister Stephane Dion, confirmed a report by North Korea's KCNA news agency that said the diplomats visited the country from Tuesday until Thursday and saw Lim."We are still very concerned about his health, well-being and continued detention and are ‎working actively to secure his release," she said.

Britain's May to brief Brussels as EU prepares for Brexit talks
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World

Britain's May to brief Brussels as EU prepares for Brexit talks | Reuters

By Alastair Macdonald and Elizabeth Piper | BRUSSELS BRUSSELS Prime Minister Theresa May will update Britain's partners in Brussels on Thursday on her plans to launch talks by March on quitting the EU, and they will settle their arrangements for the negotiations.May will join an EU summit starting after 12 p.m. (1100 GMT) to discuss issues from migration to the economy, security and building up defences against Russia as Donald Trump prepares to enter the White House with an agenda many Europeans fear may dilute the historic U.S

Abe, Putin to huddle at hot spring over Japan-Russia islands row
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World

Abe, Putin to huddle at hot spring over Japan-Russia islands row | Reuters

By Linda Sieg | TOKYO TOKYO Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet at a hot spring resort on Thursday seeking progress on a territorial row that has prevented their countries from signing a peace treaty formally ending World War Two.The two sides are likely to clinch some agreements on economic cooperation but both have sought to dampen expectations of a breakthrough in the feud over the windswept islands in the western Pacific seized by Soviet forces at the end of the war.The two leaders will meet in Abe's home constituency in southwest Japan on Thursday and in Tokyo on Friday.Abe has pledged to resolve the territorial dispute, in hopes both of leaving a diplomatic legacy that eluded his foreign minister father, and of building better ties with Russia to counter a rising China.But a deal to end the dispute over the islands, known in Japan as the Northern Territories and in Russia as the Southern Kuriles, carries risks for Putin, who does not want to tarnish his image at home of a staunch defender of Russian sovereignty. "I don't have excessive expectations, but I am not pessimistic either," said former Japanese diplomat Kunihiko Miyake. "It could be a milestone in a long, long march."Russia hopes to clinch deals with Japanese companies as part of an Asian pivot in response to a decision by Western governments, including Japan, to impose sanctions in 2014 over Russia's role in the Ukraine conflict.

Trump endorses Romney niece Ronna Romney McDaniel for RNC chair
| Reuters
World

Trump endorses Romney niece Ronna Romney McDaniel for RNC chair | Reuters

By Steve Holland | NEW YORK NEW YORK U.S. President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday endorsed a niece of former critic Mitt Romney to be the next chair of the Republican National Committee as he moved to put his stamp on the party leadership.The RNC named Michigan Republican Party chair Ronna Romney McDaniel as its deputy chair, and Trump said he looked forward to her taking over the party leadership.Trump's incoming White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus, will leave the RNC chairmanship when Trump takes office on Jan. 20.“I’m excited to have a highly effective leader in Ronna McDaniel as RNC deputy chair and I look forward to her serving as the party’s chairman in 2017,” Trump said in a statement.

New oversight for Voice of America, Radio Free Europe raises concerns
| Reuters
World

New oversight for Voice of America, Radio Free Europe raises concerns | Reuters

By Patricia Zengerle | WASHINGTON WASHINGTON A defence policy bill that President Barack Obama is expected to sign into law this month will give President-elect Donald Trump greater influence over U.S. foreign broadcasting entities.The National Defense Authorization Act passed by Congress last week includes a provision abolishing the Broadcasting Board of Governors, an independent body that oversees government-backed media outlets such as the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe, and replaces it with a chief executive nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate.The election victory of Republican businessman Trump, who has had a stormy relationship with some media outlets he accuses of being biased against him, has raised concerns among some officials about whether the media outlets can maintain their editorial independence under a Trump-appointed CEO.It is not clear, however, if the change is intended to give the president greater influence over news, information and fact-checking that U.S.

Aleppo evacuation plan back on track to end years of fighting
| Reuters
World

Aleppo evacuation plan back on track to end years of fighting | Reuters

By Laila Bassam, Suleiman Al-Khalidi and Tom Perry | ALEPPO, Syria/BEIRUT ALEPPO, Syria/BEIRUT An evacuation of rebel-held districts of Aleppo is back on track and expected to begin within hours, officials on both sides of the war said late on Wednesday, a retreat that would mark a major victory for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and end years of fighting.An initial deal that would have seen thousands of civilians and opposition fighters granted safe passage out of the city stalled on Wednesday and the planned exodus failed to materialise. Iran, one of Assad's main backers, had imposed new conditions, saying it wanted the simultaneous evacuation of wounded from two villages besieged by rebels, according to rebel and U.N.

U.S. Northeast braces for arctic air after N.Y. boy dies in snowbank
| Reuters
World

U.S. Northeast braces for arctic air after N.Y. boy dies in snowbank | Reuters

By Timothy Mclaughlin | CHICAGO CHICAGO Arctic air sweeping through the U.S. Midwest on Wednesday is expected to bring the Northeast the freezing conditions that contributed to the death on Tuesday of an upstate New York boy who became trapped in a snowbank

Germany deports 50 rejected Afghan asylum seekers
| Reuters
World

Germany deports 50 rejected Afghan asylum seekers | Reuters

FRANKFURT Germany has carried out its first group deportation of Afghans whose asylum applications have been rejected, in line with an agreement reached with Kabul earlier this year.A charter plane carrying about 50 Afghans left Frankfurt on Wednesday, a Reuters journalist at the scene said.A spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Refugees said authorities were expecting a plane with 50 returnees from Germany to arrive on Thursday in Kabul.If the returnees need help to get back to their home provinces, the ministry will provide help, the spokesman said, adding around 10,000 Afghans had returned from Europe so far this year.More than a million migrants from the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere have arrived in Germany since the beginning of 2015, prompting concerns about security and integration. The influx has boosted support for anti-immigrant groups such as the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party.In 2016, Afghans were the second biggest group of asylum seekers in Germany after Syrians, according to data from the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF). A spokeswoman for the German Interior Ministry said the deportations were taking place on the basis of an agreement made with the Afghan government in October.The Afghans are flown to Kabul and then ultimately sent back to their home regions if they are regarded as reasonably safe.

Trump to unveil Supreme Court pick close to inauguration - aide
| Reuters
World

Trump to unveil Supreme Court pick close to inauguration - aide | Reuters

WASHINGTON President-elect Donald Trump plans to unveil his choice to fill the lingering U.S. Supreme Court vacancy around the time of his Jan. 20 inauguration after the Republican-led Senate refused to consider President Barack Obama's nominee, a senior Trump aide said on Wednesday.The top U.S.

Had a war like Syria's started in Europe, refugees would be treated better - Jordan's Prince Ali
| Reuters
World

Had a war like Syria's started in Europe, refugees would be treated better - Jordan's Prince Ali | Reuters

By Nita Bhalla NEW DELHI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - If the war in Syria had taken place in Europe, the world would have reacted more quickly to foster peace and treated millions of refugees fleeing the protracted conflict more humanely, said Jordan's Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein. Jordan has been overwhelmed by the influx of refugees since the conflict in neighbouring Syria began almost six years ago

Aleppo assault likely a war crime, says U.N. as evacuation stalls
| Reuters
World

Aleppo assault likely a war crime, says U.N. as evacuation stalls | Reuters

By Laila Bassam, Lisa Barrington and John Davison | ALEPPO, Syria/BEIRUT ALEPPO, Syria/BEIRUT Plans to evacuate besieged rebel districts of Aleppo were under threat on Wednesday as renewed air strikes and shelling rocked the Syrian city in a bombardment the United Nations said "most likely constitutes war crimes".Iran, one of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's main backers, imposed new conditions, saying it wanted the simultaneous evacuation of wounded from two villages besieged by rebel fighters, according to rebel and U.N.

Italian PM wins Senate confidence vote as new referendum looms
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World

Italian PM wins Senate confidence vote as new referendum looms | Reuters

By Crispian Balmer and Giselda Vagnoni | ROME ROME Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni won the backing of the fragmented Senate on Wednesday, allowing his government to formally take office as a new threat emerged to the legacy of predecessor Matteo Renzi.Renzi resigned last week when he lost a referendum on his proposed reform of the constitution. Looking to stave off political turmoil, the head of state asked Gentiloni, the outgoing foreign minister, to form a new cabinet.After winning an initial vote of confidence in the lower chamber of parliament on Tuesday, Gentiloni secured victory in the upper house Senate and promised to push ahead with Renzi's reform agenda.But the reform drive, once heralded by investors as a sign that Italy was finally facing up to myriad problems such as chronic economic underperformance and rampant graft, looks increasingly ragged.With the constitutional reform already shot down by a referendum, another of Renzi's flagship projects, a shake-up of the labour market, risks suffering the same fate with Italy's main union demanding a plebiscite on the law.Italy's Constitutional Court said on Wednesday it would review the request on Jan

Swiss high court slaps down effort to ban university's Islamic centre
| Reuters
World

Swiss high court slaps down effort to ban university's Islamic centre | Reuters

By John Miller | ZURICH ZURICH Switzerland's highest court on Wednesday blocked efforts to ban a state-funded Islamic-focused academic centre at a Swiss university, ruling that an anti-immigration political party's proposed local referendum on it was discriminatory.