Ship Rescues Nearly 200 Migrants Off Libya 

The Ocean Viking on Saturday rescued 196 migrants off Libya, the humanitarian ship’s operator said.It first picked up 57 people in an inflatable dinghy struggling in international waters off the North African country, SOS Mediterranee said.In the afternoon, the ship’s crew carried out two additional rescues in the same area, plucking 54 people from a dinghy and 64 others from a wooden vessel.In their latest operation, they saved 21 people from a wooden vessel.The total rescued included at least two pregnant women and 33 minors, 22 of them unaccompanied.According to the International Organization for Migration, at least 1,146 people died at sea trying to reach Europe during the first half of 2021.SOS Mediterranee says it has rescued more than 30,000 people since February 2016, first with the ship Aquarius, then …

Heat Wave Causes Massive Melt of Greenland Ice Sheet 

Greenland’s ice sheet has experienced a “massive melting event” during a heat wave that has seen temperatures more than 10 degrees above seasonal norms, according to Danish researchers.Since Wednesday, the ice sheet covering the vast Arctic territory has melted by about 8 billion tons a day, twice its normal average rate during summer, reported the Polar Portal website, which is run by Danish researchers.The Danish Meteorological Institute reported temperatures of more than 20 degrees Celsius (68 Fahrenheit), more than twice the normal average summer temperature, in northern Greenland.And Nerlerit Inaat airport in the northeast of the territory recorded 23.4 degrees C (74.1 F) on Thursday — the highest recorded there since records began.With the heat wave affecting most of Greenland that day, the Polar Portal website reported a “massive melting …

Turkey Evacuates Panicked Tourists by Boat From Wildfires 

Panicked tourists in Turkey hurried to the seashore to wait for rescue boats Saturday after being told to evacuate some hotels in the Aegean resort of Bodrum because of the dangers posed by nearby wildfires, Turkish media reported.Coast guard units were leading the operation and authorities asked private boats and yachts to assist in evacuation efforts from the sea as new wildfires erupted. Video showed plumes of smoke and fire enveloping a hill close to the seashore.The death toll from wildfires raging in Turkey’s Mediterranean towns rose to six Saturday after two forest workers were killed, the country’s health minister said. Fires across Turkey since Wednesday have burned down forests and some settlements, encroaching on villages and tourist destinations and forcing people to evacuate.The minister of agriculture and forestry, Bekir …

Olympics: French Men’s Basketball Team Coasts to Quarterfinals With Win Over Iran

France secured a comfortable win over Iran in Olympic men’s basketball on Saturday to qualify for the quarterfinals and remain undefeated in the preliminary round.Real Madrid’s Thomas Heurtel led with 16 points in France’s 79-62 victory at the Saitama Super Arena, north of Tokyo. They swept their opponents in Group A, including a shock defeat of Team USA on Sunday, the first Olympic loss for the Americans since 2004.”The focus really was more about us and trying things out,” Evan Fournier, who plays for the NBA’s Boston Celtics, said about France’s decisive win. Despite his team’s dominant showing so far, he wouldn’t speculate on medal odds.”Quarter-final first. Focus on that,” he said. “Too many times we’ve beaten very, very good teams and we lost in the semi-final, so no more …

Millions in 23 Hunger Hot Spots Face Famine, Death, UN Agencies Say

The United Nations warns global hunger is increasing and urgent action is needed to stave off famine and death over coming months in nearly two dozen unstable, violence-prone countries.A report by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Food Program said more than a half-million people are experiencing catastrophic levels of acute food insecurity and 41 million are at risk of famine.The report from the WFP and FAO focuses on the particularly serious situation in 23 so-called hunger hot spots.  Most of those countries are in sub-Saharan Africa, with others in Central America, Asia and the Middle East.Patrick Jacqueson, FAO officer in charge of the Geneva office, said acute hunger is set to increase in those countries over the next four months without urgent, scaled-up humanitarian assistance.“Conflict continues …

US Complies With Russia Ban, Lays Off Local Embassy Staff

The United States said Friday it has laid off nearly 200 local staffers working for its diplomatic missions in Russia ahead of an August 1 deadline set by the Kremlin for their dismissal. The move is the latest in a series of measures taken by both sides that have strained U.S.-Russia relations. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the layoffs are regrettable and something the U.S. had hoped to avert, despite a sharp deterioration in ties between Moscow and Washington, which show few signs of improvement.  FILE – Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks at the State Department in Washington, July 12, 2021.”These unfortunate measures will severely impact the U.S. mission to Russia’s operations, potentially including the safety of our personnel as well as our ability to engage in diplomacy with …

Amazon Hit With Record EU Data Privacy Fine

Amazon.com Inc has been hit with a record $886.6 million (746 million euros) European Union fine for processing personal data in violation of the bloc’s GDPR rules, as privacy regulators take a more aggressive position on enforcement.The Luxembourg National Commission for Data Protection (CNPD) imposed the fine on Amazon in a July 16 decision, the company disclosed in a regulatory filing on Friday.Amazon will appeal the fine, according to a company spokesperson. The e-commerce giant said in the filing it believed CNPD’s decision was without merit.CNPD did not immediately respond to a request for comment.EU’s General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, requires companies to seek people’s consent before using their personal data or face steep fines.Globally, regulatory scrutiny of tech giants has been increasing following a string of scandals over …

British Transportation Minister Defends Quarantining French Visitors

Britain’s transportation minister Friday defended the country’s decision to continue quarantine requirements on fully vaccinated French visitors, saying they do not want to take chances on thwarting their COVID-19 vaccination program.In an interview, Transport Minister Grant Shapps said Britain does not want to take chances with the progress of its vaccination program. He said the presence of the beta variant of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, which was originally identified in South Africa, and now in France has prompted Britain to exercise caution.Shapps was responding to comments made Thursday by French European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune, who called Britain’s policy “discriminatory and incomprehensible.”  Britain, on Wednesday, had announced it was lifting the quarantine requirement on fully vaccinated travelers from the United States and the European Union, except for France.Beaune argued …

Firefighters Continue to Battle Deadly Wildfires in Southern Turkey

Firefighters continued to battle raging wildfires in southern Turkey Friday that have killed at least four people and forced the evacuation of villages and hotels.More than 70 wildfires broke out this week in Turkey’s Mediterranean and southern Aegean region and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters that crews were still trying to contain them in 14 locations after bringing 57 other wildfires under control since Wednesday. Forestry Minister Bekir Pakdemirli said the uncontained wildfires were in six provinces and vowed to hold accountable anyone found to be responsible for starting them. Authorities said Thursday that investigations into the fires had begun.The mayor of the Turkish resort town of Marmaris said he could not dismiss the possibility of “sabotage” as the cause of a mountainside fire that threatened holiday homes and hotels …

World Leaders Pledge $4 Billion to Public Education Affected by Pandemic

Thursday marks the second and final day of the Global Education Summit in London, hosted by Kenya and the United Kingdom. International governments and corporations pledged to donate $4 billion for the Global Partnership for Education, which provides fair access to public education in 90 countries and territories that account for 80% of children out of school. The summit emphasized the importance of equitable access to education amid warnings that COVID-19 has exacerbated already under-resourced public education programs in less economically developed countries. Experts alerted the organization that it was unlikely for those forced out of schools due to the pandemic to return. Australia’s former prime minister Julia Gillard gestures as she speaks during the closing ceremony on the second day of the Global Education Summit in London, Britain, July 29, 2021.Julia …

France Calls British Travel Rules ‘Discriminatory,’ Not Science-Based

France’s European Affairs Minister on Thursday called Britain’s decision to lift quarantine requirements for all fully vaccinated travelers arriving from Europe except France “discriminatory and incomprehensible” and said he hopes it is reviewed as soon as possible. Clement Beaune made the comments during an interview on French television a day after Britain announced it was dropping the quarantine requirement for fully vaccinated visitors from the European Union and the United States but that it would review rules for travelers from France only at the end of next week. FILE – French minister for European affairs Clement Beaune arrives at a General Affairs meeting in Luxembourg, June 22, 2021.The British government has said it is keeping quarantine rules for travelers from France because of the presence of the beta variant there. But Beaune …

Turkey Faces Dilemma as Afghan Refugees Start Arriving 

With the Taliban continuing to make advances in Afghanistan, growing numbers of Afghan refugees are starting to arrive in Turkey. With Turkey already hosting millions of refugees, the government’s refugee policy is facing growing scrutiny.A video purportedly showing Afghan refugees found in the luggage compartment of a bus in Turkey is one of many postings flooding Turkish social media, showing Afghan refugees being smuggled in buses and trucks from neighboring Iran.Officials and observers believe the numbers of Afghan refugees entering Turkey are estimated at between 500 and two thousand daily – a relatively low number compared to the mass migrant movements that Turkey has seen in the past.But Huseyin Bagci of the Foreign Policy Institute in Ankara said Turkey’s government has growing concerns that the numbers could surge if the …

Malta Government Bears Responsibility for Journalist’s Murder, Inquiry Finds

An independent inquiry into the car bomb murder of anti-corruption journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia found on Thursday that the state had to bear responsibility after creating a “culture of impunity.”Caruana Galizia was killed in a massive explosion as she drove out of her home on October 16, 2017.Prosecutors believe top businessman Yorgen Fenech, who had close ties with senior government officials, masterminded the murder. Fenech, who is awaiting trial for association to murder, denies all responsibility.Three men suspected of setting off the bomb were arrested in December 2017. One has since pleaded guilty as part of a plea bargain and is serving a 15-year jail term. The other two are awaiting trial. The self-confessed middle-man has turned state witness and was granted a pardon.The inquiry, conducted by one serving judge …

North Macedonia Sentences Former Officials in Parliament Attack

As the U.S. Congress and criminal justice system pursue accountability for those involved in the January insurrection at the Capitol in Washington, a court in North Macedonia has sentenced several former officials for their roles in a 2017 assault on the parliament in Skopje.Both legislature attacks were aimed at disrupting the democratic process. Rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol as lawmakers inside were meeting to certify the results of President Joe Biden’s election victory over President Donald Trump.The assault in Skopje involved protesters who supported the conservative VMRO-DPMNE party seeking to prevent the election of a new parliamentary speaker and opposing a proposed coalition government between the Social Democrat party and ethnic Albanian parties.Protesters Attack Macedonian Lawmakers After Albanian Voted as Speaker Scores of protesters, many wearing masks, broke through a …

Biden Administration Launches Initiative to Build US-Africa Trade 

The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden has kicked off the Prosper Africa Build Together initiative by requesting $80 million from Congress to build trade and investment between the U.S. and Africa. Dana Banks, U.S. senior director for Africa at the National Security Council, said Wednesday in an online news briefing that the U.S. was ready to do business with the continent. “The campaign is a targeted effort to elevate and energize the United States commitment to trade and investment with countries across the African continent under the Biden and Harris administration,” Banks said. “And our goal is to substantially increase two-way trade and investment between the United States and Africa by connecting U.S. and African businesses and investors with tangible deal opportunities.” It’s not the first time the U.S. …

Home of Another Investigative Journalist in Russia Raided

Police in Russia raided the home of the chief editor of an investigative media outlet that was recently designated as a “foreign agent,” the latest move by authorities to raise pressure on independent media before the country’s September parliamentary election. The Insider news site chief editor Roman Dobrokhotov tweeted Wednesday morning that “police are knocking” on the door of his apartment, and his wife reported the raid to the OVD-Info legal aid group before her phone became unavailable.  A lawyer from another legal aid group, Pravozashchita Otkrytki, headed to Dobrokhotov’s apartment. The group said police seized cellphones, laptops and tablets during the raid, as well as Dobrokhotov’s international passport. Sergei Yezhov, a journalist with The Insider, said that Dobrokhotov was supposed to leave Russia on Wednesday.  Police also raided the …

New Archaeological Finds in Jerusalem Shed Light on Second Temple Period

Israeli archaeologists say that new findings in Jerusalem’s Old City are among the most significant ever discovered. They believe a large building they uncovered is a city hall from 2,000 years ago, where dignitaries could relax before visiting Jerusalem’s Second Temple. Linda Gradstein reports from Jerusalem.   Camera: Ricki Rosen, Producer: Marcus Harton …