Trump Team’s Dysfunction Fuels Prospect Of Prosecution Over Leaks

While White House officials, who speak out of turn, are not necessarily committing a crime unless they reveal classified information, dysfunction in the White House amplifies a frenetic and mad political climate.

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Egypt: 26 dead as gunmen fire on bus carrying Coptic Christians

Twenty-six people have been killed in Egypt after unidentified gunmen opened fire on a bus carrying Coptic Christians, according to state-run media.

The passengers were traveling Friday to a monastery, St. Samuel the Confessor, near the central city of Minya when they came under attack, Health Ministry spokesman Khaled Mugahed told TV al-Masriya.

He said that 25 others were also injured as the gunmen fired from two cars on a desert road around 100 km (62 miles) west of Minya. Fifty ambulances are now at the scene.

There were men, women and children among the dead and injured, Mugahed said, some of whom are now in critical condition.

It was not immediately clear who was responsible for the shooting.

Coptic Christians have faced persecution and discrimination in Egypt, which has spiked since the toppling of Hosni Mubarak’s regime in 2011. Dozens have been killed in sectarian violence.

Coptic Christians make up about 10% of Egypt’s population of 91 million. They base their theology on the teachings of the apostle Mark, who introduced Christianity to Egypt.

State of emergency

The country is still under a three-month state of emergency period following twin attacks on Coptic churches in the country on Palm Sunday last month, in attacks claimed by ISIS.

In December, an attack on a Coptic church in Cairo killed 25 people.

Coptic churches and homes have been set on fire, members of the Coptic minority have been physically attacked, and their property has been looted, rights group Amnesty International reported in March.

A church in Minya was torched in 2013, gutting its interior.

 

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Migrant crisis looms over G-7 summit

World leaders at the G-7 summit on Friday will meet in Sicily — a promised land for thousands of migrants making the desperate journey from North Africa to Europe.

This week, Italy received 4,513 migrants to the country. It was a 576% increase from the previous week, according to the International Organization for Migration. It could suggest that more migrants are attempting to cross the Mediterranean as the weather gets warmer — a pattern seen in previous years.

So far this year, Italy has received about 90% of the approximately 60,000 migrants who arrived to Europe by sea, according to the UN High Commisioner for Refugees data, updated this week.

Tragedy on Europe’s doorstep

On Wednesday, a wooden boat carrying about 500 migrants was hit by a wave that caused passengers to rush to one side of the vessel, according to the Italian Coast Guard. This tipped about 200 people overboard into the Mediterranean. Thirty-four people died, said the Coast Guard.

Dramatic photos showed people in orange life vests bobbing in the water calling for help.

One man without a life jacket clung to the side of a boat as an Italian Coast Guard boat approached. “Come on, my friend!” one rescuer yelled at him. Rescuers reached out to him and pulled him to safety, as shown in a video released by the Italian Coast Guard. When the man was brought to safety, he sobbed uncontrollably as a rescuer embraced him.

Ships from the Italian Coast Guard, Great Britain, Spain and two NGOs — Doctors Without Borders and MOAS — worked to rescue about 1,800 migrants who were attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea in four rubber boats and six wooden vessels.

Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) a private humanitarian organization, said that seven children died.

“There are no words for what is happening in the Central Mediterranean right now,” said Christopher Catrambone, founder of MOAS, in a statement. “It is a horrifying tragedy that continues to unfold on Europe’s doorstep.”

“MOAS is doing everything it can but alternative solutions must be found by Europe’s leaders if this continuing loss of life is to be mitigated,” he said.

Groups: Make humane migration policy

Other groups also called for the G-7 to commit to humane migration policies.

Several NGOs and UNICEF are urging leaders of the seven major economies to address the ongoing migrant crisis. President Donald Trump, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will be in attendance in Taormina, Italy.

Dr. Joanne Liu, international president of Doctors Without Borders, also known as Médecins Sans Frontières, or MSF, called the rising deaths at sea “as a humanitarian failure on their watch.”

UNICEF estimates that at least 200 children have died trying to cross the Mediterranean into Italy this year.

“This is their [G7’s] moment to show true leadership in adopting a concrete policy plan that will help keep refugee and migrant children safe,” Justin Forsyth, UNICEF deputy executive director said in a statement.

What’s happened since 2015 crisis

In 2015, the number of migrants entering or attempting to enter Europe exploded in the largest migration since World War II. The unprecedented surge brought more than a million migrants and refugees into Europe that year.

In response, European countries began to curb their own refugee programs. Governments have sought to fortify their countries’ borders with fences, walls and guards against future mass migrations.

A deadly record was set in 2016 as at least 3,800 migrants died in the Mediterranean.

Meanwhile, migration into Greece from Turkey largely stopped after a controversial EU-Turkey deal in 2016. Ankara agreed to take back all, new migrants who leave Turkey’s shores for Europe including those intercepted in its territorial waters, on the condition that one legitimate Syrian refugee is resettled in Europe for every Syrian returned to Turkey.

After the deal went into effect, arrivals to Greece plummeted in 2016 while arrivals to Italy increased.

This year, Italy made a deal to bolster Libya’s coast guard so it could spot departing migrant boats and also house migrants attempting to cross.

Doctors Without Borders has been critical of both the EU-Turkey and Italy-Libya deals, slamming them as “outsourcing migration management to — often unsafe — third countries.”

Migrants arriving by sea this year has not been at the same level as that in 2015. Two years ago by May, 91,441 refugees and migrants had arrived to Europe by sea.

So far this year, 60,199 sea arrivals have been recorded, according to UNHCR data.

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Lawmakers want to ban American tourists from North Korea

U.S. lawmakers are pushing for a ban on American tourists visiting North Korea.

Two congressmen introduced a bill on Thursday that aims to cut off a source of foreign currency to Kim Jong Un’s government and prevent it from detaining more U.S. citizens.

“Tourist travel to North Korea does nothing but provide funds to a tyrannical regime — that will in turn be used to develop weapons to threaten the United States and our allies,” Republican Rep. Joe Wilson said in a statement. “Worse, the regime has routinely imprisoned innocent foreign civilians and used them as bargaining chips to gain credibility with the West.”

Known as the North Korea Travel Control Act, the bill would require licenses for any American citizen to travel to the country. Licenses for tourists wouldn’t be issued.

‘Serious risk of arrest’

The move follows a string of measures in recent months from the U.S., China and other countries aimed at trying to pressure the North Korean regime over its nuclear weapons program.

The State Department strongly warns U.S. citizens against traveling to North Korea, saying they’re “at serious risk of arrest and long-term detention under North Korea’s system of law enforcement.”

At least 16 Americans have been detained there in the past decade, the department says. Four of them continue to be held.

But people still keep going.

Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, who introduced the bill with Wilson, warned that increased tensions with North Korea heighten the danger that U.S. citizens will be detained for political reasons.

Western tourists far outnumbered by Chinese

If the new bill becomes law, it could be bad news for adventurous Americans seeking to cross North Korea off their bucket list. But it won’t have much of an impact on the North Korean economy, which overwhelmingly relies on China.

Wilson noted an increase in trips to the secretive country in recent years by Americans and other Western tourists. But they’re dwarfed by the number of Chinese visitors to North Korea.

Koryo Group, a Beijing-based firm that has been running tours to North Korea since 1993, estimates that roughly 100,000 tourists visit the country each year, 95% of whom are Chinese.

Koryo, which claims to be the largest operator of tours dedicated to non-Chinese tourists, says it takes around 2,000 travelers from other countries to North Korea every year, only 20% of whom are American.

“The North Korean weapons program won’t grind to a halt as a result of the loss of a few hundred tourists a year,” Simon Cockerill, general manager at Koryo, told CNNMoney.

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Several people robbed at gunpoint on beach behind Fontainebleau

Several people were robbed at gunpoint Saturday night as they hung out on the beach directly behind the Fontainebleau, police said.

The Miami Beach Police Department said the group was at the beach shortly before midnight when two men between the ages of 20 and 30 approached them with guns.

One of the men said, “This is a robbery — give us your phones,” while pointing his gun at the victims, police said.

Two of the victims gave their belongings to the thieves, police said, while two others dropped their phones while running for safety. One of the victims also had her wallet stolen.

Police said one of the victims was able to get away, hide under a boardwalk and call 911.

Police said two of the victims in the robbery were juveniles.

Police said one of the thieves was wearing a white hooded sweatshirt that said “Thrasher” on the front and dark pants. The other was wearing a dark-colored hooded sweatshirt, with possible gray striping down the sleeves, and dark long pants.

Police said both men had their hoods pulled down, covering the majority of their faces.

Anyone with information about the robbery can call local law enforcement.

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