Sacred Heart School’s SHIELD summer enrichment programs expand offerings; registration now open

Sacred Heart School (www.sacredheartkingston.com), a private, Catholic, co-educational school for students in preschool through grade 12, is gearing up for its proprietary summer enrichment program SHIELD (Sacred Heart Interdisciplinary Education…

Sacred Heart School (www.sacredheartkingston.com), a private, Catholic, co-educational school for students in preschool through grade 12, is gearing up for its proprietary summer enrichment program SHIELD (Sacred Heart Interdisciplinary Education...

Kanye West exits social media

Rap superstar Kanye West, long a prolific user of Twitter, has disappeared from social media after months of erratic behavior.The husband of reality television star Kim Kardashian appeared to have deleted his accounts on Twitter and Instagram, with sea…

Rap superstar Kanye West, long a prolific user of Twitter, has disappeared from social media after months of erratic behavior.

The husband of reality television star Kim Kardashian appeared to have deleted his accounts on Twitter and Instagram, with searches Friday for his handles turning up error messages.

The rapper, who had some 27 million followers on Twitter, for years had used the 140-character forum to expound on topics from music to fashion and tirelessly promote himself.

In 2015, he showed startling candor by tweeting that he was $53 million in debt and needed funds to spread his "beautiful ideas."

But West ended a tour early last year after bizarre speeches on stage in which he accused fellow rapper and sometime collaborator Jay Z of trying to kill him, and in an unusual move for an African American celebrity, praised Donald Trump.

West re-emerged to meet Trump after the tycoon's election as president, but the rapper later deleted pro-Trump tweets and took a quieter approach to social media.

His breakdown came after Kardashian was robbed of $9.5 million in jewelry at a Paris luxury residence, followed by tabloid rumors of marital problems.

Kardashian remains on social media, on Friday promoting to her 51 million Twitter followers a children's clothing line she said was partially designed by West.

Seaga, Adds Dixon as new Marketing Manager

Premiere vending machine manufacturer Seaga, with headquarters in Freeport, Ill., hires a local talent to spearhead their marketing team.

Premiere vending machine manufacturer Seaga, with headquarters in Freeport, Ill., hires a local talent to spearhead their marketing team.

Montclair Businesses & Organizations Present Matisse Week, May 13–20 Inspired by Museum Exhibition

“Matisse and American Art” Now On View at Montclair Art Museum; Weeklong Festival Opens with Celebrate Matisse Fundraisers in Support of the Museum and Closes with Chalk Walk Block Party in Montclair Center

"Matisse and American Art" Now On View at Montclair Art Museum; Weeklong Festival Opens with Celebrate Matisse Fundraisers in Support of the Museum and Closes with Chalk Walk Block Party in Montclair Center

Kelly Reichardt’s Powerful Drama ‘Certain Women’ To Open 7th Annual Art of Brooklyn Film Festival

Laura Dern, Michelle Williams and Kristen Stewart star in Kelly Reichardt’s powerful drama CERTAIN WOMEN, which will open the 2017 Art of Brooklyn Film Festival Wednesday, June 7 through a partnership with IFC Films.

Laura Dern, Michelle Williams and Kristen Stewart star in Kelly Reichardt's powerful drama CERTAIN WOMEN, which will open the 2017 Art of Brooklyn Film Festival Wednesday, June 7 through a partnership with IFC Films.

O’Brien looks to Churchill to deliver record racing victory

Legendary Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien can make another piece of history on Saturday if favourite Churchill wins the English 2000 Guineas to give him a record eighth victory in the mile classic.Churchill — who is also favourite for the blue riband of f…

Legendary Irish trainer Aidan O'Brien can make another piece of history on Saturday if favourite Churchill wins the English 2000 Guineas to give him a record eighth victory in the mile classic.

Churchill -- who is also favourite for the blue riband of flat racing the Epsom Derby -- arrives at Newmarket unbeaten in his last five starts as a juvenile including the prestigious Dewhurst Stakes at the same racecourse last October.

Like his previous seven winners -- which put him alongside 19th century trainer John Scott -- Churchill will be making his first start of the season.

"He seems to be fine," said 47-year-old O'Brien.

"Everything has gone well. He was a very mature two-year-old, big and strong with plenty of scope. I've been very happy with him over the winter."

O'Brien provides two of the other eight participants -- making it the smallest field since the 1998 edition when he trained the winner King of Kings -- but William Hill have taken the bold step of opposing him by edging him out to 2/1 favourite.

His two main rivals appear to be Barney Roy, trained by Richard Hannon, and Al Wukair, who travels over from France with the considerable weight of having another training legend Andre Fabre as his handler.

"He couldn't be in better form and I'm confident he will go very close," said Fabre, who has won the Guineas twice though Pennekmap his second victor was back in 1995.

"He is well balanced and will handle the track," added the 71-year-old.

Barney Roy -- bought by Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum's Godolphin Operation on the basis of an impressive maiden win last year -- would give Hannon his second win in the race after his Night of Thunder triumphed in 2014.

- 'Most exciting horses' -

Barney Roy comes to the Guineas having won in impressive style at Newbury on his only outing this season the Group Three Greenham Stakes beating another Godolphin runner Dream Castle, who re-opposes on Saturday.

"Barney Roy is one of the most exciting horses we have had here in a very long time, and hopefully he will run a very big race in the Guineas," said Hannon.

Dream Castle is one of two runners in the race -- the other Eminent who landed the influential Guineas trial the Craven Stakes in April -- by the unbeaten Frankel whose six length victory in this race in 2011 marked him out as an exceptional talent.

O'Brien also has high hopes of taking the fillies mile classic the 1000 Guineas on Sunday.

Whilst his trio in the 2000 Guineas have martial sounding names -- Lancaster Bomber and Spirit of Valor being the other two -- his trio of fillies sport names more associated with nature with Rhododendron his standard bearer.

O'Brien has done the Guineas double twice before in 2005 and 2012 and is a big fan of Rhododendron.

"Rhododendron is a very nice filly and she won the Fillies' Mile well last year," O'Brien told Racing UK.

"She got a mile well as a two-year-old last year so you would imagine she'll get a good bit further this year.

"She's in good form, she's a clear-winded, good-minded filly and we think she's straightforward enough to ride."

The main opposition from her 13 rivals is likely to come from the John Gosden-trained Daban and adding some spice to the pot Intricately trained by O'Brien's son Joseph.

Intricately has already claimed the scalp of Rhododendron in the Group One Moyglare Stakes last year but Joseph like his father is not one for fist pumps or hyping a horses's chances.

"It's nice to have a runner," he told Racing UK.

"You can't go into a race like the 1000 Guineas expecting to win.

"It would be unbelievable if it did happen."

SelectCDrates.com Releases Survey Showing Best CD rates in Florida Well above National Rates

The top yielding certificates of deposit at Florida banks are significantly higher than the national average based on the most recent survey of bank rates conducted by SelectCDrates.com.

The top yielding certificates of deposit at Florida banks are significantly higher than the national average based on the most recent survey of bank rates conducted by SelectCDrates.com.

Yemenis face ‘life & death choice’ of treating sick children or feeding healthy ones – UNICEF to RT

As the battle in Yemen rages on, many parents are faced with the tough choice of treating a sick child or feeding a healthy one, a UNICEF representative told RT, following the tragic death of a seven-year-old who died of disease and malnu…

Preview As the battle in Yemen rages on, many parents are faced with the tough choice of treating a sick child or feeding a healthy one, a UNICEF representative told RT, following the tragic death of a seven-year-old who died of disease and malnutrition.
Read Full Article at RT.com

Former Burkina Faso president named UN Burundi envoy

A former Burkina Faso president, Michel Kafando, has been appointed the new UN envoy for Burundi, where efforts to end a political crisis over President Pierre Nkurunziza’s rule have stalled.Kafando, 74, has “more than three decades of extensive experi…

A former Burkina Faso president, Michel Kafando, has been appointed the new UN envoy for Burundi, where efforts to end a political crisis over President Pierre Nkurunziza's rule have stalled.

Kafando, 74, has "more than three decades of extensive experience in high-level international diplomacy and politics," UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Friday in announcing the appointment.

A former foreign minister and UN ambassador, Kafando was president from November 2014 to December 2015 during Burkina Faso's transition to civilian rule following a military takeover and the resignation of long-serving leader Blaise Compaore.

Kafando will replace Jamal Benomar, who held the post since November 2015 and who had come under heavy criticism and calls to resign from the Bujumbura government.

Relations between Burundi and the United Nations nosedived after a report by UN rights experts in September blamed state police and security forces for the violence tearing the country apart since April 2015.

Hundreds died, hundreds more have disappeared and 390,000 people fled after Nkurunziza announced plans to run for a third term, which he went on to win.

The Security Council last month threw its weight behind a proposal by mediator Benjamin Mkapa, the former president of Tanzania, to hold a regional summit to press the government and the opposition to start negotiations.

But east African leaders appear divided on the way forward and there has been no progress towards holding talks.

Kafando will be based in Ouagadougou and travel to Burundi for his peace mission.

Simbine surprises in Diamond League 100m opener

South Africa’s Akani Simbine surprised a world-class sprint field, including Justin Gatlin, Asafa Powell and Andre De Grasse to claim a season-opening 100m Diamond League victory on Friday.The 23-year-old powered home in a time of 9.99sec to become the…

South Africa's Akani Simbine surprised a world-class sprint field, including Justin Gatlin, Asafa Powell and Andre De Grasse to claim a season-opening 100m Diamond League victory on Friday.

The 23-year-old powered home in a time of 9.99sec to become the first South African man to win a Diamond League 100m, and serve notice that the Blue Riband event could be more competitive than for some time with the impending international retirement of Usain Bolt.

"I'm happy with my shape now, just to come up here and set a motivation for the rest of the season is what I was hoping for," said Simbine.

Jamaica's Powell, a former world record holder, finished second in a time of 10.08secs, and Qatar's Femi Ogunode was a place further back in 10.13.

Silver and bronze medallists in Rio, American Gatlin and Canada's De Grasse, Bolt's heir apparent, trailed in fourth and fifth.

The women's double Olympic sprint champion, Jamaica's Elaine Thompson once again beat her main rival Dafne Schippers in the 200m.

Thompson stormed home in a time of 22.19secs, around half-a-second down on her winning time in Rio, and pronounced herself "very happy" immediately after.

"It's a great first time (of the season)," said Thompson.

Schippers, silver medallist behind Thompson in the same event in Rio, said she was taking the early season defeat as an omen.

"Last year, I won every race and she won the most important.

"I hope to do it the other way round this year," said the Netherlands runner, with one eye on the World Championships in London in August.

Caster Semenya said she surprised herself with her finish after winning the women's 800m,in a time of 1min 56.61secs, the fastest of the year so far.

"It's very, very important to win," she said.

"For us, the main thing is to keep on winning so we will be in the best for the World Championships.

"I didn't know I could kick like that!"

Semenya beat Kenya's Margaret Wambui, who claimed bronze behind the South African in Rio.

In the men's 800m there was a blanket finish for Kenyan runners, who filled the first six places.

Eijah Manangoi, the 2015 World Championship silver medallist, took first place, in a season's best of 3mins 31.9sec.

But arguably the performance of the night came off the track in the javelin where Germany's Thomas Rohler threw 93.90m, only the second man in history to throw such a distance.

Czech javelin legend Jan Zelesny threw the best ever 98.48m in 1996, a distance which would be scrapped under a controversial proposal by European athletics to scrap world records set before 2005.

"It was perfect, I am super-happy," said Kohler.

"This one is really special."

Asked if he would like to see the records wiped out, the German said he would "support" anything that ensures a clean sport.

American double Olympic gold-medallist triple jumper, Christian Taylor, secured victory with a last round jump of 17.25m, to deny compatriot Omar Craddock.

Former carpenter carves out stunning Giro cycling win

If anyone needs a new kitchen installed, Giro d’Italia leader Lukas Postlberger can help out — but only when he finishes the three-week Italian epic after carving out a sensational win on his race debut Friday.”I trained as a carpenter, so if you need…

If anyone needs a new kitchen installed, Giro d'Italia leader Lukas Postlberger can help out -- but only when he finishes the three-week Italian epic after carving out a sensational win on his race debut Friday.

"I trained as a carpenter, so if you need a kitchen then maybe I can help," Postlberger joked after upsetting the big-name sprinters' plans on the opening stage from Alghero to Olbia in Sardinia.

"But right now, I don't have a lot of time."

Competing on his maiden Grand Tour only three weeks after being told he would be packing his bags for the 100th edition of the race for the pink jersey, Postlberger promptly seized the day.

A host of top sprinters looked to have set up a bunch sprint after chasing down a five-man breakaway over rolling terrain on the north coast of the island.

But after a sharp right-hand bend caused chaos in the final kilometres, 25-year-old Postlberger surged clear, held off a desperate chasing pack and soloed over the line in triumph to claim the first pink jersey of an edition that is expected to come down to a duel between 2016 champion Vincenzo Nibali and 2014 winner Nairo Quintana.

"Before this, my dream was to win solo at a Grand Tour. Now, I'll have to find another dream," said Postlberger, whose previous career highlight was a stage win on the Tour of Austria.

Australia's Caleb Ewan was second, the Orica rider finishing ahead of German sprint star Andre Greipel as the fast men of the peloton lost a golden chance to spend several days as the star of the field.

Postlberger didn't care: "Every sprinter goes for the victory, but I'm not sorry to be honest. This is cycling."

And when you're teammate is reigning world champion Peter Sagan -- the closest a cyclist will ever get to resembling a rock star -- confidence oozes through the team.

Sagan, a five-time winner of the Tour de France green jersey, is also one of the most emblematic and popular riders in the peloton.

"From Peter I've learned a lot of things about professional cycling," added Postlberger, who turned to road racing after trying mountain biking while at school.

"But I also learned that it's just cycling. You won't die when you do bad. You should have fun, enjoy it and look on the positive side.

"This is what I've taken from him ... as a person he's such a nice guy, and he inspires me. That's the main message: stay positive."

Postlberger, who likes to climb and ski-hike in the winter months to maintain his fitness, wasn't even sure he would be selected.

"I had a 50-50 chance ... but I'd been training for the Giro in the hope they'd pick me," he added.

But after creating his own destiny on Friday, the Austrian admitted he might need a few glasses of wine to help him fully realise what he achieved.

He will be the main focus on Saturday when the peloton tackles the 221 km second stage from Olbia to Tortoli, the second of three stages on the island.

"I think I will need a few glasses of wine for this to sink in," he added. "But I belive in destiny. For everything there's a reason."

Boko Haram attack in Chad kills nine troops, 40 jihadists: sources

Nine Chadian soldiers were killed in a Boko Haram attack on an army post in the Lake Chad region on Friday, local and security sources told AFP.Some 40 Boko Haram jihadists were also killed as the army responded to the attack on the Kaiga post, sources…

Nine Chadian soldiers were killed in a Boko Haram attack on an army post in the Lake Chad region on Friday, local and security sources told AFP.

Some 40 Boko Haram jihadists were also killed as the army responded to the attack on the Kaiga post, sources said on condition of anonymity. A military official confirmed the attack without giving a toll.

"Very early this morning, Boko Haram fighters attacked the Chadian army's position in Kaiga on Lake Chad. They were pushed back," Chadian army spokesman Colonel Azem said in a statement.

Surrounded by Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger, Lake Chad has been the site of frequent Boko Haram attacks. Chad's army is based on the north bank, where four Chadian soldiers and several jihadist fighters were killed in skirmishes in late September.

Over the past two years, the jihadists have been chased out of most territories where they founded a hardline Islamic state in 2014. But despite being weakened, they continue to fight army forces and launch suicide attacks.

The conflict has lasted for eight years, killing more than 20,000 people and displacing 2.6 million, devastating the region where millions of people depend on humanitarian assistance.

Suspects in Uganda police murder claim they were tortured

Thirteen men accused of involvement in the murder of high-ranking police officer Andrew Kaweesi and two aides appeared in court Friday, with some claiming they had been tortured while in detention.Some of the suspects were limping heavily as they arriv…

Thirteen men accused of involvement in the murder of high-ranking police officer Andrew Kaweesi and two aides appeared in court Friday, with some claiming they had been tortured while in detention.

Some of the suspects were limping heavily as they arrived at the magistrates' court in the capital Kampala, and proceeded to display injuries they said were the result of police torture.

Ahmad Senfuka Shaban, 30, a school teacher in Mukono, removed his shirt to show what appeared to be fresh injuries to his back, chest and left arm.

In the dock another suspect told the magistrate judge, Noah Ssajjabi, that he and his co-accused had been held at the Nalufenya police station, about 80 kilometres (50 miles) from the capital, where they had been tortured.

Outside the court relatives of the accused wept as the men hobbled into police vehicles under heavy guard.

Abdul Hamid Shaban Senfuka, Shaban's brother, said the two had managed to speak briefly in the small courtroom.

"He said police poured boiling water on him, as well as acid. They beat him with cables and put electricity on his private parts," the 27-year old car mechanic told AFP.

"He?s innocent," he insisted. "He had nothing to do with Kaweesi's death. They took him because he is a Muslim and there had been a disagreement in the community about his school."

Kaweesi, the assistant inspector general of police, was shot dead outside his home in a Kampala suburb on March 17 by heavily armed men on motorbikes.

His driver and his bodyguard were also killed in the attack.

Kaweesi's murder resembles the assassinations of other high-profile legal and military personnel in Uganda which remain unsolved.

When asked about the torture allegations, Uganda police spokesman Asan Kasingye told AFP, "I don't have that information," adding that the magistrate had the power to order an enquiry.

"But without that order we cannot investigate these allegations because it is before the courts not the police,? Kasingye said.

The magistrate ordered that the men be transferred to Luzira Prison in Kampala until their next hearing on 18 May.

The 13 suspects were arrested last month and are charged with "terrorism, murder and aggravated theft".

Kaweesi oversaw the brutal police oppression of an opposition protest movement in 2011.

Last August he was appointed the chief police spokesman and became a well-known figure to the public, appearing regularly in the local media.

Brazil sacks indigenous agency chief after attack on tribe

Brazil’s government on Friday sacked the head of its agency handling indigenous issues, a week after 13 members of one tribe were wounded in a bloody attack by ranchers in a land dispute.The justice ministry told AFP in a statement that the National In…

Brazil's government on Friday sacked the head of its agency handling indigenous issues, a week after 13 members of one tribe were wounded in a bloody attack by ranchers in a land dispute.

The justice ministry told AFP in a statement that the National Indian Foundation (FUNAI) needed "agile and efficient management" and it hadn't had that under its ousted president, Antonio Fernandes Toninho Costa.

But Costa, who had taken the helm of FUNAI only in January, said he believed he was being booted because he went against the interests of a powerful lobby in Brazil's Congress linked to big landowners and neo-Pentecostal churches.

The dismissal was "because I'm honest and I defend the Indian cause against the agrobusiness lobby," he told the G1 news website.

The sacking came after the attack Sunday on members of the Gamela tribe in northeastern Maranhao state.

Police are investigating the clash, involving machetes and firearms, between 200 men sent by ranchers and the smaller Gamela group.

The UN office in Brazil said it viewed violence against indigenous people in the country with "concern."

The confrontation highlighted tensions and often deadly violence in several regions between native Brazilians defending land they consider theirs and encroaching ranchers and farmers.

Brazil's government has vowed to have indigenous land boundaries clearly demarcated.

But Costa said earlier this week that task, given to FUNAI, was undermined by a 44 percent cut in the agency's budget, severely limiting manpower and resources.

Cleber Buzzatto, member of the Indigenist Missionary Council supported by the Catholic Church, told AFP he saw the forced exit of Costa, a 66-year-old dentist and indigenous health specialist, as "a political decision."

"He rejected having FUNAI subjugated to the interests of agrobusiness and religious fundamentalists," Buzzatto said.

"I'm afraid the situation will keep getting worse."

His council says that, in 2015, at least 137 indigenous people were murdered in Brazil. Since 2003, the total is 891, it says.

Turkey fires 100 more judges, prosecutors in anti-Gulen purge

Turkey’s judicial authorities on Friday announced the sacking of over 100 more judges and prosecutors deemed to be followers of the alleged mastermind of the July 15 failed coup, in a purge that shows no sign of letting up.The Supreme Board of Judges a…

Turkey's judicial authorities on Friday announced the sacking of over 100 more judges and prosecutors deemed to be followers of the alleged mastermind of the July 15 failed coup, in a purge that shows no sign of letting up.

The Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) said that 107 judges and prosecutors were being fired in the latest wave of the purge against alleged supporters of the US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen.

They are also the target of an arrest warrant but it was not clear if any had been detained so far.

Turkey accuses Gulen of masterminding last year's failed bid to oust President Recep Tayyip Erdogan but the reclusive preacher denies the charges.

Some 47,000 people have been arrested under the state of emergency imposed after the coup, while tens of thousands more have lost their jobs.

Only last weekend, Turkey dismissed almost 4,000 public officials under the state of emergency while over 9,100 police were suspended on April 26.

According to Anadolu, 4,238 judges and prosecutors have been fired over alleged links to Gulen since the start of the state of emergency.

The latest sackings underline that there is to be no let-up in the anti-Gulen purge after Erdogan won a April 16 referendum on expanding his powers.

Under the new presidential system, the HSYK is itself due to be reformed with its members reduced to 13 from 22, of whom seven will be chosen by parliament and six either directly or indirectly via the president.

Opponents fear that the changes will bring the judiciary under Erdogan's direct control but supporters insist they are needed for efficient governance.

Will Trump save the Middle East peace process?

As he plans his first foreign trip and visits to Israel and the Palestinian territories, US President Donald Trump seems optimistic that he can help secure peace in the region.But what, if anything has changed to justify the hope that he can overcome a…

As he plans his first foreign trip and visits to Israel and the Palestinian territories, US President Donald Trump seems optimistic that he can help secure peace in the region.

But what, if anything has changed to justify the hope that he can overcome a challenge that has frustrated all his recent predecessors?

Trump welcomed Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas to the White House this week and declared that the search for peace was "frankly, maybe not as difficult as people have thought over the years."

Later this month he will travel to Israel and Saudi Arabia on his first foreign trip as president, and reports suggest he will visit Abbas and Palestinian officials in the West Bank.

The trip will focus on rallying the region behind a new drive to counter Iranian influence and to defeat the Islamic State jihadist group -- but does Trump's optimism signal a new peace push too?

Washington observers are cautious, not to say pessimistic, about the chances of the current generation of Israeli and Palestinian leaders striking a two-state final status deal.

But the brash new White House chief might find enough room to maneuver to nudge the parties and their Arab neighbors towards a productive thaw in ties on the basis of common interests.

"I am not optimistic any grand deal is in the offing, but could the parties find a way out of the impasse they're in now? Yes," David Makovsky, a former senior State Department adviser, told AFP.

Makovsky, a professor of Middle East studies and fellow of the Washington Institute, said Sunni-led countries like Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia have high hopes for a Trump presidency.

"The Arabs clearly want to engage Trump in the region, to have him be an active player against Iranian encroachment," he said.

"So they have chosen a very upbeat approach and Abbas is clearly joining that kind of Arab bandwagon."

- Chicken and egg problem -

Egypt and Jordan have reached out to Abbas since his White House invitation, which also reassured his Palestinian supporters that his Fatah movement still has powerful international friends.

If Arab governments want to work with Washington, and more covertly with Israel, to counter Iran and the Islamic State, they may engage with efforts to break the logjam in the peace process.

"But between having an upbeat tone and having a grand breakthrough -- there's a distance between those two ideas." Makovsky admitted.

Hussein Ibish, a senior resident scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute and longtime expert in the peace process, agreed the Washington visit had boosted Abbas' confidence.

"It's a remarkable turnaround for him. It's a lifesaver. It's a shot of adrenaline to an ailing patient," he told AFP, adding that Trump had put the "Palestinian issue" back on the table.

With Abbas' position more secure, the next step might be to bring Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states on board with the promise of more strategic cooperation with Israel against Iran.

"The idea is that this would give the Israelis the added incentive of having strategic relationships with these countries and normalization with the Arab world," he said.

"And it would give the Palestinians political cover and diplomatic support and economic aid and allow both sides to make concessions."

But, as is often the case in the Middle East, there is a problem -- in this case what Ibish calls a "chicken and egg" problem.

Which comes first? Israeli concessions to the Palestinians that would appease the Arab world, or public Arab recognition of their de facto strategic alliance with Israel against Iran.

- Little baggage -

This would be where Trump and Washington come in as guarantors.

"He has very little baggage: all the parties like him right now. The Palestinians like him, the Israelis like him, the Arabs like him," Ibish said.

"Everything else has failed, why not a Trumpian approach?"

More US engagement is seen as critical, in a region where both Israelis and Arabs felt slighted by former president Barack Obama's attempts to disengage and to rebalance US ties with Iran.

But many observers, including Makovsky, are pessimistic.

"I don't want to be a skunk at the garden party. I do think it's good that Trump talks about this issue," he said.

"And the president is not being driven by a domestic base on this, he genuinely wants to see progress."

But, he added, that's not the same thing as a US plan to deal with the core issues blocking a deal: borders, security arrangements, the status of Jerusalem, refugees and mutual recognition.

Germany says ‘unthinkable’ that local Turks be allowed to vote in Ankara’s death penalty referendum

Preview If Ankara decides to hold a referendum on the re-introduction of the death penalty on German territory, Berlin would ban such a move, a spokesman for the German government has said, adding that such a plebiscite would contradict the country’s constitution.
Read Full Article at RT.com

Preview If Ankara decides to hold a referendum on the re-introduction of the death penalty on German territory, Berlin would ban such a move, a spokesman for the German government has said, adding that such a plebiscite would contradict the country’s constitution.
Read Full Article at RT.com

Indian police claim rats drank 900,000 liters of confiscated alcohol

Preview Police in the Indian state of Bihar, where alcohol was outlawed last April, have accused rats of decimating the majority of the stash of booze confiscated over the past year – over 40,000 cases, or about 900,000 liters.
Read Full Article at RT.com

Preview Police in the Indian state of Bihar, where alcohol was outlawed last April, have accused rats of decimating the majority of the stash of booze confiscated over the past year – over 40,000 cases, or about 900,000 liters.
Read Full Article at RT.com

‘El Chapo’ set to go on trial in New York in April 2018

A US federal judge ruled Friday that Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, one of the world’s most notorious criminals, will stand trial on April 16, 2018.The 60-year-old kingpin, accused of running one of the world’s biggest drug empires, was e…

A US federal judge ruled Friday that Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, one of the world's most notorious criminals, will stand trial on April 16, 2018.

The 60-year-old kingpin, accused of running one of the world's biggest drug empires, was extradited to New York on January 19 and has been held in solitary confinement in Manhattan ever since.

"The trial date is set for April 16. Let's try to make this date," Judge Brian Cogan told a pre-trial hearing in a Brooklyn federal court room, attended by Guzman, dressed in navy prison scrubs.

Guzman sat between his lawyers with a serious expression on his face, responding "yes sir" when addressing the judge through an interpreter, and exchanging glances with his former beauty queen wife Emma Coronel.

The 27-year-old mother of his twin daughters sat in the gallery, dressed head to toe in white.

US prosecutors expect the trial to last two to three months.

Defense lawyer Michelle Gelernt, who has repeatedly challenged the severe conditions of her client's custody, asked the judge for permission to interact with Guzman in person rather than through a transparent plexiglass wall.

She said the defense needed to show him more than 10,000 documents in order to prepare for trial, which would be difficult to hold up against the glass.

Cogan indicated he was receptive to the request, but deferred making a ruling until after another judge can visit the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan to assess the conditions in person.

He set the next pre-trial hearing for August 15.

On Thursday Cogan relaxed slightly just a few of the stringent conditions in which Guzman is held in custody, allowing him to exchange, pre-screened written messages with his wife but denying him family visits and phone calls.

He denied a request for Amnesty International to visit and refused to allow Guzman to move out of solitary confinement. The defendant twice escaped prison in Mexico, once while under 24-hour surveillance in solitary confinement.

Guzman pleads not guilty to firearms, drug trafficking and conspiracy charges. If convicted, he is likely to spend the rest of his life in a maximum security US prison.

10yo killed as mob attacks Pakistan police station in attempted lynching of ‘blasphemous’ man

A 10-year-old boy was fatally shot in Pakistan when an angry mob attacked a police station in an attempt to lynch a man charged with blasphemy. Five others were injured in the violence. Read Full Article at RT.com

Preview A 10-year-old boy was fatally shot in Pakistan when an angry mob attacked a police station in an attempt to lynch a man charged with blasphemy. Five others were injured in the violence.
Read Full Article at RT.com

Obama to back healthy eating at Milan food conference

Barack Obama will be the keynote speaker at a food innovation conference this month in Milan, the latest move by the former US president to help foster healthy eating.

The third edition of “Seed & Chips: The Global Food Innovation Summit” will be held May 9-11, focussing on new technologies for feeding the globe, from agriculture to distribution.

More than 200 speakers from around the world are expected to attend, with Obama giving the keynote address on May 9.

He will also participate in a discussion with Sam Kass, a former White House chef and the former president’s advisor on nutrition policy.

Advocating healthy eating was a particular concern of Michelle Obama’s while she was First Lady, including her Let’s Move initiative to fight childhood obesity — which dovetailed with the president’s landmark health care reforms.

The speech comes shortly before Obama is scheduled to hold a public discussion with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on May 25 to mark the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.

Barack Obama will be the keynote speaker at a food innovation conference this month in Milan, the latest move by the former US president to help foster healthy eating.

The third edition of "Seed & Chips: The Global Food Innovation Summit" will be held May 9-11, focussing on new technologies for feeding the globe, from agriculture to distribution.

More than 200 speakers from around the world are expected to attend, with Obama giving the keynote address on May 9.

He will also participate in a discussion with Sam Kass, a former White House chef and the former president's advisor on nutrition policy.

Advocating healthy eating was a particular concern of Michelle Obama's while she was First Lady, including her Let's Move initiative to fight childhood obesity -- which dovetailed with the president's landmark health care reforms.

The speech comes shortly before Obama is scheduled to hold a public discussion with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on May 25 to mark the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.

Iran’s Rouhani slams nuclear deal saboteurs in debate

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani criticised conservative opponents for trying to sabotage the nuclear deal with world powers and vowed more civil rights during Friday’s second presidential election debate.In rare criticism of the elite Revolutionary Gua…

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani criticised conservative opponents for trying to sabotage the nuclear deal with world powers and vowed more civil rights during Friday's second presidential election debate.

In rare criticism of the elite Revolutionary Guards, Rouhani slammed the decision to write anti-Israel messages on ballistic missiles before testing them.

"We saw how they wrote slogans on missiles and showed underground (missile) cities to disrupt the JCPOA (nuclear deal)," he said during the debate, which comes ahead of the May 19 election.

"Our nation got through these issues because the majority of society chose morality and Islam from day one," he added.

Iran argues that the missile tests are not banned under the 2015 deal, which curbed its nuclear programme in exchange for a lifting of certain sanctions, but they have heightened tensions with the US and Israel.

Rouhani said his conservative opponents in the election were linked to those trying to scupper the deal and broader outreach to the West.

"When our diplomats were negotiating the deal, what were you doing behind the scenes? Some people acted like the opponents of the Iranian people," he said.

- 'Empty promises' -

One of his main challengers, hardline cleric Ebrahim Raisi, said he would not tear up the nuclear accord but slammed what he called the government's weak stance and empty promises.

"We should not show any weakness in the face of the enemy," said Raisi, who had a more lively debate after a lacklustre showing in the first round last week.

"This agreement was like a cheque that the government has been unable to cash. Mr Rouhani promised that after the signing of the deal all the sanctions would be lifted and people's lives would improve, but they have not," he said.

Rouhani hit back with a spirited defence of the nuclear deal, saying it had allowed a massive increase in oil sales and opened the way for Iran to take a central position in regional diplomacy.

"It is unprecedented that Iran has such an important role," he said, referring to this week's talks on Syria alongside Russia and Turkey.

Rouhani also vowed to improve civil rights -- a crucial plank of his 2013 presidential campaign which has been stymied by the conservative judiciary and security forces.

"Civil rights are not just on paper, they will turn into practice. We will hold different sectors responsible," he said.

- Point-scoring -

The other main hardline challenger, Tehran mayor Mohammed Bagher Ghalibaf, sought to score points on the stagnant economy, seen as Rouhani's main weakness.

Ghalibaf returned frequently to his favourite theme -- attacking the elite "four-percenters", a nod to the global "We are the 99-percent" campaign.

"Who has benefited (from the nuclear deal)? The four-percenters. Who has been hurt? The people," he said.

Six candidates were selected last month by the conservative-controlled Guardian Council, which rejected more than 1,600 applicants.

Split evenly between three conservatives and three moderate-reformists, the debates have the flavour of a team event.

Many expect the other moderate candidates -- vice-president Eshaq Jahangiri and Mostafa Hashemitaba -- to withdraw at the last minute to boost Rouhani's chances.

Jahangiri surprised viewers with a forceful and charismatic turn in the first debate, leading some to speculate he could challenge his boss, although this time he was on more subdued form.

The conservatives were fatally split in 2013, and it is still unclear whether Raisi, Ghalibaf or the third conservative -- Mostafa Mirsalim -- will agree to rally round the most likely contender.

Putin to discuss Chechen gay rights with top law enforcers

Vladimir Putin will discuss the rights of gay men in the North Caucasus with the prosecutor general and interior minister, following recent reports of alleged detentions and killings of homosexuals in the Muslim Russian republic of Chechn…

Preview Vladimir Putin will discuss the rights of gay men in the North Caucasus with the prosecutor general and interior minister, following recent reports of alleged detentions and killings of homosexuals in the Muslim Russian republic of Chechnya.
Read Full Article at RT.com

Love conquers all: young couple break 300-year Chinese village curse

A stream little more than a metre wide separates them, but for at least three centuries a bitter rivalry pitted two eastern Chinese villages against one another — until love brought the adversaries together.Wushan and Yuepu in Fujian province, which c…

A stream little more than a metre wide separates them, but for at least three centuries a bitter rivalry pitted two eastern Chinese villages against one another -- until love brought the adversaries together.

Wushan and Yuepu in Fujian province, which count between them some 7,500 inhabitants, used to observe an unusual tradition whereby people who lived on one side of the river were forbidden from marrying those from the other.

"Nobody can remember where this ban on marriages came from, we only know that we fought each other around 300 years ago for the right to use the water," Wang Hongdong, Communist Party secretary for Wushan told AFP on Friday.

The confrontation led to a curse, which said that marriage with a person from the rival village would lead only to misfortune. The rivalry was passed from generation to generation.

"They fought again about 40 years ago, over graves," Wang said.

"Then relations started to settle, especially over the last 10 years. We started to build a shoe factory together and the young people were getting on well."

But villagers remained forbidden from marrying their rivals until a young girl from Yuepu fell in love with a boy from Wushan, around three years ago.

"The families were dead against the marriage on account of the curse," Wang said. "They really believed in it".

The young couple married anyway but were forced to leave Fujian and move to another province, some 1,500 km (900 miles) from their home.

In 2015 they returned to the villages to celebrate their marriage in the young man's house, but the parents of the bride refused to attend.

But when the woman later gave birth to two beautiful boys, the inhabitants of both villages stopped believing in the curse, Mr Wang said.

To mark the reconciliation and officially abolish the ban on marriages, the two villages this week organised a ceremony in the presence of local Buddhist and Communist authorities. Some 500 people attended.

Double Giro delight for Austrian upstart Postlberger

Austria’s Lukas Postlberger upset the sprinters on the opening stage of the 100th Giro d’Italia Friday with a sensational finish that secured an unlikely win and the race leader’s pink jersey.A host of top sprinters looked to have set up a bunch sprint…

Austria's Lukas Postlberger upset the sprinters on the opening stage of the 100th Giro d'Italia Friday with a sensational finish that secured an unlikely win and the race leader's pink jersey.

A host of top sprinters looked to have set up a bunch sprint for the end of the 206 km ride from Alghero to Olbia on the northern coast of Sardinia after catching a five-man breakaway in the closing kilometres.

But after a sharp right-hand bend caused chaos with 3km to go, 25-year-old Postlberger -- competing in his first Grand Tour -- surged clear.

The Bora team rider held off a desperate chasing pack to claim a famous victory, and the first pink jersey of a 100th edition that is expected to come down to a duel between 2016 champion Vincenzo Nibali and 2014 winner Nairo Quintana.

"It's the biggest win of my career," said Postlberger, whose previous career highlight was a stage win on the Tour of Austria.

Australia's Caleb Ewan was second, the Orica rider finishing a fraction ahead of German sprint star Andre Greipel.

But the fast men of the peloton will be furious at letting such a prestigious victory -- and the chance to wear the 'maglia rosa' over the coming days -- slip from their fingers.

Postlberger hit the front with two kilometres to go looking to play a support role for Irish sprinter Sam Bennett.

But finding himself alone and with a chance to go for glory, he promptly tuned into the instructions coming through the earpiece of his team radio, and kept pounding away.

The sprinters' teams chased furiously, but with 25 metres to go Postlberger sat up, stretched his arms and soaked up the applause from thousands of roadside fans.

"We wanted to try for a sprint for the final for Sam, but through the city the lead-out (sprint) trains, they lost my wheel or something and I had a gap," he added.

- 'unbelievable' -

"I heard over the (team) radio, c?mon Posty go, try!' and I put all I had in. It worked out, victory for the team, first big victory for me - maglia rosa (pink jersey).

"I think I'll need many weeks to realise this victory. It's unbelievable, really."

The 100th edition began in summer-like conditions, but had been overshadowed Thursday when Stefano Pirazzi and Nicola Ruffoni of the Bardiani team were sent home due to suspected doping.

Bardiani -- one of four 'wildcards' invited to the race -- were notified of the results by the International Cycling Union (UCI) shortly before a glitzy presentation in front of thousands of enthusiastic fans.

If their "B" samples are also positive, and in accordance with UCI rules, the entire team could be suspended for 15-45 days, ending their race before the Milan finish line on May 28.

"It's a possibility," the Bardiani team's sporting director Stefano Zanatta told AFP prior to Friday's opener.

"That's why we're really angry. This has caused a lot of problems for all of us. Not just for the seven guys who are still here."

Saturday's second stage is a 221 km ride from Olbia to Tortoli and is one of three on the island, before the race moves to Sicily for two stages following Monday's rest day.

Takedown of underground pedophile network nets 900 arrests: police

Nearly 900 suspected pedophiles have been arrested and almost 300 children identified or rescued from their abusers following the massive takedown of an underground online pedophile network, US and European police said Friday.A more than two-year inves…

Nearly 900 suspected pedophiles have been arrested and almost 300 children identified or rescued from their abusers following the massive takedown of an underground online pedophile network, US and European police said Friday.

A more than two-year investigation into the notorious Playpen network and its members led to the arrests, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Europol said, an announcement that came just days after a US court sentenced Playpen founder and administrator Steven Chase to 30 years in prison.

The arrest of Florida-based Chase in December 2014 set off a sweeping global probe into the users of the members-only forum.

Playpen was buried deep online in what is known as the "darknet," where Tor anonymity software and encryption hide often illegal activities.

In this case, it masked participants in a forum where people submitted and traded photographs and videos of the sexual abuse of children.

The nearly 900 arrests included dozens of abusers and child pornography creators.

Dubbed "Operation Pacifier," the investigation began when the FBI used its own malware to effectively seize the Playpen website and server.

Operating it for several weeks more, investigators then hacked and tracked site users by sending malware to their computers.

In an operation that critics say was legally questionable, more than 1,000 computers worldwide were hacked in this way by the FBI, and their users identified.

Lead FBI investigator Dan Alfin said the operation is ongoing.

"As they get smarter, we adapt, we find them," he said. "It's a cat-and-mouse game, except it's not a game. Kids are being abused, and it's our job to stop that."

Civil liberties groups however were strongly critical of the way the FBI took over the network and traced users with its own malware hacking tools.

A single search warrant should not have allowed investigators to gain access to and search more than 1,000 private computers, the Electronic Frontier Foundation said in comments to some of the Playpen court cases.

"The warrant here did not identify any particular person to search or seize. Nor did it identify any specific user of the targeted website," the organization said. "It did not even attempt to describe any series or group of particular users."

In a statement Friday, Steven Wilson, head of Europol's European Cybercrime Center, said the case demonstrated how law enforcement needs to use such methods to fight criminals who can hide behind online anonymization and encryption programs.

"We need to balance the rights of victims versus the right to privacy," he said. "If we operate by 19th century legal principles then we are unable to effectively tackle crime at the highest level."

Police boost security at Eiffel Tower after demo reveals ‘flaws’

Greenpeace activists on Friday pulled off a daring stunt in central Paris, attaching a giant banner to the Eiffel Tower and leaving police to admit security “flaws” at a time when terror fears remain high.Though security has been increased around Frenc…

Greenpeace activists on Friday pulled off a daring stunt in central Paris, attaching a giant banner to the Eiffel Tower and leaving police to admit security "flaws" at a time when terror fears remain high.

Though security has been increased around French tourism sites, the activists managed to hang from ropes and attach a 30-metre (100-foot) long banner reading "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity" and "#resist" in protest at the programme of far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen.

The activists hung the banner from an arch connecting two legs of the iconic 324-metre (1,063-foot) "Iron Lady", a symbol of Paris.

Twelve people were arrested over the stunt in which a safety net was also damaged.

The incident took place two days before France votes in a divisive second round of the presidential election.

Le Pen faces centrist Emmanuel Macron in Sunday's run-off. Polls give him a lead of 22-24 percentage points.

The incident revealed "flaws in the monument's security programme," Paris police said in a statement.

France is on high alert after a string of jihadist attacks since January 2015 that have killed over 230 people.

Also Friday, a suspected radical was arrested near a military airbase near Paris, sources close to the case said.

Investigators found guns hidden in bushes near the facility and a pledge to the Islamic State group and several of its flags in his car, which was also parked nearby, they said.

- 'Warning against Le Pen -

The Paris city hall denounced the Greenpeace action.

"It is unacceptable that a monument like the Eiffel Tower, the emblem of Paris for Parisians and for all French people, should be used for political ends," the mayor's office said in a joint statement with the police.

Police boosted patrols around the Eiffel Tower along with dog teams after the protest.

Security numbers will also be boosted at the tower's supervision centre and video monitoring will be reviewed.

Paris officials announced in February plans to protect visitors by erecting bulletproof glass walls at the northern and southern ends of the monument area.

The glass walls are intended to prevent individuals or vehicles from breaching the site.

The Eiffel Tower is visited by six million people each year, making it the world's most visited paying monument.

Greenpeace France head Jean-Francois Julliard told reporters the protest was intended as "a warning against Marine Le Pen's programme and the dangers it poses for NGOs and others."

"Liberty, equality, fraternity: it is vital to defend these values which are particularly threatened by the National Front," Julliard said, referring to Le Pen's party.

Julliard said Greenpeace was concerned about the "resurgence of nationalism" around the world, citing Turkey and Hungary as examples of countries where the right to protest had been curtailed.

Defending basic rights "is critical to continuing our environmental struggle," he added.

In 2013, a Greenpeace activist spent hours suspended from the tower to protest against the imprisonment of 30 Russian militants after an operation on an oil platform.

The Eiffel Tower received around seven million visitors in 2015. That figure dropped to six million last year as some tourists stayed away following terror attacks in France which have left 239 people dead since early 2015.

No neutral gender in France, top court tells person born neither man nor woman

Preview Intersex people cannot use “neutral gender” as a civil status category, the highest appeals court in France said in a landmark ruling in the case of a 65-year-old psychotherapist, born neither man nor woman.
Read Full Article at RT.com

Preview Intersex people cannot use “neutral gender” as a civil status category, the highest appeals court in France said in a landmark ruling in the case of a 65-year-old psychotherapist, born neither man nor woman.
Read Full Article at RT.com

N. Korean nuclear aspirations may be aided by its diplomats, ASEAN should crack down – US

Preview US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has pressed Southeast Asian states to prevent North Korea’s embassies from pursuing alleged commercial activities that go beyond “diplomatic needs” and may aid its “nuclear aspirations.”
Read Full Article at RT.com

Preview US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has pressed Southeast Asian states to prevent North Korea’s embassies from pursuing alleged commercial activities that go beyond “diplomatic needs” and may aid its “nuclear aspirations.”
Read Full Article at RT.com

‘No chance’ for trapped Iran miners

Iranian officials said Friday there was “no chance” of saving nine coal miners trapped for the past two days after a tunnel collapse that has already claimed at least 26 lives.Toxic gases have filled much of the two-kilometre (mile) Zemestan Yort mine …

Iranian officials said Friday there was "no chance" of saving nine coal miners trapped for the past two days after a tunnel collapse that has already claimed at least 26 lives.

Toxic gases have filled much of the two-kilometre (mile) Zemestan Yort mine in northern Iran, and rescue workers face a painstaking effort to clear the fragile passage in which the remaining workers were trapped after a huge explosion.

"There is no chance of workers being alive in the mine," said Deputy Interior Minister Esmail Nadjar, quoted by the ILNA news agency.

Concentrated methane gas exploded some 700 metres (yards) deep into the narrow mine in Azadshahr, Golestan province when workers tried to jump-start a locomotive engine using an external battery, officials said.

Three parts of the mine collapsed, and many of the dead are thought to be miners who rushed in to help their colleagues after the explosion.

Casualty numbers have changed several times since the Wednesday explosion as some workers were unregistered day-labourers.

Sadegh Ali Moghadam, director of the provincial crisis management office, told the ISNA news agency that rescue teams had passed the first blockage but were slowed by a huge boulder that had to be broken up.

A local official said damaged metal frames also had to be removed carefully to avoid another explosion.

The mine will be completely shut for six months until an investigation ordered by President Hassan Rouhani is completed.

Trump says his New Jersey weekend will save money, spare NY

US President Donald Trump is spending the weekend at his golf club in New Jersey, saying he wanted to spare New York the chaos of a presidential visit while saving taxpayers’ money.”Rather than causing a big disruption in N.Y.C., I will be working out …

US President Donald Trump is spending the weekend at his golf club in New Jersey, saying he wanted to spare New York the chaos of a presidential visit while saving taxpayers' money.

"Rather than causing a big disruption in N.Y.C., I will be working out of my home in Bedminster, N.J. this weekend," he tweeted Friday morning, adding, "Also saves country money!"

In contrast to his predecessor, Democratic president Barack Obama, the New York real estate magnate has so far spent only the rare weekend at the White House, sparking sharp criticism about the steep costs incurred by the Secret Service and local police in protecting him and his family members.

During the transition period between his election November 8 and inauguration January 20, he hunkered down in his Trump Tower, paralyzing traffic as several streets in the heart of Manhattan had to be blocked off.

Since his inauguration, Trump has left the White House -- where he has been living alone -- to spend most weekends at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

But this weekend he opted instead for the Trump National Golf Course in New Jersey, having traveled there late Thursday after a meeting in New York with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Under a spending bill recently agreed by Congress, the city of New York is to be reimbursed by the federal government for the tens of millions of dollars it has had to spend on presidential protection since Trump's election.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, put the cost at $20 million just during the transition period.

In addition, the cost of protecting Trump family members who remain in New York -- the president's wife Melania and their youngest son Barron, who are staying in Trump Tower, as well as older sons Donald Jr. and Eric, who now run the Trump Organization -- came to some $13 million for the first 100 days of the Trump presidency.

Eiffel Tower stunt leaves security red-faced on eve of French election

Security was stepped up at the Eiffel Tower on Friday ahead of Sunday’s presidential election in France after Greenpeace activists scaled the Paris landmark and hung out a big political banner.

Security was stepped up at the Eiffel Tower on Friday ahead of Sunday's presidential election in France after Greenpeace activists scaled the Paris landmark and hung out a big political banner.

Suspected extremist arrested, arms found near French base

French authorities found guns hidden near a military base where an ex-soldier suspected of radicalisation was arrested Friday, a source close to the case said just two days before France’s presidential runoff.”A shotgun, two black powder revolvers and …

French authorities found guns hidden near a military base where an ex-soldier suspected of radicalisation was arrested Friday, a source close to the case said just two days before France's presidential runoff.

"A shotgun, two black powder revolvers and bullets" were discovered near the air base near Paris, where the 34-year-old former serviceman was taken into custody, the source said.

Police found a car belonging to the man, who is on a French watchlist of extremists, near the base in Evreux. He was arrested a few hours later in the same area.

Paris anti-terror prosecutors are investigating, but it is not clear why the suspect was near the base.

French voters head to the polls Sunday to pick their next president in a bruising and divisive campaign overshadowed by security worries.

Karim Cheurfi, a 39-year-old Frenchman, shot and killed a police officer and wounded two others on the Champs Elysees avenue days before the first round of voting, in an attack claimed by the Islamic State group. Cheurfi was killed in return fire.

Young man dies in Venezuela unrest, toll hits 36

A young man died Friday after being injured in unrest in Venezuela, an official said, bringing the toll from more than a month of violence to at least 36.Hecder Lugo Perez, 22, died after being hit in the head by a projectile in the northwestern city o…

A young man died Friday after being injured in unrest in Venezuela, an official said, bringing the toll from more than a month of violence to at least 36.

Hecder Lugo Perez, 22, died after being hit in the head by a projectile in the northwestern city of Valencia, sources at the Valles de San Diego medical clinic said.

Mass protests erupted on April 1 by demonstrators demanding elections to remove President Nicolas Maduro. Looting also broke out in Valencia.

Maduro is resisting pressure from the opposition, which blames him for an economic crisis that has led to food shortages.

City Mayor Enzo Scarano confirmed Perez's death.

Valencia has become one of the flashpoints of looting and clashes which have also seen violence at daily mass demos in the capital.

Reports said people in Valencia had begun hoarding basic foodstuffs and barricading housing developments to keep looters out.

The local chamber of commerce said at least 70 stores have been raided since Tuesday.

Maduro's opponents called for women to march on Saturday dressed in white, a traditional show of defiance against what they brand a repressive government.

The president says the crisis is a US-backed conspiracy.

Russia says has already stopped bombing proposed Syria safe zones

Russia on Friday said it had already stopped bombing in areas of Syria set to be designated safe zones under an agreement it inked with Iran and Turkey. The three key powerbrokers signed off on a Russian plan Thursday to establish four “de-escalation z…

Russia on Friday said it had already stopped bombing in areas of Syria set to be designated safe zones under an agreement it inked with Iran and Turkey.

The three key powerbrokers signed off on a Russian plan Thursday to establish four "de-escalation zones" in rebel-held territory of the war-torn country in a bid to shore up a shaky ceasefire.

Under the pact -- which Moscow said comes into force from Saturday -- the three sides have a month to define the exact borders of the safe zones where fighting and air strikes should be halted.

Moscow -- which is flying an air campaign in support of President Bashar al-Assad -- said that in order to ease the deal it has stopped bombing the proposed zones.

"From 00:00 May 1 the use of Russian airforce aviation in areas corresponding to the de-escalation zones was halted," senior Russian military commander Sergei Rudskoi told a news briefing.

The safety zone initiative is the latest attempt by Moscow to forge an end to the six-year conflict after its military might turned the tide of the conflict in favour of Assad.

Rudskoi outlined the proposed zones in the northwestern Idlib province, the north of central Homs province, Eastern Ghouta near Damascus and an area of the south involving Daraa and Quneitra provinces.

Along the frontiers of the "de-escalation zones" will be "security zones" with checkpoints and observation posts to monitor and secure access run by the three guarantor countries.

Moscow said that it was talking to "Jordan and a number of other countries" to sign up as backers of the initiative.

Russia's military underlined that it will keep on fighting against the Islamic State group and the former Al-Qaeda affiliate previously known as Al-Nusra, including inside the "de-escalation zones".

Rudskoi said that Syrian government troops freed up after the safety zones come into force will be sent to fight IS in central and eastern Syria and along the Euphrates river with Russian air support.

Blank space replaces NY Times article criticising Pakistani army

An International New York Times opinion piece criticising the powerful Pakistani army was censored by its local publisher Friday, replaced by a blank space in a country where it can be dangerous to speak out against the military establishment.The onlin…

An International New York Times opinion piece criticising the powerful Pakistani army was censored by its local publisher Friday, replaced by a blank space in a country where it can be dangerous to speak out against the military establishment.

The online version of the piece by Mohammed Hanif, a high-profile satirist and novelist whose critiques of Pakistani society regularly appear in the New York Times, was trending on Pakistani social media by Friday afternoon.

In the article, entitled "Pakistan's Triangle of Hate", he savaged the military for parading a former Pakistani Taliban spokesman before television cameras to claim that the militants are bankrolled by Islamabad's arch-nemesis India.

"With his appearance, the Pakistani Army seemed to be sending this message: You can kill thousands of Pakistanis, but if you later testify that you hate India as much as we do, everything will be forgiven," Hanif wrote.

"Do we really need to enlist our children's killers in our campaign against India?"

A note on the blank page clarified the decision to censor the article was taken in Pakistan, and the newspaper "had no role in its removal".

"While we understand that our publishing partners are sometimes faced with local pressures, we regret and condemn any censorship of our journalism," a spokeswoman for the New York Times told AFP on Friday.

The former Taliban spokesman, Ehsanullah Ehsan, is the man who claimed responsibility on behalf of the Taliban for shooting schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai in the head in Swat Valley in 2012.

He also spoke for the group in claiming responsibility for Pakistan's deadliest ever extremist attack, in which gunmen stormed a school in northwestern Peshawar and killed more than 150 people, most of them children.

Last month the army announced that Ehsan had given himself up to the military, but gave no details on the circumstances or timing of his surrender.

It later released a video of Ehsan stating the militants were given financial and logistical assistance by the intelligence agencies of India and Afghanistan -- a claim often made by the army.

Hanif's words echoed the feelings of many in Pakistan repulsed by the publicity surrounding Ehsan -- though others have rejoiced at the accusations against India.

Friday's censorship was the second day in a row that the Express Tribune had blanked out a piece in the Times.

On Thursday, it removed a piece on an anti-gay crackdown in Chechnya entitled "Chechnya's anti-gay pogrom".

In 2016, it censored a Times image of a man in China giving his boyfriend a kiss on the cheek. Later that year it blocked an article in the paper entitled "Sex Talk for Muslim Women".

Thais revoke passport of Red Bull heir over hit-and-run

Thailand has revoked the passport of the fugitive heir to the Red Bull billions, an official said Friday, after he left the kingdom and ducked an arrest warrant over a deadly 2012 hit-and-run.Worayuth Yoovidhya, known as “Boss”, fled to Singapore on hi…

Thailand has revoked the passport of the fugitive heir to the Red Bull billions, an official said Friday, after he left the kingdom and ducked an arrest warrant over a deadly 2012 hit-and-run.

Worayuth Yoovidhya, known as "Boss", fled to Singapore on his private jet days before a warrant was issued for him over the incident which left a policeman dead.

After years giving prosecutors the run around, the 32-year-old billionaire has become an emblem for the impunity enjoyed by the rich and connected in unequal Thailand.

A warrant was belatedly issued for the scion's arrest last week -- nearly five years after he allegedly drove off after knocking down and killing a policeman with his Ferrari in downtown Bangkok.

But he was not in the kingdom.

Instead his private jet was sighted at Singapore airport -- although authorities there say he has left the city-state.

Amid mounting pressure authorities have pulled his Thai passport.

It was revoked on "Friday afternoon", Busadee Santipitaks, spokeswoman for the Ministry of Foreign told AFP.

Several charges against Worayuth have expired during the lapse between the car crash and his arrest warrant, a period that saw the heir continue to lead a lavish, jet-setting lifestyle with frequent stops in the kingdom.

But he still faces up to 10 years in prison for reckless driving that resulted in death, an offence that will be valid until 2027.

Worayuth's billionaire clan has inherited the fortune built up by his grandfather Chaleo Yoovidhya, who co-founded the Red Bull brand with Austrian Dietrich Mateschitz in the 1980s.

Chaleo passed away in March 2012, leaving his family some $22 billion and control of more than 50 percent of the energy drink empire, according to Bloomberg.

France and Germany host top hockey nations at world championships in Paris and Cologne

With Canada, Russia and the United States in the tournament, co-hosts France and Germany are going to need plenty of home ice advantage to spring an upset at the hockey world championships.

With Canada, Russia and the United States in the tournament, co-hosts France and Germany are going to need plenty of home ice advantage to spring an upset at the hockey world championships.

Changing face of migrant crisis in Mediterranean

From waves of dinghies setting off from Libya to the appearance of privately-funded rescue ships, the face of the migration crisis in the Mediterranean has changed greatly over the past few years.- Overcrowding dinghies – Up until 2014, people traffick…

From waves of dinghies setting off from Libya to the appearance of privately-funded rescue ships, the face of the migration crisis in the Mediterranean has changed greatly over the past few years.

- Overcrowding dinghies -

Up until 2014, people traffickers took migrants headed for Europe out into international waters on "mother ships" before transferring them to smaller boats.

But when Rome launched Mare Nostrum in late 2013, Italy began to catch smugglers in international waters, forcing the criminals to change tactics, stay in Libyan waters and put people out to sea in expendable rubber boats which easily sank.

Their business model changed too. In early 2015 many Syrians -- who had previously accounted for about 25 percent of passengers departing from Libya and could afford to pay more for the journey -- switched to the Balkan route.

To recover their loses in the central Mediterranean, traffickers upped the number of passengers per vessel. They also largely stopped issuing satellite phones, meaning those in trouble could not call for help.

In 2015 Italy's coast guard registered 676 dinghies -- 80 percent of which had a satellite phone on board -- carrying an average of 103 people.

By 2016 the number of dinghies had risen to 1,094 -- with only 45 percent carrying a satellite phone, but each with an average of 122 passengers.

Mass departures stretched rescue resources to the limits: over 13,000 people were saved in five days at the end of May 2016, another 14,000 in four days in August -- including a record of 7,000 in one day -- and 10,800 at the start of October.

- Tragedies bring rescuers -

In 2014, about 70 percent of migrants were rescued by the Italian navy and coast guard, and 24 percent by commercial ships. But amid complaints it was serving as a "bridge to Europe" for migrants, Italy axed Mare Nostrum.

The safety line was cut, but departures continued, and after two shipwrecks killed 1,200 people in April 2015 the European Union beefed up its Frontex border control's Operation Triton and launched the Sophia anti-smuggling operation.

The tragedies also prompted the launch of privately-funded rescue vessels, with up to a dozen boats taking part at present.

The larger boats combined rescued 26 percent of migrants in 2016, while the smaller ones handed out life jackets and gave emergency care to those in distress while help from bigger vessels arrived.

Italy's navy and coast guard still perform 40 percent of rescues, while the Sophia operation carries out 13 percent and Frontex 7.5 percent, according to the coast guard.

Despite their efforts, over 4,500 migrants died or were missing and feared drowned in 2016, and another 1,000 have met the same fate this year. Some succumb to the cold or dehydration, or are suffocated by fuel fumes, or trapped in overcrowded boats.

- A profitable business -

In total, nearly 550,000 migrants arrived in Italy between 2013 and 2016, and 37,000 have landed in the country so far this year.

According to Sophia, some Libyan coastal areas derive 50 percent of their income from smuggling migrants. A dinghy with 100 passengers can fetch up to 67,000 euros ($73,000), while a wooden boat with 400 people can earn up to 380,000 euros.

Frontex estimates the business has a turnover of between four and six billion euros.

- EU's strategy -

The European Union is in the process of training and equipping Libyan coast guards so they will be able to prevent departures or at least stop boats reaching international waters.

So far this year over 4,000 migrants have been intercepted, according to the International Organisation for Migration.

The idea is that they be escorted back to camps in Libya, and then returned to their home countries where possible.

But human rights organisations have said the chaotic situation in crisis-hit Libya makes it impossible to declare it a safe place to return migrants, while many of those fleeing war or persecution cannot be simply returned home.

England’s Rashid strikes as Ireland collapse in 1st ODI

Adil Rashid returned the second-best figures by an England spinner in a one-day international as the hosts eased to a seven-wicket win in their series opener against Ireland at Bristol on Friday.Victory saw England go 1-0 up in the two-match contest ah…

Adil Rashid returned the second-best figures by an England spinner in a one-day international as the hosts eased to a seven-wicket win in their series opener against Ireland at Bristol on Friday.

Victory saw England go 1-0 up in the two-match contest ahead of Sunday's showpiece clash at Lord's.

Leg-spinner Rashid took five for 27 as Ireland collapsed to 126 all out after visiting captain William Porterfield won the toss.

Andrew Balbirnie top-scored with 30 in an innings where only openers Ed Joyce (23) and Paul Stirling (20) got to 20.

Rashid's return was second only to that of off-spinner Vic Marks's five for 20, against New Zealand at Wellington in 1984, by a specialist England slow bowler at this level.

England, set just 127 to win, lost Jason Roy for a duck in the first over of their reply when he flicked Peter Chase off his pads to George Dockrell at mid-wicket.

Fellow opener Alex Hales was then dropped on nought, Middlesex quick Tim Murtagh failing to hold a tough caught and bowled chance.

Hales went to make a quickfire 55 that stopped any thoughts of a stunning upset in their tracks.

Both Hales and Ireland-born England captain Eoin Morgan holed out off Chase, the only Ireland bowler to take wickets in a return of three for 44.

But there was never any chance of England losing, with Test captain Joe Root finishing on 49 not out.

Ireland's first international against England in England was desperately disappointing for the visitors, who could be granted Test status next month.

But their recent 7-2 reverse across three formats against fellow Test aspirants Afghanistan in India was an indication of how the current side are struggling to match the standards of Irish teams that beat Test nations at several World Cups.

- Spin struggles continue -

Porterfield said Thursday that teenage leg-spinner Rashid Khan had been the difference in their defeats by Afghanistan.

Fellow leg-spinner Rashid caused Ireland fresh embarrassment as several batsmen played poor shots against the Yorkshireman.

Ireland were making steady progress at 81 for two but lost their last eight wickets for 45 runs as they were dismissed with a mammoth 17 overs to spare.

Yet after Porterfield won the toss, English county batsmen Joyce (Sussex) and Stirling (Middlesex) made a solid start.

Stirling's runs came courtesy of five fours before he was bowled middle stump by paceman Mark Wood.

Ireland were now 40 for one in the sixth over and soon afterwards Joyce was lbw to David Willey.

A third-wicket stand of 35 between Porterfield and Balbirnie followed but there was no stopping the collapse once it started.

Balbirnie's loose edge off Jake Ball was well caught by Sam Billings, keeping wicket instead of Test gloveman Jonny Bairstow, going to his right.

Warwickshire batsman Porterfield's sluggish 13 off 45 balls ended when he tamely chipped part-time off-spinner Root's second ball to mid-off.

Gary Wilson (one) was then lbw to Rashid to leave Ireland 93 for five.

Six years ago Kevin O'Brien rescued Ireland from a similarly dire position of 111 for five with the fastest ever World Cup hundred as his blistering 113 set up a memorable win over England in Bangalore.

But he has come nowhere near those heights since and he was lbw for four, failing to pick Rashid's googly.

And when Rashid had Murtagh caught in the deep, Ireland were all out in a mere 33 overs.

Costa should ignore China talk, says Chelsea boss Conte

Antonio Conte has warned Diego Costa to ignore speculation about a potential move to the lucrative Chinese Super League and focus on firing Chelsea to the Premier League title.Reports this week claimed Tianjin Quanjian had agreed a deal with the Premie…

Antonio Conte has warned Diego Costa to ignore speculation about a potential move to the lucrative Chinese Super League and focus on firing Chelsea to the Premier League title.

Reports this week claimed Tianjin Quanjian had agreed a deal with the Premier League leaders to sign the volatile Spain striker.

It is not the first time Costa has been mentioned as a target for the mega-rich Chinese league and he missed Chelsea's trip to Leicester to January amid claims he wanted to join Tianjin.

Blues boss Conte publicly insisted Costa's absence on that occasion was due to a back injury, but the speculation has persisted after some erratic displays from the forward lately.

Tianjin took to Weibo, China's equivalent of Twitter, to deny any negotiations had taken place and Conte opted against clarifying the situation on Friday at his media conference prior to Monday's Premier League clash with Middlesbrough.

Instead, the Italian called on Conte to keep his mind on leading Chelsea's attack as they try to hold off Tottenham's challenge in the title race.

"I don't know about this," Conte said. "I think now it's very important for every single player, for every single person that works at Chelsea to be focused on the present.

"The present is very important for us. Now is more important than the future.

"I see my players every day and I can see the right concentration, the right focus about my players.

"I think this part of the season, you arrive four games to go, you have the possibility to reach a fantastic target for us."

Costa has scored 19 goals this season and 51 in 86 Premier League appearances since signing from Atletico Madrid in July 2014.

He has two years left on his contract, but is a notoriously temperamental character and Chelsea may be prepared to cut their loses and reinvest the funds in the squad.

Everton striker Romelu Lukaku has been linked with a return to Chelsea, while there have been reports that Blues duo Willian and Cesc Fabregas could be sold.

"This part of the season and this period it's normal to cope with this situation, this speculation," Conte added.

"For sure sometimes you can find the truth and a lot of the time it's not true. The most important thing is for us to be focused."

By the time Chelsea host Middlesbrough on Monday, their lead over Tottenham could be cut to one point if their rivals win at West Ham on Friday.

But Conte is confident his players will cope with the pressure of remaining on top in the last four games.

"The pressure in this stage of the season is normal and you must cope with this," Conte said.

"Every single player and the coach in the club has a good experience to face this moment."

Apple jumps to lead wearable computing with smartwatch

Apple has leapt to the lead in wearable computing on strong sales of it smartwatch, a market survey shows.The survey released Thursday by Strategy Analytics showed Apple grabbed a 15.9 percent share of the wearables market in the first quarter.While Ap…

Apple has leapt to the lead in wearable computing on strong sales of it smartwatch, a market survey shows.

The survey released Thursday by Strategy Analytics showed Apple grabbed a 15.9 percent share of the wearables market in the first quarter.

While Apple does not release sales figures for its Apple Watch, the estimate by Strategy Analytics showed a 59 percent jump in slaes from a year earlier, with 3.5 million units sold in the first three months of the year.

"The new Apple Watch Series 2 is selling relatively well in the US, UK and elsewhere, due to enhanced styling, intensive marketing and a good retail presence," said Strategy Analytics executive director Neil Mawston.

Fitbit, which has been a longtime leader of the wearables market with its fitness bands, slipped to third place on a 36 percent slide in sales in the first quarter, the research firm said.

The survey found that China's Xiaomi, which makes a budget-priced fitness band, was the second-largest vendor with a 15.5 percent global market share, ahead of Fitbit's 13.2 percent.

"Fitbit has lost its wearables leadership to Apple, due to slowing demand for its fitness bands and a late entry to the emerging smartwatch market," said Strategy Analytics researcher Cliff Raskind.

"Fitbit's shipments, revenue, pricing and profit are all shrinking at the moment and the company has a major fight on its hands to recover this year."

Overall, the report said sales of wearables rose 21 percent from a year earlier to 22 million units, led by stronger demand for new smartwatch models.

Putin backs check into Chechen gay attacks after Merkel plea

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday backed an official check into reported brutal attacks on gay men in Chechnya in his first public comment after German Chancellor Angela Merkel confronted him on the issue.Putin said he would personally “talk t…

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday backed an official check into reported brutal attacks on gay men in Chechnya in his first public comment after German Chancellor Angela Merkel confronted him on the issue.

Putin said he would personally "talk to the prosecutor-general and the interior minister" to ask them to help Kremlin rights ombudswoman Tatiana Moskalkova check the reports which have caused an international scandal.

"I hope the colleagues respond and support you," Putin told Moskalkova, whose role is to investigate rights abuses but who is widely seen as a loyalist establishment figure.

Merkel at a press conference with Putin in Moscow on Tuesday raised the "very negative reports" and said she had asked Putin to "use his influence to guarantee the rights of minorities."

While speaking to the Kremlin ombudswoman, Putin referred to the reports as "rumours, you could say, about what is happening in our North Caucasus with people of non-traditional orientation," using a euphemism meaning gay.

In March, Novaya Gazeta opposition daily reported that Chechen authorities were imprisoning and torturing gay men in the conservative region where homosexuality is taboo and can be punished by killings by relatives.

A group of Chechen men in a safe house close to Moscow later confirmed to AFP that they had fled the region in fear of their lives.

Ramzan Kadyrov, the Putin-loyalist and strongman leader of Chechnya, fiercely denied claims of a crackdown in the socially conservative region while meeting Putin.

Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov initially downplayed the reports, saying there had been "no confirmation" of violence and arrests.

After a delay Russian investigators have said they are probing the allegations.

Moskalkova said last month that there had been no official complaints from victims.

But on Friday she said that there needed to be a mechanism for victims to report abuse when they are outside Chechnya and asked Putin to help create a working group to receive such complaints. She stressed that victims' anonymity will be protected.

EU’s Barnier blames Britain for Brexit expat uncertainty

The European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator said Friday that Britain was to blame for the uncertainty facing millions of expatriates in the run-up to the country’s departure from the bloc.And he warned that Brussels would demand “iron-clad,” life-long…

The European Union's chief Brexit negotiator said Friday that Britain was to blame for the uncertainty facing millions of expatriates in the run-up to the country's departure from the bloc.

And he warned that Brussels would demand "iron-clad," life-long guarantees on citizens' rights as a condition of any overall divorce settlement.

"Some in the UK have tried to blame (EU) Member States for the continued uncertainty that citizens have been confronted with for ten months now (since the Brexit vote last year)," former French minister Michel Barnier told a conference in Florence.

"That is wrong. The only cause of uncertainty is Brexit.

"And the only way to remove uncertainty and to protect rights properly is through an Article 50 agreement."

In an apparent nod to EU President Donald Tusk's call for a cooling of this week's cross-Channel sniping over Brexit, Barnier cut a reference to "political hot air" that had been included in an earlier draft of his speech.

But he cautioned that it would be extremely complex to reach a deal on the detailed residency, social security, pension, education and other rights of 3.2 million EU citizens living in Britain and 1.2 million Britons on the continent.

He said the EU 27 would insist on maintaining existing rights for its citizens and their families, including relatives who do not hail from EU states or live in an EU country.

These guarantees would be written into a withdrawal agreement that will be subject to the jurisdiction of the EU's Court of Justice (ECJ), he said.

Barnier also insisted that the EU would make public the content progress of the negotiations -- contrary to Britain's desire for closed door talks, which Prime Minister Theresa May believes will make it easier to do an overall deal.

Barnier said he anticipated citizens' rights being easy to agree in principle but hard to write into a legally precise text.

"We will not discuss our future relationship with the UK until the 27 Member States are reassured that all citizens will be treated properly and humanely," he said.

"Otherwise, there can be no trust when it comes to constructing a new relationship with the UK."

Barnier went on to cite a series of examples illustrating the range and complexity of the issues involved.

One involved a Polish car worker laid off in Britain. Should he be allowed to return home to look for work while receiving British unemployment benefit, as he currently could?

Another was of a self-employed photographer from Manchester who lives in Malaga and goes bankrupt. What will her rights to healthcare be in Spain and what about her social security situation if she returns to Britain, Barnier asked.

Kylian Mbappe ‘exceptional’, says Real Madrid boss Zidane

Zinedine Zidane hailed Kylian Mbappe’s “exceptional” breakout season on Friday as speculation mounted that the Monaco starlet has set his heart on a move to Real Madrid.Friday’s edition of the Madrid sports daily Marca said that the 18-year-old Mbappe …

Zinedine Zidane hailed Kylian Mbappe's "exceptional" breakout season on Friday as speculation mounted that the Monaco starlet has set his heart on a move to Real Madrid.

Friday's edition of the Madrid sports daily Marca said that the 18-year-old Mbappe has indicated his desire to join the reigning European champions.

Asked about speculation linking Mbappe to Europe's biggest clubs, Zidane said that fellow Frenchman Mbappe had once very nearly joined the Real youth academy.

"He almost signed at Real Madrid (when he was younger), it did not happen," said the Real coach.

"He is a player who is showing all his qualities and is having an exceptional season," Zidane told a press conference, declining to elaborate so as not to add to the rumours about the youngster's future.

"Even though I have an opinion, it's never very good to talk about players who are not my players."

Marca did not name its sources but said there had been contact between Real and people close to Mbappe, who has been compared to Thierry Henry at the same age and has hit 14 league goals this term for Monaco.

If the forward does leave Monaco this summer there will be a scramble for his services and suggestions he could command a fee of above 100 million euros ($109 million).

Manchester City keeper Bravo out for rest of season

Pep Guardiola has revealed Manchester City goalkeeper Claudio Bravo will miss the rest of the season with a calf injury.Bravo, who has endured an inconsistent season since arriving from Barcelona last August, was taken off on a stretcher after sustaini…

Pep Guardiola has revealed Manchester City goalkeeper Claudio Bravo will miss the rest of the season with a calf injury.

Bravo, who has endured an inconsistent season since arriving from Barcelona last August, was taken off on a stretcher after sustaining the injury against Manchester United on April 27.

City manager Guardiola has confirmed the problem will keep the Chilean out of his side's remaining four Premier League matches, with Willy Caballero set to continue against Crystal Palace on Saturday, while third-choice Angus Gunn sits on the bench.

However, Sergio Aguero, David Silva and John Stones are all likely to play some part during the run-in as fourth placed City chase a spot in the Champions League.

Aguero, who has a calf injury, and Stones, struggling with a muscle problem, are likely to return against Leicester next weekend, as is playmaker Silva, who has returned to full training after two weeks out with knee trouble.

"Bravo isn't coming back until next season, John maybe will in the last games," Guardiola told reporters on Friday.

"Sergio is not fit. Hopefully he will be for the next one but for this game, no. He is not fit.

"Yesterday was David's first training session. I don't know if he will be ready for tomorrow. No, after the reaction in the semi-final of the FA Cup, he's still not perfect."

Three of City's final four matches are at home, and they may need to win all four games to ensure a place in next season's Champions League.

Since winning their first 10 games under Guardiola, City have won four successive matches just once, although that run started with an FA Cup win at Saturday's opponents Palace in late January.

City have won only eight of their 16 home league games this season, and Guardiola has suggested that their record at Eastlands must improve in order to secure a top four finish.

- So complicated -

"It's still in our hands if we are able to win the four games. But that's so complicated," he said.

"Since the beginning of the season, when we won 10 games, we have been able to win four games in a row only once.

"I know how tough Crystal Palace are. They beat Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool.

"We have Leicester, the last champions. Then we have West Brom and Tony Pulis, who are always complicated but it is in our hands.

"We will see if we are able to make our step forward to qualify. If we win all four games we will definitely be in the Champions League and maybe in the third position. It depends on us.

"Our home games have not been perfect this season. We have to change it in three home games if we want to play in the Champions League next season."

Guardiola has suggested City's failure to mount a title challenge this season is a result of their failure to grasp the direct nature of English football.

As the City manager put it, "nothing happens in the middle" in the Premier League, with most teams keen to get the ball into the penalty area quickly rather than play a more patient style.

"For the first two months, we were good, then we were inconsistent. So over the season, we were more inconsistent than consistent," he said.

"In the boxes, we were not good, and in this league, everything happens in the boxes. In other leagues, the people in the middle take care of the process. Here, nothing happens in the middle.

"We were not strong in that way and that is why we have suffered this season."

From Le Monde: Two opposing visions of France’s independence on display in TV debate

During Wednesday’s TV debate, French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen went back to her usual theme of sovereignism. Emmanuel Macron, her opponent, said that in the fight against terrorism, he wants to continue working “within the alliances”.

During Wednesday’s TV debate, French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen went back to her usual theme of sovereignism. Emmanuel Macron, her opponent, said that in the fight against terrorism, he wants to continue working "within the alliances”.

Hunger boosts global migration & armed conflict, UN first-of-kind study says

A new report from the UN World Food Programme (WFP) has found that food insecurity is accelerating global migration and armed conflict as millions across the globe are facing starvation and fleeing their homes. Read Full Article at RT.com…

Preview A new report from the UN World Food Programme (WFP) has found that food insecurity is accelerating global migration and armed conflict as millions across the globe are facing starvation and fleeing their homes.
Read Full Article at RT.com