Hosni Mubarak: Former Egyptian President dies aged 91

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

Hosni Mubarak: Former Egyptian President dies aged 91

Hosni MubarakImage copyright REUTERS
Image caption Hosni Mubarak was president of Egypt for 30 years

Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak – ousted by the military in 2011 – has died in Cairo at the age of 91.

Mubarak spent three decades in office before a popular uprising swept Egypt.

He was found guilty of complicity in the killing of protesters during the revolution. That conviction was overturned and was freed in March 2017.

His death was confirmed by Egyptian state news on Tuesday. Earlier in the day, the Al-Watan website reported that he died at a military hospital.

Mubarak underwent surgery in late January and was photographed with his grandson as he recovered.

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On Saturday, however, Mubarak’s son Alaa said that the former president remained in intensive care.

Who was Mubarak?

Born in 1928, Mubarak entered the air force as a teenager and went on to play a key role in the 1973 Arab-Israeli war.

He became president less than a decade later, following the assassination of President Anwar Sadat, and played a key role in the Israel-Palestinian peace process.

But despite the billions of dollars in military aid Egypt received during his time in office, unemployment, poverty and corruption continued to grow.

Discontent boiled over in January 2011, after similar protests in Tunisia led to the overthrow of the president there. Mubarak was forced to step down 18 days later.

Just over a year after Mubarak’s overthrow, Mohamed Morsi, an Islamist politician, won Egypt’s first democratic presidential election.

The new president lasted less than a year in office. Amid mass protests, he was ousted in a military coup led by Gen Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Gen Sisi went on to win two presidential elections. Morsi died in prison in 2019.

In 2012, Mubarak was sentenced to life imprisonment over the deaths of some of the 900 protesters who were killed by security forces during the uprising a year earlier.

Both he and his two sons were also convicted of corruption.

But the more serious charges against Mubarak were later overturned and he was released in 2017.

Italy train crash: Two dead in high-speed derailment

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

Italy train crash: Two dead in high-speed derailment

Wreck of train - Italian police pictureImage copyrightAFP
Image captionThe train derailed and apparently hit a building

Two people have been killed after a high-speed train derailed near the northern Italian city of Lodi, emergency services say.

Both of the dead are drivers. Two others, one of them a cleaner on the train, had significant but not life-threatening injuries.

The train was travelling from Milan to the southern city of Salerno.

All services on the Milan-Bologna high-speed route have been suspended and diverted via conventional lines.

The BBC’s Mark Lowen in Rome says that while there have been occasional crashes on Italy’s regional trains, this is the first such incident on its high-speed Frecciarossa – or Red Arrow – network, the country’s transport pride.

The trains run at 300 km/h (186 mph) and are generally efficient, punctual and safe.

Derailed trainImage copyright POLIZIA DI STATO
Image caption Several people were injured as carriages derailed

The engine left the tracks some 40 km (25 miles) from Milan at around 05:30 local time (04:30 GMT), the railway company said.

It apparently hit a freight wagon on a parallel track before running into a building and was separated from the rest of the train. Both it and the first carriage turned on their sides.

“I thought I was dead,” a survivor told local newspaper Liberta. “I closed my eyes and prayed.

“The train was going very fast… suddenly, I felt a violent blow. A really loud roar.”

The survivor added that he and a friend were stuck on the train for 15 minutes before escaping through a hole.

The causes of the accident are being investigated.

Ansa news agency said maintenance work was being carried out on the track where the accident happened.

There were 28 passengers on the train, Ansa said, a number of whom received minor injuries.

Lodi Prefect Marcello Cardona said the accident “could have been carnage” but there were relatively few passengers at the time, and no more fatalities were expected.

Fire services are at the scene.

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Fifteen years in Iowa jail for burning Gay Pride Flag

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

Fifteen years in Iowa jail for burning pride flag

Adolfo Martinez, 30, admitted to his crimes in a jailhouse interviewImage copyright POLICE HANDOUT
Image caption Adolfo Martinez, 30, admitted to his crimes in a jailhouse interview

A US judge has handed down a sentence of at least 15 years to a man who stole an LGBT pride flag from a church and burned it outside a strip club.

Adolfo Martinez, 30, admitted to the media that he took the flag from Ames United Church of Christ due to his animosity towards homosexuals.

He was found guilty last month of hate crime harassment, reckless use of fire and being a habitual offender.

The incident occurred around midnight on 11 June in downtown Ames, Iowa.

Police say the crime spree began at Dangerous Curves, a strip club, when police were called because a man was making threats. By the time they arrived, he had already been kicked out by bar staff.

After leaving the club, Martinez then travelled to the church and ripped down its flag. He then returned to the strip club where he used lighter fluid to burn the flag in the street. He also threatened to burn down the bar.

the church in IowaImage copyrightGOOGLE MAPS

He was arrested later that day, and told local media in a jail house interview that he was “guilty as charged”.

“It was an honour to do that. It’s a blessing from the Lord,” he said, explaining that he did it because he “opposed homosexuality”.

“I burned down their pride, plain and simple,” he told KCCI-TV. The interview was entered into the trial as evidence against him.

Church pastor Eileen Gebbie, who identifies as gay woman, says she agrees that Martinez’ actions were motivated by hatred.

“I often experienced Ames as not being as progressive as many people believe it is, and there still is a very large closeted queer community here,” she told the Des Moines Register when he was convicted in November.

“But 12 people that I don’t know, who have no investment in me or this congregation, said this man committed a crime, and it was a crime borne of bigotry and hatred.”

Story County Attorney Jessica Reynolds said Martinez was the first person in the county’s history to be convicted of a hate crime.

“The hard reality is there are people who target individuals and commit crimes against individuals because of their race, gender, sexual orientation,” she told the Ames Tribune.

“And when that happens it’s so important that as a society we stand up and people have severe consequences for those actions.”

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Chilean military plane ‘disappears’ with 38 aboard

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

Chilean military plane ‘disappears’ with 38 aboard

Hercules C-130Image copyright FILE PHOTO
Image caption Chile’s air force operates three C-130 transport planes

A military plane with 38 on board has disappeared en route to Antarctica, Chile’s air force says in a statement.

The C-130 Hercules transport aircraft took off from Punta Arenas at 16:55 local time (19:55 GMT), and operators lost contact soon after 18:00 (21:00).

Among the missing are 17 crew members and 21 passengers, who were travelling to provide logistical support.

Chile’s air force said a search and rescue operation is under way to recover the plane and those missing.

News agency EFE reports that three of those on board are civilians.

Air Force General Eduardo Mosqueira told local media that the plane did not activate any distress signal while flying to Chile’s Presidente Eduardo Frei Montalva base, on Antarctica’s King George Island.

He said the plane, whose pilot had extensive experience, may have been forced to land after running out of fuel.

Chilean President Sebastián Piñera said in a tweet that he was “dismayed” by the disappearance, and was monitoring the situation from the capital, Santiago.

In a subsequent statement, he added that “all national and foreign air and maritime means in the area” were assisting with the search.

Hong Kong elections: Record numbers vote in district council polls

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

Hong Kong elections: Record numbers vote in district council polls

Hong Kong voters queue to cast their ballots in district council electionsImage copyright EPA
Image caption There were long queues at polling stations even as night started to fall

Voters have turned out in record numbers to cast their ballots in Hong Kong’s district council elections.

Nearly 2.9m people had voted an hour before polls shut, a 69% turnout. Just 1.47m voted at the last such poll.

The election is seen as a test of support for embattled Chief Executive Carrie Lam.

Pro-democracy protest groups hope the vote will send a message to the Chinese government after five months of unrest and anti-government protests.

In the run-up to the election, pro-democracy protest groups had urged people not to cause disruption. No trouble has been reported so far.

Long queues formed on Sunday amid fears polls might be closed by authorities if violence disrupted the election.

Media caption The identity crisis behind Hong Kong’s protests

A record 4.1 million people had registered to vote, or more than half the population of 7.4 million.

Pro-democracy campaigners hope they will be able to increase their representation on Hong Kong’s district council, which traditionally has some influence in choosing the city’s chief executive.

Pro-Beijing candidates are urging voters to support them in order to express frustration at the upheaval caused by continuous clashes between protesters and police.

What’s happening?

Polls opened at 07:30 local time (23:30 GMT) and closed at 22:30 on Sunday. Counting of ballots has now begun.

By 21:30 almost 2.9 million people had voted – or more than 69% of all registered voters.

In total, 1.467 million people voted in the last poll in 2015, when 3.1 million people were registered to vote.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam speaks to the press after casting her vote during the district council elections in Hong Kong on November 24, 2019Image copyrightAFP
Image captionChief Executive Carrie Lam welcomed the “peaceful environment” for the vote

More than 1,000 candidates are running for 452 district council seats which, for the first time, are all being contested. A further 27 seats are allocated to representatives of rural districts.

Currently, pro-Beijing parties hold the majority of these seats. Counting will start immediately after polls close at 22:30, and results are expected to start coming in before midnight.

Police were seen outside some polling stations and on the streets but correspondents said they kept a low profile.

“Facing the extremely challenging situation, I’m pleased to say… we have a relatively calm and peaceful environment for [the] election today,” Carrie Lam said after voting.

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Ballots send a message

By Jonathan Head, BBC News, Hong Kong

This was a local election, for largely powerless district councils, yet it felt far more significant.

Queues formed early at Taikoo Shing in beautiful sunny weather, and by the time voting began they snaked around the block. The picture was similar at other polling stations. Local issues were on the minds of some voters, but the importance of this election as a clear test of support for the government and its opponents was lost on very few.

Some voters were uneasy about expressing any opinions in front of others. The sight of Democratic Party candidate Andrew Chiu sitting outside, chatting to reporters, and showing the bandaged left side of his head where an assailant bit off part of his ear earlier this month, offered a grim reminder of how far Hong Kong’s crisis has divided communities and families.

Andrew Chiu, a candidate in Hong Kong's district council elections in November 2019, sat outside a polling station chatting to voters
Image captionAndrew Chiu spoke to reporters outside a polling station amid voting in the district council elections

Nonetheless some told us they treasured this opportunity to send a message with their ballots, a free vote with a wide choice of candidates they said they were all too aware is not available in other parts of China.

Ten out of thirty-five seats in this district were uncontested at the last local council election, where pro-government parties have long enjoyed the advantage of better funding. This time every seat is being contested.

The opposition pan-democratic alliance has adopted the five demands of the protest movement as its slogan, and hopes public sentiment over the five-month crisis will give it an opportunity to take control of many of the district councils for the first time.

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Why are these elections important?

District councils themselves have very little actual power, so usually these elections take place on a very local level.

But this election is different.

Election officials empty ballot boxes to count votes in Hong Kong (2011)

Getty
Hong Kong district elections

  • 479seats across the territory
  • 1,090candidates – all seats being contested for the first time
  • 4.13mregistered voters – the highest number ever
  • 117councillors sit on committee that elects chief executive

Source: Hong Kong government

They are the first elections since anti-government protests started in June, so they will act as a litmus test, reflecting how much support there is for the current government.

“People in Hong Kong have begun to see this election as an additional way to articulate and express their views on the state of Hong Kong in general and the government of Carrie Lam,” Kenneth Chan, associate professor at Hong Kong Baptist University, told Reuters news agency.

Then there is the issue of Hong Kong’s chief executive. Under Hong Kong’s electoral system, 117 of the district councillors will also sit on the 1,200-member committee that votes for the chief executive.

So a pro-democracy district win could translate eventually to a bigger share, and say, in who becomes the city’s next leader.

Who is running?

There are some notable names running in the elections, including pro-Beijing lawmaker Junius Ho, one of the most controversial politicians in the city. He was stabbed earlier this month by a man pretending to be a supporter.

Media captionJoshua Wong says Beijing can’t keep him down

The lawmaker has openly voiced his support for Hong Kong’s police force on multiple occasions. He was in July filmed shaking hands with a group of men – suspected of being triad gangsters – who later assaulted pro-democracy protesters.

Jimmy Sham, a political activist who has recently risen to prominence as the leader of the Civil Human Rights Front – a campaign group responsible for organising some of the mass protest marches – is running for the first time.

Mr Sham has also been attacked twice, once apparently with hammers. Photographs showed him lying on the street covered in blood.

Who is not running is also notable. Pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong was barred from running in the elections, a move he referred to as “political screening”.

Iraq protests: Death toll rises to 20 as unrest spreads

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF AL JAZEERA NEWS)

 

Iraq protests: Death toll rises to 20 as unrest spreads

Authorities impose curfew and cut internet access in many cities as death toll from three days of mass protests hits 20.

Iraq protests: Death toll rises to 20 as unrest spreads
Demonstrators burn tyres during a curfew in Baghdad [Wissm al-Okili/Reuters]

The death toll from three days of mass anti-government protests in Iraq has risen to 20, with hundreds more wounded as authorities imposed curfew in several cities and cut internet access across much of the country to quell unrest.

The protests, which began in the capital, Baghdad, on Tuesday, are mostly spontaneous and without political leadership, staged by disenchanted youth demanding jobs, improved services, such as electricity and water, and an end to Iraq’s endemic corruption.

The demonstrations have since spread to cities across the mainly Shia south, making it the most serious challenge to Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi’s year-old government.

In Baghdad, authorities imposed a round-the-clock curfew early on Thursday, saying the measure was meant to “protect general peace” and protesters from “infiltrators” who committed attacks against security forces and public property.

But dozens of protesters defied the order early on Thursday and attempted to gather at the Tahrir Square, prompting security forces to use live rounds and tear gas to disperse the crowds.

“We slept here so the police don’t take the place,” one demonstrator told AFP news agency before riot police fired into the air.

Youths carry away a protester injured during clashes with riot police amidst demonstrations against state corruption, failing public services, and unemployment, in the Iraqi capital Baghdad's central
A protester injured during clashes with riot police during demonstrations in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square is carried away [Ahmad al-Rubaye/AFP]

Early on Thursday, some cars and civilians were seen in the capital’s streets. Al Jazeera’s Imran Khan, reporting from the capital, said there was an “eerie quiet over Baghdad” but “sporadic gunfire towards Tahrir Square” could be heard.

“The curfew does seem to be working,” he said. “The protesters have been trying to gather in different areas of Baghdad throughout the day, but every time they reach crowds of 50 to 60 people, the security forces disperse them. The government hasn’t indicated when the curfew will be lifted.”

Authorities said travellers to and from Baghdad airport, ambulances, government employees in hospitals, electricity and water departments, and pilgrims were exempt from the restrictions.

Curfew was also imposed in the holy city of Najaf and the southern city of Nasiriya, the site of the deadliest protests so far with a total of 10 people, including one police officer, killed. In the city of Amarah, medics and security forces have confirmed the killing of four protesters on Thursday, bringing the death toll over the past three days to 20.

More than 1,000 others have been wounded in the nationwide protests, while 62 people have been arrested, according to figures from Iraq’s Human Rights Commission.

Meanwhile, approximately 75 percent of Iraq is “offline” after major network operators “intentionally restricted” access, according to cybersecurity monitor NetBlocks.

Residents are wary that more protests could erupt after powerful Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr called for “a general strike”. His political bloc, Sairoon, which came first in last May’s parliamentary elections, is part of the ruling coalition.

Demonstrations over similar issues engulfed the southern city of Basra last summer and effectively ended previous Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s chances of a second term.

Demonstrators gesture at a protest over unemployment, corruption and poor public services, in Baghdad
Demonstrators at a protest rally over unemployment, corruption and poor public services in Baghdad [Thaier al-Sudani/Reuters]

Anger over high rates of youth unemployment – which is approximately 25 percent, or double the adult rate, according to the World Bank – appears to have set off the latest round of demonstrations.

“We want jobs and better public services. We’ve been demanding them for years and the government has never responded,” said Abdallah Walid, a 27-year-old protester.

The protesters are mostly “angry young people who are not aligned to any political or religious party”, said Al Jazeera’s Khan. “They are simply very frustrated at the fact that they don’t have jobs.”

After a small protest was quickly dispersed by security forces on Tuesday, a social media call went out which resulted in thousands of people taking to the streets, he added. Since then, the protests have spread to other cities in the country’s south.

Meanwhile, two border crossings into Iraq – including one widely used by Iranian pilgrims – have been closed because of unrest in Iraq, Iranian border guards said.

Demonstrators block a road during a curfew, two days after the nationwide anti-government protests turned violent, in Baghdad, Iraq October 3, 2019. REUTERS/Wissm al-Okili
Demonstrators block a road in Baghdad during curfew, two days after nationwide anti-government protests turned violent [Wissm al-Okili/Reuters]

According to Iran’s semi-official news agency Mehr, Iranian border guards commander General Qasem Rezaei said the Khosravi and Chazabeh crossings had been closed since late Wednesday but other crossings were open in the run-up to an annual Shia Muslim pilgrimage in Iraq.

The tension has been exacerbated by a near-total internet shutdown, the closure of government offices and at least one overnight explosion that hit the Green Zone, where some ministries and embassies are located.

A security source in the area told AFP there were two blasts, likely caused by indirect fire a little over a week after two rockets hit near the US embassy there.

Demonstrators run as they take part in a protest over unemployment, corruption and poor public services, in Basra, Iraq October 2, 2019. REUTERS/Essam al-Sudani
Demonstrators run as they take part in a protest rally over unemployment, corruption and poor public services, in Basra [Essam al-Sudani/Reuters]

The apparent attack came hours after security forces sealed off the Green Zone “until further notice”, fearing angry protesters would swarm state buildings or foreign missions.

The Green Zone had been inaccessible for most Iraqis since the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq but had reopened to the public in June.

It has often been the focal point for public anger, including in 2016 when al-Sadr’s supporters stormed it and paralysed state institutions.

Why are Iraqis protesting against the government?

INSIDE STORY

Why are Iraqis protesting against the government?

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES

Russia: Putin’s Goon Squads Arrest At Least 1,000 Citizens At A Moscow Rally

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

Russia protests: Thousand arrests at Moscow rally

Media caption Police marched away detainees

Police in Moscow have detained more than 1,000 people at a rally, in one of the biggest crackdowns in years.

Demonstrators were dragged away from the city hall as security forces used batons against the crowd.

People were protesting against the exclusion of opposition candidates from local polls. The opposition say they were barred for political reasons.

Some of the candidates banned from standing in the 8 September election had been detained earlier.

Officials disqualified about 30 people, saying they had failed to collect enough valid signatures to stand.

At least 1,074 arrests were made at the banned rally, officials say, while monitors reported 1,127 detentions.

Moscow’s Mayor, Sergei Sobyanin, has called the demonstration a “security threat”, and promised to maintain public order.

Anger is widespread among opposition supporters at the way the city is run and the ruling United Russia party.

Opposition leader Alexei Navalny, a fierce critic of President Vladimir Putin, was jailed for 30 days on Wednesday after calling for Saturday’s unapproved demonstration.

Mr Putin was on a trip to the Baltic Sea on Saturday for a dive in a submersible. “There are a lot of problems on Earth, so to diminish their amount one has to go up and deep down,” he remarked.

What happened this Saturday?

Last Saturday, more than 20,000 Russians took to the streets, demanding fair elections, and dozens were arrested.

It is unclear how many people turned up for the new unauthorised rally on 27 July but the numbers seem to have been sharply down.

According to police, about 3,500 people gathered, including about 700 journalists.

Police detain a protester in Moscow, 27 JulyImage copyright REUTERS
Image caption Riot police detained hundreds of protesters on Saturday

Police in riot gear pushed back the crowd from barriers surrounding the mayor’s office in central Moscow, hauling off detainees to police stations.

A number of protesters could be seen bleeding while at least two members of the security forces reportedly received eye injuries from pepper spray.

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A powerful message to the regions?

Oleg Boldyrev, BBC News, Moscow

No -one was under any illusion that the large gathering would impress authorities into letting people express themselves peacefully. This rally went very much the same way others have done – arbitrary detentions, standoffs, crowds breaking off into the side streets.

The question is whether the anger over not being able to nominate a candidate – even for lower-level, city elections – would galvanise Muscovites into bigger, sustained expressions of dissent. After all, there are lots of residents not happy with the way Moscow government and Mayor Sobyanin run the city, or respond to popular concerns.

Police detain a protester in Moscow, 27 JulyImage copyrightREUTERS

Certainly, the would-be candidates, most of them seasoned anti-Putin activists, are hoping that the resentment will linger. That is exactly why policy handlers in the Kremlin are desperate to put a lid on it.

With both Mr Putin’s ratings falling and the United Russia party deeply unpopular, chanting crowds in the capital may send a very powerful message to other regions preparing to hold their elections.

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How did we get here?

Local elections usually attract little attention in Russia.

The Moscow authority does not control the city’s budget or choose key official appointments, and previous votes have passed without major protests or press interest.

But this year some Muscovites are infuriated at what they see as brazen attempts to disqualify independent politicians from running.

Lyubov SobolImage copyrightAFP/GETTY
Image captionLyubov Sobol is one of the opposition candidates barred from standing

Candidates were asked to collect 5,000 signatures to stand. This limit was made even harder to match because a signature “means volunteering one’s personal information for the government’s database of opposition supporters”, democracy activist Vladimir Kara-Murza wrote in the Washington Post.

Many candidates managed to meet the threshold but the electoral commission ruled some signatures ineligible, saying they were unclear or the addresses provided were incomplete, and barred the candidates from taking part.

Opposition groups say the authorities had no reason to rule them ineligible – claims that electoral officials denied. “We have no reason to doubt our experts,” commission member Dmitry Reut said, according to media reports.

Mr Navalny, who addressed the crowds last Saturday, is not one of the candidates, although he stood in Moscow’s mayoral elections in 2013 and won 27% of the vote in a result he disputed.

Ella Pamfilova, the head of the electoral commission, said the protests would not change their decisions. “It doesn’t matter, not even a bit of it,” she said, dismissing the demonstrations as “political”.

The authorities banned this Saturday’s rally on the grounds that there were threats of violence against the commission.

Police then raided the homes of several opposition politicians, and called them in more for questioning.

What’s been the reaction?

Election candidate and opposition leader Dmitry Gudkov tweeted that the council had “died under Putin”.

“The last illusion that we are able to participate legally in politics has disappeared.”

Some newspapers also denounced the raids. Novaya Gazeta ran the headline Moscow City Terror on Friday, while Vedomosti said authorities were using force to suppress the protest “having failed to counter it with political means”.

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Russian government paper Rossiyskaya Gazeta, however, accused the opposition of “blackmail” and “an unacceptable attitude to the statutes of law”.

Political analyst Abbas Gallyamov told BBC Russian that the official response was designed to dissuade people from taking part. Any mass action would suggest the opposition had taken the initiative from the government.

Some believe the demonstrations could actually benefit the local authorities by reducing turnout.

“Young opposition supporters will not come to the polls, while the older generation whom the authorities are counting on vote out of habit,” Denis Volkov, an expert at independent think tank Levada Center, told the BBC. “The authorities will orient themselves towards them.”

Turkey: Istanbul mayoral re-run: Erdogan’s ruling AKP set to lose

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

Istanbul mayoral re-run: Erdogan’s ruling AKP set to lose

Ekrem ImamogluImage copyright REUTERS
Image caption Ekrem Imamoglu hailed the result as a “new beginning” for the city

Turkey’s ruling party is set to lose control of Istanbul after a re-run of the city’s mayoral election, latest results show.

The candidate for the main opposition party, Ekrem Imamoglu, has won 54% of the vote with nearly all ballots counted.

He won a surprise victory in March which was annulled after the ruling AK party complained of irregularities.

His opponent, former Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, has conceded.

The result is a major setback for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has previously said that “whoever wins Istanbul, wins Turkey”.

In his victory speech, Mr Imamoglu said the result marked a “new beginning” for both the city and the country.

“We are opening up a new page in Istanbul,” he said. “On this new page, there will be justice, equality, love.”

He added that he was willing to work with Mr Erdogan, saying: “Mr President, I am ready to work in harmony with you.”

Mr Imamoglu’s lead of more than 775,000 votes marks a huge increase on his victory in March, when he won by just 13,000.

Who were the candidates?

Mr Imamoglu, 49, is from the secular Republican People’s Party and is mayor of Istanbul’s Beylikduzu district.

But his name was barely known before he ran for mayor in the March election.

Binali Yildirim on his final campaign before the election on June 23Image copy right EPA
Image caption Binali Yildirim is an Erdogan loyalist

Mr Yildirim was a founding member of Mr Erdogan’s AKP and was prime minister from 2016 until 2018, when Turkey became a presidential democracy and the role ceased to exist.

He was elected Speaker of the new parliament in February and before that served as minister of transportation and communication.

Why was the previous result annulled?

Mr. Imamoglu’s narrow victory of 13,000 votes in March was not enough for Mr Yildirim to accept defeat.

The ruling party alleged that votes were stolen and many ballot box observers did not have official approval, leading the election board to demand a re-run of he vote.

Critics argue that pressure from President Erdogan was behind the decision.

Why is this election so important?

Mr Erdogan, who is from Istanbul, was elected mayor in 1994.

He founded the AKP in 2001 and served as prime minister between 2003 and 2014, before becoming president.

President Erdogan voting in Istanbul election - 23 JuneImage copy right AFP
Image caption Mr Erdogan, seen voting, is a native of Istanbul and a former mayor of the city

But cracks in the party are now beginning to show and analysts suggest these could be exacerbated by this loss.

“Erdogan is extremely worried,” Murat Yetkin, a journalist and writer, said ahead of the vote.

“He is playing every card he has. If he loses, by whatever margin, it’s the end of his steady political rise over the past quarter of a century,” he added.

“In reality, he’ll still be president, his coalition will still control parliament – although many will perceive his defeat as the beginning of the end for him.”

How the humble cabbage can stop cancers

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

How the humble cabbage can stop cancers

CabbageImage copyright GETTY IMAGES

Scientists say they have discovered why some vegetables – including cabbage, broccoli and kale – can reduce the risk of bowel cancers.

That cruciferous veg is good for the gut has never been in doubt but a detailed explanation has been elusive.

The team at the Francis Crick Institute found anti-cancer chemicals were produced as the vegetables were digested.

Cancer Research UK said there were plenty of reasons to eat more veg.

The work focused on how vegetables alter the lining of the intestines, by studying mice and miniature bowels growing in the lab.

Like the skin, the surface of the bowels is constantly being regenerated in a process that takes four to five days.

But this constant renewal needs to be tightly controlled, otherwise it could lead to cancer or gut inflammation.

And the work, published in the journal Immunity, showed chemicals in cruciferous vegetables were vital.

From kitchen to cancer prevention?

The researchers investigated a chemical called indole-3-carbinol, which is produced by chewing such vegetables.

“Make sure they’re not overcooked, no soggy broccoli,” said researcher Dr Gitta Stockinger.

The chemical is modified by stomach acid as it continues its journey through the digestive system.

In the lower bowel, it can change the behaviour of stem cells, which regenerate the bowel lining, and of immune cells that control inflammation.

The study showed diets high in indole-3-carbinol protected the mice from cancer, even those whose genes put them at very high risk of the disease.

Without the protective diet, the gut cells divided uncontrollably.

Dr Stockinger added: “Even when the mice started developing tumours and we switched them to the appropriate diet, it halted tumour progression.”

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Signs of bowel cancer include persistent:

  • blood in the stools
  • changes in bowel habits, such as going to the toilet more often
  • tummy pain, bloating or discomfort
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Dr Stockinger said the findings were a “cause for optimism”.

She has reduced the amount of meat she eats and now consumes a lot more vegetables.

She told the BBC: “A lot of dietary advice we’re getting changes periodically – it is very confusing and not clear cut what the causes and consequences are.

“Just telling me it’s good for me without a reason will not make me eat it.

“With this study, we have the molecular mechanisms about how this system works.”

Prof Tim Key, from Cancer Research UK, said: “This study in mice suggests that it’s not just the fibre contained in vegetables like broccoli and cabbage that help reduce the risk of bowel cancer, but also molecules found in these vegetables too.

“Further studies will help find out whether the molecules in these vegetables have the same effect in people, but in the meantime there are already plenty of good reasons to eat more vegetables.”

Follow James on Twitter.

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Hong Kong lawmakers fight over extradition law

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

Hong Kong lawmakers fight over extradition law

Media caption Tensions flared up with some lawmakers jumping over tables

Fighting erupted in Hong Kong’s legislature on Saturday over planned changes to the law allowing suspects to be sent to mainland China for trial.

Several lawmakers were injured and one was taken to hospital as politicians clashed in the chamber.

Critics believe the proposed switch to the extradition law would erode Hong Kong’s freedoms.

But authorities say they need to make the change so they can extradite a murder suspect to Taiwan.

One pro-Beijing lawmaker called it “a sad day for Hong Kong”.

Pro-democracy lawmaker James To originally led the session on the controversial extradition bill but earlier this week those supportive of the new law replaced him as chairman.

Tensions boiled over on Saturday, with politicians swearing and jumping over tables amid a crowd of reporters as they fought to control the microphone.

Scuffles broke out in Hong Kong's legislature over proposed changes to extradition lawsImage copyright REUTERS
Image caption Opponents and supporters of the bill clashed in the legislature
Gary Fan stretchered out after clashes between opponents and supporters of Hong Kong's proposed extradition law changesImage copyright REUTERS
Image caption Pro-democracy lawmaker Gary Fan was taken out on a stretcher

Pro-democracy legislator Gary Fan collapsed and was carried out on a stretcher, while one pro-Beijing legislator was later seen with his arm in a sling.

Why change the extradition laws?

Under a policy known as “One Country, Two Systems”, Hong Kong has a separate legal system to mainland China.

Beijing regained control over the former British colony in 1997 on the condition it would allow the territory “a high degree of autonomy, except in foreign and defence affairs” for 50 years.

But Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing leader Carrie Lam earlier this year announced plans to change the law so suspects could be extradited to Taiwan, Macau or mainland China on a case-by-case basis.

Hong Kong's leader Carrie LamImage copyright REUTERS
Image caption Some critics say Carrie Lam has “betrayed” Hong Kong over the law change

Ms Lam has cited the case of a 19-year-old Hong Kong man who allegedly murdered his pregnant girlfriend while on holiday in Taiwan before fleeing home.

While Taiwan has sought his extradition, Hong Kong officials say they cannot help as they do not have an extradition agreement with Taiwan.

Why object to the switch?

The proposed change has generated huge criticism.

Protesters against the law marched on the streets last month in the biggest rally since 2014’s pro-democracy Umbrella Movement demonstrations.

Even the normally conservative business community has objected. The International Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong said the bill has “gross inadequacies” which could mean people risk “losing freedom, property and even their life”.

And Chris Patten, the last British governor of Hong Kong, told the government-funded broadcaster RTHK last month the proposal was “an assault on Hong Kong’s values, stability and security”.