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Turkey says it killed three PKK members in northern Iraq

Defence ministry says two aircraft detected and destroyed ‘terror targets’ with ties to the PKK.

Turkey attacked positions of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in northern Iraq and three PKK members were killed.

Weapons including rocket launchers, hand grenades, and assault rifles were destroyed, the Turkish defence ministry said on Saturday.

Late on Friday, two fighter jets detected and destroyed “terror targets” with ties to the PKK and the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in the Avasin and Baysan regions, a statement said.

“Eagles of the skies are always on duty. Mission has been successfully completed,” the ministry added, sharing footage of F-16 jets targeting mountain hideouts.

Turkey recently launched Operation Claw-Tiger and Operation Claw-Eagle, parallel offensives targeting the PKK in northern Iraq.

The PKK is based in the Qandil Mountains in Iraq near the Iranian border and is considered a “terrorist” organisation by Turkey, the European Union, and the United States.

At least 40,000 people have died in the three-decade conflict between the PKK and Turkey. After a peace process collapsed in 2015, ending a two-year ceasefire, the government said it would not return to talks with the group.

Since then, Turkey has regularly targeted the PKK in the predominantly Kurdish southeast and attacked its positions in northern Iraq.

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World News

Video shows fatal shooting of unarmed man by Carlsbad ranger – The Denver Post

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Recently released body camera video shows the final moments before an unarmed Colorado man was shot and killed by a park ranger at Carlsbad Caverns.

KOB-TV in Albuquerque reported Tuesday that video from the March shooting has 26 seconds missing, leaving local prosecutors unsure whether to rule the use of force was justified.

Authorities say National Park Ranger Robert Mitchell stopped Charles “Gage” Lorentz for erratic driving March 21. The video shows Lorentz outside of his vehicle and initially complying. But then when ordered to turn around, Lorentz starts dancing to music from another car.

Mitchell commands Lorentz to take his hands out of his pockets and — without warning — deployed his Taser. The video then resumes 26 second later showing the ranger on top of Lorentz. Mitchell then fires his service weapon twice.

Lorentz had been traveling from Texas back to his home in Colorado. Authorities say he had stopped in Carlsbad to meet a friend.

Shannon Kennedy, an attorney representing Lorentz’s family, said they intend to sue the U.S. Interior Department and the National Park Service.

The National Park Service, through an email, said the U.S. Attorney’s Office for New Mexico is investigating.

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World News

Prayers for the dead as Myanmar's young jade miners mourned

(Reuters) – University student Saw Myint Tun travelled hundreds of miles from home in February to work the jade mines of northern Myanmar in search of gems that might transform his family’s modest fortunes.

Instead, they offered funeral prayers for him there on Saturday, lighting candles on a plywood coffin and chanting Buddhist sutras for the 21-year-old, one of more than 170 people killed in a landslide on Thursday.

The miners were hunting for precious stones in Hpakant – the centre of Myanmar’s secretive billion-dollar jade industry – when a wave of mud and water crashed onto them, entombing them under a layer of mud.

More than a dozen miners were cremated in Hpakant on Saturday, while 41 were buried in a mass grave. Seventy-seven were buried on Friday.

Thursday’s disaster, the worst in memory, highlights the perils of the trade, which draws impoverished migrants from across the country seeking to make their fortune.

It is not uncommon for university students to work in the mines gathering pocket money for the next semester. Officials said the victims were freelance jade pickers who scoured tailings, the residue from mining, for stones missed by larger operators.

Myanmar supplies 90% of the world’s jade, the vast majority exported to neighbouring China. Rights groups say the industry is riddled with abuses. Scores are killed every year.

Like many others who died, Saw Myint Tun was from Rakhine state, his brother-in-law, Hla Shwe Win, told Reuters.

Rakhine, one of Myanmar’s poorest regions, is the state from which more than 730,000 Rohingya were forced to flee for neighbouring Bangladesh after a military crackdown in 2017 that the U.N. has said was executed with genocidal intent. Myanmar denies committing genocide.

Now it is the site of an escalating war between Arakan Army rebels, who seek greater autonomy for the region, and government troops.

Hla Shwe Win said one of his brothers had died in the disaster, while another was wounded.

They had followed him to Hpakant to work in the mines, he said, as women wept over the coffin before it was burned in line with Buddhist traditions.

“They came here, counting on me,” he told Reuters, saying there were no words to describe how he felt.

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Politics

Singapore GE updates, July 4: Where are the parties' big guns | 101 overseas S'poreans won't get to vote due to system glitch

Dear ST reader,

It’s the last weekend before Polling Day, and the parties are all out campaigning.

All eyes are on where the parties’ top leaders choose to walk the ground. ST executive editor Sumiko Tan explains why it matters.

The parties are also hoping to shift voters’ attention to what they feel should be the core issues in this election. For the PAP, it is steering Singapore through the Covid-19 crisis. For the opposition, it is the need for a constructive opposition in Parliament.

For more updates, follow our election coverage at: str.sg/GE2020

WP’s goal is not to needle the PAP: Pritam Singh

“Our goal is not to go there and needle the PAP. We want good outcomes for Singapore,” says the WP chief.

READ MORE

Covid-19 crisis should be focus of all parties: Chan Chun Sing 

This point was glaringly missing from the opposition parties’ manifestos and discussions, said Mr Chan.

READ MORE

101 overseas S’poreans won’t get to vote due to ICA system glitch

The applications of some overseas Singaporeans to register their local contact addresses for voting purposes were not processed.

READ MORE

Editor’s Take: Where the parties’ big guns are campaigning this weekend

ST executive editor Sumiko Tan on who’s where this weekend and why it matters.

READ MORE

East Coast-Fengshan Town Council says uniformed workers seen with PAP bags were not doing its work

Netizens have asked why town council workers were distributing bags bearing the PAP logo.

READ MORE

PSP decision on NCMP will be made when time comes: Tan Cheng Bock

“Currently, at the moment, I don’t accept the NCMP,” says Dr Tan. “How can you go to Parliament and just talk? Who are you talking for?”

READ MORE

NCMP scheme a ‘winning hand’ for Singapore democracy: ESM Goh Chok Tong

“The reality is no NCMP scheme would prevent an incompetent, unpopular or corrupt ruling party from being swept out of power – and deservedly so,” says Mr Goh.

READ MORE

Singapore GE2020: Get full election coverage on our dedicated site here.

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Politics

Singapore GE2020: 101 overseas Singaporeans won't get to vote due to glitch in ICA system

SINGAPORE – Some overseas Singaporeans will not get to vote in the general election as a result of a glitch in the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority’s (ICA) system.

On Saturday (July 4), the ICA apologised to the 101 affected Singaporeans and promised to improve the robustness of its systems.

In a joint statement with the Elections Department (ELD), the authority said it was informed by ELD that the applications of some overseas Singaporeans to register their local contact addresses for voting purposes were not processed.

Singaporeans who have changed their NRIC address to an overseas address have to provide a local contact address if they wish to vote in an election. This is so that the ELD can allot the voter to an electoral division to vote in.

After it was informed by the ELD, the ICA uncovered a glitch in its system, which led to a failure to generate hard copy letters to be sent to the owners of the local contact address. These letters would otherwise have been sent by registered mail to the owners, to confirm that they agree to the use of the address by the overseas Singaporean.

As a result, the ELD would not have received a confirmed local contact address for these Singaporeans and did not include their names in the Registers of Electors.

On March 13, the ELD had announced that the Registers were opened for inspection by Singaporeans, including overseas Singaporeans, from March 14 to March 27. A total of 168 Singaporeans who submitted claims to be included in the Registers were added, making for a total of 2,653,942 registered voters.

But the 101 overseas Singaporeans did not submit claims to be included in the Registers.

Under the Parliamentary Elections Act, no further names can be included in the Registers for the current elections after the Registers have been certified. As the Registers were certified on April 15, these 101 individuals will not be able to vote in the July 10 polls.

The ICA said it is reaching out to the affected Singaporeans. Those who wish to seek further clarifications can e-mail ICA at [email protected]

According to ELD, there are 6,570 overseas voters in the general election.

Singapore GE2020: Get full election coverage on our dedicated site here.

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World News

Coronavirus: Spain puts 200,000 people in Catalonia back into lockdown as cases rise

More than 200,000 people in northeast Spain have been put back into an enforced lockdown following several new outbreaks of coronavirus.

Residents in the county of Segria, which includes the city of Lleida, in the Catalonia region, were told by authorities not to leave the area from midday (11am in the UK) on Saturday, and were given until 4pm local time (3pm in the UK) to enter the area if outside.

However, people will not be confined to their homes as was the case in Spain‘s original strict lockdown, which came into force on 14 March as cases of coronavirus were rising around the world.

“We have decided to confine Segria due to data that confirms too significant a growth in the number of COVID-19 infections,” Catalan regional president Quim Torra told a news briefing.

Regional health ministry data showed there were 3,706 cases in the Lleida region on Friday, up from 3,551 the previous day.

The new outbreaks have been linked to agricultural workers in the rural area.

Spain has registered 205,545 coronavirus cases and 28,385 deaths, making it one of the worst affected countries in Europe.

After imposing a strict lockdown in March, the Spanish government has been gradually easing restrictions since early May.

However, like Leicester in the UK, Segria faces a localised lockdown.

Movement for work will be permitted, but from Tuesday workers entering or leaving the area will have to present a certificate from their employer.

Germany has also seen a local lockdown, with Guetersloh county, the country’s most populous state, reintroducing restrictions in June after a coronavirus outbreak at a slaughterhouse.

More than 1,500 people from the Toennies plant tested positive for COVID-19.

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Politics

Singapore GE2020: Time to move on from 10m population dispute says SDP, accuses PAP of 'desperation'

SINGAPORE – Singapore Democratic Party leaders Paul Tambyah and Chee Soon Juan said it was time for the election campaign to move on from the 10 million population dispute – but not before accusing the PAP of “desperation” and asserting again that their party had come out on top.

Party chairman Paul Tambyah, speaking on Saturday (July 4) during a walkabout in Bukit Panjang, which he is contesting, also praised his election rival, the People’s Action Party’s Liang Eng Hwa, for declining to comment on the population saga when asked by reporters.

“That is exactly the way it should be. This is what we want this campaign to be fought on. We don’t want it to be fought on personal attacks, on events which occurred one year ago… We want to talk about the issues,” he said.

“We want to have a fair campaign, have people look at the different visions for how we want to see Singapore in a post-Covid era.”

Prof Tambyah’s call to move on came after he reiterated that the SDP extracted a promise from the Government that it was not aiming for a 10 million population target for Singapore.

The PAP and its leaders have repeatedly said there have never been such plans, and accused the SDP and Dr Chee, its secretary general, of attempting to mislead Singaporeans.

On Saturday, Dr Chee said the PAP was “beating a dead horse” by having continued to raise the issue. He told reporters at a coffee shop in Bukit Batok after a walkabout: “We said what we wanted to say. Job done, mission accomplished.

“Now we are asking voters to get us into Parliament to make sure that the PAP, what it says before the election, it continues to hold on to it after the election.”

One of the SDP’s key planks in the election was a call to voters to say “no” to what the party said was the PAP’s plan to increase Singapore’s population to 10 million.

The SDP maintains that the 10 million figure was from a Straits Times report on remarks by Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat at a dialogue with Nanyang Technological University students in March last year.

The March 29, 2019 article on the dialogue, which included a question on population density, reported that Mr Heng said Singapore’s population density is not excessive, and noted that other cities are a lot more crowded in terms of liveable space.

The article also said Mr Heng cited former chief planner Liu Thai Ker, who said in 2014 that Singapore should plan for 10 million people for it to remain sustainable in the long term.

Mr Heng had cited Mr Liu in his response to a question on the Government’s 2013 Population White Paper. However, he had stressed that the number goes beyond how densely populated Singapore would be. The social space is as important, he said, adding that openness and understanding is important.

But Mr Heng did not say Singapore should plan for 10 million people – nor did he mention the figure.

Dr Chee cited the report in a televised debate on Wednesday night, claiming that Mr Heng had toyed with the idea of raising the population to 10 million – a charge refuted several times by Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan of the PAP, who also took part in the debate.

Dr Balakrishnan told Dr Chee at the debate that the 10 million figure was a “strawman” and a “falsehood”, adding: “Let me state for the record: We will never have 10 million. We won’t even have 6.9 million. The Government doesn’t have a target for the population.

“What we want is a Singapore core that is demographically stable, able to reproduce ourselves, able to create opportunities and jobs for ourselves and able to stay as a cohesive whole. It is not a target, and it’s certainly not 10 million.”

On Friday, the PAP released a statement, saying it was “disappointed that Dr Chee and the SDP have dug their heels in, repeated their falsehoods and refused to apologise to Singaporeans for misleading them”.

In that same statement, the party also criticised Prof Tambyah, saying: “We are disappointed and surprised Dr Paul Tambyah, the SDP’s chairman, has joined his chief in this charade. We thought he was a better man.”

On Saturday, Prof Tambyah described the PAP’s comments as being “a sign of desperation”, and said it showed that the ruling party had “run out of ideas”.

“So, they’ve resorted to the old PAP tactics of just politics of personal destruction.”

Singapore GE2020: Get full election coverage on our dedicated site here.

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Barcelona's landmark Sagrada Familia reopens for key workers

BARCELONA (Reuters) – Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia reopened on Saturday, giving frontline workers the chance to have the usually tourist-packed landmark to themselves in recognition of their efforts during the coronavirus pandemic.

People took photos and listened to audio guides after Archbishop of Barcelona Juan Jose Omella led representatives of healthcare workers into the church.

The basilica, designed by architect Antoni Gaudi, closed almost four months ago. But for the next two weekends it will be open to essential workers, including those in healthcare, the police and NGOs, who will be able to explore without the usual crowds.

The goal is to recognise and pay tribute to Barcelona residents, “especially those who have been on the front lines fighting and working to prevent Covid-19”, according to a statement on the basilica’s website.

“It’s the first time I’ve been and for me it represents a gift, a gift for the effort and the hours we’ve put in during the past few months, so I’m grateful,” said Virginia Martinez, a hospital doctor from the nearby city of Terrassa. “It’s recognition of our work and what’s better than visiting a monument like this?”

A second phase of reopening will see the lofty and famously unfinished church welcome Barcelona’s residents for free, while a third phase will allow domestic and international tourists to visit.

Started in 1882, the Sagrada Familia is the sixth most visited tourist attraction in the world, according to TripAdvisor.

The reopening came as Catalonia on Saturday enforced a new lockdown on more than 200,000 people after several new outbreaks of coronavirus were detected.

Residents in Segria, which includes the city of Lleida, around 150 km (90 miles) away from Barcelona, are not permitted to leave the area, but will not be confined to their homes as was the case during Spain’s strict lockdown at the start of the outbreak.

Spain has registered 205,545 coronavirus cases and 28,385 deaths, according to health ministry data, making it one of the worst affected countries in Europe.

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Business

Coronavirus: New European publisher Archant hunts new owners

One of Britain’s oldest regional newspaper groups has put itself up for sale as it races to find new investors willing to plug a funding deficit exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic’s disastrous impact on industry-wide advertising revenues.

Sky News has learnt that Archant, which was established in 1845 and publishes titles including the Eastern Daily Press and London’s Ham & High Express, has appointed corporate financiers to find new backers.

City sources said this weekend that the family-owned company wanted to secure new funding within the next few months.

KPMG, the professional services firm, is handling the process.

Archant is one of the most venerable names in Britain’s print media industry, having been jointly founded more than 175 years ago by the Colman family whose name went on to adorn one of the most prominent brands of English mustard.

Along with the Colmans, the Copeman family continue to own the business, which is headquartered in Norwich and employs close to 1,100 people.

It publishes around 60 newspaper brands as well as 75 magazine brands which include Airgun World and Tillergraph, a title aimed at canal boating enthusiasts.

The company boasts 9m unique monthly visitors to its websites, and prints in aggregate more than 6m copies of its publications every month.

Last year, it struck a landmark partnership with Google, the online search giant, to develop a new model for local digital news.

The website PeterboroughMatters.co.uk was the first site to launch from this partnership, which is said to be worth roughly £4m in revenue to Archant.

For Google, the search division of Alphabet, the joint venture was partly intended to counter criticism of the extent to which it and Facebook have eroded ad revenues from traditional sources of local news.

The regional publisher has seen sales decline in recent years, from £96.6m in 2017 to £78.7m last year, with a further fall likely this year as a consequence of the coronavirus outbreak.

One bright spot has been The New European, the anti-Brexit national title which Archant launched just days after the EU referendum as a four-week “pop-up paper”, became a surprising commercial success and continues to be published.

It sells roughly 20,000 copies each week, with 10,000 subscribers, while its website generates 3.5m page views-per-month.

Several private equity groups have been sounded out about their interest in a deal to buy part or all of Archant, according to insiders.

The group’s shareholders are understood to be open-minded about an outright sale of the business.

Any deal could be structured as a pre-pack administration, which would wipe out the interests of existing investors.

David Montgomery, the serial newspaper investor who previously ran the Daily Mirror’s parent company, is likely to be among the contenders to buy the company, according to media analysts.

Mr Montgomery has created a new vehicle, National World, to acquire newspaper and other media assets, and has been rumoured to be interested in bidding for The Daily Telegraph.

One obstacle to a deal is likely to present itself in the form of Archant’s pension deficit, which runs to tens of millions of pounds.

The funding gap is a legacy of the publisher’s long history and the decades-long decline in print circulation and advertising revenues.

In that and other respects, it echoes the demise, and rebirth, of Johnston Press, Archant’s larger rival and owner of The Scotsman and Yorkshire Post.

The pensions watchdog dropped a probe last year into whether the company had used a pre-pack insolvency process to dump £300m of pension liabilities into the Pension Protection Fund.

JPI Media, as the company is now known, has temporarily halted publication of many of its print titles, and has put on hold the search for new owners.

Archant has shaken up its management in an attempt to improve its financial performance.

Last year, it replaced its chief executive – former ITV executive Jeff Henry – and chief financial officer, appointing Simon Bax, a former finance chief from the animation studio Pixar, as executive chairman.

Under Mr Bax, Archant is said to have made good progress, although its print titles have been badly affected by the UK-wide lockdown, hastening the need for new funding.

In a statement issued to Sky News this weekend, an Archant spokesman said: “The board of Archant confirms it is in early-stage discussions with a number of third parties who have expressed an interest in investing in our business.

“For clarity, the company faces no immediate threat to trading, and continues business operations as normal.”

Archant would, he added “be making no further comment for the time being”.

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Singapore GE2020: East Coast GRC to be a good place for families and seniors, says Heng Swee Keat

SINGAPORE – East Coast must be a good place for families to raise children and for seniors to grow old in, said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat on Saturday (July 4).

In the PAP’s second online rally for the constituency, he and the other four candidates shared personal anecdotes about parenthood and ageing, linking these to the challenges that many Singaporeans face in both areas.

For instance, Senior Minister of State for Defence and Foreign Affairs Maliki Osman recounted how his late father had mild dementia, which impacted his recovery from an eye operation.

“He forgot that he had just gone for surgery and when he went for his shower… he rubbed his eye so hard that it bled terribly and he ended up blinded,” Dr Maliki said, adding that these are issues that Singaporeans will increasingly have to grapple with as the population ages.

In his Siglap ward – in which 70 per cent of housing is private – a scheme has been set up to pick up seniors from their homes and take them to community centres for programmes on a daily basis.

And in Fengshan, overseen by MP Cheryl Chan, the number of eldercare centres has been increased to meet residents’ needs. There are also plans to increase support for caregivers of dementia patients across the GRC.

A variety of programmes must also be rolled out for healthy seniors, Mr Heng said. “Our seniors should not just be defined by age, because their activities and what they hope to do in the future are also very different, so we must have a whole range of programmes to cater to that,” he said.

Parenting was also discussed – in a personal way – as new face Tan Kiat How is expecting his first child in August. The former Infocomm Media Development Authority chief executive will take over retiring MP Lee Yi Shyan’s Kampong Chai Chee seat, if elected.

“I’m honestly a little bit nervous, it’s my first time being a parent,” Mr Tan said. “I’m very grateful for all the residents I’ve met over the last few days, who were offering me tips on how to take care of my first child.”

Dr Maliki, who moderated the discussion, asked Mr Heng to share his thoughts on the costs of raising a child, an issue which he said has been raised by many young couples.

Mr Heng, who was formerly education minister, responded that every child gets about $50,000 in subsidies from birth to preschool. And from Primary 1 to the end of secondary school, the Government pumps in another $130,000 per child, he said, adding that tertiary education is also highly subsidised.

On plans specific to East Coast, Ms Chan noted that the new flats in her Fengshan ward have resulted in an increased demand for childcare spaces. This issue was solved by converting PAP Community Foundation kindergartens into childcare centres, she added.

Upcoming developments in the Bayshore area – which will be served by two new MRT stations on the Thomson-East Coast Line – also hold promise for young families, Mr Heng said.

The team, which includes three-term backbencher Jessica Tan, also discussed issues such as green developments in the constituency and helping people keep their jobs in the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr Heng called for Singaporeans to work together to turn good ideas into action. “I would like very much to see that we can bring together everyone, both in conversation and in action.”

Singapore GE2020: Get full election coverage on our dedicated site here.

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