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Philippine Radio Anchor Fatally Shot While on Facebook Livestream

Voice of America’s immigration news - November 5, 2023 - 12:41
A radio anchor was fatally shot by a man inside his southern Philippine station Sunday in a brazen attack that was witnessed by people watching the program live on Facebook. The gunman gained entry into the home-based radio station of provincial news broadcaster Juan Jumalon by pretending to be a listener. He then shot him twice during a live morning broadcast in Calamba town in Misamis Occidental province, police said. The attacker snatched the victim’s gold necklace before fleeing with a companion, who waited outside Jumalon’s house, onboard a motorcycle, police said. An investigation was underway to identify the gunman and establish if the attack was work-related. The Philippines has long been regarded as one of the most dangerous places for journalists in the world. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. strongly condemned the shooting and said he ordered the national police to track down, arrest and prosecute the killers.  "Attacks on journalists will not be tolerated in our democracy and those who threaten the freedom of the press will face the full consequences of their actions,” Marcos said in a statement. The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, a press freedom watchdog, said Jumalon was the 199th journalist to be killed in the country since 1986, when democracy returned after a “People Power” uprising toppled dictator Ferdinand Marcos, the father of the current president, and forced him and his family into U.S. exile. "The attack is even more condemnable since it happened at Jumalon’s own home, which also served as the radio station,” the watchdog said. A video of the attack shows the bespectacled Jumalon, 57, pausing and looking upward at something away from the camera before two shots rang out. He slumped back bloodied in his chair as background music played on. He was pronounced dead on the way to the hospital. The attacker was not seen on the Facebook livestream, but police said they were checking if security cameras installed in the house and at his neighbors recorded anything. In 2009, members of a powerful political clan and their associates gunned down 58 people, including 32 media workers, in a brazen execution-style attack in southern Maguindanao province. It was the deadliest single attack on journalists in recent history. While the mass killing was later linked to a violent electoral rivalry common in many rural areas, it also showcased the threats faced by journalists in the Philippines. A surfeit of unlicensed guns and private armies controlled by powerful clans and weak law enforcement in rural regions are among the security concerns journalists face in the poverty-stricken Southeast Asian country. 

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Voice of America’s immigration news - November 5, 2023 - 12:00
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Pro-Palestinian Protest at Air Base Housing US Troops in Turkey 

Voice of America’s immigration news - November 5, 2023 - 11:41
Turkish police used tear gas and water cannon as hundreds of people at a pro-Palestinian rally Sunday tried to storm an air base that houses U.S. troops, hours before U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was due in Ankara for talks on Gaza. Turkey, which has stepped up its criticism of Israel as the humanitarian crisis in Gaza has worsened, supports a two-state solution while hosting members of the Palestinian militant group Hamas. Since the Israel-Hamas war started, protests have erupted across the country. Earlier this week, the IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation, an Islamist Turkish aid agency, organized a convoy to travel to the Incirlik air base in the Adana province in southern Turkey to protest Israeli attacks on Gaza and U.S. support for Israel. Incirlik, which has been used to support the international coalition fighting Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, also houses U.S. troops. IHH's protest called for Incirlik to be closed. Footage from the protests showed police firing tear gas and using water cannons to disperse crowds waving Turkish and Palestinian flags and chanting slogans. Protesters toppled barricades and clashed with police in riot gear. Protesters were also seen hurling plastic chairs, rocks, and other items at police, who fired smoke bombs at crowds. Scuffles broke out between the crowds and security forces. IHH President Bulent Yildirim addressed the crowds in Adana and urged them to refrain from attacking police. "Friends, it is wrong to throw rocks or do similar things because both the police and soldiers would want to go to Gaza and fight and they will go when the time comes," he said. "Our rage is huge. We cannot hold it in. But Turkey is doing what it can," he added. IHH ended its rally earlier than planned due to the clashes with police. The rally comes hours before Blinken is expected to arrive in Ankara Monday for talks on Gaza with his Turkish counterpart Hakan Fidan, and after repeated criticism by Ankara toward the West over support for Israel.

Blinken in West Bank Promises Aid, Protection to People of Gaza 

Voice of America’s immigration news - November 5, 2023 - 11:22
LATEST DEVELOPMENTS: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says there will be no cease-fire until the hostages taken by Hamas are returned. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken makes a surprise visit to Israeli-occupied West Bank. Israel says it has hit more than 2,500 terror targets since launching its offensive on Hamas. The World Health Organization documents 102 attacks on health care in the Gaza Strip since October 7. Former Australian and British prime ministers are in Israel to show their “solidarity” with Israel. More than 30 Palestinians were killed and many more wounded in an airstrike on the Al-Maghazi refugee camp late Saturday. Earlier, the Palestinian news agency WAFA reported 51 Palestinians were killed in the strike. Arab foreign ministers press Blinken for a cease-fire during meetings in Amman.   U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas Sunday during an unannounced visit to the West Bank, reaffirming the U.S. commitment to deliver lifesaving humanitarian assistance and resume essential services in Gaza as Israel’s war against Hamas continues. The U.S. secretary also made clear during talks in Ramallah Sunday that Palestinians must not be forcibly displaced, according to State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller. Blinken and Abbas discussed efforts to restore calm and stability in the West Bank, including the need to stop extremist violence against Palestinians and hold those accountable responsible, Miller said. “Secretary Blinken reiterated that the United States remains committed to advancing equal measures of dignity and security for Palestinians and Israelis alike. The secretary also expressed the commitment of the United States to work toward the realization of the Palestinians’ legitimate aspirations for the establishment of a Palestinian state,” Miller added. During the meeting, Abbas demanded an immediate Israeli cease-fire as Gaza's health ministry said dozens died in a strike on a refugee camp overnight. Blinken has called for humanitarian pauses in the conflict, something Israel has rejected so far. Abbas condemned Israel’s bombardment of Gaza as a “genocidal war” and urged Blinken “to immediately stop them from committing such crimes,” the official Palestinian WAFA news agency reported. Blinken’s unannounced visit to the West Bank city of Ramallah followed his meeting Saturday with Arab leaders in Amman, Jordan. He was also expected to visit Turkey. Israel said Sunday that since it launched the war on Hamas on October 7, “over 2,500 terror targets have been struck.” The targets were hit, Israel said, with “the combined activities” of Israel’s ground, air and naval forces. The Israeli military said in the statement posted on its Telegram channel, “Overnight, IDF troops directed aircraft to strike a Hamas military compound containing command and control centers, observation posts, and additional terrorist infrastructure.” The Israeli military campaign against Hamas was launched after the surprise Hamas attack that killed more than 1,400 Israelis. More than 200 people were also taken hostage by the militants. Gaza’s Hamas-run health officials say more than 9,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli military operations. The World Health Organization said in a post on social media that since October 7, it has documented 102 attacks on health care in the Gaza Strip, resulting in “504 fatalities, 459 injuries, damage to 39 facilities and affected 31 ambulances.” The U.N. agency said more than half the health attacks and over half of the targeted hospitals were in Gaza City. Separately, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is suspending Heritage Minister Amihai Eliyahu from Cabinet meetings after Eliyahu said dropping a nuclear bomb on Gaza would be a possibility. Netanyahu said on social media that Eliyahu’s comments were “not based in reality.” Eliyahu is not a participant in Israel’s wartime security Cabinet. Meanwhile, the former prime ministers of Australia and Britain, Scott Morrison and Boris Johnson, were in Israel to show their “solidarity” with Israel and its people. Morrison said Sunday, “I am thankful for the opportunity to join former Prime Minister Johnson to come to Israel as a demonstration of solidarity with the people and state of Israel and the Jewish community throughout the world.” On Saturday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, "We want to see Gaza as a peaceful region that is a part of an independent Palestinian state, in line with 1967 borders, with territorial integrity, and with East Jerusalem as its capital," according to broadcaster Haberturk and others. Ankara also said Saturday it was recalling its ambassador to Israel. Israel recalled its envoys to Turkey last month after Erdogan described Hamas as freedom fighters and said he does not view the group as a terrorist organization, unlike the United States, Britain and others in the West. On Saturday, in Blinken’s meeting with Arab leaders in Amman, Jordan, he was pressed on the need for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza as Israel's military struck a U.N. shelter and school, killing civilians. Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi told reporters Saturday that although he condemned the Hamas attacks of October 7 and that "nobody in their right mind" would belittle the pain felt by Israel that day, the war in Gaza could not be allowed to continue. The Jordanian and Egyptian foreign ministers asked for an immediate cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, but Blinken said that would be counterproductive. Israel Prime Minister Netanyahu has said that will happen only if Israeli hostages are freed. "It is our view now that a cease-fire would simply leave Hamas in place, able to regroup and repeat what it did on October 7," Blinken said, in reference to Hamas' attack on southern Israel that triggered the latest Gaza war. Israeli airstrikes Meanwhile, a Palestinian news agency reported that 51 Palestinians were killed late Saturday when Israel bombarded the Maghazi refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip. The Reuters news agency could not independently verify the WAFA report. The Israeli military did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Such strikes have leveled large areas of northern Gaza neighborhoods. About 300,000 of the area's residents are sheltering in U.N. facilities, one of which was hit Saturday, killing at least 15 people and wounding dozens of others. VOA’s Nike Ching contributed to this report. Some information came from The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.

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Voice of America’s immigration news - November 5, 2023 - 11:00
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Voice of America’s immigration news - November 5, 2023 - 11:00
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Iranian State Media Confirm Meeting between Khamenei, Hamas' Haniyeh in Tehran 

Voice of America’s immigration news - November 5, 2023 - 10:47
Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has met with the leader of Tehran-backed Palestinian group Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, in Tehran, Iranian state media reported on Sunday, a day after a Hamas official said they held a meeting in recent days.   Iranian state media said Haniyeh, who has resided between Qatar and Turkey since 2019, "briefed Khamenei on the latest developments in the Gaza Strip and the crimes of the Zionist regime in Gaza, as well as the developments in the West Bank."   The Islamic Republic says it supports Hamas but did not play any role in the militants' surprise attack on Israel last month.   "Ayatollah Khamenei praised the steadfastness and resilience of the people of Gaza and expressed strong regret over the crimes of the Zionist regime, supported directly by Washington and some Western countries," Iran's state TV said.  Without elaborating when the meeting took place, Iran's Tasnim news agency said the country's top authority Khamenei "emphasized Tehran's consistent policy of supporting the Palestinian resistance forces against the Zionist occupiers."  Iran's clerical establishment has warned Israel, which it refuses to recognize, of "harsh consequences" if attacks continue on the Gaza Strip.  

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Voice of America’s immigration news - November 5, 2023 - 10:00
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German Police Say Hostage Situation at Hamburg Airport Is Over

Voice of America’s immigration news - November 5, 2023 - 09:56
The hostage situation at Hamburg Airport ended Sunday afternoon, around 18 hours after a man drove his vehicle through the gates of the airport with his 4-year-old daughter inside, authorities said. The man was arrested and the girl appears to be unharmed. Hamburg police tweeted that "the hostage situation is over. The suspect has left the car with his daughter. ... The child appears to be unharmed."  Police also said that "the man was arrested by the emergency services without resistance."  The airport in the northern German city had been closed to passengers and flights canceled since Saturday night when the man, who was armed, broke through an airport gate with his vehicle and fired twice into the air with a weapon, according to German news agency dpa. The man drove the vehicle just outside a terminal building and parked it under a plane.  Authorities said the man's wife had previously contacted them about a child abduction.  Police said that the 35-year-old man had his 4-year-old daughter inside the car whom he had reportedly taken by force from the mother in a possible custody battle.  A psychologist has been negotiating with the man for 18 hours. Nobody was injured during the standoff since all passengers had evacuated the airport, police said.  The mother of the abducted girl also arrived at the airport on Sunday morning and was getting psychological support, German news agency dpa reported.  A pediatrician also arrived at the airport to look after the girl once the hostage-taking is over, dpa reported.  More than 100 flights were canceled and several planes were rerouted. Thousands of travelers have been affected by the standoff and hundreds were put up at hotels close by.

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Voice of America’s immigration news - November 5, 2023 - 09:00
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Voice of America’s immigration news - November 5, 2023 - 09:00
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Pope Urges 'Stop in The Name of God', Calls for Gaza Humanitarian Aid 

Voice of America’s immigration news - November 5, 2023 - 08:03
Pope Francis made an urgent plea for a halt to the conflict in Gaza on Sunday, calling for humanitarian aid and help for those injured in order to ease the "very grave" situation.  "I keep thinking about the grave situation in Palestine and Israel where many people have lost their life. I pray you to stop in the name of god, cease the fire," he said, speaking to crowds in St Peter's Square after his weekly Angelus prayer.  "I hope that all will be done to avoid the conflict from widening, that the injured will be rescued and aid will arrive to the population of Gaza, where the humanitarian situation is very grave," he said.  The pontiff renewed his calls for a ceasefire and for the release of hostages taken by Hamas during its Oct. 7 attack, focusing on the children, who he said "must return to their families."  "Let's think about the children, all the children involved in this war, like in Ukraine and in other conflicts, their future is being killed," he added.  Francis, 86, has already called for the creation of humanitarian corridors and has said a two-state solution was needed to put an end to the Israel-Hamas war.  A Gaza health official said on Sunday more than 9,770 Palestinians have been killed in the war, which began when Hamas fighters launched a surprise attack on southern Israel, killing 1,400 people and taking more than 240 others hostage.  The pope said that his prayers we also addressed to the Nepal earthquake victims, Afghan refugees and the victims in Italy's floods. 

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Voice of America’s immigration news - November 5, 2023 - 08:00
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Voice of America’s immigration news - November 5, 2023 - 07:00
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Moldovans Cast Ballots in Local Elections Amid Claims of Russian Meddling

Voice of America’s immigration news - November 5, 2023 - 06:57
Moldovans are casting ballots in nationwide local elections on Sunday amid claims by Moldovan authorities that Russia has been conducting “hybrid warfare” to undermine the vote in the European Union candidate country. While local elections in Moldova, a country of about 2.5 million people situated between Romania and Ukraine, would not usually garner much international attention, ongoing accusations of Russian meddling add a geopolitical dimension to the vote. Sunday’s ballot will elect nearly 900 mayors and 11,000 local councilors for a four-year term, including key positions such as mayor of the capital, Chisinau. The ballot will be monitored by around 1,500 national and international observers. Two days ahead of the election, Moldova’s Prime Minister Dorin Recean announced a ban on candidates from the pro-Russia Chance Party, which came after Moldova’s national intelligence agency published a report Friday alleging that Russia was trying to “influence the electoral process” via the party. About 600 candidates will be affected. “We are protecting the Republic of Moldova from a well-organized network of criminals. An organized criminal group is removed from the elections, not a political party,” Recean said on Friday during a press briefing. The Intelligence and Security Service, SIS, alleged in its 32-page report that the Chance Party had received about 50 million euros ($53 million) of Russian money, which was channeled by exiled Moldovan oligarch Ilan Shor and used to destabilize the country and “buy” voters in Sunday's election. Shor, who resides in Israel and was sentenced in absentia in April to 15 years in jail on fraud charges, reacted to the party’s ban in a Facebook post, calling it an “unprecedented, illegal, raiding power grab” and providing a list of alternative candidate endorsements. Addressing the party's ban on Sunday in Chisinau, Moldovan President Maia Sandu told reporters that “elections are about democracy and compliance with the law. Those who do not follow the law, bribe voters, use illegal money — do not meet democratic standards.” Cristian Cantir, a Moldovan associate professor of international relations at Oakland University, said that although Sunday’s election is “very much about local issues” they are “also important geopolitically.” “Moldova continues to be a very polarized country from a geopolitical standpoint,” he told The Associated Press. “The debate is going to really hinge on pro-EU and anti-EU messaging.” Cantir added that the “pretty damning” SIS report contained “a lot of evidence suggesting that Shor in particular has been working with the Kremlin to undermine the electoral process.” In late October, Moldovan authorities blocked dozens of Russian media sites including major ones such as Russia Today, accusing them of running “disinformation campaigns” against Moldova. Days later, six local TV stations allegedly linked to Shor and another exiled oligarch, Vladimir Plahotniuc, had their broadcast licenses suspended on the grounds that they were also conducting disinformation campaigns geared toward “influencing the local elections” and “promoting geopolitical narratives” in favor of Russia. Both Shor and Plahotniuc were added to sanctions lists last year by the United States and the United Kingdom. Since Russia invaded Ukraine last year, non-NATO member Moldova has faced a protracted string of problems, including a severe energy crisis after Moscow dramatically reduced gas supplies last winter, skyrocketing inflation, and several incidents of missile debris found on its territory from the war in neighboring Ukraine. Shor was the head of the Russia-friendly Shor Party, which was declared unconstitutional in June by Moldova’s Constitutional Court. That decision came after the party held monthslong protests against the pro-Western government, which accused the party of trying to destabilize the country. In February, President Sandu outlined an alleged plot by Moscow to overthrow Moldova’s government to put the nation “at the disposal of Russia,” and to derail it from its course to one day joining the EU, claims Russia denied. Moldova, a former Soviet Republic, was granted EU candidate status in June last year, the same day as Ukraine. “Russia has always been trying to undermine democratic elections in Moldova, particularly in an effort to derail European integration aspirations,” Cantir said. “We’ll see to what extent they’ve been successful.”  

Singapore PM Says Succession to Happen Before Next Election

Voice of America’s immigration news - November 5, 2023 - 06:56
Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced Sunday he will hand over power to a younger generation of leaders before the 2025 general elections. Lee, 71, had planned to step down by 2022, before his 70th birthday, and hand the reins to his deputy, Lawrence Wong. But that was postponed as Lee said he had to lead Singapore through the coronavirus crisis. In a speech to members of his People's Action Party (PAP) on Sunday, Lee said Wong and his team had "earned their spurs" during the pandemic and "there is no reason to delay the political transition." "Therefore, I intend to hand over to DPM Lawrence before the next general election," Lee said. "After that, I will be at the new PM's disposal. I will go wherever he thinks I can be useful. I will do my best to help him and his team to fight and win the next GE," he said. Lee, who has been prime minister since 2004, did not say exactly when he would hand over to Wong, 50, the current finance minister. "If all goes well, I will hand over by the PAP's 70th birthday next year," Lee said, referring to the party's founding anniversary in November 2024. If Wong takes over, it would be only the second time since Singapore's independence in 1965 that the prime minister is not a member of the Lee family.  Lee Hsien Loong's father, Lee Kuan Yew, was the country's first prime minister.  A visibly emotional Lee told party members that it had been his "great fortune and honor" to serve the country for his entire adult life. Lee said the party had been "utterly transformed, shaped by our many trials and tribulations." But he said it remained "dedicated to Singapore" and  keeping the island "safe and secure," which would not change under the next generation of leaders. A series of rare scandals have rocked the ruling party recently. The scandals, which officials admit have hurt the government's reputation for incorruptibility, included the transport minister being probed for corruption and two ruling party legislators resigning over an affair.

Report: Bangladesh Arrests 8,000 Opposition Activists

Voice of America’s immigration news - November 5, 2023 - 06:43
Bangladesh police have arrested nearly 8,000 opposition figures in a nationwide crackdown since officers broke up a major rally in the capital a week ago, a report said Sunday. The sweeping wave of detentions comes ahead of a general election due in January. The country's major opposition, Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), and its allies have been staging giant rallies in recent months demanding Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina step down and allow a neutral government to supervise the vote.  Hasina has overseen impressive growth in her 15 years of power, but she has been accused of ruling the South Asian nation with an iron fist. The United States has imposed sanctions on some of its most senior police figures for widespread human rights violations. More than 100,000 opposition supporters joined a "grand rally" in central Dhaka last Saturday, when a policeman was killed in clashes. Since then police have launched a widespread crackdown on the BNP, arresting thousands of activists and accusing at least 162 of its top leaders of murdering the officer. The country's best-read and most respected newspaper Prothom Alo reported Sunday that at least 7,835 people had been held, based on reports from its correspondents across the country. National police spokesman Abir Siddique Shuvra, could not give AFP an exact number of detentions, but said those arrested faced criminal cases and warrants.  "It is impossible to give an exact figure. Police are doing our regular work," he said. The Dhaka Metropolitan Police previously said that it had arrested more than 2,100 people over charges of violence since last Saturday. According to the BNP, those detained include its top official in Bangladesh, Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, and his number two Amir Khosru Mahmud Chowdhury.  On Sunday the country's Rapid Action Battalion, arrested BNP vice president Altaf Hossain Chowdhury, a former home minister and air force chief. The arrests came as BNP has enforced a new 48-hour long nationwide transport blockade as part of its new anti-government protests, bringing inter-city bus and lorry transport almost to a halt. At least 11 buses were torched over the weekend, a fire service spokesman said.  Police say that as well as the officer, at least four people have been killed since last Saturday, while according to the BNP at least nine of its activists have died and more than 3,000 been injured. The resurgent opposition has been mounting protests against Hasina since September last year, despite its ailing chairperson Khaleda Zia being effectively under house arrest since her release from prison after a conviction on corruption charges. Hasina's ruling Awami League dominates the legislature in Bangladesh and runs it virtually as a rubber stamp. Her security forces are accused of detaining tens of thousands of opposition activists, killing hundreds in extrajudicial encounters and disappearing hundreds of leaders and supporters. 

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Voice of America’s immigration news - November 5, 2023 - 06:00
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