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Nechama Rivlin, Israeli First Lady, Dies at 73

Voice of America - Wed, 06/05/2019 - 05:35
Israel is mourning first lady Nechama Rivlin, who died Tuesday months after a lung transplant. She was 73 years old and was a frequent presence beside her husband, President Reuven Rivlin, despite her illness. Nechama Rivlin was born in an Israeli farming community. Her parents emigrated from Ukraine. She married the lawyer and future president in 1971 and was known as a popular first lady whose interests focused on the arts, the environment and children with special...
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Celebrating Eid al-Fitr With Message of Peace

Voice of America - Wed, 06/05/2019 - 03:35
Muslims around the world are marking the end of Ramadan, the month of fasting, with the festival of Eid al-Fitr, a community celebration of food and fellowship. For a mosque in California, the festival conveys a message of hope to persecuted minorities and those who suffer because of their religion.
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Media Repression on the Rise in 'Free' Countries

Voice of America - Wed, 06/05/2019 - 03:34
Global press freedom is on the decline, including in countries that have long been determined to be "free." Freedom House, an independent watchdog organization, reports that new forms of media repression and manipulation are spreading in traditionally open societies, from Central Europe to the United States, where it cited "new and are very worrying" attacks on journalists and media outlets by the Trump administration. VOA’s Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
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Iran Vows to Keep Missile Program, Rejects US Offer to Negotiate

Voice of America - Tue, 06/04/2019 - 21:37
Iran's Supreme Leader says his country will not give up its missile program after the United States said last week it is willing to negotiate with Iran. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a speech on state television Tuesday "this political trick will not deceive Iranian officials and the Iranian nation." Khamenei's comments were made on the 30th anniversary of the death of Islamic Republic of Iran founder Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and one week after U.S. President...
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WFP: Growing Violence Destroys Vital Crops, Farmland in NW Syria

Voice of America - Tue, 06/04/2019 - 21:18
The World Food Program says escalating violence has destroyed crops and farmland in Idlib and North Hama in northwest Syria, depriving thousands of people of food.  Dozens of people reportedly have been killed and wounded and at least 300,000 forced to flee their homes since the latest outbreak of fighting last month between Russian-backed Syrian forces and rebel armed groups.  World Food Program spokesman Herve Verhoosel says other casualties of the war are the thousands of...
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Baghdad's Green Zone Reopens to the Public

Voice of America - Tue, 06/04/2019 - 19:35
Iraqi security officials say Baghdad's Green Zone area, the heavily fortified strip on the west bank of the Tigris River, is now open to the public around the clock. Maj. Gen. Jassim Yahya Abd Ali tells The Associated Press that the area that houses the U.S. Embassy and Iraqi government offices is now open "twenty-four hours a day without any exceptions or conditions."   The area was closed to the public since the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq to topple dictator Saddam...
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Israeli President Reuven Rivlin's Wife Nechama Dies at 73

Voice of America - Tue, 06/04/2019 - 18:06
Nechama Rivlin, the wife of Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, has died. She was 73. The president's office announced Tuesday she had passed away of lung failure, three months after receiving a transplant. Nechama Rivlin had been ill for years, but still regularly appeared in public alongside her husband with a mobile oxygen device. The Israeli presidency is a mostly ceremonial role. Nechama Rivlin was a popular first lady who focused on the arts, the environment and children with...
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Libyan Coast Guard Intercepts Some 100 Europe-Bound Migrants

Voice of America - Tue, 06/04/2019 - 17:51
Libya's coast guard says it has intercepted a boat carrying nearly 100 Europe-bound migrants, including women and children, off the country's Mediterranean coast. Spokesman Ayoub Gassim said Tuesday that the rubber vessel had 92 African and Bengali migrants, including 11 women and four children. They were intercepted Monday off the coast of the western town of Garaboli, 60 kilometers (37 miles) east of the capital, Tripoli. He says the migrants were given humanitarian and...
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Iran Sends Journalist to Notorious Prison, Jails Another for 2 Years

Voice of America - Tue, 06/04/2019 - 06:33
This article originated in VOA’s Persian Service. Iran has taken new steps against two detained journalists who covered domestic labor unrest and government corruption, sending one to a notorious women’s prison and sentencing another to a two-year jail term. Two human rights groups said Iranian journalist Sepideh Ghaliyan, who covered labor issues in the southwestern city of Ahvaz, was transferred to Qarchak women’s prison near Tehran on Monday. She previously had been detained in...
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Syrian Government Bombs Market, Ignoring Trump Warning

Voice of America - Mon, 06/03/2019 - 20:55
Government forces in Syria have bombed a market in the country's northwest, killing at least four civilians, hours after U.S. President Donald Trump demanded Syria, Russia and Iran stop "bombing the hell out of Idlib province in Syria." The airstrike Monday hit a public market in the town of Maaret al-Naman in Idlib province, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Video of the aftermath of the bombing shows residents along with the opposition...
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Attorney, Rights Defender Sentenced to 30 Years, Flogging in Iran

Voice of America - Mon, 06/03/2019 - 20:30
An Iranian lawyer has been jailed for 30 years after setting up a channel on the popular social media platform Telegram, highlighting human rights abuses in the Islamic Republic. Amir Salar Davoudi was convicted by a revolutionary court for “propaganda against the state” and “insulting officials” and is set to be flogged 111 times. According to his lawyer Vahid Farahani, Davoudi was also accused of “collaborating with an enemy state” after giving an interview to Voice of America...
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Pompeo Voices Skepticism About US Mideast Peace Prospects

Voice of America - Mon, 06/03/2019 - 17:59
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is voicing skepticism about the prospects for the Trump administration's long-delayed Israeli-Palestinian peace plan even before it is disclosed. The top U.S. diplomat told a closed-door meeting with Jewish leaders last week that he understands why "people think this is going to be a deal that only the Israelis could love" and that there are "no guarantees" that the U.S. will succeed in brokering a peace agreement to end decades...
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Iraq Sentences Last 2 French IS Members to Death

Voice of America - Mon, 06/03/2019 - 15:38
An Iraqi judicial official says a Baghdad court has sentenced to death two more French nationals convicted of being members of the Islamic State group.   The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations, said the two are Murad Mohammed Mustafa , 41, and Bilal Abdel-Fattah, 32.   They are among 12 French IS members who were arrested by the U.S.-backed Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces and transferred from Syria to Iraqi custody in...
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Kushner: Palestinians Deserve Self-Determination But Uncertain They Can Govern Themselves

Voice of America - Mon, 06/03/2019 - 06:42
White House senior adviser Jared Kushner said in an interview broadcast on Sunday that the Palestinians deserve "self-determination," but stopped short of backing Palestinian statehood and expressed uncertainty over their ability to govern themselves. Kushner, President Donald Trump's son-in-law and an architect of the White House's yet-to-be-released Middle East peace plan, told the "Axios on HBO" television program it would be a "high bar" when...
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Trump Tweets to Syria and its Allies Stop 'Bombing The Hell Out of Idlib'

Voice of America - Mon, 06/03/2019 - 03:45
President Donald Trump is demanding Syria, Russia and Iran stop "bombing the hell out of Idlib province in Syria." Trump said in a late Sunday tweet that the bombings are "indiscriminately killing many innocent civilians." "The world is watching this butchery. What is the purpose? What will it get you? STOP!" he wrote. Trump, in comments to reporters at the White House Sunday, also noted his call last year for Syria and its allies to avoid an...
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Syria: Israeli Strike on Airbase Kills 1, Wounds 2

Voice of America - Mon, 06/03/2019 - 03:15
An Israeli airstrike on a Syrian airbase killed one soldier, wounded two others, and destroyed an arms depot, Syrian state media reported. The attack on the T4 airbase in central Homs province came hours after Israeli airstrikes on the Golan Heights in southern Syria. Israel did not comment on the attack on the airbase, but said its strikes in Golan were a response to Saturday night rocket fire into Israel from Syria. "We will not tolerate firing into our territory and will...
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Syrian War Monitor: Car Bomb Kills 14 in Azaz

Voice of America - Mon, 06/03/2019 - 01:37
A car bomb blast in Syria's pro-Turkish rebel-held city of Azaz killed at least 14 people Sunday and wounded more than 20, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says. Witnesses tell the monitor the bomb went off as people were leaving a mosque after evening prayers and meal breaking the daily Ramadan fast. No one has claimed responsibility for the blast, which also burned or blew out the windows of more than a dozen nearby stores. The area has been the target of several other...
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Pompeo:US 'Ready' for Conversation With Iran

Voice of America - Mon, 06/03/2019 - 00:15
The Trump administration remains focused on Iran and says it is ready for a dialogue with the country’s leadership. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where, ahead of last week’s congressional recess, U.S. lawmakers were briefed on heightened dangers Iran allegedly poses across the Middle East.
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Iraqi Court Sentences 2 French IS Members to Death

Voice of America - Sun, 06/02/2019 - 18:03
A court in Baghdad has sentenced two French citizens to death for being members of the extremist group Islamic State (IS), prosecutors said on June 2. The new sentences raise the number of French citizens sentenced to death over the past two weeks to nine. Those sentenced are among a group of 12 French citizens who were detained by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces in neighboring Syria and handed over to Iraq in January. France has said it would do all it can to spare the...
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Pompeo: US Willing to Talk to Iran With 'No Preconditions'

Voice of America - Sun, 06/02/2019 - 17:20
The United States is willing to hold unconditional talks with Iran to ease tensions between the two countries, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday, but Tehran held out little hope for new negotiations.  "We are prepared to engage in a conversation with no preconditions. We are ready to sit down with them," Pompeo said at a news conference in Switzerland. But the top U.S. diplomat added that "the American effort to fundamentally reverse the malign activity of...
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