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Press Release has 41 articles published.

Meşelik: University shooting, 4 killed

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A research assistant at a university killed 4 people on the Meşelik campus of Eskişehir Osmangazi University at around 3:00 p.m. The research assistant, Volkan Bayar, 37, killed deputy dean Mikail Yalçın, faculty secretary Fatih Özmutlu, research assistant Yasin Armağan and lecturer Serdar Çağlak at the education faculty of the university. The university’s rector Hasan Gönen said there had already been an ongoing investigation into Bayar. Bayar had accused some academics of being a member of FETÖ and investigation was ongoing but he was on duty. The dean was probably his target. There may have been verbal discussions with the dean before. Ayşe Aypay, who had a conflict with the assailant, said they had filed a complaint about him many times and they have filed a petition to the [Education] Ministry’s Council of Higher Education [YÖK] and the presidency has retained it. The attack sparked panic at the university and university officials announced that faculty exams were canceled. Meanwhile, the assailant surrendered and was detained by police following the attack. There was no indication of the assailant’s motive, describing him as a research fellow at the university working in the education faculty. Police took him for questioning. 

Report: Facebook data scandal linked to the 2016 Duterte’s election

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A London-based behavioral research and strategic communication company assisted President Rodrigo Duterte’s victory in the May 2016 national elections, according to SCMP report. Strategic Communications Laboratories or SCL Group, the parent company of Cambridge Analytica, helped portray Duterte as a “strong, no-nonsense man of action” on social media, according to a report from South China Morning Post. The London-based company has removed the content but SCMP posted an archived version of the report. “SCL used the cross-cutting issue of crime to rebrand the client as a strong, no-nonsense man of action, who would appeal to the true values of the voters,” it added. The web content, however, did not identify Duterte as its Philippine client but the brief pointed to the former Davao City mayor. Late last year, Facebook faced criticism for sending out teams to train politicians around the world, including Duterte, on how to use the platform as a campaign tool. Malacañang, however, has shrugged off reports linking Facebook to Duterte’s presidential campaign. “All candidates did so, unfortunately for his detractors, President Duterte appeared to have been the best candidate who utilized Facebook the most,” Roque said. 

Government won’t remove CPP-NPA terror tag

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The Duterte administration will withdraw the court petition seeking to declare the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and New People’s Army (NPA) as terrorist groups only when a peace agreement is signed, Malacañang said yesterday. Last November, Duterte scrapped the talks with the communists, accusing them of bad faith by attacking security forces and civilians while negotiations were ongoing and about 600 persons, including communist peace consultants, were declared as terrorists. Now Duterte has authorized the resumption of peace talks subject to certain conditions like the forging of a ceasefire agreement and stopping the collection of the so-called revolutionary tax. Meantime, CPP founding chairman Jose Ma. Sison, on the other hand, said they are willing to return to the negotiating table and “to meet as soon as possible” but said both sides should “bring different positions on issues to the table in order to thresh out the differences and arrive at agreements.” Roque said the President is also willing to grant Sison an assurance that he can come home without being arrested so he can join the negotiations, and said former Pangasinan representative Hernani Braganza has been instructed to meet with communist negotiators to relay the information to them. If the talks resume, communist peace consultants would again enjoy immunity from arrest, Roque added. However, security operations against the rebels would continue until a ceasefire deal is forged. The government peace panel is set to reconvene today to discuss preparations for the resumption of peace negotiations with the communist rebels. 

Kaduna: new infrastructure master plan 2018-2050

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The Kaduna State Government says it will require up to 65.5 billion dollars to address the state’s infrastructure challenges over the next 30 years. Governor Nasir El-Rufa’i stated this on Wednesday at the unveiling of the infrastructure master plan, 2018-2050, during the 3rd edition of the state investment forum in Kaduna. He stressed that the long term infrastructure master plan summarised the infrastructure target of the state aimed at providing job opportunities and making lives better for the people. 

The transportation sector which would require N8 trillion while N5.1 billion would be required annually in the education sector to build about 9,006 schools including tertiary institutions. “Other sectors include, the health system which would require N158 billion, while N100 billion yearly is targeted for the water sector; agriculture would require N53 billion, and 5,000 housing units would be developed annually all within the time frame of 2018-2050,’’ the governor said. 

According to him, the administration had attracted investments into the state in the last two years, with 79 percent coming from outside the country. “Due to the low percentage of domestic investment, we have decided to focus more on domestic investment, we need to attract businesses in Kaduna by providing skilled workforce […] to encourage domestic investment in the state, government’s first priority is to build human capital by engaging in different activities where the young people are willing to be employed in businesses.’’ 

Military exercises for crisis situations in Montenegro

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At the Podgorica airport, a military exercise involving a hijacking of an aircraft showed that Montenegrin institutions are ready to react promptly to incidents. This was the most complex and demanding exercise in the illegal interference of civil aviation in which a large number of participants and competent state authorities were engaged. The aim of the exercise is to train and verify the system of notification and coordination of activities between the competent authorities and institutions, to check the quality of the adopted legislation and plans and procedures in case of hijack. The president of the National Committee for Civil Aviation Security, Dragan Đurović, assessed that the exercise was successful and showed a high level of compliance of all entities that are activated in such crisis situations. He stated that this is another confirmation of the high standards of civil aviation safety that the European Commission has confirmed to be in line with the standards of EU member states. 

JUFREX: reform in the Montenegrin media sector

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Recommendations for further reform in the Montenegrin media sector were presented within the project funded by the European Union and implemented by the Council of Europe. As part of the Reinforcing Judicial Expertise on Freedom of Expression and the Media in South-East Europe (JUFREX), a group of independent experts was in Montenegro to conduct a detailed analysis of the media sector. It resulted that Montenegro should implement 67 recommendations, which should help the country formulate a national media policy. Some of the topics analyzed include state aid rules, copyright issues, media self-regulation, and freedom of speech in the digital age. Plamena Halacheva, Acting EU Ambassador to Montenegro and Head of the Political Section at the EU Delegation, stated that this is yet another opportunity to emphasize that media freedom is an unquestionable condition for any candidate country on its path to EU membership and an important indicator of functioning rule of law. Indeed, freedom of expression and freedom of the media are the basic elements of key chapter 23, one of the final negotiating chapters. Director General for EU Accession in the Ministry of European Affairs, Jelena Burzan, affirmed that Montenegro, with its work and results in the negotiation process, showed that it is serious in its intention to continuously improve the legislative and institutional framework in this area and to encourage further development in all spheres of society. 

Tripartite summit of Iran, Russia and Turkey

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After a tripartite summit in Ankara, the Turkish, Russian and Iranian presidents stressed their joint resolve to oppose separatism as well as the use of terrorism as an excuse for changing Syria. The statement followed a two-hour closed-door meeting among Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. They emphasized their strong and continued commitment to Syria’s sovereignty, independence, unity, territorial integrity and non-sectarian character. In the statement, they “expressed their determination to stand against separatist agendas aimed at undermining the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria as well as the national security of neighboring countries.” The leaders “expressed their conviction that there could be no military solution to the Syrian conflict and that the conflict could be ended only through a negotiated political process.” 

They believe in an agreement to form a Constitutional Committee, supported by the UN Secretary-General and the international community. They reiterated “the necessity to assist the Syrians in restoring the unity of their country and in achieving a political solution of the ongoing conflict through an inclusive, free, fair and transparent Syrian-led and Syrian-owned process based on the free will of the Syrian people and leading to a constitution enjoying the support of the Syrian people, and free and fair elections with the participation of all eligible Syrians under appropriate UN supervision”. The presidents also reaffirmed their determination to continue their active cooperation on Syria for the achievement of a lasting cease-fire. The three countries will continue cooperation in the fight against terrorism and their efforts to ensure calm on the ground and protect civilians in the de-escalation areas. They stressed that the creation of de-escalation areas was temporary as provided for under a May 2017 memorandum. The statement also took note of developments on Syria since their previous meeting last November in Sochi. 

EU to send a technical team for visa exemption

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Turkey’s EU Minister Ömer Çelik told members of the Turkish Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee that EU will send a technical team to Turkey for agreement on the proposal for granting a visa exemption. The technical team to be deployed to Ankara will officially discuss the content of the Turkish proposals, which include an amendment on the anti-terror law and the data protection law. The visa liberalization process had to delay because of the problems between Ankara and Brussels. In fact, countries like Germany, Austria and Netherlands have sharpened their position against the Turkish accession, with the new government in Vienna openly calling to end accession talks. The EU minister slammed recent remarks from Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who called on the EU to end accession negations with Turkey. In the meantime, the Turkish EU minister will travel to Paris on April 4 for talks with French Foreign Minister Jean Yves Le Drian and France’s EU Minister Nathalie Loiseau in Paris. During the meeting, they will talk about recent developments in Turkey-EU relations, bilateral ties, as well as regional developments. Turkey blasted Macron’s meeting with the YPG delegation at the French presidency last week, as well as his offer to mediate between Ankara and the Syrian Kurdish group. Turkey considers the YPG a terrorist organization due to its links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). 

PH assumes chairmanship of ASEAN’s nuclear program

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Being the representative of the country, Philippine Energy Undersecretary Donato D. Marcos has been elected recently in Malaysia as chairman of the Nuclear Energy Cooperation Sub-Sector Network (NEC-SSN) under the auspices of the ASEAN Energy Cooperation. Marcos explained that the strategic thrusts of the NEC-SSN shall include “building capabilities in policy, technology and regulatory aspects of nuclear energy as an option for the future in the ASEAN region” and “the Philippines will lead the implementation of NEC-SSN’s work program for 2018-2019.” The Philippines is among the countries in the region keenly advancing its “nuclear renaissance” aspiration, not just with the planned re-powering of the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) but even with the deployment of new nuclear technologies, including the floating modular nuclear facilities that are ideal for off-grid areas. The country is currently at its nuclear policy fine-tuning phase, and the next step as previously indicated by Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi shall be to present the national roadmap to President Rodrigo Duterte. 

Duterte orders 6-month closure of Boracay

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During a Cabinet meeting, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque told to reporters on Wednesday that President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the closure of Boracay, a world-famous tourist destination, for 6 months, starting on April 26. The recommendation to close Boracay from tourists for 6 months – or until October – came from the Department of the Interior and Local Government. Duterte announced his intention to “close” Boracay last February 10, angered by environmental violations by commercial establishments that he thinks turned the popular tourist destination into a “cesspool.” This could mean non-residents would be physically barred from entering the island. But the Department of Trade and Industry had suggested implementing the closure in phases. Boracay stakeholders had said that closing the island for a year would take away the jobs of 36,000 people and would mean foregone revenues of P56 billion. The National Economic and Development Authority, however, said a 6-month closure of the tourist area would have minimal impact on the economy. 

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