What appears to be the deadliest terror attack in Britain since 2005, took place Monday night. An attacker set off a bomb at a concert — leaving more than 20 people dead and more than 50 injured.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2017/05/23/529649405/many-children-are-among-the-dead-in-manchester-arena-suicide-attack?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

A woman speaks with police officers after bringing flowers close to the area where a bombing struck outside the Manchester Arena Monday night.

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A woman speaks with police officers after bringing flowers close to the area where a bombing struck outside the Manchester Arena Monday night.

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Updated at 9:15 a.m. ET

A bombing at the end of an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, has killed 22 people and injured 59 more, police say. Monday night’s concert had drawn thousands of children and young people — many of whom were trying to leave when the blast hit. Authorities say it was a terrorist attack, carried out by a man who died at Manchester Arena.

Into Tuesday morning, parents were still trying to determine the status of their loved ones who were at the show. From Manchester, NPR’s Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson reports, “There’s still a lot of chaos here, because some of the concert-goers haven’t been found.”

Police have learned the name of the man they believe detonated the explosive, but they’re not yet releasing it. They say they’re working on whether he had help or support in carrying out the attack.

At least one arrest has been made: Around noon local time Tuesday, the Greater Manchester Police said, “With regards to last night’s incident at the Manchester arena, we can confirm we have arrested a 23-year-old man in South Manchester.”

ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack, via a statement issued Tuesday that also promises more bloodshed, according to the SITE extremist monitor. It’s not yet known what kind of ties the bomber may have had with the group.

Here’s a roundup of the latest information and the facts that have been gathered so far:

The Attack

The explosion struck the area between Manchester Arena and the adjacent Victoria Train Station; police say the first report came in at 10:33 p.m. — a time that seems to have been chosen because it meant crowds of concert-goers were starting to head home from the arena, which seats around 21,000.

After the large blast struck, chaos took over at the arena (see last night’s story).

“A bang went off and everyone stopped and screamed. … We basically hit the deck,” witness Josh Elliott told BBC Radio 5 Live. “It was bedlam … it was horrific. We got up when we thought it was safe and got out as quickly as possible. People were just crying and in tears. … Police cars were everywhere.”

The morning after the bombing, emergency response personnel were still working in the area of the attack, the police say, urging people to stay away from the arena.

On Tuesday morning, a security alert prompted an evacuation at the city’s Arndale shopping center, further rattling nerves in Manchester. Police say a man was arrested, adding, “This is not currently believed to connected to last night’s attacks.”

The Investigation

In addition to the arrest, police said Tuesday that they’ve “executed warrants, one in Whalley Range, and one in Fallowfield, where a controlled explosion took place.” Those areas are next to one another, roughly 5 miles south of Manchester Arena. No further information was released about the activity.

More than 240 calls were made to police immediately after the blast, and now investigators are asking people who were at the concert to share images and footage from the scene, if they believe it can help their investigation.

“The attacker, I can confirm, died at the arena,” Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said at a news conference. “We believe the attacker was carrying an improvised explosive device which he detonated causing this atrocity.”

More than 400 officers are working on the investigation, Manchester police say.

A terrorist bomber struck in the center of Manchester, police say, in the area between the exits of Manchester Arena and the Victoria transit station.

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A terrorist bomber struck in the center of Manchester, police say, in the area between the exits of Manchester Arena and the Victoria transit station.

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“The bombing marks the 12th deadly terrorist attack in Western Europe since the beginning of 2015,” NPR’s national security correspondent Greg Myre reports, “and overall, more than 300 people have been killed. ISIS has been linked to most of the attacks.”

The Victims

Police say 22 people died, and 59 were injured. The wounded were taken to eight different hospitals in the Manchester area. Prime Minister Theresa May said, “we know that among those killed and injured were many children and young people.”

The concert had drawn Ariana Grande fans from a wide area across Northern England and Scotland, NPR’s Frank Langfitt reports. He says parents who had dropped teenagers off at the show have been scrambling for information; police have posted a phone number for people to check on the status of their loved ones.

“It would appear that this was targeting kids,” Frank says, “and I cannot remember something recently like that actually happening.” He added, “It feels different.”

The attack is the deadliest terrorist strike in the U.K. since suicide bombings hit London’s Underground train stations in July of 2005. More than 50 people died in that coordinated assault.

The Response

“All acts of terrorism are cowardly attacks on innocent people,” Prime Minister Theresa May said, “but this attack stands out for its appalling, sickening cowardice – deliberately targeting innocent, defenseless children and young people who should have been enjoying one of the most memorable nights of their lives.”

“The threat level remains at severe,” May said after holding an emergency Cabinet meeting Tuesday. She added that she will be visiting Manchester today.

U.K. Home Secretary Amber Rudd said, “This was a barbaric attack, deliberately targeting some of the most vulnerable in our society – young people and children out at a pop concert.”

Ariana Grande tweeted: “broken. from the bottom of my heart, i am so so sorry. i don’t have words.”

President Donald Trump, speaking during his trip to Bethlehem, offered prayers for Manchester, saying, “We stand in absolute solidarity with the people of the United Kingdom.”

The president added:

“So many young, beautiful innocent people living and enjoying their lives murdered by evil losers in life. I won’t call them monsters because they would like that term. They would think that’s a great name. I will call them from now on losers, because that’s what they are. They’re losers. And we’ll have more of them. But they’re losers. Just remember that.”

Reactions In Manchester

“We are grieving today, but we are strong,” Mayor Andy Burnham said Tuesday morning. The city will host a vigil in its Albert Square at 6 p.m. (local time).

British education officials say that because the attacks could have wide effects at schools, teachers should take the trauma and reaction into account when they decide whether to hold exams.

The attack sparked a “high response” from people wanting to donate blood, prompting the National Health Service to say, “We have all the blood required at the present time.” The agency had initially asked for potential donors to register — but it then cut off new registrations, again citing an overwhelming response.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/05/23/529648436/manchester-concert-bombing-what-we-know-tuesday?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Officials will decide whether to extend temporary protected status to 50,000 Haitians in the U.S. Steve Inskeep talks Marleine Bastien of Haitian Women of Miami about the potential impact on families.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2017/05/22/529467093/to-decide-whether-to-renew-haitians-protected-status?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

President Donald Trump gives a speech as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right), Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and his wife Nehama, first lady Melania Trump and the prime minister’s wife Sara Netanyahu (left) listen during a welcome ceremony at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv on Monday.

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President Donald Trump gives a speech as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right), Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and his wife Nehama, first lady Melania Trump and the prime minister’s wife Sara Netanyahu (left) listen during a welcome ceremony at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv on Monday.

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President Trump has landed in Israel for the second leg of his 9-day trip abroad, which started in Saudi Arabia and will end in Italy.

Trump’s flight to Israel was more notable than most Air Force One landings: His trip from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to Tel Aviv, Israel, is believed to be the first ever direct flight between the two countries, which do not have diplomatic relations.

One Israeli Airport Authority spokesman told The Associated Press he didn’t know of any direct flights from Saudi Arabia ever landing in Israel before.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu acknowledged the flight in remarks on Trump’s arrival: “Mr. President, you just flew from Riyadh to Tel Aviv,” he said. “I hope that some day an Israeli prime minister will be able to fly from Tel Aviv to Riyadh. May your first trip to our region prove to be a historic milestone on the path toward reconciliation and peace.”

Trump gave a brief statement after landing. “We have before us a rare opportunity to bring security and stability and peace to this region and to its people, defeating terrorism and creating a future of harmony, prosperity and peace,” he said. “But we can only get there working together. There is no other way.

The president’s visit will include a visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust remembrance center, Bethlehem and the Western Wall.

NPR’s Daniel Estrin reports that, in anticipation of Trump’s trip, Israel has announced “goodwill gestures”:

“According to an Israeli official, the Israeli cabinet has decided to increase the hours at a key border crossing between Jordan and the West Bank and allow Palestinians limited building rights in some areas of the West Bank where Palestinian building is restricted.

“At the same time Israel is offering a gesture to Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Israel will begin a process of legalizing some Jewish settlement outposts that were built without government permission.”

Article source: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/05/22/529470440/trump-arrives-in-israel-for-second-leg-of-international-trip?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

The organization, United For Iran, publishes the Iran Prison Atlas. It’s a website collecting information about Iranians described as political prisoners.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2017/05/22/529475606/iran-prison-atlas-database-keeps-track-of-iranian-political-prisoners?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

After Saudi Arabia, President Trump’s next stop on his first trip abroad as president will be Israel. NPR’s Lulu Garcia-Navaro talks to former U.S. ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2017/05/21/529364513/while-overseas-trump-aims-to-shore-up-relations-with-isreal?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Burrowed into the side of a mountain, on a Norwegian island deep in the Arctic, is the Global Seed Vault, a small building where vital seed varieties are kept in a deep freeze year round.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2017/05/21/529364527/norwegian-seed-vault-guarantees-crops-won-t-become-extinct?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

North Korea launched a ballistic missile on Sunday, according to U.S. and South Korean officials.

The medium-range rocket was fired from an area near the North Korean county of Pukchang, and flew eastward more than 300 miles, according to The Associated Press citing South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The official said in a statement that the country’s military “is closely monitoring the North Korean military for any further provocation and maintaining readiness to respond.”

A White House official confirmed the launch, according to a pool report.

“We are aware that North Korea launched an MRBM,” the official said. “This system, last tested in February, has a shorter range than the missiles launched in North Korea’s three most recent tests. We refer you to DoD for further information.”

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information is confirmed.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/05/21/529370817/north-korea-launches-ballistic-missile-into-sea?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world



AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Iranians stood in long lines in cities and villages across the country today to vote for a president. It’s a limited field of candidates. They were approved by the conservative clerical leaders. But voters still face a stark choice between the main contenders – their current centrist president, Hassan Rouhani, and a hardliner who’s gained momentum.

NPR’s Peter Kenyon joins us from Tehran. And Peter, just to start, is this election being looked at as essentially a referendum on Rouhani’s first term in office?

PETER KENYON, BYLINE: Well, that’s a large part of it, certainly. Rouhani made some pretty grand promises for economic improvement with his plan of re-engaging with the outside world, but he really hasn’t been able to deliver, certainly not to ordinary Iranians. But a number of people told me today that this really large turnout we’ve been seeing, requiring multiple extensions of the polling hours, really has to do with something else, with people voting against the cleric Ebrahim Raisi. He’s the hardliner. And they want to vote against a return to these kind of hardline religious restrictions that a young population here has really gotten tired of.

There are also strong believers, though, in this Islamic Revolution certainly still in the countryside, also in conservative parts of the cities. I met one Raisi supporter. His name is Hussein Ragani. And he calls this vote a referendum on the Islamic Revolution of 1979, plain and simple. Here’s a bit of what he had to say.

HUSSEIN RAGANI: The people of Iran are very dedicated to the revolution. If you don’t go in the right direction of the revolution, people kick you out, whether you’re a president or anybody else.

KENYON: But most of the people I spoke with since I’ve gotten here have told me they’re voting for Rouhani not because he’s done a terrific job but because they really don’t want to see a hardliner back in office.

CORNISH: You know, Americans mostly hear about the nuclear deal that Iran made with the U.S. and other Western powers. That was the 2015 agreement to limit the country’s nuclear program in exchange for relief from economic sanctions. But in Iran, how much of a factor is this in the election?

KENYON: Well, it is, especially on this sanctions factor. Although there is some national pride involved. And the sanctions have been lifted. The economic argument won the day, but now Iranians are saying, where are the benefits? And Raisi has been attacking Rouhani for being weak in the negotiations, saying engaging doesn’t work. So the deal has been a factor, but even Raisi says we have to respect its terms.

CORNISH: So how might this election change Iran’s relations with the U.S.?

KENYON: Well, certainly the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei – he’s going to have the final word on foreign policy especially. But some say if Rouhani wins, he might bring a certain stability, some continuity in the face of this hostile rhetoric we’re hearing from Washington, from Saudi Arabia and elsewhere. A Raisi victory, on the other hand, with his rejection of all things Western, could send things downhill. And no matter who wins, in the short term, people here think ties are going to be strained.

CORNISH: In the meantime, is the vote expected to be close?

KENYON: Well, no incumbent Iranian president has ever lost a bid for a second term. Rouhani supporters expect a comfortable win. Others say it will be close. Now, if Raisi wins after trailing throughout, there could be problems. Security forces are on alert. They don’t want a repeat of 2009′s mass demonstrations. But there is also a third possibility. If neither candidate gets a clear majority, there’s going to be a runoff next week.

CORNISH: That’s NPR’s Peter Kenyon in Tehran. Peter, thanks so much.

KENYON: Thanks, Audie.

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Article source: http://www.npr.org/2017/05/19/529175779/iranians-decide-between-centrist-incumbent-and-hardliner-for-president?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

President Donald Trump, accompanied by first lady Melania Trump, smiles at Saudi King Salman, left, upon his arrival in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

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President Donald Trump, accompanied by first lady Melania Trump, smiles at Saudi King Salman, left, upon his arrival in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Evan Vucci/AP

President Trump arrived in Saudi Arabia on Saturday carrying baggage — namely, a swirl of controversy stemming from his firing of FBI Director James Comey and the ongoing Russia investigations. But his hosts in Riyadh aren’t likely to be bothered by it all.

Trumpeters played and jets flew overhead with red white and blue smoke trails decorating the sky as Trump emerged from Air Force One in Riyadh. He was greeted by Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and children bearing flowers. A long red carpet led from Air Force One to the airport terminal.

Middle East expert Ilan Goldenberg is just back from a trip to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which included meetings with high-level government officials.

“I think they were very optimistic about President Trump,” says Goldenberg, who runs the Middle East Security Program at the Center for a New American Security.

That might be surprising considering some of the ways Trump disparaged Saudi Arabia as a presidential candidate.

A check of his Twitter feed shows multiple tweets accusing Saudi Arabia of “freeloading,” including this one from June of 2015.

That was a familiar refrain on the campaign trail. At a rally in Green Bay, Wis., in August, Trump said, “We have military bases that we rent — we pay rent to Saudi Arabia to protect them. No, no — think of it. … Think of the stupidity.”

And in a general election debate last year, Trump blasted Hillary Clinton because the Clinton Foundation had taken money from Saudi Arabia. But his remarks were as much a criticism of the country’s human rights record as of her.

“I’d like to ask you right now why don’t you give back the money that you’ve taken from certain countries that treat certain groups of people so horribly?” he said.

There’s also the matter of the executive orders President Trump signed aimed at halting travel — at least temporarily — from several majority-Muslim countries in the name of security. Critics see them as “Muslim bans.”

But none of that, experts said, was likely to dampen the enthusiasm for Trump in the Persian Gulf region.

Why? Part of it has to do with the contrast between the new U.S. president and his predecessor, President Obama.

“For the Saudis, anyone is better than Barack Obama,” Shadi Hamid of the Brookings Institution said. “That was a really low point from their perspective.”

Obama never really developed a rapport with Arab leaders, Hamid said. And they were particularly put off by Obama’s willingness to negotiate with Iran, Saudi Arabia’s main rival in the region.

“Even if they have some concerns about Trump and his unpredictability, they still see him (Trump) as an improvement. And they’re enthusiastic in part because of Trump’s strong rhetoric against Iran.”

There are other reasons leaders in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states have an affinity for Trump.

“Trump has a strongman persona. And that endears him to autocratic leaders in the Middle East,” Hamid said. “They never liked that Obama would bring up human rights concerns in their meetings. They don’t have to worry about that as much with President Trump, who is not prioritizing human rights or democracy.”

Jerry Feierstein, a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute, agreed that Trump’s persona has helped endear him to these leaders. Trump’s tendency to run the government like a family business, with a close circle of advisers like his daughter and son-in-law, isn’t seen as a negative in a part of the world run by extended families and monarchies, he said.

“For them, Donald Trump is a very understandable and relatable individual,” Feierstein said. “He’s a sympathetic character. He behaves the same way they behave.”

This isn’t to say Trump is universally popular among the citizens of the Gulf countries. However, he is unlikely to face protests while in Saudi Arabia — because that sort of public show of dissent isn’t allowed.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2017/05/20/529136712/trumps-troubles-at-home-likely-wont-hold-him-down-in-saudi-arabia?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world