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The Trump administration said on Thursday it would allow some 500 Somalis to remain in the United States for at least another 18 months under protected status given violence in their home county.


Somalis in the United States with Temporary Protected Status will be able to re-register for an extension of their status through March 17, 2020, according to a statement from the Department of Homeland Security. The status grants beneficiaries the ability to legally work while they are in the United States.

“After carefully reviewing conditions in Somalia with interagency partners, (DHS) Secretary (Kirstjen) Nielsen determined the ongoing armed conflict and extraordinary and temporary conditions that support Somalia’s current designation for TPS continue to exist,” the statement said.

The Trump administration has shown a deep skepticism toward the temporary protected status program, announcing its end for immigrants from El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua and Sudan since President Donald Trump took office last year.
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Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila

Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila said in a speech on Thursday that a presidential election in December would go ahead as planned, but he declined to say whether he would defy term limits to stand for re-election.


Kabila is barred by the constitution from seeking a third term in the election but has refused publicly to rule out a run. Some of his allies have in recent weeks advanced a legal argument they say would justify his candidacy.

If Kabila does step down, it would mark Congo’s first democratic transition since independence from Belgium in 1960, after decades marked by authoritarian rule, coups and catastrophic civil wars.

The deadline for candidates to declare they will run is in just under three weeks. But in an address before a joint session of parliament, Kabila avoided saying whether he would stand.

“The course toward ... the election scheduled for December is therefore maintained,” Kabila said. He said the government would finance the elections itself so as to avoid “blackmail” by foreign powers that have criticised repeated delays to the vote.

Striking a defiant tone, he said Congo was not prepared to take lessons in democracy “from those who assassinated democracy in this country and elsewhere”, a jab at Belgium and other Western countries that backed the overthrow of independence leader Patrice Lumumba by autocrat Mobutu Sese Seko in 1961.

International pressure on Kabila, who succeeded his assassinated father in 2001, to leave office has grown since a November 2016 election was postponed. That sparked violent protests in which security forces have killed dozens of people.

The United States and European Union have sanctioned several close Kabila allies for allegedly overseeing the crackdowns and obstructing the electoral process, moves Kabila denounced in his speech.


The U.N. Security Council and the African Union Peace and Security Council, which met in New York on Thursday, “expressed concern about remaining challenges to foster greater confidence” in the electoral process.

In a joint statement, the two councils “called upon all political parties, their supporters, and other political actors to remain committed to the 31 December 2016 Agreement, which is the only viable path out of the current political situation.”

Under an accord struck on Dec. 31 between Kabila’s representatives and opposition leaders, Kabila is barred from trying to change the constitution to seek a third term.

In an apparent attempt to nudge Kabila toward the exit, Congo’s parliament passed a law on Wednesday expanding financial privileges for former presidents, including a pension, housing, security, healthcare and a diplomatic passport.

Former presidents already enjoy considerable legal immunity under the constitution, which designates them senators for life.

In his speech, Kabila also touted his record during 17 years in office, including stabilising inflation and unifying a country fractured by civil war. His critics say the economy benefits a narrow slice of the population while armed conflict continues to rage across much of the country.
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Rescue personnel work after a"duck boat" capsized and sank, at Table Rock Lake near Branson, Stone County, Missouri

At least eleven people drowned when an amphibious “duck boat” capsized and sank in stormy weather on a lake in Missouri with 31 people, including children, on board, police said on Thursday as divers searched for other possible victims. Seven people were taken to hospital following the incident on the “Ride the Ducks” amphibious vehicle on Table Rock Lake, near Branson, Missouri, Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader told reporters.


“We have eleven confirmed fatalities,” Rader said in a televised media briefing. “We do have some people still missing.”

Emergency crews responded to the incident shortly after 7 p.m. (0000 GMT) after thunderstorms rolled through the area, the fire district said on Twitter.

Video footage shot by an eyewitness who was on shore showed waves tossing two duck boats side to side. The video clip was posted online by television news station KY3 in Springfield, Missouri.

“Our number one priority is the families and our employees that were affected by this tragic accident, as of this time right now we are assisting the authorities as they continue with their search and rescue operation,” said Suzanne Smagala-Potts a spokeswoman for Ripley Entertainment, which owns the Ride The Ducks operation in Branson.


She could not confirm how many crew members were aboard the boat.

Duck amphibious vehicles are used on sightseeing tours around the world and have been involved in a number of fatal accidents in the past two decades.

The company that builds ducks, Ride the Ducks International LLC, agreed in 2016 to pay a $1 million fine after one of the vehicles collided with a bus in Seattle, killing five international students.

The company admitted to failing to comply with U.S. vehicle manufacturing rules.
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Facebook Inc’s WhatsApp is launching a test to limit forwarding messages that will apply to all users, the messaging app said on Thursday, after Indian authorities sought curbs on spread of rumours that have led to violent incidents.


Mob lynchings triggered by false incendiary messages in India, WhatsApp’s biggest market with more than 200 million users, led to authorities calling for steps to prevent the circulation of false texts and provocative content. It also caused a public relations nightmare.

In India, WhatsApp said it will also test a lower limit of five chats – individual or group chats – at a time and remove the quick forward button next to media messages.

The move is likely to be a deterrent to mass forwarding of messages. Indians forward more messages, photos and videos than any other country in the world, according to WhatsApp.

Earlier this month, WhatsApp in response to a call from India’s technology ministry, said it required a partnership with the government as well as society in general to curb the spread of false information on its platform.


WhatsApp last week published advertisements in key Indian newspapers to tackle the spread of misinformation, its first such effort to combat a flurry of fake messages.

The messaging service had said it was giving users controls and information to help them stay safe, and that it planned to run long-term public safety advertising campaigns.

So far this year, false messages about child abductors on WhatsApp have triggered mass beatings of more than a dozen people in India and some of whom have died.