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Kazakhstan's quarter-century struggle to assert its autonomy from former overlord Russia has hit an unlikely snag: the lowly apostrophe. A vast but sparsely populated country wedged between Russia and China, Kazakhstan came under the rule of its northern neighbour as Russia and Britain jostled for control of Central Asia in the Great Game. It also came under its linguistic influence, and to this day, many Kazakhs speak more Russian than their Turkic native tongue. This became especially concerning after Russian state media, which remain popular in Kazakhstan, helped whip up Russian-speaking separatists to fight government forces in Ukraine in 2014. In April, Kazakhstan's president of 27 years, Nursultan Nazarbayev, ordered the government to prepare a new Kazakh alphabet based on Latin characters and ditch the one based on Russia's Cyrillic script, which the Soviets implemented in 1940. He has said this will give Kazakhstan “real independence” and help it join the “information world”. But a cumbersome version of the new alphabet chosen by Mr Nazarbayev last autumn has sparked rare dissent in this authoritarian country due to its ample apostrophes. Of 32 letters in the alphabet, nine are written with an apostrophe. Mr Nazarbayev meets with Vladimir Putin in December. He has tried to gently assert Kazakhstan's independence from its former overlord Credit: Alexander Nemenov/Pool Photo via AP An “against apostrophes” hashtag soon appeared on social media. So did a “No to Kazakh Latinisation with apostrophes!” Change.org petition in October, which was briefly blocked. Film director Saken Zholdas made a video explaining how inconvenient the apostrophes were. “With this decision, we are unintentionally, or maybe intentionally, killing the brand of Kazakh language once and for all,” he said. The problem lies in the need to differentiate related but distinct Kazakh sounds, such as a long and short “a,” or consonants similar to “s” and “sh”. Setting them apart with an apostrophe allows the alphabet to be typed on a standard Latin keyboard, but also produces odd flurries of punctuation and many eyesore words. For instance, the word for “bottle,” pronounced “shisha,” is written “s'i's'a”, while “east,” pronounced “shyghys,” becomes “s'yg'ys”. Those are hardly the worst: The word for “skier” will be “s'an'g'ys'y” and that for “crucial” will be “s'es'u's'i”. The Republic of Kazakhstan will be written “Qazaqstan Respy’bli’kasy”. The palace of peace and reconciliation designed by Norman Foster in Astana, Kazakhstan Credit: Sergei Bobylev/\TASS via Getty Images Some have speculated that Mr Nazarbayev picked the apostrophes to keep Kazakh distinct from the Latinised alphabets of other Turkic languages and placate Russia, which since Soviet times has feared pan-Turkic movements along its southern border. “The guy just liked it, and since our country is this way, no one in government can tell the president no,” Aidos Sarym, a political analyst who previously served on a state working group on Latinisation, told The Telegraph. Last month, Mr Nazarbayev said while the new apostrophes had caused “much discussion,” this version was the right one because it suited computer keyboards. But at the same time it complicates web searches and social media hashtags, where an apostrophe between letters splits them into separate words. “From a technical point of view, apostrophes create more problems than they solve,” said political analyst Dosym Satpayev. Mr Nazarbayev appears with Donald Trump in the White House on Tuesday. He has tried to balance relations with the United States, Russia and China Credit: Olivier Douliery/Pool via Bloomberg In his video, Mr Zholdas suggested replacing the apostrophes with accent marks over the nine letters in question, a move he said could be supported by 70 per cent of computer fonts. Despite the defence of his version in December, Mr Nazarbayev also said there was still time to “work with the new alphabet” before the country switches over fully in 2025, giving hope that he could eventually relax his stance. “He wants to go into history … as the father of the new Latin Kazakh alphabet,” Mr Sarym said. “You can choose any version and let it be called the Nazarbayev version, but do it right so there aren't problems now, and so that tomorrow we won't have to do an upgrade.”
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Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday a military operation in Syria's Kurdish-controlled Afrin region had begun after cross-border shelling by the Turkish army. Turkey's army said on Saturday it hit shelters and hideouts used by militants from three groups - the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), PYD and YPG, after militants fired on Turkish positions inside Turkey.
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Thai police have arrested an alleged kingpin in Asia's illegal trade in endangered species, dealing a blow to a family-run syndicate that smuggles elephant ivory, rhino horn and tiger parts to Chinese and Vietnamese dealers. Boonchai Bach, 40, a Vietnamese national with Thai citizenship, was arrested on Friday evening over the smuggling of 14 rhino horns worth around $1 million from Africa to Thailand.
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India conducted a successful test of its most advanced intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), a nuclear-capable Agni-5, on Thursday, underscoring a potential threat to China as well as Pakistan. China is also within range of nuclear-armed North Korean missiles and Japan is mulling whether it should develop similar capabilities.
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Now James Comey is gone, fired by Trump for failing to end the Russia inquiry. The most critical of the three is headed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, a former head of the FBI who has expanded his inquiry to looking at Mr Trump’s murky business affairs. The activities of Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr and his son-in-law Jared Kushner, are under intense scrutiny from Mueller’s investigators.
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A photo-editing battle has erupted over this somewhat unsettling snap of President Donald Trump’s face on a stack of German newspapers: PsBattle: Trump screaming in a stack of newspapers from photoshopbattles The viral image was actually part of an advertising campaign for the Der Tagesspiegel newspaper back in 2016, reports AdWeek.
Fri, 19 Jan 2018 02:15:43 -0500
Police in the world's biggest gambling hub Macau have arrested a croupier and a security guard over a massive casino heist where almost HK$48 million ($6 million) in gaming chips were stolen from a VIP room. Semi-autonomous Macau is the only part of China where casino gambling is legal and is a favourite haunt of mainland high rollers. The heist happened early Tuesday morning at mega casino Wynn Macau, owned by United States gaming tycoon Steve Wynn.
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The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday blocked a lower court's order for North Carolina to rework its congressional map because Republicans violated the Constitution by drawing electoral districts intended to maximize their party's chances of winning. The conservative-majority court granted a bid by Republican legislators in North Carolina to suspend the Jan. 9 order by a federal court panel in Greensboro that gave the Republican-controlled General Assembly until Jan. 24 to come up with a new map for U.S. House of Representatives districts.
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The US government has started to shut down after Congress failed to overcome a bitter standoff over spending and immigration, marking a choatic end to Donald Trump's first year as president. Last-minute negotiations crumbled as Senate Democrats blocked a four-week stopgap extension in a late-night vote, causing the fourth government shutdown in a quarter of a century. Social Security and most other safety net programmes are unaffected by the lapse in federal spending authority. Critical government functions will continue, with uniformed service members, health inspectors and law enforcement officers set to work without pay. But if no deal is brokered before Monday, two million federal employees will be furloughed – given leave of absence. Most staff in the departments of housing, environment, education and commerce will stay at home. Half of workers in the treasury, health, defence and transportation departments will also not be going to work next week. National parks and monuments face closure while visa and passport processing could be delayed. Essential services that protect "life or human property" will continue, including national security, postal services, air traffic control, inpatient medical services, emergency outpatient medicine, disaster assistance, prisons, taxation and electricity generation. Donald Trump's first year in office: the conflict and controversy Click here for a detailed account of what happens now. Congress scheduled an unusual Saturday session to begin considering a three-week version of the short-term spending measure - and to broadcast that they were at work as the shutdown commenced. It seemed likely each side would try forcing votes aimed at making the other party look culpable for shuttering federal agencies. White House blames Democrats After hours of closed-door meetings and phone calls, the Senate scheduled its late-night vote on a House-passed plan. It gained 50 votes to proceed to 48 against, but 60 were needed to break a Democratic filibuster. The president watched the results from the White House residence, dialing up allies and affirming his belief that Democrats would take the blame for the shutdown, a source familiar with his conversations said. Sen. Charles Schumer walks to the chamber after a closed meeting with fellow democrats on Capitol Hill Credit: AP The White House lashed out at Democratic Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer, blaming him for the shutdown "Senate Democrats own the Schumer Shutdown," Trump's spokeswoman Sarah Sanders declared. Senate Democrats put politics above national security, military families, vulnerable children, and our country’s ability to serve all Americans. We will not negotiate the status of unlawful immigrants while Democrats hold our lawful citizens hostage over their reckless demands.— The White House (@WhiteHouse) January 20, 2018 "Tonight, they put politics above our national security, military families, vulnerable children, and our country's ability to serve all Americans. "We will not negotiate the status of unlawful immigrants while Democrats hold our lawful citizens hostage over their reckless demands," she said. Schumer hits back Mr Schumer fought back, however, blaming the president for leading him to believe a deal was possible on a measure to prevent the expulsion of undocumented migrants who arrived in the country as children. "Every American knows the Republican Party controls White House, the Senate, the House - it is their job to keep the government open. It is their job to work with us to move forward," Mr Schumer told the Senate. "They control every ounce of the process and it is their responsibility to govern and here they have failed," he declared. FAQ | What is a federal government shutdown? The measure brought to Congress would have extended federal funding until Feb 16 and restored a health insurance programme for poor children for six years - a long-time Democratic objective. But it would have cut the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals programme, known as Daca, that affects Dreamers. who have been protected from deportation. White House officials insisted there was no urgency to fix Daca, which expires on March 5. Mr Trump, who had made strict measures on immigration a cornerstone of his presidential campaign, last week rejected a bipartisan proposal, saying he wanted to include any deal for Dreamers in a bigger legislative package that also boosts funding for a border wall and tighter security at the border with Mexico. The lawmakers and Mr Trump's White House had mounted last-ditch negotiations to stave off what had come to appear as the inevitable, with the parties in stare-down mode over federal spending and proposals to protect the 700,000 younger immigrants from deportation. Earlier on Friday, Mr Trump had brought Mr Schumer to the White House in hopes of cutting a deal on a short-term spending agreement. Talks collapse over immigration The two New Yorkers, who pride themselves on their negotiating abilities, started talking over cheeseburgers about a larger agreement that would have included greater military spending and money for a southern border wall. But the talks fell apart almost as abruptly as they started. In a phone call hours later, the president raised new concerns about the deal he and Schumer had discussed, according to a person familiar with the conversation. In a subsequent phone call with Schumer, chief of staff John Kelly said the deal discussed was too liberal. The White House did not immediately comment on that account. As word of the Schumer meeting spread, the White House hastened to reassure Republican congressional leaders that Trump would not make any major policy concessions, a source said. US Federal Government Shutdowns On Capitol Hill, McConnell said Americans at home would be watching to see "which senators make the patriotic decision" and which "vote to shove aside veterans, military families and vulnerable children to hold the entire country hostage... until we pass an immigration bill". "We can't keep kicking the can down the road," said Schumer, insisting on more urgency in talks on immigration. "In another month, we'll be right back here, at this moment, with the same web of problems at our feet, in no better position to solve them." Mr Schumer called on the president and leaders of both parties to resume negotiations on Saturday. Mr McConnell said he would seek a new funding bill through to February 8 but a Senate Democratic source said that was too far out. Democrats had argued for an extension of four or five days to force both sides into serious negotiations on the immigration issue. Election issue With mid-term congressional elections looming later this year, Republicans risk being blamed by voters when the government stops functioning over lack of funds. A new Washington Post/ABC poll found that 48 per cent of Americans blame Trump and the Republicans for a potential shutdown, and only 28 per cent hold Democrats responsible. Trump had been set to leave on Friday to attend a fundraiser at his Palm Beach, Florida, estate marking the anniversary of his inauguration, but delayed his travel. The shutdown is the first since 2013, when tea party Republicans - in a strategy not unlike the one Mr Schumer is employing now - sought to use a must-pass funding bill to try to force then-President Barack Obama to delay implementation of his marquee health care law. At the time, Mr Trump told Fox & Friends that the ultimate blame for a shutdown lies at the top. "I really think the pressure is on the president," he said. 2:10PM Donald Trump blames Democrats Democrats are far more concerned with Illegal Immigrants than they are with our great Military or Safety at our dangerous Southern Border. They could have easily made a deal but decided to play Shutdown politics instead. #WeNeedMoreRepublicansIn18 in order to power through mess!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 20, 2018 This is the One Year Anniversary of my Presidency and the Democrats wanted to give me a nice present. #DemocratShutdown— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 20, 2018 This is the One Year Anniversary of my Presidency and the Democrats wanted to give me a nice present. #DemocratShutdown— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 20, 2018 7:09AM The Twitter war rages The time for talking has ended. The time for tweeting has begun. Both sides are currently slugging it out on social media. The Republicans say: Senate Democrats have let down our troops, our children, and all Americans. All of this is just unnecessary. It is reckless. Senate Democrats have brought us to a shutdown. https://t.co/RlGYYue4Hhpic.twitter.com/MVJiTZFvDt— Paul Ryan (@SpeakerRyan) January 20, 2018 The facts before us are simple. Right now, the Democratic leader has no compromise immigration bill on the table. No bill exists. Why do Americans need to suffer from a government shutdown when he doesn’t even have an immigration bill?— Leader McConnell (@SenateMajLdr) January 20, 2018 The Democrats say: Republicans control the White House, the Senate, and the House of Representatives. No matter how they spin this shutdown, we know what happened: They abandoned their responsibility.— Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) January 20, 2018 This will be called the #TrumpShutdown. There is no one who deserves the blame for the position we find ourselves in more than President Trump. pic.twitter.com/WE3SH9TpRU— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) January 20, 2018 6:59AM The cheeseburger summit An NBC News reporter says Schumer and Trump held talks while munching on cheeseburgers. FAQ | What is a federal government shutdown? 6:55AM What is shut down? FAQ | What is a federal government shutdown? 6:25AM McConnell to propose shorter-term funding plan Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he will seek to halt the shutdown with a proposal to fund the government through February 8. McConnell says February 8 is "a very reasonable time" and pushes the matter beyond President Donald Trump's Jan. 30 State of the Union address. It's unclear how quickly lawmakers might vote on McConnell's proposal. It's also uncertain if shrinking the timeframe of a short-term agreement from four weeks to three weeks will draw enough votes to reopen the government. 6:02AM Trump staying in Washington 'until this is finished' Mr Trump had already scrapped plans to depart on Friday for his Mar-a-Lago club, where he'd been set to attend a high-dollar fundraiser on Saturday night to commemorate his first year in office. While White House aides did not respond to questions about the president's weekend plans, Budget Director Mick Mulvaney told reporters he didn't expect Trump to go to Florida on Saturday. "I think the president's been very clear: He's not leaving until this is finished," he said. The reverberations of the shutdown will be felt across Washington, all over the nation - and within the White House residence. According to federal stipulations, just 21 of the 96 members of the White House residential staff would report to duty on any day of a shutdown. 5:56AM No talks on immigration until shutdown over As well as blaming the Democrats, Trump's administration said it would not discuss immigration until the government is up and running again. "When Democrats start paying our armed forces and first responders, we will reopen negotiations on immigration reform." 5:40AM Battle of the hashtags The White House is calling it the #SchumerShutdown. Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader in the U.S. House of Representatives, is calling it the #TrumpShutdown. “Tonight, on the eve of the first anniversary of his inauguration, President Trump earned an ‘F’ for failure in leadership," Ms Pelosi said. “I hope that we can now conduct bipartisan negotiations where we find our common ground to honor our responsibility to meet the needs of the American people.” I hope that we can now conduct bipartisan negotiations where we find our common ground to honor our responsibility to meet the needs of the American people. #TrumpShutdown Read my full statement here: https://t.co/RiGSbynFqw— Nancy Pelosi (@NancyPelosi) January 20, 2018 5:34AM Schumer responds Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is giving his version of the talks - putting much of the blame on the president. He says he had offered to "put the border wall on the table" during discussions with Mr Trump, but that was not enough for him to make a deal. He says an outline of a deal was in hand on immigration and spending caps but Trump "did not press his party in Congress to accept it". Sen. Schumer: "What happened to the President Trump who asked us to come up with a deal and promise that he'd take heat for it? What happened to that president? He backed off at the first sign of pressure." https://t.co/eK4NmkzQpFpic.twitter.com/Jx6zH0WaEO— CBS News (@CBSNews) January 20, 2018 5:27AM Senator McConnell reacts The Senate Majority Leader says the Democrats derailed talks with their desire to force the passage of legislation to protect some 700,000 younger immigrants from deportation. Sen. McConnell: "Almost everybody on both sides doesn't understand how we ended up here because most of this stuff we agree on. There's only one reason we ended up here: the shoehorning of illegal immigration into this debate." https://t.co/eK4NmkzQpFpic.twitter.com/QuxoYSt8rB— CBS News (@CBSNews) January 20, 2018 5:23AM What Trump said in the past Earlier, the Democrats were keen to show what Mr Trump said when the government shutdown in 2013. .@realDonaldTrump’s take on a government shutdown, in 2013: “I really think the pressure is on the president.” #TrumpShutdownpic.twitter.com/cP2BH31RqK— Senate Democrats (@SenateDems) January 19, 2018 5:21AM The 'behavior of obstructionist losers' The White House is continuing its attack - and you suspect Donald Trump may be dictating. This is the behavior of obstructionist losers, not legislators. When Dems pay our armed forces & first responders we will reopen negotiations on immigration reform. During the politically manufactured #SchumerShutdown, @POTUS will fight for & protect the American people.— The White House (@WhiteHouse) January 20, 2018 5:15AM White House kicks off blame game As soon as the shutdown began, the White House tweeted it response - laying the blame squarely at the Democrats. Senate Democrats put politics above national security, military families, vulnerable children, and our country’s ability to serve all Americans. We will not negotiate the status of unlawful immigrants while Democrats hold our lawful citizens hostage over their reckless demands.— The White House (@WhiteHouse) January 20, 2018
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Lebanon's Hezbollah movement on Friday said a US pledge to keep its troops in Syria to defeat the Islamic State group was just a "flimsy excuse" to occupy the country. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Wednesday that US forces would remain in Syria to both fight IS and counter the influence of President Bashar al-Assad. Assad is a key ally of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah, which has deployed its forces to keep the Damascus regime in power.
Fri, 19 Jan 2018 09:25:57 -0500
By Jeanny Kao and Brenda Goh TAIPEI/SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Taiwan's aviation regulator has stalled applications for new flights from China Eastern Airlines and Xiamen Airlines amid a row between Beijing and the self-ruled island over air routes, a regulatory official said on Friday. Taiwan had not yet approved the applications to add flights during the approaching Lunar New Year holiday because in recent weeks the airlines had used four disputed air routes close to the island, said the official, who asked not to be identified. This month China opened several disputed air routes, including a northbound M503 route in the Taiwan Strait, without informing Taiwan, contravening what the democratic government in Taipei said was a 2015 deal to first discuss such flight paths.
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The boys, aged 12 and 13, have been charged with knocking over 50 beehives at the Wild Hill Honey farm in Sioux City which caused half a million bees to freeze to death in late December. Wild Hill Honey owner Justin Engelhardt claimed the boys had caused $60,000 (£42,000) of damage in what he called a “completely senseless” act. Mr Engelhardt said he and his wife had discovered the destruction on 28 December when they went to dust snow off the hives.
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Of course, Russia will remain committed to the word and spirit of the Minsk accords with other guarantor countries France and Germany, but we regret that such steps only distract us from the desired goal," the Kremlin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists. The EU-brokered Minsk peace agreement, backed by Moscow and Kiev, was first reached in late 2014 and then re-worked in early 2015 with the help of Germany and France, but is violated almost daily.
Fri, 19 Jan 2018 10:27:57 -0500
The traditional three-legged retirement stool -- consisting of pensions, personal savings and Social Security benefits -- is looking wobblier than ever. Defined benefit pension plans, which have been disappearing for some time, are now on the verge of extinction. Just 8 percent of private employers offered pension plans in 2017, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
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District judge Jack Robison interrupted jurors’ deliberations to say they should not convict 32-year-old Gloria Elizabeth Romero Perez. Judge Robison then reportedly recused himself for the remainder of proceedings. Perez, of Buda, Texas, was convicted anyway on one count of continuous traffic of a person and jailed for 25 years, the site said.
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