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Japan, Russia, Turkey Bring Potential US Tariff Retaliation to $3.5 bln

Japan, Russia and Turkey have warned the United States about potential retaliation for its tariffs on steel and aluminium, the World Trade Organization said on Tuesday, bringing the total U.S. tariff bill to around $3.5 billion annually.

The three countries detailed their compensation claims in notifications to the world trade body, following similar moves by the European Union, India and China. Each showed how much the disputed U.S. tariffs would add to the cost of steel and aluminium exports to the United States, based on 2017 trade.

Russia said the U.S. tariffs, which President Donald Trump imposed in March, would add duties of $538 million to its annual steel and aluminium exports. Japan put the sum at $440 million. Turkey added a further $267 million.

China, the 28-nation EU and India have put their claims at $612 million, $1.6 billion and $165 million respectively.

They all reject the U.S. view that the import tariffs – 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminium — are justified by U.S. national security concerns and are therefore exempt from the WTO rules.

They say the U.S. tariffs have all the hallmarks of “safeguards”, a trade restriction that can be legitimately used to protect a struggling industry from an unforeseen surge in imports.

A country using safeguards must compensate other WTO members who stand to lose out from the restriction on their trade, normally by rebalancing their trading relationship with a net increase in imports of other goods.

But the United States denies its tariffs are safeguards and has offered no compensation, prompting the retaliatory action.

The compensation would normally take years, but because the U.S. steel and aluminium sectors were not facing an absolute increase in imports, the WTO rules permitted retaliation in just 30 days’ time, they said.

Japan said it was free to impose at least $264 million of its retaliation after 30 days, suggesting that the rest might be delayed, since some of the U.S. products covered by the tariffs were subject to an absolute increase in imports from Japan.

Neither Russia nor Japan specified how they might retaliate against U.S. exports, but Turkey listed 22 U.S. goods that it was planning to target, ranging from nuts, rice and tobacco to cars and steel products.

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Gay Man Says Pope Told Him: ‘God Made You Like This’

A gay Chilean man who survived abuse by a Catholic priest said Pope Francis told him that his sexual orientation “doesn’t matter” to him and that “God made you like this.”

Juan Carlos Cruz said he spoke to the pope about his homosexuality during their recent meetings at the Vatican. The pope invited Cruz and other victims of a Chilean predator priest to discuss their cases last month.

“Juan Carlos, that you are gay doesn’t matter,” Cruz said Pope Francis told him, according to the Spanish newspaper El Pais. “God made you like this and loves you like this, and it doesn’t matter to me. The pope loves you like this. You have to be happy with who you are.”

The Vatican has refused to confirm or deny the remarks, citing its policy not to comment on the pope’s private conversations.

Cruz, who was abused as a child by the Rev. Fernando Karadima, Chile’s most notorious pedophile priest, told the paper that his sexual orientation came up during the discussion because he has been targeted for being gay after speaking out about his abuse.

Whether the pope’s comments will bring about change within the Catholic Church is debatable. Pope Francis has sought to make the church more welcoming to gays, most famously with his 2013 comment, “Who am I to judge?”

He also has spoken of his own ministry to gay and transgender people, insisting they are children of God, loved by God and deserving of accompaniment by the church.

While the Catechism of the Catholic Church states that people with “homosexual tendencies” “must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity,” it also calls a “deep-seated” homosexual inclination and its acts “intrinsically disordered” and “contrary to the natural law.”

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Turkey’s Erdogan Says Nuclear-Armed States ‘Threatening the World’

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday accused countries with nuclear weapons of “threatening the world,” and criticized the United States’ withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.

“Those who have more than 15,000 nuclear warheads are currently threatening the world,” he said, referring to the approximate total number of warheads worldwide, most of which are held by the United States and Russia.

Apparently referring to such states as Iran, he added: “Why are countries with nuclear warheads posing a threat to them?”

“If we are to be fair, to show a just approach, then the countries with nuclear weapons, which portray nuclear power stations as threats, have no credibility in the international community,” he said at an iftar dinner for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Erdogan said the Middle East had to be cleansed of all nuclear weapons, in an apparent reference to Israel, believed to be the only nation in the region to possess them.

U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew the United States 10 days ago from the deal between Tehran and six major powers which limited Iran’s nuclear activities in exchange for the lifting of sanctions. Trump ordered that sanctions be reimposed.

Earlier on Monday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo demanded Iran take additional steps such as pulling out of the Syrian civil war. Iran dismissed Washington’s ultimatum and a senior Iranian official said it showed the United States was seeking “regime change” in Iran.

The U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal comes as relations between NATO member Turkey and Washington have soured over a host of issues, ranging from U.S. policy in Syria to Trump’s decision to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. France, Germany and Britain have said they will try to save the nuclear deal with Tehran.

“As Turkey, we do not accept re-igniting issues, including the Iran nuclear deal, that have been put to bed. We find the other signatories stating their loyalty to the agreement in the face of the U.S. administration’s decision very positive,” Erdogan said.

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Grenfell Tower Survivors Weep as Inquiry Begins in London

Survivors of a devastating high-rise fire in London wept Monday as relatives paid tribute to some of the 72 victims at the opening of an inquiry into Britain’s deadliest blaze in decades.

The Grenfell Tower inquiry is beginning with two weeks of tributes to those who died when a fire that began in a faulty fridge raced through the 24-story apartment block in June 2017. The statements from friends and family members are meant to keep the victims at the center of the inquiry, which will try to determine how the disaster happened and prevent a similar tragedy happening in the future.

“When we die, we live on in the memories of those who knew and loved us,” said retired judge Martin Moore-Bick, who is leading the inquiry. “It is fitting therefore that the opening hearings … should be dedicated to the memory of those who died.”

The victims included baby Logan Gomes, who was stillborn after his family escaped from the 21st floor of the building.

“He might not be here physically, but he will always be here in our hearts, and will be forever,” said his father Marcio Gomes, his voice breaking. “I know he’s here, with God, right next to me, giving me strength and courage to take this forward.”

The inquiry heard a message left by Mohamed Amied Neda from inside his apartment.

“Goodbye, we are leaving this world now, goodbye,” said the 57-year-old, who came to Britain from Afghanistan and ran a chauffeur company. He was found dead after falling from the building. His wife and son were left comatose but survived.

Mohammadou Saye remembered his 24-year-old daughter Khadija Saye, a promising visual artist whose work was shown at last year’s Venice Biennale.

“Her burning passion was photography, encouraged by her mother, Mary Mendy, who also lost her life in the same fire,” he said in a statement read by a lawyer.

“Khadija said to me one day: `Daddy, I’m in love with images.”

Moore-Bick’s inquiry will look at causes of the blaze, the response of local authorities and the country’s high-rise building regulations. But some survivors are critical because it won’t investigate wider issues around social housing that many residents had wanted to include.

Many residents accuse officials in Kensington and Chelsea, one of London’s richest boroughs, of ignoring their safety concerns because the publicly owned tower was home to a largely immigrant and working-class population.

Police say they are considering individual or corporate manslaughter charges in the blaze, but no one has yet been charged.

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Somali Refugee Makes History in Britain

He is a former refugee, a Muslim, and now the first Somali-British mayor, the youngest ever Lord Mayor for Sheffield city in the United Kingdom.

The 28-year-old Magid Magid has also become the first Green Party mayor. He was sworn in Friday.

“This really was a victory for the Somalis and other Muslim communities in Sheffield,” Kaltum Osman, a young Somali woman who also won a seat at Sheffield’s City Council, told VOA Somali. “This was a victory for the young men and women of Sheffield. It was a clear message for every person that’s been told they have limits on their dreams.”

Magid was born in Burao, a town in the northern breakaway region of Somaliland.

Osman said Magid came to Sheffield when he was five years old, after spending six months in a refugee camp in Ethiopia with his mother and five siblings.

“He came here at a young age, grew up and as young man he was very ambitious and thought that there was nothing that could prevent him from being what he wanted to be,” Osman said.

Speaking during his inaugural ceremony, Magid said he remembered little about his early childhood in Somalia and that he had never returned to his country of birth.

“I remember just being happy, playing around as you do as a kid, but in reality it was a completely different story,” he said.

But Magid said he remembered well the difficulties his family experienced as refugees, especially when they arrived in Sheffield’s Burngreave area, where his family set up home.

“Life was difficult when my family arrived. We were struggling with learning the language and adapting to a new way of life. My mother worked as a cleaner to take care of me and siblings,” he said.

Magid studied aquatic zoology at the University of Hull, developed an interest in politics while at university, and in 2016 was elected as Green councilor for Broomhill and Sharrow Vale ward in Sheffield.

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Worlds Away from Windsor, People Celebrate Harry and Meghan’s Big Day

From the windswept Falkland Islands, battered by the South Atlantic and home to colonies of penguins, to the heat of Kenya, India and Australia, people around the world celebrated Britain’s glittering royal wedding Saturday.

The scenes of pageantry and romance in Windsor, where Prince Harry married his American bride Meghan Markle, were beamed to locations across continents where people dressed up, raised their glasses and enjoyed the fun of a uniquely British event.

“We are very fond of our royal family and it’s lovely to celebrate an event like this,” said Falkland Islander Leona Roberts, a member of the local assembly and one of the organizers of a wedding party in the tiny capital, Port Stanley.

Children dressed up as princes and princesses for the party, where they received special gifts.

Argentina disputes Britain’s sovereignty over the Falklands, which lie 300 miles (500 km) from the Argentine coast, and the two countries fought a war in 1982 over the islands. Many islanders are fiercely patriotic about Britain.

“As a Falkland Islander, I definitely feel a bond with the royal family as a symbol of Britishness. I am a staunch royalist,” said Arlette Betts, at her home on the waterfront in Port Stanley, home to most of the archipelago’s 4,000 inhabitants.

On the other side of the world, in India, a group of Mumbai’s famed dabbawalas, or lunch delivery men, chose a traditional sari dress and kurta jacket as wedding gifts for Harry and his bride, while at the Gurukul School of Art children painted posters of the royal couple and Queen Elizabeth.

In Australia, where the British monarch remains the head of state, some pubs held wedding parties, while a cinema chain screened the wedding live across its network. Viewers dressed in finery, with prizes for the most creative outfits.

At the Royal Hotel in Sydney, guests celebrated with a fancy banquet and burst into a spontaneous chorus of “Stand by Me” when a gospel choir sang the Ben E. King hit during the ceremony in Windsor.

“I just think the monarchy as such brings everyone together,” said retiree Bernie Dennis, one of those attending the banquet. “It’s like a family wedding.”

In Melbourne, fashion designer Nadia Foti attended an “English high tea” where guests wore plastic crowns and enjoyed traditional British treats such as scones and the popular summer drink Pimm’s.

“It’s exciting for the fashion and the spectacular,” said Foti. “It’s a joyous occasion and I’ve made a plum cake to celebrate in classic English style.”

There were lavish celebrations at the Windsor Golf and Country Club on the outskirts of Nairobi, where guests had shelled out 1 million shillings ($10,000) to view the wedding on a giant screen, enjoy a seven-course banquet and fly to Mount Kenya by helicopter for breakfast the following morning.

Trainee lawyer Odette Ndaruzi, who is preparing for her own wedding later in the year, said she wanted to pick up some tips.

“I’m excited to see how the maidens in England are dressed, the jewelry and colors they are wearing,” she said.

The event drew criticism from some Kenyan media, however, due to the hefty price tag in a country where millions live in slums.

But perhaps the greatest interest in the royal wedding, outside of Britain, was in the bride’s home country, the United States.

In New York, revelers headed to Harry’s Bar to watch the ceremony on TV, surrounded by U.S. and British flags. Many posed for photos alongside cardboard cutouts of the bride and groom.

In Los Angeles, a lively crowd at the English-style Cat and Fiddle pub in Hollywood enjoyed pints of beer, royal-themed cocktails and British staples like sausage rolls and scones.

Popular tipples included the “Bloody Harry,” billed as a modern take on the Bloody Mary, but with added ginger as a cheeky nod to the prince’s red hair.

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A Royal Reception Feast for 600: Langoustines, Quail Eggs and Rhubarb Tartlets

Guests of Prince Harry and his new wife, Meghan, were set to tuck into dishes including Scottish langoustines, grilled asparagus and rhubarb crumble tartlets at a lunchtime reception for the newlyweds.

Some of the 600 or so guests arrived hours before the beginning of the ceremony at noon, and were likely to be eager to sample the sumptuous foods on offer.

Canapes being served include poached free-range chicken in a lightly spiced yogurt with roasted apricot, croquettes of confit Windsor lamb and garden-pea panna cotta with quail eggs and lemon verbena.

There were also bowl foods such as pea and mint risotto with pea shoots, truffle oil and parmesan crisps, and 10-hour slow roasted Windsor pork belly, all washed down with champagne, wines and a range of soft drinks.

The wedding cake included elderflower syrup, made at the Queen’s residence in Sandringham from the estate’s own trees, with an Amalfi lemon curd filling and elderflower buttercream.

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Putin Favors Status Quo With New Government Lineup

Russian President Vladimir Putin endorsed a new government line-up on Friday at the start of his new term in office, sticking in most cases with the incumbents but elevating two newcomers with ties to the intelligence services.

Dmitry Medvedev, whom Putin had already reappointed as prime minister, proposed the new cabinet at a meeting with Putin in the Black Sea resort of Sochi that was broadcast live on Russian state television.

“Almost all the candidates are well-known people with experience and a good track record at their previous places of work,” Putin said. “I give my approval,” he said.

The big-hitters in Putin’s team kept their jobs: Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, and Alexander Novak, the country’s energy minister who helped mastermind a global deal to prop up crude oil prices.

Maxim Oreshkin, appointed economy minister in late 2016, will retain his job, as will trade and industry minister Denis Manturov, and Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov.

Medvedev named Yevgeny Zinichev, who served as Deputy Director of Federal Security Service (FSB), as the new emergency minister. Medvedev put forward the son of FSB chief Nikolai Patrushev, Dmitry, for the job of agriculture minister.

There were no places in the cabinet for Igor Shuvalov and Arkady Dvorkovich, who were deputy prime ministers in the outgoing government. They had positioned themselves as champions of private business, though with limited practical effect.

The currency market reacted negatively to the appointments in the minutes after the lineup was unveiled.

The ruble pared gains and weakened to 62.19 versus the dollar from levels of 62.08 seen before the announcement.

Putin secured a new six-year term in office after more than 70 percent of voters backed him in a March 18 presidential election. He is now in his second consecutive term, and his fourth term overall.

Putin was sworn in for the new term in early May, and signaled he would keep faith with a policy direction that, among other things, has brought Russia into conflict with the West.

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