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Egypt's wave of censorship takes aim at street music
iStock/akinbostanci (CAIRO) -- Egypt's restrictions on what it deems inappropriate forms of art have reached a new height with a ban on a popular genre of street music, striking a chord with conservatives and drawing sharp rebuke from intellectuals and young music enthusiasts.Singers of mahraganat, which literally translates to "festivals" in English, were earlier this week banned from performing by the Musicians Syndicate -- a union that is responsible for issuing permits to performers. It operates under the auspices of Egypt's culture ministry.The justification was clear -- they have crossed the line after the lyrics of a YouTube megahit, sung...
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Conservatives poised to make gains in Iran elections amid sanctions, domestic problems
iStock (NEW YORK) -- Iran held its 11th parliament election on Friday amid the toughest sanctions on the country and after a few hectic months, domestically.The competition for more than 290 seats in the parliament seems an already-won game for the conservative parties in the absence of many well-known reformist candidates.The initial, yet unofficial, results indicate that the conservative party candidates are likely to take all 30 parliament seats in Tehran, Fars News Agency reported on Saturday.Iran's Guardian Council is run by conservative officials and is responsible for supervising the election process, as well as approving the Islamic Republic’s qualification...
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Coronavirus cases in South Korea up to 433 overnight
iStock/nigelcarse (SEOUL, South Korea) -- South Korea's number of newly confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus more than doubled Saturday to a total of 433 -- an eightfold jump in just four days."The situation is entering a new phase," Vice Health and Welfare Minister Kim Kang-lip told reporters. But the high number of confirmed cases is also because the country’s medical industry has high diagnostic capability, according to experts.The current period is still "early stage" and the government is cautiously confident that the spread of the novel coronavirus could be contained surrounding the Daegu area, Kim added.Daegu, South Korea’s fourth-largest...
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Sunscreen pollution accelerating demise of coral reefs, experts say
iStock/johnandersonphoto (NEW YORK) -- The Earth's coral reefs, some of the most diverse and valuable ecosystems in the world, are facing a number of serious threats. Beyond large-scale events like climate change, local stressors, including persistent sunscreen pollution, are contributing to their destruction, experts say.While coral communities can be found at varying depths, shallow-water reefs occupy approximately 110,000 square miles of the sea floor, roughly the size of Nevada -- according to data compiled by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. In some cases, coral reefs have been shrinking dramatically. Several on Maui, in the Hawaiian Islands, lost nearly 25%...
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Vancouver man attempts to steal float plane, damages two other planes in incident
kali9/iStock (VANCOUVER, Canada) -- A man in Vancouver, Canada attempted to steal a float plane early Friday morning, Canadian authorities confirmed.At around 3:30 a.m., authorities responded to reports that a man tried to steal a Seair charter aircraft, according to Vancouver police.The aircraft did not make it airborne, instead crashing into a nearby plane, which "suffered extensive damage, completely losing a wing," Vancouver Police Spokesperson Tania Visintin told ABC News.A third aircraft was also damaged in the incident, according to police."During this incident, the aircraft did not leave the water, however, did make contact with and damage to two Harbour...
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Prince Harry and Meghan will not use Sussex Royal name, spokesperson confirms
Chris Jackson/Getty Images (LONDON) -- Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, will not use their Sussex Royal brand in their new roles as non-working members of Britain's royal family."The Duke and Duchess of Sussex do not intend to use 'SussexRoyal' in any territory post Spring 2020," a spokesperson for the Sussexes told ABC News on Friday, ending weeks of speculation about whether Queen Elizabeth would permit the couple to continue using the word "royal."Harry and Meghan's last day as working members of Britain's royal family will be March 31. The couple's office at Buckingham Palace, their...
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To stop the novel coronavirus from spreading, 'We need to act quickly,' WHO says
iStock (NEW YORK) -- In a rapid development, Iranian authorities reported 18 cases of novel coronavirus and four deaths over the course of two days, the World Health Organization detailed at a Friday news conference. Lebanon also reported its first coronavirus case Friday, in a traveler from Iran, WHO officials said.While the number of cases of novel coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19 is small, we're "concerned about the number of cases with no clear link or travel to China," said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the WHO. Four deaths in such a short period raises concerns that there's...
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Agreement to reduce violence in Afghanistan set to begin, leading way for US-Taliban deal
KeithBinns/iStock (WASHINGTON) -- An agreement between the U.S. and the Taliban to reduce violence in Afghanistan will begin Friday at midnight local time, according to U.S., Afghan and Taliban officials. If the seven-day truce is deemed successful, the two sides plan to sign a historic agreement on Feb. 29, where U.S. troops would begin a phased withdrawal and the Taliban would sit down with other Afghans for national peace talks and would commit to keeping Afghanistan from becoming a safe haven for terrorists. That safe haven provided to the al Qaeda operatives responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks is what...
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Hysteria over coronavirus sparks violent protests in Ukraine
narvikk/iStock (NEW YORK) -- Hysteria over the novel coronavirus epidemic has sparked violent protests in Ukraine, fueled by panic and disinformation around the outbreak -- even though the country has no confirmed cases of the virus. Protests and violent clashes with police broke out in several places Thursday, as Ukraine's authorities blamed the disorder on the spread of misinformation on social media and suggested it may have been part of a deliberate campaign targeting the country. The trouble began as a plane carrying evacuees from China landed in Ukraine on Thursday. In a village in central Ukraine, where the evacuees...
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Hundreds of Chinese prisoners infected with novel coronavirus
jarun011/iStock (LONDON) -- Hundreds of Chinese inmates have been infected with the novel coronavirus as the outbreak spreads to prisons across China.He Ping, an official at China's Ministry of Justice, told reporters at a daily briefing Friday that officials have been fired after more than 500 cases of the newly discovered virus were diagnosed in five prisons across three Chinese provinces, including Hubei, the epicenter of the outbreak. No deaths have been reported, he said.The first cases of the new coronavirus, known officially as COVID-19, emerged back in December in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province. Chinese authorities have since...
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Plane evacuating cruise passengers re-routed after Turkey denies landing permission amid novel coronavirus fears
TANG CHHIN SOTHY/AFP via Getty Images (KARACHI, Pakistan) -- A Turkish airliner chartered by Holland America cruise line to evacuate passengers from its Westerdam cruise was abruptly turned around mid-flight Thursday, according to flight data and multiple sources.The flight was carrying 283 citizens from multiple countries, including the United States, when it was forced to land in Karachi, Pakistan, instead of Istanbul, Turkey -- its original destination.A source familiar with the situation told ABC News the last-minute landing was because the Turkish government barred the aircraft from landing in the country over concerns about the novel coronavirus -- setting off...
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As fighting in Syria intensifies, pressure is rising for US intervention amid the crisis
Oleksii Liskonih/iStock (IDLIB, Syria) -- As fighting over Syria's last rebel-held stronghold intensifies and puts U.S. ally Turkey in direct conflict with Russia, there is a growing chorus for the U.S. to do something about the dire humanitarian crisis.Nearly one million people have been displaced since December by Syrian President Bashar al Assad's offensive into the Idlib province, backed by Russian air power and Iranian-commanded forces. Relief organizations are struggling to respond to the overwhelming need amid freezing temperatures and a lack of basic resources -- like tents.But for the four million civilians in Idlib, there is no where to...
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