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Britain sends jets to intercept Russian bombers
by Staff Writers
London (AFP) Sept 22, 2016

China's Li seeks new tack in ties with Cuba
Havana (AFP) Sept 24, 2016 - Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Saturday said it was time for a new direction in relations with Cuba, during a landmark visit to the Americas' lone communist-ruled state.

It marks the first visit by a Chinese premier since the two countries established diplomatic relations 56 years ago.

After a welcome from first vice president Miguel Diaz-Canel, Li pledged to "inject a new dynamic in (bilateral) relations," Cuban state media reported.

Though the Cold War ended years ago, Cuba remains isolated after having lost the Soviet Union, and then Venezuela, as its key political and economic allies.

Cuba has restored full diplomatic relations with its longtime nemesis, the United States.

Havana is cash-strapped and does not have access to commercial credit.

China is Cuba's top creditor -- and its number two trade partner after Venezuela. Their total bilateral trade was worth $1.6 billion in 2015, Chinese sources said.

Li called for deepening cooperation on biotechnology, renewable energy, computers, home appliances, and farm machinery, as well as in culture, education and tourism.

Li arrived from Canada, after announcing with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau an agreement to begin talks aimed at reaching a free-trade agreement. The two leaders set a target of doubling trade by 2025.

China is Canada's second-largest trading partner after the United States, with trade last year exceeding Can$85 billion ($64.5 billion USD).

Britain scrambled fighter jets from an airbase in Scotland to intercept two Russian bombers approaching UK airspace, the Ministry of Defence said Thursday.

The Russian planes flew from the direction of Norway and passed to the west of Britain's Shetland Islands, northeast of the mainland.

A Royal Air Force spokeswoman said: "Quick reaction alert Typhoon aircraft from RAF Lossiemouth intercepted two Russian Blackjack bombers and escorted them while they were in the UK area of interest.

"At no point did the Russian aircraft enter UK territorial airspace."

Two aircraft were also launched from an airbase in eastern England as "precautionary measure" but were not required.

In December last year, British military officials held talks with their counterparts in Moscow over "incursions" of Russian aircraft around the UK.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said the talks were aimed at finding ways of heading off any "miscalculation or accident".

Turkey arrests top journalist day after release
Ankara (AFP) Sept 23, 2016 - A Turkish court on Friday put a prominent journalist under arrest just a day after he was released over accusations related to the failed July coup, in a case that has sparked global concern.

Journalist and writer Ahmet Altan was detained late on Thursday, after he had been freed earlier in the day after almost two weeks behind bars.

The new arrest warrant was issued following an appeal by prosecutors.

The veteran journalist was taken to court early Friday and remanded in custody charged with "attempting to remove the government or attempting to obstruct its work", the Anadolu news agency said.

He was also charged with "being a member of a terrorist organisation", referring to the movement of Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen.

An Istanbul court also placed his academic brother Professor Mehmet Altan under arrest on the same charges.

Ankara accuses the preacher of ordering the July 15 attempted coup and the movement of being a "terrorist organisation", claims which Gulen strongly denies.

Ahmet Altan is a novelist who has also written for some of Turkey's best dailies including Hurriyet and Milliyet as well as founding the opposition daily Taraf.

Mehmet Altan has written books on Turkish politics.

The pair are accused of making comments with a "subliminal" message that the putsch was imminent during a talk show on the Can Erzincan TV channel on July 14, the eve of the coup.

The broadcaster, seen by the authorities as strongly pro-Gulen, has since been shut down.

The Altan brothers case has been a touchpoint for activists and fellow writers across the world worried about what they claim is the erosion of freedom of expression in Turkey.

Turkey's bestselling and Nobel-winning author Orhan Pamuk lashed out at the initial arrest of the journalist, warning that Turkey was heading towards becoming "a regime of terror".

He joined nearly 300 writers, including J.M. Coetzee, Salman Rushdie and Elif Safak, earlier this month in penning a piece calling for their release and for the Turkish government to respect freedom of speech.

"Like his brother and others now in jail, his (Mehmet Altan's) crime is not supporting a coup but the effectiveness of his criticism of the current government," they wrote.

Dozens of journalists have been detained since the attempted coup while over 100 media organs including newspapers have been shut down.

The Turkish government insists those detained were not engaged in normal journalistic activity.

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