Egypt internet: Sisi ratifies law tightening control over websites

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Egyptian policemen standing next to an electoral banner depicting President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in the capital Cairo. March 26, 2018Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption President Sisi’s supporters say he has brought stability while critics say he has stifled democracy

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has signed a new law that tightens controls over the internet.

The legislation on «cybercrime» means websites can be blocked in Egypt if deemed to constitute a threat to national security or the economy.

Anyone found guilty of running, or just visiting, such sites could face prison or a fine.

Authorities say the new measures are needed to tackle instability and terrorism.

But human rights groups accuse the government of trying to crush all political dissent in the country.

The Cairo-based Association of Freedom of Thought and Expression said more than 500 websites had already been blocked in Egypt prior to the new law being signed.

Last month another bill was passed by parliament, yet to be approved by President Sisi, that would allow any social media accounts with more than 5,000 followers to be placed under supervision.

Correspondents says that with street protests in Egypt all but banned, the internet has been one of the last forums left for Egyptians to express dissent.

Human Rights Watch issued a warning last month that Egyptian authorities were increasingly using counterterrorism and state-of-emergency laws and courts to unjustly prosecute journalists, activists, and critics for peaceful criticism.

Those recently arrested include the well-known blogger and rights defender Wael Abbas; Amal Fathy, a political activist and the wife of the head of the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms; and the comic Shady Abu Zaid.

Latter Day Saints church leader rejects ‘Mormon’ label

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Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Salt Lake City (file picture)Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is based in Salt Lake City, Utah

People should no longer use the word «Mormon» to characterise the faith, the head of the Utah-based church has said.

Church leader Russell Nelson urged both followers and non-followers to stick to the official designation «the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints».

Mr Nelson, 93, said the move had been prompted by God, who «impressed upon my mind the importance of the name».

However, he added, the central text of the Church would still be called the Book of Mormon.

The church’s updated online guide says the terms «Mormon Church», «Mormons» and «Mormonism» are no longer acceptable.

It also bans the abbreviation «LDS» as shorthand for the faith.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Russell Nelson had headed the church since January this year

For the followers of the church, the president is also a prophet who receives divine revelations.

Among the faith’s followers is 2012 US Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

Members of the church worship Jesus Christ, but have substantial differences in belief to the Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox Christian sects.

Kofi Annan death: World leaders honour former UN chief

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Media captionKofi Annan accepts his Nobel Peace Prize

World figures have been paying tribute to former UN secretary-general and Nobel laureate Kofi Annan, who has died at the age of 80.

Current UN chief Antonio Guterres hailed him as «a guiding force for good» and Russian President Vladimir Putin described a «remarkable person».

Ex-US President Barack Obama said Annan had always pursued «a better world».

The Ghanaian national served as UN chief from 1997 to 2006 and is the only black African ever to hold the post.

Since then he has served as the UN special envoy for Syria, leading efforts to find a solution to the conflict.

The career diplomat died in hospital in the Swiss city of Bern. He had been living near Geneva for several years.

He «passed away peacefully on Saturday after a short illness«, the Kofi Annan Foundation said.

He was a «deeply committed internationalist who fought throughout his life for a fairer and more peaceful world», the statement added.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Kofi Annan’s wife, Nane, was by his side when he died

Mr Guterres led the tributes to his predecessor. «In many ways, Kofi Annan was the United Nations. He rose through the ranks to lead the organisation into the new millennium with matchless dignity and determination,» he said in a statement.

UN high commissioner for human rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said in a tweet he was grief-stricken over Annan’s death:

Mr Obama, the first African American to win the White House, said: «Long after he had broken barriers, Kofi never stopped his pursuit of a better world.»

President Putin said the memory of Annan would «forever live in the hearts of Russians».

Meanwhile, Indian PM Narendra Modi said «the world has lost not only a great African diplomat and humanitarian but also a conscience keeper of international peace and security».


Remembering Kofi Annan

By Imogen Foulkes, BBC’s UN reporter in Geneva

Kofi Annan will be remembered for the way he drew attention, over and over again, to the plight of those caught up in war, environmental disaster, or simply grinding poverty.

The way he quietly but firmly reminded world leaders, however powerful, that they needed to put their duty to their citizens above their political careers.

Read more from Imogen


UK PM Theresa May and Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg were also among those who paid tributes.

Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo announced a week of national mourning, calling Annan «one of our greatest compatriots».

Kofi Annan described his greatest achievement as the Millennium Development Goals, which — for the first time — set global targets on issues such as poverty and child mortality. The drive is widely regarded as a success.

However, Annan was not immune from criticism. Some blamed him for the UN’s failure to halt the genocide in Rwanda in the 1990s when he was head of the organisation’s peacekeeping operations.

He later clashed with America and the UK over the Iraq war after 2003, calling the US-led invasion illegal.

But despite their past differences, former US President George W Bush was among those paying homage to Annan on Saturday, calling him «a tireless leader of the United Nations» whose «voice of experience will be missed around the world».

After the invasion of Iraq, Annan and his son were accused of being involved in the «oil for food corruption scandal» that led some to call for his resignation, though he was later exonerated.

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Media captionAnnan told the BBC in April that the world had become «particularly messy»

The diplomat’s career continued after retirement from the UN, and in 2007 he set up his own foundation aimed at promoting global sustainable development, security and peace.

A year later, his reputation was boosted after he successfully helped negotiate a power-sharing deal to end post-election violence in Kenya.

In a Facebook tribute, Raila Odinga, the opposition leader who signed the agreement, called Annan «the man who stepped in and saved the country from collapse».

In an interview with the BBC’s HardTalk to mark his 80th birthday in April, Annan acknowledged the UN’s shortcomings, but said that «if it didn’t exist you would have to create it».

«I was born an optimist and will remain an optimist,» he added.

In 2012 he was made chair of The Elders, a peace and human rights advocacy group started by South Africa’s Nelson Mandela.

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Image caption Annan attended an event marking Nelson Mandela’s 100th birth anniversary in Johannesburg last month

The same year, he quit his post as UN envoy to Syria after only six months, citing the failures of world powers to fulfil their commitments. He was later quoted as saying: «I lost my troops on the way to Damascus.»

His most recent role was chairing an independent commission investigating Myanmar’s Rohingya crisis.

Annan’s wife, Nane, and three children were «by his side during his last days», the Kofi Annan Foundation said.

Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas confirm they are engaged

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Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas arriving at a party together in JuneImage copyright AFP/ Getty Images
Image caption She is a Bollywood megastar who has crossed into American TV and films, while he is a singer, songwriter and actor

Nick Jonas and Priyanka Chopra have confirmed they are engaged after just a few months together.

The Texan singer, formerly part of the Jonas Brothers, and the Bollywood superstar held a private engagement ceremony in Mumbai on Saturday. Both wore traditional Indian clothes.

The pair’s engagement has been rumoured for about three weeks but they had not confirmed it until now.

No date has yet been announced for the wedding.

The couple shared identical photos from the ceremony on their respective Instagram pages, with Jonas calling Chopra the «future Mrs Jonas».

Their engagement is one of a rash of recent quick celebrity engagements.

Earlier this year, singer Ariana Grande and comedian Pete Davidson decided after a few weeks of dating that they would get married, and last month singer Justin Bieber got engaged to a former flame, model Hailey Baldwin, who he got back together with very recently.

Chopra won the Miss World pageant in 2000 and went on to make more than 50 films in India, alongside superstars like Salman Khan, Shah Rukh Khan and Amitabh Bachchan, becoming one of Bollywood’s highest-paid actresses, with many awards and accolades.

Time magazine named her as one of the 100 most influential people in the world two years ago, and last year Forbes magazine included her in a list of the world’s 100 most powerful women.

She broke in to acting in the US with a role in the TV series Quantico and film roles in Ventilator, Baywatch and A Kid like Jake.

And she was a guest of Meghan Markle in the wedding of 2018.

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Media captionActress Priyanka Chopra tells the BBC Asian Network she does not like the Bollywood label

Jonas was part of a band with his brothers Joe and Kevin and got a big following on the Disney Channel. He has since gone solo.