A new artistic production aims to give new perspective on Chelsea Manning

19 October 2014 - 22H25

by Biodun Iginla and Suzanne Gould, France24 and BBC News

    A singer performs between two screens showing footage of a US military attack in Baghdad during a rehearsal of

    A singer performs between two screens showing footage of a US military attack in Baghdad during a rehearsal of “The Source” in New York on October 8, 2014

    A new artistic production aims to give new perspective on Chelsea Manning — serving a 35-year prison sentence for the biggest document leak in US — through an oppressive atmosphere of digital disorientation.

    "The Source," which premieres Wednesday at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave Festival, is described as a "multimedia oratorio" by its creators who acknowledge there is no exact term to describe their strikingly unique take on the WikiLeaks informant.

    The production makes music out of primary source material — including a web chat in which Manning explained her actions, as well as excerpts from some of the 700,000 classified documents the former Army analyst handed to the WikiLeaks website.

    Four singers perform live, with their voices altered through a process similar to Auto-Tune, the device that keeps voices on-key, creating an eerie sound in which the performers appear to be in a duet with themselves.

    One song is an a cappella performance of a leaked memo from the US embassy in Islamabad, with a digitally distorted voice singing that then-leader Pervez Musharraf is trying “to construct an alliance of moderate Muslim states,” followed by the voice, interjecting in a lower pitch, a US diplomat’s assessment of the progress: “Disappointing.”

    Other songs, often accompanied by a mournful string section, but also with occasional rock and R&B interludes, feature technologically altered singing of WikiLeaks documents about violent episodes during the Iraq war.

    - Messing with music’s role -

    Composer Ted Hearne decided to draft the oratorio after attending one of Manning’s court-martial hearings and feeling that mainstream media coverage did not accurately portray the WikiLeaks source.

    Hearne, who earlier composed the “Katrina Ballads” about the 2005 hurricane that devastated New Orleans, said Manning was falsely described as meek and confused, when in fact she took responsibility for her decisions.

    "One of the amazing things about Chelsea Manning is that she was uncomfortable with all the roles she was supposed to play both professionally and also in terms of how she was supposed to act and how she was supposed to define herself," Hearne told AFP.

    "She decided that she was going to make a change," he said. "I see a parallel with creating music that messes with the role that you’re supposed to play."

    The WikiLeaks source, who was earlier known as Bradley Manning, identifies as a woman and has sought gender reassignment treatment while serving her prison term.

    "The Source" addresses the gender identity issue in the song "As a Boy, As a Boy," in which a vocalist performs from Manning’s web chat with former hacker Adrian Lamo, who later reported Manning to authorities.

    Manning writes — and, in “The Source,” sings — that he “wouldn’t mind going to prison for the rest of my life / If it wasn’t for the possibility of having pictures of me plastered all over the world press … as a boy.”

    The song builds with a dueling cello and guitar as the words “What the girls call …” drift in the background in a sample from Liz Phair’s 1993 feminist rock classic “Exile in Guyville.”

    - A new vantage point -

    "The Source" also attempts a portrayal of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has had far more opportunities to speak publicly than the incarcerated Manning.

    "Julian in a Nutshell" focuses not on Assange’s own words but instead mashes together questions he has been asked in interviews.

    The theme — how media shape the narrative — is also reflected in the setup of the production. Audience members and the singers sit together surrounded by videos on four walls, which show ordinary people’s reaction to the war footage leaked by Manning.

    "It creates, in some ways, an oppressive kind of environment where we’re all being watched and are all watching," said creative producer Beth Morrison.

    US officials say WikiLeaks seriously impeded diplomacy and put at risk confidential sources, although the extent of the impact is hotly debated.

    The creators of “The Source” did not reach out to Manning. Mark Doten, who wrote a libretto, said he did not want the production to be “propaganda” for one side.

    But Doten said he would be fascinated to know how Manning would react.

    Doten said that, while it was impossible to ignore the role of gender in Manning’s story, the oratorio aimed to shift the focus back to the documents.

    "It’s hard to get your mind around 700,000 incident reports. It’s hard to figure out what exactly the narrative is and what they say about what the US is doing," he said.

    "It’s a lot easier to distort the thing and ask if Manning was crazy and if Assange was a criminal mastermind," he said.

    Israel hospital treats daughter of Palestinian arch-foe

    19 October 2014 - 22H21

    by Nasra Ismail and Biodun Iginla, BBC News, Jerusalem

      Hamas top leader in the Gaza Strip Ismail Haniya (C) waves the Palestinian national flag during a rally in Gaza City on August 27, 2014

      Hamas top leader in the Gaza Strip Ismail Haniya (C) waves the Palestinian national flag during a rally in Gaza City on August 27, 2014

      An Israeli hospital said on Sunday that it has treated a daughter of Gaza Hamas leader Ismail Haniya, who is a sworn enemy of the Jewish state.

      A spokesman at Ichilov hospital in Tel Aviv told AFP that the daughter had been admitted for emergency treatment last month, although he was unable to name her due to patient privacy.

      A senior official in the Gaza health ministry confirmed a relative of Haniya had received treatment at the hospital, but identified her as a sister of the former Palestinian prime minister.

      She had been in “critical, life-threatening condition” when she arrived at the facility two weeks ago, the official said.

      Both sources said the patient had been discharged after a few days and returned to Gaza.

      The Palestinian official said she is now in “stable” condition.

      Israel, which fought a devastating 50-day war with Gaza militants which ended on August 26, controls the movement of Palestinians from Gaza to Israel but allows the passage of humanitarian cases.

      Last year, a granddaughter of Haniya was hospitalised in Israel in a critical condition.

      Medics in Gaza said at the time that Amal Haniya, aged one, was sent to Israel for treatment for a serious infection of the digestive tract which affected her nervous system.

      The premier’s son Abdessalam Haniya wrote that Amal was then returned to the Al-Nasser paediatric hospital in Gaza, “still in a state of clinical death”.

      A medic explained that due to the child’s critical condition she had been transferred back to the Gaza hospital, where should would receive the same medical care as in Israel.

      She reportedly died on November 25.

      Every year, thousands of Gazans are given permission to cross the border into Israel for urgent medical treatment, according to the World Health Organisation.

      Dallas officials urge calm in city on edge over Ebola

      DALLAS Sun Oct 19, 2014 11:16am EDT

      Workers wearing hazardous material suits arrive at the apartment unit where a man diagnosed with the Ebola virus was staying in Dallas, Texas, October 3, 2014.REUTERS/Jim Young

      Workers wearing hazardous material suits arrive at the apartment unit where a man diagnosed with the Ebola virus was staying in Dallas, Texas, October 3, 2014.

      Credit: Reuters/Jim Young

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      Texas officials are still working to contain the public’s fear of Ebola even as dozens of people who may have had contact with a Liberian man who died from the virus are soon expected to be released from a 21-day monitoring period.

      There have been no new cases since two nurses who cared for Thomas Eric Duncan contracted Ebola. But one traveled on a plane shortly before her diagnosis, sparking worry that fellow airline passengers could be infected.

      In response, wary education officials deep-cleaned schools this weekend in seven north Texas school districts with links to the nurse’s flights. On Saturday, Dallas transit officials temporarily closed a rail station for cleaning after a woman who was initially believed to be on the Ebola monitoring list fell ill at the station.

      Local television footage showed the woman, who officials later said was not being monitored for Ebola, being escorted to an ambulance dressed in a bright yellow hazmat suit, wearing a full face mask.

      "I think the community here has been outstanding," Clay Jenkins, Dallas County’s top official told reporters on Saturday, adding that there are "always a few" who panic.

      Jenkins, who has moved his office to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, where Duncan was treated and where nurses Nina Pham and Amber Vinson were infected, said his command receives several calls an hour from people think they have been exposed to the virus or have Ebola.

      At midnight on Sunday, some 48 people who had possible contact with Duncan will no longer require monitoring for signs of the virus. There are still 75 health workers in Dallas who have isolated themselves and are being monitored for Ebola.

      "This is a critical weekend," Jenkins told reporters. If there are no new patients Dallas is "going to be statistically less likely" to see new cases.

      In response to queries about whether the city was safe for meetings and conventions, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings recorded a video message on www.visitdallas.com to assure potential visitors that there was no risk of contagion.

      "First of all, Dallas is safe," said Rawlings.

      Tom Suzanez, a resident of Detroit who traveled to Dallas on Friday for a convention said he had serious reservations about making the trip.

      "There’s got to be others who are infected out there," said Suzanez. "The mistakes have been made and I hope everyone learned from it."

      Reform-minded Indonesia’s outsider Widodo takes over as president

      JAKARTA Sun Oct 19, 2014 5:08pm EDT

      Indonesian presidential candidate Joko ''Jokowi'' Widodo gestures during a rally in Proklamasi Monument Park in Jakarta in this July 9, 2014 file photo. REUTERS/Darren Whiteside/Files

      Indonesian presidential candidate Joko ”Jokowi” Widodo gestures during a rally in Proklamasi Monument Park in Jakarta in this July 9, 2014 file photo.

      Credit: Reuters/Darren Whiteside/Files

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      Indonesia’s Joko Widodo will on Monday take over as president of the world’s third-largest democracy with supporters’ hopes high but pressing economic problems and skeptical rivals set to test the former furniture businessman.

      Widodo’s narrow victory over a former general in July’s election marked the first time in the young democracy’s history that a president was elected from outside the established military and political elite.

      Widodo, 53, a former mayor of the city of Solo and governor of the capital, Jakarta, is untested on the national and international stages but he already faces resistance from the establishment to his transparent, can-do approach to governance.

      "He has climbed up to the top of the pyramid but he’s still weak within the powerful political class," said Achmad Sukarsono, a political analyst at the Habibie Centre, think-tank. "He needs time to be seen and accepted as part of that class otherwise he will face resistance."

      Widodo and Vice President-elect Jusuf Kalla will be sworn in parliament where they have been struggling to build support without indulging in the old game of trading support for jobs.

      His refusal to swap cabinet posts for backing has driven unaligned parties to the opposition, leaving him with a minority in parliament that is set to face resistance to his reforms.

      Even Widodo’s staunchest supporters have worried that his principles might stymie his reforms. But the lean, easy-going leader with a common touch has been resolutely optimistic about working with the legislature.

      After weeks of gridlock, Widodo last week sought to improve ties when he met with opposition leader Prabowo Subianto and prominent opposition member Aburizal Bakrie, who congratulated him and pledged to support his government, though reserving the right to criticize when necessary.

      "Widodo’s initiative suggests that the former Jakarta governor is becoming adept at navigating in national politics," political analyst Kevin O’Rourke wrote in a research note.

      GOING UP

      One of his first jobs will be cutting back generous fuel subsidies to avoid breaching a legal limit on the budget deficit, which is under pressure from a shortfall in tax revenues and the slowest economic growth in the country of 240 million people for five years.

      Higher fuel prices have sparked protests in Indonesia before and contributed to the downfall of long-serving autocrat and then president Suharto in 1998.

      An adviser told the BBC last week the new government planned to order the steepest fuel price increase in nine years “within the first two weeks of taking office.”

      The government aims to spend the savings on infrastructure, education, and healthcare.

      Corruption is another pressing problem. Outgoing President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono came under criticism in his last term for not doing enough to end pervasive graft.

      While Widodo has remained largely silent on his cabinet, he said last month that just over half his ministers would be technocrats. He is expected to announce his team on Tuesday.

      Within weeks of taking office, Widodo will be in international limelight with an Asia-Pacfic summit in Beijing and a G20 summit in Australia.

      As president of the country with the world’s largest Muslim population, Widodo will be expected to join the debate on Islamist militancy.

      U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will be seeking greater cooperation from China, Indonesia and Malaysia in the campaign against Islamic State and in staunching the flow of foreign fighters to the militant group, U.S. and Asian officials said last week.

      Gunmen free hundreds of prisoners in east Congo

      by Akira Buisson and Biodun Iginla, BBC News

      KINSHASA Sun Oct 19, 2014 4:08pm EDT

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      Heavily armed gunmen freed some 300 inmates from a prison in eastern Congo on Saturday, the provincial minister of justice said, amid fears over deteriorating security in the mineral-rich region.

      Christophe Ndibeche said the attackers easily overpowered the security guards, freeing all the prisoners from the central prison of Butembo, a town in North Kivu province.

      By Sunday evening, authorities had recaptured about 30 of the fugitives, he added.

      "These are enemies of peace who committed this attack to liberate the bandits in the prison. We are going to do everything to find them," Ndibeche said.  

      The assault comes at a time of growing alarm in North Kivu, a mineral-rich province bordering Rwanda and Uganda that has long been plagued by dozens of armed militias.   

      Last week, suspected rebels from the Ugandan ADF-NALU group carried out two overnight raids near the town of Beni, 50 km (30 miles) north of Butembo, killing more than 50 people.

      Ndibeche said that highway bandits were the most likely culprits in the prison break given that group’s strong representation among the prison population.

      Hong Kong street clashes erupt despite imminent talks

      HONG KONG Sun Oct 19, 2014 3:23pm EDT

      A pro-democracy protester sleeps over a barricade at the Mongkok shopping district of Hong Kong October 20, 2014.  REUTERS-Carlos Barria
      Pro-democracy protesters stand by a barricade as they prepare for a confrontation with riot police at the Mongkok shopping district of Hong Kong October 19, 2014.  REUTERS-Carlos Barria
      A man walks by a barricade as pro-democracy protesters continue blocking a street at the Mongkok shopping district of Hong Kong October 19, 2014.  REUTERS-Carlos Barria

      1 of 12. A pro-democracy protester sleeps over a barricade at the Mongkok shopping district of Hong Kong October 20, 2014.

      Credit: Reuters/Carlos Barria

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      Violent clashes erupted in Hong Kong early on Sunday for a second night, deepening a sense of impasse between a government with limited options and a pro-democracy movement increasingly willing to confront police.

      The worst political crisis in Hong Kong since Britain handed the free-wheeling city back to China in 1997 entered its fourth week with no sign of a resolution despite talks scheduled on Tuesday between the government and student protest leaders.

      Beijing has signaled through Hong Kong’s leaders that it is not willing to reverse a decision in late August that effectively denies the financial hub the full democracy the protesters are demanding for an election in 2017.

      "Unless there is some kind of breakthrough in two hours of talks on Tuesday, I’m worried we will see the standoff worsen and get violent," Sonny Lo, a professor at the Hong Kong Institute of Education, told Reuters.

      "We could be entering a new and much more problematic stage. I hope the government has worked out some compromises, because things could get very difficult now."

      Hong Kong’s Beijing-backed leader Leung Chun-ying, who has so far resisted calls to quit, said more time was needed to broker what he hoped would be a non-violent end to the upheaval.

      "To work out a solution, to put an end to this problem, we need time. We need time to talk to the people, particularly young students," he told Hong Kong’s ATV Television. "What I want is to see a peaceful and a meaningful end to this problem."

      Hong Kong’s 28,000 strong police have been struggling to contain a youth-led movement that has shown little sign of waning after three weeks of standoffs.

      Roughly a thousand demonstrators in the Mong Kok district launched a fresh assault early on Sunday, putting on helmets and goggles before surging forward to grab a line of metal barricades hemming them into a section of road.

      Scores of riot police had smashed batons at a wall of umbrellas that protesters raised to defend themselves. Amid shouts and hurled insults, violent scuffles erupted before police surged forward with shields, forcing the crowds back.

      One activist in a white T-shirt and goggles was hit with a flurry of baton blows, leaving him bleeding from a gash in the head. Several protesters were taken away.

      Dozens of people were reportedly injured in the two nights of clashes, including 22 police officers. Four people were arrested early on Sunday, police said.

      The clashes came hours after the talks were confirmed for Tuesday. They will be broadcast live.

      On Sunday evening, crowds again began building as protesters stockpiled helmets and fashioned home-made forearm shields out of foam pads to parry baton blows.

      RESTIVE GENERATION

      The protesters, led by a restive generation of students, have been demanding China’s Communist Party rulers live up to constitutional promises to grant full democracy to the former British trading outpost.

      Hong Kong is ruled under a “one country, two systems” formula that allows it wide-ranging autonomy and freedoms and specifies universal suffrage for Hong Kong as an eventual goal.

      But Beijing is wary about copycat demands for reform on the mainland and it ruled on Aug. 31 it would screen candidates who want to run for the city’s chief executive in 2017. Democracy activists said that rendered the universal suffrage concept meaningless. They are demanding elections with open nominations.

      Leung appears hamstrung, unable to compromise because of the message that would send to people on the mainland while more force looks likely to only galvanize the young protesters.

      Hong Kong’s Security Chief Lai Tung-kwok said some of the clashes in recent days had been initiated by activists affiliated to “radical organizations which have been active in conspiring, planning and charging violent acts”.

      The city’s embattled police chief, Andy Tsang, also expressed his frustration when he broke three weeks of silence on Saturday to say “extremely tolerant” policing had not stopped protests becoming more “radical or violent”.

      The demonstrations pose one of the biggest challenges for China since the crushing of a pro-democracy movement in Beijing in 1989.

      The situation in Hong Kong surfaced in weekend talks between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Chinese State Councillor Yang Jiechi in Boston.

      A senior State Department official said Hong Kong was discussed as part of “candid exchanges” on human rights while a Chinese Foreign Ministry statement said Yang had told Kerry that Hong Kong was “purely an internal affair of China”.

      In Mong Kok, protesters resting during the day on Sunday were defiant and also angry that local officials were portraying their campaign as increasingly radicalized and violent.

      While police took down some banners and posters, they left one of the more popular and dramatic, a cardboard cut-out of Leung being hanged in effigy from a lamp-post.

      "I will continue to stay here until CY (Leung) resigns," said Lap Cheung, 40, who quit his IT job in the United States to return to Hong Kong for the protests, adding that he had no hope for Tuesday’s talks.

      Besides Mong Kok, about 1,000 protesters remained camped out at the headquarters of the civil disobedience “Occupy” movement on Hong Kong Island in a sea of tents on an eight-lane highway beneath skyscrapers close to government headquarters.

      Ebola scare docks cruise ship in Galveston, Texas

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      GALVESTON, Texas  — A cruise ship carrying a Dallas health care worker who was being monitored for Ebola returned to port Sunday after an eventful seven-day trip in which passengers had their vacations briefly disrupted with an infectious disease scare.

      A lab supervisor who handled a specimen from a Liberian man who died from Ebola in Dallas showed no symptoms during the cruise but self-quarantined out of caution. Carnival Cruise Lines said it was informed by health authorities Sunday morning that she tested negative for Ebola. Vicky Rey, vice president of guest care for Carnival Cruise Lines, said the woman and her husband drove themselves home after arriving in Galveston.

      The Ebola scare added some drama to the trip for the more than 4,000 passengers on the ship.

      They learned through a public address system announcement that one of the passengers was being monitored for Ebola. They watched developments about the Ebola outbreak and their ship on the news. The boat was not allowed to dock in Cozumel, depriving passengers of one of the top port destinations. Travelers snapped pictures of a Coast Guard helicopter as it landed to get a blood sample from the passenger.

      "We weren’t worried. We ended up just hanging out and enjoying the rest of the trip," said Meredith Brooks, a Houston banker who was on her honeymoon during the cruise.

      State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that when the woman left the U.S. on the cruise ship from Galveston, Texas, on Oct. 12 health officials were requiring only self-monitoring. Officials stepped up their response while the cruise was underway and two nurses were diagnosed with Ebola.

      Carnival Cruise Lines said the woman was “not deemed to be a risk to any guests or crew” and that it was in close consultation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

      Petty Officer Andy Kendrick told BBC News reporters that a Coast Guard crew flew in a helicopter Saturday to meet the Carnival Magic and retrieved a blood sample from the woman. He said the blood sample was taken to a state lab in Austin for processing.

      The ship was refused clearance to dock in Cozumel, Mexico on Friday, a day after Belize refused to let the passenger leave the vessel. There were no restrictions placed on other passengers aboard the ship, officials said.

      Passenger James Dinkley of Thelma, Texas, took the cruise to celebrate his one-year wedding anniversary with his wife. He said there was some initial confusion and agitation after they learned of the situation, were delayed in Belize for several hours and had the Cozumel visit cancelled. But he said the cruise line kept everyone informed with regular updates after that.

      "There was a lot of confusion, especially when they canceled our Cozumel day," he said.

      Carnival gave passengers credit for the missed Cozumel leg. They received $200 in credits and a 50 percent discount on future cruises.

      Turkey opposes US arms transfers to Kurds

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      SURUC, Turkey — Turkey wouldn’t agree to any U.S. arms transfers to Kurdish fighters who are battling Islamic militants in Syria, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was quoted as saying Sunday, as the extremist group fired more mortar rounds near the Syrian-Turkish border.

      Turkey views the main Syrian Kurdish group, the PYD - and its military wing which is fighting IS militants - as an extension of the PKK, which has waged a 30-year insurgency in Turkey and is designated a terror group by the U.S. and NATO.

      Washington has said recently that it has engaged in intelligence sharing with Kurdish fighters and officials have not ruled out future arms transfers to the Kurdish fighters.

      "The PYD is for us, equal to the PKK. It is a terror organization," Erdogan told a group of reporters on his return from a visit to Afghanistan.

      "It would be wrong for the United States - with whom we are friends and allies in NATO - to talk openly and to expect us to say `yes’ to such a support to a terrorist organization," Erdogan said. His comments were reported by the state-run Anadolu agency on Sunday.

      Turkey’s opposition to arms transfers to the Kurdish forces is hampering the U.S.-led coalitions’ efforts to fight the extremists and further complicating relations between Turkey and Washington. The countries are involved in negotiations about Ankara’s role with the U.S. and NATO allies fighting the Islamic State group, which is attempting to capture the strategic town Kobani on the Syrian-Turkish border.

      Turkey has demanded that the coalition widen its campaign against the militants by providing greater aid to Syrian rebels, who are battling both the IS and President Bashar Assad’s forces. Turkey has so far provided sanctuary to an estimated 200,000 Syrians fleeing Kobani, and recently agreed to train and equip moderate Syrian rebel fighters trying to remove Assad from power.

      The White House said President Barack Obama spoke with Erdogan on Saturday about the situation in Kobani and steps that could be taken to counter IS advances.

      "The two leaders pledged to continue to work closely together to strengthen cooperation against ISIL," a statement said, using another name for IS militants.

      Fighting between the militants and the Kurdish fighters defending Kobani continued on Sunday. Mortar strikes hit the town, sending plumes of smoke into the air. Three mortars also fell on the Turkish side of the border, landing in an open field where they caused no injuries. On Saturday and Sunday, IS appeared to be targeting the border crossing area, potentially in a bid to hamper Kobani’s last link to the outside world.

      In an attempt to stave off the advance, a U.S.-led coalition has been carrying out airstrikes on IS positions in and near the town, as well as in other parts of Syria, particularly in the oil-rich eastern province of Deir el-Zour, as well as in Iraq. Several airstrikes hit Kobani on Saturday evening.

      The flow of migrants into Turkey has intensified since IS’ push to take Kobani and cut access for Kurdish fighters to other areas of Syria they control.

      On Saturday, IS fighters also weighed in on their attempts to take Kobani, arguing it wasn’t a fight against the Kurds.

      "We came to establish the laws of God - not to fight the Kurds," a fighter in army fatigues said on a video uploaded to YouTube. The video was uploaded by a user who appears to be embedded with the militants in Kobani. It appeared genuine and reflected Associated Press reporting.

      But another fighter who appeared to be from a European country, judging from his accent in Arabic, described their aim “to liberate the land from the fifth of the apostates, the PKK and others,” referring to Kurdish secular fighters - who are overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim - as apostates.

      The fighter said the U.S.-led coalition to fight the militant group was a sure sign of the justness of their cause.

      "As for the planes that shell us 24 hours, day and night, by God we say: they increase our faith, assuredness and steadfastness. We know we are on the right path because all the (non-believers) of the world have gathered against us."

      U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos, visited one of the refugee camps set up in a school in the Turkish border town of Suruc.

      While 900,000 people have been registered as refugees in Turkey since the Syrian crisis began four years ago, “the reality is that the numbers are nearer to 1.6 million,” Amos said.

      "Of course countries have concerns about security, and about the impact on their economies and on essential services like health and education. But it’s also a crisis with a huge human impact," she said. "The international community has to continue to do all it can to find a political solution to this crisis."

      Africa’s image takes a hit with Ebola

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      JOHANNESBURG  — In the United States, some parents fearful of deadly Ebola pulled children out of a school after the principal returned from Zambia, an African nation far from the area hit by the disease. In Geneva, a top U.N. official warned against anti-African discrimination fueled by fears of Ebola. The disease has ravaged a small part of Africa, but the international image of the whole continent is increasingly under siege, reinforcing some old stereotypes.

      Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone - the African countries afflicted by the Ebola outbreak - have a combined population of about 22 million on a continent with more than 1 billion people. Their corner of West Africa encompasses an area the size of California, or almost as big as Morocco. Yet the epidemic feeds into a narrative of disaster on a continent of 54 countries that has seen some progress in past years, and false perceptions of Ebola’s reach are hurting African business distant from the affected areas.

      "It speaks to a whole discourse about the danger of Africa," said Michael Jennings, a senior lecturer in international development at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London.

      He cited the recent decision of a British school to postpone a visit by a teacher from the West African country of Ghana after parents expressed concern about the Ebola virus. Ghana does not border the hard-hit nations and has not reported any cases of the disease.

      Jennings said fearful people don’t necessarily react in a rational way and the message of some comments on social media in Britain is: “Why don’t we just stop everyone in West Africa from coming?”

      Africa has had a troubled image. Famine in Ethiopia, chaos in Somalia and genocide in Rwanda drove the idea of a continent in perpetual crisis. In recent years, though, an end to a number of wars and ensuing stability and growth pointed to a turnaround that some enthusiasts dubbed “Africa Rising.”

      Now the economic impact of Ebola fears is being felt in many parts of Africa. Hotels, tourism operators and conference organizers are recording increasing cancellations.

      Thirty international buyers pulled out of an annual tourism expo that began Thursday in Zimbabwe’s resort town of Victoria Falls, said Karikoga Kaseke, the national tourism agency chief. He said business travelers from China and Malaysia were among those who recently canceled trips, and Jamaican musicians have also skipped Zimbabwean shows.

      The southern African country is more than 4,800 kilometers (3,000 miles) from Ebola-hit Liberia, or about twice the distance between London and Moscow.

      In the U.S. state of Mississippi, a middle school principal has taken a week of vacation in an attempt to allay parents’ fears about Ebola after he returned from a trip to Zambia, another southern African nation without any reported Ebola cases. In Pennsylvania, two high school soccer coaches resigned last week after their players hurled Ebola taunts at an opponent from West Africa.

      Soccer players on Sierra Leone’s national team have been treated as Ebola risks in African Cup qualifying games even though none of the squad lives in Sierra Leone because they play for clubs in Europe and elsewhere. Opponents have sometimes refused to shake the hands of the Sierra Leoneans or swap shirts - a soccer tradition after a game - because of fears of catching the deadly virus.

      U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein has warned against “a mentality that locks people into rigid identity groups and reduces all Africans - or all West Africans, or some smaller, national or local group - to a stereotype.”

      Jens David Ohlin, a professor at Cornell Law School in the United States, said discrimination was a concern as states seek to prevent the Ebola virus from entering their borders, but he warned against “oversensitivity to discrimination that will prevent governments from appropriately dealing with the situation.”

      The early international response to Ebola’s spread, described by some as slow, is linked to its location, according to Ohlin.

      He said: “Because it was in Africa, people just sort of threw their hands up.”

      Four people killed in east Ukraine fighting: Kiev

      18 October 2014 - 16H26

      by Maria Ogryzlo and Biodun Iginla, France24 and BBC News

        A house burns after being hit by a Grad rocket in Donetsk's Kirovsky district in eastern Ukraine on October 18, 2014

        A house burns after being hit by a Grad rocket in Donetsk’s Kirovsky district in eastern Ukraine on October 18, 2014

        Two Ukrainian soldiers have been killed in combat with pro-Russian rebels in east Ukraine, Kiev’s military said Saturday, as violence rocked a truce after talks between Kiev and Moscow ended without a breakthrough.

        "Two Ukrainian soldiers were killed over the last day, three were injured," said spokesman Volodymyr Polyovy.

        "One soldier was killed by a sniper’s bullet, and one as a result of a shelling attack," he said.

        France24 and BBC News correspondents also saw two civilians — a man and a woman — killed after a shell hit a residential house in the western district of rebel hub Donetsk.

        The clashes are the latest violence to batter a fragile ceasefire deal between Kiev and the rebels, which has failed to stem fighting at flashpoints around the region.

        Polyovy said insurgents “continued to violate the ceasefire agreement at several locations” over the past 24 hours, including at the airport in rebel hub Donetsk where Ukrainian positions were shelled twice.

        Donetsk city hall said several residential houses were destroyed in the districts close to the airport.

        AFP correspondents in the separatist-controlled city, once the biggest in the region and home to about one million people, heard artillery strikes on Saturday morning.

        Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Friday held crucial talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin and key European leaders, without making any apparent progress on the key sticking points.

        Poroshenko said after the talks that “the main problem is the implementation of the agreement” Kiev struck with the pro-Russian rebels on September 5, which commits both sides to stop firing.

        The conflict in eastern Ukraine has killed more than 3,400 people in the past six months, according to a “very conservative estimate” published in a UN report Friday.

        "Serious ceasefire violations continue to be reported daily and shelling has intensified" in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, the latest report from the United Nations said.