(MSNBC) – As MSNBC Makes Big Changes, Only One Scenario Remains for Brian Williams

brianwilliamsAs you may have heard, MSNBC has seen some big (and warranted) changes in 2015. Add it all up, and every program that existed from 1:00 PM to 7:00 PM EDT as recently as six months ago no long exists.

The alterations are swift: A national correspondent (Kate Snow) and a political director (Chuck Todd) will be joining and rejoining, respectively, the 19-year-old cable network. Morning Joe will occupy 25 percent of live (or plausibly live) programming per day. Opinion-based programming––at least after the morning show and before primetime––has been cleared away as a more traditional news focus takes it place. But of all the moves made by NBC President Andy Lack over the past six months, the most significant is Al Sharpton‘s move to Sunday mornings, thereby vacating the 6:00 PM timeslot on weekdays. And with most of the chess pieces now in place, the elephant in the room (See: Williams, Brian) appears to finally have a home: 6:00 PM, Monday through Friday.

In the end, it only makes sense to give Williams his own program instead of simply having him on standby for breaking news stories, a la Shep Smith at Fox. Because while Shep will jump into the network’s opinion programming at 5:00 PM (The Five) or in primetime (particularly whenBill O’Reilly or Sean Hannity are in tape) when warranted, he still owns his own hour at 3:00 PM with Shepard Smith Reporting.

Know this: You don’t reportedly pay someone in the $10M/year range to only work a few times per month. And in the case of Williams per a must-read piece by the Washington Post‘s Erik Wemple back in June (Title:Will Brian Williams have anything to do at MSNBC?), the highly-compensated anchor would likely only be called upon (maybe) a handful of times per month. And with seasoned pros like Snow coming on board and more-than-capable anchors like Tamron Hall, Thomas Roberts, and Jose Diaz Balart already there, it’s doubtful they would be preempted to make way for Williams, as such a scenario would not only be somewhat insulting to them, but an awkward date for viewers at home.

Instead, all signs point to Williams serving as a bridge between Todd (5:00 PM) and Chris Matthews (7:00 PM) at 6 in the east. Primetime––particularly the vulnerable 8:00 PM slot––has been offered up in some media circles as a possible home for Williams, which he occupied on MSNBC in the pre-Olbermann days up until 2002 with The News with Brian Williams. But that was a different time… a time when a good chuck of the audience didn’t already get their news on their phones, computers and tablets during the day in the dominant way they do now. And by the time 8:00 PM rolls around and the network and local newscasts complete, most folks know the basic meat of big stories of the day (who, what, when, where)… what many are looking for is perspective and analysis on those stories, particularly when the tremendous (and often ridiculous) theatre that is the race for the White House dominates the news cycle.

In the end, it appears the only true home–and true value–for Brian Williams at MSNBC is at 6:00 PM EDT.

Big changes with some fairly big NBC names in Kate Snow and Chuck Todd are coming. But the biggest name of them all still needs to be assigned.

Brian Williams, solely a breaking news anchor sitting around in a bullpen waiting to be called to the mound? Don’t think so.

Host of an hour-long traditional news program to set the table for the network’s editorial page in prime?

By all appearances, this is the only scenario left that makes sense.

— —

Follow Joe Concha on Twitter @JoeConchaTV

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(eagle radio news) – Syria Condemns Any UK Military ‘Interference’

On Air: 19:00 – 00:00

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Syria has accused the UK of “interference” following reports the Government is seeking to persuade Labour MPs to back airstrikes in Syria.

The Syrian foreign ministry has sent two letters to United Nations chiefs objecting to “brazen standpoints” taken by British officials and accusing the UK of a “colonialist” agenda, according to state news agency SANA.

It comes after Chancellor George Osborne acknowledged that a comprehensive plan is needed to tackle the refugee crisis “at source”.

He has said that means dealing with the “evil” regime of Syrian President Bashar al Assad as well as Islamic State fighters.

And, speaking on BBC1’s The Andrew Marr Show, he described the UK’s rejection of a previous vote on military intervention in Syria in 2013 as “one of the worst decisions the Commons has ever made”.

However, several opposition politicians have told Sky News they are wary about the prospect of military action.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told the Murnaghan programme she is sceptical about the “efficacy” of airstrikes, given the complex nature of the conflict in Syria.

“I believe the only long-term sustainable solution here, not that it is easy or that it can be delivered quickly, is a political and diplomatic one,” she said.

Her comments were echoed by Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper, who asked where the global diplomatic effort had been in getting world powers together to address the conflict.

Both women said they would accept Syrian refugees into their own homes as part of a wider housing initiative.

An estimated 250,000 people have been killed during Syria’s four-and-a-half year conflict and a further 11 million have fled their homes.

Sky News understands that the Government is currently preparing to accept at least 10,000 people from camps on the Syrian border.

The Prime Minister has announced that the UK will take “thousands more” refugees, following fierce public pressure over the UK’s response to the migration crisis, although he is yet to announce an official figure.

Number 10 is keen to demonstrate that, given stinging criticism from elsewhere in the EU, the UK is “pulling its weight”.

According to Mr Osborne, Britain will fund the influx by dipping into its international aid budget.

Some of the UK’s £12bn-a-year foreign aid budget will now be offered to local councils to help them house refugees at home, he said.

David Cameron will be pressed on precisely how many refugees the UK will take and what support local authorities will receive when Parliament returns on Monday.

More than 40 councils across the UK have so far stated their willingness to offer sanctuary to Syrian refugees.

Speaking on Murnaghan, Mrs Cooper welcomed the Government’s promise to help those fleeing persecution in Syria.

But she said the UK should not take refugees exclusively from camps on the Syrian border and should also house those who have already made it to Europe.

She also called for more to be done to help the vast number of unaccompanied Syrian children, saying the UK should bring back its “tradition of compassion and support” seen during the Kindertransport rescue effort in the Second World War.

Labour leadership contender Liz Kendall was more scathing in her criticism, accusing the Prime Minister of making the UK look “uncaring and impotent” compared to other EU countries likeGermany, which is expecting some 800,000 asylum applications this year alone.

She urged the Government to accept tens of thousands, rather than thousands of refugees.

:: Syrian refugees hoarded into camps in Hungary tell Sky News their families are dead, their country is at war and now they are being treated as “criminals”

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(USA Today) – Shark bites kayaker off Malibu coast

A kayaker fishing off a beach near Malibu, Calif., was bit Saturday by a shark and needed to be airlifted to a nearby hospital.

The kayaker, identified as Dylan Marks, 29, was fishing with a friend Saturday afternoon and dangling his feet in the water when a hammerhead shark bit his right foot about two miles off shore, according to KNBC-TV in Los Angeles.

Kyle Hudgins, who was fishing with Marks, told KNBC-TV that the pair saw the hammerhead shark just before it dove under water. A few minutes later, Marks felt the bite.

“He put his foot up on the kayak and he said, ‘Oh, dude. I just got bit!'” Hudgins said.

The wounded kayaker flagged down a fishing boat that was nearby and got onboard, where he was able to control the bleeding, according to the Associated Press. Lifeguards paddled to the boat and accompanied the kayaker back to shore.

Marks underwent surgery and was in good condition.

The incident comes exactly a week after a shark — possibly a great white — bit a large chunk from the long board of a surfer, 175 miles up the coast off Morro Strand State Beach. That person was uninjured.

There were 52 shark attacks off U.S. waters last year, though only six fatalities from the predators have occurred the past decade, according to the Florida Museum of Natural History, which tracks shark attacks. The vast majority of last year’s attacks — 28 — came off Florida’s coast, according to the museum.

Despite many more swimmers in the water and repeated reports of shark attacks in California, the risk of individual attacks off that state’s coast has dropped 91% the past six decades, according to a recent study led by Stanford University researchers.

The decline in actual risk may be due to factors such as a drop in the white shark population off California’s coast and a shift in white shark spatial distribution in response to growing populations of seals — a favorite prey, according to the report.

Source: Shark bites kayaker off Malibu coast

 

Last month, a man in his late 60s was attacked by a shark off Ocracoke Island in North Carolina. It was the seventh shark attack in North Carolina this year. In mid-June, two teenagers lost limbs in separate attacks.

Having so many shark attacks take place so close in time and locale is extremely rare. Fortunately, the victims survived, and good people everywhere wish them swift and thorough recoveries.

With every shark encounter broadcast over social media in photos and comments, it’s easy for mainstream media to harvest them for round-the-clock coverage. People may think that sharks — in rapidly increasing numbers — are prowling virtually every beach, just waiting to feast on human flesh.

While “man-eating sharks” may seem like a widespread threat to health and safety, shark attacks are extremely unusual. You have a one in 11.5 million chance of being attacked by a shark in the United States.

Far more mundane things are more fatal. For example, more than 15,000 people died while cycling between 1990 and 2009.During that period, only 14 died from shark attacks. Even lightning strikes are more lethal — killing about 40 people annually.

Despite the astronomical odds of ever running afoul of sharks, public officials often overreact after attacks such as those in North Carolina. In fact, authorities there announced that sharks observed “acting aggressive,” including swimming within 100 feet of shore, would be euthanized.

 

(The Washington Post) – Sarah Palin would like to be energy secretary — but not for long 

Sarah Palin thinks she would make a great secretary of the U.S. Energy Department because as a former governor of Alaska she knows a thing or two about “oil and gas and minerals.”

But she would not stay in the job for long if she were tapped to lead the agency by Donald Trump, who has said that he would “love” someone like Palin to serve in his administration if he is elected.

“I think a lot about the Department of Energy, because energy is my baby,” Palin said during an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union” that aired Sunday.  “And if I were head of that, I would get rid of it. And I would let the states start having more control over the lands that are within their boundaries and the people who are affected by the developments within their space.”

“So, you know, if I were in charge of that, it would be a short-term job. But it would be — it would be really great to have someone who knows energy and is pro-responsible development to be in charge,” Palin said. She touted her knowledge of “oil and gas and minerals, those things that God has dumped on this part of the Earth for mankind’s use, instead of relying on unfriendly foreign nations for us to import their resources.”

[Sarah Palin would be welcome in a Trump administration, the billionaire says]

Palin, who was the Republican vice presidential nominee in 2008, also took a swipe at President Obama, who visited Alaska last week and chronicled the trip with photos on Instagram that he took himself. Palin dismissed the trip as “pretty much a tourism jaunt, really” because he did not push back on what she called “messages” being sent by Russia and China. For instance, the Pentagon confirmed last week that a group of Chinese naval vessels had transited U.S. territorial waters near Alaska.

“How about while he was up here, he had, as a president, carried a big stick, instead of a selfie stick. He could start publicly berating these countries that are sticking it to us with the messages that they are sending,” Palin said.

Vanessa Williams is a staff writer at The Post. Contact her atVanessa.Williams@washpost.com.

Source: Sarah Palin would like to be energy secretary — but not for long – The Washington Post

(Fox News Latino) – Rally race car goes off course, kills 6 in northwestern Spain


Six people were killed and 16 others injured when a race car went off the course and into a crowd while competing in the A Coruña Rally in northwestern Spain, Civil Guard spokesmen told EFE.

The accident occurred at 7:39 p.m. Saturday on the stretch of the course in the town of Carral.

The car hit 22 racing fans who were watching the competition from the side of the course.

Paramedics treated the victims, but six people – three women, a girl and two men – were pronounced dead at the scene.

The injured, including four children, were transported to hospitals.

Civil Guard transit officers, emergency services personnel and municipal police responded to the accident, treating the victims and assisting relatives.

Paramedics had been assigned to the race, but additional ambulances were dispatched to the accident scene by emergency services officials.

There was total chaos at the accident scene as relatives of the victims tried to help them, eyewitnesses told EFE.

More than 130 cars were entered in the A Coruña Rally, which is one of the races on the championship circuit in the northwestern region of Galicia.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who is from Galicia, expressed his condolences to the families of the victims and wished the injured a speedy recovery. EFE

Source: Rally race car goes off course, kills 6 in northwestern Spain | Fox News Latino

(paste) – 10 Metal Albums For People Who Don’t Like Metal 

A lot of people don’t like metal. And that’s ok. Metal isn’t supposed to be easy. In fact, its roots come as a reaction against that very thing. But talking to people who think they despise heavy metal is often just as difficult. Most people know about Metallica and Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath and Judas Priest, but they’re what’s considered mainstream.

Introducing your easy listening friends to metal doesn’t have to be an exercise inGreen Eggs & Ham-level obsession with you chasing them around while clutching your collection of Deicide or Pig Destroyer records. Just as in the case of Sam I Am, sometimes trying something new can and often results in what’s a literally life-changing experience. We picked out 10 gateway records that could convert even the non-metal listeners.

1. Deafheaven, Sunbather
Although Deafhaven’s full-length debut Roads to Judah dropped in 2011, the San Francisco group has since become one of the most engaging metal bands since that time when Alcest actually sounded like black metal. With 2013’s Sunbather, Deafheaven took that very influence, framing it within compositional nods to “totally unmetal” artists/bands such as Johnny Marr, The Edge, and My Bloody Valentine. The vocals are most definitely harsh and the black metal foundation is ever present, but Sunbather primarily works so well due to the fact that that otherwise abrasive ferocity is carried by way of an unrelenting beauty and atmosphere. While the word “beauty” often results in the unfortunate gag reflex of many a metalhead concerning Deafheaven, it’s the selling point of one of today’s most captivating bands, metal or not.

2. ISIS, Panopticon
All stupid terrorist jokes aside, ISIS remains one of the most influential groups not only for their metal cohorts but for a litany of non-metal artists who take their strides from the band’s ornate-meets abrasive stylizations. Despite being disbanded since 2010, Boston’s post-metal giants have continued to make waves, even leaving on the high note that was their best album with 2009’s Wavering Radiant. But it was 2004’s Panopticon that marked the biggest shift in ISIS’ history, as the band employed a wider range of possibilities with what their music could accomplish rather than sticking to one particular (in this case very sludgy) brand of heavy. Just under an hour long, Panopticon is, much like its namesake, a complex and beautiful sonic journey, rendering scenes as psychologically rooted as they are physiologically concerned. It’s that combination of the abstract and the palpable that came to be the definitive characteristic of ISIS, and it began here.

3. Mastodon, Crack the Skye
One of the reasons that the hugely successful and (mostly) bearded Mastodon have become the new whipping boy for metal’s most cross-armed crybabies is likely the very thing that gives the Atlanta-based foursome an appeal to non-metal minded audiences. After three concept albums so multifarious that even Peter Gabriel would tear up, the group upped the ante and released Crack the Skye in 2009. The plotline is about as logical as your entire 70s prog collection. But it’s that same prog rock influence, which had continually growing throughout each previous Mastodon release, that came to a brilliant head on Crack the Skye. Both clean vocals (no yelling, softies) and also harsh vocals (avert your ears, softies) come packaged with some of the genre’s most astounding guitar and rhythm work since the mid-‘80s.

4. Opeth, Blackwater Park
Aside from chocolate, ABBA, and that cool movie about the vampire kid, the Scandinavian middle finger known as Sweden has given the world one of the most important metal bands of the last 20 years in Opeth. The group started in 1990 in Stockholm, but the band’s debut album Orchid served a necessary precursor to what would come with 2001’s Blackwater Park. The quintessential metal album of the 21st century so far, Blackwater Park not only raised the standard for the band who created it but for the genre and culture that would come in its wake. Even with Opeth’s much more cuddly recent efforts, the band’s most timeless and groundbreaking effort is largely so because of the band’s perfectly achieved balance between some of the most devastatingly harsh death metal vocals and the jarringly beautiful melody lines sung throughout by near-mythically versatile vocalist Mikael Åkerfeldt.

5. Pallbearer, Sorrow and Extinction
A more recent example of metal’s less aurally difficult acts, Little Rock’s Pallbearer arrived on the radar of many non-metallers almost right out of the gate. Their songs are long but not overly so; they’re are ornate without falling under the weight of their own compositional structure. It’s pop slowed down to a crawl with a healthy dose of atmospheric, Pink Floyd-inspired psychedelia. For any metal band to have pop appeal is like some fiction out of the early ‘90s (cough), but alas, 2012 not only saw that very thing but from a doom metal band no less. It’s a testament not only to Pallbearer’s individual members’ abilities as songwriters but also to the evolving fanbase of a genre that’s far less the oddball in the crowd than it used to be.

6. Pinkish Black, Pinkish Black
Sure to gain the ire of metal purists for not being metal enough (or whatever the hell it is this week), Fort Worth’s Pinkish Black released its full-length debut in 2012 to immediate acclaim. In addition to the well-deserved praise, the duo’s music managed to be just as unsettling as nearly anything else considered extreme. Trading blast beats, shredding riffs, and indecipherable vocals for keyboards and a set of drums, Pinkish Black invokes a devastatingly heavy atmosphere that speaks as much to Joy Division as it does Popol Vuh. Born from some genuinely gruesome circumstances that directly influenced their moniker, Pinkish Black’s most powerful asset is their deliberately subdued presentation of all that makes heavy metal the force it is, and also proof that the paths to dark music are many, all with their own singular definition of what the word “heavy” can mean.

7. Royal Thunder, Crooked Doors
Released just this year, Crooked Doors is positively infectious for a straight up hard rock record. The band’s transition from its first to second records was a natural one with vocalist Mlny Parsonz (Mel Parsons) belting out her lines with a range that would make Grace Slick proud. Crooked Doors doesn’t require much patience on the part of the listener. From start to finish, the album kicks into a ‘70s hard rock edge with a punk rock ethos courtesy of Parsons’ singing which varies from graveled sneering to stratospheric melodic lines in the refrains. Not just one of the year’s best metal releases but one of its finest examples of no frills, no gimmicks, and no bullshit rock ‘n’ roll.

8. SubRosa, More Constant Than the Gods
One of 2013’s best metal releases came by way of Salt Lake City’s SubRosa. A five-member multi-instrumental force, the band’s sheer depth of sound is something to behold. While the use of orchestral instruments, specifically in this case the violin, is nothing new to heavy metal or “extreme music”, SubRosa’s implementation is not simply an exercise in arbitrary timbre. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find any other heavy metal band whose use of otherwise delicate instrumentation is even remotely as commanding as SubRosa’s. Active since 2005, More Constant Than the Gods is the group’s third album and handily their best. Similar to Pallbearer, SubRosa is quintessentially a gateway band, giving listeners a glimpse into the too often overlooked versatility in heavy metal.

9. Torche, Meanderthal
Released in 2008 on the now (sort of) defunct Hydra Head Records—one of the most highly respected experimental music labels of the last decade—Meanderthalwas an immediate anomaly in the metal world. The music is some of the heaviest on this entire list but the vocals are clean and actually quite pleasant. Singer/guitarist Steve Brooks pairs his baritone against a backdrop of doom metal on speed. Often referred to as “sludge” or “stoner” metal, Torche is modern metal’s answer to Van Halen or Cheap Trick in many ways. The music is fun. Metal is fun. You may actually find yourself smiling while headbanging. Stranger things have happened. For many previously uninitiated metalheads, Meanderthal still remains the standard gateway to what would become a gloriously loud journey into heavy metal.

10. YOB, Clearing the Path to Ascend
Eugene, Ore.’s YOB formed in 1996. It was the same year that Tool, one of the most well-known crossover metal bands released the masterpiece known as Ænima. The connection doesn’t stop there, though. Years later, the two bands would tour together with YOB opening for the mighty Tool and their cult-like legions of fans. Having YOB open was no flippant choice on the part of Tool who, like many other globally recognized names, could have just as easily gone with a run-of-the-mill act or some slightly less well known act. Even that moment of pride doesn’t come close to YOB’s greatest triumph to date. That moment came just last year with Clearing the Path to Ascend, a four-track journey into some of modern metal’s most emotionally charged and unwaveringly gorgeous moments of the last several years. Mike Scheidt may very well be the most versatile vocalist in the metal game today, easily switching from bottomed-out growls to stratospheric vocalizations as tenderly vulnerable as they are definitively unassailable. Of its four tracks, no song perfectly captures the band’s unshakeable distinction among its peers as does the album’s closer “Marrow”. It’s just one of the many reasons you’re likely to hear this band’s name much more often in the near future.

Source: 10 Metal Albums For People Who Don’t Like Metal :: Music :: Lists :: Paste

(The Washington Post) – The Latest: Pope Francis asks faithful to shelter refugees – 

Refugees and migrants take part in a protest demanding the authorities to let them go to Athens and continue their trip towards Northern Europe, at the port of Mytilene, on the northeastern Greek island of Lesbos, on Saturday, Sept. 5, 2015. Earlier many of them confronted the police as they attempted to get onboard a ship bound to Athens’ port of Piraeus. (Santi Palacios/Associated Press)
By Associated Press September 6 at 6:32 AM
BERLIN — The latest news as countries across Europe cope with the arrival of thousands of migrants and refugees. All times local (CET):

___

12:30 p.m.

Pope Francis is asking faithful throughout Europe to shelter refugees fleeing “death from war and hunger.”

Francis said Sunday that the Vatican’s two parishes are taking in two families of refugees. He gave no details as he addressed tens of thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square.

Francis said it’s not enough to say, “Have courage, hang in there,” to the hundreds of thousands of refugees who are on the march toward what he called “life’s hope.”

He called on every Catholic parish, convent, monastery and sanctuary in Europe to shelter a family, and asked bishops throughout Europe to urge their dioceses to do the same.

___

11:30 p.m.

Israel’s prime minister says his country is not indifferent to the plight of migrants and refugees flooding Europe, but that Israel is too vulnerable to absorb them.

Benjamin Netanyahu bemoaned the “human tragedy” of the victims of Syria’s civil war and said Israel has aided them in various ways. But he added that Israel is too small a country, both geographically and demographically, to provide a haven for a large influx of migrants.

Israel runs a field hospital on its border with Syria and has taken in wounded Syrians, but has stopped short of opening the borders to its longtime enemy.

Israel’s opposition leader Isaac Herzog says the country should take in a limited number of Syrian asylum seekers amid the current refugee crisis in Europe.

___

10:45 p.m.

Authorities in Cyprus say they have rescued 114 people believed to be refugees fleeing war-torn Syria after their fishing boat issued a distress call some 46 miles (74 kilometers) off the east Mediterranean island nation’s southern coast.

Cyprus police said Sunday that all 114 people, including Palestinians from Syria, are in good health. They include 19 women, 30 children, 5 infants and 60 men.

A merchant vessel notified Cyprus’ Search and Rescue Center late Saturday that the refugees’ 60-foot (18-meter) fishing boat was in trouble.
The refugees were transferred to the southern port of Larnaca for health and identity checks.

Police said three men, including a 28-year-old believed to be the boat’s captain, have been arrested and are being questioned.

___

10:00 a.m.

French mayors are offering to house refugees amid increasing concern for Syrians and others fleeing war and seeking haven in Europe.

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said in a statement Sunday that several dozen mayors have offered to help in recent days, and convened a national meeting to organize refugee housing on Sept. 12.

France is trying to speed up the process for seeking asylum and to better welcome refugees, as the numbers coming to Europe this year have soared. Many asylum seekers in France have no place to live and sleep in make-shift camps, from Paris to Calais.

A grassroots French group arranging private housing for refugees has also seen a spike in offers in recent days, after the widely viewed photo of a drowned Syrian boy helped raise public awareness.

___

9:30 a.m.

On the Greek island of Lesbos, police have used batons to beat back a demonstration by some 300 migrants chanting “Athena, Athena” as they tried to come out of the port area. Several of the protesters were injured in the clash, with one taken away unconscious by an ambulance.

The migrants, mostly Syrians, Iraqis and Afghans, say that local authorities on the Aegean island are not processing them quickly enough so they can continue their journey to western Europe. They also complain that authorities on Lesbos are not offering them any help and that they are fast running out of money.

The clashes early Sunday were the third in as many days between migrants and police. The demonstration on Sunday was led by Afghans.

___

9:15 a.m.

Thousands of migrants and refugees have arrived by train and bus in cities across Germany overnight.

Police say a special train with 570 people on board arrived in the Thuringian town of Saalfeld late Saturday. More than half of them were taken onward to Dresden, where a school for German army officers has been cleared to provide temporary shelter for 350 newcomers.
Trains also took migrants to Hamburg in the north and Dortmund in the west of the country, while buses brought more than 300 people to the capital Berlin.

Thousands more people, mainly Syrians, Iraqis and Afghans fleeing war and persecution, are expected to arrive in Germany and Austria from Hungary on Sunday.

The refugees were allowed to leave Hungary Saturday after the country opened its borders with Austria.

Source: The Latest: Pope Francis asks faithful to shelter refugees – The Washington Post

(CTV News) – Toll from rebel missile attack in Yemen rises; Saudi Arabia says 10 of its troops killed

Missiles hit Yemen - SanaaPeople inspect buildings destroyed by a Saudi-led airstrike in Sanaa, Yemen on Saturday, Sept. 5, 2015. (AP / Hani Mohammed)

SANAA, Yemen — Saudi Arabia’s military said Saturday that 10 of its troops were killed in a rebel missile strike a day earlier in Yemen, raising the death toll in the attack to at least 55 coalition troops killed.

It was the first public acknowledgement by the Saudis that they have ground troops in Yemen, where they lead a coalition targeting Shiite rebels known as Houthis and their allies.

The United Arab Emirates lost 45 troops in the attack Friday, when rebels hit an ammunition depot in Marib, about 120 kilometres (75 miles) east of the capital, Sanaa. It was the deadliest day for the UAE’s military in the nation’s 44-year history.

“Ten Saudi soldiers from the Arab coalition forces were martyred,” in the attack on the weapons depot, Saudi military spokesman Brig. Gen. Ahmed Asiri said in a statement.

The Saudi-led and U.S.-backed coalition, made up mainly of Gulf nations, has been launching airstrikes against the rebels since March, part of an increasingly assertive military policy by both the Saudis and the UAE in the region.

Before Saudi Arabia and the UAE confirmed their casualties in the attack, coalition countries had avoided acknowledging that they had troops on the ground in the impoverished Arabian Peninsula country. On Friday, Bahrain’s state news agency also reported that five of its soldiers were killed in Yemen operations, although it did not specify where or how.

Yemeni security officials have said that Saudi, Emirati, Egyptian and Jordanian military advisers are training hundreds of fighters at a military base in Aden. The Saudis also are supplying weapons and providing military advice in the fight for control of their southern neighbour.

The rebels and army units loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh are fighting forces loyal to President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who is in self-imposed exile in Saudi Arabia, as well as southern separatists and local militias.

Officials from the Houthis media office confirmed they had fired a Soviet-era Tochka missile in Marib, which had been a staging ground for what pro-government described as an upcoming assault toward the Houthis’ northern strongholds.

Also Saturday, pro-government Yemen officials said Arab coalition forces in Marib received reinforcements in the form of troops and supplies from neighbouring Saudi Arabia. They said the troops were from Bahrain, the UAE and Saudi Arabia, and also included Saudi-trained Yemeni forces.

The coalition also has launched almost-continuous airstrikes in the rebel-held capital of Sanaa since the rebels’ Friday missile attack, demolishing at least one building, Sanaa residents said. Shock waves from the explosions caused several small buildings to collapse as well. The residents spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.

The airstrikes in the capital targeted weapons storage facilities and a police department in downtown Sanaa, which the rebels had turned into a military headquarters, independent security officials and witnesses said. The strikes knocked down a nearby house, killing four civilians and wounding three from the same family, they added. The Houthi-controlled Interior Ministry said 27 people have been killed by the intensified airstrikes since Friday.

Meanwhile in Jawf, a massive desert province north of Marib, hundreds of Saudi-trained Yemeni fighters and coalition troops have marched in and set up military encampments in the north-western al-Yetema crossing bordering Saudi Arabia, pro-government security officials and tribal leaders there said. The move came Thursday as part of the military plan to seize Jawf in order to advance on the neighbouring Sadaa, the heartland of the Houthis.

Sandwiched between rebel forces in Jawf and cities to the south like Bihan and Sirwah, which lie on supply routes with the rebel-held capital, the coalition forces in Marib are unable to advance north, independent security officials said. A breakout would require help from the reinforcements to Marib and Jawf, Yemeni analyst Mansour Haael said.

All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief reporters.

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