{"JP":[ {"NewsSection":{"name":"world","detaillevel":"full", "Articles": {"count":25,"detaillevel":"full","articlesList":[ {"article": { "url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/world/france-presidential-election-voters-begin-casting-ballots-1-4427061","id":"1.4427061","articleHeadline": "France presidential election: Voters begin casting ballots","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1492942853000 ,"articleLead": "

French voters have started casting ballots for the presidential election under heightened security in a tense first-round poll that is seen as a test for the spread of populism around the world.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4427060.1492942852!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "People line up to vote at a polling station in Martres-Tolosane, southwestern France, during the first round of the French presidential election. Picture: AFP Photo"} ,"articleBody": "

More than 60,000 polling stations opened on Sunday for voters who will choose between 11 candidates in the most unpredictable election in decades.

Security was tight after a deadly attack on the Champs-Elysees on Thursday in which a police officer and a gunman were killed.

The government has mobilised more than 50,000 police and gendarmes to protect polling stations, with an additional 7,000 soldiers on patrol.

The vote “is really important, mainly because we really need a change in this country with all the difficulties we are facing and terrorism,” said Paris resident Alain Richaud, who was waiting to cast his vote.

It is the first time in living memory a presidential election is taking place during a state of emergency, which was put in place after the Paris attacks of November 2015.

Opinion polls point to a tight race among the four leading contenders vying to advance to the May 7 presidential run-off, when the top two candidates face off.

Polls suggest far-right nationalist Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron, an independent centrist and former economy minister, were in the lead.

Scottish politics: News, comment and expert analysis

However, conservative Francois Fillon, a former prime minister who was embroiled in a scandal over alleged fake jobs, appeared to be closing the gap, as was far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon.

Unpopular incumbent President Francois Hollande made the unusual move last year of pledging to not stand for re-election.

France’s 10 per cent unemployment rate, its struggling economy and security were issues that top concerns for the 47 million eligible voters.

The 11 candidates are voting throughout the day.

World news from The Scotsman

Hardline right-winger Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, who rails against Europe, was the first of the presidential candidates to vote in his constituency in the leafy Paris suburbs.

Far-left candidate Nathalie Arthaud cast her ballot soon after in the Paris suburb of Pantin.

Mr Fillon will vote in Paris but his Welsh-born wife Penelope - who has been handed preliminary charges for her role in the fake jobs scandal that rocked her husband’s campaign - voted 155 miles away near their 14th-century manor house in Sarthe.

Outgoing president Mr Hollande cast his vote in his political fiefdom of Tulle in Correze.

The Socialist candidate is 49-year-old Benoit Hamon, who is not among the presidential frontrunners.

If Ms Le Pen or Mr Melenchon win a spot in the run-off, it will be seen as a victory for the rising wave of populism reflected by the votes for Donald Trump and Brexit.

Mr Macron and Mr Fillon are committed to European unity and would reform employment rules.

Like The Scotsman on Facebook

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4427060.1492942852!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4427060.1492942852!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "People line up to vote at a polling station in Martres-Tolosane, southwestern France, during the first round of the French presidential election. Picture: AFP Photo","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "People line up to vote at a polling station in Martres-Tolosane, southwestern France, during the first round of the French presidential election. Picture: AFP Photo","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4427060.1492942852!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/family-to-appeal-al-megrahi-s-lockerbie-bombing-conviction-1-4427055","id":"1.4427055","articleHeadline": "Family to appeal al-Megrahi’s Lockerbie bombing conviction","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1492942274000 ,"articleLead": "

The family of Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi will launch a bid to appeal against his conviction within a fortnight.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4427053.1492942151!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The nose section of Pan Am Flight 103 lies in wreckage on December 21, 1988 from an explosion over Lockerbie. Picture: Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

Lawyer Aamer Anwar confirmed files will be handed to the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC).

The SCCRC will decide whether there are grounds to refer the case to the appeal court.

READ MORE - Scotland took the rap for Lockerbie aftermath, claims Kenny MacAskill

Megrahi’s widow Aisha and son Ali met recently with Mr Anwar.

It is believed they will present concerns over the evidence which convicted the Libyan, including that given by Maltese shopkeeper Tony Gauci, who died last year.

Megrahi was convicted in 2001 of the 1988 atrocity which killed 270 people.

He was jailed for 27 years but died of prostate cancer aged 60 in 2012 after being released on compassionate grounds in 2009.

READ MORE - MacAskill ‘surprised’ by Lockerbie bomber release fury

Megrahi lost an appeal against his conviction in 2002, with the SCCRC recommending in 2007 that he should be granted a second appeal.

He dropped the second attempt to overturn his conviction in 2009, ahead of his return to Libya.

Like The Scotsman on Facebook

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4427053.1492942151!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4427053.1492942151!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The nose section of Pan Am Flight 103 lies in wreckage on December 21, 1988 from an explosion over Lockerbie. Picture: Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The nose section of Pan Am Flight 103 lies in wreckage on December 21, 1988 from an explosion over Lockerbie. Picture: Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4427053.1492942151!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4427054.1492942218!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4427054.1492942218!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Abdelbaset al-Megrahi boards an aircraft at Glasgow in August 2009. Picture: Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Abdelbaset al-Megrahi boards an aircraft at Glasgow in August 2009. Picture: Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4427054.1492942218!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/world/paris-shooting-gunman-threatened-police-in-february-1-4426198","id":"1.4426198","articleHeadline": "Paris shooting: Gunman threatened police in February","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1492791993000 ,"articleLead": "

The Champs-Elysees gunman who shot and killed a police officer just days before France’s presidential election was detained in February for threatening police but later freed.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4426196.1492791990!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Parisians leave floral tributes on the Champs Elysees following yesterdays shooting in which a police officer was killed two more injured. Picture: Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

Investigators believe at this stage that the gunman, 39-year-old Frenchman Karim Cheurfi, was alone in killing a police officer and injuring two others and a German tourist in Paris on Thursday night, less than 72 hours before the polls open.

He was detained towards the end of February after speaking threateningly about police, but was then released due to a lack of evidence.

He was also convicted in 2003 of attempted murder in the shootings of two police officers.

The French government has pulled out all the stops to protect Sunday’s vote as the attack deepened France’s political divide.

“Nothing must hamper this democratic moment, essential for our country,” Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said after a top-level meeting yesterday that reviewed the government’s already heightened security plans for the two-round vote that begins on Sunday.

“Barbarity and cowardice struck Paris last night,” he said as he appealed for national unity and for people “not to succumb to fear”.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack unusually quickly in a statement that sowed confusion by apparently misidentifying the gunman.

Police shot and killed Cheurfi - identified from his fingerprints - after he opened fire on a police van on Paris’ most famous boulevard. Investigators found a pump-action shotgun and knives in his car.

One of the key questions is how the attack might impact on the vote.

The risk for the main presidential candidates is misjudging the public mood by making an ill-perceived gesture or comment. With polling so close, and campaigning banned from midnightlast night, they would have no time to recover before voters cast ballots.

The two top finishers on Sunday advance to a winner-takes-all presidential run-off on 7 May.

Two of the main candidates, conservative Francois Fillon and centrist Emmanuel Macron, cancelled planned campaign stop.

The attack brought back the recurrent campaign theme of France’s fight against Islamic extremism, one of the mainstays of the anti-immigration platform of far-right leader Marine Le Pen and also, to a lesser extent, of Mr Fillon, a former prime minister.

In the wake of the assault, they redoubled appeals for a firmer hand against Islamic extremism and promised get-tough measures if elected.

But Mr Cazeneuve, the Socialist prime minister, accused National Front leader Ms Le Pen in particular of seeking to make political hay from the attack.

Meanwhile, the two police officers injured in the attack are said to be out of danger.

National police spokesman Jerome Bonet said there were thousands of people on the Champs-Elysees when the gunman opened fire and the rapid response of officers who shot and killed him avoided possible “carnage”.

In a statement from its Amaq news agency, IS gave a pseudonym for the shooter, Abu Yusuf al-Beljiki, indicating he was Belgian. But Belgium’s interior minister said the pseudonym did not belong to the attacker.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "MARGARET NEIGHBOUR"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4426196.1492791990!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4426196.1492791990!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Parisians leave floral tributes on the Champs Elysees following yesterdays shooting in which a police officer was killed two more injured. Picture: Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Parisians leave floral tributes on the Champs Elysees following yesterdays shooting in which a police officer was killed two more injured. Picture: Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4426196.1492791990!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4426197.1492791992!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4426197.1492791992!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "French police officer Xavier Jugele wgi was killed on the Champs-Elys�es. Picture: AP","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "French police officer Xavier Jugele wgi was killed on the Champs-Elys�es. Picture: AP","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4426197.1492791992!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/world/suburban-home-raided-after-fatal-paris-shooting-1-4424852","id":"1.4424852","articleHeadline": "Suburban home raided after fatal Paris shooting","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1492774550000 ,"articleLead": "

Police have swooped on a home in a Paris suburb after a gunman opened fire on police on the Champs-Elysees boulevard, killing one officer and wounding three people before being shot dead.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4424860.1492720339!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Police officers block the access to the Champs Elysees in Paris. Picture: AFP/Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

The Islamic State extremist group quickly claimed responsibility for Thursday night’s attack, just three days before a tense presidential election.

Security has already has been a dominant theme in the campaign and the violence on the city’s iconic avenue threatened to have a bearing on voters’ decisions.

Candidates cancelled or rescheduled final campaign events ahead of Sunday’s first-round vote.

Investigators searched a home early on Friday in an eastern suburb of Paris believed to be linked to the shooting.

A police document identifies the address searched in the town of Chelles as the family home of 39-year-old Karim Cheurfi, who has a criminal record.

Police tape surrounded the quiet, middle-class area and neighbours expressed surprise at the searches.

Archive reports by French newspaper Le Parisien say Cheurfi was convicted of attacking a police officer in 2001.

Authorities are trying to determine whether “one or more people” might have helped the attacker, Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said at the scene of the shooting.

One police officer was killed and two colleagues seriously wounded when the attacker emerged from a car and used an automatic weapon to shoot at officers outside a Marks & Spencer store at the centre of the Champs-Elysees, anti-terrorism prosecutor Francois Molins said.

The gunman was shot dead by other officers.

A female foreign tourist also was wounded, Mr Molins said.

The IS group’s claim of responsibility just a few hours after the attack came unusually swiftly for the extremist group, which has been losing territory in Iraq and Syria.

In a statement from its Amaq news agency, the group gave a pseudonym for the gunman, Abu Yusuf al-Beljiki, indicating he was Belgian or had lived in Belgium.

Belgian authorities said they had no information about the suspect.

IS described the shootings as an attack “in the heart of Paris.”

The attacker had been flagged as an extremist, according to two police sources.

Mr Brandet said officers were “deliberately” targeted, as has happened repeatedly to French security forces in recent years, including in the run-up to the 2012 election.

Police and soldiers sealed off the area, ordering tourists back into their hotels and blocking people from approaching the scene.

Emergency vehicles blocked the wide Champs-Elysees, an avenue lined with boutiques and normally packed with cars and tourists that cuts across central Paris between the Arc de Triomphe and the Tuileries Gardens. Tube stations were closed off.

The gunfire sent scores of tourists fleeing into side streets.

“They were running, running,” said 55-year-old Badi Ftaiti, who lives in the area.

“Some were crying. There were tens, maybe even hundreds of them.”

President Francois Hollande said he was convinced the circumstances of the attack in a country pointed to a terrorist act.

Mr Hollande held an emergency meeting with the prime minister on Thursday night and was due to convene a meeting of the defence council on Friday morning.

The incident recalled two recent attacks on soldiers providing security at prominent locations around Paris - one at the Louvre museum in February and one at Orly airport last month.

Speaking in Washington during a news conference with Italian prime minister Paolo Gentiloni, US president Donald Trump said the shooting “looks like another terrorist attack” and sent condolences to France.

A French television station hosting an event with the 11 candidates running for president briefly interrupted its broadcast to report the shootings.

Conservative contender Francois Fillon, who has campaigned against “Islamic totalitarianism”, said he was cancelling his planned campaign stops on Friday.

Far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, who campaigns against immigration and Islamic fundamentalism, took to Twitter to offer her sympathy for law enforcement officers “once again targeted”. She cancelled a minor campaign stop, but scheduled another.

Centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron offered his thoughts to the family of the dead officer and Socialist Benoit Hamon tweeted his “full support” to police against terrorism.

The two top finishers in Sunday’s election will advance to a run-off on May 7.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Margaret Neighbour"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4424860.1492720339!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4424860.1492720339!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Police officers block the access to the Champs Elysees in Paris. Picture: AFP/Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Police officers block the access to the Champs Elysees in Paris. Picture: AFP/Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4424860.1492720339!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4424853.1492718433!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4424853.1492718433!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Police attend the scene after an incident on the Champs-Elysees in Paris. Picture: AP","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Police attend the scene after an incident on the Champs-Elysees in Paris. Picture: AP","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4424853.1492718433!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"1492774600315"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/scotland-should-be-invited-to-be-canadian-province-1-4412193","id":"1.4412193","articleHeadline": "Scotland ‘should be invited to be Canadian province’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1492704419000 ,"articleLead": "

A prominent author has said Scotland should be invited to become a province of Canada.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4412191.1492704417!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Could Scotland become a Canadian province similar to Quebec? Picture: Contributed"} ,"articleBody": "

Ken McGoogan, whose books include How the Scots Invented Canada and 50 Canadians Who Changed the World, writes in a column for Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper that Scotland is ‘hitting a brick wall’, adding: “The Scots aren’t happy with the rest of Britain. They aren’t happy politically with Westminster’s shift to the right. They aren’t happy with Brexit, and with being frog-marched out of a multinational alliance they don’t wish to leave.”

McGoogan points out that, with a population of 5.3 million, Scotland would become Canada’s third-largest province, behind Ontario and Quebec and - in a country of 36.5 million people - would represent 12.6 per cent of the population as opposed to eight per cent wthin the UK.

Although McGoogan concedes that Scotland wouldn’t become fully independent, he insists Scotland would have increased powers.

In Canada, provinces have control over internal constitutions and taxation for ‘municipalities, school boards, hospitals, property and civil rights, administration of civil and criminal justice’ among others.

McGoogan also draws attention to the fact that Scotland would have control over oil as the Constitution of Canada places natural resources under provincial jurisdiction.

The inevitable comparisons with Quebec are made, with McGoogan referencing the motion passed by the Canadian government in 2006 that recognised the province as being ‘a nation within a united Canada’.

McGoogan also points out that Quebec has refused to sign the country’s Constitution Act of 1982, but adds that ‘constitutionally, Canada has muddled on without that signature for 35 years - and looks good to go for another 35.’

McGoogan’s parting shot is that Scotland applying to join the EU as a province of Canada - as part of a country of 41.8 million - would have more chance of success than as a nation of 5.3 million, and that a successful application would benefit Canada by providing the country with a ‘foothold in multicultural Europe’.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4412191.1492704417!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4412191.1492704417!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Could Scotland become a Canadian province similar to Quebec? Picture: Contributed","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Could Scotland become a Canadian province similar to Quebec? Picture: Contributed","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4412191.1492704417!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4412192.1492704419!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4412192.1492704419!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Scottish Canadians make up the third-largest ethnic group in Canada. Picture: Contributed","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scottish Canadians make up the third-largest ethnic group in Canada. Picture: Contributed","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4412192.1492704419!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/malala-yousafzai-friends-set-to-attend-edinburgh-university-1-4423307","id":"1.4423307","articleHeadline": "Malala Yousafzai friends set to attend Edinburgh University","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1492618585000 ,"articleLead": "

Two friends of Malala Yousafzai, who were travelling with the education campaigner when the Taleban attempted to murder her in 2012, have received study offers from the University of Edinburgh.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4423640.1492618562!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Malala Yousafzai (centre) with Kainat Riaz (left) and Shazia Ramzan, pictured in 2013. Picture: Jane Barlow"} ,"articleBody": "

Shazia Ramzan and Kainat Riaz are currently attending UWC Atlantic College in Vale of Glamorgan, in south Wales.

But the pair both have offers to study nursing at the University of Edinburgh.

Shazia and Kainat, who were 14 and 15 respectively at the time of the attack, were accompanying Malala home from school after a school exam when a masked Taleban gunman opened fire on their bus.

Malala was shot in the forehead, and Shazia was hit in the hand and shoulder. Kainat sustained a wound to her shoulder, after which the attacker ‘started shooting randomly’, Shazia told The Telegraph.

In the aftermath of the attack, Malala and Shazia were rushed to hospital while Kainat says she ran home terrified.

Malala’s injuries were so severe and complex that she was transferred to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham for life-saving surgery.

But while Malala gained global recognition, Kainat and Shazia were treated as outcasts in the Swat Valley in Pakistan.

Taxi drivers and buses refused to take Kainat to school, while her neighbours tried to force the Riaz family to leave, branding them targets for the Taleban.

But it was Malala’s influence that eventually brought Kainat and Shazia to the UK.

Settled in Birmingham, at Edgbaston High School for Girls, Malala was offered the chance to study at UWC Atlantic College but declined, asking if her friends could benefit from the invitation.

Kainat and Shazia were both given full scholarships, while former Prime Minister Gordon Brown - UN special envoy on global education - helped secure visas for the pair.

During her speech in December 2014 as she became the youngest recipient of a Nobel prize, Malala said: “I am not a lone voice. I am many. I am Malala, but I am also Shazia. I am Kainat.”

With Malala reportedly having received an offer from the University of Oxford, both Kainat and Shazia could be heading north of the Border to study in Scotland’s capital - with Gordon Brown again helping to find funding.

Despite Malala’s international reputation, the trio still try to meet up in Birmingham when they can, and chat regularly online.

But Shazia and Kainat are united in their plans post-education: they want to return to their homeland and continue campaigning.

“I believe I should go back [to Pakistan] and try to make change there,” Kainat told The Telegraph, while Shazia vows: “However we can help, we will.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "DIANE KING"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4423640.1492618562!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4423640.1492618562!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Malala Yousafzai (centre) with Kainat Riaz (left) and Shazia Ramzan, pictured in 2013. Picture: Jane Barlow","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Malala Yousafzai (centre) with Kainat Riaz (left) and Shazia Ramzan, pictured in 2013. Picture: Jane Barlow","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4423640.1492618562!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4423642.1492618567!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4423642.1492618567!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Kainat and Shazia were invited to study at UWC Atlantic College in South Wales after Malala declined an offer. Picture: Jane Barlow","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Kainat and Shazia were invited to study at UWC Atlantic College in South Wales after Malala declined an offer. Picture: Jane Barlow","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4423642.1492618567!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/world/man-who-put-murder-video-on-facebook-kills-himself-1-4422814","id":"1.4422814","articleHeadline": "Man who put murder video on Facebook kills himself","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1492581819000 ,"articleLead": "

An American man who killed a 74-year-old and posted video footage of the crime on Facebook killed himself yesterday in Pennsylvania, American police said.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4422813.1492581801!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "'Facebook killer' Steve Stephens has been found dead."} ,"articleBody": "

Pennsylvania State Police said Steve Stephens was spotted yesterday morning in Erie County, in the north-west of the state. Authorities said officers tried to pull Stephens over, but, after a brief pursuit, he shot and killed himself.

Stephens was wanted on an aggravated murder charge after a 74-year-old man was shot to death in Ohio while picking up aluminium cans on Sunday, after spending Easter with his family.

Stephens posted a video of himself killing Robert Godwin Snr, a former foundry worker who had ten children, police said. In it, he said: “I snapped, I just snapped.”

Stephens, 37, shared a recording on Sunday of himself announcing his plan to kill someone, then two minutes later posted another video of himself shooting and killing Mr Godwin, Facebook said.

A few minutes after that, he went live and confessed the crime, the company said.

Facebook said it disabled Stephen’s account within 23 minutes of receiving the first report about the video of the fatal shooting, and two hours after receiving any report.

The company has since announced it was launching a review on its processes for reporting harmful content.

Police would not speculate on what was behind the killing, but previous videos Stephens posted showed him talking about losing everything he had to gambling and having trouble with his girlfriend.

Stephens filed for bankruptcy two years ago, despite having a job as a counsellor helping young people develop job skills and find employment.

The behavioural health agency where he worked said an extensive background check before he was hired turned up nothing troubling.

In one video posted on Facebook, Stephens said that he gambled away everything, and that he and his girlfriend had planned to marry but did not, without saying why.

In the video of the shooting, Stephens told Mr Godwin the name of his girlfriend and said: “She’s the reason that this is about to happen to you.”

The woman Stephens spoke of, Joy Lane, said in a text message to a TV news channel that “we had been in a relationship for several years”.

She added: “I am sorry that all of this has happened.”

Investigators said that Mr Godwin was the only victim so far linked to Stephens, despite his claim on Facebook that he had killed more than a dozen people.

Detectives spoke with the suspect on Sunday by phone and tried to persuade him to surrender, police said.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "MARK GILLISPIE"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4422813.1492581801!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4422813.1492581801!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "'Facebook killer' Steve Stephens has been found dead.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "'Facebook killer' Steve Stephens has been found dead.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4422813.1492581801!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/world/turkish-vote-hands-erdogan-reins-of-power-1-4421985","id":"1.4421985","articleHeadline": "Turkish vote hands Erdogan reins of power","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1492505220000 ,"articleLead": "

Recep Tayyip Erdogan has finally fulfilled his long-held ambition to expand his powers after a referendum handed him the reins of Turkey’s governance.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4421972.1492505202!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivers a speech during a rally the day after the referendum. Picture: AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici"} ,"articleBody": "

But the president’s victory leaves the nation deeply divided and facing increasing tension with former allies abroad, while international monitors and opposition parties have reported numerous voting irregularities.

An unofficial tally carried by the country’s state-run news agency gave Mr Erdogan’s Yes vote a narrow win, with 51.4 per cent approving a series of constitutional changes converting Turkey’s political system from a parliamentary to a presidential one.

Critics argue the reforms will hand extensive power to a man with an increasingly autocratic bent, leaving few checks and balances in place.

Opposition parties called for Sunday’s vote to be annulled because of a series of irregularities, particularly an electoral board decision to accept ballots that did not bear official stamps, as required by Turkish law.

Monitors from the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), who also listed numerous irregularities, said the move undermined safeguards against fraud.

The referendum campaign was heavily weighted in favour of the Yes campaign, with Mr Erdogan drawing on the full powers of the state and government to dominate the airwaves and billboards.

The No campaign complained of intimidation, detentions and beatings.

In Istanbul, hundreds of No supporters demonstrated in the streets on Monday, chanting “thief, murderer, Erdogan” and banging pots and pans.

Mr Erdogan was unfazed by the criticism as he spoke to flag-waving supporters in the capital, Ankara.

“We have put up a fight against the powerful nations of the world,” he said as he arrived at the airport from Istanbul.

“The crusader mentality attacked us abroad. We did not succumb. As a nation, we stood strong.”

In a speech before a massive crowd at his sprawling presidential palace complex, Mr Erdogan insisted Turkey’s referendum was “the most democratic election ever seen in any Western country” and told the OSCE monitors to “know your place”.

The referendum was held with a state of emergency still in place, imposed after an attempted coup in July.

About 100,000 people have been sacked from their jobs in the crackdown that followed on supporters of a US-based Islamic cleric and former Erdogan ally whom the president blamed for the attempted putsch.

Tens of thousands have been arrested or imprisoned, including politicians, judges, journalists and businessmen.

The Council of Ministers decided on Monday to extend the state of emergency, which grants greater powers of detention and arrest to security forces, for a further three months. It had been due to expire on 19 April.

There is also the risk of increased international isolation, with Mr Erdogan appealing to patriotic sentiments by casting himself as a champion of a proud Turkish nation that will not be dictated to by foreign powers in general, and the European Union in particular.

Turkey has been an EU candidate for decades, but its accession efforts have been all but moribund for several years.

“They have made us wait at the gates of the European Union for 54 years,” Mr Erdogan told his supporters at the presidential palace.

“We can conduct a vote of confidence on this as well. Would we? What did England do - they did Brexit, right?

“Either they will hold their promises to Turkey or they’ll have to bear the consequences.”

Mr Erdogan has also vowed to consider reinstating the death penalty, a move that would all but end prospects of EU membership. But he insisted other nations’ opinions on the issue were irrelevant to him.

“Our concern is not what George or Hans or Helga says. Our concern is what Hatice, Ayse, Fatma, Ahmet, Mehmet, Hasan, Huseyin says,” he thundered as the crowd of supporters chanted for the return of capital punishment.

“What Allah says. That’s why our parliament will make this decision.”

Both Germany and France expressed concern about possible election irregularities and called on Mr Erdogan to engage in dialogue with the opposition.

US president Donald Trump, meanwhile, ignored the concerns about voting irregularities and congratulated Mr Erdogan on his referendum victory.

The two leaders also discussed Turkey’s support of the US response to a Syrian chemical weapons attack and efforts to counter the Islamic State terror group, according to the White House.

The US State Department, however, echoed the concerns raised by the OSCE, with spokesman Mark Toner pointing to “observed irregularities” on voting day and “an uneven playing field” during the campaign.

The referendum approves 18 constitutional amendments to replace Turkey’s parliamentary system with a presidential one.

The president will be able to appoint ministers and senior government officials, and will hold sway over who sits in Turkey’s highest judicial body. The president will also be able to issue decrees and declare states of emergency.

The new system takes effect at the next election, currently slated for 2019.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "MARGARET NEIGHBOUR"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4421972.1492505202!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4421972.1492505202!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivers a speech during a rally the day after the referendum. Picture: AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivers a speech during a rally the day after the referendum. Picture: AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4421972.1492505202!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/world/five-killed-after-plane-crashes-close-to-lidl-in-portugal-1-4421706","id":"1.4421706","articleHeadline": "Five killed after plane crashes close to Lidl in Portugal","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1492448041000 ,"articleLead": "

A small plane crashed beside a Lidl supermarket near Lisbon, killing four people on board and one on the ground.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4421705.1492448024!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The plane crashed next to a Lidl store near Lisbon. Picture: Fabio Miguel/PA Wire"} ,"articleBody": "

Four people were slightly injured, emergency services said.

The dead included the Swiss pilot, three French passengers on the plane and a Portuguese truck driver, emergency services operational commander Miguel Cruz said.

The Swiss-registered plane crashed shortly after a noon takeoff from the small Tires airfield, 12 miles west of the Portuguese capital, Cruz said.

Officials said that the crash happened amid clear skies and a light wind.

The Tires airfield said the plane was a twin-engine Piper PA-31 Navajo aircraft. The airfield was closed as authorities opened an investigation.

The truck driver was offloading his cargo at the supermarket’s rear cargo bay, just over 1 mile from the runway, when the plane crashed near him.

His truck was set ablaze.

Authorities declined to identify those killed in the plane until their identities could be compared with the flight manifesto.

The injured were shopping inside the supermarket, which is located in a residential neighbourhood, and were treated for shock and smoke inhalation.

The crash also occurred close to a primary school.

About three dozen firefighting vehicles rushed to the scene, arriving within six minutes, according to officials.

Nearby houses were blackened by smoke, with nine people forced to move out of their homes.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "MARGARET NEIGHBOUR"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4421705.1492448024!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4421705.1492448024!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The plane crashed next to a Lidl store near Lisbon. Picture: Fabio Miguel/PA Wire","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The plane crashed next to a Lidl store near Lisbon. Picture: Fabio Miguel/PA Wire","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4421705.1492448024!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/world/korean-crisis-trump-sends-in-three-aircraft-carriers-1-4421659","id":"1.4421659","articleHeadline": "Korean crisis: Trump ‘sends in three aircraft carriers’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1492444331000 ,"articleLead": "

Three American aircraft carriers will enter the Sea of ​​Japan next week, South Korean media has reported.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4420388.1492444315!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A warplane prepares to launch from the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson. Picture: AFP/US navy/MCSA"} ,"articleBody": "

In a sign of rapidly escalating diplomatic tension, the South Korean Yonhap news agency, citing a source close to the country’s government, said the USS Carl Vinson, USS Ronald Reagan and USS Nimitz had been directed towards the Korean peninsula.

The reports come after military forces in South Korea and the US announced on Sunday that they had recorded a failed test launch of a ballistic missile from Pyongyang.

And on Friday, North Korean staff threatened to destroy US warships in the event of an attack.

The Carl Vinson, which is accompanied by a strike force of warships including destroyers, received orders to sail to the Korean peninsula in early April.

The Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, has called on North Korea to refrain from further provocative action, comply with United Nations Security Council resolutions and give up its programme of acquiring missiles capable of delivering nuclear warheads.

Tensions on the Korean peninsula have escalated as President Donald Trump adopted strong rhetoric against North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Abe has indicated he will discuss North Korea with Russian President Vladimir Putin during their meeting later this month.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "MARGARET NEIGHBOUR"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4420388.1492444315!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4420388.1492444315!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "A warplane prepares to launch from the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson. Picture: AFP/US navy/MCSA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A warplane prepares to launch from the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson. Picture: AFP/US navy/MCSA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4420388.1492444315!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/business/markets-economy/china-s-recovery-gathering-pace-amid-property-boom-1-4421367","id":"1.4421367","articleHeadline": "China’s recovery gathering pace amid property boom","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1492421158000 ,"articleLead": "

China’s economic recovery is gaining traction, with growth for the three months to March rising to its fastest pace in more than a year.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4421366.1492421142!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The world's second-largest economy is targeting growth of 6.5% this year. Picture: Andy Wong/AP"} ,"articleBody": "

The 6.9 per cent annual pace of expansion for the world’s second-largest economy surpassed economists’ forecasts and was an improvement from the 6.8 per cent seen in the last quarter of 2016.

Analysts said government spending and a property boom spurred by easy credit were the main factors helping to driving stronger demand.

• READ MORE: Global economy ‘will come to UK’s rescue’ post Brexit

China saw its slowest growth in nearly three decades in 2016, at 6.7 per cent. The official full-year economic growth target for 2017 is 6.5 per cent.

“Currently, China’s economy is demonstrating good signs of pick-up in growth, overall price stability, expansion in employment and improvement in the international balance of payments,” said Mao Shengyong, a spokesman for the National Bureau of Statistics.

Fears of being dragged into a trade and currency war with the US have abated after president Donald Trump toned down his previously antagonistic comments against Beijing. A summit earlier this month with Chinese President Xi Jinping ended calmly, and the US Treasury Department did not label China a currency manipulator in its latest assessment.

200 Voices: find out more about the people who have shaped Scotland

During the first quarter, investment in fixed assets such as factories expanded 9.2 per cent from a year earlier, while retail sales grew 10 per cent. Industrial production rose 6.8 per cent, including a stronger-than-expected 7.6 per cent year-on-year gain in March.

Although exports have also shown sharp improvement, strong lending and investment figures suggest Beijing is relying on its traditional strategy of powering growth through government stimulus. China’s leaders have been trying to shift to an approach based more on consumer demand but tend to open the spending and credit taps at times when growth appears to be slowing too much.

“The question we need to ask is whether this investment-led model is sustainable as the authorities have trouble taming credit,” said Raymond Yeung and David Qu, economists at ANZ.

The latest figures indicate China’s economy is on track to meet its official growth target – a good sign for the country’s communist leaders, who do not like surprises and are preparing for a twice-a-decade party congress in the autumn to appoint new leaders.

“The 6.5 per cent target this year, you could say it’s more important than ever, because of the political reshuffle later this year,” said Amy Zhuang, chief Asia analyst at Nordea Markets.

“At least being able to maintain the stability in growth is very, very important for Beijing.”

On a quarter-to-quarter basis, which is how other major economies report data, the economy lost steam, expanding just 1.3 per cent. That was slower than 1.7 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2016.

The economists at ANZ said such figures should be viewed cautiously because they might reflect changes in how the government made adjustments for seasonal factors.

Economists say they expect the boost from the government’s policies and the property boom to persist for a few more months before fading later in the year.

House prices will likely start cooling this year as tighter restrictions finally kick in, but Beijing will probably take steps to offset that decline with more stimulus to meet its annual growth target, Zhuang said.

Click here to ‘Like’ The Scotsman Business on Facebook

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "KELVIN CHAN AND WAYNE ZHANG"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4421366.1492421142!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4421366.1492421142!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The world's second-largest economy is targeting growth of 6.5% this year. Picture: Andy Wong/AP","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The world's second-largest economy is targeting growth of 6.5% this year. Picture: Andy Wong/AP","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4421366.1492421142!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/business/companies/farming/syria-s-crop-production-badly-wounded-by-a-brutal-war-1-4421307","id":"1.4421307","articleHeadline": "Syria’s crop production badly wounded by a brutal war","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1492416313000 ,"articleLead": "

They say that in war truth is the first casualty – and the news coming out of Syria, with the daily twists and turns, concealments and revelations, claims and counter-claims, does little to contradict this belief.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4421306.1492416297!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Civil war has brought only misery to Syria's farmers. Picture: Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP/Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

But standing not much further down the casualty list often lies agriculture – and according to a report by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Syria doesn’t buck this trend either.

This area is the birthplace of agriculture and where many of our staple crops originated. There is evidence of cereals being grown there 9,000 years ago when our own ancestors were probably still living in caves.

• READ MORE: Why is Trump fighting Isis in Syria?

Agriculture played a key role in Syria’s economy. And the range of crops grown has also been diverse – with wheat, barley, legumes, olives, grapes, cherries and citrus fruits all being produced along with the main cash crop of cotton. So the ongoing devastation caused by the conflict to the country’s farming could be viewed as yet another war crime in an already lengthy list.

The FAO estimated that the six-year conflict has caused $16 billion (£12.8bn) of damage to the country’s agriculture – through losses of crops and livestock, irrigation systems, machinery, horticultural greenhouses and veterinary practices.

Estimates indicate that the area planted with cereals in recent years – a key factor in feeding the population – has nose-dived, with only around 900,000 hectares of wheat being grown, compared to 1.5 million hectares planted before the crisis.

Inevitably yields have also dropped dramatically as a result of the shortages of fuel, fertiliser and crop protection products along with the disruption caused to crop to irrigation systems and the lack of available labour to safely harvest the crops. This perfect storm has meant that overall production of wheat in the country has probably dropped to well below half its previous level.

In addition, grain production continues to be seriously hampered by fighting and the general insecurity which often keeps farmers from working in their fields. Not being able to carry out normal maintenance operations and the lack of spares for machinery and implements has also made things worse.

200 Voices: find out more about the people who have shaped Scotland

And while it’s been estimated that around half of those living in the countryside have fled to avoid the conflict, the general inability to transport grain from one area to another – either because of crossing war zones or the impassability of road systems damaged in the conflict – has meant that while unsold wheat stocks accumulate in the north-east, the west of the country has been forced to rely on imported grain.

The FAO found that the livestock sector, which has played an important role in the country’s domestic economy and in its external trade, has also suffered substantially since 2011.

Cattle numbers are estimated to be back by over 30 per cent while the figure for sheep and goats has fallen by 40 per cent. The lack of feedstuff has also seen the country’s poultry sector collapse by around 60 per cent.

The country’s veterinary services are also rapidly running out of vaccines and routine drugs, while the number of counterfeit and unreliable veterinary medicines sold on the open market has been growing.

However, a rare piece of good news is that the FOA team found that there had been no reports of any major plant or animal disease outbreaks despite the limited plant protection products availability and the disruption to the veterinary services – although just how high up the priority list reporting these might have been remains a moot point.

The report concludes that resilience of farmers has been heavily compromised after years of conflict and fighting, and many may abandon production altogether, with potentially grave consequences on the food availability at national level.

A drop of a few percentage points in any sector are enough to cause alarm in our own agricultural censuses – so the magnitude of these figures should be a stark warning as the world teeters on the edge of becoming a much more dangerous place.

Click here to ‘Like’ The Scotsman Business on Facebook

" ,"byline": {"email": "bhenderson@farming.co.uk" ,"author": "BRIAN HENDERSON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4421306.1492416297!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4421306.1492416297!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Civil war has brought only misery to Syria's farmers. Picture: Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP/Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Civil war has brought only misery to Syria's farmers. Picture: Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP/Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4421306.1492416297!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/world/us-era-of-patience-with-north-korea-is-over-says-pence-1-4421278","id":"1.4421278","articleHeadline": "US ‘era of patience’ with North Korea is over says Pence","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1492412172000 ,"articleLead": "

US Vice President Mike Pence has declared the “era of strategic patience is over” with North Korea, expressing impatience with the speed and willingness of the regime to move toward ridding itself of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4421275.1492412153!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "U.S. Vice President Mike Pence arrives at Observation Post Ouellette in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). Picture: AP"} ,"articleBody": "

Pence told reporters near the Demilitarized Zone separating North and South Korea that President Donald Trump is hopeful that China will use its “extraordinary levers” to pressure the North to abandon its weapons.

Pence, who has called the North’s failed missile test a day earlier “a provocation,” said the US and its allies will achieve its objectives through “peaceable means or ultimately by whatever means are necessary” to protect South Korea and stabilise the region.

Pence visited a military base near the DMZ, Camp Bonifas, for a briefing with military leaders and to meet with American troops stationed there. The joint US-South Korean military camp is just outside the 2.5-mile-wide DMZ.

Pointing to the quarter-century since North Korea first obtained nuclear weapons, the vice president said a period of patience followed.

“But the era of strategic patience is over,” Pence said. “President Trump has made it clear that the patience of the United States and our allies in this region has run out and we want to see change. We want to see North Korea abandon its reckless path of the development of nuclear weapons, and also its continual use and testing of ballistic missiles is unacceptable.”

Trump himself asserted on Sunday that China was working with the United States on “the North Korea problem.” His national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, said the US would rely on its allies as well as on Chinese leadership to resolve the issues with North Korea.

McMaster cited Trump’s recent decision to order missile strikes in Syria after a chemical attack blamed on the Assad government as a sign that the president “is clearly comfortable making tough decisions.” But at the same time, McMaster said on “This Week” on ABC, “it’s time for us to undertake all actions we can, short of a military option, to try to resolve this peacefully.”

The bottom line, McMaster said, is to stop the North’s weapons development and make the Korean Peninsula nuclear-free. “It’s clear that the president is determined not to allow this kind of capability to threaten the United States. And our president will take action that is in the best interest of the American people,” he said.

Pence will be tasked with explaining the policy in meetings with leaders in South Korea and Japan during the trip, which will also include stops in Indonesia and Australia. He will aim to reassure allies in South Korea and Japan that the US will take appropriate steps to defend them against North Korean aggression.

A North Korean missile exploded during launch on Sunday, US and South Korean officials said. The high-profile failure came as the North tried to showcase its nuclear and missile capabilities around the birth anniversary of the North’s late founder and as a US aircraft carrier neared the Korean Peninsula.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4421275.1492412153!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4421275.1492412153!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "U.S. Vice President Mike Pence arrives at Observation Post Ouellette in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). Picture: AP","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "U.S. Vice President Mike Pence arrives at Observation Post Ouellette in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). Picture: AP","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4421275.1492412153!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4421276.1492412156!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4421276.1492412156!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "South Koreans stage a rally with the U.S. and South Korean flags to welcome a visit of U.S. Vice President Mike Pence. Picture: AP","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "South Koreans stage a rally with the U.S. and South Korean flags to welcome a visit of U.S. Vice President Mike Pence. Picture: AP","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4421276.1492412156!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"690092"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/business/companies/media-leisure/merlin-casts-its-theme-park-spell-further-overseas-1-4421272","id":"1.4421272","articleHeadline": "Merlin casts its theme park spell further overseas","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1492411394000 ,"articleLead": "

Merlin Entertainments, owner of visitor attraction centres including the UK’s Alton Towers, has announced a flurry of new international openings for this month.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4421271.1492411430!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Merlin is opening its eighth Legoland in Japan as part of its expansion spree. Picture: Contributed"} ,"articleBody": "

They include the new Legoland discovery centre in Melbourne, Australia, the company’s eighth Legoland in Japan – the second-biggest theme park market in the world – a Legoland site in Philadelphia, a Beach Retreat in Florida, and a Madame Tussauds in Nashville, US.

• READ MORE: Huge cannabis factory uncovered at Legoland

John Jakobsen, chief new openings officer at Merlin, said: “It’s been an exciting month with three new attractions across key geographies in Australia and the US, including our thirteenth attraction in Australia.”

200 Voices: find out more about the people who have shaped Scotland

He added: “We are well on our way towards delivering our 2020 ‘milestones’ and bringing exciting experiences to guests in new places around the world.”

The group also recently opened the Knight’s Lodge at Warwick Castle in England.

Click here to ‘Like’ The Scotsman Business on Facebook

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "MARTIN FLANAGAN"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4421271.1492411430!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4421271.1492411430!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Merlin is opening its eighth Legoland in Japan as part of its expansion spree. Picture: Contributed","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Merlin is opening its eighth Legoland in Japan as part of its expansion spree. Picture: Contributed","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4421271.1492411430!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/world/police-in-us-hunt-for-facebook-live-killer-1-4421267","id":"1.4421267","articleHeadline": "Police in US hunt for Facebook Live killer","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1492410179000 ,"articleLead": "

Police in Ohio are urging residents in surrounding states to be on alert for a man who they say shot and killed an elderly passerby and then posted a gruesome video of the killing on Facebook.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4421266.1492411443!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Photo provided by the Cleveland Police shows Steve Stephens. Picture: AP"} ,"articleBody": "

Steve Stephens, 37, is wanted on a charge of aggravated murder in the death of Robert Godwin Sr. in Cleveland.

In a statement early on Monday, police warned residents of Pennsylvania, New York, Indiana and Michigan to be on the lookout for Stephens.

In the video, which appears shaky, Stephens gets out of his car and appears to randomly target Godwin, 74, who is holding a plastic shopping bag. Stephens says the name of a woman, whom Godwin does not seem to recognise.

“She’s the reason that this is about to happen to you,” Stephens tells Godwin before pointing a gun at him. Godwin can be seen shielding his face with the shopping bag.

Facebook said the suspect did go live on the social media website at one point during the day, but not during the killing. Police earlier had said that Stephens had broadcast it on Facebook Live.

The video of the killing was on Facebook for about three hours before it was removed. Stephens Facebook page also was eventually removed.

“This is a horrific crime and we do not allow this kind of content on Facebook,” said a company spokesperson. “We work hard to keep a safe environment on Facebook, and are in touch with law enforcement in emergencies when there are direct threats to physical safety.”

The victim’s son, Robert Godwin Jr., told Cleveland.com that he can’t bring himself to watch the video.

“I haven’t watched the video. I haven’t even looked at my cellphone or the news,” Godwin said. “I don’t really want to see it.”

He said his father, a retired foundry worker, collected aluminum cans and often walked with a plastic shopping bag, picking cans up if he saw them on ground. The son said he believed his father was looking for cans on Sunday when Stephens approached him.

In a separate video posted on Facebook, Stephens claimed to have killed more than a dozen other people.

“Like I said, I killed 13, so I’m working on 14 as we speak,” he said.

Police have not verified any other shootings or deaths, Police Chief Calvin Williams said.

“There are no more victims that we know are tied to him,” he said.

Police said they have been talking with family and friends of Stephens, who is a case manager at Beech Brook, a behavioral health agency headquartered in Pepper Pike, near Cleveland.

“We were shocked and horrified to learn of this news today,” agency spokeswoman Nancy Kortemeyer said in a statement. “We are hoping that the Cleveland Police will be able to apprehend Mr. Stephens as soon as possible and before anyone else is injured.”

In one of the videos, Stephens can be seen holding up his Beech Brook employee identification badge.

“I’m killing with my Beech Brook badge on too,” he says.

Stephens also mentioned his fraternity, Omega Psi Phi, in one of his Facebook posts. The fraternity issued a statement Sunday night.

“On behalf of the Supreme Council and the members of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Incorporated, we lift our sincere and heartfelt prayers and condolences of comfort to the families impacted by the recent shooting in Cleveland, Ohio,” it said.

Police said Stephens should be considered armed and dangerous.

The FBI said it was assisting in the investigation.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4421266.1492411443!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4421266.1492411443!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Photo provided by the Cleveland Police shows Steve Stephens. Picture: AP","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Photo provided by the Cleveland Police shows Steve Stephens. Picture: AP","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4421266.1492411443!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/business/markets-economy/martin-flanagan-worried-markets-might-career-on-korea-1-4421265","id":"1.4421265","articleHeadline": "Martin Flanagan: Worried markets might career on Korea","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1492409694000 ,"articleLead": "

As we went to press, it looked crunch time for markets when they reopen tomorrow morning.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4421264.1492409716!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Even a regional, non-nuclear exchange 'would be a disaster', writes Martin Flanagan. Picture: Wong Maye-E/AP"} ,"articleBody": "

Tensions between North Korea and the United States could not really be any higher. It has been the macro-political wild card waiting in the antechamber to the stock market optimism suite both before and since Donald Trump got elected in America, and it is at flashpoint.

Asian markets fell on Good Friday as professional investors and sideline stock punters alike worried about the financial, business and economic fallout if the military confrontation becomes a shooting war. We may be close to finding out.

• READ MORE: UK ‘concerned’ at new North Korea missile test amid growing tension

My thought is that any outbreak of outright hostilities would see a sizeable sell-off of equities in the immediate aftermath. Its scale would depend on the extent of the force used on both sides and the ensuing unpredictability. We might see mid-to-high single digits falls in key stock market indices worldwide, with Asian equities’ worst hit as they are at the centre of events of potential enormity. Korea is a climacteric for our times.

The possibility of an investor flight to the historical havens of gold, bonds and property if higher-yielding but riskier equities take a pounding on the back of military strikes rather than military manoeuvres cannot be ruled out.

I wrote in The Scotsman in January: “One wonders whether the stock market lives in a hermetically sealed room away from reality, enveloped in its internalised conflict between greed and fear.”

I was reflecting on the relative equilibrium of shares and stocks since the shock Brexit vote last summer and tweet-pyrotechnics Trump’s surprise election as president last autumn.

200 Voices: find out more about the people who have shaped Scotland

At that time, and things have not changed immensely, markets had seemed to have simply bought into the new president’s pledge of slashed US corporation tax and a bonanza of spending on the country’s creaking infrastructure that would be a tide lifting all boats. Good for company earnings, both domestic and international, and good for stock markets.

We didn’t quite expect the boats might actually be submarines, however. Not this early in the Trump stewardship.

Most of us can be forgiven nervousness in the current situation. Share prices seem the last thing to be concerned about when global stability seems at stake. This is the nearest thing I can think of to the Cuban missile crisis in 1962. The difference then was that the world knew the Russians had real nuclear weapons, we are not sure whether Kim Jong-un has the real deal or more often ones that implode. However, even a regional, non-nuclear exchange would be a disaster.

But even massive uncertainty often ushers in market contra-thinkers and steel nerves. The contrarians look beyond stormy waters to see buying opportunities when there is literal or metaphorical blood in the streets.

On a two-to-five year timeframe, some of these souls might think if there was a big selloff of equities it would be a great opportunity to cash in, acquiring holdings in fundamentally good companies at knockdown prices in a fleeting drama. Let’s hope it is.

Shops feel the chill

Retail sales is the only main UK economic indicator this week, and it is likely to pour some cold water on the economy’s perceived resilience rather than a douche that serves as a reality check. Sales volumes are seen as having fallen up to 0.5 per cent in March, which would be down 1.1 per cent in the first three months of this year.

• READ MORE: Rising inflation and muted wages hit the high street

Nothing like a collapse, but it would still give a chilly feel. The consumer has been the key driver of the economy since the financial crash. Exports are relatively pale (though helped by post-Brexit vote sterling weakness), manufacturing is plodding. Business investment isn’t bad, but has been hamstrung by the uncertainties of quitting the EU.

And this Friday’s high street figures are likely to show households are now feeling the pinch, caught between the rock of rising inflation and the hard place of muted wage growth as businesses continue to weigh the EU unknowns.

The retail pressures look unlikely to subside. A report from independent economics consultancy Cebr out today predicts that the typical UK household will be £500 worse off this year than in 2016.

That would make 2017 the first year of falling real earnings since 2013. Cebr expects inflation to run at about 2.7 per cent this year, ahead of earnings growth of 2.2 per cent. Nothing portentous, but still unwelcome.

Click here to ‘Like’ The Scotsman Business on Facebook

" ,"byline": {"email": "mflanagan@scotsman.com" ,"author": "MARTIN FLANAGAN"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4421264.1492409716!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4421264.1492409716!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Even a regional, non-nuclear exchange 'would be a disaster', writes Martin Flanagan. Picture: Wong Maye-E/AP","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Even a regional, non-nuclear exchange 'would be a disaster', writes Martin Flanagan. Picture: Wong Maye-E/AP","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4421264.1492409716!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/world/uk-concerned-at-new-north-korea-missile-test-amid-growing-tension-1-4420887","id":"1.4420887","articleHeadline": "UK ‘concerned’ at new North Korea missile test amid growing tension","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1492330702000 ,"articleLead": "

The Government has said it is “concerned” by reports of a failed missile test by North Korea and is closely monitoring the situation.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4420885.1492332002!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A submarine-launched ballistic missile is displayed in Kim Il Sung Square during a military parade yesterday. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)"} ,"articleBody": "

The as yet unidentified missile exploded on launch from a base in Sinpo, a city on the country’s east coast, on Sunday, US military officials said.

Pyongyang’s latest provocation comes amid simmering tensions between the US and North Korea over the rogue state’s nuclear weapons programme.

International concern has been ratcheting up over the deteriorating situation, with China expressing fears war could break out “at any moment”.

On Saturday the regime gave a huge show of strength with a parade of military hardware feared to have featured a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

Meanwhile the US has sent an aircraft carrier strike group to the Korean Peninsula, leading Pyongyang to accuse Donald Trump of “creating a war situation”.

The President has not commented on the test, although US Defence Secretary James Mattis said Mr Trump and his military advisers were “aware of North Korea’s most recent unsuccessful missile launch”.

America’s vice president, Mike Pence, is due to arrive in South Korea on Sunday to visit US troops, and the firing of a missile has been viewed as an attempt to send a message of defiance to Washington.

It is not known what kind of weapon was tested on Sunday, although Pyongyang has repeatedly stated its aim of developing a rocket that could drop a nuclear payload on the US mainland.

Despite the test being a failure it may still provide the regime’s scientists with valuable information for its weapons programme.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: “We are concerned by reports of a missile test by North Korea and are monitoring the situation closely.”

Earlier Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said of the situation that “we have been here before” and urged Pyongyang to adhere to UN resolutions in order to secure peace.

“We stand alongside our international partners in making clear that North Korea must adhere to UN resolutions designed to secure peace and stability in the region and stop its pursuit of nuclear weapons,” he said.

Despite UN sanctions North Korea launched a long-range rocket and carried out two nuclear tests in 2016, including its most powerful bomb to date.

There have also been a series of tests of shorter and mid-range rockets in recent years, with varying success.

Experts believe the North is yet to develop nuclear devices small enough to fit on ballistic missiles, a process called “miniaturisation”.

The regime is thought to have carried out its first nuclear test in 2006, with its scientists detonating five devices to date.

Mr Trump has accused North Korea of “looking for trouble” and recently ordered aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson and several war ships to the area to highlight American concern.

Fears that Pyongyang would carry out a sixth nuclear test rose before the celebrations for the 105th anniversary of the birth of the country’s founder, Kim Il Sung, on Saturday.

As well as a vast display of missiles, military hardware and personnel, the event saw the regime intensify its rhetoric against the US.

Choe Ryong Hae, widely regarded as the secretive state’s number two leading official, accused Mr Trump of “creating a war situation” on the Korean Peninsula by sending American forces to the region.

He said: “We will respond to an all-out war with an all-out war and a nuclear war with our style of a nuclear attack.”

China, North Korea’s only major ally, has called for calm, warning “conflict could break out at any moment” and that such a situation would bring no winners.

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said Prime Minister Theresa May and Mr Johnson needed to use what influence they had with Mr Trump to tell him that “aircraft carrier diplomacy” was not the answer.

“If Theresa May and Boris Johnson really do have any influence with their great friend in the White House they need to make clear that aircraft carrier diplomacy is not what the world needs.

“Where is Britain’s new global influence that Theresa May was boasting about? On Syria, Russia and now North Korea, the British Government has no influence, cut off from our partners in Europe thanks to their hard Brexit.”

As concern about the situation mounted, The Sunday Times reported that President Trump’s military advisers have assured the UK that America has the capability to neutralise North Korea’s nuclear programme using conventional weapons.

The newspaper said this could come in the form of a pre-emptive strike as it reported that US national security adviser General HR McMaster has told British security chiefs and military top brass that Washington has the intelligence to target key sites in the nuclear programme.

Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon has been briefed by his US equivalent General James Mattis on American options for dealing with North Korea in recent weeks, The Sunday Times said.

The Ministry of Defence told the Press Association it never comments on private conversations between Sir Michael and his international counterparts.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Ryan Wilkinson and Shaun Connolly,"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4420885.1492332002!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4420885.1492332002!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "A submarine-launched ballistic missile is displayed in Kim Il Sung Square during a military parade yesterday. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A submarine-launched ballistic missile is displayed in Kim Il Sung Square during a military parade yesterday. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4420885.1492332002!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4420886.1492332007!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4420886.1492332007!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "North Korean men and women wave flags and plastic flowers as a float with model missiles and rockets with words that read "For Peace and Stability in the World" is paraded. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "North Korean men and women wave flags and plastic flowers as a float with model missiles and rockets with words that read "For Peace and Stability in the World" is paraded. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4420886.1492332007!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"690092"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/dani-garavelli-ignorance-is-bliss-for-trigger-happy-trump-1-4420612","id":"1.4420612","articleHeadline": "Dani Garavelli: Ignorance is bliss for trigger-happy Trump","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1492294251000 ,"articleLead": "

NOW man-child Trump has acquired a taste for confrontation the possible consequences don’t bear thinking about, writes Dani Garavelli.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4420611.1492284204!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Trump receives a briefing on the Syria military strike from his National Security team, including a video teleconference, in a secured location at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida. Picture: White House via AP"} ,"articleBody": "

Last year, when Donald Trump was a Republican candidate with what seemed like an outside shot at the presidency, and I, like many others, was writing columns about why it should stay that way, my Twitter feed would fill up with right-wingers telling me I was ignoring the potential benefits of his isolationism.

He may hate women and immigrants, the argument went, but at least he would end his country’s involvement in proxy wars in the Middle East. If Hillary Clinton was elected, there would be drones and missiles all over the place. But America First meant no more poking US noses into other countries’ affairs. Well, how’s that working out for y’all now, eh?

In the past fortnight, the US military has gone conflict-crazy. First it fired 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at a Syrian government airfield in retaliation for a chemical weapons attack on the rebel-held village of Khan Sheikhoun; then it dropped “the mother of all bombs” (MOAB) on a suspected Islamic State base in Nangarhar province, Afghanistan.

READ MORE: UK ‘concerned’ at new North Korea missile test amid growing tension

Perhaps these are positives: how can you be implacably opposed to intervention in Syria when President Bashar al-Assad is poisoning his own people? And 90 or so dead IS militants is hardly something to mourn. Still, bombing campaigns have not previously proved an effective way of bringing stability to troubled states. Now the shots are being called by a man you wouldn’t trust with scissors, as journalist James O’Brien framed it, it is difficult to envisage anything other than an escalation.

Certainly, Trump doesn’t appear to have anything approaching a strategy; nor is he eager to legitimise his actions by building a broad base of support. He did not consult Congress before launching the Syrian air strikes. Instead, he has given the Pentagon and the CIA more autonomy to launch attacks without seeking approval from the White House, a move which reduces accountability and makes an increase in collateral damage almost inevitable. The order to drop MOAB was made by a general.

All this is particularly worrying when set in the context of Trump’s staggering ignorance. Even at his best, he comes across as a wide-eyed ingenue astonished by the harsh realities of the world. Last week, it dawned on him that innocent babies are dying in Syria, but not, apparently, that the US kills them too, as appears to have happened in Mosul in Iraq. Like an easily distracted primary pupil, he struggles to focus on important details. The memory of a dessert he ate at Mar-A-Lago – “the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake you have ever seen”, as he told Fox News – can make him forget which country he is targeting (he said Iraq instead of Syria). And his reluctance to do even the most basic homework means he had to be disabused of his belief that China has “tremendous power” over North Korea. President Xi Jinping’s ten-minute bluffer’s guide to diplomatic relations taught him what “any fule kno”: that the situation is “quite complex” and taking on the pariah state “not so easy”.

Trump’s patchy knowledge, and his tendency to fall in with the views of the last person he spoke to, helps explain his inconsistency: why one minute he is convinced Assad is the key to Syria’s stability, and the next he’s sanctioning air strikes; why one minute Nato is obsolete and the next minute it has an important role to play in the fight against terrorism.

Here’s another rudimentary fact Trump has somewhat belatedly stumbled on: conflict can be a useful political tool. It bolsters the economy, deflects attention from domestic travails and arouses the kind of gung-ho idiot (MSNBC anchor Brian Williams) who could look at footage of cruise missiles and talk about “the beauty of our weapons”. After tanking in the opinion polls, Margaret Thatcher was rescued by the Falklands War, and – sure enough – the Syrian air strike gave Trump a six- point increase in his approval rating.

The fear is, having got a taste for confrontation, he will go looking for more. While his infantile Twitter exchanges with Mexican president Vicente Fox were merely embarrassing, his online goading of the unpredictable Kim Jong-un could have much more serious repercussions.

Trump’s online pledges to act against North Korea with or without China’s help, and his decision to send a US navy strike group to the peninsula no doubt feed his ego, but Kim is already rising to the bait. What happens if North Korea does carry out another nuclear test? What if it goes on to launch an attack on US bases in South Korea? China has already warned there can be no winners if war breaks out in the region.

Many people have welcomed the return of a red line in Syria, and, of course, there must be a point beyond which we will not let tyrants go. But other countries have their own red lines (for example Russia is unlikely to tolerate attacks on air bases where their troops are stationed). Barack Obama’s refusal to act decisively against Assad last time round – which Trump portrays as a weakness – was born of a fear of making things worse. He didn’t do nothing: much of Assad’s chemical weapons arsenal was destroyed at his insistence. But would launching an attack have stopped sections of the country falling into the hands of IS or led the US into another protracted civil war?

The problem with military interventions is you don’t know the answer until it’s too late. Their success or failure can only be measured after the bodies have been counted and the peace process completed or abandoned. And, even then, you will never be sure what would have happened if you’d pursued a different course of action.

Trump’s greatest virtue – if you can call it that – is that he is not intelligent enough to be paralysed by doubt. He acts instinctively and the law of probability means now and again he will make the right call. But it is also his downfall. His inability to grasp that situations are complex and that the job of being president is “not so easy” leads him to lay down ultimatums, with no thought for what will happen should the other party refuse to comply.

Just four months after Trump’s inauguration, Google searches for “WWIII” have hit a record high. The tragedy is this no longer seems like an over-reaction.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Dani Garavelli"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4420611.1492284204!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4420611.1492284204!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Trump receives a briefing on the Syria military strike from his National Security team, including a video teleconference, in a secured location at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida. Picture: White House via AP","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Trump receives a briefing on the Syria military strike from his National Security team, including a video teleconference, in a secured location at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida. Picture: White House via AP","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4420611.1492284204!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4420890.1492333985!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4420890.1492333985!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "North Korean men and women dressed to represent doctors and other medical workers march across Kim Il Sung Square during a military parade on Saturday. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "North Korean men and women dressed to represent doctors and other medical workers march across Kim Il Sung Square during a military parade on Saturday. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4420890.1492333985!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/why-is-trump-fighting-isis-in-syria-1-4420361","id":"1.4420361","articleHeadline": "Why is Trump fighting Isis in Syria?","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1492239600000 ,"articleLead": "

The Trump foreign policy team has been all over the map on what to do next in Syria — topple the regime, intensify aid to rebels, respond to any new attacks on innocent civilians. But when pressed, there is one idea everyone on the team seems to agree on: “The defeat of Isis,” as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson put it.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4420360.1492200301!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "In Syria, Donald Trump should let Isis be Assads, Irans, Hezbollahs and Russias headache Picture: Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

Well, let me add to their confusion by asking just one question: Why?

Why should our goal right now be to defeat the Islamic State in Syria? Of course, Isis is detestable and needs to be eradicated. But is it really in our interest to be focusing solely on defeating Isis in Syria right now?

Let’s go through the logic: There are actually two Isis manifestations.

One is “virtual Isis”. It is satanic, cruel and amorphous; it disseminates its ideology through the internet. It has adherents across Europe and the Muslim world. In my opinion, that Isis is the primary threat to us, because it has found ways to deftly pump out Sunni jihadi ideology that inspires and gives permission to those Muslims on the fringes of society who feel humiliated – from London to Paris to Cairo – to recover their dignity via headline-grabbing murders of innocents.

The other incarnation is “territorial Isis.” It still controls pockets in western Iraq and larger sectors of Syria. Its goal is to defeat Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria – plus its Russian, Iranian and Hezbollah allies – and to defeat the pro-Iranian Shiite regime in Iraq, replacing both with a caliphate.

Challenge No 1: Not only will virtual Isis, which has nodes all over the world, not go away even if territorial Isis is defeated, I believe virtual Isis will become yet more virulent to disguise the fact that it has lost the territorial caliphate to its arch enemies: Shiite Iran, Hezbollah, pro-Shiite militias in Iraq, the pro-Shiite Assad regime in Damascus and Russia, not to mention America.

Challenge No 2: America’s goal in Syria is to create enough pressure on Assad, Russia, Iran and Hezbollah so they will negotiate a power-sharing accord with moderate Sunni Muslims that would also ease Assad out of power. One way to do that would be for Nato to create a no-fly safe zone around Idlib province, where many of the anti-Assad rebels have gathered and where Assad recently dropped his poison gas on civilians. But Congress and the US public are clearly wary of that.

So what else could we do? We could dramatically increase our military aid to anti-Assad rebels, giving them sufficient anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles to threaten Russian, Iranian, Hezbollah and Syrian helicopters and fighter jets and make them bleed, maybe enough to want to open negotiations. Fine with me.

What else? We could simply back off fighting territorial Isis in Syria and make it entirely a problem for Iran, Russia, Hezbollah and Assad. After all, they’re the ones over-extended in Syria, not us. Make them fight a two-front war — the moderate rebels on one side and Isis on the other. If we defeat territorial Isis in Syria now, we will only reduce the pressure on Assad, Iran, Russia and Hezbollah and enable them to devote all their resources to crushing the last moderate rebels in Idlib, not sharing power with them.

I don’t get it. President Donald Trump is offering to defeat Isis in Syria for free – and then pivot to strengthening the moderate anti-Assad rebels. Why? When was the last time Trump did anything for free? When was the last real estate deal Trump did where he volunteered to clean up a toxic waste dump – for free – before he negotiated with the owner on the price of the golf course next door?

This is a time for Trump to be Trump – utterly cynical and unpredictable. Isis right now is the biggest threat to Iran, Hezbollah, Russia and pro-Shiite Iranian militias – because Isis is a Sunni terrorist group that plays as dirty as Iran and Russia.

Trump should want to defeat Isis in Iraq. But in Syria? Not for free, not now. In Syria, Trump should let Isis be Assad’s, Iran’s, Hezbollah’s and Russia’s headache – the same way we encouraged the mujahedeen fighters to bleed Russia in Afghanistan.

Yes, in the long run we want to crush Isis everywhere, but the only way to crush Isis and keep it crushed on the ground is if we have moderate Sunnis in Syria and Iraq able and willing to replace it. And those will only emerge if there are real power-sharing deals in Syria and Iraq — and that will only happen if Assad, Russia, Iran and Hezbollah feel pressured to share power.

And while I am at it, where is Trump’s Twitter feed when we need it? He should be tweeting every day this message: “Russia, Iran and Hezbollah have become the protectors of a Syrian regime that uses poison gas on babies! Babies! Russia, Iran, Hezbollah, Assad — poison gas enablers. Sad.”

Do not let them off the hook! We need to make them own what they’ve become – enablers of a Syria that uses poison gas on children. Believe it or not, they won’t like being labeled that way. Trump needs to use his global Twitter feed strategically. Barack Obama never played this card. Trump needs to slam it down every day. It creates leverage.

Syria is not a knitting circle. Everyone there plays dirty, deviously and without mercy. Where’s that Trump when we need him?

© 2017 New York Times News Service

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4420360.1492200301!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4420360.1492200301!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "In Syria, Donald Trump should let Isis be Assads, Irans, Hezbollahs and Russias headache Picture: Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "In Syria, Donald Trump should let Isis be Assads, Irans, Hezbollahs and Russias headache Picture: Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4420360.1492200301!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/world/china-warns-of-imminent-conflict-over-north-korea-1-4420389","id":"1.4420389","articleHeadline": "China warns of ‘imminent conflict’ over North Korea","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1492204418000 ,"articleLead": "

China has warned that “conflict could break out at any moment” as tension over North Korea increases.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4420386.1492204620!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "North Korea's vice foreign minister Han Song Ryol said: "We certainly will not keep our arms crossed in the face of a U.S. pre-emptive strike." (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E, File)"} ,"articleBody": "

Foreign minister Wang Yi has also said if war occurs, there can be no winner.

Mr Wang’s comments come as the US voices increasing concern at North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons. A US Navy carrier group has also been deployed off the Korean peninsula.

China fears conflict could cause the regime to collapse and create problems on its border.

Mr Wang said: “One has the feeling that a conflict could break out at any moment.

“I think that all relevant parties should be highly vigilant with regards to this situation.”

DOWNLOAD THE SCOTSMAN APP ON ITUNES OR GOOGLE PLAY

“We call on all parties to refrain from provoking and threatening each other, whether in words or actions, and not let the situation get to an irreversible and unmanageable stage.”

The comments from China’s foreign minister also came after North Korea’s vice-foreign minister said President Donald Trump’s tweets were adding fuel to a “vicious cycle” of tensions on the Korean peninsula, North Korea’s vice-foreign minister has said.

And Hang Song Ryol warned that if the US showed any sign of “reckless” military aggression, Pyongyang would be ready to launch a pre-emptive strike of its own.

The vice-minister said Pyongyang had determined that the Trump administration was “more vicious and more aggressive” than that of his predecessor, Barack Obama. He added that North Korea would keep building up its nuclear arsenal in “quality and quantity” and said Pyongyang was ready to go to war if that is what Trump wants.

Tensions between Pyongyang and Washington go back to President Harry Truman and the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended in an armistice, not a peace treaty. But the heat has been rising rapidly since Trump took office in January.

Like The Scotsman on Facebook

This year’s joint war games between the US and South Korean militaries are the biggest ever, the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier has been diverted back to the waters off Korea after heading for Australia, and US satellite imagery suggests the North could conduct another underground nuclear test at any time.

Pyongyang recently launched a long-range ballistic missile and claims it is close to perfecting an intercontinental ballistic missile and nuclear warhead that could attack the US mainland.

Many experts believe that at its current pace of testing, North Korea could reach that potentially game-changing milestone within a few years – under Trump’s watch as president.

Despite reports that Washington is considering military action if the North goes ahead with another nuclear test, the vice-foreign minister did not rule out the possibility of a test in the near future.

“That is something that our headquarters decides,” he said in Pyongyang, which is now gearing up for a major holiday – and possibly a big military parade – toay. “At a time and at a place where the headquarters deems necessary, it will take place.”

The North conducted two such tests last year alone. The first was of what it claims to have been a hydrogen bomb and the second was its most powerful ever.

The annual US-South Korea military exercises have consistently infuriated the North, which views them as rehearsals for an invasion.

Washington and Seoul deny that, but reports that exercises have included “decapitation strikes” aimed at the North’s leadership have fanned Pyongyang’s anger. Officials said Trump’s tweets had also added fuel to the flames. Trump posted a tweet on Tuesday in which he said the North was “looking for trouble”.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "By Eric Talmadge"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4420386.1492204620!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4420386.1492204620!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "North Korea's vice foreign minister Han Song Ryol said: "We certainly will not keep our arms crossed in the face of a U.S. pre-emptive strike." (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E, File)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "North Korea's vice foreign minister Han Song Ryol said: "We certainly will not keep our arms crossed in the face of a U.S. pre-emptive strike." (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E, File)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4420386.1492204620!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4420387.1492204623!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4420387.1492204623!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "North Korean leader Kim Jong Un arrives for an official ceremony in Pyongyang on Thursday (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "North Korean leader Kim Jong Un arrives for an official ceremony in Pyongyang on Thursday (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4420387.1492204623!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4420388.1492444315!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4420388.1492444315!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "A warplane prepares to launch from the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson. Picture: AFP/US navy/MCSA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A warplane prepares to launch from the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson. Picture: AFP/US navy/MCSA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4420388.1492444315!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/world/thousands-gather-at-colosseum-for-candlelit-good-friday-mass-1-4420371","id":"1.4420371","articleHeadline": "Thousands gather at Colosseum for candlelit Good Friday mass","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1492203040000 ,"articleLead": "

Thousands of people, including nuns, families with toddlers, and young tourists, patiently endured exceptionally tight security checks to pray along with Pope Francis at the traditional Way of the Cross Good Friday procession at the Colosseum.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4420368.1492203018!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Pope Francis presides over the Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) torchlight procession on Good Friday in front of Rome's Colosseum (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)"} ,"articleBody": "

Francis, wearing a plain white coat, presided over the evening procession from a rise overlooking the popular tourist monument as faithful took turns carrying a tall, cross and meditations were recited to encourage reflection on Jesus’ suffering and crucifixion.

Hours before the evocative, candlelit ceremony, pilgrims underwent the first of two rounds of security checks that started while they still were blocks away from the ancient arena. There was a heavier-than-usual police presence keeping watch on every aspect of the event.

Anti-terrorism measures have been heightened for large public crowds after several vehicle attacks in Nice, Berlin and other European cities.

Police opened handbags and backpacks. They checked computers, and, in at least one case, asked an Italian woman to open a package. It turned out to be a tray of pastries, and the woman good-naturedly offered one of the sweets to the officer.

Streets surrounding the Colosseum were closed to traffic, armored vehicles blocked intersections, bomb-sniffing dogs were used and police checked chemical toilets with scanners for explosives near the Colosseum.

“I believe that we have a situation in which we Europeans have to unite and take the issue of security very seriously,” Jose de Laoz, a businessman from Spain, said while the security sweeps were conducted near the Colosseum.

Terrorism’s repercussions were being felt in Christian communities across the Mediterranean. In Egypt, Coptic churches announced that Easter services would be limited to prayers, without festivities. The measure was taken after twin bombings killed 45 people at churches on Palm Sunday.

In Rome, the Good Friday gathering was calm as participants clutched candles in the silence of a warm night. Some parents hoisted children on their shoulders so they could watch. Many people kept their eyes fixed on a towering cross, studded with lit candles, that glowed against the Colosseum’s ancient stone.

Hours earlier at the Vatican, Francis prostrated himself in prayer during a Good Friday service in St. Peter’s Basilica. The 80-year-old pope lay for several minutes before the central altar.

Papal preacher the Rev. Raniero Cantalamessa told the faithful in the basilica they were recalling the “violent death” of Jesus 2,000 years ago, even though most days now bring news if violent deaths, because the crucifixion “changed forever the very face of death.”

Cantalamessa called the cross the definitive “’No’ of God to violence, injustice, hate, lies.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "By Frances D’Emilio"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4420368.1492203018!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4420368.1492203018!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Pope Francis presides over the Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) torchlight procession on Good Friday in front of Rome's Colosseum (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Pope Francis presides over the Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) torchlight procession on Good Friday in front of Rome's Colosseum (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4420368.1492203018!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4420369.1492203020!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4420369.1492203020!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone kisses a crucifix during the Good Friday Passion of Christ Mass inside St. Peter's Basilica(AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone kisses a crucifix during the Good Friday Passion of Christ Mass inside St. Peter's Basilica(AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4420369.1492203020!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4420370.1492203025!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4420370.1492203025!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Pope Francis lies on the ground to pray during a mass for the Celebration of the Lord's Passion on Good Friday at St Peter's basilicaIa (photo: ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Pope Francis lies on the ground to pray during a mass for the Celebration of the Lord's Passion on Good Friday at St Peter's basilicaIa (photo: ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4420370.1492203025!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/brit-stabbed-to-death-in-jerusalem-1-4419949","id":"1.4419949","articleHeadline": "Brit stabbed to death in Jerusalem","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1492172689000 ,"articleLead": "

A young British tourist has been stabbed to death in Jerusalem.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4419948.1492172674!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Israeli security forces gather at the site where a Palestinian attacker stabbed a British woman. Pic: Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

The woman, thought to be in her early 20s, was attacked while she travelled on a light rail train near the Old City, which was packed as Christians celebrated Good Friday and Jews marked Passover.

The woman was rushed to a medical centre but died soon after.

Israeli police say she was attacked by a Palestinian man who stabbed her repeatedly.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "DOMINIC HARRIS"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4419948.1492172674!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4419948.1492172674!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Israeli security forces gather at the site where a Palestinian attacker stabbed a British woman. Pic: Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Israeli security forces gather at the site where a Palestinian attacker stabbed a British woman. Pic: Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4419948.1492172674!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/world/us-forces-drop-mother-of-all-bombs-on-isis-fighters-1-4419385","id":"1.4419385","articleHeadline": "US forces drop ‘mother of all bombs’ on Isis fighters","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1492166002000 ,"articleLead": "

The impact of the “mother of all bombs” dropped by US forces in Afghanistan would have been like an earthquake and sends a message about Donald Trump’s presidency, experts have said.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4419384.1492165200!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A Pentagon spokesman said it was the first-ever combat use of the bomb, known as the GBU-43 (Eglin Air Force Base via AP)"} ,"articleBody": "

The bomb, the largest non-nuclear weapon ever used in combat by the US military, killed 36 Islamic State fighters in a tunnel complex in eastern Afghanistan.

The GBU-43B massive ordnance air blast (MOAB), which contains 11 tonnes of explosives, was used for the first time to destroy IS caves and ammunition caches.

The MOAB, nicknamed the “mother of all bombs”, was dropped in the Achin district of Nangarhar province, very close to the border with Pakistan.

READ MORE: US accuses Russia of role in Syria war crimes

US army general John Nicholson, the commander of American forces in the country, said IS - also known as ISIS-K in Afghanistan - were using improvised bombs, bunkers and tunnels to “thicken their defence”, so the massive bomb was a necessary response.

“This is the right munition to reduce these obstacles and maintain the momentum of our offensive against ISIS-K,” he said.

Former US state department spokesman PJ Crowley told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme the use of the weapon was an indication of how Mr Trump had given “greater leeway to the military in terms of what it can do” in Afghanistan and Syria.

Mr Crowley, a former US air force colonel, said the bomb was “like creating a minor earthquake in that particular area”.

“It is going to have a profound effect not just in the immediate area, but the concussion extends for a considerable distance,” he said.

“It is certainly something that will get the attention of military forces in that area.”

He said civilians would have been “impacted in terms of feeling the tremor” of the weapon.

Professor Michael Clarke, a senior associate fellow at defence think tank the Royal United Services Institute, said the use of the weapon would have gone to the White House for approval but was likely to have been a decision made by the local commander.

“It may not have been initiated by President Trump, but nevertheless he is obviously happy to take credit for it and he is happy that it fits into his broader sense that he wants to be militarily credible,” he said.

“It is fairly dramatic ... there is a tactical effect on the ground, this is a cave complex the Americans would have known quite a lot about, they knew that if they dropped one of these things it would destroy pretty much everything underground.

“But I think, also, President Trump must have decided: ‘Yes, get on and do it, because it is consistent with the message I want to send to the rest of the world.’”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "DAVID HUGHES"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4419384.1492165200!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4419384.1492165200!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "A Pentagon spokesman said it was the first-ever combat use of the bomb, known as the GBU-43 (Eglin Air Force Base via AP)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A Pentagon spokesman said it was the first-ever combat use of the bomb, known as the GBU-43 (Eglin Air Force Base via AP)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4419384.1492165200!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"1492164244030"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/odd/russia-says-it-won-t-broadcast-eurovision-song-contest-1-4419391","id":"1.4419391","articleHeadline": "Russia says it won’t broadcast Eurovision Song Contest","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1492105936000 ,"articleLead": "

Russia’s Channel One says it will not broadcast the Eurovision Song Contest in Russia after Ukraine, which hosts the contest this year, has barred the Russian entrant from traveling to the country.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4419390.1492105921!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Workers install stage lighting at the International Exhibition Center in Kiev during final preparations for the (SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images)"} ,"articleBody": "

Ukraine’s security services banned singer Yulia Samoylova from entering Ukraine because she had toured in Crimea after Russia’s 2014 annexation of the peninsula from Ukraine.

State-owned Channel Once, which is responsible for broadcasting the intensely popular TV song contest in Russia, said in a statement today that it made the decision not to show the contest after it was told by the European Broadcasting Union that it had failed to settle the dispute with Ukraine.

The EBU had suggested that Samoylova can perform live from Russia but Channel One on Thursday dismissed that idea.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4419390.1492105921!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4419390.1492105921!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Workers install stage lighting at the International Exhibition Center in Kiev during final preparations for the (SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Workers install stage lighting at the International Exhibition Center in Kiev during final preparations for the (SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4419390.1492105921!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/world/north-korea-s-nerve-gas-missiles-could-hit-japan-pm-warns-1-4418932","id":"1.4418932","articleHeadline": "North Korea’s nerve gas missiles ‘could hit Japan’ PM warns","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1492082339000 ,"articleLead": "

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has warned that North Korea may be capable of firing a missile loaded with sarin nerve gas toward Japan.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4418931.1492082324!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks in front of a line of microphones at a parliamentary panel on national security and diplomacy at parliament's upper house in Tokyo. (Yoshinobu Shimizu/Kyodo News via AP)"} ,"articleBody": "

“There is a possibility that North Korea is already capable of shooting missiles with sarin as warheads,” Mr Abe told a parliamentary panel on national security and diplomacy.

Mr Abe was responding to a question about Japan’s readiness at a time of increased regional tension.

A US navy aircraft carrier is heading toward the Korean Peninsula as Pyongyang prepares for the 105th anniversary of the birth of its founder Kim Il Sung this weekend.

Citing Syria where dozens of people died recently in an alleged sarin nerve gas attack, Mr Abe said Japan should take the example seriously - stressing the need to strengthen its deterrence against the North.

North Korea, which is not a signatory to the international Chemical Weapons Convention, has been producing chemical weapons since the 1980s and is now estimated to have as many as 5,000 tons, according to a South Korean defence white paper.

Its stockpile reportedly has 25 types of agents, including sarin.

Experts say if North Korea were to attack South Korea, it would likely target Seoul’s defences with chemical and biological weapons dropped from aircraft or delivered via missiles, artillery and grenades.

Japan, under its postwar constitution, has limited the role of its military to self-defence only and relied on the US for offensive and nuclear capability.

But recently, Mr Abe’s ruling party has proposed that Japan should bolster its missile defence, including upgrading the capability to shoot down an enemy missile and acquiring the capacity to attack the base it was fired from.

With President Donald Trump’s administration not ruling out a military option to dealing with North Korea, “tension is certainly rising”, Mr Abe said to a group of politicians from his ruling party who sought increased safety measures for Japanese nationals in case of an emergency.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Mari Yamaguchi"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4418931.1492082324!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4418931.1492082324!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks in front of a line of microphones at a parliamentary panel on national security and diplomacy at parliament's upper house in Tokyo. (Yoshinobu Shimizu/Kyodo News via AP)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks in front of a line of microphones at a parliamentary panel on national security and diplomacy at parliament's upper house in Tokyo. (Yoshinobu Shimizu/Kyodo News via AP)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4418931.1492082324!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} ]}}} ]}