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Nation & World Briefs: Oct. 16, 2017

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This week’s international headlines

[accordions]
[accordion title=”Nigerian court convicts 45 in Boko Haram mass trials” load=”show”]

In this 2009 file photo, a suspected Boko Haram member captured by Nigerian troops lies next to a tree in Maiduguri, Nigeria. (Photo courtesy of The Associated Press)

A Nigerian court has convicted 45 Boko Haram members in the largest mass trial in the Islamic extremist group’s history.
The closed-door proceedings have raised the concerns of human rights groups about whether the trials of the 1,669 people will be fair.
The 45 people were sentenced to between three and 31 years in prison, the country’s information minister said in a statement Friday. Another 468 suspects were released, but the court ordered that they undergo deradicalization programs.
The government has not said what exactly the hundreds of suspects are charged with.
Nigeria is trying to show it is making progress against the extremist group that has killed more than 20,000 people during its eight-year insurgency. Boko Haram has yet to comment publicly on the mass trials.
Nigeria has arrested thousands of suspected Boko Haram members in recent years, and military detention facilities are overcrowded. Human rights groups say most of those detained have been picked up at random and without reasonable suspicion, including women and children.
Former detainees have described malnutrition, mistreatment and deaths in the facilities.
Boko Haram’s attacks have spilled into neighboring countries and displaced more than 2.4 million people in the Lake Chad region, creating a vast humanitarian crisis. Some fighters have allied with the Islamic State group. While Nigeria’s military has arrested many Boko Haram top fighters and last year declared the extremist group had been “crushed,” leader Abubakar Shekau remains elusive. The group in recent months has carried out a growing number of deadly suicide bombings and other attacks, many carried out by women or children.[/accordion]

[accordion title=”23 now dead from Northern California wildfires” load=”hide”]

A Cal Fire firefighter works on hot spots on a hill in the Oakmont area of Santa Rosa, California, Thursday, Oct. 12. (Photo courtesy of The Associated Press)

Authorities have confirmed two more deaths from Northern California’s wildfires, taking the total to 23 as of Wednesday Oct. 11.
The sheriff’s office in Sonoma County, where most of the deaths have occurred, said Wednesday night that the toll there has reached 13. The other 10 deaths are dispersed across three other counties.
No details have been released on the two newly confirmed dead.
The massive complex of blazes has burned 265 square miles since breaking out almost simultaneously on Sunday night, Oct. 8.
The fires have destroyed at least 3,500 homes and businesses.
At least 180 people are injured and hundreds have been reported missing.
The last remaining evacuation order has been lifted as firefighters continue to make progress in their battle against a Southern California wildfire that destroyed 23 buildings, including some homes.
A day earlier, thousands of people who had to flee the blaze Monday night were allowed to return as winds that fueled the blaze calmed.
As of Wednesday night, the blaze was 60 percent contained after burning some 9,000 acres of brush and grass — nearly 14 ½ square miles of devastation.
Authorities are hoping that cooler, more humid weather will allow them to fully surround the blaze by Sunday. Authorities in Northern California say they are poring through the list of hundreds reported missing amid fierce wildfires and working through the cases one at a time.
Sonoma County Sheriff Rob Giordano said Wednesday night that investigators are starting at shelters looking for evacuees and working their way backward to people’s homes to see if they got out alive.
While many if not most of those reported missing have simply been unable to communicate with loved ones, authorities say the death toll of 21 is bound to grow.
The series of fires is already among the worst in California history, and high winds expected to arrive overnight could light them up even more.
State fire Chief Ken Pimlott says it’s “going to continue to get worse before it gets better.”
Authorities are ordering all residents of the Northern California town of Calistoga to evacuate, saying “conditions have worsened.”
The Napa County Sheriff’s Office says in an alert sent via cellphone and email that residents need to leave by 5 p.m. Wednesday.
Earlier, officials went through the town of 5,000 people, knocking on doors to warn about 2,000 of them to leave.
Low moisture was forecast and winds were beginning to pick up in the region Wednesday afternoon.
In neighboring Sonoma County, authorities issued an evacuation advisory for the northern part of the town of Sonoma and the community of Boyes Hot Springs. By then, lines of cars were already fleeing the community. Officials say they have thousands of firefighters battling 22 blazes burning in Northern California and that more are coming from nearby states.
California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Chief Ken Pimlott says close to 8,000 firefighters have been deployed and are fighting the blazes by air and on the ground.[/accordion]

[accordion title=”Iran’s president: Nuclear deal ‘stronger’ than Trump thinks” load=”hide”]

President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a cabinet meeting in Tehran, Iran, on Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017. (Iranian Presidency Office/AP)

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Friday his country “will continue to stick to” the nuclear deal, calling it, “much stronger” than U.S. President Donald Trump thinks.
Rouhani spoke on state television after Trump angrily accused Iran of violating the spirit of the 2015 accord and demanded Congress toughen the law governing U.S. participation. Trump said he was not ready to pull out of the deal but warned he would do so if it were not improved.
“Tonight’s remarks (by Trump) showed the deal is much stronger than what he thought during the U.S. presidential campaigns,” Rouhani said.
The faith of the average Iranian has eroded over time in the nuclear deal, which saw Iran agree to limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. It was sealed in July 2015 after 18 months of negotiations by the five permanent members of the U.N.
The leaders of top U.S. allies Britain, France and Germany also underlined that they “stand committed” to the deal and expressed worries about the possible implications of Trump’s announcement.
In a joint statement, British Prime Minister Theresa May, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron urged the Trump administration and Congress to consider the possible consequences for the West’s security “before taking any steps that might undermine” the deal, including imposing sanctions on Iran that the agreement lifted.
In Moscow, a close ally of Iran, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, spoke ahead of Trump’s address, warning that any move to spike the deal “would undoubtedly hurt the atmosphere of predictability, security, stability and non-proliferation in the entire world.”
Tehran-based political analyst Saeed Leilaz said Iran will not accept the U.S.’s pressure as it has not done so since its 1979 Islamic Revolution.[/accordion]
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Nation & World Briefs: Oct. 16, 2017