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Yemen’s warring sides gather in Sweden for peace talks – Al Jazeera English

Stockholm, Sweden – The UN’s Special Envoy has appealed to Yemen’s warring sides to “act now” for the future of the war-torn country, as representatives from the government and Houthi rebels gathered for UN-sponsored peace talks in Sweden. “Yemen’s future is in the hands of those in this room,” Martin Griffiths, the UN envoy for Yemen said on…

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Stockholm, Sweden – The UN’s Special Envoy has appealed to Yemen’s warring sides to “act now” for the future of the war-torn country, as representatives from the government and Houthi rebels gathered for UN-sponsored peace talks in Sweden.

“Yemen’s future is in the hands of those in this room,” Martin Griffiths, the UN envoy for Yemen said on Thursday in his opening remarks at talks aimed at ending more than three years of war.

“We must act now before we lose control of the future of Yemen,” he said.

“Both parties have called for a de-escalation, which is an important backdrop to these talks. This is a show of serious intent.”

For only the second time since the conflict began, officials from President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government and representatives from the Houthi rebel movement, joined the talks aimed at discussing ways to end the fighting that has killed an estimated 56,000 people and left a staggering 22 million needing humanitarian assistance.

The UN Special Envoy is seeking to introduce a set of confidence-building measures at the talks in Rimbo, a remote town around 50km north of the Swedish capital Stockholm, that will eventually pave the way for future negotiations.

“I am also pleased to announce the signing of an agreement on prisoners, those that have been forcibly detained,” Griffiths said.

“It will allow thousands of families to be reunited.

“What will we do here and in the coming weeks is to work on the implementation of this.”

While the warring sides will not meet face-to-face, the confidence-building measures may include negotiating a ceasefire in the port city of Hodeidah, large-scale prisoner swaps, the reopening of Sanaa international airport, and the payment of salaries to civil servants in Houthi-held areas.

Mohammad Abdul Salam, the lead spokesman for the Houthis, told Al Jazeera that the rebels were pleased with the decision to swap prisoners.

“We have been wanting this from the beginning, and this is a significant step going forward.”

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom said the talks can be “an important beginning”.

“It is up to you the warring parties to engage in constructive talks with each other and Martin [Griffiths]. What is needed are concessions, compromises and courage,” she said.

‘Nonsense’

But Yemen Foreign Minister Khaled al-Yamani gave little indication that he was going to offer concessions to his rivals.

He rejected a Houthi proposal to form a presidential council without President Hadi as “nonsense”.

“They should withdraw from the institutions of the state and hand them back to the legitimate government. Other than that, there will be no peace,” he told Al Jazeera.

“They should respect the will of the international community and surrender their arms and ammunition and missiles.

“Other than that, there will be no settlement, no solution.”

Yemen’s warring sides have arrived for peace talks in Sweden.

Foreign Minister Khaled al-Yamani, is sat directly opposite Houthi spokesman, Mohammad Abdul Salam.

Both sides have given each other glaring looks. Hopefully the talks will be better than the introductions @AJEnglish pic.twitter.com/ijLHWqkz0k

— فيصل عيدروس (@faisaledroos) December 6, 2018

Earlier this week, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) allowed 50 wounded Houthi rebels to be transferred to neighbouring Oman for medical treatment as part of the confidence-building measures.

The Saudi-UAE coalition has been carrying out a deadly military offensive against the Houthis since March 2015, months after the Iranian-aligned rebels toppled the internationally-backed government of President Hadi.

On Tuesday, Yemen’s government said it agreed to a large-scale prisoner swap with the Houthis, with reports suggesting as many as 2,000 pro-government forces could be exchanged for 1,500 Houthis.

“We have signed a prisoner swap and we look forward to [implementing] it,” the Yemeni foreign minister told Al Jazeera.

Peace can only be reached if the Saudis, Emiratis and Iranians stop intervening in Yemen’s affairs

Tawakkol Karman, a Yemeni activist and co-recipient of the 2011 Nobel peace prize

‘Heading in the right direction’

The Houthis have told Al Jazeera they are committed to the talks and are willing to hand over Hodeidah’s strategic port to the UN. Hodeidah port is a lifeline for humanitarian supplies for the country’s war-wracked population.

The rebels have also promised to end all drone and missile attacks on Saudi Arabia and the UAE, in return that the alliance end its air attacks.

Peter Salisbury, a Yemen analyst and consultant at International Crisis Group, said the talks “appeared to be heading in the right direction”.

“The best case scenario is a broad agreement on these confidence-building measures, this includes something positive on Hodeidah that will stave off the battle for the port and city, and an agreement to meet sometime later for future talks”.

Following months of deadly battles in the strategic port city, the Saudi-UAE alliance, which backs the Yemeni government, and Iran, which supposedly supports the Houthis, have agreed that there can only be a political solution to the conflict.

But early on Thursday, Al Masirah, the Houthis’ media wing, said warplanes killed at least three women in al-Duraymi city in Hodeidah province.

“While the process does appear to be moving in the right direction, the odds are in favour of a negative outcome,” Salisbury said.

“If not within the talks, then within the next few weeks.”

Shortly before the talks were due to commence, the Yemeni government demanded the rebels fully withdraw from Hodeidah, whereas the Houthis threatened to shut down Sanaa airport unless their demands were met.

Tawakkol Karman, a Yemeni activist and co-recipient of the 2011 Nobel peace prize, said “peace can only be reached if the Saudis, Emiratis and Iranians stop intervening in Yemen’s affairs”.

“This intervention has harmed Yemen and increased the suffering of ordinary Yemenis,” she said.

“Unless this negative intervention is reduced, Yemenis will not be able to reach a political agreement that preserves the country’s sovereignty.”

‘Disagree without bloodshed’

International pressure to end the war has mounted since the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist, in October.

Western powers have expressed their anger over the killing, with countries such as Germany and Norway suspending arms exports to Saudi Arabia and senators in the US questioning Washington’s strategic partnership with Riyadh.

On Wednesday, a bipartisan group of Senators introduced a strongly-worded resolution holding Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman accountable for alleged atrocities committed during the Yemen war.

WATCH: Yemenis ‘pray’ upcoming talks will end war (2:51)

Abdul Malik al-Ajri, a member of the Houthi delegation, told Al Jazeera that the rebels were hoping the consultations would eventually lead to an “inclusive political dialogue”.

“We are hoping these negotiations will help end the war,” al-Ajri said.

On Tuesday, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, urged the rival sides to embrace dialogue, saying the war had only brought destruction to Yemenis.

“You should agree and disagree without bloodshed and wars as the people of one home,” Ahmed said in a statement.

“Plan your growth and progress, and keep up with the civilisation that you were once at the forefront of”.

The warring parties need to put aside their partisan and personal gains and seek good for Yemen and the Yemeni people

Hamid Sharaf Ali, Sanaa resident

‘Yemen can’t wait’

Yemen has been torn apart by conflict since 2014, when Houthi rebels, allied with troops loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, captured large expanses of the country, including the capital Sanaa.

Saudi Arabia launched a massive aerial campaign against the rebels in March 2015, aimed at restoring the Hadi’s government.

Since then, the US has been helping the coalition, which now primarily consists of Saudi Arabia and the UAE, with weaponry and logistical support.

Until recently, Washington was also refuelling the alliance’s planes which were responsible for the more than 18,000 raids carried out on the country.

According to the Yemen Data Project, almost one-third of all of those bombing missions striking non-military sites.

Residents in the Yemeni capital urged the warring sides to put aside their differences, saying the country had reached a precipice and “Yemenis could no longer wait”.

Hamid Sharaf Ali, a school security guard told Al Jazeera: “The warring parties need to put aside their partisan and personal gains and seek good for Yemen and the Yemeni people”.

 

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KFC debuts fried chicken-scented firelogs ahead of Christmas – Fox News

Just in time for the holiday, the chicken chain is debuting its very own KFC-scented Enviro-Log. (KFC)Is it really Christmas if the smell of fried chicken isn’t wafting from the yule log?Yes. Of course it is. But that doesn’t mean KFC is about to give up on the dream.WHATABURGER DEBUTS CHRISTMAS SWEATERS, THEY SELL OUT…

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Just in time for the holiday, the chicken chain is debuting its very own KFC-scented Enviro-Log.

Just in time for the holiday, the chicken chain is debuting its very own KFC-scented Enviro-Log.
(KFC)

Is it really Christmas if the smell of fried chicken isn’t wafting from the yule log?

Yes. Of course it is. But that doesn’t mean KFC is about to give up on the dream.

WHATABURGER DEBUTS CHRISTMAS SWEATERS, THEY SELL OUT IN LESS THAN A DAY

Just in time for the holiday, the chicken chain is debuting its very own KFC-scented Enviro-Log, said to smell like the Colonel’s signature blend of 11 herbs and spices once it gets going.

“At KFC, we have always been proud of our role in bringing loved ones together at the dinner table around a bucket of our world-famous fried chicken,” said Andrea Zahumensky, chief marketing officer of KFC U.S., in a press release.

“Now, this winter we’re bringing all the things we love – family, friends and fried chicken – together around the fire with our scented firelog.”

“Now, this winter we’re bringing all the things we love – family, friends and fried chicken – together around the fire with our scented firelog,

“Now, this winter we’re bringing all the things we love – family, friends and fried chicken – together around the fire with our scented firelog,” a KFC executive said.
(KFC)

The holiday item – which is the product of a team up between KFC and Enviro-Log, and officially named the “11 Herbs & Spices Firelog” – promises a “hearth-warming and hunger-inducing” experience, according to the fast food chain.

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KFC’s yule logs are currently available for $18.99 at KFCFirelogs.com. And although the restaurant does not specifically say it, the logs may be best enjoyed while reading a KFC-themed romance novella starring a rippled, sleeveless Colonel Sanders.

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Marvel Just Revealed One of Its Most Intriguing Spider-Man Comics In Years – Gizmodo

Peter Parker is getting a very interesting new miniseries.Image: Chip Zdarsky (Marvel Comics)Spider-Man is one of the most beloved superheroes in the world for a reason—the ideals Peter Parker and the other people who’ve donned the Spider-mantle over the years have a reach that’s far and wide, and can be used to tell all kinds…

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Peter Parker is getting a very interesting new miniseries.
Image: Chip Zdarsky (Marvel Comics)

Spider-Man is one of the most beloved superheroes in the world for a reason—the ideals Peter Parker and the other people who’ve donned the Spider-mantle over the years have a reach that’s far and wide, and can be used to tell all kinds of different stories. But a new series out next year promises to tell one of the most intriguing tales yet.

Superheroes, by and large, don’t age. Hell, sometimes they do, but it’s temporary, like Steve Rogers losing his supersoldier serum and temporarily becoming a fascist when he got it back (could’ve happened to any of us, really). Although the world around superheroes evolves and grows to match something akin to our own, these iconic figures stay fairly stagnant. Their status quos can change, and sometimes the march of time itself affects them in the slowest of manners—it could take them decades to move from their college freshman years to being in their mid-20s!—but otherwise, they’re stuck being the same as they were when they were introduced decades ago.

There are few examples of this more prominent than Peter Parker, who has endured semi-stasis as a perpetual young man for so long, through so many resets, and so many setbacks to his early days, that we rarely get to see Spider-Man grow up. That is, until now.

The full cover for Spider-Man: Life Story’s first issue.
Image: Chip Zdarsky (Marvel Comics)

Comicbook.com reports that Marvel Comics today announced Spider-Man: Life Story, a new six-issue miniseries set to launch in spring 2019. Written by Chip Zdarsky (who recently concluded a truly remarkable run on Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man) and with art from Amazing and Ultimate Spider-Man’s Mark Bagley, Spider-Man: Life Story has a simple premise: Peter Parker became a superhero in 1962. What if we followed his entire life over six decades, as he grew up as the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man in an ever-changing, ever-growing world?

Not only will Life Story examine the act of Peter growing older over the course of its run, it won’t keep his exploits contained to the street-level superhero fights you might expect. The first issue, set in 1966, will see a young Peter tackle a grave test of his commitment to great power and great responsibility, as he wrestles with the United States entering the turmoil of the Vietnam War. The opportunity to watch a version of Peter Parker evolve and grow over such an extended period, while the world around him—along with the very idea of heroes and villains itself—grows ever more involved and complex, is almost unbearably promising, especially since it’ll be explored by two of the most exciting creative talents in recent Spidey history.

Suffice to say, we’re already very excited for Spider-Man: Life Story #1 to hit shelves in March 2019.


For more, make sure you’re following us on our new Instagram @io9dotcom. 

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Chicago Bulls are a mess under Jim Boylen – Yahoo Sports

Chicago Bulls players contacted the National Basketball Players Association on Sunday because of what they felt were extreme tactics by new head coach Jim Boylen, league sources told Yahoo Sports, the culmination of a growing divide between the coach and his players.After a close win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday and a 56-point…

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Chicago Bulls players contacted the National Basketball Players Association on Sunday because of what they felt were extreme tactics by new head coach Jim Boylen, league sources told Yahoo Sports, the culmination of a growing divide between the coach and his players.

a close win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday and a 56-point rout Saturday night by the Boston Celtics, Boylen, finishing his first week as head coach, called for a Sunday practice — an NBA protocol no-no with the Bulls just completing a back-to-back.” data-reactid=”17″ type=”text”>After a close win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday and a 56-point rout Saturday night by the Boston Celtics, Boylen, finishing his first week as head coach, called for a Sunday practice — an NBA protocol no-no with the Bulls just completing a back-to-back.

fired coach Fred Hoiberg on Monday, Boylen held three two-and-a-half-hour practices in his first week that included extra wind sprints and players doing military-style pushups. Calling for another lengthy practice after the back-to-back led to a near-mutiny and caused the players to reach out to the union, sources said.” data-reactid=”18″ type=”text”>After taking the helm from fired coach Fred Hoiberg on Monday, Boylen held three two-and-a-half-hour practices in his first week that included extra wind sprints and players doing military-style pushups. Calling for another lengthy practice after the back-to-back led to a near-mutiny and caused the players to reach out to the union, sources said.

Boylen had already gotten under his players’ skin by issuing the ultimate indignity: subbing out all five players on the floor twice in Saturday’s loss. In the first half, the Bulls fell behind 17-0, so the full lineup change was understandable.

In the second half, the Bulls had only been outscored 5-3 when Boylen subbed everyone out and the players felt embarrassed.

Calling for a Sunday practice was apparently the last straw.

Late Saturday evening one of the team’s veterans, sources said, initiated a group text relaying that if any player showed up to the facility on Sunday prepared to practice, he would fine them personally, and the players agreed.

A player contacted Boylen to alert him of the team’s decision, but the coach refused to relent, sources said.

Bulls head coach Jim Boylen questions a call during his debut Tuesday night against the Pacers. (AP)

That’s when the players compromised among themselves, agreeing to show up but with no intention of practicing, sources said. Robin Lopez was the leader of getting the players to back down, sources said, although he wasn’t in the initial group text.

Boylen has had numerous verbal confrontations with players since the first week of the season, sources said, with executive vice president John Paxson and general manager Gar Forman being present for many of them. Boylen was Hoiberg’s “bad cop” and clearly embraced the role in his three-plus seasons as associate head coach.

Hoiberg gave Boylen the latitude to run film sessions and practices, and players have privately stated it was Boylen coaching the team, not Hoiberg.

a losing effort to the Indiana Pacers, he went against the usual postgame protocol by forcing the team to watch film while their emotions were still running high. It is customary to watch film the next day after everyone, including coaches, has decompressed and is ready to be critiqued.” data-reactid=”38″ type=”text”>Following Boylen’s debut Tuesday in a losing effort to the Indiana Pacers, he went against the usual postgame protocol by forcing the team to watch film while their emotions were still running high. It is customary to watch film the next day after everyone, including coaches, has decompressed and is ready to be critiqued.

Players felt like they were being treated like high school athletes and those feelings of disrespect escalated when Boylen told the media the players needed to get in better shape, sources said.

Boylen clearly wanted to put his stamp on the Bulls after taking over. And even though those close to Boylen say he never intended on running the players through a rigorous practice on Sunday, several players felt his act of pulling the starters for the final 21 minutes of the Boston game was a sign he was going to work them hard in practice.

When Boylen arrived Sunday, the players stood and told Boylen they weren’t practicing, sources said, with the sides meeting to express their issues. Zach LaVine and Justin Holiday were the most vocal, sources said.

Boylen repeatedly referenced his days on the San Antonio Spurs staff and instances in which coach Gregg Popovich pulled all five players off the floor to send a message, sources said.

A player responded, sources said, telling Boylen in essence that they aren’t the Spurs and, more importantly, he isn’t Popovich.

“You have to earn it, year by year,” former Spurs guard Tony Parker told Yahoo Sports after his Charlotte Hornets defeated the Knicks in New York on Sunday night. “Pop didn’t become Pop in one year. It takes winning, obviously. Winning helps. And building trust between the players and the coaches.”

Parker repeated himself for effect.

“You have to build trust, and yeah, Pop did it, [pulling five players at once],” Parker told Yahoo. “I was coming from Europe, I was just trying to make it. When it happened, I waited for my next opportunity.”

The trust isn’t there between Boylen and the Bulls players, and Boylen did admit his method of pulling all five players was extreme in the moment, sources told Yahoo Sports.

But it could be too late already, as some in the league wonder if Boylen has already lost the team.

Sensing turmoil, contending teams have begun researching Holiday’s availability, but it isn’t yet known whether the Bulls would be willing to engage in trade discussions.

The Bulls find themselves at a dangerous intersection and there likely is no easy solution.

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” data-reactid=”60″ type=”text”>Fed-up Redskins fans leave amid historic blowout

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Chiefs QB’s no-look pass will leave you stunned

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