In the world | Africatime
Saturday 25 March 2017

In the world

(AFP )

Pope Francis arrived in Milan on Saturday to meet families on a working-class housing estate, have lunch in a prison and hold a mass for hundreds of thousands of believers in nearby Monza.

Bells in church towers across over 1,000 dioceses rang out as Francis landed at Milan-Linate airport outside the northern city.

The Argentine made his first stop at the Case Bianche (White Houses), a run-down collection of concrete tower blocks from the 1970s on the edge of a wealthy city better known for its football clubs and fashion weeks.

(AFP )

Air strikes have killed dozens of civilians in west Mosul in recent days, officials said Saturday, as the number of people fleeing fighting against jihadists in the area topped 200,000.

Hundreds of thousands more are still in danger inside the city, where Iraqi forces have recaptured a series of neighbourhoods since the operation to retake west Mosul from the Islamic State group was launched last month.

(AFP )

President Donald Trump on Saturday declared that Obamacare will fall apart and vowed to develop a "great" new health care plan for Americans to take its place.

"ObamaCare will explode and we will all get together and piece together a great healthcare plan for THE PEOPLE. Do not worry!" the Republican said on Twitter.

The message came one day after the president suffered the biggest defeat yet in his short White House tenure, when his bill to repeal Obamacare died at the hands of rebel lawmakers of his own Republican party.

(AFP )

Brazil, trying to recover from a rotten meat scandal that has pummeled its agribusiness industry, said Saturday that major trading partner China had lifted a ban on imports of its products.

"China announced today it has fully reopened its market to Brazilian meat," Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi said in a statement.

Maggi did not say when the resumption of Brazilian meat imports, suspended Monday by China, would take effect.

(AFP )

The US-led coalition against the Islamic State group said Saturday that it struck a location in west Mosul where civilians were reportedly killed by aerial bombing.

"An initial review of strike data... indicates that, at the request of the Iraqi security forces, the coalition struck (IS) fighters and equipment, March 17, in west Mosul at the location corresponding to allegations of civilian casualties," it said in a statement.

(AFP )

Tens of thousands of pro-EU protesters took to London's streets Saturday, in defiance of the terror threat, to mark the bloc's 60th anniversary just days before Brexit begins.

Organisers said around 80,000 people had joined the march calling for Britain to stay in the European Union, even as Prime Minister Theresa May prepares to start the withdrawal process on Wednesday.

A sea of blue EU flags stretched down Piccadilly and past Trafalgar Square, interspersed by signs saying "I am European" and "I'm 15 -- I want my future back!"

(AFP )

Russia's army on Saturday dismissed a French claim that Raqa, the Islamic State's stronghold in Syria, was surrounded by troops who were poised to storm it, saying it had "no relation to reality."

Russia's curt dismissal came a day after French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the jihadist group's de facto capital was "surrounded" and that the battle to prise it from IS control "will begin in the coming days."

"This will be a very hard battle but essential," he told France's CNEWS television, drawing a sceptical response from Russia.

(AFP )

Donald Trump sat in the Oval Office on Friday evening in an unfamiliar position -- having to own failure.

His health care reform, his very first significant legislative proposal, had fallen at the first hurdle in a friendly Congress.

For sure, the 70-year-old businessman had faltered before -- from bankrupt casinos to shuttered hotels. But until now bravado was enough to keep his brand intact, and carry him all the way to the White House.

Now -- in the fiercest spotlight in the world, as president of the United States -- there was nowhere to hide.

(AFP )

Egypt said on Saturday it would resume importing meat from Brazil after a brief suspension following allegations that exporters in the Latin American country had sold tainted beef and poultry.

"We suspended it (this week) until we found out what happened and now it's back, but we won't import anything from slaughter houses or factories that have a problem," said Mona Mehrez, a deputy to the agriculture minister.

(AFP )

More than 150 Nigerians, some of them in tears, broke out in song as they touched down on home soil, after months stuck in Libya waiting to try to get to Europe.

"I don't leave Nigeria again-o! I will never forget my home!" they sang.

The rain fell heavily on the runway at Lagos international airport and night was drawing in but the atmosphere on the small bus taking the new arrivals to immigration control was almost hysterical.

(AFP )

Democratic Republic of Congo-born Madosh Tambwe scored his first Super Rugby tries as Golden Lions won 42-19 at Southern Kings Saturday in a South African showdown.

The teenage winger failed to score on debut last weekend when the Johannesburg outfit romped to a 30-point victory over Australian visitors Queensland Reds.

But Tambwe took just four minutes in Port Elizabeth to become a try scorer, intercepting a pass and racing over after the Kings had taken an early seven-point lead.

(AFP )

Air strikes carried out in recent days have killed dozens of civilians in west Mosul, where Iraqi forces are battling jihadists, officials said on Saturday.

Both Iraqi aircraft and a US-led international coalition are bombing the Islamic State group in the Mosul area.

"There are dozens of bodies still under the rubble," Bashar al-Kiki, the head of the Nineveh provincial council, told AFP.

(AFP )

Pro-democracy activists and hundreds of supporters marched in Hong Kong Saturday ahead of a vote for the city's next leader which they reject as a sham.

Hong Kong's next chief executive will be chosen by a pro-China committee on Sunday morning with former deputy leader Carrie Lam widely seen as Beijing's favourite for the job, but intensely disliked by the democracy camp who view her as a hardliner.

(AFP )

At least 16 civilians were killed and dozens wounded on Saturday in an air strike on a rebel-held area outside Damascus, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor said.

It said it was not immediately clear who was responsible for the strike on the town Hammuriyeh in the opposition bastion of Eastern Ghouta, which has been targeted by both the government and its ally Russia in the past.

(AFP )

Britain's anti-immigration, anti-EU UK Independence Party (UKIP) lost its only MP on Saturday when Douglas Carswell quit the party, just days before Prime Minister Theresa May is to launch the formal Brexit process.

Carswell defected from the ruling Conservative Party in 2014 to become the only UKIP member of the 650-seat House of Commons, but he has long been at odds with the party's founder, Nigel Farage.

In a blog post, Carswell said the party had played a leading role in last year's referendum vote to leave the European Union, but it was "job done".

(AFP )

A controversial ban on carry-on laptops and tablets on flights from the Middle East to the United States and Britain went into effect Saturday -- with less fanfare and frustration than expected.

From Dubai to Doha, passengers on dozens of flights checked in their electronic devices, many shrugging off the measure as yet another inconvenience of global travel.

"It's a rule. I follow the rules," said Rakan Mohammed, a Qatari national who flies from Doha to the US two to three times a year.

(AFP )

French anti-terrorism judges have charged two men suspected of involvement in supplying a weapon to the gunman killed at Paris's Orly airport after attacking soldiers, a judicial source said Saturday.

The suspects, aged 30 and 43, were charged Friday for "association with terrorist criminals" over the March 18 incident, the latest in France which remains on a state of emergency after a series of deadly jihadist attacks.

Both men are being held in custody, the source said. The younger one was also charged with arms possession related to a terror plot.

(AFP )

Bangladesh commandos Saturday stormed a hideout of suspected Islamist extremists in the country's northeast, rescuing at least 78 civilians, in a major anti-militant drive.

The commandos backed by armoured personnel carriers launched the operation after a more than 30-hour standoff with the extremists who holed up in a five-storey building in the city Sylhet.

"All 78 people from 28 civilian families who were trapped in the building for more than a day have been rescued by the army's para commando battalion," armed forces spokesman Colonel Rashidul Hasan told AFP.

(AFP )

Sydney's Opera House and Harbour Bridge plunged into darkness Saturday to mark Earth Hour, as global landmarks began dimming their lights to draw attention to climate change.

Millions of people from some 170 countries and territories are expected to take part in the annual bid to highlight global warming caused by the burning of coal, oil and gas to drive cars and power plants.

The event, which originated in Sydney, has grown to become a worldwide environmental campaign, celebrated across all continents.

(AFP )

Eleven wild elephants, including a baby, were rescued from a mud-filled bomb crater in Cambodia on Saturday after languishing in the swampy waters for four days, an environmental official said.

"They got in there to drink water and could not get out," Keo Sopheak, the head of the environmental office in eastern Mondulkiri province, told AFP.

He said the three-meter-deep mud pit, created by a bomb during the country's civil war, was located in a protected forest area and had been enlarged by local villagers to store water.

(AFP )

Belarus authorities raided the offices of a prominent rights group Saturday, detaining dozens of people on the day of a planned protest, including foreign rights workers, the group said.

Police also detained dozens in the streets and seized leading opposition leader Vladimir Nekliayev as he was returning from Poland, taking him off the train at the border and placing him in a detention facility.

(AFP )

At least 16 civilians were killed and dozens wounded on Saturday in an air strike on a rebel-held area outside Syria's capital Damascus, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor said.

It said it was not immediately clear who was responsible for the strike on the town Hammuriyeh in the opposition bastion of Eastern Ghouta.

"Sixteen civilians, including a child, were killed and around 50 others wounded in an air strike on the main street in the town of Hammuriyeh," Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman said.

(AFP )

Dubai International Airport and its flag carrier Emirates began implementing a ban on laptops and tablets on direct flights to the US Saturday, on one of the busiest travel weekends of the year.

Around 1.1 million people are expected to pass through the world's busiest international airport as the city marks UAE spring break, Dubai Airports said.

An estimated 260,000 travellers were expected to pass through each day from Friday through Monday. Dubai International Airport expects 89 million passengers this year.

(AFP )

European Union leaders renewed their vows at a special summit in Rome on Saturday, celebrating the troubled bloc's 60th anniversary with a commitment to a common future without Britain.

Meeting without Britain just days before it triggers its divorce. from the EU, the other 27 countries signed a new declaration on the Capitoline Hill where six founding states signed the Treaty of Rome on March 25, 1957.

(AFP )

The Republican Party's longstanding ideological divisions were laid bare in very public fashion this week, sinking President Donald Trump's Obamacare repeal plan and threatening other elements of his agenda.

The health care bill fell victim to bickering between two competing groups in Trump's party: a band of grass roots conservatives, centered around the House Freedom Caucus, who routinely buck leadership; and establishment-leaning moderates who are more likely to seek consensus over confrontation.

(AFP )

South Korea's sunken Sewol ferry has been successfully hauled onto a giant heavy lifting ship, officials said Saturday, a step towards returning the vessel to port.

Nearly three years after it went down killing more than 300 people, the wreck was safely placed onto a semi-submersible ship that will finally bring it to shore.

Almost all the victims were schoolchildren and it is thought that nine bodies still unaccounted for may be trapped inside.

(AFP )

Renowned physicist Stephen Hawking has spoken to a Hong Kong audience by hologram, showcasing the growing reach of a technology which is making inroads into politics, entertainment and business.

The British scientist appeared Friday before an audience of hundreds who cheered and snapped pictures with their phones as he discussed his career and answered questions about the possibility of life on other planets, the use of technology in education and the impact of Brexit on Britain.

(AFP )

Jailed by the junta after Turkey's 1980 military coup and again after last year's failed putsch, veteran Kurdish politician Ahmet Turk still hopes for peace but fears the consequences of next month's referendum.

In an interview with AFP, Turk said the referendum of April 16 on whether to approve an executive presidency was a "test" for the Kurds.

"Whether it is a 'yes' or a 'no' result, of course, it is important for Turkey... but especially regarding the Kurds, I see this as a test," the former mayor told AFP at his home in the city of Mardin.

(AFP )

Israel's arrest of a Jewish teenager accused of masterminding dozens of anti-Semitic threats could encourage racism and ease pressure on US President Donald Trump to tackle anti-Semitism, Jewish groups have warned.

Far-right groups claimed vindication that attacks previously blamed on rightwingers and alleged hatred resulting from Trump's election may actually have been carried out by a young Jewish American Israeli.

(AFP )

Pope Francis visits Milan Saturday where he will meet families on a housing estate, nap in a prison and hold a mass for hundreds of thousands of believers in nearby Monza.

Bells in church towers across over 1,000 diocese will ring out when Francis gets off the plane at Milan-Linate airport outside the northern Italian city at 0800 GMT (7am).

The Argentine will make his first stop at the Case Bianche (White Houses), a run-down, soulless collection of concrete tower blocks from the 70s on the fringe of a wealthy city better known for its football clubs and fashion weeks.

(AFP )

If gender bending fashion is suddenly all the rage in the West, think Pharrell Williams promoting Chanel's new unisex handbag, then nowhere has the look excelled more than in Tokyo.

Japan, for decades a pioneer of the androgynous look in the style of Comme des Garcons, Yohji Yamamoto and Kenzo, is spawning young designers blurring the lines expertly between masculine and feminine.

(AFP )

New Zealand's muddled use of the review system allowed Faf du Plessis and Hashim Amla to lead a South African recovery on a rain-hit day one of the third Test in Hamilton on Saturday.

New Zealand had lost their two reviews by the 29th over, and were powerless to react 13 balls later when the umpires missed a faint edge which should have seen du Plessis caught behind for 16.

At stumps, the Proteas' captain had advanced to 33, Temba Bavuma was on 13 and South Africa were 123 for four.

(AFP )

President Donald Trump suffered a bitter defeat in his first major legislative challenge as Republican lawmakers shot down his effort to repeal Obamacare. It was the latest in a string of major setbacks to have hit his two-month-old presidency.

- Travel bans -

Just one week after his inauguration, Trump issued an executive order banning travelers from seven majority-Muslim countries and all refugees. Unveiled with no prior warning, it sowed travel chaos and confusion, and ignited worldwide outrage.

(AFP )

A Singaporean teenager who was jailed twice after insulting the island's late leader Lee Kuan Yew and religious groups has been granted political asylum in the United States, his US lawyer said Saturday.

Amos Yee, 18, shocked Singaporeans in March 2015 after posting an expletive-laden video attacking Lee as the founding prime minister's death triggered a massive outpouring of grief in the city-state.

(AFP )

Men unable to have an erection after prostate surgery enjoyed normal intercourse thanks to stem cell therapy, scientists are to report Saturday at a medical conference in London.

In first-phase clinical trials, eight out of 15 continent men suffering from erectile dysfunction had sex six months after the one-time treatment, without recourse to drugs or penile implants.

The positive result showed no signs of flagging during a subsequent year-long monitoring period.