In the world | Africatime
Monday 24 April 2017

In the world

(AFP )

A Philippine lawyer on Monday filed a complaint at the world's only permanent war crimes court against President Rodrigo Duterte, alleging his war on drugs has caused some 8,000 deaths.

Lawyer Jude Sabio urged the prosecutor at the International Criminal Court in The Hague to investigate Duterte and senior adminstration officials and bring charges of crimes against humanity against them for "the terrifying and gruesome situation of continuing mass murder in the Philippines".

(AFP )

Brussels heaved a sigh of relief Monday after pro-EU Emmanuel Macron led far-right Marine Le Pen in France's presidential vote, hoping for some respite after the Brexit shock and the rise of eurosceptics across the bloc.

Relieved Brussels officials broke with protocol on not intervening in national elections and swiftly congratulated Macron despite the fact he still has to beat Le Pen in a run-off.

(AFP )

A US-backed alliance of Arab-Kurdish forces entered the key jihadist-held town of Tabqa on Monday as they pursued their campaign against the Islamic State group in northern Syria.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have set their sights on Tabqa and the adjacent dam as part of their broader offensive for the city of Raqa, the Syrian heart of the jihadists' self-styled "caliphate" since 2014.

Supported by US-led coalition air strikes and special forces advisers, the SDF surrounded Tabqa in early April.

(AFP )

Germany recorded a sharp rise in politically motivated crimes by foreigners including jihadists and Kurdish militants last year, a trend branded "unacceptable" by Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere on Monday.

Some 3,372 such cases were recorded last year, up 66.5 percent from 2015, according to the latest crime statistics unveiled by de Maiziere.

They include "criminal offences carried out in the name of foreign extremists of the so-called IS, or the (outlawed Kurdish militants) PKK", said the interior minister.

(AFP )

Jews in Germany say they feel a "growing threat" of anti-Semitism, especially from Muslims but also from xenophobic far-right groups, a parliamentary report said Monday.

They are "increasingly concerned for their safety due to everyday experiences of anti-Semitism," said the Independent Experts Group on Anti-Semitism.

In a 2016 survey, Jewish people questioned about verbal and physical attacks against them put "Muslim persons or groups" first as the perpetrators, ahead of "people unknown" or far-right or left groups, said the report, without providing specific data.

(AFP )

Ukraine opened a terror investigation Monday into a mine blast that killed an American medic from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe's monitoring team in the country's rebel-held east.

The OSCE suffered its first casualty in the three-year war in Europe's backyard after an armoured vehicle hit a landmine Sunday in the Russian-backed separatist fiefdom of Lugansk.

An unidentified US medic was killed and two others, German and Czech nationals, were wounded as they travelled on a patrol monitoring the conflict that has claimed more than 10,000 lives.

(AFP )

The results of France's first round of presidential election made front page headlines around the world on Monday.

Many newspapers noted that a likely win for pro-European centrist Emmanuel Macron in the May 7 run-off would be good news for the European Union but warned that his far-right rival Marine Le Pen could still pull off a surprise victory.

- 'Le Pen threat not over' -

Media in neighbouring Britain hailed pro-European Macron's strong showing while adding that Le Pen's second-place success should not be ignored.

(AFP )

The psychedelic clouds in Edvard Munch's iconic "The Scream" have alternatively been interpreted as a metaphor for mental anguish or a literal depiction of volcanic fallout.

On Monday, scientists hypothesised that the Norwegian painter's inspiration may in fact have been rare clouds which form in cold places at high altitude.

The first version of "The Scream" was released in 1893. It depicts a dark humanlike figure clutching its head in apparent horror against the backdrop of a swirling, red-orange sky.

(AFP )

Pro-EU centrist Emmanuel Macron came under fire Monday over a glitzy party in a high-end Paris bistro and his triumphant speech following his success in the first round of France's presidential polls.

Even close allies appeared to caution the inexperienced 39-year-old against complacency ahead of the second round run-off on May 7 against far-right leader Marine Le Pen.

(AFP )

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's lawyer has lodged a complaint against a former French diplomat accusing him of inciting the assassination of Turkey's leader, his spokesman confirmed Monday.

The move follows comments by Philippe Moreau Defarges about the outcome of the April 16 referendum on controversial constitutional changes that will tighten the president's grip on power.

(AFP )

Albania's political opposition blocked the country's main roads for more than an hour on Monday to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Edi Rama, three months before a general election.

The right-wing opposition has been calling for the departure of the Socialist Party premier for more than 18 months in order to make way for a technical transitional government in the run-up to the June 19 vote.

Opposition parties, which are also boycotting parliament, have refused to take part in the election unless this transitional government is set up to ensure a free and fair poll.

(AFP )

Suspected Maoist rebels killed 12 paramilitary commandos on Monday in a remote part of central India, a police official said, the latest attack in the country's simmering internal conflict.

The soldiers were guarding road workers in the Sukma district of Chhattisgargh state, a hotbed of insurgent violence, when they came under fire.

"So far, we know that 12 CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) personnel have been martyred in the Maoist attack," Bhagwati Singh, a police spokesman, told AFP by telephone.

(AFP )

Pro-Europe maverick Emmanuel Macron and far-right leader Marine Le Pen on Monday threw themselves into campaigning for France's presidential run-off, with Le Pen styling herself the true candidate of change in a race stacked in Macron's favour.

Macron is the clear favourite to become France's youngest-ever president after topping Sunday's ballot with 23.75 percent of votes, ahead of National Front (FN) leader Le Pen on 21.53 percent.

(AFP )

A German court ruled Monday that 10 people will face trial accused of negligently causing a catastrophic stampede at a 2010 "Love Parade" techno music festival that killed 21 people.

Overturning a year-old ruling, the court decided that four event organisers and six officials of the city of Duisburg will face charges including negligent manslaughter and causing bodily harm.

Prosecutors, victims' relatives and survivors have pointed to chaotic crowd management as the cause of the disaster in which revellers were crushed, trampled to death and suffocated.

(AFP )

Police said Monday they arrested more than 100 people after election night unrest in Paris, with protesters hurling bottles at security forces, torching cars and smashing shop windows.

Six police officers and three protesters were slightly injured in the violence in central Paris, police said, adding that 143 people were arrested, with 29 held overnight.

Hundreds of youths gathered to protest against far-right leader Marine Le Pen and former banker Emmanuel Macron, who both qualified Sunday for the May 7 run-off in France's two-stage presidential election.

(AFP )

Chinese President Xi Jinping urged "restraint" over North Korea in a phone call with Donald Trump Monday, as Japan joined exercises with an American supercarrier heading to the Korean peninsula.

The US leader has repeatedly called on China, the North's sole major ally, to do more to rein in Pyongyang, as tensions in the region soar amid speculation it will conduct another nuclear test.

"(China) hopes that the relevant parties can maintain restraint and avoid actions that would increase tensions in the Korean peninsula," Xi said, according to the foreign ministry.

(AFP )

An Italian journalist arrested in Turkey while researching refugees near the Syrian border has been freed after two weeks in detention, Italy's foreign ministry said Monday.

Gabriele Del Grande, 34, was expected to arrive at Bologna airport in Italy Monday and be met by his parents and Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano.

"I spoke to him just now and he's on his way back to Italy. I had the great joy of telling his family. We are waiting for him," Alfano said.

(AFP )

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis arrived in Afghanistan on an unannounced visit Monday, hours after his Afghan counterpart resigned over a deadly Taliban attack that triggered anger and left the embattled army in disarray.

Mattis branded the Taliban "barbaric", but would not be drawn on recent calls to send more troops to help battle the resurgent militants, who are gearing up for the spring fighting season.

(AFP )

Arkansas is rushing to execute a slew of prisoners this week before its cache of lethal drugs run out, despite intense criticism and legal challenges to the southern US state's plans.

What began as a macabre plan to put eight convicted murderers to death in 11 days -- a record, had it been carried out -- has now seen one prisoner executed and four win reprieves.

The US Supreme Court voted 5 to 4 to deny staying the executions of all eight condemned inmates.

(AFP )

A man who accidently snorkeled headfirst into a crocodile in northern Australia escaped with minor injuries as wildlife officers Monday worked to track down the reptile.

The croc, measuring up to two metres (6.5 feet), "reacted defensively" when the swimmer "inadvertently" swum into it on Sunday near popular Lizard Island in Queensland state.

"The man suffered minor cuts and abrasions to his head and was treated for his non-life threatening injuries on the island," a department of environment spokesperson said.

(AFP )

With a jaunty victory dance, 101-year-old Man Kaur celebrated winning the 100 metres sprint at the World Masters Games in Auckland on Monday, the 17th gold medal in the Indian athlete's remarkable late-blooming career.

Kaur clocked one minute 14 seconds as a small crowd cheered her on -- ending a mere 64.42 seconds off Usain Bolt's 100m world record set in 2009.

In truth her dash became more of a gentle amble the closer the diminutive centenarian came to the finish line, with more energy spent beaming at spectators than running.

(AFP )

Liang Shanshan considers herself a mother of two: one child is her biological son, the other is a 16-year-old Chinese teen pop star she has never met.

She is a "mother fan" and part of a group of women in their mid-20s to 60s whose maternal instincts are set off by China's boy band sensation TFBoys("The Fighting Boys").

The band has won millions of Chinese followers since their 2013 debut, rapidly amassing a following ardent enough to buy a giant ad in New York's Times Square for a band member's birthday.

(AFP )

Talk about fluid tunes: A group of innovative Danish musicians submerged like fish in an aquarium have created an underwater concerto with instruments specially adapted to resonate in a silent world.

In the central Danish town of Aarhus, a Godsbanen centre concert hall looks more like a fish farm than a music set, with its jumble of water tanks, canisters, tubes, pipes and retrofuturistic objects.

(AFP )

After fleeing war in Syria and arriving in America with her family four months ago, for one day Mona Hafez is not a refugee. She is a tourist seeing the sights of New York.

"Coming to the park was really fun. Riding the subway was awesome. I love all of New York City," says the 10-year-old, words tumbling out of her mouth in delight.

(AFP )

Islam Maytat thought marrying an Afghan-British businessman was her ticket to a new life as a fashionista in London. Instead she became a widow living under jihadist rule in Syria.

At just 23, the young Moroccan spent three traumatic years in northern Syria under the Islamic State group's so-called "caliphate".

Tens of thousands of foreigners have joined jihadist groups in Syria, including women who are encouraged to marry and raise the children of IS fighters.

Some, like Maytat, have been lured unknowingly into marriages with would-be jihadists.

(AFP )

Thick black fumes from smoke bombs engulfed stands at PSV Eindhoven's crunch home game against Ajax, interrupting the match and leaving several fans with breathing and eye problems.

Dozens of people scattered to take refuge as black smoke billowed through the Philips Stadion, forcing the referee to suspend play five minutes into the second half.

Ten fans, four security guards and a steward suffered respiratory or eye problems, according to the Dutch press agency ANP. A 35-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of letting off the devices, it added.

(AFP )

International media pored over the results of France's closely watched first round of its presidential election Sunday, with mainstream newspapers flocking to back centrist Emmanuel Macron against far-right rival Marine Le Pen.

- 'Le Pen threat not over' -

Media in neighbouring Britain hailed pro-European Macron's strong showing, while adding that Le Pen's projected second-place success -- securing her a place alongside him in the May 7 run-off -- should not be ignored.

(AFP )

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in a phone conversation Sunday with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said Moscow's actions in eastern Ukraine remain an obstacle to improved US-Russian ties, the State Department said.

"Secretary Tillerson phoned Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko today to discuss his recent trip to Moscow and his message to the Russian leadership that, although the United States is interested in improving relations with Russia, Russia's actions in eastern Ukraine remain an obstacle," said acting spokesman Mark Toner.

(AFP )

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres sought to reassure international Jewish community leaders on Sunday that he would stand up against any perceptions of anti-Israel bias at the world organization.

Guterres spoke amid a deepening row over alleged bias within the UN following US pressure, exacerbated last month when a UN rights expert issued a blistering criticism of Israel's policies.

Guterres said he would "guarantee" that those working under him would abide by principles that he considers right.

(AFP )

A woman wounded while participating in an April 19 pro-government march died Sunday, an official said, raising the death toll in three weeks of unrest in Venezuela to 21.

Almelina Carrillo, 47, succumbed to injuries suffered when she was struck in the head by a bottle thrown from a building during the march in Caracas, Venezuela's state ombudsman Tarek Saab said on Twitter.

Venezuela has seen near-daily protests since the beginning of April, with opponents of President Nicolas Maduro demanding his ouster.

(AFP )

Russia became the world's third largest military spender in 2016 despite low oil prices and economic sanctions, as the global expenditure rose for a second consecutive year, a study said on Monday.

Russia's military spending was $69.2 billion (around 64 billion euros) in 2016, a 5.9 percent rise over 2015, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said in a report, adding this was the highest proportion of its GDP since it became an independent state.

(AFP )

Emmanuel Macron's youthful supporters wept tears of joy and shouted themselves hoarse on Sunday as projections from France's presidential election suggested their champion was well on track for power.

Similar jubilation played out at the headquarters of the far-right National Front (FN), whose leader Marine Le Pen brought the party to the presidential runoff for just the second time in its history.

For supporters of the conservative Republicans and far-left France Insoumise (France Unbowed), there was bitterness at a dream left unfulfilled.

(AFP )

Donald Trump pressed for the funding of a Mexico border wall Sunday as a looming spending showdown in Congress threatens to shut down the US government on the president's 100th day in office.

Building the wall was Trump's signature campaign promise, and the White House appeared determined to get Congress to approve a down payment as part of a bigger bill to keep the US government funded.

Trump weighed in on Twitter, insisting Mexico will pay for the wall "but at a later date so we can get started early."

(AFP )

Police clashed with leftwingdemonstrators in Paris on Sunday shortly after early projections from the France's presidential elections showed far-right leader Marine Le Pen had made it to a runoff vote.

Police moved in on the demonstrators, some of whom threw bottles and firecrackers, an AFP journalist saw. Three people were arrested, according to police.

(AFP )

Far-right leader Marine Le Pen wept for joy when her father Jean-Marie Le Pen, the bogeyman of French politics, made it to the final of the 2002 presidential election.

But while Le Pen senior ultimately failed to win the top job, 15 years later his charismatic daughter believes she can become France's first woman president, and the first from the far-right National Front (FN).

In Sunday's first round vote, the fiercely anti-EU, anti-immigration Le Pen secured a spot in the May 7 run-off, just behind centrist Emmanuel Macron, according to several polling institutes.