Tuesday 19 September 2017

In the world

(AFP )

Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort called Tuesday for a federal investigation into leaks after CNN reported he had been wiretapped by the FBI in a national security probe.

In a rare statement while he is under investigation in the sprawling Russia election interference probe, Manafort's spokesman said it was a felony to reveal the existence of orders -- such as the wiretaps -- authorized by the court handling Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) requests.

(AFP )

When the earthquake hit it sent panicked people running into the street but many weren't so lucky. The dust settled minutes later to reveal a landscape of flattened buildings and rubble in the heart of Mexico City.

"Awful. I think it was one of the strongest we've felt. I don't know what magnitude, but it was awful," said Pedro Cruz Martinez, a public servant cradling his little girl, after joining the rush of fearful parents to a local school.

After the screams and the shock, people quickly set to work digging for survivors.

(AFP )

The number of asylum seekers illegally entering Canada from the United States increased by more than six times in July and August compared to previous months, official data showed Tuesday.

Canada's immigration ministry said more than 5,700 people were intercepted by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in August, while over 3,150 were detained in July.

The monthly average for the first half of the year was 727 people intercepted.

(AFP )

"We have been attacked. We are at war," says Morgan Freeman. He adds: "This is no movie script."

In a video that shot across social media Tuesday, the star of dozens of big-screen hits lent his solemn, trust-inducing voice to a new campaign by a mix of Hollywood stars and Washington security VIPs to highlight Moscow's interference in last year's election: the Committee to Investigate Russia.

(AFP )

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday demanded that Iraqi Kurds call off a referendum on independence, hinting at consequences if they go ahead.

"Steps such as demands for independence that can cause new crises and conflicts in the region must be avoided. We hereby call on the Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government to abort the initiative they have launched in that direction," Erdogan said in a speech to the UN General Assembly.

(AFP )

At least 65 people were killed when a powerful, 7.1-magnitude earthquake rocked Mexico on Tuesday, toppling buildings in the capital and sowing panic on the anniversary of a devastating 1985 quake.

The toll from the authorities was preliminary and could rise, as rescue crews and volunteers in Mexico City -- home to 20 million people -- clawed through the rubble of collapsed buildings looking for survivors and bodies.

(AFP )

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed Tuesday to fight an "Iranian curtain" descending on the Middle East, pledging to prevent Tehran from ever establishing a permanent foothold in Syria.

Netanyahu -- who in recent years has coined his own sort of theater at the annual United Nations speech marathon with podium props and dramatic warnings -- was in a lighter mood for 2017, cracking jokes and rejoicing over the rise of US President Donald Trump.

(AFP )

Brazilian police said Tuesday that a British woman missing during an attempt to paddle the entire Amazon by kayak has been murdered and that three people are in custody.

The Amazonas state police force said a 17-year-old suspect has confessed to being part of a gang that shot Emma Kelty, 43, stole her electronic gear and cash, then dumped her body in a river.

The adolescent was arrested in Codajas, 240 kilometers (150 miles) from the state capital Manaus. Two more people have been arrested and a further four are still wanted, police chief Frederico Mendes in a statement.

(AFP )

French President Emmanuel Macron stood firm Tuesday that landmark agreements on Iran and climate change would not change as he gently nudged Donald Trump to return to the fold.

Macron, like the US president, was appearing for the first time at the annual United Nations gathering of world leaders, but struck a different tone.

Trump devoted much of his own address at the General Assembly denouncing Iran, calling the seven-nation agreement on Tehran's nuclear program championed by his predecessor Barack Obama an "embarrassment to the United States."

(AFP )

Brazil's scandal-plagued former leftist president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and a tough-talking rightwing congressman lead voter intentions ahead of next year's presidential elections, a poll said Tuesday.

Underlining the turmoil in Brazilian politics, the poll also confirmed plummeting support for the current center-right government, with 75.6 percent saying it is doing a bad job. Only 3.4 percent think the government is doing a good job, down from 10.3 percent in February.

(AFP )

A powerful earthquake shook Mexico City on Tuesday, destroying building and causing an un unknown number of casualties inhabitants on the anniversary of a devastating 1985 quake.

The quake sowed panic in the sprawling city of 20 million people, many of whom have memories of the quake 32 years ago that killed some 10,000 people in Mexico City.

"I'm so worried. I can't stop crying. It's the same nightmare as in 1985," one resident in a plaza in the capital, Georgina Sanchez, 52, sobbed to AFP.

(AFP )

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called Myanmar leader Aung Sang Suu Kyi on Tuesday to urge her government to address "deeply troubling allegations of human rights abuses and violations."

More than 400,000 members of Myanmar's Rohingya minority have fled fighting in Rakhine state, amid what rights activists and some world leaders have alleged is a military-led campaign of "ethnic cleansing."

(AFP )

A Czech zoo on Tuesday burnt 33 kilos (72 pounds) of rare rhino horns, including some it sawed off its own animals in the wake of a brutal attack on a French zoo.

Poachers broke into the Thoiry zoo near Paris in March and killed a critically endangered white rhino, hacking off its horns and putting zoos across the world on high alert.

The brazen attack prompted a zoo in the central Czech Republic city of Dvur Kralove nad Labem to remove and burn the horns from its herd.

(AFP )

Puerto Ricans scrambled Monday to board up windows and get last minute supplies as a potential catastrophic Hurricane Maria headed toward the US commonwealth two weeks after it was raked by Hurricane Irma,

"I'm not denying I'm scared. I feel worried because it's the first time I'll see a hurricane of this magnitude," said schoolteacher Noemi Aviles Rivera, 47, who experienced Hurricane Hugo in 1989 and Georges in 1998.

"I am well prepared, I have everything I need for the moment, but I worry about the anxiety it causes people because it is contagious," she told AFP.

(AFP )

Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari urged fellow leaders at the United Nations General Assembly to condemn Myanmar's "ethnic cleansing" of the Rohingya people.

Comparing the situation in Myanmar's Rakhine province to the massacres in Bosnia in 1995 and Rwanda in 1994, the leader of Africa's most populous nation declared: "The international community cannot remain silent."

(AFP )

A bellicose President Donald Trump used his maiden address to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday to warn "Rocket Man" Kim Jong-Un that he will "totally destroy" North Korea if it threatens the United States or its allies.

Appearing before the 193-member body that emerged from the ashes of World War II, Trump boasted of America's military strength, signaled he is ready to rip up a nuclear accord with the "murderous regime" in Tehran, and berated US foes from Pyongyang to Caracas.

(AFP )

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned Tuesday that the United States would forfeit the trust of the international community if it abandons a nuclear accord with Tehran.

"If the United States were not to adhere to the commitments and trample upon this agreement, this will mean it will carry with it the subsequent lack of trust of countries," Rouhani, in New York to attend the UN General Assembly, told NBC.

"After such a possible scenario, which country would be willing to sit across a table from the United States of America and talk about international issues?

(AFP )

The European Union unveiled plans Tuesday to step up its response to cyber attacks, including a new intelligence-sharing agency, cyber war games and product safety labels.

The proposals by the European Commission, the executive arm of the 28-nation bloc, come amid growing concerns over election hacking by foreign states, ransomware attacks and other cybercrime like identity theft and bank fraud.

(AFP )

Russia on Tuesday accused US-backed rebels in Syria of targeting regime forces to try to halt their advance against Islamic State jihadists around the city of Deir Ezzor.

In a statement the Russian military said it had received reports from Syrian generals that regime forces that crossed the strategic Euphrates River were faced with "gunfire from the north" near Deir Ezzor.

Moscow claimed that shooting came from a zone controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) supported by Washington.

(AFP )

Twitter on Tuesday touted victories in the battle against tweets promoting extremist violence, saying it has been vanquishing those kinds of accounts before governments even ask.

Twitter highlighted progress in its latest transparency report, noting that between the start of August in 2015 and June 30 of this year it has suspended 935,897 accounts for "promotion of terrorism."

(AFP )

A German NGO whose migrant rescue boat was impounded by Italian authorities on suspicion of collusion with people traffickers said Tuesday it had been the victim of a "despicable smear campaign".

Humanitarian group Jugend Rettet went to court to demand the immediate release of its 33-metre boat the Iuventa, which was seized on August 2 on the island of Lampedusa.

A judge in Trapani, Sicily will rule on the request for the vessel's release by Friday.

(AFP )

The United States on Tuesday added South African twin brothers accused of plotting attacks on the US embassy and Jewish institutions to its terror blacklist.

Tony-Lee Thulsie and Brandon-Lee Thulsie were arrested in South Africa in July 2016.

Besides allegedly conspiring to bomb the US embassy in Pretoria and unspecified Jewish facilities they are also accused of planning to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State group.

Their arrests were the first in South Africa relating to alleged IS membership.

(AFP )

President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen said Tuesday he had no ties to Russian interference in the 2016 election and saw "not a hint" that Trump himself was involved, labelling such allegations political.

But Cohen's decision to go public with his statement ahead of a planned closed-door hearing by the Senate Intelligence Committee added to the rising tensions between investigators and the White House over the probe into possible collusion with Russian election meddling.

(AFP )

Bangladesh has launched a birth control drive in its overcrowded Rohingya refugee camps, an official said Tuesday, fearing a population boom would worsen the humanitarian crisis unfolding along its border.

Family planning teams have been deployed to offer advice and distribute condoms and other contraceptives throughout its ill-equipped camps, which have been overwhelmed by the arrival of 420,000 Rohingya refugees since August 25.

(AFP )

Hungary is set to launch another state "national consultation" about US financier and philanthropist George Soros, the government said Tuesday, six months before expected general elections.

The campaign would be to investigate public views on the "Soros plan", and would likely be launched next month, government spokesman Bence Tuzson told public radio, without giving further details.

(AFP )

President Donald Trump warned Tuesday that the United States is ready to "totally destroy" North Korea and vowed to confront Iran's "murderous regime" over its weapons program.

In his first address to leaders gathered at the United Nations General Assembly, Trump warned North Korea not to pursue its nuclear missile program in his starkest language yet, deriding its young leader Kim Jong-Un with the nickname "Rocket Man" and threatening to end his country.

(AFP )

French Cardinal Philippe Barbarin will go on trial in April on charges of covering up for a priest accused of abusing children in his Lyon diocese over 25 years ago, a court ruled Tuesday.

Barbarin, the most senior French Catholic leader to be tried for allegedly failing to report a predator priest, will go on trial on April 4 next year along with six co-defendants, the court in Lyon said.

The trial is set to run for three days.

(AFP )

French authorities evacuated hundreds of migrants from a wood on the northern coast near Calais on Tuesday over fears it could become a magnet for others hoping to head to Britain.

Some 350 men, women and children, most of them Iraqi Kurds, had been living for weeks in squalid conditions in the wood on the edge of the town of Grande-Synthe.

Hundreds of police were brought in to dismantle the camp as its residents were packed onto buses, bound for migrant centres in 10 different regions across France.

(AFP )

Indian authorities tore down dozens of billboards Tuesday after a slew of complaints over an advertisement depicting a former porn star promoting condoms ahead of a major Hindu festival.

The image of Sunny Leone, a Canadian actress of Indian origin, advertising contraceptives ahead of the religious celebration of Navratri proved too much for some in the western state of Gujarat.

The advertisement features no image of a condom, but stoked outrage in conservative India for its slogan "Play with love this Navratri".

(AFP )

Taking up American football before the age of 12 may have an impact on behaviour and mood much later in life, a study of former players said Tuesday.

Those who started the sport early were at higher risk by age 51 to suffer from depression, apathy or other behavioural problems, though memory and thinking skills did not seem to be affected, according to a paper in the journal Translational Psychiatry.

"Youth exposure to football may have long-term neuro-behavioural consequences," it said.

(AFP )

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on Tuesday urged those displaced by the conflict in Darfur to return home, saying the region had now recovered from a war that has killed tens of thousands.

More than 2.5 million people have fled their homes since 2003, when a conflict erupted in Darfur after ethnic minority rebels took up arms against Bashir's Arab-dominated government, accusing it of marginalising the region economically and politically.

(AFP )

With braces on her teeth and sneakers on her feet, Zuriel Oduwole from Los Angeles may look like a typical American teen.

But over the past six years, the willowy 15-year-old has been granted audiences with no fewer than 24 presidents and prime ministers on her crusade to promote education for girls in Africa.

Zuriel is following in the footsteps of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl who survived being shot in the head to become the world's most famous girls' education campaigner.

(AFP )

An outbreak of fighting between government and rebel forces in South Sudan's oil-producing north left at least 25 people dead, a state official said Tuesday.

The clash between rebels loyal to exiled former deputy president Riek Machar and government forces occurred early Monday in Nhialdiu, a village close to the town of Bentiu which has changed hands repeatedly since civil war began nearly four years ago.

(AFP )

New South Africa coach Ottis Gibson was faced with what he described as a "crucial" problem at the start of his tenure -- injuries to four leading fast bowlers.

Gibson's first media conference as coach on Tuesday was preceded by team manager Mohammed Moosajee giving an update on the four bowlers -- Vernon Philander, Chris Morris, Dale Steyn and Lungi Ngidi -- who are all out of action a week ahead of the first Test against Bangladesh, starting in Potchefstroom on September 28.

(AFP )

Big screens broadcast Aung San Suu Kyi's speech on the Rohingya crisis nationwide as she tried to mollify the world without riling Myanmar's army or challenging longstanding prejudices -- but few could understand her clipped English.

"We didn't understand a single word," said Cho Cho, who watched the leader's first speech about the fate of the Muslim minority along with tens of thousands of others in the mainly Buddhist nation.

"But we wanted to show our support for her. After her speech finished, we clapped and came back home."