In the world | Africatime
Saturday 29 April 2017

In the world

(AFP )

Brazilian authorities were working Saturday to clear away the remains of barricades, burned-out buses and trash strewn about the streets during a general strike the previous day that saw violent clashes between protesters and police.

The demonstrations shut down transportation, schools and shops, with small groups smashing bank windows, hurling rocks and setting fires. Police responded with rubber bullets and tear gas.

(AFP )

Turkey on Saturday blocked all access to Wikipedia and banned television dating shows, adding to fears of a crackdown after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's victory in a referendum on enhancing his powers.

The government also dismissed almost 4,000 public officials in the latest wave of the purge under the over nine-month state of emergency that has followed last July's failed coup.

(AFP )

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Saturday said his government was "on target" for a May 22 fiscal deal with its creditors to enable the country to meet July loan payments.

"I think the general picture is that we are on target to have a conclusion on May 22," Tsipras said in Brussels, referring to a scheduled meeting of eurozone finance ministers needed to approve the deal.

Greece's creditors -- the European Commission, European Central Bank and the IMF -- on Tuesday resumed a long-delayed audit that is required for any agreement.

(AFP )

A 72-year-old Italian medieval art expert was on Saturday elected to head the Order of Malta, the world's oldest chivalric order.

Giacomo Dalla Torre del Tempio di Sanguinetto takes the reins for one year after Pope Francis ordered the resignation in January of the Order's Grand Master, Britain's Matthew Festing, following a power struggle.

A centuries-old lay religious mission, the order provides humanitarian aid in crisis zones around the world.

(AFP )

The EU's top officials will seek a meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at a NATO summit next month amid mounting tensions with Ankara, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Saturday.

EU President Donald Tusk made the announcement to 27 European Union leaders holding a special meeting -- without Britain -- on Brexit, Merkel told reporters.

She said Tusk "told us today that he was going to ask for a meeting with President Erdogan, along with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, during the NATO summit" in Brussels on May 25.

(AFP )

Mali has extended a state of emergency by six months until October 31, a source in the parliament told AFP on Saturday, as the west African nation battles a jihadist insurgency.

MPs meeting on Friday "voted unanimously" to extend the state of emergency, according to this source.

The measure has been renewed several times since jihadists stormed the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako in November 2015, killing 20 people in an attack claimed by Al-Qaeda's regional branch.

(AFP )

Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano on Saturday said he "agreed 100 percent" with a prosecutor's repeated suggestions that some charity boats rescuing migrants in the Mediterranean are colluding with traffickers in Libya.

Sicily-based prosecutor Carmelo Zuccaro sparked a row last week after claims in La Stampa daily that some aid groups battling Europe's worst migrant crisis since World War II may be in league with people smugglers.

(AFP )

The United Nations on Saturday called for a halt to fighting in South Sudan after the government launched a new offensive earlier this week.

South Sudanese government forces targeted a town in the north on Wednesday, displacing civilians the UN said may be headed toward the border with Sudan.

"We are disturbed by the escalation of violence and subsequent suffering of civilians in South Sudan as a result of the recent government offensive," Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, said in a statement.

(AFP )

A federal judge has ordered the Arkansas authorities to conduct an autopsy on the body of an executed inmate whose lawyer described his death as "horrifying," including jerking and convulsions during his lethal injection.

Judge Kristine Baker of the US Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas issued the order late Friday, less than 24 hours after the state executed the 38-year-old convicted multiple murderer Kenneth Williams.

He was the last of four inmates put to death in a week -- the first executions by the conservative southern state since 2005.

(AFP )

A landslide engulfed part of a village in Kyrgyzstan on Saturday, killing 24 people, including nine children, the emergencies ministry said.

The earth slip entombed the inhabitants of six houses when it hit the village of Ayu in the Osh region of the mountainous Central Asian country at around 6:40 am (0040 GMT), the emergencies ministry said in a statement.

"All 24 citizens of Kyrgzystan, nine of them children, died under the landslide in the south of the country," ministry spokeswoman Elmira Sheripova told AFP.

(AFP )

Hundreds of Indians gather daily at a 500-year-old Hindu temple in southern India where they pray for a single wish -- an increasingly elusive US visa.

The Chilkur Balaji temple dedicated to Lord Balaji -- a re-incarnation of Hindu god Vishnu -- on the outskirts of Hyderabad city, has long been a one-stop solution for prospective Indian immigrants seeking US visas, earning it the sobriquet of 'visa temple'.

(AFP )

Former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi was briefly hospitalised after a fall, the mayor of a Tuscan town where he was due to attend a meeting of his political party Forza Italia said Saturday.

"He slipped, he was injured and briefly hospitalised and will not join us this afternoon," said Massimo Mallegni, mayor of Pietrasanta.

The 80-year-old media tycoon tripped on cobblestones Friday night, falling head first and cutting his upper lip while leaving a restaurant in the chic tourist town of Portofino near Genoa, according to local media reports.

(AFP )

For a minority devastated by a series of church bombings that killed dozens of Christians, it was a chance for a rare joyous respite.

Despite fears of another jihadist attack, thousands of Catholics waited for hours on Saturday to enter a heavily guarded stadium in the Egyptian capital to pray with Pope Francis.

It was, said Coptic Catholic engineer Maged Francis, a "historic occasion".

"It's unlikely it will ever happen again," he said.

"Today joy has eclipsed the sadness of the last few weeks."

(AFP )

The world's first museum dedicated to China's Tiananmen Square crackdown will once again open its doors in Hong Kong after a months-long closure as the city prepares to mark the 20th anniversary of its handover to Beijing.

The June 4th Museum closed its doors last July after organisers said they were being targeted for political reasons in the semi-autonomous city where concerns are growing that Beijing is tightening its grip.

(AFP )

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Saturday called North Korea's test-fire of a ballistic missile "absolutely unacceptable" and a "grave threat to our country".

Speaking in London, Abe called upon the international community, in particular China, to "show solidarity" in formulating a response.

"There is a major crisis looming over the peace and prosperity of the world," he told reporters at the end of a three-day visit to Russia and Britain.

"Despite strong warnings by the international community, North Korea today went through with its ballistic missile launch.

(AFP )

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Saturday urged Britain and the European Union to secure a "smooth and transparent" separation, saying that open trade in Europe was "a matter of concern to the world".

Abe met with British Prime Minister Theresa May on Friday, assuring her that he "continued to trust the UK economy after separation from the European Union," he told a press conference in London on Saturday.

But he warned that "all the stakeholders, including investors from countries outside the region" needed to have "clear future prospects" in a post-Brexit Britain.

(AFP )

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban told concerned allies in the EU's powerful centre-right political group that he will quickly meet EU rights demands over a controversial education law, the group said Saturday.

Orban was summoned to a meeting with top officials from the European People's Party (EPP) over the law that could force the closure of a Budapest university founded by US billionaire George Soros.

The European Commission on Wednesday launched legal action against Hungary over the issue, giving the government one month to comply or face being taken to court.

(AFP )

EU leaders unanimously backed a tough Brexit strategy at a summit on Saturday, demanding a "serious response" from Britain on the rights of European citizens before trade talks can start.

In a show of togetherness the 27 leaders agreed the negotiating guidelines within minutes and applauded as they met in Brussels without British Prime Minister Theresa May.

EU President Donald Tusk hailed the "outstanding unity" in an often fractious club, saying it was a "firm and fair political mandate" for the Brexit negotiations.

(AFP )

Tearful relatives gathered outside a Thai temple on Saturday to bury an 11-month-old girl killed by her father in a harrowing murder he broadcast live on Facebook before committing suicide.

The Buddhist ceremony on the southern island of Phuket concluded a week of funeral rites for baby Natalie, who was hanged from the side of an abandoned building on Monday by her 20-year-old father Wuttisan Wongtalay.

Wuttisan, who hanged himself shortly after, filmed the macabre scene using his phone and broadcast it on Facebook Live.

(AFP )

Turkey and the United States can join forces to turn the Islamic State jihadist group's de-facto capital of Raqa in Syria into a "graveyard" for the extremists, the Turkish president said on Saturday.

The Turkish government is pressuring Washington to stop backing Kurdish fighters as an ally in the fight against IS jihadists in Syria, in a dispute that has has limited cooperation between the NATO allies.

(AFP )

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte warned Southeast Asian leaders Saturday they were facing a "massive" illegal drug menace that could destroy their societies, as he called for a united response.

Duterte, who has faced international condemnation for his own crackdown on drugs that has claimed thousands of lives, also insisted that outsiders should not interfere in Southeast Asia's affairs.

"The illegal drug trade is massive but it is not impregnable," Duterte said in a speech to open an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) leaders summit.

(AFP )

Hamas is to unveil a new version of its controversial founding charter which called for the destruction of Israel in a bid to ease its international isolation, party officials said.

Leaders of the Islamist movement have long spoken of the more limited aim of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip without explicitly setting it out in its charter.

(AFP )

The Philippines' police chief has defended the detention of a dozen people inside a closet-sized secret cell in a case that raised further alarm about abuses under President Rodrigo Duterte's deadly war on drugs.

The government's human rights commission discovered a dozen men and women packed into the tiny cell behind a wooden cabinet during an unannounced visit to a police station in a Manila slum neighbourhood on Thursday.

(AFP )

Turkey on Saturday blocked all access inside the country to the online encyclopedia Wikipedia reportedly for articles claiming links between Ankara and terror groups, the latest restriction on a popular website to hit Turkish users.

Turkey's Information and Communication Technologies Authority (BTK) said it had implemented the ban against Wikipedia.org, without making clear the reason for the move.

Turkish state media said the ban was imposed because Wikipedia had failed to remove content promoting terror and accusing Turkey of cooperation with various terror groups.

(AFP )

US Marines returned to Afghanistan's volatile Helmand Saturday, where American troops faced heated fighting until NATO's combat mission ended in 2014, as embattled Afghan security forces struggle to beat back the resurgent Taliban.

The deployment of some 300 Marines to the poppy-growing southern province came one day after the militants announced the launch of their "spring offensive", and as the Trump administration seeks to craft a new strategy in Afghanistan.

(AFP )

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel Saturday criticised Ivanka Trump's role as an adviser to her father in the White House, describing it as a form of "nepotism."

"For me there are things that remain strange, like for example the visit of his daughter to Germany which was treated almost like a world event, while the mix of politics with family and business reminds us instead of nepotism and would be unimaginable here," he said.

(AFP )

An American woman convicted of espionage this week has been deported by China, a human rights group that campaigned for her release said Saturday, removing a source of tensions between Washington and Beijing.

Sandy Phan-Gillis was detained in March 2015 at the Macau border after visiting mainland China with a trade delegation from the Texas oil capital Houston.

She was accused of espionage, stealing state secrets and allegedly passing on intelligence to a third party. She was sentenced to three and a half years in prison and deportation on Wednesday.

(AFP )

Notorious Afghan warlord and ex-prime minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar returned to public life Saturday after more than 20 years in exile, calling on the Taliban to lay down their weapons and join a "caravan of peace".

Hekmatyar, white-bearded and clad in his trademark black turban, spoke to supporters at a gathering in Laghman province widely broadcast in Afghanistan, where his return to the political mainstream months after etching a landmark peace deal with Kabul has been hugely controversial.

(AFP )

Donald Trump faced the sober realities of his office Saturday as he marked the 100th day of a presidency stamped by chaos and confusion, but he will also take political succor in a campaign-style rally among core supporters.

Under a relentless spotlight since stunning the world in November with an improbable victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton, the 45th president of the United States has struggled to convert his campaign promises into tangible achievements.

(AFP )

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte faced pushback on Saturday at a regional summit over his efforts to weaken Southeast Asian resistance to Chinese expansionism in the contested South China Sea, diplomats said.

Duterte was due to release a chairman's statement at the end of the one-day Association of Southeast Asian (ASEAN) leaders meeting that ignored an international tribunal ruling rejecting China's sweeping claims to the strategically vital waterway.

(AFP )

From his resounding setbacks in Congress to his stunning policy flip-flops, Donald Trump has faced a steep learning curve in his opening months at the White House.

Although the new US president has shown a capacity to change both his tone and positions, he has struggled to convey a clearly articulated worldview.

With the arrival of the symbolic milestone of 100 days in power on Saturday, a cold, hard reality is setting in for the billionaire businessman who promised supporters he would "win, win, win" for them.

(AFP )

Venezuela on Monday marks a month since the start of a wave of deadly protests against President Nicolas Maduro.

Opponents started rallying on April 1 against moves to strengthen his hold on power, hoping they would be a tipping point in the economic and political crisis.

Here are five key steps that have led to this point:

- 2013: Chavez dies -

The father of Venezuela's "socialist revolution," Hugo Chavez, a vocal critic of the United States, died of cancer on March 5, 2013.

(AFP )

Fallen tycoon Eike Batista, who rose to become Brazil's wealthiest man before surrendering to face corruption charges, may be released from prison while awaiting his trial.

Brazilian Supreme Court Justice Gilmar Mendes ruled Friday that though Batista's alleged crimes were serious, they did not warrant custody during legal proceedings.

(AFP )

Britain took a significant step towards exposing dirty money in the London property market this week, passing a law allowing the seizure of homes from foreigners who cannot explain how they paid for them.

Anti-corruption campaigners hailed the "unexplained wealth orders" as a potentially game-changing tool to stop wealthy individuals from laundering their money through mansions in the affluent London boroughs of Knightsbridge and Hampstead.

(AFP )

"We mortals do not understand you." That's the heartfelt cry from former UN climate chief Christiana Figueres, pleading with scientists to use everyday language to help counter growing public mistrust.

Figueres was giving one explanation of why scientists are struggling to get their message across to a sceptical public at a major conference in Vienna this week.

Delegates made time for soul-searching at the meeting in the Austrian capital, conceding that they bear part of the blame for alienating some people.