In the world | Africatime
Thursday 30 March 2017

In the world

(AFP )

A Lithuanian historian on Wednesday claimed to have found a rare original copy of the country's 1918 act of independence, which reestablished the Baltic state after more than a century of Russian rule.

Lithuanian officials responded with cautious applause, while a photo of the document shared by Professor Liudas Mazylis, who unearthed the act inside the German foreign ministry's archives in Berlin, immediately went viral on social media.

(AFP )

A fierce Russian opponent of President Vladimir Putin who was poisoned in his homeland told US lawmakers Wednesday it was imperative that Washington remain engaged with that country's pro-democracy movement.

Vladimir Kara-Murza, a Russian human-rights champion, also urged US President Donald Trump's administration to keep pressure on Moscow, warning that ignoring evidence that Russia interfered in last year's US election would only hand the Kremlin an invitation to ramp up its domestic oppression and its aggression abroad.

(AFP )

Lawyers for a German-Turkish journalist detained by Ankara on terrorism-related charges have lodged an appeal for his release with Turkey's highest court, his employer said Wednesday.

A court in Istanbul on Monday ordered provisional detention for Deniz Yucel, 43, a correspondent of the German newspaper Die Welt who holds dual German and Turkish nationality.

Yucel has been in custody since February 18 over reports on an attack by hackers on the email account of Turkey's energy minister Berat Albayrak, who also is President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's son-in-law.

(AFP )

The head of the powerful Senate Intelligence Committee warned Wednesday that Russia is interfering in the French election just as it did in the US presidential campaign last year.

Senator Richard Burr, who has access to some of the most highly classified US intelligence, said Moscow has shown a clear will and ability to disrupt elections in Western democracies.

"What we might assess was a very covert effort in 2016 in the United States, is a very overt effort, as well as covert, in Germany and France," he told reporters.

(AFP )

Nicaragua has restored diplomatic ties with Israel suspended nearly seven years ago when the Jewish state sent commandos to attack a flotilla carrying humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip.

The normalization was announced by both countries in statements on Tuesday.

Nicaragua, which is led by former leftist guerrilla-turned-president Daniel Ortega, also recognizes Palestine as a state.

(AFP )

The people who stripped naked at the former German Nazi death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau last week before slaughtering a lamb were trying to take a stand against war, a statement said Wednesday.

The group of seven men and four women -- Poles, Belarussians and one German -- carried out the unprecedented stunt on Friday in front of the camp's infamous "Arbeit macht frei" ("Work makes you free") gate, where they draped a white banner with "love" written in red.

(AFP )

Turkey on Wednesday announced its military campaign inside northern Syria was over, without specifying whether it will pull its troops out from the neighbouring country.

Turkey's top advisory national security council chaired by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the half-year long offensive in Syria has been "concluded successfully," in a statement.

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim also said the operation has been completed but did not rule out new military campaigns inside Syria under a different name.

(AFP )

Brazil may be in the midst of an economic storm, but sitting back in a leather seat on Embraer's latest luxury jet, Gustavo Teixeira says the aviation industry is dodging the turbulence.

The crisis "is on our radar but hasn't hurt us," the Embraer executive said in an interview aboard a glistening Legacy 500 jet displayed at the inaugural International Brazil Air Show, held at Rio de Janeiro's Tom Jobim Airport.

(AFP )

South African coach Russell Domingo is uncertain about his future and said Thursday he has not yet decided whether he will apply to renew his contract after the July-August Test series in England.

As the South African side prepared to fly home following their 1-0 series win over New Zealand, Domingo reflected on the past year in which he guided the Proteas from seventh to second in the world rankings.

But what happens next "is out of my control", he said. "At the moment, I'm going fishing for a couple of weeks so it's the last of my worries.

(AFP )

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said Wednesday he is working on "a new relationship" with the US and thanked Latin American neighbors for support as Mexico faces "big challenges" with its vital trading partner.

His comments were made at a one-day summit in Costa Rica's capital San Jose that gathered leaders from Mexico, Central America and Colombia.

US President Donald Trump, who took office in late January, has vowed to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between the United States, Mexico and Canada.

(AFP )

The United States warned Wednesday that it would use its presidency of the UN Security Council to review the performance of peacekeeping missions worldwide.

The council is due to vote in the next few days on whether to extend or to cut back the 19,000-strong UN mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

And US President Donald Trump made it clear in his first budget request to Congress that he hopes to cut America's funding to the United Nations.

(AFP )

Britain's ambassador to the United Nations vowed Wednesday that the launch of European Union exit negotiations would not hurt his country's role on the world stage.

Ambassador Matthew Rycroft said Britain would continue to align itself with shared EU positions on issues before the Security Council while Brexit talks are continuing.

And he promised that, even after London and Brussels have completed their divorce, Britain would retain its powerful permanent seat on the UN council.

(AFP )

Turkey on Wednesday voiced anger after it emerged that the US consulate in Istanbul had contacted a chief suspect in last year's failed coup, who is currently on the run.

But the US embassy in Turkey said its Istanbul consulate contacted theology lecturer Adil Oksuz only to inform him that his American visa had been revoked.

The affair comes on the eve of a key visit by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who is due to meet in Ankara with Turkish leaders including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

(AFP )

Once reviled symbols of rogue capitalism, Iceland's ex-bankers now say they were scapegoats: jailed for their roles in the 2008 financial crisis, they're taking their cases to the European Court of Human Rights.

In 2008, after Iceland's inflated financial system imploded, the three main banks Kaupthing, Glitnir, and Landsbanki collapsed. The government urgently nationalised them, then asked the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for an emergency bailout, a first for a western European country in 25 years.

(AFP )

Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak said Wednesday his government was engaged in "very sensitive" talks with North Korea over nine Malaysians being prevented from leaving Pyongyang after the assassination of Kim Jong-Nam.

Kim, the estranged half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, was poisoned with a lethal nerve agent at the Kuala Lumpur airport on February 13 in a brazen Cold War-style assassination that has damaged bilateral ties.

(AFP )

A young fisherman flew home to the Philippines on Wednesday after being given up for dead at sea, battling hunger, thirst and despair for nearly two months on a tiny boat that drifted all the way to Papua New Guinea.

Rolando Omongos, 21, recounted an astonishing tale of survival as he arrived from his first-ever plane ride at Manila airport, three weeks after his rescue by a Japanese fishing vessel.

"I cried non-stop when I was finally rescued. I was too weak to stand up and they had to carry me," the diminutive fisherman told reporters.

(AFP )

Less than a month to the first round of the French presidential election, current frontrunner Emmanuel Macron received a key endorsement and outgoing President Francois Hollande looked forward to his retirement.

Here are three things that happened in the campaign on Wednesday:

- Socialist heavyweight backs Macron -

Former prime minister Manuel Valls endorsed the centrist Macron, becoming the most high-profile Socialist to back the 39-year-old ex-banker and former Socialist minister over the party's own nominee.

(AFP )

Spain opened a help desk at its embassy in London on Wednesday to answer questions from Spaniards living in Britain about the effects of Brexit on their lives.

The desk will provide information on issues such as changes to university fees, residence permit rules, access to healthcare and taxation once Britain leaves the European Union, the foreign ministry said in a statement.

(AFP )

Hundreds of truck drivers across Russia have stopped working, demanding that the government repeals a controversial transport levy, a coordinator told AFP Wednesday.

The strike started on Monday and will last "at least until April 15," said Mikhail Kurbatov, coordinator of the Organisation of Russian Carriers, one of the union groups behind the country-wide action.

Kurbatov told AFP that 200 truck drivers were striking in Saint-Petersburg and 170 in the Tyumen region.

(AFP )

A German lawmaker said Wednesday she was on a list of Turkish espionage targets, charging that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government had "clearly crossed a line".

German prosecutors are probing claims that Turkey's MIT service has been spying on 300 alleged followers of exiled preacher Fethullah Gulen, whom Erdogan blames for a failed coup attempt last year.

"These measures by the Turkish government once more show the attempt to suppress critical views," said Social Democratic MP Michelle Muentefering, 37, in a statement.

(AFP )

A woman was arrested Wednesday near the US Capitol after driving into a police vehicle and narrowly missing several officers on foot, but police said the incident appears unrelated to terrorism.

Capitol Police communications director Eva Malecki told reporters officers had "observed an erratic and aggressive driver" in the area, and attempted to stop the vehicle.

"The driver negotiated a U-turn and fled the scene nearly striking officers and striking at least one other vehicle," Malecki said. "A brief pursuit followed until the vehicle was stopped."

(AFP )

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena said Wednesday he would not protect anyone guilty of murder during the civil war, flagging arrests for a spate of high-profile crimes allegedly perpetrated by security forces.

Sirisena, who has been criticised for failing to establish credible investigations into war-era abuses, said he would not stand by murderers but would defend "war heroes" who helped crush the Tamil Tiger rebels in 2009.

"Those who killed journalists, sportsmen and others will not be protected," he said.

(AFP )

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday snubbed British PM Theresa May's call for negotiations on the UK's exit from the European Union to run alongside talks on defining their future relationship.

"The negotiations must first clarify how we will disentangle our interlinked relationship... and only when this question is dealt with, can we, hopefully soon after, begin talking about our future relationship," Merkel said in Berlin.

(AFP )

The Hungarian government's battle with George Soros escalated on Wednesday, with a respected university founded by the US financier saying proposed legislation would make it impossible to operate.

The English-language Central European University (CEU), set up in Budapest by Soros in 1991 after the fall of communism, has long been seen as a hostile bastion of liberalism by Prime Minister Viktor Orban's right-wing government.

(AFP )

About 146 migrants are feared missing after their boat capsized after leaving Libya, according to a Gambian youth who was rescued following the disaster, the UN refugee agency said Wednesday.

The 16-year-old was barely conscious when he was spotted by the Iuventa, a ship belonging to the German organisation Jugend Rettet.

He was then brought onto a Spanish military ship participating in the EU's "Operation Sophia" to crack down on smugglers, before being taken to the Italian island of Lampedusa.

(AFP )

Here are key reactions and commentary following Britain's launch of the process to leave the European Union:

- 'Already miss you' -

"We already miss you... There is no reason to pretend this is a happy day" - EU President Donald Tusk.

- 'Interlinked relationship' -

"The negotiations must first clarify how we will disentangle our interlinked relationship... and only when this question is dealt with, can we, hopefully soon after, begin talking about our future relationship," - German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

- 'Sentimentally painful' -

(AFP )

About 146 migrants are feared missing after their boat capsized after leaving Libya, according to a Gambian man who was rescued following the disaster, the United Nations' refugee agency said Wednesday.

The man was rescued by a Spanish military ship participating in the EU's "Operation Sophia" to crack down on smugglers, and then brought to the Italian island of Lampedusa.

(AFP )

As with most divorces, Britain's negotiations with the EU after Prime Minister Theresa May triggered the Brexit process could rapidly turn nasty over money.

Brussels is demanding that Britain settle its bill before discussing anything, but London says it must also talk about the future relationship with the EU at the same time.

Here are the key questions:

- Why is there an exit bill? -

The EU says Britain has to meet the financial commitments it made while it was still a member so that the remaining 27 states are not left out of pocket.

(AFP )

An Indonesian farmer has been discovered inside the belly of a giant python after the swollen snake was caught near where the man vanished while harvesting his crops, an official said Wednesday.

The body of 25-year-old Akbar was found when local people cut open the seven metre (23 foot) python after it was found bloated and slithering awkwardly in the village of Salubiro, on the eastern island of Sulawesi on Monday.

(AFP )

EU president Donald Tusk said the bloc already misses Britain but would act as one to defend its interests after London triggered the two-year exit process on Wednesday.

"What can I add to this? We already miss you. Thank you and goodbye," Tusk said in Brussels after receiving a letter from British Prime Minister Theresa May requesting the EU divorce.

"There is no reason to pretend this is a happy day," he said in a short statement to reporters, adding: "In essence this is about damage control.

(AFP )

Daimler, the world's biggest luxury carmaker, said Wednesday it will speed up development of electric vehicles, aiming for 10 new models within five years rather than eight.

"Emissions-free driving is at the centre of our strategy. In the coming years we will spend 10 billion euros ($10.8 billion) on building up our electric fleet," chief executive Dieter Zetsche told investors in Berlin, promising battery-powered versions of vehicles from the tiny Smart to Mercedes SUVs by 2022.

(AFP )

Four Syrian towns are to be evacuated under an agreement between pro-government forces and rebels, in the latest of a series of deals to end crippling years-long sieges.

The agreement, brokered by rebel supporter Qatar and regime ally Iran, is expected to involve more than 30,000 people, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The deal reached late Tuesday involves Zabadani and Madaya, besieged by regime fighters near Damascus, and Shiite-majority Fuaa and Kafraya in northwest Syria that are encircled by rebels.

(AFP )

Music icon Bob Dylan will finally receive his Nobel Literature Prize this weekend at a meeting with the Swedish Academy in Stockholm, it announced Wednesday.

But no media will be allowed to cover the meeting, and the famously-reclusive Dylan will only give a lecture required of him in a taped version at a later date.

The 75-year-old kept silent for weeks after he was announced as the Nobel literature laureate in October, and snubbed a ceremony in December to receive the prize.

(AFP )

Syrian engineers were expected to carry out urgent maintenance Wednesday on the country's largest dam, where US-backed fighters have been battling Islamist State group jihadists who still control most of it.

The maintenance work, which entails opening a spillway to relieve the pressure of water on the dam, will involve the engineers entering areas held by IS, a technician inside the complex told AFP.

(AFP )

A bomb attack on a bus in Syria's third city Homs killed five people and wounded at least seven on Wednesday, state media reported.

The blast hit a small bus carrying passengers in the Al-Zahraa neighbourhood, which has repeatedly been targeted in bombings.

Most of the neighbourhood's residents belong to the same Alawite religious sect as President Bashar al-Assad.

In December, four people were killed in a blast at a Red Crescent centre in the neighbourhood, and in February a double bomb attack claimed by the Islamic State group killed 57 people.