Thursday 27 July 2017

In the world

(AFP )

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday called for the execution of a Palestinian who stabbed to death three Israelis last week as tensions rose over new security measures at a Jerusalem holy site.

"The death penalty for terrorists –- it's time to implement it in severe cases," he said while speaking with family members of the victims, a video of which was posted on Netanyahu's Twitter account.

(AFP )

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that Moscow will ultimately have to respond to sanctions imposed by the United States that he condemned as insolent towards Russia.

"We are behaving in a very restrained and patient way, but at some moment we will need to respond," Putin said at a news conference after talks with his Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinisto.

He complained that "it's impossible to endlessly tolerate this kind of insolence towards our country," referring to tougher US sanctions that were backed by the House of Representatives on Tuesday.

(AFP )

Nobel peace prize winner Muhammad Yunus Thursday cancelled an international conference of social business entrepreneurs outside the Bangladeshi capital after it failed to get police security.

Yunus, 77, has been at odds with Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina since 2007 when he made a brief foray into the country’s highly polarised politics.

In 2011, he was sacked as the head of pioneering micro-lender, Grameen Bank, in a move widely believed to have been orchestrated by Hasina.

(AFP )

Sugar may be bad not only for your teeth and your waistline, but also your mental health, claimed a study Thursday that was met with scepticism by other experts.

Researchers at University College London (UCL) compared the reported sugar intake of more than 8,000 people in a long-term British study, to their mood.

The study participants, civil servants, were monitored from 1985-1988, and filled out a questionnaire every few years thereafter.

(AFP )

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim met with German business executives on Thursday to reassure them following a bitter row between Ankara and Berlin that threatened to drag them into a terror funding crackdown.

Yildirim held the breakfast meeting in Ankara with 19 executives from companies -- including Bosch, Siemens, Mercedes and BASF -- telling them they were valued in Turkey.

"It is very important for us that you are not hurt at all by recent developments, that you are not part of this tension," Yildirim said during the meeting, according to Anadolu news agency.

(AFP )

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that Moscow will ultimately have to respond to sanctions imposed by the United States that he condemned as insolent towards Russia.

"We are behaving in a very restrained and patient way, but at some moment we will need to respond," Putin said at a news conference after talks with his Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinisto.

He complained that "it's impossible to endlessly tolerate this kind of insolence towards our country," referring to tougher US sanctions that were backed by the House of Representatives on Tuesday.

(AFP )

President Robert Mugabe's wife Thursday urged her 93-year-old husband to name his chosen successor, fuelling renewed speculation about the race to take over from the world's oldest national leader.

Mugabe has always refused to publicly reveal his favoured heir, but Grace Mugabe -- who is seen by some as a potential candidate -- called for an end to the uncertainty.

"President, don't be afraid. Tell us who is your choice, which horse we should back," she told a meeting of the women's league of the ruling ZANU-PF party.

(AFP )

President Robert Mugabe's wife Thursday urged her 93-year-old husband to name his chosen successor, fuelling renewed speculation about the race to take over from the world's oldest national leader.

Mugabe has always refused to publicly reveal his favoured heir, but 52-year-old Grace Mugabe -- who is seen by some as a potential candidate -- called for an end to the uncertainty.

"President, don't be afraid. Tell us who is your choice, which horse we should back," she told a meeting of the women's league of the ruling ZANU-PF party.

(AFP )

Oil field services giant Halliburton will pay nearly $30 million to resolve allegations of bribery in Angola, US regulators announced Thursday.

Former Halliburton vice president Jeannot Lorenz also agreed to pay a $75,000 fine for falsifying the company's books and circumventing internal controls, the Securities and Exchange Commission said in a statement.

Lorenz steered $13 million in contracts to a local company owned by a former Halliburton employee with ties to an official at the Angolan state oil company Sonangol.

(AFP )

British miner Anglo American has set aside $101 million (87 million euros) to cover potential damages for former South African staff who contracted the fatal lung disease silicosis at work, it said Thursday.

The news came after Johannesburg's High Court ruled in May to allow former and current mine workers, employed by South Africa's main gold mining firms since 1965, to proceed with a class action against those companies.

(AFP )

India on Thursday freed Frenchwoman Marie-Emmanuelle Verhoeven, wanted in Chile in connection with the assassination of a senator, and put her on a plane to France, sources told AFP.

The Indian foreign ministry said Verhoeven, who had been held in the country since February 2015, was released at France's request on health grounds.

Verhoeven's Indian lawyer confirmed that proceedings against her had been halted.

"The government withdrew the extradition proceedings against her and the matter was closed," Ramni Taneja, Verhoeven's lawyer, told AFP.

(AFP )

EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has warned that the start of trade talks may be pushed back to December because Britain is stalling on its exit bill, diplomats said Thursday.

Barnier told EU diplomats there was growing uncertainty that talks on divorce issues would make "sufficient progress" by October to move on to negotiations on a future relationship as planned then, they said.

(AFP )

It's a problem many people will be familiar with: forgetting to turn your phone off during an important meeting, then it rings with a call from home.

Except that for European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker it apparently turned out to be from another key power player -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Juncker was caught out during a press conference in Brussels with visiting Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico, when his mobile went off in his suit jacket pocket.

(AFP )

Brazilian federal police on Thursday arrested a former head of Petrobras and the Banco do Brasil, marking a new phase of a sweeping graft probe into the state-owned oil company.

Three people were detained in the operation, the prosecutor's office said in a statement, as part of the "Car Wash" investigation that has uncovered systemic corruption and ensnared many of Brazil's political and business elites.

(AFP )

Singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran was nominated Thursday for the prestigious Mercury Prize for his third album "Divide", going up against breakthrough grime star Stormzy and former winners Alt-J and The xx.

"What these artists have in common is an infectious pleasure in music making and an arresting sense of urgency about the music they make," the jury said in a statement announcing the 12 shortlisted albums.

"They delight in exploring musical possibilities and refusing to be pinned down by genre conventions".

(AFP )

The International Monetary Fund on Thursday weighed into the US health care debate, urging the Trump administration to "protect" the gains achieved under President Barack Obama.

As the US Senate continues the heated debate over repealing the Affordable Care Act implemented under Obama, the IMF released its annual report on the US economy and warned about the potential damage threatened by the proposed replacement.

(AFP )

The family of Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, who saved thousands of Hungarian Jews during World War II before disappearing under Soviet rule, are suing Russia's security service for access to its files, their lawyer said Thursday.

"The relatives of Wallenberg filed the lawsuit at the Meshchansky court in the Russian capital on Wednesday," their lawyer Ivan Pavlov told AFP.

The Wallenberg family "wants to force the FSB (the successor to the KGB) to give it access to the originals of the documents" that concern Wallenberg's fate, Pavlov said.

(AFP )

A Bangladeshi woman whose daughter was sold off by her drug-addicted husband described her joy Thursday at being reunited with the infant.

The 10-month-old was returned to her mother in emotional scenes after a court in Chittagong ruled the child had been taken without her permission and sold to a childless couple.

"I am extremely happy that I got my daughter back," the girl's mother, Nusrat Jahan, told AFP.

"I could not sleep all these months after she was snatched from my lap."

(AFP )

An Italian government plan to deploy vessels in Libyan territorial waters to help fight human trafficking will be presented to parliament early next week, Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni said Thursday.

He said the cabinet was "discussing the details" of a request from Tripoli for help and "will present them on Tuesday", adding that he was "sure parliament will vote in favour".

(AFP )

Vernon Philander again proved a thorn in England's side as Alastair Cook held firm against South Africa on Thursday's first day of the third Test at The Oval.

At tea, on a rain-marred day, England were 149 for four after winning the toss.

Former captain Cook was 72 not out after more than four hours at the crease.

Ben Stokes was unbeaten on 10 in what is the 100th Test at The Oval.

Philander, meanwhile, had superb figures of two wickets for eight runs in nine overs, despite a stomach bug.

(AFP )

The United States donated surveillance aircraft and began delivering weapons to the Philippines on Thursday to help its Asian ally fight Islamist militants.

The two Cessna C208B planes, which together with their equipment are worth more than $30 million, will track Islamic State group-styled gunmen as well as patrol maritime borders, US ambassador Sung Kim and Philippine Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said.

(AFP )

Pakistan police on Thursday arrested four more men involved in the rape of a teenage girl as punishment for a rape committed by her brother.

The latest arrests, which include the man who allegedly committed the 'revenge rape', brings the told number detained to 18, a police source confirmed.

A jirga (village council) in a suburb of the central city of Multan had ordered the rape of the 16-year-old girl as a punishment after her brother sexually assaulted a 12 year-old.

(AFP )

The Kremlin on Thursday announced the appointment of Vasily Nebenzya as Russia's ambassador to the United Nations, replacing the previous long-serving envoy Vitaly Churkin who died in February.

President Vladimir Putin signed a decree appointing Nebenzya, the Kremlin wrote on its website.

Nebenzya will start in the new post as relations between Russia and the West have hit post-Cold War lows over Moscow's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine and its role in escalating the eastern Ukrainian separatist conflict.

(AFP )

France will set up processing centres in Libya for asylum seekers trying to reach Europe across the Mediterranean, President Emmanuel Macron announced Thursday.

"The idea is to create hotspots to avoid people taking crazy risks when they are not all eligible for asylum. We'll go to them," Macron said during a visit to a refugee shelter in central France, adding the plan would be put in place "this summer", with or without other EU countries.

(AFP )

The biggest grossing German movie last year was a fizzy feel-good summer comedy about the country's refugee influx, "Welcome to the Hartmanns".

Just a year on, German screens are darkening with "Club Europa", a sobering take on the challenges and dilemmas in the newcomers' integration that mirrors a growing national sense of ambivalence.

The new movie by 32-year-old Franziska Hoenisch, to be broadcast on public television ZDF on Thursday, tells the story of a group of young Berlin flatmates who decide to take in a refugee from Cameroon named Samuel.

(AFP )

In heavy rain, North Koreans put down their umbrellas to bow before the mausoleum of founder Kim Il Sung and his son on Thursday as the country marked the end of the Korean War, which it calls Victory Day.

There had been widespread speculation in US and South Korean intelligence circles that the North might choose to mark the anniversary with a fresh missile launch, following its first successful test earlier this month of an intercontinental ballistic missile that experts judged capable of reaching Alaska or Hawaii.

(AFP )

Controversy over a new cross-border rail link which will see mainland laws enforced in a Hong Kong train station escalated Thursday after the justice chief likened China to the city's "landlord".

It comes at a time when fears are worsening that Hong Kong's freedoms are under threat from an increasingly assertive Beijing.

There are already concerns that Chinese operatives are working undercover after the alleged abductions of a city bookseller and a reclusive mainland businessman.

(AFP )

Clashes erupted between Israeli police and Palestinians at a sensitive Jerusalem holy site Thursday as thousands of Muslim worshippers entered to end a boycott of the compound over new Israeli security measures.

An AFP correspondent witnessed the clashes break out shortly after the worshippers entered.

The Palestinian Red Crescent reported 56 people wounded both inside the Haram al-Sharif compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount, and in the immediate area.

(AFP )

A Japanese historian who helped save Cambodia's renowned Angkor Wat temple complex was among the winners of this year's Magsaysay Awards, widely regarded as Asia's version of the Nobel prize, organisers said Thursday.

Yoshiaki Ishizawa, 79, was honoured for decades of work in helping preserve the historic landmark after the 12th-century temple complex barely survived years of war and civil strife, the award foundation said.

(AFP )

Two Swedish ministers lost their jobs on Thursday over a huge leak of sensitive data that has rocked the fragile centre-left government.

But Prime Minister Stefan Lofven vowed he would be staying on despite speculation he could call a snap election.

Interior Minister Anders Ygeman, a political heavyweight previously seen as a likely future prime minister, has resigned, Lofven said at a press conference, adding that Infrastructure Minister Anna Johansson will also step down.

(AFP )

Palestinians will return to pray at Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque on Thursday afternoon for the first time in nearly two weeks, its authorities said, after Israel removed remaining new security measures.

"The Islamic religious authorities in Jerusalem call on Palestinians to enter the Al-Aqsa mosque to perform the afternoon prayer," an official of the Waqf, the Islamic endowments authority which runs the mosque, told reporters.

(AFP )

Huge fires that forced mass evacuations of residents and holidaymakers in southern France were "under control" early Thursday, firefighters said, although they warned new blazes were still starting.

In the village of Bormes-les-Mimosas, located near beaches popular with tourists on the Cote d'Azur, "the fire is not completely under control but we are winning the fight," said Lieutenant-Colonel Michael Bernier, the civil security officer leading the emergency effort there.

"Things are going in the right direction but new fires are starting caused by gusts of wind," he said.

(AFP )

Fighting between Lebanon's Hezbollah movement and a former Al-Qaeda affiliate on the Syria-Lebanon border halted Thursday after a ceasefire was reached, Lebanese media and Hezbollah outlets reported.

The ceasefire comes a week after the powerful Shiite militant group launched an offensive against the jihadists in the mountainous Jurud Arsal border region.

Hezbollah's "War Media" outlet said "a ceasefire that began at 6:00 am (0300 GMT) is in effect on all the front in Jurud Arsal."

(AFP )

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said Thursday he has stripped former Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili of his Ukrainian citizenship, paving the way for his possible extradition to Georgia.

The charismatic reformer came to power in Georgia's 2003 Rose Revolution but then fell from grace and is now wanted by Georgian prosecutors on charges of abuse of office during his nine-year rule that he insists are politically motivated.

In a statement sent to AFP, Saakashvili vowed: "I will fight for my legal right to return to Ukraine!"

(AFP )

A former arch-rival of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi aligned with the Hindu nationalist leader on Thursday to form a new government in Bihar, one of the country's most populous states.

The outspoken Nitish Kumar took the oath as Bihar's chief minister just hours after standing down in protest at corruption allegations against his last coalition partner.

The link up between Kumar's Janata Dal United party and the prime minister's right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) further tightens Modi's grip on power ahead of national elections in 2019.