In the world | Africatime
Tuesday 25 April 2017

In the world

(AFP )

Countries around the world Tuesday pledged more than one billion dollars to help prevent a looming famine in war-torn Yemen at a conference UN chief Antonio Guterres called a "remarkable success."

Yet the $1.1 billion (1.0 billion euros) promised fell far short of the $2.1 billion the United Nations has estimated is needed this year alone in a country facing "a tragedy of immense proportions."

But Guterres praised the generosity of donor nations, pointing out that such conferences generally do not gather more than a third of the requested amount.

(AFP )

Iraqi forces advanced in west Mosul Tuesday, closing in on the Old City where jihadists executed civilians in a desperate bid to prevent an exodus and hold on to their stronghold.

The elite Counter-Terrorism Service retook full control of Tenek -- one of the largest neighbourhoods in west Mosul -- further tightening the noose on the Islamic State group.

"It used to be one of the main strongholds for terrorist groups," Staff Lieutenant General Abdulwahab al-Saadi, a top CTS commander, told AFP in Mosul.

(AFP )

Two of the US Air Force's most advanced warplanes, F-35 stealth fighters, landed for the first time in Estonia on Tuesday for exercises in the small NATO state amid tensions with neighbouring Russia.

The move was seen by Estonian defence officials as a gesture underscoring Washington's commitment to its NATO partners.

Rhetoric by US President Donald Trump, who called NATO "obsolete" shortly before he took office, deeply rattled the alliance's easternmost members bordering Russia. Trump has since reversed much of his criticism.

(AFP )

A group suspected of links to Al-Qaeda has claimed responsibility for this month's metro bombing in the Russian city of Saint Petersburg, US monitor SITE Intelligence Group said Tuesday.

Alleged suicide bomber Akbarjon Djalilov, a Russian national born in Kyrgyzstan, killed 15 people and wounded around two dozen others in the April 3 blast that ripped through an underground train.

(AFP )

Marine Le Pen had a mixed welcome at a market near Paris on Tuesday, with some traders jostling for a picture with France's far-right presidential candidate but others booing her hard line on immigration.

Le Pen, who is duelling for the presidency with pro-EU centrist Emmanuel Macron, arrived at Rungis, Europe's biggest wholesale fresh food market, at the crack of dawn.

(AFP )

Former White House national security advisor Michael Flynn never reported receiving payments from Russian entities on his top-level security clearance form, a senior US lawmaker said Tuesday.

Republican congressman Jason Chaffetz said it appeared Flynn -- who stood down as a top aide to Donald Trump amid controversy over his ties to Russia -- broke the law by failing to disclose the payments from Russia's RT television.

(AFP )

The United States on Tuesday urged the divided UN Security Council to back an arms embargo and sanctions against South Sudan after the UN envoy reported that the war there is worsening.

US Ambassador Nikki Haley told the council that UN demands for a ceasefire, access for aid workers and a return to political talks had been "totally ignored" by President Salva Kiir's government.

"I call on this council to move forward with the tools available to it, such as with further sanctions and an arms embargo, or the violence and atrocities will continue," Haley said.

(AFP )

The two church bombings that killed dozens in Egypt this month targeted unity among Muslims and Christians in the most populous Arab nation, Coptic Pope Tawadros II said Tuesday.

Suicide bombers from the Islamic State group attacked two churches in the cities of Tanta and Alexandria on April 9, killing 45 people in the deadliest attacks on Coptic Christians in recent memory.

The attacks which hit on Palm Sunday "were not aimed at Copts only but at the heart of Egypt... They aimed at breaking the unity of Egyptians," the Tawadros told a news conference in Kuwait City.

(AFP )

UN officials launched a bid Tuesday to raise $65.4 million (59.75 million euros) in emergency funds for hundreds of thousands of people displaced by violence in Democratic Republic of Congo's Kasai region.

Fighting between government troops and tribal militias has forced more than a million people from their homes over the past eight months.

The UN's humanitarian affairs coordinator Mamadou Diallo said the funds would help "respond to the urgent and multiple needs of 731,000 people during the next six months" in the Kasai area.

(AFP )

Venezuela's opposition vowed no letup Tuesday in its bid to remove leftist President Nicolas Maduro from power even as more protesters were shot dead in an increasingly violent political crisis.

Maduro's center-right rivals planned to push on with a wave of street protests that have seen 26 people killed this month in clashes involving protesters and security forces.

(AFP )

Donald Trump appeared determined Tuesday to score key victories to mark his first 100 days as president, as he seeks to boost border security, unveil tax reform plans and avert a government shutdown.

With the government set to exhaust its current funding at midnight Friday, Trump's White House is under the gun to craft a compromise that would keep the government running while not appearing to cave on the president's demand that Congress fund a wall on the border with Mexico.

(AFP )

A Swedish court on Tuesday sentenced three young men to prison for gang raping a woman and livestreaming the attack on Facebook.

Reza Mohammed Ahmadi, 21, was sentenced to two years and four months in prison for rape and accessory to rape, while Maysam Afshar, 18, was sentenced to one year in prison for rape, a reduced sentence because of his age.

Both are Afghan citizens who have been granted residency in Sweden.

(AFP )

The Austrian city of Linz, where Adolf Hitler spent several years as a teenager, will once again display an Aphrodite sculpture offered by the Fuehrer after keeping it in storage for years.

The bronze work by the Nazi sculptor Wilhelm Wandschneider was brought to Linz in 1942 as a "personal gift" from Hitler, who wanted to make the city the "cultural capital" of the Third Reich.

For 65 years it stood in the rotunda of a park overlooking the city, where the German dictator lived between 10 and 18 years old.

(AFP )

Forget fake news. European police have joined forces to seize almost 10,000 tonnes of fake and harmful food and drink, from caviar to cashews, booze to bubbly water and even unassuming stock cubes.

Some 230 million euros ($250 million) worth of "potentially harmful" counterfeit food products and over 26 millions litres of beverages were impounded in a four-month joint Europol and Interpol operation involving 61 countries, the two agencies said Tuesday.

(AFP )

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cancelled talks on Tuesday with Germany's foreign minister in a rare move after the visiting diplomat declined to call off meetings with rights groups critical of Israel's government.

Netanyahu's meeting with Sigmar Gabriel was cancelled after the German diplomat decided to go ahead with talks with Israeli rights groups Breaking The Silence and B'Tselem.

(AFP )

The gay companion of the French policeman killed by a jihadist in Paris said Tuesday he felt "no hatred", in a moving eulogy at a remembrance ceremony led by President Francois Hollande.

Xavier Jugele, 37, was shot dead on Thursday while on duty on the famous Champs Elysees avenue, three days before the first round of France's presidential election.

The Islamic State group claimed the killing by 39-year-old Karim Cheurfi, who was shot dead by police in a gun battle. Two other officers were injured in the attack.

(AFP )

A high-rise condominium dubbed "the national photobomber" will continue to loom over a historic Philippine monument after the Supreme Court struck down a bid by conservationists to have it torn down.

The partially-built 49-storey Torre de Manila, which protrudes over the skyline of the capital, has risen to overshadow the tomb of national hero Jose Rizal -- one of the country's most photographed monuments.

(AFP )

Ivanka Trump, making her overseas debut as the US "First Daughter" at a women's summit in Berlin, drew groans and laughter on Tuesday as she defended her father's attitude towards women.

Sitting on a G20 panel with female leaders including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and IMF chief Christine Lagarde, Donald Trump's daughter caused the audience to bristle when she praised "my father's advocacy" and his role as "a tremendous champion of supporting families and enabling them to thrive".

(AFP )

A man in Phuket filmed himself killing his child and then himself on Facebook Live, Thai police said Tuesday, the latest example of the social network's live-streaming function being used to broadcast grisly crimes.

Officers on the southern resort island said they were alerted to the video by friends of the man and rushed to an abandoned hotel near the international airport on Monday afternoon.

"They had already died when I arrived there," Lieutenant Jullaus Suvannin, one of the first on the scene, told AFP, adding a smartphone was found propped up against a wall.

(AFP )

French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron's political campaign was targeted by a group of Russian hackers last month, according to a report by a cybersecurity research group on Tuesday.

The Pawn Storm group, which has been linked to several high-profile attacks in the West, used "phishing" techniques to try to steal personal data from Macron and members of his En Marche! campaign, Japan-based Trend Micro said.

(AFP )

A top Turkish court Tuesday rejected an opposition legal challenge to last-minute voting rule changes in the referendum over handing President Recep Tayyip Erdogan greater powers.

The opposition Republican People's Party's (CHP) has repeatedly criticised the decision by the country's top election authority to accept ballot documents in envelopes without an official stamp.

The party formally lodged on Friday a petition with the Council of State, Turkey's highest administrative court, after the 'Yes' side won 51.4 percent of the vote on April 16.

(AFP )

Turkish warplanes killed more than two dozen Kurdish fighters Tuesday in strikes in Syria and Iraq, where the Kurds are key players in the battle against the Islamic State group.

Turkey said it had carried out the strikes in northeast Syria and northern Iraq against "terrorist havens", vowing to continue acting against groups it links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

In northeast Syria, strikes targeting the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) -- who are leading the offensive against IS stronghold Raqa -- were reported to have killed 20 fighters.

(AFP )

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will visit Russia this week for a meeting with President Vladimir Putin, the Kremlin and Tokyo said Tuesday, as the two sides look to make headway on a decades-old territorial dispute.

The Kremlin said talks, set for Thursday, would focus on "the state and prospects for development of Russo-Japanese cooperation in the political, trade and economic, and humanitarian spheres."

(AFP )

Iran and major powers were set to review adherence to their 2015 nuclear agreement on Tuesday, as uncertainty grows about the landmark accord's future under US President Donald Trump.

The regular quarterly meeting was expected to hear, as Washington confirmed last week, that Iran is sticking to its deal with the US, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany.

The accord saw Tehran drastically curb its nuclear activities in return for the lifting of Western and UN sanctions.

(AFP )

Three people were killed in Venezuela on Monday in another day of nationwide protests against leftist president Nicolas Maduro, raising the death toll to 24 in weeks of anti-government demonstrations.

The latest casualties come on a day anti-Maduro demonstrators blocked major roads in the South American nation, and as the opposition called for a mass protest in Caracas on Wednesday.

The steady stream of anti-government marches, which began on April 1, usually begin peacefully but then degenerate into clashes with security forces and even looting at night.

(AFP )

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

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

As the symbolic milestone of his 100th day in power, which falls on Saturday, draws near, a cold, hard reality is setting in for the billionaire businessman who promised Americans he would "win, win, win" for them.

(AFP )

Turkish warplanes conducted a barrage of air strikes on Kurdish positions in northeast Syria early Tuesday, leaving several fighters dead, Kurdish forces and a monitor said.

The Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) said the strikes hit their positions near the Syrian border town of Al-Malikiyah at 2:00 am Tuesday (2300 GMT Monday).

"Turkish planes carried out a broad offensive on a YPG base that houses media and communication centres and some military installations," the YPG statement said.

(AFP )

Nuclear-armed North Korea on Tuesday marked a military anniversary with a massive conventional firing drill, Seoul said, as a US guided-missile submarine docked in South Korea amid tensions over Pyongyang's weapons ambitions.

Speculation had mounted that the North could carry out a sixth nuclear test or another missile launch to mark 85 years since the founding of its army.

(AFP )

The southern state of Arkansas, rushing to execute several inmates before a lethal drug expires next week, put to death two inmates late Monday, the first double execution in the United States in 17 years.

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said that Jack Jones and Marcel Williams, both sentenced to death in the 1990s, were executed by lethal injection after higher courts rejected their final legal appeals.

Arkansas had planned to put eight convicted murderers to death in 11 days -- a record, had it been carried out -- but four have won reprieves.

(AFP )

The world needs to do more to protect the Antarctic wilderness and its wildlife, scientists warned Tuesday, as they marked World Penguin Day.

The flightless seabirds -- a favourite with children for their clumsy, waddling gait -- offer a useful yardstick for researchers to judge the health of their habitat.

"Penguins are great ambassadors for understanding the need to conserve Southern Ocean resources," Christian Reiss, an Antarctic fisheries biologist at the US-based National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told AFP.

(AFP )

Dozens of suspected Brazilian gangsters blasted into a secure vault containing millions of dollars in southeastern Paraguay on Monday, leaving a policeman dead in what officials called the "robbery of the century."

Some 50 gunmen with explosives and military-grade weaponry left the city of Ciudad del Este looking like a war zone after a two-hour overnight assault on a security firm and police headquarters, authorities and witnesses said.

(AFP )

The Thai junta on Tuesday defended $393 million earmarked for a Chinese submarine, batting back criticism of the secrecy of the deal, its cost and the questionable utility of the warship.

The submarine sale is the latest defence deal between Beijing and Bangkok, who have grown ever closer since Thailand's 2014 coup.

Historically the Southeast Asian kingdom has been a major purchaser of western arms, especially from its traditional Cold War ally the United States.

(AFP )

On the ski fields of Mount Taehwa, groomed pistes snake down wooded hillsides to a luxurious hotel and a giant screen showing a North Korean army choir. But the runs are empty.

Work began on Masikryong ski resort, the only one in the North and the brainchild of Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un, after Pyeongchang in the neighbouring South was awarded the 2018 winter Olympics.

The impoverished, nuclear-armed nation has ramshackle infrastructure and around 40 percent of its people are undernourished, according to the Global Hunger Index.

(AFP )

The modernist architect I. M. Pei, who was once pilloried for plonking a glass pyramid into the courtyard of the Louvre, turns 100 Wednesday with his controversial creation now an icon of the French capital.

The Chinese-American designer endured a roasting from critics before the giant glass structure opened in 1989, with up to 90 percent of Parisians said to be against the project at one point.

"I received many angry glances in the streets of Paris," Pei later said, confessing that "after the Louvre I thought no project would be too difficult."

(AFP )

The southern US state of Arkansas, rushing to execute several inmates before a lethal drug expires at the end of the month, has carried out the first of two executions scheduled for Monday, the attorney general said.

Jack Jones was executed after the US Supreme Court rejected an 11th-hour request from his attorneys asking the justices to reconsider a procedural issue from his trial.

Arkansas had planned to put eight convicted murderers to death in 11 days -- a record, had it been carried out -- but four have won reprieves.