In the world | Africatime
Tuesday 25 April 2017

In the world

(AFP )

A US judge on Tuesday blocked an executive order by President Donald Trump that could deny billions of dollars to so-called sanctuary cities as punishment for harboring illegal immigrants.

Dealing a fresh setback to Trump's pledged crackdown on undocumented residents, Judge William Orrick of San Francisco's federal court issued a preliminary injunction barring any attempt to implement the January 25 executive order.

(AFP )

The UN Security Council is expected to vote Thursday on a draft resolution backing a UN bid to re-start talks on settling the decades-old Western Sahara conflict, diplomats said.

The draft resolution would also put pressure on the Polisario Front independence movement to immediately withdraw fighters from a tense buffer zone after Morocco pulled back its forces in February, according to the text seen by AFP.

(AFP )

Thousands of Brazilian indigenous tribe members clashed with riot police Tuesday while demonstrating in the capital, Brasilia, for greater rights.

Some of the indigenous people were armed with bows and arrows, while police rained tear gas onto the protesters. Groups of demonstrators carried coffins representing indigenous dead in the takeover of their ancestral lands across Brazil and some tried to break into the Congress building.

(AFP )

A painting that had been in the same family for generations and was only recently credited to Spain's famed artist Diego Velazquez was sold Tuesday in Madrid for eight million euros, auction house Abalarte said.

The "Portrait of a girl," which portrays a young girl with large, sad eyes, her hands held together as if in prayer, is believed to be an early work by the Sevillian artist best known for his masterpiece "Las Meninas", on display in Madrid's Prado Museum.

(AFP )

Madonna voiced anger Tuesday over news that a Hollywood studio plans an unauthorized biopic of her early years in New York struggling to break into the music business.

"Nobody knows what I know and what I have seen. Only I can tell my story," the Material Girl wrote on Instagram.

"Anyone else who tries is a charlatan and a fool. Looking for instant gratification without doing the work. This is a disease in our society," she wrote.

(AFP )

The southern state of Arkansas has carried out the first double execution in the United States in nearly 17 years, forging on with a controversial push to execute a string of inmates before a lethal drug expires at the end of the month.

Jack Jones and Marcel Williams, convicted separately of rape and murder in the 1990s, were put to death by lethal injection Monday evening, the state's attorney general Leslie Rutledge announced.

The inmates's lawyers fought for reprieves up to the last minute, but their final appeals were rejected by the courts.

(AFP )

Uber said Tuesday it wants to launch a system of flying cars to move people around cities, with a goal of putting demonstration projects in place by 2020.

The ridesharing giant announced a series of partnerships to manufacture "vertical takeoff and landing" (VTOL) vehicles and put networks in place, a system dubbed Uber Elevate.

The partner cities working with Uber are Dubai and the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolis in Texas.

(AFP )

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy called Tuesday for the European Union to sign a free trade deal by the end of the year with South American bloc Mercosur.

"This deal is closer than ever, and that's why we must speed up negotiations to close it by the end of 2017," he said at a meeting with business executives during a trip to Brazil.

The EU and five-member Mercosur have been negotiating since 1999 to create a trans-Atlantic free-trade zone covering some 760 million people.

But the talks broke down in 2004 and remained on hold for six years.

(AFP )

An artificial womb filled with clear liquid, successfully tested on pre-natal lambs, could help extremely premature babies avoid death or life-long disability, researchers reported Tuesday.

"It is designed to continue what naturally occurs in the womb," said Alan Flake, a foetal surgeon at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and senior author of a study in Nature Communications that details the breakthrough.

"That's the beauty of it, and why I'm optimistic we will improve on what is currently done for extremely premature babies," he told journalists by phone.

(AFP )

Lawmakers from across Europe voted Tuesday to reopen a monitoring probe into Turkey over rights concerns, sparking anger from Ankara as its relations with the continent continue to slide.

The move by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) marks an unprecedented step back for Turkey, which becomes the first of the group's 47 member states to be reinstated on monitoring due to worries over its governance.

(AFP )

An unmanned NASA spacecraft, Cassini, is poised to plunge into the gap between Saturn and its rings, a pioneering journey that could offer an unprecedented view of the sixth planet from the Sun.

The first of the spaceship's 22 deep dives between Saturn and its innermost ring is scheduled for April 26 at 5:00 am Florida time (0900 GMT), NASA said.

Then comes a nail-biting wait.

Communications with the spacecraft will go dark during the dive and for about a day afterward, while it makes scientific observations of the planet.

(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 )

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 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.