In the world | Africatime
Thursday 23 March 2017

In the world

(AFP )

Judges at the International Criminal Court are expected on Friday to unveil the first compensation awards to victims of war crimes, with lawyers estimating a 2003 attack on a Congolese village caused $16.4 million in damage.

Friday's order for reparations for 304 victims of former Congolese warlord Germain Katanga is set to be a landmark step for the tribunal, set up in 2002 to prosecute the world's worst crimes.

(AFP )

A French and an American astronaut are scheduled to float outside the International Space Station Friday for a spacewalk aimed at upgrading the orbiting outpost for the arrival of future space crews.

The spacewalk by France's Thomas Pesquet, 39, and American Shane Kimbrough, 49, will be the latest in a series of outings to install new docking ports for the next generation of commercial spacecraft.

The new crew spaceships, currently under design by SpaceX and Boeing, should begin flying astronauts to the station in the coming years, as early as 2018.

(AFP )

European Union leaders will receive guidance from Pope Francis Friday, on the eve of the troubled bloc's 60th anniversary celebrations in Rome.

On past form, the Argentine pontiff is unlikely to pull his punches in a Friday evening audience with 27 heads of state or government tasked with charting a "common future" for a union soon to lose Britain from its ranks.

(AFP )

Evangelical preacher Emmanuel Momoh prayed for five years that he would discover the diamond he needed to pull his family out of poverty in eastern Sierra Leone.

The 39-year-old pastor obtained his first mining licence in 2012 when the paltry income he received from the Deeper Life Church in Kono, the country's key mining district, was stretched too thin for his growing family.

Momoh went on to build a small business of 18 employees, digging and sifting through gravel with pickaxes and hoes day after day, never finding gems larger than a speck in the dirt.

(AFP )

Bulgaria's Socialists hope Sunday to win power and end years of dominance by karate-kicking former premier Boyko Borisov, in elections that could tilt the EU and NATO member more towards Russia.

The third election in four years in the European Union's poorest country could also see the nationalist United Patriots emerge as the third-biggest party and kingmaker in tough coalition talks.

Opinion polls put the centre-right GERB party of ex-firefighter Borisov neck-and-neck with the Socialist Party (BSP) on between 25 and 31 percent.

(AFP )

Salvage operators were preparing to move South Korea's sunken Sewol ferry on to another vessel to transfer it to port Friday, nearly three years after it went down with the loss of more than 300 lives.

The top of the wreck had been raised to 13 metres above sea-level by late morning, the maritime ministry said in a statement, just high enough to fit it onto a semi-submersible standing by to take it to Mokpo on the mainland.

(AFP )

China is not militarising the disputed South China Sea, the country's premier insisted in Australia on Friday, claiming defence equipment Beijing has installed on artificial islands is "primarily" for civilian use.

The sea is a source of growing regional tension, with Beijing insisting it has sovereignty over virtually all the resource-rich waters, which are also claimed in part by a handful of other countries, and deemed international waters by most of the world.

(AFP )

French centre-right presidential candidate Francois Fillon on Thursday accused President Francois Hollande, a Socialist, of orchestrating media leaks that have dented his image as a scandal free leader a month ahead of the key vote.

Hollande immediately condemned in the "strongest terms the untruthful allegations of Francois Fillon," the presidency said in a statement.

"The executive has never intervened in any judicial process," the Elysee presidential palace said.

(AFP )

Two years to the day after the deadly Germanwings crash in the French Alps, the father of co-pilot Andreas Lubitz will hold a press conference Friday to dispute that his son deliberately downed the plane.

Both the message and the timing of the first public appearance by a member of Lubitz's close family since the 2015 disaster that claimed 150 lives have been criticised by victims' families, who will be holding their own anniversary events to mark the tragedy.

(AFP )

Roua Ahmed's classes ended abruptly when her school in Yemen was bombed, but she still clings to her dream of getting an education.

She is one of hundreds of thousands of young Yemenis forced out of school since fighting escalated with a Saudi-led intervention against Shiite Huthi rebels two years ago.

The war has since killed around 7,700 people, including nearly 1,550 children, and shut down hundreds of schools.

After hers was bombed, Roua sought out classes at a mosque in her home city of Taez. But as clashes escalated, her family saw little choice but to flee.

(AFP )

Once a hugely popular working man's sport, Saturday marks the final demise of greyhound racing in London, closing a chapter of British social culture in the capital.

More than 20 dog tracks have been dotted around London since modern greyhound racing was introduced to Britain in the 1920s, drawing in punters for a cheap evening's entertainment.

Wimbledon Stadium is the last one standing, but it, too, now faces the bulldozers -- a victim of cultural shifts and the city's housing crisis.

(AFP )

Injured South African Quinton de Kock was Friday cleared to play in the third Test against New Zealand after captain Faf du Plessis said resting the influential wicketkeeper-batsman was not an option.

Despite South Africa having an unbeatable 1-0 lead going into Saturday's final Test, du Plessis described their batting as "not good enough" and said he wanted his best possible team on the field.

"It's a big game. Quinton is someone who you don't just replace. From my side, I am trying to have Quinton in my team all the time," he said.

(AFP )

Taiwan's constitutional court began hearing a landmark case Friday that could make the island the first place in Asia to allow same-sex marriage.

A panel of 14 grand justices will hear a debate over a disputed law that critics say is unconstitutional because it prevents unions between gay couples.

Campaigners for change gathered with rainbow flags outside the court in Taipei, which was heavily guarded Friday morning.

"Gay people as citizens deserve equal rights and protections under the law," 24-year-old salesman Lan Shi-kai told AFP.

(AFP )

A lot's rotten in Brazil -- from politics to tainted meat exports -- and activists hope big crowds will show their disgust Sunday.

A long-planned day of nationwide protests will seek to turn the screws on corrupt leaders and to defend prosecutors heading politically explosive probes into bribery and high-level theft.

The goal, said organizer Rogerio Chequer from the Vem Pra Rua (Take to the Streets) group, will be to stop members of Congress accused of corruption "from getting away with it."

Brazilians have a lot to be angry about.

(AFP )

The UN Security Council voiced alarm about the deepening humanitarian crisis and famine in South Sudan, with the United States, Britain and France raising anew the idea of sanctions and a weapons embargo.

Attacks on humanitarian and UN missions, serial rapes, recruitment of child soldiers and famine: Six years after independence, "all the optimism that accompanied the birth of South Sudan has been shattered by internal divisions, rivalries and the irresponsible behavior of some of its leaders," said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

(AFP )

Before he staged a professional comeback last week, the rapper Kayem had disappeared from public life for two years.

A US citizen by birth who remembers his relatives' suffering at the hands of Moamer Kadhafi's regime in Libya, he was lying low on legal advice after the US authorities crippled his career by putting him on a no-fly list.

He blames profiling for the scrutiny he receives at airports.

(AFP )

The man who mowed down pedestrians and stabbed a policeman in Wednesday's deadly assault outside Britain's parliament has been identified by police as 52-year-old former convict Khalid Masood.

Known by "a number of aliases", London's Metropolitan Police said he had been convicted for a string of offences but none of them terror-related.

Born on Christmas Day 1964 in Kent in southeast England, Masood had been living in the West Midlands where armed police have staged several raids since the attack, storming properties in the city of Birmingham.

(AFP )

French right-wing presidential candidate Francois Fillon on Thursday accused President Francois Hollande, a Socialist, of orchestrating media leaks that have dented his image as a scandal free leader a month ahead of the key vote.

Hollande immediately condemned in the "strongest terms the untruthful allegations of Francois Fillon," the presidency said in a statement.

"The executive has never intervened in any judicial process," the Elysee presidential palace said.

(AFP )

The UN Security Council on Thursday "strongly condemned" recent North Korean missile and ballistic missile engine tests, denouncing Pyongyang's "increasingly destabilizing behavior."

The condemnation came as the US military said on Thursday that it has observed activity in North Korea that suggests Pyongyang may be gearing up for another nuclear test.

"The launch and engine test are in grave violation of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea's international obligations," the council said in a statement.

(AFP )

The US Senate on Thursday approved the appointment of President Donald Trump's former bankruptcy lawyer, a supporter of Israeli settlement building, as Washington's ambassador to Israel.

Trump's nomination of 58-year-old David Friedman, a man with a history of undiplomatic declarations, had raised concerns about America's commitment to a two-state Middle East peace deal.

But Friedman apologized to lawmakers for his past harsh language at a confirmation hearing last month, and the Senate approved him by a margin of 52 to 46.

(AFP )

The US military has observed activity in North Korea that suggests Pyongyang may be gearing up for another nuclear test, a US official said Thursday.

"At the sites where we watch tests, we see a level of activity that's similar to what they've done before other tests," the defense official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Fox News reported earlier on Thursday that North Korea is in the final stages of readying for another nuclear test, possibly within the coming days.

(AFP )

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Thursday he will keep up his 'Nazi" taunts targeting European leaders as long as they keep on calling him a "dictator".

"How does that work, you have the right to call Erdogan a 'dictator' but Erdogan doesn't have the right to call you 'fascist' and 'Nazi'?" he said during an interview with the CNN-Turk and Kanal D television channels.

(AFP )

Somalia's new president appealed to the international community Thursday for more aid to avert a famine threatening his country that could also undermine fledgling political hopes born in his peaceful election.

"Almost half of our people are facing acute food shortages and about 15 percent are facing famine" amid a severe drought, Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, also known as Farmajo, said in a video conference with the United Nations Security Council.

(AFP )

Donald Trump warned Republicans that he is done negotiating and wants a vote Friday on dismantling Obamacare, setting up a high-stakes showdown with members of the president's own party over his embattled health care plan.

House leaders were forced to postpone a Thursday vote on the measure amid a revolt by mainly conservative Republicans, who were complicating the first major legislative test for the new president by signaling it would not pass without key changes.

(AFP )

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday urged the US and Britain to lift their bans on laptops and tablet computers in the cabin of flights from many Middle East and North African airports, including Istanbul.

"I hope that these nations, the United States and Britain, will review this and withdraw it as soon as possible," Erdogan said in a televised interview.

Washington decided to ban electronic devices bigger than mobile phones on direct flights to the United States from 10 airports in seven Middle Eastern countries and Turkey.

(AFP )

A reporter who investigated drug gangs was found murdered in northern Mexico near the US border on Thursday, police said, the third journalist killed in the country this month.

Miroslava Breach, 54, of the newspapers La Jornada and Norte de Juarez, was found dead in her vehicle with multiple gunshot wounds to the head in the city of Chihuahua, police said in a statement.

Her suspected attackers were reported to have fled in a white sedan car, it said, without elaborating.

(AFP )

French centrist Emmanuel Macron has received weighty backing in his bid to become president from Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, sources close to the minister told AFP Thursday.

Le Drian, a widely respected member of the Socialist government, has told politicians in the western region of Brittany of which he is president that he is supporting 39-year-old Macron, the sources said.

The minister will make his backing public in an interview in Friday's edition of Ouest France newspaper.

(AFP )

Worldwide markets have been slamming their doors on Brazilian meat since revelations that rotten product was being sold with faked certificates, but the agriculture minister said Thursday "the worst of the process is over."

Just under a week since police announced they had discovered meatpacking companies bribing corrupt inspectors to certify tainted meat, Brazil's huge meat industry is reeling as China and other big clients suspend or impose extra checks on imports.

(AFP )

The world is "turning the tide" against Islamic extremism, Britain's Foreign Minister Boris Johnson said Thursday at the United Nations, declaring that global powers ultimately will triumph over a "bankrupt and odious ideology."

"Today in New York and yesterday in Washington, I have seen countries come together, including countries from the Muslim world," Johnson said, one day after an attacker's bloody rampage outside the British parliament claimed three lives.

The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the attack, in which around 30 people were injured.

(AFP )

Ukraine said Thursday that a fire raging at a munitions depot in the country's east, which the military blamed on an "act of sabotage", could continue for up to a week.

As of Thursday afternoon 20,000 people living within a 10-kilometre (six-mile) radius of the depot had been evacuated.

"We can evaluate everything as the intensity of the fire decreases," Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman said in televised comments. "This can take up to one week."

(AFP )

Belarusian authorities have arrested some 26 people following a wave of major protests against authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko, state television said Thursday, citing security services.

State channel STV cited the powerful KGB security agency as saying that the arrests were part of a probe into the preparation of mass unrest.

Earlier Vyasna, an NGO that defends the rights of political prisoners, said 17 people were detained in this week's wave of arrests in the ex-Soviet country bordering Russia and the European Union.

(AFP )

Spain arrested 14 people and seized more than three million doses of banned growth hormones in a crackdown on trafficking of performance-enhancing drugs in sports, officials said on Thursday.

It was one of the biggest hauls of its kind in Europe, justice officials in Valencia, eastern Spain, said.

Two of those arrested were held on remand in Malaga, southern Spain, while the rest were released but remain under investigation for a "public health offence".

(AFP )

Colombia slammed its neighbor Venezuela on Thursday for what it said was an "unacceptable" incursion by Venezuelan military forces on its territory, and sent troops to secure the area.

The move came just months after the two countries started to reopen their border following a security dispute.

Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos said he had complained to his Venezuelan counterpart Nicolas Maduro that Venezuelan troops had been camped out in the Colombian border region of Arauca since Tuesday.

(AFP )

Two child shepherds who claimed to have had holy visions in Fatima are to be made saints, possibly during Pope Francis's upcoming trip to the Portuguese pilgrimage site.

Francis gave the go-ahead Thursday to canonise Jacinta and Francisco Marto who, along with their cousin Lucia Santos, claimed to have witnessed apparitions of the Virgin Mary in a miracle officially recognised by the Catholic Church.

The children said Mary appeared to them first on May 13, 1917, when Jacinta was seven years old, Francisco nine and Lucia 10.

(AFP )

More than 250 African migrants were feared drowned in the Mediterranean Thursday after a charity's rescue boat found five corpses close to two sinking rubber dinghies off Libya.

The UN's refugee agency (UNHCR) said it was "deeply alarmed" after the Golfo Azzuro, a boat operated by Spanish NGO Proactiva Open Arms, reported the recovery of the bodies close to the drifting, partially-submerged dinghies, 15 miles off the Libyan coast.