In the world | Africatime
Monday 27 February 2017

In the world

(AFP )

Top Democrats warn Republicans not to stymie investigations into contacts between President Donald Trump's campaign and Russia, as the White House sought to quell a media storm over the allegations.

The warnings came after Trump's staff sought to enlist the FBI, reportedly the CIA and two Republicans who head committees leading the Russia investigations, to knock down media reports on the alleged links.

(AFP )

Mexico will walk away from talks on revamping the North American Free Trade Agreement if US President Donald Trump slaps tariffs on Mexican-made goods, the economy minister says.

"The moment that they say, 'We're going to put a 20 percent tariff on cars,' I get up from the table," said Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo.

"Bye-bye," he added in an interview with Bloomberg News published Monday.

The comments ratchet up Mexico's threats to boycott a renegotiation of its 1994 trade deal with the United States and Canada if Trump insists on hardline changes.

(AFP )

A court in Istanbul on Monday ordered provisional detention for a correspondent of the German newspaper Die Welt, a move that drew a stern rebuke from Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The newspaper said Deniz Yucel, 43, had been charged with spreading terrorist propaganda and inciting hatred.

He has been held since February 18 in connection with news reports on an attack by hackers against the email account of Turkey's energy minister.

(AFP )

Britain on Monday urged Malaysia to share evidence from the lethal VX nerve gas attack on Kim Jong-Un's half-brother with the United Nations, which could take action against North Korea.

British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft said information on the February 13 attack at Kuala Lumpur airport that killed Kim Jong-Nam should be sent to the Hague-based Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

"If they have got evidence, they should send it to the OPCW and to the Security Council," Rycroft told journalists.

(AFP )

Senior US, South Korean and Japanese officials met on Monday to discuss how better to enforce international sanctions against North Korea's nuclear weapon and ballistic missile programs.

The Washington talks came shortly after United Nations experts warned that Pyongyang has been flouting existing sanctions, and just as China's top diplomat held talks at the White House.

US special representative for North Korea policy Joseph Yun met senior Japanese diplomat Kenji Kanasugi and South Korea's special representative Kim Hong-kyun at the State Department.

(AFP )

Backed by China, the UN Security Council on Monday unanimously condemned North Korea for its "irresponsible and provocative" attempts to evade sanctions.

The council agreed during a closed-door meeting on "the importance of full compliance" with sanctions resolutions, said Ukrainian Ambassador Volodymyr Yelchenko, the council president.

The remarks endorsed by China, Pyongyang's sole ally, followed a report by the UN panel of experts that showed North Korea was flouting sanctions by resorting to middlemen and front companies abroad.

(AFP )

Clouds gathered Monday over peace talks aimed at ending Colombia's half-century conflict after the ELN rebels claimed responsibility for a deadly bombing at a bullring in Bogota.

The authorities had already said they suspected the National Liberation Army (ELN) of carrying out the February 19 attack, which killed a police officer and wounded more than 20 at the Plaza Santamaria bullring in the capital.

(AFP )

Russia and the United States were headed for a clash at the UN Security Council on Monday as Moscow prepared to veto a draft resolution that would impose sanctions on Syria.

The council will vote Tuesday on the text drafted by the United States, Britain and France that would punish 11 Syrians and 10 entities linked to chemical attacks in 2014 and 2015.

Russia has vowed to use its veto to block the measure, which would be the seventh time that Moscow has resorted to its veto power to shield its Damascus ally.

(AFP )

Hungary has begun building a high-tech second fence on the border with Serbia complete with night cameras and heat and movement sensors to keep out migrants, the government said Monday.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban, an admirer of US President Donald Trump and who has called immigration "poison", announced plans for the three-metre (10-feet) high fence last August.

It will reinforce an existing barrier erected in 2015 at the height of Europe's migrant crisis along the 175-kilometre-long (110-mile-long) frontier in southern Hungary.

(AFP )

A court in ex-Soviet Kyrgyzstan has jailed a prominent opposition leader for two months on corruption charges pending his trial, security services said Monday, after two days of protests in the fragile Central Asian country.

A statement from the State Committee for National Security (GKNB) said Tekebayev had been charged with corruption and would be "held until 25 April" at a GKNB penitentiary facility.

The arrest of Omurbek Tekebayev following his arrival at the main airport early Sunday triggered a snap protest in the capital Bishkek that peaked at a thousand strong.

(AFP )

The father of French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen was ordered Monday to pay 5,000 euros ($5,300) after losing his appeal against a conviction for describing people from the Roma minority as smelly.

An appeals court in the southern city of Aix-en-Provence found Jean-Marie Le Pen, the 88-year-old founder of the National Front (FN) party, guilty of inciting hate and making racist and negationist statements with the comments at a press conference in Nice in 2013.

(AFP )

The Chilean authorities worked Monday to restore water to some 4.5 million people in the capital Santiago, whose supply had to be cut after deadly floods contaminated a major river.

Three people died in the torrential rains and landslides that hit central Chile over the weekend, emergency officials meanwhile said, revising an initial death toll of four.

Nineteen people remain missing, they added.

Production of potable water had been "partially" restarted Monday morning, said Aguas Andinas, the private company responsible for most of Santiago's water supply.

(AFP )

UN humanitarian aid chief Stephen O'Brien warned Monday in Yemen that the war-torn and impoverished country faces "serious risk of famine" unless international donors step up their response.

The under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, speaking in the southern city of Aden where he met President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, also urged both sides in Yemen's two-year-old war to grant humanitarian access to the conflict zones.

(AFP )

South Africa international scrum-half Cobus Reinach signed for English Premiership side Northampton Saints on Monday ending his six year spell at The Sharks.

The 27-year-old -- capped 10 times since making his Test debut in 2014 and scored the first of his two Test tries in November that year against England at Twickenham -- said he hoped to end his time in Natal on a high in the Super Rugby Championship.

"I'm delighted and excited to be joining Northampton," said Reinach, who will join the Saints ahead of the 2017/18 campaign.

(AFP )

Rio carnival organizers insisted the show will go on with a second round of samba parades Monday after a truck carrying a float ran into bystanders, injuring 20.

The accident on the first night of the elite samba school championship occurred late Sunday when the colorful float at the tail end of the Paraiso do Tuiuti school swerved on the crowded runway, crushing people against a fence.

Eight of them, including journalists covering Rio's biggest party, were hospitalized and three remained in serious condition Monday.

(AFP )

The Pentagon was due to present the White House on Monday with possible new battle plans to defeat the Islamic State group, after President Donald Trump demanded top brass find additional ways to destroy the jihadists.

One of Trump's central campaign pledges was to quicken the fight against IS, and he berated the Barack Obama adminstration for taking too long to do so.

He claimed to have a secret plan to defeat IS, repeatedly pledged to "bomb the hell" out of the group and even threatened to kill family members of suspected IS fighters.

(AFP )

An Israeli Jew was sentenced to 11 years in prison on Monday for stabbing another Jew he thought was an Arab in a racially motivated revenge attack, a court said.

The Haifa District Court ruling said Shlomo Haim Pinto, a 32-year-old resident of Kiryat Ata in northern Israel, had on October 13, 2015 set out to "find and kill an Arab" in revenge for nearly daily "terror attacks".

Armed with a kitchen knife, a box cutter and a hammer, he stabbed a Jewish supermarket employee, mistakenly thinking he was an Arab.

(AFP )

South Africa have kept faith in coach Allister Coetzee despite a dismal 2016 season, the national rugby union announced on Monday.

The Springboks lost eight of 12 Tests last season, a calendar year record for the country that won the Rugby World Cup twice.

South African officials held a long review of the season amid media speculation that Munster rugby director and former South Africa forward Rassie Erasmus would replace Coetzee.

Among the defeats was a 57-15 drubbing in Durban by greatest rivals New Zealand, the heaviest home beating suffered by South Africa.

(AFP )

President Donald Trump announced Monday he would ask Congress for a nearly 10 percent increase in defense spending and a large reduction in foreign aid, as he offered a taste of his upcoming budget.

Previewing measures designed to back up campaign promises with dollars and cents, Trump promised a fiscal plan focused on "public safety and national security."

An administration official said Trump's plan would include a $54 billion increase in defense spending and a corresponding decrease in non-military programs.

(AFP )

The Philippine foreign minister told the UN rights council on Monday that Manila would "destroy criminals" in a defiant defence of President Rodrigo Duterte's drug war.

"There can be no middle ground for the well-being of our people. We will not be kind," Perfecto Yasay told the opening of the 47-member council's main annual session in Geneva.

"We will not hesitate to destroy criminals who seek the wholesale destruction of our society," he added.

More than 6,500 people have been killed in Duterte's drug war, launched after he took office eight months ago.

(AFP )

A German court on Monday convicted two illegal street racers who caused a deadly high-speed car crash of murder and handed them life prison terms in a landmark ruling.

Hamdi H. and Marvin N. were each sentenced to maximum jail terms after the prosecution sought a conviction of murder rather than manslaughter.

The prosecution argued that even if the men did not plan to kill anyone during their race on February 1, 2016, they had accepted the likelihood of deadly consequences.

(AFP )

Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine on Monday threatened to seize control of enterprises across their territories unless Kiev halts a blockade by nationalist protesters.

The leaders of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics said they would install "external managers" at industries on their turf if Kiev did not end the month-long blockade by Wednesday.

The blockade by nationalist activists angered over Ukraine trading with the coal-rich insurgent-controlled east has disrupted trade and threatened power supplies to the rest of the country.

(AFP )

Nightmarish conditions in Libya are helping to drive a surge in the numbers of migrants attempting to reach Italy in the depths of winter, humanitarian officials and asylum seekers say.

European efforts to close the route are also thought to lie behind a 50 to 70 percent increase in the number of mainly African migrants who have landed at Italian ports in the first two months of this year, compared to the same period in 2015 and 2016.

More than 2,700 people have been rescued in recent days, including a newborn delivered aboard a Norwegian police vessel.

(AFP )

Iraqi forces battling the Islamic State group in west Mosul reached the city's southernmost bridge Monday, a key step in efforts to defeat the jihadists in their stronghold, a spokesman said.

The move, a little more than a week into a major push on Mosul's west bank, could allow Iraqi forces to extend a floating bridge between the city's two halves and pile pressure on the jihadists.

"The Rapid Response force and the federal police have liberated Jawsaq neighbourhood and now control the western end of the fourth bridge," Brigadier General Yahya Rasool told AFP.

(AFP )

Syrian government forces seized territory from the Islamic State group on several fronts in the country's north on Monday, a monitor and military source told AFP.

Fighting rocked the strategic province of Aleppo, which borders Turkey and has seen some of the worst violence of Syria's nearly six-year conflict.

On Monday, troops "seized 18 towns and villages, including the town of Taduf and a number of strategic hilltops in eastern Aleppo province, totalling about 600 square kilometres (230 square miles)," a Syrian military source said.

(AFP )

Journalists accused of bias. Judges said to be taking orders from the president. The country in a state of "near civil war."

This isn't America's bitter presidential election campaign last year, but France's in 2017.

The latest comments from conservative Francois Fillon, who has accused the Socialist government of failing to protect candidates, underline the increasingly ugly tone of France's campaign.

(AFP )

The Spanish coast guard rescued 257 migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe from Morocco in inflatable dinghies in an "intense weekend," they said Monday.

Sunday evening was particularly difficult with five boats carrying 210 people from sub-Saharan Africa rescued, while the remaining 47 were recovered from their dinghies on Saturday afternoon, a spokeswoman for the coast guard told AFP.

They were all taken to various ports in southern Spain such as Almeria and Motril, where they were attended to by the Red Cross.

(AFP )

Colombian ELN rebels claimed responsibility late Sunday on Twitter for a February 19 bombing in Bogota that killed a police officer and seriously wounded several others.

The attack outside a bullring followed the start of talks this month between the government and the National Liberation Army (ELN), which aim to end to five decades of conflict.

The government of President Juan Manuel Santos said that the ELN was "very mistaken" if it thought it could pressure the government into a cease fire with attacks like this.

(AFP )

Pro-democracy protesters Monday gatecrashed a press conference by Hong Kong leadership hopeful Carrie Lam, displaying banners criticising a "rigged election" as the woman seen as China's favourite unveiled her policy.

Around a dozen activists including Joshua Wong, the face of 2014's mass pro-democracy protests, entered the venue minutes before the start and demanded to be allowed to communicate their messages to Lam.

Protesters chanted slogans and unfurled banners demanding the public get the right to vote for the city's top post.

(AFP )

The head of EU border agency Frontex on Monday criticised charities that rescue migrants off Libya, arguing that they encourage the traffickers who profit from the dangerous Mediterranean crossings.

Such rescue operations "should be reevaluated", Fabrice Leggeri told Germany's Die Welt daily, also accusing the groups of not effectively cooperating with security agencies against human traffickers.

Leggeri said 40 percent of recent rescue operations at sea off the North African country "were carried out by non-government organisations".

(AFP )

Islamic militants in the Philippines have beheaded a 70-year-old German hostage they were holding for ransom, Manila officials said Monday, as Berlin condemned the murder as "unscrupulous and inhumane".

The Abu Sayyaf group, blamed for the worst terror attacks in Philippine history, had demanded a ransom of 30 million pesos ($600,000) be paid by Sunday to spare Jurgen Kantner.

After the expiration of the deadline the jihadists, which were monitored by intelligence group SITE, posted a gruesome video showing Kantner being killed by a knife-wielding man.

(AFP )

Israeli politicians and ex-generals are scrambling for cover ahead of the publication on Tuesday of a report expected to slam their conduct of the costly 2014 Gaza war.

The findings of a two-year inquiry, due to be released at 1400 GMT, are widely expected to inflict collateral damage on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, then-defence minister Moshe Yaalon and former army chief of staff Benny Gantz for failing to prepare for the threat posed by Hamas tunnels from Gaza, despite intelligence warnings.

(AFP )

A huge float carried by an out-of-control truck struck at least 20 people celebrating carnival in Rio de Janeiro, causing serious injuries at the start of an all-night dance-off Sunday.

The truck was at the tail end of the Paraiso do Tuiuti samba school parade in the city's Sambadrome when the accident occurred during heavy drizzle.

It drove too close to a fence at the entrance to the competition piste, leaving several people unable to escape. Three were seriously injured, including a woman news photographer who had a leg badly crushed.

(AFP )

Built to keep out migrants, traffickers, or an enemy group, border walls have emerged as a one-size-fits-all response to the vulnerability felt by many societies in today's globalized world, says an expert on the phenomenon.

Practically non-existent at the end of World War II, by the time the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 the number of border walls across the globe had risen to 11.

(AFP )

European Union member states on Monday approved visa-free travel for Georgia, after agreeing safeguards to prevent any upsurge in arrivals from the former Soviet satellite.

Georgia, along with much larger Ukraine, has been urging the EU to grant visa-free travel so as to show its citizens that close ties with Europe can deliver concrete benefits.

EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said the decision marked "a historic day for Georgia and its citizens."