In the world | Africatime
Wednesday 26 April 2017

In the world

(AFP )

A Nicaraguan woman who was burned to death in an exorcism that caused worldwide shock was starved and beaten in the week before her killing, witnesses told a court Wednesday.

Evangelical pastor Juan Rocha and four followers are accused of murdering Vilma Trujillo, a 25-year-old mother of two, because they believed she was possessed by the devil.

On the second day of their trial, which is being carried live on Nicaraguan television, Trujillo's relatives told the court how Rocha had his followers bound her, beat her, and refused her food, water and visitors.

(AFP )

South Sudanese government forces on Wednesday launched an offensive on a town in the north, displacing civilians who may be headed toward the border with Sudan, the UN envoy said.

Some 50,000 people in Kodok in Upper Nile state, many of whom fled fighting six weeks ago in the town of Wau Shilluk, were at risk from the violence, said David Shearer, who also heads the UN mission in South Sudan.

"The conflict has widened rather than contracted over the past few weeks," Shearer told a news conference.

(AFP )

EU nations granted refugee or protection status to 710,400 people last year, of whom more than half were Syrian, the bloc's statistical agency said on Wednesday.

The figure was "more than double the number of 2015," Eurostat said.

"The largest group of beneficiaries of protection status in the EU in 2016 remained citizens of Syria (405,600 persons, or 57 percent of the total number of persons granted protection status," it said.

Iraqis made up the second biggest group with 65,800, followed by Afghans with 61,800, it said.

(AFP )

Signs are mounting that US President Donald Trump's administration may stay in the landmark Paris climate change accord of 2015, under pressure from big business and public support for the agreement.

But experts say the final decision, expected next month, is anything but certain, and staying at the table could come with significant caveats, like a weakening of US commitments to curbing greenhouse gas emissions.

(AFP )

A top US regulatory official on Wednesday unveiled plans to roll back so-called "net neutrality" rules that require broadband firms to treat all online traffic equally.

The announcement by Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai, appointed by President Donald Trump, signals a new round of wrangling over internet regulatory policy by seeking to reverse rules aimed at avoiding the emergence of "fast" and "slow" lanes at the discretion of carriers.

(AFP )

Brazilian police said Wednesday they had arrested 14 people and seized more than a million dollars of stolen cash after an explosive heist by suspected Brazilian gangsters in neighboring Paraguay.

Dubbed "the robbery of the century" by officials, Monday's raid in the city of Ciudad del Este near the Brazilian border left three robbers and a policeman dead.

The robbers made off with $8 million, said Prosegur, the secure cash-transporting company targeted in the operation which saw some 50 gunmen with explosives and military-grade weaponry blast into a secure vault.

(AFP )

Arab League chief Ahmed Abul Gheit on Wednesday urged the International Committee of the Red Cross to intervene with Israeli authorities to halt their "abuse" of Palestinian prisoners.

Abul Gheit sent a letter to ICRC president Peter Maurer requesting "the committee (ICRC) urgently intervene with Israeli authorities to stop the various abuses being committed against those prisoners of war", the Arab League said.

(AFP )

A man held in a Spanish anti-jihadist raid was spotted in September in front of a Barcelona concert hall where the band that was playing during the Bataclan attack in Paris was due to perform, police said Wednesday.

Eagles of Death Metal was in full swing at the Bataclan concert hall on November 13, 2015, when armed men wearing explosive belts stormed in and killed 90 people.

Close to a year later on September 10, the US rock group played at the Apolo concert hall in Barcelona.

(AFP )

A top US admiral said Wednesday that America wants to bring North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un to "his senses," as senators attended an extraordinary briefing at the White House.

Admiral Harry Harris, who heads the Pacific Command, welcomed recent efforts by Beijing to try to defuse soaring tensions between Pyongyang and Washington, and suggested a non-military solution remained the preferred outcome.

(AFP )

The Trump administration Wednesday unveiled plans to dramatically cut taxes for US businesses and individuals, slashing the corporate rate to 15 percent, but the once-in-a-generation overhaul is headed for a tough fight in Congress.

As Donald Trump's presidency nears the symbolic 100-day mark, the Republican is seeking to follow through on a flagship promise to overhaul the tax code to boost the US economy, businesses and families, including middle-class and working-class Americans.

(AFP )

Marine Le Pen's performance in France's presidential race cheered Brexit supporters, but many fear the likely winner Emmanuel Macron will play hardball in Britain's negotiations on leaving the European Union.

EU leaders are relieved at the prospect of a victory for Macron, a pro-European centrist, in a run-off on May 7 against eurosceptic far-right leader Le Pen.

But for commentators on all sides of the political divide in Britain, Macron spells bad news for Prime Minister Theresa May as she embarks on Brexit talks after her own expected re-election in June.

(AFP )

Russia on Wednesday banned three organisations associated with former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, branding them "undesirable" for allegedly seeking to stir unrest and discredit elections.

OR (Otkrytaya Rossia), the Institute of Modern Russia and the Open Russia Civic Movement have been recognised as "undesirable" by the Prosecutor General in line with a controversial Russian law that targets foreign groups accused of political meddling.

(AFP )

Thirteen big businesses, including oil giant Shell and retailer Walmart, on Wednesday urged US President Donald Trump to keep the United States in the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The deal signed by more than 190 countries in 2015 called for lower emissions to ease the threat of global warming.

(AFP )

Fighting broke out on Wednesday along the northeast Syria border between Turkish forces and Kurdish militiamen, a monitor said, a day after deadly Turkish air strikes on the area.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the clashes erupted "after the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) fired on an armoured vehicle belonging to Turkish forces that had crossed the Syrian-Turkish border."

(AFP )

Austrian prosecutors are investigating Airbus chief Tom Enders as part of a fraud and corruption probe into a 2003 Eurofighter deal, the aircraft maker said Wednesday.

"The Vienna prosecutor informed us this afternoon for the first time that all individuals on an Austrian financial crimes unit list are under investigation. That list includes Tom Enders," an Airbus spokesman said in a written statement to AFP.

"As we have always said, we believe these accusations to be totally unfounded," he said.

(AFP )

Some 200 people gathered at a cemetery in the northern Spanish town of Guernica Wednesday to mark the 80th anniversary of its bombing by Nazi warplanes during the Spanish civil war.

At 4:30 pm (1430 GMT) -- the moment the bombing began 80 years ago -- representatives of victims associations laid floral wreaths at a monument in the Zollo cemetery dedicated to those killed in an attack that inspired Pablo Picasso's famed "Guernica" painting.

"A rain of fire, blood and death fell upon us," Luis Iriondo, a 94-year-old survivor of the air raid, told the gathering.

(AFP )

First Daughter Ivanka Trump is contradicting her father, the US president, insisting that allowing Syrian refugees to immigrate to the United States "has to be part of the discussion" over ending Syria's years old civil war.

"I think there is a global humanitarian crisis that's happening, and we have to come together, and we have to solve it," she told NBC News in an interview aired Wednesday.

(AFP )

Press freedom has "never been so threatened" as it is today, according to Reporters Without Borders, with journalists harassed, jailed or disappeared in a lengthening list of countries.

The monitoring group's secretary-general Christophe Deloire and AFP's global news director Michele Leridon pointed out some telling examples Wednesday:

- 'Jihad' -

(AFP )

An outbreak of violence between rival groups of inmates at a prison in eastern Venezuela has left 12 dead and 11 injured, the government said Wednesday.

A spokesman for the ministry of penitentiary affairs, who gave the toll of dead and wounded, said nine of those killed died of gunshot wounds.

The deadly clashes erupted early Tuesday in the eastern city of Barcelona at the Jose Antonio Anzoategui prison, considered one of the country's most violent.

(AFP )

Picking up a broken tile to hurl at riot cops, a young man cuts himself and blood streams from his hand.

He is one of hundreds Venezuelans hurt in this month's deadly anti-government protests -- but for him, help is close by.

Through the tear gas and flying rocks, a squad of gas-masked medics comes charging. The "Green Cross" has arrived.

These student doctors joined in the protests at first. But now they stand on the sidelines, with bandages for anyone who gets hurt.

(AFP )

The exiled former editor-in-chief of Turkish opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet urged EU leaders Wednesday to stand up for their principles and confront President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Can Dundar, who fled to Germany last year while appealing against a near six-year jail term for revealing state secrets, told AFP in an interview however that it could be too late after they abandoned their "ideals" to win a refugee deal with Ankara.

(AFP )

The US admiral who ordered an aircraft carrier and other warships toward the Korean Peninsula in a much-hyped deployment took responsibility Wednesday for any "confusion" after the ships sailed in the opposite direction.

Amid soaring tensions ahead of North Korea's apparent ramping up for a sixth nuclear test, the US Navy on April 8 said it was directing a naval strike group headed by the USS Carl Vinson carrier to "sail north" from the waters off Singapore, as a "prudent measure" to deter Pyongyang.

(AFP )

Stung by his second major setback on immigration, President Donald Trump on Wednesday slammed as "ridiculous" a court order blocking his attempt to deny cities harboring undocumented immigrants billions in federal funding.

Judge William Orrick of San Francisco's federal district court on Tuesday issued a preliminary injunction barring any attempt to implement Trump's January 25 executive order.

While confusing Orrick's court with the higher-level ninth circuit appeals court also based in San Francisco, Trump made clear he was ready to fight the decision.

(AFP )

Iraqi pro-government forces said Wednesday they had seized the UNESCO-listed ancient site of Hatra from the Islamic State group, the latest archaeological jewel to be wrested from the jihadists' grip.

Hashed al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation) paramilitary forces fighting IS around Iraq's second city Mosul said they had "liberated the ancient city of Hatra... after fierce clashes with the enemy".

(AFP )

Hundreds gathered at a Shiite Muslim shrine south of Damascus on Wednesday to mourn the victims of a suicide bombing during a landmark evacuation earlier this month, AFP's correspondent said.

At least 150 people, including 72 children, were killed on April 15 in an explosion targeting evacuees from Fuaa and Kafraya, two Shiite-majority villages in northwestern Syria.

Dozens of the dead were to be buried on Wednesday near the Sayyida Zeinab mausoleum, Syria's most visited Shiite pilgrimage site, one of the funeral organisers told AFP.

(AFP )

Authorities have arrested 35 soldiers who served on an army base in northern Afghanistan where the Taliban staged a deadly attack last week, officials said Wednesday, as fears grew they had inside help.

The defence ministry released its official toll of 135 recruits killed in the assault on the sprawling base, home to the 209th Army Corps, outside the city of Mazar-i-Sharif in Balkh province on Friday.

Gunmen in military trucks and wearing suicide vests stormed the base, killing unarmed young recruits as they ate lunch in the dining hall and prayed in the mosque.

(AFP )

An El Salvadoran transgender advocate, five detained Cambodian activists and an Egyptian legal scholar were nominated on Wednesday for one of the world's most prestigious human rights prizes.

Organisers of the Martin Ennals Award expressed hope that the spotlight could offer protection to the nominees, who like many rights campaigners worldwide are facing an increasingly hostile climate.

One finalist for the prize, to be awarded in October, is Mohamed Zaree, a legal scholar and the Egypt Office Director of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS).

(AFP )

A businesswoman who took the British government to court to force a parliamentary vote on the UK's split from the EU launched a campaign Tuesday to oppose an "extreme Brexit".

Gina Miller said her Best For Britain initiative would target marginal seats in the June 8 general election in a bid to return members of parliament who are committed to keeping the UK's Brexit options open.

The crowd-funded drive has already been backed by nearly 10,000 people and raised almost £300,000 ($385,000, 350,000 euros).

(AFP )

British Prime Minister Theresa May and opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn clashed over Brexit, the economy and security Wednesday in their final parliamentary exchange before June's general election.

In a raucous session of prime minister's questions in the House of Commons, the two leaders eyeballed each other while outlining competing visions as MPs behind them cheered and jeered.

(AFP )

World leaders on Wednesday urged all nations to help "banish forever the evil of chemical weapons," as the global watchdog warned decades of progress towards eliminating them was under threat.

UN chief Antonio Guterres led praise at a solemn ceremony in The Hague for the work of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to mark its 20th anniversary.

So far some 95 percent of the world's declared stockpiles of such arms have been destroyed by the OPCW.

(AFP )

Turkey insisted Wednesday that it had informed the United States and Russia before launching strikes against Kurdish forces in Syria and Iraq, as Moscow blasted the bombing raids as "unacceptable" and new border clashes erupted.

Washington angrily accused Turkey of lacklustre coordination after Turkish war planes carried out strikes on Kurdish militia forces in Syria on Tuesday, and also hit Kurdish forces in neighbouring Iraq in what Ankara described as "terrorist havens".

(AFP )

French presidential frontrunner Emmanuel Macron was met Wednesday with boos and chants in favour of his far-right rival Marine Le Pen as he made a chaotic visit to an under-threat factory in northern France.

During the hastily arranged visit, some in the crowd shouted "President Marine!" and booed as the 39-year-old former banker stood outside the Whirlpool appliance factory in the rustbelt city of Amiens.

"I am here to speak to you," said the pro-business former economy minister, ringed by a horde of cameramen and journalists.

(AFP )

Turkey on Wednesday detained more than 1,000 people in a huge new crackdown against alleged supporters of a cleric accused of orchestrating the coup bid against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The dawn raids across the country -- seeking more than 3,000 suspects -- come just over a week after Erdogan narrowly won a controversial referendum on ramping up his powers.

They are the latest indication Turkey intends no let-up in the fight against its perceived enemies after the vote, with fighter jets Tuesday pounding Kurdish militant targets in Iraq and northern Syria.

(AFP )

Ten people, including a suspected arms dealer, are in custody as part of an investigation into a deadly 2015 attack on a Jewish supermarket in Paris, sources close to the probe said Wednesday.

Claude Hermant, who is awaiting trial in a separate arms trafficking case, and the other suspects have been rounded up since Monday, and there could be more arrests, the sources said.

Investigators are trying to piece together how France-based jihadist Amedy Coulibaly obtained the weapons used in the January 9, 2015 attack.

(AFP )

French presidential frontrunner Emmanuel Macron was booed and heckled with chants backing his far-right rival Marine Le Pen as he made a chaotic visit to an under-threat factory in the nation's rustbelt on Wednesday.

Some in the crowd shouted "President Marine!" and booed as the 39-year-old former banker arrived outside the Whirlpool appliance factory in the northern city of Amiens, where Le Pen had made an unannounced stop hours earlier.