Monday 29 May 2017

In the world

(AFP )

French President Emmanuel Macron hosts Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Monday in their first meeting since he came to office with differences on Ukraine and Syria in full view.

After playing handshake power games with US President Donald Trump at his first international summit last week, 39-year-old Macron hosts the Russian leader in the splendour of Versailles outside Paris.

(AFP )

Britain on Monday said it would be a "strong partner" to Germany in response to comments by German Chancellor Angela Merkel about Britain and the United States no longer being reliable allies.

"As we begin the negotiations about leaving the EU, we will be able to reassure Germany and other European countries that we are going to be a strong partner to them in defence and security and, we hope, in trade," interior minister Amber Rudd told BBC radio.

(AFP )

Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska on Monday said he was ready to cooperate with US congressional probes into election meddling by Moscow without immunity, insisting he has evidence against claims of Kremlin interference.

The New York Times cited congressional sources on Friday saying that aluminium magnate Deripaska had requested immunity to cooperate with committees investigating alleged Russian involvement in the US elections.

(AFP )

England suffered a stunning collapse as they slumped to 20 for six in five overs after being sent into bat by South Africa in the third one-day international at Lord's on Monday.

Fast bowler Kagiso Rabada took four for 12 in three overs and left-arm quick Wayne Parnell two for eight in two in a sensational start.

An overcast morning and a green-tinged pitch offered the promise of some assistance to South Africa's quicks but Proteas captain AB de Villiers could hardly have expected his side, already 2-0 down in the three-match series, to make quite such a stirring start.

(AFP )

China is taking care of a pressing need: Authorities have installed or upgraded over 50,000 lavatories in a "national toilet revolution" designed to clean up filthy public restrooms.

Relief is coming soon, and by the end of the year China expects to have added or upgraded a total of 71,000 toilets, well exceeding a target initially set in 2015.

The plan to fix the country's bad reputation for grimy and smelly facilities has focused on restrooms in tourist sites.

In some places, shiny new toilets have replaced unhygienic open pits that offered little privacy.

(AFP )

Passengers faced a third day of disruption at Heathrow Monday as British Airways cancelled short-haul flights after a global computer crash that unions blamed on the outsourcing of IT services to India.

The embattled airline said it was cancelling 13 short-haul flights from Heathrow Airport, Europe's busiest, but was aiming to operate a full long-haul schedule from the hub and was operating a full service from Gatwick Airport.

(AFP )

British police said they had arrested a new suspect on Monday over the Manchester bombings, bringing to 14 the number of people they have in custody over the attack.

Authorities detained a 23-year-old in the southern coastal town of Shoreham-by-Sea, more than 400 kilometres (250 miles) from Manchester.

In addition, police raided a property in a southern Manchester suburb as they step up their investigation into last week's bombing that killed 22 people.

(AFP )

Former Greek Prime Minister Constantine Mitsotakis, an early proponent of austerity cuts that Greece eventually had to adopt during the economic crisis, died Monday aged 98, his family said.

A patriarch of one of Greece's most influential political families, Mitsotakis quit politics in 2004, aged 85, after serving as the country's longest-serving parliamentarian.

"He died at 0100 (2200 GMT) surrounded by the people whom he loved and who loved him," a family statement said. It did not indicate the cause of death.

(AFP )

An elderly Australian fisherman has lived to tell the tale after a great white shark leapt into his boat, surviving with only an injured arm after he was sent flying by the thrashing beast.

Terry Selwood, 73, was enjoying some quiet time on the water off Evans Head in northern New South Wales state when he was given the fright of his life.

(AFP )

Army helicopters fired rockets at Islamist militants in a southern Philippine city Monday, as fears grew for up to 2,000 people unable to escape a week of relentless fighting that has left women and children dead.

President Rodrigo Duterte imposed martial law across the southern third of the Philippines shortly after the fighting erupted, warning the gunmen were involved in an effort by the Islamic State group to set up a local caliphate.

(AFP )

Thousands of Sri Lankan troops battled Monday to get relief supplies to nearly half a million people displaced by the island's worst flooding in well over a decade, which has killed 169 people.

The military said a lull in torrential monsoon rains had allowed it to deploy aircraft, boats and ground troops to evacuate people from flooded areas and deliver food and other essentials.

Almost half a million people have had to abandon their homes after the island suffered its worst flooding in 14 years.

(AFP )

Days after a bomb ripped through the Manchester Arena, locals take their seats at a comedy club where British humour is helping people cope with the aftermath of the terror attack.

"It's important to have a bit of humour when you're dealing with real-life stress and challenging events, because it helps people deal with it in a way, it's like a coping mechanism," said Cate Gardner, who had come to the Frog and Bucket comedy club to celebrate her birthday.

(AFP )

Kanishk Sajnani did not receive so much as a thank you from a major Indian airline when he contacted them with alarming news -- he had hacked their website and could book flights anywhere in the world for free.

It was a familiar tale for India's army of "ethical hackers", who earn millions protecting foreign corporations and global tech giants from cyber attacks but are largely ignored at home, their skills and altruism misunderstood or distrusted.

(AFP )

Thousands of voracious white maggots wiggle frenetically while tearing through trayfuls of leftover meat, vegetables and fruits in an unusual farm in southwestern China.

It may not be a pretty sight, but the gluttonous larvae could help China eat away something far uglier: the country's mountain of food waste.

(AFP )

France's new President Emmanuel Macron was to host Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Monday in the latest test of his diplomatic mettle after vowing firm stands on Ukraine and Syria.

"It is essential to talk to Russia because there are many international issues that will not be resolved without a tough exchange with the Russians," Macron said at the G7 summit in Sicily which wound up on Saturday.

The 39-year-old centrist leader's meeting with Putin, 64, caps a whirlwind of diplomacy including the G7 talks as well as last week's NATO summit in Brussels.

(AFP )

Coral bleaching on Australia's Great Barrier Reef is worse than first thought and the impact will accelerate unless global greenhouse gas emissions are cut, scientists said Monday.

The 2,300-kilometre (1,400-mile) World Heritage-listed reef suffered its most severe bleaching on record last year due to warming sea temperatures during March and April.

(AFP )

North Korea test-fired a missile Monday which fell provocatively close to its neighbour Japan, the latest in a series of launches that have heightened tensions over Pyongyang's nuclear weapons ambitions.

It was the North's 12th ballistic missile test this year -- carried out in defiance of UN sanctions warnings and US threats of possible military action.

The launch went ahead despite tough talk from US President Donald Trump, who promised last week at the G7 summit that the "big problem" of North Korea "will be solved".

(AFP )

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo on Sunday called for a black feminist festival in the French capital to be banned, saying it was "prohibited to white people."

The first edition of the Nyansapo Festival, due to run from July 28 to 30 at a cultural centre in Paris, bills itself as "an event rooted in blackfeminism, activism, and on (a) European scale."

Four-fifths of the festival area will be set aside as a "non-mixed" space "for black women," according to its website in French.

(AFP )

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Sunday blamed opposition demonstrators for the killing of a retired military officer and called it a hate crime.

The slain 34-year-old retired National Guard lieutenant, who has yet to be identified, was beaten and shot to death by attackers Saturday night in the town of Cabudare in the western state of Lara, prosecutors said.

They did not link the man's death to the wave of sometimes violent anti-government protests that have raged for 58 straight days, with a death toll that now stands at 59.

(AFP )

The Philippine government on Sunday formally called off the latest round of peace talks with communist insurgents, after the parties failed to resolve a dispute over a rebel order for fighters to step up attacks.

"We are maintaining the decision made not to participate in the fifth round of talks," chief government negotiator Jesus Dureza told journalists after almost 10 hours of closed-door consultations.

"There are no compelling reasons for us to change the decision... which we announced yesterday," he said, adding that Manila was "formally" withdrawing from the round.

(AFP )

A White House in crisis scrambled to allay public concern over reports that Donald Trump's son-in-law sought a secret communications link to Russia -- a bombshell allegation the US president swatted down as "fabricated."

After returning late Saturday from his first foreign trip as president, Trump geared up to combat concerns over his advisers' ties to Russia, including explosive reports about Jared Kushner, his indispensable aide-de-camp.

(AFP )

A total of 14 people are in detention in Britain and Libya over Monday's suicide bombing at a pop concert in the English city of Manchester by a British-born man of Libyan origin.

A teenage boy and a woman arrested by British police this week have since been released without charge, leaving 12 in British custody who were arrested "on suspicion of offences contrary to the terrorism act".

In Libya, the father and brother of the bomber, Salman Abedi, are also in detention.

(AFP )

After 12 days of red carpet glamour, political fashion statements and wardrobe malfunctions, here are the looks that turned heads at the Cannes film festival.

- Beware the thigh-split -

Gowns slashed almost to the hip were omnipresent at this year's Cannes, with Susan Sarandon -- at 70, the same age as the festival -- giving a masterclass in the genre when she turned up on opening night in a green velvet number that also made the most of her ample cleavage.

(AFP )

A Frenchman who was abducted nearly two months ago in the Democratic Republic of Congo has been freed, the office of President Emmanuel Macron announced Sunday.

A French diplomat said the freed hostage was among five gold mine workers who were seized on March 1 in the east of the troubled country.

The hostages worked for Banro, a Canadian gold mining corporation that runs two mines in DR Congo and is exploring for the mineral elsewhere in the vast, resource-rich country.

(AFP )

Europe "must take its fate into its own hands" faced with a western alliance divided by Brexit and Donald Trump's presidency, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Sunday.

"The times in which we could completely depend on others are on the way out. I've experienced that in the last few days," Merkel told a crowd at an election rally in Munich, southern Germany.

"We Europeans truly have to take our fate into our own hands," she added.

(AFP )

Spanish mountaineer Kilian Jornet has reached the summit of Mount Everest for the second time in a week, his team said Sunday.

Jornet scaled Everest's north face, starting from a camp at 6,500 metres on the Tibet side of the mountain, in 17 hours late on Saturday, said a statement from the team.

"I’m so happy to have made the summit again! Today I felt good, although it was really windy so it was hard to move fast," he said in the statement.

(AFP )

Thousands of travellers faced further chaos on Sunday as British Airways cancelled around 40 flights from London's Heathrow Airport following an IT system failure.

Around one quarter of Sunday's flights set to depart from London's key hub before 1.00 pm (1200 GMT) were cancelled as the airline battled to contain the "knock-on disruption" to schedules, with aircraft and crews out of position around the world.

British Airways said it was hoping to operate a near-normal schedule of flights from Gatwick, London's other major airport, and the majority of its Heathrow services.

(AFP )

US Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly on Sunday said he was considering banning laptop computers on international flights into and out of the country amid signs of "a real threat."

Kelly made his remarks during the Memorial Day weekend, one of the busiest travel periods in the United States, at a time when the bombing at a concert in Manchester, England has raised concerns that further attacks -- possibly involving explosives packed in electronic devices -- may be planned.

(AFP )

Emergency teams rushed food and water Sunday to half a million Sri Lankans displaced by the island's worst flooding for more than a decade, as the death toll climbed to 151.

Government spokesman Rajitha Senaratne said relief operations had intensified following a break in the monsoon rains, with medical teams reinforcing hospitals in affected districts.

The official death toll had climbed to 151 with 111 people still listed as missing, Senaratne said. Another 95 were in hospital.

(AFP )

British Airways said it hopes to resume most flights out of London's major airports on Sunday after a computer systems failure caused chaos for thousands of passengers on a busy holiday weekend.

Problems continued at London's Heathrow, with flights cancelled early Sunday as the airline battled to contain the "knock-on disruption" to schedules, with aircraft and crews out of position around the world.

"At this stage we are aiming to operate a near-normal schedule of flights from Gatwick and the majority of our Heathrow services," it said in a statement.

(AFP )

Two thousand fearful civilians were trapped on Sunday inside a southern Philippine city where troops are battling Islamist militants, authorities said, as the death toll from almost a week of fighting neared 100.

The military intensified a bombing campaign on parts of Marawi on Mindanao island, one of the biggest Muslim cities in the mainly Catholic nation, as it accused the gunmen of atrocities including murdering women and a child.

(AFP )

British Airways said it hopes to resume most flights out of London's major airports on Sunday after a computer systems failure caused chaos for thousands of passengers on a busy holiday weekend.

It warned of some "knock-on disruption" to schedules as aircraft and crews are out of position around the world.

"At this stage we are aiming to operate a near-normal schedule of flights from Gatwick and the majority of our Heathrow services," it said in a statement.

It advised passengers not to come to the two airports unless they have confirmed bookings.

(AFP )

Donald Trump, just back from his first international trip as US president, geared up to combat concerns Sunday over aides' ties to Russia including explosive reports that his son-in-law sought a secret communications line with Moscow.

The latest furor was stirred up after The Washington Post reported late Friday that Jared Kushner -- arguably Trump's closest White House aide, and husband to the president's eldest daughter Ivanka -- made a pre-inauguration proposal to the Russian ambassador to set up a secret, bug-proof link with the Kremlin.

(AFP )

Emergency teams rushed to distribute aid Sunday to half a million Sri Lankans displaced after the island's worst flooding in more than a decade, as authorities upgraded the death toll to 146.

The official Disaster Management Centre said 112 people were still missing, with 50 injured in hospital, since torrential rain and landslides swept away entire villages.

Floodwaters were receding in some areas after a break in the rain, giving authorities a chance to deliver much-needed supplies to victims who lost everything in the deluge.

(AFP )

Islamist militants locked in street-to-street battles with security forces in a southern Philippine city have killed 19 civilians, the military said Sunday, bringing the official death toll from nearly a week of fighting to at least 85.

The violence prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to declare martial law on Tuesday across the southern third of the Philippines to quell what he said was a fast-growing threat of militants linked to the Islamic State (IS) group.