In the world | Africatime
Sunday 23 April 2017

In the world

(AFP )

Australia and New Zealand stiffened their rhetoric against North Korea Sunday after the isolated state threatened Canberra with a nuclear strike, urging it to think twice before "blindly and zealously toeing the US line".

The move comes as US Vice President Mike Pence wraps up an Asia tour, which has included visits to South Korea, Japan and Australia partly to reassure allies amid fears that Pyongyang may be readying for a sixth nuclear test.

(AFP )

Election season is under way in Iran and the rumour mill is in overdrive as the public tries to divine the backroom machinations that have thrown up major surprises in the past.

"I looked back at the cables our embassy was sending out just a few weeks before the last election," said a Western diplomat in Tehran.

"None of them were predicting (Hassan) Rouhani would win," she laughed, referring to the current president.

(AFP )

An Israeli attack on a Syrian camp for pro-government forces killed three fighters near the Golan Heights on Sunday, an official from the forces said.

The official told AFP that two fighters were also wounded in the attack on the Al-Fawwar camp near Quneitra in southwestern Syria, adding that it was unclear whether the damage was inflicted by an air strike or shelling.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group confirmed the early Sunday attack but had no further details.

(AFP )

The Canterbury Crusaders remained unbeaten as New Zealand teams dominated Super Rugby this weekend ahead of June's British and Irish Lions tour.

The seven-time champions smashed leading South African contenders Western Stormers 57-24 in Christchurch as Kiwi teams won all four of their encounters.

George Bridge claimed a hat-trick and Kieran Read added a double in the Crusaders eight-try romp to remain unbeaten after eight matches.

(AFP )

France began voting Sunday under heavy security in the first round of the most unpredictable presidential election in decades, with the outcome seen as vital for the future of the beleaguered European Union.

Polling stations opened at 0600 GMT and the last will close at 1800 GMT with estimated results expected shortly afterwards.

Far-right leader Marine Le Pen and centrist Emmanuel Macron are the favourites to progress to a run-off on May 7 but the result is too close to call in a deeply divided country.

(AFP )

Turkey's embattled opposition to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan can still find glimmers of hope in a shifting political landscape despite the strongman winning a controversial referendum that will hugely enhance his powers.

The 'No' vote polled 48.59 in the April 16 poll after a lopsided campaign that saw the 'Yes' dominate the airwaves with Erdogan speeches and flood the streets with pro-government billboards.

(AFP )

France was on edge on the eve of its most unpredictable presidential election in decades, which will take place under heightened security after the jihadist killing of a policeman.

The shooting on Paris's world-renowned Champs Elysees avenue on Thursday, claimed by the Islamic State group, thrust questions of security to the fore of campaigning after nine months of relative calm.

On Saturday, police arrested a man carrying a knife at Paris's Gare du Nord station, briefly causing panic as some passengers rushed out of the way.

(AFP )

The US supercarrier Carl Vinson will start joint exercises with Japan's navy on Sunday, Tokyo's defence ministry said, as the warship passes through the western Pacific after days of contention over its whereabouts.

The strike group is in the region as tensions spike over North Korea's rogue arms programme and concerns that Pyongyang is planning a sixth nuclear test as it pursues its goal of a weapon capable of reaching the US mainland.

The Carl Vinson drills are expected to last several days and involve two Japanese warships, Japan's defence ministry said.

(AFP )

Election season is under way in Iran and the rumour mill is in overdrive as the public tries to divine the backroom machinations that have thrown up major surprises in the past.

"I looked back at the cables our embassy was sending out just a few weeks before the last election," said a Western diplomat in Tehran.

"None of them were predicting (Hassan) Rouhani would win," she laughed, referring to the current president.

(AFP )

The day after Nepal was struck by a devastating earthquake, Samrat Basnet opened his doors to the wounded as hospitals overwhelmed with thousands of victims had to send away those without life-threatening injuries.

Two years on Basnet is still caring for a handful of the 22,000 Nepalis injured in the disaster, many left with preventable disabilities after slipping through the cracks of a woeful healthcare system.

(AFP )

Late in the afternoon of April 29, 1992, the looting began in south Los Angeles, quickly escalating as motorists were dragged from their cars and vehicles set alight.

In the downtown area a few miles away, an angry crowd began to build at the city police headquarters and, as day turned to night, protesters attacked uniformed officers and blocked traffic.

The fuse had been lit by the acquittal earlier in the day of four white police officers filmed beating black motorist Rodney King with wooden batons.

(AFP )

Dressed in white, Venezuelan protesters opposed to President Nicolas Maduro marched in silence in several cities to pay respects to 20 people killed in three weeks of unrest.

Unlike demonstrations in recent days, the rallies in Caracas, Maracaibo, Barquisimeto and San Cristobal passed with no major violence reported between protesters and police.

(AFP )

Police in Nicaragua blocked thousands of farmers and rural residents from holding a march against a government plan to build a canal across the country, potentially carving up their land.

"They are closing off all the roads. It's pitiful what's happening in Nicaragua," said one of the leaders of the demonstration, Francisca Ramirez.

Police preventing buses and trucks carrying protesters from converging in the town of Juigalpa, east of the capital Managua, said the demonstration was illegal.

(AFP )

With fears rising that the Trump administration will follow through on its threats to raise trade barriers, world finance ministers are united on one message: protectionism threatens the global economy.

Except that the word "protectionism" was omitted from the final statement of the International Monetary Fund's semi-annual meeting Saturday.

"We reaffirm our commitment to... avoid inward-looking policies, and preserve global financial stability," the ministers said in the communique.

(AFP )

The Trump administration's climate skepticism and its possible withdrawal from the landmark Paris Agreement of 2015 drew a cloud over this week's grand economic conclave in Washington.

The regular meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund -- always accompanied by a gathering of G20 finance ministers -- have rung out with calls to action against global warming in recent years.

(AFP )

President Michel Temer insists that a growing corruption scandal in his government will not paralyze Brazil as it struggles to emerge from its deepest recession in history.

"Brazil doesn't stop," he said in an interview broadcast Saturday on Spanish television TVE ahead of a visit Monday by Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. "So it won't be corrupt acts that paralyze the country."

(AFP )

A day before France votes for a new president, expatriates and residents in overseas territories in the Western Hemisphere cast their ballots Saturday, with some hoping to stop a global wave of right-wing nationalism from claiming their country.

Hundreds of thousands of French nationals are eligible to vote in the United States, Canada and Latin America in one of the most unpredictable elections in decades, seen as crucial for the future of a deeply divided country and the European Union.

(AFP )

Mourners raised their arms in a fascist salute as one of the last ministers to serve under former Spanish dictator Francisco Franco, Jose Utrera Molina, was buried Saturday.

Molina, who died at the age of 91, never wavered in his loyalty to the dictator who ruled from 1939 until 1975.

Numerous mourners at Molina's funeral in the resort town of Nerja in southern Spain, where the ex-minister lived, raised their arms as the coffin passed, while some sang the "Cara al sol" anthem of the Spanish Phalanx fascist party, an AFP photographer said.

(AFP )

Pope Francis on Saturday described some of Europe's refugee centres as "concentration camps" as he paid tribute to an unknown Christian woman slain for her faith in front of her Muslim husband.

"These refugee camps -- so many are concentration camps, crowded with people... because international accords seem more important than human rights," Francis said in impromptu remarks at a ceremony in memory of modern day Christian martyrs.

(AFP )

Thousands of Hungarian protestors brandishing satirical placards staged a humourous but seriously intended demonstration Saturday, pouring scorn on the policies of hardline Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

"Down with the press!" "Down with education! and "More demagoguery!" chanted the protestors, demanding that the government build a direct train link with Moscow and North Korea.

The rally, held days before the planned adoption of a new law clamping down on non-governmental organisations (NGOs), was dubbed "Hungary's funniest demonstration" by the country's media.

(AFP )

They are potentially the kingmakers in the first round of France's hard-fought presidential election, but they still haven't made up their minds -- even though voting is just hours away.

"I don't like any of them, they're all disappointing, said 73-year-old Ghislaine Pincont, a pensioner in the northern city of Lille. "At worst, I'll cast a blank vote."

She is among around 25 percent of France's electorate still on the fence ahead of Sunday's poll, which is the most unpredictable in decades.

(AFP )

Armed police arrested a man carrying a knife at Paris's Gare du Nord station Saturday, sparking panic at the international transport hub just days after the jihadist killing of a policeman.

Police sources said that "travellers" pointed out the individual wielding a knife to passing police on patrol, who immediately arrested him.

No one was injured in the incident at Paris's main international terminus and the man offered no resistance to his arrest.

(AFP )

Thousands of people joined a global March for Science on Saturday with Washington the epicenter of a movement to fight against what many see as an "assault on facts" by populist politicians.

US President Donald Trump himself passed dozens of protesters on his way to visit wounded soldiers at a military hospital.

"Stop denying the earth is dying," one sign visible from Trump's motorcade read.

(AFP )

The US supercarrier Carl Vinson will arrive in the Sea of Japan in days, Vice President Mike Pence said Saturday, after days of mixed messages from Washington over the warship's whereabouts.

The strike group was supposedly steaming towards North Korea last week amid soaring tensions over the rogue state's apparent ramping up for a sixth nuclear test, with Pyongyang threatening to hit back at any provocation.

(AFP )

Everton star Ross Barkley received an apology from The Sun tabloid newspaper on Saturday over a column that made "unfavourable comparisons" to a gorilla.

The newspaper printed the apology and said it had not been aware that the England midfielder's grandfather was from Nigeria.

Columnist Kelvin MacKenzie, a former editor of The Sun, had also written that the only other people in Liverpool with Barkley's income were drug dealers.

(AFP )

Activists in French Guiana have lifted strikes that have crippled the territory for almost a month after the government in Paris pledged an aid package worth billions of euros.

A general strike by 37 unions has paralysed the French territory in South America with locals pressing for a "Marshall Plan" along the lines of the huge US economic support given to help western Europe to recover after World War II.

(AFP )

Scientists and their supporters across the globe are expected to march in the thousands Saturday amid growing anxiety over what many see as a mounting political assault on facts and evidence.

Anchored in Washington, with satellite marches planned in more than 600 cities worldwide, the first-ever March for Science was described by organizers as a rallying call for the importance of science in all aspects of daily life.

(AFP )

An unmanned Cygnus cargo ship carrying a load of supplies and science experiments arrived safely at the International Space Station on Saturday, according to live images broadcast on NASA television.

Working from inside the orbiting lab, US astronaut Peggy Whitson and her French counterpart Thomas Pesquet operated the station's external robotic arm to grab the approaching spaceship at 6:05 am (1005 GMT).

(AFP )

More than 100 Afghan soldiers were killed and wounded in a Taliban attack on an army base in northern Afghanistan, the defence ministry said Saturday, the latest in a string of deadly assaults against Afghan military sites.

The ministry did not give a breakdown of the casualties in the hours-long attack near Mazar-i-Sharif city on Friday. The US military has said that "more than 50" Afghan soldiers were killed, while an Afghan army source who was on the base at the time put the death toll as high as 150, with dozens more wounded.

(AFP )

Veteran Italian Michele Scarponi was killed on Saturday after colliding with a van while out training on his bike, his Astana team said, plunging the cycling world into mourning.

"This is a tragedy too big to be written," Astana said in a statement, paying tribute to the 37-year-old, who won the Giro d'Italia in 2011.

"Ciao Michele," Astana wrote on Twitter.

The fatal crash happened on a crossroad near his home in central Italy and he leaves behind a wife and two children, Astana said.

(AFP )

Veteran Italian cyclist Michele Scarponi was killed on Saturday in a road accident while out training on his bike, his Astana team and Italian media said.

"This is a tragedy too big to be written," Astana wrote on Twitter, paying tribute to the 37-year-old, who won the Giro d'Italia in 2011.

"Ciao Michele," Astana added.

(AFP )

Germany's anti-immigration AfD handed its own leader a humiliating setback Saturday five months before a general election, as thousands of demonstrators rallied against its party congress.

The four-year-old Alternative for Germany has harnessed public anger over Chancellor Angela Merkel's decision to let in more than one million asylum seekers since 2015.

But its poll numbers have plunged in recent months as the influx waned, and amid a bitter power struggle between populists and more radical, hard-right forces.

(AFP )

China's first cargo spacecraft, Tianzhou-1, successfully completed docking with an orbiting space lab on Saturday, the Beijing Aerospace Control Center said.

The Tianzhou-1 was launched from the Wenchang Space Launch Center in Hainan province Thursday evening and began to approach the space lab, Tiangong-2, Saturday morning.

It made first contact with the space lab at 12:16 pm on Saturday (04:16 GMT) and docking was completed at 12:23 pm.

(AFP )

Dressed in white, Venezuelan protesters marched in silence on Saturday to demand the ouster of President Nicolas Maduro, a show of defiance after three weeks of unrest that left 20 people dead.

After tense negotiations with security forces blocking their way, protesters in Caracas were allowed to march to their destination, the headquarters of the Catholic bishops' conference.

A brief scuffle took place on the capital's east side, where police fired tear gas to disperse a group of demonstrators trying to join the main march.

(AFP )

Thousands of people rallied in Australia and New Zealand Saturday in support of science, the first of more than 500 marches globally triggered by concern over the rise of "alternative facts".

The March for Science demonstrations come amid growing anxiety over what many see as a mounting political assault on facts and evidence and fears that research is being excluded from policy-making.