Monday 20 November 2017

In the world

(AFP )

Victoria's Secret brings its racy annual fashion show to Shanghai on Monday night, making its debut in China's growing lingerie market in typically brazen style but with added Chinese flair.

English heart-throb Harry Styles headlines the musical acts who will perform as the world's top models strut in skimpy bras and underwear in Shanghai's Mercedes Benz Arena, in what the US lingerie brand dubs the sexiest show on earth.

(AFP )

Japan's "Twitter killer", who is suspected of murdering and dismembering nine people he met on social media, was charged with his first count of homicide on Monday.

Takahiro Shiraishi, 27, is believed to have lured his mostly female victims -- aged between 15 and 26 -- to his apartment near Tokyo, where he killed them and cut up their bodies.

He has admitted murdering all nine, and was Monday charged with the homicide of Aiko Tamura, 23.

(AFP )

Iraq's top court on Monday declared the Kurdish north's independence referendum in September to be unconstitutional, firing a new salvo in the political crisis with the autonomous region.

The legal move marked the latest stage in the dispute between Baghdad and Kurdish regional capital Arbil sparked by the referendum, which resulted in a resounding "yes" vote for independence in the Kurdish area.

(AFP )

Greece's government on Monday announced relief measures for areas hit by flooding as the death toll rose to 20 with two more people missing.

"All households (confirmed to) have sustained damage will receive an emergency benefit of 5,000 euros ($6,000)," government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said in a statement.

The freak flood struck early on Wednesday in the towns of Mandra, Nea Peramos and Megara, some 50 kilometres (30 miles) west of Athens.

The death toll rose to 20 on Sunday after a man's body was recovered in Mandra.

(AFP )

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has defied expectations by not resigning, but the 93-year-old veteran leader could now face an impeachment process initiated by his own party.

Following the army's seizure of power last week, the ruling ZANU-PF party sacked him as its leader over the weekend and the influential veterans' association has called for further mass demonstrations.

Here are some of the possible routes by which Mugabe could leave power:

- Resignation -

(AFP )

More than 5,000 victims of atrocities committed by troops commanded by former Congolese vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba are calling for individual reparations, rights activists said Monday.

International judges sentenced Bemba in June 2016 to 18 years in jail on five charges of war crimes committed when his troops went on a murderous and violent rampage in neighbouring Central African Republic between October 2002 to March 2003.

(AFP )

Charles Manson, the psychopathic guru who masterminded a savage killing spree in the United States in the late 1960s that shocked the world, has died aged 83, California prison officials said.

Manson "died of natural causes at 8:13 pm (0213 GMT Monday) on Sunday" at a hospital in Kern County, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said in a brief statement.

Debra Tate -- the sister of Manson's most famous victim, Sharon Tate -- told celebrity website TMZ that she received a call from prison officials notifying her of Manson's death.

(AFP )

India's opposition Congress party will hold leadership elections next month, an official said Monday, amid growing speculation Rahul Gandhi will take over from his mother as its leader.

Rahul, whose father, grandmother and great-grandfather all served as prime minister, was the centre-left party's front man in the last general election. But his 70-year-old mother Sonia remains its president and still calls the shots.

(AFP )

Germany's veteran Chancellor Angela Merkel has survived multiple crises and outlasted a string of world leaders but now faces a battle for her political life after the collapse of talks to forge a coalition government.

After 12 years at the helm of the EU's biggest economy, the leader often called the world's most powerful woman may now have to contest snap elections at a time she is increasingly described as entering the twilight of her reign.

(AFP )

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted by The International Criminal Court for genocide and war crimes related to the Darfur conflict, will visit Russia on Thursday, the Kremlin said.

The visit will be the long-time Sudanese leader's first official trip to Moscow.

"We can confirm that (a meeting will take place) on Thursday," news agencies quoted Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov as saying.

He did not say whether the Sudanese leader would be meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin or another senior official.

(AFP )

The EU's foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini on Monday hailed "extremely encouraging" talks with Aung San Suu Kyi on the Rohingya crisis, welcoming steps towards the repatriation of Muslims driven from Myanmar into Bangladesh.

But her optimistic tone appeared sharply at odds with the realities on the ground in a crisis that has seen 620,000 Rohingya flee rape, murder and arson in Myanmar's Rakhine state since late August.

(AFP )

Indonesia's parliament speaker has been charged in a major graft scandal thought to have cost the state $170 million, after a bizarre drama that involved a failed raid on his palatial estate.

Setya Novanto, who has previously faced allegations of extortion, is among several politicians accused of taking kickbacks from funds for a government project to issue new ID cards.

The scandal, which came to light earlier this year, caused widespread shock even by the standards of one of the world's most corrupt countries.

(AFP )

As one of very few Serbs to fight on the side of the Bosnian Army, Jovan Divjak cannot take ten steps in Sarajevo without being warmly greeted by people who respect the former general for defending the city and its multiculturalism.

But his vision for a cosmopolitan, multiethnic, multi-religious Bosnia seems further away than ever, with the country more divided now than two decades ago.

"Today there is more hatred among young people than there was during the war," Divjak told AFP.

(AFP )

The fight for some of the most prized spoils of Brexit comes to a climax on Monday when 27 EU states pick the new host cities for two London-based regulatory agencies.

In a process only half-jokingly compared to the Eurovision Song Contest, ministers will vote on where to relocate the European Medicines Agency and European Banking Authority.

(AFP )

It's November 22, 2028 and Sarah, a young mother, gives her two children a kiss goodbye before buckling them into the driverless car that will bring them to school.

Sarah doesn't have a car and has no plans to buy one. Living in a suburb, she has run the numbers and the result is clear: It's much cheaper to order a car only when she needs one.

The "robo-taxi" has also made her life easier, but only after such vehicles upended the business models which carmakers had relied on for decades.

(AFP )

In the battle against the car, space-starved Singapore has deployed road tolls, massive spending on public transport, and a licence fee that bumps the cost of an average vehicle to over $80,000.

But urban planners looking for solutions to gridlock may find the draconian measures hard to replicate in other less-compliant cities.

Singapore has gone further than any other major city to avoid the monster jams that have blighted Asian metropolises such as Jakarta or Manila.

(AFP )

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday played down suggestions US President Donald Trump confused her with Canadian leader Justin Trudeau’s wife at a summit in Asia last week.

Trudeau was supposedly making the introductions as Ardern attended her first major forum since taking office last month when Trump mixed-up the 37-year-old with the Canadian leader's partner Sophie.

It was reportedly several minutes before he realised his mistake at the East Asia Summit in Manila.

(AFP )

UN peacekeeping hit a rock-bottom low when blue helmets in Bosnia failed to prevent the Srebrenica massacre in 1995, a year after peacekeepers pulled out of Rwanda as it was convulsed by mass atrocities.

The debacles in Bosnia and Rwanda loom large over UN peace operations to this day and have brought about a shift toward more robust missions focused on protecting civilians.

Two decades later, UN peacekeepers are still tested in their mandate to protect, from South Sudan to Haiti.

- SOUTH SUDAN -

(AFP )

Germany could be forced to hold new elections after high stakes talks for a coalition collapsed Sunday between Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative CDU-CSU alliance, ecologist Greens and pro-business FDP.

Here are some possible scenarios for Europe's biggest economy:

- New round of negotiations? -

Merkel could suggest a cooling off period for the four parties which have been locked in talks for more than a month, before coming together again for a new round of negotiations.

(AFP )

Thousands of people marched, danced and celebrated in Rio de Janeiro's gay pride parade on Sunday, packing Copacabana Beach despite the ultra-conservative mayor's opposition to the event.

With Mayor Marcelo Crivella -- an evangelical Christian -- in office, it was the first time in 22 years that city funds were barred from paying for part of the parade.

Private businesses did chip in to try to keep the march funded, but there were only six floats in the parade, down from 12 last year, when 600,000 people participated.

(AFP )

Syria's army and loyalist militiamen Sunday ousted the Islamic State group from its last urban stronghold in the country as regime strikes claimed more lives in a rebel-held enclave near Damascus.

The army said it had taken full control of Albu Kamal in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor, which has changed hands several times.

Government forces announced the capture of the town near the Iraqi border earlier this month but lost it to a blistering IS counter-attack a week ago.

(AFP )

A 31-year-old French police officer shot three people dead before turning the gun on himself, in a killing spree sparked by a row with his girlfriend, authorities said Sunday.

The news comes with France already grappling with a surge in police suicides this year.

The Paris officer, Arnaud Martin, finished his shift on Saturday evening and went to meet his girlfriend in Sarcelles, a suburb north of the capital city, to discuss ending their relationship.

(AFP )

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Sunday formally rejected a request to pardon a soldier convicted of manslaughter for shooting dead a prone Palestinian assailant, Rivlin's office said.

"President Reuven Rivlin today took the decision to deny the request for pardon filed by Elor Azaria," it said in an English-language statement, exactly one month after the jailed soldier submitted his request.

On July 30, a military court turned down Azaria's appeal against his conviction for manslaughter and upheld an 18-month prison sentence, which he began serving on August 9.

(AFP )

Donald Trump on Sunday said he was sorry for helping secure the release of three college basketball players caught shoplifting in China, after one of their fathers downplayed the president's role.

The UCLA trio of LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill were briefly detained for stealing from a Louis Vuitton store in the city of Hangzhou earlier this month in what became a minor diplomatic incident.

Upon their return they held a press conference to apologize and thank the president as well as the Chinese government for letting them go without prosecution.

(AFP )

The boss of major German television channel will leave his post earlier than expected, the company said Sunday, after he sparked anger by describing core viewers as "a bit fat and a bit poor".

"Thomas Ebeling will leave the company after the first financial results press conference on February 22, 2018," the private channel, ProSiebenSat.1, said in a statement.

"The agreement was made today between the chief executive and the supervisory board."

No reference to the disputed comments was made in the statement.

(AFP )

Bahrain's foreign minister said Sunday that Lebanon is under the "total control" of the Iran-backed Hezbollah movement, in a speech at an Arab League meeting called by Riyadh.

"The Lebanese Republic, in spite of our relations with it as a brotherly Arab nation... is under the total control of this terrorist party," said Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa, referring to the powerful Shiite movement.

"Iran's biggest arm in the region at the moment is the terrorist Hezbollah arm," Sheikh Khalid charged.

(AFP )

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Sunday formally rejected a request to pardon a soldier convicted of manslaughter for shooting dead a prone Palestinian assailant, Rivlin's office said.

"President Reuven Rivlin today took the decision to deny the request for pardon filed by Elor Azaria," it said in an English-language statement, exactly one month after the jailed soldier submitted his request.

On July 30, a military court turned down Azaria's appeal against his conviction for manslaughter and upheld an 18-month prison sentence, which he began serving on August 9.

(AFP )

Brazil promotes itself as a harmonious blend of races, but the reality as the country celebrates Black Awareness Day on Monday is that the darker your skin, the less chance you have of getting ahead.

The numbers are hard to ignore.

According to the state statistics office, only about five percent of management jobs are held by non-whites, who account for 54 percent of the population, according to the latest census.

(AFP )

A 31-year-old French police officer shot three people dead before turning the gun on himself, in a killing spree sparked by a row with his girlfriend, authorities said Sunday.

The news comes with France already grappling with a surge in police suicides this year

The Paris officer, Arnaud Martin, finished his shift on Saturday evening and went to meet his girlfriend in Sarcelles, a suburb north of the capital city, to discuss ending their relationship.

(AFP )

French authorities will stop Muslims from praying in a street north of Paris, the country's interior minister said Sunday, after a series of protests by lawmakers and locals over what they view as an unacceptable use of public space.

"They will not have prayers on the street, we will prevent street praying," Interior Minister Gerard Collomb told Questions Politics (Franceinfo, France Inter, Le Monde).

(AFP )

European Council President Donald Tusk on Sunday questioned whether tensions between Poland's rightwing government with Ukraine and the EU is a "Kremlin plan".

"Alarm!" warned Tusk, a former liberal prime minister of Poland, on his personal Twitter account.

"Intense dispute with Ukraine, isolation within the European Union, departure from the rule of law and judicial independence, attack on the non-governmental sector and free media - is this PiS strategy or the Kremlin's plan? Too similar to sleep peacefully," he said in Polish.

(AFP )

The Syrian army and loyalist militiamen Sunday retook full control of Albu Kamal from the Islamic State group, a military source said, ousting the jihadists from their last urban stronghold in Syria.

Albu Kamal has changed hands several times, with government forces announcing the capture of the town near the Iraqi border earlier this month but losing it to a blistering IS counter-attack a week ago.

"Syrian troops and allied forces took full control of Albu Kamal, and are removing mines and explosives left by IS," the military source in Deir Ezzor told AFP on Sunday.

(AFP )

Chinese authorities on Sunday launched an investigation into a fire in a low-income Beijing housing block that killed 19 people, as workers evacuated hundreds from nearby apartments and demolished other buildings.

Authorities are still probing the cause of the Saturday night blaze that also injured eight people, according to a statement from the Beijing city government.

(AFP )

Pope Francis called on Sunday to fight indifference to poverty on what has been dubbed the first "World Day for the Poor" by the Catholic Church.

Celebrating the event in Rome at a mass attended by about 7,000 poor people at St. Peter's Basilica, the Pope urged people not to ignore poverty by believing that "it's not my business, it's the fault of society".

"We have the talents, we are talented in the eyes of God. Consequently, no one can think that he or she is useless, so poor as to be incapable of giving something to others," he said.

(AFP )

Turkish authorities on Sunday announced a ban on all LGBTI cultural events in Ankara province until further notice to "maintain public order".

The move follows a ban on a festival of German-language gay films in the capital on Thursday, imposed on the grounds it could incite hatred and be at risk from terror attacks.

"Since (Saturday) 18 November and until further notice, all film and theatre events, screenings, panels, colloquium, exhibitions, etc... have been banned," the Ankara administration said on its website.