In the world | Africatime
Monday 27 March 2017

In the world

(AFP )

Lashing rain and howling winds battered northeast Australia Tuesday as towns went into lockdown ahead of a "monster" cyclone making landfall, with thousands evacuated amid fears of damage and tidal surges.

Cyclone Debbie is expected to cross the Queensland state coast as a category four storm -- on a scale of five -- packing destructive wind gusts of up to 280 kmh (174 miles) near its wide core.

(AFP )

The US ambassador to the United Nations received a rapturous welcome Monday at Washington's biggest pro-Israel forum, where she vowed never to allow "Israel-bashing" at the world body.

Nikki Haley was addressing the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference for the first time since President Donald Trump named her Washington's UN envoy.

And she drew a clear line under the record of her predecessor, who in December abstained from a UN Security Council vote, thus allowing a resolution criticizing Israeli settlements to pass.

(AFP )

The Pentagon said Monday it was reviewing more than 700 video feeds of coalition air strikes on west Mosul, Iraq after reports of a large number of civilians killed in bombings.

Amid rising concern over a jump in civilian casualties in fighting in Iraq and Syria, Colonel J.T. Thomas, a spokesman for the US Central Command, said they were putting a high priority on investigating the Mosul reports.

(AFP )

US President Donald Trump's hardline anti-immigrant policies are likely to dominate a summit of leaders of Mexico, Central America and Colombia this week meant to focus on regional infrastructure, analysts said.

The gathering, officially the 16th Tuxtla Summit, named after the Mexican city where the first took place in 1991, will be held Wednesday in Costa Rica's capital San Jose.

Foreign ministers of the 10-country group will hold a preparatory meeting Tuesday.

(AFP )

The US Senate voted overwhelmingly Monday to advance the approval of Montenegro as the newest member of NATO, in what supporters of the alliance's expansion argue would send a stern message to Russia.

The procedural step, which advanced on a 97-2 vote, sets up a final approval in the chamber in the coming days.

President Donald Trump's administration has encouraged lawmakers to back the small Balkan nation's bid.

(AFP )

Numerous pitch invasions forced Monday's friendly between Ivory Coast and Senegal in Paris to be abandoned before full-time.

The sides were level at 1-1 when French referee Tony Chapron called off the match in the 88th minute as fans from both sides flooded onto the pitch.

Liverpool forward Sadio Mane had given Senegal the lead on 67 minutes from the penalty spot but Fulham's Cyriac Gohi Bi equalised for the Ivorians just four minutes later.

But after the latest in a number of pitch invasions, Chapron had had enough and the game was brought to a premature end.

(AFP )

British police said Monday they had found no link between the man behind last week's terror attack outside the British parliament and the Islamic State group, which had claimed him as one of its "soldiers".

The statement came as 52-year-old Muslim convert Khalid Masood's mother spoke out for the first time, saying she was "deeply shocked, saddened and numbed, and relatives of the US victim voiced their grief.

(AFP )

More than 100 people in Belarus appeared in court on Monday over protests at the weekend against hardline President Alexander Lukashenko, with dozens of them jailed, including journalists.

The Viasna rights group, whose offices were raided by police during the Saturday protest, said 111 people were sentenced in the capital Minsk for participating in the rally, and 20 others in other Belarusian cities.

By Monday evening at least 40 people had been punished with jail time of between four to 25 days, according to Viasna, with others awaiting trial.

(AFP )

Hungary said Monday it was ready to begin detaining asylum-seekers in camps on its southern border with Serbia after passing a law this month that has drawn criticism from rights groups and the UN.

Hungary's parliament approved on March 7 the systematic detention of all asylum-seekers in camps on the border composed of converted shipping containers.

The move was part of policies by hardline anti-immigration Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, a strong admirer of US President Donald Trump.

(AFP )

A man and his three-year-old son were killed Monday when their car collided with a train at an unmanned crossing in the northern Netherlands, Dutch police said.

They had been taking part in a school outing to see baby lambs when the accident happened, the public broadcaster NOS said. Their car was dragged for some 250 metres (yards) by the train after the collision, it added.

"Two fatally wounded in rail accident at #Harlingen," police said on Twitter. They later identified them as "a 31-year-old man from Harlingen and his three-year-old son."

(AFP )

The British government gave Northern Ireland's main parties extra time to form a power-sharing government after a deadline to resolve their bitter differences expired just two days before the launch of Brexit.

The main two parties in the British province abandoned talks before the 4:00 pm (1500 GMT) deadline following a snap election triggered by the bad blood between them.

James Brokenshire, Britain's Northern Ireland minister, gave the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Sinn Fein limited additional time to resolve their differences.

(AFP )

Hanane Charrihi never felt shunned by the country of her birth until a radical drove a truck through a crowd celebrating France's national holiday in Nice, killing 86 people, including her mother.

Born in the Riviera city to Moroccan parents, the 27-year-old was still trying to come to terms with her loss when she suffered the added ignominy of being told she was no longer welcome in France -- as she grieved at the site of the carnage.

(AFP )

At the age of 16, Darya Moroz is too young to vote in Russia but she sneaked out to join the opposition protest in Moscow on Sunday -- without telling her parents.

"I didn't tell them because I was afraid of arguments," Moroz said after she came out to support opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

"I just said I was going for a walk."

She was not alone. The unauthorised protest in Moscow on Sunday drew unprecedented numbers of students and others born after President Vladimir Putin came to power in 2000, who have known only his rule.

(AFP )

Turkish voters in Germany, as deeply split as those in their ancestral homeland, started casting early ballots on Monday in a referendum that could vastly boost President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's powers.

Hundreds of expatriates lined up at consulates in Germany, which has 1.4 million eligible Turkish voters, and in five other European countries ahead of the controversial April 16 plebiscite.

(AFP )

A wooden replica of Citroen's iconic "2CV", crafted by a French cabinetmaker using a mix of lumbers including apple, pear and cherry, is ready to hit the road.

Pensioner Michel Robillard took six years to complete his most ambitious creation to date: a fully operational version of the car dubbed the "Umbrella on Wheels", built completely by hand and almost entirely out of wood.

(AFP )

US President Donald Trump will on Tuesday roll back a slew of environmental protections enacted by Barack Obama, in a bid to untether the fossil fuel industry.

In a maiden trip to the Environmental Protection Agency, Trump will sign an "Energy Independence Executive Order," a White House official told AFP.

The new president will unveil a series of measures to review regulation curbing oil, gas and coal production and limiting carbon emissions.

(AFP )

A panel advising Pope Francis on child protection has called on the Vatican to react "directly and compassionately" to letters from victims of clerical sex abuse, reviving an issue that unleashed a storm just weeks ago.

The Pontifical Commission on the Protection of Minors made the recommendation after a weekend meeting.

It was the panel's first meeting since Marie Collins, an Irish survivor of abuse, angrily quit after a similar request was turned down.

(AFP )

British Prime Minister Theresa May travels to Scotland on Monday to try to avert its independence bid while also fighting a political crisis in Northern Ireland in the frantic final days before she launches Brexit.

With Britain still reeling from a terror attack at the gates of parliament, May is preparing to embark on a journey out of the European Union this week that will change Britain and the EU forever.

(AFP )

German Chancellor Angela Merkel Monday welcomed a surprise state poll triumph by her party as "encouraging" for a September general election, as hype around her main rival fizzled in its first test.

With just six months to go until voters decide whether Merkel will have a fourth term, the election in the tiny southwestern state of Saarland Sunday took on outsized importance.

Voters returned Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) to power with 41 percent of the vote, five points higher than at the last election in 2012.

(AFP )

Life in French Guiana was severely disrupted by a general strike on Monday that closed schools and shops and stoked fears of further instability in one of France's overseas territories.

The French government appealed for calm in the South American territory which has been gripped by protests since last week over security and the state of the economy.

"The first priority is the fight against insecurity," French President Francois Hollande said of the crisis that has elbowed its way into the country's presidential election campaign.

(AFP )

Once a flourishing community, only a handful of Egyptian Jews, mostly elderly women, remain in the Arab world's most populous country, aiming at least to preserve their heritage.

Egypt still has about a dozen synagogues, but like many of the country's monuments they need restoration. Part of the roof of a synagogue in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria caved in last year.

In downtown Cairo, a bustling street lined with old hotels and shops leads to an imposing stone building modelled after an ancient Egyptian temple: the Sha'ar Hashamayim synagogue, built around 1900.

(AFP )

Anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny has cemented his status as leader of Russia's opposition movement by organising the largest unauthorised protest in recent years against President Vladimir Putin's rule.

The clean-cut lawyer, 40, who was arrested at Sunday's demonstration in Moscow, is no stranger to clashes with the Kremlin.

He has spent time under house arrest and seen his brother jailed in a string of cases he has denounced as retribution for his challenging authorities and exposing the vast wealth of the president's inner circle.

(AFP )

Iraqi forces renewed their assault Monday against jihadists in Mosul's Old City, after days in which the battle was overshadowed by reports of heavy civilian casualties from air strikes.

Iraqi forces began the massive operation to retake west Mosul from the Islamic State (IS) group last month and have recaptured a series of neighbourhoods, but the battle poses a major threat to civilians in the city.

(AFP )

US-backed forces battled the Islamic State group around a key Syrian town Monday, after the capture of an airbase brought them closer to besieging the jihadists in their stronghold Raqa.

Backed by air power from the US-led coalition that has been bombing IS since 2014, the Syrian Democratic Forces are laying the groundwork for an assault on the heart of the jihadists' so-called "caliphate".

Operations are currently focused on the strategically important town of Tabqa on the Euphrates River, and the adjacent dam and military airport.

(AFP )

An avalanche Monday killed seven Japanese high school students and a teacher on a mountain-climbing outing, and injured 40 more.

More than 100 troops were deployed in a major rescue mission after the avalanche hit ski slopes in Tochigi prefecture north of Tokyo. Television footage showed rescuers climbing the mountainside as ambulances stood by.

A total of 52 students and 11 teachers from seven high schools were on a three-day mountaineering expedition when disaster struck.

(AFP )

US President Donald Trump has tapped son-in-law Jared Kushner to lead a new White House office, that aims to apply ideas from the business world to help streamline the government, the Washington Post reported Sunday.

The White House Office of Innovation is to be unveiled Monday with sweeping authority to overhaul the bureaucracy and fulfill key campaign promises like reforming care for veterans and fighting opioid addiction, the Post said.

(AFP )

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was sentenced to 15 days behind bars and fined Monday after staging the biggest anti-corruption protests in years, an act branded a "provocation" by the Kremlin.

The United States and the European Union voiced deep concern after Navalny and more than 1,000 others were detained in the Moscow protest on Sunday, with the State Department calling the arrests an "affront to democracy".

(AFP )

A young Bangladeshi girl diagnosed with a rare condition known as "tree man syndrome" has left hospital, her father told AFP Monday, saying he feared she would never be cured.

Surgeons operated on Sahana Khatun last month and removed some of the bark-like growths she has developed from the extremely rare condition of epidermodysplasia verruciformisa.

The 10-year-old is believed to be the first female in the world to suffer from the condition, also known as "tree man syndrome", and was being treated for free by the Dhaka Medical College Hospital.

(AFP )

Thousands of people marched in major cities in Chile Sunday to demand an end to a privatized pension system put in place more than 35 years ago under the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.

Banging drums and carrying signs and banners, protesters marched through central Santiago to express opposition to the pension system, known by its Spanish acronym as AFP.

"We are going to put an end to the AFP, like it or not," said Luis Mesina, coordinator of the protest movement and leader of the peaceful march in Santiago.

(AFP )

Police cracked down on Hong Kong democracy activists Monday, saying they would be charged over the Umbrella Movement mass protests, a day after a pro-Beijing candidate was chosen as the city's new leader.

Carrie Lam was selected as the new chief executive Sunday by a committee dominated by pro-China voters, but promised to try to unify the deeply divided city.

The vote was dismissed as a sham by democracy campaigners who fear Beijing is tightening its grip on semi-autonomous Hong Kong and say Lam will be no different from its unpopular current leader, Leung Chun-ying.

(AFP )

Tatiana Panova holds a photograph of her great-grandfather as a solemn-faced student in 1923 in the Soviet Union, around 16 years before he died in a prison camp during the Stalin purges.

While Alexander Yakovlev's death was over half a century before her birth, Panova, 25, has gained a tiny window into his thoughts and life thanks to an aged diary that her family preserved.

(AFP )

More than 100 countries on Monday launched the first UN talks aimed at achieving a legally binding ban on nuclear weapons, as Washington led an international boycott of a process it deems unrealistic.

Before the conference had even begun, the US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, spoke out to reject the proposal in the light of current global security threats.

"As a mom and a daughter there is nothing I want more for my family than a world with no nuclear weapons," Haley, who represents the world's largest nuclear power, said on the sidelines of the meeting.

(AFP )

Tatiana Panova holds a photograph of her great-grandfather as a solemn-faced student in 1923 in the Soviet Union, around 16 years before he died in a prison camp during the Stalin purges.

While Alexander Yakovlev's death was over half a century before her birth, Panova, 25, has gained a tiny window into his thoughts and life thanks to an aged diary that her family preserved.

(AFP )

Indonesian toddler Salsa Djafar was wearing a glittering golden crown decorated with ribbons and a shiny purple dress to mark a special occasion -- her circumcision day.

At the celebrations attended by relatives, shrieks filled the modest, yellow-walled house in remote Gorontalo province as a traditional healer covered the 18-month-old girl with a white sheet and sliced skin off her genitals.

The healer used a knife to remove a tiny piece of skin from the hood that covers the clitoris -- which she said looked like a "garlic skin" -- then stuck the knife into a lemon.

(AFP )

South Korean prosecutors sought an arrest warrant on Monday for ousted president Park Geun-Hye, days after questioning her over the corruption and abuse of power scandal that brought her down.

Park, 65, had her removal from office confirmed by the country's top court earlier this month, ending her executive immunity, and her prosecution has been a key demand of the millions of people who took to the streets to protest against her.

The former president is accused of multiple offences including bribery, leaking government information and abuse of power in the scandal.