Monday 19 February 2018

In the world

(AFP )

The UN Security Council is considering a draft resolution that would condemn Iran for violating the arms embargo on Yemen and call for measures to address this violation, according to the text obtained by AFP on Monday.

The proposed resolution drafted by Britain is in response to a report by a UN panel of experts which found that missiles fired by Yemen's Huthi rebels at Saudi Arabia last year were made in Iran.

The Security Council is expected to vote on the draft later this month, but it remains unclear whether Russia would back any move that punishes Iran.

(AFP )

Latvia's financial sector was left reeling Monday after anti-corruption officials arrested its central bank chief over an alleged bribe and the country's third-largest bank's payments were frozen amid accusations of money laundering.

While the Baltic eurozone member's government held an emergency meeting Monday to address governor Ilmars Rimsevics's weekend arrest, the European Central Bank (ECB) dealt an unrelated blow to the sector by announcing it was freezing payments by the private-sector ABLV bank.

(AFP )

In the middle of the night dozens of miners stand guard in a small town in eastern Ukraine, blocking access to their mine where thousands of employees are on strike over unpaid wages.

In all, four mines run by the state company Selidivvugillya (Selydove Coal)have been paralysed by strike action since last Wednesday.

Most of the company's 10,000 employees have downed tools.

"So are we slaves?", a tall middle-aged man shouts to a crowd huddling in the cold and encased in he smoke from makeshift wood-burning stoves.

(AFP )

Advice issued by black activists in Rio de Janeiro on "surviving" interactions with police -- including warning against carrying umbrellas that may be mistaken for guns -- went viral Monday.

In an approximately three minute video, which was quickly shared more than 54,000 times on Facebook, three men said their tips would be needed during a new crackdown led by the army on crime in Rio.

"Unfortunately we blacks are always targets for abuse and retaliations, so if you're black pay attention to what we're telling you," they say.

(AFP )

Spain's interior minister pledged Monday to send more police to the southern province of Cadiz, vowing the area would "not be dominated by narcos" who have openly defied security forces.

Drug traffickers in the southern region of Andalusia are operating in an increasingly brazen manner that has authorities worried -- attacking police, unloading drugs in broad daylight and even storming a hospital to free a suspected drug trafficker earlier this month.

(AFP )

A homophobic video urging Russians to re-elect President Vladimir Putin has gone viral less than a month before the country's election.

The video, which appeared on social media on Friday, tells voters that if Putin's rivals win they will take Russia into a "nightmare" future in which they are forced to co-habitate with gay men.

The video stars well-known screen actors but it was unclear who published it.

It has had more than three million views on the Facebook page of pro-Kremlin political analyst Alexander Kazakov.

(AFP )

A policeman died from a head wound on Monday sustained as people protested over delayed local election results in Guinea and teachers went on strike over pay, a police spokesman said.

Thousands of young people have been demonstrating in the Guinean capital, Conakry, over the failure to announce results to the February 4 election, while a teachers' strike has also entered its second week.

"A policeman died in the disorder around Koloma (a Conakry suburb). A projectile hit him in the head," police spokesman Mamadou Alpha Barry said.

(AFP )

A linchpin of South Africa's Gupta business family, which has been closely associated with ex-president Jacob Zuma, fought back Monday against a corruption probe by contesting an assets freeze.

Atul Gupta applied to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to force investigators probing a suspect farming scheme to release 10 million rand ($856,000) in frozen assets.

"Atul Gupta is challenging the court, he is requesting the court to reconsider the preservation order," NPA spokesman Luvuyo Mfaku told AFP, confirming receipt of Atul's application.

(AFP )

The Somali government announced Monday it has appointed new police and intelligence chiefs, nearly four months after their predecessors were sacked following the deadliest ever terror attack in the war-torn nation.

Former deputy health minister Hussein Osman Hussein has been named head of Somalia's intelligence service, while deputy head of police Bashir Abdi Mohamed has been promoted to police chief, in a country that faces frequent attacks by Al-Qaeda-affiliated Shabaab militants.

(AFP )

A doping case involving a medal-winning Russian curler rocked the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics on Monday, as Mikaela Shiffrin's turbulent Games took another twist when she pulled out of the downhill skiing.

Alexander Krushelnitsky's failed drug test came to light a week after he won mixed doubles bronze with his wife, Anastasia Bryzgalova, and could extend Russia's suspension from the Olympics.

The case, now with the Court of Arbitration for Sport, will be considered by Olympic officials deciding whether to lift Russia's ban in time for Sunday's closing ceremony.

(AFP )

US President Donald Trump signaled support Monday for a bipartisan effort to improve a national system of background checks for gun purchases, as urgent calls for reform swell in the wake of the Florida school shooting.

"While discussions are ongoing and revisions are being considered, the president is supportive of efforts to improve the Federal background check system," White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement.

(AFP )

France accused Equatorial Guinea Monday of wanting to "paralyse" French criminal procedure in a top-level corruption probe, as it urged judges to throw out a case against it before the UN's top court.

Malabo has dragged Paris before the International Court of Justice in a bitter diplomatic row, accusing it of violating the diplomatic immunity of its vice president Teodorin Obiang.

(AFP )

Former British football trainer Barry Bennell was sentenced to 30 years in prison on Monday for abusing 12 boys he coached between 1979 and 1991, with the judge branding him "sheer evil".

Bennell, 64, who coached at Manchester City and other teams, was found guilty last week of dozens of child sexual offences, including indecent assault, buggery and attempted buggery.

Police have said scores more complainants have come forward since the case started, bringing the number of possible victims to more than 100.

(AFP )

Heavy Syrian bombardment killed 44 civilians in rebel-held Eastern Ghouta on Monday, as regime forces appeared to prepare for an imminent ground assault.

The escalation came as pro-government forces were expected to enter the northern Kurdish-controlled enclave of Afrin, to take a stand against a month-old Turkish assault there.

Held by rebels since 2012, Eastern Ghouta is the last opposition pocket around Damascus and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has dispatched reinforcements there in an apparent bid to retake it.

(AFP )

Germany's far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) would beat the centre-left Social Democrats and become the country's second-largest party if elections were held now, a survey found Monday.

The Insa poll, carried out for the top-selling Bild newspaper, put the AfD ahead of the crisis-wracked Social Democratic Party for the first time.

Support for the 153-year-old SPD has fallen from 20.5 percent in September's general election to 15.5 percent, it found, while the AfD climbed from 12.7 to 16 percent.

(AFP )

A Catholic bishop in southern Nigeria has resigned after the Vatican failed to quell fierce objections over his nomination because he did not belong to a local clan of the Igbo ethnic group.

The Vatican announced the resignation of Monsignor Peter Ebere Okpaleke on Monday, six years after Pope Francis's predecessor Benedict XVI named him to the post.

Okpaleke, who hails from neighbouring Anambra state, was never able to take up the post because the priests and laypeople of the diocese insisted that their bishop belong to an Igbo clan native to Ahiara's Imo state.

(AFP )

The street in Ankara where the US embassy is located was renamed after Turkey's offensive against a Kurdish militia on Monday, just days after the two sides agreed on the need to normalise relations.

Already tense ties were strained further when Ankara started a ground and air offensive dubbed "Olive Branch" last month against the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) in its enclave of Afrin in western Syria.

(AFP )

Angela Merkel on Monday tapped the popular female premier of Germany's tiny Saarland state to take over as secretary general of her conservative party, fuelling speculation the veteran chancellor is lining up her successor.

At a joint Berlin press conference, Merkel said she was "moved" that close confidante Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, 55, would take the reins from her right-hand man Peter Tauber at "a difficult time" for their Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party.

(AFP )

French President Emmanuel Macron faces a difficult week as lawmakers weigh up a controversial bill that toughens France's stance on migrants, with even some of his own party reluctant to back it.

After France processed a record 100,000 asylum applications last year, Macron vowed to grant asylum faster but also to deport economic migrants more swiftly, while better integrating those who stay.

(AFP )

Heavy Syrian regime bombardment of rebel-held Eastern Ghouta killed at least 18 civilians on Monday, a monitor said, as government forces appeared to prepare for a ground assault.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said air strikes battered the town of Hammuriyeh in Eastern Ghouta, leaving nine civilians dead.

Another nine, including a woman, were killed in air raids, artillery fire, and rockets that hit elsewhere in the enclave.

(AFP )

At least 14 people were killed when a rubbish mound collapsed in a poor district of Mozambique's capital Maputo, crushing several nearby homes, emergency services said.

Torrential rain is thought to have caused the loose waste to shift and crash down on the shacks, trapping the occupants who were sleeping at the time of the incident on Sunday night.

Mozambique's emergency service warned there could be more victims, trapped under the vast waste pile which is located in the Hulene district of the capital.

(AFP )

Russia's government on Monday insisted there was no evidence that it meddled in the US elections, after Washington indicted 13 Russians for alleged covert efforts to sway voters.

"There are no indications that the Russian government could be involved in this," President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists.

It was the Kremlin's first comment since the indictments were filed on Friday by a US special prosecutor as part of a federal government probe.

(AFP )

Russia is investigating whether the gunman behind a deadly attack on an Orthodox church in the North Caucasus had extremist ties, the Kremlin said Monday after Islamic State claimed the shooting.

"There is an investigation into whether the attacker was linked to extremist organisations," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists a day after five women were shot dead near an Orthodox church in Kizlyar, a town in the Dagestan region.

(AFP )

A new anti-Brexit centrist political party holds its official launch in London Monday, one of several initiatives by pro-European Union campaigners drawing hope from a perceived shift in the British public's mood.

"We aim to reverse Brexit and restore our influential position in Europe, allowing us to focus on what really matters in the UK," the party, called Renew, said on its website ahead of the launch in central London.

(AFP )

Israeli warplanes carried out a fresh round of strikes in the Gaza Strip on Monday after a rocket fired by Palestinians slammed into southern Israel, the army said.

The cross-border exchange followed a weekend escalation in violence seen as among the most serious since Israel and the coastal enclave's Hamas rulers fought a war in 2014.

But the Islamist militant group was quick to say that it did not seek further confrontation.

(AFP )

France on Monday urged the UN's top court to throw out a case brought against it in a bitter diplomatic row with oil-rich Equatorial Guinea over French accusations of top-level corruption.

"France has not accepted the jurisdiction of this court under any title whatsoever to entertain those facts on which Equatorial Guinea seeks the court to rule," the French representative Francois Alabrune told the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

(AFP )

Former English Premier League strikers Diafra Sakho and Brown Ideye scored their first goals for new clubs on a mainly low-key weekend for Africans across Europe.

Senegalese Sakho, who joined French Ligue 1 outfit Rennes from West Ham United, equalised and then put the visitors ahead in a 2-2 draw at Caen.

Nigerian Ideye, whose many previous clubs include West Bromwich Albion, netted for Spanish La Liga strugglers Malaga in a 2-1 home defeat by Valencia.

SPAIN

BROWN IDEYE (Malaga)

(AFP )

Pro-government fighters were expected Monday to enter Syria's Afrin after talks with Kurdish forces, in a move that could pave the way for a settlement in a month-old Turkish assault on the northern enclave.

"Popular forces will arrive in Afrin within a few hours to support its people's stand against the Turkish regime's attack on the area and its people," state news agency SANA said, citing its correspondent in Aleppo.

SANA said the forces would "join the resistance against the Turkish aggression".

(AFP )

The popular female premier of tiny Saarland state is set to take over as secretary general of Angela Merkel's conservative party, sources said Monday, fuelling speculation the chancellor is lining up her potential successor.

Merkel is expected to tap Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer to take the reins from close ally Peter Tauber, who at the weekend said he was stepping down for health reasons.

The announcement will be made at a meeting of top brass from Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party later on Monday, sources close to the party told AFP.

(AFP )

A medium intensity earthquake struck southwestern Mexico early Monday morning, scaring residents already shaken by a powerful quake two days earlier, though there were no immediate reports of casualties or damage.

The US Geological Survey said its magnitude was 5.9 and it struck at a depth of 40.2 kilometers (25 miles), some 32 kilometers (20 miles) northeast of the town of Santa Catarina Mechoacan in Oaxaca state at 0657 GMT.

"So far, no impact has been reported," the country's Civil Protection agency tweeted.

(AFP )

They thought the worst was over.

The 7.2-magnitude earthquake that shook Mexico on Friday evening hit right near their hometown, the southern city of Santiago Jamiltepec, but the damage was minor.

No one died. People's houses were still standing.

In fact, the entire country was breathing a sigh of relief. Unlike previous earthquakes that killed hundreds or thousands of people in Mexico, this one claimed no lives and left minimal destruction.

Still, there is always the fear of aftershocks.

(AFP )

Iranian rescue teams resumed their search on Monday for a passenger plane that disappeared high in the Zagros mountains the previous day with 66 people onboard, local media reported.

State television said the weather had improved after blizzard conditions hampered search efforts Sunday, and that helicopters were now able to take part in the hunt for Aseman Airlines flight EP3704.

The authorities had called off the rescue effort overnight as heavy snow and rain made it impossible to work.

(AFP )

The couple who took in Florida school shooter Nikolas Cruz after his mother's death have described him as quirky but pleasant and seemingly on the right track, saying they had no idea they had a "monster living under our roof."

Cruz, 19, moved in with James and Kimberly Snead of Parkland, Florida in late November after his adoptive mother died earlier that month from complications of pneumonia, they told the South Florida Sun Sentinel in an interview published Sunday.

He was a friend of their son.

(AFP )

British Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday described the behaviour of some Oxfam staff in Haiti as "horrific" after the charity released an internal report revealing that a former top official admitted to paying for sex and three staff threatened a witness.

"The behaviour that we've now discovered was horrific," May said during a visit to a London school.

"It was far below the standards that we expect for the charities and the NGOs that we're working with."

(AFP )

A fire gutted a textiles market in Haiti's capital on Sunday, less than a week after a blaze partially destroyed a historic market, underscoring authorities' failure to ensure public safety.

Officials in Port-au-Prince sent in the few fire trucks available to fight the blaze. They were reinforced by private water tankers and police and UN vehicles outfitted with water cannons, normally used for crowd control

The capital's mayor voiced regret at authorities' poor capacity to protect people in Haiti, the most impoverished nation in the Americas.