Saturday 19 August 2017

In the world

(AFP )

Finnish police said Saturday that after new information a stabbing spree that left two people dead was now considered a terrorist attack, identifying the suspect as an 18-year-old Moroccan citizen.

Police shot and wounded the knife-wielding suspect on Friday, arresting him minutes after an afternoon stabbing rampage at a busy market square in Turku in southwestern Finland.

(AFP )

Nearly 600 people have died and millions have been affected by monsoon floods in South Asia, officials said Saturday, as relief and rescue operations continued.

Indian authorities sought military help in two districts of northern Uttar Pradesh state after heavy rains left hundreds of villages marooned.

As many as 33 out of 75 districts in the state are reeling from floods that have left 55 people dead.

"We have sought army's help to reach out to the affected people," T P Gupta, a senior official from the state's diaster management authority, told AFP.

(AFP )

A man stabbed seven people on the street in Russia's far north Saturday before being shot dead by police but investigators said that his motive was most likely not terrorism.

The incident took place on Saturday morning in the city of Surgut, where the man "carried out attacks on passers-by, causing stab wounds", said Russia's Investigative Committee which probes major crimes.

It said armed police called to the scene had "liquidated" the attacker.

(AFP )

Lebanese troops launched an offensive against the Islamic State group on Saturday close to the Syrian border where the jihadists have been active for several years.

The operation follows one by Shiite militant group Hezbollah last month against jihadists in another border area further south.

Hezbollah is deeply embroiled in the civil war that has raged in neighbouring Syria since 2011, fighting in support of President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

(AFP )

Finnish police arrested five people in a Turku apartment overnight in their investigation into a stabbing rampage that left two people dead, they said Saturday.

Police shot and wounded a knife-wielding suspect on Friday, arresting him minutes after an afternoon stabbing spree at a Turku market square. Police on Saturday raised the number of injured in the attack from six to eight.

"There was a raid and we have now six suspects in custody, the main suspect and five others," detective superintendent Markus Laine of the National Bureau of investigation told AFP.

(AFP )

Cain Lopez looks tiny standing near the seven enormous wind turbines that tower over his farm in the Mexican village of La Ventosa.

In this gusty rural region near the Pacific coast, the wind is so strong it sometimes flips over cars and even trailer trucks.

Lopez always considered it a curse, until an international energy company came along and said it wanted to build these 40-meter (130-foot) wind turbines on his land, offering him a small fortune by local standards.

Now he considers the wind a blessing, he says.

But not everyone sees it that way.

(AFP )

Uruguay's unique new marijuana industry has run into a hurdle as international anti-money laundering rules are forcing banks to close the accounts of pharmacies legally selling the drug.

Uruguayan pharmacies started selling marijuana last month under a 2013 law that made the South American country the first in the world to legalize pot all the way from production to sale.

But lenders such as Uruguayan state bank Banco Republica (BROU) now say they must abandon such businesses.

(AFP )

The widow of late Chinese Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo has resurfaced in an online video, weeks after her friends raised concerns about her fate at the hands of the authorities.

Liu Xia was last seen in government-released images of her dissident husband's sea burial on July 15, and China has been under international pressure to free her and let her travel abroad.

Liu Xia, 56, has been under de facto house arrest since her husband won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010, despite having never been charged with a crime.

(AFP )

Afghan security forces were on high alert Saturday as the war-weary country, reeling from a number of high-profile deadly attacks, marked its independence day with muted celebrations.

There was an increased police presence in the capital Kabul where President Ashraf Ghani hosted a private ceremony for Afghan dignitaries.

"All of our police units are on the highest state of alert and they are placed everywhere across the city," Kabul police spokesman Abdul Basir Mujahid told AFP.

(AFP )

It's 2050 and the world revolves around you.

From the contents of your fridge to room temperature -- digital assistants ensure your home runs smoothly. Your screens know your taste and show channels you want to see as you enter the room. Your car is driverless and your favourite barman may just be an android.

Predictions for an AI-dominated future are increasingly common, but Antoine Blondeau has experience in reading, and arguably manipulating, the runes -- he helped develop technology that evolved into predictive texting and Apple's Siri.

(AFP )

Everyone who plans to look skyward when the solar eclipse sweeps across the United States on Monday should have the proper protective eyewear, or risk lasting blind spots, experts warn.

Regular sunglasses will not do, the US space agency says.

Only eclipse glasses that have a certification with "ISO 12312-2 international standard" are safe for use, according to NASA.

Other options are number 14 welder's glass, or making a pinhole projector that allows a user to project the image of the Sun on paper or cardboard.

(AFP )

Soldiers busily assemble tents with wooden floors, lighting and heating in Canada's Quebec province near the US border to temporarily house a surge in asylum seekers from the United States.

Children run between rows and rows of the military green tents as their parents line up to speak with immigration officials and file refugee claims.

(AFP )

A US judge on Friday rejected a bid by a woman Roman Polanski raped as a teenager to close the case, saying the fugitive filmmaker must appear in court for the matter to be resolved.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Scott Gordon said in a 10-page ruling that while Samantha Geimer -- who was 13 at the time -- had clearly suffered because of the case, he could not dismiss it "merely because it would be in the victim's best interest."

(AFP )

Venezuela's sacked attorney general Luisa Ortega, a strident critic of President Nicolas Maduro, arrived Friday in Colombia, immigration officials said.

Ortega was sacked by a new all-powerful assembly that has overtaken the opposition-controlled National Assembly and is packed with Maduro loyalists.

Ortega arrived with her husband German Ferrer, a lawmaker who faced an arrest warrant issued by the pro-Maduro Supreme Court, after a stopover on Aruba, a Dutch island just off Venezuela, Colombian immigration authorities said in a statement.

(AFP )

Police shot and wounded a suspect after a stabbing spree in which a man killed two people and wounded six others in the Finnish city of Turku.

Within hours of the attack on Friday the force had announced increased police patrols across the country.

"There are eight victims in the stabbing. Two dead and six injured," Turku police tweeted after the assault in a market square. A hospital official told journalists that all the victims were adults.

(AFP )

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Friday urged ethnic Turks in Germany to reject its main parties in upcoming elections, prompting a sharp warning from Berlin to stop the "unprecedented" meddling.

Erdogan called on ethnic Turks to ignore Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and their partners in the grand ruling coalition, the Social Democratic Party (SPD).

They should also reject the Greens, he said, branding all three parties "enemies of Turkey".

(AFP )

Venezuela's new pro-government constitutional authority declared Friday it was seizing power from the opposition-led legislature, tightening President Nicolas Maduro's grip on the country in defiance of international outrage.

It was the latest maneuver in a deadly political crisis that has seen Maduro branded a dictator by opponents, whom he in turn accuses of plotting with the United States to overthrow him.

(AFP )

Traffic through the White House exit door has been astonishingly high since Donald Trump became president on January 20.

On Friday chief strategist Steve Bannon became the latest casualty of seven months of bedlam in the executive offices of the world's most powerful country.

Here are the main Trump aides who have come and gone since January, before Americans ever really got to know them:

- National Security Advisor Mike Flynn -

(AFP )

Georgia's exiled former president Mikheil Saakashvili, stripped of both his Georgian and Ukrainian citizenship, announced on Friday he would try to cross the border into Ukraine next month.

"I am returning to Ukraine," Saakashvili said in a video posted Friday on his official Facebook page. "I will arrive from Poland on September 10 through the Krakovets (Korczowa) border crossing."

His spokeswoman Natalia Semenova confirmed his plans to AFP via telephone.

(AFP )

The attacks in Catalonia may hit tourist numbers, but the recent experience of other European countries hit by jihadist violence suggests it will likely be brief, industry experts said.

Cancellations, early departures, fewer reservations: the impact of a terror attack on an European city can last from three to six months, said tourism professionals.

But the effect is dissipating quicker and quicker, they argue.

(AFP )

Venezuela's new pro-government constitutional authority formally declared Friday it was seizing legislative power from the opposition-led legislature, tightening President Nicolas Maduro's hold on power in defiance of calls for elections.

The Constituent Assembly unanimously adopted a decree authorizing it to "take over functions to legislate on matters directly concerned with ensuring peace, security, sovereignty, the socio-economic and financial systems, state assets and upholding Venezuelans' rights."

(AFP )

The 1997 car crash that killed Britain's Princess Diana spawned a host of conspiracy theories, but evidence that it was an accident only grows stronger, bolstered by new revelations about the history of the vehicle.

A book titled "Qui a Tue Lady Di?" (Who Killed Lady Di?), published in May, revealed that the Mercedes 280 had a previous owner and had been stolen twice before the fateful night of August 31, 1997, when Diana was killed along with her new Egyptian lover Dodi Al-Fayed.

(AFP )

"Missing in Barcelona," reads a Facebook message posted by Tony Cadman, asking users to share a picture of his seven-year-old grandson who disappeared after a van ploughed into crowds in the Spanish seaside city.

"Please like and share," he writes above a photo of a smiling little boy wearing a green sweatshirt with the name of his nursery, whom he identifies as his grandson Julian Alessandro Cadman.

"We have found Jom (my daughter in law) and she is (in a) serious but stable condition in hospital," the post reads.

(AFP )

US President Donald Trump assembled his national security team at the Camp David presidential retreat Friday to forge a way ahead in Afghanistan, almost 16 years after the war began.

Trump must decide if he wants to continue on the current course, which relies on a relatively small US-led NATO force to help Afghan partners push back the Taliban, or try a new tack such as adding more forces -- or even withdrawing altogether.

(AFP )

Police shot and wounded a suspect after a stabbing spree in which a man killed two people and wounded six others in the Finnish city of Turku on Friday.

Within hours the force had announced increased police patrols across the country.

"There are eight victims in the stabbing. Two dead and six injured," Turku police tweeted after the assault in a market square. A hospital official told journalists all the victims were adults.

Police shot one suspect in the thigh minutes after the attack at another square nearby, arresting him and confiscating his knife.

(AFP )

Vehicle attacks of the sort seen in Barcelona are easy to organise and difficult to stop and have become part of a new reality for Europeans, experts say.

Paris, Berlin, Nice, London and Stockholm have already seen extremists drive vehicles into crowds. The latest attacks in Barcelona and the seaside resort of Cambrils left at least 14 dead and 100 injured on Thursday night.

(AFP )

Following are some vivid accounts by witnesses of the deadly attacks using vehicles that took place Thursday evening in Barcelona and in the early hours of Friday in the seaside resort town of Cambrils, and the aftermath:

- Barcelona attack -

- "All of a sudden, I just sort of heard a crashing noise and the whole street just started to run, screaming. I saw a woman right next to me screaming for her kids" - Aamer Anwar, a human rights lawyer told Britain's Sky News television.

(AFP )

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Friday urged ethnic Turks in Germany to reject its main parties in upcoming elections, prompting a sharp warning from Berlin to stop the "unprecedented" meddling.

Erdogan called on ethnic Turks to ignore Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and their partners in the grand ruling coalition, the Social Democratic Party (SPD).

They should also reject the Greens, he said, branding all three parties "enemies of Turkey".

(AFP )

Hong Kong democracy campaigners raised fears Friday that they too would be jailed after the city's Beijing-backed government succeeded in putting Joshua Wong and two other prominent young activists behind bars.

Supporters and rights groups said the sentencing Thursday was further proof that Beijing is tightening its grip on the semi-autonomous city and that rule of law is being compromised.

Around a hundred protesters gathered at the jail where two of the trio are being held on Friday night chanting "Civil disobedience!"

(AFP )

Israel's Supreme Court has frozen implementation of a law legalising dozens of Jewish settlements built on private Palestinian land, which the UN labelled a "thick red line".

The decision was condemned by rightwing Israeli politicians who accused the judiciary of overruling the will of Israel's parliament.

Court documents seen by AFP Friday show that Judge Neal Hendel issued Thursday an open-ended restraining order suspending a bill passed by parliament that would retroactively legalise a number of outposts across the occupied West Bank.

(AFP )

The United States' most senior military officer on Friday said North Korea understands that an any attack on Japan is equal to one on the US itself -- and vice versa.

General Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, held talks with his Japanese counterpart at the defence ministry in Tokyo, wrapping up a regional tour during heightened tensions with North Korea.

(AFP )

As Spanish police on Friday hunted for the driver who rammed a van into pedestrians on an avenue crowded with tourists in Barcelona, world leaders have condemned the attack, expressing outrage and solidarity with the victims.

- Spain -

The Spanish royal family issued an unusually strongly-worded statement: "They are assassins, criminals who won't terrorise us. All of Spain is Barcelona."

FC Barcelona said it was "deeply saddened" by the tragedy and the team's talismanic striker Lionel Messi said separately that people must reject "any act of violence".

(AFP )

A crowd in Barcelona's main square defiantly shouted "not afraid" Friday following a minute's silence attended by Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and King Felipe VI, held for the victims of a double vehicle attack.

Standing silent in the Plaza de Catalunya, Rajoy joined the king and Carles Puigdemont, the president of the Catalonia region where Barcelona is located, in mourning the victims of attacks that left 13 dead and more than 100 injured.

(AFP )

Azerbaijan has frozen the bank accounts of the country's only independent news agency, its director said Friday, in a step that could shutter the outlet.

The Turan agency is a rare voice of dissent in the tightly-controlled Caspian Sea nation and has not shied away from critical reporting of the government of strongman leader Ilham Aliyev.

Turan's director Mehman Aliyev said the move was part of a criminal probe into an alleged $22,000 (19,000 euros) in unpaid taxes, a charge he said was false.

(AFP )

Defend Europe, the group which sent a ship to waters off Libya to protest and potentially block migrant flows to Europe, has ended its controversial and setback-plagued mission.

The multinational network of far-right activists said the chartering of the boat, the C-Star, had been an unqualified success, despite the boat spending less than a week patrolling the area off Libya where hundreds of thousands of migrants have been rescued in recent years.