Wednesday 24 May 2017

In the world

(AFP )

Twenty-two people were killed in Monday's suicide attack on a Manchester pop concert, including an eight-year-old girl, teenagers and several parents who had come to collect their children.

Here are the victims named so far in what was the deadliest terror attack in Britain since the 2005 London bombings:

- 'Beautiful little girl' -

Eight-year-old Saffie Rose Roussos from Leyland in Lancashire, northwest England, is the youngest victim among those named so far.

(AFP )

Subpoenas are flying, a special prosecutor is taking the reins, and explosive revelations hit the press almost daily: the investigation into possible collusion between President Donald Trump's campaign and Russia is heating up.

With Trump reported to have retained a personal lawyer to represent him, here is where the sprawling probe into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election stands.

- What does US intelligence know? -

(AFP )

British Prime Minister Theresa May will curtail her trip to the G7 summit in Italy this week following the deadly suicide attack on a Manchester concert, an official said Wednesday.

Britain is on its highest terror alert level following Monday's bombing, meaning another attack is thought imminent, and police are searching for the perpetrator's accomplices.

May will attend the first day on Friday of the Group of Seven meeting in Taormina on the island of Sicily, which is due to be attended by US President Donald Trump, but will miss the Saturday talks.

(AFP )

Worshippers at the mosque that the Manchester suicide bomber is believed to have frequented said they feared a backlash Wednesday, as the city's mayor warned any attacks on Muslims would please terrorists.

Elders at the Didsbury mosque, a Victorian former Methodist chapel, reacted with disbelief to the attack and voiced concern about reports of Islamophobic attacks since the bombing at a pop concert which killed 22 people.

(AFP )

Venezuela's attorney general Wednesday accused the country's military police of being responsible for hundreds of injuries and the death of at least one young man during recent political unrest.

Attorney general Luisa Ortega said in a public speech that 55 people have been killed so far in the unrest: 52 civilians and three police.

She added that 771 civilians and 229 security officers have been injured.

"More than half of the cases of people being injured have been due to the action of the security forces. It is worrying how the violence has worsened," she said.

(AFP )

Thousands of protesters carrying effigies of Donald Trump marched through Brussels on Wednesday after the US president arrived for talks with the EU and NATO.

"Trump not welcome" said banners waved by the crowd, which police said numbered around 9,000. Organisers put the size of the demonstration at 12,000.

"He called Brussels a hellhole and yet he comes here like a conqueror," leftwing protester Yannick Blaise told AFP.

(AFP )

Pop star Ariana Grande on Wednesday suspended her tour until early June at the earliest after a deadly attack on her show in Manchester that left 22 people dead.

"Due to the tragic events in Manchester, the 'Dangerous Woman' tour with Ariana Grande has been suspended until we can further assess the situation and pay our proper respects to those lost," a statement from her management at Universal Music said.

(AFP )

The Manchester attack may boost efforts to preserve long-standing British-EU intelligence sharing following Brexit, even if some forms of cooperation are affected by Britain leaving, experts say.

British Prime Minister Theresa May irked many in Europe when she warned that Britain, the biggest military power in the EU and a nuclear-armed NATO member, might hold back on security cooperation if it can't get a good deal.

(AFP )

Worshippers at the mosque that the Manchester suicide bomber is believed to have frequented reacted with disbelief on Wednesday and pointed the finger at online radicalisation.

Elders at the Didsbury mosque, a Victorian former Methodist chapel, also voiced concern about reports of Islamophobic attacks since the bombing at a pop concert which killed 22 people.

(AFP )

Italian businessman Adriano Riva, whose family owned the bankrupt Ilva steel firm, was handed a two-and-half-year term on Wednesday after transferring 1.3 billion euros ($1.5 billion) siphoned off from the company.

Heavily indebted and short of cash, Ilva was taken over by the Italian state in 2014.

The year before it had been placed under special administration after the Rivas were accused of failing to prevent toxic emissions including carcinogenic particles from spewing out across the town of Taranto in the Puglia region of southern Italy.

(AFP )

The daughter of the woman at the centre of a corruption scandal that led to the impeachment of South Korea's ousted president has cancelled her appeal against extradition, a Danish court said Wednesday.

Chung Yoo-Ra, the 20-year-old daughter of the woman dubbed South Korea's "Rasputin", is one of the figures in the influence-peddling scandal that sparked huge street protests demanding the removal of President Park Geun-Hye.

"Decision to extradite Korean Ms. Chung is now final," the court announced on Twitter. "She has cancelled (her) appeal to (the) High Court."

(AFP )

NATO is to join the US-led anti-Islamic State coalition, meeting a key demand of President Donald Trump that the alliance do more to fight Islamist terrorism, diplomatic sources said Wednesday.

Trump was due to meet NATO leaders in Brussels on Thursday to press his case, with the deadly IS-claimed bomb attack in Manchester high on the agenda.

Earlier Wednesday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said he expected NATO to join despite reservations by some members states which are fearful of getting dragged into another conflict.

(AFP )

At least 34 people including young children drowned Wednesday when they fell off an overloaded migrant vessel in the Mediterranean, where tensions are rising between aid ships and the Libyan coastguard.

"There's a critical situation today. About 200 people fell into the water," an Italian coastguard spokesman told AFP, saying 34 bodies had been recovered including at least 10 children, some of whom were toddlers.

The victims were on a wooden boat carrying between 500 and 700 people which was just 20 nautical miles off the Libyan coast when the disaster happened.

(AFP )

Britain has been a prime target for jihadist groups for nearly 15 years, beginning with Al-Qaeda and now the Islamic State group (IS) which claimed the Manchester bombing.

Using explosives in a confined space is a direct throwback to Al-Qaeda's July 2005 attacks on London public transport that killed 52 people, said Mathieu Guidere, a terrorism expert and professor at the University of Paris.

Following are his responses to three key questions:

- Why Britain? -

(AFP )

England captain Eoin Morgan's fine century laid the platform for a 72-run win over South Africa in the day/night first one-day international at Headingley on Thursday.

Victory over the Proteas, the world's number-one ranked ODI side, gave England a morale boost just a week before they host the Champions Trophy tournament featuring the world's top eight 50-over sides and put them 1-0 up in this three-match series.

South Africa, set 340 to win, made steady progress while the experienced Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis shared a second-wicket stand of 112.

(AFP )

Brazilian soldiers deployed Wednesday to defend government buildings in the capital Brasilia after protesters demanding the exit of President Michel Temer smashed their way into ministries and fought with riot police.

"At this moment, federal troops are already here in (the foreign ministry)," Defense Minister Raul Jungmann said in a brief televised statement. "And next there are troops arriving to secure all the ministerial buildings."

(AFP )

US lawmakers have demanded documents from German banking giant Deutsche Bank detailing its ties with President Donald Trump and his dealings with Russia.

It was the latest twist in the high-stakes investigation of Trump's relations with Moscow, and whether there was any collusion between his campaign and an alleged Russian bid to tilt the US election in the Republican's favor.

(AFP )

A suicide bombing attack outside a busy bus terminal in the Indonesian capital Jakarta on Wednesday killed three police officers, the latest assault to hit the Muslim-majority country as it struggles with a surge of terror plots.

Several other police officers and civilians were injured when two bombers launched the attack in a street next to the station, which sent panicked people running for their lives and clouds of black smoke billowing into the sky.

(AFP )

Ecuador's new president Lenin Moreno took office Wednesday, tasked with steering the oil-rich nation, a flagship of the Latin American left, through troubled economic and political waters.

Congress swore in Moreno, 64, as the quieter successor to his ally, one of the feistiest personalities in Latin American politics: leftist Rafael Correa.

Moreno is the first wheelchair user to become Ecuador's leader, and one of few in the world ever to serve as president.

(AFP )

Hollywood stars Nicole Kidman and Colin Farrell said Wednesday they wanted to throw their star power behind more movies made by women, after the Cannes premiere of their battle-of-the-sexes thriller.

"The Beguiled", which drew warm applause, marks the third outing at the world's biggest film festival for Oscar-winner Sofia Coppola, one of three female directors vying for the Palme d'Or top prize this year.

(AFP )

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday said ahead of crunch talks with the EU's leadership it was up to Brussels to decide if it wanted Turkey as a member of the bloc.

Speaking to reporters before leaving Ankara airport for the trip to Brussels which will also see him attend a NATO summit, Erdogan said Turkey was not prepared to behave like a "beggar" to gain membership.

Tensions between Ankara and Brussels spiralled in the run-up to the April 16 referendum on expanding Erdogan's powers, raising questions about the future of the Turkish membership bid.

(AFP )

A new Cyprus peace conference in Geneva to push forward stalled reunification talks could be agreed by the end of this week, a UN official said Wednesday.

"It is both possible and also my ambition to get an agreement on this issue at the end of this week," UN envoy Espen Barth Eide said.

Eide is involved in shuttle diplomacy between Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci to broker agreement on a Geneva summit.

(AFP )

US President Donald Trump told Pope Francis on Wednesday he was committing more than $300 million (270 million euros) to help prevent or tackle famine in Yemen and several countries in Africa.

Trump, meeting the pontiff for the first time, said he had "renewed" the US "commitment to fighting global famine", with the United Nations warning that about 20 million people across Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen are at risk.

The UN has described the situation as the biggest humanitarian crisis in its history, but donor funding is falling far short.

(AFP )

Ecuador's new president Lenin Moreno takes office Wednesday, tasked with steering a flagship of the Latin American left through troubled economic and political waters.

Congress was due to swear in Moreno, 64, at 1500 GMT, as the quieter successor to one of the feistiest personalities in Latin American politics: Rafael Correa.

Moreno is the first wheelchair-user to become Ecuador's leader, and one of few such leaders in the world ever to serve as president.

His legs have been paralyzed since he was shot during a robbery in 1998.

(AFP )

"There is a light that never goes out." As the sun set on a vigil for victims of the Manchester bombing, a lone voice drew on the city's deep well of musical genius for comfort.

The lyric shouted by a mourner in the crowd is from a 1986 song by indie rockers The Smiths, just one of the world-renowned bands and musicians that hail from the city, making the attack on a music venue an attack on the city's essence.

(AFP )

Prominent Russian arts figures including the Bolshoi theatre chief on Wednesday condemned investigators for raiding a top Moscow theatre and the home of its outspoken director in a fraud probe.

Investigators searched the state-funded Gogol Centre theatre and the flat of its artistic director Kirill Serebrennikov in a show of force Tuesday, bringing rehearsals to a halt and confiscating actors' phones.

"What was done to the director was wrong," Bolshoi theatre general director Vladimir Urin told journalists, quoted by Interfax news agency.

(AFP )

Spain's Supreme Court on Wednesday confirmed a 21-month jail sentence and 2.09-million-euro ($2.25 million) fine imposed on Lionel Messi for tax fraud, months after the Barcelona football star lodged an appeal.

The Argentina international and his father Jorge Horacio Messi were in July 2016 found guilty of using companies in Belize, Britain, Switzerland and Uruguay to avoid paying taxes on 4.16 million euros of Messi's income earned from his image rights from 2007-09.

(AFP )

One of French President Emmanuel Macron's closest allies faced accusations of wrongdoing over a property deal on Wednesday, causing embarrassment as the new government prepares a new law to clean up politics.

Richard Ferrand, a crucial early supporter of Macron and a senior minister in his first government, was revealed to have benefited from the deal while he ran a public health insurance fund.

(AFP )

Almost 400,000 children risk dying of hunger in DR Congo's troubled Kasai region where months of violence has driven over a million people from their homes, UNICEF said Wednesday.

The UN children's agency said the conflict in central Kasai has disrupted food supplies and undermined medical facilities.

The crisis has left almost 400,000 children "at risk of severe acute malnutrition", a statement said, meaning they could die without immediate aid.

UNICEF "needs $40.2 million for its urgent response" to the situation, the statement added.

(AFP )

NATO head Jens Stoltenberg said on Wednesday that the Manchester bombing shows the alliance must agree at a summit with US President Donald Trump to do more to combat terrorism.

Terrorism will be top of the agenda at Thursday's meeting in Brussels which comes amid sharp divisions over joining the US-led coalition against the Islamic State group.

"I expect NATO allies to step up and agree to do more in the fight against terrorism, not least because of the attack we saw in Manchester," Stoltemberg told a news conference on the eve of the summit.

(AFP )

Britain has raised its terror alert to the maximum level and ordered troops to protect strategic sites after 22 people were killed in a suicide bomb attack on a Manchester pop concert.

Here is what we know so far about Monday's attack, the deadliest in Britain since 2005.

- What happened? -

Police said they were called at 10:33 pm (2133 GMT) Monday to reports of an explosion at Manchester Arena during a concert by US pop star Ariana Grande, who is popular with teenagers and pre-teens.

(AFP )

President Emmanuel Macron wants a sixth extension of France's state of emergency since the Paris attacks of November 2015, his prime minister said Wednesday, adding that the terror threat "remains very high".

The new president, elected on May 7, also wants legislation to bolster the powers of the security forces, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said, two days after the Manchester concert suicide bombing that claimed 22 lives.

(AFP )

At least 22 people died in Monday night's bombing attack on a Manchester pop concert, including an eight-year-old girl and several parents who had come to pick up their children.

Here is what we know so far about the victims of the terror attack, the deadliest in Britain since the 2005 London bombings:

- 'Beautiful little girl' -

Eight-year-old Saffie Rose Roussos from Leyland, a town in Lancashire, northwest England, is so far the youngest named victim.

(AFP )

Spain's Supreme Court on Wednesday confirmed a 21-month jail sentence and 2.09-million-euro ($2.25 million) fine imposed on Lionel Messi for tax fraud, months after the Barcelona football star lodged an appeal.

The Argentina international and his father Jorge Horacio Messi were in July 2016 found guilty of using companies in Belize, Britain, Switzerland and Uruguay to avoid paying taxes on 4.16 million euros of Messi's income earned from his image rights from 2007-09.

(AFP )

Young actors are making waves at this year's Cannes film festival -- often in films that are hardly suitable children's viewing.

AFP takes a look at some of the kids who are making a splash:

- Baby faces, dark thoughts -

Starring Nicole Kidman and Colin Farrell, family horror "The Killing of a Sacred Deer" has shocked audiences at the world's biggest film festival but features a standout performance from Irish actor Barry Keoghan as obsessive teenager Martin.