In the world | Africatime
Wednesday 29 March 2017

In the world

(AFP )

There are just 30 pools in Afghanistan, only one which welcomes girls -- and it is facing militant threats for doing so. Nevertheless a handful are diving in, pioneers racing to achieve Olympic glory in Tokyo.

The story of the 25-year-old coach and head of the newly created Women's Swimming Committee, Elena Saboori, epitomises the struggle to swim in a conservative, landlocked, conflict-plagued country that largely opposes women taking part in sports.

(AFP )

Britain formally launches the process for leaving the European Union on Wednesday, a historic step that has divided the country and thrown into question the future of the European project.

Just days after the EU's 60th birthday, Britain is poised to become the first country ever to seek a divorce, striking a blow at the heart of the union forged from the ashes of World War II.

Nine months since the shock British referendum vote to leave the EU, Prime Minister Theresa May will trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, meaning Britain is set to leave the EU in 2019.

(AFP )

The day after Britain voted to leave the European Union last June, British pensioner David Frost noticed his left leg was severely swollen.

He walked over to his local public health clinic in the southern Spanish city of Malaga and was promptly diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis, in which a blood clot blocks off blood flow deep in the veins, a potentially fatal condition.

Frost, who has lived in Spain since 1991, received daily injections of expensive blood thinners for several months at virtually no cost to himself until his life was out of danger.

(AFP )

On the baked sands of northern Mexico, barefoot tribeswomen chant and dance in clouds of incense, calling on the eagle to save them from US President Donald Trump's border wall.

The US-Mexico frontier runs through more than just the deserts of Sonora and Arizona. For the Tohono O'odham with their eagle totem, it divides their people.

These are their ancestral lands, a nation that was here thousands of years before the modern states of America and Mexico were drawn on the map in the 19th century.

(AFP )

Gibraltarians voted by 96 percent to remain in the European Union but as Brexit looms, they say their attachment to the United Kingdom still prevails, unlike some in Scotland who would rather remain in the bloc.

The tiny British overseas territory on Spain's southern tip has long been the subject of an acrimonious sovereignty row between London and Madrid, which wants Gibraltar back after it was ceded to Britain in 1713.

(AFP )

Satellite images suggest North Korea could be in the final stages of preparations for a new nuclear test according to US-based analysts, who echoed similar conclusions by the US military.

The images, taken Saturday, show up to four vehicles or equipment trailers continuously present at the entrance to the Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site, with communications cables likely laid on the ground.

(AFP )

Death row inmates in Arkansas filed a lawsuit Tuesday to contest the US state's plan to end their lives over a shortened period of just 10 days.

The state's Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson has stirred intense controversy since announcing the executions of eight men in 10 days, citing shortages of a drug used in lethal injections.

The inmates said the accelerated schedule did not give them enough time to prepare their appeals, adding that the shortened timeframe violated Arkansas rules.

(AFP )

New Zealand were left frustrated on Wednesday after rain washed out the last day's play of the final Test against South Africa, denying them a series-levelling win.

At the start of the day, South Africa were on the ropes at 80 for five in their second innings, still 95 runs short of making New Zealand bat again.

But the rain which had disrupted part of each of the first four days fell persistently on Wednesday, forcing the umpires to abandon play without a ball being bowled.

(AFP )

A decade after a bike crash that left an American man paralysed from the shoulders down, he can again feed himself, researchers hailing a medical first reported Wednesday.

The remarkable advance hinges on a prosthesis which circumvents rather than repairs his spinal injury, using wires, electrodes as well as computer software to reconnect the severed link between his brain and muscles.

(AFP )

The final day of the deciding third Test between New Zealand and South Africa was abandoned because of persistent rain in Hamilton on Wednesday, giving the Proteas a 1-0 series victory.

The umpires called the game off as further showers swept across the ground just after the scheduled lunch break.

New Zealand, who were in command after four days, were left frustrated to be denied the opportunity to draw level and snap a 13-year winless streak against South Africa.

(AFP )

Penelope Fillon, long a low-profile political wife, has been thrust into the spotlight with a scandal bearing her name -- "Penelopegate" -- that is dimming her husband Francois Fillon's hopes of becoming France's next president.

She was charged Tuesday with complicity in the abuse of public funds in a case involving alleged fake jobs as a parliamentary aide to her conservative husband over a number of years for which she was paid hundreds of thousands of euros.

(AFP )

British Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday signed the historic letter that will launch Brexit when it is delivered to Brussels on Wednesday, a photo released by her office showed.

Sitting in front of a lone Union Jack national flag and a portrait of Britain's first prime minister, Robert Walpole, a serene-looking May signed the letter to begin the country's departure from the European Union.

(AFP )

The wife of France's conservative presidential candidate Francois Fillon was charged Tuesday with complicity in the abuse of public funds in a scandal that has engulfed her husband's campaign.

He has already been charged in the case involving allegedly fictitious jobs as a parliamentary aide for which the Welsh-born Penelope Fillon was paid hundreds of thousands of euros.

The 61-year-old Penelope was also charged over a salary she received from a literary magazine owned by a billionaire friend of her husband's, Marc Ladreit de Lacharriere.

(AFP )

The White House announced Abdel Fattah al-Sisi will make an "official visit" to Washington on April 3, ending years in which the Egyptian president had been kept at arm's length amid rights concerns.

"President Trump and President Al-Sisi will use the visit to build on the positive momentum they have built for the United States-Egypt relationship," the White House said in a statement Tuesday.

Sisi's visit to Washington would be the first to the White House since the former army chief became president in 2014.

(AFP )

Penelope Fillon, wife of France's conservative presidential candidate Francois Fillon, was charged Tuesday with complicity in the abuse of public funds in a scandal that has engulfed her husband's campaign, a judicial source said.

Francois Fillon has already been charged in the case involving allegedly fictitious jobs as a parliamentary aide for which his Welsh-born wife Penelope was paid hundreds of thousands of euros.

(AFP )

FIFA said Tuesday it had launched an investigation into incidents which led to the abandonment of a friendly match between Ivory Coast and Senegal in Paris following a series of pitch invasions.

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

Images showed rowdy supporters chasing across the pitch after climbing over fences while one fan was seen tackling a player in the middle of the pitch.

(AFP )

President Donald Trump declared the end of a "war on coal" Tuesday, as he moved to curb rules that underpin American emissions targets and a major global climate accord.

Following through on an election promise, Trump signed an order to review some of his predecessor Barack Obama's climate legacy, declaring an end to "job-killing regulations."

In a maiden trip to the Environmental Protection Agency, he ordered a review of emission limits for coal-fired power plants and eased up restrictions on federal leasing for coal production.

(AFP )

Major beef market Hong Kong on Tuesday ended a blanket ban imposed on Brazilian meat imports in a scandal over tainted products, Brazil's government said.

It said the move means all the major markets for Brazil's key meat exports have relaxed their bans on meat from the recession-hit South American nation, the world's top beef and poultry exporter.

"Brazil is satisfied to have received the news that Hong Kong has reopened its market to Brazilian meat" except for products from 21 companies investigated in the food scare, it said in a statement.

(AFP )

Less than a month to the first round of the French presidential election, the wife of onetime frontrunner Francois Fillon as charged with complicity in his fake jobs scandal and far-right contender Marine Le Pen said the EU was "crumbling".

Here are four things that happened in the campaign on Tuesday:

- Penelope Fillon charged -

The wife of conservative candidate Francois Fillon was charged with complicity in the abuse of public funds in a scandal that has engulfed her husband's campaign.

(AFP )

The US-led anti-jihadist coalition said Tuesday it "probably" played a role in civilian casualties in west Mosul, as the UN and Amnesty International called for greater efforts to protect civilians.

Hundreds of thousands of civilians are still inside west Mosul, caught up in deadly fighting between the Islamic State group and Iraqi forces who are backed by coalition air strikes in the battle to retake the area from the jihadists.

(AFP )

EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier warned London Tuesday on the eve of its Brexit launch that the bloc would be "firm" on the rights of European citizens living in Britain.

"#Brexit made EU citizens worry about their future in EU27 and UK. EU will be firm on their rights @The3Million #citizensfirst," former French minister Barnier tweeted in English.

Brussels insists that Britain's divorce, including issues such as the rights of more than three million EU nationals in the UK, must be dealt with before any future trade relationship.

(AFP )

Italian police said they caught a criminal gang Tuesday that had been plotting to steal the body of Formula One racing pioneer Enzo Ferrari for ransom.

Detectives in Sardinia said they had stumbled across the plot while investigating a group of 30 or so crooks who were involved in drug and arms trafficking on the Italian island but were exploring other cash-making ideas.

(AFP )

Poland will withdraw its contingent from the Eurocorps military group by 2020, a spokesman for the Strasbourg-based intergovernmental body said Tuesday.

"The Polish soldiers will leave as their individual contracts end, within three years at the latest," Colonel Vicente Dalmau told AFP, adding the the Polish government had made the decision "several months ago".

(AFP )

Leaders from the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Poland rejected on Tuesday what they called Brussels' use of "blackmail and diktat" over planned resettlements of migrants across the EU.

Long opposed to sharing the burden of hosting mainly Syrian refugees, the four eastern EU states ruled out any links between accepting them and future disbursements of EU funds.

Eastern EU states "will never accept blackmail and diktat" on migration policy, Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo said at a press conference in Warsaw with her Czech, Hungarian and Slovak counterparts.

(AFP )

Russia signed Tuesday a string of bilateral agreements with Iran as President Vladimir Putin hosted his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani for his first official visit to Moscow.

The meeting between Putin and Rouhani, who have grown closer through their mutual support of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, mostly focused on flourishing economic ties in the fields of energy and industry.

Putin said in televised comments after the meeting that trade between the countries had "grown more than 70 percent" last year.

(AFP )

The World Health Organization warned Tuesday of large measles outbreaks in countries where immunisation has dropped, after more than 500 cases of the highly contagious disease were reported across Europe in January.

"With steady progress towards elimination over the past two years, it is of particular concern that measles cases are climbing in Europe," the agency's regional director for Europe, Zsuzsanna Jakab, said in a statement.

"Today's travel patterns put no person or country beyond the reach of the measles virus," she said.

(AFP )

Celebrated South African anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Kathrada, one of Nelson Mandela's closest colleagues in the struggle against white rule and a fellow Robben Island prisoner, died Tuesday aged 87.

Kathrada was among those tried and jailed alongside Mandela in the 1964 Rivonia trial, which drew worldwide attention to the brutalities of the apartheid regime.

He died in hospital in Johannesburg after a short illness following brain surgery, his charity foundation said.

(AFP )

Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy pledged Tuesday to invest 4.2 billion euros ($4.6 billion) in Catalonia by 2020 as a battle for hearts and minds rages between Madrid and regional authorities that want independence.

At loggerheads with the separatist government in the northeastern region, which plans to hold a Scotland-style independence referendum against Madrid's will, Rajoy has launched a so-called "operation dialogue" in a bid to ease tensions and win over public opinion.

(AFP )

A political deal to end the Syrian conflict is not possible without a strong US role, the opposition's chief negotiator told AFP, warning that Washington's absence was threatening ongoing peace talks.

Lead negotiator for the main opposition High Negotiations Committee (HNC), Mohamad Sabra, said in an interview late Monday that the UN-backed talks in Geneva remained "stalled".

"There can be no real and viable political solution without the presence of the Americans," he said.

(AFP )

NATO ambassadors will meet the Russian envoy on Thursday in a new bid to ease tensions on the eve of the alliance's first talks with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

The ambassadors will discuss the crisis in Ukraine as well as Afghanistan's security, and terrorism in the region, a NATO official said.

"Following consultations with the members of the NATO-Russia Council (NRC), I have invited them to a meeting at ambassadorial level," NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said in a statement.

(AFP )

Conservationists on Tuesday hailed the discovery of a new breeding population of tigers in Thailand as a "miraculous" victory for a sub-species nearly wiped out by poaching.

Images of some tigers including six cubs, captured by camera traps in an eastern Thai jungle throughout 2016, confirm the presence of what is only the world's second known breeding population of the endangered Indochinese tiger.

(AFP )

French Socialist presidential candidate Benoit Hamon took his call to broaden decision-making in the eurozone to Berlin Tuesday in talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

During a one-day visit, Hamon met the German leader, who has said she would speak with any of the mainstream candidates in the French race ahead of next month's first round -- excluding far-right contender Marine Le Pen.

Hamon also met Merkel's Social Democratic (SPD) challenger in Germany's September general election, Martin Schulz, who offered his backing.

(AFP )

Clashes raged around a key northern Syrian town on Tuesday after the Islamic State group launched a counter-attack to fend off a US-backed advance near the jihadists' stronghold Raqa.

Backed by air power from the international coalition bombing IS, the Syrian Democratic Forces are laying the groundwork for an assault on the heart of the jihadists' so-called "caliphate".

A key part of the campaign is the battle for the IS-held town of Tabqa on the Euphrates River, as well as the adjacent dam and military airport.

(AFP )

British Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday signed the historic letter that will launch Brexit, a photo released by her office showed, as she called for unity even as Scotland voted for a new independence referendum.

The British government will on Wednesday deliver the letter to European Union President Donald Tusk, formally notifying him of Britain's intention to leave the bloc after 44 years of membership.

(AFP )

Britain's new £1 coin with the symbols of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland goes into circulation from Tuesday on the eve of the launch of a Brexit process that has put national unity in doubt.

The 12-sided coin is the first change to the shape of the £1 coin since its introduction in 1983. Britain's finance ministry said the new coin would be "the most secure of its kind in the world" to prevent a rise in counterfeits.

About three percent of the current round-shaped coins are fakes.