Category: Foreign

San Francisco’s first Asian-American Mayor, Ed Lee, dies at 65

Los Angeles –  San Francisco’s first Asian-American Mayor, Ed Lee, died at the age of 65. A statement from his office noted that “it is with profound sadness and terrible grief that we confirm that Mayor Edwin M Lee has passed away.” The statement added that the 65-year-old suffered heart attack while on grocery shopping on Monday and died a few hours later at San Francisco General Hospital. Lee was city administrator when the San Francisco Board of Supervisors appointed him to mayoral vacancy in January 2011. He won a full term later that year and was re-elected in 2015. ... Read more

Uganda to increase salaries of public servants – Minister

Kampala  –     The Ugandan government has announced that it will increase salaries of all public servants in a phases, starting from 2018. Muruli Mukasa, the minister for public service, told a news conference that the government has approved the salary enhancement for all categories of public servants in a phased manner to ensure equity and fairness. Mukasa said all the health workers, scientists, judiciary, lower level soldier cadres, police officers, prison officers, primary and secondary school teachers will benefit from the first batch of the salary enhancement starting 2018 to 2019. “The government is true to its commitment of better ... Read more

Union protest killing of Nigerian in S/Africa

By Mike Mbonye Kimberly (S/Africa) –   The Nigerian Community in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa has staged a peaceful protest over the alleged killing of a member by South Africans. Chidiebere Nwojiekwu, 26, a native of Nnewi South Local Government Area of Anambra, was allegedly stabbed to death over rent payment by his landlord and five accomplices at Kimberly, Northern Cape Province of South Africa on Dec. 1. Mr Chris Anyamele, Chairman of the Nigerian Union chapter in the province, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday that they were in court to ensure that ... Read more

Tight race as South Africa’s ANC prepares to elect Zuma successor

JOHANNESBURG  – South Africa’s ruling African National Congress holds an election this weekend to replace Jacob Zuma as party leader in a closely fought contest whose winner is likely to emerge as the nation’s next president. The front runners are Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, a former trade union leader and one of South Africa’s richest people, and Zuma’s preferred candidate, his ex-wife Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, a former minister and chairwoman of the African Union Commission. In a race seen as too close to call, seven candidates are seeking to succeed Zuma, who has been at the helm of the party for ... Read more

Oscar Pistorius suffers bruise in prison fight

JOHANNESBURG  – Jailed South African track star Oscar Pistorius suffered a bruise in a fight with another inmate over the use of a phone in prison where he is serving a sentence for murdering his girlfriend, a prison spokesman said on Tuesday. Fellow prisoners were angered by a long phone call he made and it led to a fight, local media reported.Breaking: Oscar Pistorius guilty of culpable homicide “Oscar sustained a minor bruise. It was so minor it didn’t need any form of treatment,” said Singabakho Nxumalo, a spokesman at the Department of Correctional Services. He said authorities were investigating ... Read more

British security agency finds flaw in Microsoft Windows system

San Francisco   –    The British National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has discovered a severe flaw that would affect Microsoft’s Windows system, including the latest Windows 10, an online report said. The NCSC found the vulnerability when it was reviewing antivirus solutions after concerns about a Russian antivirus software, which was allegedly involved in cyber-spying operations, according to the report on a Romanian website on the information technology industry and software. The security flaw is described as a remote code execution bug that would allow an attack to take full control of an unpatched system. An unpatched system is an old ... Read more

Explosion kills bomb disposal expert in Somalia’s Puntland – Military

Bosaso(Somalia) –  An army colonel in the semi-autonomous Puntland region who also headed the region’s bomb disposal unit was killed on Tuesday after a roadside bomb he was defusing exploded, a military official said. The incident occurred on a road that links Bosaso, Puntland’s second biggest city, with Galgala Hills which is controlled by al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab group. Col.Osman Abshir Omar was killed after he started dismantling the bomb on Tuesday, one of his colleagues said. “We were with the Colonel. He stopped the car, got down and started dismantling a bomb but it suddenly went off and killed ... Read more

Libya urges UN to lift arms embargo to enhance country’s security

Moscow –  Libya wants the arms embargo imposed on the country to be mitigated in order to increase the operational readiness of the presidential guard and coast guards, Mohamed Siala, minister of foreign affairs said Tuesday. “We, consequently, have approached the UN Security Council with a project on amending the resolution on arms embargo for Libya. “In particular, we would like to make exceptions for certain weapons for equipping the coast guard and for the use by the presidential guard forces,” Siala said following his meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Libya has been banned from importing arms by ... Read more

World Bank says will cease financing upstream oil and gas after 2019

Paris –   The World Bank said on Tuesday it would no longer finance upstream oil and gas projects after 2019, apart from certain gas projects in the poorest countries in exceptional circumstances. “As a global multilateral development institution, the World Bank Group is continuing to transform its own operations in recognition of a rapidly changing world,” the bank said in a statement. “The World Bank Group will no longer finance upstream oil and gas, after 2019,” it added.(Reuters/NAN)

Thailand welcomes EU’s decision to resume bilateral relations

Bangkok   –    The Thai military government on Tuesday welcomed the European Union’s (EU) decision to resume political ties, following a downgrade of relations in response to the country’s 2014 military coup. “This is pleasant news; it shows that the political tension has loosened up. “Any leader of the EU members can now invite our leaders to their countries “This is a result of Thailand’s cooperation with the EU in many areas and our better political climate, and the EU has seen this progress,’’ Foreign Minister, Don Pramudwinai, told reporters. Don’s remarks came a day after the 28-member European bloc announced ... Read more

South Africa poultry group calls for probe of forced labour in Brazil

RIO DE JANEIRO  –   South Africa’s poultry industry body has asked the government to investigate allegations of forced labour in the sector in Brazil, the world’s largest poultry exporter. The South African Poultry Association (SAPA) said it had asked its government to seek “urgent comment” after a report said thousands of workers in Brazil’s meat and poultry sectors were victims of forced labour and inhumane work conditions. The report by the Washington-based Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), released last month to the Thomson Reuters Foundation, said slave labour in Brazil’s poultry sector is “endemic”. SAPA said this needed ... Read more

Mugabe flies to Singapore for medical checks

Harare   –     Former president of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe has left the country for medical checks in Singapore, his first foreign travel since the army forced him from office in November, a state security official said on Tuesday. The 93-year-old, who ruled the southern African nation for 37 years, resigned after the army and his ruling ZANU-PF party turned against him when it became clear that his 52-year-old wife, Grace, was being groomed as his successor. Until recently, Mugabe had a reputation for extensive and expensive international travel, including regular medical trips to Singapore, a source of public anger among his ... Read more

Hackers hit U.S., Russian banks in ATM robbery scam – report

Frankfurt   –     Previously undetected group of Russian-language hackers silently stole nearly 10 million dollars from at least 18 mostly United States and Russian banks in recent years by targeting interbank transfer systems, a Moscow-based security firm said. Group-IB warned that the attacks, which began 18 months ago and allowed money to be stolen from banks’ Automated Teller Machines (ATMs), appeared to be ongoing and that banks in Latin America could be targeted next. The first attack occurred in the spring of 2016 against banks in First Data’s (FDC.N) “STAR” network, the largest U.S. bank messaging system connecting ... Read more

Car bomb kills journalist in Somali capital

MOGADISHU  –   A Somali television journalist was killed in a car bombing in the capital Mogadishu on Monday, an editor for the TV station and local authorities said. Mohamed Ibrahim Gabow had borrowed the car from a friend, Mohamed Moalim Mustaf, an editor at Kalsan TV, told Reuters. “Unexpectedly it exploded and he died on the spot. We do not know who was behind it,” he added. Local government officials confirmed the incident. “The journalist … died after a bomb planted in a car he drove exploded. His body has now been taken to a hospital. The police will investigate,” ... Read more

UN honours 14 peacekeepers killed in eastern DR Congo

By Prudence Arobani   New York   –     The UN mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) on Monday paid tribute to the Tanzanian peacekeepers killed on Dec. 7 in the worst attack on UN ‘blue helmets’ in recent history. The Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General in the DRC, David Gressly, attended the ceremony held in the north-east city of Beni. Gressly encouraged the mission’s military, police and civilian staff to continue their efforts to implement the operation’s mandate, including the protection of civilians. “We are determined to continue our work. What is important now ... Read more

Moscow warns U.S., Japan, South Korea drills creating instability in Korean Peninsula

Tokyo   –    Moscow on Monday warned military exercises by Japan, the U. S. and South Korea aimed at countering North Korea would only raise hysteria and create more instability in the region. Russian Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces Gen. Valery Gerasimov, issued his warning in Tokyo as the U.S., Japan and South Korea began a two-day exercise to practice tracking missiles amid rising tension over North Korea’s weapons programmes. “Carrying out military training in regions surrounding North Korea will only heighten hysteria and make the situation unstable,” Gerasimov said at the beginning of a meeting with ... Read more

ICC to report Jordan to UN Security Council for not arresting Sudan’s Bashir

Amsterdam –  The International Criminal Court (ICC) said on Monday it would refer Jordan to the UN Security Council for failing to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir when he visited Amman in March. The court issued arrest warrants for Bashir in 2009 and 2010 over his alleged role in war crimes including genocide in Sudan’s Darfur province. Jordan, as a member of the ICC, is obliged to carry out its arrest warrants. Sudan is not a member of the Hague-based permanent international war crimes court, and the ICC, therefore, does not have automatic jurisdiction to investigate alleged war crimes there. ... Read more

ICC reports Jordan to UN Security Council for not arresting Al-Bashir

Amsterdam   –   The International Criminal Court (ICC) said on Monday it would refer Jordan to the UN Security Council for failing to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir when he visited Amman in March. The court issued arrest warrants for Bashir in 2009 and 2010 over his alleged role in war crimes including genocide in Sudan’s Darfur province. Jordan, as a member of the ICC, is obliged to carry out its arrest warrants. Sudan is not a member of the Hague-based permanent international war crimes court, and the ICC therefore does not have automatic jurisdiction to investigate alleged war crimes there. ... Read more

Russia’s Putin, Egypt’s Sisi discuss nuclear deal, Middle East tensions

CAIRO   –    Russian President Vladimir Putin met Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Cairo on Monday for talks over a nuclear power plant and tensions in the Middle East following Washington’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Putin’s visit to Cairo reflects the deepening ties between Russia and Egypt, the second largest recipient of U.S. military aid after Israel and a strategic U.S. partner in the Middle East because of its control of the Suez Canal. Putin, who is due to fly to Turkey after Cairo, briefly visited a Russian base in Syria before arriving in Egypt and ... Read more

Côte d’Ivoire offering $26,000 buy-outs to reduce army size: documents

Abidjan   –      Côte d’Ivoire will pay thousands of soldiers 15 million CFA francs (25,782 dollars) each as part of buy-outs aimed at reducing the size of its unruly and mutiny-prone military, documents showed on Monday. Africa’s fastest growing economy in 2016, Côte d’Ivoire was hit earlier this year by successive uprisings by low-ranking troops. The costly bonuses paid to end the unrest helped balloon the budget deficit this year, and the episode tarnished its image as one of the continent’s rising economic stars. The government said on Friday that it would retire around 1,000 soldiers by the ... Read more

Uber fights in court for London survival

London   –    Uber will defend its right to operate in London in a court hearing on Monday after the app was deemed unfit to run a taxi service and stripped of its license in its most important European markets. Regulator Transport for London (TfL) shocked the Silicon Valley firm by rejecting its license renewal bid in September, citing its approach to reporting serious criminal offences and background checks on drivers. Uber’s 40,000 drivers, representing around one in three of all private hire vehicles on the British capital’s roads, can continue to take passengers until the appeals process is exhausted, which ... Read more

Indian police arrest businessman for mid-air molestation of 17-year- old actress

New Delhi   –     Indian police have arrested a 39-year-old businessman for the alleged molestating of a teen Bollywood actress aboard a flight from Delhi to Mumbai. “We have arrested the accused late Sunday night in Mumbai. He has been booked under the stringent Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act besides other sections of the Indian Penal Code,” Mumbai Police official Lata Shirsat told the media Monday. The 17-year-old actress whose acclaimed young portrayal of Indian wrestler Geeta Phogat in Aamir Khan-starrer movie Dangal won her national award, took to social media late Saturday night to narrate her ordeal on ... Read more

OIC states to adopt roadmap over U.S. decision on Jerusalem – Erdogan

Ankara   –      The leaders of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) member-states will adopt a road map on the U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel at the upcoming extraordinary summit on Wednesday, President Recep Erdogan said. On Dec. 6, U.S. President Donald Trump said in a statement that the United States officially recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and will start the process of relocating the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The decision sparked clashes between Palestinians and Israelis in Ramallah, Bethlehem and other regional cities. Many Middle-Eastern states and other countries have ... Read more

Saudi Arabia says cinemas will be allowed from March 2018

Dubai   –     Saudi Arabia said on Monday that public cinemas would be allowed in the conservative kingdom and the first cinemas were likely to open by March 2018. “As the industry regulator, the General Commission for Audiovisual Media has started the process for licensing cinemas in the Kingdom,” Minister of Culture and Information Awwad Alawwad said in a statement. “We expect the first cinemas to open in March 2018.” NAN reports that public cinemas in the country have been illegal since the 1980s, but a plan to reintroduce them has been mooted by the head of the General Authority for ... Read more

Iran ready to restore ties if Saudis end “friendship” with Israel: Rouhani

Tehran   –       President Hassan Rouhani has said Iran is ready to restore its relations with Saudi Arabia if the kingdom end its “friendship” with Israel. The Islamic Republic would “have no problem” with Saudi Arabia if it stops “bowing to Israel” and relies on itself, Rouhani said at a parliamentary meeting. “We want Saudi Arabia to stop two things, the misguided friendship with Israel and the inhuman bombardment of Yemen,” he stressed. Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic ties with Iran in early 2016 in protest against the attacks against Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran following the Saudi execution of a Shiite ... Read more

Indonesian police hunting for U.S. citizen who bust out of Bali prison

Denpasar   –     Indonesian police are hunting for a U.S. citizen who escaped on Monday from an overcrowded prison on the holiday island of Bali by cutting through steel bars in a ceiling. Authorities said this is the jail’s second breakout of foreign inmates this year. The Kerobokan prison, about 10 km from the main tourist beaches in the Kuta area, often holds foreigners facing drug-related charges. Badung Police chief Yudith Hananta said Cristian Beasley, who was a suspect in crimes related to narcotics but had not been sentenced, escaped at 4.10 a.m. (2010 GMT Sunday). “It is ... Read more

UN urges member states to safeguard, protect children from abuse online

New York   –       The UN has called on member states to keep children safe online by safeguarding their privacy and protecting them from abuse and exposure to unsuitable materials. UNICEF in a report released on Monday, specifically called for children to be put at the centre of digital policy, to expand young people’s access to the internet. According to UNICEF, young people aged 15 to 24 are the most connected age group globally, with 71 per cent online compared to 48 per cent of the total population. “The internet was designed for adults, but it is increasingly used by children ... Read more

Kenya’s opposition says postpones “swearing-in” of alternative president

NAIROBI    –   Kenya’s opposition said on Sunday it had postponed plans to swear in its leader Raila Odinga as an alternative president, easing political tensions and opening a window for possible talks with the government of President Uhuru Kenyatta. Opposition coalition NASA had planned to publicly “inaugurate” Odinga at a rally on Tuesday, Kenyan independence day, in what the attorney general said this week would be an act of treason. Kenyatta was re-elected as Kenya’s president with 98 percent of the vote in a repeat election held on Oct. 26 which Odinga boycotted. He had beaten Odinga in the ... Read more

Acting Assistant Secretary Judith Garber Travels to Bonn, Germany

By Abraham Jonah, Managing Editor, Middle East Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs Judith Garber travelled to Bonn, Germany, November 15-17. This was in the absence of Under Secretary for Political Affairs, Ambassador Thomas A. Shannon, who was unable to attend due to a family emergency, Acting Assistant Secretary Garber served as the head of U.S. delegation to the 23rd Conference of the Parties (COP-23) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change during the High-Level Segment. The Administration’s position on the Paris Agreement remains unchanged. The United States intends to withdraw from ... Read more

Johnson meets Iran president as he lobbies for jailed aid worker

DUBAI/LONDON  – British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson held almost an hour of talks with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday after flying to Tehran to seek the release of a jailed British-Iranian aid worker. “Both spoke forthrightly about the obstacles in the relationship and agreed on the need to make progress in all areas,” said a spokeswoman for Britain’s Foreign Office after Johnson concluded what was only the third visit to Iran by a British foreign minister in the past 14 years. The Foreign Office confirmed Johnson had raised “consular cases of dual nationals” during talks. These cases include Nazanin ... Read more

Forces declare liberation of all Iraqi lands from IS

Baghdad –  Forces on Saturday declared the liberation of all Iraqi lands from Islamic State (IS) militants after seizing the whole border areas and desert in western Iraq, the Iraqi military said. “The liberation of all Iraqi lands from the IS has been completed. “Our heroic forces have tightened their grab on the Iraqi-Syrian border,” Lt.-Gen. Abdul Yarallah, commander of western Iraq operations, said in a brief statement. Yarallah said that the army forces and the paramilitary Hashd Shaabi brigades, backed by Iraqi helicopter gunships, managed to take control of the whole desert areas between the provinces of Nineveh and ... Read more

UN chief calls for $1bn donor contributions for Nigeria, others

By Prudence Arobani New York –  UN Secretary-General António Guterres has called for one billion dollars donor contributions to the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to fund life-saving works in Nigeria and other countries. Guterres said at a pledging conference in New York that over the past 12 years, CERF has been at the forefront of humanitarian response. CERF is a pool of funding that supports critical relief operations in crises around the world. – as humanitarian needs have increased from $5.2 billion in 2005 to over $24 billion today. The UN chief thanked the 126 Member States and Observers, ... Read more

UN chief condemns killing of 14 peacekeepers in DR Congo

By Prudence Arobani New York –   UN Secretary-General António Guterres has condemned the killing of at least 14 peacekeepers in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), describing it as the “worst attack” on UN peacekeepers in recent history. The UN in a statement said late Thursday, the Company Operating Base of the UN Stabilisation Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) at Semuliki in Beni territory, North Kivu, was attacked by suspected Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) elements. The attack resulted in a protracted fighting between the suspected armed group elements and MONUSCO and Armed Forces of the DRC, known by ... Read more

IMF says Mauritius needs to clarify monetary policy

Port Louis –   The International Monetary Fund on Saturday says Mauritius needs to clarify its monetary policy to increase coherence. The IMF said in a statement that the primary objective of the central bank was to maintain price stability and promote “orderly and balanced” economic development. “There appears to be no consensus on the definition of price stability and on the role of the nominal exchange rate in the conduct of monetary policy,” the fund said. It said the perceived multiplicity of objectives can risk overburdening monetary policy, spur policy inconsistencies, and potentially undermine the central bank’s ability to ... Read more

Israel launches fresh airstrikes in Gaza Strip in response to Hamas rocket

Gaza –  Israel launched fresh airstrikes in the Gaza Strip on Saturday in response to rocket fire from the enclave and the Palestinian Islamist Hamas group said two of its gunmen were killed in the bombings. Militants fired at least three rockets toward Israeli towns from the Hamas-controlled strip on Friday, which was declared a “day of rage” by Palestinian factions protesting U.S. President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. “Israeli Air Force aircraft targeted four facilities belonging to the Hamas terror organisation in the Gaza Strip: Two weapons manufacturing sites, a weapons warehouse, a military compound,” the ... Read more

North Korea says UN envoy expressed willingness to ease tensions

Seoul –  The UN political affairs chief expressed willingness to ease tension on the Korean peninsula during a visit to North Korea on Wednesday, state media said on Saturday, amid a rising war of words over the North’s missile and nuclear programmes. North Korea also said in a statement carried by its official KCNA news agency that the UN envoy acknowledged the negative impact of sanctions on humanitarian aid to North Korea. Jeffrey Feltman, the highest-level UN official to visit North Korea since 2012, did not speak to newsmen upon arriving back from Pyongyang at Beijing airport on Saturday. “The ... Read more

Police shoot dead criminal behind killing of Chinese National in Zambia

Lusaka –   Police in Zambia on Friday shot dead one of the criminals behind the killing of a Chinese business executive in November. Zambia Police Spokesperson Esther Mwaata-Katongo said the criminal was shot dead in the early hours of Friday and that one gun was recovered as well as the vehicle the criminals used to commit the crime. Copperbelt Police Commissioner Charity Katanga also confirmed the shooting of the dangerous criminal who was among two others behind the killing of the Chinese national. She said the criminal was killed when the police pursued them in the industrial area of ... Read more

Sudan’s community clashes leave 45 dead in central region

Juba –  At least 45 people have been killed and 31 injured in the latest clashes between rival clans of the Dinka tribe in the central region of South Sudan, a local official said on Friday. Western Lakes Minister of Information Shadrack Bol Machok told newsmen that 45 people were killed and 31 injured in the wake of heavy fighting since Wednesday between the Rup and Pakam clans at Nap located some 80 km from the state capital of Rumbek. “Heavy fighting took place on Wednesday at around 8 p.m. at Nap when the Rup attacked the Pakam community leaving ... Read more

Japan to acquire air-launched missiles able to strike North Korea

Tokyo   –      Japan is to acquire medium-range, air-launched cruise missiles, capable of striking North Korea, a controversial purchase of what will become the longest-range munitions of a country that has renounced the right to wage war. Defence Minister, Itsunori Onodera, did not refer to North Korea when announcing the planned acquisition and said the new missiles would be for defence, with Japan still relying on the U.S. to strike any enemy bases. “We are planning to introduce the Joint Strike Missile (JSM) that will be mounted on the F-35A (stealth fighter) as ‘stand-off’ missiles that can be fired beyond the ... Read more

South Sudan blames Ugandan rebels for killing legislator

Juba   –     South Sudan has blamed rebels for killing a regional parliament legislator in neighbouring Uganda. Alfred Duku, minister for information, culture, youth and sports in South Sudan’s Yei River state said the MP, Jacob Gale, was killed late on Wednesday. Gale was killed in Uganda’s northwestern town of Yumbe, the minister said, adding that he had been shot by people loyal to Riek Machar Teny, South Sudan’s former vice president. Rebel spokesman, Lam Gabriel, denied they had carried out the assassination and instead blamed the government. “Our forces cannot cross to Uganda because we don’t have that mandate … ... Read more