International News

International News (112)

The former top military officer died on Monday morning, his family said. He was fully vaccinated.

Powell became the first African-American secretary of state in 2001 under Republican President George W Bush. He also sparked controversy for helping garner support for the Iraq War.

"We have lost a remarkable and loving husband, father, grandfather and a great American," the family said in a statement, thanking the staff at the Walter Reed Medical Center "for their caring treatment".

Powell had previously been diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer which may have made him more susceptible to Covid symptoms, according to US media, as well as Parkinson's disease.

President Joe Biden, calling Powell a "dear friend", said he had embodied the "highest ideals of both warrior and diplomat".

Former President Bush was among the first to pay tribute to "a great public servant" as well as "a family man and a friend" who "was such a favourite of presidents that he earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom - twice".

Mr Bush's vice-president Dick Cheney saluted Powell as "a man who loved his country and served her long and well" while also being "a trailblazer and role model for so many".

 

 

Source BBC

US singer R Kelly has been found guilty of exploiting his superstar status to run a scheme to sexually abuse women and children over two decades.

Eleven accusers, nine women and two men, took the stand over the searing six-week trial to describe sexual humiliation and violence at his hands.

After two days of deliberation, the jury found Kelly guilty on all the charges he was facing.

Sentencing is due on 4 May and he could spend the rest of his life behind bars.
The jury found Kelly, whose full name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, was the ringleader of a violent and coercive scheme that lured women and children for him to sexually abuse.

The singer - most famous for the award-winning song I Believe I Can Fly - was also found to have trafficked women between different US states.

Along with eight counts of sex trafficking, Kelly was found guilty of racketeering - a charge normally used against organised crime associations.

During the trial prosecutors detailed how his managers, security guards and other entourage members worked to assist him in his criminal enterprise.

One woman who testified that Kelly imprisoned, drugged and raped her said in a written statement after the verdict that she had "been hiding" from Kelly due to threats made against her since she went public with her accusations.

"I'm ready to start living my life free from fear and to start the healing process," added the woman, identified in court as Sonja.

Another woman who testified in court, Lizette Martinez, said she was "relieved" by the verdict.

"I'm so proud of the women who were able to speak their truths," she added.

Legal documents have revealed the mental torment that Kelly subjected his victims to. They were not allowed to eat or use the bathroom without his permission, he controlled what clothes they wore and made them call him "Daddy".

Gloria Allred, a lawyer who represented several victims, told reporters: "I've been practicing law for 47 years. During this time, I've pursued many sexual predators who have committed crimes against women and children.

"Of all the predators that I have pursued, Mr Kelly is the worst."

At a news conference outside the court on Monday, prosecutor Jacquelyn Kasulis said that the jury had sent a message to other powerful men like Kelly.

"No matter how long it takes, the long arm of the law will catch up with you," said Ms Kasulis.

The verdict comes 13 years after Kelly was acquitted of child pornography charges after a trial in the state of Illinois.

Many of the allegations heard in the trial were first laid out in the 2019 documentary Surviving R Kelly.

Victims were sometimes selected from his concert audiences, or were enticed to join him after being offered help with their fledgling music careers after chance encounters with the singer.

But after joining his entourage, they found that they were subjected to strict rules and aggressively punished if they violated what his team had dubbed "Rob's rules".

 

High-ranking army and police officials have been arrested in Madagascar in connection with a failed attempt to kill the country’s president, President Andry Rajoelina.

The arrested include five generals and several active police officers, meaning 21 people are now being investigated over last month’s assassination attempt.

local media said authorities have also seized a gun and $250 000 (£180,000).

The attempt on President Andry Rajoelina’s life was among ongoing turbulence rocking the island nation.

Madagascar has been under a lockdown since the Covid-19 pandemic hit last year and its southern region is in the grips of a famine.

Authorities announced last month that they had thwarted a plot to “eliminate and neutralise” a number of people, including the president.

It came a month after another failed effort to kill the head of the national police force.

Attorney General Berthine Razafiarivony said among the latest arrests were 12 “active military and police personnel, including five generals, two captains and five non-commissioned officers.”

Four of those arrested are retired national and foreign police and military personnel, while the final five are civilians, she said.

Several local people and foreigners were arrested last week.

Rajoelina, 47, initially seized power in 2009 from Marc Ravalomanana with the backing of the military.

He beat Ravalomanana in the last election in 2018 – although the vote was beset by allegations of fraud.

The former French colony has had a long history of coups and unrest since gaining independence from France in 1960.

Source: BBC《》RT

England has lifted almost all its remaining COVID-19 restrictions on Monday, according to its roadmap out of lockdown despite a continued rise in the number of daily infections.

FREEDOM DAY
This Monday is being described by the British government as Freedom Day, where almost all legal restrictions on social contact have been removed.

The detailed arrangement of the final step out of lockdown includes: no more limits on social contact to allow people to gather in groups of any size; removing the “one meter-plus” rule in almost all settings, except for specific places such as airports; no capacity caps on large scale events; and people are no longer required to work from home, among other changes. Face coverings will be recommended in some spaces, but not required by law.

The government said the removal of restrictions is the right step, despite the rising number of infections in much of the country.

Reactions by members of the public towards Freedom Day are mixed with some saying the virus has more “freedom” than the public, but others look forward to a life resembling normalcy.

CAUTION STILL NEEDED
Although 46.2 million adults, or 87.8 per cent of the population, have had the first dose of a vaccine, and 35.7 million are fully vaccinated, medical experts urge the public to exercise caution.

“THREAT TO THE WORLD”
Hours ahead of England’s Freedom Day, Imperial College London epidemiologist Neil Ferguson warned that the current wave of coronavirus infections in Britain could see up to 200 000 new cases a day.

The UK government’s decision to lift virtually all of England’s pandemic restrictions was also criticised by international experts as “a threat to the world.”

Over 1 200 scientists have backed a letter in the journal The Lancet last week, saying that the UK’s plan to lift the restrictions is an “unethical experiment,” which poses a serious threat to the rest of the world.

Some said other countries will imitate England for political expediency.

Source: Pindula News; XINHUA《》RT

 

Haiti’s President Jovenel Moïse has been killed in an attack on his home in the nation’s capital, according to the country’s interim prime minister.

Claude Joseph said the president’s residence in Port-au-Prince was stormed by unidentified armed men at 01:00 local time (05:00 GMT).

The First Lady was reportedly also injured in the attack.

Joseph said that “all measures had been taken to guarantee to continuance of the state”.

Jovenel Moïse, 53, had been in power since February 2017, after his predecessor, Michel Martelly stepped down.

Moïse’s time in office was rocky as he faced accusations of corruption and was challenged by waves of often violent anti-government protests.

There were widespread protests in the capital and other cities earlier this year, as people demanded his resignation.

Haiti’s opposition said that Moïse’s five-year term should have ended on 7 February 2021, five years to the day since Martelly stepped down.

Moïse, however, insisted he had one more year to serve as he did not take office until 7 February 2017.

The year-long delay was caused by allegations of electoral fraud which eventually saw the result of the 2015 election being annulled and fresh polls being held, which were won by Moïse.

Source: BBC《》RT

The Canadian military is on standby to help evacuate residents in British Columbia where wildfires linked to a record-breaking heatwave threaten to engulf communities.

Emergency services say they are now trying to control more than 170 fires, many triggered by lightning strikes.

Many western areas are tinder-dry followed the unprecedented hot weather.

Meanwhile, at least two people are reported to have died in the village of Lytton that was destroyed by fire.

Lytton recorded Canada's highest-ever temperature of 49.6C (121.3F) on Tuesday.

About 350 military personnel as well as aircraft are being readied to help threatened communities, Canadian defence Minister Harjit Sajjan told reporters.

The announcement came after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau held emergency talks with ministers as well as provincial and indigenous leaders from affected areas.

"We will be there to help," he said.

Source: BBC《》RT

Colombia President Iván Duque escaped unhurt when his helicopter was shot at late Friday afternoon, in an attack that left bullet holes in the aircraft.

None of the passengers, including several top ministers, were killed, Duque said in a video address just after the attack.

He, however, did say not whether anyone had been injured in the attack which took place near the border with Venezuela.

Duque called the shooting “cowardly” and vowed to continue “the fight against narcotrafficking, against terrorism and against the organized crime groups that operate in the country.”

The attack Friday took place as Duque was flying to the border city of Cúcuta from the town of Sardinata in the troubled region of Catatumbo, where the coca crops that are used to make cocaine flourish, as do the armed groups that control the drug trade, New York Times reported.

These groups include members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, as well as the National Liberation Army, known as the ELN.

In 2016, Duque’s predecessor, Juan Manuel Santos, signed a peace deal with FARC but some of the group’s members did not sign the peace deal and violence has continued.

The Colombian government has fought left-wing guerrillas, drug cartels, paramilitary operations and other criminal elements for generations.

Source: New York Times《》RT

 

The number of deaths related to Covid-19 has passed 500,000 in Brazil, the second highest in the world, as experts say the outbreak could worsen amid slow vaccination and the start of winter.

The virus continues to spread as President Jair Bolsonaro refuses to back measures like social distancing.

The health institute Fiocruz says the situation is “critical”. Only 15% of adults are fully vaccinated.

Congress is investigating the government’s handling of the pandemic.

Dr. Natalia Pasternak Taschner, a microbiologist at the Question of Science Institute, told the BBC she saw little sign that the rise in victims would slow.

“People in Brazil are tired and they normalise death now, so I think we still have a long way to go,” she said.

“If we’re not successful in changing the behaviour of people and if we don’t have campaigns for mask wearing, social distancing and vaccinations coming directly from the central government we’re not going to be able to control it.”

President Bolsonaro has been heavily criticised for not implementing a coordinated national response and for his scepticism toward vaccines, lockdowns and mask-wearing requirements, which he has sought to loosen.

In rallies in Rio de Janeiro, Brasilia and elsewhere, furious Brazilians carried banners with slogans like “Bolsonaro must go” or simply “500,000”.

“His position on Covid and his denialism are absurd. He has abandoned reality and common sense. There is no explaining this, it is surreal,” Robert Almeida, a 50-year-old marching in Rio, told AFP.

Protester Denise Azevedo told Reuters: “Herd immunity won’t do any good. The only immunity you can get is with the vaccine. There is no early treatment. I have lost millions of friends, almost lost a cousin… people are orphans, fatherless, motherless, and childless.”

The president has said the impact of lockdowns on the economy would be worse than the virus and insists he has done all he can to buy vaccines from several countries.

But the opposition accuses him of delaying vaccine orders for political reasons, as he has consistently played down the severity of the pandemic.

The outbreak in Brazil has been fuelled by more transmissible variants of the virus, including the one first identified in the Amazon region and now known as Gamma. An average of 70,000 cases has been confirmed daily in the last week.

“Brazil faces a critical scenario of community transmission… with the possibility of worsening in the coming weeks due to the start of winter,” Fiocruz said.

The rate of occupancy of intensive care unit beds remains at or above 80% in most states, and experts warn the start of winter in the southern hemisphere, next week, could result in more infections.

In a tweet, Lidiane Cunha said her dad had waited four days for intensive care before he died in a crowded hospital unit in Brazil. “I keep thinking that had he received proper care earlier, he would have been alive,” she wrote.

On Twitter, Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga expressed solidarity with the “fathers, mothers, friends and relatives” of those who had died, saying: “500,000 lives lost due to the pandemic that affects our Brazil and the whole world.”

Only the US has reported more deaths related to Covid-19.

The seven-day daily average of deaths in Brazil has been above 1,500 since March. Gonzalo Vecina, the former head of the health regulator Anvisa, said the slow progress of the vaccine programme had and would continue to cost lives.

“There are 500,000 deaths, and unfortunately, it will continue to increase because it will take some time to increase vaccination coverage. Maybe this year will also be difficult because we depend on the delivery of vaccines, which were purchased very late,” he said.

Source: BBC《》RT

Kim Jong-un admits North Korea facing a 'tense' food shortage

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has formally acknowledged that his country is facing food shortages.

Addressing a meeting of senior leaders, Mr Kim said: "The people's food situation is now getting tense".

He said the agricultural sector had failed to meet its grain targets due to typhoons last year, which caused flooding.

There are reports that food prices have spiked, with NK News reporting that a kilogram of bananas costs $45 (£32).

North Korea has closed its borders to contain the spread of Covid-19.

Trade with China has plummeted as a result. North Korea relies on China for food, fertilizer and fuel.

North Korea is also struggling under international sanctions, imposed because of its nuclear programmes.

The authoritarian leader of the single-party state talked about the food situation at the ruling Workers' Party central committee which started this week in the capital Pyongyang.

During the meeting, Mr Kim said that national industrial output had grown by a quarter compared to the same period last year.

Officials were expected to discuss relations with the US and South Korea during the event but no details have been released yet.

In April, Mr Kim made a a rare admission of looming hardship, calling on officials to "wage another, more difficult 'Arduous March' in order to relieve our people of the difficulty, even a little".

The Arduous March is a term used by North Korea officials to refer to the country's struggle during the 1990s famine, when the fall of the Soviet Union left North Korea without crucial aid.

The total number of North Koreans who starved to death at the time is not known, but estimates range up to three million.

Source: BBC《》RT

 

Benjamin Netanyahu has lost his 12-year hold on power in Israel after the country’s parliament voted in a new coalition government.

A new “government of change” will be led by right-wing nationalist Naftali Bennett of the Yamina party.

He will lead an unprecedented coalition of parties which was approved with a razor-thin majority of 60-59.

Bennett will be prime minister until September 2023 as part of a power-sharing deal.

He will then hand power over to Yair Lapid, leader of the centrist Yesh Atid, for a further two years.

Netanyahu – Israel’s longest-serving leader who has dominated its political landscape for years – will remain head of the right-wing Likud party and become leader of the opposition.

During the debate in the Knesset (parliament), a defiant Netanyahu promised: “We’ll be back.”

US President Joe Biden has already sent his congratulations, saying he looks forward to working with Bennett.

Why has this happened?

Netanyahu has served a record-breaking five terms, first from 1996 to 1999, then continuously from 2009 to 2021.

He called an election in April 2019 but failed to win enough support to form a new coalition government. Two more elections followed, each of which ended inconclusively.

The third election resulted in a government of national unity where Netanyahu agreed to share power with the then-opposition leader Benny Gantz. But the arrangement collapsed in December, triggering a fourth election.

Although Likud emerged as the largest party in the 120-seat Knesset, Mr Netanyahu was again unable to form a governing coalition and the task was handed to Lapid, whose centrist Yesh Atid party had emerged as the second largest.

Opposition to Netanyahu staying in power had grown, not just among the left and centre but also among right-wing parties that are ordinarily ideologically aligned to Likud, including Yamina.

Although Yamina came joint fifth in the election with only seven seats, its support was critical if any potential coalition government was to have a majority in parliament. After weeks of negotiations, Lapid brought Yamina on board as part of a constellation of parties whose only common goal was to remove Netanyahu from office.

The agreement involving eight factions with the 61 seats required for a majority was signed on 2 June, just half an hour before a deadline was due to expire, effectively sealing Netanyahu’s fate.

What will the new government be like?

In appearance, Bennett’s government will be unlike any which has preceded it in Israel’s 73-year history.

The alliance contains parties which have vast ideological differences, and perhaps most significantly includes the first independent Arab party to be part of a potential ruling coalition, Raam. It is also expected to have a record number of eight female ministers.

The inclusion of Raam and left-wing non-Arab Israeli parties means there could be friction on issues such as Israeli policies towards Palestinians – Yamina and another right-wing party, New Hope, are staunch supporters of Jewish settlement in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, for instance.

There could also be difficulties over social policies – while some parties want to advance gay rights, such as recognising same sex marriages, Raam, an Islamist party, is against this.

In addition, some parties want to relax religious restrictions more extensively than Yamina – a national-religious party – will likely allow.

Bennett has indicated his government would focus on areas where agreement was possible, like economic issues or the coronavirus pandemic, while avoiding more contentious matters.

“Nobody will have to give up their ideology,” he recently said, “but all will have to postpone the realisation of some of their dreams… We’ll focus on what can be achieved, rather than arguing about what cannot.”

Source: BBC《》RT

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