• Buhari party wins majority of Nigeria states in regional vote

    AFP News - Tue, Apr 14, 2015

    The party of Nigeria's president-elect Muhammadu Buhari has won governorship elections in a majority of the country's 36 states, building its strength nationwide after a historic presidential win, official results on Monday showed. The All Progressives Congress (APC) held at least 21 governor's seats following Saturday's regional polls but could add to that tally with results from a handful of states still pending. President Goodluck Jonathan's People's Democratic Party (PDP) had controlled the federal and most state governments since the end of military rule in 1999 but has suffered sweeping losses in the ongoing election cycle. Jonathan's loss to Buhari in the presidential vote two weeks ago was the first ever democratic change of power at the federal level since Nigeria gained independence from Britain in 1960. More »Buhari party wins majority of Nigeria states in regional vote

  • Defiant Turkey draws red line over Armenia genocide recognition

    AFP News - Tue, Apr 14, 2015

    Rejecting worldwide pressure, Turkey has drawn a defiant red line in refusing to recognise the mass killings of Armenians in World War I as genocide on the 100th anniversary year of the tragedy. Turkey's tough approach on the issue was shown Sunday by Ankara's incendiary reaction to the use by Pope Francis of the word "genocide" to describe the killings, summoning the Vatican nuncio and recalling the Turkish envoy to the Holy See. Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, in an unusual attack by a world leader on the pontiff, accused Francis of a "one-sided" and "inappropriate" attitude that he said ignored the suffering of Muslims in World War I. The exchanges have intensified tensions ahead of the 100th the anniversary of the start of the killings on April 24. "The New Crusade," fumed the Aydinlik daily A Turkish government source told AFP that Ankara had been "truly surprised" by the comments, which were made in a Mass in Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican to mark the Ottoman killings of Armenians. More »Defiant Turkey draws red line over Armenia genocide recognition

  • France's Le Pen pulls out of poll after family feud

    AFP News - Tue, Apr 14, 2015

    Jean-Marie Le Pen, founder of France's National Front (FN), pulled out of regional elections Monday and anointed his granddaughter in his place, after a fierce public spat with his daughter who now leads the far-right party. The move promises to ease tensions both within the Le Pen family and the anti-European, anti-immigration FN, which has enjoyed considerable electoral success in recent years as Marine Le Pen seeks to clean up its racist and anti-Semitic image. The 86-year-old party founder told the Le Figaro magazine he would not be standing in the southeast of France in December elections even though "I think I was the best candidate for the National Front". More »France's Le Pen pulls out of poll after family feud

  • German literary lion Gunter Grass dies at 87

    AFP News - Tue, Apr 14, 2015

    Germany's Nobel-winning author, Gunter Grass, who acted as a moral compass for many in the postwar nation but later provoked criticism over his own World War II past, died Monday aged 87, his publishers said. The writer, one of Germany's most influential if controversial intellectual figures, died in a hospital in the northern city of Luebeck, the Steidl publishing house said. Grass achieved world fame with his debut and best-known novel "The Tin Drum" in 1959, quickly followed by "Cat and Mouse" and "Dog Years", all dealing with the rise of Nazism in his city of birth, Danzig, now Gdansk in Poland. He pressed Germany for decades to face up to its Nazi past, winning the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1999, when the Swedish Academy said his "frolicsome black fables portray the forgotten face of history". More »German literary lion Gunter Grass dies at 87

  • Marion Marechal-Le Pen: The poster girl of French far-right

    AFP News - Tue, Apr 14, 2015

    Marion Marechal-Le Pen was just two when she made her political debut, pictured in the arms of her grandfather Jean-Marie in an election poster for his far-right National Front (FN) party. Fast-forward 23 years and the blonde, telegenic mother is France's youngest lawmaker and a rising star of the FN, with ultra-conservative views that often position her to the right even of her aunt, party chief Marine Le Pen. One of the politically active members of the Le Pen family, Marion appears to be patriarch Jean-Marie's favourite and it came as no surprise that he suggested she take his place in upcoming regional elections, after a public spat with his daughter Marine forced him to stand down. More »Marion Marechal-Le Pen: The poster girl of French far-right

  • Israel slams Russia decision to lift Iran missile ban

    AFP News - Tue, Apr 14, 2015

    Israel on Monday denounced Russia's decision to lift a ban on supplying Iran with sophisticated S-300 air defence missile systems as proof of Tehran's newfound "legitimacy" following nuclear talks. "This is a direct result of the legitimacy that Iran is receiving from the nuclear deal that is being prepared, and proof that the Iranian economic growth which follows the lifting of sanctions will be exploited for arming itself and not for the welfare of the Iranian people," Israeli Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz said in a statement. Moscow's decision to lift the ban comes after a major breakthrough in talks between world powers and Iran over its disputed nuclear programme, which saw the parties agreeing on a framework deal on April 2. The emerging deal, which is to be finalised by June 30, would see Iran would curtail its nuclear activities in exchange for relief from punishing economic sanctions, sparking a welter of harsh criticism from Israel. More »Israel slams Russia decision to lift Iran missile ban

  • Sudan votes in controversial poll set to extend Bashir rule

    AFP News - Tue, Apr 14, 2015

    Sudan was voting Monday in elections boycotted by the mainstream opposition that are expected to extend the quarter-century rule of President Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted on war crimes charges. With 15 little-known candidates running against him, 71-year-old Bashir is virtually unchallenged in the vote, which has already been criticised by the international community. Voters will also choose national and state lawmakers in the three-day poll, with Bashir's ruling National Congress Party expected to dominate. Bashir voted early at the St Francis School, smiling and waving as he entered the polling station with one of his two wives amid heavy security. More »Sudan votes in controversial poll set to extend Bashir rule

  • Republican Senator Rubio running for president: US media

    AFP News - Tue, Apr 14, 2015

    Senator Marco Rubio announced to donors Monday that he is launching a US presidential campaign, becoming the latest -- and youngest -- Republican in the race to succeed Barack Obama in the White House. The 43-year-old first-term senator aims to contrast himself with older contenders like fellow Floridian Jeb Bush, his 62-year-old mentor-turned-rival for their party's nomination, and Democrat frontrunner Hillary Clinton, 67, who announced her candidacy on Sunday. Rubio wants to take Americans beyond the dynastic Bush-Clinton dynamic that has ruled US politics for much of the last quarter century. Bush, who expected to officially announce his candidacy in the coming weeks, is the son and brother of two presidents, while Clinton is the wife of former president Bill Clinton and was Obama's first secretary of state. More »Republican Senator Rubio running for president: US media

  • Suspect sought after North Carolina college shooting

    AFP News - Mon, Apr 13, 2015

    One person was shot and reportedly killed Monday on a community college campus in the southern US state of North Carolina, and the suspected gunman was still on the run, officials said. The entire campus is under lockdown," said Wayne Community College in a notice on its website. A Goldsboro police official told AFP by telephone that there had been one "victim," but he was unable to confirm whether that individual had died. The Goldsboro News-Argus newspaper quoted city manager Scott Stevens as confirming that one person had been killed in the early morning shooting. More »Suspect sought after North Carolina college shooting

  • Iraq PM says will ask US for more arms, strikes

    AFP News - Mon, Apr 13, 2015

    Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said Monday he will use a visit to the United States to seek increased air support and arms deliveries to aid Baghdad's battle against jihadists. "Number one is a marked increase in the air campaign and the delivery of arms," Abadi told journalists when asked what he wants during a visit to Washington, where he is to meet President Barack Obama on Tuesday. Abadi also said that "we want strict measures to stop the flow of foreign terrorists to Iraq", and that international efforts are needed to curb oil and antiquities smuggling, by which the jihadists gain funding. - After Tikrit - He is expected to ask that Iraq be allowed to defer payment for arms purchases, given its major shortage of funds because of a decline in oil prices and the cost of its war against the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group. More »Iraq PM says will ask US for more arms, strikes

  • Beijing limits visits by mainland Chinese to Hong Kong

    AFP News - Mon, Apr 13, 2015

    Beijing has scrapped unlimited entry to Hong Kong for mainland Chinese visitors whose voracious shopping for everything from baby milk powder to iPhones has emptied stores and stoked bitter resentment in the protest-hit city. An influx of millions of Chinese visitors to Hong Kong has become the latest source of strain, prompting protests by residents who are hostile to China's increasing influence. "Anything that increases tension between Hong Kong and mainland society is not tolerated," city leader Leung Chun-ying said Monday as he confirmed a limit on the number of visits which mainlanders from Shenzhen can make. Mainland authorities have now stopped visas that allow residents from the border city of Shenzhen to make unlimited trips to Hong Kong, he said, restricting them to one visit per week. More »Beijing limits visits by mainland Chinese to Hong Kong

  • Kenya 'grass cutter' gang rapists jailed for 15 years

    AFP News - Mon, Apr 13, 2015

    A Kenyan court convicted three men on Monday for the brutal gang rape of a schoolgirl, boosting their original punishment of being made to cut grass to 15 years in jail, her legal team said. "Today’s sentencing is sure to have a ripple effect across the nation, and hopefully the region at large," said lawyer Kimberly Brown, from the campaign group Equality Now, which supported the schoolgirl. The then 16-year-old victim, known by the pseudonym Liz, was reportedly attacked, beaten and then raped by six men as she returned from her grandfather's funeral in western Kenya in June 2013. "While Kenya boasts one of the most progressive legal and policy frameworks for addressing sexual violence, Liz's case and countless others have revealed significant failures of local authorities to adequately address sexual violence." - Scale of rape 'astounding' - The case made global headlines after it emerged that three of the alleged rapists whom Liz identified were ordered by police to cut grass around the police station as punishment. More »Kenya 'grass cutter' gang rapists jailed for 15 years

  • Nigeria's ruling party regains control of key oil state: election results

    AFP News - Mon, Apr 13, 2015

    Nigeria's ruling party on Monday won back control of the key oil-producing state of Rivers, official results showed on Monday, after rigging claims by the main opposition. Nyesom Wike, from President Goodluck Jonathan's Peoples Democratic Party, won 1,029,102 votes, while Dakuku Peterside, of the All Progressives Congress (APC), won 124,896, the electoral commission said. Tensions were high because outgoing governor Rotimi Amaechi had switched sides from the PDP to the APC in 2013 and become a vocal critic of Jonathan's government. Rivers voted nearly 95 percent in favour of Jonathan but the president lost the election nationally to the APC's Muhammadu Buhari, who secured the first opposition win in the country's history. More »Nigeria's ruling party regains control of key oil state: election results

  • Dozens go on trial over Turkey's worst mining disaster

    AFP News - Mon, Apr 13, 2015

    Dozens of suspects, including former top company managers, went on trial Monday over modern Turkey's worst mining disaster that left 301 miners dead in the western town of Soma and exposed major safety shortcomings in the industry. Of the forty-five people standing trial, eight are former top managers from the Soma Komur group that ran the mine who are charged with murder and face sentences of 25 years in prison for each of the 301 fatalities last year. The trial, which is expected to be lengthy, is being heard around 50 kilometres (30 miles) from Soma in western Turkey by a court in the town of Akhisar. Some grieving relatives touched the names of victims with their hands, hunching over the banner with emotion. More »Dozens go on trial over Turkey's worst mining disaster

  • At least nine dead after migrant boat sinks off Libya

    AFP News - Mon, Apr 13, 2015

    Italian coastguards have recovered nine bodies from the sea after a boat carrying more than 150 migrants sank off the coast of Libya, they said on Monday. Rescuers managed to save 144 of the migrants and were still searching for others after their vessel overturned 80 miles (128 kilometres) off the Libyan coast. Late Sunday, the Italian coastguards said they had rescued a total of 2,782 people over the weekend from the Mediterranean, with the good weather prompting an increased number of migrant boats to set off for Italy. The number of migrants entering the EU illegally in 2014 almost tripled to 276,000, according to Frontex, nearly 220,000 of them arriving via the Mediterranean. More »At least nine dead after migrant boat sinks off Libya

  • Achilles heels? Scandals, gaffes could haunt Hillary

    AFP News - Mon, Apr 13, 2015

    Hillary Clinton looks ahead to 2016 as the year Americans may finally elect their first-ever female president, but her past is burdened with blemishes and gaffes that could compromise if not sink her campaign. Arkansas employee Paula Jones sued Clinton for sexual harassment. The president testified in 1998 that he had intimate relations with former reporter Gennifer Flowers. Years earlier, he had sat next to Hillary and insisted on CBS's "60 Minutes" that accusations of a Clinton-Flowers affair were false. More »Achilles heels? Scandals, gaffes could haunt Hillary

  • Three-year-old accidentally shoots baby dead in US: reports

    AFP News - Mon, Apr 13, 2015

    A three-year-old boy in Cleveland killed a baby on Sunday when a gun that he picked up went off and hit the one-year-old in the face, US media reported. "It’s a sad day for Cleveland," newsnet5, an ABC affiliate, quoted Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams as saying. More »Three-year-old accidentally shoots baby dead in US: reports

  • EU moves closer to counting calories in alcoholic drinks

    AFP News - Mon, Apr 13, 2015

    Health conscious tipplers may be closer to finding out just how many calories they are imbibing as consumer advocates push for EU nutritional labelling on alcoholic drinks in the face of strong industry resistance. The European Parliament took a first step last month when it called on the European Commission to draw up legislation requiring such labelling by 2016. It was sweet revenge for Glenis Willmott, a Labour MEP from Britain who steered the proposal through the committee after a first attempt failed in 2011 with what she said was heavy lobbying from the drinks industry. "Consumers have a right to know that a glass of wine has the same number of calories as a slice of cake and that drinking while pregnant can harm your baby," she said. More »EU moves closer to counting calories in alcoholic drinks

  • NGOs condemn donors over slow Gaza reconstruction

    AFP News - Mon, Apr 13, 2015

    Six months after donors pledged billions of dollars (euros) for devastated Gaza, most of the money remains blocked, and reconstruction efforts are painfully slow, a coalition of aid groups said Monday. The report also condemned the international community for failing to help open the blockaded Palestinian territories up to each other, to broker a lasting ceasefire with Israel and to hold the two sides accountable. "If we do not change course now to address these core issues the situation in Gaza will only continue to worsen," Association of International Development Agencies (AIDA) said. "Without economic, social and political stability, a return to conflict -- and the cycles of damage and donor-funded reconstruction that accompany it -- is inevitable," the coalition added. More »NGOs condemn donors over slow Gaza reconstruction

  • US, Europe demand Libya ceasefire as embassies attacked

    AFP News - Mon, Apr 13, 2015

    The United States and European powers pressed Libya's rival factions to set an "unconditional" ceasefire at talks restarting on Monday, as two attacks on foreign embassies were linked to Islamic State militants. Morocco is hosting a UN-backed dialogue between representatives of the two rival governments controlling the country, separate to talks that were to resume Monday in Algeria. An AFP photographer said a vehicle used by the security guards was riddled with bullet holes, while it appeared that the main embassy building had not been hit. More »US, Europe demand Libya ceasefire as embassies attacked

  • World must do more to free Nigerian schoolgirl hostages: Malala

    AFP News - Mon, Apr 13, 2015

    Nobel peace laureate Malala Yousafzai on Monday criticised Nigerian and world leaders for not doing enough to help free 219 schoolgirls kidnapped a year ago by Boko Haram militants. "In my opinion, Nigerian leaders and the international community have not done enough to help you," she said in a letter to the teenagers, on the eve of the first anniversary of their abduction. Fifty-seven managed to escape soon afterwards but the remainder have not been seen since an appearance in a Boko Haram video in May last year. Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau has claimed they have all converted to Islam and been "married off". More »World must do more to free Nigerian schoolgirl hostages: Malala

  • Brazilians march against Rousseff government

    AFP News - Mon, Apr 13, 2015

    Hundreds of thousands of Brazilians took to the streets Sunday, venting anger over government corruption and a souring economy a month after protests gathered more than a million people. Police put turnout at 682,000 people who marched in 195 cities, while organizers gave a total estimate of 1.5 million -- around half of them attending the largest gathering, in business center Sao Paulo. More »Brazilians march against Rousseff government

  • China, Russia and eastern Europe boost defence spending

    AFP News - Mon, Apr 13, 2015

    Military spending increased sharply in 2014 in China and Russia and the Ukraine conflict prompted eastern European countries to boost their defence programmes, according to a study by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) released Monday. The United States remains the world's biggest spender on defence, but it spent 6.4 percent less year-on-year in 2014, while China, Russia and Saudi Arabia -- the world's next three highest spenders -- all increased their expenditures. More »China, Russia and eastern Europe boost defence spending

  • Clinton launches White House bid to champion 'everyday Americans'

    AFP News - Mon, Apr 13, 2015

    Casting herself as a champion of "everyday Americans," Hillary Clinton on Sunday finally launched her campaign to become the first female tenant of the White House. Long assumed to be the front-runner for her Democratic Party's presidential nomination, Clinton's formal entry into the race unleashes her fundraising machine and empowers her to parry Republican attacks. "I'm running for president," a beaming Clinton said in a slickly produced video that quickly went viral after it was posted on her revamped campaign website Sunday. "Everyday Americans need a champion, and I want to be that champion," she said in a two-minute clip featuring, upbeat middle-class families from a variety of backgrounds sharing their aspirations. More »Clinton launches White House bid to champion 'everyday Americans'

  • Germany calls on Russia, Ukraine to move to next phase of peace deal

    AFP News - Mon, Apr 13, 2015

    German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has called on Russia and Ukraine to set in motion the next phase of the shaky Minsk peace accords aimed at stopping the fighting in east Ukraine, ahead of talks about their implementation in Berlin on Monday. "We expect both Moscow and Kiev to seize the central issue of the implementation of the next phase of Minsk," Steinmeier said in an interview in Monday's edition of Die Welt newspaper. The next phase foresees "the preparation of local elections in the areas occupied by the separatists, but also humanitarian access and reconstruction in eastern Ukraine," Steinmeier said. The German minister will host his counterparts from Ukraine, Russia and France in Berlin on Monday to study the implementation of the Minsk accords that have stopped much of the fighting despite frequent violations. More »Germany calls on Russia, Ukraine to move to next phase of peace deal

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