Ex New York mayor Giuliani joins Trump legal team

  WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani is joining President Donald Trump’s personal legal team, Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow announced on Thursday. A week after federal agents raided the offices and residence of longtime Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, Sekulow sought to bolster the force protecting the president from mounting challenges on several sides. “The president said, ‘Rudy is great. He has been my friend for a long time and wants […]

WWII bomb forces mass evacuation in central Berlin

by Frank ZELLER Agence France Presse BERLIN, Germany (AFP) — The planned disposal of an unexploded World War II bomb Friday will force a mass evacuation around Berlin’s central railway station and likely spark transport chaos in the German capital. Trains, trams, buses and even some flights at the city’s Tegel airport will be halted when a police bomb squad starts defusing the British 500-kilogram (1,100-pound) bomb unearthed on a building site. Authorities have declared […]

US Senate narrowly confirms Trump’s new NASA chief

WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — The US Senate on Thursday narrowly confirmed President Donald Trump’s pick to head the space agency NASA, over objections from Democrats who warned he lacked a technical background. Jim Bridenstine, a congressman from Oklahoma, US Navy veteran, and former pilot, was confirmed on a 50-49 vote and will become the 13th administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration seven months after Trump named him to lead the agency. Bridenstine, […]

Cubans have high hopes for their little-known new leader

by Rigoberto DIAZ Agence France Presse HAVANA, Cuba (AFP) — Despite being in the upper echelons of Cuba’s government for the past two decades, new President Miguel Diaz-Canel is not exactly well known. Most people on the island of more than 11 million know that, unlike the Castro brothers, he wasn’t part of the 1959 revolution. Some aren’t sure. But that hasn’t stopped Cubans from welcoming their new president, hopeful he will advance reforms to […]

Volcano erupts in Japan, no-go warning issued

TOKYO, Japan (AFP) — A volcano erupted in southern Japan on Thursday, spewing steam and ash hundreds of meters into the air, as authorities warned locals not to approach the mountain. “It was confirmed that rocks fell because of the eruption” near Mount Io, part of the Mount Kirishima group of volcanoes, said Makoto Saito, an official of the meteorological agency. “There is a possibility that (the volcano) will become more active,” he told reporters, […]

S. Korea’s Moon: a peace treaty ‘must be pursued’

SEOUL, South Korea (AFP) — A peace treaty to formally end the Korean War “must be pursued,” South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Thursday, ahead of a summit next week with Kim Jong Un, leader of the nuclear-armed North. “The armistice that has dragged on for 65 years must come to an end,” Moon told media company representatives at the presidential Blue House, adding: “The signing of a peace treaty must be pursued after an […]

Quake hits near Iran nuclear power plant

TEHRAN, Iran (AFP) — A moderately strong 5.9-magnitude earthquake Thursday hit Iran’s southern region of Bushehr, home to the country’s only nuclear power plant, without causing casualties or damage, media reported. “The earthquake had no effect on the activity of the plant,” Mahmoud Jafari, project manager at the Russian-built Bushehr nuclear plant, said according to the Telegram news channel of Iran’s state television. The University of Tehran’s seismology center said the epicenter of the earthquake […]

UN in security talks with Syria after chemical probe put on hold

  by Maya Gebeily Agence France Presse BEIRUT, Lebanon (AFP) — UN security experts have said they were negotiating with Syrian and Russian authorities for international chemical inspectors to deploy to the site of an alleged toxic gas attack near Damascus, after a reconnaissance mission came under fire. The team from the world’s chemical arms watchdog has not yet been able to begin its field work in Douma, where dozens were killed in a suspected […]

Macron faces mass protests as opponents join forces

by Katy Lee Agence France Presse PARIS, France (AFP) — French President Emmanuel Macron faces mass protests Thursday as trade unionists seek to galvanize angry students, public sector workers, and striking train drivers into joining forces against him almost a year after he came to office. The CGT union has urged the broad spectrum of groups opposed to Macron’s reforms to come together on the streets, with some left-wingers dreaming of a re-run of the […]

Trump says hopeful for Kim summit, but not afraid to walk away

by Jerome Cartillier and Andrew Beatty in Washington Agence France Presse PALM BEACH, United States (AFP) — US President Donald Trump said Wednesday he hoped his improbable summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un would go ahead — but warned he was not afraid to walk away if the meeting appears unlikely to be “fruitful.” The odds of the Trump-Kim talks taking place were boosted by the shock news of secret weekend talks between CIA […]

End of era in Cuba as Castro hands torch to Diaz-Canel

by Alexandre Grosbois Agence France Presse HAVANA, Cuba (AFP) — Cuba is poised for the end of an era on Thursday as President Raul Castro steps down, formally handing power to his long-time deputy Miguel Diaz-Canel — and thereby ending his family’s six-decade grip on the island. The silver-haired Diaz-Canel, 57 — a top Communist Party figure who has served as first vice president since 2013 — will become the island’s first leader born after […]

Reluctant Abe says US, Japan to start talks on ‘trade deals’

by Jerome Cartillier and Andrew Beatty in Washington Agence France Presse PALM BEACH, United States (AFP) — Facing US pressure, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Wednesday that Tokyo was ready to begin talks about “trade deals” with the United States, but was careful not to commit to a bilateral deal. After rising demands for fairer trade from his US host President Donald Trump, Abe said “we have agreed to start talks for free, fair […]