UN envoy calls for ‘robust monitoring regime’ in Yemen

By Philippe Rater Agence France-Presse UN special envoy Martin Griffiths on Friday called for the urgent creation of a strong monitoring mechanism in war-ravaged Yemen, one day after fighting parties agreed to a ceasefire at a vital port. Yemen’s warring factions accepted at UN-brokered talks in Sweden on Thursday a truce on Hodeida port, a key gateway for aid and food imports to a country where 14 million people stand on the brink of famine. “A […]

Sandy Hook school evacuated over threat on anniversary of gun massacre

(AFP) — US elementary school Sandy Hook, the scene of a horrific shooting that left 26 children and teachers dead, was evacuated Friday after receiving a bomb threat on the sixth anniversary of the massacre. A police spokesman from Newton, Connecticut told AFP all of the students were evacuated without incident. A police search of the premises did not turn up an explosive device, though school administrators closed the institution for the day as a […]

China says to suspend extra tariffs on US cars, parts

BEIJING, China (AFP) — China announced Friday it will suspend extra tariffs added to US-made cars and auto parts for three months starting on January 1 as part of the trade war truce with the United States. Beijing raised tariffs on American-made cars and auto parts this summer by 25 percent in retaliation for US tariffs on $50 billion of Chinese goods. “Suspension of the tariffs is a concrete measure to implement the consensus reached […]

US-backed forces expel IS from east Syria hub

  by Rouba EL HUSSEINI Agence France Prese BEIRUT, Lebanon (AFP) — Kurdish-led forces seized the Islamic State’s main hub of Hajin Friday, a milestone in a massive and costly US-backed operation to eradicate the jihadists from eastern Syria. The Syrian Democratic Forces secured Hajin, the largest settlement in what is the last pocket of territory controlled by IS, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. “After a week of heavy fighting and air strikes, […]

Severe tropical cyclone bears down on north Australia coast

  SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — Australians in the north east of the country are bracing for a severe tropical cyclone, with authorities warning of flash flooding and destructive winds. Cyclone Owen has been strengthening off the north coast of Queensland state, in warm waters in the Gulf of Carpentaria, and is expected to reach category four — defined as a severe tropical cyclone with very destructive winds — when it makes landfall early Saturday morning. […]

Under-fire UNAIDS chief offers to resign in June

by Ben Simon Agence France-Presse GENEVE, Switzerland (AFP) — Scandal-plagued UNAIDS head Michel Sidibe offered Thursday to resign in June, following an expert report that said his “defective leadership” had plunged the agency into crisis. The timeline for the departure, confirmed by the agency, amounted to a concession from a leader accused of fostering a work environment that has tolerated bullying, sexual harassment and a culture of fear among staff. Agency spokeswoman Sophie Barton-Knott confirmed […]

Protests in Japan as work to relocate US base resumes

  TOKYO, Japan (AFP) — Japan on Friday resumed work to relocate a controversial US military airbase in Okinawa, prompting protests and “strong anger” from the local governor. Okinawa residents have for years called for the relocation of a US base in a populated part of the southern island, but they want it moved elsewhere in the country, rather than to the remote site on Okinawa favored by the government. “I can’t help but feel […]

13 feared dead in flooded Indian ‘rat hole’ mine

NEW DELHI, India (AFP) — At least 13 miners were feared dead after being trapped by flooding in an illegal “rat hole” coal mine site in remote northeastern India, police said Friday. Dozens of emergency workers were pumping water out of a large trench that was flooded early Thursday near a river in mineral-rich Meghalaya state. “We are doing our best to reach out to them. Our information is 13 people were inside at the […]

With tech exec arrest, Canada squeezed between China, US

by Jacques LEMIEUX Agence France Presse MONTREAL, Canada (AFP) — The arrest of a top Chinese tech executive at the request of the US has snared Canada in the middle of a major international dispute involving Beijing and Washington. Ottawa confirmed on Thursday that China had detained two Canadian nationals under what Beijing has said is suspicion of threatening its national security. That came nearly two weeks after the arrest in Vancouver of Meng Wanzhou, […]

‘Peace is possible’ in Yemen: US State Department

WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday praised UN-brokered talks aiming to end Yemen’s devastating conflict, saying “peace is possible.” “The work ahead will not be easy, but we have seen what many considered improbable begin to take shape,” he said in a statement released hours after Yemen’s warring parties agreed to a ceasefire in the vital port of Hodeida on the final day of peace talks. “The United […]

Ankara train crash leaves nine dead, 86 injured

by Raziye Akkoc and Luana Sarmini-Buonaccorsi Agence France Presse ANKARA, Turkey (AFP) — Nine people were killed and nearly 90 injured after a high-speed train crashed into a locomotive in the Turkish capital on Thursday, officials said, becoming the latest rail disaster to hit the country. The accident comes less than six months after 24 people were killed in a train crash in northwestern Turkey in a series of several fatal accidents in recent years. […]

May urges Europe to set date for post Brexit trade deal

by Alice Ritchie and Dave Clark Agence France Presse BRUSSELS, Belgium (AFP) — Theresa May told fellow EU leaders Thursday that she can get their Brexit divorce deal past British lawmakers if they promise new sweeteners — such as a target date for a broad free trade deal. The beleaguered British prime minister came to the EU summit one day after seeing off a challenge to her leadership from within her own party, desperate to […]