URGENT: At least 15 dead in 7.8-M quake in Turkey: local officials

  At least 15 people died in a major 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck southeastern Turkey on Monday, local officials said, although the toll threatened to climb much higher because many buildings were destroyed. Locals officials said five people died in the province of Osmaniye and 10 more in Sanliurfa, which sits near Turkey’s border with Syria. Damaging M7.8 EQ hit southern Turkey near the Syrian border ~4am local time. PAGER is red for this event; […]

Northeast US, Canada gripped by Arctic blast

  NEW YORK, United States (AFP) — A “generational” Arctic blast brought dangerously cold temperatures to swaths of the northeastern United States and Canada on Saturday, with forecasters warning that frostbite can occur in just five minutes. Atop Mount Washington in New Hampshire state, the wind-chill factor reached minus 78 degrees Celsius (minus 108 degrees Fahrenheit) overnight, the National Weather Service (NWS) said. That broke the previous low recorded there of minus 74 C, the […]

US sending longer-range precision rockets to Ukraine

WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — A new $2.2 billion US arms package for Ukraine includes a new rocket-propelled precision bomb that could nearly double Kyiv’s strike range against the Russians, the Pentagon said Friday. Pentagon spokesman Pat Ryder said the new package includes the ground-launched small-diameter bombs (GLSDB), a munition that can fly up to 150 kilometers (93 miles), which would threaten Russian positions and depots far behind the front lines. “This gives them a […]

After pope’s call for peace, violence rages in east DR Congo

by AFP eastern Congo correspondents Agence France-Presse GOMA, DR Congo (AFP) — Pope Francis made repeated appeals for peace during his landmark trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo this week, but there was no let-up in fighting in the east. Putting an end to violence was a dominant theme of the pontiff’s visit to Africa’s largest Catholic country, where he arrived on Tuesday and was to depart for South Sudan on Friday. Dozens of […]

China to fully reopen borders with Hong Kong, Macau

HONG KONG, China (AFP) — China said on Friday it will fully restore travel across its borders with Hong Kong and Macau next week, dropping Covid testing requirements and daily quotas after a lengthy pandemic separation. The semi-autonomous cities have both stuck to Beijing’s zero-Covid strategy for nearly three years, splitting families, cutting off tourism and suffocating businesses. The State Council’s Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office said on Friday that all remaining restrictions would […]

Pentagon tracking Chinese spy balloon over US

by Paul HANDLEY Agence France-Presse WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — The Pentagon said Thursday it was tracking a Chinese spy balloon flying high over the United States, reviving tensions between the two countries just days ahead of a rare visit to Beijing by the top US diplomat. At President Joe Biden’s request, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and top military officials considered shooting the balloon down but decided doing so would endanger too many people on […]

Colombia’s war on illegal gold mines also hits outlaw armed groups

by David SALAZAR Agence France-Presse TRIÁNGULO DE TELEMBÍ, Colombia (AFP) — From the army helicopter circling overhead, Colombian security forces are able to spot several illegal gold mines in the jungle below. The armed forces land suddenly to be confronted by angry workers, but they brush them off and destroy the machinery used to extract gold. The operation is both a blow to illegal mining and a strike at armed groups that profit from illicit […]

Putin warns West over arms deliveries to Ukraine

MOSCOW, Russia (AFP) — President Vladimir Putin on Thursday vowed a decisive response to any country threatening Russia and lashed out against Germany for promising tanks for Kyiv. His threats came after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned that the Kremlin was consolidating its forces for a fresh offensive. Zelensky was speaking in Kyiv beside EU chief Ursula von der Leyen, who said the bloc was looking to finalize fresh sanctions against Russia by February 24, […]

Giving Ukraine jets would need ‘months if not years’ of training: UK PM

LONDON, United Kingdom (AFP) — British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Thursday said sending fighter jets to Ukraine would require “months if not years” of training and that he was looking for the most effective way of helping Kyiv secure victory. In a pre-recorded television interview to mark his first 100 days as leader, Sunak told TalkTV’s Piers Morgan Uncensored the UK was “always talking to the Ukrainians about the right support they need”. “The […]

Late Australian cardinal’s funeral sparks Sydney protests

by Steven TRASK Agence France-Presse SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — Protesters denounced late Australian cardinal George Pell for his “bigoted” views on Thursday, as the Catholic Church remembered his “remarkable legacy” with a grand funeral mass in Sydney. The Vatican power broker, who died in Rome last month aged 81, will be buried in the crypt of St Mary’s Cathedral after a Pontifical Funeral Mass steeped in the traditions of the Church. Pell continues to divide […]

Strike on residential building leaves 2 dead in Ukraine’s Kramatorsk

KRAMATORSK, Ukraine (AFP) — At least two people were killed Wednesday and eight wounded when a Russian rocket struck a residential building in the center of the eastern city of Kramatorsk, Ukrainian officials said. AFP saw two bodies at the scene as rescue workers cleared the rubble. “Two hours ago, the Russian occupiers hit a residential building in the center of the city with a rocket and completely destroyed it,” regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said […]

Bid to advance elections to quell Peru protests fails in congress

LIMA, Peru (AFP) — Peru’s congress on Wednesday voted down another bid to advance elections from April 2024 to this year, a move sought by President Dina Boluarte to calm unrest that has left dozens dead in seven weeks of anti-government protests. After five hours of debate, lawmakers rejected a bill that would have advanced elections to December by 68 votes to 54, with two abstentions. Peru has been embroiled in a political crisis with […]