Ukrainian commandos prepare Bakhmut skirmish

by Emmanuel PEUCHOT Agence France-Presse CHASIV YAR, Ukraine (AFP) — Crouched in a small forest, the leader of a Ukrainian commando unit briefs his troops before their mission to counter Russia’s offensive to capture the city of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine. The special forces aim to defend the nearby village of Grygorivka in the Donetsk region, about 10 kilometres (six miles) northwest of Bakhmut, which is coming under heavy Russian shelling. If Moscow’s soldiers and […]

Sweden rediscovers poverty as inflation soars

  Stockholm, Sweden | AFP | by Viken KANTARCI It’s not yet 6 am and dozens of homeless people are already queuing outside Stockholm’s central station for breakfast, their numbers bigger than ever, charities say. Hit by the highest inflation in more than 30 years and poised for recession, Sweden’s visible signs of poverty are mounting amid rising inequality. “So many people are coming here to breakfast,” said Kavian Ferdowsi who runs a charity helping […]

EU to unveil green tech plans to take on US, China

by Raziye Akkoc Agence France Presse Brussels, Belgium (AFP) The EU will reveal hotly debated proposals on Thursday to boost spending on clean tech, possibly overcoming internal divisions to include nuclear energy in the mix, to confront growing industrial competition from the United States and China. Brussels wants to protect European businesses by prioritising green technologies, including solar and wind, for more financing and greater regulatory freedom. The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, will […]

TikTok confirms US urged parting ways with ByteDance to dodge ban

SAN FRANCISCO, United States (AFP) — TikTok confirmed Wednesday that US officials have recommended the popular video-sharing app part ways with its Chinese parent ByteDance to avoid a national ban. Western powers, including the European Union and the United States, have been taking an increasingly tough approach to the app, citing fears that user data could be used or abused by Chinese officials. “If protecting national security is the objective, calls for a ban or […]

50,000 teachers strike in New Zealand over cost of living

Wellington, New Zealand (AFP) — Around 50,000 teachers in New Zealand went on strike on Thursday, after union talks with the Ministry of Education aimed at improving salaries and conditions stalled. Teachers demanding better pay waved placards declaring “can’t afford the dentist” and “too poor to print good signs” as the one-day strike forced kindergartens as well as primary and secondary schools to close across the country. Trade unions argued that the government’s latest pay […]

What makes Cyclone Freddy an exceptional storm

Paris, France | AFP | by Julien MIVIELLE Cyclone Freddy, which has twice smashed into the African coast after traversing the Indian Ocean, may be enshrined in the history books as the longest ever documented, meteorologists say. A factfile: – Deadly track – The storm began to brew in early February in the southeastern Indian Ocean off northern Australia, whose weather service gave it the designation of Freddy on February 6. Freddy then crossed the […]

Rescuers scramble to find survivors in cyclone-hit Malawi

Blantyre, Malawi | AFP | Wednesday 3/15/2023 by Jack McBrams Rescuers scrambled on Wednesday to reach survivors in Malawi’s battered city of Blantyre, after Cyclone Freddy struck southern Africa for a second time, triggering floods and landslides that have killed more than 200 people. Weather conditions were expected to improve as the storm dissipated over land after days of torrential rains, but localised thunderstorms would persist, and flood levels remained high in some areas, hampering […]

Japan parliament expels YouTuber MP who never came to work

A celebrity gossip YouTuber-turned-lawmaker became the first MP expelled by Japan’s parliament in over 70 years Wednesday, having not shown up to work once. Yoshikazu Higashitani, known by his online moniker GaaSyy, had been ordered to apologise for his months-long absence earlier in March. But the lawmaker, one of two elected members of the fringe party Seijika Joshi 48, or “Politician Girls 48”, did not attend that parliamentary session either. Higashitani, 51, had not set […]

Russia calls on US to halt ‘hostile’ flights after collision

MOSCOW, Russia (AFP) — Russia’s ambassador to the United States on Wednesday called on Washington to stop “hostile” flights near his country’s border, after an American drone was intercepted by Russian fighters over the Black Sea. “We assume that the United States will refrain from further speculation in the media and stop flights near Russian borders,” ambassador Anatoly Antonov wrote on Telegram. “We consider any action with the use of US weaponry as openly hostile.” […]

Pakistan ex-PM Khan defies arrest as supporters clash with police

by Kaneez FATIMA Agence France-Presse LAHORE, Pakistan (AFP) — Supporters of former Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan clashed repeatedly with police as he remained holed up in his Lahore residence Wednesday, defying attempts to arrest him. Khan was ousted from office by a no-confidence vote last year, and has been snarled in a series of legal cases as he campaigns for early elections and a return to office. Police and paramilitary rangers fought pitched battles […]

Honduras to start diplomatic ties with China, in blow to Taiwan

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (AFP) — Honduras will establish diplomatic ties with China, President Xiomara Castro said Tuesday, a move that would result in the severing of longstanding official ties with Taiwan. Castro wrote on Twitter that she had instructed Foreign Minister Eduardo Reina “to undertake the opening of official relations with the People’s Republic of China.” The switch — which Castro pledged to make while on the campaign trail — comes weeks after her government announced […]

Kyiv condemns ‘kidnappings’ as Russians foster Ukrainian kids

by Anna MALPAS with Ihor TKACHOV in Kherson and AFP bureau staff in Novosibirsk Agence France-Presse KYIV, Ukraine (AFP) — At their home in the middle of Siberia, Russian pastor Roman Vinogradov and his wife Yekaterina are the new foster parents of five children from Moscow-occupied eastern Ukraine. The Vinogradovs are experienced fosterers now raising 16 children, including four of their own, and say they just want to help those who are “very much in […]