China quarantines city at center of virus outbreak

by Eva XIAO / Laurent Thomet with Dario Thuburn in Geneva BEIJING, China (AFP) — China placed the city at the center of a virus outbreak under effective quarantine on Thursday, suspending outward flights and trains in a drastic step to contain a contagious disease that has killed 17, stricken hundreds and reached other countries. Authorities in Wuhan, a major transport hub, also suspended public buses and subways, and said residents should not leave the […]

‘What use is wealth if it burns?’ Britain’s Prince Charles sounds climate alarm

DAVOS, Switzerland (AFP) – Stuart WILLIAMS Britain’s Prince Charles on Wednesday told business leaders at the Davos economic forum that wealth was of no use if it doesn’t help tackle climate change, as he met Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg and warned over the perils of global warming and environmental damage. Charles, the eldest son of the Queen and heir to the throne, met Thunberg in Davos on the same day as President Donald Trump […]

UPDATED: Seven dead in Spain as winter storms lash coast

by Daniel BOSQUE BARCELONA, Spain (AFP) –The death toll from a storm that has lashed Spain with strong winds and heavy snow has risen to seven, while four people were missing, officials said. Gale-force winds and huge waves have smashed into seafront towns, damaging many shops and restaurants, wrecking beach facilities and flooding some streets in the east of the country since Sunday. The latest victim was a man who fell into the sea in […]

Trump to add a ‘couple of countries’ to US travel ban

DAVOS, Switzerland (AFP) — US President Donald Trump said Wednesday his administration was preparing to add a “couple of countries” to the controversial list of states whose citizens are subject to travel bans or severe restrictions on entry to the United States. “We are adding a couple of countries to it. We have to be safe. Our country has to be safe,” he said at the World Economic Forum in Davos, adding that the names […]

China virus city in transport shutdown as WHO extends talks

by Laurent Thomet with Dario Thuburn in Geneva BEIJING, China (AFP) — China said it was halting flights and trains from Thursday out of Wuhan, the city of 11 million people at the center of a deadly SARS-like virus outbreak, as the UN extended emergency talks on the disease. The central city’s special command center against the virus also said that residents should not leave without a special reason and that the measures would be […]

Bangladesh factories ordered shut to save key river

DHAKA,¬†Bangladesh (AFP) – Sam JAHAN Bangladesh’s high court has ordered the shutdown of 231 factories that have contributed to Dhaka’s main river becoming one of the world’s most polluted, a lawyer said Tuesday. The country is crisscrossed by hundreds of rivers, but a recent industrial boom, including the emergence of the world’s second biggest garment industry, has prompted officials to turn a blind eye to the industrial waste they dump into rivers. In a landmark […]

China warns virus could mutate, spread as death toll rises

by Beiyi SEOW Agence France-Presse BEIJING, China (AFP) — A new virus that has killed nine people, infected hundreds and already reached the United States could mutate and spread, China warned Wednesday, as authorities scrambled to contain the disease during the Lunar New Year travel season. The coronavirus has caused alarm for its similarity to SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), which killed nearly 650 people across mainland China and Hong Kong in 2002-2003. In Wuhan, […]

UN Security Council urges quick ceasefire in Libya

by Philippe RATER Agence France-Presse UNITED NATIONS, United States (AFP) — The UN Security Council called Tuesday on Libya’s warring sides to quickly reach a ceasefire that would pave the way for a political process aimed at ending conflict in the oil-rich state. The United Nations meeting followed up on a weekend Libya summit held in Berlin, which saw the formation of a military commission that is supposed to define ways of consolidating a cessation […]

Forming a new government in Lebanon: What’s the snag?

by Hashem Osseiran and Bachir El-Khoury Agence France-Presse BEIRUT, Lebanon (AFP) — Lebanon is facing its worst economic crisis since its civil war, an unprecedented protest movement and mounting international pressure for reform, yet under-fire politicians have yet to form a government. This raises questions about what is holding up the creation of a new cabinet and what comes next for a crumbling country that can ill-afford delays. – What’s the holdup? – Lebanon has […]

Trump tears into environmental ‘doom’ mongers at WEF

DAVOS, Switzerland (AFP) – Sebastian SMITH and Alex PIGMAN President Donald Trump tore into environmental “prophets of doom” at the Davos forum Tuesday, rejecting fiery warnings from teenage campaigner Greta Thunberg and talking up his own record in a counterpoint to impeachment back home. Thunberg was in the audience in the Swiss Alps to hear the typically bullish speech by Trump, delivered just before the US Senate opened the crucial next stage in his trial […]

Adidas bets on recycled material ‘to combat ocean plastic’

FRANKFURT AM MAIN,¬†Germany (AFP) – German sportswear giant Adidas said Tuesday more than half of the polyester used in its products this year would come from recycled material, including millions of shoes made from plastic waste. In 2020, the share of recycled polyester in Adidas products will “exceed 50 percent for the first time”, the company said in a statement. By 2024, Adidas “is committed to using only recycled polyester” across its entire range of […]

Davos financiers pump $1.4 trillion into fossil fuels – Greenpeace

PARIS, France (AFP) – Patrick GALEY Some of the world’s biggest banks, insurers and pension funds have collectively invested $1.4 trillion in fossil fuel companies since the Paris climate deal, Greenpeace said Tuesday at the start of the World Economic Forum in Davos. With the climate emergency expected to be front and centre at the annual summit of the world’s business elite, the charity accused some institutions in attendance of failing to live up to […]