For Moscow’s quarantined, 100,000 cameras are watching

by Victoria LOGUINOVA-YAKOVLEVA Agence France-Presse MOSCOW, Russia (AFP) —A vast and contentious network of facial recognition cameras keeping watch over Moscow is now playing a key role in the battle against the spread of the coronavirus in Russia. The city rolled out the technology just before the epidemic reached Russia, ignoring protests and legal complaints over sophisticated state surveillance. Since last month, thousands of Muscovites have been confined to their homes for 14 days of compulsory […]

UK rolls out tougher virus action after dire science warning

by Alice RITCHIE / Phil HAZLEWOOD / Joe JACKSON Agence France-Presse London, United Kingdom (AFP) — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government on Tuesday unveiled a huge package of support for businesses to help them survive the introduction of tough new social measures to stem the coronavirus outbreak. The Conservative leader said Britain needed to act “like any wartime government”, as finance minister Rishi Sunak unveiled a £330 billion ($400 billion, 363 billion euros) package of […]

Czech PM urges EU to shelve Green Deal amid virus

PRAGUE, Czech Republic (AFP) — The Czech premier, whose country depends on nuclear energy and coal, said Monday the European Union should shelve its landmark green law seeking carbon neutrality as it battles the novel coronavirus. “Europe should forget about the Green Deal now and focus on the coronavirus instead,” Prime Minister Andrej Babis told reporters, without explaining how the two are connected. “Europe is now the biggest epicenter of the coronavirus in the world,” the […]

Oil prices extend losses on price war, virus fallout

Singapore, Singapore (AFP) — Oil prices extended the gloom on Monday after a Saudi-Russian price war and an equities meltdown sparked by the coronavirus pandemic saw their biggest weekly losses in more than a decade. US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) briefly fell below $30 a barrel, or 5.5 percent, in morning Asian trade before regaining its footing. It was trading at $31.14 a barrel at around 0200 GMT, down nearly two percent from Friday’s […]

UK vows action after envoy slams plans for UN climate talks

By Alice RITCHIE Agence France-Presse London, United Kingdom (AFP) — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday called for urgent action to deal with global warming, after his ex-climate envoy warned his own plans for UN talks later this year were “miles off track”. In a speech ahead of the COP 26 talks in Glasgow in November, Johnson said the evidence of climate change was “overwhelming”. At an event with naturalist and broadcaster David Attenborough, he called […]

North Africa football stadiums double as political arenas

  by Hamza Mekouar Agence France-Presse CASABLANCA, Morocco (AFP) — From Casablanca to Algiers via Tunis, the chants belted out across football stadiums echo young North African fans’ frustrations not connected to the highs and lows of the beautiful game. Chants of “F’bladi delmouni!” (“Oppressed in my country!”) at the demonstrations that have been commonplace in Algeria since last year originated on the noisy terraces manned by the ultras of Morocco’s Raja Casablanca. The song of […]

Israel says Netanyahu discusses ‘normalization’ with Sudan’s leader

by Guillaume Lavallee with Michael O’Hagan in Entebbe Agence France-Presse JERUSALEM, Undefined (AFP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Sudan’s leader Monday to discuss normalizing ties, his office said, a potentially landmark step that caught Khartoum by surprise and was denounced by the Palestinians. Netanyahu’s office said he met Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, chairman of the ruling sovereign council in fast-changing Sudan, in the Ugandan city of Entebbe. Israel remains technically at war with Sudan, which […]

Facebook’s settlement puts spotlight on ‘biometric privacy’

by Rob Lever Agence France-Presse WASHINGTON, D.C., United States (AFP) — Facebook’s massive settlement in a class action case over violating a state law on how it uses facial recognition is being hailed as a watershed moment for “biometric privacy.” The leading social network said Wednesday it agreed to the $550 million payout after failing to win dismissal of the case alleging it illegally collected biometric information for “face tagging” in violation of a 2008 Illinois […]

France cracks down on plastic waste, destruction of unsold clothes

PARIS, France (AFP) — The French parliament on Thursday passed a law forbidding retailers from destroying unsold clothes and banning single-use plastic containers by 2040, part of the government’s efforts to reduce waste. The bill adopted by the Senate, after being cleared by the lower house National Assembly last week, bans fast-food restaurants from serving food that is not for takeaway in plastic containers beyond 2023. All single-use plastic packaging will be banned 17 years […]

Bulgarians’ patience runs dry over water crisis

by Diana SIMEONOVA / Vessela SERGUEVA Agence France-Presse PERNIK, Bulgaria (AFP) – Forced to “live without water, in the 21st century, in a European Union country”: Bulgarian Yana Stoyanova is not bemoaning climate change, but the incompetence of the authorities which has left some 100,000 people with an acute water shortage. Accountant Stoyanova does not live in an isolated backwater, but around 30 kilometres (19 miles) from the capital Sofia. She is at the sharp […]

UK fishermen angling for big catch post Brexit

NORTH SHIELDS, United Kingdom (AFP) – Roland JACKSON / William EDWARDS Just before dawn, the Good Fellowship trawler casts its nets deep into the North Sea’s cold swirling waters, fishing for prawns off England’s northeast coast. Britain finally departs the European Union on Friday but remains bound by the bloc’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) until the end of a transition period on December 31. The Good Fellowship’s captain, David Shiel, is cautiously hopeful that Brexit […]

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 […]