Landmark protest in Mauritius over giant oil spill

PORT LOUIS, Mauritius (AFP) — Tens of thousands of Mauritians protested Saturday in the capital Saint-Louis over the government’s handling of a giant oil spill off its pristine Indian Ocean coast. The Japanese bulk carrier MV Wakashio crashed into a reef off southeastern Mauritius last month spewing more than 1,000 tonnes of oil into waters that are home to mangrove forests and endangered species. After the boat split in two, the larger piece was towed […]

As neighbours build dams, Iraqis watch twin rivers dry up

by Haydar Indhar Agence France-Presse DIWANIYAH, Iraq (AFP) — With its neighbours activating new dams, Iraq’s historic twin rivers could run dry — unless new infrastructure projects and tense talks with Turkey and Iran bear fruit. Nowhere is the effect on the country more palpable than in Basra, Iraq’s only coastal province. Here, the Tigris and Euphrates — on which millions of Iraqis rely to farm — meet at the Shatt al-Arab waterway before spilling […]

Gold-hunting diggers destroy Sudan’s priceless past

by Sammy Ketz Agence France-Presse JABAL MARAGHA, Sudan (AFP) — When a team of archaeologists deep in the deserts of Sudan arrived at the ancient site of Jabal Maragha last month, they thought they were lost. The site had vanished. But they hadn’t made a mistake. In fact, gold-hunters with giant diggers had destroyed almost all sign of the two millenia-old site. “They had only one goal in digging here — to find gold,” said shocked […]

Turkey’s bid to become maritime powerhouse unsettles Mediterranean

by Gokan Gunes with Raziye Akkoc in Ankara Agence France-Presse ISTANBUL, Turkey (AFP) — Turkey’s big push into the Mediterranean featuring controversial gas drilling, tough rhetoric and warships is rooted in a grand vision of a “Blue Homeland” that takes over waters claimed by EU neighbours. Fearful of being denied a fair share of the region’s bountiful natural gas wealth, Turkey sent a research vessel and a small navy armada into seas Greece views as […]

Brazil indigenous protesters defy court, resume roadblock

NOVO PROGRESSO, Brazil (AFP) — Indigenous protesters in Brazil defied a court order Tuesday and resumed a roadblock of a key highway through the Amazon rainforest, demanding help against the new coronavirus and an end to illegal mining and deforestation. Brandishing bows and wearing traditional feather headdresses and body paint, dozens of protesters from the Kayapo Mekranoti ethnic group have been blocking highway BR-163 through the Amazon rainforest since Monday morning. They briefly lifted their […]

Lebanon, small Mideast country mired in tragedies

BEIRUT, Lebanon (AFP) — Lebanon, a small multi-confessional country which endured a devastating 15-year civil war, has often been caught in the crossfire of regional conflicts. The tragic explosions at Beirut port on Tuesday struck with the country mired in its worst economic crisis for decades, marked by the collapse of its currency and angry popular protests. Lebanon has had more than 5,000 cases of coronavirus, with 65 dead. Between Israel and Syria The civil […]

UK, EU rule out quick post-Brexit deal

by Dmitry ZAKS and Phil HAZLEWOOD Agence France-Presse LONDON, United Kingdom (AFP) — Britain and the European Union on Thursday broke up their latest round of post-Brexit talks by ruling out a quick deal but voicing hope for agreement in the coming months. Prime Minister Boris Johnson had promised to add “a bit of oomph” to the stalled negotiations when he personally joined them last month. His main goal then was to get a framework […]

Top French historian slams Macron’s statue stance as another is attacked

by Fiachra GIBBONS Agence France-Presse PARIS, France (AFP) — A top French historian slammed President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday for trying to shut down debate on the country’s colonial past as a prominent statue linked to slavery was attacked in Paris. Macron all but ignored the wave of Black Lives Matter protests in a major television address last week except to warn that France would not take down statues of controversial historical figures. “The Republic […]

Zimbabwe increases fuel price by 150 percent

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AFP) — Zimbabwe on Wednesday announced a 150 percent rise in the price of fuel following the launch of a forex auction system which eroded the value of the local currency. The price of a litre of diesel jumped 152 percent to ZW$62.77 ($1.12) from ZW$24.93 while petrol shot up 147 percent to ZW$71.62, the country’s Energy Regulatory Authority said in a notice. The central bank re-introduced forex auctioning on Tuesday, the first […]

Court halts Mexico’s ‘Maya Train’ over indigenous health rights

MEXICO CITY, Mexico (AFP) — A Mexican court has ordered the suspension of work on the “Maya Train,” a controversial railroad through Mayan lands in the country’s southeast, after an indigenous community filed an injunction. The $6.2 billion rail link is a pet project of leftist President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who said Wednesday that while the court challenge had “political overtones,” his government would comply with the ruling. “We will comply with the decisions […]

NASA renames Washington HQ for ‘Hidden Figures’ trailblazer

WASHINGTON D.C., United States (AFP) — NASA said Wednesday that it will rename its Washington headquarters after its first black female engineer, Mary Jackson, whose story was told in the hit film “Hidden Figures.” “Mary W. Jackson was part of a group of very important women who helped NASA succeed in getting American astronauts into space,” NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a statement. “Mary never accepted the status quo, she helped break barriers and […]

Russia holds grand WWII parade ahead of vote on Putin reforms

by Jonathan BROWN Agence France-Presse MOSCOW, Russia (AFP) — Columns of tanks and troops will parade through Red Square on Wednesday as President Vladimir Putin oversees grand World War II commemorations to stir up patriotic fervour ahead of a vote on extending his rule. Forced to postpone the country’s traditional May 9 Victory Day celebrations by the coronavirus pandemic, Putin rescheduled the parade for just a week ahead of a July 1 public vote on […]