World

GENEVA - UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday called for an immediate end to military activity near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine, Europe's largest. "I am calling on the military forces of the Russian Federation and Ukraine to immediately cease all military activities in the immediate vicinity of the plant and not to target its facilities or surroundings," he said in a statement. (Reporting by Wendell Roelf; Editing by Jon Boyle)...
FREETOWN - At least 13 civilians were killed in Sierra Leone's capital, Freetown, during anti-government protests on Wednesday, staff at the city's main mortuary said on Thursday. (Reporting by Umaru Fofana, writing by Anait Miridzhanian; Editing by Jon Boyle)...
By Angelo Amante ROME - The leaders of a newly-formed Italian centrist group said on Thursday their pact will offer an alternative to "populist" rightist and leftist parties at a national election scheduled next month. The Sept. 25 ballot was called following the collapse of Prime Minister Mario Draghi's broad unity administration in July after some key parties snubbed a confidence vote. The former European Central Bank chief resigned, but agreed to stay on as acting premier. The centrist pact came after the Azione party led by Carlo Calenda surprisingly decided to quit the centre-left alliance, citing the presence of parties who failed to support Draghi as one of the reasons. "A serious and pragmatic alternative to the right-wing and left-wing populism that has devastated this country ... was born today," Calenda wrote on Twitter after signing off on the deal with the Italia Viva party of former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi...
JAKARTA - Indonesia will include the popular tourist destination of Bali as one of its priority zones for a vaccination programme against foot and mouth disease (FMD) to prevent its further spread, a government official said on Thursday. Indonesia is aiming to get a FMD outbreak under control by the end of the year while cattle-producing countries such as Australia and New Zealand have raised their guard against the disease after infections were found in Bali. "Bali is being prioritised for vaccination because of the high human traffic, both domestic and international, that could be a factor spreading the disease," Wiku Adisasmito, spokesperson for the government task force handling the outbreak, told a briefing. Australians are among the top foreign visitors to Bali. FMD is highly transmissible and causes lesions and lameness in cattle, sheep, goats and other cloven-hoofed animals, but does not affect humans....
BRUSSELS - Poland will get money from the European Union recovery fund only after it reaches the milestones and targets that the Polish government has jointly agreed with the EU in many months of negotiations, the European Commission said on Thursday. Poland is eligible for 24 billion euros in grants and 11.5 billion euros in very cheap loans to rebuild its economy greener and more digitalised after the COVID-19 pandemic. But the money is frozen because Poland's ruling eurosceptic PiS party does not want to roll back changes to the judiciary introduced over the last seven years, even though it is one of the conditions that was jointly agreed with the Commission. PiS leaders this week vowed they would not make any concessions and threatened to make EU decision-making difficult unless Poland can draw on the EU fund. "The Commission and Poland have discussed this plan for months, in every detail, it has been signed by both side...
By Clement Uwiringiyimana KIGALI - U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday he had raised with Rwanda's president U.S. concerns over the jailing of Paul Rusesabagina, portrayed in the film "Hotel Rwanda" sheltering hundreds of people during the 1994 genocide. Rusesabagina, 67, a U.S. permanent resident, was sentenced last September to 25 years in prison over eight terrorism charges tied to an organization opposed to President Paul Kagame's rule. Rwanda's foreign minister Vincent Biruta said he was convicted lawfully, but Rusesabagina has denied all the charges and refused to take part in a trial that he and his supporters have called a political sham. The United States in May determined he had been wrongfully detained. Rusesabagina, who was feted around the world after being portrayed by actor Don Cheadle in 2004's "Hotel Rwanda," is a vocal critic of Kagame. He is being held in a Rwandan prison....
By Cecile Mantovani and Denis Balibouse CHARMEY, Switzerland - Swiss army helicopters have been drafted in to airlift water to thousands of thirsty farm animals sweltering under this summer's soaring temperatures in the country's Alpine meadows. Lower rainfall this year forced farmers to call on the army to swoop in with much-needed refreshments for their animals and prevent a drought causing feed shortages later in the year. A two-week operation is now under way with Super Puma helicopters flying to refill the near-empty reservoirs used by farmers for their cows, whose milk is often used to make Gruyere cheese, and other animals such as pigs and goats. "There's been a huge shortage of water this year," said Frederic Menetrey, director of agriculture in the canton of Fribourg. "It has a big impact on the pastures, breeding but also lowland agriculture." Without the emergency water supply, the animals would have...
By Toby Sterling and Elvira Pollina UTRECHT, Netherlands/PALERMO, Italy - As Europe braces for another heatwave, one group of workers has little choice but to sweat it out: the couriers shuttling around town getting lunches and dinners to customers. "It's hot, sometimes really hot. But what can we do? God is in charge of the weather," says Gennaro Guarracino, 47, who delivers food by scooter around the Italian city of Naples for the company Glovo. Temperatures were expected to reach 34-38 degrees (93-100 degrees Fahrenheit) across Western Europe on Thursday. But labour practices such as offering workers cold water, shade and extra paid breaks are not universally adopted or enforced, with the meals delivery market a prominent example because many of its workers are on freelance contracts. In July the mayor of Palermo on the Italian island of Sicily signed an order that horses carrying tourists be given at least...
VILNIUS - Latvia's parliament on Thursday designated Russia as a "state sponsor of terrorism" over the war in Ukraine and called on Western allies to impose more comprehensive sanctions on Moscow in order to bring an end to the conflict. "Latvia recognises Russia's actions in Ukraine as targeted genocide against the Ukrainian people," the Baltic nation's parliament said in a resolution. Western nations should increase their military, financial, humanitarian and diplomatic backing for Ukraine and support initiatives condemning Russia's actions, it added. Millions of Ukrainians have fled their homes and thousands have been killed since Russia's invasion in February. Moscow says it does not deliberately target civilians in what it calls its "special military operation" aimed at safeguarding Russia's security and protecting Russian speakers in Ukraine. Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said he was grateful f...
(This content was produced in Russia, where the law restricts coverage of Russian military operations in Ukraine.) MOSCOW - Russia on Thursday condemned a move by Latvia's parliament to designate Russia a state sponsor of terrorism. Writing on Telegram, foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova called the decision "xenophobic". (Reporting by ; Editing by Kevin Liffey)...
HONG KONG - Ferry services between Macau and the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen will be suspended from Aug. 12, Macau's government said on Thursday, due to measures to curb COVID-19 infections, just days after it had been relaxed. Ferry services had resumed on Aug. 8. (Reporting by Farah Master and Twinnie Siu; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)...
By Andrea Shalal and Ivan Lyubysh-Kirdey KYIV - Artists have painted brilliant sunflowers over heaps of burnt-out cars destroyed in Russia's invasion of Ukraine - upsetting some locals who wonder if it is too soon to beautify the wreckage of war. The group of painters from Ukraine and the United States say they plan to sell digital images of the work as non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and raise money for Ukrainian artists, rebuilding projects and other causes. The cars were largely recovered in the city of Irpin, on the outskirts of the capital, from a bridge destroyed by Ukrainian forces to halt the advance of Russian tanks, Trek Kelly, a Los Angeles-based muralist who helped initiate the project, said. City authorities had approved the work and assured the artists no one had died in the vehicles, he added. One couple who owned one of the vehicles had thanked them "for repurposing these cars into something more be...
By Brittany Hosea-Small and Kristina Cooke SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Najib Mohammadi had high hopes for his life in the United States when he, his pregnant wife Susan and two small children left Afghanistan in July 2021. But for most of the past year, the family has lived in a cockroach-infested, one-bedroom apartment in Sacramento unable to find affordable housing in California's capital. He has struggled to find work. The former interpreter for the U.S. military arrived last year under the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program, just two weeks before tens of thousands of his fellow Afghans were evacuated when Kabul fell to the Taliban. Mohammadi, 37, feels lucky he is safe and knows he is better off than others: he speaks English and the SIV program gives his family a pathway to citizenship. But "it's a really hard life," he said. Earlier this year, an Afghan evacuee living in Pennsylvania whom Mohammadi had trained in the Afgha...
BERLIN - German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has no concrete plans yet for a visit to China, he said on Thursday. There were talks but no date had been set yet, Scholz said at a news conference in Berlin. He stressed the importance of German companies not being too dependent on China but being able to rely on diversified supply chains. (Reporting by Kirsti Knolle; Editing by Maria Sheahan)...
By Firas Makdesi MAAN, Syria - Returning to their orchards after years of war, Syrian pistachio farmers hoping to revive their valuable crop have had their hopes dashed by scorched trees and the ravages of climate change. Laden with maroon-coloured bunches of nuts that are harvested in summer, the pistachio tree is known in Syria as "a golden tree in a poor land", reflecting the value of a fruit long exported across the Middle East and Europe. But farmers near the northwestern village of Maan are harvesting just a quarter of the crop they gathered before the war, farmer Nayef Ibrahim said. Ibrahim and his family left their farms when the area became a frontline in the conflict that erupted in 2011. They returned after government forces drove out rebels in 2019. They found pistachio trees slashed and burned during the conflict - and the new ones they have planted will take up to 12 years to bear fruit, Ibrahim...
By Heejung Jung and Soo-hyang Choi SEOUL - The heaviest rain in Seoul in 115 years has spurred the South Korean capital to revive a $1.15 billion plan to improve drainage after floods exposed how even the affluent Gangnam district is vulnerable to climate change-driven extreme weather. Experts say the city's capacity to drain water is far behind what's needed to handle a deluge like the one suffered this week. That has disasterous implications for low-lying areas like Gangnam, as these bouts of extreme weather are becoming increasingly common. This week's torrential rain killed at least 11 people across the northern part of the country, as of Thursday morning. The downpour, which began on Monday and shifted southwards on Wednesday, knocked out power, caused landslides and flooded roads and subways. Monetary estimates of the damage were still being compiled. In the wake of the downpour, Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon...
BERLIN - German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Thursday promised a new package of measures, including tax relief, to help people struggling with rising energy bills as a result of a gas standoff with Russia. "Citizens can count on us not to abandon them," Scholz told journalists in Berlin. An energy transition towards renewables is a top priority, and Germany will not slow its efforts to become independent of fossil fuels, he said at a summer news conference, an annual tradition introduced by his predecessor Angela Merkel. Europe has plunged into an energy crisis as Russia cut gas flows following its invasion of Ukraine in February. Scholz's government has introduced an energy levy to ease the strain for companies buckling under high gas prices, and is combining that with relief measures for struggling households. Asked whether rising prices could trigger social unrest, Scholz said: "No, I don't think that we will see unrest i...
- An armed man demanding deposits frozen by his bank took an unspecified number of hostages on Thursday at the Federal Bank of Lebanon, a security source said and Lebanese media reported. Lebanese banks have limited withdrawals of hard currency for most depositors during the country's three-year financial meltdown, which has left more than three-quarters of the population poor. (Reporting by Maya Gebeily; Editing by Mark Heinrich)...
KIGALI - U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Thursday he discussed with Rwandan President Paul Kagame credible reports that Rwanda continued to support the M23 rebel group in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Blinken said both Kagame and Congo President Felix Tshisekedi had agreed to engage in direct talks with each other to address the fighting. (Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk, Clement Uwiringiyimana, Alex Winning and Elias Biryabarema; Writing by James Macharia Chege; editing by Mark Heinrich)...
JERUSALEM - The global backlog in airline baggage loading has had a silver lining for Israeli police, who discovered a drug haul hidden in a suitcase that was X-rayed after it arrived a day late and went unclaimed. The tinfoil-wrapped 7 kg (15 lb) of amphetamines worth some $600,000 were in a false bottom of the bag, which police allowed to be sent from Ben Gurion Airport to the Jerusalem address its owner had listed in his lost-and-found complaint, Kan TV said. The suspect turned up to retrieve it and was arrested. "We are in a period where many people having been losing their suitcase - and he was one of them," police investigator Eran Asraf told Kan. (Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Robert Birsel)...