Category Archives: World
The remark came as environment ministers from some 30 countries gathered in Montreal seeking headway on the Paris climate accord, which President Donald Trump had pulled out of in June.
At the summit, which was attended by a US observer, the US “stated that they will not renegotiate the Paris Accord, but they (will) try to review the terms on which they could be engaged under this agreement,” the European Union’s top climate official Miguel Arias Canete said.
Canete said there would be a meeting on the sidelines of next week’s UN General Assembly with American representatives “to assess what is the real US position,” noting “it’s a message which is quite different to the one we heard from President Trump in the past.”
The US observer was not immediately available for comment and the White House insisted the United States would withdraw from the Paris climate accord without more favorable terms.
“There has been no change in the United States’ position on the Paris agreement,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in an email.
“As the president has made abundantly clear, the United States is withdrawing unless we can re-enter on terms that are more favorable to our country,” she said.
Called by Canada, China and the European Union, the summit took place 30 years to the day after the signing of the Montreal Protocol on protecting the ozone layer — which Canada’s environment minister hailed as a multilateral “success story” by governments, NGOs and ordinary citizens jointly tackling a major global threat.
We “committed to full implementation of the Paris Accord. Everyone agreed that the environment and the economy go together, they are linked. You cannot grow the economy without taking care of the environment,” Catherine McKenna said at the end of the summit, attended by more than half the G20 members as well as some of the nations most vulnerable to climate change — from the low-lying Marshall Islands and Maldives to impoverished Mali and Ethiopia.
“Changes are real, extreme weather events are more frequent, more powerful and more distressful,” she told the gathering, pointing at the devastation wrought by mega-storms such as Harvey and Irma which many climate scientists believe are boosted by global warming.
Nearly 200 countries agreed in Paris in December 2015 to curb carbon dioxide emissions with the aim of limiting the rise in average global temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2050, compared to preindustrial levels.
When Trump decided in June to withdraw, Canada, China and the European Union immediately reaffirmed their respective commitments to the pact, which the Group of 20 declared “irreversible” the following month.
Time is ticking, Canete told AFP, as ministers work to narrow their differences and better understand how to implement the ambitious accord — with less than two months to go until the next UN Conference on Climate Change (COP23), in Bonn in November.
“We need a rule book to be able to monitor and verify and compare emissions of all the parties and see how far we are towards the targets,” Canete said, with a goal of having those rules in place in time for the COP24 meeting in Katowice, Poland in late 2018.
Key player China — the world’s largest car market — brings to the table a potentially major advance in transportation after announcing its intention to ban gasoline and diesel-fueled cars, following decisions by France and Britain to outlaw their sale from 2040.
The European Union — which is targeting a 40 per cent cut to its emissions by 2030 — will also shortly put forward a proposal to member states on slashing carbon emissions in the transportation sector, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said this week.
And Canada — as the world’s sixth-largest oil producer — insists it is “committed to its international climate obligations,” which it hopes to reach by massively investing in “clean energy” technologies.
China’s special representative to the talks, Xie Zhenhua, said Beijing considers the Montreal Protocol to be a “very effective and efficient” example of multilateral action on the environment — largely because it rested on a broad consensus.
“We should take actions now,” Xie said, “to ensure that we can realize the goals that we have set.”
“The key issue is how we should combine climate actions with economic growth, the protection of people and job creation,” he added.
“If we can combine all these matters we could make Paris agreement a great success.”
The prime minister left a day after her government summoned the Myanmar envoy for the third time to protest over its neighbour’s actions. Hasina is to demand more pressure on Myanmar during talks in New York.
Bangladesh has been overwhelmed by Rohingya Muslims since violence erupted in Buddhist-dominated Myanmar’s Rakhine state on August 25.
The United Nations said Saturday that the total number of people to have entered Bangladesh having fled the unrest had now reached 409,000, a leap of 18,000 in a day.
Conditions are worsening in the border town of Cox’s Bazar where the influx has added to pressures on Rohingya camps already overwhelmed with 300,000 people from earlier waves of refugees.
The UN said two children and a woman were killed in a “rampage” when a private group handed clothes near a camp on Friday.
Hasina is to speak at the UN on Thursday.
“She will seek immediate cessation of violence in Rakhine state in Myanmar and ask the UN secretary general to send a fact-finding mission to Rakhine,” a spokesman for the prime minister, Nazrul Islam, told AFP.
“She will also call the international community and the UN to put pressure on Myanmar for the repatriation of all the Rohingya refugees to their homeland in Myanmar,” he said.
Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali said: “We will continue international pressure on the Myanmar government to immediately end its ongoing ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya.”
As tensions mount between the neighbours, the foreign ministry on Friday summoned the Myanmar charge d’affaires in Dhaka to protest at alleged violations of its airspace by Myanmar drones and helicopter.
The ministry warned that the three violations between September 10 and 14 could lead to “unwarranted consequences”. Myanmar did not immediately comment.
The Bangladesh government earlier protested to the embassy over the planting of landmines near their border, which have killed several Rohingya, and the treatment of the refugees.
UN leader Antonio Guterres has also said Myanmar’s treatment of the Rohingya could amount to ethnic cleansing.
The deaths of the three refugees backed warnings by UN agencies and other relief groups that the crisis could get out of control.
The World Health Organisation and UN children’s agency on Saturday launched vaccination campaigns against measles, rubella and polio. They estimate that 60 percent of the new arrivals are children.
Most Rohingya, who spent more than a week trekking cross-country from Rakhine to reach the Bangladesh border, have found existing camps overflowing and have instead settled on muddy roadsides.
Many families do not have a shelter over their heads and refugees have been fighting for food and water deliveries.
“The needs are seemingly endless and the suffering is deepening,” said UNICEF spokeswoman Marixie Mercado.
The United States called the meeting that will be held during the annual General Assembly gathering of world leaders at the United Nations.
The purpose of the meeting “is to discuss ways the Security Council can better enforce the resolutions it has adopted to prevent the spread of the world’s most dangerous weapons,” said a US concept note on the meeting obtained by AFP on Saturday.
The Security Council this week imposed a new raft of sanctions on North Korea, slapping an export ban on textiles, freezing work permits to North Korean guest workers and placing a cap on oil supplies.
The impact of those sanctions depends largely on whether China, North Korea’s ally and main economic partner, will fully implement them and on Russia, which is hosting tens of thousands of North Korean workers.
During the council meeting, countries will address ways to stem missile and nuclear technology to “the world’s most dangerous actors,” the note said.
The meeting, held at a ministerial level, will highlight global unity in confronting the crisis with North Korea, diplomats said.
North Korea on Friday fired an intermediate-range ballistic missile over Japan, in response to a new round of UN sanctions imposed over its sixth nuclear test.
The council met behind closed doors on Friday and condemned the “highly-provocative” missile launch, but it did not threaten further sanctions.
Japan stressed that the focus must be on fully implementing the recent sanctions resolutions to put pressure on North Korea to come to the table to negotiate an end to its nuclear and missile programs.
If fully implemented, the sanctions would deny North Korea more than $2 billion in revenue from exports and other economic activities, according to US officials.
China and Russia have been pushing a proposal to kick-start talks with North Korea with a freeze on the country’s nuclear and missile tests in exchange for a suspension of US-South Korea military drills.
The United States has rejected that proposal as “insulting” and maintains it will only enter into talks with Pyongyang if it halts all missile and nuclear tests unilaterally.
North Korea successfully fired a Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missile over Japan on Friday, responding to a new round of UN sanctions over its sixth nuclear test with its furthest-ever missile flight.
“Our final goal is to establish the equilibrium of real force with the US and make the US rulers dare not talk about military option for the DPRK,” Kim said, according to the official Korean Central News Agency.
Kim said the country was close to the goal of completing its nuclear ambitions and should use all power at its disposal to finish the task, saying it had “nearly reached the terminal”, KCNA reported.
The young leader said Friday’s launch had increased the North’s “combat power of the nuclear force”.
“We should clearly show the big power chauvinists how our state attain the goal of completing its nuclear force despite their limitless sanctions and blockade,” Kim said, according to KCNA.
The UN Security Council condemned Friday’s launch as “highly provocative” and US President Donald Trump scheduled talks with the leaders of Japan and South Korea to address the crisis.
The US Pacific Command confirmed Friday’s rocket was an intermediate range ballistic missile (IRBM) and said the launch did not pose a threat to North America or to the US Pacific territory of Guam, which Pyongyang has threatened with “enveloping fire”.
Seoul’s defence ministry said it probably travelled around 3,700 kilometres (2,300 miles) and reached a maximum altitude of 770 kilometres.
Video broadcast by the North’s Korean Central TV showed a missile blasting off from a mobile transport vehicle and shots of it soaring through clouds.
“The combat reliability of Hwasong-12 was thoroughly verified,” Kim was quoted as saying by star TV presenter Ri Chun-Hee, who appears when North Korea wants to boast of its achievements or needs to make an important announcement.
North Korea’s official party newspaper Rodong Sinmun allocated half its coverage to pictures of the launch.
Yang Uk, an analyst with the Korea Defence and Security Forum, told AFP that Kim’s stated ambition of achieving a military balance with Washington was some way off.
“It’s too unrealistic for North Korea to reach equilibrium in nuclear force with the US,” he said.
The North has raised global tensions with its rapid progress in weapons technology under Kim, who is regularly pictured by state media overseeing launches and visiting facilities.
“The latest launch, which was apparently made from a TEL (transporter erector launcher or missile vehicle) instead of a makeshift launch pad, means the North is now ready to deploy the IRBM Hwasong-12 for combat purposes,” Yang said.
“The North appears to have resolved technical difficulties in launching the missiles from TELs. With its mobility being increased, Hwasong-12 poses an imminent threat to the US and its allies in the region,” he said.
The North’s previous missile launch, a Hwasong-12 IRBM just over two weeks ago, also overflew Japan’s main islands and was the first to do so for years.
“Within three to five years, the North is expected to be capable of operating nuclear missiles as deterrence,” Yang added.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron jointly appealed for talks with North Korea, saying this was the only way to resolve tensions over its nuclear programme.
The appeal was directed at the United States and Japan, which have called for pressure to be ramped up through sanctions rather than pinning hopes on talks.
Russia and China, North Korea’s main ally, on Monday backed a US-drafted resolution at the Security Council to impose fresh sanctions on Pyongyang — but they maintain dialogue is key to defuse the crisis.
The sanctions imposed on Monday banned the North’s textile trade, stopped new work permits for its labourers, and imposed restrictions on shipments of oil products, among other measures.
In response to Friday’s launch, South Korea’s military immediately carried out a ballistic missile drill of its own, with the defence ministry saying it took place while the North’s rocket was still airborne.
President Moon Jae-In told an emergency meeting of Seoul’s national security council that dialogue with the North was “impossible in a situation like this”.
But unless something changes, it is likely the tests will continue, said professor Yang Moo-Jin of the University of North Korean Studies.
“There is a high possibility that the North may test-fire another ICBM by the end of this year to prove it has mastered the technology,” he said.
The clashes erupted when police confronted a small group of demonstrators as the protest moved, over the course of the evening, from the courthouse where the verdict was read to a busy nightlife neighborhood.
After most protesters drifted away, a smaller group of individuals police described as “agitators” lingered on the streets in an upscale neighborhood near the mayor’s home, taunting officers who arrived in riot gear by the busload.
Police used tear gas and rubber bullets to control the crowd as vandals broke windows at a library, a restaurant and a home and threw bricks and water bottles at officers.
Police reported making at least 13 arrests. Three officers were taken to hospital.
“Reports of bricks thrown at police. That’s not protest. That’s a crime. We stand behind our officers. This violence won’t be tolerated,” Missouri Governor Eric Greitens said on Twitter.
With National Guard troops placed on standby, authorities urged calm in the aftermath of a case reminiscent of the circumstances that spawned racially charged unrest in the nearby suburb of Ferguson, giving rise to the Black Lives Matter movement in 2014.
One group of demonstrators tried to climb onto Interstate 40 but were blocked by police. Another group blocked an intersection by sitting down in the street for six minutes of silence.
The outcry was prompted by Friday’s verdict, rendered five weeks after the conclusion of a non-jury trial, finding former city policeman Jason Stockley, 36, not guilty of first-degree murder in the shooting death of Anthony Lamar Smith, 24.
Smith was shot five times in his car after trying to flee Stockley and his partner on Dec. 20, 2011, following an alleged drug deal, authorities said.
During the pursuit, Stockley could be heard saying on an internal police car video he was going to kill Smith, prosecutors said.
At Stockley’s direction, his partner, who was driving, slammed the police cruiser into Smith’s vehicle and they came to a stop, court documents said. Stockley then approached Smith’s car and opened fire with his service weapon.
The former policeman believed Smith was armed, defense attorneys said, and a gun was found in the car. But prosecutors argued Stockley planted the weapon and that the gun had only Stockley’s DNA on it.
Trump took to Twitter to condemn an attack on a packed London Underground train that injured 22 people, but also appeared to suggest that British authorities had dropped the ball.
“Another attack in London by a loser terrorist,” the US president tweeted.
“These are sick and demented people who were in the sights of Scotland Yard. Must be proactive!” Trump added, appearing to reveal undisclosed intelligence from the headquarters of London’s Metropolitan police force.
That online broadside brought a terse public response from May, who warned the US president and others not to speculate.
“I never think it’s helpful for anybody to speculate on what is an ongoing investigation,” May told journalists in London.
Trump later tried to smooth over the rift, describing May as a “wonderful woman”.
But his comments were described as “unhelpful” by London’s Metropolitan Police, as well as by Nick Timothy, May’s former chief of staff.
“True or not — and I’m sure he doesn’t know — this is so unhelpful from leader of our ally and intelligence partner,” Timothy wrote on Twitter.
After his tweets, and with ties apparently under strain, Trump spoke with May to convey “his sympathies and prayers” for victims of the London attack, the White House said in a statement.
“The president pledged to continue close collaboration with the United Kingdom to stop attacks worldwide targeting innocent civilians and to combat extremism.”
Trump’s keenness to underline a series of terror attacks in Britain, virtually in real time, has led to repeated outcry across the Atlantic that has helped indefinitely delay his much-vaunted state visit to the country.
In May, British officials were furious after their US counterparts leaked shared material about an investigation into a bomb attack at a concert by pop star Ariana Grande in Manchester which left 22 dead.
The bomber’s identity and details of the probe leaked to US media before British officials felt ready to disclose them.
Trump’s domestic political message risked fraying decades old trans-Atlantic ties, a day after US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, speaking in London, hailed a relationship that is “as special today as it has ever been”.
After an attack in London in June, Trump had lashed London’s Muslim mayor Sadiq Khan for telling the public there was “no reason to be alarmed” over armed police on the streets.
On that occasion, May was forced to upbraid the US leader, saying “I think Donald Trump is wrong in what he said about Sadiq Khan” after the London Bridge attack.
In March, the White House left British spooks apoplectic when it cited unproven media reports that president Barack Obama had asked Britain’s signals intelligence agency, GCHQ, to monitor then-candidate Trump in order to “make sure there were no American fingerprints.”
The normally tight-lipped agency called the allegations “nonsense,” adding that “they are utterly ridiculous and should be ignored.”
Trump also used Friday’s London train attack to renew calls for his controversial ban on travelers from several predominantly Muslim countries — a rallying cry of his right-wing base who have recently been angered by his support for an amnesty for some illegal immigrants.
“The travel ban into the United States should be far larger, tougher and more specific — but stupidly, that would not be politically correct,” the president said in a series of tweets.
Later in the White House Rose Garden, Trump expressed exasperation at how terrorism “just keeps going and going,” and signaled he wanted harsher penalties for terrorists.
“We have to be very smart, and we have to be very, very tough,” he said. “We’re not nearly tough enough.”
Norma looked likely to churn toward the Los Cabos resort area, according to the US National Hurricane Center in Miami.
At 0300 GMT, Norma was 270 miles (435 km) south of Cabo San Lucas, packing top sustained winds of 75 mph (120 kmh). It was expected to strengthen in coming days the NHC said.
Unloading a few rounds into the air is a well-established custom to celebrate weddings, religious ceremonies and sporting victories in turbulent Pakistan, where firearms stuff black markets along the Afghan border and gun crime is rife in its major cities.
Following Pakistan’s trouncing of arch-rival India during the Champions Trophy in June at least two people were killed and hundreds wounded in the ensuing celebrations as cricket fans fired gunshots into the air nationwide.
In Nowshera, in rural Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province near the country’s tribal belt, Laeeq Shah was with his son as the festivities kicked off in the park when a stray bullet struck the five-year-old in the head.
The toddler was rushed to a nearby hospital in Peshawar where he battled for close to 60 hours in a coma before succumbing to his wounds.
“One can ruin the house of another unknowingly,” says Shah.
In the tribal northwest Pakistan’s obsession with guns is particularly visible, with firearms cheaper than smartphones and most men travelling armed. Weapons are so ubiquitous they are almost seen as jewellery.
Pakistan’s deeply rooted gun culture was exacerbated further in the 1980s after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, when the US and Saudi Arabia began funneling weapons to Mujahideen fighters battling communist forces across the border.
The deluge of arms into the region gave rise to what was later labelled “Kalashnikov culture”, with automatic weapons readily available in gun bazaars across the country fuelling militancy in Pakistan long after the Soviet war ended.
Kalashnikovs and military-grade weapons soon replaced the bolt-action and flintlock rifles of old at social functions, with revelers spraying bursts of automatic fire into the air to celebrate weddings and sporting victories.
But the time-honoured tradition has come at a fatal price.
While there’s no official number for the deaths caused by stray bullets, authorities say hundreds have likely been killed over the years.
After his son’s death Shah decided to act. In the deeply religious area, he canvassed mosques and called on religious leaders to instruct their communities at Friday prayers to abandon the tradition.
“In the past, people use to celebrate with aerial firing because we had open fields,” explains Shah.
“Now every bullet fired in the air will hit someone and no one is certain it will land in an open place.”
Local authorities have also taken up the mantle, with police in Nowshera and other districts distributing pamphlets and posters along with pushing community engagement initiatives to combat the scourge.
“We cannot control this curse without public support,” Sajjad Khan, a senior police official, told AFP.
Peshawar police chief Tahir Khan called on would-be revelers to consider donating the money they would spend on ammunition to charity rather than firing volleys into the sky.
“It cost 60 to 70 rupees ($0.67) for one round, we can spend this money on the poor,” said Khan.
In Pakistan a license is required to possess a gun, while special permits are needed to carry large calibre weapons and automatic rifles.
But the status quo could yet change, with newly elected Prime Minister Shahid Abbasi vowing to crack down on the possession of automatic weapons as he was sworn in last month
As is stands, people caught firing guns into the air are fined up to 1,000 rupees for the offence, according to the mayor of Peshawar’s Nothia Qadeem neighbourhood Safdar Khan Baghi — but the rule remains loosely enforced
In an effort to combat the spread of the country’s gun culture, provincial authorities across Pakistan have passed a raft of measures over the years banning the sale of toys resembling weapons to children.
However a recent visit to Peshawar found the city’s largest bazaar full of toy replicas resembling pistols and Kalashnikovs.
“The government has banned the selling of toy guns, they say it distorts the minds of kids, so better to give them pens or any other toys,” said shopkeeper Sharif Khan.
“But the kids have no other alternative, nothing else is available to play with.”
In the Shah household, the damage has been done.
Following their son’s death, Shah said the family removed all of Noeen’s belongings — shoes, school bags and clothes — from their home.
It was just too painful to be reminded of the loss.
Shah says his wife still suffers from post-traumatic stress, while his daughter struggles to understand why guns are necessary for celebrations.
“Why do people celebrate with aerial firing?” asks Noeen’s sister Warisha.
“If you are happy then just say thanks to Allah.”
Asked about Trumps’ tweet saying that those responsible for the bomb in west London which injured 22 people were “in the sights of Scotland Yard,” May said: “I never think it’s helpful for anybody to speculate on what is an ongoing investigation.”
Another attack in London by a loser terrorist.These are sick and demented people who were in the sights of Scotland Yard. Must be proactive!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) 1505472175000
She also said that the police and security services were doing all they could to identify those responsible for the “cowardly attack” in the London Tube.
Douglas Elmendorf, the dean of the university’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, wrote in a statement posted to the university’s website that naming Manning a visiting fellow was a mistake, even though he said the title carries no special honor.
“We invited Chelsea Manning to spend a day at the Kennedy School,” he wrote. “On that basis, we also named Chelsea Manning a Visiting Fellow. We did not intend to honor her in any way or to endorse any of her words or deeds, as we do not honor or endorse any Fellow.”
Elmendorf apologized to Manning and to “many concerned people” he said he had heard from “for not recognizing upfront the full implications of our original invitation.” Manning is still invited to spend a day at the school and speak to students, though without the visiting fellow title, he wrote.
Manning responded on Twitter early Friday, writing that she was “honored to be 1st disinvited trans woman visiting (at)harvard fellow.”
“They chill marginalized voices under (at)cia pressure,” she said while also accusing the school of letting the CIA determine “what is and is not taught.”
Manning’s publicist didn’t immediately respond when asked if she would still accept Harvard’s invitation to visit the school.
The 29-year-old Manning is a transgender woman who was known as Bradley Manning when she was convicted in 2013 of leaking a trove of classified documents. She was released from a military prison in May after serving seven years of a 35-year sentence, which was commuted by former President Barack Obama in his final days in office. Obama said in January he felt justice had been served. Manning explained on ABC’s “Good Morning America” in a recent interview that she was prompted to give the information to WikiLeaks because of the human toll of the “death, destruction and mayhem” she saw while serving in Iraq.
Pompeo was a last-minute cancellation at a speaking event at Harvard on Thursday night. Minutes after the event was to begin, Elmendorf took the stage and told the audience Pompeo was not there and would not speak.
The CIA later released a letter that Pompeo, who has a law degree from Harvard, wrote to a university official. Pompeo said an appearance would betray the trust of CIA employees and stressed that his decision had nothing to do with Manning’s transgender identity.
“It has everything to do with her identity as a traitor to the United States of America and my loyalty to the officers of the CIA,” Pompeo said.
Earlier Thursday, Mike Morell, a former deputy director and acting director of the CIA, resigned from his post as a senior fellow at the Kennedy School, telling Elmendorf in a letter that he could not be part of an organization that “honors a convicted felon and leaker of classified information.”
In addition to Manning, Harvard this week invited former White House press secretary Sean Spicer, former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and MSNBC hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski to serve as visiting fellows.