• Canada suspends extradition with Hong Kong over China security law
    News
    AFP News

    Canada suspends extradition with Hong Kong over China security law

    Canada on Friday suspended its extradition treaty with Hong Kong to protest the tough new national security law China has enacted in the financial hub. Canada is also halting exports of sensitive military gear to Hong Kong and updating its travel advisory for the city so Canadians will know how the law might affect them, the foreign ministry said. "Canada is a firm believer in the 'one country, two systems' framework," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, referring to the semi-autonomous model adopted after Britain returned Hong Kong to China in 1997.

  • France to launch inquiry into ex-PM, ministers over coronavirus
    News
    AFP News

    France to launch inquiry into ex-PM, ministers over coronavirus

    A French court will open an inquiry into former prime minister Edouard Philippe and two cabinet ministers over their handling of the coronavirus crisis, a prosecutor said Friday. The inquiry will be led by the Law Court of the Republic (CJR), which deals with claims of ministerial misconduct, said senior prosecutor Francois Molins. Along with Philippe, who was replaced Friday in the first stage of a government reshuffle, the ministers under investigation are former health minister Agnes Buzyn -- who stepped down in February for an unsuccessful bid to become mayor of Paris -- and her successor Olivier Veran.

  • Suicide attempts, fights aboard rescue boat carrying 180 migrants
    News
    AFP News

    Suicide attempts, fights aboard rescue boat carrying 180 migrants

    After suicide attempts, fights erupting on board, and migrants jumping into the sea, charity SOS Mediterranee launched an emergency alert on Friday, demanding to be allowed to immediately disembark at a safe port. The humanitarian group, whose vessel the Ocean Viking has been at sea for over a week with 180 migrants aboard, said it could no longer guarantee the safety of the migrants or crew and called a state of emergency in an unprecedented step. The boat, which has been in limbo in the Mediterranean south of Sicily, has been waiting for over a week for permission from Italy or Malta to offload the migrants at a safe port.

  • Bolsonaro dilutes law requiring face masks be worn in Brazil
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    AFP News

    Bolsonaro dilutes law requiring face masks be worn in Brazil

    Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro on Friday watered down a law requiring the wearing of face masks in public places to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Face coverings are already mandatory in several states, such as Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, but this was the first such law on a national level.

  • Russia seeks 6 years jail for journalist in 'terror' case
    News
    AFP News

    Russia seeks 6 years jail for journalist in 'terror' case

    Russian prosecutors on Friday demanded that a journalist be sentenced to six years in prison for allegedly justifying terrorism in a case that has drawn outrage from supporters and rights groups. Svetlana Prokopyeva is based in the northwestern city of Pskov and works for the Russian service of The US-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) as a freelance contributor. Speaking from the court, a defiant Prokopyeva said the prosecution had demanded that she be sentenced to six years in prison and banned from working as a journalist for a further four years.

  • TikTok distances from Beijing in response to India app ban
    News
    Reuters

    TikTok distances from Beijing in response to India app ban

    Social media app TikTok distanced itself from Beijing after India banned 59 Chinese apps in the country, according to a correspondence seen by Reuters. In a letter to the Indian government dated June 28th and seen by Reuters on Friday, TikTok Chief Executive Kevin Mayer said the Chinese government has never requested user data, nor would the company turn it over if asked. TikTok, which is not available in China, is owned by China's ByteDance but has sought to distance itself from its Chinese roots to appeal to a global audience.

  • France's Macron picks new PM after election rout
    News
    AFP News

    France's Macron picks new PM after election rout

    French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday tapped a senior but low-profile bureaucrat as prime minister to replace Edouard Philippe, the first move in a widely expected cabinet reshuffle after dismal local election showings for the ruling party. The new premier, Jean Castex, was drawn from the right-wing opposition to Macron's centrist party, and was totally unknown to most in France until now. Macron has promised a "new course" for France to deal with the crisis, which has plunged France into its worst recession since World War II and left millions of people facing unemployment.

  • Botswana top vet defends investigations into unexplained elephant deaths
    News
    Reuters

    Botswana top vet defends investigations into unexplained elephant deaths

    Botswana's top wildlife vet on Friday dismissed accusations from some conservationists that the government had not moved quickly enough to investigate the unexplained deaths of least 275 elephants. Authorities said on Thursday they were still trying to find out what killed the elephants around two months after the first carcasses were spotted in the Okavango Panhandle region. "A government investigating team has been on the ground since the first cases were reported," Mmadi Reuben, principal veterinary officer in the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, told Reuters.

  • China aims to phase out sale of live poultry at food markets
    Business
    AFP News

    China aims to phase out sale of live poultry at food markets

    China on Friday vowed to gradually phase out the slaughter and sale of live poultry at food markets, in a move welcomed by animal rights activists amid the coronavirus pandemic. The announcement came as China stepped up inspections of wholesale food markets and outlawed the sale and consumption of wildlife, after a recent COVID-19 outbreak in Beijing was traced to a major agricultural wholesale market. "China will restrict the trading and slaughter of live poultry, encourage the mass slaughter of live poultry in places with certain conditions, and gradually close live poultry markets," said Chen Xu, an official at the State Administration of Market Regulation, at a press briefing.

  • EU authorises use of remdesivir to treat coronavirus
    Health
    AFP News

    EU authorises use of remdesivir to treat coronavirus

    The European Commission, the bloc's executive arm, on Friday authorised the use of anti-viral drug remdesivir to treat the new coronavirus. "Today's authorisation of a first medicine to treat COVID-19 is an important step forward in the fight against this virus," EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said in a statement. "We are granting this authorisation less than a month after the application was submitted, showing clearly the EU’s determination to respond quickly whenever new treatments become available," she said.

  • Afghan warlord accused of rights abuse awarded highest military rank
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    AFP News

    Afghan warlord accused of rights abuse awarded highest military rank

    A powerful Afghan warlord accused of kidnapping and raping a political opponent and of committing rights abuses for decades has been given the country's highest military rank, a top official said Friday. Abdul Rashid Dostum, 66, was awarded the rank of marshal in a decree issued by President Ashraf Ghani, making him the only third such recipient in Afghan armed forces. "I congratulate you on achieving the highest military rank of the country," Abdullah Abdullah, who now heads a high-profile council tasked with holding peace talks with the Taliban, wrote on his Facebook page Friday.

  • Court convicts Amnesty Turkey ex-leaders on terror charges
    News
    AFP News

    Court convicts Amnesty Turkey ex-leaders on terror charges

    Amnesty International Turkey said two of its former leaders were convicted on "terrorist" charges by an Istanbul court on Friday in a case reflecting mounting official pressure on civil society. The trial of 11 human rights activists became a symbol of the crackdown on critics after the 2016 failed attempt to overthrow President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Idil Eser, former Amnesty Turkey director, was among three people sentenced to 25 months for "helping a terrorist organisation".

  • Lockdown heroes: couriers get Moscow monument
    News
    AFP News

    Lockdown heroes: couriers get Moscow monument

    A group of Russian e-commerce companies said Friday they had erected a monument in Moscow thanking couriers for helping people through the coronavirus lockdown. The metal monument designed by artist Alexei Garikovich features a cut-out silhouette of a figure holding a phone and standing next to a box. The organisers said in a statement that they wanted to "highlight the contribution of those frontline workers who continued delivering essentials across the country."

  • UK, Indian firm salvage satellite operator Oneweb
    News
    AFP News

    UK, Indian firm salvage satellite operator Oneweb

    The UK government and Indian telecoms giant Bharti are to take control of the collapsed satellite firm Oneweb, they said Friday, as Britain seeks to expand its post-Brexit space capabilility. Britain and Bharti will each invest $500 million into Oneweb, the government said in a statement after it quit the European Union's Galileo satellite programme with its exit from the bloc on January 31. The deal is aimed at delivering Britain's "first UK sovereign space capability," the statement said.

  • 'Horizon Zero Dawn' opens to PC players from August 7
    Entertainment
    AFP Relax

    'Horizon Zero Dawn' opens to PC players from August 7

    Here's a date that a lot of PC gamers have been waiting for: acclaimed PlayStation hit "Horizon Zero Dawn" is arriving on Windows from August 7. The Complete Edition includes support for ultra-wide monitor resolutions, unlocked frame rates, dynamic foliage, improved reflections, controller and keyboard input support, and various graphics options, as well as late 2017 expansion The Frozen Wilds.

  • Khashoggi murder trial told oven was lit after killing
    News
    Reuters

    Khashoggi murder trial told oven was lit after killing

    A Saudi consulate worker in Istanbul told a Turkish court on Friday he had been asked to light a tandoor oven less than an hour after Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi entered the building where he was killed. Zeki Demir, a local technician who worked for the consulate, was giving evidence on the first day of the trial in absentia of 20 Saudi officials over Khashoggi's killing, which sparked global outrage and tarnished the image of Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler. Demir said he had been called to the consul's residence after Khashoggi entered the nearby consulate to seek his papers.

  • Britain mulls joining EU's coronavirus vaccine scheme
    News
    Reuters

    Britain mulls joining EU's coronavirus vaccine scheme

    Britain is discussing with the European Union whether it will join a plan by the bloc to secure supplies of potential vaccines against COVID-19, officials in London and Brussels said on Friday. The UK-EU talks, first reported by the Financial Times, represent a test of the cooperation required to tackle international emergencies after Brexit. The EU is planning to spend around 2 billion euros ($2.3 billion) on the advance purchase of vaccines in testing, on behalf of the 27 EU states.

  • Rescue boat with 180 migrants in state of emergency: charity
    News
    AFP News

    Rescue boat with 180 migrants in state of emergency: charity

    Humanitarian group SOS Mediterranee said Friday its rescue boat carrying 180 migrants was in crisis and needed to disembark immediately as conditions had deteriorated and violence erupted on board. The charity group said it had called a state of emergency on board, saying the safety of the migrants and crew could no longer be guaranteed. Tensions have risen in the past week, as witnessed by an AFP reporter aboard the boat, as migrants have become increasingly desperate to reach land.

  • Miami mayor imposes nightly curfew to fight Florida coronavirus surge
    News
    Reuters

    Miami mayor imposes nightly curfew to fight Florida coronavirus surge

    Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez announced an indefinite nightly curfew from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. as the July Fourth holiday weekend began and halted the reopenings of venues, such as casinos and theaters that had been set for Friday. "Let's celebrate Independence Day by respecting one another's right to life, liberty and happiness," Gimenez said in a video on Friday, citing the U.S. Declaration of Independence adopted on July 4, 1776. Coronavirus cases are rising in 37 of the 50 U.S. states including Florida which had 9,488 new cases on Friday, according to the state health department, after more than 10,000 new cases the previous day.

  • WHO sees first results from COVID drug trials within two weeks
    Health
    Reuters

    WHO sees first results from COVID drug trials within two weeks

    The World Health Organization (WHO) should soon get results from clinical trials it is conducting of drugs that might be effective in treating COVID-19 patients, its Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Friday. "Nearly 5,500 patients in 39 countries have so far been recruited into the Solidarity trial," he told a news briefing, referring to clinical studies the U.N. agency is conducting. "We expect interim results within the next two weeks."

  • Almost a third of COVID-19 samples show mutation, but not worse disease - WHO
    Health
    Reuters

    Almost a third of COVID-19 samples show mutation, but not worse disease - WHO

    Almost 30% of genome sequencing data from samples of the COVID-19 virus collected by the World Health Organization (WHO) have shown signs of mutation, but there is no evidence this has led to more severe disease, a top WHO official said on Friday. "I think it's quite widespread," Soumya Swaminathan, WHO chief scientist, told Reuters on the sidelines of a briefing held by the U.N. journalists' association ACANU in Geneva. The U.N. agency has so far collected 60,000 samples of the disease, she said.

  • Turkey's Erdogan rejects criticism over Hagia Sophia landmark
    News
    AFP News

    Turkey's Erdogan rejects criticism over Hagia Sophia landmark

    Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday rejected criticism over his willingness to convert Istanbul's famed Hagia Sophia landmark into a mosque despite international and domestic concern. "Charges against our country over Hagia Sophia are a direct attack on our right to sovereignty," Erdogan said. Turkey's highest administrative court is considering whether the emblematic site and former cathedral can be redesignated as a mosque, prompting US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday to urge Turkey to keep the site in its current status as a museum.

  • Global coronavirus cases exceed 11 million
    Health
    Reuters

    Global coronavirus cases exceed 11 million

    Global coronavirus cases exceeded 11 million on Friday, according to a Reuters tally, marking another milestone in the spread of the disease that has killed more than half a million people in seven months. The number of cases is more than double the figure for severe influenza illnesses recorded annually, according to the World Health Organization. The United States reported more than 55,400 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, a new daily global record as infections rose in a majority of states.

  • Macron tightens grip ahead of 2022 challenge
    News
    AFP News

    Macron tightens grip ahead of 2022 challenge

    Macron anointed Jean Castex to take over from Edouard Philippe, whose popularity rose as the public face of France's coronavirus response even as the president lost support and his party suffered a humiliating rout in local government elections. "And the new prime minister is.... #EmmanuelMacron," analyst Jean Garrigues of the University of Orleans tweeted after the surprise appointment of Castex on Friday. The move, he told AFP, was Macron's way "to reclaim the dominant spot in the executive couple" after long butting heads on policy with Philippe.

  • As US struggles with virus, Trump heads to Rushmore for fireworks
    Politics
    AFP News

    As US struggles with virus, Trump heads to Rushmore for fireworks

    Under fire for his response to America's spiraling coronavirus caseload, President Donald Trump is heading to Mount Rushmore on Friday for a night of holiday fireworks that he hopes will provide a much-needed distraction. On the eve of the country's Independence Day, the Republican leader is to speak in the shadow of four of his notable predecessors: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln, whose heads are carved into a granite cliff in South Dakota's Black Hills. Trump has had little to say about the shocking increase in the number of virus cases in the US, though in a tweet late Thursday he said the rise was because "our testing is so massive and so good, far bigger and better than any other country," calling that "great news."