Fire rages at Hong Kong campus entrance as protesters fend off police: AFP

A large fire burns near an entrance to a besieged Hong Kong campus after protesters threw Molotov cocktails to fend off a police advance on the university, according to AFP reporters at the scene.

  • More than 120 dead in Myanmar jade mine landslide
    News
    AFP News

    More than 120 dead in Myanmar jade mine landslide

    The battered bodies of more than 120 jade miners were pulled from a sea of mud after a landslide in northern Myanmar on Thursday after one of the worst-ever accidents to hit the treacherous industry. Scores die each year while working in the country's lucrative but poorly regulated jade industry, which uses low-paid migrant workers to scrape out a gem highly coveted in China. The disaster struck after heavy rainfall pounded the open-cast mines, close to the Chinese border in Kachin state, where billions of dollars of jade is believed to be scoured each year from bare hillsides.

  • A year after Russia reset, France sees no concrete results - minister
    News
    Reuters

    A year after Russia reset, France sees no concrete results - minister

    France's efforts to nurture a new relationship with Russia over the last year to bring Moscow back into the fold of leading industrialised nations has yet to yield any results, Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly said on Thursday. French President Emmanuel Macron has said that alienating Russia was "a profound strategic mistake" and wants Moscow’s help to solve the world’s most intractable crises, while reducing the distrust between Russia, NATO and the EU. "If the question is: have there been concrete results in the dialogue that France initiated with Russia, I'll answer sincerely that it is still not the case," Parly told a European parliament hearing.

  • Border town pays price for Sweden's no-lockdown as Norway reopens
    News
    Reuters

    Border town pays price for Sweden's no-lockdown as Norway reopens

    The Swedish border town of Stromstad is paying a heavy price for Sweden's decision not to lock down its economy like neighbouring Norway and other Nordic nations to halt the spread of COVID-19. Stromstad is just a two-hour drive from Oslo and popular with Norwegians who shop for cheaper consumer goods in Sweden, but Norway's lockdown, imposed in mid-March, put a stop to that.

  • What you need to know about the coronavirus right now
    Health
    Reuters

    What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

    Did the Beijing outbreak strain come from South Asia? A strain of COVID-19 that has infected more than 300 people in Beijing since early June could have originated in South or Southeast Asia, according to a study by Harvard University researchers. The virus found in the Beijing cases is an imported strain of COVID-19, according to the China Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.

  • UK PM Johnson says statue of colonialist Rhodes should not be pulled down
    News
    Reuters

    UK PM Johnson says statue of colonialist Rhodes should not be pulled down

    British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Thursday that a statue of 19th century colonialist Cecil Rhodes should not be pulled down from an Oxford University college because history should not be edited. Oriel College, Oxford, said last month it wanted to remove a statue of Rhodes after a campaign by those who argue the statue glorifies racism and is an insult to black students. Johnson told the Evening Standard newspaper he did not want to see the statue pulled down.

  • 'Bubbles': How England plans to reopen schools to all pupils
    News
    Reuters

    'Bubbles': How England plans to reopen schools to all pupils

    All pupils in England will be expected to return to school in September as part of government plans unveiled on Thursday, which include dividing students into separate groups to limit the spread of COVID-19. At present, only some students in certain year groups and the children of key workers are at school, depending on the area and set-up. Schools will be asked to maintain distinct student groups, known as bubbles, which strive to not mix with pupils in other bubbles.

  • Ex-officers in George Floyd case may seek venue change, raising questions of bias
    News
    Reuters

    Ex-officers in George Floyd case may seek venue change, raising questions of bias

    While trials are rarely moved in Minnesota, legal experts said the Floyd cases might be exceptions because the Minneapolis police chief and other officials spoke publicly about the episode and called Floyd's death a murder, a departure from norms that defendants may argue prejudiced jurors. A video of the May arrest and death of Floyd, who was Black, showed officer Derek Chauvin, who is white, kneeling on Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes as he went lifeless, sparking protests globally and igniting a national discussion on race.

  • Egg salad and a basketball star provide one California cafe's coronavirus lifeline
    Business
    Reuters

    Egg salad and a basketball star provide one California cafe's coronavirus lifeline

    Each day, employees at Farley's East cafe in Oakland, California fix about 200 turkey, ham and egg salad sandwich lunch plates to be distributed free to the homeless, hungry school-age kids, medical professionals at Covid-19 testing sites, and others in need. It's a community lifeline as new coronavirus cases and unemployment continue in the Bay Area, leaving parents struggling to feed their families and the unsheltered facing even more uncertainty. Funded in the San Francisco Bay area through donors like Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry and wife Ayesha, and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, the program is expected to continue through the summer.

  • Proportion of COVID-19 contacts reached by English test and trace scheme falls
    News
    Reuters

    Proportion of COVID-19 contacts reached by English test and trace scheme falls

    Less than three-quarters of close contacts of positive COVID-19 cases identified by England's test and trace system were reached in the latest weekly figures, Britain's health ministry said on Thursday, a fall in the proportion of contacts reached. In the fourth week of England's test and trace scheme, the ministry said that 23,028 people were identified as close contacts of positive cases, with 16,804, or 73%, of that total reached. The service is seen as key to identifying outbreaks of COVID-19 as England emerges from its countrywide lockdown, and informing the need for possible future local shutdowns.

  • Hong Kong businesses back new security law despite fears
    News
    AFP News

    Hong Kong businesses back new security law despite fears

    China's new security law has sent fear coursing through many Hong Kong residents, but the city's commercial community has largely embraced it as a way to get back to doing business. The controversial legislation has granted mainland Chinese authorities unprecedented control as they seek to end the pro-democracy protests that plunged Hong Kong into turmoil last year. Despite warnings from rights groups and legal analysts that it could be a fatal blow to the city's legal autonomy and political freedoms, many in the business community have welcomed the law as a way to restore stability.

  • India opens vast railway network to private players
    News
    AFP News

    India opens vast railway network to private players

    India has opened up its vast railway sector to private companies, allowing firms to operate trains on certain routes, in a bid to boost its stuttering, virus-hit economy. The 167-year-old train network carries 20 million passengers daily but is plagued by deadly accidents, rickety infrastructure, lack of modern amenities and poor investment. In an announcement late Wednesday, the railway ministry said it would now permit businesses to run trains along 109 routes, inviting bids from firms weeks after New Delhi opened up coal mining to the private sector.

  • Palestinian rivals Fatah, Hamas pledge unity against Israeli annexations
    News
    AFP News

    Palestinian rivals Fatah, Hamas pledge unity against Israeli annexations

    Palestinian rivals Fatah and Hamas pledged unity against Israel's West Bank annexation plans in a rare joint conference Thursday, as signs emerged of a rift between Israel and Washington over the project. The relationship between Fatah, which controls the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority, and Islamist group Hamas -- in control of the Gaza strip -- has been plagued by divisions for more than a decade. The joint press conference was spurred by common opposition against US President Donald Trump's controversial peace plan, which paves the way for Israel to annex territory in the occupied West Bank, including Jewish settlements considered illegal under international law.

  • How COVID hit Spain's poorest neighbourhood
    News
    AFP News

    How COVID hit Spain's poorest neighbourhood

    During the lockdown, Sonia Garcia gave birth to her fourth child in an impoverished part of Seville known as Spain's poorest neighbourhood which has been devastated by the virus. "What I want is to get out of here," says the 35-year-old as she walks past her apartment block, the street littered with rubbish, broken glass and the desiccated corpse of a dead rat. Earlier this year, Garcia had been working at a local takeaway stand in Tres Mil Viviendas in southern Seville, but lost her job when the lockdown began in mid-March.

  • Kremlin hails 'triumph' in vote extending Putin's rule
    News
    AFP News

    Kremlin hails 'triumph' in vote extending Putin's rule

    The Kremlin on Thursday hailed as a "triumph" overwhelming backing in a national vote on constitutional reforms to extend President Vladimir Putin's rule. The Central Elections Commission announced that 77.92 percent of voters had backed the reforms with a turnout of 67.97 percent after all votes had been counted. The Kremlin "definitely considers this as a triumph," presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, describing the vote as a "referendum on trust" in the Russian president.

  • Size-inclusive brands targeting all women gain in popularity
    Style
    AFP Relax

    Size-inclusive brands targeting all women gain in popularity

    The fashion search engine Stylight has been following inclusive brands that have gained in popularity in recent months. A case in point is Savage x Fenty by Rihanna, which has become well-established in just three years. With the Savage x Fenty brand, singer Rihanna aims to offer affordably priced quality lingerie to all women, irrespective of their ages and sizes.

  • Depression is common during the transition to menopause finds new study
    Health
    AFP Relax

    Depression is common during the transition to menopause finds new study

    New research has found that nearly half of women transitioning into menopause can experience depression. Published online in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS), the new study looked at 485 postmenopausal Turkish women aged between 35 and 78 years and analyzed any depressive symptoms that they had, as well as feelings of anxiety and a fear of death.

  • Why singer's killing ignited deadly clashes among Ethiopia's Oromo people
    News
    Reuters

    Why singer's killing ignited deadly clashes among Ethiopia's Oromo people

    The Oromo, Ethiopia's largest ethnic group, have long complained of their exclusion from political power. Many welcomed the 2018 appointment of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed but now some say he has not done enough for his community and question his credentials as an Oromo leader. For decades, one party drawn from the northern Tigray region dominated Ethiopia's ruling coalition, fuelling Oromo resentment further south.

  • Ethiopian singer buried after deadly violence over his murder
    News
    AFP News

    Ethiopian singer buried after deadly violence over his murder

    Hachalu Hundessa, a member of the Oromo ethnic group, Ethiopia's largest, was shot dead by unknown attackers in the capital Addis Ababa Monday night. The funeral, broadcast live on the Oromia Broadcasting Network, took place in his hometown Ambo, west of the capital. Officials arranged for his casket to be driven into the stadium in Ambo in a black car, accompanied by a brass band and men on horseback.

  • Late K-pop star's ex jailed for sex video blackmail
    Celebrity
    AFP News

    Late K-pop star's ex jailed for sex video blackmail

    The ex-boyfriend of late K-pop star Goo Hara was jailed by an appeal court Thursday for blackmailing her over sex videos that played a part in her apparent suicide. In 2018, Goo -- a member of former girl group Kara -- told local media that her ex had threatened "to end her entertainment career" by leaking their sex videos. Goo was found dead at her home in November, and is widely believed to have taken her own life after being targeted by abusive online comments following the reports about the videos.

  • Museum or mosque? Top Turkey court to rule on Hagia Sophia
    News
    AFP News

    Museum or mosque? Top Turkey court to rule on Hagia Sophia

    Turkey's top court considered Thursday whether Istanbul's emblematic landmark and former cathedral Hagia Sophia can be redesignated as a mosque, a ruling which could inflame tensions with the West. The Council of State was looking at a case brought by a Turkish NGO, the Association for the Protection of Historic Monuments and the Environment, during a short hearing. It will announce its decision on the fate of the UNESCO World Heritage site within 15 days, state broadcaster TRT reported.

  • U.S. farmers scramble for help as COVID-19 scuttles immigrant workforce
    News
    Reuters

    U.S. farmers scramble for help as COVID-19 scuttles immigrant workforce

    The novel coronavirus delayed the arrival of seasonal immigrants who normally help harvest U.S. wheat, leaving farmers to depend on high school students, school bus drivers, laid-off oilfield workers and others to run machines that bring in the crop. As combines work their way north from the Southern Plains of Texas and Oklahoma, farmers and harvesting companies are having a hard time finding and keeping workers. Any delays in the harvest could send wheat prices higher and cause a scramble to secure supplies to make bread and pasta.

  • Britain recognises Guaido as Venezuela president - English High Court
    News
    Reuters

    Britain recognises Guaido as Venezuela president - English High Court

    Britain has recognised Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido as the country's president, the English High Court has ruled, in a case over whether Guaido or Nicolas Maduro should control $1 billion of its gold stored in London. A four-day hearing last week had been the last part of a tug-of-war over the gold and centred on which of the two rival presidents Britain now viewed as Venezuela's legitimate leader. High Court judge Nigel Teare handed down a judgment ruling that Britain had formally recognised Guaido as the constitutional interim President of Venezuela, and that due to the "One Voice" and "Act of State" doctrines the court is precluded from investigating the validity of Guaido's acts.

  • Eyes in the sky: Investors reach for new tools to gauge climate change risk
    Science
    Reuters

    Eyes in the sky: Investors reach for new tools to gauge climate change risk

    In an era where climate change is eroding age-old certainties, a new cast of characters is searching for answers in the sky. While climate scientists caution that the discipline is in its infancy, advocates say the early findings have one over-riding virtue: dynamiting any remaining complacency about the scale of the disruption that lies in store. "This is the missing piece of the jigsaw," said Michael Hugman, a portfolio manager at London-based asset manager Ninety One, where the fixed-income team runs $44.3 billion of mostly emerging market debt.

  • China and UK clash over fate of Hong Kongers under new security law
    News
    AFP News

    China and UK clash over fate of Hong Kongers under new security law

    China promised Thursday to take countermeasures against Britain if it presses ahead with plans to extend citizenship rights to Hong Kongers after Beijing imposed a sweeping security law on the restless financial hub. Beijing has faced a groundswell of criticism from primarily Western nations over its decision to impose a new law outlawing acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and colluding with foreign forces. Adding to concerns, Hong Kong's influential Bar Association published a new legal analysis warning that the wording of the law -- which was kept secret until Tuesday -- undermines the city's independent judiciary and stifles freedoms.

  • Coronavirus complicates Quebec moving season
    Science
    AFP Relax

    Coronavirus complicates Quebec moving season

    Moving house is a palaver at the best of times, but in the Canadian province of Quebec it is even more testing as the majority of leases end on the same day. Hundreds of thousands of people in the French-speaking region move on July 1, and in Montreal alone 80,000 to 100,000 households change their address around this time of year, according to official city figures. This year moving season has been further complicated by the coronavirus epidemic sweeping Canada.