Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy ousted in no-confidence vote

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Spain’s parliament on Friday ousted Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy in a no-confidence vote sparked by fury over his party’s corruption woes, with his Socialist arch-rival Pedro Sanchez automatically taking over. An absolute majority of 180 lawmakers voted for the motion to loud applause and shouts of “Yes we can,” converting Rajoy into the first prime
Source: The New Age

Lesbian film ban ‘ridiculous’ says Kenya Film Commission

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The head of Kenya’s film commission has slammed a decision to impose a domestic ban a Kenya-made film about lesbian love that received a standing ovation at this month’s Cannes festival. “Rafiki”, based on an award-winning short story, tells the tale of two young women who fall in love and was slapped with a ban
Source: The New Age

NGOs demand the release of 26 activists in Niger

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Ten international NGOs including Amnesty International and Oxfam called Friday for the release of 26 civil society activists detained since March after a banned demonstration in Niamey. A joint statement published on Oxfam’s website called on “the authorities in Niger to ease the situation by releasing the detainees and bring an end to the prosecutions”. Adama
Source: The New Age

DRC priest ‘infected with Ebola’ as death toll revised down

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A Catholic priest has been quarantined in the Democratic Republic of Congo after being infected with Ebola as health officials on Friday revised down the number of deaths to 22. “We have quarantined a priest from the diocese of Mbandaka-Bikoro who tested positive” for the Ebola virus, a medical source told AFP on Thursday, on
Source: The New Age

North Korea details plans to dismantle nuclear bomb test site

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North Korea has scheduled the dismantlement of its nuclear bomb test site for sometime between May 23 and 25 in order to uphold its pledge to discontinue nuclear tests, the country’s state media reported on Saturday a month ahead of a historic summit.

The official Korean Central New Agency said dismantlement of the Punggye-ri nuclear test ground would involve collapsing all of its tunnels with explosions, blocking its entrances, and removing all observation facilities, research buildings and security posts.

“The Nuclear Weapon Institute and other concerned institutions are taking technical measures for dismantling the northern nuclear test ground in order to ensure transparency of discontinuance of the nuclear test,” KCNA said.

US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will hold talks in Singapore on June 12, the first-ever meeting between a sitting US president and a North Korean leader.

Trump’s Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday that North Korea can look forward to “a future brimming with peace and prosperity” if it agrees to quickly give up its nuclear weapons.

Trump welcomed the North Korean announcement.

“North Korea has announced that they will dismantle Nuclear Test Site this month, ahead of the big Summit Meeting on June12th,” he tweeted. “Thank you, a very smart and gracious gesture! Thank you, a very smart and gracious gesture!”

South Korea’s presidential office echoed the sentiment on Sunday, saying it shows Pyongyang’s willingness to denuclearise through actions beyond words.

However, in spite of its pledge to stop testing, North Korea has given no indication it is willing to go beyond statements of broad conceptual support for denuclearization by unilaterally abandoning a nuclear weapons program its ruling family has seenas crucial to its survival.

In announcing the plan to shut Punggye-ri last month, Kimsaid North Korea no longer needed to conduct tests because it had completed its goal of developing nuclear weapons.

KCNA said journalists, including from the United States and South Korea, would be invited to cover the event, to “show in a transparent manner the dismantlement of the northern nuclear test ground to be carried out”. The exact date of the closure will depend on weather conditions, the agency said.

To accommodate the travelling journalists, North Korea said various measures would be taken including “opening territorial air space”.

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Source: SABCNews

Indonesia church attacks kill six, dozens wounded

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A wave of blasts including a suicide bombing struck outside churches in Indonesia on Sunday, killing at least six and wounding dozens of others, police said, the latest assault on a religious minority in the world’s biggest Muslim-majority country. Three separate locations in the city of Surabaya were hit by the bombings around 7:30 am
Source: The New Age

U.S. faces isolation after pulling from JCPOA

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The United States is finding itself increasingly isolated after President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the multilateral Iran Nuclear Deal.

European parties to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) are adamant that they will try to save the deal after Tehran committed to continue implementing the JCPOA.

Democrats in the United States Congress have sharply criticised Washington’s withdrawal while the United Nations Chief expressed his concern while trumping the 2015 accord as a major achievement in nuclear non-proliferation.

While the U.S announcement was widely anticipated, it lacks broad international appeal. And like the withdrawal from the Paris Climate Change Agreement and the decision to relocate the US Embassy to Jerusalem, Washington again finds itself out of step with the broad consensus.

“I have been very clear in a number of conversations with the President of the United States about the belief of the United Kingdom that the JCPOA, the nuclear deal with Iran, should stay. That is also the view shared by Chancellor Merkel of Germany and President Macron of France. That was made clear in the joint statement that I issued last night with Chancellor Merkel and with President Macron.

“We accept that there are other issues in relation to the behaviour of Iran that need to be dealt with, ballistic missiles, the question of what would happen at the sunset clause at the end of the nuclear deal and the destabilising activity of Iran in the region. Those are issues that need to be addressed and we are working with our European and other allies to do just that,” said UK Prime Minister, Theresa May.

At the United Nations, calls on other parties to remain committed to the deal.

“It is essential that all concerns regarding the implementation of the Plan be addressed through the mechanisms established in the JCPOA. Issues not directly related to the JCPOA should be addressed without prejudice to preserving the agreement and its accomplishments. The Secretary General calls on other JCPOA participants to abide fully by their respective commitments under the JCPOA and on all other Member States to support this agreement,” said UN Secretary General Spokesperson, Stephane Dujarric.

Democrats in Congress lined up to denounce President Trump’s decision, chief among them Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

“There are no reports that Iran has violated the (nuclear) agreement. And to me, the greatest worries from Iran are not right now the nuclear side, but rather what they’re doing in Syria; what they’re doing to arm Hezbollah with rockets; what they’re doing with ICBMs (intercontinental ballistic missiles). And to me, the right thing to do would have been to try and come up with our allies with an agreement on those issues, and let the nuclear part of this continue as is; because it’s not being violated in any way. ”

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said the decision vindicated his position that Iranian’s should not trust the United States.

“Now it is being said that we can continue the nuclear deal with these three European countries (Britain, France and Germany). I don’t trust these three countries. If you can’t get a definite guarantee, and I don’t believe it is possible to get a definite guarantee, then we are not able to continue in this fashion (regarding the nuclear deal”.

And with US sanctions about to be re-imposed, countries doing business in Iran could pay a heavy price, as Vicky Pryce of the Centre for Economics and Business Research explains: “It’s bad news for a number of firms, for example, aircraft manufacturers, the deals they have with Iran, oil companies of course quite involved in all this. And then of course the other exports that actually right now, particularly from the EU, go to Iran and there will be impacts on the oil price too. For the moment it hasn’t been that pronounced but I think the market is waiting to see how things evolve in the next few days.”

Former President Barack Obama whose government was among the chief architects of the agreement called the US decision “a serious mistake”.


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Source: SABCNews

Spain court rules proposed Catalan leader must stay in jail

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Spain’s Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a request by Catalonia’s pro-independence presidential candidate Jordi Sanchez to be let out of jail and sworn in as regional head.

The Catalan parliament had been scheduled to hold a debate and vote on Sanchez’s candidacy on Friday, but after the court’s ruling Catalan parliament speaker Roger Torrent announced on Twitter he had suspended the session indefinitely.

Sanchez was remanded in custody in October pending charges over his role in last year’s failed Catalan independence bid.

An attempt to appoint him as president failed last month after Spain’s Supreme Court turned down a request for his release from jail.

But Torrent put Sanchez’s name forward as a candidate again earlier this month after the United Nations Human Rights Committee defended his political rights.

In letters sent last month to Spanish authorities and Sanchez’s lawyers, the UN committee requested the state take all steps to ensure he is allowed to exercise his political rights.

Supreme Court judge Pablo Llarena once again turned down Sanchez’s request, arguing there were signs that he could “move in the direction of a rupture of the constitutional order”.

The judge argues it was justified in limiting Sanchez’s political rights given the risk that his release would pose to the collective rights “of the rest of the community”.

Torrent had appealed earlier on Thursday for the judge to agree to let Sanchez, a former leader of influential grassroots independence group ANC who was elected to the Catalan parliament in snap polls in December, leave jail to be sworn in.

“The court has the opportunity to take note of international law and the protection of political rights or write another dark chapter in the history of the Supreme Court,” he said in an interview to news radio station Cadena Ser.

The court ruling comes as Barcelona is gearing up for a huge protest on Sunday to mark the six month anniversary of the jailing of Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart, the leader of another separatist organisation.

Catalonia in political limbo

Catalonia has been in political limbo since Spain’s conservative central government imposed direct rule on the region after it unilaterally declared independence in October.

Fresh regional elections will be triggered if a new leader is not elected by May 22.

Separately, the National Court, which handles terrorism and other top criminal cases, released a woman who was arrested on Tuesday for “rebellion” and “terrorism” in a probe of pro-independence activists in Catalonia.

National Court judge Diego de Egea dismissed those two charges against her, saying she should instead be prosecuted for the lesser crime of causing public disorder, which carries a possible jail sentence of between six months and six years.

The woman is allegedly a member of the radical pro-independence activist groups called the Committees for the Defence of the Republic (CDR) which formed last year before an independence referendum on October 1.

In recent weeks, the groups have protested against the jailing of pro-independence Catalan leaders and the detention of former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont in Germany by blocking major roads in Catalonia, sometimes with burning tires.

At the end of March, the protesters blocked major roads in Catalonia and tried to occupy the central government’s representative office, heavily guarded by police, on several occasions. The resulting clashes left dozens injured.


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Source: SABCNews

Trump to unveil $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan

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Donald Trump’s administration will sketch out more details of its plan to invest in America’s creaking infrastructure Monday, hoping it can leverage up to $1.5 trillion for the cause. Senior White House officials said the president’s budget, due to be released on Monday, will include $200 billion earmarked for projects to fix roads, bridges and
Source: The New Age

Horse and carriage for Prince Harry and Meghan’s wedding

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A horse-drawn carriage will take Prince Harry and his American bride Meghan Markle down Windsor’s main street after they marry in the town’s castle in May, Kensington Palace said Sunday. Following a noon ceremony in St George’s Chapel the newlyweds will make a “short journey” in the carriage, leaving the castle at around 1 pm
Source: The New Age

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