France’s president says ambassador to Niger ‘literally held hostage’

France’s president says ambassador to Niger ‘literally held hostage’
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Nigerien security forces stand guard in front of the French army base in Niamey on September 15, 2023, to keep demonstrators at bay. (REUTERS/Mahamadou Hamidou)
France’s president says ambassador to Niger ‘literally held hostage’
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Nigerien security forces stand guard in front of the French army base in Niamey on September 15, 2023, to keep demonstrators at bay. (REUTERS/Mahamadou Hamidou)
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Updated 16 September 2023
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France’s president says ambassador to Niger ‘literally held hostage’

France’s president says ambassador to Niger ‘literally held hostage’
  • Niger’s military leaders told the French envoy to leave the country after they overthrew President Mohamed Bazoum on July 26
  • France has refused the ultimatum, saying it did not recognize the legitimacy of the military power grab

SEMUR-EN-AUXOIS, Francee: President Emmanuel Macron said on Friday that France’s envoy to Niger is living like a hostage in the French embassy and accused military rulers of blocking food deliveries to the mission.

The ambassador is living off “military rations,” Macron told reporters in the French town of Semur-en-Auxois.
“As we speak, we have an ambassador and diplomatic staff who are literally being held hostage in the French embassy,” he said.
“They are preventing food deliveries,” he said, in an apparent reference to Niger’s new military rulers. “He is eating military rations.”
Niger’s military leaders told French ambassador Sylvain Itte he had to leave the country after they overthrew President Mohamed Bazoum on July 26.
But a 48-hour ultimatum for him to leave, issued in August, passed with him still in place as the French government refused to comply, or to recognize the military regime as legitimate.
The coup has been condemned by France and most of Niger’s neighbors.
Macron said the envoy “cannot go out, he is persona non grata and he is being refused food.”
Asked whether France would consider bringing him home, Macron said: “I will do whatever we agree with President Bazoum because he is the legitimate authority and I speak with him every day.”
Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna later said the ambassador “is working” and would stay at his post for as long as Paris wished.
“He is very useful for us with his contacts and those of his team,” Colonna told LCI television, adding the ambassador still had a small team with him.
France keeps about 1,500 soldiers in Niger, and said earlier this month that any redeployment could only be negotiated with Bazoum.
The country’s new leaders have torn up military cooperation agreements with France and asked the troops to leave quickly.
Macron has for weeks rejected the call to remove the French ambassador, a stance backed by the EU which has described the demand as “a provocation.”
Like France, the EU “does not recognize” the authorities that seized power in Niger, said EU foreign affairs spokeswoman Nabila Massrali last month.
The impoverished Sahel region south of the Sahara has suffered what Macron has called an “epidemic” of coups in recent years, with military regimes replacing elected governments in Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea as well as Niger.
 


World breaks hottest day record for second day in a row

World breaks hottest day record for second day in a row
Updated 10 sec ago
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World breaks hottest day record for second day in a row

World breaks hottest day record for second day in a row
  • Gulf countries have sweltered through heat indexes — factoring in humidity — exceeding 60 degrees Celsius
LONDON: Monday, July 22 was again the hottest day on record, according to preliminary data from a European Union monitoring agency, inching past Sunday, July 21 which had just taken the title.
The global average surface air temperature rose to 17.15 degrees Celsius — 0.06 degrees higher than Sunday’s marginal record according to the Copernicus Climate Change Service, which has been tracking such patterns since 1940.
The record had last been set for four consecutive days in a row in early July 2023. Before that, the hottest day was in August 2016.
“This past Monday might have set a new global record for warmest absolute global average temperature ever — by that I mean going back tens of thousands of years,” said climate scientist Karsten Haustein at Leipzig University in Germany.
In recent days, cities in Japan, Indonesia and China have registered record heat. Gulf countries, too, have sweltered through heat indexes — factoring in humidity — exceeding 60 degrees Celsius. Meanwhile temperatures in parts of Europe have surged past 45 degrees Celsius. Climate change, driven by the burning of fossil fuels, is behind the record, scientists said. But unlike last year, which saw climate change combine with the El Nino climate pattern to usher in a new daily record, that is not the case this July.
Haustein said it was “remarkable” that the record had been breached now the world was well into neutral territory and no longer felling the impact of El Nino.

Australia confident Trump will back AUKUS sub deal after talks with his camp

Australia confident Trump will back AUKUS sub deal after talks with his camp
Updated 4 min 31 sec ago
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Australia confident Trump will back AUKUS sub deal after talks with his camp

Australia confident Trump will back AUKUS sub deal after talks with his camp
  • Possibility of a Trump victory in the November presidential election has US allies around the world scrambling to divine and prepare for his diplomatic agenda

SYDNEY: Australia Defense MInister Richard Marles said on Wednesday Canberra is confident a re-elected Donald Trump will back the AUKUS security alliance and associated nuclear submarine sales after talks with his camp.
The possibility of a Trump victory in the November presidential election has US allies around the world scrambling to divine and prepare for his diplomatic agenda, including his take on the A$368 billion ($243 billion) AUKUS deal to help Australia acquire nuclear powered submarines and deter China in the Pacific.
The deal includes the sale of three to five US nuclear-powered Virginia Class submarines in the 2030s, a time when the US fleet will shrink to a historic low. Some fear Trump’s America First stance could hew to voices in Congress who want the submarines reserved for the US navy instead.
But conversations with the Trump camp had given Australia confidence he would honor the deal should he win the presidency again, Marles said in an interview on Sky News.
“Every engagement we’ve had with the Trump camp in the normal process of speaking with people on both sides of politics in America, there is support for what is playing out in relation to AUKUS,” he said.
“We do have a sense of confidence, irrespective of what occurs in November of this year, we can firstly look forward to the alliance being as strong as ever and secondly that the equities that we have in that alliance, AUKUS front and center, will be maintained“
Marles also pointed to the passage of AUKUS legislation last December, which he said was supported by Republicans, including those associated with Trump.


Typhoon Gaemi strengthens as it nears Taiwan, work halted, flights canceled

Typhoon Gaemi strengthens as it nears Taiwan, work halted, flights canceled
Updated 48 min 18 sec ago
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Typhoon Gaemi strengthens as it nears Taiwan, work halted, flights canceled

Typhoon Gaemi strengthens as it nears Taiwan, work halted, flights canceled
  • Gaemi, expected to be the strongest storm to hit Taiwan in eight years, is set to make landfall on the northeast coast on Wednesday evening
  • After crossing the Taiwan Strait, it is likely to hit the southeastern Chinese province of Fujian late on Thursday afternoon

YILAN, Taiwan: Taiwan hunkered down on Wednesday for the arrival of a strengthening Typhoon Gaemi, with financial markets shut, people getting the day off work and flights canceled, while the military went on stand-by amid forecasts of torrential rain.
Gaemi, expected to be the strongest storm to hit Taiwan in eight years, is set to make landfall on the northeast coast on Wednesday evening, the weather authorities said.
They upgraded its status to a strong typhoon, packing gusts of up to 227kph near its center.
After crossing the Taiwan Strait, it is likely to hit the southeastern Chinese province of Fujian late on Thursday afternoon.
“The next 24 hours will present a very severe challenge,” Taiwan Premier Cho Jung-tai told a televised meeting of the emergency response center.
In rural Yilan county, where the typhoon will first hit land, wind and rain gathered strength, shutting eateries as most roads emptied out.
“This could be the biggest typhoon in recent years,” fishing boat captain Hung Chun told Reuters, adding that Yilan’s harbor of Suao was packed with boats seeking shelter.
“It’s charging directly toward the east coast and if it makes landfall here the damage would be enormous.”
Work and school were suspended across Taiwan, with streets almost deserted in the capital Taipei.
The government said more than 2,000 people had been evacuated from sparsely populated mountain areas at high risk of landslides from the “extremely torrential rain.”
Almost all domestic flights had been canceled, along with 201 international flights, the transport ministry said.
All rail operations will stop from midday, with an abbreviated schedule for high-speed links between north and south Taiwan that will continue to operate, it added.
However, TSMC, the world’s largest contract chipmaker and a major supplier to Apple, said it expected its factories to maintain normal production during the typhoon, after it activated routine preparations.
SOLDIERS STANDING BY
The typhoon is expected to bring rain of up to 1,800mm to some mountainous counties in central and southern Taiwan, weather officials said.
Taiwan’s defense ministry said it had put 29,000 soldiers on stand-by for disaster relief efforts.
The typhoon has severely curtailed this year’s annual Han Kuang war games, but they have not been canceled, with scheduled live fire drills held on the Penghu islands in the Taiwan Strait on Wednesday.
Gaemi is expected to bring heavy to very intense rains over vast swathes of China from Thursday, the water resources ministry warned.
These are areas between the Pearl River basin in the south and the Songhua and Liao River basins on the northeastern border with Russia and North Korea, it said on Wednesday.
The rains are expected to last until July 31, fueled by the typhoon’s abundant moisture, it added.
Gaemi and a southwest monsoon brought heavy rain on Wednesday to the Philippine capital region and northern provinces, bringing work and schools to a halt, with stock and foreign exchange trading suspended. The storm killed 12 people.
While typhoons can be very destructive, Taiwan relies on them to replenish reservoirs after traditionally drier winters, especially in its south.


Germany bans Muslim association for pursuing radical Islamism

Germany bans Muslim association for pursuing radical Islamism
Updated 59 min 56 sec ago
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Germany bans Muslim association for pursuing radical Islamism

Germany bans Muslim association for pursuing radical Islamism
  • Extensive evidence from an earlier search of 55 properties conducted in November provided the basis for Wednesday’s ban of the IZH

FRANKFURT: Germany’s interior ministry said on Wednesday it has banned the association Islamic Center Hamburg (IZH) and its subsidiary organizations, saying it pursues radical Islamist goals.
The ministry said in a statement that 53 of the organization’s premises had been searched by authorities in eight German states early on Wednesday, acting on a court order.
Extensive evidence from an earlier search of 55 properties conducted in November provided the basis for Wednesday’s ban of the IZH, known in German as Islamisches Zentrum Hamburg, said the ministry.
“Today, we banned the Islamisches Zentrum Hamburg, which promotes an Islamist-extremist, totalitarian ideology in Germany,” said Interior Minister Nancy Faeser.
She said she wanted to make clear that “this ban absolutely does not apply to the peaceful practice of the Shiite religion.”
The IZH was not available for comment by phone on Wednesday morning, and its website was not accessible to the public.


Philippines orders foreign workers in offshore gaming hubs to leave in 2 months

Philippines orders foreign workers in offshore gaming hubs to leave in 2 months
Updated 24 July 2024
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Philippines orders foreign workers in offshore gaming hubs to leave in 2 months

Philippines orders foreign workers in offshore gaming hubs to leave in 2 months
  • Marcos has banned Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) for their alleged links to crimes, human trafficking and financial scam

MANILA: The Philippines has ordered foreigners working in offshore gambling firms to leave the country in two months’ time, its immigration bureau said on Wednesday, following President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s decision to stamp out the operators.
Marcos has banned Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) for their alleged links to crimes, human trafficking and financial scams, and gave the gaming regulator until the end of the year to shut down these businesses.
Philippine immigration chief Norman Tansingco said in a statement foreign workers had 59 days to leave the country. Around 20,000 people are expected to be affected by the order, most of them Chinese citizens.
Workers who stay in the country beyond the two-month period will be deported, he added.
The Chinese embassy in Manila did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
POGOs emerged in 2016 and boomed in just a few years as companies capitalized on liberal laws to target customers in China, where gambling is banned.
At their peak, some 300 POGOs operated in the Philippines, but the coronavirus pandemic and tighter tax rules forced many to relocate or go underground. Only 42 mostly Chinese firms have kept their licenses, directly and indirectly employing around 63,000 Filipino and foreign workers.