Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Trump declares North Korea 'sponsor of terror'

In a cabinet meeting, he said the move would trigger "very large" additional sanctions to be announced on Tuesday.
But Secretary of State Rex Tillerson later admitted that "the practical effects may be limited".
Mr Trump blamed the country's nuclear programme, and support for what he called international acts of terrorism.
While announcing the decision at the White House, the US president said it "should have happened a long time ago".
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In September, the US proposed a range of United Nations sanctions against North Korea, including an oil ban and a freeze on leader Kim Jong-un's assets.
It followed the North's sixth nuclear test and repeated missile launches.

Trump's 'symbolic' move unlikely to deter Kim

Analysis by Barbara Plett Usher, State Department correspondent, BBC News
Donald Trump's decision puts Pyongyang back on a short US blacklist of pariah regimes.
The move is part of the administration's policy to isolate North Korea diplomatically and economically. The designation allows the US to impose additional sanctions, although Pyongyang is already heavily sanctioned and many experts see the move as more symbolic than substantive.
Some suggest that this will further complicate efforts to persuade the North to give up its nuclear weapons programme. But the chances of that happening were slim anyway, as Pyongyang has refused to do so under any circumstances.
North Korea joins Iran, Sudan and Syria on a list of countries that are deemed to have repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism.
The country has been on the list before but was removed in 2008 by the administration of George W Bush as part of negotiations on the North's nuclear programme.
The campaign to reinstate it intensified after the American college student Otto Warmbier died shortly after he was released from North Korean custody.
Speaking to reporters at a White House press briefing, Mr Tillerson, the top US diplomat, said the designation was meant to hold North Korea accountable for recent actions it has taken "including assassinations outside of their country" and "using banned chemical weapons".
He admitted that given existing sanctions it was "very symbolic" but also said new measures could "disrupt and dissuade some third parties from undertaking certain activities with North Korea".
"The practical effects may be limited but hopefully we're closing off a few loopholes with this," he said.
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Mr Kim continues to pursue nuclear weapons and missile programmes in defiance of UN Security Council sanctions.
He has made no secret of Pyongyang's plans to develop a missile capable of reaching the US mainland and has claimed to have developed a hydrogen bomb.
Last month, US Defence Secretary James Mattis said that the threat of nuclear attack from North Korea was increasing.
Monday's announcement comes after the president returned from an extensive tour of Asia last week.

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Zimbabwe latest: Ruling Zanu-PF urges Mugabe to step down

The move comes ahead of a protest march to be held in the capital Harare on Saturday, fully supported by the country's military which staged a takeover on Wednesday.
War veterans until recently loyal to the 93-year-old president and liberal groups have also urged him to quit.
Earlier Mr Mugabe made his first public appearance since the takeover.
Mr Mugabe had been under house arrest for days, but attended a graduation ceremony on Friday, handing out degrees.
The army made its move after a power struggle over his successor. Mr Mugabe sacked Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa last week, apparently to pave the way for his wife Grace Mugabe - who is four decades younger than him - to take over the presidency instead.
War veterans leaders Douglas Mahiya and Christopher Mutsvangwa - 17 November
The military said it was "engaging" with Mr Mugabe and would advise the public on the outcome of talks "as soon as possible".

Who is saying Mr Mugabe should quit?

At least eight out of 10 regional party branches voted on Friday evening for Mr Mugabe to resign as president and party secretary.
In an unprecedented broadcast, several regional leaders appeared on state TV saying that he should quit.
They also called for Grace Mugabe to resign from the party, and for Mr Mnangagwa to be reinstated in the party's central committee.
The party's members agreed to mobilise support for and attend Saturday's rally. The party is planning to hold a special central committee session over the weekend to discuss the crisis.
Meanwhile in a statement issued on Friday evening, the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) said it had been approached by organisers of the rally, which it described as a "solidarity march".
The statement went on: "ZDF is therefore advising the nation that for as long as the planned march remains orderly, peaceful... and without hate speech and incitement to cause violence, it fully supports the march."
Earlier Christopher Mutsvangwa - the leader of the influential war veterans' association, once loyal to Mr Mugabe - called for a huge turnout at the rally.
"We want to restore our pride and tomorrow is the day... we can finish the job which the army started," he said.
"There's no going back about Mugabe. He must leave."
Liberal groups opposed to the president have also backed the protest.
The leader of last year's #Thisflag protests, Evans Mwarire, urged people to turn up.

What happened when Mr Mugabe appeared in public?

Mr Mugabe's attendance at the graduation is an annual tradition but he was not expected this year.
BBC Online Africa editor Joseph Winter says the president was allowed to be there partly to keep up the pretence that the military have not staged a coup and partly because of a genuine, deeply felt respect for him going back more than 40 years.
Mr Mugabe opened the ceremony at Zimbabwe's Open University, where he is chancellor.
One of the people he conferred a degree upon was Marry Chiwenga, the wife of the general who detained him on Wednesday, the state broadcaster reports.
Grace Mugabe was not present. It had been thought she had left the country but it emerged on Thursday that she was at home with Mr Mugabe.

How did we get here?

Soldiers seized the headquarters of Zimbabwe's national broadcaster ZBC on Wednesday and loud explosions and gunfire were heard.
Major General Sibusiso Moyo then read out a statement on national television, assuring the nation that President Mugabe and his family were safe.
The military was only targeting what he called "criminals" around the president, he said, denying that there had been a coup.
On Thursday Mr Mugabe was pictured smiling as he took part in talks with an army general and South African government ministers at State House but sources suggested he might be resisting pressure to resign.

What has the reaction been across the world?

  • US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urged a quick return to civilian rule, but also said the crisis was an opportunity for Zimbabwe to set itself on a new path
  • Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Beijing was hoping for stability and a peaceful "appropriate" resolution
  • UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson warned against a transition from "one unelected tyrant" to another
  • Botswana's President Ian Khama said regional leaders did not support Mr Mugabe staying in power
  • Alpha Conde, the chairman of the African Union, a key regional bloc, said the takeover "seems like a coup" and demanded a return to constitutional order

Uneasy calm in Mugabe's village

By Stanley Kwenda, BBC News, Kutama
To get to President Mugabe's rural home you drive along the Robert Mugabe highway. It's probably one of the best maintained roads in Zimbabwe, like driving on a carpet. Along the way you are greeted by a plaque erected in his honour.
Kutama is a small and tightly connected village where everyone knows each other.
You can't really tell if they've been rattled by the current political crisis. As we arrived there was an air of uncertainty. Mr Mugabe is respected here - to many he's a father and a friend. A 65-year-old neighbour of his told me: "He's kind, he's a good man and he understands people's plight."
The man goes to St Francis Xavier Roman Catholic Church with Mr Mugabe, a devout Christian, whenever he visits. "He never demands special treatment. He visits people to check on their welfare," said the man at his compound.
He said he supports the move by the army saying it's meant to correct a broken system. "If his term goes out then there's nothing wrong," he said.

Friday, 17 November 2017

US senator Al Franken apologises for grope caught on camera

Leeann Tweeden says the two incidents happened in December 2006 on a tour to entertain US troops overseas, before Mr Franken entered politics.
The radio host wrote that the former comic "aggressively" kissed her while saying they had to rehearse a scene.
Al Franken with his wife Franni Franken (R) his son Joe (L) and daughter Thomasin
Mr Franken, a former Saturday Night Live writer, apologised for the grope.
But the Minnesota Democrat said he has a different recollection of the other incident.
"I certainly don't remember the rehearsal for the skit in the same way, but I send my sincerest apologies to Leeann," he said in a statement.
"As to the photo, it was clearly intended to be funny but wasn't. I shouldn't have done it."
Mr Franken issued a second, longer statement less than two hours later after a ferocious backlash from critics who accused him of a non-apology and demanded his resignation.
In an article for KABC, a Los Angeles radio station where Ms Tweeden now works, she recalled feeling victimised by Mr Franken during her ninth USO tour of the Middle East.
"When I saw the script, Franken had written a moment when his character comes climbing at me for a 'kiss'," she said.
"I suspected what he was after, but I figured I could turn my head at the last minute, or put my hand over his mouth, to get more laughs from the crowd."
On the day of the performance in Kuwait, she said he was insistent they rehearse the skit.
But when the moment came he "put his hand on the back of my head, mashed his lips against mine and aggressively stuck his tongue in my mouth".
"You knew exactly what you were doing," she wrote. "You forcibly kissed me without my consent, grabbed my breasts while I was sleeping and had someone take a photo of you doing it, knowing I would see it later, and be ashamed."
Later at a press conference in Los Angeles, Ms Tweeden went into further detail about how "he stuck his tongue in my mouth so fast".
"And all I can remember is that his lips were really wet and slimy," she said.
"In my mind I called him 'fish lips' the rest of the trip."
The Democratic leader of the Senate promptly called for the chamber's Ethics Committee to investigate Franken.
Senator Chuck Schumer said in a statement: "Sexual harassment is never acceptable and must not be tolerated."
The Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell echoed the call for an ethics investigation.
Mr Franken said he would "gladly cooperate".
In his second statement, he said: "I respect women. I don't respect men who don't.
"And the fact that my own actions have given people a good reason to doubt that makes me feel ashamed."
Of the photo, he added: "I look at it now and I feel disgusted with myself. It isn't funny. It's completely inappropriate.
"It's obvious how Leeann would feel violated by that picture."
But he still begged to differ on her portrayal of him forcing his tongue down her mouth.
"While I don't remember the rehearsal for the skit as Leeann does," he said, "I understand why we need to listen to and believe women's experiences."
As a senator for Minnesota, Mr Franken has cultivated an image for himself as a vocal champion of women's issues, from sexual assault to abortion rights and equal pay.
Ms Tweeden said she was inspired to come forward more than a decade later after California congresswoman Jackie Speier was interviewed on her morning radio programme.
Mrs Speier told about being sexually assaulted as a young congressional aide in Washington.
She also claimed to know two currently serving members of Congress who "have engaged in sexual harassment", though she did not name them.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Nigeria violence: Suicide bombers kill 10 in Maiduguri

The attackers, who included women, detonated their explosives in the Muna district, police said.
No group has said it was behind the attack. However, the Islamist militant group Boko Haram has carried out many attacks in Maiduguri, in Borno state.
It frequently uses female suicide bombers to launch attacks.
Nigerian troops in Maiduguri on March 25, 2016
The first blast happened at about 17:00 GMT, close to a group of people conducting evening prayer, killing seven, state official Bello Dambatta said.
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Another attacker detonated explosives inside a house and the other two blew themselves up before reaching their targets, he added.
Boko Haram has been fighting to set up an Islamic state since 2009.
A report published by US anti-terrorist researchers earlier this year said it is the first insurgency in history to use more women suicide bombers than men.
Thousands of people have been killed and millions forced to leave their homes by Boko Haram violence in recent years.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Zimbabwe crisis: Soldiers 'take over broadcaster ZBC'

Explosions have also been reported in the capital, Harare, but the cause is unclear.
Earlier, the country's ambassador in South Africa denied talk of a coup.
It comes as Zimbabwe's ruling party accused the country's army chief of "treasonable conduct" after he warned of a possible military intervention.
General Constantino Chiwenga had challenged President Robert Mugabe after he sacked the vice-president.
Gen Chiwenga said the army was prepared to act to end purges within Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party.
Tensions were raised further on Tuesday when armoured vehicles were seen taking up positions on roads outside Harare, although their purpose was unclear.
Some staff at ZBC were manhandled when soldiers took over their offices in Harare, sources told Reuters.
Workers were told that they "should not worry", a source added, and that soldiers were only there to protect the site.
Soon afterwards, witnesses reported three loud explosions in the city centre, although the exact location is unclear.
The US State Department said it was "closely monitoring" the situation in Zimbabwe and urged all parties to resolve disputes "calmly and peacefully".
The US embassy in Harare tweeted that it would be closed on Wednesday "due to ongoing uncertainty".
There has been no word so far from 93-year-old President Mugabe or his representatives.
The Zimbabwean ambassador to South Africa, Isaac Moyo, had told Reuters that the government was "intact" and dismissed any talk of a possible coup as "just social media claims".
Mr Mugabe sacked Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa last week, amid a row over succession.
Mr Mnangagwa had previously been seen as an heir to the president, but First Lady Grace Mugabe is now the clear front-runner.
The Zanu-PF party said Gen Chiwenga's comments were "calculated to disturb national peace... [and] incite insurrection".
The party said it would never succumb to military threats, and that it "reaffirms the primacy of politics over the gun".
The leader of Zanu-PF's youth wing, Kudzai Chipanga, said the general did not have the full support of the entire military.
"It is our country and future at stake and we will not let any individual military man interfere with the leader of the party and legitimately voted president of this country," he told reporters on Tuesday.
Soldiers stand beside military vehicles just outside Harare, Zimbabwe, 14 November 2017
The youth wing is a strong supporter of Grace Mugabe.
Gen Chiwenga's warning of possible military intervention came on Monday at a news conference at army headquarters where he was surrounded by senior army officers.
He said the "purging" within Zanu-PF was "clearly targeting members of the party with a liberation background", referring to the country's struggle for independence.
"We must remind those behind the current treacherous shenanigans that when it comes to matters of protecting our revolution, the military will not hesitate to step in," he said.
Mr Mnangagwa is one such veteran of the 1970s war which led to independence.

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