Merkel press office staffer ‘worked for years for Egyptian intelligence’

A former employee of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's press office was discharged in December last year on suspicions that he was spying for Egypt, according to a government report seen by German media on Thursday. Police carried out "executive measures" against the man in December 2019 after he was found to have "worked for years for an … Continue reading Merkel press office staffer ‘worked for years for Egyptian intelligence’

Indonesian politician’s anti-virus veil policy draws fire

Labuhan Lombok (Indonesia) (AFP) An Indonesian politician is under fire for ordering female civil servants to wear face veils once a week in what he defended as a bid to guard against the coronavirus. But critics said the loose covering known as the niqab did not offer sufficient protection and it was another attempt to … Continue reading Indonesian politician’s anti-virus veil policy draws fire

Hong Kong leaders, tycoons bid farewell to gaming magnate Ho

Hong Kong (AFP) Hong Kong politicians, tycoons and celebrities joined grieving relatives Friday at the funeral of Stanley Ho, the flamboyant gaming magnate who made his fortune in neighbouring Macau. It was the third day of ceremonies for the Hong Kong-born Ho, who played an integral role in transforming the former Portuguese colony from a … Continue reading Hong Kong leaders, tycoons bid farewell to gaming magnate Ho

France investigates report of bodies ‘left to rot’ at Paris research centre

French investigating magistrates will probe claims that human corpses donated for science were left to rot and be eaten by rats at a university research facility, the Paris prosecutor's office said Thursday. A probe into "violations of the integrity of a corpse" was handed over to the magistrates by prosecutors who handled the initial phase … Continue reading France investigates report of bodies ‘left to rot’ at Paris research centre

UN cross-border aid to Syria hangs on Russian decision

United Nations (United States) (AFP) The UN will announce Friday the results of a vote on a resolution to prolong cross-border humanitarian aid to war-torn Syria, the authorization for which expires that evening. It is unclear whether Russia, which vetoed a previous draft just three days prior, will once more block the vital assistance. The … Continue reading UN cross-border aid to Syria hangs on Russian decision

Australia cuts citizen returns as virus surge worsens

Sydney (AFP) Australia will slash the number of returning citizens allowed into the country by half as it struggles to contain a worsening coronavirus outbreak in its second-largest city, officials announced Friday. From Monday, only 4,000 Australian citizens or permanent residents will be allowed back into the country each day, down from around 8,000 currently, … Continue reading Australia cuts citizen returns as virus surge worsens

US sees latest record surge in virus cases amid wrangling over lockdown measures

More than 60,500 new Covid-19 infections were reported across the United States on Thursday, according to a Reuters tally, setting yet another one-day record as weary Americans were told to take new precautions and the pandemic becomes increasingly politicised. The total represents a slight rise from Wednesday, when there were 60,000 new cases, and marks the largest one-day … Continue reading US sees latest record surge in virus cases amid wrangling over lockdown measures

Virus poses cultural threat to Brazil’s Amazon people

Amajari (Brasil) (AFP) In the heart of the Brazilian Amazon, the advance of COVID-19 presents indigenous people with a cruel cultural dilemma -- remain in their villages with little medical help, or seek safety in the city and risk being deprived of their ancestral funeral rites. Lucita Sanoma lost her two-month-old baby to suspected coronavirus … Continue reading Virus poses cultural threat to Brazil’s Amazon people

Fair and unlovely: India confronts dark-skin bias

New Delhi (AFP) When Chandana Hiran was a child, strangers would urge her to lighten her skin. Today the Indian student is leading a campaign against whitening creams as global anti-racism protests highlight the obsession with fair complexions for many in Asia. The campaign achieved its first victory when cosmetics giant Unilever dropped the word … Continue reading Fair and unlovely: India confronts dark-skin bias

No regrets: wounded Hong Kong police vow to keep enforcing law

Hong Kong (AFP) Nine months ago he was burned by corrosive liquid hurled during anti-government protests, but Hong Kong police officer Ling says he has no regrets and remains devoted to being a law enforcer. Officers like Ling have formed the spear tip of Beijing's pushback against huge and often violent pro-democracy protests in the … Continue reading No regrets: wounded Hong Kong police vow to keep enforcing law

Without IMF bailout, is Lebanon heading for ‘hell’?

Beirut (AFP) Talks between crisis-hit Lebanon and the International Monetary Fund are deadlocked, and leaders reluctant to enact reforms. Without a vital multi-billion-dollar bailout, is Lebanon headed for "hell"? For months, the Mediterranean country has grappled with its worst economic crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war. Lebanon is grappling with its worst economic crisis since … Continue reading Without IMF bailout, is Lebanon heading for ‘hell’?

Bolsonaro says he feels ‘very well’, praises hydroxycholoroquine

Brasília (AFP) Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who has tested positive for COVID-19, said on Facebook Thursday that he was "very well" and again advocated the use of the controversial drug hydroxychloroquine. Bolsonaro, 65, appeared in his weekly Facebook Live post at his official residence. He appeared to be in good shape and was not accompanied, … Continue reading Bolsonaro says he feels ‘very well’, praises hydroxycholoroquine