The United States on Monday threatened to impose duties of up to 100 percent on imports of champagne, handbags and other French products worth $2.4 billion after a US government investigation found that France’s new digital services tax would harm US technology companies such as Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon.
Information round to clock
- Wednesday 04 December
Tencent, Nintendo to launch Switch console in ChinaFrance 24 - 08h31
Chinese internet giant Tencent and gaming titan Nintendo on Wednesday announced plans to launch the Japanese company’s popular Switch console in China from next week.
Expectations for the console’s launch in the world’s largest games market has helped to push up Nintendo’s share price this year.
The console will be sold in China from December 10 for 2,099 yuan ($297), the companies said at a launch event in Shanghai.“Nintendo has long hoped to provide Chinese consumers with Nintendo’s games and entertainment, and now this dream has come true,” said Shigeru Miyamoto, the renowned game creator of “Super Mario Bros” and “Donkey Kong”, said in a video message.
Maduro’s foes balk at UN-backed deal to rebuild power gridAP - 08h30
A proposal to rebuild Venezuela’s collapsed power grid with the help of the United Nations is proving a political hot potato for Nicolás Maduro’s opponents.
On Tuesday, the opposition-controlled National Assembly at the last minute scratched a schedule debate on a $350 million credit from a regional development bank to address an electricity emergency that has left much of western Venezuela in the dark from blackouts for months.
The project’s promoters accuse opposition hardliners of playing politics with Venezuela’s humanitarian crisis, all the while ignoring the plight of millions of Venezuelans who urgently demand solutions to everyday travails as the fight to remove Maduro drags on.
Sergio Garcia says shorts should be allowed at more golf tournamentsFrance 24 - 08h28
Spanish great Sergio Garcia on Wednesday said players should be allowed to wear shorts at more golf tournaments after the European Tour permitted the move for the first time last week.
With temperatures reaching 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) during the Alfred Dunhill Championship in South Africa, organisers relaxed their strict rules against shorts.
Former Masters champion Garcia said it was a long overdue move and should be introduced more widely.
Egyptian government seeks to do away with popular tuk-tuksAP - 08h27
Motorized rickshaws known as tuk-tuks have ruled the streets of Cairo’s slums for the past two decades, squeezing through dusty alleys, dodging trash bins and fruit stands, blaring rhythmic electro-pop and navigating the city’s chaos to haul millions of Egyptians home every day.
Now the government is taking its most ambitious stand yet again against the polluting three-wheeled vehicles: in a push to modernize the country’s neglected transport system, it plans to replace tuk-tuks with clean-running minivans.
“This is for the health and safety of all Egyptians,” said Khaled el-Qassim, the spokesman for Egypt’s Ministry of Local Development, which is spearheading the initiative. “We’re creating a more beautiful image of our country.”
Kim again rides horse up sacred peak as nuke deadline nearsAP - 08h24
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un rode a white horse up a sacred mountain on his second symbolic visit in less than two months, state media reported Wednesday, as his country is threatening provocation if the United States refuses to make concessions in nuclear diplomacy by year’s end.
The Korean Central News Agency released many photos showing Kim taking a horse riding to snow-covered Mount Paektu along with his wife and other top lieutenants, all on white horses. Kim also climbed the mountain, the highest peak on the Korean Peninsula, on horseback in mid-October.
- Tuesday 03 December
Macron, Trump continue to spar over French digital tax plans and retaliatory US tariffsFrance 24 - 19h03
French President Emmanuel Macron and his US counterpart Donald Trump on Tuesday appeared unwilling to lay down their arms in an escalating spat over Paris’s plans for a special tax on digital service companies and Washington’s threat to retaliate with massive tariffs on French imports.
Berlin agrees to Checkpoint Charlie faceliftFrance 24 - 19h01
Berlin’s controversial and overcrowded Cold War landmark Checkpoint Charlie is set for a dramatic facelift, after the city government agreed a contested redevelopment plan Tuesday.
Located at the very heart of the once divided city, the border crossing between then-communist East and democratic West was famously the scene of a dramatic stand-off between Soviet and American tanks in October 1961.
Since German reunification in 1990 it has welcomed thousands of visitors per day to a bewildering hotch-potch of private and public museums and memorials.
UN envoy urges Iraqi leaders to respond to people’s demands for changeFrance 24 - 19h00
A UN envoy warned Tuesday that the continued use of violence against civilians in Iraq is “intolerable” and called on Iraqi leaders to respond with urgency to the Iraqi people’s aspirations for change.
“Political leaders do not have the luxury of time and must rise to the moment,” Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, the UN envoy to Iraq, said in a video presentation to the UN Security Council.
The envoy noted that more than 400 people have been killed and more than 19,000 injured in two months of unrest in Iraq that has pitted protesters demanding sweeping reform against security forces.
Leaked EU audit shows Czech PM in conflict of interest: reportFrance 24 - 18h56
A leaked European Commission audit has concluded that billionaire Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis has a conflict of interest as he still controls one of his country’s largest companies, a Czech newspaper reported Tuesday.
The document also suggests that Babis’s company should return some 451 million Czech crowns (17.6 million euros, $19.5 million) in EU and state subsidies that were paid out illegally.
The commission ordered the audit last year at the request of an anti-corruption watchdog and a Czech opposition party that questioned Babis’s dual role and whether his sprawling Agrofert holding was entitled to receive hefty EU agricultural subsidies if he controlled it.
Saudi king invites Qatar emir to Riyadh summit: DohaFrance 24 - 18h54
Saudi King Salman has invited Qatar’s emir to a meeting next week of the Gulf regional bloc in Riyadh, Qatari state media said Tuesday without specifying if Doha had accepted.
The invitation to the December 10 summit of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation (GCC) comes amid signs of reduced animosity between Qatar and Saudi Arabia which has led an economic boycott of Doha since 2017.
Saudi Arabia and allies Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates closed their airspace to Qatar Airways and banned travel to the country over charges that Doha backs radical Islamists and seeks closer ties with Iran.
Iran videos hit internet revealing scope of crackdownFrance 24 - 15h19
Videos showing harrowing scenes of bleeding protesters, burning roadblocks and snipers on rooftops have emerged after Iran lifted a near-total internet blackout, opening a window onto what analysts say was one of Tehran’s bloodiest crackdowns.
This repression “was harsher” than during previous protests in Iran, Kamran Matin, senior lecturer in International Relations at Sussex University in Britain, told AFP in Nicosia.
“All the videos I have seen from before the internet was shut down show that from the moment of the gathering of people to ‘shoot to kill’ was very short.”
Finland’s prime minister resigns over postal service disputeAP - 15h17
Finland’s prime minister resigned Tuesday after a key coalition partner withdrew its support from his five-party government following a strike at the country’s postal service that spread to the national flag carrier Finnair.
Antti Rinne, who only took office in June, has faced heavy criticism in recent days over how he and a fellow Social Democratic minister dealt with a two-week strike of the country’s state-owned postal service Posti in November.
Rinne, who used to be a trade union leader, and Sirpa Paatero were accused of giving inaccurate and contradictory information in the run-up to the strike, specifically over the transfer of work contracts for 700 Posti package handlers, which effectively led to lower pay. Paatero, who was in charge of state-owned companies, resigned on Friday.
Trump criticises European allies ahead of NATO’s 70th anniversary summitFrance 24 - 15h16
U.S. President Donald Trump lashed out at European allies before a NATO anniversary summit in London on Tuesday, singling out France’s Emmanuel Macron for “very nasty” comments on the alliance and Germany for spending too little on defence.
Underlining the breadth of strife in a transatlantic bloc hailed by its backers as the most successful military alliance in history, Trump demanded that Europe pay more for defence and also make concessions to U.S. interests on trade.
The attack echoed a similar tirade by Trump ahead of NATO’s last summit in July 2018. It will add to the growing doubts over the future of the 29-member alliance, described last month by Macron as “brain dead” in the run-up to a London meeting intended to be a 70th anniversary celebration.
UN says half of Zimbabwe’s people face severe hungerAP - 15h14
About half of Zimbabwe’s population faces severe hunger amid a devastating drought and economic collapse, the United Nations said Tuesday, noting a “vicious cycle of skyrocketing malnutrition that’s hitting women and children hardest.”
The World Food Program said it plans to more than double the number of people it helps to more than 4 million. More than 7 million people overall are in need.
A U.N. expert on the right to food last week said Zimbabwe is on the brink of man-made starvation and the number of people needing help is “shocking” for a country not in conflict.
UN to deliver food aid to 4.1 mln in Zimbabwe, fears ‘major crisis’Reuters - 15h13
The United Nations said on Tuesday it was procuring food assistance for 4.1 million Zimbabweans, a quarter of the population in a country where shortages are being exacerbated by runaway inflation and climate-induced drought.
Zimbabwe, once the breadbasket of southern Africa, is experiencing its worst economic crisis in a decade, marked by soaring inflation and shortages of food, fuel, medicines and electricity.
“We are very much concerned as the situation continues to deteriorate,” Eddie Rowe, World Food Programme (WFP) country director, speaking from Harare, told a Geneva news briefing.
‘Children are innocent’: Albanians beg for return of IS youngstersFrance 24 - 11h33
After media interest helped mobilise the evacuation of an Albanian boy from northern Syria last month, families of other children of Islamic State fighters are pleading with Tirana to redouble its efforts and bring the rest home.
Alvin Berisha, an 11-year-old Albanian boy from Italy, was rescued from a Kurdish-run prison camp in Syria in November after a popular Italian TV show whipped up support for his plight.
The boy’s homecoming has also opened a ray of hope for other families in Albania who have been struggling for years to bring back youth snatched by their jihadist parents.
Amnesty says at least 208 killed in Iran protests, crackdownAP - 11h32
At least 208 people in Iran have been killed amid protests over sharply rising gasoline prices and a subsequent crackdown by security forces, Amnesty International said Monday, as one government official acknowledged telling police to shoot demonstrators.
Iran has yet to release any nationwide statistics over the unrest that gripped the Islamic Republic beginning Nov. 15 with minimum prices for government-subsidized gasoline rising by 50%. Iran’s mission to the United Nations disputed Amnesty’s findings early Tuesday, though it offered no evidence to support its claim.
Iran shut down internet access amid the unrest, blocking those inside the country from sharing their videos and information, as well as limiting the outside world from knowing the scale of the protests and violence. The restoration of the internet in recent days across much of the country has seen other videos surface.
2010s hottest decade in history, UN says as emissions rise againFrance 24 - 11h31
This decade is set to be the hottest in history, the United Nations said Tuesday in an annual assessment outlining the ways in which climate change is outpacing humanity’s ability to adapt to it.
The World Meterological Organization said global temperatures so far this year were 1.1 degrees Celsius (two degrees Farenheit) above the pre-industrial average, putting 2019 on course to be in the top three warmest years ever recorded.
Manmade emissions from burning fossil fuels, building infrastructure, growing crops and transporting goods mean 2019 is set to break the record for atmospheric carbon concentrations, locking in further warming, the WMO said.
Talks in Iraq capital as violence hits shrine citiesFrance 24 - 11h30
Iraq’s politicians gathered in Baghdad on Tuesday to discuss a way out of two months of protests that brought down the previous government, as violence hit two Shiite shrine cities.
In Najaf, seat of Iraq’s Shiite religious leadership, anti-government demonstrators gathered late into the night around the tomb of a cleric who founded a Shiite party, an AFP correspondent reported.
Armed men in civilian clothes who were guarding the tomb were seen firing shotguns and tear gas at protesters, but medics could not provide an immediate casualty toll.
Tourists survive two weeks lost in Australian outback, one still missingFrance 24 - 11h29
A man and woman have been rescued after surviving two weeks in Australia’s arid outback on little more than vodka, groundwater and biscuits, but a third person is still missing, police said Tuesday.
The three friends set out to explore the country’s vast sun-baked interior near Alice Springs on November 19 when their car became bogged down in a river bed.
After three days staying put and waiting for a rescue, the group feared supplies were dwindling and two of them decided to walk along a property fence line in the hope of finding help.
- Monday 02 December
Several children killed in Turkish artillery attack in northern Syria, monitor saysFrance 24 - 18h20
Eight children were among 11 civilians killed Monday in a Turkish artillery attack that hit near a school in a northern Syrian town in Aleppo province, a war monitor said.
The shelling on Tal Rifaat, controlled by local Kurdish fighters, took place as students were leaving the building and wounded 21 others, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Tal Rifaat, a strategic town located 20 kilometres (12 miles) south of Turkey’s frontier, is the site of regular confrontations between Turkish-backed forces and Kurdish fighters they view as “terrorists”.
Facebook tests tool to move photos to Google, other rivalsAP - 18h18
Facebook has started testing a tool that lets users move their images more easily to other online services, as it faces pressure from regulators to loosen its grip on data.
The social network said Monday the new tool will allow people to transfer their photos and videos to other platforms, starting with Google Photos.
The company said it will first be available to people in Ireland and will be refined based on user feedback.
The tool will then be rolled out worldwide in the first half of 2020.
Red Cross slams ‘unacceptable’ politicisation of Venezuela aidFrance 24 - 18h17
A top Red Cross official decried Monday a dire lack of international funding for humanitarian aid in Venezuela, warning that assistance was being politicised and desperate civilians were paying the price.
Francesco Rocca, President of the International Federation of the Red Cross, said the organisation’s emergency appeal in September for some 50 million Swiss francs ($50.1 million, 45.5 million euros) for aid to Venezuela was less than 10-percent funded.
“This is not about resources, this is about political will,” he said, warning that the severe underfunding meant vital medical treatments, medicines and food could not be provided.
Trump complains about impeachment hearing during NATO tripAP - 18h15
President Donald Trump is complaining the House Judiciary Committee will hold an impeachment inquiry hearing while he attends a NATO summit that comes at a critical moment for the 70-year-old military alliance.
Speaking to reporters at the White House before departing Monday, Trump says the NATO trip is “one of the most important journeys we make as president” and the summit date was established a year ago.
He says Republicans are united in opposing impeachment and the inquiry is backfiring on Democrats, adding “I think it is going to be a tremendous boost for the Republicans.”Link
Prince Andrew accuser slams ‘ridiculous excuses’France 24 - 18h13
An American woman who claims she was trafficked by Jeffrey Epstein to have sex with Prince Andrew criticised the royal’s “ridiculous excuses” in an interview to be broadcast Monday.
The interview was recorded before Andrew’s own BBC interview, which prompted him to stand down from public duties because of a backlash at his defence of his friendship with Epstein.
But Virginia Giuffre called on the British public to support her as she dismissed claims initially made by the prince’s backers that a photograph apparently showing him with his arm around her might not be genuine.
Cameroon: Gov’t urges religious bodies to help fight against child marriageCRTV - 17h50
Religious bodies in Cameroon have been exalted to work in synergy with the Government in the fight against child marriage and all other forms of violence, targeted on children.
The call was made by the Minister of women’s empowerment and the family Prof Marie Therese Abena Ondoua as she chaired a five-day forum that has brought together religious authorities of different denominations to discuss effective means of eradicating the phenomenon of child marriage.
Cameroon/2020 twin elections: Candidates called upon to confirm party logos, colour of ballot papersCRTV - 17h42
The Director General of Elections Cameroon, ELECAM has urged all political parties that submitted nomination papers for the February 9, 2020 twin elections to visit room 309 of the Directorate General of ELECAM in order to specify and confirm the colour of their ballot papers and retained logos of their respective parties for the printing of their campaign and ballot papers.
The information is contained in a press release issued today by the Director General of Elections, Eric Essouse.
Cameroon: PM Dion Ngute grants audience to visiting Chief Executive Officer of AUBCRTV - 17h31
The visiting Chief Executive Officer of the African Union of Broadcasting AUB Gregoire Ndjaka has reaffirmed the desire of his organisation to work for the successful broadcast of the 2020 African Nations Football Championship, CHANN and the African Nations Cup in 2021.
He was speaking today in Yaounde in an audience granted him by the Prime Minister Head of Government, Chief Dr Joseph Dion Ngute.
Vigils held for victims of London Bridge terror attackFrance 24 - 14h58
Tributes were paid on Monday to victims of the London Bridge terror attack, as the government said it was reviewing the early release from prison of dozens of convicted terrorists.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the main opposition Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn and London Mayor Sadiq Khan all joined a vigil to honour Jack Merritt, 25, and 23-year-old Saskia Jones.
They were both killed on Friday when Usman Khan, who was wearing a fake suicide device, went on a knife ramage before being shot dead by armed police.
NATO under friendly fire as leaders ready for London summitFAP - 14h56
NATO leaders will gather in London on Tuesday as the world’s biggest military alliance, marking its 70th birthday, battles with one of the most confounding of adversaries: Itself.
As thousands of troops stand ready along Europe’s eastern flank to deter Russia — the reason the trans-Atlantic alliance was founded in 1949 — or help keep the peace in places like Afghanistan and Kosovo, the leaders of countries with NATO’s largest armies are wildly taking pot shots at each other.
Before the two-day summit, to include receptions at Buckingham Palace and Downing Street plus a working session at a golf resort in outer London, Karen Donfried, president of the German Marshall Fund think tank, said the 29 NATO allies are approaching this meeting “with a sense of foreboding.”