• French court upholds acquittal of Femen topless protest at Notre Dame inShare

    29/Oct/2015 // 238 Viewers

    Latest update : 2015-10-29

    The acquittal of eight women from the activist group Femen over a topless protest they held in Paris's Notre Dame cathedral two years ago was upheld by a French court of appeals on Thursday.

    The feminist activists mixed with hordes of queuing visitors to enter the 12th century church unspotted in 2013 - one day after Pope Benedict resigned - before bearing torsos painted with slogans such as "Pope No More" and "Get lost, homophobe".

    The case against the Femen women, some of whom were smacked in the face by angry Catholics before security staff bundled them out of the church, had been pursued on the grounds that they degraded a place of worship, in a protest during which they tapped on the cathedral's bells with wooden sticks.

    "In this affair, the real victims were the activists who were assaulted by Notre Dame security staff," one of the women, Elvire Charles, told reporters. "We were just exercising our right to free speech."

    The Paris court also confirmed suspended fines imposed on two members of the Notre Dame security staff and acquitted another one.

    Nine Femen women taking part in the protest were acquitted by a French court in September 2014. One of them has died since the first court decision.

    Notre Dame, standing on an island in the middle of the Seine river in the heart of Paris, is visited by millions of tourists and religious devotees every year. It was being fitted with new giant bells at the time to celebrate its 850th anniversary.

    (REUTERS)


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  • Germany’s Deutsche Bank to slash 15,000 jobs

    29/Oct/2015 // 198 Viewers

    Deutsche Bank said Thursday it was reducing its workforce by 15,000 as new Chief Executive John Cryan seeks to improve returns at Germany's biggest bank.

    The lender said it would axe 9,000 full-time jobs and 6,000 external contractor positions.

    The bank will also shed businesses employing some 20,000 staff. Three quarters of the 20,000 jobs to go are at German retail unit Postbank, which Deutsche Bank is spinning off.

    The job cuts come after the bank, Germany's largest lender, earlier on Thursday posted a 6 billion euro ($6.6 billion) loss for the third quarter, in line with its recent profit warning.

    Cryan, who took charge in July, is under pressure to overhaul Deutsche, which is struggling to end costly litigation from past scandals and adapt to tighter banking regulations.

    "I do not think that 2016 and 2017 will be strong years," Cryan warned at a press conference on Thursday.

    Salaries down

    Deutsche Bank shares, which had risen last week to a two-month high, slid 6.6 percent to 25.66 euros by 1231 GMT.

    The news was taken negatively by many in the market. "Shareholders are wondering why they should stay invested," warned a Frankfurt-based trader.

    Deutsche Bank's staff will also feel the pain in their pay packets, with remuneration linked more to profits and less to revenue. "I have said that it would not be all sweetness and light," Cryan said, adding it would be unacceptable not to share some of the cost of the settlement of interest-rate rigging and consequences of poor past behaviour.

    The bank is exiting 10 countries, including most of its Latin American operations, and moving its Brazil trading activities to other hubs.

    (FRANCE 24 with AP, REUTERS)
     


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  • Finally, Nigerian Government admits own failures, says World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business remains static, halting a falling

    29/Oct/2016 // 217 Viewers

     

    The Presidency says the World Bank’s Doing Business R2017 Report, released on Tuesday is an indication that the government’s reform initiatives are yielding positive results.


     
    “The Buhari administration is gratified that the various reform initiatives put in place towards instituting a positive business environment is slowly but gradually yielding some dividends. 
    “Nigeria’s ranking in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business remains static, halting a falling trend in the past several years,” the Vice Presidential spokesman, Mr Laolu Akande, said, via a release issued on Thursday in Abuja.

     Akande recalled that the latest report had ranked Nigeria 169 out of 189 countries in the overall Ease of Doing Business rank.

    He described the ranking as “a positive indication that the focus and tenacity of President Muhammadu Buhari to reposition the nation’s business and economic environment is working and on course.

    “While Nigeria’s position remains the same as at last year on the index ranking, it is encouraging that Nigeria has recorded some positive outlooks in four critical areas of the ranking.”

    Akande listed the areas as: Starting a Business; Dealing with Construction Permits; Registering Property and Access to Credit.

    He noted that the objectivity and reliability of the report coming from an international development institution, lent weight to the milestone recorded in particular on the distance to frontier (DTF) metric, according to News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

    Akande observed that on the metric, the country’s score improved slightly from 44.02 in Doing Business 2016 to 44.63 in Doing Business 2017.

    According to the World Bank report, the improvements noted mean that last year, Nigeria’s business regulatory environment as captured by the Doing Business indicators improved slightly in absolute terms.

    According to the report “the country is decreasing the gap with the global regulatory frontier.

    “This is a morale booster for stakeholders involved in the efforts aimed at removing existing bottlenecks in the business environment.”

    Akande declared that the observation by the World Bank was recognition of the bold initiatives and untiring work of President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.

    He said it was particularly achieved through the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), chaired by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.

    He said Buhari in August had set-up PEBEC, which had an active collaboration with the private sector, “to remove the bottlenecks that stifle businesses and create the right enabling environment and investment climate.”

    PEBEC has nine ministers, the Head of the Service and the CBN governor as members and is mandated to give progress reports to the Federal Executive Council every month.

    The council’s secretariat with a team comprising staff from both public and private sector, is supported by knowledge experts and collaborates across ministries, departments and agencies as well as private sector stakeholders to achieve reform objectives.

    According to Akande, Buhari is absolutely committed to boosting reform activities so as to continue to arrest the past decline, where the country fell from number 94 in 2006 to number 169 in 2016.

    He said the reforms would positively project the business climate to an enviable position in the international business community.

    “With the reform efforts being put in place now, indications are that in subsequent years, Nigeria will scale up significantly in the ranking,” he declared.


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  • Tragedy: Disaster hits Italy after bridge collapses over busy road in Lecco, 1 dead, 5 injured (Photos!)

    29/Oct/2016 // 820 Viewers

     

    One person has been killed and five others injured after a bridge collapsed over a busy road in Italy.
     
    The bridge, in Lecco, fell when a heavy goods vehicle, weighing 108 tonnes, crossed over it around 3.20pm this afternoon.

    A car lies beneath an overpass after it collapsed when a heavy truck was traveling on it, between Milan and Lecco, northern Italy, Friday, Oct. 28, 2016. An overpass north of Milan has collapsed under the weight of a truck carrying an over-size load just hours after highway authorities say they requested the roadís immediate closure. (Fabrizio Cusa/ANSA via AP)

    At least four cars were involved in the crash and one was completely crushed underneath the collapsed bridge.

    A truck lies on a road after an overpass it was traveling on collapsed, between Milan and Lecco, northern Italy, Friday, Oct. 28, 2016. An overpass north of Milan has collapsed under the weight of a truck carrying an over-size load just hours after highway authorities say they requested the roadís immediate closure. (Fabrizio Cusa/ANSA via AP)

    Anas, the company which runs Italy’s main roads, has accused local authorities of not acting fast enough after it had asked for the bridge to be closed at about 2pm when its workers spotted problems.

    epa05607519 Italian emergency workers at the scene where one person was killed and four injured including three children when an overpass collapsed onto State Highway 36 between Milan and Lecco, Italy on 28 October 2016 sending an articulated lorry crashing down onto cars below. EPA/FABRIZIO CUSA

    It reportedly said Lecco province officials had demanded the information in writing and said they needed a formal inspection of the site.

    A truck lies on a road after an overpass it was traveling on collapsed, between Milan and Lecco, northern Italy, Friday, Oct. 28, 2016. An overpass north of Milan has collapsed under the weight of a truck carrying an over-size load just hours after highway authorities say they requested the roadís immediate closure. (Fabrizio Cusa/ANSA via AP)

    The company which runs Italy’s main roads has blame local authorities for not closing the bridge in time (Picture: AP)

    A car is stopped just where an overpass collapsed when a heavy truck was traveling on it, between Milan and Lecco, northern Italy, Friday, Oct. 28, 2016. An overpass north of Milan has collapsed under the weight of a truck carrying an over-size load just hours after highway authorities say they requested the roadís immediate closure. (Fabrizio Cusa/ANSA via AP)


    But the bridge had collapsed before an inspector could get to it.

    Lecco officials have denied Anas’s version of events.

    A preliminary criminal investigation has now been opened.



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  • Again, Nigeria's hope out of recession dashed as Oil price rally slows on doubts over OPEC output deal

    29/Sep/2016 // 362 Viewers

     

    London (AFP) - An oil price rally fuelled by OPEC's deal to cut crude output ran out of steam Thursday with analysts doubting the cartel's ability to seriously tackle a supply glut.

    Following a meeting that included Russia, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries stunned markets Wednesday by saying it planned to trim total production by some 750,000 barrels per day.

    This followed talks in Algiers as world oil producers seek ways to prop up prices that have plunged from $100 in 2014 to near 13-year lows below $30 at the start of 2016, mainly owing to excess supplies.

    "We are confident that OPEC countries will not stick to the agreement," commented Commerzbank analyst Carsten Fritsch.

    But even if they do, exemptions from cuts granted to Iran, Nigeria and Libya mean that "the problem of surplus will not be solved if these countries take full advantage of their capacities again", Fritsch said.

    Exact details of the deal remain to be agreed and analysts said markets will now wait to see whether non-OPEC producers such as Russia, the United States and Canada will make cuts of their own.

    In a reaction Thursday, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said that his country intends to keep oil production at current levels.

    Wednesday's deal came after OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia allowed bitter rival Iran to be exempted from the cutbacks, as the Islamic republic recovers from years of sanctions on its oil exports.

    The cartel's announcement of a first official reduction in eight years at first sent crude prices surging six percent Wednesday, while energy firms across the globe have seen their share prices soar.

    But early Thursday the oil price slipped lower again, before showing slight gains by the late European afternoon.

    The US benchmark oil contract, West Texas Intermediate for delivery in November, was up 27 cents at $47.32 a barrel.

    Brent North Sea crude for November rose 19 cents to $48.88 a barrel compared with Wednesday's close.

    - Saudi 'blinks first' -

    "OPEC's commitment to cut output by between one-half and three-quarters of a million barrels a day has done more for oil-sensitive stocks and currencies, as well as overnight risk sentiment, than for oil prices themselves," Societe Generale said in a note to clients.

    "Time will tell whether oil prices will trend higher (after a knee-jerk rally), and the market will first wait to see how the cuts are divvied up between members, which will be decided at the November OPEC meeting."

    At the end of six hours of negotiations and weeks of horse trading, OPEC said it would cut production to 32.5-33 million barrels per day from around 33.5 million in August.

    "It is Saudi Arabia who has clearly blinked first, allowing Iran, its main rival, to ramp up production," said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at Oanda trading group.

    "We shouldn't underestimate the major shift by Saudi Arabia," he told AFP. "These two don't see eye to eye on anything so this is a huge concession by Saudi Arabia to 'lubricate' the process."

    Saudi Arabia and Iran, the Middle East's foremost Shiite and Sunni Muslim powers, are at odds over an array of issues including the wars in Syria and Yemen.

    The Paris-based International Energy Agency called the agreement "an important development for the oil market", but it also cautioned that it was too early to tell how it would actually affect market balances.

    "The IEA continues to believe that oil prices should be determined by market fundamentals," it said.

    - 'Tipping point' -

    The cartel's richer members, particularly the Gulf states, have preferred to battle it out with non-OPEC producers such as the United States for global market share by keeping production high.

    "Saudi Arabia has perhaps reassessed their dumping oil strategy to put US shale out of business as the pressure on their budgets has clearly reached a tipping point as well," Halley added.

    The plunge in oil revenues has left Saudi Arabia with a record deficit last year, prompting the country to cut the salaries of cabinet ministers and freeze the wages of lower-ranking civil servants.


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  • Breaking: Russia plans retaliation and ‘serious discomfort’ over U.S. hacking sanctions

    30/Dec/2016 // 359 Viewers

     

    MOSCOW — Russia’s Foreign Ministry on Friday suggested that President Vladimir Putin expel 35 U.S. diplomats and close two properties used by the U.S. Embassy in Moscow as part of the growing diplomatic slugfest over Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections.

    The tit-for-tat measures were suggested one day after President Obama announced he would expel 35 Russian diplomats from the United States and order the closure of Russian-owned facilities on Maryland’s Eastern Shore and on Long Island in New York believed to have been used for intelligence purposes.

    “It is regrettable that the Obama administration, which started out by restoring our ties, is ending its term in an anti-Russia agony. RIP,” Russian Prime Minister DmitryMedvedev wrote Friday on Twitter.

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, in a statement carried by the Interfax news service, called for 31 employees of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow and four diplomats from the U.S. Consulate General in St. Petersburg to be declared “persona non grata” and forced to leave the country.

    [Obama announces measures to punish Russia for election interference]

    Further, he suggested the Russian government ban the use of a vacation cottage, or dacha, on the outskirts of Moscow often used for holiday receptions and a warehouse in the Russian capital used by diplomatic staff.

    “We hope that these proposals will be considered as quickly as possible,” Lavrov said, portraying the response as symmetrical to the U.S. measures. “Of course, we cannot leave such acts unanswered; reciprocity is a diplomatic law in international relations.” 

    Lavrov also denied accusations made by U.S. intelligence agencies that Russian state-backed hackers had leaked information about former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in order to sway the election in favor of her opponent, President-elect Donald Trump.

    Russian politicians and officials have been sounding off for the last day on how to respond to the Obama administration’s sweeping measures against Russia, the largest mass expulsion of diplomats since the United States expelled 51 Russian diplomats in 2001 for spying. Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, promised Friday that Russia’s response would “cause serious discomfort to the American side.” 

    But other Russian officials have suggested hedging the response, so as not to antagonize the incoming Trump administration, which Moscow has hoped will be more amenable to its interests. They, like Medvedev, have sought to focus blame for the new sanctions on the Obama administration, which is in its final month.

    "Countermeasures, which are typically mandatory, should be weighted in this case, considering the known circumstances of the transitional period and the possible response of the U.S. president-elect," said Konstantin Kosachyov, chairman of the foreign affairs committee of Russia’s upper house of parliament. 

    A final decision on a Russian response will be made by Putin and is expected Friday.  - The Washington Post


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  • Breaking: Putin says he won’t deport U.S. diplomats as he looks to cultivate relations with Trump

    30/Dec/2016 // 519 Viewers

     

    [BREAKING:Russian President Vladimir Putin says he won’t deport U.S. diplomats as Russia looks to cultivate relations with the incoming Trump administration.]
     
    MOSCOW — Russia’s Foreign Ministry on Friday suggested that President Vladimir Putin expel 35 U.S. diplomats and close two properties used by the U.S. Embassy in Moscow as part of the growing diplomatic slugfest over Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections.
     
    The tit-for-tat measures were suggested one day after President Obama announced he would expel 35 Russian diplomats from the United States and order the closure of Russian-owned facilities on Maryland’s Eastern Shore and on Long Island in New York believed to have been used for intelligence purposes.
     
    “It is regrettable that the Obama administration, which started out by restoring our ties, is ending its term in an anti-Russia agony. RIP,” Russian Prime Minister DmitryMedvedev wrote Friday on Twitter.
     
    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, in a statement carried by the Interfax news service, called for 31 employees of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow and four diplomats from the U.S. Consulate General in St. Petersburg to be declared “persona non grata” and forced to leave the country.
     
    ***
     
    Further, he suggested the Russian government ban the use of a vacation cottage, or dacha, on the outskirts of Moscow often used for holiday receptions and a warehouse in the Russian capital used by diplomatic staff.
     
    “We hope that these proposals will be considered as quickly as possible,” Lavrov said, portraying the response as symmetrical to the U.S. measures. “Of course, we cannot leave such acts unanswered; reciprocity is a diplomatic law in international relations.” 
     
    Lavrov also denied accusations made by U.S. intelligence agencies that Russian state-backed hackers had leaked information about former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in order to sway the election in favor of her opponent, President-elect Donald Trump.
     
    Russian politicians and officials have been sounding off for the last day on how to respond to the Obama administration’s sweeping measures against Russia, the largest mass expulsion of diplomats since the United States expelled 51 Russian diplomats in 2001 for spying. Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, promised Friday that Russia’s response would “cause serious discomfort to the American side.” 
     
    But other Russian officials have suggested hedging the response, so as not to antagonize the incoming Trump administration, which Moscow has hoped will be more amenable to its interests. They, like Medvedev, have sought to focus blame for the new sanctions on the Obama administration, which is in its final month.
     
    "Countermeasures, which are typically mandatory, should be weighted in this case, considering the known circumstances of the transitional period and the possible response of the U.S. president-elect," said Konstantin Kosachyov, chairman of the foreign affairs committee of Russia’s upper house of parliament. 
     
    A final decision on a Russian response will be made by Putin and is expected Friday. 


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  • Biafra: Dutch lawyers file charge against Buhari at International Criminal Court

    30/Jan/2016 // 331 Viewers

     

    The pro-Biafran activist group led by the imprisoned Nnamdi Kanu has filed a complaint against Muhammadu Buhari in The Hague, accusing the Nigerian president of war crimes.
     
    Thousands of people in southeast Nigeria have demonstrated in recent months, demanding independence for Biafra . Kanu, the leader of one of the most prominent activist groups—the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB)—was arrested by Nigerian security forces in October 2015 on charges of ethnic incitement and sedition. He remains in detention and was refused bail by a federal high court in the capital Abuja on Friday.
     
    Goran Sluiter, a lawyer at Dutch human rights legal firm Prakken d'Oliveira, filed the complaint with the International Criminal Court in The Hague on Friday. Sluiter tells Newsweek that there has been “an intensification of violence and crimes committed against Biafrans since Mr Buhari became the Nigerian president.”
     
    There have been numerous reports of pro-Biafran protesters being killed in clashes with Nigerian security forces during demonstrations . More than 20 protesters and two police officers have been killed since October 2015, AP reporte d, with about 200 people detained across the country. Inspector General Solomon Arase, Nigeria's chief of police, warned protesters in December to stop their activities or face “the full weight of the law.”
     
    “Nigeria is already a long time on the agenda of the [ICC] prosecutor and Nigerian courts are not dealing at all with these crimes. The time really has come for the ICC to act,” says Sluiter.
     
    The complaint was filed on behalf of 17 unnamed victims and alleges to set out evidence of crimes against humanity—including torture and murder—committed by Nigerian security forces against pro-Biafran protesters.
     
    Ndubuisi Osuala, the coordinator of IPOB's branch in the Netherlands—which he says numbers around 200 official members—says the group wishes to see Kanu released and Buhari prosecuted for overseeing crimes against Biafrans. “What every IPOB member, every Biafran citizen wants is the release of our great leader, Nnamdi Kanu, who is a freedom fighter,” says Osuala. “Secondly, we need the International Criminal Court to bring justice and equity to our case…[President Buhari] has to be prosecuted and face the justice for what he did.”
     
    Osuala also says that his group wants independence for Biafra but is seeking it by peaceful means. “We need to get freedom by peace and that is why we are protesting,” he says. “We are not terrorists, we are not killing people.”
     
    Buhari has previously refused calls for Kanu to be released, describing the activist—who is based in the U.K. and runs the underground media outlet Radio Biafra— as a flight risk .
     
    Femi Adesina, a media advisor to Buhari, declined to comment on the ICC case and told Newsweek that while Kanu's case was ongoing, the Nigerian presidency would rather not comment on the matter.
     
    The ICC was not immediately available to confirm that the complaint had been filed. Once a complaint is filed at the ICC, the prosecutor can decide to open an investigation if there is a reasonable basis for believing that crimes against humanity have been committed. Nigeria is a signatory to the Rome Statute, upon which the ICC's jurisdiction in based.
     
     
     
     
    Newsweek


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  • End Times! A 19-yr-old transgender man, Henry Steinn, gives birth to a baby girl in Iceland

    30/Jul/2016 // 1464 Viewers

     

    A transgender man in Iceland has given birth to a baby girl after falling pregnant during his transition.

    Henrý Steinn, 19, had already started living as male when he found out he was pregnant.

    He told Gay Iceland that the news came just weeks before he was about to start taking testosterone, and a few months after he began transitioning.

    “I was well into the consultation and was living as a man but was about one or two months away from starting the hormone treatment when I found out I was pregnant,” he said.

    "It would probably have been less likely for me to fall pregnant after that, but not impossible.”

    Mr Steinn decided to delay taking gender hormone treatment that could impact the baby while continuing to live as male throughout the pregnancy.

    He added: “It was a bit of a shock when I started suspecting it, but very soon I started seeing it as an opportunity to have my own baby," Pink News reported.

    Mr Steinn said healthcare staff were sympathetic to his situation, and that though  “the whole lingo is obviously aimed a woman”, he experienced very few issues throughout his pregnancy.

    On 13 April he gave birth to a healthy baby girl via caesarean.

    Mr Steinn said he plans to breastfeed his daughter “and will do so until she and I have had enough, but I expect to resume the consultation for the transition as soon as possible.”

    He is the first trans man in Iceland to have a baby during a gender transition process. - INDEPENDENT


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  • Why Turkey shot down our jet - President Putin

    30/Nov/2015 // 336 Viewers


    Russian President Vladimir Putin said Turkey downed its jet  because of its oil trade with the Islamic State group. Explaining further, he said  there have been oil supplies  from IS-held territories in Syria  to Turkey which the latter is out to protect.

    Said President Putin in Paris at the ongoing UN climate talks:

    ''We have every reason to think that the decision to shoot down our warplane was dictated by the desire to protect oil supply lines to Turkish territory''

    But Turkey's Erdogan denies this and has consistently said it downed Russian jet after repeated violations of its airspace, a claim with the Kremlin had earlier refuted.


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