World News Quick Take

Agencies

Sat, Feb 09, 2019 - Page 4

RUSSIA

US withdrawal supported

A top diplomat on Thursday met with Taliban representatives and expressed Moscow’s support for the US’ withdrawal from Afghanistan. The meeting came after two days of talks between prominent Afghan figures and Taliban representatives in Moscow. A senior Taliban official on Wednesday said that the US has proposed to withdraw half of its troops from Afghanistan by the end of April, but the US military said it has received no such orders. President Vladimir Putin’s special envoy to Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov told RIA Novosti news agency that Russia is willing to help talks between the US and the Taliban, “but if the US says that they want to withdraw their troops, but leave some military bases there — we’re not going to be helping on this.”

UNITED KINGDOM

Ex-Moldovian PM’s son fined

A son of former Moldovian prime minister Vlad Filat, who drove a Bentley and paid £1,000-a-day (US$1,295) rent, was on Thursday ordered to hand over nearly £500,000, the National Crime Agency (NCA) said. NCA investigators found that Filat’s 22-year-old son Luca Filat had obtained his wealth “from illegal activity by his father.” In 2015, Vlad Filat was stripped of his immunity and handcuffed in Moldova’s parliament after he allegedly accepted US$260 million in bribes. Vlad Filat was then jailed for nine years for his role in the disappearance of US$1.0 billion. Filat’s son came under scrutiny because he splashed around cash while having “no registered income in the UK,” the NCA said.

UNITED KINGDOM

Booze order irrelevant: study

Under carefully controlled lab conditions, British and German researchers plied 90 volunteers with beer and wine to find out once and for all whether hangovers are worsened by the order in which drinks are necked. “Everyone knows the saying, ‘beer before wine and you’ll feel fine; wine before beer and you’ll feel queer,’” said Kai Hensel, a senior clinical fellow at Cambridge University. “We debunked the saying, it’s not true. You’re going to be the same whatever order you drink these beverages in,” Hensel said. The study only compared beer with white wine.

UNITED STATES

US representative dies

Former representative John Dingell, the longest-serving member of the Congress in American history and a master of legislative deal-making who was fiercely protective of Detroit’s auto industry, has died. The Michigan Democrat was 92. Dingell, who served in the House of Representatives for 59 years before retiring in 2014, died on Thursday at his home in Dearborn. Dingell served with every president from Dwight D. Eisenhower to Barack Obama.

NEW ZEALAND

Evacuations due to forest fire

About 700 residents were yesterday evacuated from a town as a forest fire threatened the area. Civil defense authorities decided to evacuate parts of Wakefield on South Island. The wildfire began on Tuesday and had spread to about 2,000 hectares by yesterday. It had burned down one house. Richard Kirby, the group recovery manager for the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management, said that it might be four of five days before the fire is contained.

AUSTRALIA

Security breach at parliament

Parliament yesterday revealed that its computer network had been compromised by an unspecified “security incident” and said that an investigation was under way. “Following a security incident on the parliamentary computing network, a number of measures have been implemented to protect the network and its users,” parliamentary authorities said in a statement. Officials declined to comment on the nature of the cybersecurity breach, but said that there was no initial evidence that data had been accessed. “We have no evidence that this is an attempt to influence the outcome of parliamentary processes or to disrupt or influence electoral or political processes,” a statement said. “Our immediate focus has been on securing the network and protecting data and users.”

SOUTH AFRICA

President calls elections

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday announced that general elections would be held on May 8 as the ruling African National Congress looks to reverse falling popularity due to weak growth, unemployment and corruption. Ramaphosa sought to strike an optimistic tone and said that South Africans are “much more hopeful” since he took over one year ago from Jacob Zuma.

SYRIA

IS leader survives coup

Islamic State (IS) group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi last month survived a coup attempt launched by foreign fighters in his eastern Syrian hideout and the terrorist group has since placed a bounty on the main plotter’s head, intelligence officials said. The incident is believed to have taken place on Jan. 10 in a village near Hajin in the Euphrates River valley, where the militant group is clinging to its last sliver of land. Regional intelligence officials said that a planned move against al-Baghdadi led to a firefight between foreign fighters and al-Baghdadi’s bodyguards, who spirited him away to the nearby deserts. The IS has offered a reward to whoever kills Abu Muath al-Jazairi, believed to be a veteran foreign fighter, one of an estimated 500 IS fighters thought to remain in the area. While IS did not directly accuse al-Jazairi, placing a bounty on the head of one of its senior members is an unusual move and intelligence officials said they believe he was the central plotter.

TURKEY

At least 10 dead in collapse

The death toll from the collapse of an Istanbul apartment block on Thursday rose to 10 as more bodies were pulled from the rubble, authorities said. The eight-story building in the city’s Kartal District collapsed on Wednesday, but the cause is not yet clear. Rescuers initially put the death toll at two, but Istanbul Governor Ali Yerlikaya said that the figure had leapt to 10 as more bodies were pulled from the rubble, Anadolu news agency reported. Another 13 people were injured, three of them seriously, he said. Forty-three people were registered in the building, Anadolu said.