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Man, 20, in court for allegedly stealing tricycle

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Iran released United States prisoner on “humanitarian purposes”: Iranian ministry

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Iran’s Intelligence Ministry on Saturday said that the recent release of a United States prisoner was solely on humanitarian purposes after deterioration of his health, Tasnim news agency reported.

Michael White, a United States veteran who had entered Iran two years ago, was arrested and convicted of espionage, the managing director of the anti-espionage department at Iran’s Intelligence Ministry was quoted as saying.

White was released on Thursday and was finally expelled from Iran “because of deterioration of his illness and on compassionate grounds” after serving some two years in prison, he said.

Certain United States officials … were seeking to take advantage of a possible death of White due to his chronic disease and fulfill their political objectives,” he said, adding that “the release of American convict prevented the United States from using the opportunity for an ‘inhumane behavior’ against Iran.”

The United States released on Thursday one Iranian scientist, Majid Taheri, who had been in the United States jail for “violating United States sanctions against Iran.”

The Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said that Iran has always welcomed the “humanitarian efforts that help release of Iranian hostages in the United States and elsewhere.”

However, Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council on Friday dismissed speculation that the release of Iranian scientists jailed in the United States and Iran‘s move to free White from prison have been the result of negotiations between Tehran and Washington, according to Tasnim news agency.

(XINHUA)

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Merkel allies criticise Trump decision to cut United States troops in Germany

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Senior lawmakers, from German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling conservative bloc, on Saturday, criticised President Donald Trump’s decision to order the United States military to remove 9,500 troops from Germany.

The move would reduce United States troop’s numbers in Germany to 25,000, from 34,500.

“The plans once again show that the Trump administration is neglecting an elementary leadership task: the involvement of alliance partners in decision-making processes,’’ Johann Wadephul, foreign policy spokesman for the parliamentary group, told Reuters.

All NATO partners benefited from the cohesion of the alliance, and only Russia and China gain from discord, Wadephul said, adding: “This should be given more attention in Washington’’.

Wadephul also spoke of a “further wake-up call” to Europeans to position themselves better in terms of security policy.

The German Foreign Ministry declined to comment.

Andreas Nick, like Wadephul a member of the parliamentary foreign relations committee, told Deutsche Welle the indications were that “the decision was not a technical but a purely politically motivated decision’’.

A United States official, who did not want to be identified, said on Friday the move was the result of months of work by the top United States military officer, General Mark Milley, and had nothing to do with tensions between Trump and Merkel, who thwarted Trump’s plan to host a G7 meeting this month.

The withdrawal, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, is the latest twist in relations between Berlin and Washington, which have often been strained during Trump’s presidency.

Trump has pressed Germany to raise defence spending and accused Berlin of being a “captive” of Russia due to its energy reliance.

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Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

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Ethiopian expert says Africa can learn from Chinese pandemic management system

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China is an able and willing partner of Africa and countries in the African continent can learn from the Chinese development and pandemic management system, an Ethiopian expert said on Saturday.

Costantinos Bt. Costantinos, who served as an economic advisor to the African Union and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, noted that the African continent currently accounts for a small fraction of the infections globally.

However, Costantinos told Xinhua that “African countries have taken a disproportionate hit due to plummeting oil and commodity prices and weaker currencies, which ramp-up external debt servicing costs.”

Costantinos, also professor of public policy at the Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia, stressed that China is probably the only nation that can address the challenges faced by the global South in improving economic governance and curtailing corruption.

According to the latest figures from the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), the number of confirmed COVID-19 positive cases across the African continent had surpassed 171,206, as the death toll from the pandemic surged to 4,766.

The continental disease control and prevention agency, which noted that the virus has so far spread into 54 African countries, also disclosed that more than 75,083 people who had been infected with COVID-19 had recovered across the continent so far.

(XINHUA)

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108-year-old Italian woman in nursing home recovers from COVID-19

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Fatima Negrini, a 108-year-old woman from northern Italy, has joined the ranks of the very few centenarians who have recovered from COVID-19.

“God forgot about me,” Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera quoted Negrini as saying in its Saturday edition, reporting that the woman turned 108 on Wednesday.

The paper published a picture of the wheelchair-bound Negrini in front of a chocolate and cream cake, flanked by a carer with a giant heart-shaped birthday card.

The card said, “Fatima 108 We Love You!!! S. Faustino.”

Negrini has been a resident for many years of the Anni Azzurri San Faustino nursing home in Milan, a spokesman for the facility told dpa.

She caught the novel coronavirus in April and tested negative in mid-May, and was “always” an asymptomatic COVID-19 patient, he added.

According to Corriere, Negrini has three sons aged 89, 88, and 78, four grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

Italy is one of the countries worst hit by the novel coronavirus, and the impact of the pandemic has been particularly hard on nursing homes in Milan’s Lombardy region.

On Friday, the Italian Civil Protection agency reported 33,774 fatalities, the world’s fourth-highest death toll after the United States, Britain, and Brazil.

In Negrini’s nursing home, several residents died. “Fatima hasn’t realized yet who is no longer around,” Laura Catena, the assistant in the birthday picture, told Corriere.

The San Faustino facility is part of the KOS group, an Italian private healthcare operator which last year bought German nursing home group Charleston.

Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)

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Malians rally against President Keita, demand his resignation

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Thousands of Malians staged a protest in Bamako on Friday to demand resignation of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita over what they described as his mishandling of many crises plaguing the country.

Keita, re-elected in 2018 for a second five-year term, is struggling with a years-long security crisis in northern Mali, an outbreak of the new coronavirus and political tensions arising from a disputed legislative election in March.

Various political groups and human rights activists helped organise Friday’s demonstration, which had the backing of influential Muslim cleric Mahmoud Dicko.

“I’m here today to tell President IBK (the widely used initials of Keita’s names) that he is incompetent and that he cannot govern this country… He should resign,” Moussa Traore, an unemployed man in his 30s, told Reuters.

Some protesters brandished placards that read “IBK must go” and “No to bad governance”.

Police declined to give an estimate of the number of protesters, but the United States Embassy in Mali said on its Twitter account that approximately 20,000 people had gathered at Bamako’s Independence Monument at the start of the rally.

“The crisis in the north has worsened and spread to the centre of the country.

“There is no security, no jobs,” said Ben Adama Diarra, 33, a spokesman for one of the rally organisers.

“Everyday we record deaths (from the violence and COVID-19). Mali is becoming a large cemetery,” he added.

The Sahel nation, which has a population of around 19 million, has so far reported 1,485 cases of COVID-19, the lung disease caused by the new coronavirus, and 87 deaths.

Mali, which produces gold and cotton, has struggled to find stability since 2012 when jihadist fighters hijacked an insurrection by Tuareg separatists, seizing the entire desert north of the country.

French troops helped to recapture the north but violence persists, in spite of the presence of thousands of United Nations troops, with groups linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State stoking inter-communal tensions.


Edited By: Emmanuel Okara/Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)

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People perform Friday prayer with COVID-19 prevention measures in Amman, Jordan

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People keep social distance as they perform Friday prayer in a mosque in Amman, Jordan, on June 5, 2020. Jordan registered 19 more infections on Friday, bringing the total coronavirus cases in the kingdom to 784, including nine deaths and 571 recoveries. (Photo by Mohammad Abu Ghosh/Xinhua)

(XINHUA)

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Full moon seen in Manila, the Philippines

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A full moon is seen in Manila, the Philippines, on June 5, 2020. (Xinhua/Rouelle Umali)

(XINHUA)

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UN preparing for gradual reopening of headquarters in New York: spokesman

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The United Nations is making preparations for the phased reopening of its headquarters in New York, said a spokesman on Friday.

Preparations are going through a senior emergency management group, which exists just for the COVID-19 crisis, with inputs from various UN departments, guided by the UN medical authorities, and in close contact with the host city of New York, said Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

“They will meet again very soon to give some guidance to the secretary-general as to when to move to a next step, which could see a kind of phased reopening,” he told a virtual press briefing.

The United Nations is identifying critical staff that would need to be in the building. The reopening would also depend on the wishes of member states, he said.

“Preparations are under way in terms of signage, in terms of workspaces. But we’re taking it… one phase at a time,” he said. “We don’t want to rush this. But we do want to be able to move forward when we feel it is safe to have an uptick in the number of people that will be allowed in the building at any one time.”

The current lockdown, which began on March 16, lasts till the end of June.

(XINHUA)

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German gov’t supports local fleece manufacturer to boost face mask production

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The German government subsidised the expansion of fleece production by local company Innovatec in order to boost production of face masks in the country, Germany’s Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) announced this on Friday.

“We intend to significantly expand our production capacities for protective equipment in Germany and thus effectively reduce our dependence on imports,’’ said German Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, Peter Altmaier, when handing over the first notice of funding for fleece production.

Innovatec would invest more than 11 million euros ($12.5 million) in two new units for fleece production and could manufacture an additional 1,500 tons of fleece in the future, enabling the production of more than 1.5 billion face masks, according to BMWi.

The programme was aiming to stimulate an additional fleece production of 4,000 tons per year.

However, Altmaier stressed that “our long-term goal is to cover the entire value chain, from machines to filter fleece and protective masks’’.

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Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

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