english news

Isabel dos Santos: Africa’s richest woman accused of fraud

isabel

Africa’s richest woman, Isabel dos Santos, has been accused of embezzlement and money laundering by prosecutors in Angola. Attorney General Helder Pitta Gros said the allegations related to her time as chairwoman of state oil firm Sonangol.

He called on Ms Dos Santos to return to Angola and face potential criminal charges.

Ms Dos Santos recently denied alleged corruption revealed by leaked documents.

The billionaire, who currently lives in the UK, also told the BBC she was considering running for Angola’s presidency. Her father, Jose Eduardo dos Santos, was Angola’s president for 38 years before he stepped down in 2017. Separately, another suspect in the case who managed Sonangol’s account at the small Portuguese bank EuroBic, was found dead at his house in Lisbon on Wednesday, Portuguese media said quoting a police source. The source said “everything” suggested that the death of Nuno Ribeiro da Cunha was suicide.(bbc)…[+]

Mummy returns: Voice of 3,000-year-old Egyptian priest brought to life

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Scientists have fulfilled a mummified Egyptian priest’s wish for life after death – by replicating his voice with artificial vocal chords. Nesyamun’s voice has been reproduced as a vowel-like sound that is reminiscent of a sheep’s bleat.

The priest lived during the politically volatile reign of pharaoh Ramses XI, between 1099 and 1069BC. As a priest in Thebes, Nesyamun would have needed a strong voice for his ritual duties, which involved singing.

When Nesyamun died, his voice fell silent, but 3,000 years on, a team of researchers have brought it back to life. They have done so by producing a 3D-printed voice box based Nesyamun’s vocal tract, which was scanned to establish its precise dimensions. By using the vocal tract with an artificial larynx sound, they synthesised a vowel sound meant to be similar to the voice of Nesyamun.(BBC)…[+]

Doomsday Clock nears apocalypse over climate and nuclear fears

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The symbolic Doomsday Clock, which indicates how close our planet is to complete annihilation, is now only 100 seconds away from midnight. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (BAS) said on Thursday that the change was made due to nuclear proliferation, failure to tackle climate change and “cyber-based disinformation”.

The clock now stands at its closest to doomsday since it began ticking 1947. The idea began in 1947 to warn humanity of the dangers of nuclear war. Last year the clock was set at two minutes to midnight – midnight symbolises the end of the world – the same place it was wound to in 2018.(BBC)…[+]

Harvey Weinstein trial: Ex-movie mogul ‘a titan and a rapist’

weinstein

Opening arguments have begun in the trial in New York of ex-movie mogul, Harvey Weinstein, who could face life behind bars if convicted. The 67-year-old denies five charges, including rape and sexual assault, relating to two accusers.

Prosecutor Meghan Hast said: “The man seated right there was not just a titan in Hollywood, he was a rapist.” The defence will argue the two encounters, which happened in 2006 and 2013, were consensual. A Weinstein lawyer said that his opening argument would tell jurors the accusers had sent “loving emails” and “bragged” about their sexual relationships with him. The trial is expected to conclude in early March.

Mr Weinstein arrived at the Manhattan court flanked by several members of his team. When asked by a reporter if he could get a fair trial, he replied: “Of course.”

Once one of Hollywood’s most decorated and lauded producers, Mr Weinstein has been accused of sexual misconduct by more than 80 women – allegations which helped drive the #MeToo movement. But few of the complaints have led to criminal charges. Last week, a judge told potential jurors that they must decide Mr Weinstein’s case based on the evidence and not make it “a referendum on the #MeToo movement”.(BBC)…[+]

17 deaths, 444 cases of new viral pneumonia reported in Hubei

corona

A total of 444 cases of new coronavirus-related pneumonia and 17 deaths had been reported in central China’s Hubei Province as of 8 p.m. Wednesday, according to local authorities.

Among the confirmed cases, 399 patients are receiving treatment in hospitals, with 71 in severe condition and 24 in critical condition, said Yang Yunyan, deputy governor of the province, at a local press conference. A total of 2,556 close contacts had been placed under medical observation, with 863 people released.

The Hubei provincial government has activated a level II public health emergency response, the second-highest in the country. A headquarters headed by Mayor Zhou Xianwang has also been established in the provincial capital of Wuhan for the control and treatment of the pneumonia.(Xinhua)…[+]

Bolivian Congress accepts Morales’ resignation

bolivia

Bolivia’s Legislative Assembly on Tuesday formally accepted the resignation of Evo Morales, two months after he resigned the presidency and left the country. There was some debate among lawmakers before they made the decision, as some members of Morales’ leftist Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) party, also the majority in the bicameral body, wanted to reject his letter of resignation.

Henry Cabrera, senior member of the MAS and vice president of the Chamber of Deputies, announced the final decision, saying “the majority of the assembly has accepted the resignations” of Morales and his vice president Alvaro Garcia.

The announcement concludes an unexpected chapter in Bolivian politics, which saw conservative factions reject Morales’ re-election to a fourth term, citing electoral fraud in the October elections. Following weeks of sometimes violent protests, and the military’s support for the conservatives’ demands, Morales resigned and left the country in November. Bolivia’s opposition-backed interim government has scheduled new general elections for May 3.(Xinhua)…[+]

Davos: Trump decries climate ‘prophets of doom’ with Thunberg in audience

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US President Donald Trump has decried climate “prophets of doom” in a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, where sustainability is the main theme.

He called for a rejection of “predictions of the apocalypse” and said America would defend its economy. Mr Trump did not directly name the teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg, who was in the audience. Later, she excoriated political leaders, saying the world “in case you hadn’t noticed, is currently on fire”. Environmental destruction is at the top of the agenda at the annual summit of the world’s decision-makers, which takes place at a Swiss ski resort.

In his keynote speech, Mr Trump said that it was a time for optimism, not pessimism, in a speech that touted his administration’s economic achievements and America’s energy boom. Speaking of climate activists, he said: “These alarmists always demand the same thing – absolute power to dominate, transform and control every aspect of our lives.” They were, he said, “the heirs of yesterday’s foolish fortune tellers“.(bbc)…[+]

Glenn Greenwald: Brazil accuses journalist of cyber-crimes

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Brazilian authorities are seeking to bring charges against Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who published Edward Snowden’s intelligence agency leaks. Mr Greenwald has been accused of “helping guiding and encouraging” a criminal group that hacked into the phones of Brazilian officials.

The journalist had recently published stories describing private messages between public prosecutors. At this point, federal public prosecutors have proposed the charges. However, a judge still needs to decide whether to formally indict him.

Six other individuals have also been accused of illegal telephone interceptions and conspiracy among other related crimes. Brazilian prosecutors allege that, during his interactions with the group, Mr Greenwald advised its members to delete messages that they had passed on to him. Mr Greenwald has not yet publicly responded to this particular allegation.(bbc)…[+]

Duke and Duchess of Sussex issue legal warning over photos

harry

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have issued a legal warning to the media after photographs of Meghan in Canada were published in newspapers and on websites.

Lawyers say the photos of the duchess walking her dogs and carrying her son were taken by photographers hiding in bushes and spying on her. They say she did not consent and accuse the photographers of harassment. The couple say that they are prepared to take legal action.

They are believed to be alarmed by paparazzi activity near their current base on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Lawyers say there have also been attempts to photograph inside their home using long-range lenses and they accuse the paparazzi of being camped outside the property. Under laws in British Columbia, the duchess may have grounds for a legal case if she can prove her privacy has been violated, although freedom of the press and expression is guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

This comes after the Queen agreed to the couple’s wish to step back from being full-time royals, to become financially independent and to split their time between the UK and Canada.(BBC)…[+]

People urgently fleeing climate crisis cannot be sent home, UN rules

climate

People fleeing immediate danger due to the climate crisis cannot be forced to return home, the UN has said. The landmark ruling centres on the case of Ioane Teitiota, whose home – the Pacific Island of Kiribati – is threatened by rising sea levels.

Mr Teitiota applied for protection in New Zealand in 2013. The UN rejected his claim, saying he wasn’t in immediate danger, but the wording of its ruling allows others to claim asylum based on climate change. Sending asylum seekers home when their lives are threatened by the climate crisis “may expose individuals to a violation of their rights” – specifically, it said, their right to life.

“Given that the risk of an entire country becoming submerged under water is such an extreme risk, the conditions of life in such a country may become incompatible with the right to life with dignity before the risk is realised,” its decision added.(bbc)…[+]