english news

Italy’s deputy PM Luigi Di Maio meets senior gilets jaunes figure

france

Luigi Di Maio, the Italian deputy prime minister and leader of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S), has met a senior figure from the gilets jaunes (yellow vests) movement – a meeting likely to increase tensions between Italy and France. Di Maio and Alessandro Di Battista, a prominent M5S member, met Christophe Chalençon, as well as candidates the protest movement has put forward for the European elections in May, on the outskirts of Paris on Tuesday. Posting a photo of the group on Facebook, Di Maio described it as a “beautiful” meeting.

“The wind of change has crossed the Alps. I repeat. The wind of change has crossed the Alps,” he wrote. Di Maio had previously expressed his admiration for the gilets jaunes, who have been holding at times violent anti-government protests each week across France for the past few months. He urged the movement not to “give up” and said the demonstrations reminded him of the spirit that gave birth to the M5S in 2009. On Tuesday he said the two groups shared “many common positions and values that focus on the battles for citizens, social rights, direct democracy and the environment”.

Chalençon said while both sides “practically agree on everything”, there was no talk yet about whether they would form an alliance for the elections to the European parliament. Italian media reported that Ingrid Levavasseur, who heads the gilets jaunes’ list of 10 candidates for the elections, would meet M5S officials again in Rome next week. The meeting follows a series of verbal attacks from Di Maio and his co-deputy prime minister, Matteo Salvini, on the French president, Emmanuel Macron, in recent weeks and is also seen as an additional tactic by M5S to regain some of the popularity lost to Salvini’s far-right League since the coalition government came to power last June.(theguardian)…[+]

Millions in cryptocurrencies frozen after Canadian founder’s death

frozen

TORONTO- About C$180 million ($137.21 million) in cryptocurrencies have been frozen in the user accounts of Canadian digital platform Quadriga after the founder, the only person with the password to gain access, died suddenly in December. Gerald Cotten died aged 30 from complications with Crohn’s disease while volunteering at an orphanage in India, according to the Facebook page of Quadriga CX, which announced his death on Jan. 14.

The platform, which allows the trading of Bitcoin, Litecoin and Ethereum, filed for creditor protection in the Nova Scotia Supreme Court last week. Quadriga has 363,000 registered users and owes a total of C$250 million to 115,000 affected users, according to an affidavit filed by Cotten’s widow Jennifer Robertson on behalf of the company. Robertson said in the affidavit that Cotten’s main computer contained a “cold wallet” of cryptocurrencies, which is only accessible physically and not online, and his death left “in excess of C$180 million of coins in cold storage.”

Robertson said she was not involved in Cotten’s business while he was alive and did not know the password or recovery key.(Reuters)…[+]

Another Trinidadian ISIS fighter captured in Syria

syria

Trinidad & Tobago is earning a big name internationally with Friday’s capture in Syria of yet another ISIS fighter, Nicholas Lee, 39, originally from Point Fortin. The New York and London Times both reported yesterday that Jamaican-born Sheikh Abdullah el-Faisal was responsible for recruiting over 250 Trinidad & Tobago nationals, including Lee, to join ISIS in Syria and Iraq. Next week, proceedings will start in a court in Jamaica to extradite Faisal to the United States for trial. Lee’s photo appears alongside two other men, released by Kurdish forces as that of six people captured fighters for ISIS in the last four days.

One article quotes Abdul Hamid al-Muhabash who is co-chair of Democratic Autonomous Administration, based in north-eastern Syria, calling on respective governments to repatriate their nationals from war-torn areas of Syria and Iraq.

Muhabash said, “The administration and the Syrian people demand of the states from which ISIS fighters belong – more than 50 nationalities in all – to judge them according to their constitutions.”(Trinidad Newsday)…[+]

Former French MP sues sexual harassment accusers

dennis

A defamation lawsuit brought by a former French MP against six women who accused him of sexual harassment and four journalists who reported the allegations has opened in what is seen as a further backlash against the #MeToo movement in France. Denis Baupin, the former vice president of France’s Assemblée National and a prominent MP for the Green party, resigned in May 2016 after denying the allegations.

The investigative website Mediapart and the radio station France Inter published stories from 14 women who alleged Baupin had groped and harassed them over a number of years. Most of the women were also members of the Green party, whose leader was then Baupin’s wife, Emmanuelle Cosse; four of them filed criminal complaints for sexual harassment. A nine-month investigation, during which police interviewed 50 people, ended with prosecutors announcing there would be no charges as the three-year statute of limitations had expired. In a statement, the prosecutors said the women had given “measured, constant statements”.The scandal broke 18 months before the Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein was accused of sexual assault by multiple women, which sparked an international campaign calling powerful men to account for their behaviour.(theguardian)…[+]

Maduro proposes new parliament vote as Venezuelans protest

maduro

CARACAS – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro yesterday proposed early parliamentary elections, seeking to shore up his crumbling rule after a senior general defected to the opposition and tens of thousands thronged the streets in protest at his government.

As domestic and international pressure on Maduro to step down mounts, a senior air force general disavowed him in a video that circulated earlier yesterday, expressing his allegiance to parliament head and self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaido. The military’s support is crucial for Maduro, who is deeply unpopular, largely due to an unprecedented economic crisis that has prompted an exodus of millions. Maduro claims he is victim of a coup directed by the United States.

In a speech to supporters, Maduro said the powerful government-controlled Constituent Assembly would debate calling early elections for the National Assembly parliament, which is opposition-controlled. Guaido has called for a new, fair presidential election after the disputed vote won by Maduro last year. “You want elections? You want early elections? We are going to have parliamentary elections,” Maduro told a pro-government rally in Caracas, held to commemorate the 20th anniversary of late socialist leader Hugo Chavez’s first inauguration as president.(Reuters)…[+]

Trinidad: Sexual predators, bandits terrorize female primary school guards

trinidad

Sex­u­al preda­tors, ban­dits, and tres­passers are cre­at­ing fear among fe­male se­cu­ri­ty guards of the Na­tion­al Main­te­nance Train­ing and Se­cu­ri­ty Com­pa­ny (MTS). The se­cu­ri­ty guards af­fect­ed are those dis­patched to five pri­ma­ry schools in the Mara­cas/St Joseph area and work 12-hour shifts—from 6 am to 6 pm and 6 pm to 6 am.

Re­cent­ly, there was an at­tempt­ed rape where the sus­pect on­ly man­aged to take off the woman’s un­der­gar­ment but she fought off the preda­tor and es­caped. While there have been claims that a guard was raped by an in­trud­er be­hind one of the pri­ma­ry schools in No­vem­ber last year, po­lice could not con­firm this. Of­fi­cers at the Mara­cas/St Joseph Po­lice Sta­tion con­firmed, how­ev­er, that they have re­ceived “dis­tur­bance” re­ports from “one or two” of the se­cu­ri­ty guards but could not di­vulge fur­ther de­tails. The of­fi­cer as­sured that they are ready to re­spond to any calls for help.(Trinidad Guardian)…[+]

Yemen war: UN anchors ship off Red Sea port for ‘neutral ground’ talks

yemen

Yemen peace talks have been held onboard a UN-chartered boat anchored in the Red Sea in an attempt to find a neutral venue acceptable to both sides.

Patrick Cammaert, a retired Dutch general and head of the UN mission in Yemen, chaired the meeting on the ship moored off the port city of Hodeidah. Houthi rebel military officials had refused to meet in government-held areas in southern Hodeidah, citing security fears.The dispute over the talks venue had prevented military leaders from the two sides meeting since 2 January. The first two meetings had been held in Houthi-controlled zones.The meetings of the regional redeployment committee (RCC) are seen as critical to building on the UN-brokered agreement reached in Stockholm in Decemberthat under which Houthi fighters would be redeployed out of Hodeida’s city and port. The agreement envisaged a new security force taking over the city, a move critical to preventing famine and to opening humanitarian corridors.(theguardian)…[+]

U.S. says to withdraw from arms control treaty in six months

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WASHINGTON – The United States announced yesterday it will withdraw from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia in six months unless Moscow ends its alleged violations of the landmark 1987 arms control pact.

The United States would reconsider its withdrawal if Russia, which denies violating the treaty, came into compliance with the agreement, which bans both nations from stationing short- and intermediate-range land-based missiles in Europe.

Announcing the move, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States would cease to regard itself as being bound by the treaty starting Saturday, which is when Washington will formally inform Moscow of its intent to withdraw, a senior U.S. official told reporters. The announcement may aim to pressure Russia to come to terms during the next six months but it also raised fears of a new U.S.-Russian nuclear arms race in Europe as well as one between the United States and China in Asia. U.S. President Donald Trump repeated U.S. allegations that Russia had violated the INF treaty, which limited only U.S. and Russian arsenals, and he held out the prospect of negotiating a wider agreement, possibly including other nations.(Reuters)…[+]

Trinidad’s ruling party sells jewels to raise funds for new headquarters

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Even po­lit­i­cal par­ties must find in­no­v­a­tive ways to raise funds to sus­tain op­er­a­tions.

In the case of the Peo­ples Na­tion­al Move­ment, who are con­struct­ing a mul­ti-storey Bal­isi­er House on the site of the ex­ist­ing premis­es, the chal­lenge has been to come up with an idea to raise mil­lions to bankroll the project. That idea has come from one of their mem­bers who saw the work of Caribbean Jew­ellers and sug­gest­ed that an ex­clu­sive col­lec­tion of jew­el­ry could be one of the fundrais­ing tools.

Caribbean Jew­ellers, well known for cre­at­ing com­mem­o­ra­tive pieces for the ed­u­ca­tion sec­tor’s grad­u­a­tion events, have come up with the Bal­isi­er Col­lec­tion, a set of su­perbly craft­ed loy­al­ty rings and oth­er items in­tend­ed to re­flect “un­wa­ver­ing sup­port for the PNM”. The man be­hind this strate­gic part­ner­ship, An­gad Sand­hu, Man­u­fac­tur­ing Di­rec­tor, Sat Naam In­dus­tries Ltd, the par­ent com­pa­ny of Caribbean Jew­ellers, said their di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion ef­forts over the years had gen­er­at­ed the con­cept for this se­ries. “A par­ty mem­ber saw the work we did and ap­proached us. I did the best I could to ful­fil their vi­sion and with our dis­tinc­tive com­pe­ten­cies came up with an ex­ten­sive line of loy­al­ty rings.”(Trinidad Guardian)…[+]

Grieving Humboldt Broncos families face wait for sentencing

victims

The victims and grieving relatives of a Canadian truck crash, in which 16 people died, will have to wait until March to learn the driver’s sentence. Following an emotionally charged week of victim impact statements, the judge overseeing the case has asked for nearly two months to consider how to sentence the driver, Jaskirat Singh Sidhu. On 6 April last year, his semi-trailer truck collided with the bus of the Humboldt Broncos hockey team after he failed to stop at an intersection in central Saskatchewan.

Sidhu had previously pleaded guilty to all 29 charges he faced — including 16 counts of dangerous driving causing death. Young hockey players, coaches, a trainer and a radio announcer were among those killed. The crown had asked for a 10-year prison sentence and a further 10 years of suspended driving. As part of the sentencing, 75 written victim impact statements were submitted to the court, with 65 read by friends and family over a four-day period. Some included grim details of the parents being unable to fully identify their children – and the tragic extent of some injuries.(theguardian)…[+]