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EU chief attacks USSR comparison and urges UK to compromise


The head of the European council, Donald Tusk, has condemned Jeremy Hunt’s “unwise and insulting” comparison of the EU to the Soviet Union, as he piled pressure on the British government to compromise for a Brexit deal.

Tusk also implicitly criticised Theresa May, after the British prime minister accused the EU of not showing her enough respect. “Emotional arguments that stress the issue of dignity sound attractive but they do not facilitate agreement,” he said.

But he saved his most withering words for the foreign secretary, who likened the UK to a prisoner trying to escape the EU. “Comparing the European Union to the Soviet Union is as unwise as it is insulting,” Tusk said. “The Soviet Union was about prisons and gulags, violence, against citizens and neighbours; the European Union is about freedom and human rights, prosperity and peace, life without fear.” “As the president of the European council and someone who spent half of my life in the Soviet bloc I know what I am talking about.”(theguardian)…[+]

Myanmar burns confiscated elephant ivory, wildlife parts to combat illegal trade


Myanmar’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation on Thursday burnt confiscated elephant ivory and wildlife parts in capital city Nay Pyi Taw to combat illegal wildlife trade.

The authorities ceremonially destroyed 1.3 million U.S. dollars worth of seized wildlife parts, including 277 ivory, 227 elephant and other wildlife’s bones, 45 pieces of different wildlife skins, 1,544 different horns, 45.5 kilograms of pangolin scales and 128 varieties of other wildlife parts. “It is crucial to sustainably conserve our country’s natural resources including land, water, forest, mountain and wildlife for the sake of our future generation. We designate and establish protected areas for biodiversity conservation,” Minister of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation U Ohn Win said at the ceremony.

Meanwhile, 42 protected areas which account for 5.79 percent of total country area had been designated so far in Myanmar, the minister added. In accordance with the section 19 of conservation of biodiversity and protected areas law established in May this year, wildlife protection have been distinguished in three levels — totally protected, normally protected and seasonally protected species.(Xinhua)…[+]

Trinidad police believe hit was ordered from inside prison


National Security Minister Stuart Young has called a media conference to provide an update on the investigation into the shooting death of Acting Senior Superintendent of Prisons Wayne Jackson. Jackson was shot dead at the front gate to his home in Malabar, Arima at around 7.30p.m.He had just arrived home after a shift at the Maximum Security Prison, Arouca.

A lone gunman fired at least 30 shots. Police believe Jackson’s killing was ordered from behind prison walls, and the callw as made using a cell phone that prisoners are not entitled to have. The media conference, to be held at 11.30a.m. will include Chief of Defence Staff Commodore Hayden Pritchard, Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith; Acting Commissioner of Prisons Dane Clarke and the Prison Officers Association.


Commercial fishing banned across much of the Arctic


Commercial fishing will be banned across much of the Arctic under a new agreement signed on Wednesday in Greenland, closing down access to a vast area of sea that is newly opening up under climate change. The moratorium on Arctic fishing will safeguard an area about the size of the Mediterranean for at least the next 16 years, as warming temperatures allow summer navigation across what was previously ice.

Sea ice in the Arctic reached its annual minimum last week, with what polar scientists confirmed was the joint sixth-lowest extent of ice on record. This year sits with 2008 and 2010 in the rankings of ice minimums, showing a clear trend of diminishing summer ice cover and thickness, with record lows in the last decade and reports of thick multi-year ice showing new vulnerability to break-up.

No fishing takes place there currently, but large ships are starting to explore the area. Maersk, the Danish shipping company, in August sent the first container vessel through the previously frozen route, starting from the Russian city of Vladivostok and arriving safely with its cargo of frozen fish in St Petersburg after a 37-day voyage.(theguardian)…[+]

Death toll from Indonesia’s quakes, tsunami climbs to 1,407


PALU/JAKARTA-The death toll from Indonesia’s multiple earthquakes and an ensuing tsunami jumped to 1,407 on Wednesday, the country’s disaster management agency said. Most of the dead were recovered in Palu, the provincial capital.

Search and rescue operations are underway with more rescuers and equipment joining the mission, spokesman of the national disaster management agency Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said. Soldiers, police, government personnel and volunteers flocked in the catastrophe-rattled areas to join a total of 6,399 rescuers already on the spot, and are rushing to retrieve victims under the ruins, he said.

The quakes that triggered a tsunami destroyed 2,403 houses, according to a satellite image, while a total of 362 aftershocks with 12 of them felt occurred after the main shock, said Sutopo. The natural disaster forced a total of 70,821 people to flee their homes and take shelter in camps or under tarpaulins in 141 spots. So far, not all of the basic needs has been provided, he said.(Xinhua)…[+]

Antigua: Cop accused of kidnapping, raping teen, walks


A police prosecutor accused of kidnapping a 13 year old girl and having sex with her on two occasions in 2016, walked free yesterday after the child said she did not want to proceed with the case and or to relive the incidents.

Crown Counsel Shannon Jones-Gittens called the teen to court to explain herself before Justice Keith Thom and, the girl indicated that she came to the decision after she spoke with her mother, counsellor and guardian. She further stated that she has forgiven the accused, and had she been in his shoes, she would have wanted to be forgiven as well.

The child, who is now a ward of the state, having been removed from her parents’ care, said she understood the seriousness of the allegations before the court which include one count of kidnapping and two counts of unlawful sexual intercourse – the latter is an offence which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison. Jones-Gittens told the court that the teen, who is now 15, also spoke with her about the matter several times and, the Director of Public Prosecutions, Anthony Armstrong had asked for the Directorate of Gender Affairs to be involved and to offer counselling to the teen.(Antigua Observer)…[+]

Amazon raises minimum wage for US and UK employees


Amazon has raised its minimum wage for British and American workers, in a major milestone for campaigners pushing for pay increases to tackle rising levels of poverty and inequality. The company, which has become almost a byword for low-paid and low-quality work in recent years, said it would increase the minimum wage to $15 (£11.57) an hour in the US for more than 350,000 workers, while almost 40,000 staff in Britain will get an increase to £10.50 an hour in London and £9.50 across the rest of the country. Jeff Bezos, the billionaire founder of the e-commerce company, said: “We listened to our critics, thought hard about what we wanted to do, and decided we want to lead.

“We’re excited about this change and encourage our competitors and other large employers to join us.” Lifting the wage for its workers, designed to tackle the firm’s critics head on, means Amazon UK will pay more than the current national minimum wage of £7.83 for workers over the age of 25. The new rate is also higher than the level recommended by the Living Wage Foundation of £8.75, or £10.20 in London.(theguardian)…[+]

Jamaica declares the Blue Lagoon a National Monument


JAMAICA- The Blue Lagoon is the latest site to be declared as a National Monument by the Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JNHT). The Portland-based landmark was declared as a National Monument by reason of its aesthetic and scientific values and the site forming a significant part of Jamaica’s heritage. These values include the crystal and varying shades of blue waters, the verdant rain forest and flowering plants, endemic and endangered species.

Chairman of the JNHT Board of Trustees, Laleta Davis-Mattis lauded the far-reaching value of this landmark declaration asserting that “Blue Lagoon’s inscription as a National Monument is not only giving added value to the site but to brand Jamaica.”

The first attempt to protect the Blue Lagoon by way of a Preservation Order through the National Trust Commission was done in 1960 by then Premier, Norman Manley.

This was followed up with the placement of a Notice of Intention to confirm a Preservation Scheme on the Lagoon in 1962 and an Interim Preservation Notice in 1968 by former Prime Minister Edward Seaga who was then the Minister of Finance and Planning. When the Jamaica National Heritage Trust replaced the Jamaica National Trust Commission in 1985 there were re-energized efforts to declare the site as a National Monument. In 2010 the JNHT indicated to then Minister of Sport, Youth and Culture, Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange of its intention to revive discussions concerning the declaration of the Blue Lagoon.(JAMAICA GLEANER)…[+]

General Debate wrapped up on high note: UNGA president

un general

UNITED NATIONS- UN General Assembly (UNGA) President Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces on Monday concluded the General Debate of the 73rd session of the assembly, saying it was wrapped up on “a high note.” In her closing speech to the world leaders attending the debate, Espinosa said “each one of us could say with honesty that we are wrapping up this General Debate on a high note with the satisfaction of job well done.”

Expecting the past week to set the tone for the work and agenda of the assembly in the coming year, she summarized its seven outcomes, with the first one being the global reflection on the role of the UN and the reflection on the importance of multilateralism as the only viable response to the problems facing mankind. Secondly, she noted the UN had been a home for all nations this past week by creating a space for them “to deepen bilateral ties and to strengthen political and regional groups.”

Thirdly, the UNGA chief noted, the representatives of member states shared visions and experiences on issues of common interest, and more than 400 side events took place along the General Debate. In addition, she mentioned four other strategic outcomes of the assembly’s high-level week: two political declarations on Tuberculosis and non-communicable disease, the progress in signing and ratifying the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, member states’ sharing of national or regional successes and challenges, and the participation of hundreds of activists.

She also expressed gratitude to the 77 heads of state and 44 heads of government as well as other high-level representatives who participated in this year’s discussions.

Although the speakers sent diverse messages from the podium, there were many points of convergence and similarity as well as many shared concerns. Issues popping up repeatedly throughout the debate were defense of multilateralism, promotion of sustainable development, fight against climate change, celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and investment in conflict prevention and mediation. “This marks only the beginning of the 73rd session,” said Espinosa, expressing her hope that “the enthusiasm and efficiency which have been the hallmark of this week will last the whole course of the year.”

The General Debate started last Tuesday and lasted until Monday with Sunday off. A total of 196 representatives, including 193 from member states and three from permanent observers, spoke at its podium.(Xinhua)…[+]


Jean-Claude Arnault, man at centre of Nobel scandal, jailed for rape


Jean-Claude Arnault, the man at the centre of a sexual abuse and financial misconduct scandal that forced the postponement of this year’s Nobel prize in literature, has been convicted of rape. In a unanimous verdict, Stockholm district court sentenced Arnault – the husband of a member of the Swedish Academy, which awards the world’s most prestigious literary prize – to two years in prison, the minimum sentence.

The judge, Gudrun Antemar, said there was “sufficient evidence, consisting mainly of statements during the trial by the injured party and several witnesses”, to convict the defendant of one of the two counts of rape with which he had been charged. The verdict came at the start of Nobel prize week, shortly before the award for medicine was announced. Arnault’s lawyer, Björn Hurtig, earlier told local media his client would appeal if convicted. He has said his client strenuously denies all charges against him, describing them as a witch-hunt based on fundamentally flawed evidence.After a trial held behind closed doors, the public prosecutor, Christina Voigt, had called for the Frenchman to be sentenced to at least three years in jail. The maximum sentence for rape in Sweden is six years.Arnault, 72, an influential figure in Sweden’s cultural scene for many decades, faced charges of forcing a woman to engage in oral sex and intercourse in a Stockholm apartment on 5 October 2011, and of raping her again on 2 December in the same apartment while she was asleep.(theguardian)…[+]