IMF denies Taliban access to millions in Afghanistan funding

The International Monetary Fund says the Taliban, now in control of Afghanistan, will not be able to access nearly half a billion dollars in reserve funds, amid mounting pressure by the international community, including the U.S. Treasury Department.Taliban patrols Jalalabad city This comes as a new allocation of assets, known as special drawing rights (SDRs), is scheduled to go out on August 23. An estimated $450 million of the $650 billion allocation was designated for Afghanistan.  The U.S. is the largest contributor to the IMF. A Treasury official said the department is taking steps to prevent the Taliban from accessing SDRs.Taliban check … Continue reading IMF denies Taliban access to millions in Afghanistan funding

Slavery: Amsterdam mayor apologises for city’s role in slave trade

The mayor of Amsterdam in the Netherlands has formally apologised for the city’s role in slavery, as the country reckons with its colonial past. Femke Halsema said it was “time to engrave the great injustice of colonial slavery into our city’s identity”. The apology came during an annual holiday that marks the end of slavery in Dutch colonies in the 1800s. Last year the city council voted for an apology and an advisory panel has told the national government to follow suit. “I apologise for the active involvement of the Amsterdam city council in the commercial system of colonial slavery … Continue reading Slavery: Amsterdam mayor apologises for city’s role in slave trade

Two Americans face extradition to the Netherlands over hitmen claims

A former Mississippi sheriff’s deputy and his New Jersey friend face extradition to the Netherlands over claims they were hired as hitmen to kill a struggling farmer over his debts.   Thomas Schwarz was found dead at his home in Bergen in November 2019. The organic farm owner, in his 30s, is said to have owed money to Lukas Fecker. Schwarz’s front door was found open and ‘the door handle stained with blood’, court documents say. He had been stabbed and his throat slashed.   Now Dutch police are seeking the extradition of William Lyle Johnson, 34, and Jacob Mazeika, 38, over claims they were hired as hitmen by Fecker … Continue reading Two Americans face extradition to the Netherlands over hitmen claims

North Korea fires two ballistic missiles into Sea of Japan

North Korea has fired two ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan, says the US and Japan – the first such test since Joe Biden became US president. Pyongyang is banned from testing ballistic missiles, considered threatening weapons, under UN Security Council resolutions. Both Japan and South Korea have both condemned the test. It comes just days after North Korea reportedly fired two non-ballistic missiles into the Yellow Sea. Japan said no debris had fallen within its territorial waters. The US Pacific Command, which oversees military forces in the Asia-Pacific region, said on Thursday that the test highlighted “the threat … Continue reading North Korea fires two ballistic missiles into Sea of Japan

Audio cassette tape inventor Lou Ottens dies aged 94

Lou Ottens, the Dutch engineer credited with inventing the audio cassette tape, has died aged 94. An estimated 100 billion cassette tapes have been sold around the world since they were introduced in the 1960s. Ottens’ invention transformed the way people listened to music, and there has even been a resurgence of the cassette in recent years. The engineer died in his hometown of Duizel last weekend, his family announced on Tuesday. Ottens became head of Philips’ product development department in 1960, where he and his team developed the cassette tape. In 1963, it was presented at the Berlin Radio … Continue reading Audio cassette tape inventor Lou Ottens dies aged 94

US father and son extradited to Japan over Carlos Ghosn escape

An American father and son have been handed over to Japanese authorities for allegedly helping former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn flee the country. The two were charged last year with helping Mr Ghosn flee Japan, hidden in a box and on a private jet. Mr Ghosn escaped to his childhood home, Lebanon, which has no extradition treaty with Japan. Michael Taylor and his son Peter Taylor have fought a months-long battle to avoid extradition over the case. The US Supreme Court last month cleared the way for the extradition of the Taylors, who have been in US custody since their … Continue reading US father and son extradited to Japan over Carlos Ghosn escape

Russian fugitive nabbed in Bali after dramatic escape

A Russian fugitive whose dramatic sprint out of an Indonesian immigration office was captured on CCTV has been caught again after two weeks on the run, authorities said Wednesday. Andrey Kovalenko and Ekaterina Trubkina (centre in yellow) were arrested in Bali Andrey Kovalenko fled the office on Indonesia’s resort island of Bali to avoid deportation, with the surveillance footage showing him keeping pace on foot with a motorcycle as he escaped. Authorities fanned out across the island in the hunt for Kovalenko, who was nabbed early Wednesday at a villa in tourist hub Kuta along with girlfriend Ekaterina Trubkina, who was … Continue reading Russian fugitive nabbed in Bali after dramatic escape

US agrees to join Iran nuclear deal talks ‘at critical moment’

The US has agreed to take part in talks involving Iran and world powers with a view to reviving a landmark nuclear deal. Iran vowed to limit its nuclear programme in return for the lifting of economic sanctions under the 2015 deal. But former President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the deal in 2018, leading Iran to roll back commitments. Now the US has expressed intent to rejoin the deal under President Joe Biden. On Thursday, the Biden administration made its firmest pledge yet to re-engage with Iran over the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action … Continue reading US agrees to join Iran nuclear deal talks ‘at critical moment’

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman denies sending hit squad to Canada

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has rejected allegations that he sent a hit squad to kill an exiled Saudi former intelligence officer. In a lawsuit filed in a US court, Saad al-Jabri has claimed that the assassination attempt took place in Canada, where he fled three years ago. He says Mohammed bin Salman wanted him dead because he knew too much. The crown prince – regarded as Saudi Arabia’s de-facto ruler said Mr Jabri was trying to conceal his own crimes, he pointed out that he is immune from prosecution as a head of state, serving foreign leaders are … Continue reading Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman denies sending hit squad to Canada

Nasa SpaceX launch: Astronaut crew heads to orbit

Four astronauts, three from the US and one from Japan have launched from Florida on a mission to the International Space Station (ISS), the crew rode to orbit in a rocket and capsule provided by the SpaceX company. It’s only the second time the firm has supplied the service. The US space agency Nasa has said it is now entering a new era in which routine astronaut journeys to low-Earth orbit are being conducted by commercial providers. The four individuals making their way up to the ISS are the Americans Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker, and the highly … Continue reading Nasa SpaceX launch: Astronaut crew heads to orbit

Veteran Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk dies, aged 74

Veteran journalist Robert Fisk, who for decades covered events in the Middle East and elsewhere as a foreign correspondent for the British newspaper The Independent, has died after suffering a suspected stroke at his Dublin home, Fisk became unwell on Friday and was admitted to St Vincent’s hospital where he died a short time later, the Irish Times reported on Sunday, he was 74. The Independent paid tribute to a journalist who was “renowned for his courage in questioning official narratives” and publishing “frequently brilliant prose”. “Fearless, uncompromising, determined and utterly committed to uncovering the truth and reality at all … Continue reading Veteran Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk dies, aged 74

Australia now require proficiency in English language for ‘partner visas’

Australia will require foreign partners of existing residents to pass an English language test before gaining a permanent visa, its government says, the controversial immigration requirement, if approved by parliament, would apply from mid-2021, it would also force the partners of applicants to prove a level of English proficiency. Critics have called the change “discriminatory”, but the government says it will build “social cohesion”. We will require an applicant and a sponsor to have met functional level English or to have at least made reasonable efforts to learn English, Immigration Minister Alan Tudge said. In recent years, Australia’s conservative government … Continue reading Australia now require proficiency in English language for ‘partner visas’