Jim Yong Kim resigns as World Bank president

Jim Yong Kim

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim has abruptly resigned from his post to join a private infrastructure investment firm, an unexpected departure that comes nearly three years before the end of his term.

Kim, who had served in the role since 2012, announced on Monday that he would leave his post well ahead of his term’s expiration at the end of 2021, reports CNN.

“It has been a great honour to serve as President of this remarkable institution, full of passionate individuals dedicated to the mission of ending extreme poverty in our lifetime,” Kim wrote in a statement.

“The work of the World Bank Group is more important now than ever as the aspirations of the poor rise all over the world, and problems like climate change, pandemics, famine and refugees continue to grow in both their scale and complexity.”

A statement from the bank said the outgoing president would join a firm focusing on infrastructure investments in the developing world and return to the board of a health organisation he founded three decades ago.

Since its founding at the end of World War II, the World Bank has been led by Americans, all of whom were appointed by the US President. The US is the bank’s largest shareholder.

Former President Barack Obama broke tradition in 2012 by choosing Kim, who was serving as president of Dartmouth College at the time.

Past bank leaders had emerged from the financial world, but Kim — who was born in Seoul, South Korea, but raised in Iowa — is an anthropologist and physician by training.

The White House did not immediately comment on Monday whether President Donald Trump plans to name a new replacement or provide a list of potential candidates, CNN reported.

The Trump administration has enjoyed a close working relationship with Kim.

Ivanka Trump, the President’s daughter and senior White House adviser, developed a woman’s entrepreneurship initiative in partnership with the World Bank in 2017 with the goal of providing more than $1 billion in financing for small-business owners.

She took the idea in April 2017 to Kim, who agreed to fast track the initiative.

Donald Trump has previously praised Kim, calling him a “friend” and a “great guy”, and suggesting he himself might have selected him.

Source: Khaleej Times

Ramaphosa promises to end attacks on foreigners in SA

Ramaphosa

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has vowed to end attacks on foreigners living in his country.
Ramaphosa, who made the pledge during a visit to President Muhammadu Buhari at Nigeria’s Presidential Villa in Abuja, linked the incessant xenophobic attacks in South Africa to criminal elements in the country.
He told journalists after a meeting with Buhari that victims of the senseless killings of foreigners in South Africa were not restricted to Nigerians alone, saying nationals of other countries are equally affected.
According to him, the country is also being plagued with other social challenges that are heightening its crime rates, even as he informed that his administration is trying everything within its power to address them and ensure that the country is safe for citizens and foreigners alike.
“In the course of everything else, people in various part of the country do get engulfed in acts of criminality, the majority of them are South Africans,” he further stated.
Earlier reacting to the xenophobic attack on Nigerians this year, Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, had said South Africa has the highest crime rate in Africa.
“The crime situation in South Africa is very high, probably the highest in Africa,” he said. “So there is a high level of crime; it is not just that Nigerians are victims of crime in South Africa.”
Onyeama blamed the unending xenophobic attacks on trust deficit between the Nigerian Union of South Africa and the South African police.

Diplomatic row: Pakistan imposes travel ban on US diplomats

US

The Pakistani government has reterliated the travel ban imposed on its diplomats by the United Staes.
The Pakistan Foriegn Ministry on Friday announced travel restrictions on U.S. diplomats in the country.
Pakistan and the U. S. had announced restrictions on diplomats after a U.S. embassy vehicle driven by Colonel Joseph Emanual Hall, defence and air attache of the U.S. embassy in Islamabad, killed a Pakistani motorcyclist in Islamabad on April 7.
Pakistan on Thursday confirmed that its diplomats in the U. S. would face travel restrictions from May 11.
The United States had earlier planned to counter attack the curbs from May 1, but deferred the move for 10 days.
“The restrictions will be implemented on Friday and these will be on a reciprocal basis.
`However, negotiations are ongoing between the two sides on the matter,’’ Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mohammad Faisal said when asked to confirm reports whether the restrictions will be enforced or not.
The relations between the two sides have been under pressure after President Donald Trump accused Islamabad in January of lying to the U. S. and offering “little help in hunting terrorists.’’ Washington later suspended its security assistance to Pakistan.

Trump administration to send 57,000 Hondurans in the U.S. home

The Trump administration has decided to end a temporary program that allows 57,000 Hondurans to live and work in the United States, three people familiar with the plans told McClatchy.
Hondurans who came to the United States after Hurricane Mitch devastated their country in 1998 will be given 12 to 18 months to return to their native county or seek another form of legal residency.
The Department of Homeland Security will announce the program’s end as early as Friday afternoon. Officials there are expected to say conditions in Honduras have improved enough for people to return, though some have lived in the United States for two decades.
One of the poorest and most violent countries in the region, Honduras has been plagued by gang violence and drug trafficking, which has forced tens of thousands to flee to the United States annually.
Jill Marie Bussey, director of advocacy for the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, one of many groups pushing the administration to allow Hondurans to stay, met with DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen this week.
Bussey said the administration gave her no indication that Hondurans in the U.S. would be protected from deportation but said officials want to work with Congress to find a permanent solution for the immigrants. She said groups like hers have heard that before.
“They’re willing to cut back these protections from deportation to end people’s work authorizations and then say somewhere down the road we’ll find some congressional solutions,” Bussey said. “Yet when congressional solutions become part of the debate and it actually moves somewhere and we see progress, we have a complete misdirection from the administration.”
Tyler Q. Houlton, a DHS spokesman, said Friday morning that no decision has been made.
More than 300,000 immigrants from about a dozen countries have been allowed to stay in the United States since the Temporary Protected Status program was created in 1990 by Congress. The program was designed to give people whose countries are devastated by natural disasters or other crises a temporary sanctuary until the conditions improve enough to return.
The administration has already let protections for several countries expire, including El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, Sudan, Liberia and Nepal. Haiti, El Salvador and Honduras comprise most of the recipients
“The hurricane that struck Honduras in 1998 is not the reason why its citizens still enjoy TPS protection in 2018,” said RJ Hauman, government relations director at the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which seeks to reduce immigration. “They are still here because the people who willingly accepted our temporary offer, their advocates, and their governments have abused our generosity and managed to get the program extended far beyond any reasonable definition of temporary.”
Fifty-six members of Congress signed a petition this week urging Nielsen to renew protections for Honduras, who include 46,700 workers in the United States, according to the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank. There are 53,500 U.S.-born children with Honduran parents who are TPS holders, according to the group.
“Despite substantial efforts made by the United States and the international community to improve conditions in Honduras, the damage of these cataclysmic events compounded by the residual effects of disease, violence, and poverty have resulted in a stagnant recovery, the lawmakers wrote. “Conditions simply have not sufficiently improved to safely and productively reintegrate TPS recipients in their home communities.”
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke delayed a TPS decision on Hondurans in November after she reportedly felt pressure by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly to end the protections. Duke left the administration in April.
At the time, the country was headed into a presidential election. President Juan Orlando Hernandez eventually won a second term amid fraud allegations that sparked protests that killed more than 30 people.
Orlando Lopez, a Honduran TPS holder living in Miami, told reporters on a call this week said he was worried about what would happen if TPS ends. “Not only would there be chaos caused here by this decision, but there would be an even worse burden placed on my country which is not able to receive us,” he said.

Source: MSN.COM

Mandela’s ex-wife, Winnie, dead

Winnie Mandela, the ex-wife of South African anti-apartheid fighter and former president Nelson Mandela, died on Monday at the age of 81, her spokesman said.
She died in a Johannesburg hospital after a long illness, spokesman Victor Dlamini said in a statement.
Winnie Mandela, who was married to Nelson Mandela for 38 years, played a key part in the campaign to end white-minority rule but her place in history was also stained by controversy

Nobel laureate Malala returns to Pakistan home (AP)

Pakistan’s Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai has entered her home in the northwestern town of Mingora in the Swat Valley the first time since 2012.
That was the year the Taliban attacked the then-14-year-old for advocating for girls’ education.
Her father Ziauddin Yousafzai consoled the teary eyed 20-year-old Saturday morning upon her arrival at the home.
The Pakistan army provided Yousafzai a helicopter, which took her to Mingora from Islamabad, where she arrived before dawn Thursday, flanked by heavy security. She plans to return to Britain on Monday.
Yousafzai won international renown after she was shot by the Taliban in Mingora. She received initial treatment in Pakistan and later was taken to England where she continued her education and went on to win the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize.
9:30 a.m.
Pakistan’s Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai has arrived in her hometown of Mingora for the first time since a Taliban militant shot her there in 2012 for advocating girls’ education.
Amid tight security, Youzafzai along with her parents landed in the Swat Valley town Saturday morning.
According to her uncle Mahmoodul Hassan, she is visiting her home and also plans to meet with her friends and relatives.
Security was visibly beefed up in Mingora the previous day.

French ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy held in Libya financing probe

Nicolas Sarkozy

Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy was taken into police custody on Tuesday for questioning over suspected Libyan financing of his 2007 election campaign, a source close to the inquiry told AFP.

Sarkozy, 63, had until now refused to respond to a summons for questioning in the case, which drew heightened scrutiny last November when a businessman admitted delivering three cash-stuffed suitcases from the Libyan leader as contributions towards the French leader’s first presidential bid.

Sarkozy’s detention was first reported by the Mediapart investigative news site and French daily Le Monde and comes several weeks after a former associate, Alexandre Djouhri, was arrested in London and later released on bail.

Djouhri was returned to pre-trial detention in February after France issued a second warrant for his arrest, ahead of a hearing scheduled for March 28.

A source close to the inquiry also said that Brice Hortefeux, a top government minister during Sarkozy’s presidency, was also questioned Tuesday as part of the inquiry.

Before his arrest in January, Djouhri, a 59-year-old Swiss resident, was well known among France’s rightwing political establishment, and had refused to respond to summons for questioning in Paris.

He has been a focus of the inquiry opened in 2013 by judges investigating earlier claims by late Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi and his son Seif al-Islam that they provided funds for Sarkozy’s election effort.

Sarkozy has dismissed the allegations as the claims of vindictive Libyan regime members furious over his participation in the US-led military intervention that ended Kadhafi’s 41-year rule.

Franco-Lebanese businessman Ziad Takieddine said he had made three trips from Tripoli to Paris in late 2006 and early 2007 with cash for Sarkozy’s campaign.

Each time he carried a suitcase containing 1.5 to 2.0 million euros in 200-euro and 500-euro notes, Takieddine claimed in a French media interview, saying he was given the money by Kadhafi’s military intelligence chief Abdallah Senussi.

SOURCE: AFP

Florida Governor Rick Scott signs gun-safety bill into law, following Parkland School shooting

Rick Scott

Florida Governor Rick Scott on Friday signed into law a bill from the legislature that raises the legal age for buying rifles, imposes a three-day waiting period on all gun sales and allows the arming of some school employees.

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act is named after the school in Parkland, Florida, at which a gunman with a semiautomatic assault-style rifle killed 17 students and faculty on Feb. 14.

“Today should serve as an example to the entire country that government can and must move fast,” Scott, a Republican, said in remarks before the signing, surrounded by survivors from the shooting and their families. He said the bill was a compromise balancing concerns of both gun-control and gun-rights advocates.

Student survivors from the Parkland shooting had advocated for some of the new restrictions passed by the legislature, over the objections of the National Rifle Association, the powerful gun lobbying organization.

But the legislature decided against including one of their chief demands: a ban on semiautomatic assault-style rifles of the kind used to kill their classmates.

Among the most scrutinized measures of the new law is a program allowing school staff to be trained and armed to defend against future shootings. The bill was passed by the legislature after language was included exempting most teachers from taking part in part to earn the support of Democrats and Scott, who said he was opposed to arming teachers.

Scott said he was still not persuaded by the measure but would sign the bill all the same.

“I am glad, however, that the plan in this bill is not mandatory, which means it will be up to locally elected officials,” Scott said. “If counties don’t want to do this, they can simply say no.”

Source: REUTERS

UN Security Council calls for truce as air strikes batter Syria’s Ghouta

Suria

Rescuers in Syria’s eastern Ghouta said the bombing would not let up long enough for them to count the bodies during one of the bloodiest air assaults of the seven-year war, while the U.N. Security Council called for a 30-day humanitarian truce.

The vote at the United Nations came as warplanes pounded eastern Ghouta, the last rebel enclave near Syria’s capital, for a seventh straight day while residents holed up in basements.

The Security Council approved a resolution demanding a 30-day truce to allow aid deliveries and medical evacuations with the support of Syrian ally Russia after a flurry of last-minute negotiations.

Medical charities have decried attacks on a dozen hospitals but the Damascus government and Russia, its key ally, say they only target militants. They have said they seek to stop mortar attacks injuring dozens in the capital, and have accused insurgents in Ghouta of holding people as human shields.

There was no immediate comment from the Syrian military.

A surge of rocket fire, shelling and air strikes has killed more than 500 people since Sunday night, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. The dead included more than 120 children.

The Britain-based monitor said raids hit Douma, Zamalka and other towns there on Saturday, killing 31 people.

First responders searched for survivors after strikes on Kafr Batna, Douma and Harasta, the Civil Defence in eastern Ghouta said. The rescue service, which operates in rebel territory, said it had documented at least 350 deaths in four days earlier this week.

“Maybe there are many more,” said Siraj Mahmoud, a civil defence spokesman in the suburbs. “We weren’t able to count the martyrs yesterday because the warplanes are touring the skies.”

As the bombs rain down, some hitting emergency centres and vehicles, workers have struggled to pull people from the rubble, Mahmoud said. “But if we have to go out running on our legs and dig with our hands to rescue the people, we will still be here.”

A witness in Douma said he woke up in the early hours on Saturday to the sound of a squadron of jets bombing nearby. The streets have mostly remained empty.

The United Nations says nearly 400,000 people live in eastern Ghouta, a pocket of satellite towns and farms under government siege since 2013, without enough food or medicine.

The local opposition council said it was setting up emergency volunteer teams in several districts to reinforce shelters with sandbags and try to link them through tunnels.

“Every day we say God willing tomorrow will be better…Today, the main sight in the Ghouta is limbs, blood,” Mahmoud said. “There is no need to dig graves, we will be buried under our houses.”

CEASEFIRE VOTE

The U.N. Security Council is to vote on Saturday on a draft resolution which demands a 30-day ceasefire across Syria to allow aid access and medical evacuations.

The 15-member council postponed voting on the text, which Sweden and Kuwait drafted. The delay followed a flurry of last-minute talks after Russia, a veto-holding ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, proposed new amendments.

The truce does not cover militants from Islamic State, al-Qaeda, and the Nusra Front.

Several previous ceasefire attempts have quickly unravelled during the multi-sided conflict, which has killed hundreds of thousands and forced 11 million people out of their homes.

Syrian state media said Ghouta factions fired mortars at districts of Damascus on Saturday, including near a school. Insurgent shelling wounded six people, it said, and the army heavily pounded militant targets in the suburbs in response.

The Ghouta pocket has become the war’s latest flashpoint, after a string of rebel defeats and negotiated withdrawals. With Russian jets and Iran-backed militias, Assad’s military has restored state rule over the main cities across western Syria.

Insurgents in eastern Ghouta have vowed not to accept such a fate, ruling out the kind of evacuation that ended rebellion in Aleppo and Homs after bitter sieges.

Russia has blamed Nusra fighters, from al-Qaeda’s former Syria branch, for provoking the situation in the Ghouta. The two main Islamist factions there in turn accuse their enemies of using the presence of a few hundred jihadist fighters as a pretext for attacks.

Source: REUTERS

China closes 13,000 websites in three years

China has closed more than 13,000 websites since the beginning of 2015 for breaking the law or other rules and the vast majority of people support government efforts to clean up cyberspace, state news agency Xinhua said on Sunday.
The government has stepped up already tight controls over the internet since President Xi Jinping took power five years ago, in what critics say is an effort to restrict freedom of speech and prevent criticism of the ruling Communist Party.
The government says all countries regulate the internet, and its rules are aimed at ensuring national security and social stability and preventing the spread of pornography and violent content.
A report to the on-going session of the standing committee of China’s largely rubber stamp parliament said the authorities had targeted pornography and violence in their sweeps of websites, blogs and social media accounts, Xinhua said.
As well as the 13,000 websites shut down, almost 10 million accounts had also been closed by websites, it added. It did not give details but the accounts were likely on social media platforms.
“Internet security concerns the party’s long-term hold on power, the country’s long-term peace and stability, socio-economic development and the people’s personal interests,” Xinhua said.
More than 90 percent of people surveyed supported government efforts to manage the internet, with 63.5 percent of them believing that in recent years there has been an obvious reduction in harmful online content, it added.
“These moves have a powerful deterrent effect,” Wang Shengjun, vice chairman of parliament’s standing committee, told legislators, according to Xinhua.
Authorities including the Cyberspace Administration of China have summoned more than 2,200 websites operators for talks during the same period, he said.

Separately, Xinhua said that over the past five years, more than 10 million people who refused to register using their real names had internet or other telecoms accounts suspended.
China ushered in a tough cyber security law in June, following years of fierce debate around the controversial legislation that many foreign business groups fear will hit their ability to operate in the country.
China maintains a strict censorship regime, banning access to many foreign news outlets, search engines and social media including Google and Facebook.

SOURCE: REUTERS