Spanish police have arrested a Moroccan man in Barcelona with suspected links to Islamic State who they believe was planning a militant attack.
The Guardia Civil force said it had arrested the man, described as deeply radicalised, after a joint investigation with security forces in Morocco and the United States.
“The suspect intended to carry out a terrorist act, the details of which are unknown.
“His links to Islamic State date back at least four years, though he had not displayed any outward signs of radicalisation until recently.
“After Spain imposed a coronavirus lockdown on March 14, his interest in the jihadist movement increased,” police said in a statement on Friday.
The police added that since then, the suspect made public pledges of allegiance to Islamic State and declared his hatred of the West on social media.
He was also said to have made several furtive trips around the city, during which police believe he was scouting out potential targets for an attack.
Edited By: Halima Sheji/Salif Atojoko (NAN)
Israel to discuss with U.S. reported Sinai peacekeeper cutback plan – Israeli minister
Jerusalem, May 8, 2020 Israel on Friday said it would discuss with its closest ally, the United States, a newspaper report that the U.S.-led peacekeeping force in the Egyptian Sinai may be scaled back, calling its almost four-decade-old presence “important”.
“U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper is pushing to pull out some American troops from the international peacekeeping force it heads in the Sinai Peninsula,’’ the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday, citing current and former U.S. officials.
The reduction would come as Egypt battles an Islamist insurgency in the desert peninsula, where the U.S.-led Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) has been since the early 1980s, following Egypt’s peace deal with Israel in 1979.
Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz, when asked to comment on the report in an interview with Tel Aviv radio station 102 FM, said the international force in Sinai is important, and the American participation in it is important.
“Certainly, the issue will be raised between us and the Americans,” Steinitz, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s security cabinet, said.
However, the U.S. and Egyptian embassies in Israel did not immediately respond to requests for comment, nor did the MFO’s office in Israel.
According to its website, the MFO has 1,156 military personnel from the U.S. and 12 other countries covering an area of over 10,000 square kilometres in the Sinai.
Report says some 454 of the personnel are American.
According to data from its website, the size of the force has decreased by over 30 per cent since 2015.
During that time, Israel has agreed to an easing in demilitarisation in the Sinai so that Egypt can carry out anti-insurgency sweeps, typically in the northern end of the peninsula where small-scale attacks are common.
Cairo sees the MFO as part of a relationship with Israel that, while unpopular with many Egyptians, has brought it billions of dollars in U.S. defence aid, sweetening the foreign-enforced demilitarisation of their sovereign Sinai territory.
For the Israelis, the MFO offers strategic reassurance, recalling that in 2013 Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi toppled an elected Islamist government hostile to its neighbour.
Edited By: Abiodun Oluleye/Muhammad Suleiman Tola (NAN)
Rising anti-globalization sentiments pose a serious challenge in the wake of a global crisis like the COVID-19 outbreak and there needs to be strong cooperation between China and the United States, an economic expert has said in Singapore.
Gu Qingyang, an associate professor of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore, told reporters on Thursday that the global economy is facing a serious challenge.
The global spread of the coronavirus has accelerated anti-globalization sentiments, especially in the United States, which may lead to a global recession, he warned.
Gu said that the rise of anti-globalization has surfaced over the years, especially after the 2008 global financial crisis, Brexit and rising protectionism shown by the United States. With the global economic fall-out caused by COVID-19, it has provided the "ammunition" to fuel another wave of anti-globalization.
Gu noted that while globalization has contributed significantly to global economic growth and technological process, it is also a double-edged sword. It can bring many problems, such as an uneven distribution of growth outcomes, cross-border crime, terrorism, cultural conflicts and the spread of infectious diseases.
But these issues need to be addressed through "appropriate global governance and global cooperation," he said.
In a country's economy, one cannot rely on the market system to allocate resources efficiently but on governance as well.
Similarly, with globalization, the formation of a global resource trading system, can enhance the goal of economic efficiency but it does not automatically guarantee equitable distribution of increased welfare.
An effective system of global governance is hence a necessary condition for the functioning of globalization.
Gu cited how coronavirus pandemic outbreak took place in an era of globalization, where people, information and resources flow through a market-oriented global system.
However, when a major infectious disease occurs and its enormous negative externality causes the market-oriented global trading system fail, there is an "urgent need" for a strong international governance body to step in, said Gu.
Unfortunately, effective global leadership and global collective action has not emerged from this crisis, he added.
For instance, The World Health Organization, as the coordinating body for global public health, has not had the support of some of the major powers to deal with such a major global public health crisis, said Gu.
Gu called the spread of this epidemic as a crisis of global governance, not a crisis of globalization" and that the aftermath of this lack of global governance has been "disastrous."
In fact, globalization has played a crucial role in the fight against the epidemic, said Gu.
The world has provided China with scarce medical supplies. Likewise, when the United States and Europe situation worsened, the international community, led by China, provided much support as well.
This process of mutual support therefore illustrates the importance of global production and supply chain systems in supporting global disasters, and in allowing for international aid to reach disaster areas quickly, said Gu.
Some might think that a shortage for medical emergency supplies like masks due to more demand is a problem caused by the global supply chain and that the future solution is to localize medical supplies, Gu said.
In times of crisis, however, the reality is that the principle of efficiency or timely supply of critical goods cannot be guaranteed.
"Because the probability of such rare public health emergencies occurring frequently is very small, we can't know in advance which country the crisis will occur," he said.
While political interference may affect globalization in the short term, globalization will not end, as long as enterprises seek to maximise profits, and consumers pursue their interests.
Hence, as globalization is inevitable, countries should make strengthening global governance their top priority, because globalization without global governance is "fragile and even dangerous," said Gu.
The world has undergone fundamental changes, with the growth of developing countries which still lack a voice on global governance.
As the power of the U.S. continues to wane, it cannot sustain its unipolar hegemony, and is further weakened by Trump administration's decision to pull out in many areas of global governance, said Gu.
The most important need now is for the world to form a multi-polar system of governance as soon as possible, he said.
This can be done through a reform of the existing governance system, as well as establishing new institutions. But either way, multilateralism and the participation of developing countries should be important elements, said Gu.
For this to happen, cooperation between the two major powers of China and the United States is essential to solve many of the existential crisis facing the world.
"Now is the best time for U.S.-China cooperation, and any attempt to decouple China and the United States cannot stand the test of a global crisis," said Gu.
Globalization should also not be confined to economic aspect, but include broader goals such as global health and safety, global environmental protection and global human development, said Gu.
Melinda Gates on Thursday gave a mark of "D-minus" for the lack of national coordination when asked to grade the U.S. administration's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We need leadership at the national level. We lost two months almost now in terms of our national response," Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said in an interview with U.S. news outlet Politico.
"In terms of our national response, we have governors who are stepping up. Luckily. But now we have fifty different homegrown state solutions instead of a national response," Gates was quoted as saying.
"If we were doing the things that the exemplar countries are doing, like Germany, we would be testing, first, health care workers and then the most vulnerable, and you'd be doing contact tracing," she said.
"And we would be able to start thinking about slowly reopening places in society in safe and healthy ways. But we have a lack of a coordinated effort. That's just the truth, across the United States," she added.
"We should be putting far more money into testing and tracing ... to where we can quarantine in the United States," she noted.
Pointing to a huge need at the global level "for a vaccine, for medicines, for testing," Gates said "more is needed for the international response, which the U.S. really has been lacking in its response completely on the international front."
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has provided funding to support endeavors combating COVID-19 globally.
It has been cooperating with national governments and international organizations such as the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children's Fund in the battle against the virus.
France would start to ease restrictions on movement from next Monday through "a very gradual process" which would stretch over several weeks at least to avoid a resurgence of COVID-19, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe confirmed on Thursday.
"Following the data of the past few days, the gradual lifting of the confinement can be started on May 11. This is a new step in the fight against the epidemic," Philippe announced.
"We must be very vigilant because an eventual resurgence of the virus will be very difficult for our country. That's why we opted for a progressive process," he stressed.
At a press conference alongside ministers of economy, health, transport, labor, interior affairs and education, Philippe added that the exit from the lockdown would be differentiated and vary among regions.
"The good news is that we are able to validate deconfinement throughout the metropolitan territory. The less good news is that certain departments (in the country) have worse results than expected," he said, adding that "the country is cut in two with the virus circulating more quickly in some regions."
On an updated color-coded map which classifies regions based on the virus spread and pressure on hospitals, 32 administrative departments are in red, including the northeastern region, and Ile-de-France, also known as Paris Region in the north-central part of France.
"In the Paris Region, the infection rate is falling slowly, but remains quite high, higher than we expected. That is why in these territories we will need to be extra vigilant," said the prime minister.
In the zones with risks, people will be allowed to move freely but parks, gardens and secondary schools will remain shut. Meanwhile, cafes, restaurants and secondary schools may reopen from early June in "green" regions.
In the overseas territory of Mayotte, the government prolonged the lockdown as "infections are rising fast."
Next week, about one million children and 130,000 teachers will return to school. Some 400,000 companies representing 875,000 jobs will resume activity. Libraries, small museums may reopen while access to beaches could be allowed at the request of mayors.
Under the new rules, France maintains restrictions on public gatherings of over 10 people and keeps borders closed until further notice. Mask-wearing will be mandatory on public transport, while religious ceremonies will be permitted from June 1 if social distancing rules are respected.
"We are constantly looking for the right balance between the essential resumption of family, economic, cultural and social life and the necessary respect for all the precautionary measures to prevent the epidemic from starting again and protect the French people," Philippe said.
The prime minister noted that a national lockdown could be re-imposed if the pace of the virus circulation accelerates again.
"In three weeks, at the end of May, we will know exactly where we are. If the number of infections stay low, we can move to a new phase. But, if they don't change, if they increase, we'll have to consider future confinement measure," he added.
As of Wednesday, France's death toll from the novel coronavirus reached 25,809, the fifth highest toll in the world behind the United States, Britain, Italy and Spain.
The number of patients in hospitals dropped by 792 to 23,983. The same downward trend was reported in intensive care units where 3,147 patients need life support, down by 283 for the 29th day in a row.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump discussed issues related to the coronavirus pandemic and exchanged congratulations on the 75th anniversary of the World War II victory during a telephone conversation on Thursday, the Kremlin said in a statement.
"In discussing the coronavirus situation, a positive assessment was given to bilateral cooperation. It was agreed to further promote coordination in this direction," it said.
"In particular, the United States offered to send Russia medical equipment," it added.
The two leaders exchanged congratulations on the 75th anniversary of the World War II victory, stressing the significance of the alliance at that time, according to the Kremlin.
Putin and Trump agreed that the two countries can make progress on many current issues if they follow this tradition, including ensuring the strategic stability, combating terrorism, resolving regional conflicts and countering epidemics, the Kremlin said.
The two leaders also touched upon other pressing issues on the international agenda and reaffirmed the importance of maintaining bilateral dialogue and contacts in various fields, it added.
Florian Schneider, co-founder of pioneering German electronic band Kraftwerk, which influenced generations of pop and dance musicians with mesmerising tracks such as “Autobahn”, has died of cancer aged 73, longtime bandmate Ralf Huetter said.
Kraftwerk have been a major influence for musicians ranging from Detroit techno star Juan Atkins to pop act the Pet Shop Boys and David Bowie, and is widely seen as among the first to popularise electronic music, with eventual commercial success.
“Kraftwerk co-founder and electric pioneer Ralf Huetter has sent us the very sad news that his friend and companion over many decades Florian Schneider has passed away from a short cancer disease just a few days after his 73rd birthday,” read a statement relayed by Kraftwerk’s publisher Warner Music.
Schneider and Huetter founded Kraftwerk in 1970 after meeting at a music academy in Duesseldorf, the German industrial city that they made their base, and they rapidly dispensed entirely with acoustic instruments.
The son of prominent modern architect Paul Schneider-Esleben, Schneider started out playing the flute, later customising it with original electronic effects and applying the same techniques to violins and electric guitars.
Subsequent artists like the Pet Shop Boys credit Kraftwerk’s brand of rhythmic, minimalist noise, often generated on home-made electronic instruments at “Kling-Klang”, their studio-cum-laboratory in Duesseldorf, with transforming the sound of popular music, starting out less than a year after the landmark Woodstock rock festival in the United States.
Autobahn (1974) was a surprise international hit and the band’s most memorable, a tone poem evoking the sonic monotony of cruising down Germany’s sleek motorways with the sounds of doppler-shifted car horns and badly-tuned radios.
Autobahn, the 22-minute title track of Kraftwerk’s fourth studio album, influenced everyone from Atkins, who called the band his “gods”, to glam rock icon Bowie, who named one of his tracks after Schneider.
Kraftwerk’s “The Robots” and “Computer Love” singles hymned a coming digital age in the early 1980s, whereas the 1977 album Trans Europe Express evoked the thrill of moving freely through a densely populated, industrialised continent.
While Kraftwerk still performs, Schneider dropped out after 2006, his position in the band’s famously ethereal, automaton-like stage line-up taken by a member of the band’s crew.
Though greatly sought after because of his place in musical history, Schneider was an elusive figure.
He was given a media arts professorship at an arts academy in Stuttgart in 1998 but the academy told Munich’s Sueddeutsche Zeitung daily on Wednesday that he never arrived to take up his chair.
Schneider had one more outing outside Kraftwerk, teaming up with activists in 2015 to release an electronic ode to the oceans as part of a campaign to stop plastic pollution.
In 2014 he and Huetter were awarded a Lifetime Achievement Grammy for their ground-breaking oeuvre with Kraftwerk.
Edited By: Emmanuel Okara/Ali Baba-Inuwa (NAN)
Blaming China for the COVID-19 pandemic with reckless lies "could push the world to conflict," a U.S. scholar warned Wednesday.
In an opinion article published by CNN, professor Jeffrey D. Sachs, director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University, blasted the "big lie" of the U.S. government that "China is the cause of America's problems."
The U.S. right-wing forces even claimed that the new coronavirus pandemic was the result of an accidental release from a Chinese laboratory and that China's "cover up" blocked an effective global response.
However, such claims have been dismissed by scientists and experts around the world. According to CNN, even U.S. President Donald Trump's top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci and the still-secret findings of the Five Eyes intelligence agencies pour cold water on this claim.
Calling such charges "reckless and dangerous," Sachs warned that they "could push the world to conflict just as the Bush Administration's lies about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq pushed the U.S. into war in 2003."
Despite scientific findings and analyses which indicated a natural origin of the virus, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo asserted on Sunday "There is a significant amount of evidence that this came from that laboratory in Wuhan."
Screenshot shows that U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo joins an interview with ABC's "This Week," in which he claims that "There is a significant amount of evidence that this came from that laboratory in Wuhan."
Screenshot shows that U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo joins an interview with ABC's "This Week," in which he claims that "There is a significant amount of evidence that this came from that laboratory in Wuhan."
Sachs wrote that the situation reminded the country "the end of McCarthy era," recalling that Senator Joseph McCarthy used "lies and innuendos to scare Americans into submission."
"Aside from the claim of a laboratory release, the U.S. administration and the right-wing media also charge that China covered up the outbreak more generally for weeks," Sachs wrote.
He recalled that Wuhan health officials notified the World Health Organization office in China on Dec. 31, 2019, only a few days after the Wuhan Center for Disease Control and Prevention in central China's Hubei Province detected cases of pneumonia of unknown cause. The China health agency called the U.S. on Jan. 3, 2020. The genome was fully sequenced and published online on Jan. 12, and Wuhan was put under a lockdown on Jan. 23.
"Given the inevitable early confusion about a new disease that had never before been seen, that is a rapid timeline," he said, adding "The right-wing charges against China made no sense."
"The bottom line on the epidemic and Trump's dismal failure," according to the professor, is that as of Jan. 30, when the WHO declared a global public health emergency, there was no COVID-19 death in the United States.
"Now there are more than 71,000 U.S. deaths," he said. "There was plenty of warning." ■
The United States says its coronavirus (COVID-19) emergency assistance to Nigeria has risen to 30 million dollars (N11.2 billion).
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that this represents an additional 23 million dollars (N8.6 billion) COVID-19 aid from the U.S. to Nigeria.
On March 27, the U.S. through its Department of State announced a seven-million-dollar (N2.6 billion), “emergency health and humanitarian assistance” to boost the fight against the disease in Nigeria.
According to the department, the current package includes 26 million dollars (N9.7 billion) to fund “risk communication, water and sanitation activities, infection prevention, and coordination”.
It says the balance of four million dollars (N1.5 billion) covers humanitarian assistance for vulnerable people in the country.
“This assistance joins more than 8.1 billion dollars (N3 trillion) in total assistance for Nigeria over the past 20 years, including more than 5.2 billion dollars (N1.9 billion) in U.S. health assistance,” it said.
As of Tuesday, Nigeria had 2,950 confirmed cases of the disease and 98 deaths, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
Meanwhile, the U.S. on Wednesday announced an additional 130 million dollars (N48 billion) in global health and humanitarian assistance to combat the pandemic.
In a statement, the Secretary of State Mr Michael Pompeo, said the total package now stood at 900 million dollars (N338 billion) to no fewer than 120 countries.
“Congress has provided 2.4 billion dollars (N902 billion) in total,” Pompeo told newsmen later at a news briefing in Washington.
“This new tranche of funding provides more than 40 million dollars (N15 billion) in additional funds for countries in the Indo-Pacific, prioritising places like India and Bangladesh and Indonesia.
“We will also provide more than 20 million dollars (N7.5 billion) in global health assistance to Africa, with major investments in South Africa as well as in South Sudan.
“We have allocated 11 million dollars (N4 billion) in contributions to the IAEA to support 83 member states in their fight,” he said.
Edited By: Bola Akingbehin (NAN) /Sadiya Hamza
Turkey plans to host the Champions League final in late August, the head of its football federation said on Wednesday.
Turkey will also resume domestic soccer leagues without fans on June 12 after a three-month suspension caused by the coronavirus outbreak.
Two months ago European soccer’s governing body UEFA had indefinitely postponed the Champions League showpiece, which had been scheduled to be played in Istanbul on May 30.
Turkish Football Federation (TFF) chairman Nihat Ozdemir said Europe’s elite club final was being planned for the end of August, but that details on the format and timing would be finalised after talks with health officials and UEFA.
“God willing, we will complete our own leagues at the end of July.
“We will hand over our cups on the pitch and then we will cap the season off by hosting the UEFA Champions League final in August,” Ozdemir told a televised news conference
He said Turkish soccer leagues, including the top tier Super League, would resume from June 12 without spectators and finish on July 26.
The Super League schedule will involve 7 weekend games and 1 weekday match, he said.
Ozdemir added that teams will play matches in their own cities and stadiums, despite concerns this may risk a renewed surge of coronavirus cases in some areas.
Istanbul, the epicentre of the outbreak in Turkey, hosts the three biggest Turkish clubs and Basaksehir.
Earlier this week, Turkey’s top soccer clubs resumed limited training sessions in accordance with measures set out by the TFF last week.
Almost two months after reporting its first case, Turkey has said the outbreak has reached a plateau.
On Monday, it began to ease some measures to restart the economy, as the daily number of deaths and new cases continued a downward trajectory.
Turkey has reported 3,520 deaths from the coronavirus since the outbreak began on March 11.
It has nearly 130,000 confirmed cases, the highest total outside Western Europe, the United States, and Russia.
Edited By: Felix Ajide (NAN)