Euro is a “knife in the ribs” of the French says Le Pen

Author: 
Reuters
Sun, 2017-04-02 18:52
ID: 
1491149014463231800

PARIS: French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen told a political rally on Sunday that the euro currency which she wants France to ditch was like a knife in the ribs of the French people.
The leader of the euroskeptic and anti-immigrant National Front (FN) also told the rally in the city of Bordeaux that the forthcoming election for president could herald a “change in civilization.”
Encouraged by the unexpected election of Donald Trump in the United States and by Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Le Pen hopes to profit from a similar populist momentum in France, though opinion polls suggest she will lose the May 7 run-off.
“We are at the mercy of a currency adapted to Germany and not to our economy. The euro is mostly a knife stuck in our ribs to make us go where others want us to go,” Le Pen said to loud cheers and applause.
Reiterating her anti-globalization and anti-immigration views, she declared: “We do not want France to be open to all commercial and human flows, without protection and borders.”
A government under Le Pen’s presidency would take France out of the euro zone and bring back a national currency, hold a referendum on its EU membership and slap taxes on imports and on companies hiring foreigners.
Le Pen says she would curb migration, expel all illegal migrants and restrict certain rights now available to all residents, including free education, to French citizens.
She hit out at her two main opponents in the French election, independent centrist Emmanuel Macron and conservative candidate Francois Fillon, saying they belonged to “the same system“
“The system is panicking because it sees people are waking up,” she said.
Opinion polls forecast Le Pen will do well in the April 23 first round of the presidential election only to lose the May 7 run-off to centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron.
But the high number of undecided voters means the outcome remains unpredictable and motivating people to go to the polling stations will be key for the leading candidates.

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Robbers blow up armored vehicle to steal cash cargo in South Africa

Author: 
STUART GRAHAM | AP
Sun, 2017-04-02 20:30
ID: 
1491142220132416000

JOHANNESBURG: South Africa police are hunting for a gang of armed robbers who blew up an armored cash-in-transit truck in busy traffic in Johannesburg, escaping with an undisclosed amount of money.
Police spokesman Lungelo Dlamini said Sunday that police recovered the two vehicles used in the heist and are hunting for the suspects but no arrests have been made.
The robbers, traveling in a BMW and a Mercedes-Benz, shot out the tires of the armored truck shortly before noon on Saturday as it was traveling toward Johannesburg’s international airport, according to police.
“The guards were forced out of the vehicle before the suspects blew their cash van up with explosives,” the police said in a statement. “The suspects took an undisclosed amount of money in cash boxes and one of the guard’s firearms. They fled from the scene in two vehicles.”
A video by a passerby shows a gridlock of traffic around the truck as cars turn away to escape the attack. The truck is hit by an explosion soon after.
Paramedics treated a motorist at the scene for minor injuries caused by flying debris that landed on a vehicle after the explosion, according to a statement from ER24, an emergency rescue service that responded to the incident.
Last month a shipment of cash was stolen from Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo International Airport. A gang disguised as policemen stole at least 1.8 million dollars in cash that was about to be loaded onto a South African Airways plane bound for London.
At least eight robbers, all of them wearing police uniforms, drove to the plane in an unmarked police van and two high powered vehicles and held up security guards as the money, in various currencies and packed in bags, was being loaded onto the airplane at around 7:45 p.m. on March 8.

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Serbia’s powerful PM favored to win presidential election

Author: 
DUSAN STOJANOVIC | AP
Sun, 2017-04-02 20:00
ID: 
1491142778642480400

BELGRADE, Serbia: Serbs voted Sunday in a presidential election that was a test of their leader’s authoritarian rule amid growing Russian influence in the Balkan region.
Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic, a former ultranationalist now a declared pro-European Union politician, is slated to win the presidency by a high margin against 10 opposition candidates, including a parody candidate who is mocking the country’s political establishment.
Vucic’s political clout could face a blow, however, if he does not sweep his opponents in the first round of voting.
Vucic needs to win by more than 50 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff election on April 16 that would put him in a much trickier position against a single opposition candidate.
Vucic’s main challengers include human-rights lawyer and former Ombudsman Sasa Jankovic; former Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic; and Vucic’s former mentor, Vojislav Seselj, a nationalist who has been tried for war crimes.
The opposition has accused Vucic of muzzling the media and intimidating voters ahead of the election. Vucic denies the allegations, saying only he can bring stability to a region scarred by the wars of the 1990s, which Vucic supported at the time.
About 30 percent of the electorate had turned out to vote six hours before the polls were to close, about the same as when Vucic’s right-wing party won a parliamentary vote in 2014. Opposition candidates were expected to benefit from a higher turnout.
“I really hope that with these elections, Serbia will carry on toward its further stability with full support of its government,” Vucic said as he cast his ballot. “I don’t know if I’ll win, but I truly hope that those who want to destabilize Serbia will not succeed.”
Jankovic, an independent candidate with no party affiliation, said Sunday he’s happy with his campaign, which has galvanized the pro-democratic movement in Serbia that has been upset with the country’s persistent corruption and growing autocracy.
“In Serbia, a new, honest political movement has been created, and it’s the reason why we should be optimistic,” Jankovic said after he voted.
The prime minister since 2014, Vucic is expected to use his win to appoint a figurehead successor and transform the presidency from a ceremonial office into a more muscular role — and rule unchallenged like Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has endorsed him.
Contrary to his claims that he wants to lead Serbia into the EU, Vucic has been pushing for deeper ties with longtime ally Russia.
Right before the vote, Vucic even visited Putin, who reportedly promised his signature on the delivery of fighter planes, battle tanks and armored vehicles to Serbia. The move triggered fears of an arms race in the western Balkans, which Russia considers its sphere of influence.
One of the biggest surprises of the election campaign has been Luka Maksimovic, a media student who is running as a parody politician, decked out in a white suit, oversized jewelry and a man-bun.
As a satirical candidate, Maksimovic has mocked corruption in Serbian politics by promising to steal if he is elected. His supporters are mostly young voters alienated by Serbia’s decades-long crisis and economic decline.
Maksimovic’ s widely viewed videos on social media networks portray him doing pushups, sucking a raw egg and riding a white horse surrounded by mock bodyguards.
“Let the best candidate win! And definitely, I’m the best,” Maksimovic said after he voted.
___
Associated Press writers Amer Cohadzic, Ivana Bzganovic and Jovana Gec contributed.

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4-day baby rescued in the Mediterranean by humanitarian ship

Author: 
Reuters
Sun, 2017-04-02 20:05
ID: 
1491140138402195100

ABOARD THE GOLFO AZZURRO/ROME: A four day-old baby was one of over 480 migrants rescued by humanitarian ships on Saturday during search and rescue operations in the central Mediterranean Sea.
The baby was traveling on one of two rubber boats carrying over 200 migrants from North and Central Africa, Sri Lanka and Yemen and seen drifting some 22 nautical miles north of the Libyan town of Sabratha, the most frequently used departure point currently used by people smugglers in Libya.
The operation was carried out by Spanish NGO Proactiva Open arms and lasted three hours. Migrants were transferred into the former fishing trawler Golfo Azzurro, expected to reach the Sicilian port town of Augusta on Sunday afternoon.
The other rescued migrants, on board two other rubber boats, were rescued by staff on the supply vessel Vos Prudence, a spokesperson for the Coast Guard told Reuters.
Those migrants were due to reach Italy on Monday, but the destination is still unknown, the Coast Guard added.
“A week ago, I collected a dead body from the Mediterranean for the first time, and (Saturday) I carried a new life,” Daniel Calvelo, the 26 year-old who transferred the baby from the raft into the rescue boat, told Reuters.
The baby’s mother, a 29-year old Nigerian woman, and her husband, a 34-year old worker from Ghana, were also rescued. They had lived in Libya for over two years and decided to leave for Europe after they had the baby.
“We want to go to France or Germany, there is a future for our family there,” Richard Ohene, the father, told Reuters.
Italy has become the main arrival point in Europe for people fleeing persecution and poverty in Africa, most of them crossing the Mediterranean from lawless Libya in search of a better life.
Nearly 600 migrants have died so far this year trying to reach Italy from North Africa, the International Migration Organization (IOM) estimates. Some 4,600 people are thought to have died last year.
In all, 181,000 migrants reached Italy in 2016, about half of the total who arrived in the European Union by sea. (Reporting by Yannis Behrakis; Additional reporting)

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Sri Lanka navy arrests 6 Indian drug smugglers

Author: 
Agence France Presse
Sun, 2017-04-02 21:57
ID: 
1491113536870742600

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s navy Sunday arrested six Indians trying to smuggle 13.5 kilograms (29.7 pounds) of heroin across the narrow strip of sea dividing the two countries, a spokesman said.
The suspects were disguised as fishermen, navy spokesman Chaminda Walakuluge said.
“Drug smugglers operate disguised as fishermen,” Walakuluge told AFP. “We are on alert for drugs coming in.”
He said the navy has seized a total of 130 kilos (286 pounds) of heroin and cocaine and 2,140 kilos (4,708 pounds) of cannabis in the past year and arrested a total of 19 Indians during the same period.
In 2014, Sri Lanka sentenced five Indian fishermen to death for drug smuggling, but they were later released into Indian custody.
The killing of an Indian fisherman last month along the maritime boundary led to widespread protests in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu.
India and Sri Lanka are separated by the narrow Palk Strait, which is a rich fishing ground.

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No question Russia meddled in election, says US envoy to UN

Author: 
Associated Press
Sun, 2017-04-02 19:00
ID: 
1491138676032082600

WASHINGTON: The US ambassador to the United Nations says there’s no question Russia was involved in the US presidential election and that the actions of the Kremlin will be addressed after the investigations are completed.
“We don’t want any country involved in our elections, ever,” Nikki Haley said in an interview aired Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied his country meddled in the contest between Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton. While the Trump White House rejects any suggestion that Trump or his staff had connections to Russia, Trump himself has said he believes Russian operatives hacked Democratic Party e-mails but that any Russian involvement in the election didn’t affect the outcome.
US intelligence agencies report that Russia tried to help Trump’s campaign effort. The FBI as well as congressional committees are investigating whether the Russian government coordinated with Trump associates during the campaign.
Trump as president persuaded Haley to leave the governorship of South Carolina to represent the US at the United Nations. In the interview with ABC, she said Trump hasn’t told her not to criticize Russia and that she was “beating up on Russia” over issues such as its actions in Crimea and its dispute with Ukraine.
“There’s no love or anything going on with Russia right now,” she said. “They get that we’re getting our strength back, that we’re getting our voice back and that we’re starting to lead again, and, honestly, at the United Nations, that’s the No. 1 comment I get is that they’re just so happy to see the United States lead again.”
Haley said the US is also pressuring China to take a firmer stand regarding North Korea’s nuclear program. China provides diplomatic and economic support to its neighbor but claims that its influence over Kim Jong Un’s government is limited.
UN resolutions have failed so far to deter North Korea from conducting nuclear and missile tests. Last year the North conducted two nuclear tests and two dozen tests of ballistic missiles.
The US would “no longer take the excuses from China that they’re concerned, too,” Haley said. “They need to show us how concerned they are. They need to put pressure on North Korea. The only country that can stop North Korea is China, and they know that.”
Asked what the US would do if China doesn’t cooperate, Haley said: “China has to cooperate. This is now down to, do we want to continue to see these ballistic missile attacks from North Korea or does China want to do something about it?“
She added: “At some point, we need to see definitive actions by China condemning North Korea and not just calling them out for it.”

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Philippines: President Duterte to visit Middle East

President Duterte plans to visit three Middle East countries during the Holy Week in his bid to boost relations and secure better working conditions for Filipino workers. He has yet to set a date for his visits to Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain, but revealed he has been reviewing subjects that need to be tackled with the leaders and officials of the three nations. Duterte has frequently made reference in his speeches to Filipinos working in the Middle East, as their families were usually victims of the ill effects of illegal drugs. Duterte announced his plan to visit the Middle East in remarks marking the end of Women’s Month at Malacañang last Friday. He said that while the presidency had […]