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Macron says Australian PM lied to him over subs spat



France’s President Emmanuel Macron gestures as he addresses media at a press conference in Rome on October 31, 2021, during the G20 Summit

French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday said Australia’s prime minister outright lied to him over a cancelled submarine deal, deepening an already fraught diplomatic crisis.

Morrison on Sunday defended his behaviour, refuting Macron’s view and denying that he lied to the French leader at a private meeting in June.

Originally published as Macron says Australian PM lied to him over subs spat




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France footballer Hernandez avoids jail as Madrid court accepts appeal



Bayern Munich defender Lucas Hernandez will not go to a Spanish jail for violating a restraining order in 2017 after a Madrid court on Wednesday accepted an appeal by the French player. 

The court said Wednesday it had accepted Hernandez’s appeal based on his current family situation and the low probability that he would commit a crime again.

Originally published as France footballer Hernandez avoids jail as Madrid court accepts appeal




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DNA confirms man is Sitting Bull’s great-grandson



Ernie LaPointe, pictured, believes that Sitting Bull’sones currently lie at a site in Mobridge, South Dakota, in a place that has no significant connection to Sitting Bull and the culture he represented

A man’s claim to be the great-grandson of Sitting Bull has been confirmed using DNA taken from the Native American leader’s scalp lock — billed as the first time genetic evidence has corroborated a family relationship between a historic figure and a living descendant.

The same methods can now be deployed for investigating other historical figures, from outlaw Jesse James to the Russian tsar’s family, if old DNA is available.

Originally published as DNA confirms man is Sitting Bull’s great-grandson




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Criminal charges against Alec Baldwin not ruled out: DA



US actor Alec Baldwin has said he is cooperating with police after he fatally shot cinematographer Halyna Hutchins in an on-set tragedy

Criminal charges against actor Alec Baldwin, who shot dead a cinematographer and wounded the director on the set of his latest movie, have not been ruled out, the local district attorney said Wednesday.

Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was shot in the torso.

Originally published as Criminal charges against Alec Baldwin not ruled out: DA




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Thailand prepares to welcome back tourists after devastating shutdown



Bangkok’s hotels, street food carts and tuk-tuks are preparing to welcome back tourists as Thailand gears up to re-open on November 1 to fully vaccinated visitors.

Hotels, street food carts and tuk-tuks are gearing up for the return of tourists to Bangkok as Thailand prepares to re-open on November 1 to fully vaccinated visitors after 18 months of Covid travel curbs.

From November 1, fully vaccinated visitors travelling from more than 40 “low-risk” countries will be allowed to enter with a negative Covid result, retesting again upon arrival.

Originally published as Thailand prepares to welcome back tourists after devastating shutdown




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Israel gives final OK to 1,800 West Bank settler homes



Map of the West Bank locating Israeli settlements in which the Israeli government has announced the construction of new homes.

Israel on Wednesday advanced plans for building more than 3,000 settler homes in the occupied West Bank, a move condemned by the Palestinians that came a day after the US forcefully criticised such construction.

While moving forward the plans for Israeli settler homes, the Civil Administration is also scheduled on Sunday to advance plans for the construction of 1,301 residences for Palestinians in Israeli-controlled parts of the West Bank.

Originally published as Israel gives final OK to 1,800 West Bank settler homes




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US says Assange will not face supermax jail in renewed extradition bid



Assange’s partner Stella Moris joined protesters demanding his immediate release from a high-security jail in London

The United States sought to assure a British court Wednesday that Julian Assange would not be held at a federal supermax prison, as it appealed a decision to block his extradition on the grounds he is a serious suicide threat. 

The WikiLeaks founder faces espionage charges and up to 175 years in jail if he is sent to the United States and convicted.  

The initial judgment was partly based on concerns Assange was likely to be held in isolation in the US’s only federal so-called supermax prison, the ADX Florence jail in Colorado. 

He also said Assange “will receive any such clinical and psychological treatment as is recommended” and that he will eventually be eligible to apply for a prisoner transfer to his native Australia.

However, Assange’s team responded in legal filings that the assurances did not rule out altogether the chance of him being detained at the facility, at a “comparable” federal prison or a state-level supermax jail.

– ‘End this nightmare’ –

“I’m very concerned for Julian’s health,” Moris told reporters, after visiting Assange in the prison on Saturday. 

One demonstrator dressed in black and a funereal veil held a banner reading “RIP British Justice”. Another, 20-year-old Ruby Allen, said Assange was an innocent defender of “press freedom”. 

– Wrangling ahead –

He has been indicted for violating the US espionage act and for hacking, based on the alleged aid he gave former military intelligence officer Chelsea Manning in obtaining the documents from secure computer systems.

The US government has said the judge who made the ruling in January, Vanessa Baraitser, “didn’t appreciate the weight” of expert evidence that said Assange was not at risk of suicide.

But the US government’s lawyers have argued Baraitser was “misled” in evidence from Assange’s psychiatric expert Michael Kopelman, who they claim concealed things such as that his client had fathered children with Moris while holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

Whatever the High Court decides, further lengthy legal wrangling looms.

Whoever loses can also ask for permission for a further, final appeal to the UK’s Supreme Court.

bur-jit/jwp/jj/jv

Originally published as US says Assange will not face supermax jail in renewed extradition bid




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Ethiopia launches air strike on rebel ‘training centre’: govt



Ethiopia’s military on Tuesday launched another air strike in war-torn Tigray, hitting what a government official called a rebel training facility just outside the regional capital Mekele. 

Tigray was pounded by near-daily aerial bombardments last week in a sign the military was stepping up its use of air power in the year-long war against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). 

The latest strike was in Quiha, a town five kilometres (three miles) east of Mekele, which the TPLF recaptured from government forces in June and has held ever since. 

“(A) large number of the group’s illegally recruited military personnel were taking military trainings at this center.” 

“So far, the information we have is that there was no casualties from the airstrike,” the network reported.

Most were in and around Mekele. But on Sunday the military confirmed strikes further afield in Adwa to the north of the capital, and another along the ‘western front’ of the war at Mai Tsebri.

The TPLF said the strikes were evidence of the government’s disregard for civilian lives. 

The escalation in aerial assaults coincides with ramped-up fighting in Amhara region, south of Tigray. 

A strike Friday on Mekele forced a UN flight carrying 11 humanitarian personnel to turn back to the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, and the UN subsequently announced it was suspending its twice-weekly flights to the region.

The UN said last week that fuel shortages had forced some relief groups to suspend food distribution in a region where 5.2 million need aid.

AFP has documented starvation deaths in multiple parts of Tigray, based on internal documents from aid groups active there. 

The 2019 Nobel Peace laureate said the move came in response to TPLF attacks on army camps and promised a swift victory, but by late June the rebels had regrouped and retaken most of the region, including Mekele. 

Originally published as Ethiopia launches air strike on rebel ‘training centre’: govt




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As US debt limit looms again, calls intensify for reform



A sign at bus stop shows the amount of the US national debt in Washington on October 25, 2021

The US government is once again nearing the limit on how much debt it can take on, a familiar deadline that will force the country’s political elite into high-stakes negotiations over averting a default.

“The problem with the debt ceiling is that it does nothing to address the problem of government debt and only serves as a political tool for political parties,” said Brendan Boyle, one of the bill’s sponsors.

Originally published as As US debt limit looms again, calls intensify for reform




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‘Facebook Papers’ explode ahead of platform’s earnings report



Facebook was hit Monday by scathing reports from at least a dozen US news outlets based on internal documents, just hours before the company was to release its earnings report.

The company was due to release its quarterly earnings on Monday, which have boomed during the pandemic period when much of the world used online tools while sheltering at home against the virus.

Originally published as ‘Facebook Papers’ explode ahead of platform’s earnings report




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