News in Brief
News ID: 80059
Date: 29 June 2020 - 21:52
PARIS (AP) — A Nigerian commission has called for the cancellation of an auction Monday of sacred Nigerian statues in Paris, which it alleges were stolen. Christie’s auction house has defended the sale, saying the artworks were legitimately acquired and the sale will go ahead. French courts have consistently ruled in favor of auction houses in recent years whose sales of sacred objects, such as Hopi tribal masks, were contested by rights groups and representatives of the tribes. A Princeton scholar, professor Chika Okeke-Agulu, alongside Nigeria’s National Commission for Museums and Monuments, raised alarm earlier this month that the objects were looted during the Biafran war in the late 1960′s. Christie’s wrote earlier this month to the Nigerian commission, saying the sale would go ahead. Okeke-Agulu, who is a member of the Igbo tribe, said the objects were taken through "an act of violence” from his home state of Anambra and that they should not be sold. An online petition with over 2,000 signatures is demanding that the auction be halted.
LONDON (AFP) -- The British newspaper group that owns The Times and the Sunday Times on Monday launched a news and current affairs radio station, aiming to position itself as a rival to the BBC. Times Radio went live on digital radio and online at 0500 GMT and had Prime Minister Boris Johnson as its first big-name guest. The new station said it aims to appeal to listeners who may have been turned off by what it called the "febrile tone of political debate” on other radio networks. Instead of "unnecessarily adversarial interviews” and presenter interruptions, it wants to focus on "informed expertise”, The Times said in an article to announce the launch. Times Radio is a partnership between The Times, the Sunday Times weekly and its owners’ News UK’s radio division, Wireless, which also owns the Talksport and Talkradio networks.
GUWAHATI, India (Reuters) -- Heavy flooding triggered by monsoon rains has forced more than a million people to flee their homes in the northeast Indian state of Assam, authorities said on Monday, warning that the crisis was becoming more critical by the hour. The Brahmaputra River, one of the largest rivers in the world which flows from Tibet into India and then into Bangladesh, burst its banks in Assam over the weekend, inundating more than 2,000 villages, and it was still raining on Monday. "Two people have died in separate incidents of drowning in the past 24 hours and more than one million people have been affected, with the flood situation turning critical by the hour,” a state government flood bulletin said. Torrential rain hit at least 23 of Assam’s 33 districts and the federal water resources body said water levels in the Brahmaputra were expected to rise, with more rain forecast over the next three days.
SYDNEY (Reuters) -- Australia’s second most populous state said on Monday it is considering reimposing social distancing restrictions after the country reported its biggest one-day rise in new coronavirus infections in more than two months. While many states and territories have yet to report their latest numbers, Victoria said it has detected 75 cases in the past 24 hours - enough to make it Australia’s biggest daily outbreak since April 11. The growing figures have stoked fears of a second wave in Australia after several weeks of fewer than 20 new cases a day and come as the global death toll from the virus tops half a million people.
WARSAW (AFP) -- Conservative incumbent Andrzej Duda has secured pole position in Poland’s presidential election and will face Warsaw’s liberal mayor in the run-off next month, official results showed Monday. Duda, who is backed by the governing Law and Justice (PiS) party, got 43.7 percent of the ballot with over 99 percent of polling stations counted, according to the national election commission. Runner-up Rafal Trzaskowski had 30.3 percent, taking the Civic Platform (PO) party member into round two of the election on July 12. Independent candidate Rafal Holownia came in third with 13.9 percent. None of the other eight candidates topped 10 percent. Turnout was 64.4 percent. The commission said it will release the final results early Tuesday at the latest. The electoral campaign was dominated by concerns over an erosion of democratic rights and bread and butter economic issues. Poland faces its first recession since the end of communism because of the coronavirus pandemic fallout. The election was scheduled to be held in May but had to be postponed because of the virus outbreak.
MOSCOW (AFP) -- A Russian mining giant behind an enormous Arctic fuel spill last month said it had suspended workers at a metals plant who were responsible for pumping wastewater into nearby tundra. Norilsk Nickel cited a "flagrant violation of operating rules” in a statement announcing it had suspended employees responsible for dumping wastewater from a dangerously full reservoir into wildlife. The incident occurred at the Talnakh enrichment plant near the Arctic city of Norilsk, the company said, one month after the unprecedented fuel leak sparked a state of emergency declared by President Vladimir Putin. More than 21,000 tonnes of diesel leaked from a fuel storage tank at one of the company’s subsidiary plants near Norilsk. The fuel seeped into the soil and dyed nearby waterways bright red.