News ID: 94111
Publish Date : 07 September 2021 - 21:33

RICHMOND (Reuters) -- A statue of Confederate Civil War General Robert E. Lee that towers six stories over Richmond, Virginia, and was a centerpiece of protests over racial injustice, is coming down this week. The Commonwealth of Virginia announced that it would remove the 12-ton bronze statue on Monument Avenue on Wednesday, stashing it in a secure state-owned storage site until a decision on its future is finalized. The statue’s scheduled takedown in the capital city comes just days after the Virginia Supreme Court unanimously ruled that Governor Ralph Northam could remove it because documents controlling its location were outdated. Northam, a Democrat, had announced plans to remove the statue in June 2020, 10 days after a white Minneapolis policeman killed George Floyd, who was Black, sparking nationwide protests. Statues honoring leaders of the pro-slavery Confederate side in the American Civil War have become a focus of protests against racism in recent years.

HAVANA (AFP) -- Cuba became the first country in the world to vaccinate children from the age of two against Covid-19, using home-grown jabs not recognized by the World Health Organization. The island of 11.2 million people aims to inoculate all its children before reopening schools that have been closed for the most part since March 2020. The new school year started on Monday, but from home via television programs, as most Cuban homes do not have internet access. Having completed clinical trials on minors with its Abdala and Soberana vaccines, Cuba kicked off its inoculation campaign for children on Friday, starting with those 12 and older. Several other countries in the world are vaccinating children from the age of 12, and some are conducting trials in younger kids. UN agency UNICEF has called for schools worldwide to reopen as soon as possible, as “the long-term costs of closures are too high and hard to justify.”

CONAKRY (Reuters) -- The leaders of a military coup in Guinea promised on Monday to set up a transitional government of national unity after ousting President Alpha Conde and dissolving his cabinet. Sunday’s coup, in which Conde and other top politicians were detained or barred from travelling, is the third since April in West and Central Africa, raising concerns about a slide back to military rule in a region that had made strides towards multi-party democracy since the 1990s. “A consultation will be carried out to define the major framework of the transition, then a government of national unity will be put in place to lead the transition,” coup leader Mamady Doumbouya, a former French legionnaire officer, told a meeting of Conde’s ministers and senior government officials. His seizure of power was buoyed by widespread disaffection with Conde, 83, who promised stable democracy but once in power violently silenced opponents, failed to reduce poverty and last year decided to run for a third term in power - a move many said was illegal.

BERLIN (AP) — Germany has protested to Russia over alleged attempts to steal data from lawmakers ahead of the upcoming German election, the Foreign Ministry in Berlin said. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Andrea Sasse said that a hacker outfit called Ghostwriter has been “combining conventional cyberattacks with disinformation and influence operations,” and that activities targeting Germany have been observed “for some time.” She said that, ahead of Germany’s parliamentary election on Sept. 26, there have been attempts - using phishing emails, among other things — to get hold of personal login details of federal and state lawmakers, with the aim of identity theft. “These attacks could serve as preparations for influence operations such as disinformation campaigns connected with the parliamentary election,” she told reporters in Berlin.

TOKYO (AP) — An International Atomic Energy Agency mission arrived in Japan to help prepare for a decades-long release into the ocean of treated but still radioactive water from the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant, officials said. The three-member team will meet with officials in Tokyo and travel to the Fukushima Daiichi plant to discuss technical details with experts until Friday, IAEA and Japanese officials said. The team, headed by Lydie Evrard, head of the IAEA’s Department of Nuclear Safety and Security, is gathering information to prepare a review of the discharge plans. The Japanese government and the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, announced plans in April to start releasing the water in the spring of 2023 so hundreds of storage tanks at the plant can be removed to make room for other facilities needed for its decommissioning.

WASHINGTON (AFP) -- NASA has confirmed that its Perseverance rover has succeeded in collecting its first rock sample on Mars. “I’ve got it!” the space agency tweeted in the early hours of Monday, alongside a photograph of a rock core slightly thicker than a pencil inside a sample tube. NASA said last week it thought it had accomplished the feat, but poorly-lit photographs taken by the rover meant that the team operating the mission were not certain whether the sample had stayed inside its tube. It had to retake the pictures in better lighting, but sending back the data can take several days. “With better lighting down the sample tube, you can see the rock core I collected is still in there,” said NASA in the new tweet, adding that the next stage would be sealing this tube and storing it. The target was a briefcase-sized rock nicknamed “Rochette” from a ridgeline that is half a mile (900 meters) long.

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