Former Parliament Speaker Sentenced To 15 Years Imprisonment

An Indonesian court has sentenced former parliament speaker Setya Novanto to 15 years imprisonment for his involvement in a multimillion-dollar corruption case.

Novanto was found guilty of receiving 7.3 million dollars in kickbacks for garnering parliamentary support for a 440-million-dollar government project to issue electronic ID cards.

He was also ordered to pay a fine of 500 million rupiah (36,000 dollars) over the 2011 scheme.

Novanto was then the head of the Golkar party’s parliamentary faction. The ally of President Joko Widodo has denied any wrongdoing.

The seasoned politician was arrested in November by the country’s anti-corruption commission after evading questioning for weeks, claiming ill health.

Prosecutors had sought a 16-year prison sentence for Novanto and demanded that he be barred from holding public office for five years after release.

Novanto had initially ignored summons by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) and evaded an arrest attempt in 2018 by disappearing for a day, before being taken to hospital for injuries apparently suffered in a car crash.

Investigators picked him up at the hospital after doctors certified that he was fit for questioning.

KPK said total losses to the state as a result of corruption in the ID card project are estimated at 2.3 trillion rupiah (172 million dollars).


Iran’s Hassan Rouhani Threatens US’s Donald Trump

President Hassan Rouhani of Iran has warned U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday to remain in the nuclear deal Tehran signed with world powers in 2015, or face “severe consequences”.

Recall that Trump has said that unless European allies fix what he has called “terrible flaws” in the deal by May 12, he will restore U.S. economic sanctions on Iran, which would be a severe blow to the pact.

The other powers that signed the deal – Russia, China, Germany, Britain and France – have all said they want to preserve the agreement that curbed Iran’s nuclear programme in return for lifting most sanctions.

“I am telling those in the White House that if they do not live up to their commitments, the Iranian government will firmly react,” Rouhani said in a speech broadcast live on state television.

“If anyone betrays the deal, they should know that they would face severe consequences,” he told a cheering crowd of thousands gathered in the city of Tabriz.

“Iran is prepared for all possible situations,” he added.

French President Emmanuel Macron is in Washington, trying to convince Trump not to tear up the accord.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday he had agreed with his Chinese counterpart that Moscow and Beijing would try to block any U.S. attempt to sabotage the nuclear deal.

Iran has warned that it will ramp up its nuclear programme if the deal collapses.


9 Killed, 16 Injured As Man Drives In Pedestrians In Toronto

At least nine people have been killed and 16 injured after a man drove a van into pedestrians in Toronto.

According to reports the driver fled the scene of the incident, at a busy intersection in the north of the Canadian city, but was arrested several blocks away.

The arrest followed a tense standoff with officers on the street. Bystander videos appeared to show the driver pointing an object at the officers, who can be heard shouting at him to get down.

The man was then detained without any shots being fired. Toronto Deputy Chief Peter Yuen said police were investigating the driver and asked for witnesses to come forward. It was not immediately clear if it was a deliberate attack.

Reza Hashemi, who owns a video shop on Yonge Street, told the BBC he heard screaming on the other side of the road.

He said the driver appeared to mount the pavement, run into people, and return to mount the pavement again.

The incident occurred at Yonge Street and Finch Avenue at 13:30 local time (17:30 GMT) on Monday. The crime scene encompassed a 2km (1.24 mile) stretch of Yonge Street.

About 18 miles (30km) away, downtown, the Group of Seven foreign ministers of industrialised nations – including Canada, the US, Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Japan – were holding meetings.

Pictures apparently taken at the scene showed police armed with rifles and paramedics treating injured people. One orange bag, which appeared to contain a body, was loaded on to an ambulance.

“Reports were that a white van mounted the kerb, drove down the sidewalk at southbound Yonge, south of Finch, and struck eight to 10 people possibly, the numbers aren’t confirmed yet,” Toronto police spokesperson Gary Long told Canadian broadcaster Global News.

Toronto police spokeswoman Jenifferjit Sidhu told CBC News that the vehicle was stopped by police. No description was given of the driver, including name, age or gender.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted from Ottawa: “Our thoughts are with all those affected by the terrible incident at Yonge and Finch in Toronto.”

“Thank you to the first responders working at the scene – we’re monitoring the situation closely.”

Speaking in broken English, one witness told local media: “I saw there’s a white truck just go to the sidewalk and so many people just are shouting, ‘stop the car!’ But he just keep moving and he hit some people and three people lie down there and they didn’t move at all.”

One witness told City News that the driver, who he identified as a man, was driving on the kerb “hitting anything that comes in the way”.

“People, fire hydrants, there’s mail boxes being run over,” said the unnamed man, who said he was driving behind the van during the incident.

As the van continued, the man said he honked his horn to try to warn pedestrians. “I witnessed at least six, seven people being hit and flying in the air, like killed, on the street,” he said.

Toronto Mayor John Tory called it “a very tragic incident”. He said he had “offered any and all assistance that the city can provide to the police to help this investigation”.

The United States and Europe have seen an increase in driving attacks in recent years. In October 2017, a man in New York drove a van down a bicycle path, killing eight people.


Angola’s First Geostationary Satellite Dead

The first geostationary satellite of Angola (Angosat-1) is dead.

This was disclosed at a news conference by Angolan Minister of Telecommunications and Information Technologies Jose Carvalho da Rocha on Monday saying that there had been disturbances in its operation since the official launch.

Meanwhile, the minister also announced officially the construction of a new satellite, expected to be completed within one and half years.

Built in 2012, following an agreement signed between Angola and Russia in 2009, Angosat-1 cost over 300 million dollars.

The communications satellite was launched into orbit on the night of Dec. 26, and scheduled to work for 15 years


Jacob Zuma’s Wife Resigns From HIV Organisation

Nonkanyiso Conco, who had a child with former South African President, Jacob Zuma, has been forced to resign her post in an organisation that seeks to fight the spread of HIV among the girls.

Conco, a woman in her twenties, had been a national executive committee treasurer and communications officer at She Conquers, an organisation that fights the spread of HIV among the adolescent and young girls.

She Conquers Deputy Chairwoman, Leonora Mathe, on Monday confirmed that Conco has resigned.

“I can share the media statement that we had sent out yesterday (Sunday) but can’t share the resignation letter.

You can say that I have confirmed her resignation. She resigned yesterday,” she said.

Conco recently gave birth to a child by Zuma and the two are preparing to get married.

“The relationship of the two is an opposite to the principles that the campaign and the She Conquers stands for.

“Our primary focus is putting the needs of the young people of this country at the forefront and ensuring that we do not send out contradictory messages.

“We promote economic empowerment and self-dependency to eliminate the concept of reliance on Blessers,’’ Mathe said.

She Conquers also stated that Conco failed to disclose her relationship with Zuma.

She Conquers was launched in June 2016 by the then Deputy President, Cyril Ramaphosa, to fight the increase in HIV among the young girls.

US Set To Open Embassy In Jerusalem

Spokesperson Of the Israeli Embassy to Russia, Alex Gandler has disclosed that the United States would open its Embassy in the City of Jerusalem on May 14, to coincide with Israel’s Independence Day

“The opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem will take place on May 14 on the Israeli Independence Day,’’ Alex Gandler told Russia’s Kommersant newspaper.

The spokesperson added that Israel was expecting “very important guests’’ to be in attendance at the opening ceremony and the celebration of Israeli independence.

Recall that in December, U.S. President Donald Trump announced his decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and instructed the U.S. State Department to launch the process of moving the U.S. embassy, currently located in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The U.S. step to move the embassy from Tel Aviv has prompted criticism from a number of states, first and foremost those in the Middle East and Palestine and triggered a wave of protests in the region


Prince William And Kate Welcomes Baby Boy

The Duchess of Cambridge has given birth to a son which will be her third child.  Kensington Palace tweeted the news, stating that the child was delivered safely at 1101hrs, weighing 8lbs 7oz.

The Duke of Cambridge (Prince William) was present for the birth.

The Queen, Prince Philip, Prince Charles, the Duchess of Cornwall and Prince Harry have been notified and are said to be “delighted.”

There’s no news on the baby’s name yet, however Prince Arthur is the bookies favourite.

It’s unclear whether the Duchess of Cambridge will leave hospital today or tomorrow. Prince George and Princess Charlotte might visit their newborn brother later, once they have finished school and nursery for the day.


Thieves Should Have Their Hands Cut Off- Jaime Rodriquez

Jaime Rodriguez who is one of the presidential candidates in Mexico said thieves should have their hands chopped off.

He said this in a televised debate on Sunday, provoking disbelief from a moderator and setting off a storm of comments and jokes on Twitter.

Jaime Rodriguez, an independent known as “El Bronco,” who is trailing in opinion polls, made the proposal during a discussion about corruption in the first televised debate among the five presidential candidates ahead of the July 1 election.

“We have to cut off the hands of those who rob. It’s that simple,” said the 59-year-old, adding that he would ask Congress to pass a law backing his idea.

Taken aback, the moderator Denise Maerker asked him twice if he was speaking literally, before checking again that he really meant what he had said.

“That’s right. That’s right,” he replied.

Memes based on Rodriguez’s comments rapidly spread through Twitter, among them an image of his face superimposed on a picture of what appeared to be an Islamist militant chopping off a man’s hand.

“El Bronco” was trending ahead of the other candidates on Twitter during the debate.

Crime and corruption are top issues in the election campaign, with candidates under pressure to offer a way to end massive public graft and lower the number of murders from historic highs.

Rodriguez’s comments followed a long discussion about a proposal by election front-runner Andres Obrador to explore a vaguely defined amnesty to end a drug war, in which about 200,000 people have been killed in a decade.

The idea is unlikely to gain much support in Congress, but if it were adopted would be a major shift in approach for Mexico, which prohibits the death penalty and torture.

“It is not a bad thing, countries that have left corruption behind have done it,” said Rodriguez, without giving details.

Saudi Arabia and Iran are among a handful of countries in the world that permit amputation as a punishment.

It was not immediately clear if the punishment envisaged by Rodriguez would be limited to public officials convicted of graft or apply to criminals generally.

Elected in 2015 as Mexico’s first independent governor, Rodriguez has taken leave from the job to run for president.


Syrian Army Continues Strike On Southern Damascus

The Syrian army has continued to destroy command posts and fired positions of the Islamic State Terrorist Group (banned in Russia).

The strikes continued on the Southern outskirts of Damascus, thereby supporting the offensive of the ground forces.

“Aviation and artillery continues to inflict surgical strikes on the command posts and firing positions of the IS in Yarmouk, Al-Hajar al-Aswad and the al-Kadam Quarter.

“Heavy attacks on terrorists are helping to advance the troops on the ground,’’ the source said.

Advanced government forces are attacking the terrorists’ line of defence from several directions at once.

The Yarmouk refugee camp and the surrounding settlements remained the last stronghold of terrorists in the suburbs of Damascus.

After the completion of the operation, which began late on Thursday, the suburbs of the Syrian capital would be completely cleared of terrorist groups and radical bandit formations.


Kate Admitted In Hospital As She Prepares To Welcome Third Child

Prince William’s wife Kate, has been admitted to the hospital on Monday as she prepares to welcome her third child.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, as the couple are officially known, drove from their home Kensington Palace in central London to St Mary’s Hospital in west London where their other two children, George and Charlotte, were also born.

“The Duchess of Cambridge was admitted to St. Mary’s Hospital, Paddington, London, earlier this morning in the early stages of labor,” Kensington Palace said in a statement.

The new royal will be fifth-in-line to the British throne behind siblings Prince George, 4, and his two-year-old sister Princess Charlotte, William, and grandfather and heir Prince Charles.

William’s younger brother Harry, who marries U.S. actress Meghan Markle next month, will fall to sixth on the list.

As with her two previous pregnancies, Kate, 36, suffered from hyperemesis gravidarum, an extreme form of morning sickness which can cause severe nausea and vomiting and require supplementary hydration and nutrients.


ISIS Behead Three Brothers, Kidnap Farmers In Afghanistan

Three brothers have been beheaded by Militants from Islamic State all working in the medical profession, in Afghanistan’s eastern province of Nangarhar.

According to Attaullah Khogyani who is a spokesman for the governor of Nangarhar, the main stronghold of Islamic State in Afghanistan, said the brothers were killed in Chaparhar district on Saturday night.

The eldest brother Nisar Tareliwal, 27, was a doctor at a private clinic, the middle brother Nayeem, 24, was working as a vaccine campaigner and the youngest Abdul Wahab, 19, was a medical student.

Khogyani said the father of the victims, a doctor was beheaded in 2017r by the Islamic State, which has acquired a reputation for brutality in the province, beheading prisoners on a number of occasions.

Meanwhile the Islamic State kidnapped 11 farmers in Rodat district of Nangarhar province, although they later released two of them.

There was no claim by Islamic State about the two incidents.

Nangarhar, on the porous border with Pakistan, has become a stronghold for Islamic State, generally known as Daesh in Afghanistan, which has grown to become one of the country’s most dangerous militant groups since it appeared around the start of 2015.

Lal Durrani, deputy chairman of the provincial council in Nangarhar, said the abduction took place when the farmers were working in poppy fields.

The process to harvest poppy crop has kicked off in provinces across Afghanistan, the world’s top opium producer.

Last year the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said output of opium made from poppy seeds in Afghanistan, the world’s main source of heroin, stood at around 9,000 metric tons.

The illicit drug has fueled insecurity, violence and insurgency in Afghanistan for several decades.