Donald Trump meets new Japanese Emperor Naruhito
Tokyo: Visiting US President Donald Trump on Monday made history by becoming the first world leader to meet Japan’s newly enthroned Emperor Naruhito.
At the Imperial Palace here, the Emperor and Empress Masako received Trump and First Lady Melania amid a prevailing festive mood over the start of Reiwa Era, which began when Naruhito ascended the throne on May 1 after his father, Akihito stepped down on April 30 to end his three-decade reign, reports Kyodo News Agency. It was the first abdication by a Japanese monarch in over 200 years.
Nice to meet you,” said both the emperor and the empress in English in meeting the Trumps, according to the Imperial Household Agency. The Imperial couple and the Trumps shook hands and exchanged greetings without using interpreters before walking along a red carpet in the courtyard of the palace to attend the welcoming ceremony, which Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife Akie and other royal family members also participated in.
In the outdoor ceremony, Trump and the First Lady stood on a platform as the national anthems of the two countries were performed and also received a guard of honour. The Trumps then held a formal meeting with the Imperial couple inside the palace. The Japanese government decided to hand Trump the honour of being the first state guest of the new era in hopes of showcasing the depth of the nations’ bilateral alliance, according to Kyodo.
Abe is also extending extra hospitality to Trump during his four-day state visit through Tuesday, which the former has described as “historic”. Trump will hold a summit with Abe and participate in a banquet at the palace later Monday. Trump is staying three nights in Japan as a state guest, one night more than his predecessor Barack Obama did in 2014.
Trump visited Japan in November 2017, less than a year after he moved into the White House, and met then Emperor Akihito as an official guest. On Sunday, Trump played a round of golf with Abe, witnessed a sumo wrestling tournament where he handed out the awards to the winner and ended his day with a hibachi dinner that included grilled Wagyu beef and vanilla ice cream.
4 killed in Burkina Faso church attack
Ouagadougou [Burkina Faso]: At least four people lost their lives after a group of heavily armed individuals attacked a Catholic church in northern Burkina Faso on Sunday morning. The Christian community of Toulfe was the target of a terrorist attack gathered for Sunday prayers,” Al Jazeera quoted the bishop of Ouahigouya, Justin Kientega, as saying in a statement.
“The attack left four of the faithful dead,” the bishop added. The attack, which took place in the town of Toulfe located 240 kilometres northwest of Ouagadougou, marked the latest in a string of assaults on Christian places of worship in the region. “The attack caused panic in the village and many residents sought cover in their homes or in the bush,” a local resident told Al Jazeera.
Last week, gunmen killed four Catholics in a religious procession, days after a priest and five others were murdered at mass.
However, no group has claimed responsibility for the attacks that threatened the existence of peaceful relations between majority Muslims and Christians, who make up one-quarter of the country. The government of Burkina Faso blamed unnamed armed groups operating in the country and Africa’s surrounding Sahel region.
France has deployed nearly 4,500 troops in Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad in a mission codenamed Barkhane to help the local forces combat armed groups operating in the region. French Special Forces, this month, also freed four foreign hostages in the former French colony during an overnight raid that killed two soldiers.
3 explosions rock Nepal, 4 killed
Kathmandu: At least four people have been killed in three consecutive blasts that took place in Kathmandu on Sunday. The Nepal Police confirmed that blasts took place in Sukedhara, Ghattekulo and Naagdhunga areas of Kathmandu, whereas the Army defused bombs in Koteshwor, Satdobato, Gwarko and Lagankhel. A total of seven people have been injured in the blasts, police said.
“At first we thought it was a gas cylinder explosion, but later it proved to be homemade bomb (explosion). Most of the bombs exploded while they were being made. We suspect a splinter Maoist group formerly led by Netra Bikram Chand is behind it. We have recovered bundles of pamphlets of the party from two blast sites,” a police official who is investigating the issue told ANI on the condition of anonymity.
The Police has arrested nine people from various locations in and around Kathmandu in connection with the blast. The Government of Nepal recently blacklisted the splinter group for engaging in extortion and violent activities. The group has called for a strike on Monday to protest against the government’s attempt to contain it.
9 die in western Mexico shootout, official slain in south
Mexico City: A shootout between rival gangs in western Mexico killed at least nine people and wounded four, authorities said Wednesday.
Prosecutors in the state of Michoacan said the confrontation occurred near the city of Uruapan. They did not identify the gangs involved, but the Jalisco cartel and a small gang known as the Viagras have been active in the state. Assault rifles were found at the scene. Also Wednesday, authorities said gunmen killed a city official in the southern state of Guerrero.
The state prosecutors’ office said in a statement that Simón Gama García was exercising Wednesday morning when two people approached and shot him. He was identified as secretary-general of the town of Coyuca de Catalan. Prosecutors released an image showing forensic investigators examining the scene with evidence markers on the ground near a bicycle.
Killings of Mexican political officials rose in 2018, an election year, and then tapered off, but are still not uncommon. On April 25 a mayor and two others were slain in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz. The previous day a mayor was kidnapped and killed in Michoacan. Overall homicides in Mexico were up 9.7% in the first quarter, compared with the same period in 2018.
Mobile networks in Asia, Europe suspending orders of Huawei smartphones post US restrictions
Hong Kong: Mobile networks in Asia and Europe have issued suspending orders for Huawei smartphones following the US decision last week to restrict the company’s access to American technology, the media reported.
The inclusion of Huawei on an export blacklist means the Chinese company can no longer source software or components from US suppliers without a license. Existing devices are unaffected but the restrictions threaten future Huawei products and its leading position in building super-fast next generation 5G networks, CNN reported.
Vodafone, the world’s second largest mobile operator, said on Wednesday that it had paused pre-orders in the UK for the Huawei Mate 20X (5G) smartphone. “This is a temporary measure while uncertainty exists regarding new Huawei 5G devices,” a company spokesperson told CNN Business.
The UK’s biggest carrier, EE, is also delaying the introduction of Huawei’s new smartphones. The company had touted the Mate 20X in a preview of its 5G network last week. Japan’s top mobile operators took similar steps against another device, the Huawei P30 Lite, earlier on Wednesday. The phone was scheduled to launch in the country later this month.
Leading Japanese telecoms firm NTT Docomo announced that it has stopped taking reservations for the phone, and is “looking into the impact of the US restrictions”, Docomo spokesperson Yoshikumi Kuroda said. Rival carriers KDDI and SoftBank Corp. said they will delay the release of the new Huawei phone.
The suspension of orders is the first tangible evidence that US President Donald Trump’s administration’s latest escalation of its campaign against Huawei on grounds of national security is hurting the company’s business, CNN reported. Huawei overtook Apple last year to become the world’s No. 2 smartphone brand behind Samsung, and it relies on markets outside of China for half of its sales. The US export ban has forced Google to cut Huawei’s new devices off from its Android ecosystem. A temporary reprieve by the US Commerce Department allows Google to service existing Huawei devices for the next 90 days.
US man put plane on autopilot to have sex with minor, faces jail
Washington: A 53-year-old millionaire trader could get five-year jail term after pleading guilty to engaging in sex acts with a 15-year-old girl, once even putting his private plane in autopilot mode for the purpose.
Stephen Bradley Mell, 53, of Bedminster, New Jersey, pleaded guilty to federal charges of engaging in interstate travel to engage in illicit sexual conduct and receiving child pornography in December 2018 and is now due for sentencing on Tuesday.
Mell, a father-of-three who had a brokerage firm, was accused of committing sex acts with a 15-year-old girl whose mother had approached him so that he could give her flying lessons, the Daily Mail reported.
Ahead of his sentencing, Mell’s legal team has argued he is a ‘humble man’ who was on ‘multiple anti-depressants’ after falling into ‘a spiral of depression’ brought on by survivors’ guilt over giving up his seat on a fatal helicopter trip with friends in 2012. Mell started his own charity, Air LifeLine, which flew children with medical needs anywhere in the US for treatment.
First PIO lawmaker in Australian Parliament
Melbourne: Dave Sharma, the Liberal candidate and former Australian ambassador to Israel, has scripted history by becoming the first Indian-origin lawmaker in the country’s Parliament after winning a seat in Sydney suburb in the federal election.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is close to securing a majority government as the election’s final results are being counted. Sharma, 43, defeated independent candidate Kerryn Phelps for the eastern suburb seat of Wentworthin district.
Sharma, who had lost to Phelps in a by-election six months ago, claimed the seat of Wentworth with 51.16 per cent of the vote. Very humbled by the trust placed in me by the people of Wentworth. Look forward to being a voice for them in Parliament and the party room,” Sharma said in a tweet.
He said the three main issues he wanted to focus on were national security, female workforce participation and making sure Australia remains at the high end of the value chain. Sharma, who was Australia’s ambassador to Israel from 2013 to 2017, also brushed aside questions as to whether he will be given a position in Prime Minister Morrison’s new Cabinet.
Indian medical students can appear in exams: Nepal Supreme Court
Kathmandu: Nepal’s Supreme Court has ordered a prominent university here to allow 32 Indian students pursuing medical studies in one of its affiliated colleges to appear in their annual examinations, months after they were debarred for not passing an entrance conducted by the institution’s Institute of Medicine, according to a media report.
The apex court in its order May 17 ordered the Tribhuvan University to allow the 32 Indian students from appearing in their annual examinations, observing that they had cleared the Indian government-conducted National Eligibility cum Entrance Test, which meant that they had fulfilled the criterion set by Nepal Medical Council under the MBBS programme, the Himalayan Times reported.
The students, who are pursuing MBBS at Nepal’s Janaki Devi Medical college affiliated to the Tribhuvan University, were to appear for their annual examination on December 20 last year.
However, they were not allowed to appear in the exams citing none of them had cleared an entrance conducted by the Institute of Medicine, the paper reported on Saturday. The students filed a case but then the apex court had denied staying the TU’s order, saying the exam had already started.
However, the apex court on Friday ordered the university to allow the students from appearing in their annual examination.
The court said that foreign students pursuing their MBBS studies at Kathmandu University were being allowed to appear for exams and hence, it would be unfair to bar the students from appearing in the exam, the paper reported.
Eleven killed in shooting in a bar in Brazil: officials
Rio de Janeiro: Gunmen killed at least 11 people in a bar in northern Brazil on Sunday, officials said. The shooting took place in the city of Belem, the public safety department of northern Para state said.
There was no immediate word on the motive of the shooting. The attackers fled but the news website G1 quoted police as saying one was wounded and is in police custody. The fatalities are six women and five men, G1 said. Seven men carried out the shooting after arriving on a motorcyle and in three cars, said G1. They fled after the attack. The bar where the shooting took place is in a neighbourhood which got police reinforcements in March to fight crime.
Sweden set to ban smoking in public places
Stockholm: Sweden is set to ban outdoor smoking from July this year, in a bid to prevent diseases associated with smoking and passive smoking, such as cancer, according to the Minister for Health and Social Affairs. The latest ban is a step towards achieving the “Smoke-Free Sweden 2025” goal. The initiative is aimed at reducing smoking to less than 5 per cent of the population by 2025, Xinhua reported.
Under the ban, smoking will not be allowed in outdoor serving areas at cafes and restaurants, along with public playgrounds, bus shelters, and train platforms, sports arenas and entrances to civic buildings. Vapes or e-cigarettes are also covered under the ban.
Around 8,30,000 US dollars have been allocated to Sweden’s Public Health Agency for 2019 to run a national awareness campaign to implement the change in law. They will also be extending support to municipalities to implement the law locally.
“The contribution to the voluntary sector is an important part. We need to have a community-based approach to ensure that the law has an impact, but also because in the long term we will achieve the goal of a tobacco-free Sweden 2025,” Lena Hallengren, the Minister for Health and Social Affairs told the Swedish national public television broadcaster SVT. Almost half the funding will be given to organisations that work preventatively to reduce tobacco use, as per the public broadcaster.
Sweden’s governing body voted to extend the smoking ban as of July 1, 2019. Smoking is currently allowed in designated smoking areas in most workplaces and public places. Official figures show only 11 per cent of the Swedish population of 10 million smoked daily in 2016, with about 10 per cent smoking occasionally.