Friday 20 April 2018

Egypt's rulers to announce result of contested presidential election

Egypt's ruling authorities agreed last night to hand down the results of its presidential election today, either awarding a symbolic triumph to the Muslim Brotherhood or returning the country to the era of rule by the generals.

The Brotherhood demanded that full powers be handed to its candidate, Mohammed Morsi, who it claims won the election run-off by almost a million votes. It is threatening to hold a permanent sit-in in Cairo's Tahrir Square until the army council rescinds a decree dissolving the Islamist-led parliament and reserving most powers for itself.

But in a key move yesterday, the Brotherhood confirmed it had held talks with the army about the continuing political transition since the overthrow of the former president, Hosni Mubarak, hinting at the possibility of co-operation rather than conflict. "We co-operate with all categories of the Egyptian people," Rashad al-Bayoumi, its deputy leader, said.

Ecuador considers Assange asylum bid

The Ecuadorian ambassador to Britain is understood to be flying out to her nation's capital this weekend for talks on WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

The 40-year-old Australian is seeking political asylum in Ecuador to prevent him being extradited to Sweden and has been at the country's embassy in London since last Tuesday. Mr Assange faces allegations of sex crimes in the Scandinavian country, which he denies.

Ambassador Anna Alban, who met the British government last Wednesday morning, is due to discuss the matter in Quito. Mr Assange faces arrest for breaching the terms of his bail if he leaves the Ecuadorian Embassy.

Rockets fired despite new Gaza truce

A spokesman for Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, said the group would be watching Israel's commitment to a new cease-fire announced last night to end rocket fire from Gaza in return for a cessation of air strikes.

The Egyptian-brokered truce was to halt a cycle of violence that left one Israeli and 15 Palestinians dead while 150 rockets were launched at Israel. But after the truce was announced, five more rockets were fired from Gaza, only to be intercepted by Israel's anti-missile system.

Many Israeli analysts believe Hamas intends to test how much it can get away with -- on the assumption that in coming months, should the Muslim Brotherhood gain power in Cairo, Hamas fighters will be able to escape to Egyptian soil.

Pope holds special meeting over leaks

Pope Benedict XVI convened a meeting of cardinals yesterday for advice on how to deal with the Vatican's leaked documents scandal -- another sign of the damage the leaks have done to trust in the Holy See's governance.

The Pope has also hired the Fox News correspondent in Rome to help improve the Vatican's communications strategy. Greg Burke, 52, of St Louis, Missouri, is a member of the conservative Opus Dei movement.

The Vatican has been scrambling to contain the damage after the leak of hundreds of Vatican documents exposed corruption, political infighting and power struggles at the highest level of the Catholic Church.

Pope Benedict's infamous speech in 2006 on Muslims and violence, his 2009 decision to rehabilitate a schismatic bishop who denied the Holocaust, and the Vatican's response to the 2010 explosion of the sex abuse scandal are a few of the blunders that have tarnished his papacy

Eight tourists killed as bus overturns

At least eight Czech tourists were killed and 44 injured when a bus crashed and overturned in Croatia yesterday.

The accident happened at around 4am about 200km south of Zagreb, on a highway connecting the Croatian capital with the central Adriatic coastal city of Split.

The bus crashed through metal barriers in the middle of the highway and overturned in the opposite lane near a tunnel. A child is among the dead, and an eighth casualty was discovered in the wreckage.

Afghan flash-floods kill at least 37

Afghan and UN authorities said flash floods in northern Afghanistan have killed at least 37 people. More than 100 homes, hundreds of hectares of farmland and dozens of cattle and other animals have been destroyed by the floods that followed four or five days of heavy rain in the region.

Dogs suffering from mental problems

Ever since he became man's best friend, he has barked at strangers, cowered from fireworks and howled when left alone by his owner.

Now, though, such seemingly natural behaviour in a dog is being put down to a range of near-human psychiatric diagnoses -- such as "hyperactivity", "phobic behaviour" and "separation anxiety".

A study has found that eight out of 10 dogs now exhibit such conditions, with vets warning of similar behavioural problems emerging in cats, rabbits and even parrots.

The research has been published before the launch of a new Prozac-style drug for pets which is expected to be available later this year.

Sunday Independent

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