African beats entice China and US investors

Africa’s entertainment industry is another stage where global competition between China and the U.S. is playing out. African artists see it as an opportunity. Kate Bartlett has the details from Johannesburg. Camera and video editing by Zaheer Cassim. …

Russian media: Kremlin plans to deploy ballistic missiles on Finnish border

LONDON — Russian media report that the Kremlin plans to deploy ballistic missiles close to its border with Finland. It’s the latest in a series of military and hybrid threats that Russia has made against the Nordic state since it joined NATO in April last year in the wake of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. The Russian …

Turkey hosted Hamas leader amid growing criticism over inaction in Gaza

Istanbul/Washington — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan welcomed Hamas political chief Ismail Haniyeh and his delegation last weekend in Istanbul amid growing criticism in Turkey of his government’s stance on the Israel-Hamas war. There was no news conference after the meeting.  Erdogan’s office released a statement on the topics discussed with Haniyeh, who lives in exile …

International flotilla hopes to break Israel’s blockade on Gaza

A group of activists hopes to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza with a flotilla of vessels carrying aid. It is set to sail from Istanbul in the coming days. In a similar mission 14 years ago, Israeli forces intercepted a Turkish flotilla in a deadly raid that resulted in the deaths of 10 people. There …

EU may suspend TikTok’s new rewards app over risks to kids

LONDON — The European Union on Monday demanded TikTok provide more information about a new app that pays users to watch videos and warned that it could order the video sharing platform to suspend addictive features that pose a risk to kids.  The 27-nation EU’s executive commission said it was opening formal proceedings to determine whether …

European Space Agency adds new astronauts in only fourth class since 1978

cologne, germany — For the past year, five fit, academically superior men and women have been spun in centrifuges, submerged for hours, deprived temporarily of oxygen, taught to camp in the snow, and schooled in physiology, anatomy, astronomy, meteorology, robotics, and Russian. On Monday, the five Europeans and an Australian graduated from basic training with a …

Armenia asks UN court to dismiss Azerbaijan’s discrimination claim

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Lawyers for Armenia asked the top United Nations court on Monday to throw out a case filed by Azerbaijan over the Karabakh region that accuses Armenia of ethnic cleansing.  Azerbaijan launched proceedings at the International Court of Justice in 2021 in the case, less than a week after Armenia brought its own …

Kurdish separatists, water issues loom large in long-awaited Erdogan visit to Iraq

BAGHDAD — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived in Iraq Monday for his first official visit in more than a decade as his country seeks greater cooperation from Baghdad in its fight against a Kurdish militant group that has a foothold in northern Iraq. Other issues also loom large between the two countries, including water supply …

Greek, Turkish officials meet in Athens as part of efforts to improve often strained ties

Athens — Delegations from Greece and Turkey were meeting in Athens on Monday as part of long-standing efforts to improve often tense relations between the two neighbors, days after Turkey voiced objections over Greece’s plans to create marine nature reserves in the Ionian and Aegean seas. The two regional rivals are NATO allies but have been …

Norway’s reform-minded King Harald, 87, to cut back activity

OSLO — Norway’s 87-year-old King Harald will permanently reduce the number of official activities in which he takes part out of consideration for his age, the royal household said on Monday following the monarch’s recent bout of illness. Europe’s oldest living monarch and Norway’s ceremonial head of state since 1991, Harald was hospitalized in February for …

New EU spending rules bring back debt discipline focus

Brussels, Belgium — With an energy crisis and record high inflation in the EU’s rearview mirror, Brussels believes the time has come for the bloc to focus on ensuring sound public finances. New spending rules will be voted on in the European Parliament on Tuesday. Once in place, each member state will be required to get …

UK’s Sunak promises to start Rwanda flights in 10-12 weeks

London — British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak pledged on Monday to start sending asylum seekers to Rwanda within 10 to 12 weeks, telling the upper house of parliament he will force the new legislation through despite its opposition. Sunak said the government had booked commercial charter planes and trained staff to take migrants to Rwanda, part …

Mary J. Blige, Cher, Ozzy Osbourne, others picked for Rock Hall of Fame

new york — Mary J. Blige,Cher, Foreigner, A Tribe Called Quest, Kool & The Gang and Ozzy Osbourne have been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, a class that also includes folk-rockers Dave Matthews Band and singer-guitarist Peter Frampton.  Alexis Korner, John Mayall and Big Mama Thornton earned the Musical Influence Award, while …