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Afghanistan's capital was under lockdown Monday as thousands of minority Shiite Hazaras launched protests over a multi-million-dollar power transmission line, in what could snowball into a political crisis for the beleaguered government.

Security forces blocked key intersections with stacked-up shipping containers in Kabul as the protesters sought to march on the presidential palace, demanding that the electricity line linking energy-rich central Asia pass through a central Hazara-dominated area.

The protest spotlights the turbulent politics in the war-torn nation and follows a massive rally last November galvanised by the beheadings of a group of Hazaras, which symbolised growing public discontent with President Ashraf Ghani's regime.

 

 

"Tens of thousands of people are expected to join the massive protest and march towards the presidential palace," Hazara lawmaker Arif Rahmani told AFP.

"We want the power line to cross through Bamiyan, which has seen no development in 15 years. We are demanding justice, not charity."

The 500 kilovolt TUTAP power line, which would connect the Central Asian nations of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan with Afghanistan and Pakistan, is regarded a crucial infrastructure project in the electricity-starved region.

 

 

A tip from a CIA spy to authorities in apartheid-era South Africa led to Nelson Mandela's arrest, beginning the leader's 27 years behind bars, a report said on Sunday.

Donald Rickard, a former US vice-consul in Durban and CIA operative, told British film director John Irvin that he had been involved in Mandela's arrest in 1962 which was seen as necessary because the Americans believed he was "completely under the control of the Soviet Union", the report in The Sunday Times newspaper said.

"He could have incited a war in South Africa, the United States would have to get involved, grudgingly, and things could have gone to hell," Rickard said.

"We were teetering on the brink here and it had to be stopped, which meant Mandela had to be stopped. And I put a stop to it."

Irvin's new film "Mandela's Gun", about the months before the anti-apartheid leader's arrest, is due to be screened at the Cannes film festival this week.

 

 

British Prime Minister David Cameron will push for global action on corruption at a summit Thursday attended by the leaders of Nigeria and Afghanistan, countries he was caught describing as "fantastically corrupt".

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and Afghanistan's Ashraf Ghani are attending the London summit alongside the Colombian president, US Secretary of State John Kerry, NGOs and the leaders of the World Bank and IMF.

Cameron has described corruption as "an enemy of progress and the root of so many of the world's problems" and says the summit, which comes amid public outrage over the Panama Papers leaks, will push it to the top of the global agenda.

But he risked embarrassment when he was caught on camera on Tuesday telling Queen Elizabeth II that leaders of some "fantastically corrupt countries" were attending, citing Nigeria and Afghanistan as "possibly the most corrupt".

Downing Street later said both Buhari and Ghani had admitted the challenges their countries face and were invited because of their commitment to tackling them.

- Anger over Panama leaks -

Campaigners are hoping for concrete action from the summit in response to public anger sparked by a huge leak of documents from a Panamanian law firm, which revealed in detail how the rich and powerful hide their money.

Activists want governments to expose the beneficiaries of anonymous companies used to move money without detection, and take further action to reduce the secrecy of offshore tax havens where they are incorporated.

There is also speculation that Cameron will announce measures to tackle money laundering through London's luxury property market, following his declaration last year that there was "no place for dirty money in Britain".

A British official said the summit declaration would commit signatories "to expose corruption wherever it is found, to pursue and punish those who perpetrate, facilitate or are complicit in it".

But The Times reported that a draft being circulated had been watered down following opposition from some countries, with one passage stating there would be "no impunity for the corrupt" removed.

The Russian foreign ministry, which is sending deputy foreign minister Oleg Syromolotov, has already indicated that any final agreement may not be binding.

 

A German man stabbed to death one person and slashed three more Tuesday in what authorities said may have been an Islamist attack, without ruling out that the assailant suffered mental problems.

Police said they had arrested a 27-year-old German national who knifed four people around 5:00am (0300 GMT) at the commuter railway station of the small town of Grafing, east of Munich.

One of the victims, a 50-year-old man, later died of his wounds in hospital. The others injured were men aged 43, 55 and 58. One of the victims was seriously hurt, the other two more lightly wounded.

 

The "assailant made remarks at the scene of the crime that indicate a political motive -- apparently an Islamist motive," said Ken Heidenreich, spokesman for the prosecutor's office. "We are still determining what the exact remarks were."

Local media reported witnesses as saying the man had yelled "Allahu akbar" (God is greatest) and "you unbelievers" during the attack.

If a jihadist motive is confirmed, it would be the country's third Islamist-linked knife attack since September, but police were also investigating whether the assailant had previous psychological or drug problems.

 

 

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Thursday that "drastic fluctuations" in the yen's value risked having a major impact on the trade prospects of Japanese companies.

Abe said the current situation was "not desirable", during a visit to London.

The yen surged to an 18-month high against the dollar after the Bank of Japan (BoJ) decided last week not to unveil any fresh stimulus.

On Thursday afternoon, the dollar was at 107.13 yen, still way down from above 111 yen before the BoJ announcement.

A strong currency is damaging for Japan's exporting giants, such as Toyota and Sony, as it makes their goods more expensive overseas and shrinks the value of repatriated profits.

 

 

US President Barack Obama plunged into Britain's increasingly poisonous EU debate on Friday with a powerful warning against Brexit, arguing that US soldiers had laid down their lives for Europe.

Obama's rare foray into the domestic politics of another country comes ahead of Britain's EU membership referendum in June and drew a furious response from eurosceptics like London Mayor Boris Johnson.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, a traditional bastion of euroscepticism, Obama argued that Britain's place in the European Union magnified its global influence and invoked the memory of US troops who died in two world wars.

"I realise that there's been considerable speculation -- and some controversy -- about the timing of my visit," he wrote in a piece published at the start of his four-day trip to Britain.

"I will say, with the candour of a friend, that the outcome of your decision is a matter of deep interest to the United States.

"Tens of thousands of Americans who rest in Europe's cemeteries are a silent testament to just how intertwined our prosperity and security truly are.

 

 

Stock markets rebounded in Europe on Friday but some stumbled in Asia, capping a volatile week as investors' concerns grow about the health of the global economy.

At around 1330 GMT, London's benchmark FTSE 100 index was up 0.9 percent compared with Thursday's close, aided by rising oil prices.

"There was a continued chirpiness to the global markets..., the FTSE even managing to hold onto its growth despite a woeful morning for UK data," said Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell, citing poor official manufacturing and trade figures.

In the eurozone, both Frankfurt's DAX 30 and the Paris CAC 40 rose by more than one percent in afternoon deals.

"The main catalyst for this growth seems to have been the strong German trade surplus figures," added Campbell, noting that dealers had "quickly forgotten" disappointing French industrial output data.

Rising oil prices also boosted Wall Street stocks which opened higher on Friday with the Dow Jones Industrial Average gaining 0.5 percent to stand at 17,633.94 points five minutes into trade.

 

The White House said that US President Barack Obama met his Turkish counterpart in Washington, amid tensions over human rights and the crisis in Syria.

 

 

An eight-year-old French police dog was on Tuesday awarded a medal of honour for his exceptional sniffing skills, which netted authorities 7.5 million euros ($8.4 million) in drugs.

"There are good police officers in Marseille, but it seems this one is the best," said Pierre-Marie Bourniquel, the police chief for the area, as he decorated the dog.

The Belgian Shepherd, named Choc (Shock), sat quietly, tongue out and tail wagging, as the French national anthem was played and the medal for "bravery and devotion" placed around his neck.

 

 

Six suicide attacks in eight months and a spat with Russia have added to concerns for the Turkish economy as tourists flee, taking billions of dollars in spending elsewhere, and foreign investors skirt the troubled country.

Days after a suspected Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) jihadist blew himself up on a top shopping street in Istanbul, hotels, restaurants and retailers in the city are counting their losses.

Shops and restaurants on Istiklal Street, the usually bustling two-kilometer-long pedestrian artery targeted in the March 19 attack, complain of a sharp drop in business since the bombing, which killed four foreigners and injured dozens.

The attack on Istiklal — the beating heart of Turkey’s biggest city — emphasized the security threat after three deadly suicide attacks in Ankara.

While financial markets have so far reacted with relative sangfroid to the terrorist wave, analysts say the bloodshed is putting strain on Turkey, which is already battling high inflation and mid-term economic uncertainty.

“There could be large economic costs from these attacks, particularly in terms of long investment and the tourism sector,” William Jackson, senior emerging markets economist at Capital Economics in London, told AFP.