18 Jul 2019

Thursday's world news: what's making the headlines

7:57 pm on 18 July 2019

WHO declares Ebola emergency

The World Health Organization has declared Congo's Ebola outbreak an international health emergency, sounding a rarely used global alarm after the virus spread to the city of Goma, and from there possibly into neighbouring countries.

Despite a highly effective vaccine and a swift international response after it was declared 11 months ago, the outbreak has proved tenacious in an unstable region beset by violence, becoming Congo's worst ever, with almost 1,700 dead.

A vast campaign of vigilance and vaccination, with almost 75 million screenings, has kept the highly infectious virus almost entirely confined to two provinces in northeastern Congo. The emergency committee of international health experts that advises WHO had thrice declined to declare an emergency.

The committee had been under pressure from many experts who felt the scale of the outbreak and the risks meant it had to be given the emergency status - only the fifth such disease outbreak since the WHO introduced such designations in 2005.

- Reuters

Read more:

  • Ebola declared public health emergency in Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Trump ups ante on Democrat Congresswomen

    Donald Trump has stepped up his vilification of four liberal lawmakers, describing them as un-American at a raucous rally in North Carolina.

    Despite criticism from Democrats that his comments about the four minority congresswomen are racist, Trump went on an extended diatribe about the lawmakers, saying they were welcome to leave the country if they did not like his policies on issues such as immigration and defending Israel.

    "So these Congresswomen, their comments are helping to fuel the rise of a dangerous, militant hard left," the Republican president said to roars from the crowd in Greenville North Carolina, a state seen as key to his re-election.

    Trump tweeted over the weekend that the four progressive representatives, known as "the squad" - Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts - should "go back" where they came from, even though all are U.S. citizens and three are U.S.-born.

    As Trump recounted past comments by Omar, who was born in Somalia and emigrated to the United States as a child, the crowd began chanting: "Send her back!"

    - Reuters

    Deadly fire at Kyoto anime studio

    Overview of an animation company building which caught fire in Kyoto on July 18, 2019. - A fire at an animation company in Japan's Kyoto on July 18 killed one person and injured dozens more, several of them seriously, a fire department spokesman said.

    The building was severely damaged. Photo: JIJI PRESS / JIJI PRESS / AFP

    At least 10 people are dead and dozens injured or missing in a suspected case of arson at an animation studio in the Japanese city of Kyoto.

    Public broadcaster NHK said police had taken into custody a 41-year-old man who shouted "Die!" as he poured what appeared to be gasoline around the studio.

    The man was injured and was being treated at a hospital, preventing police from conducting a proper interview yet, NHK said.

    TV footage showed white and black smoke billowing out of the many windows of the ochre-hued building of Kyoto Animation. The studio produces popular series such as the "Sound! Euphonium", and its "Free! Road to the World - The Dream" movie is due for release this month.

    A Kyoto city fire department official told Reuters that one person was confirmed dead and 12 others found without vital signs on the first and second floors of the building.

    Another 36 were injured, including 10 seriously, the official said.

    - Reuters

    Read more:

  • Deadly anime studio fire: Arson confirmed in Kyoto
  • German certifiers knew Brazilian dam was flawed

    An area northeast of Brumadinho, Brazil seen on 2 June, 2018 and, below, the same area on 26 January, 2019, a day after a dam collapsed and flooded the area with mud.

    An area northeast of Brumadinho, Brazil seen on 2 June, 2018 and, below, the same area on 26 January, 2019, a day after the dam collapsed and flooded the area with mud. Photo: AP / DigitalGlobe

    Six months after a deadly dam collapse in Brazil, new evidence has emerged that suggests the disaster could have been prevented.

    Investigators believe there's evidence the German company that certified the structure as safe knew it was vulnerable to collapse.

    Nearly 300 people died when the collapse triggered a mudslide near the south-eastern town of Brumadinho.

    A prosecutor and lawmaker say German firm Tüv Süd is failing to co-operate.

    They complain the company's lack of co-operation is affecting their inquiries.

    The BBC has seen emails that show Tüv Süd's own analysis of the dam initially failed to meet official requirements.

    - BBC

    Mosque attack survivor meets US President to discuss religious freedoms

    US President Donald Trump meets with survivors of religious persecution (Farid Ahmed, sitting right).

    US President Donald Trump meets with survivors of religious persecution, including Farid Ahmed (sitting right). Photo: AFP

    A survivor of the Christchurch mosque attack was among a group of people from 17 countries who met with Donald Trump today to discuss religious freedoms.

    The White House said all 27 participants were survivors of religious persecution. They included representatives from China, Turkey, North Korea, Iran and Myanmar.

    Mr Trump - who counts evangelical Christians among his core political base - made religious freedom one of the centrepieces of his foreign policy and the State Department is hosting a high-level conference on the topic this week.

    During the meeting - 30 minutes of which was observed by reporters - Mr Trump asked participants about their experiences.

    Speaking directly to Mr Trump, Christchurch shooting survivor Farid Ahmed thanked him for America's support following the mosque attacks, and for continued US support in standing up for persecuted minorities around the world.

    - RNZ / Reuters

    Read more:

  • Christchurch mosque attack survivor in White House to discuss religious freedom with Donald Trump