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South Uganda school fire

leaves nine students dead


Nine students died after fire

engulfed a dormitory at a secondary school in

southern Uganda early Monday, police said, one

of the deadliest in a string of conflagrations at

schools across the country in recent years. Police

spokesman Patrick Onyango told Reuters the nine

male students died when the blaze erupted at a

dormitory that housed about 130 students at St.

Bernard Maya secondary school in a district near

the border with Tanzania. Security personnel,

Onyango said, suspect the fire was started

deliberately by a group of students who had been

expelled days earlier from the same school over

indiscipline. “It is suspected that they could be the

ones that set the school on fire because of anger.

They came back between midnight and 1 a.m.

(local time Monday) and set the school ablaze,” he

said. “Our investigation is along that line because

that is what we suspect happened.”

New border crossings open in

divided Cyprus, first in 8 years

DHERYNIA, Cyprus —

Cypriot officials opened

two new border crossings on Monday for the first

time in eight years, the latest push for peace by the

two sides after UN-backed talks collapsed last year.

Dozens of people from the island’s Greek Cypriot

south streamed across the eastern Dherynia border

post, walking past United Nations peacekeepers

into the breakaway Turkish-backed north. At the

same time, the Lefka or Aplici crossing opened

in the northwest of the eastern Mediterranean

island. Ahead of the Dherynia crossing’s reopening,

soldiers removed barriers wrapped in rusty

barbed wire and a small group of riot police stood

by. But despite arguments breaking out among

onlookers in the run-up to the midday opening, the

crowd passed peacefully across the border. The

wreckage of a car could be seen off the main road

through the buffer zone, while nearby signs warned

of mines beyond a barbed wire fence.

Crew rescued as US fighter jet

crashes off Japan’s Okinawa


A US navy fighter jet crashed into the

sea off Japan’s southern island of Okinawa on

Monday and its two crew members were rescued

alive, Japan’s defense ministry said. The fighter

jet crashed some 250 km east-southeast of

Okinawa’s capital city Naha at around 11:45 a.m.

(0245 GMT), said Osamu Kosakai, spokesman

for the ministry’s Okinawa defense bureau. Its two

crew members ejected and were rescued by a US

military helicopter, he said, adding the accident was

“not life-threatening”. The fighter jet crashed “due

to engine trouble,” he said. Japan’s coastguard

“dispatched an aircraft to the waters to see if

there is any debris or floating oil”, a coastguard

spokesman said. Okinawa accounts for less

than one percent of Japan’s total land area, but

hosts more than half of the approximately 47,000

American military personnel stationed in Japan.

Frenchman in Nobel rape row

declares innocence at appeal


A Frenchman jailed for two years

for rape in a scandal that led to the postponement

of this year’s Nobel Literature Prize declared his

innocence on Monday at the opening of his appeal

trial. Once an influential figure in Stockholm’s

cultural scene, 72-year-old Jean-Claude Arnault

was found guilty in October of raping a young

woman in 2011 and sentenced to two years in

prison. The case was one of the first big trials to

come out of the #MeToo movement, and has left

the venerable Swedish Academy, which awards

the Nobel Literature Prize, in tatters. Arnault,

who has been locked up since his conviction by a

district court, has insisted the sex was consensual,

according to his lawyer. He was escorted by police

to the Stockholm appeals court, which was hearing

the case behind closed doors.

S. Korea-US joint drills violate

agreements: N. Korean media


South Korea’s resumption of small-

scale military drills with the United States violated

a recent agreement aimed at lowering tensions on

the Korean peninsula, North Korean state media

said on Monday. About 500 United States and

South Korean marines began military drills last

week that were among joint exercises indefinitely

suspended in June as Seoul and Washington

focused on engaging with North Korea. The Korean

Marine Exchange Program (KMEP) violated a

Sept. 19 agreement signed by North and South

Korea that called for a halt to “all hostile acts,” said

the Rodong Sinmun, North Korea’s official party

newspaper. The joint two-week drills are “directly

against the inter-Korean military agreement that

promised to eliminate practical threats of war and

fundamental hostile relations from the Korean

peninsula,” the newspaper said.

175 dead, over 10,000 affected

by cholera outbreak in Nigeria


Suspected cholera cases have jumped

in northeast Nigeria where Boko Haram violence

has forced tens of thousands of people to seek

refuge in crowded camps, the Norwegian Refugee

Council said on Monday. The humanitarian group

said 10,000 people have been affected by the fast-

spreading cholera outbreak and 175 people have

died in the northeast states of Adamawa, Borno

and Yobe as of early November 2018. “One of the

major causes of the outbreak is the congestion

in the camps that makes it difficult to provide

adequate water, sanitation and hygiene services,”

said Janet Cherono, the NRC’s program manager

in Maiduguri, capital of Borno state.

— Agencies

UK PM stares into Brexit abyss

as domestic opposition mounts



Minister Theresa May’s Brexit strat-

egy came under attack from all sides

on Monday, increasing the risk that

her plan for leaving the EU will be

voted down by parliament and thrust

the United Kingdom towards a poten-

tially chaotic “no-deal” Brexit.

In a sign that Brexit talks could

go down to the wire, EU sources said

they want clarity from London by

the end of Wednesday at the latest if

there is to be a summit this month to

approve a Brexit deal.

May’s compromise plan, which

seeks to maintain close trade ties with

the EU in the future, is facing opposi-

tion from Brexiteers, pro-Europeans,

the Northern Irish party that props up

her government, and even some of her

own ministers.

“I think it’s the worst of all worlds,”

former education minister Justine

Greening, who supported staying

in the EU in the 2016 Brexit referen-

dum, told BBC radio, adding that she

did not think there was any chance it

could get through parliament.

A British official voiced pessi-

mism about the possibility of a break-

through with the EU this week due

to continued deadlock on the issue

of the border between British-ruled

Northern Ireland and EU member


Sterling tumbled to a 1-1/2 week

low of $1.2838 on fears of a possible

no-deal Brexit that many investors

fear will weaken the West, panic mar-

kets and block the arteries of trade.

Brexit talks with the EU ran

through Sunday night until 0245 and

resumed on Monday morning.

“Technically speaking, the text is

ready. But there is no political agree-

ment from their side,” a senior EU

diplomat said.

Economists polled by Reuters last

week said there remains a one-in-four

chance that London and Brussels will

fail to reach a deal on the terms of

departure. Both sides need an agree-

Britain’s Prime Minister

Theresa May returns to

Downing Street in London

on Monday. — Reuters

ment to keep trade flowing between

the world’s biggest trading bloc and

the fifth largest national economy.

The other 27 members of the EU com-

bined have about five times the eco-

nomic might of Britain.

But May has struggled to untangle

nearly 46 years of membership with-

out damaging trade or upsetting the

lawmakers who will ultimately decide

the fate of any deal she can secure.

“We have made good progress

in the negotiations in relation to the

Withdrawal Agreement but there are

substantial issues still to overcome in

relation to the Northern Irish “back-

stop”, that remains the case,” May’s

spokesman said.

The “backstop” is an insurance

policy to ensure no return to border

controls on the island of Ireland if a

future EU-UK trading relationship

cannot be agreed in time.

“The Cabinet has backed the

prime minister in moving forward

with the negotiations with the EU and

I expect Cabinet will continue to do

so,” May’s spokesman said.

In Brussels, the EU’s chief Brexit

negotiator Michel Barnier told min-

isters from the other 27 EU member

states that he was waiting for a signal

that May has mustered enough votes

to get a deal approved by parliament.

If there is a breakthrough, a Brexit

summit could be called for Nov. 24-25.

“It’s such a mess politically in

Britain, it’s hard to see at this stage

how she can win support for the pack-

age,” said one diplomat.

While May has for months faced

fierce opposition from Brexit-sup-

porting lawmakers, who say she has

betrayed the referendum result by

seeking such close ties with the EU,

she is now facing increasing pressure

from pro-Europeans too.

Jo Johnson, the younger brother of

leading Brexiteer and former foreign

minister Boris, resigned from May’s

government last Friday, calling in a

withering critique for another refer-

endum to prevent her Brexit plans.


Ex-farm supervisor charged over

strawberry sabotage in Australia


Police investigating a

major Australian strawberry needle

contamination scare that sparked na-

tionwide panic on Monday identified

a former farm supervisor as their main


Pins and needles were found stuck

into the fruit in September, leading su-

permarkets to pull boxes from shelves

across Australia and New Zealand and

forcing farmers to dump crops.

The sabotage and a rash of sus-

pected hoaxes and copycat attacks

also prompted the national govern-

ment to raise criminal penalties for

fruit tampering.

My Ut Trinh, 50, who worked at

one of the strawberry farms where

the tampered produce was grown,

was arrested and charged with seven

counts of contaminating goods by

Queensland state police on Sunday.

She faced court on Monday and

bail was denied after prosecutors said

she could suffer retribution for her

alleged actions, The Australian re-


The court was told she was moti-

vated by spite and revenge when she

allegedly inserted the needles into the

berries in early September, the news-

paper added.

Earlier, police spoke of the chal-

lenges investigators faced as they tried

to figure out the source of the contam-


“This has probably been one of

the most trying investigations that

I’ve been part of,” Detective Superin-

tendent Jon Wacker told reporters in


Wacker said Trinh, an Australian

citizen, “was a supervisor at a farm”,

with Queensland’s Courier Mail iden-

tifying her employer as the Berryli-

cious and Berry Obsession farm—one

of the growers at the heart of the scare.

Wacker said investigators had

“strong evidence” including DNA.

He said police collected 230 re-

ports nationwide of strawberry con-

tamination affecting 68 brands, most

within his state, with the majority in-

volving sewing needles.

Some cases were also found to be

“a hoax or a false complaint”, Wacker

added. Police had earlier questioned

at least two minors over suspected





Growers Association welcomed the

arrest, but noted the high number

of unresolved cases, adding that the

seven counts in Trinh’s chargesheet

suggested that most of the 230 reports

were either copycat actions or hoaxes.

“It was a crisis driven by social

media and the only real victims were

the strawberry growers, and to some

extent other Australian fruit growers

and exporters,” the association said in

a statement.


France calls

for global

talks on




The French government

announced Monday a “Paris Call” for

talks to lay out a common framework

for ensuring internet security, follow-

ing a surge in cyberattacks which has

dented confidence in global networks.

The move aims to relaunch nego-

tiations on a “code of good conduct”

which have stalled since last year.

Officials said the text, to be pre-

sented by President Emmanuel Ma-

cron as he opens UNESCO’s Internet

Governance Forum in Paris on Mon-

day, has been signed by most Euro-

pean countries.

But China, Russia and the United

States have not yet joined, though

a source in Macron’s office said a

“critical mass” of US players support

the call, including Microsoft and the

NGO Internet Society.

The identity and number of signa-

tories are to be released later Monday,

following a lunch hosted at the Elysee

Palace by Macron for dozens of tech-

nology executives and officials.

“To respect people’s rights and

protect them online as they do in

the physical world, states must work

together, but also collaborate with

private-sector partners, the world of

research and civil society,” according

to the text.

Moscow’s alleged cyber-meddling

in US elections, huge data breaches at

social media and other online compa-

nies, and malware attacks like Wanna-

Cry and NotPetya have fuelled a new

sense of urgency among governments.

In 2017 “nearly one billion people

were victims of cyberattacks, main-

ly WannaCry and NotPetya,” Brad

Smith, Microsoft’s president and chief

legal officer, told reporters in Paris on


WannaCry is thought to have been

deployed from North Korea, while

many experts attribute NotPetya to


But security officials note that

those two attacks appear to be based

on code stolen from the US National

Security Agency, which leads the

country’s cyber-defenses.

So far internet security has been

based largely on cooperation between

individual companies and govern-

ments, with no overarching frame-


“It’s a domain that is managed, but

not governed,” an adviser to Macron

said, warning that a “free, open and

secure” internet risked quickly be-

coming a thing of the past.


Merkel critic Seehofer to resign

as Bavarian conservative chief


Horst Seehofer, a critic

of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s liberal

asylum policies, said on Monday he

would step down as chief of the pow-

erful Bavarian regional sister party

to Merkel’s conservatives but remain

Germany’s Interior Minister.

“I will give up my office as party

chief,” Seehofer told journalists in the

eastern German city of Bautzen, con-

firming media reports published over

the weekend.

Sources at the Christian Social

Union (CSU) told Reuters on Sunday

that Seehofer had told party mem-

bers that he wanted to resign as their


Seehofer’s announcement fol-

lows Merkel’s own declaration that

her fourth term as chancellor will be

her last, and that she will step down

as leader of the Christian Democrats

(CDU), the national conservative

party that has been in power twice as

often as not in the post-war era.

The CSU has dominated politics

in post-war Bavaria, using its solid

grip on one of Germany’s largest and

richest states to ensure outsized influ-

ence in national government whenev-

er the conservatives run the country.

But both the national and regional

conservative parties have faced their

worst electoral performances in de-

cades over the past two years, as the

far right has gained ground by chal-

lenging Merkel’s immigration policy.

Seehofer, 69, said on Monday that

German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer visits tracing and competence center of

the Federal Police department in Bautzen, Germany, on Monday.

— Reuters

his decision to resign as party leader

was not motivated by the CSU’s losses

in Bavarian state elections in October,

when the party suffered its worst re-

sults since 1950 as his anti-immigra-

tion campaign backfired.

“I am taking this decision to make

2019 a year of renewal for the CSU,”

he said.

He said the timing of his resigna-

tion, after 10 years at the helm of the

party, was still being discussed and

it would be announced to the public

during the course of the week. His de-

cision to resign as party leader would

have no effect on his post as federal

interior minister.

Some had hoped that an exit from

his ministerial post could stabilize the

governing coalition of Merkel’s CDU-

CSU conservative grouping and Ger-

many’s Social Democrats (SPD).

The coalition has been shaken by

disputes over immigration, and the

two blocs suffered painful losses in a

national election last year.

Seehofer twice brought the gov-

ernment to the verge of collapse last

year, including by threatening in the

summer to prevent migrants from

entering Germany via Austria.

— Re-