Channel NewsAsiahttp://www.channelnewsasia.comChannel NewsAsia Singapore was established in March 1999 by MediaCorp, and is an English language Asian TV News channel. Positioned to Understand Asia, it reports on global developments with Asian perspectives. Channel NewsAsia brings viewers not only the latest news but also the stories behind the headlines. NewsAsiahttp://www.channelnewsasia.com129137en-usWest African troops near Gambia's capital - witnesses PacificMon, 23 Jan 2017 00:10:22 +0800BANJUL: Scores of West African soldiers were seen preparing to make a ferry crossing to Gambia's capital, Banjul, on Sunday, several witnesses said, as part of a mission to secure the country and allow new President Adama Barrow take up his office.

Yahya Jammeh, the authoritarian leader who had ruled the tiny nation since taking power in a coup 22 years ago, fled into exile late on Saturday as the military operation was poised to remove him.

ECOWAS soldiers are seen carrying out a patrol at the border of Gambia in Karang

(Reporting by Tim Cocks; Writing by Joe Bavier; Editing by Mark Potter)

Concerns mount over poor pitches at finals in Gabon NewsSun, 22 Jan 2017 23:40:13 +0800LIBREVILLE: Rising concerns over pitch conditions are hanging over the African Nations Cup finals in Gabon and highlight a perennial problem for the continent's sporting showpiece.

The condition of the playing surfaces at all four venues – in the capital Libreville, Franceville, Oyem and Port Gentil – have been heavily criticised after serious injuries and matches whose quality has been affected by bumpy surfaces.

Hosts Gabon have three players out, Burkina Faso have lost two for the rest of the tournament and Ghana’s fullback Baba Rahman, on loan from Chelsea to Schalke 04, has flown to Germany for knee surgery and is not expected to play again this season.

“There have been up to five injuries at the tournament because of pitches,” claimed Ghana coach Avram Grant, whose side are in the quarter-finals after two straight wins characterised by his side being pinned back in the second half.

“It is very difficult when the opponent is coming at you and you want to go on the counter attack on this pitch,” he said on Saturday of the newly-laid turf at Port Gentil, whose stadium was opened just a month before the tournament kicked off.

"We want to play on good pitches. We are a technical team, we play to pass and to play football, but we can’t.”

Teams playing at Port Gentil on Saturday were not allowed to warm up on the field before the double header as organisers tried to preserve the pitch while, at every conceivable opportunity, a group of workers watered and patched it up and sprinkled wheelbarrow loads of grass shavings on it.

“The pitch is horrendous it's really tough to control the ball, to drive with the ball, everything is tough,” said Crystal Palace winger Bakary Soko after two matches there with Mali.

Confederation of African Football (CAF) general secretary Hicham El Amrani noted concerns at a pre-tournament news conference but expressed confidence in the local organisers.

But with Gabon only completing the construction of new stadiums in Oyem and Port Gentil weeks before the finals kicked off, there has been little time to properly prepare pitches.

This has often been the case in Nations Cup tournaments where similarly poor playing conditions have marred the finals.

CAF official told Reuters on Sunday that concerns about the pitches had been highlighted to Gabon more than a year ago.

However, late delivery of stadiums by host countries means there is little time to get fields in top condition.

(Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Ken Ferris)

Egypt's military to enter pharmaceutical industry, 22 Jan 2017 23:30:32 +0800CAIRO: Egypt's military has received the license required to form a pharmaceutical company, a decree by Prime Minister Sherif Ismail published on Sunday showed.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has often called in the military to assist in major infrastructure projects and with distribution of subsidized commodities to keep a lid on rising prices amid an acute shortage of dollars.

Egypt has faced a drug shortage for months and the government raised prices on a number of medicines in January after months of negotiations with pharmaceutical companies hurt by dollar shortages and a weakening currency.

The Egyptian pound's slump and the foreign currency crunch have made it harder for Egyptian pharmaceutical companies to import active ingredients they need to make generic medicines that millions of poor Egyptians rely on.

Egypt abandoned its peg of 8.8 pounds per dollar on Nov. 3 and the pound has since halved in value. Pharmaceutical companies have been negotiating for months with the Health Ministry to raise medicine prices.

"The National Agency for Military Production is permitted to partake in the founding of a company called the Egyptian National Company for Pharmaceuticals," the prime minister's decree, dated Jan. 17 but published on Sunday, read.

The economic weight of the military, which produces everything from bottled water to macaroni, has long been a topic of debate in Egypt.

Sisi said in December the military's economic activity accounted for no more than two percent of the country's output, dismissing suggestions the military could control as much as half of the economy.

(Reporting by Ahmed Aboulenein; Editing by Mark Potter)

No immunity deal agreed for Gambia's Jammeh, Senegal minister says PacificSun, 22 Jan 2017 23:30:28 +0800DAKAR/BANJUL: West African leaders did not agree to immunity for Yahya Jammeh during negotiations that convinced Gambia's longtime ruler to flee into exile, Senegal's foreign minister said on Sunday.

Jammeh, who is accused of serious rights violations, led his country for 22 years but refused to accept defeat in a December election. He flew out of the capital Banjul late on Saturday as a regional military force was poised to remove him.

Former Gambian president Yahya Jammeh boards a private jet before departing Banjul into exile

The peaceful end to the impasse will allow opposition figure Adama Barrow, who was sworn in as president at Gambia's embassy in neighbouring Senegal on Thursday, to take office.

Jammeh's decision to step down has prompted speculation over the terms agreed during two days of negotiations led by Guinea's President Alpha Conde and Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz of Mauritania.

Regional leaders had not gone as far as agreeing immunity despite Jammeh's attempts to secure this, Senegalese Foreign Minister Mankeur Ndiaye told Reuters.

"President Jammeh and his team concocted a declaration to be endorsed by (regional bloc) ECOWAS, the United Nations and the African Union that gave him every guarantee, essentially impunity," Mankeur Ndiaye said.

"This declaration was signed by no one."

The foreign minister made his comments after the AU and the UN published a joint declaration from the three bodies "with the purpose of reaching a peaceful resolution to the political situation in The Gambia."

In it, they pledged, among other things, to protect Jammeh's rights "as a citizen, a party leader and a former Head of State", to prevent the seizure of property belonging to him and his allies, and to ensure he can eventually return to Gambia.

However, Ndiaye played down the significance of the document.

"I want to be clear on the fact that no ECOWAS head of state validated this declaration," said Ndiaye, who added that Barrow had not been made aware of the document before its publication.


Jammeh's loss in a Dec. 1 poll and his initial acceptance of the result were celebrated across the tiny nation by Gambians grown weary of his increasingly authoritarian rule. But he reversed his position a week later, creating a standoff with regional neighbours who demanded he step down.

Rights groups accuse him of jailing, torturing and killing his political opponents while acquiring a vast fortune - including luxury cars and an estate in the United States - as most of his people remained impoverished.

Jammeh flew to Equatorial-Guinea with a brief stopover in Guinea's capital Conakry, the office of Guinea's President Conde said on Sunday.

West African troops from Senegal, Nigeria, Ghana and Mali were deploying in Gambia on Sunday as part of efforts to secure the country and allow Barrow to take charge.

"We will look for arms caches and detect mercenaries, so that we can restore calm," Marcel de Souza, president of the ECOWAS commission, told reporters overnight.

"Adama Barrow hopes to go back as quickly as possible."

A Reuters witness on Sunday saw war planes flying over the capital Banjul, which remained calm despite some concern over how the army, a pillar of Jammeh's regime, would react to his departure.

(Additional reporting by Emma Farge in Dakar; Writing by Joe Bavier; Editing by Keith Weir)

Melbourne Park carnage as top seeds topple NewsSun, 22 Jan 2017 23:25:16 +0800MELBOURNE: The whiff of sporting upset hung around Melbourne Park on Sunday after top seeds Andy Murray and Angelique Kerber were handed stunning defeats in the Australian Open fourth round.

Britain's Murray was bamboozled by the serve-volley game of Mischa Zverev to exit after 3-1/2 hours on Rod Laver Arena, while fellow world number one Kerber's title defence was ended in little more than an hour by Coco Vandeweghe.

Murray was the first top seed to depart before the quarter-finals since Lleyton Hewitt in 2003, while Germany's reigning women's champion was last sent packing before the second week a decade ago when Amelie Mauresmo went out in the fourth round.

Murray and Kerber were playing their first grand slams as top seeds and both looked all but powerless to deal with the style of game they were confronted with from across the net.

Zverev, the world number 50, rushed the net 118 times to keep one of the best defensive players in the game on the backfoot for much of the contest before holding his nerve to close out the contest 7-5 5-7 6-2 6-4.

"Credit to him," said Murray. "He came up with great, great shots and played a really, really good match. You know, you always finish matches you lose with things you maybe could have done a bit better, but he played some really good stuff."

The German, ranked outside the top 1,000 in the world after wrist surgery two years ago, will face Roger Federer in his maiden grand slam quarter-final after the Swiss master outlasted Kei Nishikori 6-7(4) 6-4 6-1 4-6 6-3.

New Yorker Vandeweghe later hammered down 30 winners to Kerber's seven, overpowering the U.S. Open champion 6-2 6-3 to set up a meeting with Spanish seventh seed Garbine Muguruza in her first trip to the last eight in Melbourne.

Kerber made 15 unforced errors in a contest lasting little more than an hour and admitted it was simply not her day.

"It was a tough match and, of course, I'm disappointed," she said. "But I was not feeling the ball at all tonight. I was not playing good from the first point.

"I was trying tonight but, yeah I missed a lot. So this was not my game like I play normally."


While Kerber could yet lose the number one ranking to Serena Williams after the year's first grand slam, Murray's main rival Novak Djokovic made an even earlier exit in the second round.

With Murray and the Serbian reigning champion having already departed, Melbourne Park will next week witness the first grand slam since the 2004 French Open without its top two men's seeds.

Federer will hope to profit as he bids for his 18th grand slam title, as will his compatriot and 2014 champion Stan Wawrinka, who is in the same half of the draw and fended off Andreas Seppi 7-6(2) 7-6(4) 7-6(4).

Wawrinka next faces France's 2008 finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who ended the fairytale run of Britain's Dan Evans by coming from a set down to win 6-7(4) 6-2 6-4 6-4 on Hisense Arena.

Murray and Evans had hoped to become the first British pair to reach the men's quarter-finals at Melbourne Park in 40 years and the first at a grand slam since Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski at Wimbledon in 1997.

Venus Williams, at 36 the oldest woman in the singles draw, also progressed to the last eight with a 6-3 7-5 victory over Mona Barthel, moving closer to a potential blockbuster final against sister Serena.

The younger Williams sister continues her quest for a 23rd grand slam title against Barbora Strycova on Monday, when men's 2009 champion Rafa Nadal is also in fourth round action.

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Ken Ferris)

Philippines' Duterte stands by his police chief amid resignation calls PacificSun, 22 Jan 2017 23:20:42 +0800MANILA: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has stood by his police chief after calls for him to resign over the alleged killing of a South Korean businessman by police officers at the national police headquarters.

Ronald Dela Rosa, a top figure in Duterte's deadly war on drugs, has the president's full support, the president's top aide, Christopher Go, told Reuters on Sunday.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte talks to Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Ronald Dela Ro

A number of lawmakers, including Duterte's ally, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, have called on Dela Rosa to step down after several officers were charged with kidnapping and killing Jee Ick-joo inside the headquarters in October.

Dela Rosa said on Thursday he was "very angry" and "very offended" about the case.

Rights groups say abuses of police power are rampant and accuse police of killing suspected drug dealers as part of Duterte's narcotics crackdown.

"A genuine recognition of the root of the problem should go beyond blaming Dela Rosa, and instead condemn the drug war policy that has produced human rights violators and criminals out of the men and women of the PNP (Philippine National Police)," Senator Leila De Lima said in statement over the weekend.

Police figures show more than 7,000 people have been killed during Duterte's campaign.

Police deny deliberately carrying out extrajudicial killings and say deaths caused in the course of the anti-drugs campaign have been in self-defence.

(Reporting by Karen Lema; editing by Andrew Roche)

Putting the brakes on abuse: How can taxi and bus drivers work safely? Local NewsSun, 22 Jan 2017 23:18:04 +0800SINGAPORE: He cruises along Singapore’s roads from seven in the evening to dawn, and like every cabby, he hopes to pick up as many passengers as possible. But at times, 73-year-old Koh Kee Chuan says, he can’t help but pass a potential customer by.

"If I see the passenger's drunk, unable to walk straight – I try to avoid picking him or her up,” he told Channel NewsAsia in Mandarin.


Mr Koh has been driving a taxi for a decade. While some may frown at turning passengers down, he said this was how he avoids one of the main pitfalls of his trade – aggressive or even violent passengers.

“I had a fellow driver who picked up a passenger at the airport,” he recalled. “It must have been a misunderstanding, but the passenger grew angry and hit his head from the back seat.”

“So of course we’d be worried,” he said, adding that conflict ensued usually because a passenger disagreed with the route cab drivers took or, more seriously, if a passenger tried to avoid paying fares.


While cases of physical violence are generally isolated, verbal abuse has become more commonplace in the transport sector, cabbies and bus drivers Channel NewsAsia spoke to said. 

Taxi companies Channel NewsAsia spoke to said cabbies were told "not to retaliate" when faced with threatening situations.

Mr Koh's company, Trans-Cab, said it saw about one to two assault cases every year, although some cases went unreported. When asked how it prepared cabbies to handle such situations, the company said it informed drivers “to call the police if they encounter violent passengers". 

taxis stock pix

(File photo: TODAY)

According to Comfort DelGro, all of its taxis are fitted with a distress button which puts the cabbie in touch with a 24-hour hotline. The company owns Comfort Taxi and CityCab, with a combined fleet size of 17,000 – the largest in Singapore.

The company’s group corporate communications officer Tammy Tan said it also helped cabbies who had been assaulted with their medical claims and losses and waived the taxi rentals for affected drivers for the day. She added that Comfort DelGro also compensated cabbies for their losses in income when the drivers were required to testify in court about their assaults. 

"Our cabbies deserve to work in a safe environment like everybody else,” Ms Tan said. “We will continue to work with the relevant authorities to keep our cabbies safe."

Mr Koh, however, said he wondered if more could be done. 

“Cabbies need to feel protected,” the taxi driver said. “Hopefully the company and the government can do more to help us feel safe."


Before obtaining their taxi licences, these drivers are required to learn how to handle road rage as part of the Taxi Driver Vocational License course. 

Cabby training guide

A training guide by the Singapore Taxi Academy. (Photo: Kenneth Lim)

Conducted by the Singapore Taxi Academy, the syllabus includes communication skills such as how to use as few words as possible to save time and avoid conflicts with passengers. 

Trans Cab said it was exploring the possibility of providing even more training for drivers on how to deal with violent passengers.

However, with the shortening of the course from 60 hours to 25 hours last year, fitting in new material may be a challenge. 

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) had said in a news release in April last year that the course was “updated and streamlined to take into account changing industry practices and new technology,” adding that this was based on feedback from “stakeholders such as commuters, taxi drivers and taxi companies". 


On New Year's Eve, three SBS Transit (SBST) bus captains were assaulted by a man who "slapped and hit" them, according to the public transport operator. Another was attacked the same week.

The bus industry is set to adopt more measures to raise the safety of drivers. LTA added in a separate news release that the Singapore Bus Academy was developing more training programmes for existing bus professionals. Channel NewsAsia understands that incident management courses could be included.

Bus operator Go-Ahead suggested that the academy could consider adding sessions on self-defence techniques for bus drivers.

The UK-based operator said its buses in the UK were fitted with assault alarms and code red radio systems, although these options may need to undergo feasibility studies for the local context should they be considered for Singapore. 

Tower Transit also revealed that it was partnering with the Certis CISCO Academy to teach drivers how to deal with conflicts and hostile situations. The sessions by the private security firm will take place at the Jurong East and Bukit Batok bus interchanges, it said. 

Tower Transit operations director Stuart Thomas said that although bus drivers are taught how to deal with conflicts as part of their basic training, in "rare instances" such situations may still escalate. 

“This is why we've decided to go one step extra and provide them with additional skills that they'll find useful in dealing with the more difficult parts of their job."

Meanwhile, SBST - which said it has seen about 23 assault cases in the past five years - said it would consider what else it could do to improve driver safety.

"A bus captain can wake up way before sunrise to start work, and by the time they finish their last trip, it's way past midnight,” SBST’s senior vice president of bus operations Ang Wei Neng said. “They do not deserve to be assaulted, they do not deserve to be punched.”

Singapore buses depot

(File photo: Ngau Kai Yan)

SBST bus drivers, too, have an emergency button they can press to alert the control centre to dispatch a traffic inspector when a situation arises. The drivers also go through incident management courses to defuse and de-escalate conflicts and attend regular refresher courses on the topic.

At one such course witnessed by Channel NewsAsia, the instructor told his students: “Do not raise your voice or lose your temper when dealing with rude customers. Do not challenge the customers or their complaints or have a fight with them.”

Bus companies usually cover the medical expenses when drivers are assaulted, and work with the National Transport Workers' Union (NTWU) to report the cases to the authorities.


NTWU executive secretary Melvin Yong said that assault cases are "isolated" as commuters are generally respectful of bus captains. 

“However, every case is one case too many. Any acts of violence, any forms of abuse should not be tolerated.”

Public transport workers are currently served by the Protection from Harassment Act, but Mr Yong said more could be done.

The Member of Parliament for Tanjong Pagar GRC said he would also be raising the issue to the Public Transport Tripartite Committee, which will meet in the first quarter of 2017. The committee includes bus operators, as well as transport and manpower authorities.

“I believe everyone must play their part to create a better working environment for all our workers,” Mr Yong said.

Americans won't lose coverage in health law reform: Trump aide, 22 Jan 2017 23:05:14 +0800WASHINGTON: The Trump administration will not allow 20 million people who rely on the Affordable Care Act for their health insurance to go without coverage when the law, known as Obamacare, is repealed and replaced with a new plan, a senior White House official said on Sunday.

"For the 20 million who rely upon the Affordable Care Act in some form, they will not be without coverage during this transition time," White House counselor Kellyanne Conway told CBS program "Face the Nation," adding in an interview with ABC's "This Week" that the administration "may" stop enforcing the 2010 law's requirement that individuals purchase insurance.

Counselor to U.S. President Donald Trump, Kellyanne Conway prepares to go on the air in front of th

(Reporting by Jason Lange and Toni Clarke; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

Germany must prepare for turbulent times under Trump - foreign minister, 22 Jan 2017 23:00:20 +0800BERLIN: Germany must brace itself for turbulent times under U.S. President Donald Trump, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Sunday, adding that free trade and trans-Atlantic cooperation to fight extremism and terrorism were key for Berlin.

Steinmeier, who in August said Trump was a "Hassprediger" or "hate preacher", wrote in the mass-circulation Bild newspaper that some members of the new U.S. administration understand the importance of allies like Germany.

German FM Steinmeier speaks during a media conference at the San Carlos palace in Bogota

"I know, we must prepare ourselves for turbulent times, unpredictability and uncertainty," Steinmeier said. "But I am convinced that we will find in Washington attentive listeners, who know that even big countries need partners in this world."

Trump unsettled German leaders with remarks such as that Britain will not be the last country to leave the European Union and with threats to impose high tariffs on imports from China and Mexico.

Their response after he took office on Friday has been mixed.

Chancellor Angela Merkel, who attended the opening of a museum outside Berlin as Trump was being sworn in on Friday, has said she would seek compromises with Trump on issues like trade and military spending and that she would work on preserving the important relationship between Europe and the United States.

Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said on Friday Germany should prepare for a rough ride under the new U.S. president and that Europe would have to craft a new economic policy geared toward China should Trump pursue protectionism.

(Reporting by Joseph Nasr. Editing by Jane Merriman)

G20 farm ministers seek to protect precious water supplies, 22 Jan 2017 23:00:15 +0800HAMBURG: Greater global efforts should be taken to safeguard precious world water supplies to secure food production, the agriculture ministers of the group of 20 leading economies (G20) said on Sunday.

"We commit to approaches that improve sustainability of water use in food and agricultural production while ensuring food security and nutrition in accordance with our multilateral trade commitments," they said in a statement after meeting in Berlin.

People arrive for the G20 agriculture ministers meeting in Berlin

Climate change, the growing world population and demands for industrialisation have put a strain on global water supplies, with the impact felt on rich and poor nations.

The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation warned in December that 12 million people across Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia need food aid as farmers struggle with the impact of repeated droughts, compelling Ethiopia to make major wheat imports.

Saudi Arabia has been ending its crop farming to save precious water and has been importing food instead.

"We will protect water and water-related ecosystems by encouraging water-friendly, sustainable agricultural practices and technologies that enhance the water quality and resilience of water bodies," the G20 statement on Sunday said.

"We are therefore committed to developing and implementing corresponding strategies at the national level," it added.

Global farming needs sustainable water supplies to feed the growing world population and provide the basis for world peace and stability, the meeting's host, German agriculture minister Christian Schmidt, said.

"Agriculture is a part of global security politics," he said.

The G20 ministers also committed themselves to reducing animal diseases but to prevent the unnecessary use of antibiotic drugs in farming.

Germany took over the presidency of the G20 group of leading economies in late 2016, a platform Chancellor Angela Merkel wants to use to safeguard multilateral cooperation.

(Editing by Greg Mahlich)

Champions Leicester slip to new low at Southampton NewsSun, 22 Jan 2017 22:55:25 +0800REUTERS: - Champions Leicester City's alarming slump continued with a 3-0 Premier League defeat at Southampton on Sunday that left them just five points off the drop zone and firmly embroiled in a relegation fight.

First-half goals for James Ward-Prowse and Jay Rodriguez plus a late penalty by Dusan Tadic led the Saints to a comfortable win that came at the cost of an injury to key defender Virgil van Dyke, who hobbled off in the second half.

Southampton's Dusan Tadic scores their third goal from the penalty spot

Ward-Prowse opened the scoring after 26 minutes following good approach play from Cedric Soares, before Rodriguez doubled the lead in the 39th after reacting quickest to a bouncing ball in the box to fire a left-foot shot past the keeper.

After the break, Wes Morgan was fortunate when his own goal was ruled out for offside but Leicester's captain then held back Shane Long for a penalty that Tadic thumped home as Southampton emphatically ended a run of four successive league defeats.

Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri vowed to return to basics as they seek to pull away from the relegation zone.

"I think (in) the last matches I changed (the team's) shape to try to help my players play better but maybe I made mistakes," he said.

"Against Chelsea (in a 3-0 home defeat) we played three at the back and today we wanted to play with a diamond. The players are used to 4-4-1-1 and know the positions but I made a mistake.

"I think it is much better (to) give them what they know well. We tried to change our shape at halftime, to make a goal and we would have a chance to change the match. They won. They played better and deserved to win."

(Reporting by Neil Robinson; Editing by Ken Ferris)

Juve back to winning ways as Allegri throws caution to the wind NewsSun, 22 Jan 2017 22:50:25 +0800MILAN: Serie A leaders Juventus bounced back from a rare defeat with a 2-0 win over Lazio on Sunday after coach Massimiliano Allegri threw caution to the wind with their pride having been clearly wounded by last weekend's reverse at Fiorentina.

Allegri, an often pragmatic coach, fielded an ultra-attacking line up and it quickly paid off as his side brushed aside sleepy Lazio with early goals from Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain on the way to a 27th straight home league win.

Football Soccer - Juventus v Lazio - Italian Serie A

Juve, now four points clear of AS Roma, who have also played 20 games and host Cagliari in the late game, coasted in the second half and will finish the weekend top of the table.

The champions have 48 points ahead of Roma on 44 along with Napoli, who won 2-1 at AC Milan on Saturday, while Lazio stay fourth with 40 points from 21 games.

Juve started the match with three forwards plus winger Juan Cuadrado and also switched to a four-man defence as Allegri responded to criticism of a lacklustre performance after their 2-1 defeat in Florence.

Dybala broke the deadlock after five minutes when he met Mario Mandzukic's header at an awkward height and fired home a low volley from outside the area.

His fellow Argentine Higuain added the second when he caught two defenders napping and got in between them to turn home Juan Cuadrado's cross for his 14th league goal this season.

Higuain had another effort disallowed while defender Leonardo Bonucci turned the ball just wide from a cross by the Argentine after charging forward before halftime.

(Writing by Brian Homewood; editing by Ken Ferris)

White House says media delegitimizing Trump, won't 'take it', 22 Jan 2017 22:40:19 +0800WASHINGTON: The White House vowed on Sunday to fight the news media "tooth and nail" over what officials see as unfair attacks on President Donald Trump, setting a tone that could ratchet up a traditionally adversarial relationship to a new level of rancour.

A day after the Republican president used his first visit to CIA headquarters on Saturday to accuse the media of underestimating the crowds at his inauguration, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus expressed indignation at the reports and referred to them as "attacks."

Trump, flanked by Kushner, Pence, Porter and Priebus, welcomes reporters into the Oval Office for h

"The point is not the crowd size. The point is the attacks and the attempt to delegitimize this president in one day. And we're not going to sit around and take it," Priebus said on "Fox News Sunday."

Priebus complained about a press pool report that said the bust of Martin Luther King Jr had been removed from the Oval Office. The report on Friday night was quickly corrected but Trump called out the reporter by name at the Central Intelligence Agency on Saturday, as did spokesman Sean Spicer later in the day.

"We're going to fight back tooth and nail every day and twice on Sunday," Priebus said.

The chief of staff also repeated Spicer's accusations that the media manipulated photographs of the National Mall to show smaller crowds at Friday's inauguration.

Aerial photographs showed the crowds for Trump's inauguration were smaller than in 2009, when Barack Obama, the nation's first black president, was sworn in.

The unexpectedly high turnout for Saturday's Woman's March on Washington outpaced the inauguration turnout. The Washington subway system reported 275,000 rides of as of 11 a.m. (1600 GMT) on Saturday.

The subway system said 193,000 users had entered the system by 11 a.m. on Friday, compared with 513,000 at that time during Obama's 2009 inauguration.

(Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Andrea Ricci and Jeffrey Benkoe)

Egypt extends participation in Yemen conflict, 22 Jan 2017 22:35:29 +0800CAIRO: Egypt's National Defence Council on Sunday extended the military's participation in a Saudi-led operation in Yemen, the presidency said in a statement. It did not specify how long the extension would be for.

"The National Defence Council agreed during the meeting to extend the participation of the required elements from the Egyptian armed forces in a combat operation outside the nation's border to defend Egyptian and Arab national security in the Gulf, Red Sea, and Bab al-Mandab areas," the statement said.

(Reporting by Ahmed Aboulenein; Editing by Lin Noueihed)

Ryding so close to Britain's first World Cup win NewsSun, 22 Jan 2017 22:35:14 +0800VIENNA: Dave Ryding came within a whisker of giving Britain their first-ever win in a World Cup skiing race when he finished second behind Marcel Hirscher in the slalom at Kitzbuehel on Sunday.

Ryding, the first Briton to finish on a World Cup podium since Konrad Bartelski's second place at the Val Gardena downhill in December 1981, led after the first leg but was unable to match Hirscher's second run, losing out by 0.76 seconds. Russia's Alexander Khoroshilov was third.

Alpine Skiing - FIS Alpine Skiing World Cup - Men's Slalom

"If the season stopped now, I'd be over the moon....I'll just keep trying, that's all I can do," Ryding told Austrian television.

Ryding, whose previous best performance was seventh place in Zagreb in January, clocked 53.42 seconds on the first leg, giving him a lead of 0.29 seconds over Italy's Stefano Gross.

Hirscher, overall World Cup winner for the last five seasons, appeared to have given himself too much to do as he was 1.02 seconds behind but charged down the course in just 50.79 seconds on his second run to take the initiative.

Gross skied off the course near the top and Ryding managed to improve on his first leg with a timing of 52.57 seconds but still missed out.

(Writing by Brian Homewood in Berne, editing by Neil Robinson)

Govt should be entitled to point out falsehoods under law: MinLaw Local NewsSun, 22 Jan 2017 22:32:22 +0800SINGAPORE: The Government, like any other person, should be entitled to point out falsehoods which are published and have the true facts brought to public attention under the law, Singapore's Ministry of Law (MinLaw) said on Sunday (Jan 22). 

On Monday, the Court of Appeal had ruled in a rare split decision that the Government cannot invoke an anti-harassment law, the Protection from Harassment Act (POHA), that allows people to stop the publication of false statements against them.

Crime generic (2)

The Ministry of Defence had sought to invoke the law to get socio-political website The Online Citizen to take down statements made by inventor Dr Ting Choon Meng about a patent rights dispute.

The Worker's Party (WP) issued a statement on Sunday expressing concern that the Government was looking into taking further action on the matter.

"For the POHA to be used to protect the Government from 'harassment' risks weakening Singapore’s climate of free speech and robust debate. It risks turning the POHA into the latest in the many tools that the Government can use against Singaporeans who publicly express different views from the Government on its policies and actions," WP said in the statement. 

However, MinLaw said the Act provides remedies for two "distinct" types of wrongs: Harassment and false statements. 

"The Government has never said that it needed protection from harassment. Nor does the Government intend to amend POHA to protect itself from harassment," it said. 

Instead, the ministry said that its position on the POHA had to do with false information. "The Government needs to take steps to protect the public and Singapore’s institutions from the very real dangers posed by the spread of false information," it said, adding that it would not "shy away" from doing so. 

"The Government strongly believes that the scourge of false information must not be allowed to take hold in Singapore, lest it weakens our democratic society and institutions," it added.

"At a time when false information can affect election results, contaminate public discussions and weaken democratic societies, it is important for the Government, as well as corporations and individuals, to be able to respond robustly to false statements that could poison public debate and mislead decision-making. Everyone, including the Government, should be entitled to point out falsehoods which are published, and have the true facts brought to public attention," said MinLaw.

UK's May looks to boost technology industry as she eyes life after Brexit, 22 Jan 2017 22:25:15 +0800LONDON: The government's plan to reshape Britain's economy to adapt to Brexit will be announced next week, Prime Minister Theresa May said on Sunday, highlighting technology as one growth sector and setting out a new technical education strategy.

May has made rebalancing the heavily services-based economy one of her top priorities since coming to office last July, as a way to deal with the economic impact of Britain's exit from the European Union and re-engage with disillusioned working class voters.

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May speaks on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show

On Monday ,she is due to publish an outline of the government's plans for a "modern industrial strategy" in a consultation document which will seek the views of industry.

"What the modern industrial strategy will be about will be saying 'What is the shape of the economy that we want for the future?'" she told the BBC on Sunday.

"Where are the successful sectors that we can help to encourage to grow? But also, what are the sectors that we need to look to for the future too?"

She cited examples such as battery technology, where she believed Britain had a competitive advantage, but said there was a lot more that could be done to boost science and innovation.

On Sunday, May also announced renewed focus and extra spending for technical education, aimed at addressing a shortage of basic skills in areas such as mathematics.

(Reporting by William James; Editing by Mark Potter)

China bans more than 100 golf courses to safeguard resources NewsSun, 22 Jan 2017 22:10:18 +0800BEIJING: China has ordered the closure of more than 100 golf courses, the powerful state planner said on Sunday, after a multi-year campaign to tackle illegal development in the sector.

Beijing banned new golf courses in 2004 to protect scarce arable land and water resources but new projects continued to be built to meet growing demand from China's wealthy.

Of a total 683 courses in the country, 111 have been ordered to close following a crackdown launched in 2011, said the National Development and Reform Commission.

It cited illegal use of arable land, extraction of groundwater in prohibited areas and construction on nature reserves among the infractions by developers.

A further 18 golf courses have been ordered to return illegally occupied land, and 47 have been told to stop construction.

Golf courses were also popular among Chinese officials but amid a sweeping anti-corruption crackdown in recent years, the sport has been added to a list of Communist Party disciplinary violations, and is frequently cited in cases of alleged graft.

(Reporting by Dominique Patton and Yawen Chen; Editing by Mark Potter)

Strycova keen to give Serena the runaround in fourth round NewsSun, 22 Jan 2017 22:10:15 +0800MELBOURNE: Barbora Strycova expects to do a lot of running against Serena Williams in their Australian Open fourth round tie at Rod Laver Arena on Monday but the diminutive Czech will be no pushover for the world number two.

"She's a powerful player, and I'm so small," said 16th seed Strycova, who stands just over 5 feet 4 inches (1.64m).

"I run a lot, but ... I have to do it. Otherwise I can't play tennis. Without my legs, I cannot hit a ball!

"I will have to work hard and play my best tennis to beat Serena, because she is an amazing player (and) ... it's going to be a tough one, but I am also a tough player to play."

The pair will be meeting for the third time, with Williams winning their two previous clashes in the second round at Melbourne Park in 2012 and the first round at Wimbledon later that year - a tournament she went on to win.

The world number two said despite having only played Strycova twice she had a fair idea of what to expect.

"I have seen her play a lot. I saw her play in Sydney," Williams said of Strycova's run to the semi-final. "She's super fit. She has a good game. She's very aggressive, so that would be nice to play."

Britain's ninth seed Johanna Konta could set up a last-eight showdown with Williams if she gets past tricky Russian left-hander Ekaterina Makarova, who has a habit of knocking seeds out at the Australian Open.

Men's ninth seed Rafa Nadal also continues his renaissance with a clash against the enigmatic Gael Monfils, who made the semi-finals at Flushing Meadows last year.

Third seed Milos Raonic, if he gets past Roberto Bautista Agut on Hisense Arena, will face the winner of that match in the last eight though he has been struggling due to illness.

(Writing by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

People missing from avalanche-hit hotel in Italy rise to 24, 22 Jan 2017 22:05:28 +0800PENNE, Italy: Twenty-four people are missing from the wreckage of a hotel in central Italy that was flattened by a deadly avalanche, with difficult research and rescue operations still ongoing, authorities said on Sunday.

A statement from the national fire service said the number of people missing rose by one after a rescued person said that a hotel employee, of Senegalese origin, was inside the building at the moment of the avalanche.

Rescue workers search around the Hotel Rigopiano in Farindola, central Italy

So far five people have been confirmed dead, and nine, including four children, were pulled alive from tons of rubble and snow on Saturday.

"Operations continue, both inside and outside the hotel, there is no change in the numbers (of saved and dead people)," spokesman Luca Cari said in the statement.

The luxury Hotel Rigopiano, located at the foot of a mountain chain in the central Italian region of Abruzzo, was obliterated on Wednesday after an avalanche caused by an earthquake smashed into its spa and demolished the four-storey building.

"The situation unfortunately is the same as the last few days, we keep working nonstop, under extremely difficult weather conditions... but we will carry on working as quickly as we possibly can," said Major Marco Amoriello.

He added that weather conditions were not helping operations and that the forecast for the next few days did not look good.

"But we certainly won't be stopping because of that," Amoriello said.

Some rescue workers said they did not rule out finding more survivors, more than three days after the disaster.

Around 120,000 tonnes of frozen snow covered much of what was left of the hotel, a colonel from a fire brigade team working on-site told television Sky TG24.

Nine of the eleven survivors are still hospitalised in the nearby city of Pescara, with some of them leaving hospital as soon as Monday.

"Thank you for being close, and for the real help you are bringing," said Pope Francis on Sunday at his weekly Angelus audience, referring to those involved in rescue and relief operations and asking to pray for them and the families of the victims.

Prosecutors in the central Italian city of Pescara have opened a probe over alleged unintentional multiple manslaughter and negligence causing a large-scale disaster.

(Reporting by Antonio Denti in Penne and Giulia Segreti in Milan; Editing by Clelia Oziel)

Brazilian authorities build temporary wall to quell deadly prison clashes, 22 Jan 2017 22:00:23 +0800SAO PAULO: Brazilian security officials worked to complete an improvised wall of metal shipping containers on Sunday inside a prison where rival gangs have clashed in the past week, resulting in the brutal killing of 26 inmates.

The rusty red containers were hauled into the Alcacuz prison yard in northeastern Brazil, with officials aiming to finish the temporary wall, stacking one container atop another, by sundown Sunday.

Workers place a container to separate two factions of drug gangs during an uprising at Alcacuz pris

It is a desperate move for security officials struggling to keep control of Alcacuz, where the latest in a string of brutal prison massacres in Brazil's north and northeast took place Jan. 14. Members of the nation's most powerful gang attacked rivals with machetes and knives, beheading and quartering many of the 26 killed.

The outbreak of violence was the latest in Brazil's beleaguered penitentiary system, where about 140 people have died in clashes since Jan. 1.

The overcrowded prisons are now the battleground in a quickly escalating war between the nation's two biggest drug gangs, the Sao Paulo-based First Capital Command (PCC) and the Red Command based in Rio de Janeiro.

For two decades, the two factions have maintained a working relationship, ensuring a steady flow of drugs and arms over Brazil's porous border. But about six months ago, the PCC began trying to muscle the Red Command out of key drug routes.

The PCC has aggressively moved into new areas in the north and northeast of Brazil, where the deadly prison riots have taken place in recent weeks. In response, the Red Command allied itself with local gangs, enlisting them to take on the PCC.

The killings began on Jan. 1, when the powerful North Family gang, an ally of the Red Command, killed 56 inmates at a prison in Amazonas state, mostly PCC members.

The North Family controls a lucrative cocaine route along the Solimoes, a branch of the Amazon that flows from Colombia and Peru, the world's top two cocaine-producing nations.

The PCC retaliated on Jan. 6 by killing 33 inmates at the Monte Cristo prison in the neighbouring state of Roraima and then carrying out the killings at Alcacuz this weekend.

Then at Alcacuz in Rio Grande do Norte state, PCC members slaughtered rivals belonging to the "Crime Union of RN" - a gang carrying the state's initials - whose members were killed last weekend by PCC inmates.

(Reporting by Brad Brooks; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

Syria peace negotiator says ceasefire on Astana agenda - SANA, 22 Jan 2017 21:55:21 +0800BEIRUT: Syria's U.N. ambassador Bashar Ja'afari, head of its delegation to peace talks in Astana, said on Sunday the main points on the agenda included strengthening ceasefire lines and reaching common ground on fighting terrorism, state-owned SANA reported.

Ja'afari added in a press conference in Astana that Damascus regarded the peace talks as only being between Syrian parties and that Turkey would not participate in dialogue, reported SANA, Syria's official news agency.

Syrian government negotiator Bashar Ja'afari attends a new conference after a meeting during S

(Reporting by Angus McDowall; Editing by Mark Potter)

Britain's Fleetwood wins Abu Dhabi Championship NewsSun, 22 Jan 2017 21:55:16 +0800REUTERS: Britain's Tommy Fleetwood kept his composure to come from behind and win his first European Tour title in more than three years at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship on Sunday.

The 26-year-old Englishman posted a five-under-par 67 in his final round to finish 17 under par - one shot ahead of U.S. Open champion Dustin Johnson, who hit an eagle on the last, and 2014 Abu Dhabi winner, Pablo Larrazabal of Spain.

Golf - Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship

Fleetwood's second tour win came after he began the final round one shot behind overnight leader Tyrrell Hatton.

On a day of difficult winds at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Fleetwood posted an outward 36 before making his move on the back nine, chipping in for an eagle at the 10th and hitting three other birdies.

The victory continued Fleetwood's fine recent form, which has seen him post 10 top 20 finishes in his last 14 starts.

"I thought maybe the second win would come sooner to be honest," he told the European tour website. "It's been a massive comeback.

"I had a really hard time from July 2015 to July last year where I really struggled with my game. It's been an awkward curve.

"The only thing left was 'let's get a win' but, you know, if you keep knocking on the door it will come.

"The chip-in on 10, birdie on 11, changed everything. All of a sudden from nowhere I was leading."

Fleetwood's only other tour win was at the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles in August 2013.

(Writing by Neil Robinson; Editing by Ken Ferris)

Title aspirants Sevilla stage second fightback in a week NewsSun, 22 Jan 2017 21:40:21 +0800BARCELONA: Sevilla followed last week's recovery against La Liga leaders Real Madrid by staging another stirring comeback to win 4-3 at Osasuna, after twice falling behind, to keep the pressure on Zinedine Zidane's side at the top of the table.

Late goals from Franco Vazquez and Pablo Sarabia secured the points after Sevilla captain Vicente Iborra had scored for both sides after Osasuna had battled gamely in an action-packed clash between teams from opposite ends of the table.

Jorge Sampaoli's side, now a point off the pace but having played a game more, have enjoyed consistent results at home but their poor away form looked set to haunt them again when Sergio Leon put bottom side Osasuna ahead in the 15th minute.

Iborra pulled Sevilla level two minutes before halftime by following up Stevan Jovetic's cross to score after he had thumped the post, but shot his side in the foot in the 63rd by diverting an Osasuna cross into his own net.

He made amends two minutes later by knocking the ball into the opposition net on the rebound to equalise again with Osasuna claiming it should have been ruled out for offside.

Vazquez gave Sevilla the lead for the first time by heading in from a corner after 80 minutes, sparking more furious protests from Osasuna who claimed he had shoved an opponent before the cross came in.

Substitute Sarabia sealed a fifth straight league win by scoring a fourth Sevilla goal from the edge of the area in the 91st minute to put his side on 42 points from 19 games, their biggest ever total for the first half of a season.

Kenan Kodro then scored a consolation goal for the hosts in the 92nd minute.

Later on Sunday, fourth-placed Atletico Madrid, who have 34 points, visit Athletic Bilbao before champions Barcelona, third on 38, travel to Eibar. Real Madrid beat Malaga 2-1 on Saturday.

(Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Ken Ferris)

Syrian army nears Turkey-backed rebels in new advance, 22 Jan 2017 21:25:16 +0800BEIRUT: The Syrian army and its allies on Sunday drove Islamic State from several villages east of Aleppo, a military media unit run by Hezbollah and a war monitor reported, bringing them closer to territory held by Turkey-backed rebels.

Several overlapping conflicts are being fought in Syria, dragging in regional and global powers as well as the government and local groups, complicating the battlefield in the north of the country and raising the risk of an escalation in the war.

The main struggle in Syria's civil war is between President Bashar al-Assad, backed by Iran, Russia and Shi'ite militias including the Lebanese Hezbollah, against rebels that include groups backed by Turkey, Gulf monarchies and the United States.

However, both those sides, as well as a separate group of Kurdish-led militias, are also fighting against Islamic State and retaking territory which the jihadist group controls in northern Syria.

The army and its allies captured the villages of Sora, Moran, Surja al-Saghira and Surja al-Kabira, located about 16km (10 miles) southwest of al-Bab and roughly the same distance east of Aleppo.

Rebels supported by Turkish jets, armour and special forces are attempting to capture al-Bab from Islamic State after reaching its northern outskirts a month ago.

Although Turkey has long been one of the biggest supporters of anti-Assad rebels, its entry into Syria last summer was aimed at pushing Islamic State from its border and at stopping Kurdish groups linking two enclaves they control along the frontier.

After rebels lost their pocket of territory in Aleppo in December, Turkey and Assad's main supporter Russia brokered a ceasefire and peace talks in Syria between the government and insurgents.

Last week, Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek appeared to soften Ankara's position against Assad, saying it was no longer realistic to demand a resolution of the conflict without his involvement.

(Reporting by Angus McDowall; Editing by Mark Potter)

Police investigating public assembly without permit at Sembawang Park Local NewsSun, 22 Jan 2017 21:20:26 +0800SINGAPORE: Thirty people, aged between 21 to 56, are being investigated for protesting in public without a permit, the police said in a news release on Sunday (Jan 22).

The group had gathered at Sembawang Park on Saturday, with some holding placards. Police said preliminary investigations found that they were there to show their support for “Jallikattu” and the ongoing protest in India against its ban.  

Armed policemen stand guard in Singapore, on July 18, 2012(Photo:AFP)

Jallikattu, a traditional bull-taming festival in which youths and men wrestle rampaging bulls, was banned by the Indian Supreme Court last year - prompting thousands to protest in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. 

In the news release, the police reiterated that foreigners had to abide by the nation's laws and not import politics of their home countries into Singapore. They added that those who broke the law would be dealt with firmly, and that their visas or work passes may be terminated where applicable.

Organising or participating in a public assembly without a police permit is illegal in Singapore.

Champion Kerber overpowered by Vandeweghe in Melbourne NewsSun, 22 Jan 2017 21:15:16 +0800MELBOURNE: Top seed and reigning champion Angelique Kerber was bundled out of the fourth round of the Australian Open by big-hitting American Coco Vandeweghe on Sunday, losing 6-2 6-3 on Rod Laver Arena.

The German world number one's exit followed that of men's top seed and world number one Andy Murray, who lost to Mischa Zverev earlier in the evening on the same court.

New Yorker Vandeweghe claimed a place in the quarter-finals at Melbourne Park for the first time by blasting six aces and 30 winners to simply overpower Kerber.

It was the earliest exit by a reigning women's singles champion at Melbourne Park since France's Amelie Mauresmo also went out in the fourth round in 2007.

"I was not feeling the ball at all tonight. I was not playing good from the first point," said 29-year-old Kerber, who made 15 unforced errors.

"It was not my day and not my match, for sure. But this is tennis, and you have good days and bad days. For sure today was not my best day."

The American world number 35 smashed a backhand crosscourt winner to take the single break of serve she needed to claim the opening set in 33 minutes.

Kerber hit back by breaking her 25-year-old opponent on a double fault in the opening game of the second set but the aggressive Vandeweghe would not be denied.

Taking advantage of a series of uncharacteristic Kerber errors, Vandeweghe ramped up her big forehand to break back for 3-3 and another backhand winner broke the German again and gave her the opportunity to serve for the match.

Kerber was by now wandering around the backcourt looking disconsolate and sealed her fate, as well as Vandeweghe's victory, when she looped a return far beyond the baseline after 68 minutes.

Vandeweghe, who celebrated her biggest career victory with an exaggerated shrug of the shoulders, moves on to meet Spanish seventh seed Garbine Muguruza in the last eight.

"I was feeling like crap out there," said Vandeweghe.  

"Last year I came here and didn't even win a match and here I am now. It's the confidence you get from having a full off-season with no injuries."

Kerber, who also won the U.S. Open and reached the final at Wimbledon last season, said she was still confident that 2017 could still be another good year.

"This is the first grand slam of the year," she said. "I tried my best. Of course, there are few more tournaments to come with January. I think that I can still have a good year.

"I can still improve my tennis. I will try my best to come back stronger."

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Julien Pretot)

Two suspected al Qaeda members killed in drone strike in Yemen - officials, 22 Jan 2017 20:50:20 +0800SANAA: Two suspected members of al Qaeda's Yemen branch were killed on Sunday by what local officials believed was a U.S. drone strike.

If confirmed, it would be the first such attack since U.S. President Donald Trump assumed office on Friday.

The men were killed when a missile hit the vehicle in which they were travelling in southern al-Bayda province, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The United States conducted dozens of drone strikes throughout Barack Obama's presidency to combat al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, regarded as one of the global militant group's most dangerous branches.

The Trump administration has not yet laid out a clear policy on drone strikes, but Trump has said that he would support an escalation of the fight against Islamist militant groups.

During the Obama administration, the U.S. has regularly used drones to attack Islamic State, al Qaeda and other militant groups in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan and other countries.

The controversial program has repeatedly killed civilians and has been criticised by human rights groups.

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has exploited Yemen's civil war to carve out a foothold in the Arabian Peninsula's poorest country.

Several leaders of the group have been killed by drone strikes in recent years, most recently in December.

(Reporting by Mohammed Ghobari, Writing by Katie Paul; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

West African troops near Gambia's capital after Jammeh flees PacificSun, 22 Jan 2017 20:50:16 +0800BANJUL/DAKAR: West African troops were seen approaching Gambia's capital, Banjul, on Sunday, several witnesses said, as they sought to secure the country and allow new President Adama Barrow to take office after its former ruler fled overnight.

Yahya Jammeh, who led Gambia for 22 years but refused to accept defeat in a December election, flew out of Banjul late on Saturday en route to Equatorial Guinea as the regional force was poised to remove him.

A Gambia military truck from Barra is seen on arrival at Banjul Port a day after President Yahya Ja

Several witnesses in Barra, a town on the opposite bank of the Gambia River from Banjul, saw scores of soldiers massing near a ferry terminal.

"I saw a lot of them. Too many to count," said Pamadou Joof, 26, who operates a pirogue, a type of small boat. "They had vehicles and a lot of guns."

The regional operation was launched late on Thursday after Barrow was sworn in as president at Gambia's embassy in neighbouring Senegal, but it was then halted to give Jammeh one last chance to leave peacefully.

His departure followed two days of negotiations led by Guinea's President Alpha Conde and Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz of Mauritania that have prompted speculation over what, if any, terms were agreed to convince him to step down.

Senegalese Foreign Minister Mankeur Ndiaye told Reuters that, while Jammeh had sought a promise of immunity from prosecution, no such guarantee was made.

"President Jammeh and his team concocted a declaration to be endorsed by (regional bloc) ECOWAS, the United Nations and the African Union that gave him every guarantee, essentially impunity," Ndiaye said.

"This declaration was signed by no one."


Jammeh's loss in a Dec. 1 poll and his initial acceptance of the result were celebrated across the tiny nation by Gambians grown weary of his increasingly authoritarian rule. But he reversed his position a week later, creating a standoff with regional neighbours who demanded he step down.

West African troops from Senegal, Nigeria, Ghana and Mali were deploying throughout Gambia on Sunday as part of efforts to secure the country and allow Barrow to take charge.

"We will look for arms caches and detect mercenaries, so that we can restore calm," said Marcel de Souza, president of the ECOWAS commission, explaining to reporters overnight the new phase of the military operation.

"Adama Barrow hopes to go back as quickly as possible."

A Reuters witness on Sunday saw war planes flying over Banjul, which remained calm despite some concern over how the army, a pillar of Jammeh's regime, would react to his departure.

Rights groups accuse Jammeh of jailing, torturing and killing his political opponents while acquiring a vast fortune - including luxury cars and an estate in the United States - as most of his people remained impoverished.

The repression has forced thousands of Gambians to seek asylum abroad over the years. An additional 45,000 people fled to Senegal amid growing fears of unrest in the wake of last month's election, according to the United Nations.

Hundreds of Gambians carrying sacks, suitcases and cooking pots began returning by ferry from Senegal's Casamance region on Sunday.

Hawa Jagne, 22, a cloth trader, hugged her sister Fama as she stepped off the boat.

"I'm so relieved to see her," Jagne said. "Everyone is free. You can do whatever you want, because this is a democratic country. You can express yourself. No one can kill you."

(Additional reporting by Emma Farge in Dakar; Writing by Joe Bavier; Editing by Keith Weir)

Foxconn CEO says investment for display plant in US would exceed US$7 billion, 22 Jan 2017 20:40:15 +0800TAIPEI: Foxconn, the world's largest contract electronics maker, is considering setting up a display-making plant in the United States in an investment that would exceed US$7 billion, company chairman and chief executive Terry Gou said on Sunday.

The plans come after U.S. President Donald Trump pledged to put "America First" in his inauguration speech on Friday, prompting Gou to warn about the rise of protectionism and a trend for politics to underpin economic development.

Terry Gou, founder and chairman of Taiwan's Foxconn Technology, shown on a screen during the t

Foxconn's proposal to build a display plant, which would be planned with its Sharp Corp unit, depend on many factors, such as investment conditions, that would have to be negotiated at the U.S. state and federal levels, Gou told reporters on the sidelines of a company event.

Gou said that Foxconn, formally known as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co, had been considering such a move for years but the issue came up when Foxconn business partner Masayoshi Son, head of Japan's SoftBank Group Corp, talked to Gou before a December meeting Son had with Trump.

As a result of the meeting, Son pledged a US$50 billion of investment in the United States and inadvertently disclosed information showing Foxconn's logo and an unspecified additional US$7 billion investment. At the time, Foxconn issued a brief statement saying it was in preliminary discussions to expand its U.S. operations, without elaborating.

"Son is a good friend," Gou said, adding that Son had asked for his views about investing in the United States.

Gou said he told Son that the United States has no panel-making industry but it is the second-largest market for televisions. An investment for a display plant would exceed US$7 billion and could create about 30,000-50,000 jobs, Gou told Son.

"I thought it was a private conversation, but then the next morning it was exposed," Gou said. "There is such a plan, but it is not a promise. It is a wish."

Foxconn has existing cooperation and operations in Pennsylvania, which is a state Foxconn would prioritize, depending on land, water, power, infrastructure and other investment conditions, he said.

Gou added that Foxconn would also remain active in in China, dispelling talk that Beijing may be pressuring Foxconn about its investments.

Taiwan's tech-dominated manufacturers have been nervous about potential U.S. trade policies because Trump has threatened to raise tariffs on imports from some countries, notably China.

Foxconn is one of the biggest employers in China, where it operates factories that churn out most of Apple Inc's iPhones.

(Editing by Mark Potter and David Goodman)