Egypt Independent: World-Main news en China says to hold drills with Russia in South China Sea <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>China and Russia will hold &quot;routine&quot; naval exercises in the South China Sea in September, China&#39;s Defence Ministry said on Thursday, adding that the drills were aimed at strengthening their cooperation and were not aimed at any other country.<br /><br />The exercises come at a time of heightened tension in the contested waters after an arbitration court in the Hague ruled this month that China did not have historic rights to the South China Sea and criticized its environmental destruction there.<br /><br />China rejected the ruling and refused to participate in the case.<br /><br />&quot;This is a routine exercise between the two armed forces, aimed at strengthening the developing China-Russia strategic cooperative partnership,&quot; China&#39;s defense ministry spokesman Yang Yujun told a regular monthly news conference.<br /><br />&quot;The exercise is not directed against third parties.&quot;<br /><br />China and Russia are veto-wielding members of the U.N. Security Council, and have held similar views on many major issues such as the crisis in Syria, putting them at odds with the United States and Western Europe.<br /><br />Last year, they held joint military drills in the Sea of Japan and the Mediterranean.<br /><br />China claims most of the South China Sea, through which more than $5 trillion of trade moves annually. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam have rival claims.<br /><br />China has repeatedly blamed the United States for stoking tension in the region through its military patrols, and of taking sides in the dispute.<br /><br />The United States has sought to assert its right to freedom of navigation in the South China Sea with its patrols and denies taking sides in the territorial disputes.<br /><br />Russia has been a strong backer of China&#39;s stance on the arbitration case, that was brought by the Philippines.<br /><br />Yang said China and Russia were comprehensive strategic partners and had already held many exercises this year.<br /><br />&quot;These drills deepen mutual trust and expand cooperation, raise the ability to jointly deal with security threats, and benefit the maintenance of regional and global peace and stability,&quot; he said.</p> Thu, 28 Jul 2016 09:57:00 +0000 Reuters 2471415 at sites/default/files/photo/2016/07/28/504802/navy.jpg Zimbabwe's Mugabe says will not quit after war veterans' rebuke <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe on Wednesday dismissed demands by once stalwart war veteran supporters to quit, saying he was in power by popular vote and accusing critics of plotting his ouster with longtime Western opponents.<br /><br />The 92-year-old Mugabe, the only president Zimbabwe has had in 36 years of independence, was addressing thousands of Zimbabweans who rallied to support him, a few days after veterans called him a corrupt dictator.<br /><br />&quot;As long as the party says continue, I continue...If I still have the energy, I still have the life, the blessings of God, I will continue,&quot; Mugabe said in a 50-minute address.<br /><br />&quot;Journalists, tell those you are representing that Robert Mugabe is still here, well and strong. This is me, and my people are going to have me for some time,&quot; he said to loud cheers.<br /><br />Mugabe, however, looked grey and drained, leaned for most of the time on a podium and spoke with a halting voice, labouring through his lines.<br /><br />&quot;Some of these rebels from our war veteran ranks have been working with secret agents from the American, United Kingdom and French embassies here,&quot; said Mugabe, one of Africa&#39;s longest serving rulers.<br /><br />The veterans, who fought against white minority rule in Rhodesia, as Zimbabwe was known before independence, turned on their ex-commander last week, saying he had &quot;devoured&quot; the values of the liberation struggle.<br /><br />The government said the veterans statement amounted to treason and they would be punished.<br /><br />As senior members of the ruling ZANU-PF party manoeuvre for advantage in a post-Mugabe era, two factions have emerged, one linked to Mugabe&#39;s wife Grace and one for Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, backed by the powerful war veterans.<br /><br />Without mentioning him by name, Mugabe responded to accusations by one of his junior ministers that Mnangagwa was plotting to unseat him by urging his vice president to declare his ambitions openly.<br /><br />Mnangagwa, known in political circles as &quot;the crocodile&quot;, sat quietly by Mugabe&#39;s side as he spoke.<br /><br />Public discontent over high inflation, unemployment and other hardships spilled out into the streets in a nationwide protest movement this month.<br /><br />Mugabe warned church leaders, including pastor Evan Mawarire who started an internet campaign that inspired rare protests against the president, to stay out of active politics and organising anti-government protests.<br /><br />&quot;I want to warn them, these people, such as Mawarire and others, ZANU-PF will not tolerate any nonsense done in the name of religion. Once you begin to interfere with our politics, you are courting trouble. Real trouble,&quot; he said.<br /><br />Supporters dressed in ZANU-PF colours, some holding portraits of Mugabe, sang and danced at the party headquarters in response to a call to demonstrate their unwavering support.<br /><br />&quot;Mugabe is our hero and those who are criticising him from our ranks are sellouts who must be banished. In my view Mugabe should be allowed to die in office,&quot; said 58-year old James Mushonga.</p> Thu, 28 Jul 2016 09:38:00 +0000 Reuters 2471412 at sites/default/files/photo/2012/07/20/72636/s1.reutersmedia.net_.jpg Judge frees President Reagan's would-be killer Hinckley <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>John Hinckley Jr., who wounded U.S. President Ronald Reagan and three other people in a 1981 assassination attempt prompted by his mental illness, should be freed after 35 years and released to live with his mother, a federal judge ruled on Wednesday.<br /><br />U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman said Hinckley, 61, no longer posed a danger to himself or others and could be released from St. Elizabeth&#39;s, a government psychiatric hospital in Washington.<br /><br />Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity in 1982 for the attack on Reagan, which also badly wounded presidential press secretary James Brady, outside a Washington hotel. Hinckley carried out the attack in a bid to impress actress Jodie Foster, with whom he was obsessed.<br /><br />In his order, Friedman said Hinckley &quot;is permitted to reside full-time in Williamsburg, Virginia, on convalescent leave, which shall begin no sooner than Aug. 5, 2016.&quot;<br /><br />Hinckley&#39;s mother lives in Williamsburg, about 130 miles (210 km) south of Washington. Since 2006, Hinckley has completed more than 80 unsupervized visits to Williamsburg, the judge said.<br /><br />Friedman&#39;s order imposes dozens of conditions, including a requirement that Hinckley meet with his psychiatrist in Washington at least once a month and notify the Secret Service when he travels for the appointment.<br /><br />Hinckley&#39;s attack eventually became an important moment in the U.S. debate over gun control with Brady, who was left permanently disabled by his wound, and wife Sarah, becoming the country&#39;s leading gun control advocates.<br /><br />His organization helped the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act become law in 1993, imposing federal background checks on gun purchases and a five-day waiting period.<br /><br />Hinckley already has been staying at his mother&#39;s home in a gated community on a golf course during monthly furlough visits. He was granted a Virginia driver&#39;s license in 2014, the magazine Washingtonian reported in May.<br /><br />Hinckley has worked as a volunteer at the library of a psychiatric facility in Williamsburg after failing to secure employment at places such as Starbucks and Subway, the magazine wrote.</p> Wed, 27 Jul 2016 15:18:00 +0000 Reuters 2471409 at sites/default/files/photo/2016/07/27/504802/john_hinckley_jr.jpg South Africa's ANC likely to lose local vote in major cities: polls <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>South Africa&#39;s ruling African National Congress (ANC) looks likely to lose major urban areas it has held since coming to power in 1994 at the end of apartheid, opinion polls ahead of next week&#39;s local elections showed.<br /><br />The economic hub of Johannesburg, the capital Pretoria and Nelson Mandela Bay on the east coast, could all fall to the main opposition party, Democratic Alliance, on Aug. 3, according to polls published last week by Ipsos.<br /><br />The ANC&#39;s support looked set to slip to 31 percent in Johannesburg from 59 percent in the 2011 local elections, and in Tshwane municipality, which includes the capital Pretoria, to 23 percent from 55 percent. In Nelson Mandela Bay, support was just 28 percent, from 52 percent last time, the Ipsos polls said.<br /><br />With its reputation bruised by accusations of corruption against President Jacob Zuma, and high unemployment as Africa&#39;s most industrialised country teeters on the edge of a recession, voters are disenchanted, Ipsos and other polls showed.<br /><br />&quot;I voted for the ANC last time but now I&#39;m not sure,&quot; said Brian Malope, 38, who works in a supermarket kitchen, in Soweto, one of Johannesburg&#39;s largest townships.<br /><br />&quot;Look around, nothing has changed,&quot; he said pointing at a disused bus terminal where homeless people were sheltering and street vendors sold fruit and grilled sheep heads.<br /><br />The ANC, which can point to a number of successes, including more housing and increased basic sanitation countrywide, has said its own opinion polls show it would prevail at the vote.<br /><br />Some analysts said a flare-up of violent anti-government riots would not necessarily lead to ballot box losses.<br /><br />&quot;People come out in protests. But still, as they protest against the ANC they&#39;re hoping it&#39;s the ANC that will solve the country&#39;s problems,&quot; political analyst Aubrey Matshiqi said.<br /><br />Some said Zuma had cast a cloud over the ANC.<br /><br />&quot;No doubt that the current president has become a liability to the ANC due to a litany of unethical behaviour,&quot; Institute for Security Studies (ISS) researchers Jakkie Cilliers and Ciara Aucoin said in a June paper on election violence.<br /><br />Aucion said the ISS&#39;s projections, based on extensive research, interviews and data from previous elections found that the ANC risked important losses in a number of metro areas, a trend that could gain momentum in subsequent years.<br /><br />In April, Zuma survived an impeachment vote and in December he was widely criticised for changing his finance minister twice in a week, sending the rand currency plummeting and triggering calls to quit from the opposition.<br /><br />Zuma is appealing a June ruling by the High Court that he face corruption charges related to a major government arms deal in the late 1990s.<br /><br />The ANC has stood by Zuma, saying that the accusations against him would not damage the party&#39;s chances at the polls.<br /><br />Pan-African research body Afrobarometer said last month that Zuma&#39;s approval rating of 34 percent was the lowest score since the poll started in 2000.<br /><br />Its June poll of 2,400 people found that six out of 10 South Africans disapproved of the way their local councillors had done their jobs over the previous 12 months.</p> Wed, 27 Jul 2016 15:07:00 +0000 Reuters 2471407 at sites/default/files/photo/2016/07/27/504802/zuma_5.jpg