Thenia (Algeria) (AFP) - With rifles slung over their shoulders and accompanied by a pack of hounds, the hunters head into the thicket in pursuit of wild boar, thriving since Algeria's Islamist insurgency halted the practice 20 years ago. They also banned hunting, a highly popular activity at the time, with some 50,000 wild boar killed every year by the estimated 60,000 hunters and 320 separate associations operating in Algeria. "Hunting was suspended in 1993 because of terrorism," says Youcef Hammi, president of the national hunting federation, adding the ban was still in force except in the case of wild boar, for which special permission can be obtained. But the hunting parties are strictly controlled, to avoid them being mistaken for Islamist militants who found refuge in the maquis during Algeria's "black decade" of conflict, and who remain active in the region.
A Sri Lankan Tamil asylum-seeker has died after setting himself on fire while awaiting a visa decision in Australia, Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said Monday. He added that authorities had been in touch with Seemanpillai's father in India, who requested a funeral for his son in Geelong. Seemanpillai, who arrived by boat in Australia in January 2013, was receiving community mental health support and his refugee application was still being processed, Morrison added. "I can also advise that the last case worker contact with Mr Seemanpillai was on Friday, May 30, and I am advised that there was no concern or indication of any suicidal intention... at that time," he said.
Secretary of State John Kerry spoke with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas about forming a new unity government, and voiced renewed concern about Hamas. Abbas earlier said the lineup of a unity government will be announced Monday, after a delay over who will head the foreign ministry. The Islamist movement Hamas and the Western-backed Palestine Liberation Organisation, dominated by Abbas's secular Fatah party, signed a surprise reconciliation agreement in April to end years of rivalry. During his telephone call with Abbas on Sunday, Kerry "expressed concern about Hamas's role in any such government and the importance that the new government commit to the principles of nonviolence, recognition of the state of Israel and acceptance of previous agreements with it," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.
Australia has granted refugee visas to more than 500 Afghans for their help during its mission in the war-torn nation, saying their safety would be jeopardised by remaining in the country. "Many of these employees were placed at significant risk of harm by insurgents in Afghanistan, due to the highly visible and dangerous nature of their employment," Defence Minister David Johnston said. "This policy reflects Australia's fulfillment of its moral obligation to those who provided invaluable support to Australia's efforts in Afghanistan," he said. The last Australian combat troops left Afghanistan in December, marking the end of the nation's longest war which left 40 of its soldiers dead.
Former British prime minister Tony Blair was on Monday to call for a shake-up of the European Union following the dramatic gains made by eurosceptic parties in last week's EU-wide elections. In a speech to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), Blair was to call the victories of the UK Independence Party and the National Front in France a "wake-up call", according to extracts published in The Times. The results reveal that voters feel "deep anxiety, distrust and alienation from the institutions and key philosophy of Europe", he was to say in the keynote London speech. "The election of parties across the continent on explicitly 'anti-the-status-quo in Europe' platforms signify something.
The US government will propose a rule Monday requiring power plants to cut by 30 percent carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 based on 2005 levels, US media reported Sunday. The Wall Street Journal cited people briefed on the rule as saying the Environmental Protection Agency's draft measure was due to be completed within a year. It will give leeway to US states to decide how to fulfil the reductions targets, such as through new cap-and-trade programs, deploying more renewable energy or developing energy-efficient technologies. The Washington Post said the plan would cut five million metric tons of carbon dioxide by 2030, which may make it President Barack Obama's most sweeping climate change policy.
Lady Mary Soames, the last surviving child of Britain's World War II prime minister Winston Churchill, has died at the age of 91, her family announced Sunday. The baroness died peacefully at her home on Saturday surrounded by family members, following a short illness. She married the Conservative politician Baron Christopher Soames, and they had three sons and two daughters. Her late husband served as Britain's war secretary and ambassador to France, was a European commissioner and the last British governor of Southern Rhodesia before its transition to Zimbabwe.