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US ambassador ‘shocked’ by Zambian president’s anti-gay comments | World News

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The Zambian president’s tough defence of his anti-homosexual views in an exclusive interview with Sky News has sparked outrage from the country’s US ambassador.

American diplomat Daniel Foote has now threatened to cut aid.

The Zambians, in response, say they intend to lodge a demarche – an official diplomatic complaint demanding action from the US president against his envoy.

Zambian President Edgar Lungu and America’s top diplomat in the country are at loggerheads over the jailing of two homosexuals under an archaic law which dates back to British colonial times.

US ambassador Daniel Foote has threatened to cut aid. Pic: US Embassy in Zambia
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US ambassador Daniel Foote has threatened to cut aid. Pic: US Embassy in Zambia

Under the law, the men were jailed for 15 years for what is known as a crime against the order of nature – the legal term for gay sex in Zambia.

Mr Foote said he was “personally horrified” at the sentencing.

He went on to attack the government for failing to tackle endemic corruption and for giving poachers lighter jail terms – yet handing down harsh punishment on consenting homosexual adults.

But the Zambian president was far from cowed by the ambassador’s criticism.

Instead he went on the offensive, accusing Mr Foote of being “disrespectful” to the Zambian cultural and social values and interfering with the sovereignty of a foreign state.

President Lungu’s remarks on Sky News seem to have infuriated the ambassador even further.

The president said: “We know that there could be people who are homosexual in Zambia but we don’t want to promote it.

“We frown on it… the practice… most of us think it’s wrong… it’s unbiblical and unchristian… and we don’t want it.”

President Edgar Lungu accused the ambassador of being 'disrespectful'
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President Edgar Lungu accused the ambassador of being ‘disrespectful’

He went on: “Even animals don’t do it so why should we be forced to do it… because we want to be seen to be smart, to be seen to be civilised and advanced and so on.

‘If there are such countries which will allow bestiality, let them do it but not here.”

Hours later, the US ambassador told Zambian reporters: “I was shocked at the venom and hate directed at me and my country, largely in the name of Christian values, by a small minority of Zambians.”

He said he had received threats against him which has forced him to cancel official engagements to mark World Aids Day being organised for Tuesday.

“I am not qualified to sermonise,” the ambassador said, in what appeared to be a direct comment to the president.

“But I cannot imagine Jesus would have used bestiality comparisons or referred to his fellow human beings as ‘dogs’ or ‘worse than animals’, allusions made repeatedly by your countrymen and women about homosexuals.

“Targeting and marginalising minorities, especially homosexuals, has been a warning signal of future atrocities by governments in many countries.”

The ambassador insisted his country’s hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to Zambia gave him the right to express his views.

And he suggested if the authorities didn’t “renew and rejuvenate” its partnership with the United States, aid donations would suffer.

“If you see someone is not co-operating,” he said, ‘I think the natural inclination would be that assistance levels could change.”

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New Zealand orders 1.2 million sq cm of skin from US to treat volcano patients | World News

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New Zealand has ordered 1.2 million sq cm of skin from America to treat patients suffering burns on up to 95% of their body after Monday’s volcano eruption.

Surgeons have been working around the clock on 29 patients in burns units across the country since the volcano suddenly erupted on White Island, off New Zealand’s North Island.

New Zealand Police confirmed five people died during the eruption and one person died from their burns on Tuesday night after a total of 47 were affected.



White Island Eruption 
New Zealand







Tourists film huge White Island eruption

The bodies of eight people remain on the island as ever-increasing volcanic activity is preventing authorities from safely returning to the island.

Due to the unprecedented numbers of burn victims at one time and the nature of their burns from toxic volcanic gases, surgeons are having to work quicker than usual, said Dr Peter Watson, clinical director at Middlemore Hospital where the national burns unit is.

He said 1.2 million sq cm of skin is coming from the United States as they “urgently need more skin grafts”.

A number of patients have burns on up to 95% of their bodies, while the average is 40-50%, and 22 remain on airway support due to burns affecting their lungs.

A human body has approximately 20sqm of skin, with the palm of a hand about 1.5% of a body’s skin, doctors explained.

Surgeons estimated they have 500 hours of operations to do in the days and months ahead.

After a volcano on New Zealand's White Island, there is one confirmed casualty with other tourists injured and 'unaccounted for'
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The volcano erupted on Monday

An Australian Defence Force aircraft is being sent to New Zealand to transfer some of the 24 Australians involved to burns units closer to their homes.

One Australian national was being flown from Auckland by specialist air ambulance to Australia on Wednesday evening.

The other victims are from New Zealand, the UK, the US, Germany, China and Malaysia.

Dr Watson said doctors struggled to identify many of the patients at first as they were in surgery and many did not have ID on them, but most have been identified now.

Pic: Facebook
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Newlyweds Matthew and Lauren Urey were badly injured in the eruption. Pic: Facebook
Hayden Marshall was confirmed dead by his brother on social media. Pic: Facebook
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Hayden Marshall was confirmed dead by his brother on social media. Pic: Facebook

Matthew Urey, from Virginia in the US, experienced burns over 80% of his body, while his wife, Lauren Urey, who he had just married, had burns over 20% of her body.

Experienced tour guide Hayden Marshal-Inman, from New Zealand, was the first person to have died to be publicly named as his brother, Mark, described him as a “lovely young man” who died doing what he loved.

On Wednesday afternoon, Australians Julie Richards, 47, and her daughter Jessica, 20, from Queensland were confirmed to have died.

Family friend John Mickel told Sky News Australia their family was informed by authorities early on Wednesday and the pair left for new Zealand last Monday and were due back home this weekend.

Julie Richards and her daughter are among the missing. Pic: Barbara Whitehead
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Julie Richards and her daughter, Jessica, have been confirmed as among the dead Pic: Barbara Whitehead

Police said they are ready to get onto White Island to recover the remaining bodies as soon as they are given the go-ahead by volcanologists.

Graham Leonard, senior volcanologist at GNS Science, said the chance of an eruption like Monday’s had risen to 40-60% on Wednesday evening, up from a 30-50% chance on Tuesday.

“Yesterday was high risk, today there is an even higher risk and the parameters are worsening,” he said.

He said the ash and gas being emitted from the volcano mean rescue crews would struggle to breath and see.

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Police officer among six people killed in shootout in New Jersey | US News

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Six people, including a police officer, have been killed in a shoot-out in New Jersey.

The officer was investigating a murder in Jersey City when he approached two suspects, one of whom opened fire and shot him in the head, police sources told NBC News.

The two suspects then fled in a rental van and holed up in a grocery store where a gun battle broke out, according to reports.

Police officers arrive to the scene where active shooting is happening in Jersey City on December 10, 2019. - One officer was shot when two gunmen with a long rifle opened fire in Jersey City, New Jersey, on the afternoon of December 10, 2019 , according to two officials. Two suspects were barricaded in a convenience store, the officials said. One officer was being taken to a nearby hospital. (Photo by Kena Betancur / AFP) (Photo by KENA BETANCUR/Afp/AFP via Getty Images)
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The incident is not believed to be a terror attack

Both suspects and three civilians were killed, NBC News said.

All schools in Jersey City were put on lockdown as heavy, sporadic gunfire was heard over an hour.

Police officers arrive at the scene
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SWAT teams, state police and federal agents responded to the incident

The officer who was killed was a 39-year-old father of five children, according to officials.

A second officer was wounded after being struck in the shoulder by gunfire, and two others were injured by shrapnel.

A woman receives medical assistance on the scene where active shooting is happening in Jersey City on December 10, 2019. - One officer was shot when two gunmen with a long rifle opened fire in Jersey City, New Jersey, on the afternoon of December 10, 2019 , according to two officials. Two suspects were barricaded in a convenience store, the officials said. One officer was being taken to a nearby hospital. (Photo by Kena Betancur / AFP) (Photo by KENA BETANCUR/Afp/AFP via Getty Images)
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A person is treated after the shooting

SWAT teams, state police and federal agents responded to the incident, with officers blocking off an area which includes a school, a kosher supermarket and a hair stylist.

Authorities have said the incident is not believed to be a terror attack

Police officers arrive at the scene of an active shooter in Jersey City, New Jersey, on December 10, 2019. - One officer was shot when two gunmen with a long rifle opened fire in Jersey City, New Jersey, on the afternoon of December 10, 2019 , according to two officials. Two suspects were barricaded in a convenience store, the officials said. One officer was being taken to a nearby hospital. (Photo by Kena Betancur / AFP) (Photo by KENA BETANCUR/Afp/AFP via Getty Images)
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Officers blocked off an area which includes a school, a kosher supermarket and a hair stylist

US President Donald Trump tweeted: “Just received a briefing on the horrific shootout that took place in Jersey City, NJ.

“Our thoughts & prayers are [with] the victims & their families during this very difficult & tragic time.

“We will continue to monitor the situation as we assist local & state officials on the ground.”

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Child prodigy, 9, quits university in row over graduation date | World News

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A nine-year-old boy who was set to become the world’s youngest ever graduate has quit his university following a row over his graduation date.

Laurent Simons made headlines around the world after he was on track to complete a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering at Eindhoven’s University of Technology in the Netherlands.

The Belgian boy – who has an IQ of 145 – was due to complete his studies before the end of the year, which would have made him the world’s first ever graduate under the age of 10.

The nine-year-old studies electrical engineering
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The boy’s parents believe the university’s decision is related to his wish to study a PhD abroad

But the university has now told Laurent and his parents that the target is no longer feasible because of the number of exams he still needs to finish before his birthday on Boxing Day.

“Laurent is an exceptionally gifted boy, who is going through his studies at an unprecedented pace,” the university said in a statement.

The university added that it had offered “a still phenomenally quick scheme in which he would end his education mid-2020”.

But Laurent’s parents decided not to accept the offer and immediately ended his studies in Eindhoven.

Nine-year-old Belgian student Laurent Simons, who studies electrical engineering and who will soon become the youngest university graduate in the world, poses at the University of Technology in Eindhoven, Netherlands November 20, 2019.  Picture taken November 20, 2019.  REUTERS/Yves Herman
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Laurent has been described as an ‘exceptionally gifted boy’

His father Alexander Simons said: “Until last week everything was fine, and now suddenly they see a delay of six months.”

He said the exact date of Laurent’s graduation had never been an issue for the family but became one as they felt the university was reacting to their plans to move the boy’s further education abroad.

A programme director at the university had previously described Laurent as “maybe three times smarter than the smartest student we’ve ever had”.

Mr Simons said: “It’s very peculiar that this all comes right at the time when we were finalising our plans for Laurent’s PhD at a different university.

Laurent talks with his professor Peter Baltus
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Laurent had been hailed as ‘three times smarter’ than the university’s previous smartest student

“There is a lot of interest in Laurent from universities he would be honoured to join… there is so much demand for Laurent, he is a unique project which everybody wants to be a part of.”

Laurent, who is inspired by Serbian-American inventor Nikola Tesla, says he wants to research artificial organs and ultimately to develop an entire artificial body in his own laboratory.

Currently the youngest person to obtain a degree is American Michael Kearney, who achieved the feat in June 1994 at the age of 10 years and four months, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.

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