'Calm prevailing' in Syria after truce
BEIRUT • A US-Russian brokered ceasefire for south-west Syria was holding hours after it took effect yesterday, a monitor and two rebel officials said, in the latest international attempt at peacemaking in the six-year war.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said "calm was prevailing" with no air strikes or clashes in the south-west since the truce began at noon (5pm Singapore time) yesterday.
Another rebel official, in Deraa city, said there had been no significant fighting. It was quiet on the main Manshiya front near the border with Jordan.
Ku Klux Klan protest sparks clashes
CHARLOTTESVILLE • Supporters of the white supremacist Ku Klux Klan marched in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday to protest against the planned removal of a statue of General Robert E. Lee, who oversaw Confederate forces in the US Civil War.
The Klan marchers were met by hundreds of jeering counter-protesters in this quiet university town, where the protest by the notorious white power group was authorised by officials in Virginia on free speech grounds.
About two dozen people were arrested, mostly for failing to disperse as the rally ended, officials said.
Vote count under way in Papua New Guinea
SYDNEY • Vote counting has begun in Papua New Guinea, signalling an end to a general election marred by poor organisation and opposition accusations of electoral roll irregularities, which experts said could ignite protests.
Voting was set to finish across the country last Saturday, but with a large number of people unable to cast ballots due to out-of-date electoral rolls and logistical problems, ballot boxes were still open in some provinces yesterday. Tension has been high for months amid a groundswell of unrest following allegations of corruption against Prime Minister Peter O'Neill.
Lack of equipment during Grenfell rescue
LONDON • More lives could have been saved in the Grenfell Tower blaze in London that killed at least 80 people, firefighters say, but a lack of equipment, particularly fire engines with ladders high enough to reach the top floors of the 24-storey building, impeded the rescue effort.
The London Fire Brigade's 30m ladder reached only to the building's 10th floor, and was not called to the scene until nearly half an hour after the blaze broke out last month.