Afternoon news headlines

News highlights

Killer Patel Dam boss speaks out
The owner of the killer Patel Dam in Solai has finally spoken out over the Wednesday night tragedy that left over 40 people dead after the dam burst its banks, sweeping away people and homes.
Vinod Jayakumar who oversees the scheme says the tragedy was a natural calamity and was not a result of the dam being an illegal structure.
“In 2014, we had 291mm rain but that was well distributed and the dams had taken all the water. But now, because of the heavy rain which went on for 3-4 days, it carried heavy roots and boulders, the wall became weaker and cracked, there is absolutely no issue, we are on very safe ground,” he told Citizen Digital.
“People should not worry, the dams are safe and will not crumble,” Jayakumar assured.
US to send helicopters to Mars
Nasa is sending a helicopter to Mars, in the first test of a heavier-than-air aircraft on another planet.
The Mars Helicopter will be bundled with the US space agency’s Mars rover when it launches in 2020.
Its design team spent more than four years shrinking a working helicopter to “the size of a softball” and cutting its weight to 1.8kg (4lbs).
It is specifically designed to fly in the atmosphere of Mars, which is 100 times thinner than Earth’s.
Nasa describes the helicopter as a “heavier-than-air” aircraft because the other type – sometimes called an aerostat – are balloons and blimps.
Soviet scientists dropped two balloons into the atmosphere of Venus in the 1980s. No aircraft has ever taken off from the surface of another planet.
The helicopter’s two blades will spin at close to 3,000 revolutions a minute, which Nasa says is about 10 times faster than a standard helicopter on Earth.
“The idea of a helicopter flying the skies of another planet is thrilling,” said Nasa Administrator Jim Bridenstine.
“The Mars Helicopter holds much promise for our future science, discovery, and exploration missions to Mars.”
US offers to rebuild North Korea economy
America will help rebuild North Korea’s economy if it agrees to give up its nuclear weapons, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said.
The US would be “prepared to work with North Korea to achieve prosperity on the par with our South Korean friends”, he told reporters on Friday.
Mr Pompeo, who has just returned from Pyongyang, said he had “good” talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Mr Kim and President Donald Trump will meet in Singapore on 12 June.
The two leaders, who had previously exchanged insults and threats, made the announcement after landmark talks between North and South Korea in April.
If chairman Kim chooses the right path, there is a future brimming with peace and prosperity for the North Korean people,” he said after Friday’s talks in Washington with South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha.

Business highlights

BAT protests tobacco taxes
Cigarette maker British American Tobacco Kenya (BAT) has increased pressure against the increase on taxes on tobacco, saying the unprecedented excise increase is a threat to its Kenya operations.
“We would encourage the government to have a much more stable tax environment so that we can have a more predictable operating environment,” BAT Kenya managing director Beverly Spencer-Obatoyinbo said in Nairobi.
BAT reported a 21.2 per cent drop in full year net profit to Sh3.3 billion, attributing this to a weak performance in The Kenyan market.
Kenyan lawyer to head DLA Piper

Top American firm DLA Piper has appointed James Kamau as the chairman of the firm’s Africa operations.
Mr Kamau has been a member of the board and the executive of DLA Piper Africa for the past four years.
James has been a leading figure in our Africa presence for many years and he was the natural choice to succeed Chris, said Andrew Darwin, DLA Piper global co-chairman in a statement.
Trump: Other nations extort drug-makers
US President Donald Trump has accused foreign governments of extorting “unreasonably low prices” from pharmaceutical firms.
Speaking in Washington on Friday, he said he had directed his top trade negotiator to make the issue a priority in trade talks.
“It is time to end the global freeloading once and for all,” he said.
The president is under pressure to deliver on campaign promises to reduce the high costs of prescription drugs.
In his speech, the president pinned the problem in part on price controls in other countries that he said “extort unreasonably low prices” from drug-makers, forcing Americans to pay more to “subsidise the enormous costs of research and development”.

Sports highlights

Buffon: Juventus keeper charged over Michael Oliver comments
Juventus’ Gianluigi Buffon has been charged by Uefa over comments about referee Michael Oliver after their Champions League defeat by Real Madrid.
Buffon was sent off for dissent after Oliver awarded Real a late penalty, which they scored to go through.
Following the quarter-final second leg on 11 April, Italian Buffon said the official had “a bag of rubbish” rather than “a heart” and should “sit in the stands” and “eat crisps”.
Uefa says the 40-year-old Italy goalkeeper has been charged with breaching its “general principles of conduct” after his outburst against the English referee.
European football’s governing body, which also charged Buffon for the red card, said in a statement the case will be dealt with on 31 May.
Rooney: DC United coach Ben Olsen confirms interest in Everton striker
DC United coach Ben Olsen has confirmed the club’s interest in signing Wayne Rooney but Everton boss Sam Allardyce says the player has not asked to leave.
The former England captain has agreed a deal with the Major League Soccer side that could see him move to the USA.
It is thought Rooney, 32, is willing to leave his boyhood club Everton, one season after returning to the club.
“The deal is not done but there is some interest from our end,” Olsen told American website TMZ.
Rooney rejoined Everton in July 2017 and scored 11 goals before Christmas but has not been an automatic pick for Allardyce in recent weeks.
The forward originally left the Toffees as an 18-year-old in 2004, spending 13 seasons at Manchester United where he became their record goalscorer, won five Premier League titles and the 2008 Champions League.
It is understood Rooney has been offered a contract until the end of the 2020 MLS season. The US transfer window does not open until July.
Alves: PSG and Brazil defender to miss World Cup with knee injury
Brazil right-back Dani Alves will miss this summer’s World Cup with a knee injury.
The 35-year-old damaged the cruciate ligament in his right knee in PSG’s French Cup final win this week.
It was hoped he would recover in time for the tournament in Russia but the Brazilian federation said on Friday that it was “impossible.”
The former Barcelona and Juventus defender has won 106 caps and played in the 2010 and 2014 World Cups.
Five-time winners Brazil will face Switzerland, Costa Rica and Serbia in Group E.

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