Algeria marks death of former president
ALGIERS, Algeria -- Algeria's leader declared a three-day period of mourning starting Saturday for former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, whose 20-year-long rule, riddled with corruption, ended as he was pushed from power amid huge street protests when he decided to seek a new term.
Bouteflika, who had been ailing since a stroke in 2013, died Friday at 84. His public appearances had been rare in the final years of his presidency, and he had not been seen since President Abdelmadjid Tebboune took office in late 2019.
Flags are to fly at half-staff during the mourning period, the president's office said. The honors reflect Bouteflika's role in Algeria's brutal seven-year war for independence from France that ended in 1962. Those who fought are considered martyrs today.
The former president's lawyer, Salim Salim Hadjouti, said Bouteflika was being laid to rest in an official ceremony at El Alia cemetery, in the section where martyrs of the revolution for independence are buried, a special honor.
Since Bouteflika's death, public television has not shown images of him, a clear sign that authorities prefer not to go overboard with a farewell as the North African nation has turned past the Bouteflika era.
Progress made at Notre Dame Cathedral
PARIS -- France's Notre Dame Cathedral is finally stable and secure enough for artisans to start rebuilding it, more than two years after the fire that tore through its roof, knocked down its spire and threatened to bring the rest of the medieval monument down, too.
The government agency overseeing the reconstruction announced in a statement Saturday that the work to secure the structure -- which began the day after the April 15, 2019 fire -- is at last complete.
Carpenters, scaffolding experts, professional climbers, organ mechanics and others took part in the effort, which included special temporary structures to secure the iconic towers, vaults and walls of the huge roofless structure, and a special "umbrella" to protect it from the weather.
Negotiations will now begin with companies bidding to take part in the mammoth reconstruction effort, the statement said. It will include some 100 different tenders for various projects. Work to restore the organ will begin in the fall, with other works expected to begin in the winter.
The agency is maintaining President Emmanuel Macron's goal of allowing visitors back inside in 2024, the year Paris hosts the Olympics.
U.N. calls on Somalis to settle dispute
UNITED NATIONS -- The U.N. Security Council urged Somalia's feuding government leaders on Saturday to resolve their disagreements through dialogue and give top priority to holding long-delayed national elections this year.
The U.N.'s most powerful body also urged the federal government and regional states "to ensure that any political differences do not divert from united action against al-Shabab and other militant groups."
The press statement approved by all 15 council members followed emergency consultations Friday on Somalia's worsening political crisis, which has raised regional and international concerns that elections could be threatened and the east Africa region could face further destabilization.
The council meeting followed President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed's statement Thursday saying he suspended Prime Minister Mohammed Hussein Roble's power to hire and fire officials, the latest action in their increasingly divisive relationship.
In the statement, council members expressed "deep concern about the ongoing disagreement within the Somali government and the negative impact on the electoral timetable and process."
They urged all parties "to exercise restraint, and underlined the importance of maintaining peace, security and stability in Somalia."
Three decades of chaos, from warlords to al-Qaida affiliate al-Shabab and the emergence of an Islamic State-linked group, have ripped apart the country that only in the past few years has begun trying to rebuild and find its footing.
In vitro fertilization babies a Japan record
TOKYO -- A record 1 in 14 children was born with the help of in vitro fertilization treatments in Japan in 2019, according to data recently compiled by the Japan Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
In its latest annual study of in vitro fertilization outcomes, the society said that 458,101 fertility treatments were performed in about 600 medical facilities in 2019 and 60,598 births were reported -- both record highs.
A total of 710,931 in vitro fertilization babies have been born in Japan, since the nation's first birth through the procedure at Tohoku University in 1983.
In vitro fertilization is a fertility treatment in which a mature egg is fertilized by sperm outside the body and transferred back into a uterus.
Japan's public health insurance system does not cover the cost of in vitro fertilization, which averages about $4,545 per treatment, according to a government survey.
But faced with declining birthrates, the government has pledged to bring more fertility treatments under public health insurance coverage from fiscal 2022.