• Merkel says Ukraine ceasefire hasn't been fully implemented

    Reuters - 11 hours ago

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday that the situation in Ukraine had become calmer in the weeks following the Minsk agreement but added that the ceasefire had not yet been fully implemented. Speaking at a news conference in Berlin with Merkel, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk said separatists supported by Russian soldiers were still involved in fighting even though that had been reduced. He said 75 Ukrainian forces soldiers had been killed and many injured since the Minsk ceasefire agreement took effect on Feb. 15. More »Merkel says Ukraine ceasefire hasn't been fully implemented

  • Obama unveils sanctions effort to combat cyberattacks

    AFP - 11 hours ago

    President Barack Obama ordered a new sanctions program which could block assets of US and foreign hackers and of companies that seek to profit from cyberattacks More »Obama unveils sanctions effort to combat cyberattacks

  • Portugal PM sees voters backing reforms to avoid new crises

    Reuters - 11 hours ago

    Portugal's prime minister warned on Wednesday that any reversal of his crisis-fighting reforms could endanger the country's recovery, adding he believed voters will back his course in an Autumn election. Opinion polls show Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho's Social Democrats and their CDS-PP coalition partners are lagging the centre-left Socialist party, which has criticised austerity but is yet to formulate a policy programme for the election. "Any political reversal of implemented structural reforms, of budget consolidation efforts carried out to fight the crisis, will cost Portugal and Portuguese too dearly," Passos Coelho told parliament shortly afterwards. "But I strongly believe that we will follow that path (of reforms) after the elections, because it comes not from the stubbornness of a prime minister ... but from the determination of all Portuguese who do not want to risk crises and future uncertainty." He said a rise in unemployment to just above 14 percent in February after a fall last year did not compromise Portugal's growth prospects, but that the government was working to assess what had driven the jobless rate up and to address the problem. More »Portugal PM sees voters backing reforms to avoid new crises

  • Parties trade blows on job policies

    Press Association - 11 hours ago

    The big parties exchanged blows on jobs on the third day of the General Election campaign, with Chancellor George Osborne accusing Ed Miliband of "an assault on everyday working people", while the Labour leader said Tories were only interested in "looking after a few big firms and individuals at the top". More »Parties trade blows on job policies

  • Arkansas Reconsiders Its Religious-Freedom Law

    The Atlantic - 11 hours ago

    Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson was surely watching what happened over the last week in Indiana. Just like in Indiana, Arkansas legislators have passed a bill that they say is needed to protect the religious rights of their citizens. Just like in Indiana, its drafters have said the law is simply an echo of protections at the federal level and in other states, despite some notable differences in the legislative language. Just like in Indiana, the governor initially supported the bill. More »Arkansas Reconsiders Its Religious-Freedom Law

  • easyJet plane makes emergency landing after 'passenger punched stewardess'

    Reuters - 11 hours ago

    An easyJet plane made an emergency landing in Rome after a passenger became disruptive and assaulted a cabin member during a flight from Geneva, the airline said on Wednesday. "EasyJet can confirm that flight EZS1483 from Geneva to Pristina on 31 March diverted to Rome as a result of a passenger onboard behaving in a disruptive manner," the airline said. "The safety and wellbeing of passengers and crew is always easyJet's priority." The 180 passengers were taken on to Pristina, the capital of Kosovo, on a separate flight later in the afternoon. More »easyJet plane makes emergency landing after 'passenger punched stewardess'

  • France's Karabatic to face trial in match-fixing case

    Reuters - 11 hours ago

    French handball champion Nikola Karabatic will face trial in a match-fixing scandal along with 15 other people, his lawyer said on Wednesday. Prosecutors suspect players from Montpellier, who had already won the title, deliberately lost a match against Cesson-Rennes Metropole in May 2012. Karabatic, who helped France clinch their fifth world title in February against host nation Qatar, left Montpellier in 2013. More »France's Karabatic to face trial in match-fixing case

  • Nigeria's Buhari says to 'spare no effort' in squashing Boko Haram

    Reuters - 11 hours ago

    By Alexis Akwagyiram ABUJA (Reuters) - A day after becoming the first politician in Nigerian history to succeed a sitting leader by ballot, president-elect Muhammadu Buhari promised on Wednesday to "spare no effort" to defeat Islamist militant group Boko Haram. "Boko Haram will soon know the strength of our collective will. We should spare no effort," Buhari said in his first formal speech since winning the election. "In tackling the insurgency, we have a tough and urgent job to do." The group has killed thousands in its push to carve out a caliphate in northeastern Nigeria. More »Nigeria's Buhari says to 'spare no effort' in squashing Boko Haram

  • A look at Iran's various nuclear assets

    Associated Press - 11 hours ago

    A look at Iran's nuclear assets: More »A look at Iran's various nuclear assets

  • US military aid released to Egypt boosts leader's legitimacy

    11 hours ago

    CAIRO (AP) — The release of U.S. military aid to Egypt withheld following the army's overthrow of an elected Islamist president in 2013 has boosted the legitimacy of the former military chief now running the country, nearly a year into his four-year term. More »US military aid released to Egypt boosts leader's legitimacy

  • U.S. concerned about Thailand move on martial law: State Dept

    Reuters - 11 hours ago

    The United States is concerned that Thailand's announcement that it was lifting martial law will not accomplish objectives such as protecting freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, a representative for the U.S. State Department said. "While we would welcome the lifting of martial law, it is important that any new security measure end the practice of trying civilians in military courts, end detention without charge, and allow individuals to freely exercise fundamental rights, including the rights of freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. We are concerned that moving to a security order ... will not accomplish any of these objectives," the representative said. More »U.S. concerned about Thailand move on martial law: State Dept

  • Arkansas governor rejects bill after pressure over gay discrimination

    Reuters - 11 hours ago

    By Steve Barnes LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Reuters) - Republican Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson on Wednesday rejected a religion bill he had said he would sign into law, reversing course after a national firestorm of criticism assailing such legislation as discriminating against gays and lesbians. In a news conference Hutchinson said he was sending the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) back to the Republican-controlled state legislature for a rewrite to better balance tolerance for diversity and protections of religious freedom. The governor said his own son had asked him to veto it, adding a personal element to the intense pressure to reject the bill he had already faced from businesses such as Arkansas-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc, the world's biggest retailer. "We just didn't get it perfect through that legislative process." Hutchinson's reversal came a day after Indiana Governor Mike Pence, also a Republican, said he was sending his state's RFRA back for a rewrite for the same reason. More »Arkansas governor rejects bill after pressure over gay discrimination

  • Illinois convicted killer overpowers guard, escapes

    Reuters - 11 hours ago

    By Brendan O'Brien (Reuters) - A convicted murderer awaiting sentencing in Illinois overpowered a jail guard early Wednesday, took his keys and uniform and fled in his SUV, authorities said. Kamron Taylor, 23, escaped the Jerome Combs Detention Center in Kankakee, about 60 miles south of Chicago, and is considered armed and dangerous, the Kankakee County Sheriff's Office said. Taylor was convicted in February of fatally shooting Nelson Williams, 21, during a botched robbery in 2013 and faces up to life in prison when he is sentenced, according to the Kankakee Daily Journal. More »Illinois convicted killer overpowers guard, escapes

  • Old colonial statues are in the crosshairs in South Africa

    Associated Press - 11 hours ago

    CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) — It began with a container of excrement. More »Old colonial statues are in the crosshairs in South Africa

  • Yemen's problem is ex-president not Houthis - foreign minister

    Reuters - 11 hours ago

    By Angus McDowall RIYADH (Reuters) - Yemen's main problem is not the Houthi fighters who have taken control of much of the country but their ally, former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, whose forces are better trained and armed, the country's foreign minister said. Reyad Yassin Abdulla told Reuters there could be no future role for Saleh or his family in Yemen, while the Houthis could only play a part if they disarm. Abdulla was speaking in an interview in the Saudi capital Riyadh, where he and President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi have settled after leaving Aden last week when Aden, the last Yemeni city under Hadi's control, came under Houthi attack. Abdulla on Tuesday asked Arab states to provide ground troops to help secure Aden, but he told Reuters any decision on whether or how that happened would lie with the Saudi-led coalition and was still being studied. More »Yemen's problem is ex-president not Houthis - foreign minister

  • With Jonathan, Africa's list of good losers gets longer

    Reuters - 12 hours ago

    By Tim Cocks ABUJA (Reuters) - Graciously conceding defeat is not something candidates in African elections have traditionally been very good at. In a macho political culture that sees a routing at the ballot box as a source of shame, refusal to accept a result often leads to protracted battles in court, on the streets or in the worst cases a military crackdown. So when Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan magnanimously threw in the towel to challenger Muhammadu Buhari after the latter's stunning victory in the weekend's presidential election, he joined a growing list of African leaders for whom humbly admitting the game is up has become a cause for pride. "I have conveyed my personal best wishes to General Muhammadu Buhari." Such speeches used to be rare on a continent still getting used to winner-takes-all electoral contests and where power has frequently changed hands at the barrel of a gun. More »With Jonathan, Africa's list of good losers gets longer

  • Euro zone, Athens closer to Greek reform list, more work needed - euro zone official

    Reuters - 12 hours ago

    Euro zone deputy finance ministers got an update on Wednesday on Greece's progress on a reform list that would help unlock new lending, but while recent talks brought progress, more work was needed to reach a deal, a senior euro zone official said. The deputy ministers, called the Euro Working Group, prepare meetings of euro zone finance ministers that can decide whether to disburse new loans to Greece which is running out of cash and could be bankrupt by the end of the month. To release funds to Athens, euro zone ministers have asked for a series of reforms that would make Greek public finances sustainable and its economy competitive. Greece has been working on the reforms with three institutions representing its institutional creditors -- the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund. More »Euro zone, Athens closer to Greek reform list, more work needed - euro zone official

  • IS enters Palestinian camp in Damascus; Jordan closes border

    Associated Press - 12 hours ago

    DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — Islamic State militants infiltrated a Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus on Wednesday and were clashing with a Palestinian group, the deepest foray yet by the extremist group into the Syrian capital, seat of President Bashar Assad's power, according to opposition activists and Palestinian officials. More »IS enters Palestinian camp in Damascus; Jordan closes border

  • Poll finds rising exile support for Obama's Cuba policy

    Reuters - 12 hours ago

    (Reuters) - A poll of Cuban-Americans shows support for the White House's new Cuba policy has risen in the three months since it was announced, with 51 percent now in favor of closer engagement with Cuba, up from 44 percent in December. The poll by consulting firm Bendixen & Amandi International, and released in New York on Wednesday, sampled 400 people across the country's population of approximately 2 million Cuban-Americans, mostly concentrated in Florida and New Jersey. The White House policy change announced Dec. 17 includes plans to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba after 54 years, relax travel restrictions for Americans seeking to visit the island and increase commercial ties, while leaving intact the U.S. embargo against the island. "In the three months since President Obama's historic announcement, rather than increasing opposition, the study reveals there is now slight majority support amongst Cuban-Americans for normalization of relations with Cuba," said Fernand Amandi, of Bendixen & Amandi International, a Miami firm which did work for both Obama's presidential campaigns. More »Poll finds rising exile support for Obama's Cuba policy

  • A glimpse of US-Russia goodwill, amid stem-winding toasts

    Christian Science Monitor - 12 hours ago

    Are the United States and Russia locked in a new cold war? Not exactly, but there’s little doubt that relations between the two great powers have descended dramatically in recent years – see Edward Snowden, Crimea, and Ukraine – and that the level of animosity has alarmed actors on both sides. Thus has been revived a cold-war-era institution known as the Dartmouth Conference, a dialogue of Russian and American citizens aimed at finding areas of common ground between the two countries and then taking action. More »A glimpse of US-Russia goodwill, amid stem-winding toasts

  • Report of plane passenger video overshadows executive visit to crash site

    Reuters - 12 hours ago

    By Reuters Staff BERLIN/LE VERNET, France (Reuters) - A video of the final seconds aboard the Germanwings plane that crashed in France last week has been discovered, reports said on Wednesday, just hours before executives visiting the crash site dodged questions about the mental health of the pilot. The video was found on a mobile phone belonging to one of the passengers killed on the plane which investigators say German pilot Andreas Lubitz deliberately flew into a mountain in the French Alps, Bild newspaper reported. The scenes seen on the video were chaotic and very wobbly, said Bild, adding screams and shouts of "My God" could be heard, indicating the passengers knew what was happening. Prosecutor Brice Robin, who is handling the case in France, said the phones collected from the crash had yet to be analysed and were being kept on site. More »Report of plane passenger video overshadows executive visit to crash site

  • Iraq claims victory over Islamic State in Tikrit

    Reuters - 12 hours ago

    The Iraqi government claimed victory over Islamic State insurgents in Tikrit on Wednesday after a month-long battle for the city supported by Shi'ite militiamen and U.S.-led air strikes, saying that only small pockets of resistance remained. State television showed Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi, accompanied by leaders of the army and police, the provincial governor and Shi'ite paramilitary leaders, parading through Tikrit and raising an Iraqi flag. The militants captured the city, about 140 km (90 miles) north of Baghdad, last June as they swept through most of Iraq's Sunni Muslim territories, swatting aside a demoralised and disorganised army that has now required an uneasy combination of Iranian and American support to get back on its feet. With explosions and gunfire still audible, and columns of smoke dotting the horizon, Interior Minister Mohammed al-Ghabban told reporters that security forces were fighting to clear the city's last Islamic State holdout, the northern neighbourhood of Qadissiyah. More »Iraq claims victory over Islamic State in Tikrit

  • Bulgaria drops $4bn Westinghouse nuclear deal

    AFP - 12 hours ago

    Bulgaria has dropped a deal with Westinghouse Electric to build a new reactor at its only nuclear plant, the Kozloduy site, because of financial pressures More »Bulgaria drops $4bn Westinghouse nuclear deal

  • New York state pushes education, ethics reforms in new budget

    Reuters - 12 hours ago

    New York lawmakers passed a $142 billion budget on Wednesday, the start of the state's fiscal year, pushing through extra funding for education reforms and new ethics rules for legislators. "For the fifth year in a row, the state budget holds spending growth below 2 percent and continues a record of fiscal discipline that has reversed decades of budgets that increased spending faster than inflation or personal income growth," Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement after lawmakers agreed late on Sunday on a budget plan. The budget includes $1.3 billion in extra education funding tied to reforms to the education system, including changes to the teacher evaluation system, bonuses for high performing teachers, and expedited procedures to remove teachers. More »New York state pushes education, ethics reforms in new budget

  • Istanbul police kill woman carrying bomb near police HQ

    Associated Press - 12 hours ago

    ISTANBUL (AP) — In a second evening of violence in Istanbul, police killed a woman Wednesday carrying a bomb near the city's main police headquarters, an official said. More »Istanbul police kill woman carrying bomb near police HQ

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