• South Korean gamer arrested after son starves to death

    AFP News - Tue, Apr 15, 2014

    South Korean police said Tuesday they had arrested a man for apparently allowing his infant son to starve to death while spending days playing online games at Internet cafes. The case will likely fuel an ongoing debate about the problem of compulsive online gaming in South Korea, where parliament is considering a bill to classify the activity as potentially addictive as drugs, gambling and alcohol. The 22-year-old man surnamed Chung was arrested Monday after the badly decomposed body of the two-year-old was found in a trash bag near the southeastern city of Daegu, city police said. More »South Korean gamer arrested after son starves to death

  • Michael Jackson's mom to pay promoter $800,000

    AFP News - Tue, Apr 15, 2014

    Michael Jackson's 83-year-old mother Katherine has agreed to pay over $800,000 to tour promoters AEG Live for costs incurred to defend a failed lawsuit she brought, lawyers said. Attorneys for AEG Live, which organized the pop icon's doomed 2009 comeback tour, had sought more than $1.2 million for expenses after winning a five-month trial but haggled out a lesser amount with Jackson's legal team. The deal has still to be approved by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Yvette Palazuelos, who oversaw the civil trial last year. The Jackson matriarch sued AEG Live in 2010 claiming they negligently hired and supervised Conrad Murray, the doctor subsequently convicted of involuntary manslaughter over the "Thriller" singer's death on June 25, 2009. More »Michael Jackson's mom to pay promoter $800,000

  • Bomb attack kills 71 at bus station near Nigeria capital

    AFP News - Tue, Apr 15, 2014

    Seventy-one people died in a bomb blast in a packed bus station in Nigeria's capital Abuja -- the deadliest attack yet to strike the city -- with the president blaming the explosion on Boko Haram Islamists. The bomb, which also injured 124 people, rocked the Nyanya station on Abuja's southern outskirts at 6:45 am (0545 GMT) as it was filled with morning commuters, leaving body parts scattered across the terminal and destroying dozens of vehicles. Previously, much of the recent violence by the Boko Haram insurgency has been in the remote northeast, though some have targeted the central capital. More »Bomb attack kills 71 at bus station near Nigeria capital

  • Royal Navy chief warns of threat posed by Scottish independence

    AFP News - Tue, Apr 15, 2014

    Britain's Royal Navy chief on Tuesday warned that an independent Scotland would "damage the very heart" of the military service. Writing in the Daily Telegraph, First Sea Lord Admiral George Zambellas highlighted the pivotal role played by Scotland throughout the history of the Royal Navy, pointing out that almost a third of Admiral Nelson's men at the 1805 Battle of Trafalgar were Scottish. "I believe that independence would fundamentally change maritime security for all of us in the United Kingdom and damage the very heart of the capabilities," he said. "While the continuing United Kingdom would eventually adapt and cope, the deeper impact would be felt in Scotland which would no longer have access of right to the security contribution of one of the finest and most efficient navies in the world." A vote for independence at the September 18 referendum would "greatly weaken the carefully evolved 'whole', as bases, infrastructure, procurement, spares, personnel and training face a carve up," he cautioned. More »Royal Navy chief warns of threat posed by Scottish independence

  • Syria troops retake Christian town of Maalula

    AFP News - Tue, Apr 15, 2014

    Syrian troops retook the ancient Christian town of Maalula from rebels Monday, a day after President Bashar al-Assad said the three-year old civil war was turning in his favour. During the operation, Al-Manar television, the broadcaster of Assad's close Lebanese ally Hezbollah, said three of its staffers were killed. "The army has taken full control of Maalula and restored security and stability. Terrorism has been defeated in Qalamun," a security official said. More »Syria troops retake Christian town of Maalula

  • Putin denies interfering in Ukraine as insurgents gain ground

    AFP News - Tue, Apr 15, 2014

    Russian President Vladimir Putin denied involvement Monday with pro-Russian insurgents gaining ground in eastern Ukraine, but an unconvinced European Union expanded its sanctions on officials accused of trying to break up the ex-Soviet country. Putin told US President Barack Obama that Russia was not sponsoring the Kalashnikov-toting separatists who have seized a string of key state buildings in eastern Ukraine, and that "such speculations are based on unfounded information", according to a Kremlin account of a phone call between the two leaders. Ukraine's Western-backed interim President Oleksandr Turchynov meanwhile sought a way out of the escalating crisis by proposing a referendum on greater autonomy for the country's regions and seeking help from the United Nations. Russia has deployed some 40,000 troops along Ukraine's eastern border, a presence the US and EU sought to counter by approving more than $2 billion in aid for Kiev's embattled interim administration. More »Putin denies interfering in Ukraine as insurgents gain ground

  • Captain of shipwrecked Concordia thought he hit 'a little rock'

    AFP News - Tue, Apr 15, 2014

    The Italian cruise ship captain on trial for murder after the sinking of the Costa Concordia in early 2012 said on the night of the fateful accident that he believed he had hit only "a little rock", a court heard Monday. Francesco Schettino, the 53-year-old ex-captain of the ship, was heard giving the description in a telephone conversation recorded by the bridge's "black box" 10 minutes after impact which was played out in the Rome court hosting his trial. In fact, the Costa Concordia was slashed open 50 metres (160 feet) along its submerged hull by a rock shelf just off Italy's Giglio Island, causing it to list, then quickly capsize in a January 13, 2012 tragedy that killed 32 people. On Monday, the director of the cruise ship company's crisis unit that handled the disaster, Roberto Ferrarini, said Schettino was only delivering information "in drips" and "in the third call, the captain assured me the ship was not sinking". More »Captain of shipwrecked Concordia thought he hit 'a little rock'

  • EU to expand Ukraine sanctions list

    AFP News - Tue, Apr 15, 2014

    EU foreign ministers agreed Monday to expand the list of those hit with sanctions for their role in the Ukraine crisis but stopped short of harsher measures ahead of a Geneva meeting of top EU, US, Russian and Ukrainian officials this week. "In light of events, we decided to expand the list of those subject to asset freezes and visa bans," EU foreign affairs head Catherine Ashton said. Already, 33 Ukrainian and Russian officials and business leaders, including members of Russian President Vladimir Putin's inner circle, have been targeted. EU ministers held Russia responsible for the latest developments in eastern Ukraine where pro-Kremlin militias continued to occupy many government buildings in defiance of a Kiev ultimatum to leave or face the consequences. More »EU to expand Ukraine sanctions list

  • France's 'Black Widow' denies murder as trial opens

    AFP News - Tue, Apr 15, 2014

    A former driving instructor dubbed the "Black Widow" of the French Alps on Monday denied drugging her husband and then burning him to death in his car. "I continue to say that I am innocent of what I have been accused and that will be shown in court," Manuela Gonzalez, 53, said on the opening day of her trial for murder. The charred remains of Gonzalez's late husband, Daniel Cano, 58, were discovered in his burnt-out car near the house he shared with her in Villard-Bonnot in the Isere region of the Alps. More »France's 'Black Widow' denies murder as trial opens

  • CIA chief visited Kiev at the weekend: White House

    AFP News - Tue, Apr 15, 2014

    Central Intelligence Agency director John Brennan visited Kiev at the weekend, the White House said Monday, amid US ire over the storming of official buildings in eastern Ukraine by pro-Russian gunmen. More »CIA chief visited Kiev at the weekend: White House

  • North Korea denies link to drones recovered by South

    AFP News - Tue, Apr 15, 2014

    North Korea on Monday flatly denied any connection to three crashed drones recovered in the South, and accused Seoul of "fabricating" a link in order to smear Pyongyang. South Korea's defence ministry said last week it was convinced that three rudimentary unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) recovered in recent weeks were of North Korean origin. The ministry said analysis of the debris had secured various pieces of "circumstantial evidence" that clearly pointed to North Korea. In its first clear denial, the North's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea (CPRK) said the South's accusation was baseless. More »North Korea denies link to drones recovered by South

  • Pistorius accused of fake tears

    AFP News - Tue, Apr 15, 2014

    The prosecution accused Oscar Pistorius of feigning emotion to dodge tough questions about the death of his girlfriend, as his second week of testimony in the murder trial began Monday. Frustrated with Pistorius's frequent crying in the witness box, prosecutor Gerrie Nel toughened his questioning and accused the Paralympic star of crocodile tears. "Mr Pistorius, you're not using your emotional state to escape, are you?" he said after the athlete broke down under questioning on one of several occasions Monday. More »Pistorius accused of fake tears

  • Pakistani held for cannibalism after eating baby

    AFP News - Mon, Apr 14, 2014

    A Pakistani man was arrested Monday on suspicion of cannibalism when the head of a newborn baby was found at his home -- three years after he was jailed for the same offence. Householder Mohammad Arif admitted eating the child after his brother stole the body from a graveyard in Darya Khan village, around 300 kilometres (180 miles) south of Islamabad, officers said. Arif and his brother Farman Ali were arrested for eating human corpses in the same village in April 2011 and served two years in prison, in a case that shocked Pakistan. "Arif has been arrested and he has confessed that his brother brought the dead body of the newborn from the nearby graveyard," Ameer Abdullah, police chief of Bhakkar district where the village is located, told AFP. More »Pakistani held for cannibalism after eating baby

  • Crisis-hit Ukraine eyes national status referendum

    AFP News - Mon, Apr 14, 2014

    Ukraine's interim president on Monday made a dramatic about-face aimed at defusing tensions in the separatist east by backing a national referendum on turning the ex-Soviet republic into a federation with broader regional rights. European powers meanwhile sought to raise the pressure on Russia -- which it blames for fomenting the tensions -- with Britain calling for "further sanctions" on Moscow ahead of a meeting of EU foreign ministers. And Germany signalled its own resolve to take a tougher stance against a partner from which it imports 40 percent of its gas by noting there were "many signs" that armed groups operating in eastern Ukraine were "receiving support from Russia". Interim president Oleksandr Turchynov's u-turn came only hours after pro-Kremlin militants who reject the authority of the new Western-backed leaders ignored an ultimatum to end their occupation of strategic buildings or face a "full-scale anti-terrorist operation" involving both internal security forces and army troops. More »Crisis-hit Ukraine eyes national status referendum

  • Russia urges US to explain report CIA chief visited Kiev

    AFP News - Mon, Apr 14, 2014

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday urged Washington to explain Russian media reports that CIA director John Brennan visited the Ukrainian capital. Lavrov also accused the West of "off the scale" hypocrisy over the crisis in Ukraine, where protests in the southeast led to fresh violence at the weekend. "We can remember when violence on Maidan (Independence Square in Kiev) that ended with dozens and dozens of deaths was called democracy, while peaceful protests that are ongoing now in southeastern Ukraine are called terrorism," he said. "The hypocrisy is off the scale." The West has accused Moscow of fomenting unrest in Ukraine's Russian-speaking regions by providing logistical support to separatists and sending representatives of its special services there. More »Russia urges US to explain report CIA chief visited Kiev

  • Hezbollah shifts tactics, narrative for Syria fight

    AFP News - Mon, Apr 14, 2014

    Lebanon's Hezbollah movement is gaining new combat experience in Syria, shedding its guerrilla tactics to fight alongside an army, and shifting its narrative to explain the battle against "Sunni extremists". Its forces, who used their homeground advantage and methods such as underground tunnels against Israel's army in Lebanon, are now the targets of unconventional warfare on unfamiliar terrain in Syria. And the mothers of many of its fighters, who once sent their sons to battle the "Zionist enemy," now pray for them to be martyred fighting extremist Sunnis who make up part of Syria's opposition. The engagement in Syria has given the Shiite group a chance to initiate new recruits, experts say. More »Hezbollah shifts tactics, narrative for Syria fight

  • Ukraine leader signals support for national referendum on status

    AFP News - Mon, Apr 14, 2014

    Ukraine's interim president on Monday signalled support for a national referendum on turning the ex-Soviet republic into a federation with broader rights for its heavily Russified east. Acting President Oleksandr Turchynov stopped well short of giving in to these demands by signalling support for a national referendum on Ukraine's future status -- a vote whose outcome is far less certain because most in Kiev and the Ukrainian speaking west reject the idea of federalisation. Turchynov suggested that the national vote could coincide with snap presidential polls that Ukraine is set to hold on May 25 following the February ouster of Russian-backed president Viktor Yanukovych. "In recent days, there has been a lot of talk about a national referendum," Turchynov told leading lawmakers in nationally televised remarks. More »Ukraine leader signals support for national referendum on status

  • Deadly blasts rocks Nigerian bus station

    AFP News - Mon, Apr 14, 2014

    Twin blasts at a bus station packed with commuters outside Nigeria's capital killed and injured several people on Monday, officials said, as rescue workers scrambled to contain the chaos. The cause of the explosions at the Nyanya Bus Park roughly five kilometres (three miles) south of Abuja was not immediately clear. The city has been attacked previously by Boko Haram insurgents, who say they are fighting to create a strict Islamic state in northern Nigeria. "We have been able to bring some of the dead to the morgue and some injured have been taken to the hospital," said Charles Otegbade, head of search and rescue at the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA). More »Deadly blasts rocks Nigerian bus station

  • Royals bowl over Christchurch with cricket display

    AFP News - Mon, Apr 14, 2014

    Cricket and high fashion may seem strange bedfellows, but Prince William's wife Kate combined both with aplomb on Monday in New Zealand when she showed off her batting skills in heels. The duchess and duke of Cambridge faced off in a light-hearted match during the British royals' visit to Christchurch, providing a moment of levity ahead of a remembrance service for victims of an earthquake that devastated the South Island city in 2011. Clad in a scarlet Luisa Spagnoli skirt suit and black heels, Kate made an unlikely sight as she strode to the crease clutching a yellow plastic bat, her face a picture of concentration as William prepared to bowl from the other end. I was impressed," said legendary New Zealand all-rounder Richard Hadlee, who acted as wicketkeeper for the game in Christchurch's Latimer Square. More »Royals bowl over Christchurch with cricket display

  • British hate preacher goes on trial in New York

    AFP News - Mon, Apr 14, 2014

    British hate preacher Abu Hamza goes on trial in New York on Monday, facing the rest of his life behind bars if found guilty on kidnapping and terror charges that predate the 9/11 attacks. It is the second high-profile terror trial to be heard by a Manhattan jury since Osama bin Laden's son-in-law and former Al-Qaeda spokesman Suleiman Abu Ghaith was convicted on March 26. Mustafa Kamel Mustafa, better known in Britain as Abu Hamza al-Masri, is blind in one eye and lost both arms, blown off above the elbow, in an explosion in Afghanistan years ago. Abu Hamza was first indicted in the United States in 2004 and served eight years in prison in Britain before losing his last appeal in the European Court of Human Rights against extradition. More »British hate preacher goes on trial in New York

  • Three dead, suspect caught in shootings at US Jewish sites

    AFP News - Mon, Apr 14, 2014

    A gunman with anti-Semitic ties allegedly shot three people dead Sunday at a Jewish community center and a retirement community in Kansas, drawing widespread condemnation and consternation on the eve of Passover. Frazier Glenn Cross, who is now in custody, was not local and did not know the victims, Overland Park Police Department Chief John Douglass told reporters. Cross, an alias for the suspect who also goes by Frazier Glenn Miller, has long-held white supremacy ties as a former leader within the Ku Klux Klan, as well as a history of anti-Semitism, said the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which tracks hate groups. The suspect was heard yelling "Heil Hitler" as police officers escorted him away at an elementary school, local NBC television affiliate KSHB reported. More »Three dead, suspect caught in shootings at US Jewish sites

  • Algeria presidential campaign winds up with recriminations

    AFP News - Mon, Apr 14, 2014

    Final campaign rallies have been held for Algeria's presidential election after the incumbent Abdelaziz Bouteflika and his only real rival Ali Benflis waged a war of words. The 77-year-old Bouteflika, despite ailing health and not even appearing in person on the campaign trail, remains favourite to win a fourth term in Thursday's poll in the North African nation. Presidential aides wound up the campaign on his behalf in Cherage, southwest of the capital, where they praised the "miracle" of Bouteflika taking Algeria "from darkness into light". The aim of Bouteflika's accusations against him were "to cover up the inability of the president candidate to mobilise the population," he said in a statement, quoted by national news agency APS. More »Algeria presidential campaign winds up with recriminations

  • At least 60 killed by suspected Islamists in Nigeria

    AFP News - Mon, Apr 14, 2014

    Suspected Boko Haram Islamists killed at least 60 people in Nigeria's troubled northeastern Borno state close to the border with Cameroon, a local official said. "The attackers, who are no doubt Boko Haram insurgents, attacked Amchaka and nearby villages this morning, hurling IEDs (improvised explosive devices) into homes and setting them on fire," Baba Shehu Gulumba, a government administrator in Bama district, told AFP. More »At least 60 killed by suspected Islamists in Nigeria

  • Thousands evacuated, 12 dead in Chile blaze

    AFP News - Mon, Apr 14, 2014

    More than 8,000 people have been evacuated as an army of firefighters battle a killer blaze that tore through parts of Chile's historic port of Valparaiso and left at least 12 people dead. "We are in what remains an emergency situation... and it is a complicated situation," Defense Minister Jorge Burgos told Radio Cooperativa. "It is a terrible tragedy, without doubt the worst fire in the history of Valparaiso," President Michelle Bachelet declared after arriving in the hilly port city to oversee the emergency response. More »Thousands evacuated, 12 dead in Chile blaze

  • Algeria 'silencing critics' in run-up to polls: Amnesty

    AFP News - Mon, Apr 14, 2014

    Amnesty International accused the authorities in Algeria on Monday of silencing critics and stepping up curbs on freedom of expression in the run-up to its presidential election this week. "Mounting curbs on freedom of expression in the run-up to Algeria’s upcoming elections underscore disturbing shortcomings in the country’s overall human rights record," it said. "Moves to silence critics and quash social unrest are at the forefront of a number of human rights concerns," Amnesty said ahead of Thursday's election. "Algerian authorities' strategy has been to nip in the bud any attempt to challenge them or their record," Nicola Duckworth, Amnesty's senior research director, said in a statement. More »Algeria 'silencing critics' in run-up to polls: Amnesty

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