• Egypt court hears new evidence in Jazeera trial

    AFP News - 23 hours ago

    An Egyptian court heard new prosecution evidence, including audio tapes, Tuesday in the trial of Al-Jazeera journalists accused of links with the banned Muslim Brotherhood, but defence lawyers complained they were inaudible. Prosecutors allege that the journalists and their Egyptian collaborators had colluded with the Brotherhood movement of ousted president Mohamed Morsi and falsely sought to portray Egypt as being in a state of "civil war" since his overthrow by the army last July. At Tuesday's seven-hour hearing, prosecutors presented audio recordings of three Egyptian defendants who allegedly provided video footage of pro-Morsi demonstrations to the network's Egyptian arm, Al-Jazeera Mubashir Misr. Defence lawyers complained they were unable to hear the recordings due to their poor quality. More »Egypt court hears new evidence in Jazeera trial

  • US troops head to Poland, Baltics to 'reassure' allies

    AFP News - 23 hours ago

    The United States is deploying 600 troops to Poland and the Baltics to highlight its commitment to NATO allies amid tensions with Russia over Ukraine, officials said Tuesday. In a show of solidarity, a company of 150 soldiers from the US Army's 173rd Airborne Brigade based in Vicenza, Italy, will arrive in Poland on Wednesday and roughly 450 troops are due in Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia in the coming days as part of a series of exercises due to last at least through the end of the year, a Pentagon spokesman said. "Since Russia's aggression in the Ukraine, we have been constantly looking at ways to reassure our allies and partners," Rear Admiral John Kirby told a news conference. More »US troops head to Poland, Baltics to 'reassure' allies

  • Ukraine president relaunches military operation against rebels

    AFP News - Wed, Apr 23, 2014

    Ukraine's acting president on Tuesday ordered the military to resume an operation against pro-Kremlin separatists, after the "brutally tortured" bodies of two people, one a kidnapped local councillor, were discovered in the restive east. "I demand the resumption of effective counter-terrorism measures to protect Ukrainian citizens in the east from terrorism," Oleksandr Turchynov said, according to a statement from his other office as parliamentary speaker. The announcement came hours after US Vice President Joe Biden left Kiev at the end of a two-day visit during which he voiced strong US support for Ukraine's leaders, and warned Russia against further "provocative behaviour" in the former Soviet republic. One of them, he said, was that of Volodymyr Rybak, a councillor in the town of Gorlivka, "who was kidnapped recently by the terrorists". More »Ukraine president relaunches military operation against rebels

  • South Sudan rebels dismiss massacres and fight on

    AFP News - Wed, Apr 23, 2014

    Rebels in South Sudan rejected UN reports they had massacred hundreds of civilians as "lies" Tuesday, as they wrested another town from government troops in a worsening civil war. The rebels seized the town of Bentiu last week, unleashing two days of ethnic slaughter as they hunted down civilians sheltering in mosques, churches and a hospital, butchering dozens on the roadside, according to the United Nations. But rebel spokesman Lul Ruai Koang praised the "gallant forces" of the insurgents, who the UN said took to the radio to urge men to rape women from the opposition ethnic group and drive out rivals from the town. However, the UN said the killings continued for almost two days after the rebels issued a statement boasting of victory in Bentiu, a time when Koang previously said gunmen were "mopping and cleaning up" in the town. More »South Sudan rebels dismiss massacres and fight on

  • Pistorius family deny he took acting classes for trial

    AFP News - Tue, Apr 22, 2014

    A spokeswoman for Oscar Pistorius on Tuesday said suggestions that the Paralympian had taken acting lessons ahead of his emotional murder trial testimony were "totally devoid of any truth". We "deny that our client has undergone any 'acting lessons' or any form of emotional coaching", Anneliese Burgess, media manager for the Pistorius family, said in a statement on his website. Pistorius broke down repeatedly in the witness box as he gave his version of shooting dead girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day last year. But the Pistorius family described her allegations as "fictitious", saying any "suggestion that Mr Pistorius 'took acting classes' is totally devoid of any truth". More »Pistorius family deny he took acting classes for trial

  • Former IMF chief's ex 'didn't know' about swinging sex life

    AFP News - Tue, Apr 22, 2014

    The ex-wife of former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn says she knew nothing about his penchant for sex parties which has left him facing a possible ten-year prison sentence for pimping. Anne Sinclair, a wealthy heiress who was until recently one of France's best-known television news anchors, left Strauss-Kahn after he was forced to resign as head of the International Monetary Fund following his 2011 arrest for an alleged sexual assault on a New York hotel maid. Criminal charges in the case were dropped and at the end of 2012, Strauss-Kahn settled a civil suit brought by the maid by paying her undisclosed damages, which reportedly exceeded $1.5 million. Sinclair, who has rarely spoken publicly about the affair, has told France 2 television that she was unaware of the libertine side to the personality of a man who was, until his arrest, a strong contender to become president of France. More »Former IMF chief's ex 'didn't know' about swinging sex life

  • Russian opposition leader Navalny convicted of slander

    AFP News - Tue, Apr 22, 2014

    Top Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was found guilty on Tuesday of slandering a lawmaker and ordered to pay a hefty fine, the latest legal case against the prominent critic of President Vladimir Putin. Navalny was found guilty of calling municipal lawmaker Alexei Lisovenko "a lawmaker-drug addict" and ordered to pay 300,000 rubles ($8,300, 6,000 euros), an AFP correspondent reported from the Babushkinsky district court in Moscow. More »Russian opposition leader Navalny convicted of slander

  • Vatican dismisses criticism of John Paul II over abuses

    AFP News - Tue, Apr 22, 2014

    The Vatican on Tuesday brushed off accusations that late pope John Paul II was aware of and ignored allegations about sexual abuse carried by the Mexican founder of a powerful Catholic movement. "There is no personal implication of the Holy Father in this affair," Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi told a news conference on Sunday's ceremony to confer sainthood on popes John Paul II and John XXIII. The scandal over Marcial Maciel, who founded the Legion of Christ and was a serial predator, was one of thousands of cases of sexual abuse by clergymen that began to come to light under John Paul II's papacy. More »Vatican dismisses criticism of John Paul II over abuses

  • Japan lawmakers visit war shrine on eve of Obama trip

    AFP News - Tue, Apr 22, 2014

    Nearly 150 Japanese lawmakers on Tuesday paid homage at the Yasukuni shrine which honours the nation's war dead, raising the stakes in an already tense region on the eve of US President Barack Obama's visit. A cross-section of parliamentarians -- including at least one cabinet minister -- paid their respects at the shrine, which honours those who have fought for Japan including a number of senior military and political figures convicted of war crimes. China and South Korea see the shrine as a symbol of what they say is Japan's unwillingness to repent for its aggressive warring last century. The South Korean Foreign Ministry said it "deplored" the mass visit as the shrine is a "place that enshrined war crimes that caused a war and destroyed peace." "I think it is such an empty gesture to talk about the future with neighbouring countries while paying respects to such a place," ministry spokesman Cho Tai-Young said. More »Japan lawmakers visit war shrine on eve of Obama trip

  • 'Almost one million' Syrian refugees in Turkey: PM

    AFP News - Tue, Apr 22, 2014

    The number of Syrian refugees in Turkey has reached "almost one million," Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday, while pledging to keep accepting those fleeing the war. "Are we supposed to ask our brothers not to come, and to die in Syria?" Erdogan said as he addressed his party's lawmakers in parliament. Turkey, a staunch opponent of the regime in Damascus, is one of the countries that has born the brunt of the refugee crisis, along with Lebanon and Jordan. More »'Almost one million' Syrian refugees in Turkey: PM

  • Russia ready for new sanctions over Ukraine: Medvedev

    AFP News - Tue, Apr 22, 2014

    Russia is ready to face a new round of Western sanctions over Ukraine, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Tuesday. "The government is ready to act in conditions when the priority of our work becomes protecting the economy and citizens from such unfriendly acts that could follow due to the escalating foreign policy situation." However, he acknowledged Russia's economy was facing an "unprecedented challenge". Russia views sanctions as a "road to nowhere," Medvedev said, while insisting that the country was ready to function in isolation if necessary. More »Russia ready for new sanctions over Ukraine: Medvedev

  • Cyclone curtails aerial search for MH370

    AFP News - Tue, Apr 22, 2014

    The aerial search for missing Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 was suspended Tuesday due to a tropical cyclone, but not before several aircraft had departed on the mission, Australian officials said. Up to 10 military aircraft had been scheduled to fly over the Indian Ocean in hopes of spotting clues as to the fate of the Boeing 777, which vanished on March 8 carrying 239 people. "Planned air search activities have been suspended for today due to poor weather conditions in the search area as a result of Tropical Cyclone Jack," Australia's Joint Agency Coordination Centre said, adding that 10 ships in the search zone would continue their work. More »Cyclone curtails aerial search for MH370

  • Russia bans Tatar leader from Crimea: Tatar assembly

    AFP News - Tue, Apr 22, 2014

    Russia on Tuesday banned the leader of Crimea's pro-Kiev Tatar community from entering the Black Sea peninsula for five years, the Tatar assembly said. Mustafa Dzhemilev was handed an official order barring him from returning to Crimea as he crossed to mainland Ukraine from the territory that Moscow controversially annexed last month, the assembly said in a statement. Dzhemilev, also a member of Ukraine's Verkhovna Rada parliament, condemned the decision as "an indication of what a 'civilised' state we are dealing with". Dzhemilev pledged he would ignore the ban and return to Crimea. More »Russia bans Tatar leader from Crimea: Tatar assembly

  • US stands with Ukraine in face of 'humiliating threats': Biden

    AFP News - Tue, Apr 22, 2014

    The United States is standing by Ukraine in the face of "humiliating threats" ahead of a crucial presidential election next month, US Vice President Joe Biden told legislators in Kiev on Tuesday. More »US stands with Ukraine in face of 'humiliating threats': Biden

  • Syria calls June 3 presidential election

    AFP News - Tue, Apr 22, 2014

    Syria has announced it will hold a June 3 presidential election, expected to return Bashar al-Assad to office, as fresh claims emerged of his regime's use of chemical weapons. Syria's first presidential election -- after constitutional amendments scrapped a referendum system -- is to go ahead despite violence which has killed 150,000 people since March 2011. More »Syria calls June 3 presidential election

  • Three charged in New York over $33 mln art scam

    AFP News - Tue, Apr 22, 2014

    Three men were charged in New York in connection with a $33 million scam over two decades making and selling paintings purportedly by world-famous artists but which were in fact fakes. Among the bogus works were pieces supposedly by Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock and sold to unsuspecting collectors for tens of millions of dollars. Among the trio was Chinese painter Pei Shen Qian, 75, who allegedly made the forgeries and is believed to have fled to China. Brothers Jesus Angel Bergantinos Diaz, 65, and Jose Carlos Bergantinos Diaz, 58, were arrested last week in Spain, federal prosecutors said on Monday. More »Three charged in New York over $33 mln art scam

  • Police arrest 250, seize weapons in Argentina

    AFP News - Tue, Apr 22, 2014

    A series of raids west of Buenos Aires yielded 250 arrests and unearthed firearms and drugs, police said, the second such operation in as many weeks. "There were 20 separate related raids in La Matanza, Moreno, Merlo and Moron, in which 250 people were detained, marijuana and cocaine were confiscated, as well as firearms" and 76 vehicles, police chief Daniel Sobrero said. On Saturday, police said around 100 suspects were arrested and 85 weapons seized when police conducted dozens of simultaneous raids in Buenos Aires province. Buenos Aires Province Governor Daniel Scioli, an ally of President Cristina Kirchner with his eye on the presidency, on April 5 decreed a state of emergency in the province that is home to 40 percent of Argentina's 40 million people. More »Police arrest 250, seize weapons in Argentina

  • UN evacuates 100 Muslims from C. Africa capital

    AFP News - Tue, Apr 22, 2014

    The United Nations has evacuated almost 100 Muslims from the capital of the crisis-torn Central African Republic to "save their lives", according to officials. More »UN evacuates 100 Muslims from C. Africa capital

  • Sri Lanka detains British tourist over Buddha tattoo

    AFP News - Tue, Apr 22, 2014

    Sri Lanka has detained a female British tourist for having a Buddha tattoo on her right arm and ordered her deportation, police said Tuesday. The statement said she had an image of the Buddha seated on a lotus flower tattooed on her right arm. It did not say what charges were brought against her, but Sri Lanka barred another British tourist from entering the island in March last year for showing "disrespect" to Buddhism by having a Buddha tattooed on his arm. Sri Lanka, a majority Buddhist nation, is highly sensitive to perceived threats to the religion. More »Sri Lanka detains British tourist over Buddha tattoo

  • Runners reclaim Boston Marathon one year after attacks

    AFP News - Tue, Apr 22, 2014

    Tens of thousands of runners, cheered by a multitude of spectators, streamed through the streets of Boston to reclaim the world's oldest marathon from the fear left by last year's deadly twin bombing. More than 3,500 police, double the size of the force last year, kept watch to prevent any replay of the ghastly carnage that devastated the race on April 15, 2013 when two explosive devices tore through the crowds at the finish line. The festive atmosphere was only heightened when Meb Keflezighi became the first American man since 1983 to win the event. The Eritrea-born Keflezighi said he hoped his victory would help the city heal, in the way Boston's beloved Red Sox triumphed in the World Series last year. More »Runners reclaim Boston Marathon one year after attacks

  • S.Sudan rebels slaughter 'hundreds' in ethnic massacres: UN

    AFP News - Tue, Apr 22, 2014

    Rebel gunmen in South Sudan massacred "hundreds" of civilians because of their ethnicity when they captured a key oil town last week, the UN said Monday, calling for a probe into one of the worst reported atrocities in the war-torn nation. In the main mosque alone, "more than 200 civilians were reportedly killed and over 400 wounded," the UN mission in the country said. Civilians including children were also massacred at a church, hospital and an abandoned UN World Food Programme compound, it said. Toby Lanzer, the top UN aid official in the country, told AFP after visiting the town of Bentiu he had witnessed the "most terrible sight". More »S.Sudan rebels slaughter 'hundreds' in ethnic massacres: UN

  • Mock executions, beatings: Journalists describe Syria ordeal

    AFP News - Tue, Apr 22, 2014

    Mock executions, hunger, thirst, cold, beatings, a makeshift chess game to pass the time... and a "surreal" snowball fight with their jailers. Details are starting to trickle through of the ordeal experienced by the four French journalists who returned home Sunday after being held hostage for 10 months at the hands of the most radical of Syria's jihadist groups, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. According to Didier Francois, 53, an experienced and highly respected war reporter for Europe 1 radio who was kidnapped on June 6 north of Aleppo along with 23-year-old photographer Edouard Elias, the first few days were particularly tough. "It's... to break any will to resist." Francois and Elias were stopped by armed and masked men after they crossed the border into Syria from Turkey. More »Mock executions, beatings: Journalists describe Syria ordeal

  • Cancellation threat follows tragedy on Everest

    AFP News - Tue, Apr 22, 2014

    Expedition leaders and guides threatened Monday to cancel all climbing on Mount Everest after the deadliest avalanche in its history as hundreds of Nepalese sherpas paid final respects to fellow guides. Accompanied by monks and pick-up trucks bearing the caskets of six victims, the mourners also carried a list of demands that they intend to present to the government, warning all expeditions would be cancelled unless action is taken within a week. The petition was penned after a meeting of expedition leaders, sherpa guides and climbers at base camp Sunday night to discuss how to respond to Friday's disaster, the worst single accident in Everest's history. In a statement, the Nepal Mountaineering Association said the meeting had agreed on "a seven-day ultimatum to the government to address their demands and threaten to stop climbing if the demands are not met". More »Cancellation threat follows tragedy on Everest

  • Dozens killed as Yemen, US mount air war on Qaeda

    AFP News - Tue, Apr 22, 2014

    An "unprecedented" US and Yemeni aerial campaign in Yemen killed at least 68 Al-Qaeda militants in a bid to head off attacks by the network's local affiliate, officials said Monday. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has been linked to a number of failed terror plots against the United States, and its leader has appeared in a rare video in which he vowed to attack Western "crusaders ... everywhere in the world". A top Yemeni official told AFP the "unprecedented" Saturday-Sunday air war came after "information that Al-Qaeda was plotting attacks on vital installations, military and security, as well as foreign interests in Yemen." The interior ministry said intensive air strikes on Al-Qaeda bases in the rugged mountains of Abyan province on Sunday killed 55 militants, including three local chiefs. Tribal sources had put the death toll from the raids near the town of Al-Mahfad at more than 30. More »Dozens killed as Yemen, US mount air war on Qaeda

  • Life turns surreal in separatist-held east Ukraine

    AFP News - Tue, Apr 22, 2014

    An armoured vehicle with a Russian flag fluttering atop it rumbles down the quiet streets of this provincial Ukrainian town as pro-Moscow militants fearing a government offensive fill sandbags inside the occupied town hall. A surreal glimpse at daily life in the separatist-held town of Slavyansk, which has gone into lockdown after a gun battle nearby killed at least two militants over the weekend. They were seized by separatists when the army launched a disastrous offensive against them last week, and they are now the pride of the rebels' arsenal. We will rid Ukraine of fascists and neo-Nazis," says a nearby man in a ski mask, who refuses to identify himself but acts like a spokesman for the rebels. More »Life turns surreal in separatist-held east Ukraine

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