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The Magog Invasion

 

 Introduction:

 

The ancient people called Magog are commonly believed to have been the ancestors of the Russian nation. The prophet Ezekiel spoke of an invasion of Israel by Russia, which has not yet been fulfilled. What could cause Russia to come against the tiny nation of Israel -- which has no oil and no real strategic value? This question has puzzled Bible scholars for centuries. However, recent developments in the Middle East have for the first time in history lent credence to this long-awaited prophecy.


[READ THE FULL INTRODUCTION]

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Invasion

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UN chief launches campaign to end female genital mutilation

 
‎30 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎08:55:35 PMGo to full article
Kenyan Maasai women gather during a meeting dedicated to the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM), on June 12, 2014, in EnkorikaNairobi (AFP) - UN chief Ban Ki-moon launched Thursday a global campaign to end the often deadly practice of female genital mutilation within a generation, as survivors said it had "shattered" their lives.
 
 

Clashes erupt as Israeli police kill Palestinian suspected of shooting Jewish far-rightist

 
‎30 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:47:49 PMGo to full article
A Palestinian protester fires a homemade weapon towards Israeli security forces during clashes in east JerusalemBy Luke Baker JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli police on Thursday shot dead a 32-year-old Palestinian man suspected of having tried hours earlier to kill a far-right Jewish activist, leading to fierce clashes in East Jerusalem and fears of a new Palestinian uprising. The Al-Aqsa compound, or Temple Mount, a holy site at the heart of the latest violence, was shut down for almost an entire day to all visitors as a security precaution. It was the first full closure of the site, venerated by both Jews and Muslims, in 14 years. Late on Thursday Israeli police reopened the complex. ...
 
 

Israel recalls envoy after Sweden recognises Palestine: ministry

 
‎30 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:33:52 PMGo to full article
A man walks by the entrance of the Palestinian Representative Office in Stockholm, Sweden, on October 30, 2014Israel recalled its ambassador to Sweden for "consultations" Thursday, hours after Stockholm officially recognised the state of Palestine, the foreign ministry spokesman said. "This indeed reflects our irritation and annoyance at this unhelpful decision, which does not contribute to a return to (peace) negotiations," Emmanuel Nachshon told AFP. He said the recall of Ambassador Isaac Bachman was for an unspecified length of time. Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstroem announced her country's recognition of Palestine Thursday, making it the first major European country to do so.
 
 

Sweden recognizes Palestinian state, hopes will revive peace process

 
‎30 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:24:31 PMGo to full article
Sweden's Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom attends a news conference at the Rosenbad government building in StockholmBy Simon Johnson STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - The Swedish government officially recognized the state of Palestine on Thursday and said there were signs European Union states would follow its lead. The move drew praise from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and criticism from Israel, and has displeased the United States, Israel's principle supporter. Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom told reporters her government hoped it would bring a new dynamic to efforts to end decades of Israeli-Palestinian conflict. ...
 
 

Jerusalem on edge after police kill Palestinian gunman

 
‎30 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎06:29:59 PMGo to full article
Masked Palestinian youths clash with Israeli security forces in the mostly Arab east Jerusalem neighbourhood of Abu Tor on October 30, 2014Clashes raged in east Jerusalem Thursday after Israeli police shot dead a Palestinian accused of trying to kill a Jewish hardliner, as Al-Aqsa mosque compound was closed for the first time in decades. Israel said its closure of the flashpoint shrine, which is holy to Jews and Muslims alike, was a temporary measure aimed at calming tempers. Wednesday night's shooting incident and the subsequent killing of the suspected gunman sent tensions soaring to a new high, following months of almost daily clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police in the occupied eastern sector of the Holy City. Officials from the Islamic Waqf, which administers the esplanade, confirmed it was the first time such a measure had been taken since Israel seized Arab east Jerusalem during the 1967 Six-Day War.
 
 

Sweden recognises Palestinian state, draws Israeli anger

 
‎30 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎06:12:11 PMGo to full article
Sweden has officially recognised the state of Palestine, Stockholm's foreign minister saysSweden on Thursday officially recognised the state of Palestine, becoming the first major European country to do so, in a move hailed as "historic" by Palestinians but denounced by Israel. "Today the government takes the decision to recognise the state of Palestine," Foreign Minister Margot Wallstroem wrote in the mass-circulation Dagens Nyheter daily, less than a month after Sweden's new government announced the plans to make the controversial move. Sweden's move comes as Israeli-Palestinian tensions soar in Jerusalem following months of almost daily clashes in the city's occupied eastern sector. "All countries of the world that are still hesitant to recognise our right to an independent Palestinian state based on 1967 borders, with east Jerusalem as its capital, (should) follow Sweden's lead," his spokesman quoted him as saying.
 
 

Amnesty: Libyan militias committing war crimes

 
‎30 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎04:49:38 PMGo to full article
CAIRO (AP) — Amnesty International said rival militias and armed groups in Western Libya are committing "mounting war crimes" with impunity.
 

Australia passes laws cracking down on foreign fighters

 
‎30 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:26:58 AMGo to full article
Tony Abbott, Prime Minister of Australia, addresses the 69th United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. headquarters in New YorkSYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia passed laws on Thursday aimed at preventing young people from becoming radicalized and going to fight in overseas conflicts such as those in Iraq and Syria, where scores of Australians have joined militant groups. Last month, the United Nations demanded that all states make it a serious criminal offence for their citizens to travel abroad to fight with militant groups, or to recruit and fund others to do so, in a move sparked by the rise of Islamic State. ...
 
 

Libya militias commit 'mounting war crimes': Amnesty

 
‎30 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎03:16:37 AMGo to full article
Smoke billows from buildings in Benghazi pounded by Libyan airforce, as they were reported storing ammunition belonging to Benghazi-based Islamist Ansar al-Sharia group, on October 22, 2014Pro-government and rebel militias vying for control of western Libya are committing war crimes including torturing detainees and targeting civilians, Amnesty International said Thursday. Libya is being rocked by fighting between militias in the west and in second city Benghazi, where troops are trying to dislodge Islamists who control most of what was the cradle of the 2011 uprising that ousted dictator Moamer Kadhafi. Amnesty said militias in the west showed "an utter disregard" for civilian casualties and accused them of indiscriminately lobbing artillery fire into crowded civilian neighbourhoods, damaging homes and hospitals. "In today's Libya, the rule of the gun has taken hold," said Hadj Sahraoui, deputy director for Amnesty's Middle East and North Africa programme.
 
 

Palestinians urge UN to demand Israel end settlements

 
‎30 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎12:34:59 AMGo to full article
Buildings under construction are seen in the Israeli settlement of Beitar Illit near the Palestinian West Bank village of Wadi Fukin, on September 4, 2014The Palestinians urged the UN Security Council on Wednesday to demand that Israel immediately reverse plans to build more Jewish settlements, at an emergency meeting called to address tensions in east Jerusalem. The 15-nation council met for urgent talks at Jordan's request after Israel announced plans on Monday to build 1,000 new settler homes in east Jerusalem, which the Palestinians consider the capital of a future state.
 
 

Anonymous US comment on Israel roils relations

 
‎30 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎12:04:22 AMGo to full article
White House press secretary Josh Earnest pauses as he answers a question about insulting comments made towards Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by a unidentified Obama official, Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014, during the daily press briefing oat the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)WASHINGTON (AP) — Anonymous White House criticism of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that drew condemnation in Israel is roiling Washington politics, putting the U.S. administration on the defensive and prompting congressional demands for President Barack Obama to repudiate the remarks.
 
 

Israel's Netanyahu fumes at reported U.S. slur

 
‎29 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:59:21 PMGo to full article
A view of Wadi Fukin is seen from the Jewish settlement of Beitar IllitBy Jeffrey Heller JERUSALEM (Reuters) - An anonymous U.S. official's reported description of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a "chickenshit", or worthless coward, drew a sharp response on Wednesday from the Israeli leader - no stranger to acrimony with the Obama administration. The American broadside, in an interview in The Atlantic magazine, followed a month of heated exchanges between the Netanyahu government and Washington over settlement-building in Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem, which Palestinians seek as the capital of a future state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. ...
 
 

Bangladesh Islamist party chief sentenced to death

 
‎29 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎03:21:24 PMGo to full article
Jamaat-e-Islami chief Motiur Rahman Nizami sits inside a police van after he was sentenced to death for his role in the deaths of thousands of people during the nation's independence war against Pakistan in 1971, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014. Nizami, a former Cabinet minister, was tried on 16 charges, including genocide, murder, torture, rape and destruction of property. Bangladesh says Pakistani soldiers, aided by local collaborators, killed 3 million people, raped 200,000 women and forced about 10 million people to take shelter in refugee camps across the border in neighboring India during the nine-month war. (AP Photo/Tanvir Ahammed)DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — A special tribunal sentenced the leader of Bangladesh's largest Islamist party to death on Wednesday for atrocities and multiple killings during the nation's independence war against Pakistan in 1971.
 
 

Kerry says Canadian parliament attack clearly 'terrorist act'

 
‎29 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:01:45 AMGo to full article
By David Brunnstrom and Randall Palmer OTTAWA (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday that an attack on the Canadian parliament and the country's National War Memorial last week in which a soldier was killed was clearly a terrorist act. "Clearly, anybody who walks up in a premeditated way with a loaded rifle and attacks someone in uniform then purposely goes to a parliament, is committing, by common sense standards, a terrorist act," Kerry told a news briefing after talks in Ottawa with his Canadian counterpart, Foreign Minister John Baird. ...
 

Top Asian News at 4:00 a.m. GMT

 
‎29 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎06:04:18 AMGo to full article
BANGKOK (AP) — A Thai court has dismissed a criminal defamation case against a British human rights activist who investigated alleged abuses at a Thai fruit processing factory. Andy Hall still faces charges in three other cases filed by company Natural Fruit Co. Ltd. The next trial begins Thursday.
 

Thousands mourn Canada soldier killed in Ottawa attack

 
‎29 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎02:59:13 AMGo to full article
The funeral procession for Cpl. Nathan Cirillo approaches Christ's Church Cathedral on October 28, 2014 in Hamilton, Ontario, CanadaThousands of mourners lined the streets of the Canadian city of Hamilton for the funeral procession of a soldier killed last week in an attack in the nation's capital. Wailing bagpipes and a solitary drum beat broke a solemn silence as hundreds of soldiers, veterans and police officers marched alongside the flag-draped casket of Corporal Nathan Cirillo to a cathedral in his hometown. His bereaved family, including his six-year-old son wearing his father's beret, also participated in the funeral procession, viewed on television by millions nationwide. Cirillo was fatally shot last week while standing watch at the War Memorial in Ottawa.
 
 

Kerry says Canadian parliament attack clearly 'terrorist act'

 
‎28 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎11:37:33 PMGo to full article
By David Brunnstrom and Randall Palmer OTTAWA (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday that an attack on the Canadian parliament and the country's National War Memorial last week in which a soldier was killed was clearly a terrorist act. "Clearly, anybody who walks up in a premeditated way with a loaded rifle and attacks someone in uniform then purposely goes to a parliament, is committing, by common sense standards, a terrorist act," Kerry told a news briefing after talks in Ottawa with his Canadian counterpart, Foreign Minister John Baird. ...
 

Germany warns security situation 'critical' due to radical Islam

 
‎28 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:18:52 PMGo to full article
By Alexandra Hudson and Sabine Siebold BERLIN (Reuters) - Radical Islam poses a critical security threat to Germany, Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere warned on Tuesday, saying the number of people capable of staging attacks in the country stood at an all-time high. Besides the risk posed by German jihadists returning from Syria, there was also the danger of violent clashes on German streets as rival extremist groups turn on each other - mirroring the conflicts of the Middle East, he told a security conference. ...
 

'El Dorado' Britain must reduce its appeal to migrants: French mayor

 
‎28 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎08:04:04 PMGo to full article
A couple look at the view of the London skyline from Greenwich Park in LondonLONDON (Reuters) - Britain needs to overhaul the generous welfare system and lax identity controls that are making it a magnet for illegal immigrants who see it as "El Dorado", the mayor of the northern French port town Calais said on Tuesday. Last week French riot police in Calais used teargas to ward off hundreds of immigrants seeking to jump on trucks bound for Britain, where growing concerns over immigration threaten Prime Minister David Cameron's prospects of re-election. ...
 
 

Islamic bond market set to grow: experts

 
‎28 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:10:15 PMGo to full article
Dubai now the third global centre for sukuk following the recent listing of $750 million in such bonds by its government, and plans by Hong Kong to list its first successful offering of $1 billion on Nasdaq DubaiInvestments in Islamic bonds known as "sukuk" are set to grow worldwide as financial centres vie to tap an increasing appetite for Muslim-friendly debt, experts and officials said Tuesday. The global value of outstanding sukuk was $269.4 billion at the end of 2013, but the market is expected to expand at a double-digit rate, said the governor of Dubai International Financial Centre, Essa Kazim. "The sukuk market is likely to sustain double-digit growth in the next three years with assets in Islamic finance expected to reach $2.8 trillion by 2015," he told participants at the 10th World Islamic Economic Forum in Dubai. Kazim said Dubai was now the third global centre for sukuk following the recent listing of $750 million in such bonds by its government, and plans by Hong Kong to list its first successful offering of $1 billion on Nasdaq Dubai.
 
 

Macy's to head overseas with branch in Abu Dhabi

 
‎28 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎04:14:04 PMGo to full article
This artist rendering image released by Gulf Related on Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2014 shows, Macy's at the Al Maryah Central in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The Middle East will soon be getting its second Bloomingdales and the world’s first Macy’s department store outside the United States. Property developer Gulf Related and Dubai-based retail conglomerate Al Tayer Group said on Tuesday they plan to open both stores in a new shopping center being built in the United Arab Emirates’ oil-rich capital of Abu Dhabi. (AP Photo/Gulf Related)DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The Middle East is getting the world's first Macy's department store outside the United States, and just for good measure, its second Bloomingdale's too.
 
 

Iran accuses Turkey of prolonging civil war in Syria

 
‎28 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎03:41:39 PMGo to full article
ANKARA (Reuters) - Iran accused Turkey on Tuesday of prolonging the three-year conflict in neighboring Syria by insisting on President Bashar al-Assad's overthrow and supporting "terrorist groups" in Syria, the official IRNA news agency reported. Tehran and Ankara back opposing sides in the civil war, which pits rebel forces including radical Sunni Muslim fighters from the Islamic State against Assad, Tehran's closest regional ally. ...
 

Top Asian News at 11:00 a.m. GMT

 
‎28 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎01:02:31 PMGo to full article
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea's spy agency said Tuesday it has solved the mystery of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's 6-week public absence, which set off a frenzy of wild speculation around the world. The National Intelligence Service told legislators that a foreign doctor operated on Kim in September or October to remove a cyst from his right ankle, according to Park Byeong-seok, an aide for opposition lawmaker Shin Kyung-min. The aide said the spy agency also told lawmakers in a closed-door briefing that the cyst could recur because of Kim's obesity, smoking and heavy public schedule.
 

Top Asian News at 10:30 a.m. GMT

 
‎28 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎12:32:30 PMGo to full article
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea's spy agency says it has an explanation of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's mysterious 6-week-long public absence. An aide for a South Korean lawmaker says the National Intelligence Agency told legislators on Tuesday that a foreign doctor operated on Kim in September or October to remove a cyst from his right ankle.
 

Top Asian News at 10:00 a.m. GMT

 
‎28 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎12:02:28 PMGo to full article
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea's spy agency says it has an explanation of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's mysterious 6-week-long public absence. An aide for a South Korean lawmaker says the National Intelligence Agency told legislators on Tuesday that a foreign doctor operated on Kim in September or October to remove a cyst from his right ankle.
 

Top Asian News at 9:30 a.m. GMT

 
‎28 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎11:32:30 AMGo to full article
NEW DELHI (AP) — Indian women still face some of the world's worst inequality in access to health care, education and work, despite years of rapid economic growth, according to a survey of 142 nations released Tuesday. The annual Gender Gap Index by the Geneva-based World Economic Forum showed India falling to 114th place, after being ranked 101st out of 136 countries surveyed last year. That puts India below other fast-developing nations including China, ranked 87th, and Brazil at 71.
 

Top Asian News at 9:00 a.m. GMT

 
‎28 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎11:02:29 AMGo to full article
NEW DELHI (AP) — Indian women still face some of the world's worst inequality in access to health care, education and work, despite years of rapid economic growth, according to a survey of 142 nations released Tuesday. The annual Gender Gap Index by the Geneva-based World Economic Forum showed India falling to 114th place, after being ranked 101st out of 136 countries surveyed last year. That puts India below other fast-developing nations including China, ranked 87th, and Brazil at 71.
 

Top Asian News at 8:30 a.m. GMT

 
‎28 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:32:29 AMGo to full article
NEW DELHI (AP) — Indian women still face some of the world's worst inequality in access to health care, education and work, despite years of rapid economic growth, according to a survey of 142 nations released Tuesday. The annual Gender Gap Index by the Geneva-based World Economic Forum showed India falling to 114th place, after being ranked 101st out of 136 countries surveyed last year. That puts India below other fast-developing nations including China, ranked 87th, and Brazil at 71.
 

No British support for Mediterranean migrant rescues

 
‎28 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:14:05 AMGo to full article
Picture released by the Italian Navy on August 4, 2014 shows migrants on a boat in the Mediterranean Sea after being rescuedLondon (AFP) - Britain will not support planned EU search and rescue operations to save migrants from drowning in the Mediterranean Sea as they try to reach Europe, the foreign office said on Tuesday.
 
 

Top Asian News at 8:00 a.m. GMT

 
‎28 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:02:29 AMGo to full article
NEW DELHI (AP) — A global report shows Indian woman still face some of the world's worst inequality in access to health care, education and work, despite years of rapid economic growth. The annual Gender Gap Index by the Geneva-based World Economic Forum released Tuesday showed India's ranking falling from 101st out of 136 countries surveyed last year to 114th out of 142 countries this year.
 

Top Asian News at 7:30 a.m. GMT

 
‎28 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:32:28 AMGo to full article
NEW DELHI (AP) — A global report shows Indian woman still face some of the world's worst inequality in access to health care, education and work, despite years of rapid economic growth. The annual Gender Gap Index by the Geneva-based World Economic Forum released Tuesday showed India's ranking falling from 101st out of 136 countries surveyed last year to 114th out of 142 countries this year.
 

Top Asian News at 7:00 a.m. GMT

 
‎28 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:03:13 AMGo to full article
NEW DELHI (AP) — A global report shows Indian woman still face some of the world's worst inequality in access to health care, education and work, despite years of rapid economic growth. The annual Gender Gap Index by the Geneva-based World Economic Forum released Tuesday showed India's ranking falling from 101st out of 136 countries surveyed last year to 114th out of 142 countries this year.
 

Suicide bomber kills 27 militiamen south of Iraqi capital

 
‎28 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎08:40:29 AMGo to full article
Iraqi Army personnel transport a wounded soldier after a mortar attack in Jurf al-Sakhar, south of BaghdadBy Michael Georgy BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A suicide bomber killed at least 27 Shi'ite militiamen outside the Iraqi town of Jurf al-Sakhar on Monday after security forces pushed Islamic State militants out of the area over the weekend, army and police sources said. The attacker, driving a Humvee vehicle packed with explosives and likely stolen from defeated government troops, also wounded 60 Shi'ite Muslim militiamen, who had helped government forces retake the town just south of the capital. ...
 
 

Top Asian News at 6:30 a.m. GMT

 
‎28 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎08:32:27 AMGo to full article
PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — Japanese and North Korean officials held talks in Pyongyang for the first time in 10 years Tuesday, meeting to assess progress into North Korea's investigation into the fates of Japanese citizens who were abducted in the 1970s and '80s. The abduction issue has long been a major obstacle in the frosty ties between the two nations, which have no formal diplomatic relations.
 

Top Asian News at 5:30 a.m. GMT

 
‎28 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:32:29 AMGo to full article
PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — Japanese and North Korean officials held talks in Pyongyang for the first time in 10 years Tuesday, meeting to assess progress into North Korea's investigation into the fates of Japanese citizens who were abducted in the 1970s and '80s. The abduction issue has long been a major obstacle in the frosty ties between the two nations, which have no formal diplomatic relations.
 

Top Asian News at 5:00 a.m. GMT

 
‎28 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:02:28 AMGo to full article
PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — Japanese and North Korean officials held talks in Pyongyang for the first time in 10 years Tuesday, meeting to assess progress into North Korea's investigation into the fates of Japanese citizens who were abducted in the 1970s and '80s. The abduction issue has long been a major obstacle in the frosty ties between the two nations, which have no formal diplomatic relations.
 

Top Asian News at 4:30 a.m. GMT

 
‎28 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎06:32:33 AMGo to full article
PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — Japanese and North Korean officials held talks in Pyongyang for the first time in 10 years Tuesday, meeting to assess progress into North Korea's investigation into the fates of Japanese citizens who were abducted in the 1970s and '80s. The abduction issue has long been a major obstacle in the frosty ties between the two nations, which have no formal diplomatic relations.
 

Top Asian News at 3:30 a.m. GMT

 
‎28 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎05:32:26 AMGo to full article
PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — Japanese and North Korean officials started two days of talks Tuesday to assess progress in Pyongyang's investigation into the fates of Japanese citizens who were abducted in the 1970s and '80s. The abduction issue has long been a major obstacle in the frosty ties between the two nations, which have no formal diplomatic relations.
 

Top Asian News at 3:00 a.m. GMT

 
‎28 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎05:03:09 AMGo to full article
PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — Japanese and North Korean officials have met for talks to assess progress in Pyongyang's investigation into the fates of Japanese citizens who were abducted in the 1970s and '80s. The abduction issue has long been a major obstacle in the frosty ties between the two nations, which have no formal diplomatic relations.
 

Top Asian News at 2:30 a.m. GMT

 
‎28 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎04:32:26 AMGo to full article
PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia (AP) — Malaysia's top court on Tuesday began hearing a final appeal filed by opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim against a sodomy conviction widely regarded as politically motivated. Anwar was sentenced to five years in prison in March on charges of sodomizing a male aide in 2008 after the appeals court overturned an earlier acquittal.
 

Top Asian News at 2:00 a.m. GMT

 
‎28 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎04:02:26 AMGo to full article
PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia (AP) — Malaysia's top court has begun hearing a final appeal filed by opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim against a sodomy conviction widely regarded as politically motivated. Anwar was sentenced to five years in prison in March on charges of sodomizing a male aide in 2008 after the appeals court overturned an earlier acquittal.
 

Top Asian News at 1:30 a.m. GMT

 
‎28 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎03:32:24 AMGo to full article
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — A Malaysian military officer extradited to New Zealand to face sexual assault charges was released on bail Tuesday in a case that has raised questions about the moral implications of the Vienna Convention, which offers special legal protections to diplomats and embassy staff. Wellington District Court Judge Arthur Tompkins ruled Muhammad Rizalman Ismail could be released from custody if he followed certain conditions, including surrendering his passport, not going out at night, and having no contact with his accuser. Rizalman had been jailed since returning to New Zealand on Saturday, five months after leaving the country under the protection of diplomatic immunity.
 

Top Asian News at 1:00 a.m. GMT

 
‎28 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎03:02:29 AMGo to full article
PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — A high-ranking Japanese delegation arrived in Pyongyang on Monday to assess the progress of a North Korean investigation into the fates of Japanese citizens who were abducted by North Korean agents in the 1970s and '80s. The abduction issue has long been a major obstacle in the frosty ties between North Korea and Japan, which have no formal diplomatic relations.
 

Top Asian News at 12:30 a.m. GMT

 
‎28 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎02:32:26 AMGo to full article
PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — A high-ranking Japanese delegation arrived in Pyongyang on Monday to assess the progress of a North Korean investigation into the fates of Japanese citizens who were abducted by North Korean agents in the 1970s and '80s. The abduction issue has long been a major obstacle in the frosty ties between North Korea and Japan, which have no formal diplomatic relations.
 

Top Asian News at 12:00 a.m. GMT

 
‎28 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎02:03:12 AMGo to full article
MARYSVILLE, Washington (AP) — Investigators say that a gunman responsible for a shooting at a Washington state high school invited his victims to lunch by text message. Snohomish County Sheriff Ty Trenary told a news conference Monday the five students were all at a lunch table when they were shot by 15-year-old Jaylen Fryberg on Friday.
 

Top Asian News at 11:30 p.m. GMT

 
‎28 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎01:32:38 AMGo to full article
MARYSVILLE, Washington (AP) — Investigators say that a gunman responsible for a shooting at a Washington state high school invited his victims to lunch by text message. Snohomish County Sheriff Ty Trenary told a news conference Monday the five students were all at a lunch table when they were shot by 15-year-old Jaylen Fryberg on Friday.
 

Australian teenager features in second IS video

 
‎28 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎01:05:38 AMGo to full article
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — An Australian teenage runaway, dubbed the Ginger Jihadist by the media, has been featured in a second Islamic State propaganda video.
 

Top Asian News at 11:00 p.m. GMT

 
‎28 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎01:02:24 AMGo to full article
MARYSVILLE, Washington (AP) — Investigators say that a gunman responsible for a shooting at a Washington state high school invited his victims to lunch by text message. Snohomish County Sheriff Ty Trenary told a news conference Monday the five students were all at a lunch table when they were shot by 15-year-old Jaylen Fryberg on Friday.
 

Suicide bomber kills 27 militiamen south of Iraqi capital

 
‎27 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:10:16 PMGo to full article
By Michael Georgy BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A suicide bomber killed at least 27 Shi'ite militiamen outside the Iraqi town of Jurf al-Sakhar on Monday after security forces pushed Islamic State militants out of the area over the weekend, army and police sources said. The attacker, driving a Humvee vehicle packed with explosives and likely stolen from defeated government troops, also wounded 60 Shi'ite Muslim militiamen, who had helped government forces retake the town just south of the capital. ...
 

Austrian drones fly high, over Ukraine and beyond

 
‎27 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:05:06 PMGo to full article
CEO Hannes Hecher is pictured at the Schiebel camcopter factory on October 23, 2014 in Wiener Neustadt, some 50 kilometers south of ViennaIn the middle of the Austrian countryside, a few sleek, high-tech drones sit in a bright production hall, ready for missions over Ukraine, the Mediterranean or the Middle East. Schiebel, a small company originally specialised in landmine detection, has been manufacturing Camcopters -- a 3.5-metre (11.5-foot) long mini-helicopter equipped with cameras, radars and other sensors -- for close to 10 years. "Schiebel is actually the leading unmanned VTOL (Vertical Take Off and Landing) supplier at present," according to Oliver Shorvon of London-based IHS Jane's Aerospace and Defence Consulting. Costing a few million euros, with over eight hours' endurance and weighing a mere 200 kilogrammes (440 pounds), the Camcopter -- which Schiebel insists is only for observation and not armed -- managed to impose itself over a dozen other drones, even those produced by top defence companies like Sweden's SAAB and Airbus.

 

 

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New UN envoy on Syria briefs Security Council

 
‎30 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:04:34 PMGo to full article
U.N. Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura speaks during a press conference after his meeting with the U.N. Security Council, Thursday Oct. 30, 2014 at U.N. headquarters. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The outspoken new U.N. envoy on Syria said Thursday he is pursuing an "action plan" that involves freezing conflict in certain areas, possibly starting with Aleppo, to allow for humanitarian aid and local steps of a political process toward wider peace.
 
 

London stocks end broadly flat as US news takes centre stage

 
‎30 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:30:17 PMGo to full article
People walk in the foyer of the London Stock Exchange in central London on March 7, 2013. The benchmark FTSE 100 index settled 9.68 points, or 0.15 percent, higher at 6,463.55 on October 30, 2014London (AFP) - London shares finished the day broadly flat on Thursday, with US news weighing on shares in lender Standard Chartered and miner Randgold Resources.
 
 

EU holds largest-ever cyber-security exercise

 
‎30 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:06:54 PMGo to full article
Udo Helmbrecht, the director of the European Network and Information Security Agency, speaks to the Associated Press in an interview in Athens on Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014. The agency coordinated Europe's largest ever cyber-security exercise, based in Athens, on Thursday. (AP Photo/Derek Gatopoulos)ATHENS, Greece (AP) — The European Union on Thursday carried out its biggest exercise to prevent cyber-attacks on Europe's public utilities and communications networks.
 
 

Kerry says reported U.S. slur of Israel's Netanyahu 'damaging'

 
‎30 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎06:26:16 PMGo to full article
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a cabinet meeting in JerusalemWASHINGTON (Reuters) - The description of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a "chickenshit" by an anonymous U.S. official as quoted in a U.S. magazine this week was disgraceful and damaging, Secretary of State John Kerry said on Thursday. Netanyahu on Wednesday condemned the comment from an unnamed official in The Atlantic, which added to tensions between his government and the Obama administration, particularly over settlement building in Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem. ...
 
 

Syrian official slams Turkey 'aggression'

 
‎30 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎05:03:32 PMGo to full article
Bouthaina Shaaban, Syrian President Bashar Assad's political adviser, speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in Damascus, Syria, Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014. Shaaban accused Turkey on Thursday of committing "aggression" against the country by allowing rebels to cross into the Syrian Kurdish border town of Kobani to battle the Islamic State group. (AP Photo/Diaa Hadid)DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — Syrian President Bashar Assad's political adviser accused Turkey on Thursday of committing "aggression" against the country by allowing rebels to cross into the Syrian Kurdish border town of Kobani to battle the Islamic State group.
 
 

Iran wants sanctions lifted as part of nuclear deal

 
‎30 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎04:31:40 PMGo to full article
The chairman of the Iranian parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Alaeddin Boroujerdi speaks on June 4, 2014 in DamascusIran wants all Western sanctions to be lifted as part of a deal on its contested nuclear programme by a November deadline, a top official said Wednesday. The six powers in the talks with Iran -- Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States plus Germany, known as the P5+1 -- have set November 24 as the deadline. The chairman of the Iranian parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Alaeddin Boroujerdi said the US proposal of a gradual lifting of sanctions was "unacceptable." A Western diplomat close to the negotiations with Iran on Monday said a firm deal by the deadline was highly unlikely, saying Tehran would have to make "significant gestures."
 
 

Facing its own Islamic State-inspired militants, Iran wields a smaller stick

 
‎30 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎03:58:49 PMGo to full article
Here in Iran’s lawless southeast, the authorities in Tehran who have sent military advisers and hardware to help fight the so-called Islamic State in far-off Syria and Iraq are engaged in their own battle with Sunni militants.
 

Iran says foils bid to sabotage nuclear heavy-water tanks: newspaper

 
‎30 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎03:21:04 PMGo to full article
A general view of the Arak heavy-water projectANKARA (Reuters) - Iran has foiled an attempt to sabotage tanks used for transporting heavy water, which is needed to run some nuclear reactors, and blames a "foreign country" for the incident, a senior official was quoted by local media as saying. The Islamic Republic is at odds with the West over suspicions it is covertly using its declared civilian atomic energy program to develop a nuclear arms capability. It denies this and has repeatedly accused certain Western states of trying to cripple the program through acts of sabotage. ...
 
 

Reporter's family urges Iran to release him

 
‎30 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎01:02:37 PMGo to full article
FILE - In this photo April 11, 2013 file photo, Jason Rezaian, an Iranian-American correspondent for the Washington Post smiles as he attends a presidential campaign of President Hassan Rouhani in Tehran, Iran. The family of Rezaian jailed without charge in Iran is urging authorities in Tehran to release him, calling his incarceration a “farce” 100 days after he was detained. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The family of an Iranian-American correspondent for the Washington Post who has been jailed in Iran since July is urging authorities to release him, saying on Thursday that his continued incarceration without charge is a "farce."
 
 

Iran foils sabotage attempt on heavy water tanks

 
‎30 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎11:28:56 AMGo to full article
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iranian authorities have foiled a sabotage attempt involving tanks used for the transportation of heavy water, a key component in nuclear reactors, an Iranian newspaper reported on Thursday.
 

United States praises China's growing role in Afghanistan

 
‎30 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:45:50 AMGo to full article
BEIJING (Reuters) - The United States welcomed China's growing role in trying to ensure Afghanistan's stability on Thursday, saying a Beijing conference of foreign ministers on Afghan reconstruction this week shows its commitment to the region as Western troops pull out. The comments, made by a senior State Department official, are rare U.S. praise for Beijing, which this week hosts Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on his first visit abroad since assuming office in September. ...
 

U.S. says working with Iraqi Kurdistan to stop Islamic State oil smuggling

 
‎30 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:41:03 AMGo to full article
By Florence Tan SINGAPORE (Reuters) - The United States is working closely with the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government to clamp down on oil smuggling in a bid to cut off a key source of funding for Islamic State, a senior U.S. official said on Thursday. Islamic State militants have seized oilfields and refineries in north Iraq and have been exporting oil through smuggling networks to help finance their campaign, along with ransom, extortion and other criminal activities. ...
 

Anonymous US comment on Israel roils relations

 
‎30 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎12:04:22 AMGo to full article
White House press secretary Josh Earnest pauses as he answers a question about insulting comments made towards Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by a unidentified Obama official, Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014, during the daily press briefing oat the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)WASHINGTON (AP) — Anonymous White House criticism of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that drew condemnation in Israel is roiling Washington politics, putting the U.S. administration on the defensive and prompting congressional demands for President Barack Obama to repudiate the remarks.
 
 

Israel's Netanyahu fumes at reported U.S. slur

 
‎29 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:59:21 PMGo to full article
A view of Wadi Fukin is seen from the Jewish settlement of Beitar IllitBy Jeffrey Heller JERUSALEM (Reuters) - An anonymous U.S. official's reported description of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a "chickenshit", or worthless coward, drew a sharp response on Wednesday from the Israeli leader - no stranger to acrimony with the Obama administration. The American broadside, in an interview in The Atlantic magazine, followed a month of heated exchanges between the Netanyahu government and Washington over settlement-building in Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem, which Palestinians seek as the capital of a future state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. ...
 
 

Israeli leader lashes back at harsh US criticism

 
‎29 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎05:55:46 PMGo to full article
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during the opening session of the Knesset, Israel's parliament, in Jerusalem, Monday, Oct. 27, 2014. Netanyahu told parliament Monday that “the French build in Paris, the English build in London and the Israelis build in Jerusalem.” The government is currently advancing construction plans to build about 1,000 housing units in east Jerusalem. The Palestinians seek east Jerusalem as their future capital and oppose any Israeli construction there. The international community, including the United States, does not recognize Israel's annexation of the eastern sector of Jerusalem. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel's prime minister said Wednesday that recent verbal attacks against him from the United States were merely because he was "defending Israel" and vowed to carry on with his policies despite the vitriolic rhetoric.
 
 

Iran parliament rejects minister in fresh blow to Rouhani

 
‎29 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎05:55:35 PMGo to full article
The Iranian president's candidate for science minister, Mahmoud Nili-Ahmadabadi, speaks in parliament in Tehran on October 29, 2014, defending his nomination for the positionIran's President Hassan Rouhani suffered a fresh setback on Wednesday when the conservative-dominated parliament rejected his choice for science minister as too close to reformists. Mahmoud Nili-Ahmadabadi, the pick for minister of science, research and technology, lost a vote of confidence by a margin of 79 to 160 following a parliamentary debate lasting almost three hours. It was the third time since Rouhani took office that deputies rejected his candidate for the influential post that covers Iranian universities. Lawmakers questioned Nili-Ahmadabadi over his stance on the mass protests which broke out after the June 2009 re-election of hardline president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
 
 

Tribesmen in Yemen kill 8 Shiite rebels

 
‎29 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎05:03:28 PMGo to full article
SANAA, Yemen (AP) — A military official says that armed tribesmen in Yemen have killed eight Shiite Houthi rebels.
 

Kurds key in fight against Islamic State group

 
‎29 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎03:23:02 PMGo to full article
A Kurdish Peshmerga solider reaches out his hand to supporters, at the Ibrahim Khalil border crossing, in the Northern Kurdish Region of Iraq, Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014. A group of Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga troops arrived in Turkey early Wednesday, on their way to Syria to help their Syrian Kurdish brethren fight Islamic State extremists in the embattled border town of Kobani. (AP Photo/Bram Janssen)BAGHDAD (AP) — The Kurds of Syria and Iraq have become a major part of the war against the Islamic State group, with Kurdish populations in both countries threatened by the militants' advance.
 
 

Iran assembly rejects Rouhani nominee for minister

 
‎29 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎12:39:30 PMGo to full article
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran's conservative-dominated parliament on Wednesday dismissed President Hassan Rouhani's nominee for the post of science minister, arguing that the candidate is not fully committed to Islamic values.
 

Bahraini opposition group suspended for three months

 
‎29 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:25:17 AMGo to full article
The headquarters of Bahrain's main opposition party Al Wefaq is pictured in Bilad Al Qadeem, west of ManamaBy Farishta Saeed MANAMA (Reuters) - Bahrain has suspended the activities of the country's main opposition group, Al Wefaq, for three months, a court ruling showed on Tuesday, ahead of a November parliamentary election which the group has already pledged to boycott. The suspension, which the justice minister said would not be enforced until Al Wefaq had held its general conference, was expected to deepen a political crisis that has gripped the U.S.-ally since mass protests in 2011 demanding reforms. ...
 
 

Iraq Sunni exiles say bombs cannot defeat IS

 
‎29 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:58:56 AMGo to full article
As US-led warplanes pound jihadists in Iraq, prominent Sunni exiles say that empowering their marginalised minority will be more important than bombs and missiles in defeating the Islamic State extremist groupAs US-led warplanes pound jihadists in Iraq, prominent Sunni exiles say that empowering their marginalised minority will be more important than bombs and missiles in defeating the Islamic State extremist group. Deadly sectarian tensions have riven Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein more than a decade ago, with Sunni anger at the Shiite-led authorities seen as a key factor behind the rise of IS. Sunni-led IS has seized swathes of Iraq and Syria, declaring an Islamic "caliphate" and committing widespread atrocities. Under Saddam, Iraq's Sunni community -- although a minority -- kept a tight grip on power.
 
 

Iran envoy rejects U.N. investigator's charges of rights abuses

 
‎29 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎12:03:16 AMGo to full article
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Iran on Tuesday dismissed a U.N. investigator's allegations of severe human rights abuses in the Islamic Republic, saying the criticisms were aimed at inciting "Iranophobia and Islamophobia." The latest report, by U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in Iran Ahmed Shaheed, says executions in Iran have sharply increased since President Hassan Rouhani's election last year. He said torture is used in prisons, the situation of women has deteriorated and religious minorities are still persecuted. Iranian envoy Forouzandeh Vadiati told the U.N. ...
 

Iran denies claim nuclear deal is 'finalised'

 
‎28 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎11:42:44 PMGo to full article
In a photo released by the official website of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, he (R) and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (L) attend a meeting with Iranian foreign ambassadors and diplomats in Tehran on August 11, 2014Iran's government was forced to deny Tuesday it had already struck a nuclear deal with the West, after a lawmaker accused its negotiators of secretly selling the country short. In a sign of the domestic tension surrounding talks being held abroad with world powers, Iran's foreign ministry threatened to prosecute the member of parliament who said an agreement that breaches the Islamic republic's "red lines" had been settled. A group of hardline MPs in Tehran have repeatedly warned Iran has already given up too much in talks with the United States and other leading nations under an interim deal that traded curbs on its nuclear programme for limited sanctions relief.
 
 

Bahrain bans main opposition ahead of election

 
‎28 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:09:51 PMGo to full article
Bahraini opposition representatives including Al-Wefaq leader Sheikh Ali Salman (2L) attend a press conference in the village of Zinj, west of Manama, on October 11, 2014A Bahraini court banned the main opposition Al-Wefaq movement for three months Tuesday, just weeks before a parliamentary election the group had already said it would boycott. In its ruling, the Manama administrative court said Al-Wefaq had violated the law on associations, according to a court official. Al-Wefaq has the status of an association. In July, the justice ministry sued Al-Wefaq, demanding it rectify its "illegal status following the annulment of four general assemblies for lack of a quorum and the non-commitment to the public and transparency requirements for holding them."
 
 

In Syria refugee crisis, Palestinian legacy weighs on Lebanon

 
‎28 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:43:27 PMGo to full article
Faced with sectarian unrest, spillover from the Syrian civil war, a presidential vacuum, attacks against the Army, and a tottering economy, Lebanon has no shortage of problems that threaten stability and livelihoods.
 

Iraqi peshmerga fighters head for Syria to fight Islamic State

 
‎28 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:39:51 PMGo to full article
Kurdish peshmerga fighters prepare before leaving their base on the outskirts of Arbil in northern IraqBy Isabel Coles and Dasha Afanasieva ARBIL Iraq/MURSITPINAR Turkey (Reuters) - Iraqi peshmerga fighters headed for the Syrian town of Kobani on Tuesday to help fellow Kurds repel an Islamic State advance that has defied U.S.-led air strikes and become an important test of the coalition's ability to combat the Sunni insurgents. Kobani, nestled on the border with Turkey, has been besieged by Islamic State for more than a month. Weeks of air strikes on the insurgents' positions and the deaths of hundreds of their fighters have failed to break the siege. ...
 
 

For 23rd time, U.N. nations urge end to U.S. embargo on Cuba

 
‎28 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:03:34 PMGo to full article
Cuba's Foreign Minister Rodriguez addresses the 69th United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. headquarters in New YorkBy Mirjam Donath and Louis Charbonneau UNITED NATION (Reuters) - The U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday voted overwhelmingly for the 23rd time to condemn the decades-long U.S. economic embargo against Cuba, with many nations praising the island state for its response in fighting the deadly Ebola virus that is ravaging West Africa. In the 193-nation assembly, 188 countries voted for the nonbinding resolution, titled "Necessity of Ending the Economic, Commercial and Financial Embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba. ...
 
 

Iran accuses Turkey of prolonging civil war in Syria

 
‎28 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎03:41:39 PMGo to full article
ANKARA (Reuters) - Iran accused Turkey on Tuesday of prolonging the three-year conflict in neighboring Syria by insisting on President Bashar al-Assad's overthrow and supporting "terrorist groups" in Syria, the official IRNA news agency reported. Tehran and Ankara back opposing sides in the civil war, which pits rebel forces including radical Sunni Muslim fighters from the Islamic State against Assad, Tehran's closest regional ally. ...
 

Afghan president seeks Chinese investment

 
‎28 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎02:28:39 PMGo to full article
Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, right, walks with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping after inspecting a guard of honor during a welcome ceremony outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2014. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)BEIJING (AP) — Afghanistan's new president began a visit to Beijing on Tuesday seeking Chinese help in rebuilding his country and promoting regional stability.
 
 

Syria's 3 ½-year conflict roiling the economy

 
‎28 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎02:13:36 PMGo to full article
People shop in the ancient bazaar known as the Hamidiyeh souq in Damascus Syria, Monday, Oct. 27, 2014. It is one of Syria’s chief markets, once packed with tourists and visitors from around the country who shopped in the cavernous maze of arched alleyways, ancient Roman columns, snapping up antiques, socks, wispy lingerie and sweets, a rumble of chaotic crowds and pigeons flying overhead. Even amid conflict, it's still an important shopping spot for the country’s working classes but prices here have already quadrupled over the past four years for most products in the market. (AP Photo/Diaa Hadid)DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — The middle-aged salesman sat glumly among an array of shorts, khaki leisure suits bedecked with gold belts and dresses with plunging necklines in the ancient Damascus bazaar — luxuries few can afford in today's Syria.
 
 

Standard Chartered pre-tax Q3 profit drops 16%

 
‎28 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎11:16:38 AMGo to full article
Standard Chartered reported a sharp fall in pre-tax profits in the third quarter and issued a profit warning, while saying it would "remain watchful in India, in China"Standard Chartered reported Tuesday a sharp fall in pre-tax profits in the third quarter and issued a profit warning, while saying it would "remain watchful in India, in China". The Asia-focused British bank said pre-tax profit fell 16 percent to $1.53 billion from $1.83 billion a year earlier in a report to the Hong Kong stock exchange. Pre-tax profit for January-September came in at $4.8 billion, compared with $5.9 billion at the same point last year. The bank's report said: "We remain watchful in India, in China and of commodity exposures more broadly, where we have continued to tighten our underwriting criteria and reduce our exposures." Chirantan Barua, UK banks analyst at Bernstein Research, told Dow Jones Newswires, that the bank's mention of China, which is struggling to overcome an economic slowdown, was telling.
 
 

Dozens die in Lebanon as Army clashes with Sunni supporters of Islamic State

 
‎28 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎02:00:06 AMGo to full article
The thump of heavy machine gun fire echoed from tower blocks as thick black smoke billowed from the impoverished neighborhood of Bab al-Tebbaneh, a scene all too familiar for residents of this northern Lebanese city.
 

Slim chances of Iran nuclear deal by deadline: diplomat

 
‎28 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎12:16:44 AMGo to full article
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani waves as he leaves a press conference in Tehran on August 30, 2014A deal on Iran's contested nuclear programme before a November 24 deadline is highly unlikely, a Western diplomat close to negotiations said on Monday. "The ball is in Iran's court" and Tehran would have to make "significant gestures," the diplomat added. The six powers in the talks with Iran -- Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States plus Germany, known as the P5+1 -- have set November 24 as the deadline for a comprehensive deal. US Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman has spoken of "a forest of distrust" between the West and Iran.
 
 

UN concerned by Iran 'surge of executions'

 
‎28 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎12:09:35 AMGo to full article
Iranian officials prepare the noose for an execution in the northern city of Nowshahr on April 15, 2014At least 850 people have been executed in Iran in the past 15 months as part of a worsening human rights situation under reformist President Hassan Rouhani, a UN official said Monday. Ahmed Shaheed, the rights rapporteur for Iran, described a "surge in executions," giving Iran the world's the highest death penalty rate per capita. The rapporteur said he was "shocked" by the hanging over the weekend of 26-year-old Reyhaneh Jabbari who was convicted of murdering a former intelligence officer she claimed had tried to sexually assault her.
 
 

UN investigator, banned by Iran, not fazed

 
‎27 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:51:52 PMGo to full article
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United Nations special investigator on Iran is not fazed by a senior official's announcement that he is banned from the country, saying on Monday, "He loves banning me."
 

U.N. rights investigator 'shocked' by latest Iran execution

 
‎27 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:56:13 PMGo to full article
By Louis Charbonneau UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - A U.N. human rights investigator on Monday expressed shock at Iran's weekend execution of a 26-year-old woman convicted of murdering a man she accused of trying to rape her as a teenager, saying he had repeatedly voiced concerns to Tehran about her trial. Reyhaneh Jabbari walked to the gallows at dawn on Saturday in Tehran's Evin prison after failing to secure a reprieve from the dead man's relatives within the 10-day deadline set by sharia law in force since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. "I was shocked over the weekend by the execution of Ms. ...
 

Officials: Clash in Yemen town kills 250 in 3 days

 
‎27 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎05:02:14 PMGo to full article
Houthi Shiite rebels ride in a military truck while patrolling a street in Sanaa, Yemen, Monday, Oct. 27, 2014. Fighting in Yemen's central Bayda province between Shiite Houthi rebels and the influential Qifa tribe in the town of Radda, some 200 kilometers (125 miles) south of the capital, Sanaa, killed at least 250 people over three days of clashes, security officials said Monday. Fighters from the Qifa tribe forced the Houthis out of the Manasih area in Radda, said the officials. A peace agreement signed between the Houthis and the government so far has failed to end the fighting. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Fighting in central Yemen between Shiite Houthi rebels and an influential tribe in the town of Radda killed at least 250 people over three days of clashes, security officials said Monday.
 
 

Assad's warnings start to ring true in Turkey

 
‎27 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎04:45:16 PMGo to full article
Kurdish refugees look at their town of Kobani covered by thick smoke from the Mursitpinar crossing on the Turkish-Syrian border in Sanliurfa provinceBy Samia Nakhoul BEIRUT (Reuters) - When Sunni rebels rose up against Syria's Bashar al-Assad in 2011, Turkey reclassified its protégé as a pariah, expecting him to lose power within months and join the autocrats of Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Yemen on the scrap heap of the "Arab Spring". Assad, in contrast, shielded diplomatically by Russia and with military and financial support from Iran and its Shi’ite allies in Lebanon's Hezbollah, warned that the fires of Syria’s sectarian war would burn its neighbors. For Turkey, despite the confidence of Tayyip Erdogan, elected this summer to the presidency after 11 years as prime minister and three straight general election victories, Assad’s warning is starting to ring uncomfortably true. Turkey’s foreign policy is in ruins.
 
 

Palestinian premier visits Jerusalem holy site

 
‎27 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎04:45:10 PMGo to full article
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, chairs the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Sunday, Oct. 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Abir Sultan, Pool)JERUSALEM (AP) — The Palestinian prime minister has paid a rare visit to a key Jerusalem holy site in a bid to bolster Palestinian claims to the area.
 
 

Luxury train pulls into Tehran amid Western tourism push

 
‎27 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎04:15:47 PMGo to full article
Tourists walk on a platform at a station in Tehran after arriving in the Iranian capital on a luxury train from Budapest, on October 27, 2014A luxury train filled with Western tourists pulled into Tehran on Monday, after an almost two-week journey from Budapest taking in Iranian cities that reportedly cost up to $31,000 a head. The "Jewels of Persia" tour left Budapest on October 15 with the organisers billing it a five-star experience in 13 lavishly decorated, wood-panelled 1950s carriages. En route for Iran on the Golden-Eagle-Danube Express train, operated by Hungarian Railways, the passengers passed through Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey. Another 12 trips are scheduled for next year -- eight leaving Budapest and four departing Tehran -- with the price of the most expensive tickets jumping to $37,000.
 
 

Iran: UN envoy banned over biased approach

 
‎27 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎02:47:22 PMGo to full article
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Tehran says it has banned the U.N.'s envoy for human rights in Iran from visiting the country, accusing him of political bias.
 

In Iran, 130 sickened by toxic gas dump

 
‎27 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎12:04:44 PMGo to full article
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — At least 130 people, most of them students, were hospitalized after inhaling a toxic gas in the southeastern city of Zahedan, an Iranian newspaper reported Monday.
 

New Afghan president to head to China

 
‎27 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:57:00 AMGo to full article
FILE - In this file photo taken Tuesday, May 20, 2014, Afghanistan's then President Hamid Karzai, from left, reaches out to shake hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping, as Chinese first lady Peng Liyuan watches before a group photo for the fourth summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) in Shanghai, China. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai travels to China on Tuesday, Oct. 28, signaling the pivotal role he hopes Beijing will play in Afghanistan's future, not only in the economic reconstruction of his war-ravaged country after U.S. and allied combat troops leave by the end of the year but also in a strategic foreign policy aimed at building peace across a region long riven by mistrust and violence. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, Pool, File)KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The new Afghan president travels to China this week, signaling the pivotal role he hopes Beijing will play in Afghanistan's future, not only in the economic reconstruction of the war-ravaged country after U.S. and allied combat troops leave by the end of the year but also in a strategic foreign policy aimed at building peace across a region long riven by mistrust and violence.
 
 

Women on front lines in Syria, Iraq against IS

 
‎26 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎08:12:43 PMGo to full article
In this Thursday, July 3, 2014 photo, a member of an elite unit of women Kurdish Peshmerga fighters trains in Sulaimaniyah, 160 miles (260 kilometers) northeast of Baghdad, Iraq. Among the Kurdish fighters defending the Syrian town of Kobani against the IS are thousands of women. In April, Kurdish fighters created all-female combat units that have grown to include more than 10,000 women who played a major role in battles against IS, said Nasser Haj Mansour, a defense official in Syria's Kurdish region. (AP Photo)SURUC, Turkey (AP) — Just over a year ago, Afshin Kobani was a teacher. Now, the Kurdish Syrian woman has traded the classroom for the front lines in the battle for Kobani, a town besieged by fighters from the Islamic State extremist group.
 
 

Gulf oil producers seen riding out price plunge

 
‎26 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎08:03:18 PMGo to full article
A flame from a Saudi Aramco oil installion known as "Pump 3" in the Khouris area, 160 km east of Riyadh, on June 23, 2008Energy kingpin Saudi Arabia and other wealthy Gulf states are set to resist pressure to tighten the taps significantly to shore up oil prices as the global economy stumbles, analysts say. Fortunately for the six nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) -- which sit on 40 percent of the world's oil and a quarter of its natural gas -- they are flush with cash, analysts said. "The GCC states are in a strong position to remain steadfast for a few years" if there is a dispute over production, Kuwaiti oil analyst Mussa Maarafi said. "Saudi Arabia and most Gulf states will not be bothered a lot, at least in the short term" and "will be able to resist pressure to cut production and lose market share", Maarafi, a former member of Kuwait's Supreme Petroleum Council, told AFP.
 
 

Iraq PM seeks more Jordan help to battle IS

 
‎26 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎06:31:41 PMGo to full article
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi (L) is welcomed by Jordan's Prime Minister Abdullah Nsur on October 26, 2014 at the royal palace in the capital AmmanIraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi called for greater cooperation with Jordan in the battle against the Islamic State jihadist group, as he held talks Sunday in Amman, state media reported. Jordan, which borders Iraq's Anbar province, much of which has been overrun by IS, is one of several countries taking part in US-led air strikes against the jihadist group that began in Iraq but has since been expanded to Syria. Abadi met separately with King Abdullah II and Prime Minister Abdullah Nsur. He briefed Nsur on what he called "security and terrorist challenges facing Iraq, particularly ones from Daesh which is destroying Iraqi civilisation," Jordan's state news agency Petra said.
 
 

Fortress Israel: Can people make peace when they don’t talk?

 
‎26 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎06:03:35 PMGo to full article
Linda Casher moved to this Israeli collective near the Gaza Strip as a young American woman in the 1970s, she would often mingle with Palestinians at outdoor markets amid the mounds of pomegranates and rows of hanging chickens. She would hitchhike alongside Palestinian workers waiting for minibuses, and she even welcomed Palestinian women from Gaza to her kibbutz, Yad Mordechai, which has a tradition of supporting initiatives that encourage coexistence. 
 

Iran frees leading human rights campaigner after short detention

 
‎26 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎05:36:17 PMGo to full article
DUBAI (Reuters) - Iranian security forces have released leading human rights advocate Nasrin Sotoudeh, who was detained after leading a protest against what she called unfair legal practices in the Islamic Republic, she said on Sunday. The lawyer and activist was picked up along with several friends on Saturday on their way back from a sit-in outside Tehran's Bar Association in Tehran. They were freed after a brief background check, leaving only Sotoudeh in custody. "I was held for seven hours and then set free," she told Reuters by telephone from Tehran. ...
 

Aldo beats Mendes in UFC 179 to keep his title

 
‎26 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:17:21 AMGo to full article
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazilian Jose Aldo beat American Chad Mendes by unanimous decision to successfully defend his featherweight title in UFC 179 at Maracanazinho arena early Sunday.
 

Sudan president says country's regional isolation ending

 
‎25 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎11:44:35 PMGo to full article
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir attends the Fourth General Conference of the ruling National Congress Party in Khartoum on October 23, 2014Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir vowed Saturday to end the sanctions-hit country's isolation, saying recent visits to regional powers Egypt and Saudi Arabia proved that ties were improving, an AFP correspondent said. Bashir, 70, who is wanted in the international court for alleged war crimes in Darfur, seized power in a coup 25 years ago. "We promise you that Sudan will not be isolated, and our visit to Saudi Arabia removed doubts that our trip to Egypt had returned matters to normal," he said at the closing of the ruling National Congress Party's conference.
 
 

Three Turkish soldiers shot dead in 'terrorist' attack

 
‎25 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:28:32 PMGo to full article
A Turkish army convoy drives towards Mount Kupeli, in Sirnak province, southeast Turkey, on November 14, 2007Masked gunmen on Saturday shot dead three Turkish soldiers in the restive Kurdish-majority southeast of the country, the army said, blaming separatist "terrorists" for an attack that threatens to undermine a fragile peace process. The three soldiers were shot dead while off duty and walking on the street in the town of Yuksekova in Hakkari province of Turkey's extreme southeast bordering Iraq and Iran. The attackers escaped but a security operation was underway to apprehend them, the official Anatolia agency said. Some 40,000 people are estimated to have been killed in the three-decade-long insurgency waged by the outlawed PKK for Kurdish self-rule and greater rights in Turkey's southeast.
 
 

Iran rules out 'backward steps' on nuclear programme

 
‎25 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:26:30 PMGo to full article
Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi speaks in Tehran, on October 22, 2013Iran will not accept any "backward steps" on its nuclear programme, specifically on the enrichment of uranium, a top official said Saturday, dismissing US calls for more curbs. Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi, a member of Iran's nuclear talks team, was responding to comments by the lead US negotiator Wendy Sherman who called on Iran to "finish the job". Sherman's remarks came in a speech given Thursday at a Washington think-tank where she cited the "size and scope" of Iran's enrichment as a barrier to a deal.
 
 

Iran re-arrests leading human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh

 
‎25 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎08:41:40 PMGo to full article
DUBAI (Reuters) - Iranian security forces arrested world-renowned human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh and several others on their way back from a protest on Saturday, her husband said. "While returning from the sit-in outside the Bar Association in Tehran, Nasrin was detained along with several friends and colleagues," her husband, Reza Khandan, said on his Facebook page. "They photographed and ran identity checks on all the detainees and then released everyone but Nasrin, who is still detained wantonly and without a court order. ...
 

Iran hangs woman for killing alleged rapist

 
‎25 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎08:19:45 PMGo to full article
In this picture taken on Dec. 15, 2008, Iranian Reyhaneh Jabbari, center, sits while attending her trial in a court in Tehran, Iran. Jabbari was hanged on Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014, who was convicted of murdering a man she said was trying to rape her, the official IRNA news agency reported. (AP Photo/Golara Sajjadian)TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran hanged a woman on Saturday who was convicted of murdering a man she alleged was trying to rape her, drawing swift international condemnation for a prosecution several countries described as flawed.
 
 

Top Israeli minister: 'crisis' in US relationship

 
‎25 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:47:12 PMGo to full article
JERUSALEM (AP) — A top Israeli minister says there is a "crisis" in in the country's relations with the United States that must be fixed.
 

Iran hangs woman in defiance of international campaign

 
‎25 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎05:31:31 PMGo to full article
Reyhaneh Jabbari was arrested for the murder of a former intelligence official in July 2007Iran Saturday hanged a woman convicted of murdering a former intelligence officer she claimed had tried to sexually assault her, defying international appeals for a stay of execution. Reyhaneh Jabbari, 26, who had been on death row for five years, was put to death at dawn, the official IRNA news agency quoted the Tehran prosecutor's office as saying. The execution drew condemnation from the United States and human rights monitor Amnesty International, which dubbed it "a bloody stain on Iran's human rights record" and "an affront to justice". A message posted on the homepage of a Facebook campaign set up to try to save Jabbari noted the "sad news" of her death, adding the words "Rest in Peace" alongside pictures of her as a young child.
 
 

Iran acid attack suspects freed as lack of evidence

 
‎25 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎05:24:25 PMGo to full article
An Iranian woman raises up a placard during a protestin front of the judiciary building in isfahan, on October 22, 2014Several Iranian men arrested on suspicion of committing horrific acid attacks on women have been released due to insufficient evidence, the interior minister revealed Saturday. The attacks in Isfahan, Iran's top tourist destination, have shocked the public and provoked a major protest there Wednesday from citizens who demanded better security and action over such violent crimes. Under Islamic law in force in Iran since the 1979 revolution, women must wear loose clothing, known as hijab, that covers the head and neck and which conceals their hair. He also denounced what he called "a foreign media campaign" to link the attacks to hijab, saying that acid attack victims are usually targeted for reasons of "personal motive or revenge".
 
 

US condemns Iranian woman's execution

 
‎25 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎05:13:33 PMGo to full article
The UN and international rights groups said that Reyhaneh Jabbari's trial in 2009 was deeply flawed and that her confession for the murder of a former intelligence official was obtained under intense pressure by Iranian authorities"We condemn this morning's execution in Iran of Reyhaneh Jabbari," said the statement by State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki, who said there were "serious concerns with the fairness of the trial and the circumstances surrounding this case." Jabbari, 26, who had been on death row for five years, was put to death at dawn, the official IRNA news agency quoted the Tehran prosecutor's office as saying. "Iranian authorities proceeded with this execution despite pleas from Iranian human rights activists and an international outcry over this case," Psaki said. "We join our voice with those who call on Iran to respect the fair trial guarantees afforded to its people under Iran's own laws and its international obligations."
 
 

Iran hangs woman convicted of killing alleged rapist

 
‎25 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎02:07:58 PMGo to full article
Reyhaneh JabbariBy Mehrdad Balali DUBAI (Reuters) - A 26-year-old Iranian woman convicted of murdering a man she accused of trying to rape her as a teenager was hanged on Saturday, the official news agency IRNA said, despite international pleas for her life to be spared. Reyhaneh Jabbari walked to the gallows at dawn on Saturday in Tehran's Evin prison after failing to secure a reprieve from the murder victim's relatives within the 10-day deadline set by sharia law in force since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. The death sentence sparked U.S. ...
 
 

Women on front lines in Syria, Iraq against IS

 
‎25 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:32:28 AMGo to full article
CAPTION CORRECTION, CORRECTS DATE, LOCATION AND CAPTION CONTENT - FILE - In this Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014 file photo, mourners carry a coffin bearing the body of female Kurdish fighter Hanim Dabaan, 20, killed in fighting with militants of the Islamic State group in Kobani, Syria, during the funeral of three fighters at a cemetery in Suruc, on the Turkey-Syria border. Among the Kurdish fighters defending the Syrian town of Kobani against the IS are thousands of women. In April, Kurdish fighters created all-female combat units that have grown to include more than 10,000 women who played a major role in battles against IS, said Nasser Haj Mansour, a defense official in Syria's Kurdish region. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis, File)SURUC, Turkey (AP) — Just over a year ago, Afshin Kobani was a teacher. Now, the Kurdish Syrian woman has traded the classroom for the front lines in the battle for Kobani, a town besieged by fighters from the Islamic State extremist group.
 
 

U.S. general says he believes North Korea can build nuclear warhead

 
‎24 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:16:17 PMGo to full article
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un guides a takeoff and landing drill on a highway-airfield conducted by fighter pilots of Korean People's Army Air and Anti-Air Force UnitsBy David Alexander and Phil Stewart WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The commander of U.S. forces in South Korea said on Friday he believes Pyongyang has the capability to build a nuclear warhead that can be mounted on a ballistic missile, but added there were no tests or other evidence it has taken that step. Army General Curtis Scaparrotti said he thought North Korea's connection with Iran and Pakistan meant it probably had access to the expertise needed to miniaturize and mount an atomic weapon on a missile. ...
 
 

US officials: Israel defense chief denied meetings

 
‎24 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:27:39 PMGo to full article
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration this week refused Israel defense minister's requests to meet several top national security aides, still miffed over negative comments he made about Secretary of State John Kerry's Mideast peace efforts and nuclear negotiations with IranU.S. officials said Friday.
 

Protests in Saudi after Shiite death sentences

 
‎24 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:26:14 PMGo to full article
Saudi Shiite protestors take part in a demonstration against the death sentence of prominent Saudi Shiite cleric and anti-government protest leader Nimr al-Nimr in Awamiyah, Saudi Arabia, October 24, 2014More than 100 people protested in eastern Saudi Arabia on Friday to oppose death sentences against a Shiite religious leader and seven others convicted after earlier demonstrations, an activist said. Following Friday prayers they marched in the community of Awamiya to oppose "all harsh sentences and the death penalty against eight people," the activist told AFP. They were tried on charges including "participating in marches and rallies that caused riots" in Awamiya, the official Saudi Press Agency reported without identifying the accused. The activist said those sentenced to death were teenagers at the time of their arrest, and are among a total of eight who have received the death sentence.
 
 

International financial watchdog warns on Iran, North Korea

 
‎24 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:52:31 PMGo to full article
PARIS (Reuters) - An international financial watchdog said on Friday member states should take action to ward off risks emanating from Iran and North Korea, which it said had failed to tackle money-laundering and financing of terrorism. The Financial Action Task Force, made up of 37 countries as well as the European Commission and Gulf Cooperation Council, said financial institutions should give special attention to business deals and transactions with Iran and North Korea. ...
 

Top Asian News at 1:30 p.m. GMT

 
‎24 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎03:33:31 PMGo to full article
HONG KONG (AP) — Pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong plan to hold a spot referendum Sunday on whether to stay in the streets or accept government offers for more talks and clear their protest camps. The three main groups behind the demonstrations said Thursday they would register public opinion at the main downtown protest site, where thousands remain camped out.
 

Saudi Arabia's Shi'ites fear they are at mercy of region's tumult

 
‎24 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎08:03:32 AMGo to full article
By Angus McDowall RIYADH (Reuters) - The Shi’ite Muslim minority in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province have long felt marginalized by the Sunni ruling dynasty, and protests for greater rights as part of the 2011 Arab Spring brought a crackdown on both protesters and demands for reform. But now, death sentences for three Shi'ite Muslims including a prominent dissident cleric suggest that the region’s wider turmoil is further hardening attitudes toward the sect at home. ...
 

US negotiator: Some want talks with Iran to fail

 
‎24 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎01:46:01 AMGo to full article
WASHINGTON (AP) — The chief U.S. nuclear negotiator suggested Thursday that some U.S. allies and members of Congress hope diplomacy with Iran fails, offering a glimpse of the difficult task awaiting the Obama administration if it manages to secure a nuclear agreement with Tehran by a late November deadline.
 

Top Asian News at 8:30 p.m. GMT

 
‎23 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:33:54 PMGo to full article
LAKE CHON, North Korea (AP) — When North Korea opens its doors, it does so for a reason. So it was when the authoritarian government granted permission for a road trip so extensive that few North Koreans — let alone a pair of American journalists — could imagine taking it. We drove 2,150 kilometers (1,336 miles) in a country that has barely 25,000 kilometers of road, and only 724 kilometers of those paved. By the time we returned to the capital a week later, our Chinese-made Great Wall SUV had a few new scratches and one less hubcap.
 

Top Asian News at 8:00 p.m. GMT

 
‎23 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:09:14 PMGo to full article
LAKE CHON, North Korea (AP) — When North Korea opens its doors, it does so for a reason. So it was when the authoritarian government granted permission for a road trip so extensive that few North Koreans — let alone a pair of American journalists — could imagine taking it. We drove 2,150 kilometers (1,336 miles) in a country that has barely 25,000 kilometers of road, and only 724 kilometers of those paved. By the time we returned to the capital a week later, our Chinese-made Great Wall SUV had a few new scratches and one less hubcap.
 

Top Asian News at 7:30 p.m. GMT

 
‎23 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:33:33 PMGo to full article
LAKE CHON, North Korea (AP) — When North Korea opens its doors, it does so for a reason. So it was when the authoritarian government granted permission for a road trip so extensive that few North Koreans — let alone a pair of American journalists — could imagine taking it. We drove 2,150 kilometers (1,336 miles) in a country that has barely 25,000 kilometers of road, and only 724 kilometers of those paved. By the time we returned to the capital a week later, our Chinese-made Great Wall SUV had a few new scratches and one less hubcap.

 

 

Iraq News Headlines - Yahoo! News    Feed image

 
 

Small Iraqi peshmerga force enters Syrian town

 
‎30 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:55:55 PMGo to full article
A Turkish military helicopter lands near a staging area where Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga fighters are stationed on the outskirts of Suruc, near the Turkey-Syria border, across from the Syrian town of Kobani, Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014. Ten Iraqi peshmerga fighters entered the northern Syrian border town of Kobani, also known as Ayn Arab, crossing over from Turkey on Thursday, the first from among a group of 150 Kurdish troops on their way into the embattled city.(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)SURUC, Turkey (AP) — A vanguard force of Iraqi peshmerga troops entered the embattled Syrian border town of Kobani from Turkey on Thursday, part of a larger group of 150 fighters that the Kurds hope will turn back an offensive by militants of the Islamic State group.
 
 

Anti-Muslim bullying on rise after Canada attacks

 
‎30 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:43:36 PMGo to full article
Imam Soharwardy lays flowers at the cenotaph on a Canadian flag laid out for Canadian soldier Cpl. Nathan Cirillo at Central Memorial park in CalgaryBy Richard Valdmanis OTTAWA (Reuters) - Reports of anti-Muslim harassment in Canada have risen, Muslim organizations say, after attacks last week in which two soldiers were killed by people authorities say were inspired by the militant group Islamic State. The National Council of Canadian Muslims said it has seen a tenfold increase in reports of harassment, including racial slurs on public buses, notes left on car windshields and bullying at schools. ...
 
 

Top US general favors military advisers in western Iraq

 
‎30 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:39:19 PMGo to full article
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey testifies on US policy towards Iraq and Syria and the threat posed by the Islamic State during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in Washington, DC, September 16, 2014The US military's top officer on Thursday called for deploying American advisers to Iraq's Anbar province to counter Islamic State jihadists, but said the Baghdad government must first arm local Sunni tribes. General Martin Dempsey's comments marked the first time the American military openly endorsed sending advisers to the restive western province, where Iraqi government troops have suffered a string of setbacks at the hands of the IS group. "By the way, we have positive indications that they (Iraqi government) are. The US military has sent about 600 advisers to Baghdad and Arbil in the north to assist Iraqi and Kurdish forces and coordinate US-led air raids against IS.
 
 

US to check troops for chemical exposure in Iraq

 
‎30 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:32:28 PMGo to full article
A factory in Iraq's sprawling Fallujah complex, which played a key role in the country's chemical and biological arms programmes, pictured on December 9, 2002The US military will launch new medical examinations for troops and veterans exposed to chemical weapons in Iraq, and review claims they were ordered to stay silent about such contact, officials said Thursday. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has asked the US Army and Navy secretaries to ensure troops affected by chemical munitions "are receiving the care and the support they require," spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said. As a result, army and navy leaders plan to offer fresh medical examinations and to monitor the health of soldiers exposed to chemical agents in Iraq, defense officials said, confirming a New York Times report.
 
 

Peshmerga at Turkish border to reinforce besieged Kobane

 
‎30 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:27:45 PMGo to full article
A peshmerga fighter waves a Kurdistan flag as his convoy arrives in Viransehir, in Turkey's Sanliurfa on October 29, 2014, bound for KobaneSuruc (Turkey) (AFP) - Heavily armed Iraqi peshmerga forces reached the Turkish border Thursday and a first small party entered the town of Kobane as they prepared to join fellow Kurds battling jihadists.
 
 

Poll: Economy, other issues overshadow abortion

 
‎30 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:22:29 PMGo to full article
FILE - In this Oct. 15, 2014 file photo, Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., left, and his Republican opponent, Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., face off during a televised debate at 9News in Denver. As a season of campaigning enters its final, intense weekend, a new Associated Press-GfK poll illustrates the challenge ahead for candidates and their allies trying to rally voters around traditional wedge issues such as abortion and gay marriage. This fall, voters just have other matters on their minds. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File)DENVER (AP) — A new Associated Press-GfK Poll shows that candidates will have a hard time rallying voters around social issues on Election Day.
 
 

Dempsey: US considering empowering Sunni tribes

 
‎30 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:08:38 PMGo to full article
WASHINGTON (AP) — The top U.S. military officer says the Pentagon is beginning to consider ways to bring the Sunni Arab tribes of Iraq's Anbar province more fully into the battle against the Islamic State group.
 

Marine wants new charges in Iraq war crime tossed

 
‎30 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:08:12 PMGo to full article
SAN DIEGO (AP) — The Marine Corps should not be retrying a sergeant whose murder conviction in a major Iraq war crime case was overturned by the military's highest court after he served half of his 11-year sentence, his defense attorneys say.
 

ISLAMIC STATE ROUNDUP

 
‎30 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:05:08 PMGo to full article
Graphic round up the events in Syria and Iraq.;
 

Situation in Syria is 'appalling,' getting worse: U.N.

 
‎30 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎08:39:38 PMGo to full article
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The humanitarian crisis in Syria is getting worse as all parties to the war, including forces aligned with the government and Islamic State militants, show "callous disregard" for millions of suffering civilians, the United Nations said on Thursday. The comments from Kyung-wha Kang, U.N. assistant secretary-general and deputy emergency relief coordinator, came during a monthly briefing for the Security Council on compliance with U.N. demands for greater aid access across Syria, now in its fourth year of civil war. ...
 

Hagel blasts US Syria strategy in memo: official

 
‎30 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎08:37:57 PMGo to full article
US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel Chuck Hagel speaks during a press conference at the Pentagon in Washington, DC, September 26, 2014Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel has castigated the US strategy in Syria in a memo to the White House, saying Washington must explain its intentions toward President Bashar al-Assad's regime. The memo was sent last week to President Barack Obama's national security adviser, Susan Rice, a defense official said Thursday, confirming a New York Times report. Hagel warned that the Syria policy was "in danger of unraveling" due to confusion over the US stance toward Assad, the paper wrote. The Obama administration has focused on defeating the Islamic State group in Iraq first, and described US-led air strikes in Syria as a way of disrupting the jihadists' supply lines.
 
 

Norway to send training troops to Iraq

 
‎30 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎08:15:37 PMGo to full article
HELSINKI (AP) — Norway's prime minister says her country will send 120 soldiers this year to join the international campaign against Islamic State militants in Iraq and help train local troops there. Another 75 Norwegian soldiers will go to Afghanistan next year.
 

Fearing uprising, Iraq militants hunt ex-police

 
‎30 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:45:35 PMGo to full article
FILE - In this file photo taken Monday, June 23, 2014, militants from the Islamic State parade in a commandeered Iraqi security forces armored vehicle on a main street in Mosul, Iraq. The Islamic state group has accelerated killings of former policemen and army officers, apparently fearing they might join a potential internal Sunni uprising against its rule. Such killings, including the deadly attack on police Col. Mohammed Hassan and his son in mid October, have accelerated in recent days, as the extremists' opponents - Kurdish fighters and Shiite militias, backed by U.S.-led airstrikes - have made some gains, taking back several towns that the militants had overrun. (AP Photo, File)BAGHDAD (AP) — The Islamic State group wanted to send a warning against anyone who might plot against its rule.
 
 

Islamic State fighters kill 220 Iraqis from tribe that opposed them

 
‎30 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:27:51 PMGo to full article
By Raheem Salman BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Islamic State militants executed at least 220 Iraqis in retaliation against a tribe's opposition to their takeover of territory west of Baghdad, security sources and witnesses said. Two mass graves were discovered on Thursday containing some of the 300 members of the Sunni Muslim Albu Nimr tribe that Islamic State had seized this week. The captives, men aged between 18 and 55, had been shot at close range, witnesses said. ...
 

Syrian air strikes kill over 200 civilians in 10 days: monitor

 
‎30 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:27:25 PMGo to full article
BEIRUT (Reuters) - Bombing runs by the Syrian air force over the past 10 days have killed at least 221 civilians, a third of them children, a group monitoring Syria's civil war said on Thursday. The intensifying offensive by President Bashar al-Assad's forces has heightened concerns among his opponents that he may be taking advantage of U.S.-led air raids on Islamic State insurgents to regain territory elsewhere in the country. Since Oct. ...
 

Islamic State claims to have seized gas field from Syrian army

 
‎30 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:25:21 PMGo to full article
BEIRUT (Reuters) - Islamic State fighters in Syria claimed on Thursday to have taken control of a gas field in the central province of Homs after battles with government forces. A series of photos posted on social media by Islamic State purported to show the Sha'ar gas field, the bodies of Syrian soldiers and seized weaponry, according to the SITE jihadist website monitoring service. The report said Islamic State seized five tanks, two infantry combat vehicles, machineguns and ammunition. Reuters could not independently confirm the events. ...
 

Iraqi Kurdish forces enter Syria to fight Islamic State

 
‎30 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:16:52 PMGo to full article
Convoy of peshmerga vehicles is escorted by Turkish Kurds on their way to the Turkish-Syrian border, in Kiziltepe near the southeastern city of MardinBy Humeyra Pamuk and Omer Berberoglu SURUC Turkey (Reuters) - A first group of Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga fighters entered the besieged Syrian town of Kobani on Thursday to help push back Islamic State militants who have defied U.S. air strikes and threatened to massacre its Kurdish defenders. Kobani, on the border with Turkey, has been encircled by the Sunni Muslim insurgents for more than 40 days. Weeks of U.S.-led air strikes have failed to break their stranglehold, and Kurds are hoping the arrival of the peshmerga will turn the tide. ...
 
 

WORLD Channel Programming Celebrates Native American Heritage Month in November

 
‎30 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:00:00 PMGo to full article
BOSTON, Oct. 30, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In honor of Native American Heritage Month this November, WORLD Channel will premiere six new films as it presents a rich collection of documentaries spotlighting the achievements, stories, and lives of Native Americans (check local listings)."We're pleased to offer programming that honors the rich and vibrant history and culture of Native Americans in November," says Chris Hastings, executive producer, WORLD Channel. ...
 

Trade, defense buoy U.S. economy, but some weakness creeps in

 
‎30 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎06:59:30 PMGo to full article
Thanksgiving Day holiday shopper carries a discounted television to the checkout at the Target retail store in ChicagoBy Lucia Mutikani WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A smaller trade deficit and surge in defense spending buoyed U.S. economic growth in the third quarter, but domestic demand slipped, hinting at some loss of momentum. Gross domestic product grew at a 3.5 percent annual pace, the Commerce Department said on Thursday. However, the pace of growth in business investment, housing and consumer spending slowed from the second quarter. ...
 
 

Lebanese army detains 50 in north after weekend clashes

 
‎30 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎06:40:01 PMGo to full article
BEIRUT (Reuters) - Lebanese troops detained 50 people in raids on towns and Syrian refugee camps in the north of the country, the army said on Thursday, part of a security crackdown after battles with Islamist gunmen over the weekend. The army has mounted several raids since Islamist militants clashed with soldiers in and around the northern city of Tripoli from Friday to Sunday, some of the worst fighting to spill over to Lebanon from the Syrian civil war. Soldiers moved on the towns of al-Minya, Mashta Hassan, Mashta Hammoud and refugee camps in the town of Behneen on Wednesday. ...
 

Average retail gas prices drop to $2.81 in Texas

 
‎30 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎06:23:32 PMGo to full article
Retail gasoline prices across Texas continue to fall, with the latest unleaded price at the pump settling at $2.81. AAA Texas on Thursday reported that this week's average price represents a drop of 8 ...
 

Quad Amputee Hero to be Honored at Veterans Day Film Screening at Majestic Theatre

 
‎30 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎06:00:00 PMGo to full article
DALLAS, Oct. 30, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Dallas non-profit Fotolanthropy announces a benefit & screening at the Majestic Theatre to honor quadruple amputee and American hero, SSG Travis Mills, DFW Veterans, and gold star families at the final red-carpet screening of award-winning documentary Travis: A Soldier's Story. Veterans Day Promo:http://vimeo.com/93517069 Official Trailer:http://vimeo.com/107721019What: Veterans Day red carpet benefit & screening of Travis: A Soldier's Story. ...
 

Group says militants killed 600 Iraqi prisoners

 
‎30 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎04:38:45 PMGo to full article
BAGHDAD (AP) — Militants from the Islamic State carried out a mass killing of hundreds of Iraqi prison inmates when they seized the country's second-largest city of Mosul in June, an international rights group said on Thursday.
 

Facing its own Islamic State-inspired militants, Iran wields a smaller stick

 
‎30 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎03:58:49 PMGo to full article
Here in Iran’s lawless southeast, the authorities in Tehran who have sent military advisers and hardware to help fight the so-called Islamic State in far-off Syria and Iraq are engaged in their own battle with Sunni militants.
 

Hundreds of Iraqi tribesmen opposed to Islamic State found in mass graves

 
‎30 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎03:01:07 PMGo to full article
a member of SahwaBAGHDAD (Reuters) - The bodies of 150 members of an Iraqi Sunni tribe which fought Islamic State have been found in a mass grave, security officials said on Thursday. Islamic State militants took the men from their villages to the city of Ramadi and killed them on Wednesday night and buried them, an official in a police operations center and another security official told Reuters. In a separate case, witnesses said they found 70 corpses from the same Albu Nimr tribe near the town of Hit in the Sunni heartland Anbar province. Security officials there were not immediately available for comment. ...
 
 

U.S. focuses on Islamic State targets near Kobani, Syria: U.S. Central Command

 
‎30 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎03:00:55 PMGo to full article
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. forces staged 10 air strikes on Islamic State targets near the Syrian city of Kobani since Wednesday, U.S. Central Command said. The raids in the Kobani area were among 12 in Syria by U.S. fighters and bombers. The Kobani strikes hit two small Islamic State units and destroyed seven fighting positions and five buildings, Central Command said. Strikes also damaged an Islamic State headquarters building near Dayr Az Zawr and a security building near Ar Raqqah. U.S. ...
 

UN chief criticizes female genital mutilation

 
‎30 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎01:31:29 PMGo to full article
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is lauding the British newspaper The Guardian for its work to raise awareness about female genital mutilation.
 

Iraqi Kurdish leader says prepared to send more forces to Kobani if asked

 
‎30 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎12:42:28 PMGo to full article
ARBIL Iraq (Reuters) - Iraqi Kurdistan is prepared to deploy more forces to the Syrian border town of Kobani if asked, the region's President Masoud Barzani said in a statement on Thursday. The first 10 Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga fighters entered Kobani through the border crossing with Turkey on Thursday, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. (Reporting by Isabel Coles; Editing by Alison Williams)
 

Australia outlaws travel to terror hotspots

 
‎30 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:46:43 AMGo to full article
A Turkish soldier patrols a hill overlooking the Syrian town of Kobane, also known as Ain al-Arab, on October 15, 2014Australia on Thursday passed a law criminalising travel to terror hotspots, a tough counter-terrorism measure aimed at stopping jihadists from going to Iraq and Syria to fight. The Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment (Foreign Fighters) includes measures that make it an offence to enter a "declared area" where a terrorist organisation is engaging in hostile activity, without a valid reason. "The foreign fighters bill that has passed the parliament today will mean, first of all, that it is easier to secure convictions against Australians who have been fighting with terrorist groups overseas," Prime Minister Tony Abbott told parliament. "It will mean that it is easier to monitor potential terrorists here, and it will also mean... that it is easier to prosecute the preachers of hate who create the potential terrorists." Abbott said about 100 Australians were supporting jihadists who had travelled to the Middle East to fight with recruitment and funding from home.
 
 

U.S. says working with Iraqi Kurdistan to stop Islamic State oil smuggling

 
‎30 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:41:03 AMGo to full article
By Florence Tan SINGAPORE (Reuters) - The United States is working closely with the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government to clamp down on oil smuggling in a bid to cut off a key source of funding for Islamic State, a senior U.S. official said on Thursday. Islamic State militants have seized oilfields and refineries in north Iraq and have been exporting oil through smuggling networks to help finance their campaign, along with ransom, extortion and other criminal activities. ...
 

Australia passes laws cracking down on foreign fighters

 
‎30 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:26:58 AMGo to full article
Tony Abbott, Prime Minister of Australia, addresses the 69th United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. headquarters in New YorkSYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia passed laws on Thursday aimed at preventing young people from becoming radicalized and going to fight in overseas conflicts such as those in Iraq and Syria, where scores of Australians have joined militant groups. Last month, the United Nations demanded that all states make it a serious criminal offence for their citizens to travel abroad to fight with militant groups, or to recruit and fund others to do so, in a move sparked by the rise of Islamic State. ...
 
 

Kurds cheer reinforcements for Syria's Kobane

 
‎30 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎04:44:00 AMGo to full article
Kurds in Turkey greet peshmerga convoys at the Habur border crossing on the Turkish-Iraqi border on October 29, 2014Crowds of flag-waving Kurds greeted Iraqi peshmerga forces travelling through Turkey Wednesday to join rebel fighters reinforcing the Syrian town of Kobane against an attack by the Islamic State group. Another group of several dozen peshmerga flew into the Turkish city of Sanliurfa from Iraq. Separately, dozens of rebel fighters of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) crossed from Turkey to Kobane, officials said, to help Kurdish militia who have faced an onslaught by IS jihadists for more than six weeks. "We don't think Kobane is about to fall in the hands of ISIS," retired US general John Allen told Al-Arabiya television, using an alternative acronym for IS.
 
 

Peshmerga troops cheered by fellow Kurds in Turkey

 
‎30 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎04:19:30 AMGo to full article
Cheering local people surround a group of Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga troops arrived in Nusaybin, Mardin in southeastern Turkey, Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014. The Peshmergas are on their way to Syria to help Syrian Kurds fighting Islamic State group extremists in the embattled border town of Kobani. ( AP Photo) TURKEY OUTSURUC, Turkey (AP) — Iraqi peshmerga troops were cheered Wednesday by fellow Kurds in southeastern Turkey as the fighters slowly made their way toward the Syrian Kurdish border town of Kobani to try to break a siege there by Islamic State militants.
 
 

PM Cameron appeals to Qatar emir for more investment

 
‎30 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎03:39:40 AMGo to full article
Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron greets the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, as he arrives at Number 10 Downing Street in LondonBy William James LONDON (Reuters) - Prime Minister David Cameron on Wednesday urged Qatar to plough more of its vast oil and gas wealth into infrastructure projects across Britain during an official visit from the Gulf state's emir. Cameron asked Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani to consider further funding to help Britain's push to develop cities in the north of the country and connect them to London using a high speed rail line, a statement released by his office said. Qatar is one of the world's richest countries and is already heavily invested in British firms and property. Among its highest profile investments are London's tallest building, the Shard, which was funded by the Qatari royal family, and the upmarket Harrods department store owned by sovereign wealth fund Qatar Investment Authority.
 
 

Al-Qaida: IS should rejoin group and fight West

 
‎30 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎03:39:28 AMGo to full article
FILE - In this Monday, Oct. 20, 2014 file photo, thick smoke and flames from an airstrike by the U.S.-led coalition rise in Kobani, Syria, as seen from a hilltop on the outskirts of Suruc, at the Turkey-Syria border. Al-Qaida is using U.S. airstrikes in Syria as a reason to extend olive branches to the renegade Islamic State group, saying the two should stop feuding and join forces to attack Western targets, a reunification that intelligence analysts say would allow al-Qaida to capitalize on the younger group’s ruthless advance across the region. (AP Photo, Lefteris Pitarakis, File)WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. intelligence analysts are closely watching al-Qaida's overtures to the renegade Islamic State to reunite and fight the West, and while a full reconciliation is not on the horizon, there is evidence the two groups have curtailed their feud and are cooperating on the Syrian battlefield.
 
 

Morocco to Provide Direct Military and Intelligence Support to UAE against Terrorist Threat

 
‎29 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎11:04:00 PMGo to full article
WASHINGTON, Oct. 29, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- (MACP) — Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs Salaheddine Mezouar announced today that Morocco will provide direct military, operational and intelligence support to the United Arab Emirates to assist in its fight against terrorism as part of a bilateral military cooperation agreement between the two countries. ...
 

PM Cameron appeals to Qatar emir for more investment

 
‎29 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:50:45 PMGo to full article
Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron greets the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, as he arrives at Number 10 Downing Street in LondonBy William James LONDON (Reuters) - Prime Minister David Cameron on Wednesday urged Qatar to plough more of its vast oil and gas wealth into infrastructure projects across Britain during an official visit from the Gulf state's emir. Cameron asked Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani to consider further funding to help Britain's push to develop cities in the north of the country and connect them to London using a high speed rail line, a statement released by his office said. Qatar is one of the world's richest countries and is already heavily invested in British firms and property. Among its highest profile investments are London's tallest building, the Shard, which was funded by the Qatari royal family, and the upmarket Harrods department store owned by sovereign wealth fund Qatar Investment Authority.
 
 

Kurdish convoy heads to Syria to take on Islamic State

 
‎29 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:43:27 PMGo to full article
Convoy of peshmerga vehicles is escorted by Turkish Kurds on their way to the Turkish-Syrian border, in Kiziltepe near the southeastern city of MardinBy Dasha Afanasieva and Alexander Dziadosz SURUC Turkey/BEIRUT (Reuters) - A convoy of peshmerga fighters from northern Iraq headed across southeastern Turkey on Wednesday towards the Syrian town of Kobani to try to help fellow Kurds break an Islamic State siege which has defied U.S.-led air strikes. Kobani, on the border with Turkey, has been under assault for more than a month and its fate has become a test of the U.S.-led coalition's ability to combat the Sunni Muslim insurgents. ...
 
 

Islamic State releases 25 kidnapped Kurdish children

 
‎29 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:08:49 PMGo to full article
BEIRUT (Reuters) - Islamic State insurgents freed 25 Kurdish school children on Wednesday, the last of more than 150 children kidnapped in May to be released, a Kurdish official and a rights group said. The hardline Sunni Muslim group, which has fought Kurdish militia in Syria and Iraq, abducted the children aged 13 and 14 from the Syrian town of Kobani as they returned from taking exams in the city of Aleppo, rights groups said. "It is true. They were released from (the Syrian town of) Minbij today. ...
 

British jets intercept Latvian plane over southern England

 
‎29 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎08:53:52 PMGo to full article
LONDON (Reuters) - Two British Royal Air Force Typhoon jets were scrambled on Wednesday to intercept a Latvian cargo aircraft over southern England and escort it in to land at Stansted airport, but no security threat was found, officials said. Britain raised its terrorism alert in August to the second-highest level with Prime Minister David Cameron saying that Islamic State militants operating in Syria and Iraq posed the greatest threat to the country's security risk. ...
 

US warplanes bomb IS near Kobane to aid Kurds in Syria

 
‎29 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎08:18:21 PMGo to full article
Kurds in Turkey greet and follow peshmerga convoys driving through the Habur border crossing along the Turkish-Iraqi border on October 29, 2014US warplanes renewed air strikes against Islamic State jihadists near the Syrian town of Kobane, as Iraqi peshmerga soldiers prepared to reinforce their fellow Kurds in the border area, the US military said on Wednesday. US fighter jets and bombers on Tuesday and Wednesday carried out eight air raids near Kobane, targeting six vehicles, a building and several IS fighting positions over the past 24 hours, said the military's Central Command, which oversees the air war in Iraq and Syria. In Iraq, American unmanned drones and fighter jets conducted six bombing raids, including three near Sinjar in the north and three around Fallujah, west of Baghdad, Central Command said in a statement.
 
 

Homes for Our Troops to be Featured on 3 Episodes of Operation Build on History Channel & H2 in November

 
‎29 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:36:00 PMGo to full article
TAUNTON, Mass., Oct. 29, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Homes for Our Troops (HFOT), a national nonprofit that builds specially adapted homes for severely injured Veterans nationwide enabling them to rebuild their lives—will be featured in three episodes of a special edition of Operation Build, a new reality TV show airing on the History Channel, and H2 this November.The new miniseries is called "I'm Coming Home", and chronicles the courageous stories of three Purple Heart Service Members, while highlighting the work being done by Homes for Our Troops to help them in their journey back home. ...
 

UAE official warns of potential for IS-Shabab link

 
‎29 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎06:43:43 PMGo to full article
Sheik Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE foreign minister, talks with one of the guests at the opening of Counter-Piracy Conference in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014. The United Arab Emirates' top diplomat warned Wednesday that the Islamic State group could team up with Islamic militants in Somalia, and he said more should be done to prepare for such a threat. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The United Arab Emirates' top diplomat warned Wednesday that the Islamic State group could team up with Islamic militants in Somalia, saying that more should be done to prepare for such a threat.
 
 

Residents: Islamic State group kills 30 Iraqi men

 
‎29 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎06:42:31 PMGo to full article
In this Monday, Oct. 27, 2014 photo, Iraqi army soldiers aim their weapons on the front line with al-Qaida-breakaway Islamic State group in Jurf al-Sakhar, 43 miles (70 kilometers) south of Baghdad, Iraq. Jurf al-Sakhar is part of a predominantly Sunni ribbon of territory that runs just south of Baghdad and lies on a road usually taken by Shiite pilgrims to the holy Shiite city of Karbala further south. (AP Photo)BAGHDAD (AP) — Islamic State group militants lined up 30 men in western Iraq and shot them dead Wednesday, an official and residents said, the latest mass killing carried out by the group since its advance across the country.
 
 

IS jihadists execute more than 40 tribesmen in Iraq's Anbar

 
‎29 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎06:31:25 PMGo to full article
Iraqi Shiite fighters secure an area West of the central holy city of Najaf near a road leading to the restive Anbar provinceJihadists from the Islamic State group executed Wednesday more than 40 members of a tribe that fought against them in Iraq's Anbar province, sources said. The men from the Albu Nimr tribe were killed in the Heet area, northwest of Baghdad, which was overrun by the militants earlier this month, a local leader and a doctor said. IS has overrun large areas of Anbar, and the killings are likely aimed at discouraging resistance from powerful local tribes, who will be key to any successful bid to retake the province. Pro-government forces have suffered a string of setbacks in Anbar in recent weeks.
 
 

Iraq's Abadi struggles to gain Sunni tribal support

 
‎29 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎06:15:31 PMGo to full article
By Ahmed Rasheed BAGHDAD (Reuters) - When Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi took office, he was regarded as a moderate Shi'ite leader who could win over powerful Sunni tribal chiefs to the fight against Islamic State. Three months later, Sunnis who once helped U.S. Marines kick the Islamic State's predecessor al Qaeda out of Iraq view Abadi with deep scepticism because he has yet to deliver on promises to support their neglected Sunni heartland Anbar province. ...
 

Egypt clears Gaza border area to create security buffer

 
‎29 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎05:37:52 PMGo to full article
Egypt's Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb laughs during an interview with Reuters at his office in the headquarters of the Council of Ministers in CairoBy Yusri Mohamed ISMALIA Egypt (Reuters) - Egypt began clearing residents from its border with the Gaza Strip on Wednesday to create a buffer zone following some of the worst anti-state violence since President Mohamed Mursi was overthrown last year. A day after being ordered by the army to move, many in the area had already packed their belongings and begun to leave when an announcement from Cairo made the eviction official. "If any resident resists leaving the area in a cordial manner, their property ... will be forcibly seized," read the decree signed by Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb. ...
 
 

5 Investing Factors to Consider After a Plunge in Oil Prices

 
‎29 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎04:58:16 PMGo to full article
For consumers, the recent drop in oil prices is a relief. Lower prices at the pump means more cash to spend on discretionary items like clothes, electronics, dining out and more. Certain businesses, such as shipping and airlines, certainly benefit from lower fuel expenses. However, the factors behind the decline indicate a weaker global economy, and that could hurt growth in the U.S. Slowing growth around the world reduces the demand for oil, and more broadly reflects the fragility of the global economic recovery.
 

Canadian lawmakers strike defiant tone in return to Parliament

 
‎29 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎04:46:58 PMGo to full article
Soldiers carry the casket from the church following the funeral service for Cpl. Nathan Cirillo in HamiltonBy Randall Palmer and Richard Valdmanis OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian lawmakers struck a defiant tone on Wednesday as they held their first caucuses since a gunman charged into the Parliament building after shooting dead a soldier in an attack that raised questions about the nation's low-key approach to security. Members of Parliament headed back to meeting rooms where some of them hid a week ago during a gun battle between security officers and an attacker described as a recent convert to Islam who struggled with drug addiction. "There are some jitters, there's nervousness. ...
 
 

War reporter-turned movie maker turns camera on Egyptian slums

 
‎29 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎04:39:55 PMGo to full article
Egyptian director El Batout poses with actors Al Hanafy and Waked during the photocall of the movie "El sheita elli fat (Winter of discontent)" at the 69th Venice Film Festival in VeniceBy Maha El Dahan ABU DHABI (Reuters) - After working as a war cameraman for 18 years, getting injured twice along the way, Egyptian journalist Ibrahim al Batout decided to get away from the real-life violence and make movies. The movie stars Egyptian actor Amr Waked -- who most recently appeared alongside Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson's "Lucy" -- as a gangster searching for his kidnapped daughter, a quest that exposes the grimmest side of life in Cairo's slums. A recent study by the Egyptian government put the number of street children at 3 million while some non-governmental organizations say it is 4 million.
 
 

Iraqi forces advance in new bid to end Baiji refinery siege

 
‎29 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎03:42:54 PMGo to full article
By Ahmed Rasheed BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraqi security forces said they advanced to within 2 km (1.2 miles) of the city of Baiji on Wednesday in a new offensive to retake the country's biggest oil refinery, besieged since June by Islamic State militants. Backed by Shi'ite militias and army helicopters, government forces have swept through a desert area to the west of Baiji, aiming to recapture the city 200 km (130 miles) north of the capital. ...
 

Kurds key in fight against Islamic State group

 
‎29 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎03:23:02 PMGo to full article
A Kurdish Peshmerga solider reaches out his hand to supporters, at the Ibrahim Khalil border crossing, in the Northern Kurdish Region of Iraq, Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014. A group of Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga troops arrived in Turkey early Wednesday, on their way to Syria to help their Syrian Kurdish brethren fight Islamic State extremists in the embattled border town of Kobani. (AP Photo/Bram Janssen)BAGHDAD (AP) — The Kurds of Syria and Iraq have become a major part of the war against the Islamic State group, with Kurdish populations in both countries threatened by the militants' advance.
 
 

Iraq official: Islamic State group lined up 30 men in a town west of Baghdad, shot them dead

 
‎29 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎03:11:55 PMGo to full article
BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraq official: Islamic State group lined up 30 men in a town west of Baghdad, shot them dead.
 

U.S. forces hit Islamic State 'command node' in new strikes: U.S.

 
‎29 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎02:59:36 PMGo to full article
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. military conducted 14 air strikes on Tuesday and Wednesday against Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq, according to a statement from U.S. Central Command. U.S. forces in Syria made eight strikes near the key Syrian border town of Kobani near Turkey, destroying a small Islamic state unit of fighters, a "command and control node" and other buildings, vehicles and fighting positions for the militant group, Centcom said on Wednesday. In Iraq, U.S. ...
 

Iraqi Kurds, Syrian rebels join fight against Islamic State in Kobane

 
‎29 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎02:40:20 PMGo to full article
Two hundred Free Syrian Army fighters entered Kobane Wednesday morning to bolster the Syrian border city's dwindling defenses against the self-described Islamic State, even as 160 Kurdish fighters from northern Iraq arrived in Turkey en route to join the fight. Both deployments come at a pivotal moment for Kurdish fighters already in the besieged town. 
 

Australian ISIS Leader Killed in the Middle East

 
‎29 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎01:53:12 PMGo to full article
Australian ISIS Leader Killed in the Middle EastThe distance between Australia and the Islamic State increased over the last week, as the infamous Australian terrorist Mohammad Ali Baryalei has reportedly been killed in Syria. His last known location was Raqqa, which has become the home base of ISIS.Baryalei's death has been widely confirmed on social media, though the date of his death was not specified and the Australian attorney general would not confirm his death, per government policy. ...
 
 

Thales wins 1.9 bn-euro bid for British military air traffic

 
‎29 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎01:31:32 PMGo to full article
A new civilian air traffic control tower at Manchester airport, northwest England, on June 25, 2013London (AFP) - French aerospace giant Thales and British air traffic control services have won a £1.5 billion (1.9 billion euro, $2.4 billion) contract to upgrade Britain's military air traffic system, the defence ministry said on Wednesday.
 
 

How Yemen Is Making ISIS and al-Qaeda Even More Dangerous

 
‎29 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎12:45:00 PMGo to full article
How Yemen Is Making ISIS and al-Qaeda Even More DangerousThe Houthis are a religious Zaidi Shia movement with an armed wing, similar to the Sadr movement in Iraq and Hezbollah in Lebanon. Experts say the Houthi advance into Sana’a and beyond is a further sign Yemen is descending into a sectarian civil war that will only add to the instability in the Middle East — and could ultimately provide a stronger base for al-Qaeda and ISIS, as well as a common enemy that may bring those two terror groups together. “All the ingredients for a civil war in Yemen are amassed and merging: a fragile government, a divided society, regional rivalry, a history of violence, etc. Furthermore, the Houthi rebels in recent weeks extended their control of areas that are far from their popular base,” said Massaab Al-Aloosy, a Middle Eastern Affairs analyst and former researcher at the World Peace Foundation in Massachusetts. The developments in Yemen echo Iraq in 2006 and 2014 and Syria in 2012, where the Sunni population felt threatened by dominant Shiite militias, creating a receptive hub for the terror groups.
 
 

Syria rebels cross from Turkey to join Kobane battle

 
‎29 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎12:21:38 PMGo to full article
Kurds in Turkey celebrate as Peshmerga fighters cross the Turkish-Iraqi border on October 29, 2014, bound for KobaneA group of fighters from the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) crossed into Syria from Turkey on Wednesday to join Kurdish fighters defending the border town of Kobane against Islamic State jihadists, a local Turkish official said. The official, who asked not to be named, said 150 FSA fighters crossed overnight in several buses. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, confirmed the information but put the number at 50 fighters. The pro-Kurdish Firat news agency said the FSA fighters had crossed in eight vehicles at the Mursitpinar border crossing.
 
 

Analysts: Al-Qaida still offers olive branch to IS

 
‎29 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:03:01 AMGo to full article
WASHINGTON (AP) — Al-Qaida is using U.S. airstrikes in Syria as a reason to extend olive branches to the renegade Islamic State group, saying the two should stop feuding and join forces to attack Western targets — a reunification that intelligence analysts say would allow al-Qaida to capitalize on the younger group's ruthless advance across the region.
 

Kerry says Canadian parliament attack clearly 'terrorist act'

 
‎29 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:01:45 AMGo to full article
By David Brunnstrom and Randall Palmer OTTAWA (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday that an attack on the Canadian parliament and the country's National War Memorial last week in which a soldier was killed was clearly a terrorist act. "Clearly, anybody who walks up in a premeditated way with a loaded rifle and attacks someone in uniform then purposely goes to a parliament, is committing, by common sense standards, a terrorist act," Kerry told a news briefing after talks in Ottawa with his Canadian counterpart, Foreign Minister John Baird. ...
 

Iraq Sunni exiles say bombs cannot defeat IS

 
‎29 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:58:56 AMGo to full article
As US-led warplanes pound jihadists in Iraq, prominent Sunni exiles say that empowering their marginalised minority will be more important than bombs and missiles in defeating the Islamic State extremist groupAs US-led warplanes pound jihadists in Iraq, prominent Sunni exiles say that empowering their marginalised minority will be more important than bombs and missiles in defeating the Islamic State extremist group. Deadly sectarian tensions have riven Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein more than a decade ago, with Sunni anger at the Shiite-led authorities seen as a key factor behind the rise of IS. Sunni-led IS has seized swathes of Iraq and Syria, declaring an Islamic "caliphate" and committing widespread atrocities. Under Saddam, Iraq's Sunni community -- although a minority -- kept a tight grip on power.
 
 

Australia seeking to confirm death of top IS member

 
‎29 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:01:01 AMGo to full article
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop speaks during a press conference in Baghdad, on October 18, 2014Canberra is seeking to confirm reports the most senior Australian Islamic State recruit has been killed, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said Wednesday, as the Senate passed tough new foreign fighter laws. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation said Afghan-born Mohammad Ali Baryalei, reportedly a former nightclub bouncer and aspiring actor, was believed to have died in fighting in recent days. Baryalei has been accused of ordering "demonstration killings" in Australia, including beheading a random member of the public. "It does highlight what the government has been saying, that Australians who leave this country to fight in Iraq and Syria are putting themselves in mortal danger," she said.
 
 

Iraqi Kurds head to fight militants in Syria

 
‎29 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎05:07:24 AMGo to full article
IRBIL, Iraq (AP) — A group of Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga troops arrived in Turkey early Wednesday and headed toward the border to help their Syrian brethren fight Islamic State extremists in the embattled town of Kobani.
 

Mastermind of failed Australia beheading plot killed in Middle East: reports

 
‎29 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎04:35:28 AMGo to full article
By Matt Siegel SYDNEY (Reuters) - A former Sydney bouncer said to have masterminded a failed plot by Islamic State militants to behead a random member of the public in Australia is believed to have died in the Middle East, Australian media reported on Wednesday. Mohammad Ali Baryalei, who was believed to be one of the group's most senior members and a top recruiter of foreign fighters, was thought to have died in fighting in Syria or Iraq four or five days ago, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported. ...
 

Jeb Bush: Obama handling of Ebola 'incompetent'

 
‎29 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎04:17:12 AMGo to full article
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush on Tuesday criticized President Barack Obama's initial handling of the Ebola crisis as "incompetent," saying it gave rise to unneeded fears among the American public about the virus.
 

'Terror threat': US boosts security at government buildings

 
‎29 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎03:13:27 AMGo to full article
The United States is to boost security at government buildings following threats from Islamist groupsThe United States is to boost security at government buildings following threats from Islamist groups. The "precise actions" and "precise locations" were not specified in the statement by Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, who said they would vary, shift and "be continually reevaluated." "The reasons for this action are self-evident," Johnson said, citing "continued public calls by terrorist organizations for attacks on the homeland and elsewhere" as well as the two attacks last week in Canada and elsewhere. Johnson called it "a precautionary step, to safeguard US government personnel and facilities, and the visitors to those facilities" in the capital and other major cities, as well as other locations around the country.
 
 

Thousands mourn Canada soldier killed in Ottawa attack

 
‎29 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎02:59:13 AMGo to full article
The funeral procession for Cpl. Nathan Cirillo approaches Christ's Church Cathedral on October 28, 2014 in Hamilton, Ontario, CanadaThousands of mourners lined the streets of the Canadian city of Hamilton for the funeral procession of a soldier killed last week in an attack in the nation's capital. Wailing bagpipes and a solitary drum beat broke a solemn silence as hundreds of soldiers, veterans and police officers marched alongside the flag-draped casket of Corporal Nathan Cirillo to a cathedral in his hometown. His bereaved family, including his six-year-old son wearing his father's beret, also participated in the funeral procession, viewed on television by millions nationwide. Cirillo was fatally shot last week while standing watch at the War Memorial in Ottawa.
 
 

IS attack on Syria oil field 'kills 30'

 
‎29 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎02:37:55 AMGo to full article
Islamic State group jihadists have attacked an oil and gas field in Syria, killing at least 30 pro-regime forces and security guards, a monitoring group said Wednesday. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the attack was launched on Tuesday night and fighting continued through the night. "IS managed to control parts of the field," the Britain-based group said after the assault at Shaer, in Homs province. An unknown number of jihadists were also killed, Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.
 

US airdrops aid for Sunnis in western Iraq: Pentagon

 
‎29 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎01:12:40 AMGo to full article
Iraqi security forces and gunmen take position following clashes with jihadists on September 19, 2014, in Ramadi, the capital of Anbar provinceUS cargo planes have parachuted aid to a beleaguered Sunni tribe in western Iraq, the Pentagon said Tuesday, in a sign Iraqi government forces remain in a tenuous position against Islamic State jihadists in Anbar province. American C-130 aircraft carried out an airdrop of food near Al-Asad air base early on Monday at the request of the Baghdad government, Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby told reporters. US aircraft delivered more than 7,000 Halal meals that were retrieved by Iraqi forces and then delivered to the Albu Nimr tribe, which had been forced to flee homes near Heet due to Islamic State (IS) group's "aggression," Kirby said. "This assistance is just another example of our resolve to assist the people of Iraq and deny ISIL (IS) key terrain and safe haven, as well as our commitment to assist those forces who are opposing" the group, he said.

 

 
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Singapore to deploy massive surveillance balloon

 
‎30 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎03:35:50 AMGo to full article
Singapore (AFP) Oct 29, 2014
Singapore will deploy a huge tethered surveillance balloon to boost its maritime and air security, the defence ministry has announced. The helium-filled "aerostat" will be equipped with radar equipment that can spot threats from as far as 200 kilometres (125 miles) away, the ministry said in a post on its website late Tuesday. "It will be deployed sufficiently high enough so as to have a
 

Iran denies claim that nuclear deal 'finalised'

 
‎30 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎03:35:50 AMGo to full article
Tehran (AFP) Oct 28, 2014
Iran's government was forced to deny Tuesday it had already struck a nuclear deal with the West, after a lawmaker accused its negotiators of secretly selling the country short. In a sign of the domestic political tension surrounding talks being held abroad with world powers, Iran's foreign ministry threatened to prosecute the member of parliament who said an agreement that breaches the Islam
 

N. Korea researching sea-based missiles: US think-tank

 
‎30 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎03:35:50 AMGo to full article
Seoul (AFP) Oct 29, 2014
North Korea has built a test facility that may be intended to develop a marine-based ballistic missile launch capability, using submarines or surface vessels, a US think-tank said Tuesday. While submarines carrying ballistic missiles could provide the North Korea with a survivable second-strike nuclear capability, the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University stressed that Pyongyang was
 

Naval cruise missile set for deployment on French warships

 
‎30 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎03:35:50 AMGo to full article
Paris (UPI) Oct 29, 2014
A naval cruise missile developed by MBDA France has completed its final qualification firing conducted by the French military procurement agency, DGA, and navy. The Missile de Croisière Naval, or MdCN, will be deployed aboard French Navy FREMM frigates beginning next year and aboard Barracuda-class nuclear attack submarines around 2018. "Featuring a range of several hundred kilo
 

Australia to extend lease of unmanned aerial vehicles

 
‎30 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎03:35:50 AMGo to full article
Canberra, Australia (UPI) Oct 28, 2014
Australia is extending its contract with Canada-headquarted McDonald, Detwiler and Associates for continued use of Heron remotely piloted aircraft. One Heron, a medium-altitude long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle, is operating at a Royal Australian Air Force in the country for training. A second is being used in Afghanistan and will be brought back to Australia by the end of the year
 

NATO reports 'large scale' Russian air activity in European airspace

 
‎30 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎03:35:50 AMGo to full article
Brussels (AFP) Oct 29, 2014
NATO said Wednesday it had tracked and intercepted four groups of Russian warplanes "conducting significant military manoeuvres" in European airspace over the past two days. "These sizeable Russian flights represent an unusual level of air activity over European airspace," NATO said. The planes, which included strategic bombers, fighters and tanker aircraft, were detected over the Balti
 

Kurds cheer reinforcements for Syria's Kobane

 
‎30 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎03:35:50 AMGo to full article
Sanliurfa, Turkey (AFP) Oct 29, 2014
Crowds of flag-waving Kurds greeted Iraqi peshmerga forces travelling through Turkey Wednesday to join rebel fighters reinforcing the Syrian town of Kobane against an attack by the Islamic State group. Flashing victory signs, the fighters, armed with machineguns, heavy artillery and rocket launchers, received a euphoric welcome from Turkish Kurds who lined the road shouting "Long live peshme
 

IS jihadists execute 46 tribesmen in Iraq's Anbar

 
‎30 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎03:35:50 AMGo to full article
Baghdad (AFP) Oct 29, 2014
Jihadists from the Islamic State group have executed at least 46 members of a tribe that fought against them in Iraq's Anbar province, sources said. The men from the Albu Nimr tribe were killed in an area overrun by the militants last week north of the town of Heet, a local leader and a doctor said. A police colonel and a leader from the anti-jihadist Sahwa forces confirmed the killings,
 

'Major' hacking attack in US looms: expert survey

 
‎30 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎03:35:50 AMGo to full article
Washington (AFP) Oct 29, 2014
Cyber attacks might be taking a toll now, but just wait: a survey of experts says things are likely to get even worse in the US over the next decade. A majority of cybersecurity experts surveyed in a poll see a likelihood of major damage from a cyber attack in the coming years, according to a Pew Research Center report. From the 1,600 experts polled, 61 percent answered "yes" to the ques
 

NASA Team Proposes to Use Laser to Track Orbital Debris

 
‎30 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎03:35:50 AMGo to full article
Greenbelt MD (SPX) Oct 28, 2014
As participation in space exploration grows worldwide, so does the impact of orbital debris - man-made "space junk" that poses significant hazards to live spacecraft and astronauts should they cross paths and collide. Barry Coyle and Paul Stysley, laser researchers at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, want to develop a method to define and track orbital debris usin
 

Clyde Space expands and announces new orders

 
‎30 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎03:35:50 AMGo to full article
Glasgow, UK (SPX) Oct 28, 2014
Clyde Space is expanding and moving to larger premises to meet increased demand for its products. The company announced the moveas it revealed record turnover for the last financial year and confirmed two major new orders Clyde Space founder and chief executive officer Craig Clark said: "We've had our best year to date and we expect next year's results to show a further step change in reve
 

No Galileo nav-sat launch for December - Arianespace

 
‎30 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎03:35:50 AMGo to full article
Paris (AFP) Oct 27, 2014
Space launch operator Arianespace said on Monday that Europe had decided against hoisting two more Galileo geolocation satellites in December following a launch mishap in August. Two Galileo satellites, part of an orbiting constellation scheduled to completed by 2020, were to have been launched from Kourou, French Guiana, by a Russian Soyuz rocket. Instead, the December 18 launch will ta
 

Sierra Nevada Reveals Dream Chaser Mission Variant

 
‎30 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎03:35:50 AMGo to full article
Sparks NV (SPX) Oct 28, 2014
Sierra Nevada Corporation's (SNC) Space Systems presents the Dream Chaser Science Mission Mock-Up at the American Society for Gravitational and Space Research (ASGSR) conference in Pasadena, California, through Oct. 26. In addition to the primary function of transporting crew and cargo to and from low-Earth orbit (LEO), SNC's Dream Chaser program team has been developing a science mission
 

Wenchang to launch China's next space station

 
‎30 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎03:35:50 AMGo to full article
Beijing (XNA) Oct 28, 2014
China's fourth space launch center, the Wenchang satellite launch center in south China's Hainan Province, will launch the country's space station and cargo spacecrafts. Tao Zhongshan, chief engineer of the Xichang launch center, told Xinhua on Sunday that the new center will be used mainly for geosynchronous orbiters, large-tonnage space stations, cargo spacecraft, and large polar orbit s
 

Sagem wins contract to supply optronic surveillance masts

 
‎30 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎03:35:50 AMGo to full article
Paris (UPI) Oct 29, 2014
Sagem of France has announced it has been contracted to provide optronic surveillance masts for the South Korean Navy's new KSS-III submarines. The award was received from Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co. Ltd. following Sagem's selection by a commission comprised of representatives from Daewoo, the South Korean Navy, the Korean Defense Acquisition Program Administration and
 
 

US agrees deal to buy 43 more F-35 fighters: Pentagon

 
‎29 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎04:43:54 AMGo to full article
Washington (AFP) Oct 28, 2014
The Pentagon will buy another 43 F-35 fighter jets worth roughly $4 billion from aerospace giant Lockheed Martin, officials said Tuesday, four months after it was briefly grounded following an engine fire. Although final details have to be worked out, the "handshake agreement" will mean the price of each plane will drop slightly within America's most expensive weapons program, said Kyra Hawn
 

India's Modi pledges to modernise Vietnam's defences

 
‎29 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎04:43:54 AMGo to full article
New Delhi (AFP) Oct 28, 2014
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised on Tuesday to strengthen Vietnam's military following talks between leaders of the two allies, in a move likely to rankle neighbouring nuclear-armed giant China. Modi said India would sell naval patrol boats to Vietnam under a $100 million line of credit to the Southeast Asian nation, which is trying to improve its defences in the disputed South C
 

NATO chief wants strong defence as basis for ties with Russia

 
‎29 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎04:43:54 AMGo to full article
Brussels (AFP) Oct 28, 2014
NATO wants a constructive relationship with Russia but for that to happen it must engage Moscow from a position of strength, alliance head Jens Stoltenberg said Tuesday. The US-led military pact had helped ensure stability in Europe, he said, but now, with its intervention in Ukraine, Russia was "trying to roll back the progress we have made". Nonetheless, whatever the problems caused, t
 

India plans to build 6 submarines

 
‎29 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎04:43:54 AMGo to full article
New Delhi (UPI) Oct 27, 2014
India's military plans to spend more than $1 billion to build six submarines indigenously and procure thousands of Israeli-made anti-tank missiles. The decisions are part of a larger $13 billion program to boost national security, and were announced late last week following a meeting of the Defense Acquisition Council, which is chaired by Defense Minister Arun Jaitley. The six su
 

US eyes cyber 'deterrence' to stop hackers

 
‎29 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎04:43:54 AMGo to full article
Washington (AFP) Oct 28, 2014
The US military is looking to flex its muscles in cyberspace as a "deterrence" to hackers eying American targets, the nation's top cyber-warrior said Tuesday. Admiral Mike Rogers, who heads the Pentagon's Cyber Command as well as the National Security Agency, evoked a policy often put forward for avoiding nuclear warfare, because holding powerful weapons is seen as a deterrent. Rogers sa
 

Engineers Harvest and Print Parts for New Breed of Aircraft

 
‎29 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎04:43:54 AMGo to full article
Mountain View CA (SPX) Oct 29, 2014
It's more an engineer's dream than nightmare - to rapidly prototype and redesign aircraft using 3-D printed parts. That's just what a team of student interns and engineers at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, got to do: custom-build aircraft by repurposing surplus Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). Grafting fuselages side-by-side adds more motors, propellers and batteries t
 

AYW Companies' Flexible Waveguide And Components Ideal For Satelite Applications

 
‎29 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎04:43:54 AMGo to full article
Warwick RI (SPX) Oct 27, 2014
ATW Companies has announced that its flexible waveguide tubing and waveguide components, manufactured by the A.T. Wall Company, are ideally suited for satellite applications and other airborne and space systems. Products include seamless flexible waveguide, flexible twistable waveguide, flexible waveguide, and semi flexible waveguide. In addition to tubing, the company now also offers comp
 

Russian Space Agency to Receive Designs of Super-Heavy Carrier Rocket by Year-End

 
‎29 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎04:43:54 AMGo to full article
Moscow (RIA Novosti) Oct 27, 2014
Russia's Federal Space Agency Roscosmos will receive technical suggestions in creating the country's super-heavy carrier rockets by the end of 2014, an agency department head said Thursday. "We expect to receive designs from leading enterprises by the end of the year," said Andrei Mazurin, who heads one of the space agency's departments, told RIA Novosti. Roscosmos is looking into de
 

Novel Rocket Design Flight Tested

 
‎29 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎04:43:54 AMGo to full article
Los Alamos NM (SPX) Oct 27, 2014
Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists recently flight tested a new rocket design that includes a high-energy fuel and a motor design that also delivers a high degree of safety. "What we're trying to do is break the performance versus sensitivity curve, and make a rocket that's both very high-energy, as well as very safe," said Bryce Tappan, an energetic materials chemist at the Laborat
 

Charles River Analytics awarded NASA contract to improve aviation safety

 
‎29 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎04:43:54 AMGo to full article
Boston MA (SPX) Oct 27, 2014
Charles River Analytics has announced a new contract awarded by NASA to aid aviation safety analysts in assessing critical flight systems. Charles River, under NASA's Programming Useful Life Prediction effort (PULP), is developing prediction techniques for estimating remaining useful life (RUL) of a component or device, when it will no longer perform as intended. Accurately predictin
 

Space Launch System Booster Separation Testing Brings Confidence to First Flight

 
‎29 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎04:43:54 AMGo to full article
Hampton VA (SPX) Oct 27, 2014
It's a familiar phrase heard just before a rocket launches at NASA's Kennedy Space Center or Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Throughout history, millions have traveled from across the world to see the fiery plumes created by a rocket's large boosters, which have launched astronauts and other payloads into space time and time again. NASA will once again shape history when it la
 

Raytheon touts success of its enhanced Griffin C missile

 
‎29 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎04:43:54 AMGo to full article
Paris (UPI) Oct 28, 2014
Raytheon's Griffin C missile has completed its development phase with flight tests to demonstrate its readiness for deployment on Littoral Combat Ships. The Griffin C features increased range - three times the 12.5 miles of the Griffin B Block II deployed on Coast Guard patrol boats - mid-flight retargeting capability, and a dual-mode seeker. In three flight tests at the Yuma P
 

Thales highlights sonar for medium-sized vessels

 
‎29 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎04:43:54 AMGo to full article
Paris (UPI) Oct 27, 2014
A new range of compact sonar systems for patrol boats and other surface combatant vessels was announced Monday at the Euronaval 2014 exhibition in France. The sonar systems by Thales include a hull-mounted system, the BlueWatcher, and Captas-1, a towed array product. "Until now, the only ships equipped with sonars have tended to be front-line warships deployed as part of a larger
 

IAI touts Katana manned/unmanned patrol boat at Euronaval 2014

 
‎29 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎04:43:54 AMGo to full article
Paris (UPI) Oct 28, 2014
A manned/unmanned patrol boat for homeland security and other applications is being highlighted in France this week by Israel Aerospace Industries. The vessel being shown at the Euronaval International Naval Defense and Maritime Exhibition is the Katana, which the company launched earlier this year. The Katana can operate autonomously through the use of an advanced command-and-co
 

US urges online fight against IS as strikes hit jihadists

 
‎29 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎04:43:54 AMGo to full article
Mursitpinar, Turkey (AFP) Oct 28, 2014
The US-led coalition has carried out fresh air strikes against jihadists in Syria and Iraq as Washington called for the battle against the Islamic State group to be taken to the Internet. Fighting continued to rage for the strategic Syrian border town of Kobane, and in Iraq a car bomb explosion on Monday killed at least eight people in a Baghdad square after a suicide bombing reportedly left
 

China to keep closer eye on military spending: Xinhua

 
‎28 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎08:13:33 PMGo to full article
Beijing (AFP) Oct 26, 2014
China intends to improve efficiency in military spending through tighter monitoring of how funds are used, state media reported Sunday. Under the new "results-based management system" set to be fully operational by 2020, individuals and military units will be held accountable for inefficiency, the state-run Xinhua news agency said. It cited what it described as a "circular approved by th
 

How spending more on the military could make it weaker

 
‎28 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎08:13:33 PMGo to full article
Washington DC (UPI) Oct 26, 2014
To hear the anguished cries of critics of the Obama administration's defense plans, one would think the nation is disarming. We are told that at a projected end strength of 450,000 active duty Army personnel, ground forces will be headed to pre-World War II levels. The Navy, with some 290 ships or less, will be down to the size of the pre-World War I fleet. Is the sky falling? Un
 

Yellow powder 'not dangerous' as new consulate targeted in Istanbul

 
‎28 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎08:13:33 PMGo to full article
Istanbul (AFP) Oct 27, 2014
The Hungarian consulate in Istanbul on Monday became the sixth diplomatic mission in Turkey's largest city to receive a suspicious powder through the post but the authorities said there was no indication the substance was dangerous. The consulates of Belgium, Canada, Germany, France and the United States - all countries involved in the international coalition against Islamic State (IS) jiha
 

Kurds thwart new IS bid to cut off Syria's Kobane

 
‎28 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎08:13:33 PMGo to full article
Mursitpinar, Turkey (AFP) Oct 27, 2014
Kurdish forces have thwarted a new attempt by Islamic State group fighters to cut off the Syrian town of Kobane from the border with Turkey before Iraqi Kurdish reinforcements can deploy. The pre-dawn assault marked the fourth straight day the jihadists had attacked the Syrian side of the border crossing as the Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga fighters prepare to head for Kobane, the Syrian Observato
 

German spies warn IS has anti-aircraft rockets: report

 
‎28 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎08:13:33 PMGo to full article
Berlin (AFP) Oct 26, 2014
Germany's intelligence service believes Islamic State jihadist fighters in northern Iraq possess anti-aircraft weapons that could take down passenger jets, according to a newspaper report Sunday. The BND federal intelligence service had told German lawmakers about its suspicion in a confidential briefing late last week, reported the Bild am Sonntag newspaper without citing named sources.
 

Top Chinese diplomat in Hanoi to ease territorial tensions

 
‎28 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎08:13:33 PMGo to full article
Hanoi (AFP) Oct 27, 2014
China's top foreign policy official on Monday made his second visit to Vietnam in four months, as the communist neighbours work to repair ties strained to breaking point by a territorial dispute. In May, Beijing moved a deep-water oil rig into waters claimed by Hanoi, prompting a months-long high-seas standoff and triggering deadly anti-China riots in Vietnam. The rig was removed in July.
 

British forces hand over control of last base in Afghanistan

 
‎28 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎08:13:33 PMGo to full article
Camp Bastion-Leatherneck, Afghanistan (AFP) Oct 26, 2014
British forces Sunday handed over formal control of their last base in Afghanistan to Afghan troops, ending combat operations in the country after 13 years which cost hundreds of lives. The handover was hailed by British Prime Minister David Cameron but the southern Helmand province that foreign troops are leaving behind still confronts a resilient Taliban insurgency and remains a hub for op
 

Xi's all that: State media hail Chinese chief's 'busy' work life

 
‎28 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎08:13:33 PMGo to full article
Beijing (AFP) Oct 27, 2014
China's state media on Monday published an account of a "typical" day in the life of President Xi Jinping, the latest burnishing of the leader's profile. The Shanghai Observer article, titled "How Does Xi Jinping Spend a Day?", comes just days after the ruling Communist Party released several photos from early in Xi's political career in the eastern province of Fujian. It also follows th
 

Japan, China officials hold informal talks on preventing conflict

 
‎28 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎08:13:33 PMGo to full article
Tokyo (AFP) Oct 27, 2014
Chinese defence officials are meeting a Japanese delegation in Beijing this week for informal talks on preventing simmering territorial disputes from erupting into armed conflict, the talks' host said Monday. The former members of Japan's Air and Marine Self-Defense Forces will meet with the current Chinese defence officials on Wednesday, as Tokyo calls for a first official meeting between J
 

Pro-West parties win Ukraine landslide as shells fly in east

 
‎28 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎08:13:33 PMGo to full article
Kiev (AFP) Oct 27, 2014
Ukraine's pro-Western and moderately nationalist parties were on course Monday to score a crushing election win that boosted President Petro Poroshenko's bid to lead his country closer to Europe and end a pro-Russian revolt. A partial vote count and exit polls showed overwhelming support for Poroshenko's drive to break the ex-Soviet republic of 45 million from Russia's orbit, while attemptin
 

Brazil inks deal for Gripen aircraft

 
‎28 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎08:13:33 PMGo to full article
Linkoping, Sweden (UPI) Oct 27, 2014
Brazil has signed a contract with Saab, the Swedish defense and security company, for acquisition of 36 Gripen NG fighter aircraft. The deal between Saab and the Ministry of Defense - through the Aeronautics Command, or COMAER - is worth nearly $5.42 billion. It also includes a substantial technology transfer to Brazilian industry under an associated industrial cooperation accord.
 

Syria regime air strikes kill 13 children: monitor

 
‎28 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎08:13:33 PMGo to full article
Beirut (AFP) Oct 26, 2014
Syrian government air strikes on two besieged, rebel-held areas of the central province of Homs killed at least 31 people, 13 of them children, a monitoring group said on Sunday. Sixteen members of the same family were among 24 people killed in raids late Saturday and Sunday on the town of Talbisseh, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, updating an earlier toll. They included 12
 

Sweden's defense export agency faces dissolution

 
‎28 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎08:13:33 PMGo to full article
Stockholm, Sweden (UPI) Oct 24, 2014
The Swedish government apparently plans to close its arms and defense equipment export agency in the coming year. The Swedish Defense and Security Export Agency, or FMX, said the plan was contained in a budget proposal presented to parliament on Thursday. Swedish government export support would, however, continue "through a different administrative structure than today, while pre
 

Britain taps Raytheon, Thales for IFF upgrade study

 
‎28 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎08:13:33 PMGo to full article
London (UPI) Oct 27, 2014
Britain's Ministry of Defense has commissioned a one-year study on upgrading its current Identification Friend-or-Foe systems to the new NATO standard. Raytheon UK and Thales UK, the IFF incumbents on more than 97 percent of the British military platforms involved in the Mode 5 upgrade, will conduct the study but the monetary value of the contract has not been disclosed. IFF is a
 

N.Korea likely can build nuclear warhead: US general

 
‎27 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:23:44 AMGo to full article
Washington (AFP) Oct 24, 2014
The commander of US forces in South Korea said Friday that North Korea likely has the ability to produce a nuclear warhead that could be mounted on a missile, but officials later sought to downplay his remarks. The comments by the commander echoed an internal debate among US spy agencies that came to light last year, in which the military's intelligence service warned the North was closer to
 

'Premature' to talk of US troop cuts in Asia: Kerry

 
‎27 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:23:44 AMGo to full article
Washington (AFP) Oct 24, 2014
Secretary of State John Kerry said Friday it was too early to discuss cutting the number of US troops stationed in Asia and South Korea, amid increased tensions on the heavily guarded peninsula. The warning came a day after Washington and Seoul agreed to delay transfer of the Pentagon's control of Korean troops in the event of war with the North. No new date was set to handover the powers.
 

Let's 'finish the job' on nuclear deal, US tells Iran

 
‎27 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:23:44 AMGo to full article
Washington (AFP) Oct 23, 2014
America's top negotiator leading talks to curb Tehran's nuclear ambitions Thursday called on Iranian leaders to "make the right choice," saying now was the time to reach a deal. "If Iran truly wants to resolve its differences with the international community - and facilitate the lifting of economic sanctions - it will have no better chance than between now and November 24," Undersecretary
 

SKorean defense chief: Kim Jong-Un seems in control of North

 
‎27 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:23:44 AMGo to full article
Washington (AFP) Oct 23, 2014
Kim Jong-Un at least "on the surface" appears to be in control of North Korea, South Korea's Defense Minister Han Min-Koo said Thursday after holding talks with US Defense chief Chuck Hagel. Han offered a carefully measured assessment when asked whether he believed Kim, who returned to the public eye earlier this month after dropping out of sight for nearly six weeks, was fully in command of
 

Former Japan PM to meet with China's Xi: report

 
‎27 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:23:44 AMGo to full article
Tokyo (AFP) Oct 24, 2014
Former Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping next week, a report said Friday, as Tokyo tries to set up premier-level talks amid tensions with its giant neighbour. The reported meeting on Wednesday is happening during Fukuda's three-day visit to Beijing as a board member of a China-based international forum, Japan's public broadcaster NHK reported.
 

Kerry urges Moscow to implement Ukraine peace deal

 
‎27 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:23:44 AMGo to full article
Washington (AFP) Oct 25, 2014
US Secretary of State John Kerry has urged Moscow to fully implement last month's ceasefire agreement on Ukraine, the State Department said in a statement Saturday. The peace deal reached last month in the Belarussian capital Minsk between Kiev, Moscow and the pro-Russian separatists in east Ukraine includes monitoring and verification by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Eur
 

Harris to provide geospatial products intelligence agency

 
‎27 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:23:44 AMGo to full article
Melbourne, Fla. (UPI) Oct 24, 2014
Geospatial data services are to be provided to the U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency by the Harris Corporation. The Florida-headquartered communications company said the products will be provided for as much as five years under indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity Foundation GEOINT Content Management contracts with a combined potential value of $770 million. The dat
 

USS North Dakota being commissioned Saturday

 
‎27 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:23:44 AMGo to full article
Washington (UPI) Oct 24, 2014
The U.S. Navy's newest Virginia-class attack submarine is being commissioned Saturday at Submarine Base New London in Groton, Connecticut. The USS North Dakota, designated SSN 784, is the 11th submarine of its class, which are being acquired by the Navy through 2043. It was built by General Dynamics Electric Boat and was delivered to the Navy in August. "USS North Dakota and her
 

India chooses Israel over US for $525m missile deal: defence sources

 
‎27 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:23:44 AMGo to full article
New Delhi (AFP) Oct 26, 2014
India has chosen to buy anti-tank guided missiles from Israel, rejecting a rival US offer, as the right-wing government clears projects worth $13.1 billion to modernise its ageing military, official sources said Sunday. Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government will buy 8,356 Spike missiles and 321 launchers from Israel in a deal worth 32 billion rupees ($525 million), defence ministry sourc
 

SM-6 interceptors down targets using remote targeting data

 
‎27 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:23:44 AMGo to full article
Tucson (UPI) Oct 24, 2014
U.S. Navy Standard Missile 6 interceptors recently destroyed low-altitude supersonic and subsonic targets using remote data for targeting. Raytheon, maker of the RIM-174 Standard Extended Range Active Missile, said the interceptors were fired from the cruiser USS Chancellorsville as part of an "engage and remote" scenario in which the interceptors were launched using data from another c
 

Navy validates landing, takeoff of MQ-8C unmanned helo

 
‎27 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:23:44 AMGo to full article
Point Mugu, Calif. (UPI) Oct 24, 2014
Northrop Grumman's MQ-8C unmanned autonomous helicopter has completed precision sloped landing tests at a U.S. Navy base in California. The testing of Fire Scout at Naval Base Ventura County, Point Mugu, was to further validate the aircraft's capabilities in preparation for at-sea testing later this year. "The sloped takeoff and landing tests are designed to be as real as it gets
 

Lockheed Martin making turrets for Scout SV armored vehicles

 
‎27 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:23:44 AMGo to full article
Ampthill, England (UPI) Oct 23, 2014
Lockheed Martin UK has been tapped to produce hundreds of turrets for armored Scout Specialist vehicles for the British military. The contract from General Dynamics UK is for a total of 245 turrets and carries a value of $1 billion. "This contract reflects the significant investment we have made in our workforce in Ampthill (Bedfordshire) and clearly demonstrates our ability to p
 

Three Turkish soldiers shot dead in 'terrorist' attack

 
‎27 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:23:44 AMGo to full article
Istanbul (AFP) Oct 25, 2014
Masked gunmen on Saturday shot dead three Turkish soldiers in the restive Kurdish-majority southeast of the country, the army said, blaming separatist "terrorists" for an attack that threatens to undermine a fragile peace process. The three soldiers were shot dead while off duty and walking on the street in the town of Yuksekova in Hakkari province of Turkey's extreme southeast bordering Ir
 

Syria regime air strikes kill 11 children: monitor

 
‎27 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:23:44 AMGo to full article
Beirut (AFP) Oct 26, 2014
Syrian government air strikes on two rebel-held areas of the central province of Homs killed at least 25 civilians, 11 of them children, a monitoring group said on Sunday. Sixteen members of a single family were among 18 people killed in raids late Saturday on the town of Talbisseh, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. They included 10 children and three women, said the Britain-
 

IS attack on Syrian border town Kobane stalls amid US air assault

 
‎27 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:23:44 AMGo to full article
Mursitpinar, Turkey (AFP) Oct 24, 2014
A bid by Islamic State fighters to seize the flashpoint Syrian border town of Kobane has stalled, American officials said, with the help of air strikes reported to have killed over 500 jihadists. US and allied aircraft have flown nearly 6,600 sorties in the air war against the Islamic State (IS) group and dropped more than 1,700 bombs, the American military said Thursday. The latest tall
 

Aerostat surveillance system being evaluated by CBP

 
‎26 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎08:33:30 AMGo to full article
Washington (UPI) Oct 23, 2014
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is evaluating a Lockheed Martin aerostat surveillance system along the border with Mexico. The system is the Persistent Threat Detection System, or PTDS, which is currently being used in Afghanistan by the U.S. Army for identifying threats and tracking insurgents. Lockheed Martin said it is providing operational support for the system's evaluati
 

Intelsat General To Study Commercialization of USAF Satellites

 
‎26 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎08:33:30 AMGo to full article
Bethesda, MD (SPX) Oct 23, 2014
Intelsat General Corp. is one of four companies awarded a contract by the U.S. Air Force (USAF) to study the viability of using commercial facilities and operations expertise for the tracking, telemetry and command (TT and C) of government satellites. The goal of the contract, known as the Air Force Satellite Control Network (AFSCN) Commercial Provisioning study, is to provide USAF Space C
 

Russian Bank Offers 5 Billion Rubles for GLONASS

 
‎26 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎08:33:30 AMGo to full article
Moscow (RIA Novosti) Oct 21, 2014
The Russian state development bank Vnesheconombank (VEB) is set to offer financial support for domestic companies to develop projects using the GLONASS navigation system in Russia and abroad pending government approval, Izvestia reports. VEB's sister fund -"VEB Innovations" will set up the "GLONASS Fund" within the fourth quarter of this year; funds will be made available by next February-
 

ESA spaceplane progressing towards Vega launch

 
‎26 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎08:33:30 AMGo to full article
Kourou, French Guiana (ESA) Oct 23, 2014
Europe's Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle (IXV) spaceplane has completed another step in its pre-launch checkout process, and is now being readied for fueling ahead of the November 18 flight with Arianespace's lightweight Vega. This activity - which included IXV's fit-check on the adapter that will serve as its interface with the Vega launcher - occurred inside the Spaceport's S1B clean r
 

BAE Systems Australia producing more missile decoy systems

 
‎26 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎08:33:30 AMGo to full article
Richmond, Australia (UPI) Oct 23, 2014
BAE Systems says it is producing more Nulka active missile decoys for the Royal Australian Navy and U.S. Navy ships. The decoys are being produced under a follow-on order worth nearly $44 million. The order is the 16th consecutive order for the system and brings the total of Nulka decoys delivered by the company to more than 1,400. "This contract continues our provision of the wo
 

Turkish cruise missile tipped for F-35

 
‎26 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎08:33:30 AMGo to full article
Ankara, Turkey (UPI) Oct 23, 2014
Lockheed Martin and Roketsan have agreed to collaborate on the Turkish company's stand-off cruise missile for use on the F-35 Lightning II fighter. The SOM-J is an autonomous, long-range, low-observable, all-weather, precision air-to-surface cruise missile. A variant of the system has been designed for internal carriage on the F-35 aircraft. The missile can also be carried extern
 

US-led strikes kill more than 500 militants in Syria

 
‎26 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎08:33:30 AMGo to full article
Mursitpinar, Turkey (AFP) Oct 23, 2014
US-led air strikes in Syria were reported Thursday to have killed more than 500 jihadists in a month, as Kurdish fighters readied to reinforce the embattled border town of Kobane. The battle for Kobane has become crucial for both the Islamic State (IS) group and its opponents, with a senior US official saying the Kurds there were inflicting heavy losses on the jihadists. IS, which declar
 

Argentina launches its first telecom satellite

 
‎26 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎08:33:30 AMGo to full article
Moscow (RIA Novosti) Oct 21, 2014
Argentina has successfully launched its first domestically designed and developed geostationary communications satellite Thursday, USA Today reported. "ARSAT-1 is on its way to space. What a thrill," Argentina's President Cristina Kirchner wrote on her Twitter account. The satellite will occupy the 81 West orbital slot, 36,000 km away from earth. ARSAT-1 is the first satellite
 

ORNL research reveals unique capabilities of 3-D printing

 
‎26 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎08:33:30 AMGo to full article
Oak Ridge TN (SPX) Oct 20, 2014
Researchers at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory have demonstrated an additive manufacturing method to control the structure and properties of metal components with precision unmatched by conventional manufacturing processes. Ryan Dehoff, staff scientist and metal additive manufacturing lead at the Department of Energy's Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at ORNL,
 

Dances with wolves in China's wild west

 
‎26 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎08:33:30 AMGo to full article
Jimsar, China (AFP) Oct 23, 2014
Facing down a pack of snarling wolves - the symbol of the Uighur minority in China's violence-wracked far west - businessman Yang Changsheng offered a sausage in friendship. "I have a deep feeling for wolves. They will attack other people, but not me," said Yang, who breeds the animals high in the snow-capped Tianshan mountains, in the vast border region of Xinjiang. The area usually h
 

Brazil, Argentina to negotiate over Gripen aircraft

 
‎26 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎08:33:30 AMGo to full article
Gaviao Peixoto, Brazil (UPI) Oct 22, 2014
Brazil and Argentina are to begin negotiations over the purchase of Swedish-designed Gripen fighters to be manufactured in Brazil. The decision was announced in Brazil by visiting Argentine Defense Minister Agustín Rossi. Brazil's Ministry of Defense said the talks over the possible purchase of 24 Brazil-produced Gripens would include not only the conditions of purchase but also
 

RAZAR zoom scope developed for military assault rifles

 
‎26 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎08:33:30 AMGo to full article
Albuquerque (UPI) Oct 23, 2014
A fast and accurate zoom scope for use on military rifles has been developed by Sandia National Laboratories and its optical engineers. The prototype system is called the Rapid Adaptive Zoom for Assault Rifles, or RAZAR, which allows a rifleman to toggle between high and low magnifications at a push of a button without having to remove their eyes from their targets or their hands from
 

India's Modi rallies troops in Diwali day Kashmir visit

 
‎26 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎08:33:30 AMGo to full article
Srinagar, India Oct 23, 2014
India's new Prime Minister Narendra Modi marked the festival of Diwali Thursday with a visit to the disputed Kashmir region to rally the morale of troops after recent deadly clashes with Pakistan. Modi, who also visited victims of floods that devastated parts of Kashmir last month, met soldiers based on a Himalayan glacier as he bolstered his Hindu nationalist credentials in what is India's
 

IS propaganda strategy 'evolving': experts

 
‎26 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎08:33:30 AMGo to full article
Paris (AFP) Oct 23, 2014
From online videos to the social network postings of their fighters, the propaganda of the Islamic State jihadist group is evolving to prevent the leaking of strategic information while at the same time maintaining its impact. Experts and journalists say they have observed a change in the group's approach to communications since its offensive on the Syrian town of Kobane and air strikes by a
 

Russia to Orbit 9 MilCom Satellites by 2020

 
‎26 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎08:33:30 AMGo to full article
Moscow (RIA Novosti) Oct 21, 2014
The Russian military will add nine advanced communications satellites to its orbital grouping by 2020, a senior military commander said Monday. "By 2020, the orbital grouping of military communications satellites will be strengthened with nine modern satellites," Maj. Gen. Khalil Arslanov, the chief of the Main Communications Directorate of the Russian Armed Forces, said Monday. Arsl
 

U.S Navy sending Aegis-equipped destroyers to Japan

 
‎22 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:54:28 PMGo to full article
Washington (UPI) Oct 22, 2014
Two U.S. Navy destroyers with ballistic missile defense capabilities are being forward deployed to Japan, the U.S. Navy announced. The ships with Aegis systems are the USS Benfold (DDG 65) and USS Milius (DDG 69), both of which are currently homeported in San Diego, Calif. The two ships will become part of the Forward Deployed Naval Forces based at Yokosuka, Japan. The USS
 

Japan deputy PM directly urges China to hold summit

 
‎22 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:54:28 PMGo to full article
Beijing (AFP) Oct 22, 2014
Japan's deputy prime minister on Wednesday urged China to allow a summit between the Asian rivals as he met a top Beijing official, he said. Taro Aso and China's Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli briefly chatted on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) finance ministers' gathering in Beijing, ahead of the forum's annual summit next month. Aso, who is also Tokyo's finance m
 

Russia spy plane intercepted in NATO airspace: alliance

 
‎22 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:54:28 PMGo to full article
Brussels (AFP) Oct 22, 2014
NATO fighter jets intercepted a Russian spy plane over the Baltic Sea after it breached Estonian airspace, the alliance said Wednesday in the latest of such incidents amid tensions with Moscow over Ukraine. The Ilyushin IL-20 "intelligence collection aircraft", which took off from the Russian Baltic coast enclave of Kaliningrad on Tuesday, was first intercepted by Danish F-16 jets when it ap
 

China ponders action against Hong Kong stars

 
‎22 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:54:28 PMGo to full article
Beijing (AFP) Oct 22, 2014
The powerful Youth League of China's ruling Communist party has opened a poll on possible sanctions against Hong Kong celebrities who support the city's pro-democracy demonstrators - including boycotts, bans and Internet censorship. The former British colony's vibrant film and music scenes have made its performers stars on the mainland. But celebrities including actors Chow Yun Fat and Anth
 

Iraq's Yazidis facing 'attempted genocide': UN

 
‎22 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:54:28 PMGo to full article
United Nations, United States (AFP) Oct 21, 2014
Iraq's Yazidi minority is facing what may amount to an "attempted genocide" at the hands of Islamist fighters, a senior UN rights official said Tuesday after visiting northern Iraq. "The evidence strongly indicates attempt to commit genocide," UN Assistant Secretary General Ivan Simonovic said after meeting with officials and displaced people in Arbil, Baghdad and Dohuk during the week-long
 

USAF looks at commercial satellite control networks

 
‎22 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:54:28 PMGo to full article
Bethesda, Md. (UPI) Oct 22, 2014
The U.S. Air Force has picked Intelsat General Corp. to study the use of commercial satellite control network capabilities for government satellite operations. The study will specifically focus on commercial facilities and operations expertise for tracking, telemetry and command of satellites. The value of the Air Force Satellite Control Network Commercial Provisioning study was
 

Iraqi Kurds agree reinforcements for embattled Kobane

 
‎22 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:54:28 PMGo to full article
Arbil, Iraq (AFP) Oct 22, 2014
Iraqi Kurdish lawmakers agreed Wednesday to send much-needed reinforcements to fellow Kurds battling to stop the key Syrian border town of Kobane from falling into the hands of the Islamic State group. The approval came as Turkey criticised US air drops of ammunition and weapons to Kobane's Kurdish defenders, with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan saying some of the deliveries had fallen into t
 

Syria Kurds weather IS assault and await reinforcements

 
‎22 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:54:28 PMGo to full article
Mursitpinar, Turkey (AFP) Oct 22, 2014
Kurdish defenders of the strategic Syrian border town of Kobane awaited reinforcements Wednesday after weathering another onslaught by Islamic State jihadists. Fighting appeared to have diminished after a fierce attack begun by IS fighters almost 48 hours earlier, including suicide bombers, witnesses and monitors said. IS jihadists in east Kobane were exchanging fire with Kurdish militia
 

Propaganda, personal struggles turn some young Belgians to jihad

 
‎22 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:54:28 PMGo to full article
Vilvoorde, Belgium (AFP) Oct 22, 2014
As chairman of the Annasr mosque, Mimoun Aquichouh personally knows a number of young men who left the small Belgian city of Vilvoorde to wage jihad in Syria. They worshipped at his mosque on a quiet street in the former industrial city just north of the capital Brussels as they fought their own personal struggles before finding the path of jihad, much to Aquichouh's dismay. Their storie
 

Iraq asks for 46,000 M1A1 Abrams tank rounds

 
‎22 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:54:28 PMGo to full article
Washington (UPI) Oct 21, 2014
The sale of thousands of rounds of tank ammunition to Iraq under the Foreign Military Sales program has been presented to Congress The proposed sale was detailed by the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency, which said the U.S. State Department had already given its approval for the deal, which carries a value of an estimated $600 million. "The proposed sale of the ammunition
 

Canada raises 'terrorism' alert after soldier killed

 
‎22 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:54:28 PMGo to full article
Ottawa (AFP) Oct 22, 2014
Canada raised its national "terrorism" alert on Tuesday, officials said, after a soldier run over by a suspected jihadist died in hospital. The alert level was raised from low to medium after authorities said a man they believed to be "radicalized" struck two officers with his car Monday, but authorities said the heightened alert was not "the result of a specific threat." "This level me
 
 

 

 
 

Nuclear Weapons, Proliferation and Policy Doctrine

 

 
 

N.Korea likely can build nuclear warhead: US general

 
‎27 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎06:39:34 PMGo to full article
Washington (AFP) Oct 24, 2014 - The commander of US forces in South Korea said Friday that North Korea likely has the ability to produce a nuclear warhead that could be mounted on a missile, but officials later sought to downplay his remarks.

The comments by the commander echoed an internal debate among US spy agencies that came to light last year, in which the military's intelligence service warned the North was closer to achieving a nuclear-tipped missile than previously believed.

General Curtis Scaparrotti told a news conference the North Korean regime's pursuit of atomic weapons had progressed to the point where it could probably create a nuclear device to be fitted on the tip of a missile, a major development in the North's nuclear ambitions.

But the general said he had no evidence to back up his view and that there was no sign the North had tested such a device.

"They've had the right connections, and so I believe have the capability to have miniaturized a device at this point, and they have the technology to potentially actually deliver what they say they have," the general said.

"We have not seen it tested. And I don't think as a commander we can afford the luxury of believing perhaps they haven't gotten there," he said.

Pressed by reporters as to whether North Korea could manufacture a nuclear warhead, Scaparrotti offered a more cautious assessment.

"I'm not saying that I know that by any factual basis, but I believe they probably have the background to do this."

North Korea had "proliferation relationships" with other countries, including Iran and Pakistan, that could help it develop such a device, he said.

A Defense Intelligence Agency report leaked last year concluded North Korea probably had the ability to fit a miniaturized nuclear device on a missile.

The report made headlines but US officials at the time said it did not represent a consensus view of all the country's spy agencies.

The director of national intelligence, James Clapper, said last year that "North Korea has not yet demonstrated the full range of capabilities necessary for a nuclear armed missile."

US intelligence agencies have not changed their fundamental assessment of the North's nuclear program, officials told AFP when asked about Scaparrotti's comments.

Officials have said previously that the North has yet to demonstrate it has a functioning long-range intercontinental missile or a nuclear warhead that could be placed on it.

The Pentagon denied the general had expressed a view that was out of sync with intelligence reports and insisted there was no disagreement about the nature of the threat posed by North Korea.

"We have no reason to doubt the general's belief, but as the general also said, he has no facts or evidence to confirm that," spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said.

"So we share his concern, we share his general belief that this is a capability they want to acquire and that they very well could have the miniaturization capability."

Flight departs for North Korea despite Ebola tour ban
Beijing (AFP) Oct 24, 2014 - A commercial flight took off from Beijing for North Korea on Friday, despite travel agencies saying they had been told the isolated state would close its borders to foreign tourists over Ebola fears.

The Air China flight departed Beijing Capital International Airport Friday afternoon with 32 passengers on board, according to the airline's duty manager.

"My visa seems not to be affected," said German traveller Arne Hothan as he waited to board, a day after three travel agencies said Pyongyang was closing its border to foreign tourists.

"The chance of people who travel to North Korea... have the virus is probably very very low, so I think that it's not really a good reason to cancel the visa."

The travel agencies -- including two that are based in China -- issued statements Thursday informing clients that the country was closing itself to tourists until further notice because of the threat of the disease.

The epidemic has killed nearly 4,900 people in West Africa, and some countries have banned travellers and flights from Ebola-hit countries.

 

 

Let's 'finish the job' on nuclear deal, US tells Iran

 
‎27 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎06:39:34 PMGo to full article
Washington (AFP) Oct 23, 2014 - America's top negotiator leading talks to curb Tehran's nuclear ambitions Thursday called on Iranian leaders to "make the right choice," saying now was the time to reach a deal.

"If Iran truly wants to resolve its differences with the international community -- and facilitate the lifting of economic sanctions -- it will have no better chance than between now and November 24," Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman said.

"This is the time to finish the job."

The six powers leading the talks with Iran, known as the P5+1, have set the November deadline to reach a comprehensive deal.

The aim is to close all of Tehran's avenues towards developing an atomic bomb, by cutting back its nuclear enrichment program, shutting down suspect facilities and imposing tough international inspections.

In return, the global community would suspend and then gradually lift crippling economic sanctions imposed on the Islamic republic.

"Will that happen?" Sherman asked, addressing an audience at a two-day symposium organized at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think-tank.

"I don't know. I can tell you that all the components of a plan that should be acceptable to both sides are on the table."

As usual, she gave no details about the complex draft accord being hammered out by teams of experts, complete with complicated pages of technical annexes.

"Our bottom line is unambiguous, crystal-clear, and written-in-stone: Iran will not, shall not obtain a nuclear weapon," Sherman pledged.

But the P5+1 has put forward a number of ideas recognizing "Tehran's expressed desire for a viable civilian nuclear program and that take into account that country's scientific knowhow and economic needs."

In a bid to break the stalemate, US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif held six hours of talks in a Vienna hotel last week.

"We have made impressive progress on issues that originally seemed intractable," Sherman insisted.

But she stressed the negotiations were "a puzzle with many interlocking pieces" and were "the very opposite of easy."

The talks were still at a "difficult stage."

"We must use the remaining time wisely and with a sense of urgency and purpose," Sherman said.

So far the Americans have said they are not even talking about extending the deadline again after an early July date for a final deal was missed.

Many observers believe however that a further extension will be unavoidable, as all sides have invested too much to simply walk away if they can't agree every detail in time.

"We encourage Iran to make the right choice. Meanwhile, we remain steadfast in our determination to take the steps necessary to protect America's security and to improve the prospects for stability and peace across the globe," Sherman added.

 

 

SKorean defense chief: Kim Jong-Un seems in control of North

 
‎27 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎06:39:34 PMGo to full article
Washington (AFP) Oct 23, 2014 - Kim Jong-Un at least "on the surface" appears to be in control of North Korea, South Korea's Defense Minister Han Min-Koo said Thursday after holding talks with US Defense chief Chuck Hagel.

Han offered a carefully measured assessment when asked whether he believed Kim, who returned to the public eye earlier this month after dropping out of sight for nearly six weeks, was fully in command of the nuclear-armed, totalitarian state.

"On the surface it seems that Kim Jong-Un is effectively exercising control" of North Korea, Han told reporters at the Pentagon.

"However its diplomatic isolation and its chronic economic crisis will in the long term increase instability," he added.

Han and Hagel met as part of the 46th annual Security Consultative Meeting, during which the two sides discussed amplifying military cooperation.

Kim made two appearances last week, both notable for the photographs showing him using a walking stick, backing up reports that his disappearance was the result of a leg injury or condition.

His withdrawal, which began in early September, quickly became a source of rumor and speculation, which went into overdrive after he missed two noteworthy political events he would normally have been expected to attend.

 

 

Israeli minister airs Iran nuclear concerns at Pentagon

 
‎27 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎06:39:34 PMGo to full article
Jerusalem (AFP) Oct 21, 2014 - Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon said Tuesday he shared with his US counterpart his country's concerns about the direction of talks between world powers and Iran on its nuclear programme.

In an audio message released by Yaalon's office after his meeting with Chuck Hagel at the Pentagon, Yaalon said they also talked about the conflicts in Iraq and Syria and the US-Israel defence partnership.

"The Iranian issue indeed worries us," he said in Hebrew. "The question of if there will be an agreement and what kind of agreement worries us. I'm talking about that here and behind closed doors we express our concerns."

Expert-level talks between Iran and world powers are to be held in Vienna on Wednesday and Thursday, according to an Iranian official.

Iran and the P5+1 group of nations -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States plus Germany -- are seeking a comprehensive agreement over Tehran's nuclear programme by a November 24 deadline.

But the talks have been hit by disputes over what limits should be placed on Iran's atomic activities, particularly its enrichment of uranium, and on the process of lifting US, UN and European sanctions.

"We've said all along that better no agreement than a bad agreement and the question is what are they discussing at the moment, are they talking about how many centrifuges there will be and if so, why should they have centrifuges at all?" Yaalon said.

"Are they talking about other elements of the Iranian military nuclear project such as missiles ready for nuclear warheads?"

In an October 1 meeting at the White House, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned US President Barack Obama not to accept any Iran deal that would allow Tehran to become a "threshold nuclear power".

The same week in New York, Netanyahu told the United Nations that Iran was trying to "bamboozle" the world into sealing a nuclear deal that would leave Tehran with the capacity of thousands of centrifuges to enrich uranium.

The nuclear threshold is the point at which a nation is considered to have the radioactive material, equipment and know-how to quickly produce a nuclear device, but has not yet taken the decision to do so.

 

 

Iran, powers resume expert-level nuclear talks Wednesday

 
‎27 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎06:39:34 PMGo to full article
Tehran (AFP) Oct 19, 2014 - Expert-level talks between Iran and world powers aimed at clearing the path toward a nuclear deal will be held Wednesday and Thursday in Vienna, a top Iranian official said.

Iran and the P5+1 group of nations (Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States plus Germany) are seeking a comprehensive agreement over Tehran's nuclear programme by a November 24 deadline.

However the talks have been hit by disputes over what limits should be placed on Iran's atomic activities, particularly its enrichment of uranium, and on the process of lifting US, UN and European sanctions.

"Negotiations between experts from Iran and the P5+1 will be held Wednesday and Thursday in Vienna," Iranian negotiator and deputy foreign minister Abbas Araqchi was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency.

The date of the next meeting between the Iranian delegation, the United States and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who is shepherding the negotiations, will be announced later, according to Araqchi.

The deal being sought, after more than a decade of rising tensions, is meant to ease concerns that Iran might be able to develop nuclear weapons under the guise of its civilian energy programme.

To do this, the P5+1 wants Iran to scale down dramatically the scope of its atomic activities, offering in return relief from painful sanctions, but Iran is resisting this.

Iran denies seeking to build the atomic bomb.

In months of discussions since an interim agreement struck last November took effect in January, some progress has been made.

This includes possible changes in the design of an unfinished reactor at Arak so that it produces less weapons-grade plutonium, enhanced UN inspections, and alterations to Iran's fortified Fordo facility.

Many analysts believe that the November deadline may be extended, as happened with an earlier target date of July 20, maybe locking in measures related to Arak and Fordo.

 

 

Iran opposes extending troubled nuclear talks

 
‎27 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎06:39:34 PMGo to full article
Vienna (AFP) Oct 16, 2014 - Iran said Thursday it is against extending a November 24 deadline for troubled nuclear talks, even though major stumbling blocks remain in the way of a deal.

"We only have 40 days left to the deadline and... none of the negotiators find (an) extension of talks appropriate," Mohammad Javad Zarif said in Vienna, a day after six hours of intense talks with US Secretary of State John Kerry.

"We share this view... and we think there is no need to even think about it," Zarif said in the Austrian capital, quoted by the state television's website.

The comments echoed a senior US State Department official late Wednesday after the talks between Kerry, Zarif and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton in a Vienna hotel room.

"Deadlines help people to make hard decisions, and there are hard decisions to be made here. And we must," the official said on condition of anonymity.

- P5+1 powers -

Kerry left Vienna on Thursday morning -- after problems with his aircraft -- but Zarif remained for talks with political directors from the US, Russia, Britain, China, France and Germany chaired by Ashton.

The deal being sought, after more than a decade of rising tensions, is meant to ease concerns that Iran might be able to develop nuclear weapons under the guise of its civilian programme.

To do this, the "P5+1" powers want Iran to scale down dramatically the scope of its atomic activities, offering in return relief from painful sanctions, but Iran is resisting this.

Iran denies seeking to build the atomic bomb and says it wants to expand its nuclear programme in order to generate electricity and treat cancer patients.

"Diplomatic efforts to find a resolution to the Iranian nuclear issue are now in a critical phase," Ashton's spokesman Michael Mann said late on Thursday.

"We are trying hard to make progress and remain fully engaged to achieve a comprehensive solution by the November 24 deadline."

- More time on the clock -

In months of discussions since an interim agreement struck last November took effect in January, some progress has been made.

This includes possible changes in the design of an unfinished reactor at Arak so that it produces less weapons-grade plutonium, enhanced UN inspections, and alterations to the fortified Fordo facility.

The main bone of contention remains Iran's enrichment capacity, a process rendering uranium suitable for power generation but also, at high purities, for a nuclear weapon.

Other thorny areas include the pace of sanctions relief, the timeframe that an accord would cover, and a stymied UN probe into past suspect "military dimensions" of Iran's activities.

"Everyone has been working incredibly hard.... These are incredibly complex negotiations, the detail is extraordinary," the senior US official said.

"Until everything is agreed, nothing is agreed, and you can get 98 percent of the way, and the last two percent may kill the entire deal."

Zarif told online news site al-Monitor that the gaps were "narrowing, but we still have a long way to go."

"It is reconcilable, provided everyone makes the tough decisions," he said.

Many analysts have begun to believe that the November deadline might be extended, as happened with an earlier target date of July 20, maybe locking in measures related to Arak and Fordo.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday that the November deadline was not "sacred", in the strongest suggestion yet from one of the P5+1 powers.

Zarif himself said Wednesday "more time might be needed" and President Hassan Rouhani said Monday that if the parties are "not able to solve all the problems, the two camps will find a solution".

Echoing Lavrov, Russia's lead negotiator Sergei Ryabkov, who held Thursday bilateral talks with the Iranians, said that "the result is more important than the date".

But quoted by RIA Novosti, he added that with a further extension, "the risk of total failure also increases".

Zarif and the Iranian delegation left Vienna on Thursday afternoon although the six powers remained for talks among themselves.

Zarif said he would see Kerry again in "three or four weeks" -- leaving very little time until November 24 -- following expert-level negotiations next week.

 

 

US resists extension of Iran nuclear talks

 
‎27 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎06:39:34 PMGo to full article
Vienna (AFP) Oct 15, 2014 - Iran and the US still aim to strike a mammoth nuclear deal by a November 24 deadline, a US official said Wednesday after talks involving US Secretary of State John Kerry that yielded no apparent major breakthrough.

"We have not discussed an extension. We believe in keeping the pressure on ourselves," the senior US State Department official said after six hours of "very intense" discussions in Vienna.

"If you take the pressure off yourself, then you never have to make hard decisions. Deadlines help people to make hard decisions, and there are hard decisions to be made here. And we must."

She added: "Everyone has been working incredibly hard... these are incredibly complex negotiations, the detail is extraordinary.

"Until everything is agreed, nothing is agreed, and you can get 98 percent of the way, and the last two percent may kill the entire deal."

It was unclear whether Kerry would resume his talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Thursday, when Zarif was scheduled to meet with negotiators from six world powers in the Austrian capital.

Iran and the six world powers have less than six weeks, until November 24, to strike a comprehensive accord meant to prevent Tehran from developing nuclear weapons under the cover of its civilian atomic programme.

Iran, reeling from sanctions, denies seeking to build the atomic bomb and says it wants to expand its nuclear programme in order to generate electricity and help cancer patients.

But the powers -- the United States, France, Britain, Russia, China and Germany -- are pressing Tehran to reduce its activities in order to make any dash to make a weapon all but impossible, offering sanctions relief in return.

Last November, the two sides agreed an interim deal and set a July 20 target to agree a lasting accord, but after drawn out talks they gave themselves four more months.

Progress appears to have been made on changing the design of a new reactor at Arak so that it produces less weapons-grade plutonium, as well as on enhanced UN inspections and on the fortified Fordo facility.

The main bone of contention however remains Iran's enrichment capacity, a process rendering uranium suitable for power generation but also, at high purities, for a nuclear weapon.

Other thorny areas include the pace at which sanctions would be lifted, the timeframe that an accord would cover, and a stymied UN probe into past suspect "military dimensions" of Iran's activities.

- More time on the clock -

Many analysts have begun to believe that the deadline might be extended again, maybe locking in measures related to Arak and Fordo.

"A fully-fledged agreement by November 24 no longer appears likely. What is still possible is a breakthrough that could justify adding more time to the diplomatic clock," Ali Vaez from the International Crisis Group told AFP.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday in Paris -- after meeting Kerry there -- that the November deadline was not "sacred", in the strongest suggestion yet from one of the P5+1 powers.

Zarif earlier Wednesday too appeared to indicate that more time might be needed in order to discuss what he called "serious and innovative" -- but unspecified -- "new methods".

"It is possible that more time might be needed to discuss these solutions," he told state television late Tuesday after talks with US and EU negotiators including Ashton.

And Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who has sought to mend fences with the West since coming to power in 2013, has also indicated such a move.

"Our will is that in 40 days the matter will be resolved. But if other things happen and we are not able to solve all the problems, the two camps will find a solution," Rouhani said on state television on Monday.

US not discussing extending Iran talks deadline
Vienna (AFP) Oct 15, 2014 - The US is not discussing extending the deadline to strike a nuclear deal with Iran beyond November 24, a senior US official said Wednesday following comments from other figures suggesting such a move.

"We're not talking about an extension," the official said after US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Vienna for talks with his Iranian counterpart aimed at advancing the stalled negotiations.

"We're talking about getting this done by November 24. Everyone is at the table including the Iranians, about wanting to get this done," the senior US State Department official said on condition of anonymity.

The Iranians "know they're not going to get the sanctions relief they need if" there is no deal, the official added.

"There's still time to get this done, there is enough time to get the technical work done, to get the political agreement, to get the annexes (to any deal) done if everyone can make the decisions they need."

Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany have been negotiating for months a deal aimed at easing fears that Iran might develop nuclear weapons under the guise of its civilian programme.

Last November they struck an interim deal, buying time to agree a lasting accord. Initially they set themselves a target date of July 20 but this was extended in July by four months until November 24.

Despite progress in some areas, the talks are thought to be snagging in particular on the key question of Iran's future capacity to enrich uranium, leading to speculation among experts of another extension.

The foreign minister of Russia, Sergei Lavrov, one of the six powers, said in Paris on Monday that the deadline was "not sacred" and Iranian officials -- including President Hassan Rouhani -- have made similar comments.

In return for scaling back its nuclear activities, the six powers are offering Iran relief from painful sanctions, and the timing and pace of such relief remains under discussion.

The US official said that Washington had identified sanctions that could be eased in a first step in any deal but indicated that there remained disagreement on this with the Iranians.

The official said the aim of the next two days' talks was "to really see where we are on each of the issues, and what still needs to be done ... (and) talk together about where we are and sort of chart a path for the next five and a half weeks".

"We've been very creative in terms of what we've put on the table, the technical ideas," the official said, stressing however that "creative does not equal concessions".

"We have made some progress on issues... people keep asking about when there's going to be a big breakthrough, but that is not how this has tended to work. It's almost like you're just chipping away, the hard work every day."

 

 

North, South Korea hold high-level military talks

 
‎27 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎06:39:34 PMGo to full article
Seoul (AFP) Oct 15, 2014 - North and South Korea held high-level military talks on Wednesday to air grievances over recent exchanges of fire across their land and sea borders, Seoul's defence ministry said.

Government officials and officers up to the rank of general met for five hours at the border truce village of Panmunjom in what media reports described as the highest-level military exchange between the two rivals for seven years.

The talks followed a rare incident Friday on the heavily-fortified land border, in which both sides traded heavy machine-gun fire after the North's military tried to shoot down some leaflet-laden balloons launched by South Korean anti-Pyongyang activists.

There were no reported casualties.

On Tuesday last week North and South Korean naval patrol boats briefly exchanged warning fire near their disputed Yellow Sea border, which has been the site of numerous clashes in the past.

While naval confrontations along the sea border occur from time to time, any military engagement across the land frontier is extremely rare.

In 2010 the North shelled the South Korean border island of Yeonpyeong, killing four people and briefly sparking fears of full-scale war.

Briefing reporters, defence ministry spokesman Kim Min-Seok said the North side at the talks had accused South Korean vessels of making incursions into their territorial waters, and urged Seoul to prevent further propaganda balloon launches.

"Our side clarified our position that North Korea should respect (the maritime boundary) ... and that as a democratic nation, we cannot regulate balloon launches by civilian groups," Kim said.

No date was set for a further round of talks, he added.

The South's defence and unification ministries had both initially declined to confirm the talks after Kim said both sides had agreed not to publicise the event.

Because the 1950-53 Korean conflict ended with a ceasefire rather than a treaty, the two Koreas remain technically at war.

The North has repeatedly called on South Korea to prevent activists launching leaflets across the border, and warned of dire consequences if it fails to do so.

It has threatened "stronger physical strikes" against leaflet launches, urging South Korea to stop "reckless acts" that would undermine a recent agreement to resume a high-level dialogue.

Seoul says it has urged the activists to exercise self-restraint, but stresses that it has no legal grounds for banning the launches outright.

On Wednesday conservative activists in Seoul revealed their plan to launch propaganda balloons again on October 25, while residents living near the border rallied in central Seoul urging the government to stop leaflet launches.

At the military talks, South Korea was represented by a deputy minister-level official from the defence ministry, while North Korea was led by a senior official from its powerful National Defence Commission.

The meeting was an apparent effort to lower the risk of any armed escalation, especially before the planned resumption of the high-level dialogue that has been suspended for eight months.

Seoul has proposed the dialogue should begin on October 30 in Panmunjom, the South's unification ministry said.

"There has been no response yet from North Korea to our proposal," a ministry official said.

The last round in February resulted in the North hosting a rare reunion of families separated by the Korean War.

 

 

US, Iran keep pushing for elusive nuclear deal

 
‎27 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎06:39:34 PMGo to full article
Vienna (AFP) Oct 14, 2014 - Iran's foreign minister warned Tuesday of "numerous" gaps in troubled nuclear talks with world powers but both he and US counterpart John Kerry, due in Vienna Wednesday, insisted a deal remains possible by a November 24 deadline.

Speaking early Tuesday as he arrived in Vienna for talks with US and EU officials, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said there was "general agreement" but that "numerous questions still need to be resolved".

Quoted by Iranian media he added: "We will make every effort to make progress in the coming days."

US Secretary of State Kerry, speaking in Paris a day before he was due to join Zarif in Vienna, said that although hard work remained to be done a deal was achievable.

"I don't believe it's out of reach, but we have some tough issues to resolve," Kerry told reporters in the French capital after talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

He refused to be drawn on whether -- as speculated by many experts -- Iran and the six powers might push back the deadline in order to gain more time to bridge the differences.

"We need to continue to have some serious discussions, which we will, and we'll see where we are. And I just think I'll let the negotiation process speak for itself at this point in time," Kerry said.

"I don't think anything is served by a lot of speculation."

But Russia's Lavrov, whose country together with the US, China, Britain, France and Germany forms the P5+1 group, said at a separate news conference in Paris that the November 24 deadline was not "sacred".

"I am sure that a compromise is possible. But I cannot guarantee that this can absolutely be done by November 24. This is not a sacred date," Lavrov said, according to Interfax.

"We aspire to get a result by that date but I am convinced by the principle that it is not artificially-set deadlines but the essence of the deal, the quality of the deal (that counts)," Lavrov said.

Speculation about a possible extension has been stoked by comments from Iranian officials, with Araqchi saying on Friday such a move was "possible" and even President Hassan Rouhani not ruling it out.

"Our will is that in 40 days the matter will be resolved. But if other things happen and we are not able to solve all the problems, the two camps will find a solution," Rouhani said Monday.

- Grand bargain -

Negotiating intensively for months, Washington and the P5+1 -- the five permanent UN Security Council members, plus Germany -- want Iran to reduce the scope of its atomic activities in return for relief from painful sanctions.

After more than a decade of rising tensions, this would ease long-held fears -- rejected by Iran -- that the Islamic republic wants to develop nuclear weapons under the guise of its civilian atomic activities.

In November 2013, Iran and the P5+1 struck an interim deal and gave themselves initially until July 20 to reach a lasting accord. They missed that deadline and agreed to push it back to November 24.

The main problem issue remains the central question of Iran's future capacity to enrich uranium, a process that can produce fuel for reactors but also, at high purities, the core of a nuclear bomb.

- Mini-round -

The Vienna talks on Tuesday, following discussions in New York last month, involved Wendy Sherman, Washington's lead negotiator, her Iranian counterpart Abbas Araqchi and the powers' chief negotiator, EU foreign policy head Catherine Ashton.

Russia's chief negotiator, Sergei Ryabkov, said in Moscow that a "mini-round" involving all Iran and the six powers would take place in Vienna on Thursday after Kerry and Zarif's discussions, Interfax reported.

A spokesman for Ashton confirmed that to reporters in Vienna, saying the all-in meeting would see Zarif meeting P5+1 political directors. The State Department said it would last one day only.

Analyst Kelsey Davenport from the Arms Control Association told AFP that this week's talks were "critical" and that a deal by November 24 was "still possible if both sides... are willing to be flexible and creative".

 

 

N. Korea's Kim Jong-Un reappears with walking stick

 
‎27 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎06:39:34 PMGo to full article
Seoul (AFP) Oct 14, 2014 - North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un has finally resurfaced with the help of a walking stick after a prolonged, unexplained absence that fuelled rampant speculation about his health and even rumours of a coup in the nuclear-armed state.

State media on Tuesday reported that Kim, who had not been seen in public for nearly six weeks, made an inspection tour of a newly-built housing complex in Pyongyang and a science institute.

The front page of the ruling party newspaper Rodong Sinmun was mostly taken up with a large close-up portrait of a smiling Kim, photographed from the waist upwards.

The daily carried smaller, full-length photos showing Kim leaning on a black walking stick in his left hand as he toured the residential complex built for scientists working on North Korea's satellite programme.

The visit was also reported by state TV, but using the same pictures and without any video footage, making it impossible to judge just how mobile Kim was.

"Looking over the exterior of the apartment houses and public buildings, decorated with diverse coloured tiles, (Kim) expressed great satisfaction, saying they looked very beautiful," the official KCNA news agency said.

KCNA did not specify the date of the visit, but the agency usually reports such events the day after.

It also made no mention of Kim's absence from the public eye and offered no insight into his physical wellbeing.

Kim, believed to be 30 or 31, dropped out of sight after attending a music concert with his wife in Pyongyang on September 3.

While there is precedent for a North Korean leader to "disappear" for a while, the absence was more noticeable with Kim, who has maintained a particularly pervasive media presence since coming to power after the death of his father Kim Jong-Il in late 2011.

- Multiple rumours -

Competing theories on his disappearance ranged widely from an extended rest period to a leadership coup, via a long list of possible illnesses and ailments including broken ankles, gout and diabetes.

The rumours multiplied after Kim failed to attend a major political anniversary event on Friday, at which other top leaders were present.

The only North Korean mention of a possible health problem came in a state TV documentary several weeks ago which spoke of Kim's "discomfort".

Kim, a heavy smoker, has shown striking weight gain since coming to power and recent TV footage had shown him walking with a pronounced limp.

"It's still not clear how much he has recovered from the apparent 'discomfort' or how serious it was," said Kim Yeon-Chul, a North Korea expert at Inje University in the South.

"The important thing is that this really corroborates observations by South Korea, China and the United States that Kim is ruling normally."

Given the supreme importance of the leadership of the Kim family dynasty in North Korea, there had been speculation that a further extended absence might lead to a period of instability.

His reappearance followed a rare exchange of heavy machine-gun fire over the inter-Korean border on Friday, after the North's military tried to shoot down some leaflet-laden balloons launched by South Korean anti-Pyongyang activists.

- 'We created the frenzy' -

Some analysts suggested Pyongyang had not moved to silence the rumour mill earlier because it craves international attention, especially attention motivated by uncertainty.

"But then it's not as if they had a plan to not show the leader for a month and let the world go into a frenzy. We created the frenzy ourselves," said John Delury, a North Korea expert at Yonsei University in Seoul.

The North's propaganda machine has always pushed an image of Kim Jong-Un as young and dynamic, but Delury said it would have little problem spinning the walking stick.

"Assuming this is what it looks like -- not a life-threatening or debilitating condition -- they'll probably push the line that he hurt himself working for the country and the people," he said.

The narrator of the TV documentary in late September said Kim had kept up his field guidance trips "despite suffering discomfort".

Kim was accompanied on his visit to the residential complex by several top officials including Hwang Pyong-So, the vice chairman of the powerful National Defence Commission who is widely seen as Kim's number two.

Hwang led a top-ranking North Korean delegation that made a surprise visit to the South just over a week ago.

 

 

Rouhani says Iran and West will solve nuclear crisis

 
‎24 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎06:14:02 AMGo to full article
Tehran (AFP) Oct 13, 2014 - Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said Monday that even if there is no comprehensive deal with the West on its nuclear programme by next month's deadline, neither side would walk away.

With discussions for a comprehensive agreement seemingly deadlocked, Rouhani's comments were the strongest signal yet that the long-running talks seeking an agreement will continue.

Rouhani said there was "no turning back" on the need for a deal but with the cut-off date of November 24 just 40 days away the reality was that further discussions may be necessary.

"Our will is that in 40 days the matter will be resolved but if other things happen and we are not able to solve all the problems, the two camps will find a solution," he said in a live interview on state television.

"We succeeded in a provisional agreement and we have a great task in reaching a final agreement. This problem has lasted 12 years and it cannot be solved in a few days, though we made positive steps."

Iran and the P5+1 group of nations (Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States plus Germany) signed an interim deal in January that gave Iran some relief from economic sanctions in return for curbs on its disputed nuclear programme.

But the road to a final deal has stalled since because of disputes on the extent of uranium enrichment Iran would be allowed to undertake and on the timetable for sanctions on the Islamic republic to be lifted.

Iran insists its nuclear activities are entirely peaceful but the West has not yet accepted its assurances and believes Tehran's activities could mask the long-term military plan of building an atomic bomb.

"The world has accepted our nuclear programme and agreed that this issue should be resolved through negotiations and a win-win solution," Rouhani said.

Pointing out the economic benefits of a deal, the Iranian president said "hundreds of big companies were waiting to rush" to Tehran to cash in on what the energy-rich country had to offer.

Iran has the world's fourth largest crude oil reserves and, according to some estimates, the largest gas reserves, but international trade has been dramatically hit by nuclear sanctions imposed by the West.

Talks on the nuclear issue resume in Vienna on Wednesday with US Secretary of State John Kerry and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton meeting Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

The US and Iran have spoken of big gaps between their negotiating teams.

Eight days of intensive talks at the end of September between Iran and the P5+1 group on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York failed to make significant progress.

However, in his interview Monday, Rouhani said French President Francois Hollande said if there was a nuclear deal, the two countries would "interact" on nuclear matters, with France supplying "modern technology."

 

 

Iran nuclear talks could be extended again: negotiator

 
‎24 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎06:14:02 AMGo to full article
Tehran (AFP) Oct 10, 2014 - One of Iran's top nuclear negotiators signalled on Friday that talks with world powers could be extended beyond November's deadline, given big barriers standing in the way of a deal.

With both sides speaking of wide gaps in what limits should be placed on Iran's nuclear programme, the next round of talks will take place in Vienna on Tuesday and Wednesday.

But Iran's deputy foreign minister Abbas Araqchi, quoted by the Fars and ISNA news agencies, said there was already an acceptance that a November 24 deadline could be missed.

"Time passes quickly, we are not still disappointed but if we cannot get a good enough result from this round of talks, it is obvious that we will not reach an agreement by November 24," he said.

"Everything is possible even to extend the talks," he added, noting that Iran "expected some progress" during discussions on the issue in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly last month.

Next week's Vienna round will centre on the two biggest areas of contention, Iran's enrichment of uranium and the lifting of US, European and UN sanctions imposed on Iran in recent years, Araqchi said.

"The two sides of the negotiations are serious," he added.

On Thursday, Iran said it had held "constructive" talks with a visiting delegation of the UN nuclear watchdog, regarding outstanding issues in Tehran's disputed atomic activities.

But Tero Varjoranta, deputy director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said the "technical meetings" on Tuesday and Wednesday did not resolve outstanding concerns on whether the Islamic republic's nuclear activities had military dimensions.

The IAEA disclosed in September that Iran had failed to meet an August 25 deadline to provide information on five points meant to allay fears it was developing nuclear weapons.

Iran insists its nuclear programme is entirely peaceful.

One of the IAEA's questions centres on Iran's purported experiments with large-scale high explosives.

Under an agreement reached in November 2013 with the IAEA, Iran has already responded to 16 of the 18 issues the agency identified as relevant to its nuclear activities.

After failing to reach an initial July deadline, Iran and the P5+1 group of nations -- China, the United States, France, Britain, Russia and Germany -- set November 24 as the date for a deal guaranteeing that Tehran's nuclear programme is used for exclusively peaceful means.

 

 

S. Korea coastguard shoot dead Chinese fishing boat skipper

 
‎15 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎04:34:03 AMGo to full article
Seoul (AFP) Oct 10, 2014 - The South Korean coastguard shot and killed the Chinese skipper of a fishing boat Friday in a confrontation in the Yellow Sea, triggering an angry protest from Beijing.

A coastguard spokesman said shots were fired as the vessel was boarded for illegally fishing in South Korean territorial waters, around 80 miles (130 kilometres) off the western island of Wangdeung.

"Dozens of Chinese sailors attacked our officers with knives and beer bottles," said Choi Chang-Sam, chief of the Mokpo Coastguard Station.

"It was a dangerous situation. One officer fired a warning shot but they did not stop. So he fired several more rounds," Choi said, adding that five coastguard officers needed treatment for injuries.

The Chinese captain was taken to a hospital in Mokpo on the mainland where he was declared dead on arrival.

An emergency room staffer at the hospital told AFP that X-rays had shown a bullet lodged in his chest.

"His lungs were full of blood", the staffer said.

The Chinese foreign ministry reacted angrily to the incident and urged immediate action.

"We are deeply shocked and strongly dissatisfied with this violent law enforcement activity," ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters.

"We urge (South Korea) to immediately investigate this case, bring those accountable to justice, and inform China of the result of the investigation in a timely fashion," Hong said.

The South Korean foreign ministry sent its condolences to the dead man's relatives but argued the root cause of the accident was in illegal fishing by Chinese vessels.

"We would like to make it clear that... the accident took place... as Chinese fishermen reacted with violence to our coastguard's legitimate enforcement of laws (regarding) illegal fishing," it said in a statement.

Illegal fishing by Chinese boats is common in South Korean waters, and scores of vessels are seized every year.

In an incident two years ago, a 44-year-old Chinese fisherman was fatally wounded by a rubber bullet after South Korean coastguards boarded his ship, which was suspected of fishing illegally.

In 2011, a coastguard officer was stabbed to death in a struggle with Chinese sailors.

 

 

Iran hails 'constructive' talks with UN nuclear agency

 
‎15 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎04:34:03 AMGo to full article
Tehran (AFP) Oct 09, 2014 - Iran said Thursday it held "constructive" talks with a visiting delegation of the UN nuclear watchdog seeking to resolve outstanding issues in Tehran's disputed atomic programme.

Tero Varjoranta, deputy director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, led the team which held talks Tuesday and Wednesday on two final points on which the IAEA is still seeking explanations from Iran.

The two questions focus on concerns that the Islamic republic's nuclear activities had military dimensions.

"During these two days, all the bilateral issues were discussed, in particular, how to carry out the agreed measures and the ways forward were discussed," said Iran's ambassador to the IAEA, Reza Najafi.

"These negotiations were constructive in terms of content. They were also direct," he said, quoted on the state television's website.

The Vienna-based IAEA said that the "technical meetings" did not resolve the two outstanding issues.

"The Agency and Iran will continue discussions on these measures" at a date to be confirmed, the body added in a statement on Thursday.

The IAEA disclosed in September that Iran had failed to meet an August 25 deadline to provide information on five points meant to allay fears it was developing nuclear weapons.

Iran insists its nuclear programme is entirely peaceful.

One of the IAEA's questions centres on Iran's purported experiments with large-scale high explosives.

Under an agreement reached in November 2013 with the IAEA, Iran has already responded to 16 of the 18 issues the agency identified as relevant to its nuclear activities.

Satisfying the IAEA's concerns is considered crucial to a hoped for conclusion by November 24 of a comprehensive nuclear agreement with the United States and other world powers.

In a letter to the IAEA, Najafi said the delay was due to the "complexity" of the issues and that allegations of nuclear-orientated experiments lacked credibility and any solid proof.

The visit by the watchdog's delegation came after a deadly fire on Sunday at a defence ministry plant used to produce explosives in an area east of Tehran that also houses several other military sites.

A defence ministry official on Wednesday denied reports published in foreign media of an explosion at the Parchin base, which UN nuclear inspectors have been seeking to visit to answer concerns about Iran's atomic programme.

The base lies at the centre of allegations of past Iranian research into sophisticated explosives that can be used to detonate a nuclear warhead.

The Institute for Science and International Security, a US research centre, said the blast could have hit a site at the south of the Parchin complex.

"Two buildings that were present in August 2014 are no longer there, while a third building appears to be severely damaged. In total at least six buildings appear damaged or destroyed," the centre said after analysing satellite imagery.

 

 

Iran issues 'red lines' ahead of key nuclear talks

 
‎15 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎04:34:03 AMGo to full article
Tehran (AFP) Oct 08, 2014 - Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei reiterated on Wednesday his country's "red lines" in negotiations with world powers over its controversial nuclear programme due to resume next week in Vienna.

Khamenei's intervention came as both the United States and EU confirmed that US Secretary of State John Kerry and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton would meet in the Austrian capital with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

Ashton will first hold bilateral talks next Tuesday with Zarif, as is customary ahead of each round of nuclear negotiations, and a three-way meeting is to be held the next day on October 15, her spokesman Michael Mann said.

Top-level US diplomats would also meet with their Iranian and EU counterparts on October 14 ahead of the trilateral ministerial talks, a US official said, also confirming the trilateral talks.

"Our focus... is determining whether it's possible to reach an agreement by November 24 that effectively closes down Iran's pathways to nuclear materials for a nuclear weapon," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters.

US officials "continue to believe that there is still adequate time to work through these issues and arrive at a comprehensive agreement that will give the international community assurances that Iran will not acquire a nuclear weapon," she added.

After failing to reach an initial July deadline, Iran and the P5+1 group of nations -- China, the United States, France, Britain, Russia and Germany -- have set November 24 as the date to strike a deal guaranteeing that Tehran's nuclear programme is used for exclusively peaceful means.

But talks have stalled over the issue of Iran's future capacity for uranium enrichment and the timetable for the lifting of international sanctions against Tehran.

"We still don't have an understanding of the major issues, so that's what the purpose of the discussion is," Psaki said, adding there would be "many more meetings" including at expert level as they seek to hammer out a deal.

An infographic published on Khamenei's official website outlined 11 points to be observed by negotiators before Iran will sign an accord.

One of the stipulations includes "the absolute need for Iran's uranium enrichment capacity to be 190,000 SWU (Separate Work Units)" -- close to 20 times its current processing ability.

Iranian officials say this is needed to produce fuel for its Bushehr reactor, which is being provided by Russia until 2021.

The US and other Western states, however, want Iran to decrease its enrichment capability.

"Fordo, which cannot be destroyed by the enemy, must be preserved," the text on Khamenei's website said, referring to the uranium enrichment site built under a mountain 100 kilometres (60 miles) south of Tehran.

"The work of nuclear scientists should in no way be stopped or slowed," the text said, adding Iran had the right to pursue nuclear "research and development".

Iran and the so-called P5+1 group signed a preliminary accord in November 2013 that froze some Iranian nuclear activities in exchange for a partial lifting of international sanctions.

Eight days of intensive talks at the end of September between Iran and the P5+1 group on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York also fell short of any final agreement, with the United States saying there were still serious gaps between the sides.

 

 

Funding procudure for ICBM parts changes

 
‎15 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎04:34:03 AMGo to full article
Barksdale Air Force Base, La. (UPI) Oct 6, 2014 - The U.S. Air Force is modernizing sustainment of intercontinental ballistic missiles through a centralized funding program for missile system parts.

As of the first of this month, the Air Force Global Strike Command is responsible for day-to-day funding of the weapon system's parts costs instead of individual wing commanders.

"What happened before was that wings had to choose between whether or not to buy a missile part or buy something to support their people," said Daryle Fry, an AFGSC ICBM program analyst. "That is a choice a wing commander shouldn't have to make."

"As of Oct. 1, a technician can go into supply and ask to order a part without being concerned about funding. The wing orders the parts it needs, and the bill gets sent to AFGSC.

"Wing commanders can focus more on their people and support structure and 20th Air Force won't have to worry about advocating to command to find funding for parts," he said.

The Air Force said the ICBM Parts Centralized Funding program will help AFGSC determine the true requirements of ICBMs and could correct second- and third-order effects that cause improper weapons sustainment.

"In the long run, the program will start to reverse the effects of failing equipment, which will in turn reduce man hours, increase weapon system reliability and improve the overall performance of the weapon," the Air Force said.

AFGSC will run the program for about a year, after which it will be elevated up to Headquarters Air Force. ICBMs will then be funded like the service's other weapon systems.

 

 

Satellite pix suggest N. Korea reactor shut down: US think-tank

 
‎15 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎04:34:03 AMGo to full article
Seoul (AFP) Oct 04, 2014 - Recent satellite images suggest North Korea may have shut down the nuclear reactor seen as its main source of weapons-grade plutonium, a US think-tank said Saturday.

The Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) said any shutdown could be for either partial refuelling or renovation.

North Korea mothballed the five-megawatt reactor at its main Yongbyon nuclear complex in 2007 under an aid-for-disarmament accord, but began renovating it after its last nuclear test in 2013.

Last month, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna said satellite photos showing steam discharges and cooling water outflows suggested the reactor was operational.

But the ISIS report said that in the latest images "both these signatures are missing," suggesting the reactor had been "partially or completely shut down."

When operational, the reactor is capable of giving North Korea, which has carried out three nuclear tests, six kilos (13 pounds) of plutonium a year -- enough for one nuclear bomb, experts say.

ISIS said the reason for the apparent shutdown was unclear.

"It is possible that North Korea is carrying out a partial refuelling of the reactor's core ... (or) has shut down the reactor for maintenance or renovation," it said.

IAEA inspectors have not had access to North Korea since being kicked out in 2009.

 

 

IAEA team to hold Tehran talks Tuesday

 
‎11 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:18:10 AMGo to full article
Tehran (AFP) Oct 06, 2014 - Nuclear experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will hold talks Tuesday in Tehran to try and resolve outstanding issues regarding Iran's disputed atomic programme.

The official IRNA news agency said the visitors were expected in the capital on Monday night ahead of talks with Iranian officials.

"The visit of Tero Varjoranta, deputy director general of the IAEA, and a delegation will continue discussions to finalise the last two points" on which an explanation from Iran is sought, it said.

Those two questions -- to the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran -- focus on concerns that the Islamic republic's nuclear activities had military dimensions.

The Vienna-based IAEA disclosed in September that Iran had failed to meet an August 25 deadline to provide information on five points meant to allay fears it was developing nuclear weapons.

Iran insists its nuclear programme is entirely peaceful.

One of the IAEA's questions centres on Iran's purported experiments with large scale high explosives.

Under an agreement reached in November 2013 with the IAEA, Iran has already responded to 16 of the 18 issues the agency identified as relevant to Iran's nuclear activities.

Satisfying the IAEA's concerns is considered crucial to a hoped for conclusion by November 24 of a comprehensive nuclear agreement with the United States and other world powers.

A large majority of US House of Representatives members wrote to Secretary of State John Kerry last week accusing Iran of its "refusal" to work with the UN watchdog.

"The only reasonable conclusion for its stonewalling of international investigators is that Tehran does indeed have much to hide," the US lawmakers said.

 

 

North, South Korea naval patrol boats exchange fire

 
‎11 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:18:10 AMGo to full article
Seoul (AFP) Oct 07, 2014 - North and South Korean naval patrol boats briefly exchanged warning fire Tuesday near their disputed Yellow Sea border which has been the site of numerous clashes in the past, the South's defence ministry said.

The incident came as hopes had been raised of a constructive reboot in strained inter-Korean relations following the surprise visit of a top-ranking North Korean delegation to the South just three days before.

The defence ministry said the South's patrol boat had initially fired a warning shot after the North Korean vessel penetrated half a nautical mile inside the South's territorial waters.

Instead of retreating immediately, the North patrol boat opened fire, so "our side fired back," a ministry spokesman said, adding that there neither vessel had directly targetted the other and "no damage" was sustained.

The South's patrol boat fired "around 90" rounds in total.

The incident took place at 9:50 am (0050 GMT) near the South Korean border island of Yeonpyeong, and the North patrol boat retreated to its side of the border 10 minutes later.

"We are now watching North Korean troop movements and tightening vigilance against any additional provocations," the spokesman said.

The de-facto maritime boundary between the two Koreas -- the Northern Limit Line -- is not recognised by Pyongyang, which argues it was unilaterally drawn by US-led United Nations forces after the 1950-53 Korean War.

The Korean conflict ended in an armistice instead of a peace treaty, and technically the two Koreas are still at war.

Both sides complain of frequent maritime incursions by the other and there were limited naval clashes in 1999, 2002 and 2009.

In November 2010, North Korea shelled Yeonpyeong island, killing four South Koreans and briefly triggering concerns of a full-scale conflict.

The latest scrap followed the shock visit to South Korea on Saturday by some of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un's closest aides.

It was led by Hwang Pyong-So, a newly elected vice chairman of the nuclear-armed North's powerful National Defence Commission who is widely seen as Kim Jong-Un's number two.

The visit resulted in an agreement to resume a high-level dialogue that had been suspended for seven months as military tensions on the divided peninsula soared.

The delegation also delivered the message that Kim Jong-Un had no serious health problem, despite not being seen in public for more than a month.

 

 

Russia to reopen missile warning station on Crimea

 
‎11 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:18:10 AMGo to full article
Moscow (AFP) Oct 04, 2014 - Russia will modernise and relaunch a Soviet-era radar station on the Crimean peninsula annexed from Ukraine to provide early warning of missile strikes, a senior defence official said Saturday.

The radar station in the port city of Sevastopol will become fully operational in 2016, the commander of the air and space defence forces, Alexander Golovko, was quoted as saying by the TASS news agency.

"The radar station's Dnepr warning system on air strikes, based in Sevastopol, will become part of Russia's missile warning system after modernisation, and will become operational in 2016," Golovko said.

Russia rented the Soviet-era facility from Ukraine for several years after the breakup of the USSR.

Russia is making huge investments into Crimea after annexing it in March this year in a demonstration of its intention to stay despite the annexation not being recognised internationally and the resulting sanctions from the United States and the European Union.

Russian forces will also from December 1 take over the Centre for Deep Space Communications in Yevpatoria in Crimea, which houses a giant radio telescope built in the 1970s, Golovko said.

Golovko said the Crimean installations would "make quite a weighty contribution" to Russia's space programme.

Russia plans to hike defence spending by 21.4 percent in 2015, with Crimea one of the priorities. Russia's Black Sea naval fleet, which is based in the Crimean city of Sevastopol, is also undergoing modernisation.

 

 

UN nuclear team to visit Iran next week

 
‎11 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:18:10 AMGo to full article
Tehran (AFP) Oct 03, 2014 - A UN atomic watchdog team is to visit Tehran next week, state media reported Friday, amid US warnings that completion of a probe into Iran's past research is crucial for a nuclear deal.

The delegation from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will hold talks on the "outstanding issues" in its investigation, Iran's ambassador to the Vienna-based watchdog told the official IRNA news agency.

The IAEA regularly inspects Iran's nuclear facilities, but it also wants Iran to respond to allegations that its programme in the past had "possible military dimensions" -- in other words that it researched how to build a bomb.

After years of Tehran insisting that it had already dealt with all of the IAEA's concerns, progress began to be made in February.

Iran provided the watchdog with explanations on one out of 12 outstanding issues, and in May promised information on two more.

However it missed deadlines in late August and early September to take the investigation forward.

That prompted Washington to voice disquiet at the pace of progress as the clock ticks down to a November 24 deadline for a comprehensive nuclear deal between Iran and the major powers.

"Concerns about the possible military dimensions of Iran's nuclear programme must be addressed as part of any comprehensive" deal, the US representative at the IAEA, Lara Kennedy, said.

A large majority of US House of Representatives members wrote to Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday accusing Iran of "refusal" to work with the UN watchdog.

"The only reasonable conclusion for its stonewalling of international investigators is that Tehran does indeed have much to hide," the US lawmakers charged.

Iran insists its nuclear programme is entirely peaceful.

 

 

Iran's mysterious elite general in rare Iraq picture

 
‎08 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎04:08:11 AMGo to full article
Tehran (AFP) Oct 06, 2014 - Iranian television published a rare picture Monday of its elite Quds Force chief in Iraq that was widely circulated online, puncturing the mystique of one of the region's most powerful men.

The image of Major General Qassem Suleimani purportedly showing him on an Iraqi battlefield was published on the website of IRINN state television, and repeatedly shared on Twitter.

Grinning widely, Suleimani, easily identified by his greying hair and beard, was seen standing alongside Kurdish peshmerga fighters. IRINN did not say where the picture was taken.

Iran initially denied Suleimani was in Iraq, but several pictures used in official media have appeared to confirm his presence near battles against militants from the Islamic State group (IS).

The Quds Force, a branch of Iran's Revolutionary Guard, is highly secretive and conducts security functions abroad deemed necessary to protect the Islamic republic.

As its leader, Suleimani is seldom mentioned in Iranian media, but he has cultivated a reputation as one of the most influential security operatives in the Middle East.

Since the Iraqi government was caught out by the IS surge this summer, Iran has played a key role in trying to roll back the jihadist offensive, sending military advisers and arms across the border.

Suleimani was previously pictured near the Iraqi town of Amerli, which Kurdish fighters, Shiite militias and the Iraqi Army liberated on September 1. Again, the images were circulated on social media.

A senior Iranian justice official also recently stated that Suleimani was present during fighting near Arbil alongside Kurdish forces in early August, going against his reputation for remaining out of sight.

"He is indeed like Keyser Soze," a senior US official once said, comparing Suleimani to the seemingly invisible character portrayed by Kevin Spacey in the film "The Usual Suspects".

The Iraqi military's collapse at the hands of Sunni Muslim militants near Iran's border invokes fear in Tehran.

Bonded by Shiite Islam, Iran and Iraq have grown closer in the realms of government and security since the overthrow of Sunni leader Saddam Hussein in the US-led invasion of 2003.

Iranian media regularly report the death of Iranian "volunteers" killed in Syria and Iraq in fighting against jihadists. The authorities claim the combatants are there of their own choosing to protect Shiite holy sites.

 

 

N. Korea upgrades rocket launch site: US think-tank

 
‎08 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎04:08:11 AMGo to full article
Seoul (AFP) Oct 02, 2014 - Fresh satellite images show North Korea has completed upgrading its main satellite site to handle far larger rockets, suggesting a possible launch by the end of the year, a US think tank said Thursday.

"North Korea is now ready to move forward with another rocket launch," the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University said on its closely followed 38 North website.

While stressing there was no evidence of a planned launch, the institute said Pyongyang now had the capability to send up a rocket by the end of 2014.

Satellite analysis has shown a major construction programme underway at North Korea's Sohae Satellite Launching Station since mid-2013, focused on upgrading facilities to handle larger, longer-range rockets with heavier payloads.

North Korea successfully put a satellite into orbit with its Unha-3 carrier in December 2012.

That launch was condemned by the international community as a disguised ballistic missile test and resulted in a tightening of UN sanctions.

The US-Korea Institute believes the completed upgrade would allow the Sohae site to handle rockets of up to 50 metres (165 feet) in length -- almost 70 percent longer than the Unha-3.

But such a rocket is still believed to be several years from becoming operational, meaning that a repeat Unha-3 launch would be more likely in the short-term, the institute said.

The latest images also suggested further engine-tests in August for an under-development intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

"It remains unclear how successful these tests have been," the institute said. "However, rocket motor tests are typically conducted prior to full-scale test launches."

Development of a working ICBM would be a game-changing step, bringing the continental United States into range and adding a whole new threat level to the North's regular nuclear-strike warnings.

 

 

Differences over Iran, settlements mar Netanyahu-Obama talks

 
‎08 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎04:08:11 AMGo to full article
Washington (AFP) Oct 01, 2014 - US anger at new Israeli settlements and Israel's skepticism over American nuclear diplomacy with Iran stirred new discord Wednesday between President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as they met for White House talks.

Several hours after Netanyahu emerged from the White House after 90 minutes, the White House publicly rebuked the Israelis over a plan for 2,600 new settlements in annexed east Jerusalem.

Netanyahu had earlier used a photo-op with journalists in the Oval Office to deliver a broad hint that his government remained concerned about the direction of talks between Iran and world powers on constraining the Islamic Republic's nuclear program.

The leaders were meeting for the first time since their subordinates swapped some of the most pointed rhetoric in years between the allies, over the Gaza crisis.

While stressing the "unshakeable" bond between Israel and the United States, Obama and Netanyahu have often struggled to keep their differences on key issues under wraps, and Wednesday was no different.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Washington was "deeply concerned by reports the Israeli government has moved forward" with planning for settlements in a "sensitive area" of east Jerusalem.

He said Israel would send a "very troubling message" by following through with the project and in noticeably blunt language said that the step was contrary to Israel's stated goal of negotiating a permanent final status agreement with the Palestinians.

"This development will only draw condemnation from the international community, (and) distance Israel from even its closest allies," Earnest said.

He added that it would also "poison the atmosphere" -- not only with the Palestinians but with "the very Arab governments" with which Netanyahu has said he wants to build relations.

Obama raised his concerns during the meeting with Netanyahu, Earnest said.

- 'Fervent hope' -

Before the talks, the Israeli leader, who is deeply skeptical of Obama's bid to broker a deal on constraining Iran's nuclear program before a November 24 deadline, delivered a clear signal that Israel is dismayed at the outlines of a possible agreement.

"Iran seeks a deal that would lift the tough sanctions that you worked so hard to put in place and leave it as a threshold nuclear power," Netanyahu said, as he sat next to Obama.

"I fervently hope that under your leadership that would not happen," Netanyahu told Obama.

Netanyahu had said at the United Nations that Iran was trying to "bamboozle" the world into sealing a nuclear deal that would leave Tehran with the capacity of thousands of centrifuges to enrich uranium.

The nuclear "threshold" is the point at which a nation is considered to have the radioactive material, equipment and know-how to quickly produce a nuclear device, but has not yet taken the decision to do so.

- Thorny issue -

Netanyahu's remarks on Iran highlighted the long-standing disagreement between Israel and the Obama administration on the nuclear talks involving Tehran, the permanent five members of the UN Security Council and Germany.

Washington wants to extract concessions from Iran -- which says its nuclear program is peaceful -- in exchange for sanctions relief.

But Israel wants a complete dismantling of what it calls Tehran's "military nuclear program" and for Tehran to be left with zero enrichment capacity after a deal.

The US leader has said in the past that such a "perfect" deal is unlikely.

Israel says it reserves the right to take military action against Iran's nuclear program if a deal is not reached to dismantle it.

- 'Change status quo' -

Obama said that he also wanted to discuss the rebuilding of Gaza with Netanyahu following the war with Hamas this year that killed more than 2,000 Palestinians and 73 Israelis, most of them civilians.

"We have to find ways to change the status quo so that both Israeli citizens are safe in their own homes and school children in their schools, from the possibility of rocket fire, but also that we don't have the tragedy of Palestinian children being killed as well," Obama said.

Netanyahu backed Obama's campaign against the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq, but said the effort to prevent Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon was "even more critical."

 

 

Ailing North Korea leader sends message to China

 
‎08 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎04:08:11 AMGo to full article
Seoul (AFP) Oct 01, 2014 - North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, who has not been seen for nearly a month due to apparent health problems, sent a congratulatory message to China on its national day Wednesday, state media said.

Kim was last seen in public on September 3. A rare admission from North Korea that he was suffering "discomfort" has triggered frenzied speculation about his health and close scrutiny of any mention of the young leader in state media.

The three-paragraph message sent to Chinese President Xi Jinping marked the 65th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported.

Kim voiced his hopes for China's future prosperity and the happiness of the Chinese people, KCNA said.

Kim took over the reins of power in North Korea following the death of his father Kim Jong-Il in December 2011.

He sent similar national day messages to the Chinese head of state in 2012 and 2013.

Recent state TV footage of Kim had shown him looking overweight and walking with a pronounced limp, which some analysts took to be a symptom of chronic gout.

Rumours about his health multiplied after Kim failed to attend a meeting of the North's rubber-stamp parliament last week.

 

 

US lawmakers worry Iran is stonewalling nuclear watchdog

 
‎06 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:45:19 AMGo to full article
Washington (AFP) Oct 02, 2014 - A large majority of US House of Representatives members wrote Secretary of State John Kerry expressing their concern Thursday over Iran's "refusal" to work with the United Nations nuclear watchdog.

With a November deadline fast approaching for Tehran and world powers to reach a deal on the