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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.


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Police arrest suspected German IS member at Duesseldorf airport

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎07:08:34 PMGo to full article
German police on Wednesday arrested a 22-year-old man suspected of joining Islamic State and fighting with the militants in Syria, the Federal Public Prosecutor said. He is suspected of undergoing weapons training with IS and planning attacks, after traveling through Turkey to Syria in March 2013 and joining the group by October. He returned to Germany at the start of 2014 but returned to Syria in July 2014. Like many European countries, Germany is seeing a steady stream of its citizens traveling to Syria to join jihadists operating there.
 

Concern grows for civilians as Iraq tightens noose on Tikrit

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎07:05:00 PMGo to full article
Iraqi government forces and allied militias fire weaponry from a position in the northern part of Diyala province, bordering Salaheddin province, as they take part in an assault to retake the city of Tikrit from IS jihadists, on March 2, 2015Concern mounted Wednesday over the fate of civilians in Tikrit where Iraqi forces were trying to trap Islamic State group fighters on the third day of a huge offensive to retake the jihadist stronghold. On Monday, around 30,000 Iraqi security forces and allied fighting units launched the biggest anti-IS ground operation yet in Iraq, closing in on Tikrit from at least three directions. Iraqi forces have yet to retake Ad-Dawr and Al-Alam, towns south and north of Tikrit respectively, but some units were already on the edge of the city, military sources said.
 
 

Israel says doubling water supplies to Gaza

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎06:37:25 PMGo to full article
Israel will increase the volume of water it provides to Gaza from five to 10 million cubic metres (175 to 350 million cubic feet) per annumIsrael is to double the amount of water it channels annually to Palestinians in the blockaded Gaza Strip, a defence ministry body said Wednesday. A humanitarian crisis has gripped Gaza since a July-August war with Israel, which controls most of the territory's resources, its imports and exports as well as the movement of people. The body responsible for coordinating Israeli government activity in the Palestinian territories, COGAT, said it is to increase the volume of water it provides to Gaza from five to 10 million cubic metres (175 to 350 million cubic feet) per annum, beginning within days. The severe water shortage was due to excessive overuse of groundwater resources along the coast of Gaza, she said.
 
 

Ukraine crisis prompts EU to shake up stance on neighbors

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎06:29:13 PMGo to full article
By Adrian Croft BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union launched a review of the way it handles neighboring nations on Wednesday after its policy of offering closer ties to former Soviet republics led it unwittingly into confrontation with Russia. The EU's executive Commission also began work on a new immigration policy, which will offer expanded opportunities for legal migration as a way of reducing a wave of illegal migrants that has led to thousands of deaths in the Mediterranean sea. The European Neighbourhood Policy was introduced in 2003 to enable the EU to develop better relations with all the countries that surround it, including former Soviet republics as well as North African and the Middle Eastern states.
 

AP Analysis: Speech fallout could determine Netanyahu's fate

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎06:15:18 PMGo to full article
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shakes hands as he leaves the House chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 3, 2015, after addressing a joint meeting of Congress. In a speech that stirred political intrigue in two countries, Netanyahu told Congress that negotiations underway between Iran and the U.S. would "all but guarantee" that Tehran will get nuclear weapons, a step that the world must avoid at all costs. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)JERUSALEM (AP) — With Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu facing a tough re-election fight in two weeks, the U.S. Congress has handed him an unprecedented boost with its effusive welcome to a message that resonates at home: Iran cannot be trusted as a threshold nuclear state.
 
 

Despite US rift, experts see poll boost for Netanyahu

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎05:40:28 PMGo to full article
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu waves following his address to a joint session of the US Congress on March 3, 2015 at the US Capitol in Washington, DCIsraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's blistering attack on a US push for a nuclear accord with Iran soured ties with Washington but could boost his prospects in elections this month, experts say. Netanyahu, seeking re-election on March 17, infuriated the White House with his address Tuesday to US Congress, where he laid out Israeli concerns at an emerging world deal with Iran on its nuclear programme. US President Barack Obama, who refused to meet Netanyahu during his visit to Washington, dismissed the speech as containing "nothing new" and no "viable alternatives" to the US-led negotiations with Iran. At home, Netanyahu's speech was criticised by opposition parties seeking to unseat him at the upcoming elections as a threat to ties with the powerful American ally.
 
 

'Tough challenges' remain in Iran nuclear talks: US

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎05:38:20 PMGo to full article
Iran denies it is trying to produce atomic weapons and insists the Bushehr reactor and its other nuclear facilities are purely for peaceful energy needsThe United States said Wednesday tough challenges remained to seal a nuclear deal with Iran, vowing not to be distracted by external politics in its quest to stop Tehran acquiring the atomic bomb. Secretary of State John Kerry and his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif wrapped up three days of "intense" nuclear negotiations in the Swiss lakeside town of Montreux with still no deal, as a March 31 deadline for a framework agreement looms. "We've made some progress from where we were and important choices need to be made," Kerry told reporters after the talks, with a senior State Department official adding that "tough challenges" had yet to be resolved. Speaking a day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stridently criticised an agreement he said would not stop Iran from getting a nuclear bomb, Kerry stressed that the purpose of negotiations was to "get the right deal, one that can withstand scrutiny".
 
 

Civilians at risk in Iraq offensive, rights groups say

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎05:32:09 PMGo to full article
Shiite fighters fire a Howitzer artillery cannon during the offensive against jihadist militants near the northern Iraqi city of Tikrit, on February 28, 2015Rights groups expressed concern Wednesday that civilians were at great risk in the huge military operation the Iraqi government launched to retake the jihadist stronghold of Tikrit. On Monday, some 30,000 Iraqi security forces, volunteers, Shiite militia and Sunni tribal fighters launched Baghdad's largest operation yet against the Islamic State jihadist group. "Shiite paramilitary militias have often carried out reprisal sectarian attacks against Sunni civilians who are not involved in the hostilities," said Amnesty International's senior crisis response adviser Donatella Rovera. At the close of Baghdad's previous major operation, which led to IS being forced out of Diyala province, Shiite fighters allegedly executed at least 70 Sunni villagers.
 
 

Insight: From eastern flank, Iran-backed force advances on Tikrit

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎05:07:27 PMGo to full article
Shi'ite fighters fire their weapon during clashes with Islamic State militants in Salahuddin provinceBy Thaier al-Sudani UDHAIM DAM, Iraq (Reuters) - Wearing military fatigues and a white turban, the Shi'ite cleric gave an eve-of-battle address to Iran-backed fighters preparing to attack Islamic State militants in Tikrit, praising them for defending their faith and urging them to fight honorably. Seated in front of him in rows, crossed-legged in the grass, were dozens of armed men from Iraq's largest Shi'ite militia, the Badr Organisation, the main element of a force now advancing on Tikrit's eastern flank against the Sunni Muslim Islamic State militants who now dominate most of northern Iraq. This week's multi-pronged attack is the biggest coordinated assault on the city, best known as the home town of executed Sunni president Saddam Hussein, since the radical Islamic State fighters seized it in June.
 
 

British citizen fighting with Kurds killed in Syria

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎04:12:43 PMGo to full article
In this undated image provided by Jordan Matson, Kurdish fighters and foreign volunteers fighting together against the against the Islamic State group, including American citizen Jordan Matson, second right, Australian citizen volunteer Ase Johnson, right, and British citizen Konstandinos Erik Scurfield, foreground, pose for a group photo in Sinjar, Iraq. Scurfield was shot dead on Monday, March 2, 2015 in Syria, a Kurdish commander said Wednesday. At least one other foreign fighter, Australian Ase Johnson, is known to have been killed fighting alongside the Kurds. (AP Photo courtesy Jordan Matson)IRBIL, Iraq (AP) — A British citizen fighting alongside Kurdish forces against the Islamic State group has been killed in Syria, a Kurdish commander said Wednesday.
 
 

EU to adapt its foreign policy to new realities, crises

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎02:34:27 PMGo to full article
BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union is rethinking its foreign policy to better adapt to crises like the ones it faces in Ukraine, Russia and Syria without having to be overly dependent on allies like the United States.
 

Honey, we shrank the SUV _ and Europe loves it

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎01:53:46 PMGo to full article
The undated photo provided by Renault media services shows the new SUV Kadjar which will have its world premiere at the Geneva International Motor Show that is open to the public from March 5 through 15. (AP Photo/Renault)FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — In Europe, SUV now stands for: Shrinking Utility Vehicle.
 
 

At least 10 dead as migrant boat capsizes off Sicily

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎02:39:47 AMGo to full article
More than 3,500 people have died in the past year attempting to reach Italy by boat from North Africa, according to the the UN refugee agencyA boat capsized off Sicily when the migrants aboard rushed to meet rescuers, killing at least 10 people, the Italian coastguard said Wednesday. "The migrants, as they frequently do, all rushed to one side of the boat which then capsised," Italian coast guard spokesman Filippo Marini told TV station SkyTG24, adding many of the passengers did not know how to swim. The accident happened after a tugboat for Libyan oil platforms alerted authorities to the boat and an Italian coast guard vessel -- already transporting 318 migrants who had been rescued earlier -- headed to the scene. Italy's coastguard said it has carried out seven rescue operations in less than 24 hours, saving 941 migrants in the Strait of Sicily, which separates the Italian island from the North African coast.
 
 

FACT CHECK: Did Netanyahu go too far in US speech?

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎12:41:58 AMGo to full article
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks before a joint meeting of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 3, 2015. In a speech that stirred political intrigue in two countries, Netanyahu told Congress that negotiations underway between Iran and the U.S. would "all but guarantee" that Tehran will get nuclear weapons, a step that the world must avoid at all costs. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)WASHINGTON (AP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu overstated Iran's domination of the Middle East and understated the timespan of the nuclear deal taking shape with Tehran, while neglecting the role of Congress in lifting Iranian sanctions, in his speech to U.S. lawmakers Tuesday.
 
 

Israel's Netanyahu draws rebuke from Obama over Iran speech to Congress

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎12:36:04 AMGo to full article
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures as he speaks before a joint meeting of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 3, 2015. In a speech that stirred political intrigue in two countries, Netanyahu told Congress that negotiations underway between Iran and the U.S. would "all but guarantee" that Tehran will get nuclear weapons, a step that the world must avoid at all costs. House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, left, and Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, listen. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)By Dan Williams and Matt Spetalnick WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned the United States on Tuesday that it was negotiating a bad deal with Iran that could spark a "nuclear nightmare," drawing a rebuke from President Barack Obama and exposing a deepening U.S.-Israeli rift. Netanyahu made his case against Obama's Iran diplomacy in a speech to Congress that aligned himself with the president's Republican foes. Obama responded in the Oval Office, declaring in a frustrated tone that Netanyahu offered "nothing new." In its response, the Iranian government denounced Netanyahu's 39-minute speech as "boring and repetitive," the state news agency IRNA said.
 
 

Excerpts from Israeli leader Netanyahu's speech to Congress

 
‎03 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎10:54:43 PMGo to full article
WASHINGTON (AP) — Excerpts from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to the U.S. Congress on Tuesday warning against making a deal that could leave Iran on the path toward nuclear weapons:
 

Iran denounces Netanyahu 'lie-spreading' in US speech

 
‎03 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎10:53:25 PMGo to full article
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses a joint session of the US Congress on March 3, 2015, at the US Capitol in Washington, DCIran denounced as "lie-spreading" a speech Tuesday in which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned the US Congress a nuclear deal being negotiated with Tehran would threaten the world. In a rousing address to Congress, Netanyahu warned Iran was bent on subjugating and terrorising the Middle East, and that it was a threat to the entire world through its nuclear programme.
 
 

Iraqi forces try to seal off Islamic State around Tikrit

 
‎03 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎10:51:23 PMGo to full article
An Iraqi soldier sits in an armoured vehicle in the town of Hamrin in Salahuddin provinceBy Ahmed Rasheed and Dominic Evans BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Thousands of Iraqi soldiers and Shi'ite militiamen sought to seal off Islamic State fighters in Tikrit and nearby towns on Tuesday, the second day of Iraq's biggest offensive yet against a stronghold of the Sunni militants. Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani, who has helped coordinate Baghdad's counter-attacks against Islamic State since it seized much of northern Iraq in June, was overseeing at least part of the operation, witnesses told Reuters. His presence on the frontline highlights neighboring Iran's influence over the Shi'ite fighters who have been key to containing the militants in Iraq.
 
 

Israel and US in furious clash over Iran talks

 
‎03 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎10:01:44 PMGo to full article
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses a joint session of the US Congress in Washington, DC, on March 3, 2015Israel and the United States clashed furiously over the Iran nuclear talks Tuesday, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warning the deal under discussion would leave his country open to annihilation. With Netanyahu in Washington to deliver an impassioned address to the US Congress, President Barack Obama hit back immediately, scoffing that he had presented no idea of his own to contain the Iranian threat. Netanyahu's party faces a close-fought Israeli parliamentary election in two weeks time and he has been accused in some quarters of imperilling Israel's close ties with Washington for personal political gain.
 
 

Netanyahu assails Iran-nuclear talks; Obama disagrees

 
‎03 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎09:20:55 PMGo to full article
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference in Washington, Monday, March 2, 2015. Netanyahu is seizing the high-profile bully pulpit of the U.S. House to deliver his stern message about the dangers of a nuclear deal that President Barack Obama and U.S. allies might sign with Israel’s archenemy. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)WASHINGTON (AP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Congress on Tuesday that an emerging agreement between Iran and the United States would all but guarantee that Tehran gets nuclear weapons and would be a very bad deal, drawing an extraordinarily blunt rebuttal from President Barack Obama.
 
 

DNA study backs theory of massive steppe migration to Europe

 
‎03 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎08:51:03 PMGo to full article
BERLIN (AP) — A wave of migrants from the eastern fringes of Europe some 4,500 years ago left their trace in the DNA — and possibly the languages — of modern Europeans, according to a new study.
 

Nigeria's Boko Haram releases beheading video echoing Islamic State

 
‎03 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎06:51:02 PMGo to full article
By Isaac Abrak and Julia Payne ABUJA (Reuters) - Nigerian Islamist sect Boko Haram released a video purporting to show it beheading two men, its first online posting using advanced graphics and editing techniques similar to footage from Islamic State. The footage will raise concerns that Boko Haram, which evolved out of a clerical movement focused on northeast Nigeria, is expanding its scope and seeking inspiration from international militant networks including al Qaeda and Islamic State. Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan has said Boko Haram is allied to both al Qaeda and IS, though that has not been confirmed by Boko Haram itself.
 

Amid nuclear dispute, Israel and Iran face off over past oil ties

 
‎03 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎05:27:20 PMGo to full article
By Ari Rabinovitch and Tova Cohen TEL AVIV (Reuters) - As Israel loudly and publicly denounces Iran and its nuclear program this week, the two countries are quietly tussling in a decades-old dispute over a secretive oil pipeline company that could be worth billions of dollars to Tehran. In a Swiss court, lawyers for each side are locked in arbitration over the Eilat-Ashkelon Pipeline Co. (EAPC), a joint venture set up in 1968, when the two nations were friendly, to transport Iranian oil to the Mediterranean. Since the partnership collapsed, EAPC has grown into a complex of energy assets, now mostly handling oil from former Soviet states.
 

US first lady plans mid-March visit to Japan, Cambodia

 
‎03 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎05:09:31 PMGo to full article
FILE -In this Feb. 26, 2015 file photo, First lady Michelle Obama speaks in Washington. Michelle Obama will promote educating girls around the world during a mid-March visit to U.S. ally Japan, and to Cambodia, a place where the government's record on human rights gave her husband pause during a reluctant visit a couple of years ago. Mrs. Obama will visit Tokyo and Kyoto, Japan, from March 18-20 and end the trip with a March 21-22 stop in Siem Reap in northwestern Cambodia, the White House said Tuesday. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)WASHINGTON (AP) — Michelle Obama will promote educating girls around the world during a mid-March visit to U.S. ally Japan, and to Cambodia, a place where the government's record on human rights gave her husband pause during a reluctant visit a few years ago.
 
 

Budget carrier flydubai posts profit of $68M for 2014

 
‎03 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎01:45:58 PMGo to full article
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The United Arab Emirates' budget carrier flydubai, in its fifth year of operation, has turned a profit of $68 million out of total revenue of $1.2 billion last year.
 

Kerry visits Riyadh to sooth fears of stronger Iran under nuclear deal

 
‎03 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎10:55:57 AMGo to full article
U.S. Secretary of State Kerry gestures during a news conference after he delivered remarks to the United Nations Human Rights Council in GenevaBy Arshad Mohammed and Angus McDowall MONTREAUX, Switzerland/RIYADH (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry flies to Riyadh this week to reassure King Salman that any nuclear deal with Iran is in Saudi Arabia's interest, despite the country's fears it may boost its rival's support for Shi'ite Muslim interests in the region. Convincing Saudi Arabia to accept any agreed nuclear deal is important to President Barack Obama because he needs Riyadh to work closely with Washington on a host of regional policies and to maintain its role as a moderating influence in oil markets.
 
 

Australia to send 300 more troops to Iraq on training mission

 
‎03 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎05:04:56 AMGo to full article
Iraqi security forces and Shi'ite fighters clash with Islamic State militants in Salahuddin provinceAustralia will send an additional 300 soldiers to help train Iraqi forces fighting Islamic State militants, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said on Tuesday, following a request from the United States to contribute to an international training coalition. Australia last year committed a 600-strong force comprising some 400 airforce personnel and 200 special forces soldiers to help fight Islamic State. The new Australian troops will join around 140 New Zealand Defence Force members and be based at Taji, northwest of Baghdad, Abbott told reporters. Australia is on high alert for attacks by radicalized Muslims or home-grown militants returning from fighting in the Middle East.
 
 

Exclusive: Obama says Iran must halt nuclear work for at least a decade

 
‎02 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎11:53:27 PMGo to full article
U.S. President Obama speaks during an interview with Reuters at the White House in WashingtonBy Jeff Mason WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama said on Monday that Iran should commit to a verifiable freeze of at least 10 years on its nuclear activity for a landmark atomic deal to be reached, but said the odds were still against sealing a final agreement. In an interview with Reuters at the White House, Obama said that a rift over Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's planned speech to Congress opposing the Iran deal on Tuesday was a distraction that would not be "permanently destructive" to U.S. Israeli ties. “If, in fact, Iran is willing to agree to double-digit years of keeping their program where it is right now and, in fact, rolling back elements of it that currently exist ... if we’ve got that, and we’ve got a way of verifying that, there’s no other steps we can take that would give us such assurance that they don’t have a nuclear weapon," he said.
 
 

Bolivia seizes 27 tons of coca disguised as yerba mate tea

 
‎02 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎11:02:20 PMGo to full article
LA PAZ, Bolivia (AP) — Bolivian authorities say they've seized 27 metric tons of shredded coca leaves that were to have been shipped to Lebanon for processing into cocaine.
 

Kerry cautions Israel not to undercut Iran diplomacy as talks resume

 
‎02 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎10:50:16 PMGo to full article
U.S. Secretary of State Kerry gestures during a news conference after he delivered remarks to the United Nations Human Rights Council in GenevaBy Arshad Mohammed MONTREUX, Switzerland (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry quietly cautioned Israel not to undercut nuclear negotiations with Iran that resumed on Monday as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prepared to make the case in Washington against the diplomacy. Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met for about 90 minutes on the first of what could be three days of talks in the Swiss lakeside town of Montreux on curbing Iran's nuclear program in exchange for relief from economic sanctions. The two men, along with U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Iranian atomic energy chief Ali Akbar Salehi, shook hands and then met for about 50 minutes on Monday afternoon, followed by a second session of about 40 minutes.
 
 

Russia's Lavrov says crimes against Mideast Christians 'genocide'

 
‎02 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎10:42:25 PMGo to full article
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during the opening day of the UN Human Rights council session at the United Nations offices in Geneva on March 2, 2015Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday crimes committed against Christians in the Middle East were tantamount to "genocide", joining other high-ranking diplomats in calling for action. Like other minorities, Christians have been the target of brutal violence waged by jihadists in countries such as Libya and Syria. "There are awful crimes, Christians are killed, they are burnt alive, 21 Egyptian Copts have been beheaded in Libya, all these are signs of genocide following the definition of the UN," Lavrov said on the sidelines of the main annual session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva. Gebran Bassil, the Lebanese foreign minister, also painted a dark picture of the situation of Christians in the Middle East.
 
 

West needs 'soul-searching' on home-grown extremists: Iran

 
‎02 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎09:27:12 PMGo to full article
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif waits to deliver his speech before delegates on March 2, 2015, at the opening day of UN Human Rights council session at the United Nations offices in Geneva, SwitzerlandWestern democracies should ask themselves some tough questions about why they have produced some of the extremists wreaking havoc in the world today, Iran's foreign minister said Monday. In a speech before the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Mohammad Javad Zarif accused the West of "selectivity and double standards" in its dealings with the Muslim world, suggesting a bit of "soul-searching" would be in order. "It is frightening that Daesh terrorists, beheading innocent civilians, speak European languages with a native accent," he said, using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State (IS) group. Observers say some 20,000 foreign fighters have left their homelands to join extremist groups in the past few years -- including an estimated 4,000 since 2012 from western Europe.
 
 

In U.S. visit, Netanyahu warns an Iran deal could threaten Israel's existence

 
‎02 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎08:38:11 PMGo to full article
By Dan Williams and Matt Spetalnick WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned the United States on Monday that the nuclear deal it is negotiating with Iran could threaten Israel's survival and insisted he had a "moral obligation" to speak up about deep differences with President Barack Obama on the issue. Even as he set the stage for a Washington visit that has strained U.S.-Israeli relations, Netanyahu sought to lower the temperature ahead of his controversial address to Congress on Tuesday, saying he meant no disrespect for Obama and appreciated U.S. ...
 

UN peace envoy chides world over lack of Gaza aid

 
‎02 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎07:39:39 PMGo to full article
Palestinians walk near the ruins of their house in the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Lahia on February 19, 2015UN Middle East peace envoy Robert Serry criticised the international community Monday over the failure to deliver aid promised for reconstructing Gaza, on his final trip to the Palestinian territory. Israel and Hamas fought a devastating 50-day war in the besieged coastal enclave last summer which killed more than 2,200 people and left 100,000 Gazans homeless and large swathes of the territory in ruins. The UN and other agencies have warned failure to rehabilitate Gaza will lead to further conflict in the near future, and urged Israel to lift its eight-year blockade of the Strip. "Gaza is more isolated than ever, with many restrictions still in place at Israeli crossings for both goods and people and with the Rafah crossing (with Egypt) practically closed," Serry said in a statement.
 
 

How Islamic is Islamic State group? Not very, experts say

 
‎02 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎06:55:06 PMGo to full article
This file image made from video posted on a militant website Saturday, July 5, 2014, purports to show the leader of the Islamic State group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, delivering a sermon at a mosque in Iraq during his first public appearance. How rooted in Islam is the ideology embraced by the Islamic State group that has inspired so many to fight and die? The group has assumed the mantle of Islam's earliest years, claiming to recreate the conquests and rule of the Prophet Muhammad and his successors. But in reality its ideology is a virulent vision all its own, one that its adherents have plucked from centuries of traditions. (AP Photo/Militant video, File)CAIRO (AP) — Three British schoolgirls believed to have gone to Syria to become "jihadi" brides. Three young men charged in New York with plotting to join the Islamic State group and carry out attacks on American soil. A masked, knife-wielding militant from London who is the face of terror in videos showing Western hostages beheaded.
 
 

Beleaguered Hamas struggles to mend damaged Iran ties

 
‎02 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎05:41:54 PMGo to full article
Senior Hamas leader Ismail Haniya met Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei during a 2012 visit to TehranAfter years of strained relations over the Syrian conflict, Palestinian Islamist group Hamas is looking to mend ties with its traditional backer Iran. The outbreak of Syria's civil war nearly four years ago provoked a rupture between Hamas and Iran, after the movement threw its support behind rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad, a close ally of Tehran. Wrongly banking on Assad's overthrow, Hamas's exiled leader Khaled Meshaal in 2012 abandoned host Damascus to move his base to Qatar. With Hamas now in dire straits after a destructive war last year with Israel in the Gaza Strip, officials have begun making overtures to Iran and its allies, seeking to return to the axis that links Tehran, Damascus and Hezbollah, Lebanon's powerful Shiite movement.
 
 

AP PHOTOS: Editor selections from the Middle East

 
‎02 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎01:56:11 PMGo to full article
Across the Middle East this week, the extremist Islamic State group that holds a third of both Iraq and Syria destroyed ancient artifacts and kidnapped more than 200 Christians.
 

Australia bans travel to Iraqi city of Mosul under new law

 
‎02 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎09:27:08 AMGo to full article
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — The Iraqi city of Mosul, which is held by Islamic State movement fighters, on Monday became the second terrorist hot-spot to be declared off-limits to Australians under new counterterrorism laws aimed deterring foreign fighters.
 

AP PHOTOS: Migrants flock to EU door at Hungary's border

 
‎01 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎11:30:03 PMGo to full article
In this photo taken Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2015, Afghan migrants trek their way to the Serbian border with Hungary close to Hajdukovo, 150 kilometers north of Belgrade, Serbia. Thousands of migrants from the Middle East and Africa have been flocking to Serbia’s border with Hungary, hoping to cross illegally into the European Union in search of a better life. (AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic)ALONG THE SERBIA-HUNGARY BORDER (AP) — Exhausted, hungry and cold, they have been walking for miles. What little they have is carried in plastic bags. They camp in abandoned homes, followed by stray dogs hoping to snag a morsel.
 
 

Radicalisation fear forces Danish boy into juvenile home

 
‎01 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎09:04:38 PMGo to full article
Child care authorities in the town of Aarhus, shown here on November 14, 2014, have forced a 15-year-old Muslim boy into a juvenile home in an unusual move aimed at preventing him being radicalised by his father, a report saysDanish authorities have forced a 15-year-old Muslim boy into a juvenile home in an unusual move aimed at preventing him being radicalised by his father, a report said on Sunday. Child care authorities in the town of Aarhus feared that the boy's father might persuade him to travel to Syria to fight with Islamic extremists and placed him into care in September, the daily Jyllands-Posten reported. The paper said the move came after it emerged that the boy had begun to attend the Grimhoej mosque, notorious for refusing to denounce the Islamic State group. "You cannot force a lone child into care due to a suspicion of radicalisation," the father's lawyer Tage Goettsche told another daily, Berlingske.
 
 

Egypt court declares part of election law unconstitutional

 
‎01 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎08:05:01 PMGo to full article
CAIRO (AP) — An Egyptian court on Sunday ruled as unconstitutional a clause in the election law that draws voting districts, a verdict that is almost certain to delay parliamentary elections scheduled to start later this month.
 

Egypt parliamentary polls delayed after court ruling

 
‎01 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎07:01:10 PMGo to full article
An Egyptian woman cast her ballot during the 2014 presidential electionEgypt's electoral commission said Sunday it is preparing a new timetable for parliamentary polls, delaying the March 21 vote after a court ruled parts of the election law unconstitutional. President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ordered that the law be redrafted within a month and asked that "legal measures be undertaken to avoid delaying" the election, his office said. The administrative court, which rules on state-related matters, must still formally rule on delaying the poll currently scheduled to end on May 7. The election would be the first for a new parliament since former army chief Sisi overthrew Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013.
 
 

Egypt's Sisi meets new Saudi King to discuss Middle East crises

 
‎01 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎04:26:37 PMGo to full article
Saudi King Salman is seen during U.S. President Obama's visit to Erga Palace in RiyadhEgypt's President Abdel Fatteh el Sisi met Saudi Arabia's King Salman in Riyadh on Sunday for the pair's first in-depth talks on regional issues at a time of unprecedented turmoil in the Middle East. The meeting was aimed at strengthening bilateral ties, as well as discussing the crises in the Middle East and addressing security in the Red Sea in light of growing political chaos in Yemen, pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat on Sunday quoted Sisi as saying. Salman broke official protocol to meet Sisi at the airport, a pointed mark of favor towards the Egyptian president at a time when some Arab media have asked whether the close ties that existed between the two states under the late King Abdullah would continue. The visit is the latest in an intense flurry of diplomacy in Riyadh, and follows talks between Salman and leaders of all Saudi Arabia's Gulf Arab neighbors, as well as Jordan.
 
 

U.S.-Israel ties fraying over Netanyahu speech, Iran talks

 
‎01 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎08:07:06 AMGo to full article
U.S. President Barack Obama meets with Israel's PM Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House in WashingtonBy Matt Spetalnick and Dan Williams WASHINGTON/JERUSALEM (Reuters) - As relations between President Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu hit a new low over the Israeli prime minister’s planned speech to Congress and a looming deadline for a nuclear deal with Iran, there are growing signs it could damage the broader U.S.-Israeli alliance.     Already there has been some fraying of the usually strong relationship amid the frosty personal ties between the two leaders and a deepening divide over the Iran talks, which Israel fears will allow its arch foe to develop an atom bomb.         U.S. ...
 
 

From Iraq to New York, a busy week for Islamic State group

 
‎28 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎10:19:35 PMGo to full article
Assyrians wave their community's flag, as they march past a church that was damaged during the Lebanese civil war, during a protest in solidarity with Christians abducted in Syria and Iraq by Islamic State militants, in downtown Beirut, Lebanon, Saturday, Feb. 28, 2015. The Islamic State group, which has repeatedly targeted religious minorities in Syria and Iraq, abducted more than 220 Assyrians this week in northeastern Syria. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)BEIRUT (AP) — Little known to the wider world 18 months ago, the Islamic State extremist group has muscled its way into the international spotlight by carving out a self-declared caliphate in the heart of the Mideast, beheading its opponents and foreign journalists, and attracting radicalized youth as far afield as Paris, London and New York.
 
 

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

 
‎28 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎02:33:17 PMGo to full article
MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Seventy years have not dulled the memories of survivors of the monthlong Battle of Manila. The mass killings by Japanese forces, the loved ones lost and the desperation are etched in their minds, as is the elation when American forces finally rescued them in the closing months of World War II. The U.S. liberated the Philippine capital from the Japanese, but not before Manila was destroyed and more than 100,000 civilians killed. About 16,000 Japanese soldiers and 1,000 U.S. troops also died in the fighting from Feb. 3 to March 3, 1945.
 

India unbeaten at World Cup after UAE rout

 
‎28 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎01:45:03 PMGo to full article
India's Rohit Sharma (L) embraces teammate Virat Kohli after their win during the World Cup Pool B victory against the UAE in Perth on February 28, 2015Perth (Australia) (AFP) - India's World Cup confidence continued to climb as they thrashed the United Arab Emirates by nine wickets in their Pool B match at Perth's WACA Ground on Saturday.
 
 

Dozens of Syrian and Iraqi migrants rescued off Romanian coast

 
‎28 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎11:58:41 AMGo to full article
Romania's coast guard rescued 70 migrants - mostly Syrians and Iraqis - packed on to a small fishing boat that was in danger of sinking as they attempted to make the crossing to Europe in stormy seas on Saturday. The boat, which was crammed with migrants including 20 women and seven children, was helped to safely dock at the port of Constanta, a coast guard spokesman told Reuters. About 500 migrants have arrived by sea to Romania since the middle of 2013, according to coast guard figures, as they flee war, poverty and human rights abuses in the Middle East and Africa. Romanian coast guard spokesman Marius Niculescu said the migrants rescued on Saturday were the first to have attempted to reach Romania by sea this year.
 

Assad or no Assad, West asks, as IS rises and conflict rages

 
‎28 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎08:34:39 AMGo to full article
People's Protection Units (YPG) fighters stand on a hill at sunset on February 26, 2015, after they retook parts of the town of Tal Hamis, southeast of the city of Qameshli, after six days of clashes with Islamic State (IS) group jihadistsFaced with a seemingly unending bloody conflict in Syria and the rise of the Islamic State group, is President Bashar al-Assad the lesser of the country's evils and should the West re-engage with him? While world powers such as the United States, France and Britain refuse to have anything to do with a leader the French prime minister described as a "butcher", the question is increasingly being raised within these countries. Staffan de Mistura, the UN envoy for Syria, echoed this feeling this month when he said Assad was "part of the solution" to end a conflict that has killed more than 210,000 people, displaced nearly half the country's population and spilled over into neighbouring nations. "The Assad regime is trying to give the impression of unstoppable momentum towards normalisation of ties," said Shashank Joshi, senior research fellow at Britain's Royal United Services Institute defence and security think-tank.
 
 

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

 
‎28 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎02:33:07 AMGo to full article
DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — A prominent Bangladeshi-American blogger known for speaking out against religious extremism was hacked to death as he walked through Bangladesh's capital with his wife, police said Friday. The attack Thursday night on Avijit Roy, a Bangladesh-born U.S. citizen, occurred on a crowded sidewalk as he and his wife, Rafida Ahmed, were returning from a book fair at Dhaka University. Ahmed, who is also a blogger, was seriously injured. It was the latest in a series of attacks on secular writers in Bangladesh in recent years.
 

Teacher denies radicalizing Canadian teens headed to Syria

 
‎27 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎10:47:01 PMGo to full article
Adil Charkaoui answers a question during a press conference outside of Centre St-Pierre in MontrealBy Andrew Soong and Jake Bleiberg MONTREAL (Reuters) - A Muslim teacher once jailed by Canada as a security threat denied on Friday he had radicalized Canadian teens believed to have headed to Syria to fight with Islamic State, saying his school had only brief contact with one of the six students. The students, four men and two women aged 18 and 19, left Montreal in January and February for Turkey and then on to Syria, according to media reports, the latest in a string of young Westerners who have become radicalized and have headed to the Middle East hoping to fight with Islamic State. The teacher, Adil Charkaoui, told a news conference in Montreal that anti-Muslim sentiment in Quebec is to blame for alienating Muslim students, not his classes, where he said only Arabic, the Koran and "basic notions" are taught.
 
 

Italian lawmakers urge recognition of Palestinian state

 
‎27 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎08:15:10 PMGo to full article
A man hangs a Palestinian flag as others erect a tent at a land that they said was confiscated by Israel, during a protest against land confiscations near the West Bank town of Abu DisItalian lawmakers on Friday backed a non-binding resolution that encourages the government to recognize Palestine as a state, a move that underlines European frustration over stalled Middle East peace negotiations. European countries have become increasingly critical of Israel, which since the collapse of the latest U.S.-sponsored talks last April has pressed on with building settlements on territory the Palestinians want for their state. Italy's Chamber of Deputies voted by 300 to 45 to pass the motion presented by Prime Minister Matteo Renzi's Democratic Party (PD) "to promote the recognition of Palestine as a democratic state".
 
 

Scale of racism in Cup host Russia a threat, report says

 
‎27 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎06:20:10 PMGo to full article
FILE - In this June 10, 2012, file photo, Czech Republic's Theodor Gebre Selassie walks from the pitch after the Euro 2012 soccer championship Group A match between Russia and Czech Republic in Wroclaw, Poland. UEFA said it is investigating reports by anti-racism experts of abuse directed at the Czech players during Russia's 4-1 victory. Russian football is plagued by a racist and far-right extremist fan culture that threatens the safety of visitors to the 2018 World Cup, a dossier provided to The Associated Press revealed on Friday. (AP Photo/Jon Super)LONDON (AP) — Russian football is plagued by a racist and far-right extremist fan culture that threatens the safety of visitors to the 2018 World Cup, according to a report provided to The Associated Press.
 
 

Saudi reports 10 MERS deaths in a week

 
‎27 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎05:11:06 PMGo to full article
People working with camels are at increased risk of infection from MERS-CoV, according to the latest researchTen more people in Saudi Arabia have died from MERS over the past week, health ministry figures showed on Friday, after an international mission urged extra measures to combat the virus. Saudi Arabia is the country worst-hit by Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV). Doctor Abdul Aziz bin Saeed, who heads the centre coordinating the ministry's response to MERS, warned in early February that a rise in cases typically occurs around this time of year, when there are more juvenile camels circulating.
 
 

Syria expels three United Nations aid workers: sources

 
‎27 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎05:05:42 PMGo to full article
The Syrian government has recently expelled three United Nations staff, a move which will harm attempts to deliver desperately needed relief around the country, aid sources told Reuters on Friday. Damascus denies that it blocks aid. Syrian officials could not immediately be reached for comment on these cases. The expulsions come at a sensitive time, with U.N. mediator Staffan de Mistura arriving on Saturday to discuss his proposed plan for Damascus to suspend its bombardment and shelling of the northern city of Aleppo for a six-week period.
 

Draft Chinese law paves way for counter-terror operations abroad

 
‎27 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎10:25:26 AMGo to full article
Soldiers of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Marine Corps run during a military drill on snow-covered field at a military base in TaonanBy Michael Martina BEIJING (Reuters) - China is close to approving a law that will create a legal framework for sending troops abroad on counter-terrorism missions, as Beijing seeks to address the vulnerability of the country's growing global commercial and diplomatic interests. Experts said Article 76 of the draft anti-terrorism law would allay concerns among the military elite about the lack of a formal mechanism for carrying out such operations, as well as mark a shift in foreign policy thinking and military doctrine. China has rarely been the target of terrorist acts overseas but it has vast energy interests, construction projects and mines in unstable parts of the world, including the Middle East and Africa. The risk to those projects was highlighted in 2011 when the government evacuated thousands of Chinese workers from Libya during the uprising against Muammar Gaddafi.
 
 

Despite spat with US, Israeli leader fighting Iran nuke deal

 
‎27 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎09:05:13 AMGo to full article
FILE - In this Oct. 1, 2014 file photo, President Barack Obama meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. Netanyahu heads to Washington next week on a last-gasp effort to seal what he hopes will become his signature achievement in government: preventing Iran from attaining a nuclear weapon. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu heads to Washington next week on a last-gasp effort to seal what he hopes will become his signature achievement: preventing Iran from attaining a nuclear weapon. But the centerpiece of the visit, a much-hyped speech to Congress arguing against the international community's emerging nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic, has been overshadowed by a damaging battle with the White House and electoral intrigue back home.
 
 

Hong Kong woman gets 6 years in Indonesian maid abuse case

 
‎27 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎08:22:02 AMGo to full article
Indonesian maid Erwiana Sulistyaningsih, center, is accompanied by supporters as she arrives at a court in Hong Kong, Friday, Feb. 27, 2015. A Hong Kong court sentenced a mother of two to six years in prison on Friday for abusing her Indonesian maid in a case that triggered outrage over its brutality. Law Wan-tung was found guilty earlier this month on 18 charges, including assault, grievous bodily harm, criminal intimidation and failure to pay wages or give time off work to Sulistyaningsih. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)HONG KONG (AP) — A Hong Kong mother of two was given a six-year prison term Friday for abusing her Indonesian maid in a case that aroused widespread outrage over its brutality.
 
 

Missing Canadian teens believed headed to fight with Islamic State: reports

 
‎27 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎05:31:53 AMGo to full article
TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian authorities believe four young men and two women who disappeared from Quebec in January have traveled to the Middle East to fight with Islamic State, media reported on Thursday. The Globe and Mail newspaper said at least four of the young people studied at Montreal’s College de Maisonneuve as recently as last fall. Global News said it had confirmed that the group of teens went to Turkey, an entry point for many looking to join militants in Syria, and that Canadian authorities had lost trace of them. ...
 

IS jihadists destroy ancient artefacts in Iraq: video

 
‎27 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎12:22:41 AMGo to full article
An IS militant knocks over a statue inside the Mosul museum in northern Iraq, on February 25, 2015Islamic State militants armed with sledgehammers and jackhammers have destroyed priceless ancient artefacts in Iraq's city of Mosul, a video released by the jihadists Thursday shows. The destruction sparked widespread consternation and alarm, with some archaeologists and heritage experts comparing it to the 2001 demolition of the Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan by the Taliban. The United Nations' cultural agency immediately demanded an emergency meeting of the Security Council, arguing that heritage protection was an integral part of Iraq's security. The video shows IS militants knocking statues off their plinths and rampaging through the Mosul museum's collection, which includes artefacts from the Assyrian and Hellenistic periods dating back to several centuries before Christ.
 
 

Susan Rice, Samantha Power to address AIPAC meeting

 
‎26 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎10:06:17 PMGo to full article
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio responds to reporters about the problems in passing the Homeland Security budget because of Republican efforts to block President Barack Obama's executive actions on immigration, Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015, during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. The House voted last month to end Homeland Security funding on Saturday unless Obama reverses his order to protect millions of immigrants from possible deportation. After Democratic filibusters blocked the bill in the Senate, the chamber's Republican leaders agreed this week to offer a "clean" funding measure, with no immigration strings attached. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House has decided against snubbing America's leading pro-Israel lobby and will send President Barack Obama's national security adviser and U.N. ambassador to address its annual policy conference in a move that may ease — or exacerbate — spiraling tensions with Israel over a potential Iran nuclear deal,
 
 

US Christians back emerging private war on Iraq jihadists

 
‎26 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎08:05:10 PMGo to full article
US national Matthew VanDyke points towards an incoming rocket fired by Moamer Kadhafi's forces in eastern Sirte in Libya on October 2, 2011After fighting with rebels in Libya and embracing the revolt in Syria, Matthew VanDyke has rolled up in northern Iraq, but the celebrity American revolutionary-cum-filmmaker has traded his fatigues for a three-piece suit. VanDyke, who rose to fame as a foreign fighter backing Libyan rebels against Moamer Kadhafi, has just finished leading his new military contracting firm through its first assignment -- training Christian volunteers to take on jihadists. Funded by Christian groups from abroad, mainly from the United States, the Nineveh Plains Protection Unit (NPU) aims to bring a local Christian militia to bear against the Islamic State group that has seized swathes of Iraq and Syria.
 
 

London's FTSE hits record closing high

 
‎26 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎07:58:04 PMGo to full article
London's FTSE 100 index finished at a fresh record closing high of 6,949.73 pointsLondon (AFP) - London shares soared to a record closing high on Thursday, with banks Standard Chartered and RBS experiencing sharply contrasting fortunes.
 
 

Management shake-up at UK's troubled StanChart bank

 
‎26 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎07:36:23 PMGo to full article
Standard Chartered chief executive Peter Sands will step down in June as the Asia-focused bank battles to transform its fortunesBritain's troubled Standard Chartered announced Thursday the exit of its top two bosses in a radical management reshuffle, as the Asia-focused bank battles to transform its fortunes. The lender, facing sliding profits, slowing growth in emerging markets, and scandals including the alleged violation of US sanctions on Iran, said in a statement that chief executive Peter Sands will step down in June followed by chairman John Peace next year. Former JPMorgan investment bank head Bill Winters will replace Sands at the group, which issued three profit warnings over the last 12 months that had sparked shareholder calls for a boardroom cull. Jaspal Bindra, head of Asia, will also step down from the board in April and leave shortly afterwards.
 
 

Netanyahu speech risks more than Obama's ire

 
‎26 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎06:05:38 PMGo to full article
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to address the US Congress next week and ask lawmakers to oppose a US nuclear deal with IranIsraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to the US Congress next week will shatter already poor relations with President Barack Obama and test the resilience of US-Israeli ties. Since Netanyahu and Obama came to power in 2009 they have had a testy relationship, clashing over Israeli settlement building and the moribund Middle East peace process.
 
 

UAE military buys two Boeing C-17s as part of record IDEX spend

 
‎26 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎03:08:19 PMGo to full article
A Boeing C-17 Globemaster III military transport aircraft of the USAF performs a fly-by during the Singapore AirshowBy Stanley Carvalho ABU DHABI (Reuters) - The Middle East’s largest arms expo ended on Thursday with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) announcing it had spent a record amount at the event, signaling continued spending on defense in a region where security is of rising concern. At 18.33 billion dirhams ($5 billion), the total for deals signed with local and international companies by the Gulf Arab state was the highest at the International Defence Exhibition and Conference (IDEX) since the event began in the early 1990s. The UAE is one of the nations undertaking bombing runs against Islamic State targets.
 
 

RBS to slash investment banking after huge loss

 
‎26 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎01:22:59 PMGo to full article
State-rescued Royal Bank of Scotland reported a massive net loss for 2014Royal Bank of Scotland will end investment banking in the Middle East and Africa and "significantly" reduce its presence in Asia and the US after a seventh-straight annual loss, the state-rescued lender said Thursday. RBS, about 80-percent owned by the British government, said losses after tax totalled £3.47 billion ($5.40 billion, 4.74 billion euros) last year following a £4.0 billion writedown on Citizens, part of its US operations. The performance was however much better than in 2013 when RBS had posted an annual net loss of almost £9.0 billion. Stripping out the writedown and other items, RBS recorded an operating profit of £3.5 billion for 2014.
 
 

UAE regulator lets airlines resume Baghdad flights after shooting

 
‎26 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎12:57:26 PMGo to full article
The United Arab Emirates' civil aviation regulator has given approval for local carriers to resume flights to Baghdad, reversing a directive that halted flights after bullets hit a Dubai plane as it landed in the Iraqi capital late last month. "Based on the assessment of the information provided by all stakeholders...which reported that the incident was an accident...GCAA's approach is to allow operators of aircrafts registered in the UAE to resume flights to Baghdad," the General Civil Aviation Authority said on Thursday. Dubai's flagship carrier Emirates said earlier this week that it planned to resume flights to Baghdad on March 1.
 

Australia warns women IS no 'romantic adventure'

 
‎26 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎10:28:29 AMGo to full article
Women wearing a niqab walk under a billboard erected by the Islamic State group in the IS controlled Syrian city of Raqa on November 1, 2014A worrying number of Australian women are heading to Iraq and Syria to become so-called Islamic State group "jihadi brides", Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said Thursday, warning against notions of a "romantic adventure". At least 110 Australians have left to fight alongside militants in the Middle East and security officials said between 30 and 40 women were among them or were actively supporting the group in Australia. "Sadly we are seeing a younger cohort seeking to join the conflict in Syria and Iraq and an increasing number of young females," Bishop said, responding to the high-profile case this week of three British teenage girls heading to Syria.
 
 

3 in NY, Florida accused of plot to help Islamic State group

 
‎26 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎05:40:26 AMGo to full article
NEW YORK (AP) — Three men were arrested Wednesday on charges of plotting to help the Islamic State group wage war against the United States, and federal officials said one of them spoke of shooting President Barack Obama or planting a bomb on Coney Island.

 

 

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.
 

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Iran IAEA envoy says no agreement on length of any nuclear deal with powers

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎07:40:01 PMGo to full article
VIENNA (Reuters) - No deal has been reached on the duration of any possible final agreement with world powers on Iran's nuclear program, Tehran's ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said on Wednesday. Iran, currently in negotiations with six powers, had rebuffed as unacceptable comments by U.S. President Barack Obama on Monday that any accord should last at least a decade. The ambassador, Reza Najafi, did not elaborate on how long any deal would have to be for Iran to accept it. (Reporting by Shadia Nasralla and Michael Shields; Editing by Mark Heinrich)
 

US says 'tough challenges' remain in Iran nuclear talks

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎07:28:44 PMGo to full article
Iran denies it is trying to produce atomic weapons and insists the Bushehr reactor and its other nuclear facilities are purely for peaceful energy needsThe United States said Wednesday tough challenges remained to seal a nuclear deal with Iran, vowing not to be distracted by external politics in its quest to stop Tehran acquiring the atomic bomb. Secretary of State John Kerry and his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif wrapped up three days of "intense" nuclear negotiations in the Swiss lakeside town of Montreux with still no deal, as a March 31 deadline for a framework agreement looms. "We've made some progress from where we were and important choices need to be made," Kerry told reporters after the talks, with a senior State Department official adding that "tough challenges" had yet to be resolved. Speaking a day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stridently criticised an agreement he said would not stop Iran from getting a nuclear bomb, Kerry stressed that the purpose of negotiations was to "get the right deal, one that can withstand scrutiny".
 
 

Case against Argentine president appealed

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎07:18:28 PMGo to full article
BUENOS AIRES (AP) — An Argentine prosecutor is appealing a judge's decision to throw out a case that accused President Cristina Fernandez of reaching a cover-up deal with Iran in the bombing of a Jewish community center.
 

Concern grows for civilians as Iraq tightens noose on Tikrit

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎07:05:00 PMGo to full article
Iraqi government forces and allied militias fire weaponry from a position in the northern part of Diyala province, bordering Salaheddin province, as they take part in an assault to retake the city of Tikrit from IS jihadists, on March 2, 2015Concern mounted Wednesday over the fate of civilians in Tikrit where Iraqi forces were trying to trap Islamic State group fighters on the third day of a huge offensive to retake the jihadist stronghold. On Monday, around 30,000 Iraqi security forces and allied fighting units launched the biggest anti-IS ground operation yet in Iraq, closing in on Tikrit from at least three directions. Iraqi forces have yet to retake Ad-Dawr and Al-Alam, towns south and north of Tikrit respectively, but some units were already on the edge of the city, military sources said.
 
 

Argentine prosecutors appeal dismissal of case against president

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎06:55:58 PMGo to full article
Argentine President Cristina Kirchner has been in office since 2007Argentine prosecutors said Wednesday they have appealed a judge's decision to dismiss their case against President Cristina Kirchner for allegedly protecting Iranian officials accused of orchestrating a 1994 bombing. Prosecutors are seeking to relaunch the case that was being brought by their late colleague Alberto Nisman, who died mysteriously on January 18 after accusing Kirchner of shielding high-ranking Iranians suspected of ordering the deadly bombing at a Buenos Aires Jewish center. Judicial sources said lead prosecutor Gerardo Pollicita argued in his appeal that Judge Daniel Rafecas was overly hasty in his decision last Thursday to throw out the case. Pollicita's team took over the file from Nisman after the late prosecutor was found dead in his Buenos Aires apartment of a gunshot wound to the head.
 
 

Claim of 'dirty money' in politics provokes uproar in Iran

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎06:50:17 PMGo to full article
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Ahead of crucial parliamentary elections, Iranian lawmakers are in an uproar after the country's interior minister alleged some of the millions of dollars made by drug smugglers in the Islamic Republic fund politicians' campaigns.
 

Standard Chartered net profit falls 37%

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎06:33:21 PMGo to full article
Asia-focused Standard Chartered bank said net profit came in at $2.51 billion for the year, down from $3.99 billion in 2013 and described the result as "disappointing"Standard Chartered, which last week said chief executive Peter Sands would step down in June followed by chairman John Peace next year amid various troubles at the bank, saw net profit slide 37 percent in 2014, the second consecutive year of decline. The British lender said profit after tax came in at $2.51 billion (2.27 billion euros) for the year, down from $3.99 billion in 2013 and described the result as "disappointing".
 
 

Argentine prosecutor appeals ruling that cleared Fernandez

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎06:19:15 PMGo to full article
BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - The Argentine prosecutor investigating accusations that President Cristina Fernandez tried to cover up Iran's alleged involvement in a 1994 bombing has appealed last week's ruling by a judge exonerating her, the prosecutor's office said on Wednesday. (Reporting by Hugh Bronstein)
 

AP Analysis: Speech fallout could determine Netanyahu's fate

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎06:15:18 PMGo to full article
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shakes hands as he leaves the House chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 3, 2015, after addressing a joint meeting of Congress. In a speech that stirred political intrigue in two countries, Netanyahu told Congress that negotiations underway between Iran and the U.S. would "all but guarantee" that Tehran will get nuclear weapons, a step that the world must avoid at all costs. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)JERUSALEM (AP) — With Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu facing a tough re-election fight in two weeks, the U.S. Congress has handed him an unprecedented boost with its effusive welcome to a message that resonates at home: Iran cannot be trusted as a threshold nuclear state.
 
 

Kerry heads to Saudi Arabia to consult on Iran nuke talks

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎06:08:07 PMGo to full article
MONTREUX, Switzerland (AP) — Fresh from the latest round of Iran nuclear negotiations, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry headed to Saudi Arabia Wednesday to ease Gulf Arab concerns about an emerging deal and discuss ways to calm instability in troubled Yemen and other Mideast nations.
 

Kerry pushes back on Israeli criticism of Iran nuke talks

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎06:01:00 PMGo to full article
Secretary of State John Kerry gestures during a news conference after he delivered remarks to the United Nations Human Rights Council on Monday, March 2, 2015, in Geneva. Kerry discussed ongoing nuclear negotiations with Iran, and tensions with Russia over Ukraine. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)MONTREUX, Switzerland (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry challenged critics of a nuclear deal being negotiated with Iran to come up with a better alternative Wednesday, in a spirited rebuke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's claims that the emerging pact would leave Tehran just a step away from making atomic arms.
 
 

Kerry says demanding Iran's 'capitulation' is no way to secure nuclear deal

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎05:52:47 PMGo to full article
U.S. Secretary of State Kerry meets his Iranian counterpart Zarif for a new round of nuclear negotiations in MontreuxBy Arshad Mohammed MONTREUX, Switzerland (Reuters) - Simply demanding Iran's capitulation is no way to get a nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Wednesday as he wrapped up three days of talks with a veiled dig at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Kerry said he and Iranian counterpart Mohammad Jawad Zarif made some progress in their negotiations in the Swiss lakeside town of Montreux and would resume them on March 15. Kerry aides said many obstacles remained before a late March deadline for an outline accord between Iran and six world powers. On Tuesday, Netanyahu said in a speech in the U.S. Congress that Washington was negotiating a bad deal with Iran that could spark a "nuclear nightmare," drawing a rebuke from President Barack Obama and exposing a deepening U.S.-Israeli rift.
 
 

Despite US rift, experts see poll boost for Netanyahu

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎05:40:28 PMGo to full article
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu waves following his address to a joint session of the US Congress on March 3, 2015 at the US Capitol in Washington, DCIsraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's blistering attack on a US push for a nuclear accord with Iran soured ties with Washington but could boost his prospects in elections this month, experts say. Netanyahu, seeking re-election on March 17, infuriated the White House with his address Tuesday to US Congress, where he laid out Israeli concerns at an emerging world deal with Iran on its nuclear programme. US President Barack Obama, who refused to meet Netanyahu during his visit to Washington, dismissed the speech as containing "nothing new" and no "viable alternatives" to the US-led negotiations with Iran. At home, Netanyahu's speech was criticised by opposition parties seeking to unseat him at the upcoming elections as a threat to ties with the powerful American ally.
 
 

Insight: From eastern flank, Iran-backed force advances on Tikrit

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎05:07:27 PMGo to full article
Shi'ite cleric Ahmed al-Rubaei speaks with Iraqi soldiers and Shiite fighters in Udhaim damBy Thaier al-Sudani UDHAIM DAM, Iraq (Reuters) - Wearing military fatigues and a white turban, the Shi'ite cleric gave an eve-of-battle address to Iran-backed fighters preparing to attack Islamic State militants in Tikrit, praising them for defending their faith and urging them to fight honorably. Seated in front of him in rows, crossed-legged in the grass, were dozens of armed men from Iraq's largest Shi'ite militia, the Badr Organisation, the main element of a force now advancing on Tikrit's eastern flank against the Sunni Muslim Islamic State militants who now dominate most of northern Iraq. This week's multi-pronged attack is the biggest coordinated assault on the city, best known as the home town of executed Sunni president Saddam Hussein, since the radical Islamic State fighters seized it in June.
 
 

Argentina wants to revive deal with Iran to solve 1994 attack

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎04:54:39 PMGo to full article
By Sarah Marsh BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - The Argentinian government took out full-page advertisements in local newspapers on Wednesday, stressing that a stalled agreement with Iran remained the best way to get to the bottom of the deadly 1994 bombing of a Buenos Aires Jewish community center. The investigation has become front-page news again since the beginning of the year, when the lead prosecutor accused President Cristina Fernandez of seeking to derail his probe. "It is only possible to ratify the path traced by the executive power and the national congress through the memorandum of understanding, a tool that would enable us to interrogate the Iranian citizens accused," the government said in the ad, framed with a border in the light blue of the national flag. "This situation would put the Argentine state in a better position regarding Iran and the international community to demand extradition or negotiate a trial in a third party country." A federal court last year deemed the memorandum "unconstitutional" but the government said it would appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court.
 

Kerry says significant gaps remain in Iran talks

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎04:27:24 PMGo to full article
GENEVA (Reuters) - Significant gaps and important choices remain in talks on Iran's nuclear program, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Wednesday, after completing a round of talks over three days with Iranian Foreign Secretary Mohammad Javad Zarif. Kerry said he would not be distracted from the talks by external factors or politics and any deal would include intrusive access and verification measures and increase the “breakout” time needed for Iran to build a nuclear weapon. (Reporting by Arshad Mohammed; Writing by Tom Miles; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)
 

US says Iran far off from a working nuke, others differ

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎04:02:24 PMGo to full article
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrives at a hotel for a bilateral meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif for a new round of nuclear talks, in Montreux, Switzerland, Wednesday, March 4, 2015. (AP Photo/Keystone, Jean-Christophe Bott)MONTREUX, Switzerland (AP) — One burning question in the global effort to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power is this: How long would it take for the Islamic Republic to build a bomb?
 
 

Iran demands Pakistan extradite suspected Iranian militant

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎03:49:39 PMGo to full article
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran has demanded the extradition of a suspected Iranian Sunni militant arrested over the weekend in a lawless border area in neighboring Pakistan, Iran's semi-official Fars news agency reported on Wednesday.
 

U.N. nuclear watchdog to discuss Iran nuclear program in Tehran

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎03:22:55 PMGo to full article
(Reuters) - International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) representatives will meet Iranian officials in Tehran on March 9 to discuss technical details of Iran's nuclear work, the U.N. atomic watchdog said on Wednesday. The IAEA says Iran has been stalling its investigation while negotiations between Tehran and six world powers are continuing ahead of a March deadline for a framework agreement on Iran's nuclear program. (Reporting by Shadia Nasralla; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)
 

Netanyahu says gave 'practical alternative' to Iran deal

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎03:22:55 PMGo to full article
Pushing back against criticism from U.S. President Barack Obama, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday he had presented a practical alternative for an international nuclear agreement being negotiated with Iran. Upon landing in Israel after addressing the U.S. Congress on Tuesday, a speech which Obama said the Israeli leader had offered "no viable alternatives" to a deal being worked out with Iran, Netanyahu voiced satisfaction that he had made his own message heard around the world. "I proposed a practical alternative at my speech in Congress, one that on the one hand prolongs by years the time it would take Iran to break out to a nuclear weapon, if it decides to breach the agreement, by imposing tougher sanctions," he said.
 

Zarif cites progress in Iran nuclear talks but 'a lot of work remains'

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎02:58:31 PMGo to full article
MONTREUX, Switzerland (Reuters) - Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Wednesday that progress had been made in talks with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, but that much work remained. Zarif, walking along Lake Geneva in the Swiss town of Montreux after the final session with Kerry, was asked whether a lot of progress had been made. "We have, but a lot of work remains," Zarif told reporters. (Reporting by Lucien Libert; writing by Stephanie Nebehay; editing by Tom Miles)
 

Reports: Afghan Shiite commander killed in Syrian battle

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎02:29:29 PMGo to full article
BEIRUT (AP) — Activists and Iranian media are reporting that the commander of a Shiite Afghan faction has been killed in a battle against Syrian rebels.
 

Netanyahu rejects Obama criticism of Iran speech

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎01:51:45 PMGo to full article
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu waves following his address to a joint session of the US Congress on March 3, 2015 at the US Capitol in Washington, DCIsraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday brushed aside criticism from US President Barack Obama of his speech to Congress, in which he warned Washington was paving the way to a nuclear-armed Iran. The White House was infuriated by Netanyahu's address Tuesday to a joint session of the US Congress, where he laid out Israeli concerns at an emerging world deal with Iran on its nuclear programme. Obama, who refused to meet Netanyahu during his 48-hour visit to Washington, dismissed the speech as containing "nothing new," saying the Israeli leader "did not offer any viable alternatives".
 
 

Netanyahu says he gave 'practical alternative' to Iran deal

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎01:30:33 PMGo to full article
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks before a joint meeting of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 3, 2015. In a speech that stirred political intrigue in two countries, Netanyahu told Congress that negotiations underway between Iran and the U.S. would "all but guarantee" that Tehran will get nuclear weapons, a step that the world must avoid at all costs. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday his speech to the U.S. Congress offered a "practical alternative" to a possible Iranian nuclear deal and that lawmakers now "understand better" why the deal is bad.
 
 

Iraq jihadists slow Tikrit advance with bombs and snipers

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎07:38:02 AMGo to full article
Iraqi government forces and allied militias fire weaponry from a position in the northern part of Diyala province, bordering Salaheddin province, as they take part in an assault to retake the city of Tikrit from IS jihadists, on March 2, 2015Iraqi forces closed in on Tikrit, their progress slowed by jihadist snipers and booby traps, on the second day of Baghdad's largest operation yet against the Islamic State group. The government has mobilised a 30,000-strong force for the push to retake Tikrit made up of Shiite militiamen and Sunni tribesmen as well as troops and police. Iraqi forces are moving on Tikrit from three directions, with units targeting the towns of Al-Alam and Ad-Dawr to the north and south, while another large contingent drives from the east. The jihadist group announced in a radio bulletin Tuesday that a US national from its ranks had carried out a suicide attack against Iraqi forces near Samarra, the other main city in Salaheddin province.
 
 

Netanyahu warns US 'bad deal' would put Iran on nuclear path

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎04:28:32 AMGo to full article
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference in Washington, Monday, March 2, 2015. Netanyahu is seizing the high-profile bully pulpit of the U.S. House to deliver his stern message about the dangers of a nuclear deal that President Barack Obama and U.S. allies might sign with Israel’s archenemy. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)WASHINGTON (AP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stood before Congress on Tuesday and bluntly warned the U.S. that an emerging nuclear agreement with Iran "paves Iran's path to the bomb." President Barack Obama pushed back sternly, saying the U.S. would never sign such a deal and Netanyahu was offering no useful alternative.
 
 

Democrats upset with effort to fast-track Iran bill

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎04:11:01 AMGo to full article
WASHINGTON (AP) — A Republican effort to quickly pass legislation allowing congressional oversight on any Iran nuclear agreement is angering Democrats.
 

Dempsey says Iranian hand in Iraq could turn out well

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎02:16:42 AMGo to full article
FILE - In this July 27, 2012 file photo, Gen. Lloyd Austin speaks to reporters at Fort Riley, Kansas. The U.S.-led military coalition in Iraq has killed more than 8,500 Islamic State fighters since its bombing campaign began in August and has gained the upper hand, the top general overseeing the coalition said Tuesday. Austin, the commander of U.S. Central Command, said the Islamic State, which has controlled key parts of northern and western Iraq since last summer, is no longer capable of seizing and holding new territory. (AP Photo/John Milburn, File).WASHINGTON (AP) — Iran's direct support for an Iraqi push to dislodge the Islamic State group from the northern city of Tikrit could turn out to be "a positive thing" if it does not inflame sectarian tensions, the top U.S. general said Tuesday.
 
 

Macena goal gives Buriram group lead in Asian league

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎01:52:37 AMGo to full article
Anderson Patric Aguiar Oliveira, center, of Japan's Gamba Osaka in blocked by South Korea's Seongnam FC goalkeeper Park Jun-huk during their Group F soccer match in the Asian Champions League at Tancheon Sports Complex in Seongnam, South Korea, Tuesday, March 3, 2015. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)TOKYO (AP) — A late overhead kick from striker Gilberto Macena gave Thai champion Buriram United a 2-1 win at Guangzhou R&F on Tuesday and a lead in Group F in the Asian Champion League.
 
 

FACT CHECK: Did Netanyahu go too far in US speech?

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎12:41:58 AMGo to full article
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks before a joint meeting of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 3, 2015. In a speech that stirred political intrigue in two countries, Netanyahu told Congress that negotiations underway between Iran and the U.S. would "all but guarantee" that Tehran will get nuclear weapons, a step that the world must avoid at all costs. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)WASHINGTON (AP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu overstated Iran's domination of the Middle East and understated the timespan of the nuclear deal taking shape with Tehran, while neglecting the role of Congress in lifting Iranian sanctions, in his speech to U.S. lawmakers Tuesday.
 
 

AP ANALYSIS: US on sidelines of key Iraqi battle against IS

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎12:40:45 AMGo to full article
In this image made from video, smoke rises from an explosion as Iraqi forces, Shiite militiamen and Sunni tribal fighters battle Islamic State militants for control of Tikrit, Iraq, Tuesday, March 3, 2015. Backed by Shiite militias and Sunni tribal fighters as well as Iranian advisers, the government forces made little progress on the second day of a large-scale military operation to recapture Tikrit, which fell to the Islamic State group last summer, two local officials said. (AP Photo via AP video)BAGHDAD (AP) — Iranian-backed Shiite militias and Sunni tribes have joined Iraq's military in a major operation to retake Saddam Hussein's hometown from the Islamic State group, while the U.S.-led coalition has remained on the sidelines.
 
 

Israel's Netanyahu draws rebuke from Obama over Iran speech to Congress

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎12:36:04 AMGo to full article
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures as he speaks before a joint meeting of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 3, 2015. In a speech that stirred political intrigue in two countries, Netanyahu told Congress that negotiations underway between Iran and the U.S. would "all but guarantee" that Tehran will get nuclear weapons, a step that the world must avoid at all costs. House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, left, and Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, listen. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)By Dan Williams and Matt Spetalnick WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned the United States on Tuesday that it was negotiating a bad deal with Iran that could spark a "nuclear nightmare," drawing a rebuke from President Barack Obama and exposing a deepening U.S.-Israeli rift. Netanyahu made his case against Obama's Iran diplomacy in a speech to Congress that aligned himself with the president's Republican foes. Obama responded in the Oval Office, declaring in a frustrated tone that Netanyahu offered "nothing new." In its response, the Iranian government denounced Netanyahu's 39-minute speech as "boring and repetitive," the state news agency IRNA said.
 
 

US stocks fall broadly a day after Nasdaq passes 5,000 mark

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎12:17:02 AMGo to full article
People walk past the Nasdaq Marketsite in New York's Times Square on Tuesday, March 3, 2015. The Nasdaq fell below 5,000 a day after passing that milestone for the first time since the dot-com era 15 years ago. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks fell from record highs on Tuesday and the Nasdaq dropped below 5,000 a day after passing that milestone for the first time since the dot-com era 15 years ago.
 
 

Iran calls Obama's 10-year nuclear demand 'unacceptable'

 
‎03 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎11:48:41 PMGo to full article
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Jawad Zarif gesture as they arrive to resume nuclear negotiations in MontreuxBy Arshad Mohammed MONTREUX, Switzerland (Reuters) - Iran rejected on Tuesday as "unacceptable" U.S. President Barack Obama's demand that it freeze sensitive nuclear activities for at least 10 years but said it would continue talks on a deal, Iran's semi-official Fars news agency reported. Iran laid out the position as the U.S. and Iranian foreign ministers met for a second day of negotiations and as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a stinging critique of the agreement they are trying to hammer out. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met a day after Obama told Reuters that Iran must commit to a verifiable halt of at least 10 years on sensitive nuclear work for a landmark atomic deal to be reached. "Iran will not accept excessive and illogical demands," Zarif was quoted by Fars as saying.
 
 

Netanyahu says Iran deal will lead to nuclear bomb. But what about no deal?

 
‎03 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎11:28:43 PMGo to full article
The so-called P5+1 – Russia, France, US, UK, China and Germany – is negotiating with the Islamic Republic over extensive monitoring of its nuclear facilities in exchange for some sanctions relief. While no deal has been reached, Mr. Netanyahu said any agreement would pave the way to an Iranian nuclear bomb. "The greatest dangers facing our world is the marriage of militant Islam with nuclear weapons," he told the joint session of Congress. "That, my friends, is exactly what could happen, if the deal now being negotiated is accepted by Iran.
 

Netanyahu US speech impresses many Israelis, but not all

 
‎03 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎11:27:49 PMGo to full article
Israeli men watch a TV broadcast of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressing the US Congress in Washington, DC, at a restaurant in the Israeli Mediterranean coastal city of Netanya, on March 3, 2015Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's impassioned speech Tuesday in the US Congress impressed many Israelis in Jerusalem but drew criticism from others who said he was interfering in American affairs. Netanyahu delivered with gusto an address in which he chided Israel's arch-foe Iran and charged that a deal between the Islamic republic and world powers would allow it to develop nuclear weapons. Israelis crowded into cafes and shops in Jerusalem, watching the speech on TV screens and hanging on every word of their leader, who is running for a fourth term in March 17 elections. "Look at how much they respect him," said David Elmaliakh, 50, as he watched congressmen repeatedly interrupted the prime minister's speech with rapturous applause.
 
 

Kerry visits Riyadh to soothe fears of stronger Iran under nuclear deal

 
‎03 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎11:15:56 PMGo to full article
U.S. Secretary of State Kerry gestures during a news conference after he delivered remarks to the United Nations Human Rights Council in GenevaBy Arshad Mohammed and Angus McDowall MONTREUX, Switzerland/RIYADH (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry flies to Riyadh this week to try to reassure King Salman that any nuclear deal with Iran will be in Saudi interests, despite the kingdom's fears that it may boost Tehran's backing for Shi'ite Muslim groups in the region. Convincing Saudi Arabia to accept any agreed nuclear deal is important to President Barack Obama because he needs Riyadh to work closely with Washington on a host of regional policies and to maintain its role as a moderating influence in oil markets. While the main critics of the U.S. push for a nuclear deal with Iran are Israel and Congressional Republicans, Sunni Muslim powerhouse Saudi Arabia is also concerned that an accord would allow Iran to devote more cash and energy to Shi'ite proxies in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen, escalating conflicts.
 
 

Excerpts from Israeli leader Netanyahu's speech to Congress

 
‎03 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎10:54:43 PMGo to full article
WASHINGTON (AP) — Excerpts from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to the U.S. Congress on Tuesday warning against making a deal that could leave Iran on the path toward nuclear weapons:
 

Iran denounces Netanyahu 'lie-spreading' in US speech

 
‎03 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎10:53:25 PMGo to full article
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses a joint session of the US Congress on March 3, 2015, at the US Capitol in Washington, DCIran denounced as "lie-spreading" a speech Tuesday in which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned the US Congress a nuclear deal being negotiated with Tehran would threaten the world. In a rousing address to Congress, Netanyahu warned Iran was bent on subjugating and terrorising the Middle East, and that it was a threat to the entire world through its nuclear programme.
 
 

Iraqi forces try to seal off Islamic State around Tikrit

 
‎03 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎10:51:23 PMGo to full article
An Iraqi soldier sits in an armoured vehicle in the town of Hamrin in Salahuddin provinceBy Ahmed Rasheed and Dominic Evans BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Thousands of Iraqi soldiers and Shi'ite militiamen sought to seal off Islamic State fighters in Tikrit and nearby towns on Tuesday, the second day of Iraq's biggest offensive yet against a stronghold of the Sunni militants. Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani, who has helped coordinate Baghdad's counter-attacks against Islamic State since it seized much of northern Iraq in June, was overseeing at least part of the operation, witnesses told Reuters. His presence on the frontline highlights neighboring Iran's influence over the Shi'ite fighters who have been key to containing the militants in Iraq.
 
 

Netanyahu's speech to U.S. Congress gets mixed reception in Israel

 
‎03 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎10:30:15 PMGo to full article
By Jeffrey Heller JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may have made an argument that many Israelis support in warning Congress on Tuesday about a potential nuclear deal with Iran, but critics asked whether it was worth the widening rift with the White House. The address was broadcast live on Israeli television and radio, and came at a politically sensitive time -- just two weeks before a closely contested election in which Netanyahu is seeking a fourth term. Israeli political commentators called it a polished performance by the U.S.-educated politician, but agreed with President Barack Obama's assessment that Netanyahu offered nothing new in his criticism of U.S.-led talks with Iran. Netanyahu could use a boost: an opinion poll released several hours before the speech gave the center-left Zionist Union 24 seats to 21 for Likud in the 120-member parliament.
 

Iran calls Obama's 10-year nuclear demand 'unacceptable'

 
‎03 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎10:29:15 PMGo to full article
Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif addresses Human Rights Council at UN in GenevaBy Arshad Mohammed MONTREUX, Switzerland (Reuters) - Iran rejected on Tuesday as "unacceptable" U.S. President Barack Obama's demand that it freeze sensitive nuclear activities for at least 10 years but said it would continue talks on a deal, Iran's semi-official Fars news agency reported. Iran laid out the position as the U.S. and Iranian foreign ministers met for a second day of negotiations and as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a stinging critique of the agreement they are trying to hammer out. Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met a day after Obama told Reuters that Iran must commit to a verifiable halt of at least 10 years on sensitive nuclear work for a landmark atomic deal to be reached. "Iran will not accept excessive and illogical demands," Zarif was quoted by Fars as saying.
 
 

Iran: Netanyahu speech to U.S. Congress on Tehran's nuclear work 'boring and repetitive'

 
‎03 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎09:44:16 PMGo to full article
Iran on Tuesday rejected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to the U.S. Congress on Tehran's nuclear programme as "boring and repetitive, the state news agency IRNA said. In his address, Netanyahu warned U.S. President Barack Obama against negotiating a nuclear agreement with Iran that would be a "countdown to a potential nuclear nightmare" by a country that "will always be an enemy of America". "The speech today by the Zionist regime's prime minister was boring and repetitive ... and part of the hardliners' election campaign in Tel Aviv," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham said, IRNA reported. Iran says its nuclear energy programme is solely for civilian purposes, not bombs, and it is in talks with six world powers with an end-June deadline.
 

Iran dismisses Israel's objections to nuclear deal

 
‎03 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎09:14:50 PMGo to full article
Massoumeh Ebtekar, Tehran's vice-president for environmental affairs, is pictured at the residence of the Iranian ambassador on March 3, 2015, in ParisAn Iranian vice-president on Tuesday dismissed Israel's objections to nuclear talks, saying Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not have much influence. "I don't think (Netanyahu's voice) carries much weight," Massoumeh Ebtekar, who is vice-president for environmental affairs, told AFP during a visit to Paris. Her comments came on the same day as Netanyahu gave a speech to the US Congress in which he described the emerging Iran deal as "very bad", saying it would leave Iran with a "vast" nuclear programme.
 
 

What an Iran nuclear deal could look like

 
‎03 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎09:06:43 PMGo to full article
Secretary of State John Kerry (L) waits to take a seat with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif for a new round of nuclear negotiations on March 2, 2015, in Montreux, SwitzerlandIsraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Tuesday sought to shoot down a nuclear deal being negotiated behind closed doors between Iran and world powers, warning it would leave Tehran free to develop atomic weapons. To reach a verifiable, comprehensive agreement that limits Iran's ability to harness enough fissile material to build a nuclear bomb. World powers want to cut Iran's ability to build an atomic weapon to a "one-year breakout time." That would mean Tehran would need at least 12 months to be able to produce enough fuel for a nuclear bomb. Iran currently has about 19,000 centrifuges.
 
 

Obama says 'nothing new' in Netanyahu's Iran speech

 
‎03 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎09:04:58 PMGo to full article
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday told reporters "as far as I can tell, there was nothing new" in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's address to Congress panning U.S.-led nuclear talks with Iran. "The prime minister didn't offer any viable alternatives," Obama said, urging Congress to wait to evaluate a nuclear deal with Iran until an agreement is finalized. Obama said that he would only agree to a deal that prevents Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. (Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Susan Heavey)
 

Obama: Netanyahu offers no viable alternative to Iran talks

 
‎03 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎08:57:13 PMGo to full article
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama says Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu didn't offer any "viable alternatives" to the nuclear negotiations with Iran during his speech to Congress.
 

Obama: Israel's Netanyahu 'didn't offer any viable alternatives' in Iran speech to Congress

 
‎03 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎08:48:53 PMGo to full article
WASHINGTON (AP) — Obama: Israel's Netanyahu 'didn't offer any viable alternatives' in Iran speech to Congress.
 

Netanyahu offers 'no concrete action plan' on Iran: senior U.S. official

 
‎03 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎08:36:53 PMGo to full article
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to offer an alternative in his speech to the U.S. Congress on the ongoing nuclear talks with Iran, a senior U.S. administration official said on Tuesday. "Simply demanding that Iran completely capitulate is not a plan, nor would any country support us in that position. Netanyahu warned Congress against accepting a deal with Iran that President Barack Obama and his administration are deeply invested in negotiating, arguing that the deal would leave Iran with a "breakout time" of a year, which he said was too short. The senior U.S. official said that the administration was pursuing a deal that "verifiably prevents" Iran from obtaining a weapon, and increases the breakout time "substantially" to a year from the current estimate of two to three months.
 

Maradona-style handball as Shandong crash

 
‎03 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎08:27:38 PMGo to full article
Yang Xu (centre), pictured in action for China in September 2013, was sent off as Shandong Luneng crashed 4-1 to Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors in the AFC Champions League on March 3, 2015Yang Xu scored but then saw red for a Diego Maradona-style handball as Shandong Luneng were thrashed 4-1 by Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors in the AFC Champions League on Tuesday. Yang scored his third goal in just two games for Shandong but the striker turned villain when unlike the Argentinian great in 1986, with his 'hand of God' goal, he was sent off for trying to score with his hand. Yang’s second yellow card, just a week after his double strike earned a 3-2 victory over Binh Duong, carried echoes of Maradona’s controversial first goal in Argentina’s 2-1 World Cup quarter-final win against England.

 

 

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Sestak kicking off 2016 Senate campaign with walk across Pa.

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎07:32:13 PMGo to full article
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Former Pennsylvania congressman Joe Sestak began a 422-mile walk across the state Wednesday to kick off his campaign to capture the U.S. Senate seat occupied by Republican Pat Toomey.
 

New poll finds major American support for sending U.S. ground troops to fight Islamic State

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎07:20:34 PMGo to full article
By a surprising 2-1 edge, Americans now favor sending ground troops into combat against the so-called Islamic State, according to a new poll that may shift the debate in Congress over granting President Obama sweeping war powers.
 

Concern grows for civilians as Iraq tightens noose on Tikrit

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎07:05:00 PMGo to full article
Iraqi government forces and allied militias fire weaponry from a position in the northern part of Diyala province, bordering Salaheddin province, as they take part in an assault to retake the city of Tikrit from IS jihadists, on March 2, 2015Concern mounted Wednesday over the fate of civilians in Tikrit where Iraqi forces were trying to trap Islamic State group fighters on the third day of a huge offensive to retake the jihadist stronghold. On Monday, around 30,000 Iraqi security forces and allied fighting units launched the biggest anti-IS ground operation yet in Iraq, closing in on Tikrit from at least three directions. Iraqi forces have yet to retake Ad-Dawr and Al-Alam, towns south and north of Tikrit respectively, but some units were already on the edge of the city, military sources said.
 
 

Syrian Kurds see deeper coordination with U.S.-led alliance

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎06:37:08 PMGo to full article
By Tom Perry BEIRUT (Reuters) - Kurdish forces in Syria say deepening military coordination with the United States and its allies has helped them make rapid advances against Islamic State in an offensive under way in the northeast near the border with Iraq. The Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) have seized two towns and dozens of villages from Islamic State (IS) in an offensive that got under way on Feb. 21 in the strategically important Hasaka province that borders IS-held areas in Iraq. The advance, which has cut at least one Islamic State supply route from Iraq, has moved much faster than the campaign for Kobani, where it took the YPG aided by Iraqi Kurdish fighters and U.S.-led air strikes some four months to defeat IS. Explaining the rapid progress, YPG spokesman Redur Xelil credited direct coordination with the U.S.-led alliance, saying they were planning air strikes via an operations room based in Iraqi Kurdistan.
 

Islamic State targeted in 12 air strikes by U.S., coalition: statement

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎06:37:08 PMGo to full article
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States and its allies staged 12 air strikes on Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria in a 24-hour period, the Combined Joint Task Force said in a statement on Wednesday. Three strikes near Kobani, Syria, hit a tactical unit and destroyed five fighting positions while in Iraq, five air strikes hit Islamic State bomb-making facilities, a weapons storage site and vehicles. Four raids also were carried out near Ramadi and Sinjar. (Writing by Bill Trott; Editing by Susan Heavey)
 

Russian court keeps hunger-striker Ukrainian pilot in jail

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎06:18:23 PMGo to full article
Ukrainian jailed military officer Nadezhda Savchenko listens to the court's decision in a cage at a court room in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, March 4, 2015. A Russian court has rejected an appeal to release a Ukrainian military officer who has been on hunger strike since mid-December. The case of Nadezhda Savchenko has attracted high attention in recent weeks as concerns rise about her health. who has been on hunger strike since mid-December. The case of Nadezhda Savchenko has attracted high attention in recent weeks as concerns rise about her health. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)MOSCOW (AP) — A Russian court on Wednesday rejected an appeal to release a Ukrainian military officer who has been on hunger strike since mid-December in a Russian prison.
 
 

Kerry heads to Saudi Arabia to consult on Iran nuke talks

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎06:08:07 PMGo to full article
MONTREUX, Switzerland (AP) — Fresh from the latest round of Iran nuclear negotiations, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry headed to Saudi Arabia Wednesday to ease Gulf Arab concerns about an emerging deal and discuss ways to calm instability in troubled Yemen and other Mideast nations.
 

Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation Announces 2015 Citizen Honors Program Honorees

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎05:45:00 PMGo to full article
ARLINGTON, Va., March 4, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation announced its 2015 Citizen Honors Program honorees today.  The three honorees, selected from 20 finalists for their acts of courage and selflessness, are:  Alton Brieske, Jon Meis and Michael Reagan.  The honorees will be recognized in a ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery on National Medal of Honor Day, Wednesday, March 25, 2015.  The ceremony is sponsored by The Boeing Company."Every day, all across America, ordinary citizens perform extraordinary acts of courage and service. ...
 

Civilians at risk in Iraq offensive, rights groups say

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎05:32:09 PMGo to full article
Shiite fighters fire a Howitzer artillery cannon during the offensive against jihadist militants near the northern Iraqi city of Tikrit, on February 28, 2015Rights groups expressed concern Wednesday that civilians were at great risk in the huge military operation the Iraqi government launched to retake the jihadist stronghold of Tikrit. On Monday, some 30,000 Iraqi security forces, volunteers, Shiite militia and Sunni tribal fighters launched Baghdad's largest operation yet against the Islamic State jihadist group. "Shiite paramilitary militias have often carried out reprisal sectarian attacks against Sunni civilians who are not involved in the hostilities," said Amnesty International's senior crisis response adviser Donatella Rovera. At the close of Baghdad's previous major operation, which led to IS being forced out of Diyala province, Shiite fighters allegedly executed at least 70 Sunni villagers.
 
 

Former marine reported killed in Syria

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎05:20:03 PMGo to full article
Armed fighters of the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) gather on a street before fighting against Islamic State (IS) group in the Syrian besieged border town of Ain al-Arab (known as Kobane by the Kurds) on November 7, 2014A former Royal Marine has become the first Briton to be killed while fighting with Kurdish forces battling Islamic State jihadists in Syria, leaving his family "devastated" Wednesday. Konstandinos Erik Scurfield, 25, died on Monday in a battle with IS militants, a source in the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) told AFP. "We are devastated to confirm the death of our son Konstandinos Erik Scurfield in Syria where he went to support the forces opposing Islamic State," his family said in a statement through the Foreign Office. A YPG source said he had arrived in Syria on December 7 and joined the Kurdish militia.
 
 

Insight: From eastern flank, Iran-backed force advances on Tikrit

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎05:07:27 PMGo to full article
Shi'ite cleric Ahmed al-Rubaei speaks with Iraqi soldiers and Shiite fighters in Udhaim damBy Thaier al-Sudani UDHAIM DAM, Iraq (Reuters) - Wearing military fatigues and a white turban, the Shi'ite cleric gave an eve-of-battle address to Iran-backed fighters preparing to attack Islamic State militants in Tikrit, praising them for defending their faith and urging them to fight honorably. Seated in front of him in rows, crossed-legged in the grass, were dozens of armed men from Iraq's largest Shi'ite militia, the Badr Organisation, the main element of a force now advancing on Tikrit's eastern flank against the Sunni Muslim Islamic State militants who now dominate most of northern Iraq. This week's multi-pronged attack is the biggest coordinated assault on the city, best known as the home town of executed Sunni president Saddam Hussein, since the radical Islamic State fighters seized it in June.
 
 

Suspected German member of Islamic State group arrested

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎04:45:27 PMGo to full article
BERLIN (AP) — Prosecutors say they have arrested a German suspected of being a member of the Islamic State group and undergoing weapons training with the extremists.
 

British citizen fighting with Kurds killed in Syria

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎04:12:43 PMGo to full article
In this undated image provided by Jordan Matson, Kurdish fighters and foreign volunteers fighting together against the against the Islamic State group, including American citizen Jordan Matson, second right, Australian citizen volunteer Ase Johnson, right, and British citizen Konstandinos Erik Scurfield, foreground, pose for a group photo in Sinjar, Iraq. Scurfield was shot dead on Monday, March 2, 2015 in Syria, a Kurdish commander said Wednesday. At least one other foreign fighter, Australian Ase Johnson, is known to have been killed fighting alongside the Kurds. (AP Photo courtesy Jordan Matson)IRBIL, Iraq (AP) — A British citizen fighting alongside Kurdish forces against the Islamic State group has been killed in Syria, a Kurdish commander said Wednesday.
 
 

Boston bombings trial to begin, two years on

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎03:56:30 PMGo to full article
Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev faces the death penalty if convicted of killing three people and wounding 264 in April 2013Boston will revisit the horror of the 2013 Marathon bombings Wednesday when the 21-year-old accused of carrying out the worst attack on US soil since the September 11 strikes goes on trial. Kyrgyzstan-born US Muslim Dzhokhar Tsarnaev faces the death penalty if convicted of using a weapon of mass destruction to bomb Boston's signature race, killing three people and wounding 264, on April 15, 2013. He pleads not guilty to 30 federal charges in connection with the attacks and the killing of a police officer while he and his 26-year-old brother Tamerlan were on the run from the FBI.
 
 

French judge issues international arrest warrants for suspects in 1982 Jewish attack

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎02:28:07 PMGo to full article
A French magistrate has issued international arrest warrants for three men living in Oslo, Ramallah and Jordan, suspected of carrying out an attack on a Jewish restaurant in Paris in 1982 that killed six people, a judicial source said. The bombing and shooting at the Jo Goldenberg restaurant in an old Jewish neighborhood of Paris was at the time the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in France since World War Two, and was part of a wave of violence from Palestinian militants and other groups during the 1980s. Investigating magistrate Marc Trevidic issued arrest warrants on Feb 20 against three former members of the Abu Nidal Organization, a splinter group of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), the source told Reuters, confirming earlier reports by RTL radio and Paris Match magazine.
 

Conservatives Can't Trust Talk Radio to Cover Foreign Policy

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎01:57:18 PMGo to full article
Conservatives Can't Trust Talk Radio to Cover Foreign PolicyIn 2016, the Republican primary will include a debate about the best approach to foreign policy. For now, to illustrate how foreign policy topics are distorted on talk radio, I offer a specific example from this week. I refer to the widespread mockery of Marie Harf, a spokeswoman for the State Department, for an interview that she gave MSNBC's Chris Mathews on how to defeat ISIS. As someone who has written dozens of articles criticizing President Obama's foreign policy, I am always open to critiques of anyone in his administration.
 
 

Somalia top priority in U.N. agriculture organisation funding appeal

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎01:42:43 PMGo to full article
((This corrected version of the story fixes name to Burgeon throughout).) By Chris Arsenault ROME (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has launched an emergency appeal for $697 million to help 30 million people in 31 crisis-hit countries, a senior official with the U.N. agency said on Tuesday. Somalia, Syria and countries in the Sahel region of Africa are some of the areas requiring the greatest assistance to boost agriculture and mitigate hunger, said Dominique Burgeon, director of FAO's emergency division. "We are trying to promote risk management, early warning systems and prevention (of food emergencies)," Burgeon told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
 

Ex-CIA chief may avoid prison for leaking military secrets

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎12:47:42 PMGo to full article
FILE - In this June 23, 2011, file photo, CIA Director nominee Gen. David Petraeus testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, before the Senate Intelligence Committee during a hearing on his nomination. The Justice Department said Tuesday, March 3, 2015, that the former top Army general has agreed to plead guilty to mishandling classified materials. A statement from the agency says a plea agreement has been filed in U.S. District Court in Charlotte, N.C., the hometown of Paula Broadwell, the general’s biographer and former mistress. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File)RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — If he manages to avoid prison, former CIA director David Petraeus' guilty plea for providing reams of classified material to his mistress will result in far more lenient punishment than that often meted for leaking the nation's secrets.
 
 

Two Malaysians identified in IS beheading video from Syria

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎12:20:50 PMGo to full article
Malaysian authorities have identified two Malaysians in a video by the Islamic State of a beheading that is believed to have taken place in Syria. Mohd Faris Anuar and Muhamad Wanndy Muhammad Jedi, aged 20 and 25 respectively, were identified as the men involved in the beheading of a Syrian man in a video posted to Facebook on Feb. 22, said Ayub Khan Mydin, the police counter-terrorism division's deputy chief. Wanndy traveled with his wife Nor Mahmudah Ahmad to Syria on Jan. 26, while Faris went last September, said Ayub Khan.
 

Tunisian army kills two Islamist militants near Algerian border

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎12:15:54 PMGo to full article
Tunisian police killed two Islamist militants during clashes near the Algerian border, where the military has been targeted previously in ambushes, the army said on Wednesday. The fighting came after army and police launched a major operation this week to flush out militants from a base in the Chaambi mountains near Algeria. "Our special forces killed two members of the terrorist group in Chaambi mountains in an exchange of fire," said army spokesman Bel Hassen Ouslati. "The Tunisian army seized weapons, after the confrontation with terrorists," he added.
 

Tunisian army kills two Islamist militants near Algerian border

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎12:06:35 PMGo to full article
Tunisian police killed two Islamist militants during clashes near the Algerian border, where the military has been targeted previously in ambushes, the army said on Wednesday. The fighting came after army and police launched a major operation this week to flush out militants from a base in the Chaambi mountains near Algeria. "Our special forces killed two members of the terrorist group in Chaambi mountains in an exchange of fire," said army spokesman Bel Hassen Ouslati. "The Tunisian army seized weapons, after the confrontation with terrorists," he added.
 

Official says China to boost military budget by 10 percent

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎11:52:27 AMGo to full article
Chinese military officers arrive at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Wednesday, March 4, 2015. China's military budget will grow by about 10 percent in the coming year, a legislative spokeswoman said Wednesday, despite slowing economic growth that fell to 7.4 percent last year and is expected to further decline in 2015.(AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)BEIJING (AP) — China's official military budget will grow by about 10 percent in the coming year, a legislative spokeswoman said Wednesday, amid unease among Beijing's neighbors about its growing might and territorial ambitions.
 
 

Somalia top priority in U.N. agriculture organisation funding appeal: TRFN

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎11:45:47 AMGo to full article
Displaced Somali women arrive at a food distribution centre after moving to higher ground due flooding in areas around JowharBy Chris Arsenault ROME (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has launched an emergency appeal for $697 million to help 30 million people in 31 crisis-hit countries, a senior official with the U.N. agency said on Tuesday. Somalia, Syria and countries in the Sahel region of Africa are some of the areas requiring the greatest assistance to boost agriculture and mitigate hunger, said Dominique Bourgeon, director of FAO's emergency division. "We are trying to promote risk management, early warning systems and prevention (of food emergencies)," Bourgeon told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
 
 

Syria's Nusra Front may leave Qaeda to form new entity

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎08:46:23 AMGo to full article
Members of al Qaeda's Nusra Front gesture as they drive in a convoy touring villages in the southern countryside of IdlibBy Mariam Karouny BEIRUT (Reuters) - Leaders of Syria's Nusra Front are considering cutting their links with al Qaeda to form a new entity backed by some Gulf states trying to topple President Bashar al-Assad, sources said. Sources within and close to Nusra said that Qatar, which enjoys good relations with the group, is encouraging the group to go ahead with the move, which would give Nusra a boost in funding. The exercise could transform Nusra from a weakened militia group into a force capable of taking on Islamic State at a time when it is under pressure from bombing raids and advances by Kurdish and Iraqi military forces. While it awaits the final word from its decision-making Shoura council, Nusra is not wasting time.
 
 

FACT CHECK: Did Netanyahu go too far in US speech?

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎08:14:51 AMGo to full article
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks before a joint meeting of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 3, 2015. In a speech that stirred political intrigue in two countries, Netanyahu told Congress that negotiations underway between Iran and the U.S. would "all but guarantee" that Tehran will get nuclear weapons, a step that the world must avoid at all costs. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)WASHINGTON (AP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu overstated Iran's domination of the Middle East and understated the timespan of the nuclear deal taking shape with Tehran, while neglecting the role of Congress in lifting Iranian sanctions, in his speech to U.S. lawmakers Tuesday.
 
 

Iraq jihadists slow Tikrit advance with bombs and snipers

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎07:38:02 AMGo to full article
Iraqi government forces and allied militias fire weaponry from a position in the northern part of Diyala province, bordering Salaheddin province, as they take part in an assault to retake the city of Tikrit from IS jihadists, on March 2, 2015Iraqi forces closed in on Tikrit, their progress slowed by jihadist snipers and booby traps, on the second day of Baghdad's largest operation yet against the Islamic State group. The government has mobilised a 30,000-strong force for the push to retake Tikrit made up of Shiite militiamen and Sunni tribesmen as well as troops and police. Iraqi forces are moving on Tikrit from three directions, with units targeting the towns of Al-Alam and Ad-Dawr to the north and south, while another large contingent drives from the east. The jihadist group announced in a radio bulletin Tuesday that a US national from its ranks had carried out a suicide attack against Iraqi forces near Samarra, the other main city in Salaheddin province.
 
 

Jon Stewart Blasts Benjamin Netanyahu Speech, Republican's "Blowjob" Response

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎07:00:56 AMGo to full article
The 'Daily Show' host calls the Republican standing ovation to the Israeli Prime Minister's remarks "the longest blow job a Jewish man has ever received."
 

Today in History

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎07:00:38 AMGo to full article
Today is Wednesday, March 4, the 63rd day of 2015. There are 302 days left in the year.
 

Ex-CIA chief admits sharing military secrets with mistress

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎06:25:12 AMGo to full article
FILE - In this June 23, 2011, file photo, CIA Director nominee Gen. David Petraeus testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, before the Senate Intelligence Committee during a hearing on his nomination. The Justice Department said Tuesday, March 3, 2015, that the former top Army general has agreed to plead guilty to mishandling classified materials. A statement from the agency says a plea agreement has been filed in U.S. District Court in Charlotte, N.C., the hometown of Paula Broadwell, the general’s biographer and former mistress. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File)RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Former CIA Director David Petraeus, whose career was destroyed by an affair with his biographer, has agreed to plead guilty to charges he gave her classified material — including information on war strategy and identities of covert operatives — while she was working on the book.
 
 

Vermont town rejects lowering voting age to 16: report

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎04:57:51 AMGo to full article
Voters in a Vermont town on Tuesday overwhelmingly rejected lowering the minimum voting age in local elections to 16 from 18, an idea that had been promoted by a longtime activist, a newspaper reported. Residents of Brattleboro voted against the "youth vote amendment" by a nearly 2-to-1 margin, the Brattleboro Reformer said. The amendment was among proposals considered during the annual town meeting. Had voters approved the measure, Brattleboro, a left-leaning town of about 12,000 people in southern Vermont, would have become the second U.S. municipality to lower the voting age to 16, following the Washington suburb of Takoma Park, Maryland, in 2013.
 

Netanyahu denounces Obama push for Iran nuclear deal

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎04:44:34 AMGo to full article
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses a joint session of Congress on March 3, 2015 at the US Capitol in Washington, DCIsrael's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denounced President Barack Obama's drive for a nuclear accord with Iran, warning Washington is paving Tehran's path to a bomb. After Netanyahu delivered an impassioned address to the US Congress, an exasperated Obama retorted that the Israeli leader had no plan of his own to contain the Iranian threat.
 
 

The Petraeus scandal: Where are they now?

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎04:34:19 AMGo to full article
PetraeusFormer General David Petraeus is expected to plead guilty to providing his biographer and former mistress with classified information. We follow up on the major players in that scandal.
 
 

Netanyahu warns US 'bad deal' would put Iran on nuclear path

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎04:11:15 AMGo to full article
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Jawad Zarif gesture as they arrive to resume nuclear negotiations in MontreuxWASHINGTON (AP) — In a direct challenge to the White House, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stood before Congress on Tuesday and bluntly warned the U.S. that an emerging nuclear agreement with Iran "paves Iran's path to the bomb." President Barack Obama pushed back sternly, saying the U.S. would never sign such a deal and Netanyahu was offering no useful alternative.
 
 

Kerry, Iran FM in new nuclear talks

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎02:55:10 AMGo to full article
Iran denies it is trying to produce atomic weapons and insists the Bushehr reactor and its other nuclear facilities are purely for peaceful energy needsThe US and Iran ignored a passionate plea from the Israeli prime minister to ditch their nuclear negotiations and held a third straight day of talks Wednesday seeking a framework deal in a few weeks. US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif were back at the negotiating table in the Swiss lakeside town of Montreux, and met for more than three hours Wednesday as a March 31 deadline for agreement on reining in Iran's suspect nuclear programme looms. In a dramatic speech to the US Congress on Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on the US administration to halt the talks which he warned "doesn't block Iran's path to the bomb. Israel itself is understood to have nuclear weapons but has never officially admitted to having such an arsenal.
 
 

Why Netanyahu speech has inflamed such passions on Capitol Hill

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎02:49:01 AMGo to full article
“Iran has proven time and again that it cannot be trusted,” the Israeli leader said Tuesday morning, speaking of the international bid to strike a deal over Iran’s nuclear program. To Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) of California, however, the characterization of Iranian negotiators as essentially religious madmen with whom it is pointless to negotiate is simply wrong. Senator Feinstein said she has known Iran Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif for eight years: “I believe he’s sincere and he wants an agreement.
 

U.S. military's Mosul briefing inaccurate, misguided, Carter says

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎02:46:24 AMGo to full article
U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter testifies before a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Capitol HillA U.S. military official who briefed news media about Iraq's upcoming offensive to retake Mosul provided inaccurate information but should never have publicly discussed war plans anyway, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said on Tuesday. Carter's criticism of the February news briefing by an official from the U.S. military's Central Command was accompanied by an assurance from the top U.S. military officer to Congress that the matter was subject to an internal inquiry. Two influential Republican senators on the committee, John McCain and Lindsey Graham, sent a letter to the White House on Feb. 20, complaining about the briefing, which predicted a Mosul offensive likely to start in April or May, involving 20,000 to 25,000 Iraqi and Kurdish forces. Mosul, which had a population of more than 1 million people, was captured by Islamic State fighters in June and is the largest city in the group's self-declared caliphate, a stretch of territory that straddles the border between northern Iraq and eastern Syria.
 
 

Iran's role in Iraq could be positive: US general

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎02:31:35 AMGo to full article
Some 30,000 Iraqi troops and militia are taking part in the offensive to retake the northern city of Tikrit from Islamic State militants on March 2, 2015Iran's role in an Iraqi military offensive to recapture Tikrit could be positive as long as it does not fuel sectarian divisions in the country, the US military's top officer said Tuesday. General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, told senators that Iran's military assistance for Shiite militia was nothing new but was carried out in a more open manner this week as Iraqi forces pushed to retake Tikrit from Islamic State jihadists. "Frankly, it would only be a problem if it resulted in sectarianism," he told the Senate Armed Services Committee. US commanders rarely discuss Iran's activities in Iraq in public, stressing that Washington does not coordinate with Tehran's military in any way -- even though the two foes see the IS group as a common enemy.
 
 

Dempsey says Iranian hand in Iraq could turn out well

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎02:16:42 AMGo to full article
FILE - In this July 27, 2012 file photo, Gen. Lloyd Austin speaks to reporters at Fort Riley, Kansas. The U.S.-led military coalition in Iraq has killed more than 8,500 Islamic State fighters since its bombing campaign began in August and has gained the upper hand, the top general overseeing the coalition said Tuesday. Austin, the commander of U.S. Central Command, said the Islamic State, which has controlled key parts of northern and western Iraq since last summer, is no longer capable of seizing and holding new territory. (AP Photo/John Milburn, File).WASHINGTON (AP) — Iran's direct support for an Iraqi push to dislodge the Islamic State group from the northern city of Tikrit could turn out to be "a positive thing" if it does not inflame sectarian tensions, the top U.S. general said Tuesday.
 
 

Petraeus to plead guilty to spilling secrets to mistress

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎02:07:02 AMGo to full article
America's most prominent former military commander and spy chief, David Petraeus, pictured in Washington, DC, January 31, 2012, will plead guilty to illegally providing classified secrets to his mistressFormer American military commander and CIA chief David Petraeus will plead guilty to illegally providing classified secrets to his mistress, a dramatic fall from grace for a general once lauded as a war hero. Petraeus, feted in the US as the man who changed the course of the Iraq war, has signed a plea deal and statement "that indicate he will plead guilty" to unauthorized removal and retention of classified material, the Justice Department said Tuesday. According to the Justice Department, Petraeus acknowledged giving eight "black books" he kept as the commander in Afghanistan to his lover and biographer, Paula Broadwell. The notebooks included his daily schedule, classified notes, the identities of covert officers, details about US intelligence capabilities, code words, summaries of National Security Council sessions, and accounts of his meetings with President Barack Obama, according to court documents.
 
 

Desertions, casualties cut Afghan forces sharply in 2014: U.S.

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎02:04:00 AMGo to full article
Afghan security forces arrive at the site of burning NATO supply trucks, after a Taliban attack at Behsud District of NangarharThe number of Afghan security forces fell sharply during 2014, thanks partly to desertions and casualties, according to newly declassified U.S. military data released on Tuesday that could add to the debate over planned U.S. troop withdrawals. The U.S. strategy in Afghanistan hinges on the ability of Afghan forces to secure the country despite a still-resilient Taliban insurgency and increasingly limited support from the shrinking foreign forces supporting them. President Barack Obama's administration, which is under pressure from Kabul and Congress to slow the withdrawal, again signaled on Tuesday it was open to adjusting plans to cut U.S. forces by nearly half this year. "This is the lowest assigned ANA force strength since August 2011," the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction said in a report, noting the ANA levels include Afghan air force personnel.
 
 

Dempsey says Iranian hand in Iraq could turn out well

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎01:54:25 AMGo to full article
Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 3, 2015, before the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing to review the defense authorization request for fiscal 2016 and the future years defense program. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)WASHINGTON (AP) — Iran's direct support for an Iraqi push to dislodge the Islamic State group from the northern city of Tikrit could turn out to be "a positive thing" if it does not inflame sectarian tensions, the top U.S. general said Tuesday.
 
 

Behind delay to retake Mosul from Islamic State, desire to ease the aftermath

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎01:52:02 AMGo to full article
The offensive launched by Iraqi security forces – along with a band of Iranian-backed Shiite militias – to retake the Iraqi town of Tikrit from the Islamic State was reportedly a bit of a surprise to Pentagon officials. It will be a measure of the fortitude and capability of the Iraqi forces that the US military is endeavoring to train. The move to retake the town won’t happen until Iraqi forces are ready not only to fight the battle in the streets, but also to care for the population in its aftermath. Iraqi forces will need to be poised to help their countrymen in the wake of “some incredibly heart-wrenching moments” that they will have suffered, says retired Gen. John Allen, special envoy for the coalition to counter the Islamic State, also known as IS.
 

Pentagon calls Mosul briefing a mistake by CentCom

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎01:28:11 AMGo to full article
WASHINGTON (AP) — A U.S. military officer's media briefing about plans for an Iraqi-led ground offensive in Mosul, including its expected timing, amounted to a mistaken disclosure of "military secrets," Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Tuesday.
 

FACT CHECK: Did Netanyahu go too far in US speech?

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎12:41:58 AMGo to full article
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks before a joint meeting of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 3, 2015. In a speech that stirred political intrigue in two countries, Netanyahu told Congress that negotiations underway between Iran and the U.S. would "all but guarantee" that Tehran will get nuclear weapons, a step that the world must avoid at all costs. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)WASHINGTON (AP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu overstated Iran's domination of the Middle East and understated the timespan of the nuclear deal taking shape with Tehran, while neglecting the role of Congress in lifting Iranian sanctions, in his speech to U.S. lawmakers Tuesday.
 
 

AP ANALYSIS: US on sidelines of key Iraqi battle against IS

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎12:40:45 AMGo to full article
In this image made from video, smoke rises from an explosion as Iraqi forces, Shiite militiamen and Sunni tribal fighters battle Islamic State militants for control of Tikrit, Iraq, Tuesday, March 3, 2015. Backed by Shiite militias and Sunni tribal fighters as well as Iranian advisers, the government forces made little progress on the second day of a large-scale military operation to recapture Tikrit, which fell to the Islamic State group last summer, two local officials said. (AP Photo via AP video)BAGHDAD (AP) — Iranian-backed Shiite militias and Sunni tribes have joined Iraq's military in a major operation to retake Saddam Hussein's hometown from the Islamic State group, while the U.S.-led coalition has remained on the sidelines.
 
 

Ex-CIA chief Petraeus to plead guilty, admits giving mistress secrets

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎12:20:47 AMGo to full article
Former CIA director David Petraeus speaks at the University of Southern California in Los AngelesBy Mark Hosenball and Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Former CIA Director David Petraeus has agreed to plead guilty to mishandling classified information, with the retired four-star general admitting to giving eight "black books" full of such data to a military mistress who was writing his biography. Petraeus, 62, will plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of unauthorized removal and retention of classified material under the deal, according to documents filed on Tuesday in federal court in Charlotte, North Carolina. The plea agreement announced by the Justice Department marks the latest chapter in an astonishing fall from grace for Petraeus, an intellectual with a Princeton University doctorate and a counter-insurgency expert widely considered one of America's most important military leaders of recent decades. He served stints as the top U.S. commander in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and then as CIA director and was lauded by senior U.S. lawmakers.
 
 

Netanyahu says Iran deal will lead to nuclear bomb. But what about no deal?

 
‎03 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎11:28:43 PMGo to full article
The so-called P5+1 – Russia, France, US, UK, China and Germany – is negotiating with the Islamic Republic over extensive monitoring of its nuclear facilities in exchange for some sanctions relief. While no deal has been reached, Mr. Netanyahu said any agreement would pave the way to an Iranian nuclear bomb. "The greatest dangers facing our world is the marriage of militant Islam with nuclear weapons," he told the joint session of Congress. "That, my friends, is exactly what could happen, if the deal now being negotiated is accepted by Iran.
 

Victims to relive horror of marathon bombing as trial begins

 
‎03 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎11:25:07 PMGo to full article
Boston Police Special Operations officers use a bomb-sniffing dog while searching a vehicle on a street near the federal courthouse, in Boston, Tuesday, March 3, 2015. A panel of 12 jurors and six alternates was seated Tuesday after two months of jury selection for the federal death penalty trial of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)BOSTON (AP) — In the two years since twin bombs tore through crowds at the Boston Marathon finish line, the case against suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has focused on arguments over where his trial should be held, who should sit on the jury and what evidence prosecutors should be allowed to use.
 
 

General Amnesty: Petraeus's Escape

 
‎03 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎11:24:57 PMGo to full article
General Amnesty: Petraeus's EscapeThe Obama administration is against intelligence officials leaking classified information—but some conditions may apply. Just ask David Petraeus, the man who went from war hero to chief spy to disgraced adulterer in a few short years. While the juicy story was that the CIA director was having an affair with an Army Reserve officer writing his biography, his resignation and apology didn't end the legal issues. The retired four-star general still stood accused of providing classified information to Paula Broadwell, the writer, including binders featuring his daily schedule and notes from meetings with President Obama.
 
 

Mideast looks for a 'Switzerland'

 
‎03 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎11:16:01 PMGo to full article
Four centuries ago, after a defeat to the French, Switzerland planted a seed in Europe. The model is so successful in fact that many nations in the troubled Middle East have for years tried to become “the Switzerland” of the region. With war now raging in Syria and Iraq, and with Israel at odds with Iran and nearby terrorist groups, is there a Middle East nation that can act as a nonaligned island of peace and a friendly intermediary in negotiations, like Switzerland? In 2003, in an attempt to reorder the Middle East, then-President George W. Bush hoped to turn Iraq into a Switzerland of the Middle East – by force.
 

Kerry visits Riyadh to soothe fears of stronger Iran under nuclear deal

 
‎03 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎11:15:56 PMGo to full article
U.S. Secretary of State Kerry gestures during a news conference after he delivered remarks to the United Nations Human Rights Council in GenevaBy Arshad Mohammed and Angus McDowall MONTREUX, Switzerland/RIYADH (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry flies to Riyadh this week to try to reassure King Salman that any nuclear deal with Iran will be in Saudi interests, despite the kingdom's fears that it may boost Tehran's backing for Shi'ite Muslim groups in the region. Convincing Saudi Arabia to accept any agreed nuclear deal is important to President Barack Obama because he needs Riyadh to work closely with Washington on a host of regional policies and to maintain its role as a moderating influence in oil markets. While the main critics of the U.S. push for a nuclear deal with Iran are Israel and Congressional Republicans, Sunni Muslim powerhouse Saudi Arabia is also concerned that an accord would allow Iran to devote more cash and energy to Shi'ite proxies in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen, escalating conflicts.
 
 

Iraqi forces try to seal off Islamic State around Tikrit

 
‎03 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎10:51:23 PMGo to full article
An Iraqi soldier sits in an armoured vehicle in the town of Hamrin in Salahuddin provinceBy Ahmed Rasheed and Dominic Evans BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Thousands of Iraqi soldiers and Shi'ite militiamen sought to seal off Islamic State fighters in Tikrit and nearby towns on Tuesday, the second day of Iraq's biggest offensive yet against a stronghold of the Sunni militants. Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani, who has helped coordinate Baghdad's counter-attacks against Islamic State since it seized much of northern Iraq in June, was overseeing at least part of the operation, witnesses told Reuters. His presence on the frontline highlights neighboring Iran's influence over the Shi'ite fighters who have been key to containing the militants in Iraq.
 
 

Some US Democrats savage Netanyahu 'fear-mongering'

 
‎03 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎10:31:45 PMGo to full article
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu waves following his address to a joint session of the US Congress in Washington, on March 3, 2015Several US Democrats irate over Benjamin Netanyahu addressing Congress over Iran's nuclear program on Tuesday blasted the Israeli prime minister as a fear-mongerer leading a stampede to war. Dozens of House and Senate Democrats boycotted Netanyahu's speech, arguing he should not have been invited by Republican leaders just two weeks before his own country's elections and amid delicate international negotiations to rein in Iran's nuclear program. Other Democrats who attended appeared exasperated or annoyed, including top House Democrat Nancy Pelosi, who was often the last to rise for standing ovations led by Republicans approval of Netanyahu's warnings.
 
 

FACT CHECK: Did Netanyahu go too far in US speech?

 
‎03 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎10:13:27 PMGo to full article
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks before a joint meeting of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 3, 2015. In a speech that stirred political intrigue in two countries, Netanyahu told Congress that negotiations underway between Iran and the U.S. would "all but guarantee" that Tehran will get nuclear weapons, a step that the world must avoid at all costs. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)WASHINGTON (AP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu overstated Iran's domination of the Middle East and understated the timespan of the nuclear deal taking shape with Tehran, while neglecting the role of Congress in lifting Iranian sanctions, in his speech to U.S. lawmakers Tuesday.
 
 

Rival Libyan forces carry out air strikes, militants storm oilfield

 
‎03 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎10:01:22 PMGo to full article
Fire brigade workers clean the runway after an airstrike hit Tripoli's Maitiga airportBy Ayman al-Warfalli BENGHAZI, Libya (Reuters) - Rival Libyan forces carried out tit-for-tat air strikes on oil terminals and an airport on Tuesday, escalating their battle for control of the oil-producing country days before United Nations peace talks are to resume in Morocco. Islamist militants, who have gained ground in Libya's turmoil, on Tuesday also took over Libya's Bahi oil station and the Mabrouk oilfield, after forces guarding the installations were forced to retreat from the empty operations. The United Nations called for hostilities to end before negotiations it hopes will stop fighting between Libya's two rival governments four years after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi. Oil installations and key infrastructure are prime targets in the conflict, pitting Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni's internationally recognized government against Libya Dawn, the group which took Tripoli last year and formed its own administration.
 
 

Get Your First Look At Joseph Gordon-Levitt As Edward Snowden

 
‎03 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎09:24:27 PMGo to full article
Joseph Gordon-Levitt posted a picture on Facebook Tuesday from his first day on the set of “Snowden,” in which the actor stars as the prolific leaker and whistleblower. The first image from director Oliver Stone’s biopic shows the actor portraying Snowden in U.S. Army basic training in 2003 at age 19, before Snowden broke his legs and took his first step into the intelligence community as a security guard for the NSA. “He wanted to go fight in Iraq, but during basic training at Fort Benning, he broke both of his legs and received an administrative discharge,” Gordon-Levitt wrote.
 

Andrew Lack in talks to return to NBC

 
‎03 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎09:08:39 PMGo to full article
NEW YORK (AP) — NBC Universal is in talks to bring back Andrew Lack to its troubled news operation, which would be the first high-level shake-up following several rough months culminating in the six-month suspension of "Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams for misleading viewers about his experiences covering the Iraq War.
 

Somalia top priority in U.N. agriculture organization funding appeal

 
‎03 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎08:51:33 PMGo to full article
By Chris Arsenault ROME (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has launched an emergency appeal for $697 million to help 30 million people in 31 crisis-hit countries, a senior official with the U.N. agency said on Tuesday. Somalia, Syria and countries in the Sahel region of Africa are some of the areas requiring the greatest assistance to boost agriculture and mitigate hunger, said Dominique Bourgeon, director of FAO's emergency division. "We are trying to promote risk management, early warning systems and prevention (of food emergencies)," Bourgeon told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
 

In ongoing war with Islamic State, Twitter suspends 2,000 accounts

 
‎03 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎08:46:23 PMGo to full article
Twitter has launched its own war against the Islamic State (IS). A brutal organization that has succeeded in conquering large swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria, IS is also well known for its savvy use of social media to spread threats and propaganda. Over the past several days, Twitter has suspended about 2,000 IS-affiliated accounts. "Twitter has been doing a whole lot over the past week.
 

No precedent for Netanyahu's contentious speech to Congress

 
‎03 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎08:41:18 PMGo to full article
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks before a joint meeting of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 3, 2015. In a speech that stirred political intrigue in two countries, Netanyahu told Congress that negotiations underway between Iran and the U.S. would "all but guarantee" that Tehran will get nuclear weapons, a step that the world must avoid at all costs. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)WASHINGTON (AP) — Given anywhere else, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech Tuesday wouldn't have caused such a ruckus.
 
 

Mines, bombs slow Iraqi advance on Islamic State-held Tikrit

 
‎03 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎08:19:39 PMGo to full article
In this image made from video, smoke rises from an explosion as Iraqi forces, Shiite militiamen and Sunni tribal fighters battle Islamic State militants for control of Tikrit, Iraq, Tuesday, March 3, 2015. Backed by Shiite militias and Sunni tribal fighters as well as Iranian advisers, the government forces made little progress on the second day of a large-scale military operation to recapture Tikrit, which fell to the Islamic State group last summer, two local officials said. (AP Photo via AP video)BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraqi troops and Shiite militias battled the Islamic State group on Tuesday on the outskirts of militant-held Tikrit, unable to advance further on Saddam Hussein's hometown as roadside mines and suicide attacks slowed their progress.
 
 

Nobel Peace committee demotes controversial head

 
‎03 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎07:54:14 PMGo to full article
Thorbjoern Jagland took over the Norwegian Nobel Committee in 2009Norway's Nobel Peace Prize committee on Tuesday demoted its controversial chairman Thorbjoern Jagland in a move unprecedented in the long history of the award. The organisation, which said the former Norwegian prime minister would remain as a committee member, gave no reason for its decision. "There was broad agreement within the committee that Thorbjoern Jagland was a good chair for six years," Kullman Five told reporters, but declined to comment on the discussion. Commentators and former Nobel laureates alike had mocked the committee's decisions under Jagland's stewardship.
 
 

U.S.-led coalition launches 14 air strikes against Islamic State: task force

 
‎03 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎07:20:54 PMGo to full article
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States and its coalition partners staged 14 air strikes against Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq since early Monday, according to the Combined Joint Task Force leading the operations. The strikes included six air strikes near the key Syrian border town of Kobani, where they hit three units of militant fighters, the task force said in a statement on Tuesday. Another struck near al Hasaka. ...
 

Former CIA Head David Petraeus to Plead Guilty

 
‎03 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎07:18:56 PMGo to full article
General David Petraeus gestures during the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing in WashingtonSpecifically, the charge is unauthorized removal and retention of classified material. Contacted by ABC News, Petraeus’ attorney, David Kendall said he had “no comment” on the guilty plea. Following the agreement with Petraeus, the Justice Department issued a statement: “Three documents -- a criminal information, a plea agreement and a statement of facts -- were filed today in the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina’s Charlotte Division in the case of United States v. David Howell Petraeus. The criminal information charges the defendant with one count of unauthorized removal and retention of classified material.
 
 

Nigeria's Boko Haram releases beheading video echoing Islamic State

 
‎03 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎06:51:02 PMGo to full article
By Isaac Abrak and Julia Payne ABUJA (Reuters) - Nigerian Islamist sect Boko Haram released a video purporting to show it beheading two men, its first online posting using advanced graphics and editing techniques similar to footage from Islamic State. The footage will raise concerns that Boko Haram, which evolved out of a clerical movement focused on northeast Nigeria, is expanding its scope and seeking inspiration from international militant networks including al Qaeda and Islamic State. Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan has said Boko Haram is allied to both al Qaeda and IS, though that has not been confirmed by Boko Haram itself.
 

Rival Libyan forces carry out air strikes before U.N. talks

 
‎03 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎06:23:51 PMGo to full article
By Ayman al-Warfalli BENGHAZI, Libya (Reuters) - Rival Libyan forces carried out tit-for-tat air strikes on oil terminals and an airport on Tuesday, escalating their battle for control of the oil-producing country days before United Nations peace talks are to resume in Morocco. The United Nations called for the hostilities to end in preparation for the negotiations, which it hopes will end the war raging between Libya's two rival governments and their armed forces four years after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi. Oil installations and key infrastructure are prime targets in the conflict, which pits Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni's internationally recognized government against Libya Dawn, the group which took Tripoli last year and set up its own administration. A warplane belonging to forces allied to Libya Dawn bombed the oil ports of Ras Lanuf and Es Sidra, causing only minor damage, according to a security official with Thinni's government.
 

British minister says Iraq must quell Sunni fears amid advance

 
‎03 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎06:10:16 PMGo to full article
Britain's Defence Secretary Michael Fallon arrives for a Cobra meeting at the Cabinet Office in LondonIraq's government needs to show Sunni Muslim citizens that it is on their side as its forces, alongside Shi'ite militias, advance towards areas held by Islamic State militants, British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said on Tuesday. Iraq's military push towards Tikrit, a mostly Sunni city, has involved thousands of Shi'ite militiamen, witnesses have said. Shi'ite militia have been accused of mass executions and burning of homes in areas they have seized from Islamic State. Leaders of the paramilitary forces have denied the accusations.
 
 

Rival Libyan forces carry out tit-for-tat airstrikes

 
‎03 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎05:49:37 PMGo to full article
By Ayman al-Warfalli BENGHAZI, Libya (Reuters) - Rival Libyan forces carried out tit-for-tat airstrikes on oil terminals and an airport on Tuesday, escalating their battle for control of the country days before United Nations peace talks were due in Morocco. The OPEC oil producer's oil installations and other key infrastructure are increasingly a target in the conflict which pits two rival governments and their armed forces against each other, nearly four years after the ousting of Muammar Gaddafi. Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni's internationally recognised government and elected parliament have been operating from the east since rival Libya Dawn forces took over Tripoli in the summer and set up their own administration. A warplane belonging to Tripoli-allied forces bombed the oil ports of Ras Lanuf and Es Sidra, causing only minor damage, according to a security official with Thinni's government.
 

Vermont town seeks to lower voting age to 16, from 18

 
‎03 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎05:10:00 PMGo to full article
A voter deposits her ballot in the ballot box for the U.S. midterm elections at a polling place in Westminster, ColoradoA left-leaning town in southern Vermont is taking up on Tuesday a referendum to extend the right to vote in local elections to teenagers as young as 16, but even if the measure passes it would still require the state legislature's approval. The so-called "youth vote amendment" would lower the minimum voting age in Brattleboro, a town of about 12,000 people, to 16 from its current 18, the age minimum for state and federal elections. The amendment is part of slate of proposals being considered on Tuesday as part of Brattleboro’s annual town meeting. The idea was put forward by Kurt Daims, a longtime activist in the town, who said lowering the voting age would boost voter turnout and extend rights to a "disenfranchised group." "Many teens have part-time jobs.
 
 

IS says US suicide bomber carried out Iraq attack

 
‎03 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎05:01:05 PMGo to full article
Iraqi government forces and allied militias fire weaponry from a position in the northern part of Diyala province, bordering Salaheddin province, as they take part in an assault to retake the city of Tikrit from IS jihadists, on March 2, 2015An American jihadist carried out a suicide truck bomb attack against Iraqi forces involved in an operation to recapture the city of Tikrit, the Islamic State group said Tuesday. "The brother Abu Dawud al-Amriki (may Allah accept him) launched himself with his explosives-laden truck against a gathering" of Iraqi forces and militiamen, an IS radio bulletin said. It claimed that dozens of Iraqi forces were killed and wounded in the blast, but no other sources could immediately confirm.

 

US wants Mosul offensive on IS in April-May

 
‎20 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎10:00:50 AMGo to full article
Smoke billows after an US air strike near the Mosul dam, Iraq's largest, on the Tigris river, on August 17, 2014The US wants Iraq to launch its offensive to retake the strategic northern city of Mosul from the Islamic State group in April or May, military officials said. Mosul is believed to be held by 1,000-2,000 IS fighters and 20,000-25,000 Iraqi troops are needed to carry out the offensive, an official with US Central Command said on Thursday. US-led coalition aircraft have recently focused air strikes in the area of Mosul and Kurdish forces have made inroads on the ground nearby. Kurdish peshmerga forces have also launched successful offensives against IS-held roads near Mosul, which is in the north of the country.

 

 


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Top US military officer backs arming Ukraine

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎05:51:39 AMGo to full article
Washington (AFP) March 3, 2015
The US military's top-ranking officer on Tuesday added to a growing clamor for Washington to arm Ukraine in its battle with pro-Russian forces, saying he favors doing so through NATO. It was the first time General Martin Dempsey had spoken out in support of arming Ukraine's army against the separatists and follows similar comments by the Pentagon's new chief, Ashton Carter, and the director
 

N.Korea warns can conduct 'strike' on US, denies rights violations

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎05:51:39 AMGo to full article
Geneva (AFP) March 3, 2015
North Korea's foreign minister warned Tuesday Pyongyang had the power to conduct a "pre-emptive strike" on the United States, following joint US-South Korea military drills earlier this week. Ri Su-yong also slammed a UN rights inquiry released last year that laid bare Pyongyang's brutality as a "misdeed" and called for a resolution on North Korea's rights record to be "revoked immediately."
 

Iran's role in Iraq could be positive: US general

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎05:51:39 AMGo to full article
Washington (AFP) March 3, 2015
Iran's role in an Iraqi military offensive to recapture Tikrit could be positive as long as it does not fuel sectarian divisions in the country, the US military's top officer said Tuesday. General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, told senators that Iran's military assistance for Shiite militia was nothing new but was carried out in a more open manner this week as Ira
 

U.S. weather satellite explodes into 43 pieces

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎05:51:39 AMGo to full article
Washington (UPI) Mar 2, 2015
The U.S. Air Force confirmed on Feb. 26 a "catastrophic event" that led to the destruction of a weather satellite on Feb. 3. The satellite, previously used by the U.S. militar,y exploded into 43 pieces. Engineers with the military suggest a temperature spike disrupted the satellites bearings and caused Meteorological Satellite Program Flight 13 (DMSP-F13) to lose altitude control
 

Boeing: First All-Electric Propulsion Satellites Send First On-Orbit Signals

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎05:51:39 AMGo to full article
Cape Canaveral FL (SPX) Mar 03, 2015
Two Boeing 702SP (small platform) satellites, the first all-electric propulsion satellites to launch, have sent initial signals from space, marking the first step toward ABS, based in Bermuda, and Eutelsat, based in Paris, being able to provide enhanced communication services to their customers. What's more, the satellites were launched as a conjoined stack on a single SpaceX Falcon 9 rock
 

China raps Obama over spying after anti-terror law row

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎05:51:39 AMGo to full article
Beijing (AFP) March 3, 2015
Beijing on Tuesday pushed back at the US over espionage concerns, after President Barack Obama criticised a Chinese anti-terror measure that would force tech firms to surrender key information to Communist authorities. The new counter-terrorism law, recently drafted by Chinese lawmakers and expected to be adopted this year, would require technology companies to give Beijing details of their
 

Predator B drone being offered to Spain

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎05:51:39 AMGo to full article
San Diego (UPI) Mar 3, 2015
Predator B remotely piloted aircraft are to be offered to the Spanish government under a teaming agreement between GA-ASI and Spanish engineering company SENER. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc said that under the partnership deal, SENER will leverage its engineering experience to maximize Predator B data collection in support of the Spanish government's surveillance and reconna
 

N. Korea readying for medium-range missile test: report

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎05:51:39 AMGo to full article
Seoul March 3, 2015
North Korea may be readying to test fire a medium-range missile to underscore its anger over joint US-South Korea military drills that began this week, a report said Tuesday. Mobile launchers used for Rodong missiles have been deployed at a North Korean missile base north of Pyongyang, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported, citing military sources. "We've detected signs that North Ko
 

Afghanistan sets up emergency power lines to Kabul after avalanches

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎05:51:39 AMGo to full article
Kabul (AFP) March 3, 2015
Afghan officials said Tuesday they were setting up emergency power lines to supply the capital Kabul a week after deadly avalanches caused by heavy snow plunged the city into darkness. Around 300 people across Afghanistan died during the avalanches, the bulk of them in the mountainous province of Panjshir, around 150 kilometres (90 miles) north of Kabul. Some 1,250 houses were also destr
 

Petraeus to plead guilty to spilling secrets to mistress

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎05:51:39 AMGo to full article
Washington (AFP) March 3, 2015
Former American military commander and CIA chief David Petraeus will plead guilty to illegally providing classified secrets to his mistress, a dramatic fall from grace for a general once lauded as a war hero. Petraeus, feted in the US as the man who changed the course of the Iraq war, has signed a plea deal and statement "that indicate he will plead guilty" to unauthorized removal and retent
 

India to launch fourth navigation satellite March 9

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎05:51:39 AMGo to full article
Bangalore, India (IANS) Mar 03, 2015
India will move closer to its own satellite navigation system with the launch of its fourth satellite tentatively slated for March 9, a senior official of the Indian space agency said on Monday. "The launch is tentatively planned for March 9 evening around 6.35 p.m. However final green signal for the launch will be given days ahead of the satellite launch," M.Y.S. Prasad, director, Satish
 

Netanyahu denounces Obama push for Iran nuclear deal

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎05:51:39 AMGo to full article
Washington (AFP) March 3, 2015
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denounced President Barack Obama's drive for a nuclear accord with Iran on Tuesday, warning Washington is paving Tehran's path to a bomb. After Netanyahu delivered an impassioned address to the US Congress, an exasperated Obama retorted that the Israeli leader had no plan of his own to contain the Iranian threat. And, with US Secretary of State
 

SpaceX to Orbit the World's First All-Electric Satellites

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎05:51:39 AMGo to full article
Moscow, Russia (Sputnik) Mar 03, 2015
A Space Exploration Technologies rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral on Sunday to put a pair of the world's first all-electric communications satellites into orbit, Reuters reports. The probes, built by Boeing and owned by Paris-based Eutelsat Communications and Bermuda-based ABS, are outfitted with lightweight, all-electric engines, rather than conventional chemical propulsion systems,
 

Iraq jihadists slow Tikrit advance with bombs and snipers

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎05:51:39 AMGo to full article
Kirkuk, Iraq (AFP) March 3, 2015
Iraqi forces closed in on Tikrit Tuesday, their progress slowed by jihadist snipers and booby traps, on the second day of Baghdad's largest operation yet against the Islamic State group. The government has mobilised a 30,000-strong force for the push to retake Tikrit made up of Shiite militiamen and Sunni tribesmen as well as troops and police. Outnumbered and outgunned, the jihadists wh
 

Taiwan banishes Alibaba over investment violation

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎05:51:39 AMGo to full article
Taipei (AFP) March 3, 2015
Taiwan has demanded Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba withdraw from the island within six months for violating investment restrictions on mainland-controlled firms, officials said Tuesday. The island's Investment Commission has ordered Alibaba to withdraw or transfer its holdings from its Taiwanese branch, saying that it registered as a foreign company when it was in fact a mainland company.
 

Russia's SMF Ready to Repel a 'Lightning-Speed' Nuclear Strike

 
‎03 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎06:11:05 AMGo to full article
Moscow, Russia (Sputnik) Mar 03, 2015
Russian Strategic Missile Forces will parry all nuclear attacks and punish the enemy with a devastating retaliatory strike. The Russian Strategic Missile Forces are prepared to shield the country from a nuclear attack under any circumstances, the SMF Central Command's chief said. "If we have to accomplish a task of repelling a "lightning-speed" nuclear strike, this objective will be
 

Russian Navy to Receive 50 New Vessels

 
‎03 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎06:11:05 AMGo to full article
Moscow, Russia (Sputnik) Mar 03, 2015
The Russian Navy will receive 50 vessels of different kinds in 2015, Navy Commander Viktor Chirkov reported. The Navy's shipbuilding program has been planned from the current period until 2050. The navy intends to continue building ships capable of carrying out missions across all sea types. "The slow period in our potential development passed long ago. The evidence of this - a reall
 

Soyuz-2.1a Rocket Takes Military Satellite to Designated Orbit

 
‎03 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎06:11:05 AMGo to full article
Moscow, Russia (Sputnik) Mar 02, 2015
A Soyuz-2.1a carrier rocket put a military satellite into its designated orbit Friday, a defense ministry spokesman, Col. Alexei Zolotukhin, told RIA Novosti. The satellite separated from the rocket some ten minutes after the liftoff from the Plesetsk space center in northwestern Russia's Arkhangelsk Region and reached the designated orbit at 3:45 p.m. Moscow time [12:45 GMT]. It was
 

See Me: DARPA Seeks Tiny Satellites to Map Terrain for US Troops

 
‎03 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎06:11:05 AMGo to full article
Washington DC (Sputnik) Mar 02, 2015
An American defense contractor is developing small satellites capable of quickly providing US ground troops with images of their surroundings. In December, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency awarded a $1.5 million contract to Raytheon to develop the satellites. The technology has been named the SeeMe satellite - after DARPA's quest for Space Enabled Effects for Military Engageme
 

Russia's Vostochny Cosmodrome Construction Reaches Home Stretch

 
‎03 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎06:11:05 AMGo to full article
Moscow, Russia (Sputnik) Mar 02, 2015
The Vostochny cosmodrome construction in Russia's Far East has reached a home stretch, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said Friday. "Vostochny reaches home stretch. Mainly, because of firm decisions," Rogozin said on his Facebook page. Earlier this month, Russian Federal Space Agency has requested Russia's construction watchdog Spetstroy to supply all the relevant docume
 

New NASA Space Cowboy Deploys Its 'Lasso'

 
‎03 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎06:11:05 AMGo to full article
Pasadena CA (JPL) Feb 27, 2015
Like a cowboy at a rodeo, NASA's newest Earth-observing satellite, the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP), has triumphantly raised its "arm" and unfurled a huge golden "lasso" (antenna) that it will soon spin up to rope the best soil moisture maps ever obtained from space. Launched Jan. 31 from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base on a Delta II rocket, SMAP is now literally riding tall
 

NASA Hopes to Continue Cooperation on ISS Until 2024

 
‎03 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎06:11:05 AMGo to full article
Washington DC (Sputnik) Feb 27, 2015
NASA is ready to continue to cooperate with its International Space Station (ISS) partners, including Russia, for at least nine more years, the space agency has said in a statement. "The Obama administration is committed to extending operation of the International Space Station to at least 2024," NASA said in the statement obtained by RIA Novosti on Thursday, adding that it welcomes "conti
 

India to Soon Have Better Earth Observation Satellites

 
‎03 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎06:11:05 AMGo to full article
Bangalore, India (SPX) Mar 02, 2015
India will soon have satellites with improved earth observation capability, said space agency chief A.S.Kiran Kumar in Thiruvananthapuram on Thursday. "The future of earth observation relies on three factors - continuity and improvement of the operational constellation of satellites, sustained observation of all climate variables and global co-operation for comparing observation data," the
 

Too Ambitious to be True? Iran Plans to Send Humans to Space by 2016

 
‎03 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎06:11:05 AMGo to full article
Tehran (Sputnik) Mar 02, 2015
It was all smiles and cheers on Iran's National Day of Space Technology, celebrated this year on February 17, as the country unveiled a prototype of a spacecraft allegedly capable of taking a human to space. Authorities say the trial test will be conducted this year bringing the country closer to its wildest dream of sending a first astronaut where no Iranian has ever been before. #I
 

Construction of new Italian Navy frigate begins

 
‎03 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎06:11:05 AMGo to full article
Trieste, Italy (UPI) Feb 27, 2015
The first steel sheeting for a new Italian Navy FREMM frigate has been conducted at a shipyard of Fincantieri near Genoa, the company reports. The cutting marks the build phase of the multi-mission vessel, the eighth being constructed in the multinational FREMM program. A total of 10 FREMM frigates are being built in Italy, with Orizzonte Sistemi Navali as the prime contractor. /
 

UN watchdog 'seriously' worried by NKorea nuclear program

 
‎03 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎06:11:05 AMGo to full article
Vienna (AFP) March 2, 2015
The head of the UN nuclear watchdog said Monday he is "seriously" worried about the North Korean nuclear programme, which has not been subject to international inspections since 2009. "I remain seriously concerned about the nuclear programme of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)," said Yukiya Amano, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency. "It is nearl
 

N. Korea fires missiles in anger at South-US military drills

 
‎03 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎06:11:05 AMGo to full article
Seoul (AFP) March 2, 2015
North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea and vowed "merciless" retaliation Monday as the US and South Korea kicked off joint military drills denounced by Pyongyang as recklessly confrontational. The annual exercises always trigger a surge in military tensions and warlike rhetoric on the divided peninsula, and analysts saw the North's missile tests as a prelude to a c
 

US, Iran launch new round of nuclear talks

 
‎03 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎06:11:05 AMGo to full article
Montreux, Switzerland (AFP) March 2, 2015
Top diplomats from Iran and the US launched a new round of marathon talks on a nuclear deal late Monday, as Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu warned the emerging accord could threaten his country's survival. US Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met twice in a Swiss lakeside hotel at the start of a series of sessions which are scheduled to stretch
 

Iraq launches major assault to retake Tikrit from IS

 
‎03 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎06:11:05 AMGo to full article
Kirkuk, Iraq (AFP) March 2, 2015
Some 30,000 Iraqi troops and militia backed by aircraft pounded jihadists in and around Tikrit on Monday in the biggest offensive yet to retake one of the Islamic State group's main strongholds. Government forces have battled their way north for months, notching up key victories against IS, but Tikrit has been their toughest target yet with the jihadists having resisted them several times.
 

Kerry in staunch defence of Israel at UN rights council

 
‎03 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎06:11:05 AMGo to full article
Geneva (AFP) March 2, 2015
US Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday launched a staunch defence of Israel at the UN rights body, despite strained ties with the Jewish state over nuclear negotiations with Iran. The Human Rights Council (HRC) has long been accused of bias towards Israel, which is the only country to have a specific agenda item obliging participants to discuss the Jewish state's rights record at every s
 

China's Hypersonic Glide Vehicle: A Threat to the United States

 
‎02 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎06:21:11 PMGo to full article
New Delhi, India (SPX) Feb 18, 2015
Beijing's significant military advance has been furthered with its venture into hypersonic weapons systems. China is working on hypersonic cruise missiles for which it is working on scramjet engines and also on Hypersonic Glide Vehicle (HGV). In 2014, Beijing has conducted three test-firings of its HGV, the Wu-14. The first test-firing was conducted in January, while the second one was con
 

Netanyahu says ties with US solid despite duel over Iran

 
‎02 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎06:21:11 PMGo to full article
Washington (AFP) March 2, 2015
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu again warned Monday that Washington's bid to sign a nuclear accord with Iran could threaten Israel's very survival, but insisted ties remain strong. The Israeli leader's lobbying trip to Washington came as US Secretary of State John Kerry was in Geneva for talks with his Iranian counterpart on what would be an historic deal. Netanyahu's visit - includi
 

China's wealthiest to take part in key political meetings

 
‎02 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎06:21:11 PMGo to full article
Beijing (AFP) March 2, 2015
Five of the 10 wealthiest people in Communist-ruled China are due to take part in two major political meetings starting this week, government websites show, highlighting the influence of the country's mega-rich. Super-wealthy delegates to the "two sessions" are often the focus of public attention, with some criticised for showing off their influence or lobbying for favourable policies for th
 

Army develops new process for reusing artillery shell casings

 
‎02 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎06:21:11 PMGo to full article
Mcalester, Okla. (UPI) Feb 27, 2015
A U.S. Army ammunition plant has developed a new process to make more recovered 155mm shell bodies viable for reuse as artillery training rounds. The new process changes how the shell's base plate is removed, leaving its threads intact. The obsolete D563, recovered from a demilitarization process, is then repacked with Insensitive Munition Explosive-101, or IMX-101, instead of TN
 

Arms removal... or relocation? Ukraine ceasefire observers in the dark

 
‎02 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎06:21:11 PMGo to full article
Donetsk, Ukraine (AFP) March 2, 2015
Government forces in Ukraine and the pro-Russian separatists they have been battling for 10 months insist they are withdrawing heavy weapons from the frontline, as called for by a February ceasefire deal. But confirming that the big guns are really being pulled back is proving difficult, creating frustration among residents trapped by the fighting. "These weapons have to be withdrawn on
 

Nemtsov assassination 'heavy blow' to Russia

 
‎02 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎06:21:11 PMGo to full article
Beijing (AFP) March 2, 2015
A Chinese newspaper with close ties to the ruling Communist Party on Monday condemned the assassination of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, saying it severely damaged that country's body politic. "This incident has dealt a heavy blow to Russia's national unity and added pressure to the Russian government in dealing with thorny issues," the Global Times tabloid said in an editorial.
 

Study of Atmospheric 'Froth' May Help GPS Communications

 
‎02 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎06:21:11 PMGo to full article
Pasadena CA (JPL) Feb 27, 2015
When you don't know how to get to an unfamiliar place, you probably rely on a smart phone or other device with a Global Positioning System (GPS) module for guidance. You may not realize that, especially at high latitudes on our planet, signals traveling between GPS satellites and your device can get distorted in Earth's upper atmosphere. Researchers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pas
 

Top-precision optical atomic clock starts ticking

 
‎02 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎06:21:11 PMGo to full article
Warsaw, Poland (SPX) Feb 27, 2015
A state-of-the-art optical atomic clock, collaboratively developed by scientists from the University of Warsaw, Jagiellonian University, and Nicolaus Copernicus University, is now "ticking away" at the National Laboratory of Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics in Toru?, Poland. As the first of its kind in Poland and one of just a handful of clocks of this caliber in the world, the new clock wi
 

Thales, ASELSAN continue missile system development

 
‎02 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎06:21:11 PMGo to full article
Paris (UPI) Feb 27, 2015
A new precision strike missile system will continue to be developed under a new cooperative contract between Thales and ASELSAN of Turkey. The missile system under development incorporates Thales's lightweight multi-role missiles, or LMM, and a missile launcher system by ASELSAN. "The cooperation between the two companies was initiated in 2010 and first stage firings of an integr
 

Engility Holdings completes acquisition of TASC Inc.

 
‎02 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎06:21:11 PMGo to full article
Chantilly, Va. (UPI) Mar 2, 2015
Government services provider Engility Holdings has completed acquisition of TASC Inc., expanding its presence in the federal intelligence market. The all-stock transaction, valued at about $1.3 billion, includes Engility assuming TASC's net debt. Engility said it received financing in connection with the deal from Barclays and Jefferies Finance LLC. "This transformational
 

US sets out 'bottom lines' for Iran nuclear deal

 
‎02 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎07:59:09 AMGo to full article
Washington (AFP) Feb 28, 2015
The United States on Friday set out what it called its "bottom lines" to reach a deal with Iran to rein in its nuclear program, ahead of new talks next week. Washington had stuck to its guns that it wanted a "good deal" and had agreed to several extensions of the negotiations "because we have held firm to certain bottom lines," a senior US administration official said. "We will only acce
 

US flies advanced spy plane over disputed sea: officials

 
‎02 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎07:59:09 AMGo to full article
Manila (AFP) Feb 27, 2015
The United States has flown its most advanced surveillance plane from a military base in the Philippines over flashpoint areas of the South China Sea, Filipino authorities said Friday. With Filipino soldiers on board, the US Navy flew the P-8A Poseidon from a former American airbase about 80 kilometres (50 miles) north of Manila and over the disputed sea on February 17, they said. The Ph
 

Syria opposition praises France's anti-Assad stance

 
‎02 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎07:59:09 AMGo to full article
Paris (AFP) March 1, 2015
Syria's exiled opposition praised France on Sunday for maintaining its "exemplary" opposition to President Bashar al-Assad after a group of French lawmakers made a controversial visit to Damascus this week. "The position of France has always been exemplary, and your country has consistently held to the side of the Syrian people against any attempt to rehabilitate the regime in Damascus under
 

North Korean leader tells army: 'prepare for war'

 
‎02 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎07:59:09 AMGo to full article
Seoul (AFP) Feb 28, 2015
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un has urged his army to prepare for war with the United States and its allies, state media said Saturday, as Pyongyang ramps up the rhetoric ahead of US-South Korea military drills. Kim's comments came after South Korea and the United States Friday conducted a joint naval drill involving 10 South Korean warships and a US Aegis destroyer, ahead of the launch of l
 

RAAF commences unmanned aerial system training in the United States

 
‎02 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎07:59:09 AMGo to full article
Canberra, Australia (SPX) Mar 02, 2015
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence, Darren Chester, has announced that the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has commenced training aircrew and support staff on United States Air Force (USAF) MQ-9 Reaper Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) operations in the United States. Mr Chester said that the training program provides a cost effective method to increase the ADF's understandin
 

US denies pushing Iraq on Mosul offensive

 
‎02 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎07:59:09 AMGo to full article
Washington (AFP) Feb 27, 2015
The US military insisted Friday it was not pressurizing Iraq to launch an offensive to recapture Mosul from Islamic State extremists in the next few months, saying the timing was up to Baghdad. Previous comments by senior US officials suggesting the Iraqi army would stage a counter-attack against the IS group in the northern city as soon as April or May have provoked an angry response in Bag
 

Chinese Naval Fleet Now Outnumbers US Combat Vessels

 
‎02 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎07:59:09 AMGo to full article
Washington DC (Sputnik) Mar 02, 2015
China is at the forefront of building submarines and now has more than the United States, says a Navy admiral testifying before a congressional committee that is discussing future funding for US defense projects. Vice Admiral Joseph Mulloy told legislators on Thursday that not only is China building "some fairly amazing submarines" but that the Chinese are carrying out more deployments and
 

Leaks Show S Africa Spied on Itself for Details of Joint Satellite Project

 
‎02 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎07:59:09 AMGo to full article
Pretoria, South Africa (Sputnik) Mar 02, 2015
South Africa's intelligence agency relied on a spy who had access to Russian military intelligence to uncover details of its own government's involvement in a $100 million joint satellite surveillance program with Russia. The satellite system, called Project Condor, was launched into orbit last December by the Russians and provides surveillance coverage of all of Africa. The project has be
 

E.ON and NEC Lead Strategic Investment in Space-Time Insight

 
‎02 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎07:59:09 AMGo to full article
San Mateo CA (SPX) Feb 26, 2015
Space-Time Insight has announced that E.ON SE and NEC have led an $8M investment in the company. The majority of Space-Time Insight's current investors also participated in the strategic round of financing which the company will use to accelerate growth on multiple continents. NEC's investment follows the formation in 2014 of a strategic partnership with Space-Time Insight in Japan and the
 

SES Announces Two Launch Agreements With SpaceX

 
‎02 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎07:59:09 AMGo to full article
Hawthorne CA (SPX) Feb 27, 2015
SES has announced an agreement with SpaceX to launch two new satellites in 2017 - SES-14 and SES-16/ GovSat - using the Falcon 9 rocket. SES had announced the order of the two new satellites last week. SES-14 is a hybrid satellite to be positioned at 47.5/48 degrees West with C- and Ku-band wide beam coverage, as well as Ku- and Ka-band High Throughput Satellite (HTS) coverage, across the
 

Next Launch of Heavy Angara-5 Rocket Due Next Year

 
‎02 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎07:59:09 AMGo to full article
Moscow, Russia (Sputnik) Feb 26, 2015
The next launch of Russia's newest ecologically friendly heavy-class Angara-A5 carrier rocket is scheduled for 2016, Andrei Kalinovsky, the acting head of the Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center, said Wednesday. "The rocket will be ready this year, the launch has been scheduled for 2016," he told reporters. The maiden launch of Angara-A5 took place in December 2014.
 

USAF getting aicraft structural modification kits

 
‎02 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎07:59:09 AMGo to full article
Edgewood, N.Y. (UPI) Feb 27, 2015
CPI Aerostructures is supplying the U.S. Air Force with structural modification kits to enhance the capabilities and safety of T-38C Pacer Classic III aircraft. The indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for the kits was issued by the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Hill Air Force Base in Utah and is worth $49 million. The contract is for Phase II of the moder
 

BAE Systems Hagglunds delivers CV90 infantry fighting vehicle

 
‎02 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎07:59:09 AMGo to full article
Ornskoldsvik, Sweden (UPI) Feb 27, 2015
The first of 144 CV90 Infantry Fighting Vehicle in serial production has been delivered to the Norwegian Defense Logistics Organization by BAE Systems. BAE Systems Hagglunds, headquartered in Sweden, said the handover was on time and on budget and took place at the facilities of its Norwegian partner in the project for the Norwegian armed forces, CHSnor AS. The CV90 is a tracked
 

Argentina welcomes first Chinese satellite tracking station outside China

 
‎02 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎07:59:09 AMGo to full article
Moscow, Russia (Sputnik) Feb 27, 2015
Argentina is to become the location of the first Chinese satellite tracking station outside the country the newspaper La Manana De Cordoba reported on Thursday. The Argentine National Congress has approved the bill ratifying economic and technological cooperation between Argentina and China, including the construction of a Chinese satellite tracking station in Argentina's Neuquen province,
 

Israel army launches 'surprise' West Bank drill

 
‎02 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎07:59:09 AMGo to full article
Jerusalem (AFP) March 1, 2015
Israel's army said it launched a "surprise exercise" Sunday calling up thousands of reservists for its central region of operations that includes the West Bank. The military said in a statement that it was mobilising "forces including some 13,000 reserves, 3,000 of whom will physically report for active duty". The drill, initiated by newly sworn-in chief of staff Lieutenant General Gadi
 

Kurds blocking return of Arabs to disputed Iraq areas: watchdog

 
‎01 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎04:46:47 PMGo to full article
Baghdad Feb 26, 2015
Kurdish forces have prevented displaced Arabs from returning to disputed areas of Iraq that Kurdish leaders want to incorporate in their autonomous region over Baghdad's objections, a report said Thursday. Human Rights Watch warned the Kurdistan regional government against meting out "collective punishment of entire Arab communities" for the Islamic State jihadist group's attacks. "Cordo
 

US-led strikes on IS after group seizes 220 Christians

 
‎01 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎04:46:47 PMGo to full article
Beirut Feb 26, 2015
The US-led coalition carried out air strikes Thursday against the Islamic State group in northeastern Syria, where the jihadists have launched a new offensive and kidnapped 220 Assyrian Christians. The raids struck areas around the town of Tal Tamr in Hasakeh province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, without giving information on possible casualties. They followed the launc
 

Rise of the Machines: video gamers beware

 
‎01 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎04:46:47 PMGo to full article
Paris (AFP) Feb 25, 2015
Researchers unveiled a software system Wednesday which had taught itself to play 49 different video games and proceeded to defeat human professionals - a major step in the fast-developing Artificial Intelligence realm. Not only did the system give flesh-and-blood gamers a run for their money, it discovered tricks its own programmers didn't even know existed, a team from Google-owned researc
 

Russian jets to hold drills over Barents sea

 
‎01 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎04:46:47 PMGo to full article
Moscow (AFP) Feb 26, 2015
Russia's airforce started exercises that will involve jets striking back against a "supposed enemy" over the Barents Sea that borders Norway, the military said Thursday. Pilots will "practise repelling a massive air strike by a supposed enemy during exercises in the air space of the Barents Sea," the defence ministry said on its website. Two teams of Russian MiG-31 supersonic jets based
 

Fighting IS not a priority for Turkey: US spy chief

 
‎01 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎04:46:47 PMGo to full article
Washington Feb 26, 2015
Turkey does not place a high priority on fighting Islamic State jihadists and as a result foreign fighters are able to travel through the country into Syria, US intelligence chief James Clapper said Thursday. Asked if he was optimistic that Turkey would take a more active role in the war against the IS group, Clapper told senators: "No, I'm not." "I think Turkey has other priorities and
 

Kerry to meet Russian, Iranian FMs next week

 
‎01 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎04:46:47 PMGo to full article
Washington (AFP) Feb 26, 2015
US Secretary of State John Kerry will meet next week with his Russian and Iranian counterparts seeking an end to fighting in Ukraine and to advance a nuclear deal with Iran, US officials said Thursday. His meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Geneva early next week would come days after Kerry accused Russian officials of lying "to my face" over Moscow's role in the conflict
 

MUOS - a Vital Next Step for Narrowband Satellite Communications

 
‎01 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎04:46:47 PMGo to full article
McLean VA (SPX) Feb 25, 2015
All of us at Intelsat General congratulate our government colleagues at SPAWAR PMW-146 on the successful launch of MUOS-3. MUOS, the Mobile User Objective System, is a critical government-operated platform providing narrowband voice communications via satellite. In development for over a decade, the MUOS system is a badly needed replacement for the legacy UHF Follow-On (UFO) satellite syst
 

In muddy fields,Spain's International Brigades live on

 
‎01 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎04:46:47 PMGo to full article
Morata De Tajuna, Spain (AFP) Feb 26, 2015
Through the mud and olive trees, Scotsman Andy Crawford trudges over the Spanish fields where eight decades ago his grandfather William fought and died. A Communist pipe-fitter from Glasgow, William was among tens of thousands of foreigners who fought in Spain's 1936-1939 civil war as part of the International Brigades. Fearing the spread of fascism in Europe, they tried in vain to help
 

US spy chief predicts spring attack on Ukraine port

 
‎01 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎04:46:47 PMGo to full article
Washington (AFP) Feb 26, 2015
Russia wants to secure a land corridor in eastern Ukraine that could include Mariupol but pro-Moscow rebels may wait until the spring to attack the strategic port city, the US spy chief said Thursday. Russian President Vladimir Putin's aim was not to seize all of Ukraine but to carve out territory linking up with the Crimean peninsula, which was annexed by Moscow last year after the fall of
 

Jordan first buyer of South African armored vehicle

 
‎01 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎04:46:47 PMGo to full article
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UPI) Feb 26, 2015
Jordan has become the first customer for the Mbombe 6x6 armored infantry combat vehicle from South Africa's Paramount Group. The initial 50 vehicles for the Jordanian armed forces will be assembled in Jordan by KADDB, or the King Abdullah II Design and Development Bureau, which will also produce some components for it. Additional details of the deal, including its monetary value,
 

ME country orders surveillance gear for its borders

 
‎01 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎04:46:47 PMGo to full article
Munich, Germany (UPI) Feb 26, 2015
An unidentified Middle Eastern country has contracted Airbus Defense and Space for long-range opto-electric/infrared imaging system for use on its borders. The system to be supplied by Airbus DS' Optronics business is the Z:NightOwl M, a surveillance system specifically developed for extremely long-range observation purposes. Airbus DS said the system provides a very large field
 

Gripen E fighters getting pneumatic missile eject launcher pylons

 
‎01 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎04:46:47 PMGo to full article
Brighton, England (UPI) Feb 26, 2015
Pneumatic missile eject launcher pylons are to be developed and supplied to Saab of Sweden by Excelis under a long-term agreement. Exelis said the pneumatic missile eject launcher pylons, or PMEL, will be for use on Saab's Gripen E fighters and allow the powered ejection of Meteor and AIM-120 advanced medium-range air-to-air missiles from the underside of the aircraft fuselage. "
 

Orbital ATK upgrades South Korean Army Cobra helos

 
‎01 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎04:46:47 PMGo to full article
Dulles, Va. (UPI) Feb 26, 2015
An undisclosed number of Cobra helicopters of the Republic of Korea Army have received new aircraft survivability equipment suites from Orbital ATK. Orbital ATK said the upgrade included its AAR-47 missile and laser warning system with hostile fire indication; Symetrics' ALE-47 counter-measures dispensing system; and Southeast Aerospace's aircraft modification kits. The AAR-47 in
 

Australia warns women IS no 'romantic adventure'

 
‎01 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎04:46:47 PMGo to full article
Sydney (AFP) Feb 26, 2015
A worrying number of Australian women are heading to Iraq and Syria to become so-called Islamic State group "jihadi brides", Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said Thursday, warning against notions of a "romantic adventure". At least 110 Australians have left to fight alongside militants in the Middle East and security officials said between 30 and 40 women were among them or were actively suppo
 

France sending weapons to Lebanon

 
‎01 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎04:46:47 PMGo to full article
Paris (UPI) Feb 26, 2015
French supplies of armaments will be arriving in Lebanon in the middle of April under a French-Saudi Arabian deal to strengthen the nation's defense capabilities. According to the French Ministry of Defense, it will supply Lebanon, a "state friend of France," with armored vehicles, armed vessels, combat helicopters, ammunition and communications equipment. Training courses will a

 

 

Nuclear Weapons, Proliferation and Policy Doctrine

 

 
 

N.Korea warns can conduct 'strike' on US, denies rights violations

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎07:09:24 AMGo to full article
Geneva (AFP) March 3, 2015 - North Korea's foreign minister warned Tuesday Pyongyang had the power to conduct a "pre-emptive strike" on the United States, following joint US-South Korea military drills earlier this week.

Ri Su-yong also slammed a UN rights inquiry released last year that laid bare Pyongyang's brutality as a "misdeed" and called for a resolution on North Korea's rights record to be "revoked immediately."

Speaking at the United Nations in Geneva, Ri said the joint military exercises that kicked off Monday were "unprecedentedly provocative in nature" and could spark a war.

"The DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) cannot but bolster its nuclear deterrent capability to cope with the ever-increasing nuclear threat of the US," he told the UN Disarmament Conference.

"Now the DPRK has the power of deterring the US and conducting a pre-emptive strike as well if necessary."

The annual joint exercises always trigger a surge in warlike rhetoric on the divided peninsula.

North Korea fired two short-range Scud missiles into the sea off its east coast on Monday, and South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported Tuesday that Pyongyang may be readying to test fire a medium-range missile.

Missile tests have long been a preferred North Korean method of expressing displeasure with what it views as confrontational behaviour by the South and its allies, though Seoul and Washington insist the exercises are defence-based in nature.

- 'Overwhelming sorrowful pity' -

Later Tuesday, Ri spoke to the UN Human Rights Council, angrily denying there were any "widespread" violations in a country whose political system "enjoys the eternal vitality."

A UN report released last year concluded that North Korea was committing rights violations "without parallel in the contemporary world".

Based on the testimony of North Korean exiles, it detailed a vast network of prison camps and documented cases of torture, rape, murder and enslavement.

The report formed the basis of a resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly in December that urged the Security Council to consider referring Pyongyang to the International Criminal Court -- putting it under unprecedented pressure.

But in January, defector Shin Dong-Hyuk -- one of those who testified for the inquiry -- acknowledged that some elements of his story as told in a book were inaccurate, although he stressed that the crucial details of suffering and torture still stood.

North Korea has since leapt on this as proof that the entire report is invalid, and Ri reiterated this on Tuesday.

"In any court, a ruling based on false testimony is to be nullified," he said.

"The anti-DPRK resolutions based on the... report should be revoked immediately without delay."

He pointed out that the fact that his country's current political system had survived despite "years of hardships" proved there were no widespread rights violations.

The country suffered devastating famine in the 1990s, and remains hugely impoverished with malnutrition widespread.

"Those hostile towards us cannot understand the ties of blood between the leader and the popular masses and the world of single-minded unity that can be found only in the DPRK," he said.

His comments were almost immediately shot down by South Korea's vice foreign minister, who said he felt "an overwhelming sorrowful pity" upon hearing them.

"The minister knows better than anyone else about the horrific human rights situation in the DPRK and the grave concern verging on despair of the international community over the situation," Cho Tae-yul said.

 

 

Netanyahu denounces Obama push for Iran nuclear deal

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎07:09:24 AMGo to full article
Washington (AFP) March 3, 2015 - Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denounced President Barack Obama's drive for a nuclear accord with Iran on Tuesday, warning Washington is paving Tehran's path to a bomb.

After Netanyahu delivered an impassioned address to the US Congress, an exasperated Obama retorted that the Israeli leader had no plan of his own to contain the Iranian threat.

And, with US Secretary of State John Kerry in talks with his Iranian counterpart in Switzerland, the "P5+1" world powers pressed on for an accord that would limit Iran's nuclear options while loosening economic sanctions.

Netanyahu's party faces a close-fought Israeli parliamentary election in two weeks' time and he has been accused of imperilling Israel's close ties with Washington for his own political gain.

But, in a barnstorming speech to a packed joint session of Congress, he pulled no punches in his denunciation of the accord that he expects Tehran to be offered before the month is out.

"That deal will not prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons," he declared. "It would all but guarantee that Iran gets those weapons, lots of them."

Obama did not watch the speech, having arranged a video conference with European leaders on the crisis in Ukraine, but afterwards he gave the Israeli leader's argument short shrift.

"I am not focused in the politics of this. I am not focused on the theater," Obama said. "As far as I can tell, there was nothing new.

"On the core issue, which is how to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon which would make it far more dangerous, the prime minister did not offer any viable alternatives."

"We don't yet have a deal (with Iran)," Obama added. "But if we are successful then, in fact, this will be the best deal possible to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons."

- 'Spark nuclear arms race' -

While dozens of Obama's Democrats stayed away from the Congress address, many more lawmakers from both sides of the aisle attended and gave Netanyahu several warm standing ovations.

"I deeply regret that some perceive my being here as political. That was never my intention," he insisted.

"We appreciate all that President Obama has done for Israel."

But, despite his conciliatory opening words, Netanyahu's speech built quickly into a thorough denunciation of Obama's efforts to strike an accord with Iran.

"This deal has two major concessions. One, leaving Iran with a vast nuclear program. Two, lifting the restrictions on that program in about a decade," he said.

"That's why this deal is so bad. It doesn't block Iran's path to the bomb. It paves Iran's path to the bomb."

He cited the strength of Iranian-backed factions in Lebanon, Yemen, Syria and Iraq as evidence of Tehran's regional ambitions, and recalled threats against his own people.

Thus, he said, no nuclear deal should weaken economic sanctions against Iran until its government ends its aggressive regional stance and frequent threats against Israel.

"A deal that is supposed to prevent nuclear proliferation would instead spark a nuclear arms race in the most dangerous part of the planet," he warned.

- Mixed reviews at home -

Netanyahu received several standing ovations in the chamber and good reviews from many US foreign policy hawks, but afterwards some Democrats accused him of "fear-mongering."

Leading House Democrat Nancy Pelosi said she had been "saddened by the insult to the intelligence of the United States."

In Israel, the voters who will be called to give a verdict on Netanyahu's governing coalition in two weeks were divided.

Some watching the speech in Jerusalem told AFP they had been impressed by the respect he had been accorded in the chamber, while others were concerned that he had recklessly interfered in the domestic politics of a vital ally.

Iran denounced Netanyahu's intervention -- even as Tehran's envoys sat with Kerry in Montreux to hammer out the nuclear agreement ahead of a March 31 deadline.

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham accused Netanyahu of spreading lies about Iran's nuclear program, which Tehran insists is peaceful.

And she dismissed the speech as repetitious, boring and a "sign of weakness."

European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini also implicitly criticized Netanyahu, warning against "spreading fears" and promising that a deal is getting close.

What an Iran nuclear deal could look like
Montreux, Switzerland (AFP) March 3, 2015 - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Tuesday sought to shoot down a nuclear deal being negotiated behind closed doors between Iran and world powers, warning it would leave Tehran free to develop atomic weapons.

But he did not reveal -- as his aides had warned -- specific details of the agreement shared with Israel in classified briefings by US officials.

Few insights into the comprehensive accord under discussion since November 2013 have leaked out, with officials remaining tightlipped to protect the high-stakes negotiations.

But US officials did lay out late last week some of what they called the "bottom lines" of any deal, without going into specifics.

Here are some of the possible contours of a deal:

The goal:

To reach a verifiable, comprehensive agreement that limits Iran's ability to harness enough fissile material to build a nuclear bomb. In return, the international community would initially ease and then lift all sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic.

Breakout time:

World powers want to cut Iran's ability to build an atomic weapon to a "one-year breakout time." That would mean Tehran would need at least 12 months to be able to produce enough fuel for a nuclear bomb.

The assumption is that the international community would have enough time to detect such a move -- and could seek to strike or destroy the facilities.

This year-long breakout time would stay in place for the length of the deal, which US officials have said they want to be in "double-digits".

Many assume that this figure is pointing to a deal lasting about 10 years, but US officials have refused to comment.

Enrichment:

This is one of the trickiest issues. Iran currently has about 19,000 centrifuges. About 10,200 centrifuges are in operation, used for spinning uranium gas at supersonic speeds to make it suitable for power generation and medical uses but also, at high purities, for a bomb.

According to documents leaked by the Israelis, and deemed accurate by non-proliferation experts, the US wants Tehran to reduce its total number of centrifuges to between 6,500-7,000.

Under the 2013 interim deal, Iran has halted production of 20 percent highly enriched uranium and eliminated or diluted much of its stock down to just five percent in return for limited sanctions relief.

Negotiators now seek to enshrine that agreement and cut Iran's stockpile of low-enriched uranium gas. A senior US official said Tehran would have to "significantly reduce" both the number of centrifuges and its uranium stocks.

There may also be a proposal allowing Iran to ship its uranium gas to Russia, which would convert it to fuel rods for the Bushehr nuclear plant which Moscow helped build.

Nuclear plants:

A senior US administration official said last week Iran should not be allowed to develop weapons-grade plutonium at its unfinished Arak reactor.

Plutonium can be used as an alternative fissile material to highly-enriched uranium.

"We're discussing how Iran can convert that Arak reactor to serve a different purpose," the official said.

Iran should also not use its Fordo nuclear plant to enrich uranium, which would leave only its Natanz plant capable of enriching uranium.

Monitoring:

A tough inspection programme using UN watchdog, the IAEA, is a cornerstone of any deal to ally any fears that Iran could covertly develop a nuclear arsenal. The US bottom line is that Iran must agree to unprecedented inspections of both nuclear and production facilities as well as uranium mines and mills and suspect sites.

Sanctions:

Iran wants all sanctions imposed by the US, European Union and United Nations to be lifted. But world powers have refused, talking instead about a phased, gradual easing of the measures. Experts say untangling the sanctions -- from those also imposed for Tehran's alleged terror activities for example -- could in fact be proving one of the most difficult tasks.

Civilian nuclear programme:

Iran has always denied seeking a bomb, saying its nuclear programme is for peaceful civilian energy purposes.

Under the Joint Plan of Action agreed in November 2013, the global powers known as the P5+1 acknowledged that a comprehensive deal "would enable Iran to fully enjoy its right to nuclear energy for peaceful purposes" in line with the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

 

 

Netanyahu US speech impresses many Israelis, but not all

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎07:09:24 AMGo to full article
Jerusalem (AFP) March 3, 2015 - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's impassioned speech Tuesday in the US Congress impressed many Israelis in Jerusalem but drew criticism from others who said he was interfering in American affairs.

Netanyahu delivered with gusto an address in which he chided Israel's arch-foe Iran and charged that a deal between the Islamic republic and world powers would allow it to develop nuclear weapons.

Israelis crowded into cafes and shops in Jerusalem, watching the speech on TV screens and hanging on every word of their leader, who is running for a fourth term in March 17 elections.

"Look at how much they respect him," said David Elmaliakh, 50, as he watched congressmen repeatedly interrupted the prime minister's speech with rapturous applause.

Elmaliakh said Netanyahu was right to ignore the torrent of criticism that emerged when Republican lawmakers invited him to address the congress and go ahead with the visit.

"That's the place where the whole world can hear us," he said, as he sat in a downtown Jerusalem cafe where the speech was beamed on television.

Netanyahu was invited to Washington by House Speaker John Boehner without consulting the White House or Democratic congressional leaders, triggering criticism from the US administration.

His speech was boycotted by President Barack Obama and some 50 Democrats, and took place as Secretary of State John Kerry held talks in Switzerland with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif.

Netanyahu, who was welcomed with a standing ovation, admitted that his speech "has been the subject of much controversy".

But he insisted a deal between Tehran and world powers "would not prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons".

"It paves Iran's path to the bomb," he said. Tehran has repeatedly insisted its nuclear programme is purely peaceful.

Shoa Horowitz, a shopkeeper watching in Jerusalem, agreed with Netanyahu that there should be no nuclear negotiations with Iran.

"Netanyahu really cares, and knows what he's talking about. It's important he make the world understand the situation... All these negotiations are distorted," he said.

Elmaliakh added: "Iran is not to be trusted. We all know what Iran is," without elaborating.

- 'Needless and arrogant' -

Netanyahu has been accused of using the nuclear stand-off as a platform for electioneering, ahead of Israeli polls that could threaten his ruling coalition.

While many Israelis said Netanyahu was right to address Congress, others said his decision to do so would further damage an already tense relationship with the US administration.

"Obviously, this address is controversial among Israelis, because of its timing with the elections coming up," said Boris Dolin, who also watched the speech at a Jerusalem cafe.

Avi Marziano agreed.

"To interfere in this manner in American politics seems needless and arrogant," he said.

"Barack Obama is probably sitting at home now watching this. We will pay the price."

The US president dismissed Netanyahu's speech as having "nothing new" to say about Iran and pointed out the premier's failure to provide "any viable alternative".

A campaign video released Tuesday by Netanyahu's main rivals from the centre-left Zionist Union slammed the damage Netanyahu's speech was causing to US-Israeli relations.

After invoking historical Israeli successes against hostile external actors, it said: "March 3, 2015: Bombarding the US Congress with words, Netanyahu obliterates US-Israeli friendly ties."

Netanyahu's rightwing Likud is almost neck-and-neck with the Zionist Union in opinion polls. They are expected to win 21 and 24 seats, respectively, in the 120-member Knesset.

But Netanyahu's party will more easily form a coalition with other rightwing, centrist or religious nationalist parties.

In Iran, which insists its nuclear programme is purely peaceful, foreign ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham denounced Netanyahu's speech as "lie-spreading" and said it was "boring".

What an Iran nuclear deal could look like
Montreux, Switzerland (AFP) March 3, 2015 - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Tuesday sought to shoot down a nuclear deal being negotiated behind closed doors between Iran and world powers, warning it would leave Tehran free to develop atomic weapons.

But he did not reveal -- as his aides had warned -- specific details of the agreement shared with Israel in classified briefings by US officials.

Few insights into the comprehensive accord under discussion since November 2013 have leaked out, with officials remaining tightlipped to protect the high-stakes negotiations.

But US officials did lay out late last week some of what they called the "bottom lines" of any deal, without going into specifics.

Here are some of the possible contours of a deal:

The goal:

To reach a verifiable, comprehensive agreement that limits Iran's ability to harness enough fissile material to build a nuclear bomb. In return, the international community would initially ease and then lift all sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic.

Breakout time:

World powers want to cut Iran's ability to build an atomic weapon to a "one-year breakout time." That would mean Tehran would need at least 12 months to be able to produce enough fuel for a nuclear bomb.

The assumption is that the international community would have enough time to detect such a move -- and could seek to strike or destroy the facilities.

This year-long breakout time would stay in place for the length of the deal, which US officials have said they want to be in "double-digits".

Many assume that this figure is pointing to a deal lasting about 10 years, but US officials have refused to comment.

Enrichment:

This is one of the trickiest issues. Iran currently has about 19,000 centrifuges. About 10,200 centrifuges are in operation, used for spinning uranium gas at supersonic speeds to make it suitable for power generation and medical uses but also, at high purities, for a bomb.

According to documents leaked by the Israelis, and deemed accurate by non-proliferation experts, the US wants Tehran to reduce its total number of centrifuges to between 6,500-7,000.

Under the 2013 interim deal, Iran has halted production of 20 percent highly enriched uranium and eliminated or diluted much of its stock down to just five percent in return for limited sanctions relief.

Negotiators now seek to enshrine that agreement and cut Iran's stockpile of low-enriched uranium gas. A senior US official said Tehran would have to "significantly reduce" both the number of centrifuges and its uranium stocks.

There may also be a proposal allowing Iran to ship its uranium gas to Russia, which would convert it to fuel rods for the Bushehr nuclear plant which Moscow helped build.

Nuclear plants:

A senior US administration official said last week Iran should not be allowed to develop weapons-grade plutonium at its unfinished Arak reactor.

Plutonium can be used as an alternative fissile material to highly-enriched uranium.

"We're discussing how Iran can convert that Arak reactor to serve a different purpose," the official said.

Iran should also not use its Fordo nuclear plant to enrich uranium, which would leave only its Natanz plant capable of enriching uranium.

Monitoring:

A tough inspection programme using UN watchdog, the IAEA, is a cornerstone of any deal to ally any fears that Iran could covertly develop a nuclear arsenal. The US bottom line is that Iran must agree to unprecedented inspections of both nuclear and production facilities as well as uranium mines and mills and suspect sites.

Sanctions:

Iran wants all sanctions imposed by the US, European Union and United Nations to be lifted. But world powers have refused, talking instead about a phased, gradual easing of the measures. Experts say untangling the sanctions -- from those also imposed for Tehran's alleged terror activities for example -- could in fact be proving one of the most difficult tasks.

Civilian nuclear programme:

Iran has always denied seeking a bomb, saying its nuclear programme is for peaceful civilian energy purposes.

Under the Joint Plan of Action agreed in November 2013, the global powers known as the P5+1 acknowledged that a comprehensive deal "would enable Iran to fully enjoy its right to nuclear energy for peaceful purposes" in line with the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

 

 

UN watchdog 'seriously' worried by NKorea nuclear programme

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎07:09:24 AMGo to full article
Vienna (AFP) March 2, 2015 - The head of the UN nuclear watchdog said Monday he is "seriously" worried about the North Korean nuclear programme, which has not been subject to international inspections since 2009.

"I remain seriously concerned about the nuclear programme of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)," said Yukiya Amano, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

"It is nearly six years since agency inspectors were asked to leave the DPRK," he noted in remarks to the IAEA board of governors in Vienna.

"I call upon the DPRK to comply fully with its obligations under relevant Security Council resolutions," Amano said, speaking the day after Pyongyang fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea and vowed "merciless" retaliation over the latest round of US-South Korean joint military drills.

Pyongyang is believed to have a stockpile of up to 16 nuclear weapons fashioned from either plutonium or weapons-grade uranium.

The arms programme has prompted a raft of US and UN sanctions against North Korea, which has carried out nuclear tests in 2006, 2009 and 2013.

It also regularly launches missile tests, triggering international condemnation.

US researchers warned last week that the North Korean regime appears bent on expanding its nuclear programme, and in a worst-case scenario could possess 100 atomic weapons by 2020.

 

 

N. Korea fires missiles in anger at South-US military drills

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎07:09:24 AMGo to full article
Seoul (AFP) March 2, 2015 - North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea and vowed "merciless" retaliation Monday as the US and South Korea kicked off joint military drills denounced by Pyongyang as recklessly confrontational.

The annual exercises always trigger a surge in military tensions and warlike rhetoric on the divided peninsula, and analysts saw the North's missile tests as a prelude to a concerted campaign of sabre-rattling.

"If there is a particularly sharp escalation, we could see the North orchestrating some kind of clash on the maritime border," said Jeung Young-Tae, an analyst at the Korea Institute for National Unification in Seoul.

The missile launches came with a stern warning from the nuclear-armed (North) Korean People's Army (KPA) that this year's military drills would bring the peninsula "towards the brink of war".

The South's defence ministry said the Scud missiles were fired from the western port city of Nampo and fell into the sea off the east coast -- a distance of nearly 500 kilometres (310 miles).

UN resolutions ban any ballistic missile test by North Korea, and Seoul defence ministry spokesman Kim Min-Seok said Pyongyang appeared intent on triggering a "security crisis".

"We will respond sternly and strongly to any provocation," Kim said.

Japan said it had issued a strong protest to the North given the danger such missile launches posed to aviation and shipping, while China urged the two Koreas to exercise restraint.

Missile tests have long been a preferred North Korean method of expressing anger and displeasure with what it views as confrontational behaviour by the South and its allies.

- 'Brink of war' -

"The situation on the Korean peninsula is again inching close to the brink of a war," a spokesman for the KPA General Staff was quoted as saying Monday by the North's official KCNA news agency.

"The only means to cope with the aggression and war by the US imperialists and their followers is neither dialogue nor peace. They should be dealt with only by merciless strikes."

North Korea has threatened attacks, including nuclear strikes, on the US before, although it has never demonstrated a missile capability that would encompass the US mainland.

The largest element of the two South Korea-US drills that began Monday is Foal Eagle, an eight-week exercise involving air, ground and naval field training, with around 200,000 Korean and 3,700 US troops.

The other is a week-long, largely computer-simulated joint drill called Key Resolve.

Seoul and Washington insist the exercises are defence-based in nature, but they are regularly condemned by Pyongyang as provocative rehearsals for invasion.

In a statement later Monday the North Korean Foreign Ministry labelled the start of the drills an act of "intolerable aggression" and said the North was ready to wage "any form of war" that the US chooses.

- Test moratorium offer -

North Korea has carried out three nuclear tests -- in 2006, 2009 and 2013.

In January the North offered a moratorium on further tests if this year's joint drills were cancelled -- a proposal rejected by Washington as an "implicit threat" to carry out a fourth atomic detonation.

Analyst Jeung said Pyongyang was unlikely to conduct a fourth test just to protest against the exercises.

"Nuclear tests carry more significance than that," he said, noting that the North's testing schedule was mainly driven by technical development.

"On the other hand, there is the chance of a mid- or long-range missile test," Jeung told AFP.

"I would say that a demonstration that it could deliver a nuclear warhead would be more threatening to the world than an actual nuclear test," he added.

A new research report by US experts published last week estimated that North Korea could be on track to have an arsenal of 100 nuclear weapons by 2020.

In a further sign of rising tensions, the North Korean state-run website Uriminzokkiri warned Monday of a fierce response to any attempt by South Korean activists to float anti-Pyongyang leaflets across the border by balloon.

"The response might not just be a few shots of gunfire but cannons or missiles," the website said.

 

 

North Korean leader tells army: 'prepare for war'

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎07:09:24 AMGo to full article
Seoul (AFP) Feb 28, 2015 - North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un has urged his army to prepare for war with the United States and its allies, state media said Saturday, as Pyongyang ramps up the rhetoric ahead of US-South Korea military drills.

Kim's comments came after South Korea and the United States Friday conducted a joint naval drill involving 10 South Korean warships and a US Aegis destroyer, ahead of the launch of large-scale military exercises that have enraged the North.

"The prevailing situation where a great war for national reunification is at hand requires all the KPA (Korean People's Army) units to become (elite) Guard Units fully prepared for war politically and ideologically, in military technique and materially", he was quoted by the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) as saying.

North Korea regularly ratchets up hostile rhetoric at times of joint US-South Korea military exercises that spark a sharp surge in tensions on the divided peninsula.

Kim called on the military to train hard in order "to tear to pieces the Stars and Stripes", in comments made while opening a new hall at the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum in Pyongyang, KCNA said.

The drill Friday was a prelude to an eight-week exercise, Foal Eagle, involving air, ground and naval field training, with around 200,000 Korean and 3,700 US troops that begins on Monday.

A week-long, largely computer-simulated joint drill, Key Resolve, will also get under way.

Seoul and Washington insist the exercises are defence-based in nature, but they are condemned by Pyongyang as provocative rehearsals for invasion.

North Korea had offered a moratorium on carrying out nuclear tests if this year's joint drills were cancelled -- a proposal rejected by Washington as an "implicit threat" to carry out a fourth atomic drill.

North Korea claims it won the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended in an armistice instead of a peace treaty, leaving the two Koreas still technically at war.

 

 

US, Iran launch new round of nuclear talks

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎07:09:24 AMGo to full article
Montreux, Switzerland (AFP) March 2, 2015 - Top diplomats from Iran and the US launched a new round of marathon talks on a nuclear deal late Monday, as Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu warned the emerging accord could threaten his country's survival.

US Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met twice in a Swiss lakeside hotel at the start of a series of sessions which are scheduled to stretch into Wednesday afternoon.

They were accompanied by US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Iranian nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi, who according to the Iranian news agency IRNA had first met earlier for about 90 minutes.

Iranian negotiators Abbas Araghchi and Majid Takht Ravanchi also held talks with US Under Secretary Wendy Sherman as well as the EU's deputy foreign policy chief Helga Schmid, IRNA added.

The pace and intensity of the negotiations to hammer out a deal to rein in Iran's suspected nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief have gathered pace as a March 31 deadline for a political accord nears.

"We are all focused simultaneously on the need to elicit from Iran answers to questions about their nuclear programme -- not just answers for today, but answers that are capable of lasting well into the future," Kerry told reporters in Geneva.

He stressed that global powers, grouped under the P5+1, were not seeking "a deal at any cost" but wanted to ensure that the "four pathways to a nuclear bomb have been closed off."

"We hope we can get there, but there is no guarantee," Kerry added.

Kerry and Zarif first met for about 50 minutes Monday evening, and after a short break, held a second 25-minute meeting before calling it a night.

They are due to resume their talks early Tuesday, for what US officials have promised would likely be "a flowing meeting that runs into another."

As a deal appears within grasp, the US administration has clashed with Israel, with Netanyahu saying he would address Congress on Tuesday "to speak up about a potential deal with Iran that could threaten the survival of Israel."

"Israel and the United States agree that Iran shouldn't have nuclear weapons. But we disagree on the best way to prevent them from developing those weapons," Netanyahu told a powerful pro-Israel lobby in Washington.

Kerry and Zarif have met frequently in past weeks in European cities, hoping to pin down a deal which has eluded the international community for more than a decade.

UN nuclear watchdog pushes Iran for faster response
Vienna (AFP) March 2, 2015 - The head of the UN nuclear watchdog pressed Iran on Monday to speed up cooperation with the agency's probe into Tehran's atomic programme.

"This process cannot continue indefinitely. It is not an endless process," said Yukiya Amano, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

While Iran is negotiating limits on its programme with world powers, the IAEA has been pressing leaders in Tehran for years to address allegations that prior to 2003, and possibly since, they conducted research into developing nuclear weapons.

Iran has consistently rejected the claims, set out in a major IAEA report in 2011, as baseless.

However, Iran had agreed to answer agency inquiries about alleged explosive testing and research into nuclear bomb making by August, but the responses have yet to be given.

"The agency remains ready to accelerate the resolution of all outstanding issues," Amano said. However, "this requires increased cooperation by Iran and the timely provision of access to all relevant information."

Amano met with Iranian leaders in February, and last week Tehran's deputy foreign minister Abbas Araghchi pledged his country would "move faster and in a better sense" with the probe.

The P5+1 group of world powers have until March 31 to reach a framework for a deal, which would then be firmed up and officially signed on June 30.

US Secretary of State John Kerry is due to meet his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif in the Swiss lakeside town of Montreux later Monday for talks on the agreement.

US warns Israel PM not to 'betray' trust on nuclear deal
Geneva (AFP) March 2, 2015 - US Secretary of State John Kerry Monday warned Israel's prime minister against revealing details of an emerging Iran nuclear deal on the eve of the Israeli leader's speech to the US Congress.

While he did not mention Benjamin Netanyahu by name, Kerry told reporters in Geneva he was "concerned by reports" that "selective details" of the deal aimed at curbing Tehran's nuclear programme would be revealed in the coming days.

His deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf went further, saying discussing the contents of classified briefings by US officials to Israelis would "betray" America's trust.

"We've continuously provided detailed classified briefings to Israeli officials to keep them updated and to provide context for how we are approaching getting to a good deal," she told reporters in Washington.

"Any release of any kind of information like that would, of course, betray that trust."

The comments come after an Israeli official said the Jewish state knew about the emerging agreement and that the prime minister would elaborate in his congressional address.

Kerry launched a series of talks with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif in the Swiss lakeside town of Montreux late Monday as they seek to pin down a deal by a March 31 deadline.

"The best way to deal with the question surrounding this nuclear programme is to find a comprehensive deal, but not a deal which comes at any cost," he told reporters.

"We have made some progress, but we still have a long way to go, and the clock is ticking."

The P5+1 group of world powers that are negotiating with Iran have only a few more weeks to reach a political framework for a deal, with the final technical details to be arrived at by June 30.

But Israel is worried the deal will ease sanctions on Tehran -- which is what Iran wants -- without applying sufficiently stringent safeguards to stop Iran acquiring enough fissile material to develop an atomic bomb.

 

 

US sets out 'bottom lines' for Iran nuclear deal

 
‎04 ‎March ‎2015, ‏‎07:09:24 AMGo to full article
Washington (AFP) Feb 28, 2015 - The United States on Friday set out what it called its "bottom lines" to reach a deal with Iran to rein in its nuclear program, ahead of new talks next week.

Washington had stuck to its guns that it wanted a "good deal" and had agreed to several extensions of the negotiations "because we have hel