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In S. Korea, a town of Kims _ and an unusual shared history

‎29 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎07:37:57 AMGo to full article
In this Oct. 13, 2015 photo, Hwang You Yeon, left, points at his family’s two-volume gemological book written in 1723 at a museum commemorating one of his prominent ancestors in Paju, South Korea. Historic clan villages keep centuries-old genealogical books that they say have been handed down from generation to generation. The Yun family in Paju keeps woodblocks used to publish its family tree from 1630 to 1863; and Kim Sun Won has a modern version of genealogical books at his home. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)NONSAN, South Korea (AP) — Many of his students are Kims. So are his fellow teachers, an elementary school alumnus and the owners of restaurants and pubs that he patronizes in his small farming village. Lots of Kims in his neighborhood, too. Such is everyday life for Kim Sun Won, who, obviously, is a Kim too.

Clashes at Greece border as Macedonia builds fence to stem migrant flow

‎28 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎06:36:52 PMGo to full article
Protests by migrants on the Greece-Macedonia border, where a fence is being built, left several officers injured, vehicles damagedA group of migrants trying to enter Macedonia pelted the police with stones on Saturday, injuring several officers as the small Balkan country became the latest to build a border fence aimed at checking the flow of newcomers. The interior ministry said 18 police were injured, two of whom were hospitalised, in the protests at the Gevgelija crossing point between Greece and non-EU member Macedonia which came as Macedonian troops began to seal up parts of the border with a 2.5-metre-high (8-foot) fence. Government spokesman Aleksandar Gjorgjev described the situation by mid-afternoon as "calm and stable".

Philippines gets 1st fighter jets in a decade amid sea feud

‎28 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎10:59:27 AMGo to full article
One of two newly-acquired FA-50PH fighter jets is given a water cannon salute while taxiing on the runway upon landing Saturday, Nov. 28, 2015 at Clark Air Base in Pampanga province, north of Manila, Philippines. The first two of the 12 brand new fighter jets from South Korea, arrived Saturday as part of the country's modernization program and to mark the air force's return to "supersonic jet age." (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)CLARK AIR BASE, Philippines (AP) — The Philippines on Saturday took delivery of two Korean-made fighter jets — the country's first supersonic combat aircraft in a decade — as it strengthens its underfunded military amid an escalating territorial feud with China.

AFC boss 'confident' next FIFA leader will be Asian

‎28 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎10:44:33 AMGo to full article
Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa will appear before hundreds of delegates at the awards show in New Delhi after emerging as a leading candidate for the February 26 FIFA presidential voteAsia's football chief has won unanimous backing from his executive committee as the man to "rebuild FIFA" as he strengthens his campaign to take over the corruption-tarnished world body. The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) executive committee also pledged to lobby its members to support president Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, in a meeting ahead of Sunday's AFC awards. The Bahraini royal will appear before hundreds of delegates at the awards show in New Delhi after emerging as a leading candidate for the February 26 FIFA presidential vote.

Merkel under pressure from her own ahead of EU migration summit

‎28 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎03:36:33 AMGo to full article
German Chancellor Merkel looks on during a joint news conference with Serbia's PM Vucic in BelgradeChancellor Angela Merkel came under renewed pressure from her own conservatives on Friday to stem the flow of refugees into Germany as she heads to a weekend summit of European Union leaders and Turkey's prime minister. Roughly a million refugees and migrants fleeing war and deprivation in the Middle East, Africa and Asia are expected to arrive in Germany this year alone - the majority of those reaching Europe - and local authorities are struggling to cope. Merkel has faced intense pressure from her own conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) and their Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), to change course on her open-door refugee policy.

India's Modi meets Sonia Gandhi to discuss new indirect tax

‎27 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎07:47:21 PMGo to full article
India’s Prime Minister Modi reacts before speaking at the Yusof Ishak Institute’s 37th Singapore Lecture in SingaporeBy Rupam Jain Nair NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi hosted opposition Congress party leader Sonia Gandhi for talks on Friday to try and break a deadlock over launching a new indirect tax, in a bid to put his economic recovery agenda back on track. The face-to-face meeting between the rivals was the first since Modi rose to power 18 months ago, and could herald a long-awaited compromise on the proposed goods and services tax (GST), billed as the biggest tax reform since independence. While there was no immediate breakthrough after the 30-minute meeting, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told reporters that the Congress party has raised its concerns, and both parties were expected to meet again soon.

Gunmen mercilessly mowed down guests in Mali hotel siege

‎27 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎07:30:48 PMGo to full article
People carry the remains of a person that was slain by gunmen during the recent attacks on the Radisson Blu hotel, during a funeral in Bamako, Mali, Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2015. Islamic extremists armed with guns and grenades stormed the luxury Radisson Blu hotel in Mali's capital on Friday, Nov. 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Baba Ahmed)BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — The early breakfast crowd sipped coffee and picked at croissants in the Radisson Blu's dining room, swiping through emails and the morning headlines on their smartphones.

The Latest: Austria reports drop in refugees coming from in

‎27 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎06:15:50 PMGo to full article
An Iranian migrant and his son sit in no man's land demanding to be allowed to pass the Greek-Macedonian border, near the northern Greek village of Idomeni, on Friday, Nov. 27, 2015. Macedonia toughened rules for crossings earlier this month, in the wake of the deadly Paris attacks, restricting access to citizens from countries typically granted asylum in Europe, including Syria and Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — The latest on the mass movement of asylum-seekers and others seeking refuge in Europe. All times local:

Top Gabon civil servants probed over hardwood traffic

‎27 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎06:08:02 PMGo to full article
Security agents in Gabon are investigating several top civil servants for illegal trafficking in a precious hardwood, a source saysSecurity agents in Gabon are investigating several top civil servants, including an advisor to the president, for illegal trafficking in a precious hardwood, a source close to the government said Friday. Some of the officials have been taken into custody by the General Directorate for Research (DGR) agency in the past week, while others were questioned and later released, the source told AFP. DGR agents this week raided the ministry of water and forests in Gabon's capital Libreville, taking about 10 officials into custody, the source said, asking not to be named.

Britain sends mixed messages on climate ahead of Paris talks

‎27 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎05:51:22 PMGo to full article
A power-generating windmill turbine is seen in front of the Arc de Triomphe on the Champs Elysees avenue ahead of the COP21 World Climate Summit in ParisBy Susanna Twidale LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's cuts to renewable energy subsidies and abandonment of its carbon capture and storage scheme are likely to diminish the country's influence at the global climate talks starting in Paris this weekend, investors and green groups said. Britain's commitment to foreign aid, including around 5.8 billion in climate finance from 2016-2021, has enabled the country to be an influential deal broker at climate talks in the past, gaining the ears of developed and developing countries. "The situation on domestic policy is very confused and the international implications of the CCS decision are very damaging," said Chris Littlecott at climate thinktank E3G.

Alleged spy Gross felt abandoned by US in Cuba

‎27 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎04:56:10 PMGo to full article
Alan Gross was sentenced by Cuba in 2011 to 15 years for committing "acts against the independence and territorial integrity"US contractor Alan Gross says he was mistreated by his captors and felt abandoned by his own government after Cuba arrested him and accused him of spying. In his first major interview since his release last year, Gross said exercise, family memories and humor kept him going though his five-year ordeal. Gross was contracted by the US Agency for International Development to deliver electronics to Jewish groups when he was arrested in Havana in December 2009.

Asian soccer body urges support for FIFA candidate Salman

‎27 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎01:29:45 PMGo to full article
GENEVA (AP) — FIFA presidential candidate Sheikh Salman received an endorsement Friday from his executive committee colleagues at the Asian soccer confederation.

Asia stocks lower amid Thanksgiving trading lull

‎27 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎05:40:25 AMGo to full article
TOKYO (AP) — Asian stocks markets were lower in muted trading Friday after Wall Street was closed for the Thanksgiving holiday, and investors continued to watch for developments in tense relations between Russia and Turkey.

Japan ready to submit proposal for Australia submarine deal

‎27 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎04:34:11 AMGo to full article
This Dec. 5, 2007 photo, shows Japanese navy submarine Soryu during a launching ceremony at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Kobe dockyard in Kobe, western Japan. Japan says it is preparing to make a bid Monday, Nov. 30, 2015 on joint development and production of an Australian submarine, Tokyo's first major military transfer since the World War II. Officials refused to give details, but Japanese media speculate that the proposals feature the Soryu-class diesel-powered propulsion system with advanced stealth capabilities. (Kyodo News via AP) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDITTOKYO (AP) — Japan is set to bid on joint development and production of an Australian submarine, Tokyo's first major military transfer since the World War II.

Hopes for Singapore resurgence as Malaysian partnership ends

‎27 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎03:07:24 AMGo to full article
FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2014 file photo, Malaysia's Muslim Ahmad, left, and Singapore's Shahfiq Ghani compete for the ball during their AFF Suzuki Cup Group B soccer match in Singapore. Fifty years ago Malaysian and Singapore parted ways to form two separate countries, a decision that helped to kick start the economic miracle that subsequently took place in the Lion City. In the early hours of morning on Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2015, the nations’ football associations made a similar decision, but it remains to be seen if Singapore soccer can follow in the footsteps of its economy. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E, File)KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Fifty years ago Malaysian and Singapore parted ways to form two separate countries, a decision that helped to kick start the economic miracle that subsequently took place in the Lion City.

President starts talks on new PM in deadlocked Croatia

‎26 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎10:46:55 PMGo to full article
Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, pictured on October 9, 2015, opened talks with parliamentary parties to try and name a prime minister-designate and end a political stalemateCroatia's president opened talks with parliamentary parties Thursday to try and name a prime minister-designate and end a political stalemate after an election 18 days ago failed to produce an outright winner. The lack of a decisive outcome has caused concerns among analysts, coming as a huge influx of migrants passes through the European Union's newest member, which is slowly emerging from six years of recession and in need of economic reforms. The centre-left alliance, led by the Social Democrats and Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic, won 56 seats but has since secured the support of 10 deputies from smaller parties and minority groups, increasing its chances of staying in power.

North, South Korea agree to high-level talks next month

‎26 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎07:27:47 PMGo to full article
South Korean chief delegate Kim Ki-Woong (right) shakes hands with his North Korean counterpart Hwang Chol during their meeting at the truce village of Panmunjom, on November 26, 2015A Unification Ministry official in Seoul said the two sides would meet at the deputy minister level on December 11 in the Kaesong joint industrial zone, just inside North Korea. Unification Ministry Spokesman Jeong Joon-Hee told reporters that the North Koreans had initially demanded a set agenda for the Kaesong meeting, but later agreed to Seoul's proposal for a "comprehensive discussion of pending issues related to improving ties". A similar effort back in June 2013 saw both sides agree to hold what would have been the first high-level dialogue for six years -- only for Pyongyang to cancel a day before the talks were scheduled to begin.

Stranded migrants try to storm into Macedonia, tear down fence

‎26 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎06:20:06 PMGo to full article
A migrant tries to escape from Macedonian police officers as he tries to cross the Greek-Macedonian border near the Greek village of IdomeniHundreds of Moroccans, Algerians and Pakistanis tried to storm the border between Greece and Macedonia on Thursday, tearing down part of the barbed wire fence at the crossing and demanding to be allowed to carry on into northern Europe. Some threw stones at police while others fell to their knees shouting, "We want to go to Germany!" A few ran across into Macedonia but were quickly detained by police. Police in riot gear guarded a gap where migrants had torn down about 30-40 meters of fence, and a Reuters photographer saw riot police armed with assault rifles.

Thai poultry producers accused of labor abuses

‎26 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎06:04:29 PMGo to full article
BANGKOK (AP) — Poultry exported to Europe from factories in Thailand is sometimes prepared in conditions that violate labor rights, two Scandinavian groups promoting corporate responsibility charged Thursday. The claim comes as Thailand's seafood industry is reeling from allegations that its products are tainted by major labor abuses, including slavery on fishing boats.

South Africa moves closer to legal trade in rhino horns

‎26 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎05:00:23 PMGo to full article
FILE - In this file photo taken Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014 a darted rhino is blind-folded before being grounded for skin and blood samples to be taken, and microchipped, near Skukuza, South Africa, before being transported by truck to an area hopefully safe from poachers in a bid to cut down on the numbers killed by poachers. A South African Judge on Thursday, Nov. 26, 2015, struck down a government ban on the domestic trade in rhino horns, alarming some conservationists who say the decision could intensify the slaughter of the threatened species. (AP Photo/Denis Farrell, File)JOHANNESBURG (AP) — A South African court on Thursday opened the way to allowing local trade in rhino horns, alarming some conservationists who warned the ruling leaves rhinos even more vulnerable to poachers who are slaughtering them in record numbers.

Image of Asia: Trying to reclaim what's left of their homes

‎26 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎04:15:41 PMGo to full article
Fire survivors sift through the debris, a day after a huge fire razed an informal settlers' community in suburban Mandaluyong city, east of Manila, Philippines Thursday, Nov. 26, 2015. Fire officials say no casualties were reported but about 800 houses were razed and thousands of informal settlers were rendered homeless. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)In this photo by Bullit Marquez, fire survivors sift through the debris after a huge fire razed an informal settlers' community in suburban Mandaluyong city, east of Manila, Philippines. The fire destroyed about 800 houses that were home to thousands of people, many of whom returned to the community Thursday to try to salvage what remained of their belongings. People without a place to go were staying at a city gymnasium. Fire officials reported no casualties.

Afghan president sacks security officials over fall of Kunduz

‎26 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎03:50:51 PMGo to full article
Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani speaks during a news conference in Kabul, AfghanistanBy Feroz Sultani KUNDUZ, Afghanistan (Reuters) - Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Thursday dismissed national security agency officials who he said had neglected their duty to defend the northern city of Kunduz, which Taliban militants briefly captured in September. The Taliban's seizure of the city was a major setback for the government, and prompted Washington to prolong the 14-year-old U.S. military engagement in Afghanistan. Government forces wrested back control of the city after days of fighting in which a U.S. air strike destroyed a hospital run by the Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) aid group, killing 30 people.

South African judge lifts domestic ban on rhino horn trade

‎26 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎03:36:01 PMGo to full article
South Africa says 1,215 rhinos were killed in 2014 for their horn which is used as a traditional medicine in East AsiaA South African judge on Thursday lifted a domestic ban on trade in rhino horns, alarming conservationists who described it as an "extremely dangerous move" that could worsen a poaching crisis. The government said it planned to appeal against the ruling, which was delivered in the Pretoria High Court after two South African game breeders fought a legal battle to overturn the moratorium. The court decision came ahead of a meeting in Johannesburg next year of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which could lift the global ban.

France, Italy see need to stop Islamic State in Libya

‎26 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎03:11:47 PMGo to full article
World powers need to step up efforts to stop Islamic State gaining ground in Libya while keeping up the fight against the militant group in Syria and Iraq, France and Italy said on Thursday. French President Francois Hollande and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, who met in Paris, expressed concern that instability in the North African country was providing fertile soil for IS to flourish, with Renzi warning that Libya risked becoming "the next emergency". France is pushing for a grand coalition of world powers to destroy the militant group following the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris and Hollande, after meeting Renzi, spoke of the need for a Libyan government of national unity to end anarchy.

Child marriages set to soar in Africa: UNICEF

‎26 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎01:19:25 PMGo to full article
Africa's population of girls is expected to balloon from the current 275 million to 465 million within 35 yearsChild marriages in Africa are set to more than double by 2050 unless urgent steps are taken, UNICEF warned Thursday as delegates met in Zambia to discuss how to halt the practice. The two-day meeting in Lusaka is the African Union's first conference on "Ending Child Marriage in Africa", gathering representatives from member states as well as first ladies, UN officials and civil society groups. "The total number of child brides will rise from 125 million to 310 million by 2050... if we do not do something now," UNICEF deputy executive director Fatoumata Ndiaye told AFP.

Russia to help Cambodia build capacity for nuclear power

‎26 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎11:43:19 AMGo to full article
YEKATERINBURG, Russia/PHNOM PENH (Reuters) - Russia will help Cambodia work towards building a nuclear power plant under an agreement the two countries signed this week, said Sergei Kirienko, the head of state nuclear firm Rosatom. Cambodia depends heavily on imported fuel and power. "The Cambodian government is mulling, in future, a nuclear power station construction," Kirienko told reporters on Wednesday when asked about the agreement.

China's carbon footprint grows with the good life

‎26 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎09:21:23 AMGo to full article
Chen Jian, 33, son of peach farmers, poses for a photo in ShanghaiThe son of peach farmers, Chen Jian relishes the fruits of his middle class life, driving to work and flying on holiday, epitomising how China's carbon footprint has grown alongside the prosperity of its nearly 1.4 billion people. China's ruling Communist Party bases its claim to legitimacy on delivering better lives to the world's most populous country, and since it embraced the market it has overseen a boom that created a burgeoning middle class, now 300 million strong. Average incomes remain far below those of the United States, but China -- now the world's second largest economy -- is already the biggest international market for both cars and smartphones.

South Korea fines Volkswagen, orders recall over emissions cheating

‎26 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎08:35:24 AMGo to full article
A logo of Volkswagen is seen at a dealership in SeoulSouth Korea on Thursday became the first country outside the United States to punish Volkswagen AG on the basis of its own emissions tests, slapping the German automaker with a record fine and ordering a recall of 125,522 vehicles. The environment ministry said it ordered Volkswagen Korea to submit a recall plan by Jan. 6, 2016, after its own testing showed Europe's biggest auto manufacturer manipulated devices that record diesel emissions in vehicles with older engines. It also fined Volkswagen Korea 14.1 billion won ($12.31 million), the steepest financial penalty imposed on an automaker in Asia's fourth-biggest economy, a decision that could scare some buyers off imported cars generally.

Philippine economy grew 6 percent in 3Q as services expanded

‎26 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎08:05:39 AMGo to full article
MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippine economy expanded 6 percent in the third quarter and officials Thursday forecast at least the same growth rate for the full year but warned of risks from the El Nino dry spell and presidential elections in 2016.

Asian stocks rise on expectations for Europe stimulus

‎26 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎06:23:30 AMGo to full article
Asian stocks rise on expectations for Europe stimulusSEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Asian stocks were higher Thursday on expectations for additional European Central Bank stimulus as jitters about tensions between Russia and Turkey faded.

Number of African child brides to soar by 2050 as population grows: U.N.

‎26 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎03:21:50 AMGo to full article
By Katy Migiro NAIROBI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The number of child brides in Africa will more than double by 2050 if current trends persist because of rapid population growth and limited social change, the United Nations children's fund (UNICEF) said on Thursday. Africa will overtake South Asia as the region with the largest number of child brides, their number soaring to 310 million, more than 40 percent of the global total, in 2050, from 125 million, 25 percent of the total, today. "The sheer number of girls affected - and what this means in terms of lost childhoods and shattered futures - underline the urgency of banning the practice of child marriage once and for all," UNICEF executive director Anthony Lake said in a statement at the start of a two-day African Union summit on ending child marriage.

'I didn't know there were risks': African child brides speak out

‎26 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎03:21:06 AMGo to full article
By Kieran Guilbert DAKAR (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The number of child brides in Africa will more than double by 2050 if current trends persist because of rapid population growth and limited social change, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) said on Thursday. Africa will overtake South Asia as the region with the largest number of child brides, their number soaring to 310 million, more than 40 percent of the global total, in 2050, from 125 million, 25 percent of the total, today. Several child brides from West and Central Africa shared their stories of marriage and motherhood.

Factbox: Child brides in Africa to more than double by 2050

‎26 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎03:18:47 AMGo to full article
By Kieran Guilbert DAKAR (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The number of child brides in Africa will soar to 310 million by 2050 from 125 million now if current trends persist, due to slow rates of reduction combined with rapid population growth, according to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). This would see Africa surpass South Asia as the region with the most women aged 20 to 24 who were married as children. Here are some facts about child marriage in Africa and worldwide.

Biden calls for greater cooperation at Europe's borders

‎26 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎12:15:37 AMGo to full article
US Vice-President Joe Biden speaks during a press conference after the Brdo-Brijuni Process summit on November 25, 2015 in ZagrebUS Vice President Joe Biden called at a Western Balkans summit Wednesday for greater cooperation at European borders to deal with the flow of migrants and to fight terrorist threats. Biden's attendance at the meeting of presidents in Zagreb was seen as highlighting Washington's renewed interest in the fragile Western Balkans as the region deals with an unprecedented influx of refugees and other migrants. "It is clear there is a need to improve cross-border cooperation, information sharing and to deal with the flow of refugees while stepping up our ability to counter terrorist threats as well," Biden said afer the summit.

Aid to rural poor needed to stem migrant crisis, UN says

‎25 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎11:59:21 PMGo to full article
A sustainable solution to Europe's migrant crisis must involve investment to improve the lives of the rural poor, according to a November 25 statement from Mukhisa Kituyi, head of the UN Conference on Trade and Development, pictured November 23, 2015Fixing the migrant crisis requires rich nations to invest in rural areas and agriculture in the world's poorest countries, the UN said Wednesday. "There can be no sustainable solution to the migration crisis without a poverty eradication-oriented strategy to transforming rural economies" in least-developed countries (LDCs), the head of the UN's Conference on Trade and Development, Mukhisa Kituyi, said in a statement. The UNCTAD's annual report on the 48 economies categorised as LDCs detailed the extent of rural poverty afflicting many areas, including incomes languishing as low as $0.10 (0.09 euros) per day in parts of Africa.

Russian tourists run out of sunny options as Turkey tensions rise

‎25 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎11:39:26 PMGo to full article
A protester shouts slogans during a demonstration in front of the Turkish embassy in Moscow on November 25, 2015Tensions following Turkey's downing of a Russian fighter jet have shrunk the horizon for Russian tourists in search for sunnier climes -- and for battered tour operators. Foreign travel had already been under a dark shadow from a weak economy and the severing of air ties with Egypt after the bombing of a passenger jet. Officials led by president Vladimir Putin warned Russians against travelling to Turkey and insisted the country was no safer than Egypt, where a Russian charter plane flying from the resort city of Sharm El-Sheikh to Saint Petersburg was downed by a bomb last month, killing all 224 people on board.

Biden meets Balkan leaders at summit on refugees, threats

‎25 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎09:21:59 PMGo to full article
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, second from right, talks to Slovenian President Borut Pahor, third from right, in Zagreb, Croatia, Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2015. Biden attends a conference of southern and eastern European leaders to discuss the surge of migration this year. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic, Pool)ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) — Former Balkan rivals on Wednesday pledged joint efforts with the United States and the European Union in protecting European borders from a record surge of asylum-seekers amid fears that Islamic militants may have infiltrated the flow.

UN weather agency: It's record hot out there this year

‎25 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎06:18:32 PMGo to full article
FILE - In this May 31, 2015 file photo, an Indian man rests in front of an air cooler to cool himself on a hot summer day in Hyderabad, in the southern Indian state of Telangana. Because of man-made global warming and a strong El Nino, Earth’s wild weather this year is bursting the annual heat record, the World Meteorological Organization announced Wednesday. (AP Photo/Mahesh Kumar A., File)WASHINGTON (AP) — Because of man-made global warming and a strong El Nino, Earth's wild weather this year is bursting the annual heat record, the World Meteorological Organization announced on Wednesday.

Image of Asia: Gathering fallen leaves to make charcoal

‎25 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎03:09:22 PMGo to full article
Kashmiri women collect fallen dry leaves on the outskirts of Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir, Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2015. Kashmiris collect fallen leaves in autumn to make charcoal for use during winters. (AP Photo/Mukhtar Khan)In this photo by Mukhtar Khan, women collect dry leaves of willow, poplar and maple trees on the outskirts of Srinagar in Indian-controlled Kashmir. Kashmiris collect fallen leaves in autumn to make charcoal for keeping themselves warm and cooking during winter. The dried leaves are half burnt to get charcoal. Kashmiris use "kangri" pots filled with hot charcoal embers and carried beneath their traditional clothing for personal warmth. Winter temperatures typically drop below freezing in the Himalayan territory and heavy snows make roads impassable.

Days before summit, Turkey, EU face big hurdles to migration deal

‎25 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎02:57:02 PMGo to full article
A Turkish Gendarme asks a refugee woman to leave from the shore as a group a refugees try to sail off for the Greek island of Chios by dinghies, in the western Turkish coastal town of Cesme, in Izmir province, TurkeyBy Robin Emmott and Francesco Guarascio BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Prospects for a grand bargain between Europe and Turkey to stem a flow of migrants into the continent are uncertain days before a summit on Sunday meant to seal a deal and put fraying relations back on a firm footing, EU and Turkish officials say. How much money Turkey will receive for settling more Syrian migrants, the pace at which Turkey's long-stalled EU membership bid can be accelerated and whether Brussels can deliver on its promise of easier travel for Turks are all unresolved. "We are not there yet," said a senior European Union official.

AP staffers win prestigious Indian journalism awards

‎25 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎01:06:58 PMGo to full article
In this Nov. 23, 2015 photo, The Associated Press New Delhi-based Correspondent Katy Daigle, left, and Srinagar-based photographer Yasin Dar pose for a picture after receiving the Ramnath Goenka Excellence Award in Journalism, in New Delhi. AP journalists Daigle and Dar are among the winners of the Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Awards, India's most prestigious, for work exposing the environmental damage done by the country’s asbestos industry and capturing the devastation of last year’s floods in the Kashmir region. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)NEW DELHI (AP) — Two Associated Press journalists are among the winners of the Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Awards, India's most prestigious, for work exposing the public health and environmental damage done by the country's asbestos industry and capturing the devastation of last year's floods in the Kashmir region.

Thai constitution could give free rein to military abuses, says rights group

‎25 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎09:43:04 AMGo to full article
Soldiers stand guard at the vicinity of the Victory Monument in BangkokA proposal by Thailand's junta for a provision in the constitution exempting the military from prosecution would allow the armed forces to commit abuses with impunity, a rights group said on Wednesday. The junta, known as the National Council for Peace and Order, has suggested the inclusion of a section that says if military force is "carried out with honest intention" in the interest of national security then military personnel should be exempt from prosecution.

Under junta rule, Thailand pivots towards China

‎25 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎07:46:31 AMGo to full article
A Chinese J-10 aircraft from the People's Liberation Army Air Force flies upside down during the combined excercise "Falcon Strike 2015" at the Wing 1 Korat air base in Korat, ThailandFor the last two weeks Thai and Chinese planes have been taking part in the inaugural joint air force drill, an exercise culminating later this week with a performance by Beijing's acrobatic air team. For Group Captain Chanon Mungthanya, a Royal Thai Air Force spokesman involved in the drill at Korat, it is a valuable opportunity to interact with his Chinese counterparts. Historically, Thailand has been one of Washington's staunchest military allies in Southeast Asia and could have expected to see that relationship blossom under US President Barack Obama's "pivot" to Asia.

China says Communist Party officials among Xinjiang attackers

‎25 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎07:30:46 AMGo to full article
Paramilitary police stand guard outside a shopping mall in Hotan, in China's western Xinjiang region on April 16, 2015Officials from China's ruling Communist Party have supported violent attacks in restive Xinjiang, a top regional official said in remarks highlighting internal opposition to tough local policies. China blames the violence on Islamist separatists but rights groups point to Beijing's own actions as a driver. Xu Hairong, the region's top anti-graft official, accused some local party members of participating in the unrest, pointing to a division in implementing Beijing's anti-separatist stance.

Shareholders foil Hong Kong tycoon Li's $12.4 billion deal

‎25 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎05:46:45 AMGo to full article
HONG KONG (AP) — Shareholders have foiled Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing's $12.4 billion proposal to combine his infrastructure and utility companies, dealing a setback to the billionaire known as "Superman" for his business acumen.

Singapore cuts 2015 growth forecast to 2 percent

‎25 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎05:02:51 AMGo to full article
SINGAPORE (AP) — Singapore lowered its growth forecast for 2015 because of weakness in manufacturing and said gains will continue to be modest next year even as the global economy improves.

U.N. decries Balkans border curbs on refugees; arrivals in Greece fall

‎25 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎12:25:52 AMGo to full article
Austrian soldier fixes the fence as migrants wait to cross the border into Spielfeld in Austria from the village of Sentilj, SloveniaBy Stephanie Nebehay GENEVA (Reuters) - The United Nations on Tuesday condemned new restrictions on refugees that have left around 1,000 migrants stuck at the main border crossing into Macedonia from Greece, denied entry due to their nationalities in violation of international law. "Profiling asylum seekers on the basis of their alleged nationality infringes the human right of all people to seek asylum, irrespective of their nationality and to have their individual cases heard," U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon said in a statement issued by his press office. "Talk about a sharp drop in the number of refugee arrivals to Greece may be premature.

New leader may not mean new climate policies, despite Australian solar success

‎25 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎12:23:43 AMGo to full article
Fisk moves a solar panel at the solar power installation company's Sydney facilityBy Matt Siegel and Byron Kaye SYDNEY (Reuters) - Soaring electricity prices, high solar panel uptake and plenty of sunshine are pushing Australia to the forefront of a solar battery storage revolution driven by Silicon Valley firms like Tesla Motors Inc and Enphase. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will face intense scrutiny at the upcoming global climate change summit in Paris for signs of a shift from the man he replaced in a September party coup, climate sceptic Tony Abbott.

India's ruling party confronts Gandhis as parliament gathers

‎25 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎12:13:21 AMGo to full article
Congress party chief Sonia and her son and vice-president of Congress Rahul arrive to address a news conference in New DelhiBy Douglas Busvine and Rupam Jain Nair NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has just suffered a bruising election setback, yet his party appears in no mood to compromise with the main political opposition to get stalled economic reforms back on track. Instead, the nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has launched an all-out offensive against the Congress party, in a potentially dangerous game of brinkmanship that risks turning the next parliamentary session into a prolonged slanging match. "It's a political vendetta," said veteran newspaper editor and commentator Shekhar Gupta of the BJP's attacks on Congress, and specifically Rahul Gandhi, heir apparent to his mother and party leader Sonia Gandhi.

The Latest: France says it has struck IS center in Iraq

‎24 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎11:45:00 PMGo to full article
President Barack Obama shakes hands with French President Francois Hollande during their news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015. Hollande's visit to Washington is part of a diplomatic offensive to get the international community to bolster the campaign against the Islamic State militants. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)WASHINGTON (AP) — The latest on President Barack Obama's meeting with French President Francois Hollande at the White House on the fight against the Islamic State group:

What are the implications of Turkey downing Russian jet?

‎24 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎06:29:50 PMGo to full article
Russia began strikes in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on September 30, over a year after a US-led coalition began strikes in the country against the Islamic State groupNATO member Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jet on its border with Syria on Tuesday, raising concerns over the potential for a further escalation in the more-than- four-year Syrian conflict. Ankara says the plane violated Turkish airspace, but Russian President Vladimir Putin has insisted the jet was over Syria at the time of the strike. Russia is one of several leading powers involved in Syria, where a four-year-old civil war has developed into a proxy war between regional rivals.

Migrants build society in French camp they call 'the jungle'

‎24 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎05:43:28 PMGo to full article
FILE - In this Sunday, Nov. 8, 2015 photo customers stand in front of a makeshift Afghan shop inside the migrants camp in Calais, northern France. Dozens of wooden-framed shops and restaurants, mostly Afghan, stock shelves with supplies bought at Calais supermarkets. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)CALAIS, France (AP) — Outside, acrid smoke from wood fires stings the eye, the stench of uncollected garbage and neglected toilets assaults the nose, and an autumn wind chills the bone. But inside Mimi Amanuel's immaculate wood-framed shack, the nightmare life of Calais' migrant camp cannot overpower a woman's dreams.

UN human rights agency wants Thailand army jail closed

‎24 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎04:01:44 PMGo to full article
BANGKOK (AP) — The U.N. human rights agency on Tuesday called on Thailand to immediately close a military detention center where two high-profile prisoners died in controversial circumstances over the past month.

U.S., Japan naval exercises make 'big step forward'

‎24 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎02:10:11 PMGo to full article
By Tim Kelly USS RONALD REAGAN (Reuters) - The U.S. and Japanese navies established a new level of cooperation to resupply each others vessels during joint exercises in the seas south of Japan last week, the commander of the U.S. Seventh Fleet said on Tuesday. Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin said the delivery of boxes of food and other provisions to a Japanese warship by a U.S. helicopter heralded greater operational integration. "It's a big step forward, and we want to do more of that in the future," Aucoin said at a press conference aboard the USS Ronald Reagan.


Channel NewsAsia 



SGfuture dialogue sessions launched to engage youth on Singapore's future

‎29 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎09:55:13 AMGo to full article
SINGAPORE: SGfuture, an engagement series to spur Singapore youths to envision their hopes and aspirations for Singapore, was launched on Sunday (Nov 29).

The first dialogue session of the engagement series was held on Sunday at The Future of Us exhibition, located near Gardens by the Bay. One of the topics discussed among 100 youths aged between 16 and 35 was exploring how to develop an empathetic society that reaches out to and cares for the elderly.

Participants of the first SGfuture dialogue session held at The Future of Us exhibition. (Photo: Faris Mokhtar)

The youths were also encouraged to turn their ideas and suggestions that were raised during the discussions into reality.

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu, who will co-lead the effort together with Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Chan Chun Sing, said the engagement series is an opportunity to chart the future.

"We kick off the series with our youth, and we hope it will spur more young Singaporeans into thinking how we can build a Singapore that we will continue to be proud of," she explained, speaking at the launch of SGfuture.

The various dialogue sessions will be organised by various Government agencies as well as non-profit organisations. Those interested in participating in the upcoming sessions can do so by signing up at the SGfuture website.

- CNA/xq


Burkina Faso votes to choose first new leader in decades

‎29 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎09:46:12 AMGo to full article
OUAGADOUGOU: Burkina Faso voted on Sunday in an election which will choose the first new president in decades after long time leader Blaise Compaore was overthrown a year ago in an uprising backed by the army.

Compaore ruled the West African country for 27 years until he was ousted by protests against his attempt to change the constitution to maintain his tenure. He was replaced by transitional President Michel Kafando who will step down once the new leader is sworn in.

People watch an electoral campaign for presidential candidate Roch Marc Kabore in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, November 27, 2015. REUTERS/Joe Penney

"I am proud to have accomplished my duty as a citizen ... It's the first time that I can be really sure that we won't end up with Blaise Compaore," said Ousmane Ouedraogo, as he cast his ballot in the capital Ouagadougou.

Fourteen candidates are running but analysts say only two stand a real chance of winning: Roch Marc Kabore, once a prime minister under Compaore, and Zephirin Diabre, a businessman.

Turnout on Sunday is expected to be heavy, given the significance of the vote, but it began slowly when polling stations opened at 6 a.m. local time (0600 GMT), witnesses said. Officials set up ballot boxes and prepared voting materials.

The election was pushed back from Oct. 11 because of an abortive coup in September by members of the elite presidential guard, which has since been disbanded. Burkina Faso is a former French colony that produces gold and cotton.

(Reporting by Mathieu Bonkoungou; Writing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg; Editing by Dominic Evans)

- Reuters


Israeli officers shoot dead Palestinian attacker - police

‎29 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎09:46:03 AMGo to full article
JERUSALEM: Israeli border police shot dead a Palestinian who stabbed an officer in Jerusalem on Sunday, a police spokesman said, the latest attack in a two-month wave of violence.

Near a main gate of Jerusalem's walled Old City, the Palestinian pulled out a knife and stabbed a border policeman in the neck, moderately wounding him, before being shot by officers, the spokesman said.

Almost daily Palestinian stabbings, car rammings and shootings have killed 19 Israelis and one U.S. citizen since Oct. 1.

Israeli forces have killed 94 Palestinians, many of whom were carrying out assaults and others in clashes with police and troops. Many of those killed have been teenagers.

Palestinian allegations that Israel is trying to alter the religious status quo at a Jerusalem holy site, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, where al-Aqsa mosque stands, and to Jews as the Temple Mount, have partly fuelled the violence.

Non-Muslim prayer is banned around al-Aqsa and Israel has said it will not change that. But more visits in recent years by Jewish religious activists and ultra-nationalist Israeli politicians to the complex, where two biblical temples once stood, have done little to convince Palestinians.

Overnight in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron, Israeli forces shut down and confiscated equipment from a Palestinian radio station, the third in recent weeks, that the military said has repeatedly broadcast material which "promotes and encourages terror and acts of violence against Israeli civilians and security forces."

The station owner, Talab al-Jabar, told Reuters that the broadcaster, called Dream, was not inciting, rather reporting on events. "I can tell you that Dream radio will be back on air very soon and it will be stronger," he said.

(Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch, Yusri al-Jamal; Editing by Dominic Evans)

- Reuters


Jerusalem policeman wounded, attacker killed: Police

‎29 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎09:35:39 AMGo to full article
JERUSALEM: A knife attack seriously wounded an Israeli border policeman on Sunday (Nov 29) before fellow officers killed the assailant, police said.

The stabbing struck at Damascus Gate, the main entry point for Palestinians to the walled Old City of Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem.

An Israeli border policeman stands guard at the Damascus Gate at the entrance of the Old City in east Jerusalem. (Photo: AFP/GIL COHEN-MAGEN)

It brought to 99 the number of Palestinians killed in a wave of unrest since Oct 1. More than half of them have been alleged perpetrators of stabbing, shooting and car ramming attacks aimed at Israeli civilians and security forces. The violence has also left 17 Israelis, an American and an Eritrean dead.

Attempts to ease the tensions, including a visit by US Secretary of State John Kerry last week, have proved unsuccessful.

The violence erupted in Jerusalem amid tensions over the sensitive Al-Aqsa mosque compound but swiftly spread to the flashpoint southern West Bank city of Hebron where hundreds of Jewish settlers live under army guard among 200,000 Palestinians.

The army shut down the Dream radio station in the city earlier on Sunday, the third private broadcaster in Hebron it has closed, accusing them of stoking the violence.

An Israeli minister raised the threat last week of shutting down Palestinian public broadcasters too, charging that they were guilty of fanning the flames as well.

- AFP/ek


Singaporeans must work together to shape their future: PM Lee

‎29 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎08:50:21 AMGo to full article
SINGAPORE: The future of Singapore depends on what Singaporeans make of it together, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Sunday (Nov 29).

He was speaking at the launch of the Future of Us exhibition, which offers a glimpse into what living in Singapore could be like in 2030.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the launch of the Future of Us exhibition on Sunday (Nov 29). (Photo: Justin Ong)

"What will our future be like? That's what the Future of Us exhibition is about. It's up to each one of us to voice our hopes and future dreams. To make the choices to realise these dreams. To help one another and work as Team Singapore, to shape our own destiny so that we can build our own Singapore that's inclusive, diverse but united," Mr Lee said.

To that end, the Government is kicking off the SGfuture citizen engagement series. The initiative will be led by ministers Grace Fu and Chan Chun Sing, and will provide Singaporeans with a platform to come together to share their views, aspirations and ideas for the future through discussions and dialogue sessions.

The initiative builds on the nationwide Our Singapore Conversation, the largest feedback-gathering exercise in the nation’s history, which involvedinvolving more than 660 dialogue sessions where Singaporeans discussed their views on Government policies.

Mr Lee said he hoped Singaporeans will help shape their collective future through the engagement series.

"I hope you will step forward to work with fellow Singaporeans to shape our future – the Future of Us," he said. "So that by SG 100, we will have another celebration as happy and satisfying as this."

Mr Lee added: "Fifty years from now, our children can come back and tell their grandchildren: It was here they caught a glimpse of what they could create for the future, and we were moved to turn dreams into reality and to write the next chapter of the Singapore story.

“And that is why after SG50, Singapore continued to be an endearing and shining little red dot for many more years to come."

The Future of Us exhibition runs from Dec 1 to Mar 8. It will be the last major event to round up the nation's SG50 celebrations.

- CNA/cy


Jack Ma's South China Morning Post takeover a double-edged sword

‎29 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎08:44:04 AMGo to full article
HONG KONG: Chinese Internet tycoon Jack Ma's mooted buyout of Hong Kong's struggling South China Morning Post could see the paper prosper from his Midas touch, analysts say, but also further erode its independence and with it the city's press freedoms.

The once globally renowned paper was founded in 1903 and has long given international readers an insider's perspective on Hong Kong and the mainland, providing a window on events from the Mao era to China's 1980s economic awakening and the 1997 handover.

South China Morning Post was founded in 1903 and has long given international readers an insider's perspective on Hong Kong and the mainland AFP/Dale de la Rey

But profits and sales have evaporated, hit by an industry-wide plunge in advertising revenue and unable to deal with the transition to the digital age.

Readers' trust has also dipped as a more pro-Beijing editorial policy has not gone unnoticed in a city that saw tens of thousands take to the streets last year to protest against mainland interference.

Ma, the founder of Chinese e-commerce behemoth Alibaba, is in talks to buy a stake in the paper's publisher, a source familiar with the potential deal told AFP, with discussions reported to be at an advanced stage.

"I think it's a smart move for Jack Ma," said financial analyst Jackson Wong.

"He has tons of cash and he knows how to run a business in China very well."

Links with Alibaba would also give the paper a necessary boost in terms of its online platform, added Wong, associate director for Simsen Financial Group.

Ma founded Alibaba in 1999 and under his stewardship it has become China's biggest e-commerce company, operating consumer-to-consumer platform Taobao, which is estimated to hold more than 90 percent of the mainland market.

It has also branched out, buying ChinaVision Media in 2014 and renaming it Alibaba Pictures, today China's biggest film company, which produced this year's blockbuster "Mission: Impossible -- Rogue Nation".

And it is developing a video and TV streaming service similar to Netflix.

Ma is now looking to move into traditional news, joining the likes of fellow Internet tycoon and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos who bought the Washington Post in 2013.

But there are concerns that under Ma's ownership, the paper's editorial independence will continue to be stripped away -- a process that observers say begun under current owner Malaysian billionaire Robert Kuok.

"For all readers of the South China Morning Post the paper has become progressively pro-Beijing, I think this trend will continue," said Willy Lam of the Chinese University of Hong Kong's Centre for China Studies, a former China editor at the paper.

"Ma has very close ties with the government so I'm sure he doesn't want any so-called embarrassing or offensive articles to appear in the Morning Post after he has taken over," Lam said.

"He... has been a major beneficiary of the Chinese system, so it is logical to expect... that he would not want any criticism of the system."

- A 'loss' for Hong Kong -

The paper's stance had become increasingly pro-Beijing since Kuok, who is heavily invested in China, bought it from media tycoon Rupert Murdoch in 1993.

"I was kicked out because Robert Kuok was very unhappy with what he considered to be (my) excessively critical view on Chinese politics," said Lam, who edited the paper's China section from 1989 until he was dismissed in 2000.

According to Lam, many major Hong Kong-based media companies are increasingly influenced by Chinese shareholders as Beijing seeks to push its authority in the semi-autonomous city.

"For the past several years, they have gradually but relentlessly boosted control over Hong Kong media," he said.

The paper's outgoing editor-in-chief Wang Xiangwei was also accused of muzzling the newspaper to appease Beijing, amid increasing fears Hong Kong is losing its cherished freedoms.

But, as Lam warns, the paper's value remains routed in its journalism, which will be lost if its editorial independence is diminished.

"(Ma) has to walk a fine line, if either the Post or any other major media becomes a propaganda sheet then its value is lost."

Media analyst To Yiu-ming described the Post's pro-Beijing slide and now the potential sale of the paper to Ma as a loss for Hong Kong.

"I think it's lost a channel for expression of liberal news. We've lost a platform for professional journalists to honour their duties," said To, an assistant professor at Hong Kong Baptist University's journalism school.

"It's also a loss for (the) Hong Kong people."



Colorado shooting suspect said 'no more baby parts' - reports

‎29 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎08:20:44 AMGo to full article
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.: The man accused of opening fire at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado and killing three people said "no more baby parts" while he was being arrested, NBC News and other media reported on Saturday, citing unidentified law enforcement sources.

The utterance from suspect Robert Lewis Dear, 57, would appear to reference the controversy surrounding the organization's health services, which include abortion, and its role in delivering fetal tissue to medical researchers.

Ambulances wait on a road leading to a Planned Parenthood center after reports of an active shooter in Colorado Springs, November 27, 2015. REUTERS/Isaiah J. Downing

It could hint at a possible motive for the rampage on Friday, though NBC reported that its sources said investigators still did not know what had motivated the gunman.

Authorities have not discussed a motive for the attack at the Colorado Springs clinic, which left a police officer and two civilians dead and nine people wounded. Federal law enforcement authorities referred questions to local police. Colorado Springs police could not be reached for comment.

"This unconscionable attack was not only a crime against the Colorado Springs community, but a crime against women receiving healthcare services at Planned Parenthood, law enforcement seeking to protect and serve, and other innocent people," Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a statement.

The wounded included five police officers and four civilians, who were listed in good condition at area hospitals.

Garrett Swasey, 44, who was killed in the attack, was a campus police officer for the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs who joined city police in responding to reports of shots fired at the clinic. The father of two served as an elder at Hope Chapel, the church said on its website.

Dear was taken into custody at the Planned Parenthood clinic after an hours-long standoff with police and jailed ahead of a court appearance scheduled for Monday.

It was not clear if Dear, a South Carolina native who appeared to have moved to Colorado last year, had retained an attorney.

Vicki Cowart, chief executive of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, said in a statement that the media reports showed that witnesses confirmed that Dear was motivated by opposition to abortion.

"This is an appalling act of violence targeting access to health care and terrorizing skilled and dedicated health care professionals," she said.

The shooting was believed to be the first fatal attack at an abortion provider in the United States in six years. The Colorado Springs centre has been repeatedly targeted for protests by anti-abortion activists.

Planned Parenthood came under heavy criticism this year after officials of the organization were secretly recorded by an anti-abortion group discussing how to obtain human tissue from aborted foetuses.

The videos have triggered protests over the national non-profit organization's role in such activities and have become an issue in the 2016 presidential election race as conservatives in Congress seek to cut off Planned Parenthood's federal funding. Planned Parenthood has strongly denied doing anything illegal or unethical.

In recent years, Planned Parenthood moved its Colorado Springs clinic to a facility on the city's northwest side that opponents of abortion have called a "fortress."

The Planned Parenthood Federation of America is based in New York and Washington.

At least eight workers at clinics providing abortions have been killed since 1977, according to the National Abortion Federation. The most recent was in 2009 when doctor George Tiller was shot to death at church in Wichita, Kansas.

It said that clinics operated by various groups reported nearly 7,000 incidents of trespassing, vandalism, arson, death threats, and other forms of violence since 1977.


Except for his name and age, police have only said that Dear recently resided in rural Hartsel, Colorado, about 60 miles (96 km) west of Colorado Springs. Official records showed that he has a history of brushes with the law.

Dear lived in a trailer parked 50 yards (meters) off the highway, sharing it with a woman who may have been his wife though she rarely left the property, according to Zigmond Post Jr., who lives about a quarter of a mile (400 meters) away.

Post told Reuters that he first met Dear when a pair of dogs escaped from his property and Dear locked them in his yard. Dear was friendly when Post arrived to retrieve the dogs but took the opportunity to complain about President Barack Obama.

"We got the dogs back and everything and as we were getting ready to leave he handed us some anti-Obama pamphlets and told us to look over them," Post said.

Post said he did not interact with Dear again until Wednesday, when the two men exchanged pleasantries at the post office.

"We all live out here because for some reason or another we like our solitude," Post said. "He seemed like a guy who wouldn't speak unless spoken to."

Post said he believed the woman was still living in Dear's trailer on Saturday morning when police, SWAT teams and firefighters arrived to search it. He said he heard a gunshot from inside before they entered.


Dear was born in South Carolina and lived in Walterboro during the 1990s and early 2000s. He was married in 1995 to Pam Dear and records showed that he had a son, Taylor Dear.

Court records did not show any criminal convictions for Dear in South Carolina, but law enforcement officers were called on several occasions after complaints about him.

According to the Colleton County Sheriff's Office, Dear's wife accused him of assaulting her at their home in 1997, but she declined to file charges against him.

In 2002 he was accused of shooting a neighbour's dog with a pellet gun, and that same year he was arrested after being accused of hiding in the bushes at a neighbour's house and leering at her. Court records showed he was charged with peeping to invade someone's privacy, but the charge was dismissed by a judge and a restraining order was issued against him.

The Colleton County Sheriff's Office also said that Dear had been arrested for animal cruelty in 2003. No court record was available online for that case.

(Additional reporting by Fiona Ortiz in Chicago, Daniel Wallis in Denver, Frank McGurty in New York, Roberta Rampton in Washington and Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; Writing by Fiona Ortiz, Dan Whitcomb and Frank McGurty; Editing by Frances Kerry, Toni Reinhold and Kim Coghill)

- Reuters


Cricket-India's Shastri flays pitch critics

‎29 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎08:20:35 AMGo to full article
NEW DELHI: India team director Ravi Shastri sees nothing wrong in tests finishing inside three days and suggested South Africa could expect another rank turner in the fourth and final fixture in Delhi next week.

India humbled South Africa with two days to spare in the series-opener at Mohali before repeating the feat in another dustbowl in Nagpur on Friday to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the four-match series against the world's top ranked test team.

Forty wickets tumbled in Nagpur with Indian opener Murali Vijay's 40 the top individual score in the low-scoring contest that followed the rained-out second test in Bangalore.

Visiting captain Hashim Amla could not remember if he had faced more challenging conditions but Shastri was unapologetic about the tracks India have rolled out in the series.

"Nothing wrong with it," the former all-rounder told ESPNcricinfo. "I would hope the one in Delhi is absolutely the same. I have no qualms about it.

"It just goes to show that with the amount of one-day cricket being played, the tendency to graft, the tendency to spend long hours at the crease is diminishing.

"(The pitch was) absolutely not (a problem). It's on both sides...You have to stop cribbing and get on with the job at hand."

Far from being worried about tests finishing prematurely, Shastri said he would prefer such results to run feasts like that in Perth, where Australia and New Zealand scored a combined 1,672 runs in the drawn second test recently.

"Nothing wrong with that (matches finishing inside three days). It (Nagpur) was a test match that was moving all the time. You compare this test to the test match in Perth, I would pay money for a ticket for this game... To hell with the five days."

On a track that offered prodigious turn from day one, the Indian spinners claimed all 20 South African wickets in Nagpur, offie Ravichandran Ashwin taking 12 alone.

Australia all-rounder Glenn Maxwell called the pitch "diabolical" while compatriot and former opener Matthew Hayden termed it "Bunsen Burner", a slang for a turner.

"Let them sit in Australia and talk about their pitches. Tell them not to waste their time about Indian tracks. Come and play here," said Shastri.

"Which rule tells me that a ball can't turn on day one? Where does it tell me in the rulebook it can only swing and seam?" he added.

(Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; editing by Patrick Johnston)

- Reuters


Local Jones holds off Spieth, Scott to win Australian Open

‎29 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎08:20:32 AMGo to full article
SYDNEY: Matt Jones held off world number one Jordan Spieth and a charging Adam Scott on his home course to win the Australian Open by a stroke after a dramatic final round on Sunday.

Leading by three shots overnight, Jones gave his pursuers every chance with a double and triple bogey on the front nine, but four birdies in a two-over-par 73 proved enough for victory on eight-under-par at the Australian Golf Club.

Defending champion Spieth had a 15-foot eagle putt at the last to force a playoff but sent his ball wide of the hole and had to settle for a 71 and a share of second place with Scott.

"That was very stressful, it wasn't comfortable out there for me," an emotional Jones said after receiving the Stonehaven Cup for the first time.

"I've watched the Australian Open for many years and just to have my name on that trophy is something I'll never forget."

Scott, still seeking his first title of the year, had surged up the leaderboard with a seven-birdie 65 to move to seven-under on another blustery day in Sydney.

His compatriot Rod Pampling had earlier sunk a 60-foot eagle putt on the 18th green for a course record 10-under 61, which was good enough for fourth on six-under.

Pampling's stunning score bettered the 63 Spieth carded to win the title last year, a final round that had given the American high hopes he could overhaul Jones's overnight lead.

The 35-year-old Australian dropped three shots by going bogey-double bogey on the first two holes but Spieth also bogeyed them and the final group dropped back towards the chasing pack.

Jones recovered with birdies at the fourth and sixth but a calamitous triple bogey at the ninth after hitting the trees and plunging into the water saw him drop to six-under, level with clubhouse leader Pampling.

Spieth drained an eight-foot downhill putt on the 11th to also move to six-under and Scott, ahead on the 14th, joined him to make it a four-way tie for the lead.

The American's parity was short-lived and another visit to the greenside sand saw him bogey the 12th just before Jones brilliantly chipped in from a bunker to save par.

Jones inched ahead on seven-under with his third birdie at the par-five 14th, which Spieth matched to rejoin Pampling and Scott in second place.

Another fine approach shot to the 18th, which he eagled on Saturday to keep his title hopes alive, saw Scott birdie the last to move back to the top of the leaderboard with Jones.

Jones birdied the 16th to move a shot ahead again, however, and he held his nerve despite finding the trees twice on the 17th to clinch the Stonehaven Cup with a short par putt on the final green.

(Editing by Julian Linden)

- Reuters


Australia chase 187 to seal series in Adelaide

‎29 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎08:20:29 AMGo to full article
ADELAIDE: Australia bowled New Zealand out for 208 on Sunday to set up a 187-run target to seal the three-match series 2-0 in the final test in Adelaide.

New Zealand resumed on 116-5 and lost their last five wickets for 92 runs on a sun-bathed afternoon at Adelaide Oval.

Australia's Josh Hazlewood (R) bowls New Zealand's Trent Boult for five runs during the third day of the third cricket test match at the Adelaide Oval, in South Australia, November 29, 2015. REUTERS/David Gray

Josh Hazlewood finished with 6-70 for career-best match figures of 9-136, stepping up in the absence of injured pace spearhead Mitchell Starc in test cricket's inaugural day-night match.

Debutant all-rounder Mitchell Santner anchored a rearguard action with an impressive 45 but his stumping after the drinks break off the bowling of Nathan Lyon quashed the tourists' hopes of a more defendable total.

BJ Watling resumed on seven, with Santner on 13 but the partnership added no run before it was broken on the ninth ball of the day by Hazlewood.

Wicketkeeper Watling edged the paceman into the slips and Australia captain Steven Smith took a fine, lunging catch having put down two chances late on day two.

Hazlewood celebrated his fifth wicket of the innings by having spinner Mark Craig caught behind for 15.

Doug Bracewell joined Santner out in the middle and the pair compiled a useful 35-run partnership, with Bracewell pulling fellow paceman Peter Siddle over the fence for six.

Fast bowling all-rounder Mitchell Marsh captured his third wicket when Tim Southee, on 16, miscued a pull to the rope where Lyon jogged across to take the catch.

Bracewell kept slogging as number 11 batsman Trent Boult joined him and he finished with a handy unbeaten 27.

But Hazlewood put an end to the resistance by bowling Boult who swiped wildly at a straighter delivery to be out for five.

With a whole session in the sun to chip away at New Zealand's total before the more perilous twilight period, Australia's batsmen will have high hopes of completing an emphatic victory within three days.

(Editing by Patrick Johnston)

- Reuters


Hong Kong's dolphins at risk of disappearing

‎29 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎07:59:16 AMGo to full article
HONG KONG: As Hong Kong seeks to expand its international airport and with a major new bridge project under way, campaigners warn that the dwindling number of much-loved pink dolphins in surrounding waters may disappear altogether.

Conservationists say their repeated concerns have fallen on deaf ears, with what they describe as a "rapid" decline of the mammal in the past few decades.

The Chinese white dolphin -- popularly known as the pink dolphin due to its pale pink colouring -- draws scores of tourists daily to the waters north of Hong Kong's Lantau island AFP

The Chinese white dolphin -- popularly known as the pink dolphin due to its pale pink colouring -- draws scores of tourists daily to the waters north of Hong Kong's Lantau island.

It also became Hong Kong's official mascot for the handover ceremony in 1997, when Britain returned the territory to China.

But despite the affection felt towards the dolphin, campaigners say there may soon be none left.

The proposed construction of a third runway at Hong Kong's busy Chek Lap Kok airport could be the nail in the coffin, they say.

"We think that if that project goes ahead, then it will probably drive the dolphin away from Hong Kong waters," said Samuel Hung, chairman of the Hong Kong Dolphin Conservation Society, who has been going out to sea at least twice a week to monitor dolphin activity for almost 20 years.

"In some ways it seems like we are pushing them closer and closer to the edge of the cliff and if we're making that final push, they will be gone forever. I think now is the time to get our act together."

Hung says there are only around 60 dolphins left in Hong Kong waters -- a drop from 158 in 2003.

"The dolphin decline is caused by a number of factors, including overfishing and environmental pollution... but I think the major contribution is coming from the increase of high-speed ferry traffic," Hung said.

The dolphins have either gone to neighbouring Chinese waters or may have died off, says Hung.


Dolphin habitats have also been affected by the ongoing construction of a 50-kilometre (30-mile) bridge connecting Hong Kong to the gambling enclave of Macau.

The bridge looms on the horizon behind the village of Tai O, on the western tip of Lantau island, from where dozens of dolphin tours go out daily.

"Since the construction of the bridge in 2012 the situation has worsened," says Hung, who blames land reclamation encroaching on dolphin habitats and continuing construction creating disturbance.

The WWF recently placed volunteers on the dolphin-spotting boats to tell tourists about the problems the animals are facing.

"Pollution is quite serious in the air and water... We worry about the marine life being affected," said Hong Kong bank worker Yeung Ka-yan, 30, after taking a short boat trip.

"We were a little disappointed," added her boyfriend, a 26-year-old chef from Taiwan, after failing to spot any dolphins -- a scenario that could become all too common in the years ahead if conservationists' fears are realised.


Tourist boat operator Wong Yung-kan, who was born in Tai O and has lived most of his life there, said residents used to dislike the dolphins because they ate catch from fishermen's nets, when fishing was the village's most important trade.

"Now the fishing industry has reduced in size, we have had to change our line of work from fishing to taking tourists out on boats to see dolphins," said Wong, 67.

Dolphin-watching accounts for 10 percent of Tai O's tourism business.

"Of course we want them to remain here... the tourists will be happier and we'll be happier as well," adds Wong.

Unlike conservationists, he says he is optimistic for the dolphins' future -- but if the worst happens, villagers will adapt as they did before.

"These natural things won't disappear... if you are not actively eliminating them, then they won't go away," Wong told AFP.

"(But) if this species has to go extinct, there's nothing we can do about it. We can find another way to make a living. People know how to cope with change."

The government refused to be interviewed but told AFP in an email that potential impacts the proposed third-runway could have on the pink dolphins had been "properly assessed and addressed".

"To compensate for the permanent loss of Chinese white dolphin habitats arising from the land formation works, the designation of a new marine park of approximately 2,400 ha (24 square kilometres) in the waters north of the third-runway project has been proposed," the statement from the agriculture, fisheries and conservation department said.

But campaigners criticised the plan, saying the marine park would not be established until at least 2023, when reclamation work for the third runway is expected to finish.

"We don't even know whether the dolphin can hang on and survive and wait," Hung said.

"We have been following some of them for nearly 20 years so those are our old friends.

"They don't realise that there is more disaster waiting for them."



Lie detectors, solitary: How South Korea screens refugees

‎29 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎07:35:23 AMGo to full article
SEOUL: South Korea has spent decades screening refugees from a hostile neighbour but some enemy agents manage to get through, underlining the challenges Western nations face in dealing with a far larger influx of people escaping the war in Syria.

Seoul uses lie detectors, interrogation and a screening process that includes keeping people in solitary confinement to catch North Korean agents among genuine asylum seekers.

Former North Koreans talk in front of the community center of Abaimaul, or "Town of Grandpas" in North Korean dialect, a village of low-lying houses by the port of Sokcho, east of Seoul, in this September 17, 2007 file photo. REUTERS/Han Jae-Ho/Files

Still, between 2003 and 2013, of the 49 North Korean spies apprehended in the South, 21 entered the country posing as refugees, according to the country's justice ministry.

"The question of spies slipping through is always a problem, and we need to make the process more meticulous and advanced," said Shin Kyung-min, the ranking opposition member of the South Korean parliament's intelligence committee.

"But it's not like we can stop taking in North Korean defectors because of that," Shin told Reuters.

There are growing calls in the United States and in Europe to bar tens of thousands of refugees fleeing Syria's civil war following this month's Paris attacks because of concerns that vetting processes are not stringent enough and that extremists planning attacks could slip through.

More than 1,000 North Koreans defect to the South every year and are held for up to 180 days while they are screened. If they clear that, the refugees are transferred to a resettlement complex, which they cannot leave, for another 12 weeks to help them adjust to life in the South.

New North Korean arrivals to the South, who typically enter via a third country, are brought to a facility in Siheung on the southern outskirts of Seoul. There, they are separated for questioning on their backgrounds and lives in the North, spending time in solitary but comfortable rooms.

No exception is made for families or children, who are taken from their parents and face similar questioning, according to a civic group.

"It was like writing my autobiography," said a 59-year-old female defector who spent three months at the interrogation centre from 2012 and asked that she not be named because she is not supposed to talk about the process.

"I talked about my whole life in chronological order and got checked," she told Reuters.

"I came here to change my life so there was nothing that I was afraid of."

Lie detectors are used as a basic tool, as many defectors from the isolated and impoverished North are undocumented, a former National Intelligence Service official said.

A typical interrogation starts with the defector's address, and the programme has built a database with locations, names and other details to compare with their story, Shin, the lawmaker said.

The National Intelligence Service declined to comment for this article.

The programme has succeeded in weeding out about 120 bogus defectors and 14 spies, local media reports last year said, citing intelligence officials. Fake defectors are believed mainly to consist of ethnic Korean citizens of mainland China. The numbers could not be independently verified.

Those found not to be North Korean defectors are deported, while those determined to be spies are prosecuted, according to South Korean authorities.


Pyongyang is believed to have begun sending spies posing as defectors to the South in the late 1990s when large batches of refugees fled a massive, deadly famine.

Before that, South Korea occasionally caught armed spies who had infiltrated from across the militarised border, or via small submarines in the dark of night. Some confrontations between North Korean agents and South Korean security forces ended in deadly gunfights.

"It is not an easy process because they are disguised as refugees, highly trained, dispatched by counter-South espionage agencies," said Jun Ok-hyun, a former deputy director of South Korea's spy agency who retired in 2009.

"The more defectors come, the stronger the review process should be because it could be easier for North Korea to send spies as fake refugees," he told Reuters.

Once refugees are cleared by intelligence officials, they move to a resettlement centre where they learn practical aspects of life in the modern, capitalist South, such as using an ATM and the differences in local usage of a common language that has evolved separately during seven decades of division.

They also get health checks, nutritional support and vocational training.

When defectors leave the resettlement centre and move into the general population, police officers are assigned to protect and manage them, according to police officials who declined to elaborate.

Shin, the opposition lawmaker, noted that most North Koreans entering the South are genuine refugees and said the screening programme is "quite impressive".

"The challenge for us is to pick out the spies getting increasingly sophisticated in fabricating their stories."

(Editing by Tony Munroe and Raju Gopalakrishnan)

- Reuters


Brazil confirms zica virus link to fetal brain-damage outbreak

‎29 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎06:40:07 AMGo to full article
RIO DE JANEIRO: A link between a form of fetal brain damage and the mosquito-born zica virus has been confirmed by Brazilian health authorities on Saturday.

The link between zica, first medically identified as a new disease half a century ago, and birth defects has never been made.

A female Aedes aegypti mosquito is shown in this 2006 Center for Disease Control (CDC) photograph released to Reuters on October 30, 2013. REUTERS/James Gathany/CDC/Handout via Reuters/Files

The virus, endemic in parts Africa, South America, Southeast Asia and some Pacific Islands, has until now been blamed for symptoms such as fever, mild headache, skin rashes, joint pain and conjunctivitis, or "red eye."

Initial analysis shows that the virus can be passed to a fetus and that the fetus is at greatest risk from the virus during the first three months of pregnancy, the statements said.

More tests and studies are needed to clarify the exact method of transmission and infection, the statement added.

A surge in recent months of babies born with microcephaly, or an unnaturally small brain, in Brazil's northeast, led authorities to suspect the virus may have more sinister effects than previously recorded, the ministry said.

Microcephalic children can suffer developmental and intellectual difficulties that limit intelligence and muscle coordination for life.

The ministry's conclusion was made after tests on the tissue of a deceased child with microcephalic symptoms by the Ivandro Chagas Institute in Bel m, Brazil, one of South America's leading health institutes. There is also evidence that zica has contributed to the deaths of adults weakened by other diseases.

Zica is transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito also known to carry the yellow fever, dengue, chikungunya viruses.

The ministry said that the new information means that zica has become a serious risk to public health and that Brazil must embark on an emergency program to control the Aedes aegypti mosquito to prevent the virus' spread.

Brazil has invited the Atlanta, Georgia-based U.S. Center for Disease Control to visit the country and observe research and control efforts, the health ministry said.

(Reporting by Jeb Blount; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

- Reuters


Rum-fuelled Pampling on his way to Troon after course record

‎29 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎06:25:19 AMGo to full article
SYDNEY: Fuelled by a dose of Queensland rum, Rod Pampling sank a 60-foot eagle putt on the 18th green for a course record 10-under-par 61 in the final round of the Australian Open on Sunday.

The 46-year-old is a twice winner on the U.S. PGA Tour but started the final day well out of contention at four-over and opened his round inauspiciously with a bogey at the first.

The Australian got the shot back at the second, however, and picked up a further four strokes to reach the turn at level par for the tournament.

Four more birdies to the 17th sent him soaring up the leaderboard and when he snaked his putt across the 18th green and into the hole, he was second only to overnight leader Matt Jones.

He had also bettered the sizzling 63 that world number one Jordan Spieth shot to win the title on the new layout at the Australian Golf Club last year.

"I felt nice and relaxed out there," he told reporters. "The hitting was fantastic and it just gave me the opportunity to make the putts.

"I was just seeing them really well and obviously it's a bonus to get that one on the last. I was more looking at trying to give it a chance but make sure I was a chance to still make the birdie.

"I ran a golf course, I thought Jordan's round last year, eight (under), was pretty impressive and just to shoot the 61, yep, very happy."

Pampling thought a few glasses of his favourite tipple, Bundaberg rum, in the company of his former and current caddies on Saturday had helped fire him up for the lowest round of his career.

"I had a couple of Bundies," he said. "It was nothing major, just a couple of nice social drinks.

"I normally don't drink during the tournament but ... at four over you really didn't think much was going on.

"So, yeah, I guess it fuelled up the tank and I came out on fire."

A total of six-under for the tournament might not earn Pampling a first Australian Open title but it will almost certainly secure him a spot at next year's British Open.

The top three players at this week's 100th Australian Open not already qualified will tee off at Royal Troon next July, a prospect that delighted Pampling.

"It's just a nice little cherry to have at the end," he said.

"Obviously, you want to hold the trophy up but it's certainly awesome to be getting back into the British again."

(Editing by Greg Stutchbury)

- Reuters


Trump claims Muslims worldwide were 'going wild' after 9/11

‎29 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎05:58:44 AMGo to full article
MIAMI: US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump ramped up his incendiary rhetoric, claiming that Muslims around the world were "going wild" to cheer the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Earlier this month, the real-estate tycoon invited scrutiny after saying that Arab and Muslim Americans had celebrated the terror strikes. He also voiced support for a database to track Muslims in the country.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump addresses supporters during a campaign rally at the Greater Columbus Convention Center on November 23, 2015 in Columbus, Ohio AFP/Ty Wright

But at the weekend rally in Sarasota, Florida, Trump took it a step further.

"Everybody admits that worldwide, the Muslims were absolutely going wild," Trump told a crowd of supporters.

In fact, several Arab and Muslim leaders -- including late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Libyan strongman Moamer Kadhafi -- condemned the attacks at the time.

A 2008 Gallup poll found that only seven percent of Muslims around the world said the 9/11 attacks were "completely" justified and viewed the United States unfavorably.

In his speech, Trump also again denied mocking a disabled New York Times reporter when he apparently imitated his jerking arm movements.

"I would never mock a person that has a disability," Trump said. "I'm telling you, I would never do it."

Video had shown the 69-year-old appearing to question the credentials of Pulitzer-prize-winning reporter Serge Kovaleski, who suffers from congenital arthrogryposis, which interferes with movement of the limbs.

Trump had cited an article by the reporter in The Washington Post saying authorities had detained "a number" of people allegedly seen cheering on rooftops in New Jersey after the 9/11 attacks on the other side of the river from New York's destroyed World Trade Center towers.

There was no indication in the article of thousands or even hundreds of Muslims cheering, as Trump has claimed he has witnessed.



Lahm laments Bayern's injury woes

‎29 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎05:56:55 AMGo to full article
BERLIN: Philipp Lahm insisted injury-hit Bayern Munich had not had things their own way, despite beating Hertha Berlin to maintain their unbeaten Bundesliga record and go 11 points clear.

First-half goals by Germany forward Thomas Mueller and France Under-21 winger Kingsley Coman sealed a 2-0 win at Munich's Allianz Arena to give Bayern their 13th win from 14 league games on Saturday.

Bayern Munich players celebrate after the second goal during their Bundesliga match against Hertha Berlin in Munich on November 28, 2015 AFP/Christof Stache

But Lahm praised his side for their resilience with star wingers Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben and Douglas Costa amongst those currently injured.

"We had a few problems before the game today, because we had a few players unavailable," said Bayern's captain.

"Above all, we were missing the type of players who can open up space for us against defensive teams.

"So that wasn't an easy task for us, but we sorted things out well and we did a good job in shuting down their counter-attacking game."

Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer complained that Hertha had defended "like a handball team" by packing defenders in tight to restrict the space in the penalty area.

"We didn't have things so easy against a team who defended like a handball side," complained the Germany goalkeeper.

"It was good for us that we got the two early goals and built up a lead.

"It was harder for us in the second half, because Hertha completely stopped coming forward."

With 13 goals in 14 league games, Mueller has already equalled his tally for the whole of last season with less than half the campaign gone.

The Germany forward said he was pleased to have contributed to a good half-time lead, which became the final score.

"When it's 0-0 you never know what can happen against Hertha, because they defend so well," said Mueller, who has scored in each of Bayern's last five games.

"But I had a good feeling after we scored two quick goals."

Bayern have five games left until the winter break starts on December 20 and have already qualified as group winners for the last 16 of the Champions League.

They are at fourth-placed Borussia Moenchengladbach next Saturday and host Darmstadt in the last 16 of the German Cup on December 15.



Jesse Jackson calls for resignations over Chicago police shooting

‎29 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎05:54:09 AMGo to full article
CHICAGO: Civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson on Saturday joined a chorus calling for Chicago's police superintendent and a top prosecutor to resign for the way they handled last year's fatal shooting of a black teenager by a white police officer.

More than a year after the October 2014 shooting, Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez this week announced a murder charge against Officer Jason Van Dyke in the slaying of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald.

Rev. Jesse Jackson (C) joins demonstrators during a protest intending to disrupt Black Friday shopping in reaction to the fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald in Chicago, Illinois, November 27, 2015. REUTERS/Andrew Nelles

Hours later, the Chicago Police Department, headed by Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, released a graphic video of the shooting to comply with a court order.

Van Dyke's lawyer has said the officer opened fire because he feared for his life and the lives of other police officers when he saw McDonald had a knife.

In addition to calling for the removal of Alvarez and McCarthy, Jackson demanded the appointment of a special prosecutor to try Van Dyke. He said he wanted a federal investigation into the police department with the aim of changing what critics say is a culture of racial bias.

"We need bold comprehensive change in the police department and the criminal justice system,” Jackson said during a news conference at his Rainbow PUSH headquarters. “Too much time for too little crime.”

McDonald's death has rekindled a national debate over police treatment of African-Americans and other minorities. The soul-searching was triggered last year by high-profile police killings of black men in Missouri, New York and elsewhere.

Jackson also called for a White House conference on violence for cities in urban areas and innovation to help create opportunities in disenfranchised communities.

The video clip, taken by a camera mounted on the dashboard of a squad car, showed McDonald being shot as he walked away from officers. A total of 16 shots were pumped into his body, even after he lay motionless on the pavement.

Jackson spoke the a day after about 2,000 protesters flooded Chicago's Magnificent Mile, a strip of designer stores, to voice outrage over the killing and how the case was handled.

Some shops temporarily closed their doors because of the protests, which coincided with the start of the holiday shopping season, as demonstrators locked arms and blocked entrances. At times, police had to escort shoppers inside.

- Reuters


Obama and daughters purchase prose and ice pops on Small Business Saturday

‎29 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎05:00:34 AMGo to full article
WASHINGTON: President Barack Obama took his teenage daughters Malia and Sasha shopping on Saturday for books and a sweet treat to promote Small Business Saturday, an annual event designed to boost holiday shopping at mom-and-pop shops.

In the tiny Upshur Street Books in northwest Washington, the casually dressed Obama and his daughters browsed for books with the help of the store manager, Anna Thorn.

U.S. President Barack Obama (C) chats with workers at Pleasant Pops next to his daughters Sasha (R) and Malia, who is enjoying a popsicle, in Washington, November 28, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Theiler

The post-Thanksgiving book-browsing outing has become an annual tradition for the First Family.

On Saturday in the softly lit shop adorned with Christmas lights, excited employees mingled next to platters of colorful cupcakes. Outside, cheery store windows featured books of fairy tales and a green handwritten "Shop Local" sign. The bookstore opened last November.

The Obamas bought nine books that spanned age brackets, including three young-adult novels by Cynthia Voigt, “Purity: A Novel” by Jonathan Franzen, “Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights: A Novel” by Salman Rushdie, “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck, Book 8” by Jeff Kinney, and “Dork Diaries 1: Tales from a Not-So-Fabulous Life” by Rachel Ren e Russell.

Afterward, they dropped by Pleasant Pops cafe, where the unusually warm late-November day called for ice pops.

The Obamas quizzed employees on their recommendations before ordering a cookies and cream pop for 17-year-old Malia, cranberry apple for 14-year-old Sasha, and strawberry ginger lemonade – a store favorite – for the president.

"That sounds just really fancy," Obama said, shelling out US$9 for the goodies - "a bargain," he said.

"This was the highlight of my Small Business Saturday," he said, smiling.

Part of the American Thanksgiving tradition is shopping for holiday gifts, with big box stores and shopping malls offering massive sales on Black Friday.

Small Business Saturday was created in 2010 by credit card company American Express to encourage people to spend their holiday shopping dollars at small businesses.

(Reporting by Annika McGinnis; Editing by Dan Grebler)

- Reuters


Japan's tiny refugee community urges Tokyo to open doors wider

‎29 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎04:15:34 AMGo to full article
YOKOHAMA, Japan: Hitoshi Kino, a bespectacled clerical employee at a university near Tokyo, doesn't stand out.

Only a slight Vietnamese accent betrays his past, as he speaks in Japanese about being stranded on a rickety boat in waters off his war-torn homeland in 1980, starving with 32 others and left by pirates with nothing but his underpants.

Ky Tu Duong, a former Vietnam refugee and now goes by his Japanese name, Kino and Cheth Chan Chrisna, a former Cambodian refugee and now goes by her married name is Ito pose for pictures during Asia Sports Festa in Yokohama

Kino, who was then Ky Tu Duong, is one of more than 11,000 refugees that Japan took in over the three decades to 2005 in the aftermath of the Vietnam War, under a little-remembered open-door policy which has never been repeated on such a scale.

Now, Kino and other "boat people" who have resettled in Japan believe Tokyo should again open its doors and let in some of today's asylum seekers, including those from Syria, not just for those in distress but for Japan's sake as well

"Japan should open up a little to them to align itself with the international community," Kino, who became a Japanese citizen in mid-1980s, said over Chinese dumplings and stir-fry at a restaurant near his home west of Tokyo.

"It could be just 100, or 50. But it would be better than doing nothing."

Japan took just 11 of 5,000 asylum-seekers last year, or 0.2 percent, the lowest acceptance rate in the club of rich nations, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. In contrast, France took 22 percent and Germany 42 percent.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has offered nearly US$2 billion to help other nations manage the flood of refugees from Syria's civil war, but his government has virtually shut the door on those fleeing Europe's worst migrant crisis since World War Two.

This month’s attacks in Paris, in which 130 people were killed in mass shootings and suicide bombings blamed on Islamic State, could make any public discussion of accepting refugees into Japan even more difficult.

The government's reluctance to accept refugees shows that opening up to immigration is still politically unpalatable, despite an alarming shrinkage in the country's population.

After the 2011 nuclear disaster caused by earthquake and tsunami, "foreigners scrambled to leave Japan. But few of us former refugees fled", Kino said. "Japan helped us and took care of us. We would not desert such a country."

Indochina refugees speak not only of gratitude toward their adopted country but also of difficulties they have faced trying to fit into society, which prides itself on its homogeneous culture. Foreigners make up only 2 percent of the population.

On the job, some Japanese "assume we don't understand things easily and we are not smart", said Hoai Takahashi, another refugee from Vietnam who changed his name from Hoang Drong Hoai.

"They even say things like 'This job should not be left to these people,' in our very presence."

Banri Kawai, formerly Nguyen Van Ry, works at a facility in eastern Japan that houses five former Vietnamese refugees with mental illness. He said they had been bullied by their Japanese seniors at work.

"They lost sleep and developed mental conditions," he said after attending Sunday service with Takahashi at a Catholic church north of Tokyo.

Chrisna Ito, who arrived in Japan at the age of 15, says she was rebuked at a factory dorm for using the communal bath before others had finished. She assumed they thought she was dirty because her skin was darker than that of a typical Japanese.

Ito, a 43-year-old nursery school worker who was Cheth Chan Chrisna before fleeing Cambodia, had to start working at the rubber factory to support her family after six months of language and other adjustment training.

It was only after she married and had children – now in high school and college – that she fulfilled her aspiration to go to junior high and high school.

Asked how she feels about the government support she received, Ito reflected for a moment.

"I am grateful. But at the same time, I cannot help wondering if Japan could have done a little better."

(Additional reporting by Thomas Wilson; Editing by William Mallard and Mark Bendeich)

- Reuters


Paris climate activists plan human chain on global day of action

‎29 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎03:10:16 AMGo to full article
PARIS: Activists plan to join arms and form a "human chain" in Paris on Sunday to urge action on global warming, in a muted rally after attacks on the city by Islamic State, at the heart of worldwide protests on the eve of a U.N. climate summit in France.

More than 2,000 climate events are planned in cities including Sydney, Jakarta, Berlin, London, Sao Paulo and New York, making it one of the biggest days of action on climate change in history, organisers say.

A poster by street artist Climate Games as part of the "Brandalism" project is displayed at a bus stop in Paris, France, November 28, 2015, ahead of the United Nations COP21 Climate Change conference in Paris. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

Activists in France scaled back their plans when the government imposed a state of emergency after the attacks two weeks ago killed 130 people, banning the planned demonstration in Paris, meant as the biggest of all.

In France, activists plan to form a static human chain, formed by about 3,400 people joining arms along what had been the original 3 km (1.9 miles) route through central Paris from the Place de la Republique to Place de la Nation.

"This is a moment for the whole world to join hands," said Iain Keith, campaign director for Avaaz, one of the organisers.

Separately, more than 10,000 demonstrators who had planned to come to Paris have instead sent shoes to form a big pile in a sign of solidarity. Organisers said the Vatican even sent a pair to represent Pope Francis.

Alix Mazounie of French Climate Action Network said the activists reckoned a human chain would not violate the state of emergency.

"This is not civil disobedience," she said. The chain would break, for instance, wherever it crossed a road to avoid disrupting traffic.

But, underscoring security worries, France put 24 green activists under house arrest before the summit, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said on Saturday, saying they were suspected of planning violent protests at the talks.

Still, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius welcomed the worldwide demonstrations, which organisers say will include concerts, rallies, bicycle rides and a march by 1,000 Maasai in Tanzania urging more renewable energy.

"It is very positive," Fabius said, for governments to feel public pressure to act. Many environmental activists want a phase-out of fossil fuels and a shift to 100 percent renewable energies by 2050.

Some marches were held on Friday and Saturday, from Melbourne to Edinburgh. "Don't be a fossil fool," one Australian banner said.

In the biggest single march on climate change ever staged, last year organisers estimated 310,000 people took part in New York.

On Saturday, faith groups delivered a series of petitions signed by 1.8 million people urging stronger action, collected on pilgrimages to Paris. "The time for talking is long over," said Yeb Sano of the Philippines, who walked 1,500 km from Rome.

Fina Dinkelt, 28, a Swiss health care worker at a march in Zurich on Saturday, said there was a risk marches did not appeal to enough people. "I think they just draw people who already think this way. That is a bit of a problem," she said.

(With extra reporting by Michael Shields in Vienna; editing by Susan Thomas)

- Reuters


Beijing aims to refill medicine chest with "Made in China" drugs

‎29 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎03:00:35 AMGo to full article
SHANGHAI: China, already a global powerhouse in high-tech areas from solar panels to bullet trains, is turning its industrial might to the challenge of making more of its own drugs for a vast and aging population.

Given the 10 years or more it typically takes to bring a new medicine to market, original "Made in China" treatments won't arrive overnight, but multinationals are already encountering more competition from local generic drugs that look set for a quantum leap in quality.

Shelves displaying medicines are seen at a pharmacy in Shanghai, China, November 27, 2015. REUTERS/Aly Song

The stakes are high. China is the world's second biggest drugs market behind the United States, and fast food, smoking and pollution have fueled a rise in cancers and chronic heart and lung diseases.

The country also has more diabetics than any other in the world, with numbers expected to hit 151 million by 2040 from 110 million today, according to the International Diabetes Federation.

That has made China a sweet spot for Denmark's Novo Nordisk; the world's biggest insulin producer has mined a rich seam in the country since opening production facilities here in 1995.

By 2010, it dominated 63 percent of China's insulin market. But it has recently been losing ground to local competitors cheered on by Beijing.

"China is going to be tough for us for the next couple of years," said Chief Science Officer Mads Krogsgaard Thomsen. "Right now, the country is very focused on building domestic production."

Local rivals are selling both cut-price basic insulin and sophisticated modern versions, including a biosimilar copy of Sanofi's Lantus made by Chinese biotech specialist Gan & Lee Pharmaceuticals.


Greater local competition is also evident in other areas, helping the top 10 Chinese drugmakers grow sales 12 percent on average this year, according to IMS Consulting - twice the rate of multinationals, which suffered a setback from a bribery scandal at GlaxoSmithKline two years ago.

GSK itself has seen its drug sales slump.

Increasing local competition is part of a structural upheaval in China's hospital-dominated prescription drug market. Selling drugs to patients at a hefty mark-up - especially off-patent Western "branded generics" - often accounts for 40-50 percent of Chinese hospitals' revenues. But the authorities are now pushing a policy of zero mark-ups, initially in smaller county hospitals.

"Branded generics are something that exist today, but the need for them in 10 years time is not going to be there," said Luke Miels, AstraZeneca's global portfolio head.

That means foreign firms will be more reliant on new, patented medicines, although the scale of demand for such expensive products is uncertain in a country with only basic health insurance cover.

At the other end of the spectrum, multinationals aim to build up volume, often in partnership with local players, in the big markets outside China's top cities, where distribution costs are high and prices low.

"It's the right thing to do, even if profit margins shrink," said the head of one big multinational.


Pivotal to the transformation of the market is the China Food and Drug Administration, led by reformist boss Bi Jingquan since January.

The watchdog has promised to speed up approval of innovative new drugs, which can take 5-7 years, while cracking down on substandard local generics.

"This creates lots of opportunities for local Chinese companies that have a strong focus on innovation," said a spokesman for China's Fosun Pharma, which sees itself among the winners.

It is not alone. A cluster of drug research labs in eastern Shanghai highlights the promise of China's life sciences sector. The area brings together multinational and local firms, alongside contract research businesses and small biotech operations.

Among the latter is Hua Medicine, led by Chinese-born, Western-educated Chief Executive Li Chen, who used to run Roche's China R&D center. Now he is developing a novel diabetes treatment, licensed from Roche, while working on Hua's own promising leads.

Another standard-bearer for Chinese biotech is Beijing-based cancer specialist BeiGene, which last month announced plans for a US$100 million initial public offering on Nasdaq.

At a time when China's academic researchers have grabbed headlines by editing the genes of human embryos, such start-ups highlight the commercial potential of China's biotech know-how.

The history of failure in drug development suggests they won't have an easy ride, but GSK's China R&D head Min Li, a returnee from America, believes "there is a real chance for China to leap ahead in life sciences".

Dennis Gillings, executive chairman of leading contract research organization Quintiles, said the number of Chinese-developed drugs in the pipeline was rising fast.

"It's probably been taking everyone a little by surprise, the sheer scale of that," he said. "As we hit the next decade in the 2020s, I'd be very surprised if there wasn't at least a top 20, if not top 10, global pharma player that was headquartered in China."

(Reporting by Ben Hirschler and Adam Jourdan; Editing by Will Waterman)

- Reuters


Haye and McGuigan hail Fury after shock win

‎29 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎02:30:21 AMGo to full article
LONDON: David Haye saluted Tyson Fury after his fellow Briton won the world heavyweight title by scoring a shock points victory over champion Wladimir Klitschko on Saturday night.

"Justice prevailed, the better man won," Haye said on his Twitter account.

The undefeated Fury was never troubled as he snatched the WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO crowns from the 39-year-old Ukrainian who suffered his first defeat for 11 years.

Haye, who lost his WBA title to Klitschko four years ago, announced earlier this week that he would be making his ring comeback in January by fighting Australian Mark de Mori.

Former world champions Barry McGuigan and Richie Woodhall were also quick to praise Fury.

"What a performance from @Tyson_Fury ... he said he would beat Klitchsko and he did, Waldimir just couldn't pull the trigger #lookedexhausted," said Irishman McGuigan on his Twitter account.

Briton Woodhall called it a "masterplan" of a performance.

"Tyson Fury can only sink or swim from here," Woodhall told BBC radio. "And I think he will swim."

(Writing by Tony Jimenez; Editing by Greg Stutchbury)

- Reuters


Briton Fury crowned world champion after beating Klitschko

‎29 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎02:25:15 AMGo to full article
DUESSELDORF, Germany: Underdog Tyson Fury caused a huge boxing upset on Saturday, stunning Wladimir Klitschko with a points victory to snatch the champion's four titles and become the first Briton to hold a world heavyweight crown since 2011.

Undefeated Fury, who improved his record to 25-0 and now has the WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO belts, was never troubled by the 39-year-old Ukrainian who suffered his first loss in 11 years and has already demanded a rematch.

Tyson Fury celebrates after being declared the winner of the fight as Wladimir Klitschko looks dejected
Reuters / Ina Fassbender

"He's been a great champion, but every good dog has its day," challenger Fury told a 50,000 crowd at Duesseldorf's Esprit Arena.

"Tonight is that start of a new era. I will be the most charismatic champion since Muhammad Ali," he said before serenading his wife in the crowd with a song by American band Aerosmith.

"I worked for six months for this in the gym, it's a dream come true," Fury said while draped in his new world title belts and unable to hold back the tears.

The fight, postponed once due to a Klitschko injury, almost did not take place with Fury's team complaining earlier on Saturday over the thick ring canvas that they claimed limited his movement.

Modifications were made and Fury, quick, despite his 2.06 metres, was better from the start, showing no problems with the new canvas.

He kept landing left-right combinations with Klitschko, not used to fighting taller men than him, struggling with Fury's reach.

Klitschko managed to get close with a few good left jabs in the second round but Fury landed a powerful right, pushing the Ukrainian back.

Fury, constantly changing between southpaw and orthodox stance, kept chipping away at Klitschko's defences with his combinations and by the eighth round the champion was bleeding from a cheek wound.

Fury, who shed 32 kilos in five months to get in shape for the fight, landed a bruising left uppercut in the ninth that wounded Klitschko's right eye.

Sensing the titles slipping away, Klitschko threw everything he had in the final round in search for a knockout but ended up losing on all three of the judges' scorecards, putting an end to his winning run that stretched back to 2004.

"Tyson really stepped on the gas," said a disappointed Klitschko, fighting in front of a home crowd with his base in Germany.

"I was missing my speed today and I struggled with his reach.

"I knew I was behind and had to land the punches. I tried but it did not work."

(Editing by Greg Stutchbury)

- Reuters


EU hopes for Turkish help to slow migrants at summit

‎29 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎02:10:19 AMGo to full article
BRUSSELS: Leaders of the European Union aim to sign an agreement with Turkey in Brussels on Sunday that offers Ankara cash and closer ties with the EU in return for Turkish help in stemming the flow of migrants to Europe.

Aware of a sense of desperation in Europe for a solution to a crisis that is tearing the bloc apart following the arrival of close to a million people this year, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has been driving a hard bargain and diplomats said the 28 states had struggled through Saturday to agree a final offer.

Refugees and migrants board Turkish Coast Guard Search and Rescue ship Umut-703 after a failed attempt of crossing to the Greek island of Lesbos off the shores of Canakkale, Turkey, November 8, 2015. REUTERS/Umit Bektas

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu is due to meet the 28 EU national leaders for three hours from 4 p.m. (1500 GMT).

The Europeans, and none more so than German Chancellor Angela Merkel, are under pressure to manage the biggest influx of people since World War Two, the bulk of them to Germany, where Merkel is pushing hard for a Turkish deal. The crisis has helped populist opponents and set nations against each other, straining the open borders cherished by the Union's members.

Measures the EU has taken in recent months have as yet done little to control movements and while winter weather may lower the numbers for a few months, it is also worsening the plight of tens of thousands stuck by closing borders in the Balkans, piling further pressure on European leaders to find a solution.

Sunday's summit, called just days ago as Brussels tried to clinch a deal offered over a month ago, has been complicated by Turkey's downing of a Russian warplane on the Syrian border.

That has in turn complicated European efforts to re-engage with Moscow, despite a continued frost over Ukraine, in order to try and advance a peace in Syria that could both end the flight of refugees and contain Islamic State. The Islamist group's attack on Paris two weeks ago has also heightened public calls in the EU for more controls on people arriving from Syria.

By late on Saturday, after a further meeting of EU envoys in Brussels, diplomats said a common EU offer that they hope will secure Davutoglu's signature was agreed. It should be approved by governments on Sunday before the summit.

There remains a degree of nervousness, however, that Turkey could hold out for more - a nervousness heightened by Erdogan's decision not to attend himself but to send his prime minister.

"The Turks always negotiate to the last second," one senior EU diplomat said. "Why should this time be different?"


Europeans want Turkey to spend new EU money - some 3 billion euros ( 2.13 billion) for the next year or two - on improving life for the 2.3 million Syrians now living in Turkey so that they are less likely to take to boats for nearby Greek islands.

The EU also wants Turkish authorities to make that journey more difficult and to keep out more of the Afghans and other Asians who cross Turkey on their way to Europe. It also wants to hold Turkey to commitments to take back people who successfully reach Greece but then fail in their claims for political asylum.

Turkey has pressed for more money. An original EU offer of 3 billion euros for refugee care over two years is now likely not to carry a clear timeframe as Ankara hopes to secure more.

Turks will be promised easier travel visas for Europe if they fulfil commitments on migrant flows in the coming year.

It will also win a pledge of "re-energised" talks on joining the EU, though with conditions to persuade EU states that do not want populous, Muslim Turkey ever to join, and also Cyprus, which wants Ankara first to help it reunite the island.

Diplomats said Turkey, whose decade-old EU accession talks have been stalled, would see talks on economic cooperation open shortly, but its demands for commitments from the EU to start talks on other issues such as human rights would remain on hold - satisfying Cypriot insistence it meet existing conditions.

Human rights concerns are unlikely to feature much in the talks on Sunday, diplomats said, despite calls from activists in Europe and Turkey for EU leaders not to ease pressure on Erdogan over issues such as media freedom because of the migrant crisis.

While EU leaders have pledged to continue to raise issues such as last week's new jailing of Turkish journalists and new complaints of oppression from minority Kurds, officials and diplomats say Europe's priority with Ankara for now will be getting Erdogan's help in slowing migrant movements.

A senior German official stressed on Friday, however, that Ankara also had much to gain from cooperation as it faces an angry Russia and hostility from Syria and Iran.

(Reporting by Alastair Macdonald; @macdonaldrtr; Editing by Susan Thomas)

- Reuters


Boxing: Fury beats Klitschko to become new world heavyweight champion

‎29 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎01:45:45 AMGo to full article
BERLIN: Britain's Tyson Fury was crowned the new world heavyweight champion on Saturday (Nov 28) after a unanimous points win over Wladimir Klitschko, who suffered his first defeat in 11 years.

The 27-year-old Fury was awarded the fight in Duesseldorf 115-112, 115-112 and 116-111 by the judges to take Klitschko's WBA, IBF, IBO and WBO belts as the Ukrainian suffered his first defeat since 2004.

Britain's Tyson Fury (L) punches Ukraine's Wladimir Klitschko in a world heavyweight title fight for Klitschko's WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO belts in the Esprit Arena in Duesseldorf, western Germany. (AP Photo/Sebastian Konopka)

The new champion celebrate his victory by signing Aerosmith's "Don't Want to Miss a Thing" in the ring. "I want to thank my lord and saviour Jesus Christ for giving me this victory," said a tearful Fury who has now won all 25 of his professional fights. "I have worked hard everyday for this moment - it's a dream come true."

Klitschko said there is a rematch clause in the fight contract, adding it was too soon to talk about retirement and admitted he was surprised by Fury's speed despite his towering 2.06m frame.

"I prepared well, but my speed was missing tonight and I didn't expect the speed from him," said Klitschko, who turns 40 in May. "I knew I needed a knock-out at the end," he added after his fourth professional defeat.

Fury will cash in on the victory regardless of the fight purse having bet 200,000 (US$300,630) on himself.

He made good on his pre-fight predictions of dethroning Klitschko and even took to song last Wednesday to tell the champion how he would "be the one with all the belts" after the bout.

The fight took place at the second attempt as the original October date had to be scrapped after Klitschko suffered a calf injury. After Fury had problems with ill-fitting gloves in the week leading up to the fight, there was plenty of tension in the build-up on Saturday.

Fury's management insisted the canvas was too soft and after much discussion and threats to call the fight off, Klitschko's camp relented and removed some of the foam padding from the ring floor.

Then Klitschko was reported to have had his fists wrapped without an observer being present, a no-no in boxing, and when Fury's camp complained, the champion's fists were re-strapped which briefly delayed the start of the fight.

This was a poor display by Klitschko who finished with cuts to both cheeks with Fury unmarked. The Briton showed no sign of nerves in a confident start, lowering his guard and trying to lure Klitschko inside his huge reach.

There was little between the fighters in the opening four rounds, as Klitschko struggled to impose himself, while Fury opened up a small cut on the champions' left cheek in the fifth with a jab.

Fury kept skipping around Klitschko, teasing his man and made a point of starring out the champion at the end of the sixth round and was landing more punches than the Ukrainian.

The fight burst into life in the seventh round in a flurry of punches from Fury, who even put his fists behind his back at one stage, which left Klitschko's cheek showing more signs of punishment and in clear trouble.

A big left from Fury caught Klitschko flush in the face in the ninth round before the champion finally got his right-hand jab going as he went on the attack and landed a shot directly on Fury's chin.

Fury, who landed a good shot to the right eyebrow, had a point deducted in the 11th for punching the back of Klitschko's head despite several warnings.

Klitschko came out hard in the 12th and looked for the knock-out as Fury visibly tired, but both raised their fists in triumph at the final bell.

- AFP/de


LTA officer arrested by police after scuffle with Uber driver

‎29 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎01:43:11 AMGo to full article
SINGAPORE: A Land Transport Authority (LTA) enforcement officer who was suspended from all duties after being caught on video in a scuffle with another man - said to be an Uber driver - has been arrested by the police for affray.

Channel NewsAsia also understands that the LTA enforcement officer was arrested in the wee hours of Saturday morning (Nov 28).

An LTA enforcement officer who was suspended last night after being caught on video scuffling with another man, said to be an Uber driver, has been arrested by the police.
Screengrab of the video showing the scuffle between an LTA enforcement officer and an Uber driver.

In the video, a man in an LTA enforcement officer's uniform is seen throwing a punch at another man clad in a blue polo tee, and both end up scuffling until a bystander intervenes.

A netizen identified as Amber Pek said the incident happened after an Uber car came to pick her up at the taxi stand along Victoria Street, near Bugis Junction. She had posted the video of the incident on Facebook on Friday (Nov 27), saying that the man involved was the driver of the Uber car she hired.

In her Facebook post, Ms Pek also said the driver's face was bloodied following the incident, and that he was at Tan Tock Seng Hospital.

“LTA takes a serious view of this incident and will not condone any acts of violence by our officers or outsourced officers,” said LTA on their Facebook page early on Saturday. "The enforcement officer involved in this incident has been suspended from all duties with immediate effect pending further investigations."

In response to media queries, police have confirmed that reports were lodged and a 50-year-old man has been arrested. A 59-year-old old man is also currently assisting with investigations, they added.


In a statement released on Saturday afternoon, LTA said it has investigated the incident. The service of the enforcement officer - who is Singaporean - is expected to be terminated upon the completion of police investigations, it added.

Assistance is also being rendered to the injured driver, including the cost of his medical bills, said LTA.

"LTA apologises for this unfortunate incident and we would like to reassure the public that all our enforcement officers have to abide to a strict set of procedures when carrying out their duties," it said. "We have also reminded all LTA enforcement officers that any violent behaviour in the course of carrying enforcement duties will not be tolerated.”

Certis CISCO also released a statement saying its contractual agreement with LTA ended in October 2015 and that the officer involved in the incident is not its employee.

LTA (2)

- CNA/ek


Niang double helps Milan get back to winning ways

‎29 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎01:35:14 AMGo to full article
MILAN (Reuters - AC Milan returned to winning ways with a 4-1 home victory over Sampdoria in Serie A on Saturday while two late goals gave Torino a 2-0 triumph over Bologna.

Milan moved up to fifth with 23 points after Giacomo Bonaventura's opener, a double from M’Baye Niang and Luiz Adriano's late effort saw off Sampdoria.

AC Milan's M'baye Niang gestures. REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo

Sinisa Mihajlovic's side settled quickly and took the lead in the 16th minute when Bonaventura finished a thrilling move after being played in by Niang.

The French forward powered a penalty past Emiliano Viviano in the 38th minute after Bonaventura was fouled by Lorenzo De Silvestri and bagged his second goal four minutes after halftime with a calm finish after a mistake by Viviano.

Substitute Luiz Adriano added the fourth goal in the 79th minute by volleying Cerci's cross into the net.

Eder netted a consolation goal from the spot in the 87th minute after he was impeded by Andrea Poli as Sampdoria remained in 13th place on 16 points.

"If we play like this, we can beat anybody, Mihajlovic told Mediaset Premium. "The objective is to win all of the games before the Christmas break.

"I am convinced that well do better in the second half of the season, especially as we face the big teams at home."

Roberto Donadoni, who has overseen two wins and a draw since replacing Delio Rossi at Bologna at the end of October, saw his luck run out against a Torino side that had not triumphed at home since Sept. 27.

Andrea Belotti opened the scoring in the 75th minute when he controlled Emiliano Moretti’s cross with his chest, held off Domenico Maietta and fired past Antonio Mirante.

Giuseppe Vives made sure of victory in the second minute of stoppage time when he read Maietta's weak header, rounded Mirante and tapped the ball in from close range.

Torino are eighth on 21 points while Bologna remain 17th on 13.

There are six games on Sunday, including Juventus' trip to Palermo, while leaders Inter Milan travel to second-placed Napoli on Monday.

(Writing by Ed Dove; Editing by Tony Jimenez/Greg Stutchbury)

- Reuters


US store sales down slightly for Thanksgiving and Black Friday

‎29 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎01:20:25 AMGo to full article
CHICAGO: Sales at U.S. brick-and-mortar stores on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday were down slightly from last year, but the performance was still seen as strong in a holiday shopping season where discounts spread well beyond the weekend and many shoppers moved to the web.

Online sales were up by double digits, according to data released on Saturday.

Shoppers leave with check out with their purchases from the Best Buy store in Westbury, New York November 27, 2015. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Data from analytics firm RetailNext showed overall sales for both days fell 1.5 percent on flat customer traffic, while average spending per shopper dropped 1.4 percent.

Preliminary data from ShopperTrak showed sales at stores totaled about US$12.1 billion on Thursday and Friday. The company said it is an "estimated decrease from last year" but did not give the percentage decline due to an internal change in the way it calculates data. Last year, it reported sales of US$12.29 billion for the same period.

ShopperTrak will release its final sales numbers on Tuesday. It stuck by its forecast of a 2.4 percent increase for November and December sales.

The data highlights the waning importance of Black Friday, which until a few years ago kicked off the holiday shopping season, as more retailers start discounting earlier in the month and open their doors on Thanksgiving Day.

Both firms said that despite the fall in sales over the two days, the performance must be interpreted as a good one for retail stores because sales held up amid rising competition from online shopping and were better than expected due to pent-up consumer demand and lower gas prices.

Last year Black Friday and Thanksgiving sales were disappointing, forcing retailers to double down on discounts which led to a last-minute shopping frenzy.

"It's still a good performance for the weekend, given the growth that is being witnessed online as well," ShopperTrak founder Bill Martin said.

ShopperTrak said Thanksgiving and Black Friday generated US$1.8 billion and US$10.4 billion in sales respectively. Martin said early promotions in November were a bigger factor hurting Black Friday than store openings on Thanksgiving evening.

Customer traffic remained flat on Thanksgiving Day from a year earlier while traffic fell 1.8 percent on Black Friday, RetailNext said. Their estimate last year showed overall traffic for both days fell 14 percent.

"The numbers are down but it's still a better sales trend during the two days than we have seen for physical retail through the year and especially after a very difficult summer and October," Shelley Kohan, vice president of retail consulting at RetailNext, said.

Electronics and toys, which were better promotions did well, both firms said. Apparel sales struggled despite better promotions, Kohan said.


Separate data underscored the ongoing shift of shopping to online retailers.

Online Thanksgiving and Black Friday sales tracked by Adobe Digital Index were US$4.47 billion, up 18 percent from a year earlier and higher than its expectation of US$4.35 billion. Adobe tracked 80 percent of all online transactions from the top 100 U.S. retailers.

Brick-and-mortar retailers who have online operations offered better web deals during Thanksgiving and Black Friday and saw higher sales than online only retailers, said Tamara Gaffney, principal research analyst at Adobe Digital Index.

She said discounting levels online averaged 26 and 24 percent on both days respectively, and remained similar to last year's levels.

(Reporting by Nandita Bose in Chicago; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

- Reuters


Football: Messi, Neymar, Suarez strike to keep Barcelona rolling

‎29 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎01:14:15 AMGo to full article
MADRID: Barcelona maintained their four-point lead at the top of La Liga on Saturday (Nov 28) thanks to another clinical display from Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez to down Real Sociedad 4-0.

Atletico Madrid kept the pressure on the European champions thanks to Antoine Griezmann's solitary goal in a 1-0 win over Espanyol. Real Madrid are now nine points adrift ahead of their trip to Eibar on Sunday.

Barcelona's Uruguayan forward Luis Suarez (L) kicks the ball past Real Sociedad's Argentinian goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli during the Spanish league football match at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona. (AFP/Lluis Gene)

Messi was making his first league start in two months as he continues his comeback from knee ligament damage. But the Argentine was initially outshone by his strike partners as they each swept home from two Dani Alves crosses to put Barca in command at the break.

Neymar then added his second shortly after the half-time before teeing up Messi for his first league goal since September in stoppage time.

"They are constantly looking for one another and when they all score everyone is happy," Dani Alves told Canal Plus about Barca's front three. "Without victories it doesn't matter who scores or sets up the goals. If we all keep playing well, we will all be happy."

Barca boss Luis Enrique made four changes from the side that destroyed Roma 6-1 in the Champions League in midweek, but with Messi, Suarez and Neymar deployed once more in attack, the Catalans didn't miss a beat.

Suarez should have opened the scoring after just two minutes when he was brilliantly played in by Neymar, but Geronimo Rulli rushed from his line to bravely smother the Uruguayan's effort just inside his area.

Even when Rulli was beaten, the woodwork saved Sociedad when Andres Iniesta headed Suarez's perfectly measured cross against the post.

The visitors' luck eventually ran out on 22 minutes, though, when Messi released Alves down the right and Neymar was quickest to meet his low cross and drive the ball into the top corner. Alves was the creator once more for Barca's second just before the break as his floated cross picked out Suarez to acrobatically volley into the far corner.

Barca had to wait just eight minutes after the break for a third with the full-backs proving Sociedad's downfall again as this time Jeremy Mathieu squared for Neymar to apply a simple finish. That strike took Neymar and Suarez's tally in La Liga this season to 26 - the same as the entire Real Madrid squad.

However, both then turned their hand to trying to set up Messi. It looked like being a forlorn afternoon for Messi when his brilliant curling effort came back off the crossbar four minutes from time.

However, a final piece of magic between Neymar and Suarez allowed the Brazilian to roll the ball invitingly across goal for Messi to slot into an empty net and seal a fantastic week for Barca which has seen them take a strangle hold of La Liga and clinch their place in the last 16 of the Champions League.

Atletico had to once again settle for victory by a solitary goal despite a more impressive attacking display after Griezmann had prodded home Oliver Torres' third minute cross for his 10th goal of the season.

The hosts suffered a setback when influential midfielder Tiago was stretchered off with a broken right leg midway through the first-half. Atletico were still rarely troubled, though, and should have added to their advantage after the break as Diego Godin and Koke struck the post.

Fernando Torres also curled an effort just over as his search for his 100th Atletico goal continues, but a 12th clean sheet in 18 games this season was enough to close to gap on Barca.

Celta Vigo moved level with Real in third thanks to Nolito's fortuitous winner five minutes from time to squeeze past Sporting Gijon 2-1.

Deportivo la Coruna are on their Galician rivals tails in fifth as an early David Simon own goal and Lucas Perez's ninth league goal of the season handed them a 2-0 win at Las Palmas.

And Malaga spurned a huge chance to move out of the relegation zone as Granada struck twice in the last 10 minutes to claim a 2-2 draw at La Rosaleda.

Spanish La Liga results:

Barcelona 4 Real Sociedad 0
Atletico Madrid 1 Espanyol 0
Malaga 2 Granada 2
Las Palmas 0 Deportivo la Coruna 2
Celta Vigo 2 Sporting Gijon 1

- AFP/de


Smart devices being trialled in residents’ homes in Yuhua

‎28 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎06:52:31 AMGo to full article
SINGAPORE: Ten households in Yuhua have been participating in a trial to experience, first-hand, the use of smart devices in a lived-in environment. The trial began in Oct 2015, and runs until March or April 2016.

The trial seeks to study the usefulness and user-friendliness of such devices, and how residents can benefit from such technologies. It will also enable government agencies to better understand the receptiveness of residents towards adopting smart solutions, and whether it had impacted their lifestyle and behaviours.

MP Grace Fu checking in on a resident with a home utilities management system installed. (Photo: Loke Kok Fai)

Sensor of an Elderly Monitoring System installed in the flat of a Yuhua resident. The system studies the lifestyle routines of the elderly resident and alerts caregivers when anomalies are detected, such as taking too long in the toilet or being out of the house for too long. (Photo: Loke Kok Fai)

It follows the Housing Development Board (HDB) July 2015 announcement that Yuhua residents will be the first to experience Smart Living in an existing HDB estate.

Participating households had the opportunity to try technologies in one or two areas at no cost - home utilities management, or elderly monitoring systems - depending on factors such as whether they had elderly dependents and their IT savviness.

But some raised concerns over the possible high costs of implementing these solutions after the trial period. Addressing these concerns, Culture, Community and Youth Minister Grace Fu, who is also the MP for Yuhua, said the trial did not obligate them to buying the systems being tested.

"It serves the purpose of trying to assess the usefulness of the system to the people,” said Ms Fu. “With the feedback from residents, we're able to know how useful these systems are, and try out different systems."

She added: "At the end of this trial project, we will have to engage the residents about the usefulness and effectiveness, and also at what price points their willing to pay."

Following this trial, HDB and Infocomm Development Authority will extend these smart solutions to all 3,200 Yuhua residents in early 2016, available for purchase.

The estate is also the first to complete the HDB Greenprint programme this month, aimed at bringing energy-efficient, water management and waste management features into the estate.

Dual bicycle racks, and a bin of Yuhua's Pneumatic Waste Conveyance System - initiatives of the HDB Greenprint programme at Yuhua. (Photo: Loke Kok Fai)

- CNA/rw


Oil countries only slowly warming to climate challenge

‎28 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎06:23:15 AMGo to full article
PARIS: Global oil producers, who provide the world with much of the fossil fuel that causes global warming, are in no hurry to brighten up their own image as climate dinosaurs.

Some Gulf countries have timidly started investing in renewable energy, but experts say the initiatives are just a tiny crack in producers' otherwise solid front of indifference to climate change.

A flame from a Saudi Aramco (the national oil company) oil installation known as "Pump 3" burns brightly during sunset in the Saudi Arabian desert near the oil-rich area Al-Khurais, 160km east of the capital Riyadh. (File photo: AFP/MARWAN NAAMANI)

"So far exporting countries, especially Gulf countries, have done everything to make any progress on international climate agreements difficult," said Patrick Criqui, an energy expert.

Major oil exporters are getting bad press for topping the list of per capita greenhouse gas emissions, but they usually just shrug off the bad rap.

They say "don't point the finger at us too much because we produce the hydrocarbons that are used the world over", observed Francis Perrin, president of Strategy and Energy Policy publications.

Some are, however, starting to "smooth the edges," in the face of global mobilisation for the environment, he said. But slowly.

FNH, a foundation run by French environmental activist Nicolas Hulot, said Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates had never put a number on greenhouse gas reduction targets, and Venezuela, Nigeria and Angola had failed to formulate any kind of commitment at all. Russia meanwhile has just said it expects its emissions to remain steady.

"Overall and unsurprisingly, oil-producing countries make minimal commitments, or none at all," FNH said.

It is true that dependence on oil income, which accounts for 96 percent of exports for Venezuela and 70 percent of government revenue for Nigeria, makes the search for alternatives a hard sell.

What's more, half of OPEC's members are developing countries that are finding it hard to absorb the serious squeeze on their budgets due to sharply lower oil prices, and don't want to, or can't, shell out on cost-intensive green investment.

Countries like Algeria, which hopes to cover over a quarter of its energy needs with renewables within 15 years, demands financial aid from developed countries before going seriously green.

"For them, like for all developing countries, the fight against poverty and access to energy are the priorities and will remain so for a long time," Perrin said.

But Gulf countries, still comfortably off despite cutbacks, are starting to look at alternatives, including nuclear options for Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia, and gas, which emits far less CO2 than oil.

PARIS: The United Arab Emirates are turning to solar energy, with an ambitious sustainable urban project, Masdar City, and Shams-1, the world's biggest concentrating solar power centre.

And Saudi Arabia is the first country in the Middle East to have launched a carbon capture and stocking scheme.

But any sense of urgency is undermined by projections suggesting that fossil fuels including oil will remain king over the next decades.

Fossil fuels, experts predict, will still cover three quarters of the world's energy needs 25 years from now.

- AFP/rw


Revamped Pasir Ris Public Library opens

‎28 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎06:00:00 AMGo to full article
SINGAPORE: The newly-revamped two-level Pasir Ris Public Library at White Sands reopened its doors on Saturday (Nov 28) as the first mall library in Singapore to have a space managed by teens, for teens.

Called the Teens Mezzanine, the second-storey section of the library will be managed by a starter batch of 39 volunteer teenagers aged between 13 and 19 from the Inspiring Readers Society, a new initiative by the National Library Board (NLB). These teenagers will be co-creating video trailers that recommend books of their choosing, made available for viewing at the Book Tree.

Pasir Ris Public Library at White Sands. (Photo: Jamie Tan)

Teen Mezzanine (Photo: National Library Board)

Nur Eliisa Abdullah Juntunen, a 15-year-old volunteer member with the Inspiring Readers Society, said: "Usually those (who) we want to inspire are those who prefer movies or TV shows rather than reading. So if they see something they can watch and they find out more about the book from a mini clip or animation, I think that will really attract them to read the book.”

In addition to that, they will be organising regular Hangout Sessions in the Mezzanine, where fellow teenagers can speak to the members about any topic relating to a recommended book.

Inspiring Readers Society (Photo: Jamie Tan)

Also in the space, teens and adults alike can interact with a Doodle Wall, where they can draw and ideate using their fingertips with the help of an interactive projector. The display aims to help facilitate live collaborative discussions through the use of visualisation.

It is one of three in the library, with the other two located at the Function Room and the Early Literacy Section.

A host of other interactive installations can be seen around the library, including the brand new ReadNext screen. Users can swipe through a list of books recommended by the librarians, separated into sections - Children, Teens, Adults. To locate a book, they can scan the attached QR code with their NLB Mobile application. The screen is accessible even while the library is closed.

Speaking about the increased interactivity, Ms Felicia Chan, a librarian involved in Library Planning for NLB, said: “We want people to take charge of their own learning process. When you have interactive elements, there’s also the element of co-creative learning.

“We give you that opportunity to express yourself. Like in the children’s and teen’s section, you will actually learn through the community because you are no longer solitary when you have interactive elements. Everyone is there to share with you.”

One unique feature of the library is the Reading Terrace, which can seat up to 30 people next to the bird’s-eye view of Pasir Ris Park.

Reading Terrace (Photo: National Library Board)

The library also has new intuitive features, such as front-facing books, shorter bookshelves for children in the Early Literacy Section, as well as chairs of different heights for parent and child.

Early Literary Section, with seats of different heights. (Photo: National Library Board)

To come up with the changes in the library, the NLB conducted surveys with their visitors over the past year to find out how to cater to the bigger teenage demographic in Pasir Ris.

"What we did was we actually spoke to them, we did some focus groups and they also presented their ideas - not specifically for Pasir Ris. We wanted to know what teens wanted. So we took all this feedback, which we have first applied to Pasir Ris,” said Ms Chan.

Books are front-facing and placed in shorter bookshelves in the Early Literacy Section. (Photo: National Library Board)

The newly-revamped library follows the theme of "Clouds of Possibility", which not only alludes to the ceiling lights shaped like clouds, but also refers to the ease in which readers can weave in and out of the library’s corridors, lined with books that expand their imagination.

The library reopens on the back of a near nine-month revamp.

- CNA/ek


3 killed in Colorado abortion clinic shooting

‎28 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎05:47:50 AMGo to full article
COLORADO SPRINGS: Three people were killed and several wounded when a gunman opened fire at a family planning center in Colorado in a standoff that dragged on for five hours Friday (Nov 27) before he surrendered.

A large area of snow-covered Colorado Springs was placed on lockdown into the evening, just a day after millions of Americans celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday, in the latest incident to shed a damning light on the United States' gun culture.

A suspect is taken into custody outside the Planned Parenthood centre in Colorado Springs. (Photo: Reuters)

Mayor John Suthers paid tribute to police for getting the gunman into custody without further bloodshed at the Planned Parenthood building, where people scrambled into a safe room in a desperate bid to save themselves.

A police officer was among the dead, he said, while nine others - among them five police - were wounded. None of the injured were in a serious condition.

"I want to convey to the loved ones of the victims: this is a terrible, terrible tragedy that occurred here in Colorado Springs today," Suthers told reporters. "Obviously, we lost two civilian victims, we mourn the loss of a very brave police officer."

It was not immediately clear if the Planned Parenthood family planning centre had been specifically targeted.

Abortion is one of the services Planned Parenthood provides for women, and the association has become a lightning rod for criticism by social conservatives. The centre also provides screening for sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy testing and other services.

The women's health care giant has also been mired in a months-long scandal after anti-abortion activists released secretly recorded videos showing the organisation's officials discussing use of aborted fetal tissue for medical research.


The suspect first engaged in a protracted gun battle with police but ultimately surrendered to officers inside the building about five hours after the start of the violence, which played out under a steady snowfall in Colorado's second-largest city.

The full extent of casualties was murky in the immediate aftermath of the gunman's capture. A police spokeswoman, Lieutenant Catherine Buckley, initially said she had no confirmation of fatalities, adding that police were still searching for possible victims who might have been left behind in the clinic as the building was evacuated.

State Attorney General Cynthia Coffman posted a message on her official Twitter account a short time later saying two people had been killed, but that post was quickly deleted and replaced with another lamenting a "tragic loss of life."

The Colorado Springs chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police, a law enforcement union, then reported on its Twitter page that one police officer had died.

Buckley put the number of people taken to area hospitals at 11, including five officers, but it was not immediately clear whether that tally included the fatality reported by the police union.

A Reuters photographer at the scene saw a man in a white T-shirt, with his hands cuffed behind his back, being taken out of an armored police vehicle and placed in an unmarked squad car. Authorities said they did not know the suspect's identity but believed he acted alone.

"We did get officers inside the building. They were able to shout to the suspect and make communication with him and at that point they were able to get him to surrender and he was taken into custody," Buckley said.

An hour earlier, police said progress in securing the building was slowed by the fact that the gunman brought "some bags" with him into the clinic and left several items outside, all of which needed to be checked for possible booby traps or explosives.

After the arrest, Buckley said it would take hours more, and perhaps days, for investigators to fully process the crime scene.

Police swarmed the area around the building after an emergency call reporting shots fired at about 11.30am Mountain Time (2.30am, Singapore time), and officers ultimately confronted the suspect inside the building, Buckley said.

Television footage aired by CNN showed a number of clinic staff and patients being escorted safely into police vehicles from the building, which lies on the northwest side of Colorado Springs, about 112km south of Denver.

The FBI and agents from the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were assisting local law enforcement investigators.

President Barack Obama was notified of the shooting by his Homeland Security adviser, Lisa Monaco, and "will be updated on the situation as necessary, a White House official said.

"We don't yet know the full circumstances and motives behind this criminal action," Vicki Cowart, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Rocky Mountains, said in a statement.

- Agencies/rw


'Large' Chinese military fleet flies near Japan islands: Media

‎28 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎05:38:55 AMGo to full article
TOKYO: Japan scrambled jets after 11 Chinese military planes flew near southern Japanese islands during what Beijing said was a drill to improve its long-range combat abilities, reports said Saturday (Nov 28).

The planes - eight bombers, two intelligence gathering planes and one early-warning aircraft - flew near Miyako and Okinawa on Friday without violating Japan's airspace, the Japanese defence ministry said in a statement released on Friday.

This handout picture taken and released by Japan's Joint Staff on Mar 9, 2014 shows a Chinese H-6 bomber flying in the air between Okinawa island and Miyako island over Japan's southern Okinawa island chain. (File photo: AFP/JOINT STAFF)

Some of them flew between the two islands while others made flights close to neighbouring islands, the ministry said.

A Chinese air force spokesman said several types of planes, including H-6K bombers, were involved in Friday's drill over the western Pacific, China's Xinhua news agency reported.

Shen Jinke said such open sea exercises had improved the force's long-distance combat abilities, according to Xinhua.

While there were no further comments from the Japanese ministry, the Yomiuri Shimbun reported that it was "unusual" for China to dispatch such a large fleet close to Japan's airspace and the ministry was analysing the purpose of the mission.

Japan scrambles jets hundreds of times a year to defend its airspace, both against Russia and these days also against Chinese aircraft.

Beijing has warned this is heightening tensions between the two Asian powerhouses, which are already at loggerheads over a longstanding territorial row in the East China Sea and Japanese military aggression in the first half of the 20th century.

The move comes with tensions running high in the South China Sea after a US warship sailed close to at least one land formation claimed by China, which has rattled its neighbours with its increasingly assertive stance in territorial disputes.

China transformed reefs in the region into small islands capable of supporting military facilities, a move the US says threatens freedom of navigation in a region through which one-third of the world's oil passes.

China insists on sovereignty over virtually all the resource-endowed South China Sea, which is also claimed in part by a handful of other countries. Washington has repeatedly said it does not recognise the Chinese claims.

- AFP/rw


Malaysia committed to cutting CO2 emissions by 40% by 2020

‎28 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎05:09:20 AMGo to full article
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's Minister of National Resources and Environment said the country is committed to cutting carbon emissions by 40 per cent by the year 2020.

Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said Kuala Lumpur will submit its game plan with specific targets to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change before the Paris conference next week.

A monorail approaches Bukit Bintang station in Kuala Lumpur. (Photo: AFP/Saeed KHAN)

More than 160 countries have already submitted their plans on the actions they will take for a low-carbon, climate-resilient future, ahead of the UN Climate Conference in Paris, where an ambitious plan to tackle climate change will be negotiated.

Speaking to Channel NewsAsia, Minister Wan Junaidi said he will be presenting Malaysia's game plan on climate change in early December. A key point in the plan is the pledge to conserve the Malaysian rainforest, which is one of the oldest in the world.

"We are going to conserve millions of hectares of land across Borneo from the Indonesian border to Sarawak and from across Brunei to Sabah,” said Mr Wan Junaidi.

Measures will be put in place for this to happen. Under a new bio-diversity policy, existing laws will be tightened to curb illegal logging. Tougher penalties too, have been proposed.

Carbon dioxide emissions is another area to be tackled. Car ownership in Malaysia is the third highest in the world at a whopping 93 per cent with 54 per cent of households having more than one car.

To cut greenhouse gas emissions, Malaysia is phasing out Ron 95, which is a lower grade petrol but widely used by motorists here because it is much cheaper than the higher-grade Ron 97. Ron 97 also carries a Euro 4 standard, which means reduced emissions.

"Ron 97 is already Euro 4, but Ron 95 is still Euro 2, and so we are determined that by 2018, that we will introduce Euro 4 for both,” said Mr Wan Junaidi.

But critics say the government needs to do more to improve the energy mix in its power supply. Malaysia still relies heavily on coal, with renewable sources accounting for less than 3 per cent.

"The devil is in the details, so for example one of main areas of generation of greenhouse gases in any country would be how we generate power,” said Ong Kian Meng, Member of Parliament for Seri Kembangan. “By 2023, 65 per cent of our power in Peninsular Malaysia will be from coal-fired plants, up from 48 per cent in 2015 - so we’ll have more coal-fired generation, plants which will emit more CO2 into the atmosphere."

This reliance on coal, he added, runs contrary to US President Barack Obama message on climate change, while he was in Malaysia recently for the ASEAN and related summits.

"The key is to make sure everybody is doing their part, what we all agreed is a finance mechanism to help these countries leapfrog old technology so instead of building old dirty power plants, here is some smart clean energy plants, and we'll help you through technology transfer and financing so that you can achieve your development goals but not add to the carbon problem,” said President Obama.

The issue is how development and environmentally friendly practices can co-exist. Next year, Malaysia is chasing economic growth of between 4 and 5 per cent. It is confident however that growth will not hinder its ability to meet emission reduction targets.

Kuala Lumpur is also set to launch its mass rapid transit system in 2016 and it hopes that this, and the expansion of the city's light rail system, will encourage Malaysians to use public transport and leave their vehicles at home.

- CNA/rw


Facebook makes paid time off for baby leave a global benefit

‎28 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎03:30:27 AMGo to full article
SAN FRANCISCO: Less than a week after Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said he would take two months of paternity leave, the social media company announced it is extending its parental leave policy to full-time employees outside the United States.

The policy, which provides four months of paid time off, will be provided to all new parents regardless of gender or location, starting Jan. 1. Employees may take leave at any point up to a year after the birth of their child, Lori Matloff Goler, the company's head of human resources, said in a Facebook post late Wednesday.

Facebook currently offers only U.S.-based workers up to four months of paid leave.

"We want to be there for our people at all stages of life, and in particular we strive to be a leading place to work for families," she added. "An important part of this is offering paid parental or 'baby' leave."

Goler said the new policy will primarily help new fathers and employees in same-sex relationships outside the United States, noting that it will not change maternity leave already available to employees worldwide.

Zuckerberg last week said he would take two months off after his daughter's birth. Zuckerberg announced in July that he and his wife, Priscilla Chan, were expecting a baby girl; they have not said when the baby is due.

His announcement was seen in Silicon Valley as a strong endorsement from a high-technology industry top executive on the importance of family time.

Technology companies in Silicon Valley have been rushing to extend parental leave allowances and other benefits to help recruit and retain employees.

Many high-tech workers, however, do not take advantage of such benefits for fear of falling behind at work or missing out on promotions.

(Reporting by Jim Christie; Editing by Stephen R. Trousdale and Leslie Adler)

- Reuters


Holiday shopping unlikely to cheer many investors

‎28 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎03:15:23 AMGo to full article
SAN FRANCISCO: The holiday shopping rush that kicked off on Friday is unlikely to bring much cheer to investors looking for a revival in retail stocks.

After months of uninspiring sales growth and recent disappointments from Macy's and Nordstrom , shareholders of apparel sellers have had little to be thankful for and face a challenging holiday season.

Women shop for handbags at Macy's Herald Square store during the early opening of the Black Friday sales in Manhattan. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

Those stocks have reflected a shift by consumers away from discretionary items like designer-label clothes and cosmetics toward smartphones, televisions, home goods and travel, as well as an ongoing migration to online spending.

Early indications suggested this year's holiday season was off to a slow start. Crowds were thin at U.S. stores and shopping malls in the early hours of Black Friday and on Thanksgiving evening, as shoppers responded to early holiday discounts with caution.

Macy's stock has plummeted 39 percent this year while Nordstrom is down 22 percent and Tiffany & Co is 23 percent lower - all far worse than the benchmark S&P 500 index's 1-percent gain.

On the other hand, Home Depot has surged 29 percent in 2015 and discount store Dollar Tree is up 6 percent.

The S&P 500 retail index has risen 27 percent this year, with much of that gain driven by its largest component, , which continues to undercut brick-and-mortar rivals and has seen its stock more than double this year.

Earnings expectations vary for the holiday shopping quarter; Lowe's on average is expected to grow its earnings by 29 percent from a year ago while videogame store GameStop is seen growing earnings by 9 percent, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Gap Inc , which warned this month about weak sales and a strong dollar, is seen posting a 24 percent drop in fourth-quarter earnings.

"You really have to bifurcate between the largely apparel retailers and hard-goods retailers," said Anthony Chukumba, an analyst at BB&T Capital Markets.

His top picks include discount retailer Big Lots as well as Best Buy , which specializes in the electronic goods consumers are buying these days and also has a compelling valuation at 12 times expected earnings. By comparison, Nordstrom trades around 17 times earnings and Target has a price-earnings ratio of 15.

Polls going into holiday season have been mixed: A Reuters/Ipsos survey found more people planned to cut holiday spending than to boost it, while Gallup reported Americans plan to spend an average of US$830 each on gifts this season, up from US$720 a year ago at this time.

U.S. retail sales edged up a meager 0.1 percent last month after staying unchanged in both September and August, according to the Commerce Department.

FBR technology analyst Daniel Ives and his team planned to visit at least 25 Best Buys and other big-box stores over the weekend in New York and other major cities to gauge consumer appetite for Microsoft's Xbox One game console and Apple's smartwatch, launched in April.

"It's not quantitative, but it gives you anecdotal data points that become part of the mosaic of your thesis about whether to be bullish or bearish on trends, names and products," Ives said.

Since 2008, early sales estimates following Black Friday and Cyber Monday have had little or no bearing on retail stock performance for the holiday quarter, according to a report by LPL financial.

The short-term performance of stocks in the week after Thanksgiving has also been similarly inconsistent.

For the past three years, Wal-Mart Stores has lost as much as 3.9 percent or gained as much as 2.6 percent in the week following Black Friday, according to Thomson Reuters data.

By comparison, the S&P 500 has been flat to up 0.5 percent in the week following Black Friday for the past three years.'s stock performance in the week following Thanksgiving has been even more erratic. It lost 8 percent last year, lost 2 percent in 2013 and jumped 5 percent in 2012.

(Editing by Bernadette Baum)

- Reuters


Digital toy maker VTech says customer data stolen in breach

‎28 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎03:05:29 AMGo to full article
REUTERS: Electronic toymaker VTech Holdings Ltd said on Friday that it was the victim of a cyber attack that compromised information about customers who access a portal for downloading children's games, books and other educational content.

VTech, which sells children's tablets, electronic learning toys and baby monitors, disclosed the attack in a statement on its website that did not say how many records were stolen.

The news site Motherboard reported that data belonging to some 4.8 million parents and more than 200,000 children was taken. It said that included names, email addresses, passwords and home addresses of parents; as well as first names, genders and birthdays of children. (

The site said it had spoken to the hacker who claimed to be behind the attack, who said he planned to do "nothing" with the data. Motherboard's claims could not be independently confirmed.

Representatives for the Hong Kong-based company could not be reached for comment late on Friday.

The company's statement said that it began investigating after it received an inquiry about a breach from a journalist on Nov. 23.

It said that it has taken steps to prevent further attacks. It also said that the targeted database did not include payment information, credit card information, Social Security numbers or drivers license numbers.

(Reporting by Jim Finkle in Boston; Editing by Stephen R. Trousdale and Lisa Shumaker)

- Reuters


Colorado gunman in custody after police standoff: Mayor

‎28 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎02:39:54 AMGo to full article
LOS ANGELES: At least 11 people were wounded when a gunman opened fire at a family planning center in Colorado in a standoff that dragged on for five hours Friday (Nov 27) before he surrendered.

There were no known fatalities but five police officers were among the wounded, police and officials in Colorado Springs said, in the latest incident to shed a damning light on America's gun culture.

A woman is escorted from a police utility vehicle after being rescued during an active shooter situation near a Planned Parenthood facility. (Photo: Justin Edmonds/Getty Images/AFP)

"The perpetrator is in custody. The situation has been resolved and there's no continuing peril to the citizens of Colorado Springs," said Mayor John Suthers.

Colorado Springs Fire Chief Chris Riley said that 11 people had been taken to hospital, five of them police officers.

It was not immediately clear if the family planning center had been specifically targeted.

Abortion is one of the services provided for women by Planned Parenthood and the association has become an lightning rod for criticism by social conservatives.

Earlier, there had been fears that the unidentified gunman might have explosives with him, and police were carefully combing the scene after the siege came to an end when he surrendered.

Speaking at the scene before the standoff ended, police spokeswoman Lieutenant Catherine Buckley warned that the gunman had taken "items" and bags inside the building with him.

"Numerous" people had been evacuated from the clinic as the incident played out, but some were left inside with him, she had said, on what had been a regular working day at Planned Parenthood, a day after the Thanksgiving holiday.

A sheriff's department SWAT team with at least one armored vehicle and several ambulances had also been on standby, as the evening drew in on the snowy scene. The immediate vicinity was placed on lockdown and people were told to stay indoors.

Buckley said the shooter was armed with some kind of "long weapon" with a shoulder stock such as a rifle and some witnesses reported hearing automatic fire.


Quan Hoang, the owner of a nearby nail salon, told CNN that when he heard the gunfire break out, he feared a robbery was underway at a bank in the shopping area.

"And we see cops, SWAT, the bomb squad, a whole bunch of people just trying to take cover around the Planned Parenthood area," he said by telephone.

"An officer came back in and said, 'Is everyone safe?' We asked him questions and he said they've barricaded him inside the Planned Parenthood and he was shooting out from the windows."

A White House official said that President Barack Obama had been notified of the incident by his Homeland Security Advisor Lisa Monaco.

Earlier, Colorado Springs police had warned residents to steer clear of the area, tweeting: "Responding to call of active shooter... the area is NOT secure."

Vicki Cowart, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Rocky Mountains, called it a "tragic situation."

"Our top priority is the safety of our patients and staff," she said in a statement, before the gunman surrendered.

"Planned Parenthood has strong security measures in place, works closely with law enforcement agencies, and has a very strong safety record.

"We don't yet know the full circumstances and motives behind this criminal action, and we don't yet know if Planned Parenthood was in fact the target of this attack."

- AFP/rw


In response to 'army of fanatics', Hollande vows 'more songs'

‎28 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎01:59:01 AMGo to full article
PARIS: President Francois Hollande vowed on Friday (Nov 27) to destroy the "army of fanatics" behind the Paris attacks but also said France would respond with more songs, concerts and shows, as the nation paused to honour the 130 killed.

"On Nov 13, a day we will never forget, France was hit at its very heart," Hollande told a sombre commemoration in the Invalides, the 17th-century complex housing Napoleon's tomb.

French President Francois Hollande (C) attends with French members of governement (back) the "national and republican" tribute, a solemn ceremony in honour of the 130 people killed in the Nov 13 Paris attacks, on Nov 27, 2015 at the "Hotel des Invalides". (Photo: AFP/Miguel Medina)

"To all of you, I solemnly promise that France will do everything to destroy the army of fanatics that committed these crimes," he said.

A crowd of 2,600 dignitaries and some of those injured in the violence gathered in the courtyard of the historic building.

Some of the wounded sat in wheelchairs, while firefighters and ambulance personnel in uniform stood silently in rows, two weeks to the day since gunmen opened fire on bars, restaurants and a concert hall, and detonated suicide vests at the Stade de France stadium.

Photographs of the victims were displayed on a giant screen, their young faces evidence that the attackers struck at those enjoying a Friday night out in the French capital.

"We will not give in either to fear or to hate," said Hollande, vowing that the French would respond to the attacks defiantly, with more "songs, concerts and shows. We will continue to go to stadiums."

The attacks - claimed by the Islamic State (IS) group in response for French air strikes on the militants in Iraq and Syria - inflicted the worst-ever toll on French soil, leaving 130 dead and 350 injured. Most victims were under 35.

Hollande said "130 destinies had been stolen, 130 laughs that will never be heard again," adding that they had come from more than 50 places in France and 17 countries. The attackers acted "in the name of an insane cause and a betrayed God," he said.


An international manhunt is still on for two key suspects in the attacks - Salah Abdeslam, who played a key logistical role in the wave of terror, and Mohamed Abrini, seen with Abdeslam two days before the Nov 13 atrocities.

With a UN climate summit due to start on the outskirts of Paris on Monday, which around 150 heads of state and government are expected to attend, security across France is tight and rallies have been banned.

The police have carried out 1,836 raids nationwide since the attacks, with more than 500 people placed in custody or under house arrest, Prime Minister Manuel Valls said on Friday.

The Council of Europe - the Strasbourg-based European watchdog on human rights - said Friday that France would invoke exemption from the continent's rights charter after it declared a state of emergency after the attacks.

Under Article 15 of the European Convention on Human Rights, a signatory can seek a so-called derogation from certain rights in the event of an extreme emergency that threatens the nation. But measures must be proportionate and comply with international law.

Under France's emergency measures, police have been given stronger powers to carry out raids or electronic surveillance.

Having vowed to crush IS for their role in the attacks, Hollande has spent the week in a whirlwind diplomatic bid to build a broad military coalition, although his efforts have met with limited success.

On Friday, he urged British MPs to back Prime Minister David Cameron's bid for Britain to join the air campaign against the militants in Syria.

"I can only call on all British members of parliament, in solidarity with France but, above all, conscious of the fight against terrorism, to approve this intervention," Hollande said at the Commonwealth summit in Malta, where he flew after the ceremonies in Paris.

Hollande has been backed by Germany, which has offered Tornado reconnaissance jets, a naval frigate, and 650 soldiers to relieve French forces in Mali.


In Moscow on Thursday, he said he and Russian President Vladimir Putin had agreed to coordinate bombing raids against IS.

The future role of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, however, remains a deeply divisive issue.

Putin said the Syrian army was a "natural partner in the fight against terrorism", while Hollande reiterated the view that Assad "has no place in the future of Syria."

On Friday, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said he could envisage Syrian government troops taking part in the anti-IS fight, though he later clarified to AFP that this could only happen after a change of regime.

Hollande's drive has secured some offers of support from France's allies but the United States remains sceptical about increased military action in the absence of capable local forces on the ground and a clear political strategy.

Nor will the US work with Russia while it is bombing other rebel groups that oppose Assad. The effort has also been complicated by Turkey's downing of a Russian warplane on the Syrian border on Tuesday.

- AFP/ec


Shevchenko to join Ukraine coaching staff - report

‎28 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎01:40:27 AMGo to full article
KIEV: Former Ukraine striker Andriy Shevchenko is set to join the national team's coaching staff, the Ukrainian Football 1 channel quoted assistant coach Olexandr Zavarov as saying on Friday.

Zavarov, who works under head coach Mykhaylo Fomenko, told the channel in a telephone interview that Shevchenko, 39, would bring new ideas into the team's coaching set up.

Shevchenko is Ukraine's record scorer with 48 goals in 111 games and won the Ballon d'Or in 2004 at AC Milan. He retired after Euro 2012 which Ukraine co-hosted with Poland.

Shevchenko was approached by the Football Federation of Ukraine to take over as head coach in November 2012 but declined because he did not have the required coaching qualifications.

That obstacle was removed in March 2015 when Shevchenko, who also played for Dynamo Kiev and Chelsea as well as Milan at club level, completed a two-year programme for a UEFA Pro Licence.

(Editing by Ken Ferris)

- Reuters


Shooting near US family planning centre, several wounded

‎28 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎01:22:16 AMGo to full article
LOS ANGELES: Several people were wounded on Friday (Nov 27) when a shootout erupted between police and a gunman at a Planned Parenthood family planning centre in the US state of Colorado.

Four police officers have been injured in the ongoing stand-off inside the facility in Colorado Springs, police spokeswoman Catherine Buckley said.

A woman is escorted by emergency personnel after reports of a shooting near the Planned Parenthood clinic Nov 27, 2015, in Colorado Springs, Colorado. (Photo: Daniel Owen/The Gazette via AP)

An unknown number of civilians have also been wounded, but there are no known fatalities so far, she said.

Buckley said that there appeared to be only "one active known shooter... but we always train for the possibility of additional people."

"The officers inside the building have encountered the individual and they're working on that at this time," she said, describing an "exchange of fire."

Abortion is one of the services provided for women by Planned Parenthood and the association has become an lightning rod for criticism by social conservatives.

News footage from the snowy scene showed a sheriff's department SWAT team with an armoured vehicle arriving at what an officer told AFP was an ongoing situation.

Buckley said the shooter is armed with some kind of "long weapon" with a shoulder stock such as a rifle and some witnesses reported hearing automatic fire.

Quan Hoang, the owner of a nearby nail salon, told CNN that when he heard the gunfire break out he feared a robbery was under way at a bank in the shopping area.

Police told him and his customers to take shelter in the back of his store and they were still there more than two hours later as the crisis continued.

"And we see cops, SWAT, the bomb squad, a whole bunch of people just trying to take cover around the Planned Parenthood area," he said by telephone.

"An officer came back in and said, 'Is everyone safe?' We asked him questions and he said they've barricaded him inside the Planned Parenthood and he was shooting out from the windows."

A White House official said that President Barack Obama had been notified of the incident by his Homeland Security Advisor Lisa Monaco.

Earlier, Colorado Springs police had warned residents to steer clear of the area, tweeting: "Responding to call of active shooter ... the area is NOT secure."

"A police operation is still under way," a police source told AFP, adding that "multiple" people had been shot.

Vicki Cowart, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Rocky Mountains, said that she was hoping for a peaceful resolution. "At this time, our concern is for the safety of our patients, staff and law enforcement," Cowart said, according to NBC News.

- AFP/ec


Murdoch: Tribune papers likely to be sold, LA Times split off

‎28 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎01:15:14 AMGo to full article
REUTERS: Rupert Murdoch, co-chairman of Wall Street Journal publisher News Corp , on Friday said he had "strong word" that the Tribune Publishing Co's newspaper group will be bought by a Wall Street firm, while the Los Angeles Times will be split off and purchased by local investors including philanthropist Eli Broad.

Murdoch, who is also co-chairman of 21st Century Fox , the entertainment and broadcast group, made his comments on Twitter.

Rupert Murdoch, Executive Chairman of News Corp and 21st Century Fox, takes part as a judge during a global start up showcase at the Wall Street Journal Digital Live (WSJDLive) conference at the Montage hotel in Laguna Beach, California in this October 20, 2015 file photo. REUTERS/Mike Blake/Files

In September Tribune's board said the Los Angeles Times and San Diego Union-Tribune were "a cornerstone of our company's portfolio and a key component to our success in the future."

Murdoch did not say on his verified Twitter account which firm would acquire the newspaper group or the timing of any deal. Murdoch tweeted that he did not bid and had no interest.

A Los Angeles Times representative referred questions to a Tribune Co spokesman, who could not immediately be reached for comment.

A spokeswoman for Broad, who has previously expressed an interest in the Los Angeles Times, declined to comment.

The Tribune Co in September reduced its financial guidance for the year, which it attributed to challenges in Southern California. It replaced the Los Angeles Times publisher around the same time.

Other newspapers published by the Tribune Co include the Baltimore Sun, Hartford Courant, SunSentinel and Orlando Sentinel.

Tribune shares closed at US$9.29 on Friday, down nearly 25 percent from US$12.24 on Aug. 31.

(Reporting by Dan Levine in San Francisco; Editing by Leslie Adler)

- Reuters


RugbyU: Perfect Catrakilis helps Montpellier shrug off Trinh-Duc loss

‎28 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎01:10:43 AMGo to full article
PARIS: Montpellier edged La Rochelle 25-20 on Friday (Nov 27) with South African fly-half Demetri Catrakilis's perfect seven kicks for a 20-point haul allowing Jake White's team to shrug off the injury-enforced absence of Francois Trinh-Duc.

The victory moved Montpellier into third spot in the Top 14 table after a worrying dip in form which had seen them lose to Toulouse, Toulon and Harlequins.

La Rochelle's French number eight Kevin Gourdon (R) runs with the ball during the French Top14 rugby union match between Montpellier and La Rochelle on Nov 27, 2015, at the Altrad stadium in Montpellier, France. (Photo: AFP/Pascal Guyot)

Catrakilis, the 26-year-old former Stormers and Western Province player, only arrived at Montpellier in January but had experience of French conditions having once featured for Racing 92 in their youth squad.

He was playing in just his second top-flight match, seizing the opportunity given to him when Trinh-Duc, who will leave for Toulon at the end of the season, was ruled out for two months after breaking his leg in last weekend's 64-0 thrashing of Calvisano in the European Challenge Cup.

"We got the win but our performance wasn't good enough. We played a bad match but we won and that's different to last season (15-15 draw)," said Montpellier skipper Fulgence Ouedraogo.

"We are going through a difficult period."

La Rochelle got off to a flying start with a try after just seven minutes.

Kevin Gourdon shrugged off the attentions of Ouedraogo before Samoan No8 Afa Amosa went over for the try which Zack Holmes converted for 7-0.

Two minutes later, Catrakilis had cut the deficit with his first confident kick at goal.

Gourdon was then yellow-carded for an infringement at the ruck and Catrakilis took advantage with a 30-metre penalty from out on the right to move his team to within a point.

Holmes replied with a 20-metre penalty for 10-6 before Catrakilis again succeeded with his third successful kick at the posts awarded when lock forward Leandro Cedaro was sin-binned.

Catrakilis put Montpellier ahead for the first time in the match at 12-10 after 45 minutes with an impressive 40-metre penalty after La Rochelle were again penalised at the breakdown.

The South African soon pushed Montpellier out to a 18-10 lead with his fifth and sixth successful kicks.

Jules Lebail kicked La Rochelle's first points of the second period in the 70th minute to raise hopes of a losing bonus point.

But one minute later Montpellier grabbed their first and only try when Australian back-rower Benjamin Mowen muscled over the line despite the suffocating presence of a number of defenders.

Not surprisingly, Catrakilis popped over the extras for 25-13.

In the last minute, Georgian replacement prop Gagi Bazadze grabbed his team's second try, converted by Lebail to at least ensure a defensive bonus point for La Rochelle.

- AFP/ec


Football: Klopp tells injury-plagued Sturridge to toughen up

‎28 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎01:08:16 AMGo to full article
LONDON: Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has warned Daniel Sturridge he must learn to play through the pain barrier in order to conquer his injury problems.

Sturridge pulled out of the squad for the 2-1 Europa League win over Bordeaux on Thursday after reporting discomfort in his foot.

Liverpool's English striker Daniel Sturridge on September 20, 2015. (Photo: AFP/Paul Ellis)

The 26-year-old has missed almost as many matches as he has featured in since joining the club in January 2013 and hip surgery in May has restricted him to 252 minutes over three appearances this season.

He featured in only 18 matches in the previous campaign because of thigh, calf and hip problems and Klopp has yet to play him since taking over as manager in mid-October.

The German has made allowances for the amount of time Sturridge has been sidelined, but admits the England international cannot be given an extended period to recover because they are deep into the season.

"The situation is Daniel was very often injured in the last few months, and maybe years, so it is normal when you get back in training usually it is not the quality, but you need training," Klopp said ahead of Sunday's Premier League clash against Swansea.

"Your body has to learn to adapt to new intensities of training and in this time you have to learn what is serious pain and what is only pain. Everyone wants him back on the pitch but we all have to learn.

"Now we can say (his latest issue) is not that serious but it is not possible to go on as before so we have to react to every situation - which is normal for injuries. When Daniel comes back usually after this long break you would train five weeks in a row and play only in friendly games.

"That would be the best, but of course we know the world is not perfect so we have to try the best and the quickest."

- AFP/ec


France accepts Russian replacement for police dog killed in Paris attack

‎28 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎01:01:37 AMGo to full article
PARIS: France on Friday (Nov 27) warmly accepted the offer of a puppy from Russia as a replacement for a police dog named Diesel which was killed during operations after the Nov 13 terror attacks in Paris.

"The gift from Russian police dog-lovers to their French counterparts ... is a very strong and exceptional symbolic gesture on your part," Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve wrote in a letter to his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Kolokoltsev.

A puppy named Dobryny is pictured in Moscow on Novr 21, 2015. (Photo: AFP)

The Russian interior minister had offered to send a German shepherd puppy named Dobrynya to replace Diesel, a seven-year-old Belgian shepherd.

She was killed on November 18 during a massive security operation against militants holed up in an apartment to the north of Paris.

During that raid Abdelhamid Abaaoud, one of the suspected ringleaders of the November 13 attacks in and around Paris which left 130 people dead, was killed in a shootout along with two accomplices.

Dobrynya is named after a mediaeval Russian knight famed for his strength, chivalry and courage.

Russia's foreign ministry has published pictures and videos of the little dog playing with a ball.

The six-month-old pup, which lives in a centre for police dogs in the Moscow region, has also appeared on Russian state television.

Before being sent to France he must undergo veterinary checks and a quarantine.

After Diesel's death was announced earlier this month the hashtag #JeSuisChien (meaning #Iamdog) spread across social networks in tribute to Diesel.

French President Francois Hollande and Russian leader Vladimir Putin agreed Thursday to coordinate strikes against the Islamic State group, which has claimed responsibility for the Paris attacks.



Neiman Marcus website suffers outage on Black Friday: CNBC

‎28 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎01:00:14 AMGo to full article
REUTERS: Shoppers looking for deals on upscale retailer Neiman Marcus's website were left largely empty-handed after the site suffered an outage on Black Friday, CNBC reported.

The Neiman Marcus homepage has been mostly unavailable since 8 am ET on Friday, CNBC reported, citing data from website performance monitor Catchpoint Systems. (

The site has been slow to load and erratic since then.

Neiman Marcus spokeswoman Ginger Reeder said she could not confirm the time of the outage, but said the company was working to restore the website.

"We are working fervently to get the site back up. I don't have any further updates at this time," Reeder said.

The outage could hurt upscale retailer Neiman Marcus during one of the most important days for holiday shopping, at a time when more shoppers are shopping online.

According to software firm Adobe Systems Inc's Digital Index, shoppers in the United States spent US$822 million online between midnight and 11 am ET, a 15-percent increase from 2014.

(Reporting by Anya George Tharakan in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D'Silva)

- Reuters


Italy plans to close clandestine mosques: Minister

‎28 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎12:56:36 AMGo to full article
ROME: The Italian government intends to close down clandestine mosques in the country as part of the fight against terrorism, Interior Minister Angelino Alfano announced on Friday (Nov 27).

"In Italy, we have four mosques and over 800 places of Muslim worship," said Alfano.

Italian Interior Minister Angelino Alfano is pictured Oct 9, 2015. (Photo: AFP/Andreas Solaro)

"We are going to close the clandestine and unregulated places, not to hamper the religion but so that it can be practised in places which are in order," he added in comments published by the local press.

The minister was speaking at a meeting in the southern town of Lecce on the subject of terrorist risks and the influence of so-called "garage Islam" - the non-registered places of worship where many of the estimated one million Muslims living in Italy go to pray.

Some of these clandestine meeting places are set up after attempts to establish a mosque through the proper channels are thwarted, often due to opposition from local officials.

"Nowhere in the world enjoys zero risk - this has been demonstrated by the dramatic timeline of terrorism from 2001 to today," Alfano said in other comments. He added that, so far, preventative measures and intelligence-gathering in Italy had prevailed.

However Italy, and in particular Rome, are often cited as targets in Islamic State propaganda and the United States has warmed the country of the risks of possible attacks.

- AFP/ec


El Salvador condemns bishop accused of raping girl

‎28 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎12:52:50 AMGo to full article
SAN SALVADOR: A "well-loved" senior bishop in El Salvador who is also a prominent Church historian was on Friday (Nov 27) condemned by government officials and a rights organization after being accused of repeatedly raping a girl in the 1980s.

Bishop Jesus Delgado, 77, was on Thursday suspended from his functions as number three in the country's archdiocese after the alleged victim, today a 42-year-old woman, came forward with her account.

The Vicar General of the Archdiocese of San Salvador Monsignor Jesus Delgado is pictured Apr 28, 2011 in San Salvador. (Photo: AFP/Marvin Recinos)

She told authorities and church officials that Delgado started raping her when she was a nine-year-old girl and continued until she was 17.

El Salvador's government expressed solidarity with the woman and offered assistance.

"We regret and condemn the case of pedophilia for which the clergyman Jesus Delgado has been suspended of all his priestly, pastoral and administrative functions," said a statement issued by the presidency.

A coordinator for the Human Rights Commission of El Salvador, Miguel Montenegro, told AFP that the news had a "big impact" in the country.

"It's a reprehensible act that has shocked people because it has to do with a priest who was well loved by parishioners," he said.

"Even though he has accepted his responsibility, it's important that the matter is made clear and that the church opens up so that there is no repeat of this type of repugnant act," Montenegro said.

Delgado was holed up in a Catholic centre but so far no legal complaint or charge has been filed against him.

El Salvador's archbishop, Jose Luis Escobar, was to make a pronouncement about the case on Sunday.

Delgado, who was ordained in 1962, was a prominent man of God in El Salvador.

He notably wrote a biography of a Salvadoran archbishop who was murdered during mass in 1980, Oscar Arnulfo Romero, and was in the front row at the Vatican a month ago to thank the pope for beatifying Romero earlier this year.

- AFP/ec


'Black Friday' protest of police shooting shuts main Chicago shopping street

‎28 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎12:29:55 AMGo to full article
CHICAGO: On one of the busiest US retails days, thousands of people took to Chicago's most prestigious downtown shopping district on Friday (Nov 27) to protest last year's shooting death of a black teenager by a white policeman and the city's handling of the case.

About 2,000 people with signs reading "Stop Police Terror" gathered in a cold drizzle for the march on Chicago's "Magnificent Mile" on the Black Friday shopping day, which closed the major city street of Michigan Avenue to traffic.

Demonstators gather to protest last year's shooting death of black teenager Laquan McDonald by a white policeman and the city's handling of the case at an intersection in the downtown shopping district of Chicago, Illinois, November 27, 2015. REUTERS/Jim Young

Organizers said the rally, led by activist-politician the Rev. Jesse Jackson and several state elected officials, is a show of outrage over the fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald, 17, and what they see as racial bias in US policing.

Protesters also called for the resignation of the police superintendent and a top prosecutor for what they see as foot-dragging and stonewalling in the case.

The police officer who shot McDonald 16 times, Jason Van Dyke, 37, was charged with first-degree murder hours before a graphic video of the shooting was made public on Tuesday.

"It's unconscionable that the police officer who killed Laquan McDonald was able to sit at a desk for over a year and draw a paycheck," said James Hinton, 49, who joined the march holding a sign that read: "13 months, 16 shots."

The protesters chanted "Stop the cover up, 16 shots," as they marched along Michigan Avenue.

Shoppers on the second and third floors of a Crate & Barrel could be seen lining up along windows taking pictures with their phones of throngs of protesters in the streets.


Shortly before the rally, Chicago police said they had arrested and charged one man with the fatal shooting of 9-year-old Tyshawn Lee and that at least two others were also involved.

The shooting was a separate incident this month that garnered much attention because police said the boy appeared to have been killed in an act of retribution against his gang-member father.

The downtown Chicago demonstration comes three days after police, acting under a court order, released footage from a dashboard-mounted video camera that captured the Oct 20, 2014 shooting death of McDonald.

Emergence of the tape had already sparked two nights of mostly peaceful and relatively small-scale demonstrations in the city, during which nine arrests were reported by police. Despite calls on social media for protesters to turn out for Chicago's annual Thanksgiving Day parade on Thursday, no rallies materialized.

But city officials have given no detailed explanation for why the footage came without any discernible audio that is supposed to be recorded with the video.

African-American members of the City Council have repeatedly called for the resignation of Police Superintendent McCarthy.

"The mayor has made it very clear that he has my back," McCarthy told a news conference.

"And if people peel away the onion on what's happening right now in the policing world, you're going to find a police department that's doing an exceptional job," he said.

In a statement on Thursday endorsing the planned Unity March & Rally in Memory of Laquan McDonald, the Chicago Teachers Union called for Cook County's chief prosecutor, Anita Alvarez, to step down as well.

A Facebook page posted by march organizers listed additional demands including the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate questionable circumstances in the case, and a special election to choose a new state's attorney for the county.

Organizers also called for the ouster of anyone else found to be involved in misconduct surrounding the case, and the "demilitarization" of the Chicago Police Department.

"We have watched in anger and disappointment as the city has covered up police violence," teachers union Vice President Jesse Sharkey said. He accused Mayor Rahm Emanuel of delaying release of the videos during his campaign for re-election, which he won in April.

Emanuel and other officials said they delayed making the tapes public to avoid tainting the investigation of Van Dyke.

(Reporting by Mary Wisniewski and Nick Carey; Writing by Steve Gorman and Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)

- Reuters


Pope hails Africa as 'continent of hope'

‎28 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎12:26:27 AMGo to full article
KAMPALA: Pope Francis hailed Africa as "a continent of hope" on Friday (Nov 27) as he toured Uganda on the second leg of a landmark trip that has seen him railing against corruption and poverty.

The 78-year-old pontiff was given a rapturous welcome as he flew in to the central town of Entebbe, heading straight to Uganda's presidential palace in a small hatchback car as waving crowds gathered along the roadside, four deep in some places.

Pope Francis (R) meets with dignitaries, after being greeted by Uganda President Yoweri Museveni, upon his arrival on Nov 27, 2015 in Entebbe. (Photo: AFP/Isaac Kasamani)

In his opening speech, Francis said his visit was meant to draw attention to Africa as a whole: its promise, its hopes, its struggles and its achievements. "The world looks to Africa as the continent of hope," he said.

The pontiff arrived after three days in neighbouring Kenya, where vast crowds turned out for an open-air mass, and where he lashed out at corruption and wealthy minorities who hoard resources at the expense of the poor.

The pope has made humility and help for the impoverished a hallmark of his tenure.

Veteran Ugandan leader Yoweri Museveni, widely expected to be re-elected next year for his third decade in power, said he was honoured to host Pope Francis, describing his compassion for the poor and his frankness of spirit as "an encouragement for all of us."


In his address, Francis hailed Uganda's "outstanding" response in welcoming some half a million refugees and enabling them "to rebuild their lives in security and with a sense of dignity."

"Our world, caught up in wars, violence, and various forms of injustice, is witnessing an unprecedented movement of peoples," he said. "How we deal with them is a test of our humanity, our respect for human dignity, and above all our solidarity with our brothers and sisters in need."

On the eve of his arrival, Ugandan MPs passed a controversial bill handing the authorities sweeping powers to supervise, approve, inspect and dissolve NGOs in a move which could see rights activists jailed for documenting abuses.

Rights groups say the move is likely to "strangle" criticism of the government.

Francis later headed to a shrine at Munyonyo, near the capital Kampala, where in 1886 the Ugandan king ordered the execution of more than 40 Protestant and Catholic Christians, who are revered as martyrs.


"This is my third pope but it can't be boring, we are blessed!" said 55-year-old Agnes Mubuya, sitting on a plastic chair wearing a yellow dress, her Sunday best. Pinned to her chest was a laminated badge reading "Welcome Pope Francis to Uganda".

"I'd like him to talk about corruption, which is too much in Uganda. And we hope he can bring political change. He must talk to Museveni: if a pope can stand down why not a president?" she said.

"Pope Francis, he cares for all the people, the whole universe, regardless of political or religious affiliation," said 60-year old Henry Mutambo, a Protestant, as he waited on the grass verge close to the presidential palace.

Police and soldiers armed with assault rifles or batons lined the roads and military pickups raced up and down as the pope travelled from the airport to the presidential palace in Entebbe, some 30 kilometres (20 miles) south of Kampala.

Security has been ratcheted up for the visit over fears extremist rebels from Al-Qaeda's East Africa branch, the Shebab, could use the opportunity to stage attacks. But defence chief Katumba Wamala has said measures are in place and expressed confidence "all will go as planned."

Francis has shrugged off safety fears, joking that he was "more worried about the mosquitoes". He travels to war-torn Central African Republic (CAR) on Sunday.


"He is caring, he has mercy, he is a man of the people," said Ugandan mother Ruth Nakiboneka, 22, sitting on the grass cradling her six-week-old daughter as the papal convoy passed.

"He should focus on homosexuality to stop it, to stop child abuse, pre-marital sex and fornication and pray for good leadership," she added.

Earlier on Friday, Francis toured the Kenyan capital's Kangemi slum, his popemobile weaving through a sea of tin-roofed homes in one of the most anticipated parts of his three-day visit to Nairobi.

"I am here because I want you to know that I am not indifferent to your joys and hopes, your troubles and your sorrows," Francis told the worshippers, denouncing the "dreadful injustice of urban exclusion".

He also delivered a hard-hitting address on corruption and radicalisation, as well as a stark environmental message, warning it would be "catastrophic" if agreement is not reached at a key UN climate summit which opens in Paris on Monday.

- AFP/ec


Alpine Skiing: Gut wins Aspen giant slalom after Shiffrin fall

‎28 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎12:21:06 AMGo to full article
ASPEN, United States: Swiss Lara Gut captured her 13th career Alpine Skiing Women's World Cup victory on Friday (Nov 27) in a giant slalom race after a late fall by American Mikaela Shiffrin.

Gut, who was third after the opening run, won with a total time of 2min 2.51secs with Austria's Eva-Maria Brem the runner-up by .10 of a second and Italy's Federica Brignone third on 2:02.85.

Lara Gut of Switzerland competes in the first run of the giant slalom during the Audi FIS Women's Alpine Ski World Cup at the Nature Valley Aspen Winternational on Nov 27, 2015 in Aspen, Colorado. (Photo: AFP/Doug Pensinger)

"It's a tough course," Gut said. "There are no easy gates. I'm happy. It's good to be on the podium here."

Reigning world and Olympic slalom champion Shiffrin, who led after the opening run, was three gates from victory but did not finish, handing Gut her second career victory in the discipline after Solden, Austria, in 2013.

"I didn't feel good throughout the race," Shiffrin said.

In the World Cup overall and discipline standings, Brignone, who won this season's giant slalom opener at Solden, remained in first place by 160-150 over Gut with Brem third on 112.

Three-time defending World Cup slalom champion Shiffrin had been second at Solden and would have taken the World Cup lead with a triumph. Instead, the 20-year-old American stands sixth on 80. she was third last season in the giant slalom.

"Mikaela was skiing awesome," Gut said. "To win the overall, you have to ski fast. I focused on that. It's too early to talk about the overall. We will see in March."

Gut struggled in giant slalom last season, finishing 24th in the discipline and sparking a major revamp.

"Being fourth in Solden I realized I could compete again against the best," Gut said. "I fixed since March my problem in giant slalom. I changed everything, new skis, new skiman, Didier Cuche and Daniel Albrecht came to help -- the puzzle is coming into place."

US ski star Lindsey Vonn crashed out in the first run. The four-time World Cup champion was running seventh when she faltered, the third of 18 skiers who failed to finish the opening run.

"My left ski came off," Vonn said. "To be honest I am a bit perplexed. It wasn't even bumpy. It never happened to me in a race before. To happen in Aspen is really disappointing."

Vonn, 31, moved on to next week's speed events in Canada, a course where she has dominated in past seasons. "Next week it's Lake Louise," she said. "I am going to move from today and focus on that."

Brem was finally able to relax in the wake of pressure on her and her teammates with star Anna Fenninger injured and out for the season.

"Everything was easy before the first race of the season in Solden, but then it went wrong," Brem said.

"I always try to reach my goals and ski for myself. I didn't ski for myself, or freely, in Solden and in the first round here. I went for the victory. I skied on edge. Mikaela was going for the victory and she is out. It's how it goes."

- AFP/ec


Sweden suspends flights to northern Iraq over security concerns

‎28 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎12:15:25 AMGo to full article
BAGHDAD: Sweden has suspended all flights to northern Iraq because of concerns about increased military activity in the area, the country's transport agency said on Friday.

Iraq closed its northern airspace for at least 48 hours earlier this week because of military traffic from Russia's air campaign in neighbouring Syria.

Commercial routes from the Middle East and Europe were disrupted, as were reconnaissance and resupply flights for the U.S.-led coalition that has been bombing Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria for more than a year, separately from the Russian campaign.

Flights had resumed in northern Iraq by Wednesday, but Sweden's transport agency said in a statement on its website it was limiting Iraqi Airways and Air Zagros from flying to Erbil and Sulaimaniya starting on Saturday.

A representative for Air Zagros, operated by a subsidiary of Turkey's AtlasGlobal, confirmed a weekly connection between Stockholm and Erbil had been suspended until further notice.

Iraqi Airways could not immediately be reached for comment.

The transport agency's statement said other flights between Sweden and northern Iraq, including those operated by German airline Germania, had also been cancelled.

"We understand that our decisions affect those travellers who can no longer fly to and from northern Iraq. But we have to put passenger safety first," said Simon Posluk, head of the transport agency's shipping and aviation facilities.

Russia began launching missiles and long-range bombers at targets in Syria from warships in the Caspian Sea last month. They travel some 1,500 km (900 miles) over Iran and Iraq.

An aviation official in Erbil previously said a change in the missiles' route had brought them "uncomfortably close" to the airport, which serves the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region along with the one in Sulaimaniya.

Moscow says its air strikes were requested by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and contends their main target is Islamic State militants who control large swathes of Syria and Iraq. But it has been accused of hitting other targets, including territory occupied by Western-backed rebels opposed to Assad.

With competing military demands on the airspace over Iraq and Syria, flight time and fuel costs for commercial traffic has risen as aircraft queue to enter narrow corridors.

(Reporting by Stephen Kalin in Baghdad and Sven Nordenstam in Stockholm, editing by Larry King)

- Reuters


FDA declines expanded approval for Bristol-Myers' Opdivo drug

‎28 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎12:15:13 AMGo to full article
REUTERS: Bristol-Myers Squibb Co said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration declined to approve its immuno-oncology drug, Opdivo, for its expanded use to treat an additional type of advanced skin cancer.

Bristol-Myers said it received a so-called complete response letter from the health regulator, which indicated the need for additional data in the BRAF mutated patient population.

The regulator issues a complete response letter when a new or generic treatment cannot be approved in its current form.

The FDA approved Opdivo as a single agent for the treatment of patients with BRAF V600 wild-type melanoma earlier this week, but on Friday declined the approval of the drug for treating BRAF V600 mutation positive metastatic melanoma.

Opdivo, first approved in December 2014, raked in worldwide revenue of US$467 million in the nine months ended Sept. 30.

The drug has been approved for five other indications in the past 12 months.

Metastatic melanoma is the least common skin cancer. It is also the most deadly because it spreads (metastasizes) quickly and easily to other parts of the body.

(Reporting by Anya George Tharakan in Bengaluru; Editing Siddharth Cavale and Anil D'Silva)

- Reuters


Football: Lyon in crisis after crushing defeat

‎28 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎12:00:22 AMGo to full article
PARIS: Lyon completed a miserable week by slumping to a third straight defeat as they were thumped 4-2 at home by a resurgent Montpellier in Ligue 1 on Friday (Nov 27).

Unheralded Chadian striker Casimir Ninga was the hero for Montpellier with a brace in between a Maxime Gonalons own goal and a Souleymane Camara strike for the visitors, who ran riot against shambolic Lyon defending at the Stade de Gerland.

Montpellier's French midfielder Bryan Dabo (L) heads the ball with Lyon's Serbian defender Milan Bisevac during the French L1 football match between Lyon and Montpellier at the Gerland Stadium in Lyon, central-eastern France, on Nov 27, 2015. (Photo: AFP/Jeff Pachoud)

Alexandre Lacazette and Rachid Ghezzal netted for the home side, but this was a worrying performance from Hubert Fournier's team, who were lucky not to lose by a much wider margin.

Soundly beaten 3-0 at Nice a week ago, last season's Ligue 1 runners-up were sent packing from the Champions League with a 2-1 home loss to Gent on Tuesday, and this was their fourth loss in five outings in November.

Lyon remain in second place for now, but are 13 points behind leaders Paris Saint-Germain and the five sides below them are all within three points so they risk plummeting down the table by Sunday evening.

"We had a difficult European campaign in which we made too many errors and now an early goal from my mistake put us in trouble," captain Gonalons told beIN Sports.

"We just need to keep working. Without a great performance by Antho (Lopes) we would have lost much more heavily. We are a big club and everything the people who were here before us built we must not throw away. We need to be men, not behave like boys."

The contrast with the good times of last season, when OL hammered Montpellier 5-1 home and away, were stark at a Gerland where both ends of the ground were left empty as a punishment for trouble after the recent derby win against Saint-Etienne and loud jeers rung out from the reduced crowd at full-time.


After a dreadful start to the campaign, 2012 champions Montpellier were looking to extend a five-game unbeaten run in the league and score a third consecutive victory.

They took an early lead when Gonalons turned a low Jerome Roussillon cross into his own net and Ninga doubled their advantage in the 11th minute, holding off Rafael before slotting past Anthony Lopes.

Lyon quickly got back into the game as Lacazette nodded in after a Claudio Beauvue effort had been blocked on the line.

However, Montpellier looked like scoring every team they broke into the home half and Lopes had to come to Lyon's rescue on more than one occasion before the interval, notably to save from Ninga.

Nevertheless, Montpellier did score again within three minutes of the restart thanks to more horrendous defending. Rafael's short backpass put Roussillon through, and while Lopes saved at his feet, Ninga was on hand to convert the follow-up.

It was a third goal in French football for Ninga, the 22-year-old striker from Chad who was playing in Gabon last season.

Clement Grenier made his first appearance of the season after injury for Lyon when he replaced Mathieu Valbuena on the hour, but Montpellier continued to make chances and substitute Camara got a fourth goal when he finished after his initial effort had been saved.

Ghezzal pulled another goal back from a free-kick for the hosts but that was scant consolation.

PSG are at home to winless bottom club Troyes on Saturday while Nice have the chance to leapfrog Lyon into second when they go to Toulouse.

The standout fixture of the weekend sees Marseille host Monaco on Sunday evening.

- AFP/ec


Lyon slump to 4-2 home defeat by Montpellier

‎27 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎11:55:31 PMGo to full article
PARIS: Second-placed Olympique Lyonnais were humbled 4-2 at home by mid-table Montpellier in Ligue 1 on Friday as their chances of catching runaway leaders Paris St Germain retreated further.

Lyon, eliminated from all European competition in a 2-1 home Champions league defeat by Gent on Tuesday, remain 13 points adrift of PSG, who host Troyes on Saturday.

Football Soccer - Olympique Lyon v Montpellier - French Ligue 1 - Gerland stadium, Lyon, France - 27/11/2015 Olympique Lyon's Maxwel Cornet (R) in action against Montpellier's Bryan Dabo (C)REUTERS/Robert Pratta

Lyonn are stuck on 25 points from 15 games with Montpellier up one place to 13th with 18 points.

Hubert Fournier's Lyon got off to a horrid start and never recovered as Montpellier, with Casimir Ninga scoring twice, ripped through their defence on a night to forget for the hosts.

Montpellier went ahead after just eight minutes when Lyon's Maxime Gonalons deflected Jerome Roussillon's cross into his own net at the near post.

Three minutes later, Ninga outpaced Rafael, after collecting a through ball from William Remy, before beating goalkeeper Anthony Lopes from close range to double the hosts' tally.

Lyon responded in the 14th minute. Gonalons's header was parried by stopper Laurent Pionnier, but Alexandre Lacazette had followed the ball in and headed home to half the deficit.

However, Ninga made it 3-1 three minutes into the second half from close range after Roussillon intercepted a poor pass from Rafael aimed for keeper Lopes.

Second-half substitute Souleymane Camara wrapped up the win for the visitors 10 minutes from time after Ryad Boudebouz, having dribbled past a sorry Rafael, set up the striker to score the fourth goal at a stunned Gerland stadium.

Rachid Ghezzal grabed a consolation for the hosts with a curled strike from outside the box in the 84th before Lyon were booed by the home fans after another mediocre performance.

(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Ken Ferris)

- Reuters


Voice of Paris attacks; Did he have bigger role?

‎27 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎11:48:38 PMGo to full article
PARIS/ALENCON, France: The voice that claimed Islamic State was responsible for the deadly Paris attacks is known to many in the small French provincial town of Alencon.

To family, Fabien Clain was a "big teddy bear", to neighbours he was polite and at the local mosque he was a fellow worshipper who came to pray.

A name reading "Clain Fabien" is seen on the interphone at the entrance of an apartment building where Fabien Clain, identified as the voice in an audio recording claiming responsibility for the Paris attacks, grew up in Alencon, France, November 25, 2015. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

To the French authorities, he was a veteran militant jailed once in the past for recruiting militant fighters and believed by them to have fled to Syria this year. They now think he may have played a bigger role in the Nov. 13 attacks, the worst in France since World War Two.

In the online audio message detailing the assaults and claiming they were orchestrated by Islamic State, Clain’s voice sounds haunting and triumphant. He warns the massacre "is only the beginning of the storm".

Investigators are now looking at what Clain's role might be and how it fits with that of Belgian Abdelhamid Abaaoud, whom they believe to be a ringleader. Police are now asking whether Clain may have been more important.

"There is no definitive scenario, everything is being looked at," a source close to the investigation said. A police source added: "It's possible. I wouldn't be surprised."

A judicial source familiar with anti-terror cases went further: "When you make a claim like that (for the attacks), you're in the operational ranks," the source said.

Police are also looking into Clain's younger brother Jean-Michel, who authorities say sings on the five-minute recording.

Investigators are unsure whether the two brothers are now in Europe or Syria.

Originating from the French territory of La Reunion, the 37- and 35-year-old siblings have previously been linked to radical cells in France and Belgium, according to judicial sources.

Their names have appeared in investigations into planned attacks, like one foiled on churches in a Paris suburb this year and a previous suspected plot on the Bataclan music hall, one of the bloodiest scenes in the Nov. 13 carnage.

It is the elder Clain, who goes by the name Omar, who is the main focus for French authorities. Only six years ago, he was jailed for recruiting militants to fight in Iraq.

Clain converted to Islam in the late 1990s. Like his younger brother, he is believed by French police to have become radicalised in the early 2000s when he lived in the southern city of Toulouse where he frequented radical networks and played a role in the militant recruitment "Artigat cell". Members of that cell were believed to have been mentored by Salafist preacher Olivier Corel, known locally as the "white emir".

A French national of Syrian origin, Corel, who lives in the Pyrenees village of Artigat, is also believed by French police and intelligence to have mentored gunman Mohamed Merah, who killed seven people in March 2012.

"It is possible (that the brothers ranked above Abaaoud for the Nov. 13 attacks) because they have been involved in radical movements for a long time," a police source said. "Abaaoud was still young when they were already part of the Artigat cell."

As part of a security operation targeting Islamists under the state of emergency imposed in France after the attacks, police raided Corel's house this week, handing him a suspended jail sentence for possessing a hunting rifle. He is not believed to have any link to the Paris attacks.


Born on Jan 30, 1978 on France's Indian Ocean island La Reunion, Fabien Clain moved as a child to Alencon in southern Normandy where he grew up with his brother and two sisters.

He returned to La Reunion as a teenager before eventually coming back to Alencon, where he married a school friend, Mylene. The brothers converted their family to Islam and when they moved to Toulouse, their wives wore the niqab veil over their faces, an unusual sight in the city back then.

On Copains d'avant, a French social web site similar to Friends Reunited, Clain's profile lists him as living in "Toulouse, Egypt". Judicial sources say both brothers studied Arabic in the north African country in the mid 2000s.

It is unclear when the page was last updated. It also features class photos, lists history and basketball as hobbies and the words "Still here, thanks be to God".

Clain also lived in Belgium, where French President Francois Hollande has said the Nov 13 attacks were organised, for about a year in 2004, according to a judicial source.

Back then, the older brother was already suspected of being part of a group of radicals from France living in Belgium, the source said.

Authorities began investigating the Artigat cell some 10 years ago when Syrian police arrested two Frenchmen trying to cross the border into Iraq as part of an Al Qaeda cell.

One member of the cell, Sabri Essid, who is Merah's half brother, took part in "physical training sessions" with Clain, according to other members questioned by police, another judicial source said.

Both he and Clain were sentenced to five years in jail in 2009. Jean-Michel was questioned for four days but released with no charges.

Also in 2009, French authorities opened an investigation into a plot to attack the Bataclan, where the bloodiest of the Nov. 13, 2015 attacks took place. There was not enough evidence and the investigation was eventually dropped in September 2012.

But the Clain brothers' name came up when the main suspect, a Belgian man of Tunisian origin, told police he was "very close" to them and that they had introduced him to a jihadi forum known for using techniques to avoid detection.

Another witness in the Artigat investigation told police Clain had "a true talent for converting people", according to judicial sources.

Clain spent three years in jail. He was behind bars when Merah carried out his killing spree in March 2012. Judicial and police sources believe the two had strong ties.

Samia Maktouf, a lawyer for one of the Merah victim's families, said she had asked prosecutors to question men linked to the Artigat cell, including Clain, but her request was not heeded. "Everyone thought this was a sleeping cell," she said.

Yet in September 2012, police opened an investigation into Artigat members fleeing to Syria. It is still under way today.

Essid reappeared in an Islamic State video this year in which a child shot dead a man.


Banned in 22 French districts after his release from jail, Clain returned to Alencon with his wife and children in 2012.

At a small apartment complex on the town's outskirts, a buzzer on the three-storey building still bears his name. Inside, his letter box is full.

Last week, police raided the Alencon flat of his cousin and limited her movements, telling her to regularly check in.

"When I heard the audio, I was so shocked," the cousin, who spoke on condition her name not be used, told Reuters. "I just don't understand. I don't know him any more."

Repeatedly saying she had no links to the attacks, the cousin said she had last seen Clain "at the start of the year". Neighbours and worshippers at Alencon's Mahabba mosque, which he attended from late 2012 to early 2015, said they had seen him in February.

"I saw his wife in May/June when a family member died. After that I didn't see her," the cousin said. "I was in touch once for the children and when she told me she was there (in Syria) ... She said they were well."

Mylene's mother last saw her daughter in February in Alencon. According to a neighbour, police had seized Mylene's passport and those of her children but she still managed to evade French authorities. When her mother eventually noted her disappearance, she alerted police, but it was too late.

"She is devastated," the neighbour said.

Prosecutors opened a preliminary investigation in March into Clain's disappearance and presumed flight to Syria. This was turned into an official judicial probe in June.

Jean-Michel is also believed to be in Syria with his wife and children, a police source said, adding there were questions whether he was even still alive, meaning he could have recorded his singing beforehand.


Before he disappeared, Clain sold halal goods such as soap and massage oils in Islamic shops, according to his cousin.

Standing in her doorway and often in tears, she said she rarely saw Clain and that she spent more time with his wife and children, often going shopping together or watching television.

Their family life was "extremely centred on religion".

"He was so kind, he wouldn't even hurt a fly. He was like a big teddy bear ... always smiling, laughing, joking around," she said. Now she says she has cut off contact.

Other neighbours of Clain paint the picture of a robust but quiet neighbour, seen as often in a robe as in casual clothes.

At the local Mahabba mosque, Clain taught Arabic to young children for about two weeks, until a 2013 television report linked him to Merah airing their photos.

"When that picture aired, people began distancing themselves," Omar Sadequi, head of the Mahabba mosque association, said. "But you can't stop people coming to the mosque."

Sadequi, who said he had very little contact with Clain, added the mosque banned groupings on its territory.

At a lunchtime worship this week, the few worshippers there recalled seeing Clain, but added they did not really talk to him. "He had given people the impression that he had changed (after prison)," Sadequi said. "But really, he did not change at all."

(Chine Labbe reported for this article from Paris, Additional reporting by G rard Bon in Paris and Julie Rimbert in Toulouse, Writing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian, Editing by Andrew Callus and Timothy Heritage)

- Reuters


No known terrorist threat to Rio Olympics: Official

‎27 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎11:44:10 PMGo to full article
BRASILIA: Brazil is preparing to deal with a terrorist attack at the Rio Olympics but has no information of any planned plots, the country's intelligence chief told AFP on Friday (Nov 27).

"We have no information about a terrorist cell preparing in Brazil. Our risk assessment does not indicate this, but we are working permanently as if the threat were imminent, as if this could happen tomorrow," Wilson Trezza, director of the Brazilian Intelligence Agency, said.

Police officers stand guard outside the Amazonia Arena, which will host several events during the 2016 Olympics, in Manaus, Brazil, on Oct 9, 2015 (Photo: AFP/Raphael Alves)

With nine months before the first Summer Games in South America, Brazilian security officials say they will be able to stop any threat. Fears have risen since the attacks two weeks ago in Paris, including outside the national football stadium, that left at least 130 people dead.

Brazil is working so as "not to be taken by surprise," Trezza said at a seminar in the capital Brasilia.

Brazil has no history of conflict with extremists or other violent radical groups. However, with 10,500 athletes from 206 countries and dozens of heads of state and large numbers of tourists, the Olympics are considered a potential target.

Brazil says it will deploy 85,000 security personnel, double the number used during the 2012 London Olympics.

"It will be the biggest integrated security operation in the history of Brazil," said Sports Minister George Hilton.

- AFP/ec


Merkel under pressure from her own ahead of EU migration summit

‎27 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎11:41:19 PMGo to full article
BERLIN: Chancellor Angela Merkel came under renewed pressure from her own conservatives on Friday to stem the flow of refugees into Germany as she heads to a weekend summit of European Union leaders and Turkey's prime minister.

Roughly a million refugees and migrants fleeing war and deprivation in the Middle East, Africa and Asia are expected to arrive in Germany this year alone - the majority of those reaching Europe - and local authorities are struggling to cope.

Supporters of the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) demonstrate against the German government's new policy for migrants in Berlin, Germany, November 7, 2015. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

Merkel has faced intense pressure from her own conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) and their Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), to change course on her open-door refugee policy. They gave her a final reminder on Friday.

"Immigration is to be limited to a dimension that does not exceed society's acceptance and which also guarantees the country's long-term integration capacity," conservative interior policy officials from both the federal and state level said in a statement after meeting in Berlin.

Germany cannot take in all refugees and displaced people, they added

In an address to parliament on Wednesday, Merkel said she would stick to her open-door refugee policy, defying criticism at home and abroad which has intensified due to fears about a potential security risk after the Islamist attacks in Paris.

Merkel wants a multi-pronged solution to the crisis, centred on working with other EU countries and Turkey. Others in her ruling coalition want to cap Germany's refugee intake.

European and Turkish officials are working to smooth out their remaining differences on an agreement to help stem flows of migrants to Europe, which they hope will be signed on Sunday.

German government sources said they were optimistic an action plan could be agreed with Turkey and signed at Sunday's summit.

Popular support for Merkel and her conservatives has waned in the last three months due to the migrant influx. But a Forsa poll on Wednesday put her conservative bloc up three points at 39 percent due to the effect of the Paris attacks, which Forsa's chief said drives voters back to the incumbent party.

In an encouraging sign for Merkel, a spokesman for Germany's federal police said 6,561 migrants arrived in the country on Thursday, the lowest number on any day in November.

(Reporting by Thorsten Severin,; Writing by Paul Carrel, Editing by Angus MacSwan)

- Reuters


VW's Audi suspends two engineers in emissions probe

‎26 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎12:25:23 PMGo to full article
BERLIN: Volkswagen's luxury flagship Audi has suspended two engineers after its larger diesel engines were found evading emissions limits in the United States, Audi CEO Rupert Stadler said in a newspaper interview published on Thursday.

Volkswagen (VW) and Audi notified U.S. authorities last Thursday that about 85,000 vehicles with 3.0 liter V6 diesel engines were fitted with emissions-control equipment that was not disclosed to U.S. regulators.

The Audi powerplant is reflected in an Audi in Brussels, Belgium in this September 28, 2015 file picture. REUTERS/Yves Herman/Files

The news widened a scandal at parent VW which has led to the ouster of its long-time chief executive and wiped more than 20 billion euros (US$21 billion) off the group's market value.

Audi is now investigating whether employees in technical development and other departments deliberately manipulated emission-control devices and has suspended two engineers, Stadler said in an interview with the Donaukurier regional newspaper, without giving any further details.

The V6 diesel engine was designed and assembled by Audi at its factory in Neckarsulm, Germany and widely used in premium models sold by the group's VW, Audi and Porsche brands in model years 2009 through 2016, Audi said on Monday.

The Audi suspensions take the number of officials confirmed to have been put on leave across the group as a result of its internal investigations to eight, including at least six senior individuals.

(US$1 = 0.9428 euros)

(Reporting by Andreas Cremer; Editing by Mark Potter)

- Reuters


After uproar, German town warms to refugees who took over church

‎26 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎12:25:16 PMGo to full article
OBERHAUSEN, Germany: When Daniela Handwerk looked out of her window earlier this month and saw the church across the street being emptied out and turned into a refugee shelter, she panicked: and she was not alone.

As news of the plan to house 50 refugees in the church and suspend Sunday services spread through this community on the outskirts of Oberhausen, in the Ruhr valley, angry residents pressed church and city officials to reconsider.

Members of the church look atcross in the Protestant church in Oberhausen, Germany, October 30, 2015. REUTERS/Ina Fassbender

Some worried about safety, others about real estate values and, at a raucous meeting of locals held in the church shortly before the refugees arrived, one man complained that his new Mercedes might get scratched.

But nearly a month on, the uproar, played up at the start in the German media, has died down and residents are beginning to warm to the refugees, including 20 children, who are camped out in the ochre-colored brick church built in the early 20th century.

"Initially, there was fear among the neighbors and I don't exclude myself," said Handwerk. "I have two small children and of course I was worried about what was going to happen here."

Now she is part of a local support group that counts roughly 100 volunteers. They teach German, assist with bureaucratic hurdles and play with the refugee children.

The Protestant church, surrounded by pointy-roofed stone buildings that were built to house miners, is the first in Germany to have been set aside for refugees since they began streaming into the country by the thousands in late summer.

Germany expects about 1 million migrants to arrive this year, far more than any other European country. German politicians are under intense pressure to stem the flow as local communities complain that they are being overwhelmed.

But the story of the church in Oberhausen suggests that Germany's "Willkommenskultur", or welcome culture, remains alive and well in some pockets of the country.


Local resident Sebastian Possner launched a neighborhood initiative nearly a month ago to protest against the conversion of the church. Now he says his kids are playing with the refugee children and that he's donated bicycles and toys.

"Some of them even manage to greet us in German now," Possner said.

Up to 140 refugees are landing in Oberhausen every week, forcing authorities to come up with new locations to house them. City officials say they had little choice but to use the church.

In early November, workers removed the altar and dozens of chairs, replacing them with metal beds, which are separated by makeshift partitions to give the church's new residents a semblance of privacy. There was no question of removing the large metal cross that sits in the church, even though many of the new residents are Muslim.

One reason for the initial uproar, locals say, was that many of them learned about the plans in the newspaper.

"In the beginning, many older members of the parish couldn't comprehend what was happening to the church they had been going to for so many years, but we've come a long way and people now appreciate the importance of Christian charity," pastor Stefanie Zuechner said.

She said the city has promised to move the refugees out of the church and into newly built shelters by the end of February. Then it could reopen to the public, though Zuechner acknowledges that only about 20 residents used to show up on Sundays when services were held.

For the refugees themselves, the main complaint is the cramped conditions in the church.

Zabyl Olabi and her husband Mahmod, who came to Germany with their 18-year-old son Humam, owned a chicken breeding farm in Aleppo. They fled to Europe six months ago, when their house was destroyed during an air raid and Islamic State militants advanced towards the city.

"As you can see I am not Christian," Olabi said, pointing to her headscarf. "So at first it seemed strange to us to live in a church. Now we're just exhausted and wondering what comes next."

(Editing by Noah Barkin/Jeremy Gaunt)

- Reuters


Solar power taking off as alternative energy source in Singapore

‎26 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎12:22:05 PMGo to full article
SINGAPORE: Solar energy as an alternative source of power is taking off in Singapore, with the Government pushing to raise its adoption.

The vast majority of electricity consumed in Singapore currently comes from burning non-renewable fossil fuels. Only less than 1 per cent of it is contributed by solar energy. The aim is to raise this to up to 20 per cent by 2050, said to the Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore (SERIS).

Solar panels on the rooftop of an office building in Singapore. (AFP/Roslan Rahman)

However, land scarcity is an issue, and most solar panels are currently installed on rooftops.

National water agency PUB had announced on Monday (Nov 23) that it is studying the feasibility of harnessing the sun's energy at its reservoirs, as well as land-based facilities. This will be conducted by a consortium led by WEnergy Global.

"The aim is to reduce the fossil fuel dependency of the grid and replace that with the clean source, so that the carbon footprint of Singapore and the carbon footprint of an organisation, that is PUB, can be reduced," said Mr Atem Ramsundersingh, CEO of the consortium.

"We'll start with an inventory - a survey of all the sites, the buildings and the reservoirs of PUB,” he explained. “What we will do is to make sure that we understand the data, the technical aspects of both the buildings and the reservoirs to see what are the capacities of solar power systems that could be installed.

“Based on that, we will present a workplan on how we want to move in the coming months, furthering our technical analysis and financial economic analysis, and then we will make sure that we provide a timeline for PUB to implement the projects that meet PUB's criteria."


“Solar energy is the only source and option of renewable energy for Singapore,” added Dr Thomas Reindl, Deputy CEO of Seris. “Other forms like hydroelectric power, wind turbines and geothermal energy are not feasible because the country lacks the space and natural infrastructure like a major river system. Shifting from conventional power generation to a renewable-based energy system will have various advantages like cutting down on carbon dioxide emissions.”

Another push to switch to solar energy is cost.

"There's been dramatic reduction in the cost of solar modules and solar systems over the last five to eight years and now solar energy is cost competitive with conventional power, for the case of Singapore and in many other countries in the world,” said Dr Reindl. “This has led to the case that there are new business models coming up, so if you have a large rooftop, if you're the owner of a factory or a commercial facility and you want to become green, you don't have to use your own money and your own funds to install the system."

The business model is called solar leasing, where a solar company pays the installation and maintenance costs of solar panels. Building owners then pay the company for the electricity generated by the solar system.

One such company is Sunseap. It recently inked a deal with Apple to be the force behind the tech giant's move to go 100 per cent solar. In 2016, Apple's main campus and new retail store in Singapore will be powered by the surplus energy produced by Sunseap's solar panels.

The panels are installed on the roofs of about 800 buildings across Singapore, but the company acknowledged that even rooftops are becoming increasingly inaccessible.

Said the director of Sunseap Frank Phuan: "Solar is competing with other equipment on rooftops, so area is becoming more and more scarce. We are looking at other alternative areas, like for example, the facade of the building instead of rooftops and on water bodies. This is definitely something that the Government is proactively looking into. For us, it provides another channel of opportunities for solar companies like ours, to look at where we can generate this solar energy from."

PUB's study will span nine months. The agency said this puts it on track to diversify its energy options cut carbon footprints and promote sustainability.

- CNA/ek


UN envoy says Russia-North Korea deportation pact puts refugees at risk

‎26 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎12:20:41 PMGo to full article
SEOUL: An extradition treaty signed by Russia and North Korea could be used to send back defectors from the North and put them at risk of serious harm in their home country, including torture, the U.N. human rights investigator on North Korea said on Thursday.

The comments by Marzuki Darusman, U.N. special rapporteur on North Korea, came amid reports that nine North Koreans arrested in Vietnam are in Chinese custody and may soon be repatriated.

UN Special Rapporteur Marzuki Darusman addrrsses a news conference on the situation of human rights in North Korea in Geneva March 16, 2015. REUTERS/Pierre Albouy

"I am disappointed to learn that Russia signed an extradition treaty with the DPRK last week," Darusman said in a statement in Seoul, referring to North Korea by its formal name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

"Despite Russia's assurance that this treaty will not be used to return anybody at risk of persecution, I am deeply concerned that it could de facto facilitate forced repatriation of DPRK asylum seekers. This may put the returnees at risk of serious violations, including torture."

A spokesman for the Russian embassy in Seoul could not immediately be reached for comment after business hours.

News reports said Russia and North Korea reached the agreement a year ago on deporting illegal immigrants found in either country within 30 days. The two countries share a border in the North's northeastern region.

A major U.N. human rights investigation found last year that North Koreans forcibly repatriated to Pyongyang are commonly subjected to torture, detention, execution, or sexual violence, U.N. human rights spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani said last week.

Forcibly sending refugees back to a country where they could suffer persecution is banned under international treaties signed by China, but Beijing views those defecting from North Korea as economic migrants.

Last week a U.N. General Assembly committee condemned what it said were rampant and planned human rights abuses in North Korea. It also referred to the findings of a U.N. Human Rights Council commission of inquiry that said rights abuses in North Korea may amount to crimes against humanity.

North Korea rejected the resolution, calling it a political plot by the United States and "other hostile forces against the DPRK and has no relevance whatsoever with genuine promotion and protection of human rights".

Impoverished North Korea and rich, democratic South Korea remain technically at war after their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a treaty.

The North, slapped with U.N. and U.S. sanctions for its nuclear weapons and rocket programmes, often threatens to destroy the South, and its major ally, the United States, in a sea of flames.

(Reporting by Jack Kim; Editing by Nick Macfie)

- Reuters


China military in talks for logistics 'facilities' in Djibouti

‎26 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎12:20:36 PMGo to full article
BEIJING: China's military is in talks with the Horn of Africa country Djibouti to build logistics "facilities" to support Chinese peacekeeping and anti-piracy missions, the foreign and defence ministries said on Thursday.

In May, Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh told French media his government was in talks with China about a military base, adding Beijing's presence would be welcome in the former French colony, which borders Somalia, Eritrea and Ethiopia.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said the facilities would mainly provide logistics services to resolve issues related to fuelling, rest and reorganisation of troops and food supplies.

"The construction of the relevant facilities will help China's navy and army further participate in UN peacekeeping operations, carry out escort missions in the waters near Somalia and the Gulf of Aden, and provide humanitarian assistance," he told a daily news briefing.

"It will help China's military further carry out its international responsibilities to safeguard global and regional peace and stability."

Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Wu Qian, speaking at a monthly news conference, largely repeated the foreign ministry comments, but added China wanted to play a greater role in ensuring regional peace and stability.

"Maintaining regional peace and stability accords with the interests of both countries," Wu said.

He did not provide any other details.

Earlier this month, a senior Chinese military officer visited Djibouti where he inspected a Chinese warship participating in anti-piracy patrols.

The United States and France both already have bases in the country and its port has been used by foreign navies, including China's, participating in the fight against Somali pirates.

In an effort to dampen fears about Chinese plans connected to its increasingly modern and confident military, Beijing has repeatedly said it does not want military bases abroad.

In 2009, Chinese officials distanced themselves from comments by a rear admiral, Wu Shengli, who urged the nation to set up navy supply bases overseas for the anti-piracy fight. Wu is now China's naval chief.

Chinese ships have undertaken anti-piracy operations off Somalia since late 2008, and in early 2010 Beijing agreed to join the multi-nation effort to protect shipping in the Gulf of Aden and nearby stretches of the Indian Ocean.

Experts have said China is likely one day to have to overcome its discomfort about overseas military bases, as its forces are drawn into protecting the growing interests of the world's second-largest economy.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard and Michael Martina; Editing by Nick Macfie)

- Reuters


German lawmakers to discuss support for France in IS fight

‎26 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎12:20:33 PMGo to full article
BERLIN: Lawmakers from Germany's ruling parties will meet on Thursday afternoon to discuss how Berlin can provide more support to France in the fight against Islamic State militants following the deadly attacks in Paris.

French President Francois Hollande asked Germany to provide more support on Wednesday evening, during a visit by Chancellor Angela Merkel. She promised to "react very quickly" to the request.

French President Francois Hollande in Washington, November 24, 2015. REUTERS/Gary Cameron

Lawmakers from her conservative bloc and those from the centre-left Social Democrats were invited to attend separate meetings at 5 p.m. (1600 GMT) on Thursday to discuss the matter.

(Reporting by Thorsten Severin and Holger Hansen; Writing by Noah Barkin; Editing by Paul Carrel)

- Reuters


Kremlin says still waits for realistic response from Turkey on downing jet

‎26 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎12:20:26 PMGo to full article
MOSCOW: The Kremlin said on Thursday that Russia is still awaiting a reasonable answer from Ankara on why it downed a Russian fighter jet earlier this week, adding that it is not considering sanctions against Turkey or imposing a food imports embargo.

"We are still waiting for an explanation, a realistic explanation from the Turkish side," Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, told journalists on a conference call.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov arrives for the opening of the Army-2015 International Military-Technical Forum in Kubinka, outside Moscow, Russia, June 16, 2015. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/Files

(Reporting by Maria Tsvetkova; Writing by Lidia Kelly and Polina Devitt; Editing by Dominic Evans)

- Reuters


Improving Atletico a work in progress, Simeone says

‎26 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎12:20:17 PMGo to full article
MADRID: Atletico Madrid are improving but still have plenty of work to do if they are to have a chance of winning anything, coach Diego Simeone said after his side eased through to the Champions League last 16 with a game to spare on Wednesday.

Atletico, the 2014 runners-up, dismissed Turkish club Galatasaray 2-0 at the Calderon thanks to an Antoine Griezmann double and are level at the top of Group C with Portuguese side Benfica heading into the final matchday.

Football Soccer Atletico Madrid v Galatasaray - UEFA Champions League Group Stage - Group C - Vicente Calderon, Madrid, Spain - 25/11/15 Atletico Madrid's coach Diego Simeone. REUTERS/Juan Medina

They each have 10 points from five games, with Atletico ahead on goal difference, and Simeone's side will be confident of avenging September's 2-1 defeat at home to Benfica when they travel to Lisbon next month.

The section winners will theoretically avoid any of Europe's big guns when the draw for the round of 16 is made on Dec. 14.

"We played impressively in line with the ongoing improvement of the team," Simeone told a news conference.

"As a concept, it is always better to be first than second, although it doesn't guarantee you anything," added the former Argentina captain.

"In the last 16 all the teams are competitive. We will go and play the match in Lisbon with the same intensity and abilities as always."

Griezmann has been Atletico's stand-out player this season and the France forward also scored twice when they won 2-0 at Galatasaray on matchday one in September.

The 24-year-old is in his second season in Madrid after joining from Real Sociedad and maintaining his fine run of form will be key to Atletico's chances of winning silverware.

"The important thing was to win (and qualify for the next round) but now we have another game to secure first place, which is the goal," Griezmann said. "We will go to Portugal to get that top spot."

Atletico are second in La Liga after 12 matches, four points behind leaders Barcelona and two ahead of third-placed Real Madrid, ahead of their next outing at home to Espanyol on Saturday.

(Writing by Iain Rogers, editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

- Reuters


Elderly help drive tech adoption in Singapore: IDA survey

‎26 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎12:19:48 PMGo to full article
SINGAPORE: More Singaporeans are using computers, and this is particularly so among senior citizens, according to the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore's (IDA) latest Annual Survey on Infocomm Usage in Households for last year.

Released on Thursday (Nov 26), the press release detailing the survey results said that between 2012 and 2014, there was a rise of 14 and 11 percentage points in computer usage among those 50 to 59, and 60 and above, respectively. This brought the total percentage to 63 per cent for the first age group, and 27 per cent for the second, it said.

File photo of elderly in Singapore. (Photo: Xabryna Kek)

At the same time, Internet usage rate among these two demographics rose to 75 per cent and 31 per cent, respectively, in 2014. This is an increase of 24 and 15 percentage points from 2012, respectively, said the IDA.

"We are encouraged to see residents become more tech-savvy and connected, particularly the silver generation. This is useful to help the industry explore new opportunities to serve our citizens better and help build Singapore into a smart nation," said IDA Executive Deputy Chairman Steve Leonard in the release.

The annual survey has been conducted for more than 20 years, with the aim of assessing the extent of infocomm adoption in Singapore resident households and residents. About 3,500 households and 3,500 residents were surveyed in person for the latest survey, the agency said.


The IDA survey also found that household Internet and broadband access continued to rise last year, with the use of Internet-enabled mobile phones.

In 2014, home Internet and broadband access rates rose to 88 per cent and 87.5 per cent, respectively. For households with school-going children, the percentages are even higher at 98 per cent and 97 per cent respectively, the press release said.

As for fibre broadband adoption, 62 per cent of resident households used fibre broadband last year, up from 25 per cent in 2012 - in line with the nation's Next-Generation Nationwide Broadband Network (NGNBN) initiative. More are also using wireless broadband, with 56 per cent in 2014 using it from the 38 per cent two years before, it said.


Singaporeans are also preferring to go online to do their shopping, with many of these mainly in the 15 to 49 age group. Credit card payment was the most common among those 25 and above, the survey showed.

The majority of online shoppers spent at least S$100 on their purchases, with the most popular being apparel, travel products and tickets for entertainment events, it added.

The survey also showed the top three Internet activities among Singapore residents were related to communication, leisure activities and getting information.

- CNA/kk


CPF Building sold for S$550m to Ascendas Land company

‎26 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎12:19:24 PMGo to full article
SINGAPORE: The landmark CPF Building at 79 Robinson Road has been sold for a higher-than-expected S$550 million, the CPF Board announced on Thursday (Nov 26).

The public tender for the sale of the building attracted three bids, the highest of which was by Southernwood Property, a company wholly owned by Ascendas Land.

The CPF Building at Robinson Road. (File photo: TODAY)

Ascendas plans to redevelop CPF Building into an office building with supporting retail elements, said Mr Manohar Khiatani, President & Group CEO of Ascendas and Deputy Group CEO of Ascendas-Singbridge.

"With the CPF Building, Ascendas would be able to offer quality CBD office space to complement our business park offerings to our customers in Singapore,” he added.


Analysts had expected the building to fetch about S$450 million.

The CPF Board said the bid from Southernwood Property met all tender criteria, "including the strength of their financial standing and purchase conditions such as the assignment of tenancies to the new owner".

The other two bids were S$538.28 million by Leapford, a company owned by Pacific Century Regional Developments, and S$280 million by OUE Reef Development.

An earlier report quoted the building’s marketing agent CBRE as saying that it could be redeveloped into a mixed use development with office, retail and serviced apartments or a hotel, subject to approval from authorities.

The CPF Board will be moving to Novena Square Towers “to free up prime office space in the Central Business District for higher-value uses”. Its corporate operations relocated on Nov 23.

The CPF Service Centre will continue to operate at 79 Robinson Road until further notice.

- CNA/dl


South African judge lifts domestic ban on rhino horn trade

‎26 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎12:17:34 PMGo to full article
PRETORIA: A South African judge on Thursday lifted a domestic ban on trade in rhino horns, in a direct challenge to government policy put in place in 2009 to try to stem rocketing poaching numbers.

The government gave no immediate reaction to the judge's ruling, which was delivered in the Pretoria High Court after two South African game breeders fought a legal battle to overturn the moratorium.

South Africa's rhino poaching epidemic saw a record 1,215 rhino killed last year. (Photo: Tony Karumba)

The court decision came ahead of a meeting in Johannesburg next year of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which could lift the global ban.

South Africa's rhino poaching epidemic saw a record 1,215 rhino killed last year for their horn, and some private rhino breeders say selling legally harvested horns could stifle the lucrative black market trade.

"The moratorium on domestic trade in rhino horns is hereby reviewed and set aside," said the ruling from judge Francis Legodi.

The environment ministry said no decision had been made on whether to appeal.

"Our lawyer is now studying the judgement," ministry spokeswoman Roopa Singh told AFP.

John Hume and Johan Kruger, the two game breeders who launched the legal action, say it is their constitutional right to sell rhino horn -- what they describe as a renewable resource.

"It is a total success. Factually it is legal to trade rhino horns in South Africa," said Hume's lawyer G.H. Heyns. "There is no moratorium in place."

South Africa is home to around 20,000 rhino, or 80 percent of the world population.

The number of rhino killed rocketed from 13 in 2007 to 1,215 last year.

The animals are slaughtered by poachers for their horn, which is used as a traditional medicine in East Asia.

- AFP/jb


Saudi Arabia imposes sanctions on 12 Hezbollah leaders for 'terrorism'

‎26 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎12:15:18 PMGo to full article
DUBAI: Saudi Arabia imposed sanctions on 12 senior Hezbollah figures accused of responsibility for carrying out operations on behalf of the group, which it designated a terrorist organisation in March of last year, state media reported on Thursday.

"These names were designated today and sanctions imposed on them under the terrorism crimes and financing regime," the Interior Ministry said in a statement carried by state news agency SPA.

(Reporting by Katie Paul; Editing by Toby Chopra)

- Reuters


Great start will mean little if PSG don't improve - Blanc

‎26 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎12:15:16 PMGo to full article
PARIS: Paris St Germain's excellent start to the season will mean nothing if the French side fails to go a step further in the Champions League, coach Laurent Blanc has said.

PSG thrashed Malmo 5-0 away on Wednesday to advance into the last 16 of Europe's premium club competition and they are sitting on a 13-point cushion at the top of the Ligue 1 standings after just 14 rounds.

Paris Saint Germain's coach Laurent Blanc (R) attends a news conference at the Malmo New Stadium in Malmo, Sweden, November 24, 2015. REUTERS/Bjorn Lindgren/TT News Agency

It is not the first time, however, that the capital side impressed early on and Blanc knows too well that PSG will be judged when the European spring dawns.

They reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League in the last three seasons with some impressive performances, only to be knocked out at that stage every time.

"We have to question ourselves permanently," said Blanc. "In Paris, as soon as you draw, it's seen as a catastrophe, and if you lose, it's a tsunami."

PSG have lost only one game this season, a 1-0 defeat at Real Madrid after a goalless draw at home against the 10-times Champions League winners who will finish top of Group A.

Their focus will now be to get ready for the knockout phase and Blanc will likely be able to rest some key players in low-key league or Cup matches.

"We all know that even if you're good in October or November, all is decided in February, March, April," he explained.

"If we don't succeed in these three months, you (the media) forget everything and say the season has been very bad. I know that we're awaited in Spring. I hope we'll be in good shape at that time."

Their hopes would rest on the shoulders of Angel Di Maria, who was brought in from Manchester United during the close season to reinforce PSG's European credentials.

"He accelerates our game, he's very technical and he's also very accurate in front of goal," said Blanc after Di Maria's double on Wednesday.

"I think in the future he'll score a lot of goals."

(Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

- Reuters


Bangladesh says kills military chief of banned Islamist group

‎26 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎12:10:18 PMGo to full article
DHAKA: Bangladesh police commandos killed the suspected military chief of a banned Islamist group in a shootout in the capital, a police commissioner said on Thursday, as security forces step up a hunt for militants behind a spate of attacks.

Tensions have rising in the Muslim majority country since Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina launched a crackdown on militant Islam, putting several leaders on trial for war crimes committed during the 1971 war of independence.

The militant groups, on the other hand, have vowed to convert Bangladesh into a sharia-based state.

Police conducted a raid in the Mirpur area of the capital Dhaka late on Wednesday, touching off a brief gunbattle in which Al Bani, identified as the head of the military wing of the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen, was killed.

Police joint commissioner Monirul Islam said Al Bani was the main suspect behind last month's rare bombing of a Shi'ite shrine that left two people dead and wounded dozens.

Five other members of the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen were picked up from the raid and paraded before reporters on Thursday.

“They were involved in various subversive activities including attacks on a police checkpoint and Shi’ite gatherings during Ashura,” Islam said as the men were brought out in handcuffs.

Two foreigners, four secular writers and publisher have been killed in attacks this year, some of which have been claimed by Islamic State.

The government rejects those claims and says local militants are involved in the killings. Critics say the government is whipping up a climate of fear to go after its political rivals.

(Reporting by Ruma Paul; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)

- Reuters


Russia to help Cambodia build capacity for nuclear power

‎26 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎12:10:16 PMGo to full article
YEKATERINBURG, Russia/PHNOM PENH: Russia will help Cambodia work towards building a nuclear power plant under an agreement the two countries signed this week, said Sergei Kirienko, the head of state nuclear firm Rosatom.

Cambodia depends heavily on imported fuel and power. Electricity in the country is among the most expensive in Southeast Asia and a common source of complaint from investors.

"The Cambodian government is mulling, in future, a nuclear power station construction," Kirienko told reporters on Wednesday when asked about the agreement.

Cambodian energy officials declined to comment on the deal on Thursday.

The agreement was signed during a visit by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to Cambodia this week. His visit was the first to Cambodia by a senior Russian politician since 1986.

Under the terms of the agreement, Russia will provide expertise, research and training to Cambodia.

"Perhaps, it is better to begin with a research reactor and a research centre in Cambodia," Kirienko said, noting that Russia has concluded a similar agreement with Bolivia.

"All emerging economies are now facing a key issue: for a normal development they need a reliable, cheap and guaranteed source of energy," Kirienko said.

Other agreements signed on the trip covered a range of issues such as monitoring Cambodia's financial system and measures to combat money laundering.

Cambodia is seeking US$3 billion (2 billion pounds) in foreign investment to build six hydropower plants by 2018 as it seeks to keep up with rising domestic power demand.

Cambodia has already been studying nuclear power technology, in part prompted by similar moves among its Southeast Asian neighbours.

(Reporting by Denis Dyomkin in YEKATERINBURG and Prak Chan Thul in PHNOM PENH; Editing by Simon Webb and Tom Hogue)

- Reuters


Dutch court rules that migrants' right to food, shelter not unconditional

‎26 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎12:10:13 PMGo to full article
AMSTERDAM: A Dutch high court on Thursday upheld a government policy of withholding food and shelter to rejected asylum-seekers who refuse to be repatriated, giving legal backing to one of Europe's toughest immigration policies.

The Raad van State or Council of State, which reviews the legality of government decisions, found that the new policy of conservative Prime Minister Mark Rutte does not contravene the European Convention on Human Rights.

Policemen drag away a protester who blocked the entrance to a makeshift camp for asylum seekers in Amsterdam November 30, 2012. REUTERS/Michael Kooren

A rejected asylum seeker does not have the right to appeal to the European Social Charter, it said.

The Dutch government "has the right, when providing shelter in so-called locations of limited freedom, to require failed asylum-seekers to cooperate with their departure from the Netherlands," a summary of the ruling said.

As the Netherlands toughened its stance on newcomers in recent years, Dutch policy toward asylum-seekers and immigrants has been criticized by NGOs and the United Nations as overly strict.

Thursday's ruling counters an August report by the U.N.'s Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, which told the Dutch they should meet migrants' basic needs unconditionally.

"As long as they are in The Netherlands, they have to enjoy minimum standards of living," co-author Ion Diaconu, wrote at the time. .

The EU's leading human rights forum, the 47-nation Council of Europe admonished the Netherlands in 2014 for placing asylum seekers in administrative detention and leaving many "irregular immigrants" in legal limbo and destitution.

Europe's worst migrant and refugee crisis since World War Two has led to a surge in support for far right Dutch leader Geert Wilders, who wants to close the borders.

The Netherlands is the eighth-largest destination for asylum seekers in the European Union, accounting for 4 percent of total arrivals in 2014. Total applications last year rose 87 percent to 24,535.

(Reporting by Toby Sterling and Anthony Deutsch; Editing by Toby Chopra)

- Reuters


Islamic finance body IIFM launches cross currency swap standard

‎26 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎12:05:29 PMGo to full article
REUTERS: The Bahrain-based International Islamic Financial Market (IIFM) launched a standard contract template for sharia compliant cross currency swaps on Thursday, as the industry body seeks to enhance use of hedging tools in the sector.

As Islamic finance grows, institutions are increasingly taking larger positions, often in various currencies, prompting the need for widely-accepted mechanisms to manage such risks.

It is the seventh standard issued by the IIFM, a non-profit industry body which develops specifications for Islamic finance contracts.

Applications of the standard are mainly for interbank treasury placements, but it can also be used alongside Islamic bonds (sukuk) as well as trade and corporate finance deals, chief executive Ijlal Ahmed Alvi told Reuters.

Islamic cross currency swaps have been used for years, but industry scholars have sought greater clarity on them to ensure they are not used for outright speculation, a key principle in Islamic finance.

There have been several approaches to such sharia compliant hedging tools, with the IIFM standard covering a combination of two types of Islamic contracts in a sign that the industry is favouring harmonisation of complex transactions.

The standard involves two murabaha contracts, linked with unilateral promises, known as wa'ad, which are committed separately by each counterparty.

Each party simultaneously agrees to grant each other an undertaking to purchase assets at specified future dates on the basis of murabaha transactions, common cost-plus-profit arrangements in Islamic finance.

This enables a party to raise funds in one currency for a certain period of time against a contract in another currency.

The standard, developed together with the International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA), also provides guidance to ensure transactions are used for legitimate hedging purposes and not for taking speculative positions.

The IIFM has previously launched standard templates for Islamic profit rate swaps and the Islamic equivalents to repurchase agreements.

It is now working on standards for foreign exchange forwards and various sukuk structures.

The body started operations in 2002, founded by the Islamic Development Bank and the central banks and monetary authorities of Bahrain, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and Sudan.

The central bank of Kazakhstan became its latest member at the end of last year.

(Editing by Kim Coghill)

- Reuters


Pakistani Baluch rebels release video of leader they say is alive

‎26 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎12:05:27 PMGo to full article
ISLAMABAD: Baluch separatist rebels in Pakistan released a video on Thursday purporting to show that leader Allah Nazar, who the Pakistani government believed it had killed in a raid in August, was alive and leading the insurgency.

The violent campaign in the southwestern province of Baluchistan poses a threat to China's planned US$46 billion Pakistani economic corridor, which culminates in the province's Gwadar port.

The date of the video released by the Baluch Liberation Front (BLF) could not be independently verified, but BLF spokesman Miran Baluch said it was shot in Baluchistan in November.

"For quite some time the government has been issuing propaganda about my death. This is a blatant lie," said Nazar, who appeared in the video sitting next to an automatic rifle and wearing an ammunition belt. He vowed to continue to fight.

Two independent sources who have had contact with Nazar, who has been in hiding for years, confirmed it was him in the video, although they did not know when it was filmed.

The BLF is one of several separatist groups that have been fighting against government forces in mineral-rich Baluchistan province for almost a decade.

"We have not seen the video so we cannot comment on it," said Baluchistan Home Minister Sarfaraz Bugti.

In September, Bugti said the government believed Nazar had been killed in a military operation in Awaran district in August.

Baluchistan is the poorest and least developed Pakistani province, and separatists have been demanding an end to what they say is the exploitation of gas and mineral resources by other parts of Pakistan.

The rebels have carried out frequent kidnappings and bombings against government and security targets, including gas pipelines and other infrastructure.

Human rights groups say the military has carried out a campaign of kidnapping, torture and extrajudicial killings of suspected separatists.

In the video, Nazar denounced the Pakistani military intelligence services and the provincial government.

"They've turned Baluchistan into a slaughterhouse. And the Baluch nation will hold these perpetrators accountable for each and every drop of Baluch martyr's blood," Nazar said, speaking in the Baluchi language.

Nazar, a doctor from the provincial capital of Quetta, is the most prominent Baluch separatist leader still fighting in the country. Others remain in exile, including Baramdagh Bugti, who in August said he was ready to negotiate with the government.

(Additional reporting by Gul Yousafzai in QUETTA; Editing by Mike Collett-White)

- Reuters


Labour Party says considering 'free vote' for MPs on Syria airstrikes

‎26 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎12:05:23 PMGo to full article
LONDON: Britain's opposition Labour Party is considering allowing its lawmakers to vote as they wish on whether to approve Prime Minister David Cameron's plan to extend airstrikes to Syria, its finance spokesman said on Thursday.

Britain is already bombing Islamic State in Iraq but Cameron wants to get Parliament's support to strike militants in Syria. He will make the case to British lawmakers on Thursday.

A still image from video shows Britain's shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer John McDonnell quoting from Mao's Little Red Book, after Chancellor George Osborne's delivery of the Autumn Statement to Parliament in London, Britain November 25, 2015. REUTERS/UK Parliament via REUTERS TV

When asked whether Labour would allow its lawmakers to vote as they wished on the issue, John McDonnell told BBC television: "At the moment we’re considering that within the Labour Party and we’ll arrive at a democratic decision."

"In these sort of issues of conscience it is better to allow MPs to make their own minds up," he said.

However, McDonnell said he remained "deeply sceptical" about any British involvement in the Middle East.

"I think we need to learn the lessons of what happened in Iraq, so I come from that position," he said.

Cameron is keen to avoid a repeat of 2013 when he lost a parliamentary vote on air strikes in Syria.

(Reporting by James Davey; editing by Guy Faulconbridge)

- Reuters


Sparkling Gladbach out to extend winning run under Schubert

‎26 ‎November ‎2015, ‏‎12:05:17 PMGo to full article
REUTERS: Borussia Moenchengladbach's Bundesliga has so far been the ultimate rollercoaster with the Foals losing the opening five matches but dropping just two points in the next eight games to shoot up the table in sensational style.

When they take on struggling Hoffenheim on Saturday they are favourites to extend their winning run since coach Andre Schubert took over, having won seven of their eight league games under the 44-year-old and drawing the other one.

Schubert's magic touch also rubbed off in the Champions League with already-eliminated Gladbach crushing Sevilla 4-2 on Wednesday for their first ever win in the competition.

Gladbach have every right to be brimming with confidence when they travel to the bottom-placed Bundesliga club on Saturday, having risen from last place in late September to fifth, a mere two points behind VfL Wolfsburg.

"Our goal for the season is to finish in the single digit places," sports director Max Eberl told reporters this week. "We want to be able to be in those interesting spots. We got a bit derailed by the way we started our season but we are back on track."

Gladbach staged their spectacular comeback despite a string of injuries with winger Patrick Hermann and defender Martin Stranzl out for months.

They could also be without midfielder Ibrahima Traore who picked up a thigh muscle injury on Wednesday and had to be taken off but even that would be unlikely to slow them down.

"It was at times a pleasure to see how the team stepped on the gas," Schubert said after their entertaining win over Sevilla with attacking Gladbach having gone 3-0 and 4-1 up before a stoppage time penalty by the Spaniards.

"Always looking for the way forward and charging into the opponent," he said.

It will not be much different against struggling Hoffenheim, still without a home win this season.

The hosts, who brought in experienced coach Huub Stevens in late October to help rescue their season after sacking Markus Gisdol, have not won any of their last six league matches.

Dutchman Stevens looks to have at least brought some stability, drawing twice and losing once since his Oct. 26 appointment.

"We are currently missing the feeling of victory," said Hoffenheim's Eugen Polanski. "That's the key point. It is not that we have forgotten how to play football. Everybody will need to think about their role, work as a team. Only positive energy leads to positive results."

Leaders Bayern Munich, on 37 points, host Hertha Berlin while second-placed Borussia Dortmund, eight points behind, take on VfB Stuttgart.

(Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

- Reuters




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