Thursday, March 5, 2015

U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Bloodied in Seoul Knife Attack | Ukraine Mourns Miners Killed In Donetsk Coal-Pit Blast | Death Toll From Ukraine Blast Hits 32

Ukraine's Economy Likely To 'Plunge' In 2015

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The Ukrainian government said on March 5 the country's economy "will shrink this year and consumer prices will jump" due to the effects of the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Police wrestle man after US ambassador to South Korea slashed with razor - video 

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Police wrestle a man to the ground after he reportedly slashed the US ambassador to South Korea across the face. Mark Lippert had been a breakfast forum when police allege a man attacked with aknife while screaming that the two Koreas should be united as one Continue reading...

US Officials Clear Officer in Ferguson Shooting

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Officials in the United States announced on Wednesday that a police officer who fatally shot a teenager in the central state of Missouri, triggering protests around the country, will not face federal charges. But a parallel investigation of the town's police department shows evidence of a deeply biased and unjust agency the government says put at risk the very residents it was tasked with protecting. VOA's Victoria Macchi has more from Washington.

Defense Concedes Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Carried Out Boston Marathon Bombings 

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The trial of accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev got underway at the federal courthouse in Boston Wednesday. The opening comments included a surprise move from the defense.
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Monitor Says Ukraine Weapons Withdrawal Not Clear

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International observers said that fighting between Ukrainian government forces and Russia-backed militants was still subsiding, but they haven’t been able to verify the withdrawal of heavy weapons from the front lines.

Two Germans to be caned, jailed for train graffiti in Singapore

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SINGAPORE (Reuters) - A Singapore court jailed two Germans for nine months and three strokes of the cane on Thursday after they pleaded guilty to spray-painting graffiti on a train.
  
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UK minister asks foreign governments to clarify rights of gay people 

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Countries urged to say whether they recognise British civil partnerships and marriages, and to outline the rights of expat workers and travellers

The government has written to the authorities in more than 70 countries and foreign jurisdictions in an attempt to clarify the rights of gay people who are working or travelling abroad. 
The equalities minister, Jo Swinson, has asked national and regional governments including Australia, Chile, Israel, South Africa and all 50 US states to confirm whether they recognise British civil partnerships and marriages between same-sex couples, and what rights gay people can expect when they travel.
Continue reading...

U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Bloodied in Seoul Knife Attack 

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You can’t see it on television, but South Korean President Park Geun-hye has a scar that runs from her right ear to her chin. In person, up close, it is just visible below her makeup, a smooth cut that follows the curve of her face. She’s had it since 2006, when she was attacked on the campaign trail by a man wielding a utility knife.
On Thursday, in an eerily similar incident, the U.S. ambassador to South Korea, Mark Lippert, was slashed on the face and wrist in the South Korean capital. Photographs from the scene showed him holding the right side of his face, with blood visible on his left hand, and his pink tie splattered red. The U.S. Department of State confirmed the attack and said his injuries are not life threatening. CNNreports that he required 80 stitches. (Park’s attack, by comparison, required 60.)
Lippert, 42, was preparing to deliver an early-morning speech at a restaurant attached to the Sejong Cultural Institute in central Seoul when he was struck with a 10-in. blade. The attacker — since identified by South Korean authorities as 55-year-old Kim Ki-jong — reportedly shouted “South and North Korea should be reunified” during the attack, and continued to shout anti-U.S. slogans as he was restrained.
Both governments responded quickly. “We strongly condemn this act of violence,” said Marie Harf, deputy spokesperson for the U.S. State Department. President Park called the incident “intolerable,” likening it to an assault on the South Korea–U.S. military alliance itself.
The U.S. military has a long-standing presence in South Korea, an arrangement that dates back to the end of the 1950–1953 Korean War. There are currently some 30,000 American troops on the ground, and each spring, U.S. and South Korean forces engage in joint military exercises. North Korea considers the war games a dress rehearsal for invasion, and some South Koreans believe the annual exercises hurt the divided peninsula’s prospects for reconciliation.
Authorities are still investigating the incident, though the timing, and the attacker’s comments, suggest his motivations were political. The suspect said at the scene and online that he was protesting against the start of this year’s military drills. In 2010, Kim lobbed a piece of concrete at Japanese ambassador to South Korea. He received a two-year sentence that was suspended for three years, according to Yonhap, a local newswire.
Notwithstanding these incidents, a daylight attack on a foreign envoy is highly unusual for Seoul. The city of almost 10 million is, by global standards, a peaceful, prosperous place, known these days for its vibrant pop-music and fashion scenes, not political violence.
The well-liked Lippert, a longtime aide to U.S. President Barack Obama who arrived in Seoul in October of last year, was often seen out and about in the capital, greeting local people while walking his family’s basset hound, Grigsby (who, it turns out, has his own Twitter account ). Lippert’s son was born in the city, and he and his wife Robyn even gave him a Korean middle name.
Questions are already mounting about security, especially in light of the 2006 knife attack on the now President Park. How did a man with a large knife and history of violence get so close to the ambassador? A spokesperson for the group that hosted the event, the Korea Council for Reconciliation and Cooperation, has already apologized for the security breach.
And while the attack might mean tighter security at upcoming events, Grigsby won’t be alone in hoping that the gregarious ambassador is back pounding the city’s sidewalks soon.
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John Kerry pushes back on Israeli criticism of Iran nuclear talks - The Denver Post

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John Kerry pushes back on Israeli criticism of Iran nuclear talks
The Denver Post
MONTREUX, switzerland — U.S. officials sought Wednesday to tamp down expectations of a substantial preliminary nuclear deal with Iran by the March deadline while working to move past the political dust kicked up by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin ...

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Italian Prime Minister To Meet Putin, Medvedev In Moscow

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Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi is visiting Moscow on March 5 for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

Rouhani: people are too clever to listen to 'war-mongering' Netanyahu - The Guardian (blog)

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The Guardian (blog)

Rouhani: people are too clever to listen to 'war-mongering' Netanyahu
The Guardian (blog)
The Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, has reacted to Binyamin Netanyahu's speech to the US Congress by saying that the world and the American people are too intelligent to take advice from “an aggressive and occupier regime” that has itself developed ...
New leader of Free World: Netanyahu gives the speech an American president ...World Tribune
The Fantasy World of Benjamin Netanyahu: Responses to His Talk to CongressHuffington Post
Israelis react: 'Netanyahu knows how to give a speech'USA TODAY

all 12,312 news articles »

Russia starts large-scale military exercises in southern regions: Interfax

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MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's Defence Ministry said on Thursday that large-scale anti-aircraft exercises had started in southern Russia, involving over 2,000 troops and 500 items of weaponry, Interfax reported.
  
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Israeli voters unmoved by Netanyahu speech to US Congress

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Polls show prime minister and his Likud party level pegging with, or marginally behind, the Zionist Union party led by Yitzhak Herzog
Binyamin Netanyahu’s speech to the US Congress this week has won him only a marginally increased level of support before Israeli elections on 17 March, with more than 90% of participants in one poll saying the speech failed to inspire them to change their vote.
The speech, regarded by the White House as a serious breach of protocol, was widely seen in the US and Israel as a risky political gambit by Netanyahu to win support for another term in office. But it appears to have had a limited impact so far on the election campaign.
Continue reading...

Ukraine Says One Soldier Killed In East

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Ukraine's military says one of its soldiers has been killed and another wounded in fighting in eastern Ukraine over the past 24 hours.

Kerry in Saudi Arabia to talk Iran, Yemen instability

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RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) -- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry sought Thursday to ease Gulf Arab concerns about an emerging nuclear deal with Iran and explore ways to calm instability in Yemen and other troubled nations in the Middle East....

Russia Holds Big Military Drills In South, Crimea, Abkhazia, South Ossetia 

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The Russian military says more than 2,000 servicemen are taking part in "large-scale" air-defense exercises in southern Russia, Crimea, and the breakaway Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. 

Kerry briefs Iran's Gulf rivals on nuclear talks

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RIYADH (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met Gulf Arab foreign ministers in Riyadh on Thursday to brief them on progress in the nuclear talks with Iran and offer reassurance that any deal would not damage their interests.
  

Kerry, in Saudi Arabia, seeks to ease Gulf Arab concerns over Iran nuclear talks - The Globe and Mail

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Kerry, in Saudi Arabia, seeks to ease Gulf Arab concerns over Iran nuclear talks
The Globe and Mail
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry sought Thursday to ease Gulf Arab concerns about an emerging nuclear deal with Iran and explore ways to calm instability in Yemen and other troubled nations in the Middle East. A day after wrapping up the latest round of ...

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Kerry, Gulf Officials Meet in Saudi Arabia, Focus on Iran

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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is meeting with Gulf state officials in Saudi Arabia on Thursday, in a bid to ease their concerns about the potential impact of an Iran nuclear deal. Kerry arrived in Riyadh late Wednesday, after holding three days of meetings with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif in Switzerland. The talks took place at a critical time. The U.S. and other world powers involved in nuclear negotiations are trying to reach a framework agreement by the end of...

Ukraine Mourns Miners Killed In Donetsk Coal-Pit Blast

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Ukraine is observing a day of mourning for the victims of a coal mine blast in the rebel-held eastern city of Donetsk.

List of Americans lining up to help ISIS growing - CNN

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CNN

List of Americans lining up to help ISIS growing
CNN
(CNN) One is a 21-year-old California man accused of trying to travel to Syria to join ISIS. The other a 17-year-old Virginia student charged with helping recruit for ISIS. Charges against both were released Wednesday, and they are just the latest in a growing ... 
Authorities: Woodbridge teen helps ISIS recruitWTOP
Orange County man charged with trying to support ISIS terrorist groupMyNewsLA.com

Man accused of trying to join ISIS is indictedKCRA Sacramento

all 232 news articles »

Kerry in Saudi Arabia to talk Iran, Yemen instability - USA TODAY

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USA TODAY

Kerry in Saudi Arabia to talk Iran, Yemen instability
USA TODAY
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry sought Thursday to ease Gulf Arab concerns about an emerging nuclear deal with Iran and explore ways to calm instability in Yemen and other troubled nations in the Middle East. A day after ... 
10 Things to Know for TodaySan Francisco Chronicle

Kerry, Gulf Officials Meet in Saudi Arabia, Focus on IranVoice of America 
The Saudi king gave a prize to an Islamic scholar who says 9/11 was an 'inside job'Washington Post (blog)
Haaretz-
 Jerusalem Post Israel News -Daily Times

all 698 news articles »

Kerry Pushes Back on Israeli Criticism of Iran Nuke Talks

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(MONTREUX, Switzerland) — U.S. officials sought Wednesday to tamp down expectations of a substantial preliminary nuclear deal with Iran by the March deadline while working to move past the political dust kicked up by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s criticism of an emerging agreement’s contours.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Washington was well aware of the potential nuclear danger Iran poses to countries in the region and will endorse only an agreement that seriously and verifiably crimps Tehran’s ability to make atomic arms.
“We continue to be focused on reaching a good deal, the right deal, that closes off any paths that Iran could have towards fissile material for a weapon and that protects the world from the enormous threat that we all know a nuclear-armed Iran would pose,” Kerry told reporters at the end of meetings with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
The Iranian diplomat told NBC News on Wednesday, “We believe that we are very close, very close.”
The sides hope to have a progress report by late March allowing them to finesse details into a final pact by June. But a senior U.S. official appeared to walk back from the significance of that first stage, describing it as only “an understanding that’s going to have to be filled out with lots of detail” by the June final target date.
The official’s comments could be an attempt to stretch the interpretation of what should be achieved by March, allowing further negotiations even if nothing more is achieved than a vague declaration.
They contrast sharply with what the West laid down earlier.
Justifying an extension of the talks on Nov. 24, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond of Britain — one of the five powers backing the U.S. at the talks — said he expected “an agreement on substance” by March. Western and Iranian negotiators said then they would use the time between March and June only “if necessary … to finalize any possible remaining technical and drafting work.”
The U.S. official, who demanded anonymity in line with State Department rules, said President Barack Obama will make a call on whether to continue into June once he sees the March assessment from U.S. negotiators.
Playing down the prospects of any lasting damage to U.S.-Israeli ties caused by Netanyahu’s speech to the joint houses of Congress Tuesday, the U.S. official said senior Israeli officials would be briefed by secure phone by top U.S. negotiators on the latest round.
Still the Netanyahu speech is likely to further embolden critics in U.S. Congress who fear the U.S. may accept terms too lenient on Iran. He told Congress Tuesday that the agreement taking shape is dangerous and would allow Iran the ability to develop nuclear weapons.
Last week, senators introduced legislation to give Congress a say over any deal, and Republicans are trying to get it passed even as the talks continue.
The American public appears divided. A new Associated Press-GfK poll shows more than 6 in 10 Americans initially say that they favor Congress instituting new sanctions against Iran, while only 7 percent say they are opposed. Another quarter of Americans say they are neither in favor nor opposed.
But the new poll also finds that 31 percent of those who initially said they support new sanctions say that Congress should hold off if the administration says it would reduce the likelihood of a future deal. In total, about 4 in 10 Americans think Congress should go forward with sanctions even over the president’s protests.
The poll of 1,045 adults was conducted online Jan. 29-Feb. 2, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
Netanyahu offered no alternate negotiating tactic beyond urging the U.S. to walk away from the table, a point Kerry noted Wednesday.
If talks are successful, the deal being negotiated will “achieve the goal of proving that Iran’s nuclear program is and will remain peaceful.” Kerry said. “No one has presented a more viable lasting alternative for how you actually prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.”
The focus of his comments to reporters at the Swiss resort town of Montreux reflected U.S. concerns about the potential damage Netanyahu’s speech could have on the negotiations by further empowering powerful Republican opponents in Congress.
Zarif dismissed Netanyahu’s claims that Iran is close to developing a nuclear weapon. “Mr. Netanyahu has been proclaiming, predicting that Iran will have a nuclear weapon within two, three, four years since 1992,” he told NBC News.
“There may be people who may have been affected by the type of hysteria that is being fanned by people like Mr. Netanyahu, and it is useful for everybody to allow this deal to go through,” Zarif said.
Kerry planned to meet with Arab Gulf state allies in Riyadh Thursday before sitting down with the foreign ministers of France, Britain and Germany in Paris on Saturday to share the state of the negotiations.
Read the whole story
 
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Iranian diplomat released after 20-month captivity in Yemen - Xinhua

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AsiaOne

Iranian diplomat released after 20-month captivity in Yemen
Xinhua
ADEN, Yemen, March 5 (Xinhua) -- An Iranian diplomat kidnapped by the Yemen-based al-Qaida branch in 2013 has been freed and returned to Tehran, a Yemeni military source told Xinhua Thursday. "Iran's special troops, backed by Yemeni intelligence, ...
Iranian special operatives free diplomat abducted in YemenSalon
Iranian diplomat kidnapped in Yemen in 2013 is freedBBC News
Iranian diplomat kidnapped in Yemen
 
is freedLos Angeles Times
 
Daily Mail
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Temps drop at over 30 degrees ahead of next winter storm - Washington Post

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Chron.com

Temps drop at over 30 degrees ahead of next winter storm
Washington Post
Much of the South was forecast to see temperatures drop 30 to 45 degrees in a 24-hour period thanks to yet another arctic cold front, according to the latest forecasts. Some locations may even see their coldest temperatures ever recorded so late in the season ...
Storm drops over a foot of snow on eastern USReuters
Winter storm to bring snow, ice, cold to US EastFirstpost
Storm could be winter's last big one, but some want moreConcord Monitor

all 145 news articles »

Death Toll From Ukraine Blast Hits 32

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The death toll from an explosion at a mine in a rebel-held region of Ukraine has reached 32, local officials and separatists said.

Support for Netanyahu edges up after speech

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PM’s Likud party neck and neck with centre-left challenger Zionist Union in surveys

Islamic State torches oil field east of Tikrit: witness

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BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Islamic State militants have set fire to oil wells in the Ajil field east of the city of Tikrit to try to hinder aerial attacks aimed at driving them from the oilfield, a witness and military source said.
  

Russia starts large-scale military exercises in disputed territories

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MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's Defence Ministry said on Thursday that large-scale military exercises had started in southern Russia and in disputed territories on Russia's borders.






  

Russian Lawmaker To Coke, McDonald's: Support Sanctions, Get Out 

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A senior pro-Kremlin lawmaker has suggested U.S. food giants Coca-Cola and McDonald's should stop selling their products in Russia.

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Turkish journalist arrested over military coup scoop he wrote in 2010 

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He faces eight years in jail on a charge of obtaining classified documents
Turkish investigative journalist Mehmet Baransu has been arrested and charged with obtaining secret state documents.
The allegations against him are extraordinary. They relate to articles published under his byline by his newspaper, Taraf, in 2010.
“Since when have coup plans been classified as ‘documents related to state security’ and ‘state knowledge that needs to be kept classified?’
I am the person who published the [Sledgehammer] story, the one who decided it needed to be published, the one who didn’t doubt for a moment that Sledgehammer was a coup plot”.
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Strange circumstances surround gold heist on Interstate 95 - WLNE-TV (ABC6)

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Strange circumstances surround gold heist on Interstate 95
WLNE-TV (ABC6)
WILSON, N.C. (AP) - Details emerging in the theft of nearly $5 million in gold bars on an interstate highway reveal why authorities have been suspicious from the beginning that the heist was carefully planned. The robbers pulled up almost immediately after ...

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Police chief: terrorist convicted in US should have been tried in UK 

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Greater Manchester’s chief constable, Sir Peter Fahy, calls for review of why UK authorities were forced to free Abid Naseer in 2009
One of the UK’s most senior police officers has called for a review of why UK authorities were forced to free a Manchester terrorist in 2009 due to lack of evidence, when US prosecutors managed to convict the same man on Wednesday.
Greater Manchester’s chief constable, Sir Peter Fahy, has said Abid Naseer, who was arrested six years ago amid fears that he was planning to bomb the city’s Arndale shopping centre, should have been put on trial in the UK. 
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U.S. Strategy in Iraq Increasingly Relies on Iran

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WASHINGTON — At a time when President Obama is under political pressure from congressional Republicans over negotiations to rein in Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, a startling paradox has emerged: Mr. Obama is becoming increasingly dependent on Iranian fighters as he tries to contain the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria without committing American ground troops.

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