#AceNewsDesk : ” World News – `Good Morning’ – 23 January 2014″

Ace News Group

IRAN  – US  – EU – UAE – HRW – SYRIA – AL QAEDA – TURKEY – ISRAEL – PALESTINE – KOREA – LIBYA – EGYPT – AFRICA

DAVOS – GENEVA – VERIZON – ROUHANI – ALBERTA – TAR-SANDS      

Iran negotiating normalization of relations with US, Europe – Rouhani

Iran is negotiating with the US and is seeking actions from Washington to back up its words, President Hassan Rouhani said on Thursday. Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, he also said relations with Europe will be normalized as an interim nuclear accord is implemented, Reuters reported. Rouhani announced that one of the priorities of his government is “constructive engagement with the world.”

UAE blocking rights news conference – HRW

Human Rights Watch has announced that the United Arab Emirates prevented it from holding a news conference Thursday to release a report criticizing rights violations in the country. “Blocking Human Rights Watch from holding a news conference in the UAE sadly underscores the increasing threat to freedom of expression in the country,” AFP quoted Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW’s chief for the Middle East and North Africa, as saying. The watchdog had booked a room a month ago at a Dubai hotel for the news conference, but staff said early in the morning that the reservation had been canceled. It said HRW had failed to obtain a special government permit to hold the conference.

Al-Qaeda leader calls on rebel factions in Syria to unite

Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Zawahri called on militant rebel factions in Syria to stop fighting each other, Reuters reported. They should set up a judicial committee to sort out their differences, he said in an audio recording released on Islamist websites. A small faction, the Al-Qaeda-linked Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has been caught up in clashes with other Islamist insurgents in recent weeks. The fighting was often triggered by disputes over authority and territory.

At least 21 dead in Turkey bus crash

At least 21 people were killed on Thursday during a bus accident in central Turkey, AFP reported, citing a local governor. The bus tipped over after sliding on an icy road in a town in Kayseri province, Orhan Duzgun said on television. “The number of the dead has risen to 21,” Duzgun said. Some of the passengers died when they jumped out of the vehicle’s windows.

Abbas ready to meet with Israeli PM, address Knesset – reports

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is prepared to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at any time, the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University said. It also quoted Abbas as saying he does not rule out addressing the Knesset. The Palestinian goals include strengthening the vision of two states, where Israel would exist alongside a Palestinian state created on pre-1967 lines, he said. Abbas dismissed the possibility of signing any agreement that pertains only to the West Bank and stressed that any agreement reached with Israel would be brought to a referendum.

Kidnapped S. Korean trade official freed in Libya – govt

 A South Korean trade agency employee abducted on Monday by four unknown assailants in Libya has been freed by security forces, said the Libyan government. Han Seok-woo, head of the Libya unit of the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA), was kidnapped as he was returning home after his work at the trade office in Tripoli. “The trade attaché … is now in the South Korean Embassy in good health,” reports Libya’s Foreign Ministry, adding that “some of the kidnappers were arrested.”

Five killed in Egypt in militant raid on checkpoint

Five people were killed and two others injured in an armed attack on a security checkpoint in the southern Egyptian town of Beni Suef, state television reported on Thursday. The checkpoint was raided by two masked gunmen on motorcycles, the Interior Ministry said. It’s the latest episode in a spree of attacks on security troops and army, which started after the military coup in July 2013, which deposed Islamist president Mohamed Morsi. The violence took at least 250 lives of soldiers and police officers.

EU suggests backing away from clean fuel standard

 The European Union signaled in an energy and climate policy statement released Wednesday that it is backing away from a clean fuel standard aimed at reducing harmful emissions, InsideClimate News reported. The EU’s Fuel Quality Directive, established in 2009, was created in an effort to cut 6 percent of emissions from Europe’s transport sector by 2020. Yet in a wide-ranging statement Wednesday, the EU recommended not extending or strengthening the policy after 2020. Such a policy change is a win for high-carbon fuels like tar sands, environmental groups said. Canada, with its own large reserves of Alberta tar sands set for easier export to new markets thanks to pipelines like Keystone XL, has lobbied aggressively to weaken the directive since its adoption. The policy suggestion will face further review in March.

​Verizon releases ‘transparency report,’ received 320,000 data requests in US

Verizon released its promised “transparency report” on Wednesday, saying it received 320,000 data requests last year in the United States alone. The report said the US government sent the company 164,184 subpoenas, 62,857 court orders, 36,696 warrants, around 50,000 “emergency requests” from law enforcement, 1,496 wiretap orders, and between 1,000 and 2,000 “national security letters” – in which information is demanded independent of court authority. “We do not release customer information unless authorized by law, such as a valid law enforcement demand or an appropriate request in an emergency involving the danger of death or serious physical injury,” the company said. Verizon did not say how often it refuses to provide information after it is subpoenaed, or how many of its users were targeted. The company is the first major US telecom to divulge such inquiries, following the lead of Google, Apple, and Microsoft in issuing a report. AT&T also said last month that it would offer its own report.

​S. Africa platinum workers to strike for higher wages

Tens of thousands of members of South Africa’s largest platinum-sector union plan to strike Thursday at the country’s top three platinum producers. The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) is demanding a “living wage” of around US$12,500 – over double their current pay. AMCU organizers say that 70,000 of its members will strike indefinitely. The three targeted companies – Anglo American, Impala, and Lonmin Platinum – said they have received notice of the strike from AMCU. A separate strike in the gold sector was also planned for Thursday, but was postponed after a court ruling. The platinum strike would be the largest in the sector since the 2012 Marikana massacre, when 34 protesting miners were shot and killed by police for engaging in an illegal demonstration. The planned walkout by the platinum workers is legal.

 

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