‘ Somalia’s al-Shabaab Claim Responsibility for Attack on Bus Killing Seven ‘

#AceWorldNews – MOGADISHU – July 19 – Somalia‘s al Shabaab insurgents claimed responsibility on Saturday for an attack on a bus on Kenya‘s northern coast that killed seven.

Gunmen blocked the bus with their car late on Friday and sprayed it with bullets.

They also attacked two lorries carrying mangos near Witu, a town in Lamu County which borders Somalia.

“The attack was in response to Kenya’s claim that it deployed more troops in the coast and thus tightened security,” Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, spokesman for al Shabaab’s military operations told Reuters.

#ANS2014 

 

#al-shabaab, #friday, #kenya, #lamu, #nairobi, #reuters, #somalia, #witu

‘ Ukraine Prepares to Cease Bi-Lateral Trade with Russia ‘

#AceWorldNews – KIEV –  July 18 – Kiev authorities should prepare for a full halt of trade with Russia, parliament-appointed Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said at a meeting over diversification of sale markets and sources of industrial produce supplies on Friday reported Tass.

 “We should prepare for almost full restriction on bilateral trade with Russia,” he said.

“Russia is not the only market in the world where Ukrainian produce should be delivered,” the prime minister said. “The government is prepared to do everything so that we will diversify the sale market for a brief period of time,” the prime minister said, citing several Ukrainian companies which protect alternative markets successfully as an example.

Yatsenyuk stated that if Russian market was closed for Ukraine “Ukrainian export will reduce by around five billion dollars”.

#ANS2014  

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'Pakistani Woman Survives Attack By Relatives Who Tried To Kill Her For Marrying For Love'

#AceNewsServices – PAKISTAN (Lahore) – (Reuters) – A Pakistani woman who survived an attack by relatives who tried to kill her for marrying for love told Reuters on Friday that she feared for her life and appealed for protection.

Saba Maqsood, 18, survived being shot and thrown in a canal by her family on Thursday, weeks after the “honor killing” of another woman in Pakistan drew worldwide condemnation.

Maqsood angered her family by marrying the man of her choice a few days ago in the Punjabi city of Gujranwala – an act of defiance in a conservative part of Pakistan where women are expected to agree to arranged marriages.

“Even though police provided me with security, I fear that my family will try to kill me and my husband,” Maqsood, still weak after being shot twice in the cheek and right hand, told Reuters by telephone from her hospital bed.

“I appeal to the chief minister and authorities to take serious notice of this attack on me and take necessary action for our security.”

Police said Maqsood was attacked and shot by her father, uncle, brother and aunt, and thrown into the waterway in the city of Hafizabad in Punjab province on Thursday.

Her relatives quickly fled the scene, but after minutes in the water Maqsood regained consciousness and managed to struggle to the bank, where two passers-by helped her.

Police have pledged to protect Maqsood.

Reuters (Exclusive) Report

http://tinyurl.com/kdk5mld

http://tinyurl.com/kdk5mld

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‘Huge Explosion Rocked Kosovo’s Main Power Plant’

#AceWorldNews – PRISTINA – June 06  – A huge explosion rocked Kosovo’s main power plant Friday, killing at least three people and injuring more than a dozen, AP reported, citing a government official.

The blast might have been caused during a botched replacement of hydrogen canisters used for cooling generators.

The powerful explosion was heard in the nearby capital, Pristina, and a black plume of smoke could be seen rising from the coal-fired plant.

It was not immediately clear what caused the blast.

AP

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' US Confirms North Korea has Detained a Third American'

#AceWorldNews – WASHINGTON (AFP) – The United States on Friday confirmed that North Korea has detained a third American and called on the communist state to release the trio.

“We are aware that a US citizen has been detained by North Korea,” State Department spokesman Marie Harf told reporters, adding: “We continue to actively seek the release of all three.”

Ms Harf said that she could not confirm the detainee’s name due to privacy considerations.

(The official Korean Central News Agency identified him as Jeffrey Edwards Fowle) 

North Korea, which has no diplomatic relations with the United States, said it had detained Fowle for “hostile activities” and was questioning him.

Japanese news agency Kyodo, citing diplomatic sources, said the detainee had been part of a tour group and was held in mid-May after he left a Bible at a hotel.

Kim Jong-Un‘s totalitarian regime tightly controls all religious activity.

Another of the detained Americans, Kenneth Bae, was described by a North Korean court as a militant Christian evangelist.

Straits Times 

#ANS2014

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#AceWorldNews PARIS June 06    Paris prosecutors are…

#AceWorldNews – PARIS – June 06  – Paris prosecutors are investigating more than 200 French citizens who are suspected of participating in the fighting on the side of radical Islamist groups in Syria, RTL radio reported on Friday.

The French Interior Ministry believes that about 300 French citizens are currently fighting in Syria for rebels against government forces, ITAR-TASS said.

 

 

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` South Sudan Rival Leaders Sign a Ceasefire in Next 24 hours to Prevent All Out Genocide ‘

#AceWorldNewsSouth Sudan‘s two rival leaders have signed a ceasefire deal, following international pressure to avert famine and genocide.

President Salva Kiir and rebel chief Riek Machar met face-to-face on Friday in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, for the first time since mass violence broke out in December.

After a signing ceremony in the city’s presidential palace, Kiir said: “Now we have come to our senses…dialogue is the only answer to whatever problem we had. We will continue to move in the right direction.”

White House National Security Advisor Susan E Rice welcomed the development. In a statement issued on Friday evening, she said that fighting in South Sudan had “robbed the country of hope and denied its people the peace and prosperity they deserve”.

“We urge President Kiir and Mr. Machar to move swiftly to honor the agreement in word and deed by ending the violence and negotiating in good faith to reach a political agreement that can ensure stability, prosperity and peace for all of South Sudan’s people.”

Joseph Ochieno, a London-based commentator on African affairs, told Al Jazeera: “There is just about a possibility that it [the ceasefire] will work.

ALJ

US Department of State Sanctions  

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#AceNewsDesk : ” Headlines – 31 January 2014 – 11.00 GMT”

World News Banner

ISRAEL – PALESTINE – MALI – YEMEN – UK – FRANCE – GENEVA – US – PHILIPPINES – SYRIA – RUSSIA – IRAN

AL QAEDA – CAMERON – HOLLANDE – CHILD-SOLDIERS – HUMANITARIAN – TRANSGENDER – NUCLEAR-TALKS     

14:56

Israeli soldiers shoot 10 Palestinians at West Bank demo – reports

Israeli soldiers have shot and wounded 10 Palestinians near the West Bank town of Ramallah on Friday, Palestinian medics and security sources said. The Palestinians were hit by live rounds on the outskirts of Jalazun refugee camp when hundreds protested over the killing of a teenager, AFP reported. The wounded were hospitalized in Ramallah, one with serious injuries. Many of protesters hurled rocks at the soldiers. The Israeli Army said Mohammed Mubarak, 19, who was working on a project funded by USAID, was shot dead on Wednesday near a Jewish settlement outside Ramallah after having opened fire at them.

Action-Against-Hunger_Colour14:07

More than 800,000 Malians starving – humanitarian groups

More than 800,000 Malians are desperate for food while another 3 million risk going without meals, 11 humanitarian groups warned Friday. “The number of vulnerable people facing a new food crisis is likely to double if the needs identified are not met quickly,” said Franck Vannetelle, director of Action Against Hunger in Mali. An Islamist insurgency and the after-effects of a food crisis in 2012, combined with poor recent harvests have limited access to basic supplies for the most vulnerable, AFP said.

Al-Qaeda militants attacked a military checkpoint in the city of Shibam in southeastern Yemen 13:52

Al-Qaeda militants kill 15 soldiers in Yemen – reports

Suspected Al-Qaeda militants attacked a military checkpoint in the city of Shibam in southeastern Yemen and killed 15 soldiers Friday, a security source told AFP.“Unknown armed men suspected to be from Al-Qaeda attacked an army checkpoint in Shibam, killing 15 soldiers and wounding several others,” the official said. Casualties among the attackers were also reported.

Brize Norton Royal Air Force base in Britain.13:15

Cameron praises Hollande’s new economic policies

British Prime Minister David Cameron on Friday praised President Francois Hollande’s moves to boost the struggling French economy. The two met at Brize Norton Royal Air Force base in Britain. The plans Hollande recently announced to cut taxes on business, reduce employment costs and remove unnecessary regulation are “the right way to boost investment and create jobs,” AFP quoted Cameron as saying after the summit.

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.12:32

Nearly 1,900 killed in Syria since talks in Switzerland began – Observatory

Nearly 1,900 people have been killed in Syria since peace talks opened in Switzerland on January 22, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. It said on Friday that at least 498 civilians were among those killed in the fighting. The group said 646 mainstream or Islamist rebels had been killed in fighting with government forces or the jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. The Geneva 2 talks between the government and opposition delegations are due to wrap up later Friday after a first round produced no visible signs of progress.

Flag-of-Maine-XL11:46

Maine court says school violated rights of transgender student

School officials violated state anti-discrimination law when they would not allow a transgender fifth-grader to use the girls’ bathroom, AP reported, citing Maine’s highest court’s ruling. The family of student Nicole Maines and the Maine Human Rights Commission sued in 2009 after school officials required her to use a staff, not student, restroom. The court said the Orono school district‘s actions violated the Maine Human Rights Act, which bans discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. A lower court’s ruling that the district acted within its discretion was overturned.

Philippines Army, 11:16

Child soldiers among 53 rebels killed by Philippines troops

Three child soldiers recruited by hard-line Muslim rebels were among 53 people killed in a week of fighting with the Philippines Army, the military said on Friday. The offensive against members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) group in the southern island of Mindanao had resulted in the deaths of 52 rebels, including the children, and one soldier, AFP quoted regional spokesman Colonel Dickson Hermoso as saying. “They are employing child soldiers with guns and camouflage uniforms. When we encounter them, we cannot discriminate if they are children or not,” he said.

syria-chemical-weapons10:25

June deadline to destroy Syrian chem weapons realistic – Russian diplomat

The June 30 deadline for the destruction of Syria’s chemical arsenal remains “completely realistic” despite delays, Interfax quoted Mikhail Ulyanov, head of the Russian Foreign Ministry‘s security and disarmament department, as saying on Friday. He blamed delays on security issues on the road to the port of Latakia and said there had been “insufficient” technical support from the international community.

Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif talks with European Union foreign policy chief Ashton after a ceremony at the United Nations in Geneva09:43

Iran nuclear talks with 6 powers set for Feb. 18 in New York – Moscow

Talks between Iran and six world powers on a deal for Tehran to curb parts of its nuclear program in exchange for easing sanctions will be held in New York on February 18, Mikhail Ulyanov, head of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s security and disarmament department, said Friday. “The next meeting at the level of ‘political directors’ will take place Feb. 18 in New York,” Interfax quoted the diplomat as saying.

 

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#AceNewsDesk : ” World News – Headlines – 31 January 2014″

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US – LEBANON – SYRIA – AFGHANISTAN – UN

FORCED-LABOUR – SEX-TRADE – SMUGGLING – ROCKET-FIRE      

slave-labour-561234555-199447309:22

Up to 17,000 smuggled into US annually to work in sex trade or as forced labor – report

Some 14,000 to 17,000 people are smuggled illegally into the US every year to work in the sex trade or in factories, farms and bars as forced labour, according to the Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking. The group is calling for greater government controls on the recruiters who lure vulnerable people to the US, AFP reported. The House of Representatives is preparing to consider legislation seeking to require foreign hirers to be registered with the Labor Department. Foreign labor contractors will also have to provide the names of the employers and recruiters and a signed contract.

08:59

3 wounded in northern Lebanon by rocket fire from Syria

Three people were wounded in the northern Lebanese border town of Mashta Hammoud by rocket fire from Syria on Friday, according to security sources. At least four rockets launched from across the border struck the outskirts of Mashta Hammoud in the northern province of Akkar at 6am, the Daily Star newspaper reported. The spillover from Syria’s war has raised tensions in Lebanon.

English: HELMAND PROVINCE, Islamic Republic of...

English: HELMAND PROVINCE, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan – Soldiers from the Afghan National Army relax after a patrol in Marjah, Helmand province, Afghanistan, Feb. 14, 2010.The ANA soldiers and Marines from 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, have been conducting Operation Moshtarak to eliminate Taliban presence and intimidation from the city of Marjah. (Official Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Tommy Bellegarde) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

07:32

Afghan policeman killed as Taliban attack 3 checkpoints

The Taliban have attacked three police checkpoints overnight in the southern province of Helmand, killing one officer, AP reported. At least 13 insurgent fighters were killed in the gun battles that followed the checkpoint attacks, police chief of Marjah district, Zamaria Zarak, said on Friday.

06:27

US cancels funds for Afghan opinion polls as election nears

The US has cancelled funding for opinion polls in the run-up to Afghanistan’s presidential election, Reuters reported. In December, initial poll triggered accusations of US attempts to manipulate the outcome. The US-funded group Democracy International said it and other similar organizations had planned to carry out opinion polls as Afghanistan prepares for the April 5 election. Some electoral authorities and candidates’ camps “suggested that there was… a perception that the polling results were somehow biased,” a US embassy spokesman in Kabul said. In order to avoid any “baseless perception” of US interference, a decision was taken to forgo additional US-funded polling.

English: Logo of the United Nations Educationa...

English: Logo of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

00:42

​Over a third of world’s school-age children cannot read – UN report

At least 250 million of the world’s 650 million primary-school-age children cannot read, write or perform basic mathematics, according to a new UN report released Wednesday. The report found about 130 million in primary school have not reached basic learning levels, and around 120 million have spent little or no time in a classroom, including 57 million children who do not attend school at all. The cost of a lack of learning for 250 million children around the world costs governments around US$129 billion per year. The report was conducted by an independent research team for the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

 

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#Geneva2 : ” Small Progress in Talk’s `Ending Friday’ and Due to Resume in February”

#AceNewsServices say `UN Chief Cites ‘progress’ at Syria Talks’

Ace News Desk There has been “progress” at peaceful talks inSwitzerland, between Syria’s government and opposition delegations, UN Secretary-GeneralBan Ki-moon said in Berlin on Thursday, Itar-Tass reported. The negotiations will be suspended on Friday, so that participants could discuss talks at home, he said.

They should resume in February, however the exact date was not determined yet. International mediator Lakhdar Brahimi said on Wednesday that he does not expect to achieve anything substantive in the first round of Syria talks ending on Friday.

 

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#Kiev : ” Unrest Continues in the `Ukraine’ with an `Uneasy’ Tension in the Air”

#AceNewsServices says its `Saturday, January 25′ and this is the `timeline’ of events `Friday Night and Saturday Morning`

kiev-protest-clashes-updates00.siSaturday, January 25

15:23 GMT:

Violent clashes between protesters and police in the center of Kiev on Grushevskogo Street have stopped, RIA Novosti reported. It has been quiet for at least an hour.

15:23 GMT:

About 2,000 protesters have seized the building of the Poltava administration, its press-service told Itar-Tass. The protesters are meeting with the chairman of the Poltava Regional State Administration, Aleksandr Udovychenko, in the session hall of the council.

15:08 GMT:

The Interior Ministry said it will consider as “extremists” those left on Independence Square in Kiev and in the seized government buildings.

15:01 GMT:

Two police officers, seized by protesters in Kiev and “tortured”, have been released and taken to hospital, said the Interior Ministry.

14:51 GMT:

Russian Ambassador to Ukraine Mikhail Zurabov: Foreign mediation now totally inappropriate for Ukraine http://t.co/jm5Jz2LOzr @RusembUkraine

— MFA Russia (@mfa_russia) January 25, 2014

14:41 GMT:

The president of Ukraine, Victor Yanukovich, is meeting with opposition leaders: Vitaly Klitchko, head of the Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform party; Arseniy Yatsenyuk, head of the “Batkivschina” (Fatherland) opposition party, and Oleg Tyagnybok, the leader of the All-Ukrainian Union “Svoboda”(Freedom).

14:31 GMT:

The so-called head of the national resistance urged the president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovich, not to declare a state of emergency in the country.

“We appeal to Viktor Yanukovich: the state of emergency means the death of thousands of people, it is the divide of the country and the destruction of Ukraine as an independent and sovereign state,” asserted the statement, posted on the Batkivschina (Fatherland) opposition party’s site.

At the same time, the statement notes that “prudence, self-control and responsibility for Ukraine’s children and the future state will bring about a peaceful outcome to this social crisis.”

The statement claimed that the party has information about the Ukrainian presidential administration’s preparations for declaring a state of emergency and “clearing” Independence square in Kiev.

14:20 GMT:

Guys coming up to us on #Грушевского barricades warning about a possible sniper on the roof of buildings.

— Peter Oliver (@PeterGOliver_RT) January 25, 2014

14:19 GMT:

Deputies of the Lvov regional council recognized a legislative organ established by the protesters, the so-called Narodnaya Rada (People’s Council), that is to represent the interests of the Ukrainian people. 70 deputies voted in favor, with most of the council represented by opposition parties. The decision contains a recommendation to all local councils to adopt similar resolutions.

The army, the Interior Ministry and other law enforcement agencies cannot carry out any activities involving the use of special equipment, weapons and military equipment, aimed at restricting the rights of citizens to assemble peacefully in the region, the regional authorities said in a statement.

Due to the actions of the president and parliament and the adoption of anti-protest laws on January 16, the regional council said it withdraws all powers delegated to the Lvov region by state administration.

14:08 GMT:

Just seen riot training course taking place on independence square in #Kiev rioters learning how to use shields in groups.

— Peter Oliver (@PeterGOliver_RT) January 25, 2014

13:57 GMT:

The authorities in Vinnitsa, central Ukraine, and Сhernigov, northern Ukraine, have started criminal investigations into the seizure of local administrative buildings by protesters, reported the Itar-Tass news agency.

13:33 GMT:

Production line breaking up rocks to be taken to the front line in #Kiev and hurled at police.pic.twitter.com/lfb2sxxdFG

— Peter Oliver (@PeterGOliver_RT) January 25, 2014

 

13:31 GMT:

A protester who took part in the Kiev riots has died, according to the state health department of the Kiev city administration, RIA Novosti reported. Authorities said that the victim arrived at the Kiev City Clinical Hospital № 17 on Wednesday. The leadership of the Lvov regional faction of the nationalist “Svoboda” (“Liberty”) movement said that on Wednesday a protester from Lvov, Roman Senik, 45, died in hospital from wounds sustained in clashes. It is not yet clear whether the two reports are about the same man.

13:06 GMT:

The head of the Ukrainian Ministry of the Interior, Vitaly Zakharchenko, said in a statement that attempts to peacefully resolve the conflict peacefully, have been futile, because protesters were ignoring truce agreements.

These events which really represent extremist actions should not go unnoticed by the international community. The opposition leaders aren’t dissociating themselves from radical forces, and at this time they’re not able to control them and so put Ukrainians under threat,” the statement reads as cited by Itar-Tass.

12:39 GMT:

Around ten wheelchair users carrying “Stop aggression” billboards are on their way to Grushevskogo street, the epicenter of the stand-off between protesters and police, demanding both sides put an end to clashes, Deutshe Welle reports.

11:41 GMT:

Participants of the rally in front of the Prosecutor General’s office in Kiev are leaving the protest site, despite earlier plans to seize the building, Interfax-Ukraine reports.

Around 500 protesters rallied for freeing detained activists.

11:28 GMT:

Protesters have seized the Chernigov City Council building and have been demanding the ouster of its head, Vladimir Khomenko, Itar-Tass reports. Protesters have been screaming out slogans like: “Ukraine rise, Chernigov come out”, “No to Repressions”, “Dismissal”.

The protesters are currently creating a corridor to release police remaining in the building.

11:23 GMT:

President Yanukovich has appointed Vladimir Makeenko the head of Kiev City Council. Makeenko previously was the chief of the procedure committee of the country’s parliament, the Rada. In a separate decree, Yanukovich dismissed the former city council head, Alexander Popov, who is currently under investigation.

11:01 GMT:

A protester from Lvov, Roman Senik, 45, who was injured during clashes with police on January 22, has died in hospital, according to the leadership of the Lvov regional faction of the nationalist “Svoboda” (“Liberty”) movement.

“For several days doctors have been fighting for his life, but the wounds were too severe. His lungs were badly scarred, he underwent surgery several times and his hand had to be amputated,” said Irina Sekh, a Unkrainian MP and leader of the Lvov “Svoboda” faction.

10:12 GMT:

Rallies in support of President Yanukovich have started all over the coal-rich Donbass region. The leader of the Donetsk Party of Regions, Igor Chichasov, told Itar-Tass he expected 300,000 people to take part.

Donbass has made its choice”, he said. “We decisively support all the efforts the president has taken for stabilizing the situation in the country.

10:07 GMT:

Ukraine’s energy minister, Eduard Stavytsky, says protesters were prevented from seizing the main energy ministry building in Kiev. 

There was an attempt to seize the building. About 100 armed people came. I went to them and said that if they did not leave the building peacefully then the whole energy system of Ukraine could collapse,” Stavytsky said, as cited by Reuters. 

The protesters are still blocking the entry into the Ministry according to the official, who described it as “a direct threat to the whole of the Ukrainian energy system.”

09:45 GMT:

The building of the Ukrainian Ministry of Energy and Coal mining, in the center of Kiev, has been occupied by activists from the “Common action” movement, according to the organization’s leader, Aleksandr Danilyuk, interviewed by the Ukrainian 5th Channel.

09:42 GMT:

Protesters in Vinnitsa, central Ukraine, have occupied the city council building, says Itar-Tass citing a report by the Ukrainian 5th Channel. Police were unable to prevent the crowd from getting inside the building. The protesters are demanding that the authorities step down.

09:28 GMT:

During the Geneva 2 talks, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov discussed the situation in Ukraine with his American counterpart, warning him against interfering in events in Ukraine.

I made John Kerry aware of how very important it is at the moment not to interfere into the process and avoid any statements that would heat up the situation. I hope that I was heard,” Lavrov said in an interview with Rossiya 1 TV channel’s Sergey Brilyov.

09:03 GMT:

Stefan Fule, the EU commissioner for enlargement, has called on Ukraine to end violence and resume dialogue, according to a statement, released following his two-day visit to Kiev.

During my negotiations I expressed the EU’s deep concern with the latest events and underlined the necessity to put an end to violence, to stand against those responsible for human rights violations and to continue a comprehensive national dialogue to find a way out of the crisis, which threatens to destabilize the country,” the statement reads, as cited by Itar-Tass.

08:21 GMT:

The Ukrainian Ministry of the Interior has demanded the immediate release of two police officers, who were kidnapped on Friday by the so-called “Maidan security”.

The police officers are reportedly being held hostage in a Kiev city council building, which is under siege by protesters. According to earlier reports, three police personnel were attacked and captured. One, who was severely wounded, was later released. 

Anti-government protesters gather at a barricade at the site of clashes with riot police in Kiev January 25, 2014 (Reuters / David Mdzinarishvili)Anti-government protesters gather at a barricade at the site of clashes with riot police in Kiev January 25, 2014 (Reuters / David Mdzinarishvili)

After overnight negotiations with a number protest leaders resulted in no solution, the police threatened to storm the city council building. 

Ukraine’s Ministry of the Interior demands the immediate release of the police officers. In case our demand is not met, the police will be forced to take measures to free those kidnapped,” the Ministry’s statement reads, as cited by RIA Novosti.

07:49 GMT:

12 rally participants have been arrested in Kiev, following hearings in two courts. 

These people have been charged with participation in mass unrest, marked by violence, arson, resisting law enforcers by using weapons,” the press-service of the Kiev Prosecutor’s office said, as cited by Itar-Tass.

06:49 GMT:

The Polish PM has laid the blame for the unrest in neighbouring Ukraine on the country’s president and his administration. 

We have no doubt that President Yanukovich’s behavior and his administration’s actions have led to this dramatic crisis, where the unity of Ukraine is being put into question,” Donald Tusk said, as cited by Interfax-Ukraine. 

He added that Ukraine, torn by inner conflicts would, “sooner or later represent a serious problem for the whole region.”

06:22 GMT:

Ukraine’s Ministry of Interior announced they have detained a gang in Kiev and seized their arsenal, which included two assault rifles, four pistols and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.

Law enforcers say they have evidence that the gang was involved in kidnapping and supplying arms to protesters in the Ukrainian capital. 

Friday, January 24

23:36 GMT:

Ruptly’s video footage shows rioters throwing more tires into the fire amid clashes:

22:57 GMT:

A police officer was shot dead in Kiev on Friday night. Witnesses heard the shots and saw two people running away from the scene, Unian news agency reported. The victim lived near the Berkut living quarters.

It is not clear whether the incident is connected to the ongoing unrest in the city.

21:43 GMT:

US Secretary of State John Kerry once again confirmed Washington’s support for Ukrainian protesters during his speech at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland. Kerry said the US is working with its allies and top Ukrainian officials to end the violence.

We are working with our partners to press the government of Ukraine to forego violence, to address the concerns of peaceful protesters, to foster dialogue, promote the freedom of assembly and expression,” he said.

Kerry added that he received a text message shortly before beginning his speech from US diplomats in Kiev, who are negotiating with Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych “to try to achieve calm and help move in this direction in the next days.”

20:01 GMT:

Twelve people have been taken into custody over suspicions of participating in the violent riots on Grushevskogo Street.

19:33 GMT:

Truce they say? Tires burning again, firecrackers and molotovs are hurled in central Kiev. Police not retaliating pic.twitter.com/YIVBFbDRO2

— Alexey Yaroshevsky (@Yaro_RT) January 24, 2014

19:11 GMT:

The former EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy, Javier Solana, has denied accusations that the West is worsening the crisis in Ukraine. Speaking to RT from Davos in Switzerland, he said: “I don’t think that the EU is inflaming the situation. On the contrary, what the EU is trying to do is to try to find a peaceful solution that entails some kind of negotiations, like in any other crisis, between the government and opposition with the help of other countries that are interested in it.”

17:39 GMT:

Foreign nationals who have previously been involved in military operations abroad are involved in the violence in Ukraine, said Viktor Yanukovich. 

“Not only Ukrainians joined this [violence] but a number of people from other countries who participated in various military operations, regional ones, and who are wanted around the world. They are hiding in seized buildings. We know that there are weapons,” he said at a meeting with representatives of public and church organizations.

17:39 GMT:

Opposition supporters seized the regional administration building, which also houses the regional council in Khmelnitsky, western Ukraine, UNIAN reported.

The protesters demanding the resignation of the local governor stormed the first and second floors of the building. 30-40 activists gathered near the building, calling for the governor to write an official letter of resignation.

10:12 GMT:

Rallies in support of President Yanukovich have started all over the coal-rich Donbass region. The leader of the Donetsk Party of Regions, Igor Chichasov, told Itar-Tass he expected 300,000 people to take part.

Donbass has made its choice”, he said. “We decisively support all the efforts the president has taken for stabilizing the situation in the country.

10:07 GMT:

Ukraine‘s energy minister, Eduard Stavytsky, says protesters were prevented from seizing the main energy ministry building in Kiev
There was an attempt to seize the building. About 100 armed people came. I went to them and said that if they did not leave the building peacefully then the whole energy system of Ukraine could collapse,” Stavytsky said, as cited by Reuters.

The protesters are still blocking the entry into the Ministry according to the official, who described it as “a direct threat to the whole of the Ukrainian energy system.”

09:45 GMT:

The building of the Ukrainian Ministry of Energy and Coal mining, in the center of Kiev, has been occupied by activists from the “Common action” movement, according to the organization’s leader, Aleksandr Danilyuk, interviewed by the Ukrainian 5th Channel.

09:42 GMT:

Protesters in Vinnitsa, central Ukraine, have occupied the city council building, says Itar-Tass citing a report by the Ukrainian 5th Channel. Police were unable to prevent the crowd from getting inside the building. The protesters are demanding that the authorities step down.

09:28 GMT:

During the Geneva 2 talks, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov discussed the situation in Ukraine with his American counterpart, warning him against interfering in events in Ukraine.

I made John Kerry aware of how very important it is at the moment not to interfere into the process and avoid any statements that would heat up the situation. I hope that I was heard,” Lavrov said in an interview with Rossiya 1 TV channel’s Sergey Brilyov.

09:03 GMT:

Stefan Fule, the EU commissioner for enlargement, has called on Ukraine to end violence and resume dialogue, according to a statement, released following his two-day visit to Kiev.

During my negotiations I expressed the EU’s deep concern with the latest events and underlined the necessity to put an end to violence, to stand against those responsible for human rights violations and to continue a comprehensive national dialogue to find a way out of the crisis, which threatens to destabilize the country,” the statement reads, as cited by Itar-Tass.

08:21 GMT:

The Ukrainian Ministry of the Interior has demanded the immediate release of two police officers, who were kidnapped on Friday by the so-called “Maidan security”.

The police officers are reportedly being held hostage in a Kiev city council building, which is under siege by protesters. According to earlier reports, three police personnel were attacked and captured. One, who was severely wounded, was later released.

Anti-government protesters gather at a barricade at the site of clashes with riot police in Kiev January 25, 2014 (Reuters / David Mdzinarishvili)Anti-government protesters gather at a barricade at the site of clashes with riot police in Kiev January 25, 2014 (Reuters / David Mdzinarishvili)

After overnight negotiations with a number protest leaders resulted in no solution, the police threatened to storm the city council building. 

Ukraine’s Ministry of the Interior demands the immediate release of the police officers. In case our demand is not met, the police will be forced to take measures to free those kidnapped,” the Ministry’s statement reads, as cited by RIA Novosti.

07:49 GMT:

12 rally participants have been arrested in Kiev, following hearings in two courts.

These people have been charged with participation in mass unrest, marked by violence, arson, resisting law enforcers by using weapons,” the press-service of the Kiev Prosecutor’s office said, as cited by Itar-Tass.

06:49 GMT:

The Polish PM has laid the blame for the unrest in neighbouring Ukraine on the country’s president and his administration.

We have no doubt that President Yanukovich’s behavior and his administration’s actions have led to this dramatic crisis, where the unity of Ukraine is being put into question,” Donald Tusk said, as cited by Interfax-Ukraine.

He added that Ukraine, torn by inner conflicts would, “sooner or later represent a serious problem for the whole region.”

06:22 GMT:

Ukraine’s Ministry of Interior announced they have detained a gang in Kiev and seized their arsenal, which included two assault rifles, four pistols and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.

Law enforcers say they have evidence that the gang was involved in kidnapping and supplying arms to protesters in the Ukrainian capital.

Around 20 such groups could be currently active in Kiev, according to the police.

Law enforcers say they have evidence that the gang was involved in kidnapping and supplying arms to protesters in the Ukrainian capital.

Around 20 such groups could be currently active in Kiev, according to the police.

03:38 GMT:

Ukraine will not refuse help from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe in resolving the ongoing political crisis, if such help is offered, Prime Minister Nikolay Azarov told European media in Switzerland.

01:44 GMT:

Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovich said he aims to continue dialogue with the opposition.

“We have urged and continue to urge to sit down at the negotiation table and discuss everyone’s positions, find compromises, which are critical to solving today’s situation,” the president said during a meeting with clergy on Friday.

January 25, 2014. (Reuters / Vasily Fedosenko)January 25, 2014. (Reuters / Vasily Fedosenko)

01:24 GMT:

An explosion went off near the police station in Cherkassy, central Ukraine. Seven windows were reportedly broken, according to Espresso.tv. There are no reported injuries.

01:15 GMT:

The opposition has denied the Interior Ministry‘s report that three police officers were attacked by protesters.

00:35 GMT:

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich promised to fire those responsible for preparing the EU agreement of such “poor quality.”

The agreement was against the country’s national interest and was “digging a grave” for the nation, Yanukovich said during a meeting with clergy. The president did not name any names.

“We are not running anywhere. Nobody is pulling us anywhere. We want to preserve our sovereignty. We are not claiming anyone’s territory, but we will not give up what is ours,” he said.

 

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#AceNewsDesk : `World News’ – Headlines – 25 January 2014

Ace News Group EGYPT – SYRIA – LIBYA – GENEVA – UN – DAMASCUS – RUSSIA – US – GENEVA  – TRIPOLI

REUTERS – AP – AFP – RT    

09:44

​4 Egyptian diplomats kidnapped in Libya

Four Egyptian Embassy staff have been kidnapped in the Libyan capital of Tripoli, the Libyan Foreign Ministry said on Saturday. Among the kidnapped was a cultural attaché from the embassy. It comes after an Egyptian administrative attaché was abducted on Friday by unknown gunmen, following the arrest of Shaban Hadia, the leader of a large militia group, the Operations Room of Libya’s Revolutionaries. The group has denied responsibility for the incident.

Identité visuelle de la Ville de Genève

Identité visuelle de la Ville de Genève (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

09:40

​Syria ‘face-to-face’ peace talks begin in Geneva – UN

The Syrian government and opposition delegations started a face-to-face meeting within the framework of the Geneva 2 peace conference on Saturday, a UN spokeswoman said. UN-Arab League peace envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi, is mediating the talks. The conference, which is aimed at putting an end to the Syrian crisis that has gone on for nearly three years, suffered a delay on Friday as the delegations refused to talk directly.

Al-Fayhaa Stadium in Damascus, Syria as seen f...

Al-Fayhaa Stadium in Damascus, Syria as seen from Mount Qasioun. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

09:07

Damascus has ‘real reservations’ against transitional govt

The Syrian government says it opposes creating a transnational ruling body, a proposed solution to the domestic conflict that has plagued the country for nearly three years. “We have real reservations regarding it,”said Information Minister Omran Zoabi, as peace talks with an opposition delegation have reportedly started in Geneva. Zoabi said that the reasoning behind this decision lay in the fact that Syria has its own institutions, and the need to create a transitional governing body arises only when a state is in disintegration, or has no institutions.

Palace Square in Saint Petersburg.

Palace Square in Saint Petersburg. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

05:12

10 Russian border guards die in marine incident

A border patrol squad was in icy waters near the island of Kunashir (South Kurils) attempting to inspect a ship just 500 meters from the shore. The rubber boat with 10 border guards onboard was overturned by a high wave and nobody was able to get to the shore. Patrol ships and a helicopter are engaged in search operation and four bodies have already been found. The area is known for strong underwater currents and other bodies could have been dragged far from the scene of the incident. According to one version of events, the incident happened because the guards didn’t observe the rules and wore no life vests.

NSA Do You Use03:02

​Cyberattack takes down US federal court system websites

US federal court system websites were hacked Friday, blocking public access and preventing the filing of legal documents online. The intrusion impacted uscourts.gov, the main federal court website, as well as the government’s electronic filing system and its access page, PACER, a spokesman for the Administrative Office of the US Courts said Friday. The federal court system, which manages its own cybersecurity, is investigating what occurred, the spokesman said, adding that the incident was a denial-of-service attack. It is not yet known who was responsible.

 

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#AceNewsDesk : ” World News – Headlines – 24 January 2014″

Ace News Group

 SYRIA – ROMANIA – YEMEN – ARGENTINA – UN – US – SERBIA – IRAN – CAIRO – FRANCE – GENEVA – UK – SUDAN – GERMANY – PHILIPPINES

REUTERS – RT – AFP – AP – PRESS TV

Romanian hacker ‘Guccifer’ appeals for release

“Guccifer” – the Romanian hacker renowned for accessing the private emails of former US president George W. Bush and various key entertainment figures appealed his arrest on Friday, according to Reuters. Marcel Lazar Lehel, whose name roughly translates as “Small Fume” was detained in Bucharest on Wednesday after hacking the email accounts last February. Leading Romanian lawyer, Catalin Dancu, stated there was “close to no chance” of the request for release being granted.

Three killed in US Yemen drone strike

Three suspected militants have been killed in a drone strike in Yemen, east of the capital Sanaa. Local officials and tribal sources told Reuters that it was a US drone which killed the trio. A succession of explosions was heard by witnesses, after which a car with the charred remains of three bodies was found. Fifteen people were killed and a further five injured in December when a US drone struck a wedding party.

Argentina Govt lifts restrictions on buying foreign currency

Argentinian authorities on Friday lifted restrictions in place since 2011 that limited the purchase of foreign currency, AFP reported. The announcement came a day after the peso suffered its worst single-day dive since the 2002 financial crisis. Jorge Capitanich, President Cristina Kirchner’s cabinet chief, said the government has decided “to authorize the purchase of dollars for holding or savings.” At a rate of 8.01 pesos to the dollar, the peso “has reached a level acceptable to the objectives of economic policy convergence,” he said. The peso plunged by more than 11 percent against the dollar on Thursday.

UN nuclear inspectors’ visit to Gchine uranium mine in Iran imminent

UN nuclear watchdog inspectors will visit Iran’s Gchine uranium mine in the coming days, under a cooperation agreement signed late last year. The move was announced by Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Reuters reported. Amano did not give further details about the planned visit.

Three killed in US Yemen drone strike

Three suspected militants have been killed in a drone strike in Yemen, east of the capital Sanaa. Local officials and tribal sources told Reuters that it was a US drone which killed the trio. A succession of explosions was heard by witnesses, after which a car with the charred remains of three bodies was found. Fifteen people were killed and a further five injured in December when a US drone struck a wedding party.

3,000 Serbians protest anti-crisis laws

Some 3,000 workers have rallied against laws that Serbian government officials say are a key to economic reform, but which could lead to further job losses, AP said. Demonstrators marched in downtown Belgrade on Friday, demanding that new labor, bankruptcy and privatization laws be withdrawn. They also want the economy minister, Sasa Radulovic, to resign. Radulovic has insisted that the laws are necessary to restart Serbia’s economy. The reform bills are yet to be approved in Parliament.

2,000 Morsi supporters clash with security forces in Cairo

Fierce clashes broke out between about 2,000 supporters of deposed Islamist President Mohamed Morsi and Egyptian security forces in Cairo on Friday, Reuters reported. They happened hours after a suicide bomber attacked a major police compound in the capital. The fighting took place on the road that leads to the Pyramids of Giza. Some Islamists burned tires and hurled petrol bombs at security forces, who responded by firing tear gas.

Child dead in apartment explosion in Nice, France

An explosion in an apartment building on Friday morning in Nice, in the south of France, has killed a four-year child and injured four others – two of them were hospitalized. The multi-story building was seriously damaged, local media say. The blast ripped through two apartments, and parts of the roof and wall crumbled. The cause of the explosion was not immediately clear.

Syria delegation to leave Geneva if no ‘serious sessions’ before Saturday

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said on Friday that if no serious work sessions were held by Saturday, the government delegation would leave, Reuters reported. “If no serious work sessions are held by [Saturday], the official Syrian delegation will leave Geneva due to the other side’s lack of seriousness or preparedness,”state television quoted Muallem as telling UN mediator Lakhdar Brahimi. Brahimi and a Syrian government delegation reportedly met on Friday at the UN in Geneva. The mediator is due to meet the Syrian opposition delegation later on Friday.

More than 65,000 flee Iraqi fighting in week – UN

More than 65,000 people have fled fighting in the Iraqi cities of Fallujah and Ramadi during the past week, the UN refugee agency UNHCR said on Friday. More than 140,000 have been made homeless since fighting broke out at the end of last year, Reuters quoted UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards as saying.

UK can renegotiate ties with the EU to avoid exit – Cameron

British Prime Minister David Cameron said Friday he was confident he could renegotiate his country’s relations with the EU to allow it to remain in the bloc. “I’m confident that we’ll have a successful renegotiation and a successful referendum,” Reuters quoted him as saying at the World Economic Forum in Davos. He referred to his plan to reshape his country’s EU ties before offering Britons an in/out referendum if he is re-elected next year.

No talks between Syrian govt, opposition due to transitional body demands

Face-to-face talks between the Syrian government and the opposition will not take place on Friday, the UN said. It also confirmed that the Syrian mediator, Lakhdar Brahimi, will meet Syrian government and opposition delegations separately on Friday, Reuters reported. The opposition delegates earlier said they would not meet with the delegation led by Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem until it endorses the Geneva communique of June 30, 2012, calling for a transitional governing body to be established. Syria’s Information Minister, Omaran Zoabi, said Damascus will not accept opposition demands to form a transitional body. The Syrian delegation also said it is ready to discuss a ceasefire and the exchange of prisoners of war.

S. Sudan looters steal food to feed 220,000 for a month – UN

The UN World Food Program may have lost more than 3,700 tons of food in looting in South Sudan, enough to feed 220,000 people for a month, Reuters reported. WFP’s warehouses in Malakal had been almost entirely emptied, spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs said on Friday in Geneva. The agency was working to recover lost stocks wherever possible and trying to protect remaining stocks.

Attack at German сourt leaves 1 killed and 1 wounded

One man has been killed and another is in a life-threatening condition after an attack in a courthouse in Frankfurt, German police said. The suspected attacker used a firearm and wielded a knife, dpa reported. He was arrested shortly afterward.

Philippine police detain 4, seize drugs worth $22mn

Philippine police have arrested four men and seized 1 billion pesos ($22 million) worth of methamphetamine. This was the second large drug bust in Manila in 10 days. The National Police anti-illegal drugs task force said the men were driving a van filled with five wooden crates containing 200kg of crystal methamphetamine when they were stopped on Friday. Last week, the National Bureau of Investigation arrested four Canadian men suspected of trafficking drugs from Mexico in separate raids. Agents recovered $2.25 million worth of cocaine, methamphetamine and MDMA, which is similar to Ecstasy.

 

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#Cairo : “Third blast `Ring’s Out’ after `Bomb’s’ Hit Police HQ”

#AceNewsServices says `Third’ blast in Cairo after bombs at police HQ, subway kill 5 & injure dozens

Published time: January 24, 2014 05:17
Edited time: January 24, 2014 09:32
Police officers and people gather in front of the destroyed Islamic Museum building, after a bomb blast occurred at the police headquarters nearby, in downtown Cairo, January 24, 2014. (Reuters / Amr Abdallah Dalsh) Police officers and people gather in front of the destroyed Islamic Museum building, after a bomb blast occurred at the police headquarters nearby, in downtown Cairo, January 24, 2014. (Reuters / Amr Abdallah Dalsh)
Three blasts hit Cairo on Friday, targeting police HQ, a metro station and a police station. They apparent string of militant attacks claimed at least five people and injured scores of others.

The latest explosion was reported near a police station in the suburbs of the Egyptian capital. The explosion, in the west Cairo Talebiya district on the main road leading to the Giza pyramids, caused no fatalities.

Minutes earlier a blast killed at least one person and injured 15 near the Behooth subway station. State TV reported that it was caused by a crude explosive device.

But a conflicting report said the blast happened in a drive-by attack on security vehicles, in which the attacker threw a hand grenade.

The early morning blast on the police headquarters in Cairo was the highest profile attack on security forces in months. It was carried out by a suicide bomber in an explosive-laden car, which detonated in front of the building.

التلفزيون المصري: إطلاق نار وانفجار ضخم يستهدف مديرية أمن #القاهرة pic.twitter.com/hzTx5e6aF8

— mohamad_elghonami ® (@m_elghonami) January 24, 2014

The Friday morning explosion at the Cairo Security Directorate left four people dead and injured 73 others, according to the Health Ministry.

Pictures from the scene show damaged fronts of several buildings in Port Said street, including the police headquarters and the famous Museum of Islamic Art..

First pictures coming from the Egyptian capital #Cairo#Egyptpic.twitter.com/pyWsHwuCSH

— Zaid Benjamin (@zaidbenjamin) January 24, 2014

Witnesses reported injured people being dragged out of the damaged building and transferred into ambulances.

The body of the suspected suicide bomber, who apparently drove the car to the building, was found.

#Cairo blast took place near police headquarters -state TV http://t.co/gCv2roIQaK#Egyptpic.twitter.com/RHCKDf5HV1

— Jay (@CharleyCanucky) January 24, 2014

The blast was powerful enough to be heard from kilometers away in all directions. It also sent a large plume of black smoke into the sky.

“Casualties were relatively small given the size of the blast,” said Interior Ministry spokesman Hany Abdel Latif.

There were also reports of machine gun fire in the area following the explosion, indicating a likely militant attack. Witnesses said they saw gunmen on motorbikes shooting at the police HQ just after the bomb went off.

Just heard what sounded like loud explosion, plume of black smoke seen from window in Mounira #Cairo#Egyptpic.twitter.com/cGhzxlhpRc

— shadi rahimi شادي (@shadirahimi) January 24, 2014

Egyptian state TV showed a crowd standing in front of the HQ building in the wake of the blast, chanting“people demand the execution of the Muslim Brotherhood.”

Egyptian security troops and army soldiers have faced regular militant attacks since July 2013, when a military coup deposed Islamist President Mohamed Morsi.

There have been at least three bomb attacks in the last weeks in the country, including a suicide coming at a police compound in Mansoura, north of Cairo, which killed 15 people.

“We don’t know who is behind these bombings, but it seems likely that they are part of a pattern of bombings carried out by jihadist militants with links to the war, which is raging in the Sinai. And the message to the Egyptian government is: ‘We do not accept your constitution, we do not accept your government, we see them as traitors and we want to bring the whole house crashing down,’” Cairo-based journalist Hugh Miles told RT.

The attack on police HQ on Friday and the second blast come less than a week after Egyptians approved a new constitution, despite a vote boycott by Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, which was outlawed after the coup.

The Brotherhood was planning a massive protest after Friday prayers across the country, the largest in a series of similar events.

The bombings raise new concerns over security during the upcoming anniversary celebrations of the 2011 revolution, which ousted Egypt’s long-time ruler Hosni Mubarak. The Interior Ministry pledged to protect the Saturday celebration.

 

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Mikaeel Kular: ” Mother Rosdeep Charged Charged with Son’s Murder”

#AceGuestNews says Mikaeel Kular: Mother Rosdeep charged with son’s murder

Rosdeep Kular murdered her own son. charged with son’s murder

JUST TRAGIC.. Reason I blog this again is I was told to remove “MURDER” from the last title.

The mother of three-year-old Mikaeel Kular has appeared in court charged with his murder.

Rosdeep Kular, 33, appeared in private at Edinburgh Sheriff Court, charged under her married name of Adekoya.

She is also accused of attempting to defeat the ends of justice. She made no plea or declaration and was remanded in custody.

Mikaeel was reported missing from his home in Edinburgh last Thursday, prompting a major search.

His body was found 20 miles away in Kirkcaldy, Fife, late on Friday.

The private hearing at Edinburgh Sheriff Court lasted only a few minutes and no media or members of the public were present.

There was a heavy police presence as a van left Edinburgh Sheriff Court after Rosdeep Kular’s appearance

The case was continued for further examination, with another court appearance expected on 28 January.

Forensic officers have continued their investigations at the site where Mikaeel’s body was discovered.

His body was removed from woodland behind a property in the town’s Dunvegan Avenue at the weekend. A house in the street was searched, along with an area of woodland to the rear and side of the property.

Ms Kular and her five children had previously lived at the address. A neighbour told the BBC that Mikaeel and his twin sister were born while the family was living there.

Mikaeel was reported missing from his home in Ferry Gait Crescent, Edinburgh, at about 07:15 on Thursday morning.

More than 200 volunteers from the community joined the emergency services in a huge search operation for the young boy.

Hundreds of people gathered at Muirhouse St Andrew’s Church in Edinburgh on Saturday evening for a service in Mikaeel’s memory.

Many also left flowers and soft toys and lit candles outside his home in Edinburgh.

 

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“Explosion Rock’s Bangkok as Opposition Protests and Army Calls for Talks”

#AceNewsServices says “Bangkok Rocked by Explosion’s”

RT News – Published time: January 19, 2014 15:56
Thai anti-government protesters parade during a rally in Bangkok on January 19, 2014 (AFP Photo)Thai anti-government protesters parade during a rally in Bangkok on January 19, 2014 (AFP Photo)
Two blasts at an anti-government rally in Bangkok have left at least 28 protesters injured, some seriously. As the protests go on despite previous assaults, Thailand‘s army chief is urging the government and opposition to negotiate.

The first explosion near Victory Monument, in the north of the city, where protesters continue to rally ceaselessly, went off some 200 meters from a stage set up by opposition activists. Police believe the explosion was caused by frag grenades.

The 28 injured protesters were brought to four different hospitals in the city, according to the Bangkok Emergency Medical Center. Seven are in critical condition.

Another blast happened minutes later near vendors selling anti-government T-shirts, reportedly injuring two of them.

“The first blast I heard was from behind the stage,” Reuters reported Teerawut Utakaprechanun as saying.

“People were looking around. I saw the security guards running after a suspect. After one minute I heard another bomb blast.”

Protesters who run several round-the-clock demonstrations in Bangkok since November 2013 are being increasingly targeted by unknown malefactors.

On Friday a frag grenade thrown into group of marching opposition activists killed one and wounded at least 35 demonstrators.

On Saturday night, shooting took place some 300 meters from a stage used by protesters. A 54-year-old volunteer guard was seriously wounded in the back and remains in intensive care after undergoing surgery.

Also, police reported that small quantities of explosives were thrown at protest leaders’ homes.

Since November, the death toll of both protesters and police has reached nine.

Thai anti-government protesters wave national flags during a rally in Bangkok on January 19, 2014 (AFP Photo)Thai anti-government protesters wave national flags during a rally in Bangkok on January 19, 2014 (AFP Photo)

Tensions are rising in the 12-million Thai capital ahead of the elections called to quell the latest political crisis, which started in November. The anti-government protesters are demanding that Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her government quit.

Yet unlike similar protests in 2010, the pro-government ‘red-shirt’ demonstrators so far have not appeared on the streets of Bangkok, which definitely helps to prevent otherwise inevitable factional clashes. But this could change.

After PM Shinawatra assigned early elections on February 2, demonstrators’ major aim is to disrupt the elections, since the results of a national poll might not be in favor of the opposition. The main opposition Democrat Party has already announced it is going to boycott the elections.

As the date of the elections gets closer, the violence is intensifying, which raises suspicions that the Thai army might step in to put the unrest to an end. The Thai Army has staged 16 successful coups (and two failed ones) since the Thai monarchy ceased to be an absolute monarchy in 1932.

The latest coup in 2006 deposed the then-PM Thaksin Shinawatra, elder brother of the current Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. After the coup, Thaksin had to leave the country for “voluntary” exile and is still unable to return, even with his sister being a PM.

Yet as of today the army seems to be reluctant to interfere.

“The relationship between the government and the army is normal,” Thai top commander Thanasak Patimapakorn declared on Saturday after the country’s Army Day parade. He stressed that all sides must respect the law.

“I request that all sides should come together and talk to find a solution,” Thanasak said.

In an interview with the daily paper Bangkok Post, Thanasak said he had no interest in becoming prime minister or acting as mediator.

Since 2001 poor rural population of Thailand has supported Shinawatra clan, ensuring victory in every election. In contrast with rural Thailand, the urban population backed by country’s royalist elites and army, usually votes against “tribunes of the people,” which the opposition accuses of corruption and being a threat to democracy and power structures.

 

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Obama Administration Issues “Two New Executive Orders” on Gun Control in Attempt to Erode Second Amendment

#AceWorldNews according to by  in his story on January 4th, 2014 that was last updated at 9:07 pm. The Obama Administration announced two new executive orders on gun control Friday, after countless other attempts to erode Second Amendment rights failed to gain public support.

gunconfiscationAccording to one of the proposed actions, patient privacy laws would be pushed aside to allow increased government access to mental health records. Currently required to protect that information, states would now be exempt, instead encouraged to submit a patients private records into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).

A second proposal from the Department of Justice would “clarify” who is barred from owning firearms, which would include anyone involuntarily committed to an inpatient or outpatient mental institution. In an attempt to diminish concern, the administration claims that seeking help for mental issues does not prohibit a person from firearm ownership.

“The proposed rule will not change the fact that seeking help for mental health problems or getting treatment does not make someone legally prohibited from having a firearm,” the statement said.

Unfortunately, even without the executive orders currently applied, the government has already deceptively used this exact tactic to revoke legitimate gun ownership without due process, an issue that will undoubtedly increase.

READ MORE: SL

 

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Bread for the World Urges Congress to Protect Food Stamps and Improve International Food Aid in the Farm Bill

Bread for the WorldAs millions of families brace for automatic cuts to SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps), members of the House and Senate meet today to finalize a farm bill that will impact vital anti-hunger programs–specifically SNAP and international food aid.

“Struggling U.S. families will suffer enough hardship as a result of this week’s food stamp cuts,” said Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World. “We must urge Congress to protect life-saving anti-hunger programs and not balance the budget on the backs of hungry people who cannot afford additional hardship.”

SNAP effectively and efficiently helps more than 47 million low-income Americans put food on the table. Even though unemployment and poverty have remained high, the number of families at risk of hunger has not increased since 2008. Unfortunately, Congress voted twice in 2010 to cut SNAP in order to pay for other priorities. Eleven billion dollars in cuts to the program–or nearly 10 million missed meals per day–will take effect this Friday.

Food StampsProposed food stamp cuts the range from $4 billion to $39 billion.

Congress is also considering improvements to international food aid programs that will increase flexibility, cost-effectiveness and efficiencies in order to better respond to global hunger and malnutrition in the 21(st) century.

“Last year, international food aid programs reached more than 66 million people affected by famine, disasters and other emergencies,” added Beckmann. “Still, our food aid programs could be more efficient. Bread for the World supports these and other changes that reduce global hunger and malnutrition.”

Bread for the World urges lawmakers to support a farm bill that reduces hunger in the United States and around the world by protecting and strengthening SNAP and improving international food aid.

Bread for the World (www.bread.org) is a collective Christian voice urging our nation’s decision makers to end hunger at home and abroad.

SOURCE  Bread for the World

Courtesy of Bread For The World  

Website: http://www.bread.org

 

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Calls For Action To Protect Human Rights – After Lampedusa Tradegy

Lampedusa

Lampedusa (Photo credit: Dorli Photography)

AFTER LATEST LAMPEDUSA TRAGEDY, BAN CALLS FOR ACTION TO PROTECT HUMAN RIGHTS OF MIGRANTS
Following reports of a second ship capsizing off the coast of the Italian island of Lampedusa, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called on the international community to protect the rights of migrants and take action to prevent such tragic incidents.

“The Secretary-General is deeply saddened to hear reports of the loss of lives as another boat carrying migrants capsized yesterday off the coast of Italy, only a few days after the tragic incident near Lampedusa which had already claimed more than 300 lives,” Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said in a <“http://www.un.org/sg/statements/?nid=7196“>statement.

According to media reports, at least 27 people died and 221 were saved on Friday after their boat capsized near Lampedusa.

The incident occurred just over a week after more than 300 migrants, mostly Ethiopian, lost their lives when their boat caught fire half a mile from the coast, leading the vessel to capsize in the same area.

“The Secretary-General calls on the international community to take action to prevent such tragedies in the future, including measures that address their root causes and that places the vulnerability and human rights of migrants at the centre of the response,” the statement said.

#aceworldnews, #ban-ki-moon, #boat, #capsizing, #friday, #immigration, #international-community, #italian-australian, #italy, #lampedusa, #migrants

#Syria Crisis Live – As it happens – when it happens #peace

International pressure has been building for a military strike on Syria in the wake of an alleged chemical weapons attack in a Damascus suburb. The West has laid the blame at the feet of President Assad, as UN experts collected chemical samples on-site.

All Syria’s chemical weapons production lines destroyed – OPCW

Published time: October 31, 2013 11:45
An image grab taken from Syrian television shows an inspector from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) at work at an undisclosed location in Syria (AFP Photo/Syrian television )
Download video (15.31 MB)
Damascus has met the first disarmament deadline, having destroyed all previously declared chemical weapons production and mixing equipment, the international watchdog has confirmed.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has acknowledged that Damascus has complied with the watchdog’s decision, adopted on September 27, on complete elimination of chemical weapons and means for production in Syria before November 1.

Teams of experts have visited 21 out of 23 declared chemical weapon production sites (with 41 buildings and structures) and witnessed destruction of equipment at the facilities. The only two uninspected facilities were “too dangerous” to visit, but inspectors have confirmed that equipment from those two had been previously evacuated to safe locations and also destroyed.

“The OPCW is satisfied it has verified, and seen destroyed, all declared critical production/mixing/filling equipment from all 23 sites,” the OPCW document states.

PCW Director-General, Ahmet Üzümcü, has already welcomed a group of eight inspectors back to the OPCW headquarters in The Hague. They had worked in Syria as part of the Advanced Team since October 1.

Yet thousands of tons of warfare agents and chemicals remain to be eliminated.

Earlier Ahmet Üzümcü confirmed that Syria declared the possession of 1,300 tons of chemicals and precursors needed for chemical weapons production, as well as over 1,200 empty chemical munitions.

The process of elimination of all Syria’s chemical weapons is expected to take nine months.

 An image grab taken from Syrian television on October 19, 2013 shows an inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) at work at an undisclosed location in Syria. (AFP Photo/Syrian television)An image grab taken from Syrian television on October 19, 2013 shows an inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) at work at an undisclosed location in Syria. (AFP Photo/Syrian television)

It must be mentioned that on October 11 the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons was awarded the Nobel Prize for unprecedented efforts in eliminating chemical weapons. Over the 16 years of the OPCW’s watch, more than 80 percent of chemical weapons stockpiles worldwide have been eliminated.

The program of total elimination of Syria’s chemical arsenal was initiated by Moscow after the August 21 attack in Damascus, where malefactors of disputed origin used homemade chemical agents to slaughter civilians.

Some US allies in the Middle East called on Washington to start military aggression against Syria, on the pretext that it was the regime of President Bashar Assad that had used chemical weapons against its own people.

The US administration accepted Russia’s proposal to force President Assad to give up chemical stockpiles, amid accusations from allies that Washington was breaking its promise to launch a military strike on Assad if he crossed the ‘red line’ of resorting to chemical weapons.

However, Washington opted not to be dragged into yet another military conflict in the Middle East.

UN inspectors visit 21 of 23 chemical sites in Syria

The security situation in Syria has prevented international inspectors from visiting two remaining chemical weapons sites, according to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. Inspectors have visited 21 out of 23 chemical sites, Itar-Tass reported. “The two remaining sites have not been visited due to security reasons,” the Hague-based international watchdog said in a statement. It added that Syria has presented in time a formal declaration on its chemical weapons program, including a schedule of their destruction.

Friday, October 11

Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical W...

Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons Plaque (Photo credit: PEO, Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives)

08:00 GMT: This year’s Nobel Peace Prize is set to go to the OPCW, the organization currently tasked with overseeing Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal handover to international hands – according to a Norwegian public broadcaster.

03:25 GMT: Nearly two dozen of the commentators who appeared on major media outlets to discuss a possible US military strike on Syria had relationships with contractors and other organizations with avested interest in the conflict, according to a new report.

OPCW Update – October 9  

150 px

150 px (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

CHEMICAL WEAPONS WATCHDOG URGES COOPERATION IN SYRIA TO CARRY OUT UN-JOINT MISSION
New York, Oct  9 2013  3:00PM
The head of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) today called on all parties in the Syrian conflict to cooperate so that a joint United Nations mission tasked with overseeing the destruction of the country’s chemical stockpiles can carry out its work as quickly as possible.

“We have urged all parties in Syria to be cooperative and to contribute positively to this mission,” the OPCW’s Director-General, Ahmet Üzümcü, said during a press conference in The Hague, and added that temporary ceasefires will permit the experts to carry out their work.

“Much depends on the situation on the ground,” he said, stressing that the deadline for destroying the chemical weapons is “extremely tight” and that there have been significant logistical and security challenges.

“I think that the elimination of those weapons is in the interest of all. Therefore, if we can assure some cooperation by all parties and some temporary ceasefires could be established in order to permit our experts to work in a permissible environment… I think the targets could be reached,”

The UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution two weeks ago calling for the speedy implementation of procedures drawn up by the OPCW for the “expeditious destruction of the Syrian Arab Republic’s chemical weapons programme and stringent verification thereof.”

The destruction of chemical weapons facilities, stocks and associated material is the responsibility of the Syrian Government, since neither the OPCW nor the UN is mandated to conduct actual destruction activities.

An advance team for the UN-OPCW mission began its work on 6 October, and Mr. Üzümcü said some equipment has already been destroyed. He added that first verification activities have to be completed by the end of this month and production facilities will have to be rendered unusable by that time as well, with the view of destroying all chemical weapons capabilities by mid-2014.

Mr. Üzümcü said Syrian authorities have been cooperative so far, and added that 12 additional experts were deployed to Damascus, the capital, today.

Monday, October 7

12:45 GMT: People in countries whose governments are not directly involved in the Syrian crisis mostly oppose military intervention against the government of President Bashar Assad, a Reuters/Ipsos poll showed. Overall, 52 percent of people surveyed in September favored military intervention and 57 percent were against their own country taking part in such an operation.

The survey was conducted in 15, mostly European countries, but excluded Iran, Russia and China, which are supporting Damascus in the ongoing crisis, as well as Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar, which are most directly involved in the rebels’ fight against the Syrian government.

In the survey, Argentina was the country most strongly opposed to military intervention in Syria, with 68 percent of people against it.

Some 36 percent of people surveyed said that Assad’s government was responsible for the use of chemical weapons, the accusation which the US voiced as a reason for a possible strike in Syria. About a quarter believe that both the Syrian army and the opposition used chemical weapons at some point of time, while another quarter said they didn’t know who was behind the attacks.

12:37 GMT: The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has posted a statement on its website, saying that Syria is being “cooperative” in the operation to destroy its chemical weapons arsenal.

“Discussions were held with the Syrian authorities on the disclosure which Syria earlier provided to the OPCW on its chemical weapons program,” the statement said, adding that the talks were “constructive.”

Saturday, October 5

6:00 GMT: The Syrian government has gone beyond its pledge and handed over additional information on its chemical weapons program to international experts. UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said the new data had been received by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the OPCW countries should expect an update by Tuesday.

Thursday, October 3

18:00 GMT: The initial United Nations report on how Syria will dispose of its chemical weapons will be presented on October 7, says Russian UN envoy Vitaly Churkin.

“The chemical weapons experts are already in place in Syria, and have started work” Churkin told Rossiya-24, a Russian news channel.

“The UN Secretary General’s report on October 7 will indicate what role the United Nations will play in the carrying out of the chemical weapons resolution passed by the Security Council.”

16:26 GMT: An international team of chemical weapons experts who arrived in Damascus on Tuesday has been making “encouraging initial progress” according to the UN. It is working towards the full elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles  – a task they believe to be achievable by mid-2014.

“Documents handed over yesterday by the Syrian Government look promising, according to team members, but further analysis, particularly of technical diagrams, will be necessary and some more questions remain to be answered,” said the UN statement.

Tuesday, October 1

14:50 GMT: The Israeli ambassador to Moscow, Dorit Golender, has said that her country backs the plan to place Syrian chemical weapons under international control. “Israel has welcomed the US-Russia plan. But results are determined by deeds,” Golender told RIA Novosti.

12:26 GMT:
 The team of twenty international OPCW inspectors who are tasked with the elimination of chemical weapons in Syria have entered the country from Lebanon over the Masnaa border.

11:30 GMT: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has expressed doubts that the West will be successful in getting the Syrian opposition to take part in the ‘Geneva-2’ peace conference due to be held mid-November.

“Regarding opposition representation – this remains to be settled. Until recently we have been relying on our Western partners who pledged to push the opposition to the negotiations table and we hoped they would manage it quickly. But so far they have not succeeded. And I am not sure they will by mid-November” Lavrov told reporters at a press conference.

11:00 GMT: Russian representatives will work alongside the OPCW inspectors in Syria and take active part in the operation to dismantle chemical weapons in the country, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov told reporters.

Monday, September 30

20:43 GMT: Work on the destruction of chemical weapons in Syria will begin October 1, UN spokesman Martin Nesirky confirmed. “The beginning of this joint operation is scheduled for tomorrow,” he stated at a briefing in New York. Nesirky added that a group of UN experts have returned from Syria and said their report will be completed by the end of October.

20:19 GMT: Turkey’s parliament will debate the motion to authorize military strikes on Syria this Thursday, Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc told Turkish media.

15:05 GMT: China says that it will send its experts to oversee the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal.

13:45 GMT: China has condemned an attack on its embassy in Damascus, in which one embassy staff was injured. A spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry has also demanded that “all parties in Syria strictly adhere to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and ensure the safety of diplomatic organizations and their members in a proper way.”

Earlier on Monday, Chinese media reported that an area adjacent to the country’s embassy in Damascus was shelled by mortar rounds, and that one of the shells exploded in the embassy’s yard, damaging one building and injuring at least one member of staff. The diplomatic mission temporarily suspended its work, but no evacuation of staff was reported.

11:31 GMT: The team of UN experts investigating use of chemical weapons in Syrian civil war left Damascus on Monday after completing their six-day mission to investigate several cases of alleged chemical weapons use in the country. The investigators’ report, on seven separate cases of alleged use of chemical weapons during the Syrian conflict, is due to be presented sometime in October.

09:38 GMT: France was ready to launch air strikes against Syria’s chemical weapons facilities on Sept. 1, Le Nouvel Observateur reported, but the country’s president, Francois Hollande, had to call the operation off after President Barack Obama decided to seek approval from the US Congress for a military operation against Syria. France’s Rafale fighter jets had planned to launch missiles while flying the Mediterranean, without entering Syrian airspace, the news magazine reported.

08:56 GMT: The Council of Europe’s parliamentary assembly, which advises the European Union on human rights issues, plans to hold an urgent debate on Syria on Oct. 3 in Strasbourg, France.

Russia’s representative to the assembly, Duma Foreign Affairs committee chairman Aleksey Pushkov, told journalists that the assembly should pass a resolution on the conflict.

“Syria is the key issue in international politics and there is no doubt that PACE should have a resolution,”Pushkov said, adding that there had been a “serious evolution” in the country. “While two years ago, the prevailing view was that there was a democratic revolution in Syria and people are fighting tyranny, now opinions have changed toward Russia’s stance on this issue,”  Pushkov said.

Sunday, September 29

21:13 GMT: The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) have seen a “positive start” to their work in Syria, Itar-Tass reports, citing an OPCW brief in the Hague. “So far our interaction with the Syrians has been very businesslike and very efficient,” said an OPCW official. Both parties’ intention is to develop a relationship based on mutual trust, saying that the OPCW team of experts have no reason to believe that the Syrian government is trying to hide its chemical weapons. The OPCW brief also said that no unannounced inspections of chemical weapons sites are planned, as that would facilitate mistrust between the two sides.

Saturday, September 28

20:07 GMT: Damascus will not accept any transition plan that excludes President Bashar Assad, Foreign Minister Walid al Moallem told AP Saturday on the sideline of the UN General Assembly. “For the Syrian people, Bashar Assad is the elected president until mid-2014, when presidential elections will be held,” al Moallem said. Earlier the foreign minister told RT that the Syrian civil war could end in weeks if the West and Gulf States stopped supporting the insurgents on the ground.

18:50 GMT: Russia reached its aim of making sure professionals from the international chemical weapons watchdog are the main actors regarding the UN resolution on Syria, and that there are no loopholes for military action, Russian FM Sergey Lavrov told Russia’s Channel One News.

Lavrov admitted the Russian-American compromise on the UNSC resolution “did not come easy.” But the Russian side has “achieved its goal” in that the resolution on Syria, supporting another document by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), “remains within the framework of the Geneva Communiqué.”

00:17: GMT: The UN Security Council has unanimously adopted a resolution outlining the details of taking under international control and ultimately destroying Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal.

The target date for a new peace conference in Geneva was set for mid-November. However, the Syrian opposition should be represented at the Geneva peace talks in a single delegation, the Secretary-General said.

The adopted resolution calls for consequences if inspectors decide that Syria has failed to fulfill its obligations.

Friday, September 27

22:50 GMT: The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has adopted a decision on Syria chemical arms by consensus, the UK ambassador to the UN said.

The Executive Council has adopted the decision regarding #Syria

— OPCW (@OPCW) September 27, 2013

 

22:30 GMT: The meeting of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is taking place several hours later than planned. This could push back the timeframe of the Security Council vote on a draft resolution even further.

The UK ambassador to the UN has announced that the meeting of OPCW in the Hague has been delayed until delayed until 00:30 local time or 18:30pm EDT. The OPCW Executive Council was earlier planning to meet at 22:00 Friday.

The UN Security Council is scheduled to meet at 20:00 EDT for a ministerial level vote on a draft resolution on Syrian chemical weapons.

Thursday, September 26

17:10 GMT: France has stated that progress is being made over a UN Security Council resolution on Syria’s chemical weapons.

Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said that “France’s demands have been satisfied at this point,” and that talks have “progressed overall,” following Wednesday’s meeting of five powers. However, there remain“some issues to clarify” before a resolution is adopted, he told reporters.

17:00 GMT: Martin Nesirky, the spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Martin Ban Ki-Moon said that the format of a meeting on Syria involving Ban Ki-moon, Lavrov and Kerry is broadening and will naturally involve United Nations and Arab League Special Envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi. “We already said that a trilateral meeting with Minister Lavrov, Secretary of State Kerry, as well as the Secretary General, and naturally Mr. Brahimi, would take place. This format is now expanding,” he said.

15:55 GMT: UN chemical arms experts have started their mission the day after returning to Syria. For security reasons, their schedule and the sites they will visit have not being disclosed. According to UN spokesman Martin Nesirky, the UN experts’ agenda will depend on the situation. Syria initially agreed to allow UN experts to visit three different locations. The teams will focus on examining 14 alleged attacks when chemical weapons or chemical agents were used.

Wednesday, September 25

08:54 GMT: UN chemical experts have once again returned to Damascus, AFP says.

Tuesday, September 24

17:00 GMT: The solution to the Syrian conflict must be a political one, as too much time has been wasted in solving the country’s crisis, French President Francois Hollande said in his speech at the opening day of the UN General Assembly.

But the French president reiterated that the UN Security Council resolution on Syria should include the application of Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which allows the use of military force.

16:44 GMT: The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has approved a draft resolution on Syria, a diplomatic source told the RIA Novosti news agency. The source added that the organization did not have any outstanding issues with the proposal, and added that the UN Security Council would draft a resolution only after the OPCW presented its version.

14:00 GMT: Military victory in Syria is “an illusion,” with “political settlement” being the only way out of the crisis in the country, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said as he addressed world leaders in his opening speech at the General Assembly.

The UN chief has called on Syrian President Bashar Assad, the country’s opposition and “all those in this hall with influence over them” to work immediately to arrange a second Geneva peace conference aimed at reaching a political solution.

13:28 GMT: While concentrating on chemical weapons, the international community mustn’t forget that the flow of conventional weapons to Syria also remains a pressing issue, UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, said at the opening of the organization’s General Assembly in New York.

“We can hardly be satisfied with destroying chemical weapons, while a wider war is still destroying Syria. The majority of the deaths in Syria were caused by normal weapons and I call on foreign powers to halt the flow of arms into the country,” he said.

“The Syrian government must commit to its pledges over its chemical weapons arsenal,”
 Ban added.

07:30 GMT: UN chemical weapons inspectors are to return to Syria on Wednesday to continue their mission, said Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov.

The experts were sent to investigate several cases of alleged use of chemical weapons, but their work was disrupted by the August 21 attack, which killed an estimated 1,400 people. The team was redirected to the location of the new incident to conduct a probe and produce an intermediate report on it. However, they were expected to continue their initial mission later.

“We are satisfied that our persistent calls for the return of the UN inspectors for an investigation of the previous episodes have finally borne fruit,” the Russian diplomat commented.

Russia criticized the intermediate report presented at the UN last week, which some Western countries took as blaming the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad for the attack. Moscow says the evidence is not conclusive and argued that a more comprehensive assessment of the situation would prove that Syrian rebels could have been involved in both this and previous attacks.

Saturday, September 20

09:30 GMT: Russia could change its position on Syria if it is discovered that President Bashar Assad is“cheating”, the head of the Russian Presidential Administration Sergey Ivanov said.

“I’m speaking theoretically and hypothetically, but if it appears certain to us that Assad is cheating, we may change our position,” Ivanov said at the International Institute for Strategic Studies ‘Global Strategic Review’ conference in Stockholm.

Ivanov also questioned how the world would respond if it turns out that both Damascus and the Syrian opposition had deployed chemical weapons.

“Just imagine what the international community would do then,” he questioned.

Ivanov reiterated that Russia saw no other option than to navigate the ongoing crisis in Syria diplomatically, adding that within a week the full extent of Assad’s chemical weapons arsenal would be known.

Friday, September 20

09:30 GMT: Russia could change its position on Syria if it is discovered that President Bashar Assad is“cheating”, the head of the Russian Presidential Administration Sergey Ivanov said.

“I’m speaking theoretically and hypothetically, but if it appears certain to us that Assad is cheating, we may change our position,” Ivanov said at the International Institute for Strategic Studies ‘Global Strategic Review’ conference in Stockholm.

Ivanov also questioned how the world would respond if it turns out that both Damascus and the Syrian opposition had deployed chemical weapons.

“Just imagine what the international community would do then,” he questioned.

Ivanov reiterated that Russia saw no other option than to navigate the ongoing crisis in Syria diplomatically, adding that within a week the full extent of Assad’s chemical weapons arsenal would be known.

18:10 GMT: The US will thoroughly examine data on Syria’s chemical arsenal, which the government of Bashar Assad passed to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), deputy State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said. Syria has already forwarded the OPCW a draft record of its chemical arsenal, she added.

14:29 GMT: Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, and US Secretary of State, John Kerry, have held telephone consultations on the situation in Syria in view of the agreement to place all the country’s chemical weapons under international supervision. The call was initiated by the American side, the Russian Foreign ministry said.

13:18 GMT: Damascus has submitted a detailed index of its chemical weapons stockpiles and production facilities to the Hague-based Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the group told Reuters on Friday. The OPCW won’t release details of what it has received, AP reports.

On Saturday, Russia and the United States reached a deal on a framework that will see the destruction or removal of Syria’s chemical weapons by mid- 2014. Under the plan, the Assad government had one week to hand over an inventory of its chemical weapons arsenal. Syria is believed to have around 1,000 metric tonnes of chemical agents.

Meanwhile, the OPCW has postponed a meeting on Syria originally set for this Sunday, AFP reports. No new date has been given for the meeting.

12:40 GMT: RT’s Maria Finoshina, currently in Syria has spoken to Maaloula residents who were forced to flee their predominantly Christian village when it was seized by jihadists. Having found temporary asylum in Damascus, they still live in fear having not overcome the shock of what had happened. They are also worried about the fate of their missing relatives. Very few are ready to speak to journalists as a result.

12:20 GMT: Finland is ready to provide its experts for destroying the Syrian chemical weapons arsenal, according to the country’s Foreign Ministry statement, cited by Itar-Tass news agency.

11:50 GMT: The Syrian government is expected to submit data concerning its chemical weapons to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) by September 22, according to the spokesman for the watchdog, Michael Luhan.  

11:20 GMT: Up to 400 Russian citizens could be fighting in Syria now, according to Sergey Smirnov, first deputy head of the Federal Security Service (FSB).

We estimate that around 300-400 people have left Russia for Syria. They will come back and that represents a big threat,” he said.

Thursday, September 19

20:00 GMT: French President Francois Hollande has suggested that Paris could arm Syrian rebels, but do it carefully enough to avoid the weapons falling into the hands of jihadists.

On delivering weapons, we have always said that we want to control these supplies so that they do indeed go to the Free Syrian Army … because they represent the Syrian National Coalition that we recognize as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people and today they are caught between a hammer and an anvil. The hammer is the air strikes and actions of the Syrian regime and the anvil is radical Islam,” Hollande said as cited by Reuters.

French President Francois Hollande (AFP Photo/Issouf Sanogo)French President Francois Hollande (AFP Photo/Issouf Sanogo)

The French president highlighted Russia supplying arms to the Syrian government as one of the reasons for his decision to provide the rebels with arms.

19:26 GMT: US Secretary of State John Kerry urged the UN Security Council to take action on Syria next week.

The Security Council must be prepared to act next week,” Kerry told reporters. “It is vital for the international community to stand up and speak out in the strongest possible terms about the importance of enforceable action to rid the world of Syria’s chemical weapons.

Kerry said that although the UN mission in Syria had no mandate to determine who was behind the Ghouta chemical attack which claimed hundreds of lives in August, the facts provided by inspectors clearly implicate that Bashar Assad’s government is to blame.

18:30 GMT: Christian leaders from the World Council of Churches (WCC) are planning a summit on Syria, similar to the Geneva II negotiations world powers have long been trying to hold.

There is no military solution to Syria,” the general secretary of the WCC, Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit, told journalists. “Now is the time to say everyone has failed and there has to be a change and that change has to include all parties and that includes the president [of Syria].

17:45 GMT: The World Bank has said that the refugee crisis engulfing Lebanon as a result of the Syrian civil war will cost the country $7.5 billion.

17:40 GMT: The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the world’s chemical weapons watchdog, will meet Sunday to discuss the Russian-US plan to destroy Syria’s arsenal, it said.

17:30 GMT: Bulgaria has asked the EU for aid to help it cope with Syrian refugees, the interior minister said Thursday.  Over 4,000 illegal immigrants, about half of them from Syria, are seeking asylum in Bulgaria and Sofia says its capacity is at breaking point.

17:25 GMT: NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said he doesn’t foresee NATO playing a role in the agreement to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons, but said that individual NATO countries may help to implement it.

14:15 GMT: Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that he believes the use of chemical weapons in Damascus on August 21 was a provocation on the part of the Syrian rebels.

We have every grounds to believe that it was a provocation. Of course, it was adroit and clever, but, at the same time, primitive in terms of technical performance. They took an old Soviet-made missile, which was taken out of service in the Syrian army long ago. It was most important to have ‘made in the USSR’ written [on the missile],” Putin said at the Valdai discussion forum on Thursday.

12:30 GMT: Russia is ready to take part in the transportation and destruction of Syrian chemical weapons, according to Russia’s Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu

What awaits us is a huge and serious task to fulfill, and we are only at the beginning of the process,” said Shoigu as cited by Vesti24. “Whatever role we get when it comes to international control [of Syrian chemical weapons] –  be it transportation or destruction – Russia and its military forces are naturally ready to take it on.”

12:15 GMT: An estimated 130 French nationals or immigrants are now fighting in Syria, according to the country’s Interior Minister, Manuel Valls.

It worries me because they could represent a potential threat [to France] upon their return,” Valls said, as cited by France 24.

The Minister specified that the number is bigger than in other recent conflicts in the region, such as Iraq or Afghanistan.

12:00 GMT: Turkey has shut one of its border gates to Syria following fighting, which took place in the Syrian town of Azaz near the Turkish frontier.  Two rebel groups reportedly confronted each other – an Al-Qaeda affiliated group clashed with the Western-backed Free Syrian Army, according to a Turkish official, cited by Reuters.

The Oncupinar border gate has been closed for security reasons as there is still confusion about what is happening on the Syrian side. All humanitarian assistance that normally goes through the gate has ceased,” the official said.

11:25 GMT: Russia is completely ready for the possible evacuation of its citizens from Syria in case it is needed, according to Russia’s Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu, cited by RIA news agency. Seven thousand Russian citizens are currently in Syria. The Minister said he was ordered by President Putin to prepare the evacuation plans.

Wednesday, September 18

23:58 GMT: The US is working with Syrians to collect evidence to use against President Bashar Assad, who should “absolutely” be tried for crimes against humanity, a top US official on war crimes said.

“Enormous crimes have been committed that can be traced directly to the highest levels of the Syrian regime,” Stephen Rapp, the US ambassador-at-large for war crimes issues, told Yahoo News on Wednesday.

Rapp added that the mounting evidence would make prosecution easier than cases “we’ve seen at the international level against a chief of state.”

“Without question, there are credible, very credible allegations of crimes against humanity, murder, rape, mutilation, other crimes,” Rapp said. “And, of course, since we now have a civil war these become war crimes as well.”

Stephen Rapp (AFP Photo/Armin Weigel)Stephen Rapp (AFP Photo/Armin Weigel)

Rapp said that Syrian partners have obtained more than 200,000 pages of documents which are now being analyzed in a special location that the US helped establish in Europe.

“We’re working with Syrian groups, educating them, training them in how to find this information, identifying it, and measuring shell holes, and determining what direction the shells came from, other things like that ” Rapp said.

Rapp acknowledged the hurdles surrounding a possible criminal case, including reservations from Russia. In the meantime, the accumulation of evidence will go on.

“Our preference is to work with Syrians, with people in the region, with international players and work toward establishing some kind of hybrid, or mixed court,” he said. “That will take time, [but] it could be begun even before there was an end to the conflict.”

 

Tuesday, September 17

16:50 GMT: In response to Russia’s criticism of the recent report on the Aug.21 chemical weapon attack, the UN says it is “indisputable” and “thoroughly objective”. 

“The findings in that report are indisputable,” UN spokesman Martin Nesirky told reporters. “They speak for themselves and this was a thoroughly objective report on that specific incident.”

16:42 GMT: NATO’s Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen says military options should remain“on the table” in negotiations with Syria.

Rasmussen said he supports the recent US-Russian agreement under which the Assad regime says it will give up its chemical weapons arsenal.

“I would expect the Syrian regime to fully comply with the demands of the international community and in the case of non-compliance we will need a very firm international response,” NATO chief said after meeting British Prime Minister David Cameron in London.

Rasmussen stressed that it is “crucial that the UN Security Council expeditiously adopts a firm resolution that can constitute the framework for a swift, secure and verifiable elimination of all chemical weapons in Syria”

“I do believe that the credible threat of military action was the reason why diplomacy got a chance and I think in order to keep momentum in the diplomatic and political process the military option should still be on the table,” he told reporters.

12:47 GMT: The chief UN chemical weapons inspector Ake Sellstrom says his experts will return to Syria “within weeks” to complete the investigation that was interrupted by August 21 attack in Damascus suburb. The team will evaluate “allegations of chemical weapons use from both sides, but perhaps mainly from the Syrian government’s side.”

Sellstrom said he does not see a need for more investigations of the August 21 attacks, but if the team“receives any additional information it will be included next time we report,” he added.

12:30 GMT: President Assad thanked Russia for helping Syria confront a “savage attack”, AFP reported.

12:25 GMT: Syrian government says it is sure the UN will not vote for the resolution on Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, regulating the use of military force on behalf of the council, AFP reported citing Faisal Mekdad, the deputy foreign minister of Syria.

“I think it’s a lie that Western countries use. We think this will never be used. There is no justification for that,” Mekdad said.

21:53 GMT: Syria has handed over new evidence to Russia that the chemical weapons were used by the armed opposition, Russian deputy foreign minister Sergey Ryabkov told RIA Novosti“That is really true. Just now we were given evidence. We need to analyze it.”

21:33 GMT: Russian deputy foreign minister Sergey Ryabkov stated that Russia is disappointed that the UN inspectors’ findings are “politicized” and “biased” in nature, adding that without the complete picture of what is happening in Syria, the conclusions can only be described as one-sided.

“We were disappointed to say the least, with the approach adopted by the UN and the UN inspectors, who were in Syria, which was very selective and incomplete, without regard to the circumstances, and was compiled without the collection of materials in the other three sites,” Ryabkov said.

20:55 GMT: In response to a question from a journalist on whether the chemical weapons deal gives Syrian President Bashar Assad job security, State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said that any government in place would be in charge of seeing it to the end.

“Any individual, any government that is in place, whether that’s a transitional government, whatever it may be, would be in charge of implementing this. And that is the body that would work through this,” she said.

20:40 GMT: The draft UN Security Council resolution on chemical weapons in Syria was presented at the meeting of the five permanent UN members, RIA Novosti cited a UN source as saying. “France, Great Britain and the United States introduced a draft resolution today at a meeting of the five in New York,” the source said, adding that Russia and China will be studying the resolution.

20:36 GMT: Russian deputy foreign minister Sergey Ryabkov stated that the first round of talks with Syrian foreign minister Walid Moualem in Damascus was constructive. There are hopes for more positive discussions on Wednesday, Ryabkov said.

19:39 GMT: Syria’s army has confirmed that its military helicopter, which was shot down by Turkish forces on September 16, violated the neighboring country’s air space.

The helicopter was on a reconnaissance mission, inspecting the infiltration of terrorists across the border, and mistakenly entered Turkish airspace, the military said in a statement released by Syria’s SANA news agency.

The harsh reaction from Turkish side – particularly, the fact that the helicopter, not tasked with any fighting mission, was downed as it headed back to Syria – reveals the real intentions of Erdogan’s government, which is seeking escalation at the Syrian border, the statement added.

18:50 GMT: Russia urges the interested parties not to hurry with throwing unsubstantiated accusations of chemical weapons use against the Syrian government of Bashar Assad, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Lukashevich said.

“Simplistic and groundless accusations against the Syrian authorities, which, in fact, remove all responsibility from the opposition, are childish and inappropriate,” he stressed. “As it’s thorough and, more importantly, professional establishment of cases of chemical weapons use in Syria, for which the fresh UN inspectors’ report stands for.”

18:43 GMT: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has held a phone conversation with UK Foreign Secretary William Hague, discussing the details of the US-Russia deal, which calls for the Syrian government’s chemical arsenal to be placed under international supervision and subsequently destroyed.

“We hope that our British partners would get seriously involved in the implementation” of the Syrian chemical weapons accord, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Lukashevich said.

18:00 GMT: The UNSC resolution on Syrian chemical weapons should be binding and guarantee that the chemical arsenal will be destroyed in accordance with the agreement reached between the US and Russia in Geneva, Ban Ki-moon said.

17:09 GMT: The UN report on the Syrian chemical attack on August 21 does not show that Assad forces used sarin gas, the UN Secretary General said. The statement came in response to Western countries, which said the report proves the chemical weapon attack was perpetrated by government forces.

“If you read the report, you will understand that there are no conclusions on where those rockets were fired from,” Ban said.

16:36 GMT: The United States, Russia, Britain, France and China are expected to meet in New York to discuss a draft resolution on destroying Syria’s chemical arsenal based on a US-Russian agreement, Reuters reports citing a US official.

“Today, the P5 members of the UN Security Council (US, UK, France, Russia, China) will meet to discuss the joint P3 (US, UK, France) draft Security Council Resolution on Syria’s chemical weapons program,” Erin Pelton, spokeswoman for the US mission to the UN, said in an email.

16:34 GMT: While Russia’s deputy foreign minister is negotiating with the Syrian foreign minister, Walid Moualem, there are media reports emerging saying that the Syrian government passed its allies evidence that proves that the rebels were behind the attack in Ghouta on August 21.

However, RT’s Maria Finoshina, who is currently at the meeting, says there are no details about the report.

14:41 GMT: Russian deputy foreign minister, Sergey Ryabkov, will arrive in the Syrian capital Damascus on Tuesday to hold talks with the country’s foreign minister, Walid Moualem, Russia’s Foreign Ministry told RT.

14:18 GMT: The implementation of the US-Russia deal on chemical weapons in Syria has topped the agenda of the Moscow meeting between the Russian President’s plenipotentiary for Middle East issues, Mikhail Bogdanov, and the Syrian ambassador to the country, Riyadh Haddad.

The officials also shared the view that a political settlement to the crisis in the Middle eastern state must be reached as soon as possible based on the Geneva Communique, which calls for a peace conference on Syria, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

Monday, September 16

 

19:06 GMT: Russia expects the draft UNSC resolution on Syrian chemical weapons, which is now being prepared by France, Britain and the US, will be based on agreements reached at the meeting between Russia’s Foreign Minister Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry.

“I hope, this draft resolution will be based on what was agreed in Geneva and will not contain elements they [France, Britain and the US] sometimes introduce in public statements,” Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin said.

18:21 GMT: The inspection team concluded that the munitions linked to one of the impact sites, called Site 1 in the report, matched types of the Soviet-made M14 artillery rocket, “with either an original or improvised warhead.” The UN experts suggested that based on the “orientation and impact craters” and other damage in the area, the rockets were fired from an unspecified area to the northwest.

18:36 GMT: After the presentation of the UN report, Samantha Power, the US Ambassador to the United Nations, said that she was convinced, based on the technical details from the inspectors, the weapons belonged to forces loyal to President Assad’s regime.

“Now the mandate of the UN chemical weapons team was, as you well know, not to investigate capability. But the technical details of the UN report make clear that only the regime could have carried out this large-scale chemical weapons attack,
” Power told reporters at a news conference.

16:23 GMT: The UN Secretary General said the conclusions drawn in the report are “overwhelming and indisputable”.
“The facts speak for themselves,” he added.

Ban called the attack in Ghouta “the most significant confirmed use of chemical weapons against civilians since Saddam Hussein used them in Halabja in 1988.”

15:35 GMT: Turkish warplanes have shot down a Syrian helicopter after it crossed 2 km into Turkish air space, Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister, Bulent Arinc, has admitted.

“It was continuously warned by our air defense but as the violation continued, it fell on Syrian soil at 2:25 pm [1125 GMT], having been hit by missiles from our planes,” he told assembled journalists.

Arinc said that the fate of the pilots was unclear. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based NGO, claimed that one of the men has been captured by anti-Assad rebels.

12:50 GMT: The head of the UN panel on war crimes in Syria claims that 14 cases of chemical attacks are currently being investigated.

12:40 GMT: The US, UK and France are pushing for more aid to the Syrian rebels, while also pressing President Assad to deliver on his promise of handing the chemical weapons arsenal over to international hands.

But they still argue that no end to the conflict is in sight, unless Assad leaves.

08:44 GMT: France, Britain and the US will press for a strong UN Security Council resolution on Syrian chemical weapons, the French president’s office says. They want the document to include detailed and binding dates for the planned dismantling of the stockpile.

01:23 GMT: A Russian newspaper Kommersant has published a response from Rep. Steve Israel to President Vladimir Putin’s editorial in the New York Times last week that stirred a lot of controversy among US officials while generally getting support among the American public.

In his letter Israel says that if diplomacy fails the US should act to prevent the spread of chemical weapons “without boots on the ground and in a limited, focused and swift way.” He argues that “Bashar al-Assad has used chemical weapons repeatedly” and that “we don’t want Syria’s chemical weapons to fall into the wrong hands -including some elements of the rebel forces in Syria.”

In regards to Putin’s comment on American exceptionalism, Israel wrote:

“If your leaders are serious about truly creating a regimen to control and contain chemical weapons in Syria under international supervision in a transparent, verifiable and effective way, then we will be able to add this to the latest example of exceptional achievements partnered by our two nations.”

Sunday, September 15

19:28 GMT: On Monday, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will present a report by the UN team on the chemical weapons in Syria.

Ban earlier revealed the report will give “overwhelming” confirmation that arms of mass destruction were used in an attack near Damascus on August 21.

“Therefore, I’m sure that there will be surely the process of accountability when everything is over,” he said.

However, the UN team is not expected to say who was responsible for the attack as it was only tasked to either confirm or deny the use of chemical agents.

19:15 GMT: Iran has information that it’s the rebels, not the government forces, who used chemical weapon in Syria, according to Iran’s new Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif.

“The chemical weapons are still in the possession of extremists and terrorists in Syria, which threatens not only Syria,” Zariff told Lebanese TV channel, Al-Mayadin.

Iran condemns the use of weapons of mass destruction – no matter, who resorted to using it and who suffered from it, the Foreign Minister added.

19:02 GMT: French President Francois Hollande has said military action against the Assad regime in Syria is still an option. France insists the