™ Houston News and Breaking World News Thu, 31 Jul 2014 16:24:07 +0000 en hourly 1 Liberia orders shutdown of all schools to contain Ebola Thu, 31 Jul 2014 16:24:07 +0000 Joseph Earnest


Newscast Media MONROVIA—Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf says
the country will close all schools in a bid to contain Ebola.

“All schools are ordered closed following further directives from the
Ministry of Education,” Sirleaf said in a televised interview on Wednesday.

“All non-essential staff—to be determined by the heads of ministries and agencies,
are to be placed on 30 days’ compulsory leave.”

Sirleaf also stated that Liberia would allocate $5 million as an “initial contribution” to
the regional fight against Ebola.

The president’s announcement follows her order on Monday to close most of the
country’s land borders.

Liberia, together with neighboring Guinea and Sierra Leone, is fighting a hard battle to
prevent the spread of the deadly disease.

According to the World Health Organization, at least 1,201 people have been infected
in these three countries since the start of the year.

Guinea is the worst-hit country with 319 deaths as of July 23. Liberia has reported
129 deaths, while 224 have lost their lives in Sierra Leone.

There is currently no known cure for Ebola, a form of hemorrhagic fever whose
symptoms are diarrhea, vomiting and bleeding.

The virus spreads through direct contact with infected blood, feces or sweat. It can
also be spread through sexual contact or the unprotected handling of contaminated

Ebola was first discovered in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1976 in an outbreak
that killed 280 people.

It remains one of the world’s most virulent diseases, which kills between 25 to 90
percent of those who fall sick.

Source: Press TV


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US latest sanctions to have no impact on credit cards in Russia Thu, 31 Jul 2014 01:54:55 +0000 Joseph Earnest Newscast Media MOSCOW—Washington’s newest update to the list of sanctioned
Russian banks will not affect Visa or MasterCard operations in the country, the
companies’ representative offices in Russia told RIA Novosti Wednesday.

“These sanctions prevent blacklisted banks from accessing US capital markets and do
not affect our activities,” a MasterCard representative said.

Visa explained the US-imposed restrictions do not compel it to block operations at
any Russian banks. CONTINUE TO FULL STORY>>


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Russia warns US of tangible losses after additional sanctions Thu, 31 Jul 2014 00:39:11 +0000 Joseph Earnest


Newscast Media MOSCOW—Russia warned the US on Wednesday that economic
sanctions imposed by Washington against Moscow over the Ukrainian crisis will only
further worsen relations between the two countries.

“Washington will gain nothing from such decisions except for further complication of
Russian-American relations and the creation of an unfavorable atmosphere in
international affairs, where the cooperation between our countries often plays a key
role,” a statement released by the Russian foreign ministry stated.

“We have repeatedly spoken about the illegitimacy and groundlessness of the US
sanctions against Russia,” it said, commenting on a new package of sanctions
announced by Washington on Tuesday. CONTINUE TO FULL ARTICLE>>


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Foreigners asked to leave Libya immediately due to raging battle Mon, 28 Jul 2014 20:37:56 +0000 Joseph Earnest


Newscast Media TRIPOLI—Several countries have advised their nationals in Libya to
leave the country immediately amid a raging battle in the capital Tripoli. On Sunday,
Cairo called on its citizens in Tripoli and Benghazi to seek “safer areas in Libya or head
to the Libya-Tunisia border.”

The violence also prompted Britain, France, Germany and the Netherlands to follow

Previously, Belgium, Malta, Spain and Turkey did the same and called out their
nationals. The US also pulled out its diplomatic staff on Saturday.

Libya is witnessing one of its worst spasms of violence since the ouster of longtime
dictator Muammar Gaddafi in a popular uprising in 2011.

Clashes in the capital broke out between rival militias on July 13 over the control of
the main international airport.

The airport has been controlled by militias from the town of Zintan since the
overthrow of Gaddafi.

Rival groups have unleashed dozens of rocket attacks on the airport in a bid to bring
it under their control.

Two weeks of fighting in the capital has left 97 people dead and over 400 injured.
Another 38 people were also killed in the ongoing clashes between the army and
militant groups in Benghazi on Sunday.

Nearly three years after the fall of Gaddafi, Libya is still grappling with rising insecurity
as the country has been witnessing numerous clashes between government forces
and rival militant groups.

The former rebels refuse to lay down arms despite efforts by the central government
to impose law and order.

Thousands of angry Libyan demonstrators frequently take to the streets in different
cities to protest against the lack of security across the North African country.


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Pope meets Sudanese woman who refused to denounce faith Thu, 24 Jul 2014 22:14:42 +0000 Joseph Earnest

Meriam being blessed by Pope Francis

Newscast Media VATICAN CITY—Meriam Ibrahim, the woman who was sentenced to
death in Sudan for refusing to renounce her Christian faith, arrived Thursday in Italy
and met with Pope Francis in the Casa Santa Marta. During the meeting, she was
accompanied by her family: Husband Daniel Wani, Martin (a year and a half), and
Maya, born in prison two months ago.

Her family was accompanied by the Italian Deputy Foreign Minister, Lapo Pistelli, who
helped arrange her departure from Sudan and travelled with her to Italy.

The head of the Vatican Press Office, Father Federico Lombardi, SJ, said the meeting
took place in a “very serene and affectionate” environment, and Pope Francis
thanked Meriam for her “courageous witness to perseverance in the Faith.”

Fr. Lombardi said Meriam thanked the Pope for his prayers, saying they provided great
support and encouragement.

The Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi had earlier welcomed Meriam and her family at
Rome’s Ciampino airport, calling it “a day of celebration.”

Meriam Ibrahim was sentenced to death over charges of apostasy, since her father
was a Muslim. She married her husband, a Christian, in a church ceremony in 2011.

She was told if she accepted Islam she would be freed, but she told the court she
would never apostatize from her Christian faith. Her death sentence was overturned
in June, but she was then stopped at the airport and blocked from leaving the
country by Sudanese officials who questioned the validity of her travel documents.

Fr. Lombardi said Pope Francis met with Meriam’s family to show his closeness,
concern and prayers for all those who suffer for their faith, and especially for
Christians who suffer persecution or restrictions on their religious freedom.

Meriam and her family will settle in the United States.

Source: Vatican Radio


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Missionary charged with illicit sex with children at African orphanage Wed, 23 Jul 2014 22:18:55 +0000 Joseph Earnest

KTLA screen-capture of Matthew Durham in Kenya at orphanage

Newscast Media OKLAHOMA CITY—An Oklahoma man who worked as a missionary in
Africa has been charged by the FBI with traveling to Kenya to engage in illicit sexual
conduct with underage children, announced Sanford C. Coats, United States Attorney
for the Western District of Oklahoma.

According to KTLA the suspect was volunteering at a Kenyan children’s home when
he allegedly raped and molested a number of young children.

Court records show, 19-year-old Matthew Durham confessed to raping several young
girls, forcing some boys to perform oral sex on him and even making other kids watch.


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Countries suspend flights to Tel Aviv out of fear of Hamas Tue, 22 Jul 2014 20:41:29 +0000 Joseph Earnest Newscast Media BERLIN—Several international airlines including Germany’s Lufthansa
have announced that they are suspending flights to Tel Aviv for safety reasons. This
came after at least one militant rocket reportedly hit near the airport.

The Lufthansa Group announced Tuesday that it was canceling all flights to Tel Aviv
for the next 36 hours. This includes not just Lufthansa flights, but also those of the
group’s other airlines: Germanwings, Austrian Airlines and Swiss.

According to a statement, the decision had been made because of the “unsafe
situation” in the vicinity of Ben Gurion International Airport on the outskirts of Tel
Aviv. This came just hours after at least one rocket fired from the Gaza Strip by
militants hit in the vicinity of the airport. The Islamist group Hamas and its allies have
been firing rockets at Israel over the past two weeks, as the country continues an
offensive in the Palestinian territory.

Lufthansa normally operates between seven and 10 flights to Tel Aviv daily, from
Frankfurt, Berlin, Munich, Zurich and Vienna.

Lufthansa was just one of several international airlines to suspend flights to Tel Aviv
on Tuesday, after Air France announced it was doing so “until further notice.”
Dutch flag carrier KLM followed suit.

“We have canceled our flight to Tel Aviv as a precaution because we can’t secure
passengers’ safety,” KLM spokeswoman Joyce Veekman said. “We’ll review the
situation every day.”

Earlier, the US carriers Delta, US Airways and United Airlines had announced similar

This comes just days after a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet crashed into eastern
Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board. This raised questions about whether airlines
should be operating over zones of armed conflict.

Source: Deutsche Welle


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Moscow: Ukrainian jet detected close to MH17 before crash Mon, 21 Jul 2014 20:16:04 +0000 Joseph Earnest Newscast Media MOSCOW—The Russian military detected a Ukrainian SU-25 fighter
jet gaining height towards the MH17 Boeing on the day of the catastrophe. Kiev must
explain why the military jet was tracking the passenger airplane, the Russian Defense
Ministry said.

“A Ukraine Air Force military jet was detected gaining height, its distance from the
Malaysian Boeing was 3 to 5km,” said the head of the Main Operations Directorate of
the HQ of Russia’s military forces, Lieutenant-General Andrey Kartopolov speaking at a
media conference in Moscow on Monday. CONTINUE TO FULL STORY>>

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France redeploys troops into several of its former colonies Sat, 19 Jul 2014 21:41:07 +0000 Joseph Earnest

French troops

Newscast Media PARIS—French president has announced the redeployment of 3,000
French military forces in five of its former colonies across northwest Africa as a part
of what it referred to as an anti-terrorist operation.

President Francois Hollande stated on Saturday that the new operation code-named
“Barkhane” after a crescent-shaped dune in Sahara desert — will be out of Chad and
will help “secure” the region in the fight on what he referred to as regional terrorism.
Hollande further underlined the importance of engagement by African forces.

This is while Chadian President Idriss Deby asserted that it is not always France’s job
to ensure security in the region and that African nations must also take charge.
The two counterparts met in Chad following the French president’s visits to Niger and
Ivory Coast.

Operation Barkhane will reportedly involve Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad and
Mali, where French troops intervened in 2013 under the pretext of routing radical
militants in the mineral-rich African country.

The development comes just days after Mali and France signed a new military
cooperation pact to jointly wage a battle against militants in the West African
country. The agreement on Wednesday was reached between French Defense
Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and his Malian counterpart Bah N’Daw in the Malian
capital Bamako.

In January 2013, France deployed its troops to its former colony under the pretext of
halting the advance of the Tuareg fighters in the African country’s north.

Source: Press TV


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Russia denies being behind downed Ukrainian aircraft Thu, 17 Jul 2014 21:15:27 +0000 Joseph Earnest Newscast Media MOSCOW—Russia’s Defense Ministry denied on Thursday it had shot
down a Ukrainian airplane and called the accusation by Kiev “absurd”, Russian state
news agency RIA reported.

“It is absurd, just like all the previous accusations from Kiev’s leadership against
Russia’s Defense Ministry,” a ministry spokesman was quoted as saying.

A Ukrainian SU-25 fighter plane was shot down. It was on military operations over the
east of Ukraine, where government forces are fighting to quell a pro-Russian
separatist rebellion.

The Ukrainian military accused Russia of shutting down the jet. It was the first time
Ukraine had directly accused Russia of using air power in the war. In a previous
attack on a military transporter, which it said was launched from Russia, Kiev was
unable to specify whether it came from land-based missiles or airborne.

The Ukrainian Defense Ministry said the plane was brought down on Wednesday night
near Amvrosiyivka, about 15 km (about 9 miles) from the border with Russia, by
rockets which hit it in the tail as it wheeled away from the border.

The pilot safely ejected, Andriy Lysenko, a spokesman for the National Defense and
Security Council, told journalists.

The downing of the SU-25 came against a background of increasingly strident
charges of direct Russian involvement in the three and a half month conflict in which
the pro-Western government in Kiev is fighting to put down a rebellion by separatists
who want a future in Russia.

Source: Al Manar TV News


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US: Russia building up troops along Ukrainian border again Wed, 16 Jul 2014 20:55:09 +0000 Joseph Earnest

Russian troops

Newscast Media WASHINGTON—The US has accused Russia of again building up its
forces along the border with eastern Ukraine, where fighting continues. Kyiv says its
troops have battled separatists around three Ukrainian border towns.

The US Department of Defense on Wednesday said it had detected up to 12,000
Russian combat troops on Ukraine’s eastern border and accused Russia of continuing
to support separatists in eastern Ukraine.

In May, apparently in response to Western pressure, Russian reduced its border
forces – put by the US at 40,000 – down to about 1,000.

But, in Washington on Wednesday, US defense spokesman Army Colonel Steve
Warren estimated that 12,000 were present. He described the Russian units as
“battalion task groups” and “combat soldiers.”

“I can’t speak for what they intend to do. Certainly, it is intimidating,” Warren said.
Moscow has repeatedly denied sending advanced weapons being used by separatists
since they were evicted by Ukrainian forces from their stronghold of Slavyansk 10
days ago.

Ukraine’s Kyiv-based government on Wednesday said it had lost 11 servicemen in the
past 24 hours during fighting around three towns close to Ukraine’s border with

Ukrainian national security spokesman Andriy Lysenko identified them as the towns of
Amvrosyika, Marynivka and Izvarne. Troops had been backed by Ukrainian artillery and
aviation, he added.

Rebel leader Igor Strelkov said two of his fighters were killed during a rebel bid to cut
off government forces east of Donetsk.

Lysenko said Ukrainian warplanes had been cleared to resume flights over the east.
Two days ago, a government Antonov-26 transport plane was downed. Kyiv alleged
that it was fired from Russia.

Source: Deutsche Welle


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Kerry Cites Very Real Gaps in Iran Nuclear Talks Tue, 15 Jul 2014 21:16:26 +0000 Joseph Earnest Newscast Media VIENNA—U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says nuclear talks with
Iran have made good progress but there is “still work to do” to meet a July 20
deadline. Speaking after talks in Vienna between six world powers and Iranian
officials, Kerry said there have been “tough negotiations” and that “very real gaps”
remain in the positions of the two sides.

He said he still believes there is a path forward and that both sides are working in
good faith.

Kerry said he is returning to Washington to consult with President Barack Obama and
Congress about the prospects for a long-term deal with Iran.

Kerry said he has told Iranian officials that the 19,000 nuclear centrifuges the
country possesses are too many.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a speech last week that Iran
needs tens of thousands more centrifuges.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, in a separate news conference on
July 15, said that although he still hopes a deal would be possible by the July 20
deadline, he believed enough progress has been made to justify an extension.

Source: Radio Free Europe


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California court backs expulsion of tranny from Christian university Tue, 15 Jul 2014 15:26:11 +0000 Joseph Earnest by Stoyan Zaimov

Newscast Media LOS ANGELES—A California trial court has backed a private Southern
Baptist school over its right to expel a transgender student, who is accused of
committing fraud by applying for admission as a female. The court has also, however,
awarded $4,000 in damages to the plaintiff for being excluded from the school’s
ancillary programs that are open to the public, such as the library and restaurants.

MSNBC reported on Monday that the student in question is 27-year-old Domaine
Javier, who was born as a biological male but has identified as female since childhood.
California Baptist University expelled Javier for fraud violations in 2011, after Javier
appeared in an episode of MTV’s “A True Life” and admitted to being born a male.


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UN Security Council Calls For Ceasefire in The Gaza Conflict Mon, 14 Jul 2014 11:11:14 +0000 Joseph Earnest Newscast Media WASHINGTON—The U.N. Security Council expressed on Saturday
serious concern about the welfare and protection of civilians, calling for a ceasefire in
hostilities between Palestinians and Israelis.

“The Security Council members called for de-escalation of the situation, restoration of
calm, and reinstitution of the November 2012 ceasefire,” the 15-member body said in
a statement.

It also expressed “serious concern regarding the crisis related to Gaza and the
protection and welfare of civilians on both sides” and called for respect for
international humanitarian law.

Israel rushed an eighth missile interceptor battery into service on Saturday to
counter stronger-than-expected rocket fire from Gaza as the military pounded civilian
and governmental buildings in the Palestinian enclave for a sixth day.

The United States and Jordan were unable to reach agreement on a Security Council
statement on the crisis earlier this week, diplomats said. Council statements have to
be agreed by consensus.

Palestinian U.N. Ambassador Riyad Mansour accused the council of dragging its feet
and said Saturday’s statement had only been agreed after the Arab Group, the
Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Non-Aligned Movement threatened to
push for a resolution on the issue.

Source: Al Manar TV


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Pentagon mulls drone strike against ISIL rebel leader al-Baghdadi Thu, 10 Jul 2014 20:42:14 +0000 Joseph Earnest


Newscast Media WASHINGTON—The Pentagon has a plan that would recommend US
President Barack Obama authorize drone attacks against the leader of the so-called
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Several defense officials spoke to the news media and said the circumstances that
would allow President Obama to order a drone strike are being deliberated. “He is a
person of great interest to us,” a defense official pentagon told CNN Wednesday of
the terrorist organization’s leader.

For a kill mission to happen, the U.S. must prove that the target poses a threat to
the U.S. and its interests, such as the U.S. Embassy staff in Baghdad. Such a strike
must be approved by Obama.

The US has already placed a $10 million bounty on Baghdadi’s head. According to
CNN, Baghdadi is essentially on a US “kill list” and is one of Washington’s “high value
targets” on whom US forces are collecting intelligence.

Meanwhile, some US officials – including Obama’s former ambassador to Iraq, Ryan
Crocker, and Republican Sen. John McCain – have repeatedly raised concerns about
the threat posed by ISIL militants to America.

Officials told the network that capturing al-Baghdadi alive would be a difficult task
since the U.S. military allegedly does not have combat troops on the ground in either
Iraq or Syria.

Source: Al Manar News


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Russia accuses America of kidnapping hacking suspect Wed, 09 Jul 2014 20:49:34 +0000 Joseph Earnest Newscast Media MOSCOW—Moscow has said the arrest by the United States of a
Russian man on computer-hacking charges amounts to the “kidnapping of a Russian

Roman Seleznyov, 30, was arrested on July 5 in the Maldives by the U.S. Secret
Service and transported to Guam. He is accused of hacking U.S. retail computer
systems to steal thousands of credit-card numbers.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said on July 8 that “we consider this as the latest
unfriendly move from Washington” and asked for “coherent explanations about the

Seleznyov is the son of Russian Duma deputy Valery Seleznyov.
Seleznyov was indicted in Washington state in March 2011 on charges including bank
fraud, causing damage to a protected computer, obtaining information from a
protected computer, and aggravated identity theft.

Source: Radio Free Europe


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China and the US forge new model of strategic relations Wed, 09 Jul 2014 20:22:12 +0000 Joseph Earnest Newscast Media BEIJING—A diplomatic delegation from the United States is in China in
an effort to smooth out several disputes in relations between the two countries.

President Obama spoke of a ‘new model’ in US-China interactions.

The American delegation to the Strategic and Economic dialogue, and annual event
that kicked off on Wednesday in Beijing, is being led by Secretary of State John Kerry
and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew.

The talks, due to last two days, are designed to be a platform where both countries
can address a few points that have repeatedly caused friction in recent months.


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Hamas declares all Israelis targets after air raid on Gaza Tue, 08 Jul 2014 21:04:11 +0000 Joseph Earnest Newscast Media TEL AVIV—Air raid sirens have been heard over Tel Aviv as rocket
incursions from Gaza into Israel appeared to be on the increase. Hamas has warned
that “all Israelis” are now targets in revenge for a deadly airstrike.

Air raid sirens were sounded in Tel Aviv on Tuesday, while live television showed an
apparent midair interception by Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system.

Israeli officials had been expecting an increase in rocket fire from the Gaza Strip after
Hamas officials vowed revenge for an airstrike on the home of one of their leaders in
the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis. Hamas announced that the strike had killed
six people, with children among the dead. CONTINUE TOO FULL ARTICLE>>


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Obama signs Executive Order in regard to conflict in DRC Tue, 08 Jul 2014 20:30:38 +0000 Joseph Earnest Newscast Media WASHINGTON—President Barack Obama has taken additional steps
with respect to the Congo conflict by signing an Executive Order to address the
continuation of activities that threaten the peace, security, or stability of the
Democratic Republic of the Congo and the surrounding region.

This includes operations by armed groups, widespread violence and atrocities, human
rights abuses, recruitment and use of child soldiers, attacks on peacekeepers,
obstruction of humanitarian operations, and exploitation of natural resources to
finance persons engaged in these activities.The E.O. holds the following accountable:


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US promises to resolve double agent tensions with Germany Mon, 07 Jul 2014 21:06:27 +0000 Joseph Earnest Newscast Media WASHINGTON—US officials have vowed to resolve tensions after a
German intelligence employee allegedly acted as a double agent for Washington.
Chancellor Angela Merkel has said such behavior, if true, would contradict mutual

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Washington was aware of the report that
a German double agent had spied for the US, but said he could not comment on
intelligence matters.

“We are committed to making sure that we resolve this issue with the Germans
appropriately,” Earnest said.

“This is an intelligence matter,” Earnest said. “It’s a matter that is under investigation
by the German law enforcement authorities, so I’m not in a position to comment on it
from here.”

US-German relations were put to test last year by the revelation that the National
Security Agency had been spying on the mobile phone of Chancellor Angela Merkel.

On Friday, the US ambassador to Berlin was called to a meeting at the Foreign
Ministry over reports that a 31-year-old employee of the German foreign intelligence
agency had been feeding information to a spy agency for two years.

Though Earnest would not confirm or deny the allegations, he sought to limit any
diplomatic damage by stressing the importance of the “close partnership” between
Germany and the US.

“The relationship that the US has with Germany is incredibly important,” Earnest said.

“That partnership is built on respect. It is based on decades of cooperation and shared values.”

‘Clear contradiction of mutual trust’ Merkel addressed the matter earlier on Monday, saying that “if the reports are correct, it would be a serious case.”

“It would be for me a clear contradiction as to what I consider to be trusting
cooperation between agencies and partners,” she added.Over the weekend, the newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung am Sonntag reported that the suspect, who was arrested last Wednesday, had also made contact with Russian authorities.Government spokeswoman Christiane Wirtz said Germany was waiting until a prosecution report on the claims had been completed before giving a detailed response.

Source: Deutsche Welle


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Clinton: Merkel currently the greatest leader in Europe Sun, 06 Jul 2014 20:38:10 +0000 Joseph Earnest Newscast Media WASHINGTON—Former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton called
Angela Merkel “the greatest leader in Europe” during a visit to Berlin. She also said
that she admired how the chancellor handled the eurozone crisis. Clinton was in Berlin
on Sunday to promote her new book “Hard Choices” in which she discusses her time
as secretary of state.

“I say in the book I think she is the greatest leader in Europe, I think she is a great
leader globally, I think she carried Europe on her shoulders and it wasn’t easy,” Clinon

At Berlin’s Schiller Theater, Clinton also joked that she admires Merkel because of
their shared preference for suit pants over skirts.

During her Berlin tour, Clinton additionally addressed other subjects, including whether
or not America is ready for a female president.

“I think we are ready for a woman to break through the glass ceiling,” Clinton said in
an interview with the German newspaper Bild on Sunday.

She also said that she would decide whether to run for president in 2016 “at the end
of this year or early next year.”

Apart from praising Merkel, she also took the opportunity to say some less flattering
things about Merkel’s Russian counterpart. Clinton referred to Russian President
Vladmir Putin as a “tough customer with a pretty thin skin.”

“I believe he can be dangerous,” she said in response to questions about the
annexation of Ukraine.

She also agreed with a journalist who said that he sounded like a “Russian cowboy.”
“Yes, exactly,” she said, “with or without a shirt.”

Source: Deutsche Welle


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ISIL rebels seize Syrian oilfield near the Syria-Iraqi border Sat, 05 Jul 2014 20:50:54 +0000 Joseph Earnest Newscast Media DAMASCUS—The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has
seized control of a Syrian oilfield located near the border with Iraq according to a
monitoring group.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said ISIL fighters took the
al-Tanak oilfield on July 4.

The oilfield is in Syria’s Deir el-Zour Province, along the border with Iraq, and comes a
day after ISIL’s seizure of al-Omar oilfield, the country’s largest.

The Observatory said ISIL seized the oilfields after rival Islamist groups, including the
Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Nusra Front, withdrew from the area.

ISIL has declared an Islamic caliphate in areas it has seized in western and northern

The group has also pushed towards the Turkish border, where it has shelled one town
and taken control of several villages.

Source: Radio Free Europe


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BRICS Nations Seek To Unseat Western-dominated World Bank Fri, 04 Jul 2014 20:48:02 +0000 Joseph Earnest

Vladmir Putin

Newscast Media MOSCOW—Russian President Vladimir Putin plans to visit Cuba,
Argentina and Brazil later this month, the Kremlin press service said in a statement
Friday. The president is to visit Latin America and attend a summit of the BRICS
group of five major emerging economies (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South
Africa) on July 11-16.

“On the sidelines of the BRICS summit, Putin is scheduled to meet with leaders of
China, India and South Africa, as well as with a number of Latin American leaders,”
the Kremlin said.

The sixth BRICS summit is due to be held in northeastern Brazil’s Fortaleza on July 15.
Argentina is to participate in the summit at Russia’s invitation. At the meeting, the
BRICS countries plan to discuss the possible admission of Argentina as the sixth
member country.

Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa are currently working on setting up a
BRICS development bank as an alternative to the Western-dominated World Bank and
the International Monetary Fund. The idea was proposed by India at a 2012 meeting
of the organization’s finance ministers in Mexico.

The five BRICS countries represent almost three billion people, with a combined
nominal GDP of $16 trillion and an estimated $4 trillion in combined foreign reserves.

Source: Ria Novosti


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Vladmir Putin: US-Russia relations not in good shape Wed, 02 Jul 2014 21:39:40 +0000 Joseph Earnest

Putin and Obama

Newscast Media MOSCOW—Russian President Vladimir Putin said that relations
between the United States and Russia are not in good shape, but Russia is ready for
constructive dialogue on equal terms.

“We have always tried to be predictable partners, handle business on an equal basis,
but in return our legal interests were partially ignored and are still ignored,” Putin said
during a meeting with Russian ambassadors and permanent representatives.

Putin said that Russian and US contacts have a great meaning for the entire world.
“We are ready for constructive dialogue, but, again I emphasize, only on equal terms,
” the Russian president said.

Relations between Moscow and Washington soured as tensions in crisis-torn Ukraine
started to escalate.

The March 16 referendum in Crimea that resulted in the republic’s reunification with
Russia was denounced as illegitimate by Washington, and led to a series of US
sanctions against a number of Russian individuals and companies. Washington has
also repeatedly threatened Moscow with tougher economic sanctions.

The restrictive measures were condemned by Russia as counterproductive.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev suggested in May that US President Barack
Obama should show more political tact in easing the relations crisis with Russia, as
the current American policy is nullifying everything achieved over the past few years
of the “reset” and is leading to a new “cold war.”

Source: Ria Novosti

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