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'Jihadi John' killer from Islamic State beheading videos unmasked as Londoner

Thu, 26 Feb 2015 19:27:08 -0500

A masked, black-clad militant brandishes a knife in this still image from videoBy Michael Holden and Mark Hosenball LONDON/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The masked "Jihadi John" killer who fronted Islamic State beheading videos has been identified as Mohammed Emwazi, a British computer programming graduate from a well-to-do London family who was known to the security services. The black-clad militant brandishing a knife and speaking with an English accent was shown in videos released by Islamic State (IS) apparently decapitating hostages including Americans, Britons and Syrians. The 26-year-old militant used the videos to threaten the West, admonish its Arab allies and taunt President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron before petrified hostages cowering in orange jump suits. Two U.S. government sources who spoke on condition of anonymity confirmed to Reuters that investigators believed Jihadi John was Emwazi.

U.S., Cuba to meet for second round of normalization talks

Fri, 27 Feb 2015 01:04:21 -0500

Tourists ride in pedicabs in HavanaBy David Adams WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Cuban and U.S. officials meet in Washington on Friday for a second round of talks aimed at restoring diplomatic relations, amid friction over Cuba's place on a U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism. Washington severed diplomatic relations with Cuba 54 years ago. Communist-run Cuba is pressing the United States to remove it from its terrorism list before the official restoration of diplomatic ties. The Obama administration is nearing completion of its review of Cuba's place on the terrorism sponsors list that must be submitted to Congress before Cuba's name can be removed, a senior State Department official told reporters on Wednesday.

Hong Kong woman jailed for six years for abusing Indonesian maid

Fri, 27 Feb 2015 00:56:57 -0500

A supporter holds up a sign of Indonesian domestic helper Erwiana Sulistyaningsih, during a protest calling for better protection of migrant workers, in Hong KongA Hong Kong mother of two who punched her maids, beat them with mops and threatened to kill their relatives was jailed for six years on Friday in a case that triggered outrage and exposed the plight of millions of domestic helpers across Asia. Former beautician Law Wan-tung, 44, looked stunned as the sentence was passed after being found guilty of 18 of 20 abuse charges. The charges included inflicting grievous bodily harm and criminal intimidation against Erwiana Sulistyaningsih and an another maid, also from Indonesia. She had pleaded not guilty to the 20 charges but had admitted one of not buying insurance cover for her maid.

Ukraine sends $15 million for gas, says Russian energy minister

Fri, 27 Feb 2015 02:08:45 -0500

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak attends a news conference in MoscowBy Olesya Astakhova KRASNOYARSK, Russia (Reuters) - Ukraine has sent $15 million to pay for Russian gas, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on Friday, just days after Moscow had threatened to cut off supplies to its neighbor due to non-payment. Novak told reporters that Russia's Gazprom had been told the money was on its way but the natural gas producer had yet to receive it. There was no immediate confirmation from Gazprom which said this week there were serious risks to gas transit to Europe via Ukraine after Kiev failed to make a pre-payment for supplies.

As address to U.S. Congress nears, Netanyahu treads a thinning line

Thu, 26 Feb 2015 11:51:35 -0500

Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu pauses while he speaks to supporters of his Likud party as he campaigns in a West Bank Jewish settlement near JerusalemBy Luke Baker JERUSALEM (Reuters) - When Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accepted an invitation to address the U.S. Congress two weeks before an Israeli election, there appeared to be little downside. The primary objective was to warn U.S. lawmakers about the risks of a deal on Iran's nuclear program and keep alive the possibility of further sanctions on Tehran, frustrating President Barack Obama's long-running policy of negotiation with the Islamic Republic. At the same time, it was difficult to ignore the electoral bounce a primetime speech on a critical issue might give Netanyahu and his party ahead of parliamentary elections on March 17, when he will seek a fourth term in office. "There are now many more risks than advantages," said Eytan Gilboa, a professor at Bar-Ilan University and a specialist in ties between Israel and the United States.

U.S.-led coalition launches 14 air strikes against Islamic State: statement

Thu, 26 Feb 2015 15:06:23 -0500

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States and its partner nations launched 14 air strikes against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria since Wednesday morning, the Combined Joint Task Force said on Thursday. Five air strikes were conducted in Syria, the task force said in a statement. They struck Islamic State tactical units near Al Hasakah and fighting positions near Kobani. In Iraq, nine air strikes were launched near Al Asad, Fallujah, Mosul and other locations, hitting tactical units, buildings, vehicles and a training camp, the statement said. ...

Hollande tours typhoon-hit Philippines ahead of climate deal

Fri, 27 Feb 2015 02:07:58 -0500

French President Francois Hollande, front right, is greeted by the crowd during his visit to the typhoon-ravaged Guiuan township, Eastern Samar province in central Philippines Friday, Feb. 27, 2015. Hollande on Friday took his warning about the need for funds for a landmark climate deal to a central Philippine town that was devastated by a killer typhoon in 2013. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)GUIUAN, Philippines (AP) — French President Francois Hollande on Friday took his warning about the need for funds for a landmark climate deal to a central Philippine town that was devastated by a killer typhoon in 2013.

Australian laws on storing phone, Internet records to change

Fri, 27 Feb 2015 02:03:48 -0500

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — A parliamentary committee has recommended a major rewrite of draft laws that would force Australian telephone companies and Internet providers to store customers' personal data for the convenience of law enforcement agencies.

Your Top Plays for Today

Fri, 27 Feb 2015 02:03:31 -0500

Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James, right, drives past Golden State Warriors’ Draymond Green during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)Your Top Plays for Today: AP's Sports Guide

Top Asian News at 7:00 a.m. GMT

Fri, 27 Feb 2015 02:02:56 -0500

HONG KONG (AP) — A Hong Kong mother of two was given a six-year prison term Friday for abusing her Indonesian maid in a case that aroused widespread outrage over its brutality. Law Wan-tung was sentenced after her conviction earlier this month on eight charges of assault, grievous bodily harm and criminal intimidation against 24-year-old Erwiana Sulistyaningsih in a case that highlighted the vulnerabilities of migrants working as domestic staff across Asia and the Middle East.

Despite spat with US, Israeli leader fighting Iran nuke deal

Fri, 27 Feb 2015 02:02:55 -0500

FILE - In this Oct. 1, 2014 file photo, President Barack Obama meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. Netanyahu heads to Washington next week on a last-gasp effort to seal what he hopes will become his signature achievement in government: preventing Iran from attaining a nuclear weapon. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu heads to Washington next week on a last-gasp effort to seal what he hopes will become his signature achievement: preventing Iran from attaining a nuclear weapon. But the centerpiece of the visit, a much-hyped speech to Congress arguing against the international community's emerging nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic, has been overshadowed by a damaging battle with the White House and electoral intrigue back home.

Champion India aiming to continue World Cup momentum

Fri, 27 Feb 2015 02:02:12 -0500

India's Virat Kohli, center greets South Africa's Wayne Parnell, after winning their Cricket World Cup pool B match in Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)PERTH, Australia (AP) — After high-profile wins over archrival Pakistan and one of the tournament favorites, South Africa, India's biggest concern ahead of Saturday's World Cup match against second-tier side United Arab Emirates could be complacency.

US-led strikes on IS after group seizes 220 Christians

Fri, 27 Feb 2015 01:43:02 -0500

A French Navy Hawkeye reconnaissance plane prepares to take off from the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle in the Gulf on February 24, 2015 as part of a campaign against the Islamic State groupThe US-led coalition has carried out air strikes against the Islamic State group in northeastern Syria, where the jihadists have launched a new offensive and kidnapped 220 Assyrian Christians. The raids on Thursday struck areas around the town of Tal Tamr in Hasakeh province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, without giving information on possible casualties. The town remains under the control of Kurdish forces, but at least 10 surrounding villages have been seized by IS, along with the captives. The IS offensive has killed at least 35 jihadists and 25 members of the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) and of an Assyrian defence force, according to the Observatory.

More Hong Kong university students back independence: poll

Fri, 27 Feb 2015 01:35:34 -0500

Pro-democracy protesters gather at the Occupy Central protest site in Admiralty in Hong KongA growing number of Hong Kong students support independence for the former British colony, amid sliding confidence in the "one country, two systems" formula under which the city is governed, an online poll by a university magazine showed. The findings come a month after Hong Kong's embattled leader Leung Chun-ying warned against the rise of separatism, after parts of the city were paralyzed last year by more than two months of pro-democracy protests. About 28 percent of 569 students polled by Undergrad, a student union magazine of the University of Hong Kong (HKU), supported independence, up from 15 percent in a similar poll early last year. Some 53 percent of respondents favored the "one country, two systems" formula as the best political structure for Hong Kong, down from 68 percent in early 2014, according to the poll, done between Jan. 24 and Feb. 5.

Fore! In Iran, golf remains a game of the elite

Fri, 27 Feb 2015 01:31:58 -0500

Local golfers compete during Iran's National Golf Tournament, at Engelhab sports club in TehranThe bumpy fairways and patchy putting surfaces -- more burnt-out browns than grassy greens -- are not much to look at. In Iran however, this is golf at its finest. In the same way that the streets of Tehran got new names when the Islamic republic dramatically came into being in 1979, so did the Engelhab ("Revolution" in Farsi) Club. Iran's only recognised golf course has had a fairly rough time since.

Japan data signal slow recovery despite lower energy costs

Fri, 27 Feb 2015 01:29:47 -0500

TOKYO (AP) — Japanese factories churned out more machinery and electronic devices in January as export shipments rose, but lower energy costs due to cheaper crude oil failed to provide a boost to consumer spending.

Hong Kong woman gets 6 years in Indonesian maid abuse case

Fri, 27 Feb 2015 01:22:02 -0500

Indonesian maid Erwiana Sulistyaningsih, center, is accompanied by supporters as she arrives at a court in Hong Kong, Friday, Feb. 27, 2015. A Hong Kong court sentenced a mother of two to six years in prison on Friday for abusing her Indonesian maid in a case that triggered outrage over its brutality. Law Wan-tung was found guilty earlier this month on 18 charges, including assault, grievous bodily harm, criminal intimidation and failure to pay wages or give time off work to Sulistyaningsih. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)HONG KONG (AP) — A Hong Kong mother of two was given a six-year prison term Friday for abusing her Indonesian maid in a case that aroused widespread outrage over its brutality.

Top-seeded Maria Sharapova reaches Mexico Open semifinals

Fri, 27 Feb 2015 01:21:04 -0500

Maria Sharapova of Russia serves the ball to Magdalena Rybarikova of Slovakia during a Mexican Tennis Open quarterfinal match in Acapulco, Mexico, Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015. (AP Photo/Christian Palma)ACAPULCO, Mexico (AP) — Top-seeded Maria Sharapova of Russia beat Magdalena Rybarikova of Slovakia 6-1, 4-6, 6-2 on Thursday night to reach the Mexico Open semifinals.

Clarke relishes World Cup "local derby" against New Zealand

Fri, 27 Feb 2015 01:19:13 -0500

AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP) — Australia captain Michael Clarke describes it as "a local derby" and suggests it will be infused with all of the qualities that term implies, of long-standing and spirited rivalry played out in front of passionate fans.

IOC relaxes rule on athlete sponsors for Olympics

Fri, 27 Feb 2015 01:13:35 -0500

The International Olympic Committee is to relax regulations barring athletes from promoting non-official sponsors during the OlympicsThe International Olympic Committee is to relax regulations barring athletes from promoting non-official sponsors during the Olympics following an outcry over attempts to enforce the rule at the London 2012 Games, a spokesman said. The IOC's executive board, meeting in Rio de Janeiro on Thursday, agreed to amend the existing Rule 40, which was targeted by disgruntled athletes in London three years ago.

Employer: Man accused in IS group plot was about to quit job

Fri, 27 Feb 2015 01:11:28 -0500

Zak Khan, owner of Gyro King, where Abdurasul Hasanovich Juraboev worked, speaks to reporters, Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015. Three men, including Juraboev, are accused of plotting to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State group and wage war against the United States; they were arrested on terrorism charges Wednesday, federal officials said.(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)NEW YORK (AP) — The employer of one of three men charged with plotting to help the Islamic State group says the suspect was about to quit his restaurant job.

Moderate quake jolts northwest Pakistan, no casualties

Fri, 27 Feb 2015 01:11:10 -0500

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) — A moderate earthquake jolted northwestern Pakistan before dawn Friday, causing panic in several major cities. There were no immediate reports of casualties, officials said.

Lesbian kiss on Korean drama sparks debate

Fri, 27 Feb 2015 01:09:07 -0500

Two women kiss during a scene from the tv drama 'Seonam Girls High School Investigators', February 27, 2015 in this image from South Korean cable TV network and broadcasting company JTBCAn unprecedented lesbian kiss between two high school students on a popular South Korean TV drama has fuelled a debate about portrayals of sexuality in a rapidly modernising society with deeply conservative roots. Homosexuality is not illegal in South Korea, but carries a significant social stigma, with few openly gay public figures.

Co-hosts set for Cricket World Cup fireworks

Fri, 27 Feb 2015 01:08:44 -0500

New Zealand's Brendon McCullum plays a shot during the Cricket World Cup match against England in Wellington on February 20, 2015One of the World Cup's biggest games pits high-flying New Zealand against four-time champions Australia at Auckland's Eden Park on Saturday in a match that could well be a dress rehearsal for the final. New Zealand are the team to beat in the tournament so far, with their eight-wicket thrashing of England last week their third win in as many pool matches after they defeated Sri Lanka and outlasted Scotland. Co-hosts Australia and New Zealand, staging the World Cup for only the second-time in the tournament's 40-year history, are both eyeing top position in Pool A so that they face a relatively weaker team in the quarter-finals. Having endured the disappointment of losing the semi-final to eventual winners Pakistan when the World Cup was last co-hosted by the trans-Tasman rivals in 1992, New Zealand look better-equipped to win the tournament this time around.

Most Americans see combating climate change as a moral duty

Fri, 27 Feb 2015 01:08:34 -0500

A truck engine is tested for pollution near the Mexican-U.S. border in Otay Mesa, CaliforniaBy Bruce Wallace WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A significant majority of Americans say combating climate change is a moral issue that obligates them – and world leaders - to reduce carbon emissions, a Reuters/IPSOS poll has found.     The poll of 2,827 Americans was conducted in February to measure the impact of moral language, including interventions by Pope Francis, on the climate change debate. In recent months, the pope has warned about the moral consequences of failing to act on rising global temperatures, which are expected to disproportionately affect the lives of the world’s poor.     The result of the poll suggests that appeals based on ethics could be key to shifting the debate over climate change in the United States, where those demanding action to reduce carbon emissions and those who resist it are often at loggerheads.     Two-thirds of respondents (66 percent) said that world leaders are morally obligated to take action to reduce CO2 emissions.

Cambodians angered over nude photo incidents at temples

Fri, 27 Feb 2015 01:06:15 -0500

FILE - In this July 14, 2004, file photo, tourists check out the stunning view of the Angkor Wat temples outside Siem Reap, Cambodia, with the ruins silhouetted by a sunrise. Cambodia’s most popular tourist attraction, the complex of ancient temples that includes Angkor Wat, is suffering from a form of overexposure as at least five foreign visitors have been arrested and deported this year for taking nude photos at the sacred sites. (AP Photo/Anat Givon, File)SIEM REAP, Cambodia (AP) — Cambodia's most popular tourist attraction — the complex of ancient temples that includes Angkor Wat — is suffering from a form of overexposure: At least five foreign visitors have been arrested and deported this year for taking nude photos at the sacred sites.

Gunman kills 3, found dead in South Korean city: police

Fri, 27 Feb 2015 01:03:18 -0500

South Korean police officers investigate the scene of an incident in Hwaseong, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 27, 2015. A gunman shot and killed three people Friday before he was found dead at a home in a city near the capital Seoul in the second such incident in three days, police officials said. (AP Photo/Yonhap, Shin Young-gun) KOREA OUTSEOUL, South Korea (AP) — A gunman shot and killed three people Friday before he was found dead at a home in a city near the capital Seoul in the second such incident in three days, police officials said.

Fijians get to design new flag as nation ditches Union Jack

Fri, 27 Feb 2015 01:02:22 -0500

FILE - In this Friday, March 18, 2005, file photo, rugby fans hold a Fiji national flag during the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Hong Kong. Fiji Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama announced Friday, Feb. 27, 2015, the Pacific island nation is launching a two-month competition to find the best design for a new flag. (AP Photo/Water Chan, File)WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Fijians will get the opportunity to design a new flag as the country prepares to ditch Britain's Union Jack.

Nepal Supreme Court rejects amnesty for war crimes

Fri, 27 Feb 2015 00:56:14 -0500

By Ross Adkin KATHMANDU (Reuters) - Nepal's Supreme Court has rejected the possibility of amnesty for perpetrators of serious human rights abuses during a decade-long civil war, in a victory for human rights activists and victims' groups. For years, Nepal has been grappling with how to bring justice to victims of humans rights abuses committed during the conflict between Maoist rebels and the security forces. "The court has struck down the amnesty provision from the law and said the consent of the victims is necessary for any reconciliation," Supreme Court official Baburam Dahal told Reuters on Friday. Government forces and Maoist rebels were both accused of war-time abuses, including unlawful killings, arbitrary arrests, disappearances, rape and torture.

Russian energy minister says to attend Ukraine gas talks in Brussels

Fri, 27 Feb 2015 00:50:31 -0500

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak attends a news conference in MoscowKRASNOYARSK, Russia (Reuters) - Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on Friday that he would take part in talks over gas supplies to Ukraine in Brussels on March 2. "We have been invited to three-way talks and have confirmed our participation. First of all we're going to talk about the situation with current supplies to Ukraine and gas transit to European consumers," Novak told reporters. (Reporting by Olesya Astakhova; Writing by Alexander Winning; Editing by Richard Pullin)

Syria expels 2 key UN humanitarian staffers

Fri, 27 Feb 2015 00:16:22 -0500

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The Syrian government expelled two key U.N. humanitarian staffers because of their contact with armed opposition groups while trying to arrange aid deliveries — a decision that could harm a new effort to secure a six-week truce in the country's largest city, the U.N. humanitarian chief says.

The big melt: Antarctica's retreating ice may re-shape Earth

Fri, 27 Feb 2015 00:12:38 -0500

In this Jan. 22, 2015 photo, a zodiac carrying a team of international scientists heads to Chile's station Bernardo O'Higgins, Antarctica. Water is eating away at the Antarctic ice, melting it where it hits the oceans. As the ice sheets slowly thaw, water pours into the sea, 130 billion tons of ice (118 billion metric tons) per year for the past decade, according to NASA satellite calculations. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)CAPE LEGOUPIL, Antarctica (AP) — From the ground in this extreme northern part of Antarctica, spectacularly white and blinding ice seems to extend forever. What can't be seen is the battle raging underfoot to re-shape Earth.

Chinese fans laud departing FC Guangzhou Evergrande coach Lippi

Fri, 27 Feb 2015 00:10:01 -0500

Italian coach Marcello Lippi has resigned from China's Guangzhou Evergrande football club following three trophy-laden yearsChinese football fans and media heaped praise on Italy's World Cup winning-coach Marcello Lippi on Friday, after he resigned from Guangzhou Evergrande club following three trophy-laden years. Evergrande, one of Asia's richest clubs, have taken the last four Chinese Super League titles, three of them under Lippi, and won the Asian Champions League in 2013. Lippi had already stepped aside as team coach in November, to be replaced by Fabio Cannavaro, his captain for the 2006 World Cup triumph in Germany, but stayed on as technical director.

Prince William strikes a friendly contrast to Japan's prince

Fri, 27 Feb 2015 00:06:14 -0500

Britain's Prince William, second left, talks people during his visit at Yokohama War Cemetery in Yokohama, near Tokyo Friday, Feb. 27, 2015. William is on his first visit to Japan. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDITTOKYO (AP) — Britain's Prince William, on his second day of his four-day trip to Japan, is having tea Friday with Crown Prince Naruhito. Both princes may be equally charming, but it is no contest which one is seen as more approachable.

Cuban cigar makers anticipate big bucks from US travelers

Fri, 27 Feb 2015 00:04:22 -0500

A woman places the ringed label on a Hoyo de Monterrey cigar at the Corona cigar factory in Havana, Cuba, Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015. Cuban cigar makers are licking their chops over new U.S. rules that let more Americans travel to the island and legally bring back as much as $100 worth in prized stogies for the first time in decades. Officials said during this week's annual cigar festival that this year alone, they expect to double sales of hand-rolled "habanos" on the island. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)HAVANA (AP) — Over six decades rolling premium cigars with his small, wrinkled hands, Arnaldo Alfonso has taken pride in seeing his "habanos" sampled by visiting heads of state and other dignitaries.

Venezuela newspaper that opposed Chavez ends daily edition

Thu, 26 Feb 2015 23:42:18 -0500

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — The Venezuela newspaper started by a former guerrilla as a forum to criticize the socialist revolution started by the late President Hugo Chavez is ending its daily print edition amid a shortage of newsprint and what it says is a pattern of government harassment.

Boat capsizes off Macau, 15 people missing

Thu, 26 Feb 2015 23:34:48 -0500

BEIJING (AP) — A suspected people-smuggling boat carrying 19 people capsized off the Chinese territory of Macau on Friday, leaving 15 people missing, the Macau government and Chinese state media said.

Unidentified attackers hack US blogger to death in Dhaka

Thu, 26 Feb 2015 23:27:33 -0500

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — A prominent U.S. blogger, known for his writing against religious fundamentalism, has been hacked to death by unidentified attackers in Bangladesh's capital, police said Friday.