Two homemade bombs have exploded at a shopping center in the Chilean resort city of Vina del Mar, adding to panic after a subway bombing in Santiago wounded 14 people. The latest explosion came Wednesday inside a bathroom at the Open Plaza mall in Vina del Mar. The twin bombings in Vina del Mar, a picturesque city on the Pacific coast, have added to a growing climate of fear after Monday's attack on the Escuela Militar (Military School) subway station in the capital. Monday's blast in Santiago, which the government condemned as a "terrorist act," was the second on the Chilean capital's subway system in less than two months.
Cuba's Roman Catholic bishops pressed the Americas' only Communist government to deepen economic reforms and hinted at a desire for political opening in a document obtained by AFP Wednesday. In a country with a centrally planned economy where opposition political parties remain outlawed, the Church is the only sizeable non-state actor that has an ongoing dialogue with President Raul Castro's government. The government's limited "economic reforms have not jump-started the economy in such a way that all Cuba's people can feel," the document reads in part.
The majority of US air strikes in Iraq over the past month have targeted jihadists in the country's north fighting for control of the strategic Mosul dam, Pentagon officials said Wednesday, citing a tally of the raids. Out of 154 American bombing raids conducted since August 8 in Iraq, 91 of them were aimed at Islamic State (IS) militants threatening the Mosul dam in the country's north, US defense officials said. The Pentagon has declined to provide details about which US aircraft have carried out the bombing in Iraq or what bases in the region they were flying out of, apart from acknowledging that F-18 fighters on an aircraft carrier in the Gulf have taken part in the operations.
The White House will hold a summit on preventing violent extremism, the US Secretary of Homeland Security said Wednesday, warning that terrorists must "be engaged." The US continues "to face real terrorist enemies and real terrorist threats" from Islamic State jihadists who have overtaken large swaths of Syria and Iraq, Secretary Jeh Johnson said, one day ahead of the 13th anniversary of September 11. Johnson spoke only hours before President Barack Obama was to deliver a White House address in which he appeared poised to authorize air strikes against the Islamic State in Syria.
The United States described as "a good, tiny first step" Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko's announcement Wednesday that Russia had withdrawn the bulk of its forces from his country. Washington was unable to verify what would be a potentially significant development in the crisis, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said, adding: "If it is correct -- but it is far from enough -- it would be a good tiny first step." Poroshenko said Friday's ceasefire -- the first backed by both Kiev and Moscow since the conflict erupted five months ago -- had dramatically improved security in Ukraine's industrial rustbelt, where Kiev has been battling pro-Moscow rebels. Speaking separately, at the German Marshall Fund in Washington, Victoria Nuland, assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, cautioned that "there is a long road to go."
French President Francois Hollande on Wednesday launched a fresh salvo against a scathing memoir written by his former partner, saying he had been particularly "hurt" by claims he secretly despises the poor. Valerie Trierweiler claimed in the book that the Socialist leader jokingly referred to the destitute as "toothless" in private. In the memoir, entitled "Thank You for the Moment", Trierweiler writes that Hollande "portrayed himself as the man who doesn't like the rich. In an interview with Le Nouvel Observateur, the Socialist president defended his commitment to the needy as he struggles to stop his popularity ratings from sinking to new depths.
Russia will respond to the United States' "prompt global strike" programme designed to take out targets within an hour by upgrading its nuclear and space defence forces, its deputy prime minister said Wednesday. "Our response to the prompt global strike strategy is upgrading our strategic nuclear forces and resources -- the strategic rocket forces and the naval ones -- and also developing air and space defence resources according to the plans we have finalised," Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who oversees defence, was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency. He spoke after President Vladimir Putin held a government meeting on Russia's defence spending at which he accused Western countries of provoking the Ukraine crisis in order to "revive NATO."
Congressional Democrats were drafting legislation Wednesday that would authorize the US military to equip and train moderate Syrian rebels in an effort to reverse advances by the Islamic State (IS). Republicans have resisted the move, arguing President Barack Obama was trying to enact a "complicated policy change" without full congressional debate. Obama was scheduled to address the nation later Wednesday to lay out his plan to defeat the jihadist group that has rampaged across parts of Syria and Iraq, and he has told lawmakers and foreign leaders that equipping and training rebels was part of his strategy. "It's clear to me that we need to train and equip Syrian rebels and other groups in the Middle East that need some help," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told colleagues.
Catalonia's president warned Wednesday it was "practically impossible" to stop the region voting on secession from Spain and looked to Scotland to smooth the way with its own independence referendum. Artur Mas, who has defied Madrid by calling a vote on independence for the rich northeastern region on November 9, predicted Scotland would stay in the European Union even if it chooses independence and drew hope from that for his own cause.
Exactly one year ago, President Barack Obama delivered a prime-time speech to defend his Syria policy. Facing a war-weary public broadly opposed to his call for even limited airstrikes, and a divided Congress not at all eager to risk the political price of giving him the authority to go to war, Obama defended his plan to bomb Bashar Assad’s forces in response to the Syrian strongman’s alleged use of chemical weapons. And then he dramatically turned away from military action in favor of diplomacy.
"Six years after the onset of the global economic and financial crisis, the world economy has still not found a sustainable growth path," the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) warned. According to its flagship Trade and Development Report 2014, the world economy is set to grow this year between 2.5 and 3.0 percent, up from 2.3 percent in 2012 and 2013. The growth however is displaying traits seen before the onset of the 2007 financial crisis, warned Alfredo Calgano, who coordinated the 242-page report. The problem, the UNCTAD experts warned, was that "the global recovery remains weak, while the policies supporting it are not only inadequate but often inconsistent."
Efforts to end Sudan's wars and other crises have made a major advance, the African Union's chief mediator Thabo Mbeki said after talks in Khartoum on Wednesday, official media reported. After meeting President Omar al-Bashir, Mbeki said an agreement signed last week between the AU and the Sudanese Revolutionary Front is "a big step in the national dialogue file and paves the way for achieving great success", according to the state SUNA news agency. In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, they committed to peaceful resolution of Sudan's conflicts and to a broad-based national political dialogue. The opposition Umma Party signed an identical commitment with the AU, as did representatives of two other parties which have already agreed to join a dialogue proposed by the government of the poverty-stricken nation.