By David Adams MIAMI (Reuters) - When voters go to the polls in primary elections across Florida on Tuesday most attention will be focused on the race in November for the state's governor's mansion, shaping up to be one of the most contested - and expensive - in recent memory. The outcome of Tuesday's Republican and Democrat primaries is a foregone conclusion with incumbent Rick Scott and his main Democratic challenger, former Governor Charlie Crist, forecast to win by wide margins. The last time Democrats won the Florida governor’s race was in 1994, when Jeb Bush narrowly lost to incumbent Lawton Chiles. Scott and Crist, who was a Republican when he served as governor from 2007 to 2011, are in a virtual tie in polls and already engaged in a blistering TV ad campaign bashing each other’s records on everything from taxes to jobs, education and energy policy.
Yaoundé (AFP) - Hundreds of Nigerian soldiers fled across the border to neighbouring Cameroon because of fears of attack from Boko Haram Islamists, Cameroon security sources told AFP on Monday. "Some 500 Nigerian soldiers took refuge in the far north (of Cameroon) on Sunday," said a police officer stationed in the region. "They fled because they feared an attack by Boko Haram. Boko Haram has shown an increasing ability to strike almost at will in northeast Nigeria, where it wants to create a hardline Islamic state, with apparently little or no resistance from the military.
The United States said Monday that it had asked Qatar in advance not to pay a ransom for the release of US hostage Peter Theo Curtis, who was freed by an Islamic rebel group in Syria. Curtis's family said the Qatari government had repeatedly reassured them that it had not won his freedom through a cash payment, as debate mounted over the US policy of refusing to pay ransoms to extremist groups. Curtis was freed on Sunday after what the White House said were its efforts to facilitate contacts between the Curtis family and the Qatari government. "The United States government certainly did not ask the Qataris to pay a ransom.
Germany strongly signalled Monday it will continue to push for fiscal austerity in Europe alongside Spain, even as France was thrown into political turmoil over its economic policy. German Chancellor Angela Merkel praised Madrid's austerity drive during a visit to Spain and gave her powerful backing to the country's economy minister in his bid to lead the Eurogroup forum of finance ministers.
Former New York judge Mary McGowan Davis was appointed Monday to a UN commission probing Israel's Gaza offensive and the actions of Islamist militant group Hamas, the world body's Human Rights Council said. The move comes after Lebanese-born British lawyer Amal Alamuddin -- Hollywood star George Clooney's fiancee -- turned down her nomination citing existing professional commitments. McGowan Davis is likely to prove a controversial choice for Israel, having served on a previous team that investigated a 2008-2009 offensive and whose findings were rejected by the Jewish state. The UN Human Rights Council ordered the Gaza investigation last month, in the face of fierce opposition from Israel and the United States.
The unidentified shooter has been taken to the Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center. “We are sad for our soldier in arms that she faced those kinds of challenges she had to resort to those kinds of actions,” Maj. Gen. Stephen Lyons told reporters during a press briefing Monday. Each day some 34,000 people, including service members from all military branches, their families, civilians, and contractors, pass through Fort Lee, which is located 130 miles south of Washington. Major General Lyons told reporters that the shooter is a sergeant first class, and a 14-year Army veteran who had been at Fort Lee for nearly three years.
Île-de-Sein (France) (AFP) - President Francois Hollande led tributes to the French Resistance on Monday, as Paris celebrated the 70th anniversary of its joyful liberation after four long and bitter years of Nazi occupation in World War II. Soaked by a torrential downpour on the Ile de Sein off northwestern France, Hollande hailed the bravery of the tiny island's population, who refused to accept their country's occupation and fled to Britain to join the fight for France's liberation. "A tiny parcel of land in the ocean, the Ile de Sein was in the vanguard, an example, an illustration of French patriotism," he said.
Israeli fire killed 10 Palestinians across Gaza on Monday, while Egypt proposed a new ceasefire that would open key crossings into the blockaded territory. Since an earlier truce collapsed on August 19, the death toll in Gaza has risen steadily with at least 113 Palestinians killed in more than 350 Israeli air strikes across the territory. Since midnight on Sunday, Israeli fire has killed at least 10 Palestinians, including a woman, a 78-year-old man and a boy aged three. Medical officials said he was hit by tank fire in the war-battered Shejaiya area of eastern Gaza City.
Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko on Monday dissolved parliament, calling for early elections on October 26 as his country continues to grapple with a pro-Russian insurgency in the east. "I have decided to terminate the powers of Verkhovna Rada (Ukraine's parliament) early," his official website quoted him as saying. The dissolution of Ukraine's parliament has been widely expected after the ruling coalition collapsed more than a month ago and Poroshenko promised on August 1 to hold new polls in the coming months, rather than in 2017. "The current makeup of Verkhovna Rada supported (ousted former leader Viktor) Yanukovych," Poroshenko said, accusing lawmakers of passing "dictatorial" laws under the former Moscow-backed president.
A rocket fired from Lebanon crashed into northern Israel on Monday night, the army said, without any immediate reports of injuries. "At least one rocket fired from Lebanon hit the Upper Galilee," a message on the military's official Twitter feed said. Israeli artillery returned fire, Israeli security sources said. It was the third consecutive day in which Israel came under rocket fire from the north as well from the Gaza Strip in the south.
By Jon Herskovitz AUSTIN Texas (Reuters) - Attorneys for Texas Governor Rick Perry filed a motion on Monday to dismiss two felony charges of abusing his power, saying it is unjust to prosecute the leader of the state over a political dispute by trying to criminalize a veto. Perry, a possible candidate in the 2016 Republican presidential race, was indicted earlier this month for trying to use the veto to force the resignation of a prosecutor in Travis County, a Democratic stronghold in the Republican-dominated state. "Subjecting any sitting governor to a criminal prosecution and injecting the judiciary into a political dispute would be an unprecedented assault on this cherished separation of powers," the motion filed in a Travis County district court said. Perry, the longest-serving governor in the state's history, became the target of an ethics investigation last year after he vetoed $7.5 million in funding for the state public integrity unit run from the Travis County district attorney's office.
Campaigners condemned Mali on Monday over the release of a judge accused of being a key figure in the brutal 2012 Islamist occupation of the country's northern desert. Houka Houka Ag Alfousseyni sat in the ancient caravan town of Timbuktu during the occupation, where he was said to have been involved in "grave human rights violations". He was released on August 15 as part of negotiations between the government and Islamist and separatist rebels, according to a statement from the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the Malian Association of Human Rights (AMDH). "This release is an attack on the independence of the justice system and a gross violation of the rights of victims to justice and truth," AMDH president Moctar Mariko said in the statement.
Libyan rescuers have recovered the bodies of around 170 people after a boat carrying illegal migrants from sub-Saharan Africa sank at sea last week, a coast guard official said Monday. "We freed about 100 bodies trapped in the hold of the 16-metre (50-foot) wooden boat which foundered not far from the coast," Abdellatif Mohammed Ibrahim told AFP. On Friday, the coast guard said it had saved 16 people and recovered 15 bodies. He said on Monday that recovery of the remaining bodies was slow because the coast guard service has "a major shortage of resources."
By Bill Cotterell TALLAHASSEE Fla. (Reuters) - Florida's Republican governor, Rick Scott, unveiled two new education initiatives on Monday aimed at calming critics of "common core" national curriculum standards and countering his main Democratic rival's attacks on his record. Skepticism is strong in Tea Party Republican circles, Scott's political base, towards education policies originating in Washington.
US President Barack Obama has vowed to take action on immigration before summer's end. Now millions of hopeful undocumented immigrants are eagerly awaiting his move -- as are Republican leaders who accuse him of abusing his power. Back in Washington after two weeks of a golf-filled family vacation on a small island in Massachusetts, the US president is readying to take on a issue which is especially sensitive in the run-up to November's midterm elections. "The American people don’t want me standing around twiddling my thumbs waiting for Congress to do something," said Obama, frustrated by the lack of action by lawmakers on Capitol Hill, before he left.