Iraq's Kurds will hold an independence referendum within months, their leader Massud Barzani said on Tuesday, as the region reels under a brutal offensive by Sunni jihadists who have declared an Islamic caliphate. Barzani said the time was right for a vote as Iraq was already effectively partitioned following the lightning gains by the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS), formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Asked whether the vote would take place soon, Barzani added: "I can't fix a date right now but definitely it's a question of months.
By Jeff Mason and Steve Holland WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama said on Monday he would take executive action to revamp the U.S. immigration system and move additional resources to protect the border after hopes of passing broad reform legislation in Congress officially died. Republican John Boehner, speaker of the House of Representatives, told Obama last week that his chamber would not vote on immigration reform this year, killing chances that a wide-ranging bill passed by the Senate would become law. The collapse of the legislative process delivers another in a series of blows to Obama's domestic policy agenda and comes as he struggles to deal with a flood of unaccompanied minors from Central America who have entered the United States. Obama chided Republicans for refusing to bring immigration reform to a vote and said only legislation could provide a permanent fix to the problem.
Unemployment in Germany stagnated in June as clouds begin to appear on the horizon of Europe's biggest economy and favourable statistical effects from mild weather wear off, official data showed on Tuesday. The unemployment rate stood at 6.7 percent in seasonally adjusted terms in June, unchanged from May, while the number of people registered as unemployed rose by 9,000, the Federal Labour Office said in a statement. "Unemployment did not rise in the winter because of mild weather, so the usual decline in June was shallower than expected," the office explained.
Carrying banners and chanting slogans, thousands of protesters gathered Tuesday for a pro-democracy rally in Hong Kong that organisers say could be the largest since the city was handed back to China. The rally reflects surging discontent over Beijing's insistence that it vet candidates before a vote in 2017 for the semi-autonomous city's next leader. The poll has irked Beijing, which branded it "illegal and invalid" despite the unexpectedly high turnout. "Hong Kong is turning into a place with less and less freedom," Eric Wong, a 24-year-old photographer who took part in the rally, told AFP.
Violence in South Sudan's civil war including the execution of scores of hospital patients is the worst seen for decades and is an "affront to human dignity", Doctors Without Borders said Tuesday. "The conflict has at times seen horrific levels of violence, including against healthcare facilities," said Raphael Gorgeu, South Sudan chief for Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres, MSF). "The violence carried out against the wounded and sick, and against those seeking shelter in hospitals and against medical facilities themselves, are not only violations of international laws and humanitarian principles, but an affront to human dignity," MSF said in a report that examined the situation over the last six months.
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama's abrupt shift from seeking immigration legislation to pursuing a go-it-alone executive strategy raises expectations among immigration advocates that Obama may have trouble satisfying while setting up a clash with House Republicans who've already threatened to sue him.
The Japanese government will Tuesday proclaim the right to send its soldiers into battle even when the country is not under direct attack, in the most significant recasting of military policy since the pacifist constitution was written. Conservative Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to crown months of political horse-trading when his cabinet formally endorses a reinterpretation of rules that have banned the use of armed force except in very narrowly-defined circumstances. Despite widespread public opposition that boiled over at the weekend when a middle-aged man attempted suicide by setting himself on fire in Tokyo, Abe will invoke the right to exercise so-called "collective self-defence". "The government has studied whether there is a defect in the current legal framework in protecting people's lives and property and Japan's safety... and we'll write the necessary legislation," top government spokesman Yoshihide Suga told a regular press conference.
A Lenin statue has returned to a onetime model communist city in Poland but the monumental hero of Soviet days is now a small, lurid green man urinating from atop a black plinth. The ironic take on the Russian revolutionary stands in Nowa Huta, a working class suburb of Krakow, to offer a bit of comic closure with its often difficult communist past. "Are we capable of ascribing a funnier, surrealist meaning to this past, of bursting the bubble, of showing that we're able to let go of the trauma through laughter and distance?" asks artist Bartosz Szydlowski who created the piece with his wife Malgorzata. Called the "Fountain of the Future", the statue aims to subvert the ideological symbolism of the larger-than-life original, which was erected after World War II when Poland was a Soviet satellite then taken down when the regime fell in 1989.