Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt visited Cuba this week along with three other top executives to promote "a free Internet," Cuban independent online newspaper "14yMedio" reported Sunday. The four executives "met with officials," spoke "with youth at polytechnical schools" and, on Saturday, visited the University of Computer Sciences in western Havana, wrote the newspaper, run by dissident blogger Yoani Sanchez.
British Prime Minister David Cameron called Jean-Claude Juncker on Sunday to congratulate the man he tried to block from becoming European Commission president, Downing Street said in a statement. Cameron's failure to prevent Juncker getting the job after a bitter campaign was seen as a blow to the premier that could increase the likelihood of Britain leaving the European Union. A spokesman for the prime minister said Cameron had phoned to congratulate Juncker on his successful campaign, and on securing the nomination. "The PM welcomed Mr Juncker's commitment of finding a fair deal for Britain and Mr Juncker said that he was fully committed to finding solutions for the political concerns of the UK."
An Israeli drone strike Sunday killed a Palestinian militant in Gaza, Palestinian security officials said, in the latest air raid on the coastal enclave. An army spokesman said the raid targeted "terrorists" who had been preparing to fire rockets at Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said earlier that Israel was ready to expand operations in Gaza in response to a surge in militant rocket fire, and after the air force struck a dozen targets overnight.
More than 1,600 migrants were rescued by the Italian navy and coast guard this weekend, authorities said Sunday, as the annual arrivals toll crept towards a record high. Seven boats, many of them carrying children, were intercepted in a 24-hour period between Saturday and Sunday, bringing the total number of migrants arriving on Italian shores this year to above 60,000. Some experts even believe the number could reach 100,000, with warm weather encouraging migrants from north Africa, and particularly from Libya, to make the crossing. Italy has long borne the brunt of migrants making the perilous crossing from North Africa to Europe, but EU border agency Frontex says there has been a significant rise in numbers in recent months.
Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Istanbul on Sunday for the city's Gay Pride parade, an event that has taken on added political significance a year on from massive anti-government protests. While Turkey's lesbian, gay, bi and transgender (LGBT) community enjoy better rights than in most Muslim countries, many see the event as a chance to be themselves without fear of reproach. "I have not 'come out' yet to my father, my mother or my friends," protester Senef Cakmak told AFP. One person who knows that more than most is Michelle Demishevich, a transgender journalist who recently saw through the conviction of a woman who assaulted her - a first for Turkey.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant jihadist group, which spearheaded a sweeping militant assault that overran swathes of Iraq, is now claiming leadership of the world's Muslims. Known for its ruthless tactics and suicide bombers, ISIL has carried out frequent bombings and shootings in Iraq, and is also arguably the most capable force fighting President Bashar al-Assad inside Syria. ISIL is led by the shadowy Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and backed by thousands of Islamist fighters in Syria and Iraq, some of them Westerners, and it appears to be surpassing Al-Qaeda as the world's most dangerous jihadist group.
The softly spoken, bespectacled intellectual hoping to defeat Turkey's powerful premier in the country's first direct presidential election faces a steep uphill struggle. Egypt-born Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu is a former head of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, the global grouping of Muslim nations, and a scholar who makes no secret of his devotion to Islam. The selection of an overtly pious Muslim may seem a surprising move for the secular opposition, but it reflects the way in which Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan -- who continues to dominate Turkish politics after 11 years in power -- has made it impossible to ignore the religiously conservative majority. The opposition hopes Ihsanoglu's calm and professorial demeanour will offer a welcome contrast to Erdogan's volatile outbursts and polarising style, that have become increasingly evident over the past year as he responds to mass anti-government protests and a torrent of corruption allegations against his inner circle.
A Tunisian diplomat and a fellow embassy staffer abducted in Libya earlier this year were freed by their abductors on Sunday after months in captivity, an embassy source said. "They have been freed and should be returning to Tunisia soon," the source, who declined to be identified, told AFP, adding that the pair were in good health. Diplomats in Tripoli say militias which fought to topple the Moamer Kadhafi regime in the 2011 uprising often carry out kidnappings to blackmail other countries into releasing Libyans they hold. At the time Tunis said a jihadist group was behind the abductions and was demanding the release of Libyans jailed in Tunisia for their role in a deadly "terrorist operation" that took place three years ago.
The leaders of Shiite Iran and Sunni Qatar vowed Sunday to cooperate to fight "terrorism in the region", President Hassan Rouhani's office reported as Iraqi forces counter a militant onslaught. The pledge to play a "constructive role to establish security and stability" came in a phone call between Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and Rouhani, a statement from the Iranian president's office said. Iran is ready, he said, to do just that and "fight security problems and instability in the region" that benefit only "Zionists and the enemies of the Muslim world". Iranian media, however, have accused Qatar and Saudi Arabia of supporting the jihadist Sunni fighters.
The Israeli government Sunday authorised 1,500 more Jordanians to come and work in its Red Sea resort of Eilat to combat a labour shortage, the tourism ministry said. The Jordanians would enter Israel to work and go back across the border to Jordan at night once their shift was finished, the ministry said in a statement. "I am persuaded that this decision will reinforce peace between Israel and Jordan, and help reduce high unemployment in southern Jordan," it quoted Tourism Minister Uzi Landau as saying. Ministry figures show that some 300 Jordanians currently work in and around the resort, which has about 12,000 hotel rooms.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the shadowy jihadist fighting in Iraq and Syria, and newly declared leader of a "caliphate" encompassing all Muslims, is increasingly seen as more powerful than Al-Qaeda's chief. The leader of the powerful Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militant group was declared Sunday the "caliph" in an attempt to revive a system of rule that ended nearly 100 years ago with the fall of the Ottoman Empire. "The Shura (council) of the Islamic State met and discussed this issue (of the caliphate)... The Islamic State decided to establish an Islamic caliphate and to designate a caliph for the state of the Muslims," ISIL spokesman Abu Mohammad al-Adnani said in an audio recording distributed online.
Mauritania's highest court on Sunday confirmed the victory of incumbent leader Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz in presidential polls, and rejected an appeal calling for the results to be annulled. "The candidate Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz was elected President of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania in the first round of the presidential election," the chairman of the constitutional council, Sgheyir Ould M'barek, said during an official ceremony. The chairman added that 57-year-old Abdel Aziz had won "an absolute majority of votes cast" in the June 21 election. Final results released by the council gave Abdel Aziz 81.94 percent of the vote, slightly higher than the provisional figure of 81.89 percent given by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) a week ago.
The Israeli cabinet on Sunday approved a $90 million dollar socio-economic development plan for annexed east Jerusalem which focuses on increased security and police presence in the area, the municipality said. The plan involves an increase in the number of policemen on the beat as well as a greater number of security cameras. "According to Israel police assessments, the plan will lead to a significant decline in the short- and medium-term of over 50 percent in displays of violence," it said. Police figures quoted by the municipality indicate that in March and April, there were 390 incidents of stone-throwing at the security forces and vehicles in east Jerusalem, as well as dozens of cars stolen and break-ins.
US President Barack Obama warned that "battle-hardened" Europeans who embrace jihad in Syria and Iraq threaten the United States because their passports mean they can enter the country without a visa. Nearly 800 French citizens have spent time fighting in Syria's civil war, according to latest estimates, and Belgium says 200 of its people have done the same. Those holding French, Belgian and British passports -- along with a host of other European countries -- do not need visas to visit the United States, meaning they can potentially avoid scrutiny. "We have seen Europeans sympathetic to their (militants') cause traveling into Syria and may now travel into Iraq, getting battle-hardened.