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Qatar to buy Patriot missiles in $11 bln deal: US officials

Qatar will buy US Patriot missiles for the first time in a major arms deal worth $11 billion, officials said Monday, as Washington awaits a decision by the Gulf state on a lucrative fighter jet contract. The sale will provide Qatar with roughly 10 batteries for Patriot systems designed to knock out incoming missiles, as well as 24 Apache helicopters and 500 Javelin anti-tank missiles, the US officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AFP. Qatar was investing in missile defense systems to counter what it sees as the threat from Iran across the Gulf, as Tehran has built up its missile arsenal, officials said. The weapons deal was the biggest for the United States in 2014 and came as Qatar weighs proposals in a fighter jet competition, with US aerospace firm Boeing vying against British BAE Systems and Dassault Aviation of France.


Ivorian refugees stopped from returning home over Ebola fears

Abidjan (AFP) - Around 400 Ivorian refugees who fled to Liberia during their country's 2010-2011 post-election violence have been prevented from returning home due to fears over the spread of the Ebola virus, a UN official said Monday.


Amar’e Steps On Israeli Land Mine

‘The Big Liability,’ who is allegedly part-Jewish, posted—and then deleted—an Instagram that read “Pray for Palestine,” and then reportedly proceeded to harass an Israeli-born journalist over Twitter.


Britain's Hague steps down as foreign secretary

Britain's William Hague announced his resignation as foreign secretary to become leader of the lower house of parliament on Monday, part of a reshuffle of the Conservative-led government. "Tonight I am standing down as Foreign Secretary after four years to serve as Leader of the House of Commons," Hague wrote on Twitter. Prime Minister David Cameron is expected to reveal several other changes within his government in a reshuffle to prepare for the election. The leader of the House of Commons is a minister who organises business in the lower house and works closely with the government's chief whip.


EU resumes cooperation with Guinea-Bissau

Brussels (AFP) - The European Union said Monday that it was resuming cooperation with Guinea-Bissau after a three-year break following "free and credible" elections held in the tiny west African nation in May.


Mary Robinson named UN special climate change envoy

United Nations (United States) (AFP) - United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Monday named former Irish president Mary Robinson as his special envoy for climate change, ahead of a summit set for September.


Oil prices tick higher

Global oil prices rose Monday as turmoil in Libya clouded expectations of a return of the country's crude supplies to the market. US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for August finished the session at $100.91 a barrel, a slight gain of eight cents from Friday's close. Brent North Sea for delivery in August rose 32 cents to settle at $106.98 a barrel in London trade. Commerzbank analysts, in a research note, highlighted renewed protests in Libya and the closure of the oil terminal at Brega.


U.S. senators push for tough line in Iran nuclear talks

By Patricia Zengerle WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Two influential U.S. senators have asked fellow lawmakers to support demands that Iran accept tough conditions in nuclear talks, including at least two decades of inspections, before Congress would agree to ease sanctions. The appeal was made as Iran and six major powers, including the United States, approach a deadline in talks in Vienna aimed at a deal in which Iran would curb its nuclear program in exchange for gradual relief from crippling economic sanctions. Democrat Robert Menendez and Republican Lindsey Graham, who believe President Barack Obama's administration should not act without Congressional backing, distributed a letter among senators saying they want Iran to "come clean" about any military dimensions of its nuclear program.


Gore, Kennedy clan at Tenn. funeral for press icon

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Former Vice President Al Gore and members of the Kennedy family joined hundreds of other mourners Monday for the funeral of renowned journalist and press freedom champion John Seigenthaler, whose career spanned the civil rights struggle in the South and contemporary battles for media openness in the digital age.


US slams Cuba dissident arrests as 'intimidation tactic'

The United States on Monday blasted Cuba's recent mass arrest of dissidents as an "intimidation tactic" to silence critics, and called for the end to such detentions. Cuban authorities broke up a Sunday march by the Ladies in White, arresting about 100 of the opposition activists as they marked the 20th anniversary of the sinking of a tugboat in which 37 people drowned while seeking to flee the communist-ruled island. "We strongly condemn the Cuban government's continued use of this intimidation tactic to silence its critics and disrupt peaceful assembly," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement. Psaki described the tugboat as having been "sunk by the Cuban government 20 years ago."


WTO says US anti-dumping duties on Chinese products wrong

Beijing won a key victory Monday in a trade dispute with Washington, as a WTO panel said the United States was wrong to slap punitive duties on a host of Chinese goods. The United States had hit them with extra import duties because it argued that they were being dumped on its market to help Chinese companies grab business. China filed a complaint over the measures at the World Trade Organization in 2012. A World Trade Organization dispute settlement panel on Monday said that the US duties were "inconsistent" with global rules.


Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl returned to regular Army duty

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Army has given Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl a desk job, ending the formal phase of his transition from Taliban prisoner to not-quite-ordinary soldier, and setting the stage for Army investigators to question the Idaho native about his disappearance that led to five years in captivity.


Egypt proposes Israel-Gaza truce to start 0600 GMT  

Egypt proposed a ceasefire in the conflict between Israel and its Islamist foe Hamas to start at 0600 GMT Tuesday and be followed by talks on easing the flow of goods into Gaza. The proposal late on Monday came on the eve of a scheduled visit by US Secretary of State John Kerry to Egypt, a traditional broker in Palestinian-Israeli conflicts, to push for a halt to seven days of exchanges that have left 184 Gazans dead.


Obama support plummets in Germany, Russia: study

German and Russian support for US President Barack Obama has nosedived in the past year over revelations of spying and tensions in Ukraine, an influential American research group said Monday. Obama's overall favorability numbers have changed little since 2013 in the 44 nations surveyed, with a median of 56 percent expressing confidence he will "do the right thing in world affairs," according to Pew's sweeping survey of 48,643 adults in 44 nations. Israelis' Obama favorability jumped 10 points year on year, to 71 percent, while the Chinese had a sudden infatuation with the US president, jumping 20 points to 51 percent favorability. "Revelations that Washington systematically reads both Americans' and some foreigners' emails and listens in on their telephone conversations appears to have significantly damaged Obama's approval in only one European Union country: Germany," Pew reported.


Isolated Russia has friends at multipolar-pushing BRICS

The summit of the BRICS group of emerging economies this week defies the Western push to isolate Russia, the latest sign of the increasingly multipolar world order the bloc demands. When the leaders of the group's member countries -- Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa -- get together Tuesday and Wednesday in Brazil, it will mark the first time Russian President Vladimir Putin has participated in an international summit since being kicked out of the G8 group of industrialized nations over the Ukraine crisis.


Citigroup to pay $7B in subprime mortgages probe

WASHINGTON (AP) — Citigroup agreed Monday to pay $7 billion to settle a federal investigation into its handling of risky subprime mortgages, admitting to a pattern of deception that Attorney General Eric Holder said "shattered lives" and contributed to the worst financial crisis in decades.


Kuwait to review citizenship over threats to security

Kuwait ordered its interior ministry Monday to review citizenship of people who threaten national security and vowed an "iron fist" policy, in a crackdown on dissent following violent protests. Riot police earlier this month clashed with demonstrators protesting over the arrest and detention of prominent opposition leader Mussallam al-Barrak for allegedly insulting the judiciary. In a string of decisions against "acts of riots and violence," the cabinet of the oil-rich Gulf state ordered the interior ministry to start screening citizenship of people "who undermine the country's security and stability". The cabinet, in a statement, asked "the interior ministry to take all necessary measures to ensure that terms and conditions for citizenship and national belonging contained in the nationality law are fully met, particularly with regards to practises undermining security and stability".


Long-serving British minister Clarke to quit government: reports

British politician Kenneth Clarke, a veteran pro-EU Conservative, is expected to retire from government as part of a reshuffle that draws the battle-lines ahead of next year's general election. Prime Minister David Cameron is expected to reveal full details of the reshuffle imminently, and reports said on Monday that Clarke would announce he was stepping down from his role as minister without portfolio. The 74-year-old, well known for his love of ale and jazz, first became an MP in 1970, and held top positions in the governments of Margaret Thatcher and John Major. Welsh Secretary David Jones also revealed that he was leaving government as part of the reshuffle.


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