If you're channel hopping in the restive eastern Ukraine city of Donetsk these days you can still tune in to the usual soft rock and Russian ballads. Welcome to Radio Republic -- the only official station of the self-proclaimed rebel Donetsk People's Republic, coming at the war-torn region with a blend of patriotic jingles and political diatribes to keep listeners tuned in. Georgy asked that his surname not be reported and his face not to be photographed due to the illegal nature of the operation. I am better at this than I am at shooting," Georgy said.
Suspected Boko Haram gunmen have killed 10 people in raids on five villages in Nigeria's northeast Adamawa state, a local official said on Friday. "We have confirmed that 10 people were killed in the attacks on the five villages by Boko Haram insurgents yesterday (Thursday). Many people sustained injuries while trying to escape," said Maina Ularamu, Madagali local government council chairman. Scores of gunmen dressed in military uniform stormed the villages of Imirsa, Shuwari, Yaza, Humabza and Anguwar Shuwa, burning homes and looting food supplies, he told AFP.
The US Coast Guard said Friday it had repatriated 31 Cubans and 25 Haitians found in precarious boats in the Caribbean and the Florida Straits. On June 9, a US patrol stopped a sailboat with 25 Haitians west of Mona Island, Puerto Rico. Four days later, US authorities captured three more boats carrying a total of 31 people in the Florida Straits, which separate Cuba from the southeastern US state. On Tuesday, the Haitians were brought to Cap Haitien and the Cubans to Bahia de Cabanas.
Uganda played down Friday the impact of US sanctions slapped on the country for tough anti-gay laws, and rejected claims by rights groups that the legislation had led to a rise in homophobic assaults. Washington, which counts Uganda as a regional ally, on Thursday cancelled a military exercise, imposed visa bans and withheld some aid with one US official describing the law -- which calls for "repeat homosexuals" to be jailed for life -- as "vile". The legislation "runs counter to universal human rights and complicates our bilateral relationship," the White House said, renewing calls for the law to be repealed. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said the sanctions were "a stern signal to the Ugandan government: the United States will not tolerate the vile persecution of LGBT Ugandans".
Yemeni warplanes supported troops battling Shiite Huthi rebels north of Sanaa Friday as fighting intensified, with dozens killed in 48 hours, officials and tribal chiefs said. The violence in Amran province comes despite President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi warning against a military escalation. Warplanes launched at least eight air raids on Friday to try to break the rebels' grip on army positions, some of which are just 15 kilometres (nine miles) from Sanaa, local government officials and tribal chiefs said. The army hammered rebel positions in Hamdan, Bani Matar and Iyal Sreih in Amran province with artillery, local officials said.
Canada's jobs minister unveiled stricter rules for hiring temporary foreign workers Friday after allegations of widespread abuses by employers, such as sidelining Canadians for jobs. The changes are meant to ensure the foreign worker program is used as intended "as a last and limited resort to fill acute labor shortages on a temporary basis when qualified Canadians are not available," Employment Minister Jason Kenney said in a statement. Also, the amount of time a temporary foreign worker can remain in Canada has been halved to two years. Temporary foreign workers will no longer be allowed to apply for low-skilled, low-paid jobs in restaurants, hotels or retail stores in areas where unemployment is higher than six percent -- which is most major cities across Canada.
Two Ugandan men who sneaked piglets into the east African nation's parliament to protest against corruption have been sent to prison awaiting trial, and the animals impounded as evidence, relatives said Friday. "At the court the magistrate read to them three charges of criminal trespass, conspiracy to sneak piglets into parliament and a third charge of interrupting parliament work," Richard Sebuliba, a relative of one of the men, told AFP. Officials said the protestors had painted the piglets in the colours of the ruling party of President Yoweri Museveni, one of Africa's longest serving leaders, and had written slogans insulting MPs as corrupt on the animals. The pair, Robert Mayanja and Norman Tumuhimbise, are members of a protest movement calling themselves the "jobless brotherhood group".
US President Barack Obama said Friday he hopes to have an agreement on framing a vast pan-Pacific trading block by the time he makes his next visit to Asia in November. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) would encompass 40 percent of the global economy and include 12 nations. Talks on setting up the pact have been delayed by intricate market access negotiations between Japan and the United States. Obama said he and New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key discussed the latest timeline for the deal in Oval Office talks Friday, and that he hoped to have a "document" on it by the end of the year.
The White House on Friday ordered environmental regulators to review the effect that pesticides may be having on bees and other pollinators that have suffered significant losses in recent years. Environmental advocates welcomed the plan but said it did not go far enough, noting that the European Union has already banned three common pesticides, known as neonicotinoids, on the basis that they were making bees sick. Honey bees contribute $15 billion in value to US crops annually, and have suffered severe losses in recent years due to a phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder. The government's new plan calls for the Environmental Protection Agency to "assess the effect of pesticides, including neonicotinoids, on bee and other pollinator health and take action, as appropriate," within 180 days.
The Obama administration on Friday said it would boost resources and speed up deportation hearings to cope with a suddenly rising tide of illegal immigration among children from Central America. The move comes while Vice President Joe Biden is in the region to discuss the problem, which has further roiled the already toxic debate over immigration reform in the United States. The White House said the government would step up enforcement resources to hold and process children and adults who bring them into the country illegally. Between October 2013 and the end of May 2014, US border officials intercepted more than 47,000 unaccompanied minors trying to illegally enter the United States, almost twice the number registered between October 2012 and the end of September 2013.
Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah visited Cairo Friday, on his first trip to Egypt since the 2011 ouster of dictator Hosni Mubarak, for talks with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Riyadh hailed last July's ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi by ex-army chief Sisi and has pledged billions of dollars in aid to Egypt's military-installed authorities.
US President Barack Obama said Friday that he is badgering his staff to line up a trip to New Zealand, after holding talks with his golfing buddy, Prime Minister John Key. Obama and Key met for talks in the Oval Office on trade, security and economic issues, but the conversation also turned to their shared passion for the links and Obama's travel plans. "I indicated to him that I would love to come to New Zealand because I hear it's really nice," Obama told reporters. "We're going to be working with my scheduler to see what I can come up with, if not this year, certainly before the end of my presidency," Obama said.
Mombasa (Kenya) (AFP) - A Briton on trial in Kenya for plotting bomb attacks had chemicals that could be used to make "highly volatile" explosives, a British detective told a Mombasa court on Friday. Suspected British militant Jermaine Grant, accused of ties to Somalia's Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab and plotting attacks, was arrested in December 2011 in the Kenyan port city with various chemicals, batteries and switches. "These items can be found with someone with the intention of constructing an IED, (improvised explosive device)," John Reilly, from London's Metropolitan police, told the court.