As President Barack Obama paid emotional tribute to those who stormed the Normandy beaches 70 years ago Friday, the White House unveiled his pick to be the new ambassador to France. Businesswoman and top Democratic Party fundraiser Jane Hartley will take over from former ambassador Charles Rivkin if the Senate confirms her nomination. She has hosted Democratic Party fundraisers in her New York home, and has raised at least $500,000 for Obama since 2012, The Washington Post said.
United Nations (United States) (AFP) - UN chief Ban Ki-moon expressed concern Friday about the deteriorating health of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike, calling on Israel to charge or release them without delay. Around 125 Palestinian prisoners have been on hunger strike for more than six weeks, most of them administrative detainees protesting against being held indefinitely without trial. "The secretary general is concerned about reports regarding the deteriorating health of Palestinian administrative detainees who have been on hunger strike for over a month," Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement Friday. The UN High commissioner for human rights has also expressed concern regarding a bill before Israel's parliament that would permit force-feeding and medical treatment of prisoners on hunger strike, against their will under certain conditions, in contravention of international standards, the spokesman added.
Uganda's AIDS commission on Friday called an HIV bill passed by parliament "nonsensical", and urged the country's president not to sign it into law. "My advice to the president is not to sign the bill," Vinand Nantulya, who chairs the Uganda AIDS Commission -- a government-run body, told reporters. Uganda's parliament passed new legislation criminalising the deliberate transmission of HIV -- the virus that can lead to AIDS -- in May. MPs argue that the move is necessary to halt a rise in infections, but rights groups argue that the new law -- if signed by President Yoweri Museveni -- will only further stigmatise those living with HIV and dissuade people from getting tested.
WASHINGTON (AP) — That feel-good moment in the Rose Garden seems like a long time ago. Just a week after the president announced that Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl had been freed in Afghanistan, details emerging about the soldier, the deal and how the rescue came together are only adding to the list of questions.
The American embassy in Uganda warned citizens Friday of the threat of attacks during televised screenings of the World Cup, amid a wave of bombings in east Africa blamed on Islamist insurgents. During the World Cup final four years ago, Somalia's Al-Qaeda linked Shebab insurgents killed at least 76 people after setting off explosions that ripped through two restaurants in the Ugandan capital. "During the 2010 World Cup, twin bombings in Kampala killed over 70, including a US citizen, at football viewing events," the embassy warned in a statement Friday. The warning came as police said Friday it was taking reports "seriously" that "Shebab terrorists driving in four vehicles entered Uganda through our border with Kenya," police spokesman Fred Enanga said.
The United States on Friday confirmed that North Korea has detained a third American and called on the communist state to release the trio. "We are aware that a US citizen has been detained by North Korea," State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters, adding: "We continue to actively seek the release of all three." The official Korean Central News Agency identified him as Jeffrey Edwards Fowle. North Korea, which has no diplomatic relations with the United States, said it had detained Fowle for "hostile activities" and was questioning him.
Colleville-sur-Mer (France) (AFP) - President Barack Obama Friday paid poetic tribute to the men who breached "Hitler's Wall" and stormed ashore to liberate Europe on D-Day 70 years ago, saying their sacrifice secured a still-evolving age of democracy and freedom. Obama, speaking as a commander-in-chief who wound down the Iraq war and will end US combat in Afghanistan this year, movingly told the dwindling numbers of living D-Day survivors at the Omaha Beach American cemetery in Normandy, that their legacy was safe with a fresh generation of veterans. The president conjured up the moments of carnage and courage when allied forces left an armada of boats early on June 6, 1944 in the English Channel and walked into a torrent of Nazi fire to liberate Europe. "By the end of that longest day, this beach had been fought, lost, refought and won –- a piece of Europe once again liberated and free.
A Chinese-Australian artist detained after making an artwork about the Tiananmen crackdown ahead of its 25th anniversary is to be deported, Canberra said Friday. Guo Jian, a former Tiananmen Square protester, was taken away on Sunday night from his home in Songzhuang, an art colony on the eastern fringe of Beijing, according to two of his acquaintances. Consular officials had visited Guo on Thursday as they "sought an explanation for his detention" from authorities, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said in a statement emailed to AFP Friday. Guo's detention came just days before the 25th anniversary of the June 4 military crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square, during which hundreds of people were killed -- by some estimates, more than 1,000.
Four Nigerian newspapers said soldiers stopped and seized copies of its editions on Friday over security concerns, with one likening the raids to censorship during the country's military rule. The military confirmed the searches, but officers denied that the moves were designed to muzzle critics, even though at least two of the newspapers had published damning articles about the army in recent days. Four dailies -- The Nation, the Daily Trust, the Leadership and Punch -- all said they were affected, while The Nation said soldiers stormed one of its circulation offices. Defence spokesman Chris Olukolade said the search "followed intelligence report(s) indicating movement of materials with grave security implications across the country using the channel of newsprint-related consignments".
Standard and Poor's held its debt rating for the United States unchanged at AA+ on Friday, nearly three years after dealing Washington a historic cut to its top-flight grade. S&P said the country's "polarized policymaking environment and high general government debt and budget deficits" prevent a return to AAA status. It also pointed to the doubling of government debt since 2007, and its expectations that while US borrowing have slowed significantly with an improved budget picture, debt growth is likely to pick up again at the end of this decade. At the same time, S&P said the current ranking holds up given the resilience of the US economy, policy flexibility, and the unique status of the US dollar as the world's leading reserve currency.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's re-election this week proves that any solution to the country's conflict "begins and ends" with the embattled leader, Lebanon's Hezbollah chief said on Friday. "The elections proved that a political solution in Syria begins and ends with President Bashar al-Assad," Hassan Nasrallah, a key ally of Assad's regime, said in a televised address. Assad won a new seven-year term in the country's first multi-candidate presidential vote on June 3, taking nearly 90 percent in an election dismissed by the opposition and its international backers as a "farce." The opposition says Assad's departure from office is a condition for any peace agreement, but Nasrallah dismissed that as a possibility.
Edward Snowden does not appear to have taken as much as originally thought from NSA files, The Washington Post reported late Thursday. The damage is still "profound" from the former NSA contractor who blew the cover on vast US surveillance programs of everything from everyday people's phone calls to intrusions into high-tech companies' servers, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said, according to the Post. Still, "it doesn’t look like he took as much" as first thought, Clapper was quoted as saying in what the Post called a rare interview Tuesday.
Guided more by what they can hear than see, Syrian troops and rebels are battling in the bowels of Damascus, digging tunnels in a campaign to control the eastern entrance to the capital. This is the suburb of Jobar, next to Abassid Square, a stronghold of President Bashar al-Assad's regime. Inside an empty building, a hole in the floor leads to an observation room seven metres (23 feet) down, where army computers are linked to cameras rigged up inside a network of army tunnels.