The British government summoned the Spanish ambassador to the Foreign Office in London on Thursday over the actions of a Spanish naval vessel near Gibraltar. A Spanish navy ship tried to divert two commercial vessels heading to the port of Gibraltar by wrongly claiming they were in Spanish waters, Europe Minister David Lidington said. The incident is the latest in a string of diplomatic rows between London and Madrid over the tiny British peninsula off the southern coast of Spain.
Bolivia passed a law Thursday authorizing children to work from age 10, saying the rule is necessary due to realities in the impoverished country where kids join the labor market prematurely. The reduced legal limit has come under fire from critics who said it opens the door to allowing more children to work from a younger age. The International Labor Organization is investigating the law, amid fears it breached global rules. Vice President Alvaro Garcia signed the measure into law at the Quemado presidential palace in the absence of President Evo Morales, who was traveling to Brazil.
By Ellen Wulfhorst NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York Mayor Bill de Blasio won his job in a landslide last November, but is finding out that staying so popular is not easy. On Thursday, he was labeled "an ass" on the cover of one city tabloid after being skewered in another as behaving like Marie Antoinette and accused on television of being a socialist. "It does seem to me that de Blasio has gotten a much shorter honeymoon than previous mayors," said Jerry Skurnik, a veteran political consultant. De Blasio, who won office with 73 percent of the vote in the city's biggest mayoral electoral win in decades, came under fire this week with his plans to take a vacation in Italy despite the threat of a Long Island Rail Road strike.
By David Lawder WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A top Justice Department official, deflecting demands from Republicans, said on Thursday that a special prosecutor was not needed to look into past U.S. Internal Revenue Service treatment of conservative groups and the agency's loss of related emails. Deputy Attorney General James Cole, the Justice Department's second-in-command after Attorney General Eric Holder, told lawmakers the IRS was being thoroughly and fairly investigated.
US multinational companies are increasingly seeking to reincorporate overseas through mergers and acquisitions to escape US taxes, raising concerns for the Obama administration. "It's the height of economic absurdity but most of all it's symptomatic of the difficulties of the American tax system," said Pascal Saint-Amans, head of the tax division at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, in an interview. The process, called a corporate, or tax, "inversion", is based on a simple, legal principle: A company buys a foreign company and restructures to move its tax domicile to a lower-taxed foreign country. "It's the most blatant tax-dodging technique," Frank Clemente, executive director of Americans for Tax Fairness, told AFP.
Israel launched a ground operation in Gaza late Thursday on the 10th day of an offensive to stamp out rocket attacks from the Palestinian enclave, the army said. "Following 10 days of Hamas attacks by land, air and sea, and after repeated rejections of offers to deescalate the situation, the Israel Defence Forces (army) has initiated a ground operation within the Gaza Strip," it said in a statement. The army said the aim of the operation is to protect Israeli lives and crush Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip. "The IDF's objective as defined by the Israeli government is to establish a reality in which Israeli residents can live in safety and security without continued indiscriminate terror, while striking a significant blow to Hamas's terror infrastructure," the statement said.
Egypt sharply criticised Hamas on Thursday as Israel widened a 10-day offensive in Gaza, saying they could have saved dozens of lives had they accepted a Cairo-mediated truce. Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri's comments came as Israel launched a ground operation and as Cairo hosted Palestinian and Israeli officials for indirect talks on ending the conflict, which has killed 240 Palestinians in air strikes and shelling. Hamas, the Islamist rulers of the besieged enclave, had rejected the ceasefire intended to start on Tuesday and continued firing rockets at Israeli cities. "Had Hamas accepted the Egyptian proposal, it could have saved the lives of at least 40 Palestinians," Shoukri said, quoted by state news agency MENA.
Israeli tank fire in Gaza killed three people on Thursday night, raising the Palestinian death toll in 10 days of violence in the coastal enclave to 240, medics said. The three were killed in east Gaza, said emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra, who added that they were a four-year-old child, a 15-year-old, and a man aged 26. Their deaths came after a strike that killed three children in the Sabra neighbourhood of central Gaza -- Jihad, Waseem and Fulla from the Shuheiber family. Before the ceasefire took effect at 10:00 (0700 GMT), Israeli tank fire killed three men in their twenties in the southern city of Rafah, Qudra said.
By Daniel Kelley TRENTON N.J. (Reuters) - A top aide to Governor Chris Christie on Thursday told the New Jersey panel investigating lane closures on the George Washington Bridge that she had no prior knowledge of, or participation in, the incident that sparked a political firestorm. Regina Egea, who oversaw the Christie administration's relations with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, was among the first gubernatorial staffers to get word of the September 2013 lane closures, after being forwarded a strongly worded email from the authority's executive director that called the closures illegal. Egea, who is now Christie's incoming chief of staff, said she chalked the email up to an ongoing dispute between appointees from New York and New Jersey. In addition, the U.S. Attorney's Office for New Jersey asked the committee to delay interviews with key witnesses to avoid interfering with the criminal investigation, committee members told Reuters.