The US economy has turned to growth across the country, recovering at a "moderate" to "modest" pace after brutal winter weather, the Federal Reserve's "Beige Book" report said Wednesday. "All twelve Federal Reserve Districts report that economic activity expanded, " the report said. The May report covers a survey period from April to May 23 and will be used in the next monetary policy meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee on June 17-18. Consumer spending, the engine of two-thirds of US economic activity, grew across almost all districts, the report said.
The United States on Wednesday accused Rwanda of carrying out arbitrary arrests as it urged President Paul Kagame's government to respect freedom of expression. The United States said it was "deeply concern by the arrest and disappearance of dozens of Rwandan citizens" as well as "credible reports" of threats to journalists. "The United States calls upon the government of Rwanda to account for individuals arrested over the past two months and currently in custody, and to respect the rights under Rwandan law and international human rights law of the individuals detained and arrested," State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said in a statement. "We also call upon Rwanda to fully respect freedom of expression, including for members of the press so that they can investigate, report and facilitate discussion on issues of public concern," she said.
By Bernie Woodall DETROIT (Reuters) - The United Auto Workers union elected Dennis Williams to a four-year term as its president on Wednesday. Williams, 61, has said he will serve only a single term as president of the 78-year-old union. He faces difficult 2015 contract talks with the three major U.S. automakers, General Motors Co, Ford Motor Co and Chrysler, a unit of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, as UAW members will press for the elimination of a two-tiered wage scale. About a quarter of unionized workers at the U.S. ...
Diyarbakir (Turkey) (AFP) - Five Turkish soldiers were injured on Wednesday during clashes with Kurdish protesters over government plans to build military barracks in the southeast of the country. Soldiers fired tear gas and water cannon to break up a 12-day sit-in by some 400 protesters in the Lice district of Kurdish majority Diyarbakir province. The protesters are against the construction of new army posts in Kurdish-majority areas, which they see as a threat to a peace process launched in 2012 between government and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). The local governor's office in Diyarbakir on Monday called for additional security to face what it said was increased activity by the PKK, which is blacklisted as a terrorist organisation by Turkey and much of the international community.
World leaders hammered out a message for absent Russian leader Vladimir Putin at a summit in Brussels on Wednesday after US President Barack Obama condemned Moscow's "dark tactics" in Ukraine. The worst East-West crisis in decades dominated the meeting of the Group of Seven rich nations, a summit from which Putin was excluded following Russia's annexation of Crimea in March. Obama drove home a hawkish warning before his arrival in Belgium, meeting Ukraine's president-elect Petro Poroshenko in Poland on Wednesday and promising years of US support for ex-communist NATO states. "How can we allow the dark tactics of the 20th century to define this new century?" Obama asked in Warsaw in a speech marking 25 years of Polish democracy after the Cold War.
Gunmen killed a senior Swiss staffer of the Red Cross in Libya on Wednesday, hours after a rogue ex-general who has taken on the country's jihadists survived a suicide bombing. In Geneva, International Committee of the Red Cross spokesman Wolde Saugeron said one of its workers was "attacked by gunmen as he left a meeting with two colleagues" in the city of Sirte at around noon (1000 GMT). Earlier, former general Khalifa Haftar, whose repeated deadly assaults on jihadists in Libya's second city Benghazi have earned him threats of reprisal, escaped a suicide bombing, one of his commanders said.
Secretary of State John Kerry defended Wednesday a US decision to work with the new Palestinian unity government, despite Israeli criticism, emphasising that it does not include any Hamas ministers. The United States, like Israel and the European Union, consider Islamist group Hamas a "terrorist" organisation. Speaking to reporters in Beirut, Kerry said Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas "made clear that this new technocratic government is committed to the principles of non violence, negotiations, recognising the state of Israel, acceptance of the previous agreements and the Quartet principles." "Based on what we know now about the composition of this technocratic government, which has no minister affiliated to Hamas and is committed to the principles that I describe, we will work with it as we need to, as appropriate."
Germany's federal prosecutors said Wednesday they had opened an investigation over alleged snooping on Chancellor Angela Merkel's mobile phone by the US National Security Agency (NSA) in a case that has soured relations. The long-anticipated probe, which follows an explosive allegation last year that US spies had eavesdropped on Merkel's mobile phone conversations in the past, is against persons unknown, chief federal prosecutor Harald Range said. "I informed parliament's legal affairs committee that I have started a preliminary investigation over tapping of a mobile phone of the chancellor," he said after addressing the committee.
The U.S. Senate on Wednesday cleared the way for lawmakers to decide on Thursday whether to confirm Sylvia Mathews Burwell as President Barack Obama's new health secretary. Senators voted 67-28 to approve a procedural measure limiting debate on Burwell's nomination to no more than 30 hours, allowing a final confirmation vote to move forward sometime on Thursday. A confirmation vote allowing Burwell to take over implementation of Obamacare from departing U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius could help open a new chapter for Obama's healthcare law just five months before November's midterm congressional elections. Burwell, a skilled technocrat who is widely respected by both Democratic and Republican lawmakers, had been serving as Obama's budget director.
Palestinian prime minister Rami Hamdallah called Wednesday for international pressure on Israel to let Palestinians in annexed east Jerusalem vote in an upcoming general election. Hamdallah's new unity government is tasked with organising parliamentary and presidential elections in the Gaza Strip and West Bank by the end of the year. But voting in east Jerusalem, which Israel occupied in 1967 and later annexed, would require Israeli authorisation. Meeting foreign delegates in Ramallah Wednesday, Hamdallah urged "the international community to intervene and exert pressure on Israel to hold the elections in east Jerusalem," his office said.
World Bank chief Jim Yong Kim said on Wednesday international support for Jordan and Lebanon to help them cope with hosting more than 1.6 million Syrian refugees was "disappointing." "So far the support for Jordan and also Lebanon... has been frankly disappointing. We need donor countries and all who care about peace and stability in this region to step up...," Kim told a joint news conference in Amman with Jordan's planning minister Ibrahim Seif. "Jordan is bearing too much of a burden of a really global issue.