The new king and queen of Spain, Felipe VI and Letizia, carried out their first official function on Saturday, meeting "victims of terrorist violence". In sombre dress -- the queen in white, the king with a blue tie -- the new monarchs spent an hour with representatives of around 20 victims' groups in the Zurbano Palace in Madrid. Accompanied by Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz, they observed a minute's silence to the memory of those killed in attacks by the Basque separatist ETA and left-wing GRAPO, as well as the Madrid train bombings by Islamist radicals in 2004.
Hundreds of Yemenis protested outside the presidential residence in Sanaa Saturday over what they say is the authorities' inaction over a Shiite rebel advance on the capital. The demonstrators, some from Amran province north of the city where Huthi rebels, also known as Ansarullah, are clashing with the army, chanted "Stop the Huthi advance!" "I think the Huthis have taken to arms so they can take territory from Saada province to Amran, and I suspect they also want to enter Sanaa itself," said one protester, Nadia Abdullah. Some demonstrators accused Shiite Iran of supporting the rebels, while others said they suspected former president Ali Abdullah Saleh was arming them "so he can overthrow President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi".
The US ambassador to Kenya on Saturday moved to dismiss what he said were "false and misleading" rumours, asserting that embassy staff were not evacuating and the facility would remain open. "A number of rumours have circulated regarding the US embassy and our relationship with Kenya that are false and misleading. The US embassy in Nairobi has not closed and is not closing. Washington announced last month it was preparing to cut staff levels at its Nairobi embassy because of the mounting threat of attacks in Kenya by Islamist militants.
European centre-left leaders on Saturday backed Jean-Claude Juncker's contentious candidacy to head the EU's executive body, setting the stage for a fiery Brussels summit later this week. After talks between nine EU Social Democratic leaders in Paris, French President Francois Hollande said they were supporting Juncker, cementing his spot as the frontrunner to replace Jose Manuel Barroso as European Commission head. Hollande said the leaders would "respect" the tradition that the largest grouping in the European Parliament nominates a candidate to head the commission, "in this case Mr. Juncker". Juncker has been put forward by the centre-right European People's Party, which won the most seats in a European Parliament vote last month that also saw strong gains for anti-EU parties.
The editor of a Zimbabwean state-owned newspaper appeared in court Saturday on charges of subversion and undermining the authority of President Robert Mugabe. Edmund Kudzayi, editor of the Sunday Mail, was not asked to plead and was remanded in custody until a bail hearing on Monday. Kudzayi is also facing charges of creating a fictitious Facebook account in the name of Baba Jukwa, who has a cult following for his claims to expose Mugabe government secrets. Earlier this month, Mugabe accused his information minister, Jonathan Moyo, of using his influence over the state media to attack rivals within the ruling ZANU-PF party, which is riven by divisions over who should succeed the ageing president.
MOSCOW – Russia is somewhat obsessed with Jen Psaki. The State Department spokeswoman has turned into Russia’s boogeyman (boogey-woman?) and favorite punching bag as relations with the United States have deteriorated over the crisis in Ukraine. She is demonized on television. Her gaffes are celebrated...
Police in Uganda said Saturday they were testing two piglets for "terrorism related material" after they were sneaked into the country's parliament by two anti-corruption protesters. Seven police officers who were on duty outside parliament have also been suspended over the embarrassing security breach and detained on charges of neglect of duty, police deputy spokeswoman Polly Namaye told AFP. Uganda, which has troops in Somalia as part of the African Union force fighting Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab insurgents, is currently on high alert amid fears of attacks by the militants. The men, Robert Mayanja and Norman Tumuhimbise, are members of a protest movement calling themselves the "jobless brotherhood group".
American veterans have watched the lightning advance of Sunni extremists in Iraq with anguish, prompting them to wonder if their sacrifices in combat were for nothing as the country plunges into sectarian bloodshed. Until recently, US military officers have pointed to the outcome of a troop "surge" in Iraq in 2007 as a relative success, believing American forces had bolstered security in the country and weakened militants linked to Al-Qaeda. Nagl blames the result on President Barack Obama's administration for failing to push to keep US troops in Iraq after 2011, and the Shiite-led Iraqi government for alienating Sunni citizens. "A bunch of my friends and Iraqis died to give Iraq a chance to be free and stable and multiethnic," he told AFP.
Israeli security forces have arrested 10 more Palestinians in the West Bank as they press their search for three teenagers believed to have been kidnapped, the army said Saturday. "Ten people were arrested overnight, bringing to 330 the number of wanted Palestinians arrested since the beginning of the operation," a spokeswoman said. Israel accuses Hamas of kidnapping two 16-year-olds and a 19-year-old who went missing June 12 at a hitch-hiking stop in the West Bank, an allegation the Islamist group has dismissed.
Jihadists from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) have executed three officers of the Western and Arab-backed rebel Free Syrian Army, a monitor said Saturday. The bullet-riddled bodies of the three were found on Friday, two days after suspected Islamist militants kidnapped them in the oil-rich eastern province of Deir Ezzor, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. ISIL, which grew from the ranks of Al-Qaeda before splitting with the global terror network, is active in both Syria and neighbouring Iraq and seeks to set up an Islamic state that straddles both countries. The FSA this month called for help from "friendly and brotherly Arab nations" to fight ISIL in Deir Ezzor.
An Egyptian court Saturday upheld death sentences for more than 180 Islamists, including Muslim Brotherhood chief Mohamed Badie, a prosecutor said, after a mass trial that sparked an international outcry. The court in the central city of Minya had initially sentenced 683 people to death, but on Saturday it commuted death sentences of four defendants to life in prison, including two women, and acquitted 496 others, prosecutor Abdel Rahim Abdel Malik told AFP. Since the army ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July last year, hundreds of his supporters and Badie himself have been sentenced to death in trials roundly criticised by human rights watchdogs. The 183 Islamists sentenced on Saturday were accused of involvement in the murder and attempted murder of policemen in Minya province on August 14, the day police killed hundreds of Morsi supporters during clashes in Cairo.
The nearly 1.9 million member Presbyterian Church USA voted Friday after a contentious debate to divest from three companies that provide supplies to Israeli forces and settlers in the occupied West Bank. The 310 to 303 vote at the influential Protestant denomination's meeting in Detroit, Michigan, means the group will pull financial investments out of Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard and Motorola Solutions, the church's official news service said. The measure also included a reaffirmation of Israel's right to exist, an endorsement of a two-state solution and encouraged interfaith dialogue, The Times reported. The close vote came after a week of intense lobbying and "most contentious debate of this assembly," the church's news service said, noting that divestment has historically been seen as a "last resort" after "other engagement tools have failed."