A summit aimed at creating half a million badly needed jobs in France got off to a rocky start on Monday, with two major labour organisations saying they would boycott the event. President Francois Hollande opened the two-day conference, where he hopes to hammer out a deal to create more jobs to lower France's record unemployment in return for corporate tax and benefit cuts.
Hamas militants in Gaza fired "dozens" of rockets into southern Israel late Monday, the Islamist movement said after six of its men were killed in air strikes. The bombardment was confirmed by the Israeli army which said militants had launched "a few dozen rockets" within a short period of time. At least four were intercepted over Netivot by the Iron Dome anti-missile system, while another 16 struck the area around the southern city of Beersheva, some 40 kilometres (25 miles) from Gaza, and which is home to 200,000 people, the army said.
A staffer from the International Organisation for Migration has been abducted in Sudan's Darfur, the IOM said on Monday. "An IOM colleague has been abducted from South Darfur at about 5:30-6:00 pm Sunday," Maysaa Alghribawy, acting officer in charge of IOM's Sudan mission, told AFP. They were taken while travelling on assignment near Kutum town in North Darfur. Also in June, an Indian contractor with Darfur's UNAMID peacekeeping mission was freed after 94 days in captivity.
Oil prices dropped Monday on easing concerns over tight supplies linked to violence in Iraq and Libyan disruptions, analysts said. Brent North Sea crude for delivery in August fell 41 cents to stand at $110.63 a barrel in late London deals. US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for August slid 75 cents to $103.31 a barrel compared with Friday's close. Desmond Chua, market analyst at traders CMC Markets, said oil prices "continue to track lower as Iraq's production remains unaffected by the recent unrest".
China denied entry to a prominent US scholar of Tibetan issues, he said Monday, after he advocated on behalf of a detained Chinese minority academic. Elliot Sperling, of the University of Indiana, was ordered to return home shortly after arriving at Beijing's international airport this weekend despite having a valid visa for entry, he told AFP. Several US-based scholars researching Chinese politics and its policies towards ethnic minorities have been barred from entering China in recent years, but they are generally denied visas rather than being turned away. Sperling said he was not given any explanation for the denial, but suspects that it was linked to his public support for Ilham Tohti, a scholar from China's mostly-Muslim Uighur minority, who was detained in January and charged with "separatism".
Bahrain's foreign ministry said Monday that US Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labour, Tom Malinowski, is "unwelcome" in the Sunni-ruled kingdom and should "leave immediately." The ministry accused Malinowski of "meddling in Bahrain's internal affairs" by meeting "with a particular party to the detriment of other interlocutors", in an apparent reference to the Shiite-led opposition, according to a statement carried by BNA state news agency. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Malinowski is in Bahrain -- home base of the US Fifth Fleet -- and "he remains in Bahrain." Bahrain, a strategic archipelago just across the Gulf from Iran, is the home base of the US Fifth Fleet and Washington is a long-standing ally of the ruling Al-Khalifa dynasty.
By Moriah Costa WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Supporters of legal marijuana in Washington on Monday delivered more than double the signatures needed to put the issue on a ballot, an initiative that could face congressional opposition. Adam Eidinger, chairman of the DC Cannabis Campaign, said the group had collected about 57,000 signatures to put the measure on a Nov. 4 ballot in the U.S. capital, well over the 22,373 required by law. This would not lead to D.C. becoming a tourist haven," he told reporters at the District of Columbia Board of Elections. "This is just for the citizens who live here, the residents who pay taxes, to have the right to use marijuana freely in their homes without fear of arrest, harassment or a ticket." The measure would allow people 21 and older to possess up to 2 ounces (56 grams) of marijuana for personal use.
Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said Monday a decision to raise fuel prices was "bitter medicine" that should have been taken before, but was not as governments feared a backlash. The authorities on Friday slashed state subsidies on petrol and diesel, sparking anger among taxi drivers and others affected. "We have to take this bitter medicine," Sisi said in a televised national address commemorating Egypt's military crossing of the Suez Canal during the 1973 war against Israel, which took place on the 10th day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The ex-army chief, who toppled Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013 before himself being elected president by a landslide in May, has repeatedly advocated austerity to narrow the budget deficit.
Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives, who have proposed bills to audit the Federal Reserve and to limit its policy mandate, on Monday set a hearing to discuss measures aimed at the U.S. central bank. The title of the hearing is "Legislation to Reform the Federal Reserve on Its 100-year Anniversary," according to a memo from the U.S. House Financial Services Committee. Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling has pledged to demand more transparency from the Fed. Some politicians have criticized the central bank for its aggressive actions after the financial crisis to lower unemployment and stimulate the economy using unconventional tools such as a monthly bond-buying program and building a balance sheet that now exceeds $4.5 trillion. A Federal Reserve Spokeswoman declined to comment on the upcoming hearing.
South Sudan's warring leaders must resume stalled peace talks in earnest before the months-long bloody conflict is written off as an international lost cause, a senior AU official warned on Monday. "They have to realise that the world is watching them, that the world will not wait for them indefinitely," said Olusegun Obasanjo, the head of an African Union team probing atrocities in the war-torn country. Thousands have been killed and more than 1.5 million people forced to flee as a political row between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar has spiralled into brutal ethnic conflict. The world's newest nation is facing a worse crisis than during the two decades of war before South Sudan declared independence three years ago, with some 100,000 people crammed into squalid UN camps.
South Africa's labour ministry said Monday a wage deal was "very close" as government remained locked in intensive talks to end a strike by more than 200,000 South African engineering and metal sector workers. Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant held talks with representatives of the estimated 10,500 firms affected earlier Monday and was scheduled to hold a late night meeting with workers' union NUMSA later. "Talks have reached a sensitive stage," said ministry spokesman Mokgadi Pela.
The United States Monday refused to comment on reports that a German man was arrested for working with American spy agencies, but offered to work with Germany to resolve a new espionage row. "We are going to work with the Germans to resolve this situation appropriately," said White House spokesman Josh Earnest, saying Washington was aware of the report but could not comment on intelligence matters. Earnest also tried to head off further damage to US-German relations and the personal ties between President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, which were strained by earlier claims the US National Security Agency (NSA) eavesdropped on her mobile phone. "The relationship that the US has with Germany is incredibly important.
Thousands of Kenyans chanted anti-government slogans Monday at a rally in Nairobi, where sporadic clashes erupted with political and ethnic tensions running high following deadly weekend attacks. Opposition leader and former prime minister Raila Odinga organised the demonstration to address what he says are major government failures, including worsening crime and insecurity, rising living costs, impunity, corruption and allegations of ethnic favouritism in government appointments. "Parliament itself is part of the problem, it's a rogue parliament," Odinga told the crowd, who screamed wildly calling for President Uhuru Kenyatta "to go". Soldiers and police surrounded Nairobi's central Uhuru ("Freedom") park, firing several rounds of tear gas to disperse chanting protesters after stones were thrown in sporadic clashes.
Everytown for Gun Safety — the grassroots group founded earlier this year by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg in an attempt to counter the influence of the National Rifle Association — is asking all federal candidates to complete a survey on gun issues ahead of the 2014 midterm elections.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday telephoned the father of an east Jerusalem teenager who was kidnapped and killed last week in a suspected revenge attack by Jewish extremists. The brutal murder of Mohammed Abu Khder, 16, on Wednesday has sparked days of clashes between angry protesters and riot police which began in annexed east Jerusalem and have since spread to Arab towns in Israel. In a statement, Netanyahu's office said he had spoken with the teenager's father, Hussein Abu Khder, to offer his condolences and express his outrage over the "abhorrent" murder a day after the security forces confirmed arresting six Jewish extremists on suspicion of involvement.
By Megan Twohey NEW YORK (Reuters) - A U.S. Senate subcommittee will hear testimony Tuesday about how the federal government can stop parents from transferring custody of their adopted children to strangers met on the Internet. State laws that restrict the advertising and custody transfers of children rarely prescribe criminal sanctions and are frequently ignored. Lawmakers in those states noted that the absence of government safeguards can result in children ending up in the care of abusers. The focus will be on how the federal government can help state and local officials identify and prevent cases of re-homing, as well as child trafficking. Some child advocates say that congressional action is needed to restrict re-homing.
A Kuwaiti court freed prominent opposition leader Mussallam al-Barrak on Monday after police fired tear gas and stun grenades to disperse a fifth straight night of demonstrations demanding his release. Judge Ahmad al-Athari said he was releasing Barrak on a bail of 5,000 dinars ($17,800), triggering jubilation among supporters of the former MP in the small, jampacked courtroom. The public prosecutor had ordered Barrak be detained for 10 days on Wednesday on charges of insulting the supreme judicial council and slandering its chairman Faisal al-Marshed in a speech he delivered at a public rally last month. Barrak's lawyer Thamer al-Jadaei told AFP his client would be freed from the central jail within hours.