Kingston (Jamaica) (AFP) - Marijuana possession is currently illegal in Jamaica but that could soon change. The government of Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller has proposed to amend the Caribbean island nation's narcotics law to decriminalize possession of up to two ounces of marijuana -- known here as ganja. The move, announced Thursday by Justice Minister Mark Golding, would mean possession of small amounts of the drug would lead to a fine. The government has also given approval for the possession and use of marijuana for religious, medical or research purposes.
A policeman was shot dead in the aftermath of clashes in Cairo on Friday, Egypt's interior ministry said, after a protest staged by supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi. The policeman was hit by a bullet in the chest as he took an arrested protester to a police van after security forces broke up the protest on the outskirts of the capital's upscale Maadi district, the ministry said on its Facebook page. The pro-Morsi demonstration came after the Islamist Anti-Coup Alliance called for a week of protests from Friday under the slogan "Freedom For Egypt".
Sudanese police on Friday detained four daughters of opposition leader Sadiq al-Mahdi as they violently broke up a protest demanding freedom for political prisoners, his party said. "Police used violence and arrested 17 people including four daughters of Umma party leader Sadiq al-Mahdi," party secretary general Sarra Naqdallah told AFP. Mahdi himself, a former prime minister, was arrested on May 17 after he reportedly accused the counter-insurgency Rapid Support Forces of rape and other abuses of civilians in the Darfur region of western Sudan. Journalists in Sudan were banned from investigating or publishing information about his arrest.
United Nations (United States) (AFP) - The United Nations is stepping up aid deliveries to Iraq, where hundreds of thousands have already been displaced, setting up camps and providing medical supplies, a spokesman said Friday. "UN agencies are moving further supplies into the country in anticipation of further displacement," UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters in New York. A World Food Programme flight from Dubai would transport humanitarian supplies to Arbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq, he said. UN human rights chief Navi Pillay said earlier Friday that hundreds of people may have been killed in recent days and nearly 1,000 wounded as Sunni militants march on Baghdad.
Foreign donors have cut aid to Mozambique's government by 11 percent compared to last year amid concerns over corruption, an official said Friday. Italy's ambassador Roberto Vellano said "concerns over fiscal transparency, fighting corruption and other outstanding issues" had led "some partners to think they could no longer confirm their participation in this kind of support". Mozambique, a country still struggling to rebuild its infrastructure after a devastating civil war that ended 21 years ago, has seen foreign aid dwindle steadily from over half of its government budget in 2010 to a third last year. In the wake of the scandal an action plan aimed at improving fiscal transparency has been drawn up.
Tunisia's political parties on Friday agreed to hold legislative and then presidential elections in 2014, a mediator said, the first agreement on the electoral timetable after months of delays. Islamists Ennahda, which dominates the National Constituent Assembly, had wanted the legislative vote first, while their opponents mostly sought the opposite. Lawyer Mohamed Fadhel Mahfoudh, who mediated the talks, told AFP that 12 out of 18 bodies represented at the negotiations voted for the legislative vote to be held first. "The decision was adopted and we are going to submit it to the National Constituent Assembly for it to vote on the law (fixing the election dates)," he said.
The United States may take military action to support Baghdad in its battle against Sunni extremists but only if Iraq takes steps to heal its sectarian divide, President Barack Obama said Friday. Obama warned that US ground troops would not be sent back into the country they occupied for eight difficult, violent years, but said recent stunning rebel victories were a threat to US interests. Amid reports the Pentagon is drawing up plans for air strikes against ISIL, the Sunni jihadist force that has seized the Iraqi city of Mosul, Obama warned that Iraq must also help itself. "We will not be sending US troops back into combat in Iraq, but I have asked my national security team to prepare a range of other options that could help support Iraqi security forces," he said.
Three Israeli teenagers have gone missing near a West Bank settlement, the army said Friday, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he held the Palestinian leadership responsible for their safety. "The IDF (Israeli military) confirms three teenagers are currently missing," an army statement said. "The individuals were last seen late last night in the area of Gush Etzion," a Jewish settlement southwest of Bethlehem in the southern West Bank, it said, adding that security forces were trying to find them.
On social media, they’re calling it the “Thrashin’ at Ashland.” When Randolph-Macon College professor Dave Brat trounced House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, the obscure academic turned the race in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District into one of the most compelling of the season. Tuesday’s victory catapulted...
Barack Obama left Washington Friday for his first visit as president to a Native American reservation, as he seeks to fulfill what he has called America's "broken promises" to Indian Country. The president, accompanied by First Lady Michelle Obama, will pay a visit to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota, the tribe of Sitting Bull, the Indian chief famous for his brave exploits in the Battle of Little Bighorn. In an op-ed that appeared in a Native American newspaper last week, Obama vowed to redouble his administration's efforts to improve employment, education and self-determination in Native American communities. "We're writing a new chapter in our history, one in which agreements are upheld, tribal sovereignty is respected, and every American Indian and Alaskan Native who works hard has the chance to get ahead," the president wrote.
(Reuters) - Virginia's Republican-controlled legislature passed a two-year budget late on Thursday that shot down the Democratic governor's proposal to expand Medicaid and closed a $1.55 billion revenue shortfall. Expanding Medicaid, the health insurance program for low-income people, to about 400,000 Virginians under the federal Affordable Care Act had been Governor Terry McAuliffe's chief legislative priority. McAuliffe, in a stand-off for months with Republicans, had linked the budget to Medicaid expansion. "But this fight is far from over." The Affordable Care Act, launched in October and also known as Obamacare, is designed to extend health coverage to uninsured Americans through subsidized private health insurance and by expanding Medicaid coverage.
Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said Friday Iraqi security forces have begun clearing cities of "terrorists," after militants seized swathes of territory and brought the military to the brink of collapse. Security forces "began their work to clear all our dear cities from these terrorists," Maliki said in a statement, without giving details of where or when operations had started. A major militant offensive, spearheaded by powerful jihadist group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, has overrun all of one province and chunks of three more since Monday. Security forces have so far failed to halt the push, with some abandoning their vehicles and positions and discarding their uniforms.