Israeli troops arrested some 30 Palestinians in the West Bank overnight as they ramped up a massive search for three teenagers believed kidnapped by Hamas, the army said on Thursday. The three teenagers, two of them minors, disappeared from a popular hitchhiking spot near the sprawling southern West Bank Gush Etzion settlement bloc late on June 12, with Israel blaming Hamas. It has launched a massive military operation to find them which also has the stated objective of crushing the Islamist movement's infrastructure in the West Bank. One of the sites targeted was the students' union at Bir Zeit University near Ramallah, the radio said.
Labour Party leader Ed Miliband was on Thursday to announce plans to withhold Jobseeker's Allowance from 18 to 21-year-olds unless they complete education or equivalent training if Labour come to power. Miliband was to reveal broad changes to the welfare system during a speech at the IPPR think tank on Thursday. He will announce that some benefits for the jobless, including Jobseeker's Allowance, would be replaced by a means-tested "youth allowance", only to be received if the claimant is in training or education.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop Thursday said she was deeply concerned about 150 Australians learning the "terrorist trade" fighting alongside Sunni militants in Iraq and Syria. The country's top diplomat was briefed by her intelligence analysts this week on the number of Australians, some dual citizens, taking up arms alongside rebel groups. There are about 150 Australians who have been or are still fighting with opposition groups in Syria and beyond," she told ABC radio. "In Syria it seems that over a period of time they have moved from supporting the more moderate opposition groups to the more extreme and that includes this brutal extremist group, ISIS."
The Philippines said Thursday it would ask a UN tribunal to expedite its appeal to declare China's expansive claims to the South China Sea invalid, as tensions over the contested waters worsen. A formal request will be filed seeking a resolution on the case within the year or early 2015, foreign department spokesman Charles Jose said. Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario separately said a speedier ruling was necessary "because the situation is getting worse by the day in the South China Sea". China claims most of the South China Sea, including waters near the shores of its neighbours, which has led to escalating territorial disputes.
Suva (Fiji) (AFP) - Fijian leader Voreqe Bainimarama accused the global community Thursday of abandoning Pacific island nations to "sink below the waves" instead of tackling climate change, singling out "selfish" Australia for criticism. Opening a regional summit, he said there was "collective disappointment and dismay" in the Pacific at the failure to address climate change, which scientists blame for rising seas that threaten many low-lying island nations. "The rising sea levels caused by global warming threaten the very existence of some of our neighbours -- Kiribati, Tuvalu and the Marshall Islands," he told the Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF). "(They) are already swamping the coastal areas of many Pacific nations, including Fiji.
Two Republican senators on Thursday issued a report accusing the Obama administration of pushing ahead with last October's botched rollout of HealthCare.gov website despite internal concerns that the technology would not work. The 34-page document, issued jointly by Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah and Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa, alleges that the White House prevented the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) from meeting website development deadlines by delaying decisions on related regulations. The report, which surfaced as Republicans seek to make Obamacare a major issue in this year's midterm congressional elections, also blames senior officials from CMS and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for ignoring evidence that the website, intended to help uninsured Americans in 36 states find private coverage, had serious issues. The assertion contrasts with public statements by officials including former Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that claim the administration had no idea the site would face major problems.
US Vice President Joe Biden pushed Washington's calls for greater political inclusion in Iraq in phone calls with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and other top officials, amid a deepening crisis. With President Barack Obama opposed to putting US boots on the ground inside Iraq, his administration has said it was still working on reviewing all potential military and diplomatic options, after Sunni militants seized control of vast areas of the country the United States invaded in 2003. Yet before any action in Iraq, Washington is also demanding Shiite al-Maliki work harder to include rival religious communities, as opinion hardens that official persecution of the minority Sunni community is partly to blame for the deepening sectarian mire. Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) fighters have grabbed large swaths of northern Iraq and have Baghdad in their sights.
The U.S. military got its man, and has handed him over to the Justice Department. What's next for Ahmed Abu Khattala, the Libyan militant accused of being a mastermind of the 2012 Benghazi attacks? What's happening on the ship where he's being held? Where is he headed? What does he know? Some questions, answers — and unknowns:
US senators ripped at electronic cigarette makers for their aggressive marketing campaigns to lure youths that have drawn parallels to those once used by Big Tobacco. "While major e-cigarette companies reiterate that they only target adults, a large youth audience still appears to be getting their message pretty loudly and pretty clearly," said Democratic Senator John Rockefeller. The increased alarm comes with greater usage of the devices, with the percentage of middle and high school students who used e-cigarettes more than doubling between 2011 and 2012, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That means an audience of about 24 million kids is targeted by companies selling vaporized nicotine products.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The capture of an alleged leader of the deadly 2012 attacks on Americans in Benghazi, Libya, gave U.S. officials a rare moment of good news. Now, they are preparing to try the captured Libyan in the U.S. court system and pledging to double down on catching others responsible for the deaths of the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans in the attacks.