Sani Mudi, a Muslim leader in Jos, perhaps Nigeria's most religiously segregated city, stares out the window of the dimly lit central mosque, waiting for young men to drift in. Some come to worship, he said, but often visitors have a more mundane purpose: help in getting valid identification, proof of residence papers or any other services that should be provided by the Christian-controlled state government. Flanked by a crumbling market in Jos North, the Muslim ghetto, the central mosque has morphed into a job centre and city hall for a marginalised religious minority, according to Mudi, spokesman for the local chapter of Nigeria's main Islamic body, the JNI. Jos, the capital of Plateau state, is the key city in Nigeria's Middle Belt, which splits the predominately Muslim north from the mostly Christian south.
A US government laboratory mistakenly mixed a common flu strain with a dangerous and deadly type of bird flu and shipped it to another lab, the Centers for Disease Control said Friday. No one was exposed to the mixed flu strain, said CDC director Tom Frieden. "These events should never have happened," said Frieden at a press briefing. Frieden said he has issued a moratorium on the transfer of any biological samples, including infectious agents, within or outside the CDC until an investigation is complete.
A two-month-old baby has been rescued from under rubble in the war-battered city of Aleppo, a flashpoint in Syria's conflict and constant target of air raids, a video tweeted Friday showed. "It's a miracle!" shouts a rescue worker as a small head is seen emerging from debris in the video posted by a rescue team working in a rebel-held area of the northern city. "After 16 hours working under difficult conditions, the civil defence in Ansari (in southern Aleppo) was able to rescue a baby girl barely two months old as well as her mother who was injured," a commentary to the video said. It was posted by a group calling itself the "Aleppo civil defence".
By David Lawder WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Obama administration's $3.7 billion request for emergency funds to bolster U.S. border security and deal with a massive influx of migrant children from Central America is too high and will be reduced, an influential Republican lawmaker said on Friday. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers said the amount was "too much money" and a large portion of the funds needed to deal with the problems could be handled through the normal spending bills for the 2015 fiscal year starting on Oct. 1. The $3.7 billion in emergency funds would help pay for temporary detention centers, increased border security and additional immigration court judges to process asylum cases more quickly. Obama administration officials warned lawmakers on Thursday that border security agencies would run out of money this summer if the request was not approved.
Fugitive US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden could have his request to extend his asylum in Russia agreed within a week, a senior migration service representative said Friday. "Snowden's life is still in danger, so the Federal Migration Service has every basis to extend his status," the head of the service's public chamber, Vladimir Volokh, said Friday, quoted by the Interfax news agency. Snowden's Russian lawyer Anatoly Kucherena said Wednesday that he had already filed a formal request to extend Snowden's one-year asylum beyond July 31.
The population of Syria's coastal provinces, relatively untouched by the country's war, has shot up by 50 percent, sheltering one million displaced people, the International Committee of the Red Cross said Friday. "Over a million people have arrived in Latakia and Tartus since the beginning of the conflict, swelling the local population by 50 percent," the ICRC said in a statement. ICRC water engineer Patrick Luisier warned of the impact the influx has had, creating difficulties for both for the displaced and locals. Syria's coastline is the heartland of President Bashar al-Assad's regime and of his minority Alawite sect.
Online giant Amazon has sought permission for drone test flights in the United States, saying it is moving forward on plans for deliveries using the unmanned aircraft. In a letter to the Federal Aviation Administration made public this week, Amazon said that because of restrictions on drones in US airspace, it has been conducting test flights indoors and in other countries. "Of course, Amazon would prefer to keep the focus, jobs, and investment of this important research and development initiative in the United States by conducting private research and development operations outdoors near Seattle," the letter said. Amazon said an exemption to FAA rules would be "in the public interest" and "is a necessary step towards realizing the consumer benefits of Amazon Prime Air," which company founder Jeff Bezos has described as a plan for drone delivery to consumers.
Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the highest religious authority for Iraq's Shiite majority, urged politicians Friday to stop quarrelling and avoid further delays in picking a new leadership. In a sermon delivered by his representative in the holy Shiite city of Karbala, south of Baghdad, Sistani reiterated his appeal for Iraq's fractious politicians to unite in the face of a jihadist-led offensive that has plunged the country into its worst crisis in years.
Israel could be violating the laws of war by bombing Palestinian homes in Gaza, the UN's human rights office said Friday, as the death toll from the Israeli strikes rose to 100. "We have received disturbing reports that many of the civilian casualties, including of children, occurred as a result of strikes on homes," said spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani. "Such reports raise doubts about whether the Israeli air strikes have been in accordance with international humanitarian law and international human rights law," she told reporters. International humanitarian law is UN-speak for the laws of war, and Shamdasani said targeting homes was a violation unless the buildings were being used for military purposes.
British police said Friday they had arrested a 22-year-old man on suspicion of terrorism offences as he attempted to board a flight to Turkey, a well-travelled route to Syria. The unnamed man was arrested on Wednesday afternoon at Luton airport, north of London, on suspicion of being involved in the preparation of acts to commit terrorism. Officers also searched a property in west London and the man, who was due to fly to Istanbul, remains in custody, according to a statement from the Metropolitan Police. The same day the man was arrested in Luton, three other men, two aged 26 and one aged 27, were arrested in west London on suspicion of terrorism offences linked to Syria.
Pakistan's Supreme Court on Friday restored Najam Sethi as the country's cricket chief, a day after he was deposed by the government, in a fresh twist to a long-running administrative crisis. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, patron of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), had ousted veteran journalist Sethi and appointed a former high court judge as interim chief, directing him to hold elections for the chairmanship within 30 days. A series of court cases and government decrees have seen the PCB chairmanship change hands between Sethi and Zaka Ashraf five times since May last year.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday accepted an invite to meet US President Barack Obama in Washington in September, a statement said, as the two countries look to rebuild strained relations. US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns formally invited Modi during a meeting between the pair in New Delhi on Friday, as part of a two-day visit to India to strengthen diplomatic and trade ties. "Prime minister thanked President Obama for the invitation and looked forward to a result-oriented visit with concrete outcomes that imparts new momentum and energy to India-US strategic partnership," a statement from Modi's office said.
Britain and Germany's foreign ministers will join US Secretary of State John Kerry in Vienna this weekend to seek to bridge what Washington called "significant gaps" in ongoing nuclear talks with Iran, London and Berlin said Friday. The negotiations between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany, which last week entered the final straight, are aimed at forging a lasting deal with Iran meant to ease fears that the Islamic state might develop nuclear weapons.
Egypt said Friday its efforts to halt violence in the Gaza Strip have met with "stubbornness", as it appealed to the international community to intervene to end the deadly conflict. Israel's aerial military campaign targeting rocket-firing militants in Gaza has killed at least 100 Palestinians and wounded more than 500 since it was launched early Tuesday. Egypt, which signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1979, played a key role in mediating ceasefires in past wars between the Jewish state and Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist movement that controls Gaza.
Intense battles raged on Friday around the airport in the main stronghold of pro-Kremlin insurgents as Ukraine's new leader laid out tough terms for a ceasefire demanded by his European allies and Russia. An AFP team outside Donetsk International Airport -- a gleaming hub shuttered since coming under a bloody rebel attack at the end of May -- saw exchanges of fire and an anti-aircraft missile being shot at a Ukrainian military jet. "Everything is shutting down," said another man in his fifties who was preparing to escape across the border to Russia with his daughters and grandchildren. Pro-Kiev authorities in Lugansk also said four miners were killed and 16 injured when their bus came under artillery fire on Thursday.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was on Friday to announce his vision for a "new Turkey" heading to 2023, at a rally in Istanbul as he prepares to stand in August presidential polls. Erdogan, Turkey's most powerful figure for over a decade, is seeking in the August polls to cement his grip on the country by switching to the post of president which he could theoretically hold for two five-year terms. In the rally in Istanbul at a congress centre overlooking the Golden Horn and attended by thousands of supporters, academics and celebrities, Erdogan is expected to announce a new set of targets for Turkey heading to 2023.
By Mark Felsenthal WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama is enlisting several major U.S. and multinational companies to draw attention to an initiative aimed at helping small businesses expand and hire workers. The president will meet on Friday with representatives of household name firms such as Apple , AT&T , Coca Cola and Johnson & Johnson to spotlight the corporate giants' pledge to pay their smaller suppliers within 15 days. For the larger companies, the initiative ensures that their own suppliers are robust and "demonstrates a recognition that a healthy supply chain is good for business," the White House said in a statement. Frustrated by a legislative stalemate with the Republican-led House of Representatives, Obama has vowed to act unilaterally when he can to achieve his agenda, and the announcement Friday is typical of the sorts of modest initiatives the White House has unveiled.