Moscow on Tuesday accused Washington of abducting the son of a Russian lawmaker who was arrested in the Maldives on suspicion of being one of the world's most prolific traffickers of stolen credit card details. A Russian legislator, who admitted to being the suspect's father, expressed fear that Roman Seleznev, who is being held in the American territory of Guam, will be accused of all sorts of sins including "killing Kennedy." The US Justice Department said on Monday that Seleznev, 30, had been detained at the weekend and charged with hacking into US retail computer systems in a scheme that cost banks over $1.1 million (800,000 euros)in losses. Russian lawmaker Valery Seleznev accused Washington of committing a crime against his son and said there was no evidence he was a hacker.
Former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton has defended the prominent role of political dynasties in American politics, saying the United States is "not a monarchy." Asked by German magazine Der Spiegel whether a possible 2016 presidential run by her or former Florida governor Jeb Bush, brother of ex-president George W. Bush, would turn US democracy into a monarchy, she replied that the system was "open to everyone." Clinton, whose husband Bill sat in the White House from 1993 to 2001, recalled her failed bid in 2008 to become the Democratic candidate for US president. "I lost to somebody named Barack Obama, so I don't think there is any guarantee in American politics," she said.
President Barack Obama on Tuesday requested $3.7 billion in emergency funding from Congress to help cope with a surge of unaccompanied child immigrants from Central America. Obama said the funds, far higher than the president signalled he would request late last month, would help ease an "urgent humanitarian situation" that has seen tens of thousands of minors from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras illegally cross the southern US border this year. To stem the flow, the administration seeks to beef up border security with aerial surveillance, improve housing for the undocumented arrivals and speed up their deportations. A main goal is to speed up turnaround times for deportations, with one White House official saying "we are prioritizing recent border crossers."
Federal investigators are probing how vials of smallpox made their way into a storage room at a Food and Drug Administration lab near the US capital, health authorities said Tuesday. The vials were labeled "variola," another name for smallpox, and appear to date from the 1950s, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a statement. They were found in an unused portion of a storeroom in an FDA laboratory, located on the National Institutes of Health campus in Bethesda, Maryland. There is no evidence that the vials had been opened, and "onsite biosafety personnel have not identified any infectious exposure risk to lab workers or the public," the CDC said.
China and the US geared early Wednesday for high-stakes talks on a slew of thorny issues, as American officials warned against rising tensions caused by Beijing's "problematic" claim to swathes of the South China Sea. The maritime disputes, as well as US fears over cybersecurity and Chinese hacking, were raised Tuesday in preparatory talks involving civilian diplomats as well as top military officers from both sides. US Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew will discuss a "breadth of issues" with the Chinese team, led by State Councilor Yang Jiechi and Vice Premier Wang Yang, during the sixth-annual two-day Strategic and Economic Dialogue, which opens Wednesday. China's claim to the strategic South China Sea -- also claimed in part by the Philippines and Vietnam, among others -- is based on a line drawn on 20th century maps.
Aviation giant Boeing would be the biggest loser among American industrial giants from a move by congressional Republicans to close the US Export-Import Bank, a Standard & Poor's report said Tuesday. Boeing would face "long-term credit risks" if Congress does not reauthorize the Ex-Im Bank, whose authority expires on September 30, the credit ratings agency said. The 80-year-old Ex-Im Bank, targeted for the chopping block by some Republican leaders who say its functions would be better served by the private sector, provides loan guarantees and other types of financing to support exports. Boeing is its single-largest beneficiary, getting public financing for the sale of aircraft to airline customers.
As a Ukrainian government offensive sends separatists retreating from their strongholds in the country's restive east, there are signs that Moscow is seeking to distance itself from the pro-Russian rebels. Facing the threat of biting Western sanctions that could further shake Russia's teetering economy, President Vladimir Putin has watched a string of rebel defeats without taking any action -- drawing accusations from separatist sympathisers at home that he is betraying their cause. Having initially vilified the government in Kiev as a "facist" junta pursuing ethnic cleansing in eastern Ukraine, Russian state television has dampened its rhetoric in recent weeks. "There are rumours of a group of 'war hawks' who are pressuring Putin," said independent political analyst Maria Lipman.
Republicans have chosen the rust-belt city of Cleveland, Ohio as the site for their presidential nominating convention in 2016, party leaders announced on Tuesday. The preliminary choice of Cleveland, if agreed to by party elders, would give Republicans a strategic toe-hold in Ohio, perennially one of the most important US states for any presidential contender. "We're excited about Cleveland, we're excited about Ohio, we're also excited about our party's future in Ohio, which is something that we've invested a lot of money in," said Reince Priebus, head of the Republican National Committee, speaking Tuesday to Fox News television.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged the leaders of South Sudan's two warring factions to resume peace talks, as he marked three years Tuesday since the founding of the struggling African nation. In a statement, Ban invoked the thwarted "hopes and expectations" of South Sudan's people, whose lives for more than half a year have been thrown into upheaval by war. "On the occasion of the third anniversary of South Sudan's independence, the Secretary-General recalls the hopes and expectations of the people of South Sudan when their country was established on 9 July 2011," the UN statement said. Thousands of South Sudanese have been killed, and atrocities have been committed against civilians," Ban said.
South Sudan's "self-serving elite" of leaders and rebels are responsible for a looming "man-made famine", the departing UN chief for the country said Tuesday, on the eve of the war-torn nation's third birthday. "Thousands and thousands have been killed," said Hilde Johnson of the UN mission in South Sudan, lashing out at both the government and rebels, warning that one of world's least developed nations has "been set back decades". More than 1.5 million people have been forced to flee almost seven months of war, as a power struggle between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar spiralled into brutal ethnic conflict. The speech is likely to sour relations further between South Sudan and the United Nations, whose peacekeepers have come under attack during the conflict.
Israeli forces killed four Palestinian militants Tuesday who landed on a beach in southern Israel a short distance from the Gaza Strip and attacked a military base, the army said. "A number of terrorists came out of the ocean and attacked the base with Kalashnikov rifles and hand grenades," spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner said. It said nothing of losses among its own forces but claimed heavy Israeli casualties. The attack came as Israel waged an aerial campaign against militants in Gaza, who were firing rockets into southern Israel.
Jordan's army launched a recruitment drive on Tuesday to address "a general shortage", following last month's advances by jihadist militants in neighbouring Iraq. "The Jordan Armed Forces announces the need to recruit a number of males due to a general shortage. A Jordanian government official said it was a "routine" procedure. The announcement came after jihadists in neighbouring Iraq and Syria declared an "Islamic caliphate" on June 29.
France's foreign minister hinted Tuesday at divergences between Russia and Western countries currently involved in a decisive final round of talks with Iran to negotiate a deal on its controversial nuclear drive. "Whereas until now the P5+1 (the United States, France, Britain, Russia, China and Germany) had a very homogeneous attitude, in the past days representatives in the negotiations have put forward a certain number of different approaches between part of the 5+1 and our Russian partners," he told a parliamentary commission. Fabius did not say what exactly the differences were between members of the P5+1, which has always presented a united front in negotiations with Iran on its nuclear programme.
By Marina Lopes WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. government issued about 150,000 requests for customer information from Verizon Communications in the first half of 2014, most of them subpoenas, the country's largest wireless carrier reported on Tuesday. The report is the second summary of government requests Verizon has publicly issued since shareholders pressured the company to divulge information it shared with the government in December. The government issued 72,342 subpoenas, half of which request subscriber information on a given phone number or IP address, while others ask for transactional information, like the phone numbers a customer has called, according to Verizon. Verizon also received over 37,000 court orders, including 714 wiretaps, which give access to the content of communications and over 3,000 pen registers and trap and trace orders, which give the government real-time access to outgoing and incoming phone numbers, respectively.