The Conservative-led government on Monday promised to rebalance a "London-focused" economy if it is re-elected in 2015, setting decentralisation as a key battleground in the run-up to the vote. The coalition has been accused of ruling for the benefit of the capital, whose economy dwarfs that of other regions, and a September referendum on Scottish independence has fuelled debate on localised rule. Prime Minister David Cameron on Monday vowed to give local authorities Â£5 billion ($8.6 billion, 6.4 billion euros) to spend on housing, transport links and traineeships across England if he is re-elected. "For too long our economy has been too London-focused and too centralised," Cameron said as he announced the project, which aims to improve transport links to make smaller British cities more attractive for businesses.
Two Palestinians were killed by an Israeli drone strike on southern Gaza early Monday, medical sources said, just hours after two others were killed in a separate attack. Gaza Strip health services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said two Palestinians were killed and two others wounded in the attack east of Rafah. Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas's military wing, said meanwhile that six of their men were killed by the Israeli strike on Rafah. Witnesses said Qassam members were killed when a tunnel had collapsed on them following the Israeli strike.
Plane travelers who can switch on their cellphones or other electronic devices will be able to take them aboard as part of new security measures, US authorities said Sunday. US-bound travelers from Europe and the Middle East have faced tighter airport security in recent days over fears that Al-Qaeda-linked militants are developing new explosives that could be slipped onto planes undetected. "During the security examination, officers may also ask that owners power up some devices, including cellphones," the US Transportation Security Administration said in a statement, noting that all electronic devices are screened by security officers. The agency noted that it could "adjust" security measures further in order to provide maximum security to travelers.
Gunmen ambushed and killed a district chief in Sudan's South Darfur, the state governor said on Sunday, after tribal clashes elsewhere in the troubled region reportedly left 18 dead. Abdullah Yasin, the top government official in Katayla district, "was ambushed by armed men and lost as a martyr," South Darfur Governor Adam Mahmoud told Al-Shurooq television. "They are outlaws," Mahmoud said, adding that government troops were searching for the attackers. Rebel violence is no longer the main source of unrest in Darfur, an area about the size of France.
Anna Gribnikova looks on as aid workers hand out loaves of bread nearby from the back of a truck to Slavyansk residents who she says had been held "hostage" by pro-Russian separatists for three months. The retired teacher is relieved to see the back of the rebels who fled the small eastern industrial town that had become the centre of their separatist uprising after an onslaught by the Ukrainian army. "Those so-called defenders, those terrorists, they are still dreaming of the Soviet Union," Gribnikova lamented. "We were like hostages" of the separatists who wanted to break away from Kiev and its pro-Western leaders and join neighbouring Russia, she tells AFP.
US authorities are increasing deportations of illegal migrants along the US border, as a top Obama administration official defended the White House's handling of a flood of undocumented children. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson told NBC television's "Meet the Press" that officials have reduced the "turnaround times" for migrants illegally entering the country along the Mexican border. "I believe we're going to stem this tide," said Johnson, who added that President Barack Obama's administration is also intensifying efforts to discourage migrants, including thousands of unaccompanied children, from making the dangerous and difficult overland journey to the United States. There is a deportation proceeding that has commenced against illegal migrants -- including children," the domestic security chief said.
Kuwait riot police on Sunday fired tear gas and stun grenades to disperse hundreds of opposition protesters who were demanding the release of a detained opposition leader. Witnesses said riot police armed in armoured vehicles fired tear gas and stun grenades at the protesters as soon as they marched toward a courts complex in the capital Kuwait City, forcing them to flee. Police also chased them into narrow streets of Kuwait City markets to ensure they do not reach the courts complex, where opposition leader Mussallam al-Barrak is scheduled to face trial on Monday. The protesters, a number of whom were treated for inhaling gas, had earlier rejected appeals by police officers not to march.
The opposition Syrian National Coalition said Sunday that regime forces are preparing to launch a major assault on rebel-held areas of the northern city of Aleppo. The group's leadership, meanwhile, was meeting in Istanbul to elect a successor to SNC chief Ahmad Jarba. "The military situation is very difficult, the siege of Aleppo has become a reality," coalition spokesman Luay Safi said on the group's website. "Syrian troops are preparing to invade Aleppo," he said.
The British government faced growing calls on Sunday for a national inquiry into alleged child abuse that may have involved lawmakers in the 1970s and 1980s, after it emerged that 114 files relating to the accusations were missing. The allegations of child abusers in Westminster centre on a dossier given to the interior ministry in 1983 by Geoffrey Dickens, a Conservative MP and campaigner against child abuse. On Sunday, Britain's Home Office revealed that in total, 114 files relating to child abuse allegations were "presumed destroyed, missing or not found". The Home Secretary of the time Leon Brittan, forced to defend his handling of the Dickens dossier, said he had handed all relevant information onto officials for investigation.
A suicide bomber detonated explosives inside a cafe in a predominantly-Shiite neighbourhood in west Baghdad on Sunday evening, killing at least four people, security and medical officials said. The blast was a rare bombing in recent days in the Iraqi capital, which has endured a tense calm as security forces and militants have focused their resources north and west of Baghdad, with a jihadist-led offensive having overrun swathes of five provinces. Iraqi forces initially wilted when faced with the insurgent onslaught, which began late on June 9, but have since performed more capably, albeit with few gains in offensive operations.
Brasília (AFP) - Playing second fiddle to the injury woes of soccer star Neymar and the host country's bid for World Cup glory, Brazil on Sunday kicked off its campaign for October 5 general elections. Opinion polls make leftist President Dilma Rousseff of the Workers Party (PT) favorite to win a second term, albeit in a likely run-off, leaving rivals Social Democratic candidate Aecio Neves and Socialist Eduardo Campos trailing. With the passing of Saturday's deadline the candidates can take to the streets to press flesh and hold functions, as well as campaign online. A poll last week showed Rousseff with a 38 percent share, up four points, with the World Cup -- which has generally passed off successfully -- giving her an apparent boost.
Libya's electoral commission announced Sunday it was scrapping the results from 24 polling stations due to fraud in a parliamentary election contested at 1,600 stations in June. An investigation has been launched and those responsible for the alleged fraud will be put on trial, said commission chief Imed al-Sayeh. Sayeh was speaking at a news conference to announce preliminary results for the June 25 election, which was marred by a poor turnout, violence and the murder of a leading women's rights activist. Authorities had hoped the poll would ease the political turmoil and rising lawlessness gripping Libya since its 2011 revolution which ousted longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi.
Nine out of 10 people identified in a large cache of online conversations intercepted by the National Security Agency were ordinary Internet users and not foreign surveillance targets, a news report says. Nearly half of the surveillance files were of United States citizens or residents, The Washington Post said of its four-month investigation of the trove of NSA-intercepted electronic data provided by fugitive NSA contractor Edward Snowden. The revelations are likely to rekindle criticism in the US and abroad of US surveillance techniques and especially the NSA's vast data sweeps, and came after German authorities said they had arrested a suspected double-agent accused of spying for the United States.