Baghdad's forces struggled Thursday to break a military stalemate with Sunni militants, as US officials reached out to key leaders to push for an end to political chaos in Iraq. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has offered an amnesty aimed at undercutting support for the militants who have overrun large areas of Iraq, after the new parliament's first session ended in farce, with MPs walking out instead of working on government formation. With calls for politicians to come together unsuccessful, Washington contacted Iraqi and regional players individually, with President Barack Obama calling Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and Vice President Joe Biden talking to former Iraqi parliament speaker Osama al-Nujaifi, a prominent Sunni leader.
Kuwaiti police fired teargas and stun grenades to disperse an opposition rally demanding the release of prominent dissident Mussallam al-Barrak, activists said on Thursday. The public prosecutor on Wednesday ordered Barrak, a former MP, to be held for 10 days after he was questioned for allegedly insulting the judiciary. Thousands of people gathered at Barrak's residence southwest of Kuwait City on Wednesday night and marched on the nearby jail where the former opposition leader was detained, the activists said. Police intervened when hundreds of protesters reached the prison, firing teargas and stun grenades to disperse them.
WASHINGTON (AP) — On July 2, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the Civil Rights Act of 1964, one of the most significant civil rights achievements in U.S. history. This new law made it illegal to discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin; It ended school, work and public facility discrimination, and barred unequal application of voter registration requirements.
Japan will revoke some of its unilateral sanctions on North Korea, the prime minister announced Thursday, after talks on the Cold War kidnapping of Japanese nationals. Shinzo Abe said Tokyo judged Pyongyang, which pledged to re-investigate the disappearances of Japanese citizens, had shown sufficient willing in resolving the decades-old row and that this needed to be reciprocated. In accordance with the principle of action to action, we will lift part of the measures taken by Japan," Abe told reporters. The move comes after the two sides met in Beijing to discuss what happened to the dozens -- or even hundreds -- of people Japan says were snatched by North Korean spies to train their agents in language and customs during the 1970s and 1980s.
Two people have been killed during Buddhist-Muslim violence in Myanmar's second-largest city, police said Thursday after security forces fired rubber bullets to disperse hundreds of rioters. Myanmar has been shaken by several waves of sectarian conflict in recent years that have cast a shadow over its emergence from decades of repressive military rule. Police fired rubber bullets during the night on Tuesday into Wednesday to disperse hundreds of rioters, some armed with sticks and knives, who took to the streets and attacked a Muslim teashop after an accusation of rape, the authorities said. "There are two dead," a police officer, who did not want to be named, told AFP by telephone from the central city of Mandalay, without providing further details.
Top US officials have reached out to key regional leaders to help resolve the political chaos in Iraq even as the Iraqi premier offered a general amnesty to undercut support for a raging jidhadist-led offensive. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's offer on Wednesday came after a farcical opening to the new parliament in Baghdad, despite international calls for Iraq's fractious politicians to unite urgently to combat insurgents, as the military struggles to seize the initiative against the Sunni militants. With hopes of a unity government waning, Washington reached out to regional players with President Barack Obama calling Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and Vice President Joe Biden contacting the speaker of Iraq's previous parliament, Osama al-Nujaifi, a prominent Sunni leader. The White House said Biden and Nujaifi agreed on the importance of Iraqis "moving expeditiously to form a new government capable of uniting the country."
Iran nuclear talks enter the decisive, dangerous endgame Thursday with a marathon final round of hardball negotiations potentially going all the way to the July 20 finish line. The deal being sought by Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany would finally ease fears of Tehran getting nuclear weapons -- and silence talk of war for good. "In this troubled world, the chance does not often arise to reach an agreement peacefully that will meet the essential and publicly expressed needs of all sides, make the world safer, ease regional tensions and enable greater prosperity," US Secretary of State John Kerry said this week. "In the next three weeks, we have a unique opportunity to make history," Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a video message released ahead of the talks.
China and the United States need to "plant more flowers, not thorns" in their relationship and Washington needs to have a more objective view about China, state media on Thursday quoted President Xi Jinping as saying ahead of a key meeting. Xi, speaking to former U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson ahead of next week's China-U.S. Strategic and Economic Dialogue, said he hoped both countries could use such gatherings to keep "injecting positive energy" into the relationship. "The two sides should expand common interests, deepen cooperation, plant more flowers, not thorns, clear the interference and avoid suspicion and confrontation," Xi was quoted as saying by the official China Daily. China would stick to the path of peaceful development and shoulder its international duties, Xi added.
France's former president Nicolas Sarkozy hit back after being charged with corruption, denying he broke the law and suggesting his political enemies were interfering with the French justice system. "I have never committed any act contrary to the values of the republic or the rule of law," Sarkozy said Wednesday after he was charged on three corruption-related counts that threaten to torpedo his hopes of a political comeback. "I have never betrayed the confidence" of the French people, he said in a televised interview -- his first major appearance since he lost the 2012 presidential election to Francois Hollande.
A massive wave of immigrant children flooding into the United States across Mexico's border is posing a growing humanitarian crisis, and escalating into a political one. Despite US President Barack Obama's best efforts to persuade them not to try their luck, on the basis that they will eventually be thrown out, hundreds of children keep arriving daily across the Mexican border, most from Central American countries plagued by gang violence and poverty. According to Californian non-governmental organization (NGO) Hermandad Mexicana, Washington should have foreseen the current crisis "given the tide of children (without parents) who have arrived in the country in recent years." The US Department of Homeland Security "could have predicted the need for beds and resources to receive them," said Nativo Lopez, an advisor with the group which is lobbying on behalf of the young migrants.
Something unexpected happened to Barack Obama as he slipped toward the lame duck inertia that stifles second term presidencies. He transformed himself into a power hungry, Constitution-busting, imperial president who will simply ignore Congress when it won't give him what he wants. Such is the political estrangement in Washington, that House Speaker John Boehner has made an unusual threat to take Obama to court, alleging abuse of power. Democrats dismiss the move as a stunt -- and it is unlikely Obama is in legal jeopardy.
Famine will break out in war-torn South Sudan within weeks unless massive funding for food aid is provided, aid agencies warned on Thursday. "If the conflict in South Sudan continues, and more aid cannot be delivered, then by August it is likely that some localised areas of South Sudan will slip into famine," Britain's Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) warned, a coalition of 13 major aid agencies. The United Nations has around 40 percent of the cash it needs, with a shortfall of over a billion dollars (760 million euros). "There is a very real risk of famine in some areas," DEC chief Saleh Saeed said, warning that "millions of people are facing an extreme food crisis."