With 19 months to go until the deadline for a new, global pact on climate change, the United States' top negotiator cautioned Thursday against unrealistic expectations, saying the deal "won't be perfect". "It is important that our expectations be ambitious, and also grounded in reality," special envoy Todd Stern told journalists in Paris, where he met officials of the French government, who will host the 2015 meeting where the agreement must be signed. The UN is targeting a global warming limit of two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-industrial levels. Negotiations were meant to yield a global pact on curbing Earth-warming greenhouse gas emissions in Copenhagen in 2009, but that meeting ended in a political brawl.
The White House on Thursday was to unveil a postage stamp bearing the image of pioneering gay rights activist Harvey Milk, a San Francisco politician slain in office in 1978. Milk, who was among America's first openly gay elected officials and a member of San Francisco's board of supervisors, was gunned down, along with the city's mayor, by a political rival. The stamp in his honor was to be unveiled at a White House ceremony attended by gay rights leaders and various US public officials. Stuart Milk, who runs the foundation that bears his late uncle's name, said in a statement that the stamp has "incredibly special significance."
Lviv (Ukraine) (AFP) - The frontline is over 1,100 kilometres away. But in an upmarket pub in Ukraine's defiantly nationalist bastion of Lviv, the only topic of conversation is the bloody insurrection threatening the partition of their country. After their day's work is over, a group of friends settle down in the comfortable leather armchairs at the Royal Brewery in the centre of Lviv, Ukraine's cultural capital. "Those terrorists... they have attacked the National Guard in Donbass.
Leading Gulf monarchies are staunchly backing Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, Egypt's presidential frontrunner, in the hope that their generous financial help will bolster his campaign to crush the Muslim Brotherhood and indirectly secure their own regimes. "An absence of stability in Egypt means instability in the Gulf," says Emirati political science professor Abdulkhaleq Abdulla. Sisi "represents Egypt's only national institution that is capable of restoring stability" in his country, situated across the Red Sea from Saudi Arabia, he explains. Since the Sisi-led military ousted elected Islamist president Mohamed Morsi last July, the new authorities banned his Muslim Brotherhood, arrested its leaders and cracked down on its followers in a campaign that has killed more than 1,400 people.
By Karen Freifeld NEW YORK (Reuters) - Illinois and Florida are joining Connecticut to lead a probe of the massive data breach at eBay Inc, according to a spokeswoman for Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan. Meanwhile, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is asking for free credit monitoring for everyone affected, according to a person familiar with the matter. A spokeswoman for Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen said earlier the inquiry would focus on measures for securing personal data that the company had in place prior to the incident as well as circumstances that led to the breach.
More than 300 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in the government's retaliation for attacks blamed on a self-proclaimed "prophet" in the Democratic Republic of Congo in December, a rights group said Thursday. The government has previously denied that any citizens have been killed in its hunt for the perpetrators of coordinated December 30 attacks it blames on pastor and former presidential candidate Joseph Mukungubila Mutombo, known by his followers as "the Eternal Prophet". But the Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) said Thursday that "some 250" civilians and six soldiers have been killed in the Katanga province in the southeast of the country, and another 71 civilians killed in Kinshasa. There are (also) people who are in mass graves," said Sylvain Lumu, secretary-general of the League of Electors, a local group which helped compile the report.
The US State Department accused Cuba Thursday of violating the free speech rights of its people by shutting down a dissident-run online newspaper just hours after its launch. The State Department said Havana's decision to block Internet transmission of the new 14ymedio online newspaper restricted Cubans' "freedom of expression and of the press." The online daily news website, www.14ymedia.com, was launched Wednesday by renowned dissident blogger Yoani Sanchez. "The Cuban government continues to limit fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression and of the press, freedom of assembly, and the free flow of information to, from, and within the island," the US statement said.
Nearly half the US Senate have joined a campaign spearheaded by Native Americans to pressure the Washington Redskins into changing its racially-charged name. In a joint letter to National Football League (NFL) commissioner Roger Goodell, the 49 senators noted the swift manner in which the National Basketball Association sanctioned Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling for racist remarks concerning blacks.
By David Alexander WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. House of Representatives rejected Pentagon cost-cutting proposals on Thursday with a $601 billion election-year defense policy bill that offered bigger military pay raises and blocked a politically tough bid to eliminate planes, ships and bases. The chamber voted 325-98 to pass the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act, which rejected Pentagon plans to save tens of billions of dollars over the next five years as the department tries to meet a congressional mandate to cut nearly $1 trillion in defense spending over a decade. Debate over the bill underscored the differences between Pentagon supporters reluctant to give up aging, proven weapons systems in the face of budget pressures, and those who warn that keeping the systems will deprive the military of funds it needs to maintain a balanced, well-trained and ready force. Representative Buck McKeon, the Republican chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, noted the panel had to make hard choices.
Russia lodged a furious protest with Britain on Thursday after Prince Charles reportedly compared President Vladimir Putin to Adolf Hitler, with Moscow saying the comments were unworthy of a king-in-waiting. The Russian deputy ambassador to London went to the Foreign Office for urgent talks following the reported remarks by the heir to the throne during a trip to Canada. Charles made the apparently unguarded comment, which drew a parallel between Hitler and Putin's actions in Ukraine, during a private conversation with a Polish-born woman on a trip to a museum.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague called Thursday for a return to democracy in Thailand and said he was "extremely concerned" after the military seized power in a coup. Hague also urged tourists to follow travel advice after army chief General Prayut Chan-O-Cha announced the putsch on live TV, following months of political unrest. "I am extremely concerned by today's coup," Hague said in a statement. Hague's statement echoed that of the European Union, which called for a "rapid" return to democracy, but did not go as far as French President Francois Hollande's condemnation.
South Africa's Reserve Bank slashed its growth forecast for this year and kept rates on hold Thursday, warning a prolonged mining strike could have a further "potentially devastating" impact on the economy. Painting a bleak picture of the state of Africa's most developed economy, Gill Marcus said growth was expected to slow to 2.1 percent this year, versus a previous forecast of 2.6 percent. She zeroed-in on a strike that has kept an estimated 80,000 platinum miners above ground for the last four months, refusing to return to work until they get a significant pay hike. "There is still no end in sight to the protracted strike in the platinum sector, and the economic and social costs are escalating and are potentially devastating," said Marcus.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A bill to end the government's bulk collection of telephone records cleared the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday in the first legislative effort at surveillance reform since former contractor Edward Snowden disclosed the program a year ago. The measure, which passed 303-121, would end the National Security Agency's practice of gathering in bulk information on calls made by millions of Americans and storing them for at least five years. ...