Nine jobless Moroccan graduates held for three months without trial after being arrested at a protest in the capital are on hunger strike, activists said on Monday. The strike comes amid high youth unemployment in the North African country, where peaceful protests by school-leavers unable to find work are often violently dispersed by the police. Abdelali Bargouti, a member of the support committee for unemployed detainees, said the nine went on a 48-hour hunger strike last week to protest against the conditions in which they were being held and the delays to their trial. "But the prison authorities did not respond to their demands, so they decided to begin an open-ended hunger strike," Bargouti said.
Family-owned private companies can deny birth control coverage in their employee health care plans, the US Supreme Court said Monday in a ruling seen by some as a victory for religious freedom. In a 5-4 decision, the court ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby, an Oklahoma-based chain of arts and crafts stores whose devout Christian owners, the Green family, balked at implementing the contraception portion of President Barack Obama's health care reforms. “Our family is overjoyed by the Supreme Court’s decision," said Hobby Lobby co-founder Barbara Green as anti-abortion activists cheered the outcome at the Supreme Court steps.
The top manager in Iraq of the notorious private security firm Blackwater threatened to kill a US State Department investigator for probing the company's performance, The New York Times reported Monday. The Times, citing an internal State Department memorandum, said the threat came just weeks before Blackwater guards shot and killed 17 civilians on September 16, 2007 in Baghdad's Nisour Square. In an August 2007 memo detailing the threat made to her, lead State Department investigator, Jean Richter, said it "sent a clear message that the Blackwater contractors saw themselves as 'above the law' and actually believed that 'they ran the place.' The killings, seen as an example of the impunity enjoyed by private security firms on the US payroll in Iraq, exacerbated Iraqi resentment toward Americans and was part of the reason the Iraqi government refused to reach a treaty allowing US troops to stay beyond 2011.
Nearly 2,000 people were killed in Iraq this month, the highest figure since May 2007, according to government figures released on Monday. Figures compiled by the ministries of health, interior and defence showed that a total of 1,922 people died in June -- 1,393 civilians, 380 soldiers and 149 policemen. A further 2,610 people were wounded, the figures showed, including 1,745 civilians, 644 soldiers and 221 policemen. Iraqi forces wilted in the face of the initial assault, which saw major cities such as Mosul and Tikrit fall out of government control, but soldiers, police and allied fighters have since performed more capably.
The U.S. State Department, citing "humanitarian concerns," asked North Korea on Monday to release two Americans who North Korean official media said would be put on trial for committing crimes against the state. North Korea's official KCNA news agency, referring to the imprisoned men, Jeffrey Fowle and Matthew Miller, said "their hostile acts were confirmed by evidence and their own testimonies." Asked about the report, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters, "Out of humanitarian concern for Mr. Fowle and Mr. Miller and their families, we request North Korea release them so they may return home." She also called on North Korea to pardon and release Kenneth Bae, a Christian missionary who was arrested in November 2012, convicted and sentenced by North Korea's supreme court to 15 years hard labor last year.
Investment in emerging markets is expected to slump this year as part of a global downturn in corporate spending that is set to last into 2015, according to Standard & Poor's. "A recovery in capex remains one of the most keenly anticipated trends in the global economy," said Gareth Williams, corporate sector economist at S&P in London.
The killing of three Israeli teenagers is an "inexcusable act of terror" and Britain will back Jerusalem in bringing those responsible to justice, Prime Minister David Cameron said Monday. "I am deeply saddened by the news that the bodies of the three Israeli boys kidnapped on 12 June have been found this evening," Cameron said in a statement. Britain will stand with Israel as it seeks to bring to justice those responsible." The bodies of the three students, who disappeared while hitchhiking in the southern West Bank, were discovered near to Hebron, according to the Israeli army.
German pastor Christian Fuehrer, a pro-democracy leader in the former East Germany, died Monday at the age of 71, a quarter century after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Fuehrer died in the university hospital in Leipzig after a serious illness, said a spokesman for the city, where he been pastor of the largest church, the Nikolaikirche.
By Jeff Mason and Steve Holland WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama will announce on Monday his intention to take executive action to address the "broken" U.S. immigration system after hopes of passing a broad reform bill in Congress officially died. Republican John Boehner, speaker of the House of Representatives, informed Obama last week that the House would not vote on immigration reform this year, a White House official said, killing chances that a wide-ranging bill passed by the Senate would become law.