A jealous man castrated and murdered the mayor of a hamlet in northern France whom he suspected of having an affair with his girlfriend, officials said Friday. Mayor Dominique Leboucher, 55, was brutally stabbed in the neck by a 39-year-old electrician, the prosecutor of the northern city of Caen told reporters. The attacker had no previous police record and was "clearly very much in love" with his girlfriend, Catherine Denis said.
Secretary of State John Kerry has agreed to testify before the House Oversight Committee on its investigation into the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, according to a State Department letter obtained by Reuters. Kerry was subpoenaed to testify on May 29, but the letter said prior commitments would prevent his appearance. If Kerry testifies before the House of Representatives Oversight Committee, the letter said, it should remove any need for the secretary to appear before a House Select Committee that was formed recently to look into the Benghazi incident. House Republicans have launched multiple investigations into the Obama administration's handling of embassy security in the run-up to the attack and the steps it took in the aftermath.
Former US Defense Secretary and CIA chief Robert Gates, who is also a former Boy Scout, has been tapped to lead the iconic youth organization known for its "be prepared" ethos. Gates was elected Thursday to head the Boy Scouts of America, which had made news in recent years over its long-standing refusal, finally reversed last year, to accept gay youths as scouts. Gates, 70, was Defense Secretary under both presidents George W. Bush as well as under Barack Obama. The Boy Scouts of America, a group founded in 1910, counts 2.5 million young boys as scouts, led by a million volunteer leaders of about 110,000 troops.
Denmark's anti-immigrant party is expected to become the country's largest in Sunday's EU election while their Swedish peers lag behind, highlighting different political and economic landscapes in the two countries. Opinion polls show the Danish People's Party (DPP) is backed by one in four voters in the European Parliament vote, putting them ahead of the ruling Social Democrats. The populist party has also benefitted from a heated debate on whether eastern European guest workers should be eligible for Denmark's generous child and unemployment benefits, even if they have only worked briefly in the country. As he canvassed votes outside Copenhagen's main train station on Wednesday morning, Denmark's top Social Democratic MEP Jeppe Kofod was met by a somewhat underwhelming response.
Iran has for the first time in six years addressed concerns about the so-called "possible military dimensions" of its nuclear programme, a new IAEA report showed Friday. Tehran has handed over information related to detonators that can be used for a nuclear weapon under a key November interim nuclear deal, the quarterly report, seen by AFP, showed. In technical meetings in late April and earlier this week in Iran, Tehran provided the UN atomic watchdog with "information and explanations, including showing documents, to substantiate its stated need and application of EBW (Explosive Bridge Wire detonators)," the report by IAEA director-general Yukiya Amano for member states, said. "Iran showed information to the agency that simultaneous firing of EBW was tested for a civilian application," it went on.
Maiduguri (Nigeria) (AFP) - A senior Nigerian security source told AFP on Friday that the kidnapping of more than 200 schoolgirls by Boko Haram has exposed the country's incapacity to deal with the Islamist uprising. "We have been playing the ostrich all this while, pretending we are on top of the situation," said the source based in Maiduguri, who agreed to an interview provided his name and title be withheld. Gunmen seized 276 girls on April 14 from their school in Chibok in northeastern Borno state, of which Maiduguri is the capital. The source said Nigeria needed outside help beyond the Chibok mission as the security forces in Africa's most populous country and biggest economy were incapable of defeating Boko Haram.
Baghdad launched legal action against Ankara Friday after oil from Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region was exported to international markets without the cental government's consent, potentially worsening already-poor ties between the neighbours. The sudden decision to call for arbitration by Iraq, which came after shipments began on Thursday evening, is the latest move in a years-long row in which Baghdad has insisted it has the sole right to export Iracaught itqi crude. The dispute over the exports, which the US has said could further destabilise Iraq, also throws into doubt Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's bid for re-election after polls last month, with his campaign expected to hinge on whether or not he can secure Kurdish backing. The central government's oil ministry said in a statement that it has "filed a request for arbitration against the Republic of Turkey and its state-owned pipeline operator BOTAS... with the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) in Paris."
The Czech Republic and Ireland voted Friday in European Parliament elections expected to boost eurosceptic parties despite a surprise setback for Dutch populists on the polls' first day. With 26 million people out of work across the European Union, eurosceptic and far-right parties have picked up massive support on anti-immigration and anti-EU platforms. The latest opinion polls suggest they could secure almost 100 seats in the new parliament, trebling their number in the 751-seat assembly, and may top the polls in Britain, France and Italy. Friday results showed that the UK Independence Party (UKIP) led by Nigel Farage surged in local council elections, giving the anti-EU and anti-immigration group hope for a similar breakthrough in the European Parliament polls.
The United States on Friday offered a cautious response to Russian President Vladimir Putin's statement that he would respect the result of Ukraine's weekend election. "We would welcome an indication from Russia that they would accept the results of a free and fair and democratic election in Ukraine," said White House spokesman Jay Carney. Carney's cautious language and choice of tense however indicated US skepticism over Putin's comments, after Washington has spent weeks condemning what it sees as Russia's deliberate destabilization of Ukraine. "Right now we are focused on Ukraine's efforts to carry out that election freely and fairly," Carney told reporters aboard Air Force One.
A columnist for a Turkish newspaper has proved her own point all too well after a piece she wrote criticising Ankara's crackdown on press freedom was rejected by her editor. Washington-based academic Gonul Tol left her position at the Aksam daily to preserve her "professional ethics" in a case that has sparked fierce debate about censorship in Turkish media. Her article focussed on the race-fuelled backlash against a report from Freedom House this month that claimed the country had seen the biggest decline in press freedom in Europe. The US-based media rights watchdog downgraded Turkey's status from "partly free" to "not free" -- putting the EU hopeful in the same category as Libya, South Sudan, Ukraine and Zambia -- after it put a record number of journalists behind bars.
After having spearheaded a 2011 uprising that toppled Egypt's strongman and former air force chief Hosni Mubarak, many young revolutionaries are now in jail and an ex-army chief is about to become president. Their dramatic reversal in fortunes could well presage a return to the repression of the Mubarak era, activists fear. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who overthrew elected Islamist president Mohamed Morsi last July, is expected to sweep the 26-27 election amid a clamour for a new strongman to restore stability. Sisi, who had been Mubarak's military intelligence chief before Morsi fatefully made him army chief, toppled the Islamist with the approval of millions of protesters, including some of the revolutionary youth.
Krasnoarmiysk (Ukraine) (AFP) - Svetlana Pershenko mops sweat from her forehead as she waits on a bench outside her local election commission to pick up papers for the polling station in her village in strife-torn eastern Ukraine. Although election workers insist everything is going to plan, organisation seems chaotic with ballot papers yet to be delivered and some election officials refusing to oversee the vote.
Communities affected by fracking could be offered Â£20,000 for every well drilled under plans outlined by the government Friday aimed at easing access to shale gas. Shale oil and gas companies would only be granted access to land below 300m under the plans which ministers say would have "no negative impact on landowners". With the average site containing 10 wells, communities could be set to receive an additional Â£800,000, media reports said. The payments, to be made following consultations with community groups, would come on top of the Â£100,000 one-off lump sum already on offer to pro-fracking communities along with a 1 percent profit-share.
By Jon Herskovitz AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Neither U.S. Senator Ted Cruz nor Governor Rick Perry are on the ballot in Tuesday's run-off elections in Texas, but that doesn't mean the two larger-than-life politicians who share a penchant for cowboy boots are not central figures in the contest. Cruz appears likely to win this round, with Tea Party allies poised to post victories in several contests. That could further raise the first-term senator's profile and return some luster to the Tea Party movement after several candidates were defeated by mainstream Republicans in primaries this week in other states. "This would serve as further verification that Texas Republican primary voters have moved further to the right and embraced Cruz's message of ideological purity and partisanship over a more pragmatic conservative vision of someone like Perry, during most of his tenure in office," said Mark Jones, chair of the political science department at Rice University in Houston.