A strike by subway workers snarling Brazil's biggest city Sao Paulo threatened Saturday to disrupt the World Cup with the kickoff in the city just five days away. The stoppage over a wage claim by staff has caused misery for commuters since Thursday in Brazil's business hub of 20 million people. With Brazil hosting Croatia in the brand new but much delayed Corinthians Arena, fans are set to become caught up in the chaos as some 70,000 people descend on the stadium unless a swift end to the dispute is reached. Overnight, with disgruntled Brazilians protesting the cost of the Cup, sport and politics became enmeshed once again as President Dilma Rousseff denounced a "systematic campaign" against her government and the tournament.
By Emily Stephenson WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Toby Cosgrove, the head of the prestigious Cleveland Clinic who the White House had considered nominating to lead the troubled Department of Veterans Affairs, said on Saturday he had withdrawn from consideration for that position. Cosgrove, 73, a Vietnam veteran and surgeon, was in the running to replace former VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, who resigned on May 30 amid a political firestorm over widespread delays in veterans' medical care. Deputy Veterans Affairs Secretary Sloan Gibson has been leading the agency while President Barack Obama looks for a permanent replacement. Last week, Cosgrove was said to be under consideration.
Lice (Turkey) (AFP) - Two Kurdish protesters have died of gunshot wounds sustained during fierce clashes with Turkish soldiers in the country's southeast on Saturday. Ramazan Baran, 24, and Abdulbaki Akdemir, 50, died in hospital after the clashes between soldiers and Kurdish protesters angry at government plans to build military barracks in the Lice district of Kurdish majority Diyarbakir province, medics said. Witnesses told AFP Turkish soldiers also fired live bullets in the clashes. Tensions have been on the rise in Lice since protesters blocked a road two weeks ago over the construction of new army posts in Kurdish-majority areas, seen as a threat to a peace process launched in 2012 between the government and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
Lice (Turkey) (AFP) - A Kurdish protester has died of gunshot wounds sustained during fierce clashes with Turkish soldiers in the country's southeast on Saturday. Twenty-four-year-old Ramazan Baran died in hospital after the clashes between soldiers and Kurdish protesters angry at government plans to build military barracks in the Lice district of Kurdish majority Diyarbakir province, medics said. Witnesses told AFP Turkish soldiers also fired live bullets in the clashes. Tensions have been on the rise in Lice since protesters blocked a road two weeks ago over the construction of new army posts in Kurdish-majority areas, seen as a threat to a peace process launched in 2012 between the government and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
Direct bilateral talks between Iran and the United States will be "a timely opportunity" to try to advance a nuclear deal with world powers, a US official said Saturday. A top European Union official will also participate in the meeting, US and EU officials said. The talks will take place during a crunch time as Iran and the six world powers try to hammer out a difficult comprehensive treaty to rein in Tehran's nuclear ambitions. An interim six-month deal, under which the US and its partners released some $7 billion frozen by tough sanctions in return for a slowdown in Iran's controversial uranium enrichment program, expires on July 20.
Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Madrid on Saturday to demand a referendum to abolish Spain's monarchy, just days after King Juan Carlos abdicated in favour of his son. "Spain, tomorrow, will be republican," they chanted, waving the red, purple and gold flags of the country's second republic, proclaimed in 1931 then overthrown eight years later by General Francisco Franco at the end of the country's catastrophic civil war. Forty-six-year-old Crown Prince Felipe is due to be coronated, probably on June 19, in a joint session of parliament, whose members, both in the ruling party and in opposition, overwhelmingly support the monarchy. But a spate of scandals over the past three years have caused a dramatic drop in the monarchy's popularity, which has also been hit by the general loss of faith in Spain's institutions that has accompanied its economic crisis.
US National Security Advisor Susan Rice is defending her comments that Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, freed in a prisoner swap after five years' captivity with the Taliban, had served "with honor." Rice, who first spoke on a US talk show last weekend shortly after Bergdahl was turned over to US special forces, said it was too soon to judge the soldier's actions.
Tens of thousands took to the streets of Rome on Saturday for the city's annual Gay Pride parade and to call on the Italian government to recognise civil unions for same-sex couples. Ignazio Marino, Rome's left-wing mayor, opened the procession by repeating his campaign promise to pass legislation allowing civil unions for gay couples. "We need to put pressure on parliament so Italy can overcome the shame of lagging behind the rest of the European Union," Marino said.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday laid the first stone for Istanbul's third airport, a multi-billion-dollar project expected to create one of the world's busiest air hubs. "Istanbul is marking a historic day. Turkey is marking a historic day. The biggest airport of the world and six continents is going to rise here," Erdogan told a cheering crowd at the groundbreaking ceremony for the $30 billion (22 billion euro) project.
PHOENIX (AP) — Angry about the federal government sending from Texas to Arizona immigrants who are in the country illegally, Arizona officials say they are rushing federal supplies to a makeshift holding center in the southern part of the state that's housing hundreds of migrant children and is running low on the basics.
A notorious Somali warlord allied to the Islamist Shebab and on UN sanction lists has agreed to quit the extremists, the information ministry said Saturday. Powerful arms dealer Mohamed Said Atom, who is under UN Security Council sanctions for "kidnapping, piracy and terrorism", has been a close ally of the Al-Qaeda linked Shebab. But a government statement on Saturday quoted Atom as saying he had left the Shebab, accusing Islamist chief Ahmed Abdi Godane of working for a "foreign agenda." "I would like to declare that as of today I have decided to resolve my religious and political issues through peaceful means and understanding," Atom said, according to the government.
A new TV channel soon to launch with US financial backing in northern Nigeria aims to counter the growing influence of radical Islamist groups like Boko Haram, the US State Department said Saturday. It is run in Nigeria by Equal Access International, a San Francisco-based organization that has also managed media programs, partly funded by the State Department, in Yemen and Pakistan. The new television satellite channel is to be called Arewa24 -- "arewa" being the Hausa word for north, the group said. "The goal was to support the efforts of diverse civil society groups to develop alternative narratives that would resonate with the people of the region and promote tolerance," Pooja Jhunjhunwala, a State Department spokeswoman, told AFP Saturday.
A Nigerian newspaper said that it was prevented from distributing thousands of copies of its Saturday edition by soldiers, just days after it ran a story alleging corruption among army generals. The Weekly Trust, a national weekly newspaper based in Abuja, said a number of its premises were visited by soldiers, who blocked the papers from leaving the sites. "The soldiers, who were fully armed, insisted on carrying out the 'order from above' to flip through each of the several thousand copies of Weekly Trust in search of alleged 'security risk material'," the newspaper said in a statement on Saturday. The owner Media Trust Ltd said newspaper distribution was blocked at three different sites in the cities of Abuja, Kano and Maiduguri.
Direct bilateral talks between Iran and the United States will be "a timely opportunity" to try to advance a nuclear deal with world powers, a US official told AFP on Saturday. The bilateral talks come at a crunch time as Iran and the six world powers try to hammer out a difficult comprehensive treaty to rein in Tehran's nuclear ambitions. An interim six-month deal, under which the US and its partners released some $7 billion frozen by tough sanctions in return for a slowdown in Iran's controversial uranium enrichment program, expires on July 20. The bilateral talks "will give us a timely opportunity to exchange views in the context of the next P5+ 1 round in Vienna," the official added, asking not to be named.
A subway strike snarling Brazil's biggest city before the World Cup entered a third day Saturday as President Dilma Rousseff denounced a "systematic campaign" against her government and the tournament. Some roads were congested in Sao Paulo and commuters fumed in long bus lines in the latest labor upheaval to hit Brazil with just five days until the mega-city hosts the opening game. Police, teachers and bus drivers have also staged strikes in other cities in recent months to demand better wages, while protestors angry at the World Cup's $11 billion bill have staged demonstrations. Officials are bracing for potential protests during the tournament, fearing a repeat of the violent demonstrations that marred the Confederations Cup last year.