By Patricia Zengerle PANAMA CITY (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday that Washington would work with Central American nations to address the root causes of an immigration crisis, but he kept up the Obama administration's tough message that undocumented children would be deported. "We obviously understand people who want to do better, and who look for a better life," he said at a meeting with leaders from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, the countries from which tens of thousands of children have fled to the United States in recent months. Kerry was in Panama for the inauguration of the country's new president, Juan Carlos Varela, but he combined the trip with meetings to address a crisis that is straining U.S. resources and roiling partisan tensions in Washington over immigration.
President Barack Obama told his Cabinet on Tuesday to look for areas where he might be able to govern by executive action given gridlock in Congress that is hampering his agenda. In a White House meeting, Obama brought together the top officials in his government a day after conceding that a deadlocked Congress will prompt him to act on his own authority where he can on an immigration overhaul. Obama said he wants to work with Congress where possible, "but if Congress is unable to do it," then he said his Cabinet officials and agency heads should look for areas where executive actions can "show some real progress." "The people who sent us here, they just don’t feel as if anybody is fighting for them or working them.
Egyptian police arrested Tuesday five Islamist leaders who back Mohamed Morsi, two days ahead of protests their alliance has called to mark the first anniversary of his ouster, officials said. Since the military deposed Morsi last July 3, the authorities have waged a brutal crackdown on his supporters that has seen more than 1,400 people killed in street clashes and over 15,000 jailed. Magdy Hussein, a leader of the Anti-Coup Alliance that has spearheaded protests demanding Morsi's reinstatement, was arrested at dawn at his house, the security officials said. Also detained was Nasr Abdel Salam, head of the Building and Development party, the political arm of Gamaa Islamiya, a former militant group that has since renounced violence.
More than 200,000 members of South Africa's largest union downed tools on Tuesday, beginning an indefinite strike that threatens to bring the engineering sector to a halt and rock an already unstable economy. Members of the National Union of Metalworkers marched in cities across the country, demanding a "double-digit" pay increase and a host of new employment rules. In Johannesburg city centre, thousands of red-clad workers waved sticks and tree branches as they marched to the offices of an industry federation to hand in their demands. The strike is expected to hit more than 10,000 metals and engineering firms that account for about four percent of South African economic output, according to economists at Citigroup.
Nearly 800,000 refugees in Africa have had their food rations slashed due to a lack of global aid funding, threatening to push many to the brink of starvation, the UN warned on Tuesday. The cuts of up to 60 percent are "threatening to worsen already unacceptable levels of acute malnutrition, stunting and anaemia, particularly in children," the United Nations' World Food Programme and refugee agency UNHCR said in a joint statement. The heads of the two agencies were in Geneva on Tuesday to make an urgent appeal to governments for more funds to help feed Africa's refugees. "It is unacceptable in today's world of plenty for refugees to face chronic hunger," said UNHCR chief Antonio Guterres.
US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew on Tuesday said China's yuan currency remains undervalued, a longstanding sore point that will be raised at next week's high-level bilateral negotiations in Beijing. Lew said that the yuan, or renminbi, has appreciated 14 percent since 2010, when China began taking small steps to allow its currency to trade more freely. The United States, while not branding China a currency manipulator, which could entail sanctions, has long insisted the weak yuan gives China an unfair trade advantage. Lew reiterated the US push for China to allow the yuan to trade at a market-determined foreign exchange rate.
Lebanon is acting in a "blatantly discriminatory" manner by denying access to Palestinians fleeing the conflict in neighbouring Syria, Amnesty International said in a report on Tuesday. The watchdog said Lebanon has imposed increasingly onerous entry requirements at the border with Syria and that there was evidence it is trying to prevent Palestinian refugees from entering via Beirut airport. "The Lebanese government's policies and practices towards Palestinian refugees from Syria have led to a range of serious human rights violations," said Amnesty.
The jihadist Islamic State (IS) took control of the key Syrian border town of Albu Kamal on Tuesday after a fierce three-day battle with rival fighters, a monitor said. A spokesman for rebels fighting IS as well as President Bashar al-Assad's regime said the jihadists took over the town after pouring in reinforcements from neighbouring Iraq, where they have seized chunks of territory in a swift offensive. The takeover comes two days after IS declared a "caliphate" in territory they seized in both Syria and Iraq, and ordered the world's Muslims to obey its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Afghanistan's presidential election result has been delayed for several days, officials said Tuesday, as a dispute over alleged fraud threatens to derail the country's first democratic transfer of power. Abdullah Abdullah, previously seen as the poll front-runner, has said he would reject the result due to "blatant fraud", while his poll rival Ashraf Ghani said the election was clean and claimed victory by more than one million votes.
German Social-Democrat Martin Schulz was elected on Tuesday to head the European Parliament in the first session since elections in May. Schulz, outgoing president of the last European Parliament, won 409 votes for and 314 against or blank ballots, in a session that was marred by eurosceptic opposition. "Great honour and responsibility to be the voice of the Parliament of EU citizens," Schulz tweeted.
Six members of the Tunisian security forces were wounded when a roadside bomb exploded Tuesday in the mountainous Kef region near the Algerian border, the interior ministry said. "A roadside bomb exploded as a military vehicle passed by, wounding four soldiers and two members of the National Guard," it said. At the time, the security forces were combing the mountains in the provinces of Kef and neighbouring Jendouba "where the remnants of a terrorist group is holed up," the ministry added. Since late 2012, security forces have been battling jihadists hiding out in the remote western region.
Nearly a quarter of a million members of South Africa's largest union downed tools on Tuesday, beginning an indefinite strike that threatens to bring the engineering sector to a halt. Members of the National Union of Metalworkers marched in cities across the country, demanding a pay raise of up to 12 percent and better working conditions. In Johannesburg city centre, thousands of workers clad in red waved sticks and branches from tree branches as they marched to the offices of an industry federation to hand in their demands. The strike comes as yet another blow to South Africa's beleaguered economy, which contracted in the first quarter after a five-month platinum strike that was resolved only last week.
By By David DeKok HARRISBURG Penn. (Reuters) - Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett said on Monday that he would not for the moment sign a $29.1 billion budget enacted by the legislature because lawmakers had failed to include pension reform. Corbett, a Republican with sagging poll ratings who is up for re-election this year, wants to push new state employees onto a so-called "hybrid" pension plan.
Saudi Arabia pledged $500 million in humanitarian aid for Iraq on Tuesday, to be disbursed through the United Nations to those in need regardless of sect or ethnicity, state media reported. King Abdullah "has ordered $500 million in humanitarian aid to the brotherly people of Iraq affected by the painful events, including the displaced, regardless of their religion, sect or ethnicity," a foreign ministry spokesman told the official SPA news agency. The United Nations says 1.2 million Iraqis have been driven from their homes by violence this year, hundreds of thousands of them by a three-week-old Sunni militant offensive that has swept up a swathe of territory north of Baghdad. Sunni Saudi Arabia has deeply strained relations with Iraq's Shiite-led government.
A truck exploded in a huge fireball killing at least 15 people on Tuesday in the northeast Nigerian city of Maiduguri, the latest attack in a city repeatedly hit by Boko Haram Islamists. The bomb rocked Maiduguri's largest roundabout near the crowded Monday Market where elderly women line the road selling peanuts and kola nuts as snacks to morning commuters. An AFP reporter said elderly women and poor children who beg at the roundabout were among the casualties. While there was no immediate claim of responsibility, blame was likely to fall on Boko Haram, which was founded in Maiduguri more than a decade ago and has killed thousands during a five-year uprising.