United Nations (United States) (AFP) - UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressed grave concern Tuesday about the jihadist takeover of Iraq's second city of Mosul, calling on political leaders to unite in the face of threats. His spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Ban was "gravely concerned by the serious deteriorating of the security situation in Mosul, where thousands of civilians have been displaced." The UN chief "strongly condemns the terrorist attacks" across Iraq that have killed and wounded scores of civilians over the past several days and extends his condolences, he added. "The secretary general urges all political leaders to show national unity against the threats facing Iraq, which can only be addressed on the basis of the constitution and within the democratic political process," he said.
The U.S. Senate will hold procedural votes on Tuesday on three Federal Reserve nominees, including Stanley Fischer to be vice chairman, with an aim to hold final votes later in the week. The Senate confirmed Fischer, the former head of the Bank of Israel, for a seat on the Fed's board on May 21 but it has yet to act on his nomination to be the No. 2. It will also consider the nomination of former U.S. Treasury official Lael Brainard for a board seat and the renomination of Fed Governor Jerome Powell for a fresh board term.
A NATO air strike in Afghanistan killed five US soldiers in an apparent "friendly fire" accident during clashes with insurgents, officials said Tuesday, as troops try to ensure security for the presidential election. Local police and the Afghan army said that the US troops, as well as one Afghan soldier, were killed in the restive province of Zabul when air support was unleashed to try to beat back Taliban fighters. Friendly fire incidents have been rare in Afghanistan in recent years, though five Afghan soldiers were killed in a NATO air strike in the eastern province of Logar in March.
Donetsk (Ukraine) (AFP) - From international observers and journalists to pro-Ukrainian activists, priests and ordinary citizens, cases of arbitrary detention and abductions are on the rise in the areas of eastern Ukraine controlled by pro-Russian rebels. "Kidnappings began from the very beginning of the insurgency and today we estimate the number of those being detained illegally at 200," Maria Oliynik, an activist with Ukrainian rights watchdog Prosvita, told AFP. Those held hostage are usually kept in basements and safe houses guarded by gunmen from the rebel "authorities" of the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Lugansk in eastern Ukraine -- and the United Nations says they can face beatings, torture and even execution. For close to a fortnight now two groups of observers from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) -- totalling eight international monitors and a Ukrainian interpreter -- have been held captive and incommunicado after separatists picked them up, three days apart, in late May.
Hillary Clinton launched her much-anticipated book tour Tuesday and tried to smooth over a flap over her earlier remark that she and her husband Bill were "dead broke" when they left the White House. Hundreds of fans of the former secretary of state, many wearing shirts that said "Hillary Rocks," lined up as early as 5:00 am in New York, where Clinton was due to make her first public signings of her memoir, "Hard Choices." But first the Democrat took to the airwaves, in a one-hour special Monday night on ABC in which she said the Clintons left the White House "not only dead broke, but in debt."
A video of a woman being sexually assaulted at inaugural celebrations for Egypt's new president has spotlighted a national epidemic, but activists believe that stopping such attacks will be difficult. Graphic footage, apparently filmed on Sunday using a mobile phone, shows a mob of men surrounding the young woman, who was stripped of her clothes and badly bruised in the assault in Cairo's iconic Tahrir Square. "Sexual assaults and rapes by mobs are now part of reality. This is sexual terrorism," said Zeinab Sabet, a prominent activist with "Dignity Without Borders", a group battling sexual violence.
Five US soldiers killed in Afghanistan were likely victims of "friendly fire," the Pentagon said Tuesday, adding that the incident was under investigation. "Five American troops were killed yesterday during a security operation in southern Afghanistan. Investigators are looking into the likelihood that friendly fire was the cause," said Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman. Friendly fire incidents have been rare in Afghanistan in recent years, although five Afghan soldiers were killed in a NATO air strike in the eastern province of Logar in March.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Fifteen CIA employees were found to have committed sexual, racial or other types of harassment last year, including a supervisor who was removed from the job after engaging in "bullying, hostile behavior," and an operative who was sent home from an overseas post for inappropriately touching female colleagues, according to an internal CIA document obtained by The Associated Press.
Baquba (Iraq) (AFP) - Two bombs exploded near a funeral procession in the Iraqi city of Baquba on Tuesday, killing 20 people, police and a doctor said. The blasts in the capital of Diyala province, 60 kilometres (37 miles) north of Baghdad, also wounded 28 people, the sources said. Mourners were carrying the body of a teacher who was shot dead the previous night to a cemetery when the blasts occurred. The Baquba blasts came as militants seized control the entire northern province of Nineveh, including its capital Mosul.
Emerging economies China, Russia and Brazil are showing signs of slowing down but advanced economies are growing steadily, the OECD said on Tuesday. The findings of these so-called leading indicators is in line with a general picture that emerging economies have lost some of the driving steam which helped the world through a recent downturn in advanced economies. Among advanced countries, the United States and Canada are showing stable growth momentum, the 18-member eurozone as a whole including Italy is improving, and non-euro Britain is steadying at unusually strong growth rates. The OECD published the monthly data shortly after the British statistics office reported that industrial output expanded 0.4 percent in April from the March level when it gained 0.1 percent, and over 12 months showed a jump of 3.0 percent.
Harpsund (Sweden) (AFP) - British Prime Minister David Cameron announced Tuesday that he had reached an agreement with his German, Dutch and Swedish counterparts to tackle "abuse of free movement" in the European Union. "We've agreed that we should work together to address the abuse of free movement," he said at a mini-summit on the European economy near Stockholm with Chancellor Angela Merkel and Prime Ministers Fredrik Reinfeldt and Mark Rutte. "We also believe the European Union needs to change in response to voters' concerns," he said. His comments were supported by Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.