Political News from Yahoo

Films help Lebanese come to terms with dark past

Lebanon's civil war ended a quarter of a century ago but its filmmakers remain fixated on this dark period, seeing their movies as a kind of catharsis to help heal collective trauma. The latest example to hit the screens is "Mirath" ("Heritages") by French-Lebanese filmmaker Philippe Aractingi. Mingling fact and fiction, Aractingi shares with his children memories of the 1975-1990 war, his exile and his return home, a story to which most Lebanese can relate. "The Lebanese tend to deny the past and the war" that pitted Christian militias against Palestinian groups and their Lebanese Muslim and leftist allies, Aractingi told AFP.

'Slaves' in the Gulf: Malagasy women lured to Middle East

Malagasy mother Solange left the island in 2013 eager to work as a domestic servant in Saudi Arabia and earn a better living for her family. His 34-year-old wife was one of many women from Madagascar who face horrific working conditions while earning a pittance, having travelled to the Middle East through recruitment agencies. "My boss threw Clorox (a household product) and acid in my eyes," said Zitale Nirina, 39. "Madagascar is one example among others in Africa," said International Labour Organisation (ILO) spokesman Hans von Rohland from Geneva.

Ireland preparing to lift austerity measures

Ireland is moving closer to a switch away from deep austerity measures as it prepares for a key budget -- the first since the eurozone nation emerged from a massive international bailout. Minister for Finance Michael Noonan is predicting the Irish economy to do better than expected this year, meaning fewer cutbacks to state spending and a reduction in tax rises. The government had forecast in April that a two-billion-euro ($2.69 billion) adjustment was required in October's budget, to reach a deficit target of 3.0 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2015. Debt-plagued Ireland became the first of the bailed-out eurozone nations to exit an EU-IMF rescue programme last December -- three years after seeking help to keep its economy from collapsing completely.

U.S. lawmaker takes soda tax battle to Capitol Hill

A Connecticut lawmaker on Wednesday will launch the first national effort in years to tax soda drinks, the latest bid by regulators and politicians to stem rising obesity and diabetes rates by curbing the consumption of sugary drinks. While former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg's controversial effort to limit cola size was struck down by a court earlier this year, other cities such as San Francisco have taken up the cause, emboldening critics and causing growing concern among beverage makers. Democratic Representative Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut is under no illusion about the chances that her Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Tax Act will become law. It is in part related to the consumption of sugar and added sugars and sugary beverages.

Toasts and tears of joy as Germany started WWI

It is past dusk when Wilhelm II uncorks the sparkling wine for his top army brass on August 1, 1914. The German emperor has just declared war on Russia, is preparing to attack France, and has received word from his ambassador in London that Britain would remain neutral in the conflict. Germany had started World War I.

Obama eats ribs with 4 Kansas City letter writers

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — President Barack Obama feasted on barbecue Tuesday with four people who wrote him letters in a trip to highlight the struggles of working families in American's heartland, as the clock ticked on pressing issues before Congress goes on summer break.

Texas regents pick McRaven as chancellor finalist

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — University of Texas System regents on Tuesday selected one of the top U.S. military special operations leaders as the lone finalist for the job of chancellor, overseeing the system's 15 campuses and $14 billion budget.

Islamists take main military base in Benghazi

Islamist groups seized the headquarters of the Libyan army's special forces in Benghazi after several days of heavy fighting, military officials and the Islamists said Wednesday. An Islamist and jihadist alliance announced the capture Tuesday of the main military base in the eastern Libyan city in a statement.

Fresh Israeli strikes kill two children ahead of truce talks

Fresh Israeli bombardments rocked Gaza in the early hours of Wednesday, killing two children, as Palestinian factions were to head to Cairo to discuss a temporary humanitarian ceasefire. As the conflict between Israel and Hamas entered its 23rd day, international efforts to bring an end to the bloodshed that has killed more than 1,200 people continued apace, and concern grew over the high civilian death toll, especially among children. Since the war began on July 8, when Israel launched a campaign to stop rocket fire from Gaza and destroy attack tunnels, a series of concerted international efforts to bring a truce have fallen flat.

Senate passes highway bill, sends it back to House

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate voted Tuesday to keep federal highway money flowing to the states into December but only after rejecting the House's reliance on what lawmakers called a funding "gimmick" and moving to force a post-election debate on whether to raise gasoline taxes.

At least 20 dead, dozens missing in shipwreck off Libya

More than 20 migrants have died and dozens are missing after their makeshift boat sank off the Libyan coast, the navy said late Tuesday. "A navy patrol on Monday rescued 22 clandestine migrants who were clinging to debris from their boat," spokesman Colonel Ayoub Kassem told AFP, adding that more than 20 bodies were plucked from the water. The migrants from south of the Sahara desert had sought to reach the Italian coast or nearby Malta after crossing restive and lawless Libya. This year nearly 80,000 migrants have landed in Italy so far, many more than the 2011 record of a total of 63,000, according to authorities in Rome.

Argentina seeks last-minute solution as default looms

Argentina's economy minister flew into New York on Tuesday for last-ditch talks to resolve a dispute with hedge fund creditors that has pushed the country to the brink of default. Economy Minister Axel Kicillof threw his weight behind the talks after Argentina got a boost in its fight against so-called "holdout" hedge funds from others bondholder who appealed for more time. Argentina has until the end of Wednesday to resolve its dispute with the holdouts, whose refusal to accept a write-down on the debt it defaulted on in 2001 has pushed Latin America's third-largest economy to the brink of a new default. Shortly before Kicillof arrived at the talks, which are being brokered by a US court-appointed mediator, a group of holders of euro-denominated "exchange bonds" asked New York District Judge Thomas Griesa to put a stay on his ruling in favor of the hedge funds.

Canada says China hacked science agency computers

Canada accused China on Tuesday of hacking into the computers of its research and development arm, which Beijing strongly denied. China partners each year with thousands of Canadians firms to roll out new technologies, and took advantage of this arrangement to engage in a cyber attack, Ottawa said. "Recently, the government of Canada, through the work of the Communications Security Establishment, detected and confirmed a cyber intrusion on the IT infrastructure of the National Research Council of Canada by a highly sophisticated Chinese state-sponsored actor," said a government statement.

Gaza death toll passes 1,200 amid latest talk of truce

The Palestine Liberation Organisation expressed readiness for a Gaza truce and Washington said Israel had sought help Tuesday in calming a 22-day conflict that has killed more than 1,200 people in the enclave. US Secretary of State John Kerry said that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had asked for fresh help from America in trying to broker a ceasefire. The top US diplomat added that Netanyahu had said he "would embrace a ceasefire that permits Israel to protect itself against (Palestinian militants') tunnels and obviously not be disadvantaged for the great sacrifice they have made thus far."

Russia-Ukraine tensions pose credit default risks: IMF

The International Monetary Fund warned Tuesday that an escalation of tensions between Russia and Ukraine would raise the risks for banks exposed to those countries. Hit by US and European Union economic sanctions against Moscow, Russian businesses in particular could see financing and revenue dry up, pushing them to fall behind in servicing debts. While the conflict between Kiev and pro-Russian separatists has remained confined to eastern Ukraine, escalation could have global repercussions, the report warned. "An escalation of tensions through intensification of sanctions and retaliations may lead to larger spillovers across Europe, central Asia, and beyond."

IMF's Lagarde says Ukraine may need more aid

The head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, said Tuesday that Ukraine may need more international aid if its crisis with the pro-Russia separatist rebellion is prolonged. "As it stands and under current circumstances and the set of our assumptions, which includes a conflict that eventually is resolved in a not-too-distant future, no additional financing is needed," Lagarde said at a news conference at IMF headquarters in Washington. In late April, the IMF approved a $17 billion line of credit to Ukraine, part of a $27 billion international financial lifeline to the country's economy reeling from the rebellion blamed by the West on neighboring Russia, an accusation Moscow denies. The Ukraine crisis has escalated since the bailout began, with the pro-Russia separatists advancing their control of eastern Ukraine -- the industrial engine of the economy -- and the downing of a Malaysia Airlines passenger plane over the area in mid-July.

US plans largest ever sale of Hellfire missiles to Iraq

The United States plans to sell 5,000 Hellfire missiles to Iraq in a $700 million deal, officials said Tuesday, as Washington tries to help Baghdad retake ground captured by Sunni militants. The US government, which has been reluctant so far to take military action in support of Baghdad, has rushed hundreds of the missiles to Iraq to help the Shiite-led government counter jihadists, who have seized areas north and west of the capital. The deal calls for 5,000 AGM-114K/N/R Hellfire missiles and related equipment, parts, training and logistical support worth a total of $700 million, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in a statement Tuesday. "Iraq will use the Hellfire missiles to help improve the Iraq Security Forces' capability to support current on-going ground operations," the agency said.

Suicide bombers kill at least six in Nigeria mosques: witnesses

Suicide bombers attacked two mosques in northeast Nigeria's Yobe state late Tuesday killing at least six people and injuring several others, witnesses told AFP blaming the Boko Haram Islamists. "A suicide bomber we believe was from Boko Haram blew himself up at the open air mosque used by Shiites which they name Saqafa shortly after saying their evening prayers there," witness Balarabe Dahiru said. The body of the suicide bomber was left untouched by residents in protest, he said. Resident Awwal Maikusa who gave a similar account said a second blast occurred five minutes later.

Israel public back Gaza assault despite death toll: analysts

The army's mounting death toll in Gaza has taken the Israeli public by surprise but without dampening its strong support for the military campaign against Hamas, analysts say. Funerals were held across the Jewish state on Tuesday for 10 soldiers killed the day before, five of them in a firefight with Palestinian militants who infiltrated Israel by a tunnel from Gaza. Four others were killed after a mortar shell exploded not far inside Israel and another in fighting in the Gaza Strip. An overwhelming "86.5 percent believes that Israel cannot agree to a ceasefire as long as Hamas continues to fire rockets on Israel, as long as all the tunnels have not been discovered and as long as Hamas refuses to surrender," it said.