Brasilia (Brazil) (AFP) - President Dilma Rousseff will go into diplomatic overdrive as the World Cup kicks off Thursday, with meetings planned with two dozen leaders including Vladimir Putin, Angela Merkel, as Brazil soaks up the global spotlight. Despite affording less time to the international arena than her predecessor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Rousseff has a chance during the Cup to strut the diplomatic stage on home turf. "Foreign policy during the Cup will be important, because of the large number of visitors at a time when Brazil's international agenda is full of pressing issues," David Fleischer, professor emeritus at the University of Brasilia, told AFP.
By Joseph Ax NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver must face claims that he “aided and abetted” a former assemblyman’s sexual harassment of two young female employees by failing to take official action, a U.S. judge ruled on Tuesday. U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres rejected Silver’s bid to throw out the lawsuit, which was filed last summer by Victoria Burhans and Chloe Rivera in federal court in Manhattan. The women accused longtime Brooklyn power broker Vito Lopez of subjecting them to a barrage of unwanted sexual advances. Silver had previously helped broker a secret settlement with two women who had accused Lopez of harassment, using $103,000 in public funds.
US President Barack Obama Tuesday called for national "soul searching" over gun violence, warning that mass shootings were "off the charts" in a way no other advanced country would tolerate. Obama vented frustration and disbelief that there was no political momentum for gun reform in the wake of a new spate of mass shootings, in impassioned remarks likely to touch off a new row with the powerful firearms lobby. "We are the only developed country on earth where this happens, and it happens now once a week," Obama said at the White House, hours after a gunman shot and killed a student at an Oregon High School in the latest incident. The president tried and failed to introduce a ban on assault weapons and to require more stringent background checks for gun buyers after the Newtown massacre in which 20 children and six adults were killed in December 2012.
President Barack Obama expressed deep frustration on Tuesday at the inability by Washington to enact even modest gun control measures, in the aftermath of a rash of shootings around the United States. This is becoming the norm and we take it for granted in ways that as a parent are terrifying to me," Obama said in answer to a question at a White House online event sponsored by Tumblr. Obama spent the early part of 2013 trying to persuade Congress to approve legislation to approve legislation after a school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, where 20 children were killed. The move would have imposed some restrictions on gun ownership but the effort failed amid pressure from the National Rifle Association lobby.
US diplomat Jen Psaki hit back Tuesday at Russia's "propaganda machine," accusing it of being behind a series of Internet slurs mocking her for stumbling over her words. As spokeswoman for Secretary of State John Kerry, Psaki runs the gauntlet of the world's media in her daily briefings, when she is quizzed on US foreign policy in the full glare of the cameras. The attacks have been led by the Russian state-run television network RT, whose reporters have had a couple of run-ins with Psaki during the briefings, which put together a slide show called: "Jen Psaki's most embarrassing fails." But Psaki hit back Tuesday, saying the attacks on her were "sexist" and adding "many people know that there are efforts by the Kremlin and the propaganda machine to discredit a range of officials, including recently myself, as silly as that is, because the United States supports a strong, democratic Ukraine."
Iran's oil output could reach 4.0 million barrels per day in "less than three months" if Western sanctions are lifted over its nuclear energy programme, Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said Tuesday. "After lifting the sanctions, (in) less than three months we can produce four" million barrels of oil per day, Zanganeh told reporters upon his arrival in Vienna on the eve of an OPEC output meeting. That compares with Iran's current production of approximately 2.7 million bpd, according to OPEC data which cites secondary sources. Zanganeh added Tuesday that the nation's oil exports currently stand at 1.5 million bpd.
US President Barack Obama Tuesday called for national "soul searching" over gun violence, warning that mass shootings were "off the charts" in a way no other advanced country would tolerate. Obama vented frustration and disbelief that there was no momentum for gun reform in the wake of a new spate of mass shootings, in impassioned remarks likely to touch off a new row with the powerful firearms lobby. "We are the only developed country on earth where this happens, and it happens now once a week," Obama said at the White House, hours after a gunman shot and killed a student at an Oregon High School in the latest shooting incident. Obama said the "biggest frustration" of his presidency so far was that Washington had not even taken "basic steps" to keep guns out of the hands of people that can do "unbelievable damage."
Russia and Ukraine resumed talks in Brussels on Tuesday to end a bitter gas price dispute and build on a tentative push by Kiev's new president towards peace after months of conflict. Ukraine's new Western-backed president Tuesday ordered the creation of humanitarian corridors in the separatist east that could save civilians and advance his plan to end nearly two months of fighting by the end of the week. Petro Poroshenko's initiative meets a major demand put forward by Moscow and helps address growing concern among rights groups about Kiev's use of firepower in heavily populated areas to suppress the pro-Russian insurgency.
The Kuwaiti opposition on Tuesday declared "war" against rife corruption, alleging that tens of billions of dollars of public funds have been stolen by former senior officials. "The real open war will start after the end of this rally and we will announce its end after we achieve victory against forces of corruption," prominent opposition leader Mussallam al-Barrak told thousands of people at a public rally. Barrak, a former MP, also charged that a number of former senior officials have stolen around $50 billion and deposited them in foreign banks including an Israeli bank. To substantiate his claims, Barrak showed what he said were copies of their accounts and huge transfers to the rally through a large screen.
The United States called on Kiev's new leaders Tuesday to work with the United Nations and other aid groups as it seeks to allow civilians to flee eastern Ukraine. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko met demands from Moscow and ordered the establishment of humanitarian corridors to provide safe passage out of the areas caught up in fighting. "Their goal here is to explore options to remove civilians from harm's way," said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki, adding Kiev's top priority was "the safety of its citizens." "We are encouraging them with this or any other related effort to work closely with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and other international organizations to plan for any internally displaced persons," she added.
Washington on Tuesday slammed an "horrific" video of a woman being sexually assaulted in Cairo and urged the new government to stand by a vow to stamp out such attacks. The video "shocked and appalled us as much as it did the Egyptian people," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters. "The prevalence of sexual assaults against Egyptian women is a cause of great concern, not just to the Egyptian people but to the United States and the international community," Psaki said.
President Barack Obama on Tuesday congratulated Israel's newly elected next president, the hawkish Reuven Rivlin, and poured praise on his friend, outgoing President Shimon Peres. "President-elect Rivlin has a long and dedicated record of public service and we look forward to continued strong ties, to the benefit of both our nations, under Mr. Rivlin's presidency," Obama said in a statement. The State Department sought to play down concerns, stressing that now stalled talks coordinated by the United States between the Palestinians and Israel were not within the purview of the Israeli president. "He has dedicated his extraordinary life to the cause of peace, and I look forward to welcoming him in Washington later this month where he will receive the Congressional Gold Medal."