Mineral-rich Mozambique is considering the establishment of a sovereign wealth fund, the country's finance minister said Thursday. "We think it's a good idea," Manuel Chang told AFP on the sidelines of an International Monetary Fund (IMF) conference on Africa. "But we won't do what others have done," he added, suggesting Mozambique would not rush into creating the fund given other pressing demands that will require huge injections to fix, such as the infrastructure. Mozambique's reserves are believed to be the world's third largest.
By Scott Malone and Daniel Lovering BOSTON (Reuters) - Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg used his commencement address at Harvard University on Thursday to bash a U.S. academic culture that he described as increasingly intolerant of ideas from outside a narrow liberal spectrum. Citing the campus protests that caused luminaries including former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and International Monetary Fund head Christine Lagarde to back out of planned speeches, Bloomberg criticized students and faculty for being hostile to ideas that clashed with their own ideologies. Standing amid the centuries-old stone buildings of Harvard Yard, he compared the atmosphere in U.S. academia to that which prevailed during Senator Joseph McCarthy's 1950s campaign to ferret out Communists in public life. "In the 1950s the right wing was attempting to repress left-wing ideas," said Bloomberg, who started his career on Wall Street before launching the news and data company that bears his name.
Hillary Clinton, already at the center of a political frenzy over her possible 2016 presidential campaign, dropped by for lunch with President Barack Obama Thursday. The former rivals and colleagues spent time together before Clinton heads off on a publicity tour for her new book "Hard Choices," which will be released on June 10 and is seen as laying the groundwork for a possible fresh White House bid. "The president enjoyed an informal, private lunch with Secretary Clinton at the White House this afternoon," said an administration official on condition of anonymity. Clinton, 66, who lost a divisive campaign for the 2008 Democratic nomination to Obama, agreed to serve as secretary of state in his first term after they buried the political hatchet.
The United States described as "horrific" Thursday the case of a Christian Sudanese woman who has been sentenced to hang for converting from Islam. High-level US officials have raised the plight of Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag, 27, with top Sudanese counterparts and US embassy officials have been attending her public hearings and will monitor the appeals process in Khartoum. "We're concerned about this horrific case, and we've expressed that many, many, many times," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. Ishag's husband Daniel Wani is a US citizen, and he told AFP on Tuesday that he was trying to visit his wife in the women's jail in Khartoum's twin city of Omdurman after she gave birth to their second child, a baby girl.
President Barack Obama called for more research Thursday into concussions among youth athletes -- and admitted he had probably seen stars himself while playing American football as a youngster. Obama called a "summit" at the White House amid a rising spate of such injuries, not just in contact sports but in others like football, which is widely played by both girls and boys in the United States. White House officials said Obama decided to use the "convening power" of the presidency to bring together groups as diverse as leading medical authorities and the National Football League (NFL) to build momentum on the issue. He noted that the dangers of head injuries and brain damage among young players were much more well known now than they had been for many years -- when children were forced to endure a "suck it up" culture by coaches and parents.
United Nations (United States) (AFP) - China will soon send an infantry battalion to reinforce the United Nations peacekeeping mission in war-torn South Sudan, officials said Thursday. In December, the Security Council voted to send an extra 5,500 peacekeepers -- some re-assigned from other UN missions in Africa -- to the UN mission in the world's newest country, bringing the total deployment there to 12,500. UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous confirmed Thursday that China had agreed to send a "battalion" of 850 soldiers within the next few months. UN officials said this was the first time China will send a combat unit to a UN peacekeeping operation.
The White House expressed concern Thursday that pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine were using advanced weapons "from the outside" after they shot down an army helicopter killing 12 soldiers. The downing of the aircraft came amid escalating clashes between Kiev's forces and separatists in the eastern part of the country, following the election win of chocolate magnate Petro Poroshenko. "We are disturbed by the ongoing violence in eastern Ukraine, including reports that separatists have shot down a Ukrainian military helicopter," White House spokesman Jay Carney said.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Thursday his country was ready to host an international conference to raise funds for Lebanon, which is hosting more than a million Syrian refugees. Steinmeier was in Beirut for talks with Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil on how Beirut is coping with a flux of refugees fleeing the war in neighbouring Syria. "We realise that the war underway in Syria has posed huge challenges for Lebanon and that waves of refugees cross the border into Lebanon each day, hoping to find security but also food for their children, education and schools," said Steinmeier.
Britain's government agreed on Thursday to give extracts of letters from Tony Blair to George W. Bush to an inquiry into the Iraq war, overcoming the main hurdle to publication of the long-awaited report. The probe will receive "gists and quotes" of communications from former prime minister Blair to ex-president Bush in the run-up to the conflict in 2003, inquiry chief John Chilcot said in an official letter. But Bush's replies will not be included in the report, which is examining Britain's involvement in the war, Chilcot said.