The United States said Friday it has suspended $3.5 million in military assistance for Thailand, about one-third of its aid to the ally, after the army seized power. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said that the United States was also reviewing the rest of US aid to Thailand -- which totaled some $10.5 million in 2013 -- to look for further cuts. Harf said that the United States was looking through its allocated funding for international bodies including the 10-nation ASEAN bloc to identify money directed to Thailand. The United States has contacted junta leaders to deliver the message, Harf said.
The governor of Tennessee has authorized use of the electric chair to execute death row inmates in the event drugs for lethal injections are unavailable. The measure makes Tennessee the first US state that would mandate the electric chair, although the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC) says six other states that allow inmates to choose their method of execution allow such electrocution. In late April, the prolonged and agonizing death of an Oklahoma inmate who had been administered execution drugs highlighted the debate over the injections. President Barack Obama called the incident "deeply troubling."
Hundreds of supporters of detained former Sudanese prime minister Sadiq al-Mahdi rallied on Friday despite a show of force by police and security agents. The National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) arrested Mahdi, chief of the opposition Umma Party, on May 17 after he reportedly accused a counter-insurgency unit of abuses against civilians. Mahdi, a descendant of Sudan's legendary Islamic reformer known as the "Mahdi", is also a religious leader revered by followers in his Ansar al-Islam movement. Dozens of vehicles from the riot police, NISS and police special forces were on standby in the area.
A jealous man castrated and murdered the mayor of a hamlet in northern France whom he suspected of having an affair with his girlfriend, officials said Friday. Mayor Dominique Leboucher, 55, was brutally stabbed in the neck by a 39-year-old electrician, the prosecutor of the northern city of Caen told reporters. The attacker had no previous police record and was "clearly very much in love" with his girlfriend, Catherine Denis said.
Secretary of State John Kerry has agreed to testify before the House Oversight Committee on its investigation into the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, according to a State Department letter obtained by Reuters. Kerry was subpoenaed to testify on May 29, but the letter said prior commitments would prevent his appearance. If Kerry testifies before the House of Representatives Oversight Committee, the letter said, it should remove any need for the secretary to appear before a House Select Committee that was formed recently to look into the Benghazi incident. House Republicans have launched multiple investigations into the Obama administration's handling of embassy security in the run-up to the attack and the steps it took in the aftermath.
Former US Defense Secretary and CIA chief Robert Gates, who is also a former Boy Scout, has been tapped to lead the iconic youth organization known for its "be prepared" ethos. Gates was elected Thursday to head the Boy Scouts of America, which had made news in recent years over its long-standing refusal, finally reversed last year, to accept gay youths as scouts. Gates, 70, was Defense Secretary under both presidents George W. Bush as well as under Barack Obama. The Boy Scouts of America, a group founded in 1910, counts 2.5 million young boys as scouts, led by a million volunteer leaders of about 110,000 troops.
Denmark's anti-immigrant party is expected to become the country's largest in Sunday's EU election while their Swedish peers lag behind, highlighting different political and economic landscapes in the two countries. Opinion polls show the Danish People's Party (DPP) is backed by one in four voters in the European Parliament vote, putting them ahead of the ruling Social Democrats. The populist party has also benefitted from a heated debate on whether eastern European guest workers should be eligible for Denmark's generous child and unemployment benefits, even if they have only worked briefly in the country. As he canvassed votes outside Copenhagen's main train station on Wednesday morning, Denmark's top Social Democratic MEP Jeppe Kofod was met by a somewhat underwhelming response.
Iran has for the first time in six years addressed concerns about the so-called "possible military dimensions" of its nuclear programme, a new IAEA report showed Friday. Tehran has handed over information related to detonators that can be used for a nuclear weapon under a key November interim nuclear deal, the quarterly report, seen by AFP, showed. In technical meetings in late April and earlier this week in Iran, Tehran provided the UN atomic watchdog with "information and explanations, including showing documents, to substantiate its stated need and application of EBW (Explosive Bridge Wire detonators)," the report by IAEA director-general Yukiya Amano for member states, said. "Iran showed information to the agency that simultaneous firing of EBW was tested for a civilian application," it went on.
Maiduguri (Nigeria) (AFP) - A senior Nigerian security source told AFP on Friday that the kidnapping of more than 200 schoolgirls by Boko Haram has exposed the country's incapacity to deal with the Islamist uprising. "We have been playing the ostrich all this while, pretending we are on top of the situation," said the source based in Maiduguri, who agreed to an interview provided his name and title be withheld. Gunmen seized 276 girls on April 14 from their school in Chibok in northeastern Borno state, of which Maiduguri is the capital. The source said Nigeria needed outside help beyond the Chibok mission as the security forces in Africa's most populous country and biggest economy were incapable of defeating Boko Haram.
Baghdad launched legal action against Ankara Friday after oil from Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region was exported to international markets without the cental government's consent, potentially worsening already-poor ties between the neighbours. The sudden decision to call for arbitration by Iraq, which came after shipments began on Thursday evening, is the latest move in a years-long row in which Baghdad has insisted it has the sole right to export Iracaught itqi crude. The dispute over the exports, which the US has said could further destabilise Iraq, also throws into doubt Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's bid for re-election after polls last month, with his campaign expected to hinge on whether or not he can secure Kurdish backing. The central government's oil ministry said in a statement that it has "filed a request for arbitration against the Republic of Turkey and its state-owned pipeline operator BOTAS... with the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) in Paris."