Greece's bailout during the financial crisis would be small change compared to what Ukraine needs to bolster its ailing economy, EU Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger said on Monday. "If we want to help Ukraine -- a country with 45 million people -- then Greece was peanuts compared to that," Oettinger said during a visit to Bratislava, Slovakia, which neighbours Ukraine. It will take ten or fifteen years and will require a multi-billion-worth aid and participation of our taxpayers, voters, European Commission, USA, Canada, International Monetary Fund and others," Oettinger said. Russia cut the flow of gas to Ukraine on Monday after last-ditch talks failed to end a dispute over debts that threatens to disrupt supplies to Europe for the third time in a decade.
Kuwait's premier and a senior royal filed two separate lawsuits to the attorney general on Monday demanding an investigation into allegations of a coup plot and a huge corruption case. The country was shaken two months ago after news surfaced about videotapes allegedly showing former senior officials plotting a coup against the government. Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Mubarak Al-Sabah sent a letter to the attorney general to investigate "allegations of money laundering, abuse of public funds and dealing with Israel," made during a television interview, acting Justice Minister Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah Al-Sabah told state news agency KUNA. The accusations were made by Sheikh Ahmad Fahad Al-Sabah, a senior member of the ruling family, on Saturday.
UN human rights chief Navi Pillay on Monday condemned a series of "cold-blooded" killings of Iraqi soldiers and religious leaders by Sunni militants, saying it amounted to war crimes. "Based on corroborated reports from a number sources, it appears that hundreds of non-combatant men were summarily executed over the past five days, including surrendered and captured soldiers, military conscripts, police and others associated with the (Baghdad) government," Pillay said in a statement. Militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) jihadist group have seized the north Iraqi cities of Mosul and Tikrit and have vowed to move on Baghdad to topple the Shiite-dominated government.
The United States on Monday urged Washington's traditional foe Iran to act "in a non-sectarian way" as it engages in the security crisis in neighboring Iraq. In recent years, Washington has usually demanded that Iran not meddle in the situation in Iraq, but last week's shock gains by Sunni rebels have left Baghdad appealing for outside help. "We would push Iran to address problems in a non-sectarian way," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.
By Anthony Boadle and Brian Winter BRASILIA/SAO PAULO (Reuters) - U.S. Vice President Joe Biden heads to Brazil on Monday, hoping to do more than just watch Team USA play Ghana in the World Cup. Biden will also try to turn the page on chilly U.S. relations with President Dilma Rousseff, who was outraged by revelations last year that the National Security Agency spied on her and other Brazilian officials. Brazil's left-leaning leader told reporters she was eager to reschedule her Washington trip - but only if she gets a "strong signal that (spying) won't be repeated." That comment sent officials in Washington scrambling to figure out precisely what she's looking for. In response to the uproar over NSA spying in Brazil, Germany and elsewhere, President Barack Obama said in January that the United States would no longer spy on heads of state of allied countries.
Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on Monday urged Jordan's King Abdullah II to reform the country's "repressive" anti-terrorism law, saying recent amendments to the legislation are "disturbing." The amendments, approved in April, criminalise "the use of information technology, the Internet or any means of publication or media, or the creation of a website, to facilitate terrorist acts or back groups that promote, support or fund terrorism." RSF Secretary-General Christophe Deloire said in his letter to the king on Monday that the changes were phrased in a "general manner that leaves the judicial authorities a great deal of discretionary power, with a resulting danger of arbitrary decisions".
By Jeff Mason RANCHO MIRAGE Calif. (Reuters) - President Barack Obama will sign an executive order barring federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, a White House official said on Monday, handing another victory to gay rights activists. The White House has been pressing Congress to pass legislation to ban employment discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and has resisted issuing an executive order in favor of pursuing a broader, legislative solution. But Obama has spent the year taking executive action on other domestic priorities where Congress has failed to make legislative headway, and activists have pressed him to do the same on gay rights.
The United Nations appealed on Monday for $27 million (20 million euros) to help hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees trapped in Syria buy food during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. "As we come up to Ramadan, we can foresee a prospect of thousands of Palestinian refugees going hungry because very simply they do not have enough money to buy food," Pierre Krahenbuhl, commissioner general of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA), told reporters in Amman. Krahenbuhl said there were approximately 500,000 Palestinian refugees registered in Syria at the outset of the conflict. UNRWA has nine registered camps for Palestinian refugees in Syria, housing those who fled or were forced from their homes when the state of Israel was created in 1948, and their descendants.
NEW CASTLE, Colo. (AP) — Four in 10 new oil and gas wells near national forests and fragile watersheds or otherwise identified as higher pollution risks escape federal inspection, unchecked by an agency struggling to keep pace with America's drilling boom, according to an Associated Press review that shows wide state-by-state disparities in safety checks.
Yemeni President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi has removed heavy artillery from hills surrounding Sanaa over fears his predecessor, to whom some elements remain loyal, is plotting a coup, an official said Monday. The move comes with the presidential guard, backed by armoured vehicles, surrounding a mosque controlled by ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh in the capital since late Saturday, an AFP correspondent reported. Saleh ruled Yemen for 33 years before being forced out in February 2012 and replaced by his long-time deputy Hadi under a UN- and Gulf-sponsored deal. "The military leadership has dismantled heavy artillery and rockets that were positioned on hills around Sanaa following information of a coup plot" by Saleh "whose loyalists continue to infiltrate the army", the army official told AFP.
Aleppo (Syria) (AFP) - Syrian government helicopters dropped barrel bombs on opposition-held districts of the northern city of Aleppo on Monday, killing at least 31 people including several children, an NGO said. Some of the wounded were in a serious condition after the strikes on the Sukkari and Ashrafiyeh neighbourhoods, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. "We were sleeping safely when the first barrel dropped around midnight," said resident Abu Mohammad. "And when people came to the rescue, a second barrel dropped, so all those people who were on the site were dead.
Natal (Brazil) (AFP) - US Vice President Joe Biden begins a four-nation trip across Latin America on Monday, starting with some World Cup action at the US-Ghana game in Brazil. Biden will fly directly to the flood-stricken city of Natal to cheer on the United States as they face the Black Stars in their first Group G clash on Monday. Biden will then fly to Brasilia, where he will meet President Dilma Rousseff and Vice President Michel Temer on Tuesday in a continuing effort to patch up relations strained by revelations of massive US spying. Rousseff cancelled a state visit to Washington last year following revelations by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden that US agencies have been spying on her country.