Former US president Bill Clinton called Wednesday for strength in responding to the loss of flight MH17, declaring those who had downed the plane -- and provided the means to do so -- sided with a brutal vision of the world. Speaking at the world AIDS conference in Melbourne, Clinton said it "matters not" if the Malaysia Airlines plane had been shot down by mistake, and the loss of 298 lives was unintended. Addressing a hall packed with scientists, policymakers and grassroots activists, Clinton singled out Dutch researcher Joep Lange, praising him for tireless work in bringing life-saving drugs to millions of people infected by HIV.
The US Air Force will launch new satellites Wednesday to track those of other countries and counter possible threats to American spacecraft, officials said. Two satellites are due to be sent into high-altitude orbits for the first time as part of a program that until a few months ago was strictly secret and classified. The satellites will be launched from Delta IV rockets from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and head to the geosynchronous belt, 22,300 miles (35,900 kilometers) above Earth, where crucial US satellites are also orbiting. Shelton said the satellites would dramatically improve the US military's picture of satellite traffic in the geosynchronous orbit, as the new satellites will be much closer at the higher altitude.
Last month, he planted a flag in a tiny parcel of uninhabited land on the border between Egypt and Sudan on June 16th, Emily's seventh birthday. "With a child you don’t want to ever tell them they can’t be something they desire to be, and at age six, her frame of reference for the world was to be a princess," Heaton told AFP. So, his Internet research eventually pointed him in the direction of Bir Tawil, a few hundred square kilometers (miles) of uninhabited desert nestled between Egypt and Sudan, long neglected in stalled border negotiations. It wasn’t long before Heaton was on a plane to Africa.
US billionaire Michael Bloomberg announced Tuesday he was jetting into Tel Aviv to show solidarity with Israel, calling for a US flight ban to be lifted immediately. The move from the former mayor of New York, a city of eight million with the largest Jewish population in the US, puts him at odds with the US government that backed the ban to protect US citizens from possible Hamas rocket attacks. Bloomberg urged the US Federal Aviation Administration to reverse the ban, saying it had handed Hamas an "undeserved victory" in a more than two-week conflict with Israel.
The French capital braced Wednesday for a fresh protest against the Israeli offensive in Gaza after similar rallies ended in violence and looting, raising concerns in the Jewish community about anti-Semitism. The government, whose ban on several weekend rallies failed spectacularly after they went ahead anyway and descended into chaos, decided to authorise Wednesday's protest in Paris after discussions with organisers who gave "security guarantees", Prime Minister Manuel Valls said. The protests at the weekend in Paris and in the suburb town of Sarcelles were marred by clashes between demonstrators and the police that sent locals scurrying as tear gas permeated the air, and scores were arrested. Protesters in a previous Paris demonstration had attempted to storm synagogues and in Sarcelles, several Jewish businesses were looted, prompting Roger Cukierman, the head of the country's main CRIF Jewish grouping, to voice fears of "pogroms."
The Obama administration is developing a method for religious organizations opposed to contraception coverage under the Affordable Care Act to opt out of providing the coverage in their health plans without filling out a form. Under President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law, known as Obamacare, employers must provide health insurance policies that cover preventive services for women, including contraception and sterilization. As a result, the Obama administration intends to augment its regulations to provide an alternative way for such religious organizations to provide notification while ensuring that enrollees in plans of such organizations receive separate coverage of contraceptive services.
The holy Shiite city of Najaf has gained prominence as a centre of political and military power since the start of a crisis that has raised the spectre of Iraq breaking up along sectarian and ethnic lines. Most of Iraq's political leaders say they want to preserve national unity, yet a Sunni jihadist offensive has seen influence ebb from Baghdad and flow to Iraq's north, where Kurds aim to form an independent state, and to the southern city of Najaf, home to Shiite-majority's Iraq's holiest shrines and most powerful clerics.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Democrats prepared Tuesday to whack $1 billion from President Barack Obama's emergency spending request for the border, while leaving out policy changes Republicans have demanded as their price for agreeing to any money. The developments pointed to a hardening stalemate over the crisis in Texas, where unaccompanied children are arriving by the tens of thousands from Central America.
Russia is struggling with a flood of refugees as more than half a million flee the fighting in eastern Ukraine and it seems many are increasingly likely to stay, officials and activists said. Widely viewed by the West as having fomented the conflict by providing support to pro-Russian separatists -- a charge Moscow denies -- Russia now faces the growing challenge of caring for the refugees. "Since April 1, over 515,000 people have arrived from southeastern Ukraine," the head of Russia's migration service (FMS) Konstantin Romodanovsky said this week. The influx has become a burden for southern Russian regions that border Ukraine, in particular Rostov, and Moscow is now trying to address the situation of caring for them at the federal level.
Human rights groups on Tuesday said that US-bound migrants passing through Mexico routinely face abuses, discrimination and even torture. With the United States gearing efforts to curb a surge of unaccompanied minors mostly from Central America, human rights groups here aired concerns about bad treatment migrants young and old alike face in Mexico.
US lawmakers voted Tuesday to thwart efforts to fund Hezbollah by punishing banks and other financial organizations that help the funneling of money to the Lebanese Shiite militant group. The House of Representatives voted unanimously to broaden financial sector sanctions on Hezbollah and allow the US Treasury more power to "relentlessly" pursue foreign banks, including central banks, that do business with the group that Washington designated a foreign terrorist organization in 1995. The Senate would need to pass the legislation before President Barack Obama signs it into law. "This bill builds on the existing sanctions regime by placing Hezbollah's sources of financing under additional scrutiny, particularly those resources outside of Lebanon," House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Ed Royce said shortly before the vote.
A British lawmaker was criticised Wednesday for tweeting that he would fire rockets at Israel if he lived in Palestinian territory. "The big question is - if I lived in Gaza would I fire a rocket? Israel has waged a blistering 16-day bombardment of Gaza which has left 630 Palestinians and 29 Israelis, in an effort to stop Islamist movement Hamas from raining rockets into the country. Some on social media called on party leader Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg to suspend Ward from the Liberal Democrats, while others described the comment as an incitement to violence.
Malaysian flight MH17 may have been shot down by "mistake" by ill-trained pro-Russian separatists, US intelligence officials said Tuesday, while dismissing Moscow's accounts of the incident as propaganda. Evidence gathered so far suggests separatists launched the SA-11 surface-to-air missile that blew up the Malaysian airliner on July 17, but it remains unclear "who pulled the trigger" and why, said a senior intelligence official who spoke on condition of anonymity. US satellite and other "technical" intelligence confirmed the airliner with 298 people on board was hit by an SA-11 surface-to-air missile from an area controlled by the pro-Russian rebels. The SA-11 is designed to be used in an "integrated air defense system" but with only one narrow radar beam, the missile launchers would have "a much more fuzzy picture," said a second intelligence official.
Secretary of State John Kerry told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday that a US ban on flights to Israel was solely due to safety concerns. Kerry, in Cairo to broker a ceasefire in the Gaza conflict, told Netanyahu by telephone that US authorities would review the order within a day, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. The US Federal Aviation Administration "continues to monitor and evaluate the situation, and will issue updated guidelines no later than 24 hours from the time the (notice) went into force," she said.