A female suicide bomber killed six people at a college campus in Nigeria's Kano city on Wednesday, the fourth time Boko Haram Islamists were suspected of using a female attacker in as many days. Boko Haram is blamed for killing more than 10,000 people since 2009, and their extreme tactics have been denounced worldwide, including on some jihadi websites. At about 2:30 pm (1330 GMT) on Wednesday, an assailant blew herself up at a noticeboard on the campus of the Kano Polytechnic College while students were crowded around it. It was the fourth attack by a female bomber in Nigeria's second city since the weekend.
Moscow dismisses Western sanctions as mostly bark, but analysts warned the latest measures announced by the EU and US will also bite the Russian economy, which is teetering on the edge of recession. Washington and Brussels announced on Tuesday the strongest sanctions on Russia since the Cold War over Moscow's annexation of Crimea and support for separatists in Ukraine. The US prohibited three leading Russian banks from raising anything but short-term funding on US markets. It also banned future arms sales to Russia, restricted the export of goods with both defence and civilian applications, and clamped down on technology transfers, especially in the energy sector.
Washington does not intend to engage in Africa militarily to resolve the continent's conflicts but is boosting efforts to train peacekeepers, a senior US official said Wednesday. Susan Rice, President Barack Obama's National Security Adviser, made the comments just days before almost all of Africa's leaders descend on the US capital for an unprecedented summit. "Contrary to some claims, the United States is not looking to militarize Africa or maintain a permanent military presence," Rice said at the United States Institute of Peace. The Monday to Wednesday meeting will attract some 50 African leaders -- almost all of them, apart from Western pariah figures like Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe, Sudan's Omar al-Bashir and Eritrea's Issaias Afeworki.
Israeli attacks against US Secretary of State John Kerry accusing him being of a supporter of Islamic militants are "offensive and absurd," a senior US diplomat said Wednesday. In a sharp exchange with reporters, deputy State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf hit out against a torrent of abuse from "respected voices in Israel talking about the secretary of state, claiming that he supports Hamas, which is offensive and absurd." The United States had been giving Israel "a level of support which has been quite frankly unprecedented in our history, even when we stood alone," she added. After last week's failed bid to mediate a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, Kerry has been pilloried in the Israeli press for submitting a plan on Friday to the Israeli government, which the security cabinet unanimously rejected.
Bolivia on Wednesday renounced a visa exemption agreement with Israel in protest over its offensive in Gaza, and declared it a terrorist state. President Evo Morales announced the move during a talk with a group of educators in the city of Cochabamba. It "means, in other words, we are declaring (Israel) a terrorist state," he said. The treaty has allowed Israelis to travel freely to Bolivia without a visa since 1972.
The Federal Reserve on Wednesday stuck to its plan of holding its base interest rate near zero while steadily trimming its stimulus, despite a surprisingly strong second-quarter economic growth report. The Fed as expected reduced its monthly bond purchases by $10 billion, taking the program to $25 billion a month, but said the low federal funds rate remains needed to support growth and improvement in the labor market. In a statement at the end of a two-day policy meeting, the Federal Open Market Committee acknowledged that the economy shows "sufficient underlying strength" to support the recent gains in job creation and cutting unemployment. "The Committee sees the risks to the outlook for economic activity and the labor market as nearly balanced and judges that the likelihood of inflation running persistently below two percent has diminished somewhat."
The United States called on China to free a Uighur academic who was charged with separatism on Wednesday by prosecutors in far western Xinjiang after being detained earlier this year. "We are concerned about reports that China has indicted prominent economics professor Ilham Tohti," deputy State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters, adding "we call on Chinese authorities to release" Tohti and six students held with him. The United States was "particularly concerned about the lack of transparency concerning his welfare and access to legal representation," Harf added. Chinese authorities should also guarantee Tohti and his students the "protections and freedoms to which they are entitled under China's international human rights commitments."
Car bombs killed at least 15 people and wounded more than 40 Wednesday on the main streets of two Shiite neighbourhoods of Baghdad, police and medical sources said. One explosion ripped through a petrol station in the large northern neighbourhood of Sadr City at around 7:00 pm (1600 GMT), as cars were queueing to fill up, witnesses said. "I was on my way to having my mobile fixed at the shop when the car exploded on the other side of the street," irrigation ministry employee Ali Dakhel said. At least nine people were killed, according to hospital and police sources.
The United States on Wednesday unveiled $378 million in new humanitarian aid for the Syrian people, denouncing "appalling 'starve or surrender' tactics" by the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. "The regime is asphyxiating half a million Syrians in Aleppo by obstructing deliveries of food, water, and medicine," Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement. The new aid brings the US total released for Syria since the start of the war three years ago to $2.4 billion, and Kerry insisted that it was "having an impact on the ground -- right now." Some $1.2 billion has gone towards helping more than 4.7 million people inside Syria, and $1.2 billion is going towards aid efforts for some three million refugees who are being sheltered in neighboring countries.
The White House on Wednesday condemned the shelling of a UN-run school in Gaza where displaced Palestinians were sheltering from an assault by Israeli forces on Hamas militants. "The United States condemns the shelling of a UNRWA school in Gaza, which reportedly killed and injured innocent Palestinians, including children, and UN humanitarian workers," National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said. The school in the Jabaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza, which was sheltering more than 3,000 displaced people, came under attack from Israeli tank shells at dawn Wednesday.
By Roberta Rampton KANSAS CITY Mo (Reuters) - President Barack Obama took his criticism of congressional Republicans for confounding his agenda to a higher pitch on Wednesday, appealing to them to "stop just hatin' all the time." Republicans in the House of Representatives are expected to vote on Wednesday to sue Obama on grounds that he overstepped his authority while implementing the Affordable Care Act, his signature health care law commonly called Obamacare. Stop just hatin’ all the time," he said of Republicans, drawing loud cheers from a raucous crowd of about 1,500 in an ornate theater in Kansas City. Obama has been delivering variations of the fiery stump speech all summer as he tours the country trying to motivate Democrats - and wealthy donors - to get involved in November's congressional elections. His aim is to energize Democratic voters ahead of the elections in hopes of stopping Republicans from gaining control of the Senate, which would, when joined with a Republican hold on the House, could make it extremely difficult for him to pursue his agenda in his last two years in office.
An Israeli delegation arrived in Cairo on Wednesday to discuss with Egyptian officials a possible ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, airport officials said. Cairo, a key mediator in truce negotiations between Israel and Gaza's Hamas rulers, was also expected to host a Palestinian delegation later this week.