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Thursday 31 July 2014

Argentina defaults as "vulture talks" fail

Argentina was in default Thursday for the second time in 13 years after the failure of last-ditch talks with US hedge funds it has branded "vultures."

After hours of meetings Wednesday in New York, Economy Minister Axel Kicillof emerged to confirm that no deal had been reached, leaving Latin America's third largest economy unable to meet repayment obligations by the midnight deadline.

"Unfortunately, no agreement was reached and the Republic of Argentina will imminently be in default," said Daniel Pollack, the lawyer appointed by a US court to oversee the talks.

Wednesday 30 July 2014

G7 powers warn Russia of more sanctions over Ukraine

Washington. The leaders of the world's major developed economies condemned Russia for destabilizing Ukraine on Wednesday and warned it faces still tougher sanctions if it does not change course, AFP reported.
"Russia still has the opportunity to choose the path of de-escalation, which would lead to the removal of these sanctions," the G7 powers said, in a joint statement released by the White House.
"If it does not do so, however, we remain ready to further intensify the costs of its adverse actions."
The G7 - Britain, France, Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States - issued the statement one day after Washington and the European Union announced increased sanctions on Moscow.

Monday 28 July 2014

Eastern Ukraine: UN rights chief says downing of plane may be "war crime," urges probe

UN, 28 July 2014 – The shooting down of a Malaysian Airlines plane over eastern Ukraine may amount to a war crime, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights today said today, releasing a new report that details a total breakdown of law and order and a reign of fear and terror inflicted by armed groups in the area.
“I would like to stress to all those involved in the conflict, including foreign fighters, that every effort will be made to ensure that anyone committing serious violations of international law, including war crimes, will be brought to justice, no matter who they are,” Navi Pillay said. “I urge all sides to bring to an end the rule of the gun and restore respect for the rule of law and human rights.”

Sunday 27 July 2014

Israel confirms it fired into UN shelter in Gaza (denied killing anyone at the site)

The Israeli army has confirmed it fired a mortar round into a Gaza UN shelter where 15 people died on Thursday, but denied killing anyone at the site.
Briefing journalists on the findings of an internal military inquiry into the incident at a UN school in Beit Hanun, spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner said militants "in the vicinity" of the school fired mortar rounds and anti-tank rockets at Israeli forces.
The army responded with mortar fire, sending a stray round into the compound, he said.

"A single errant mortar [round] landed in the courtyard of the school," he said.
"The courtyard was completely empty" at the time of the incident, he added.

Friday 25 July 2014

Israel rejects US truce proposal for Gaza. (Security cabinet refuses US-initiated ceasefire in the Gaza Strip)

Israel TV reported on Friday that the cabinet had rejected the proposal in its current form, mainly because it would mean Israel would cut short an ongoing effort to destroy Hamas military tunnels under the Gaza-Israel border.
The proposal called for a week-long pause in fighting over the Muslim holiday of Eid. During that time, the two sides would begin indirect talks on easing the border closure of the blockaded Gaza Strip.
Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, says any truce must include a guaranteed end to Israel's eight-year siege of the enclave. Israel had previously said it would reject any deal that included a clause to ease the blockade.

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Israel pounds Gaza as Kerry pushes truce (UN says ‘war crimes’ possible)

Israeli forces pounded Gaza on Wednesday, meeting stiff resistance from Hamas Islamists and sending thousands of residents fleeing, as US Secretary of State John Kerry said on a visit to Israel cease-fire talks had made some progress.

In a blow to Israel's economy and a public relations coup for Hamas, US and European air carriers halted flights to the Jewish state citing concern over a militant rocket from Gaza that hit a house near Ben Gurion airport. Israel urged a rethink, saying its air space was safe.

Tuesday 22 July 2014

MH17 crash: MEPs call for solidarity with Ukraine and sanctions against Russia.

EU sanctions against Russia must be stepped up, the Ukrainian border closed to halt arms flows from Russia, and the bodies of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash victims returned, MEPs insisted in today’s debate with Ukraine’s foreign minister Pavlo Klimkin. Mr Klimkin called on the EU to show its solidarity now, as Ukraine is “being punished for its EU aspirations”. The debate opened with a minute’s silence for victims of the 17 July crash.

Monday 21 July 2014

MH17 Flight Crashed Within Ukrainian Missile Systems Firing Range (Russian Military)

The Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crashed within the operating zone of the Ukrainian army’s self-propelled, medium-range surface-to-air Buk missile systems, the Russian military said Monday.
"The flight scheme indicates that the plane’s route and possible point of destruction fall into the operational range of Buk air defense systems deployed by the Ukrainian armed forces,” Lt. Gen. Andrei Kartapolov, the head of the Main Operations Directorate of the HQ of Russia’s military forces, said during a media conference in Moscow.

Saturday 19 July 2014

Moscow Surprised by Countries Voicing Theories on Boeing Crash Before Investigation (Russian FM)

Russian Foreign Ministry said Saturday it was baffled by several countries imposing pressure on investigators by voicing their theories about the causes of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing-777 crash in eastern Ukraine.

"It is baffling that even before the start of the investigation, official representatives of a range of countries rushed to groundlessly announce their theories on the causes of the accident, thus putting pressure on the investigation process. The Russian side addresses both sides of the Ukrainian conflict with an urgent call to do everything possible for the access of international experts to the area of the plane crash to carry out all the actions necessary to investigate the mentioned air crash," the ministry said in a statement.

Thursday 17 July 2014

Malaysian jet 'shot down' over Ukraine (with 295 people on board)

A Malaysian airliner was brought down over eastern Ukraine, killing all 295 people aboard and sharply raising the stakes in a conflict between Kiev and pro-Moscow rebels in which Russia and the West back opposing sides.
Ukraine accused "terrorists" - fighters aiming to unite eastern Ukraine with Russia - of shooting down the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 with a heavy, Soviet-era SA-11 ground-to-air missile as it flew from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur on Thursday.
Leaders of the rebel Donetsk People's Republic denied any involvement, although around the same time their military commander said his forces had downed a much smaller Ukrainian transport plane. It would be their third such kill this week.

Wednesday 16 July 2014

China accuses Britain of interference over Hong Kong

BEIJING: China on Wednesday accused London of interfering in its internal affairs after British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg met two leading Hong Kong pro-democracy activists urging greater freedoms from Beijing.
China "lodged solemn protests" with Britain over Tuesday's meetings with Martin Lee, founder of Hong Kong's opposition Democratic Party, and Anson Chan, the former number two in the city's government, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
"What Britain has done is interference in China's internal affairs. China strongly opposes it," said Beijing's foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei.
"Hong Kong's affairs fall within China's internal affairs. China firmly opposes any interference in Hong Kong affairs by any country under whatever pretext," said Hong.

Tuesday 15 July 2014

21 dead, scores injured in Moscow metro crash

Twenty-one people died and scores more were hurt after a train derailed in Moscow's packed metro during rush hour on Tuesday in the worst accident to hit one of the world's busiest subways.

Russian television described scenes of chaos and panic on the capital city's famed system, saying passengers fell like dominoes when the train braked abruptly and three carriages derailed.

Rescue teams were combing through the mangled metal carriages in an attempt to extricate several bodies.

Monday 14 July 2014

U.S. warns against Israeli ground invasion of Gaza

The United States on Monday warned against any Israeli ground invasion of Gaza, saying it would put even more civilians at risk than are currently in the crossfire of attacks on Hamas.
But the White House stopped short of criticizing Israel over the civilian toll so far in Gaza of the offensive, saying the government had a "right" and "responsibility" to defend their citizens against rocket attacks.

"Nobody wants to see a ground invasion because that would put more civilians at risk," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said during his daily press briefing.

Saturday 12 July 2014

UN Security Council calls for Israeli-Palestinian ceasefire

The UN Security Council called for a ceasefire in hostilities between Israel and Palestinians on Saturday, expressing its deep concern over the welfare and protection of civilians on both sides of the conflict.

“The Security Council members called for de-escalation of the situation, restoration of calm, and reinstitution of the November 2012 ceasefire,” the 15-member body said in a statement.

It also called for the respect of international humanitarian law, including the protection of civilians.

The Security Council’s statement came as Israel rushed an eighth missile interceptor battery into service on Saturday to counter stronger-than-expected rocket fire from Gaza, and the military struck positions in the Palestinian enclave for a fifth day.

Thursday 10 July 2014

Egypt set to receive wounded Palestinians via border crossing (Rafah crossing point)

Egypt opened its Rafah crossing point bordering the Palestinian Gaza Strip on Thursday to receive wounded Palestinians by Israeli air strikes, a security official at the crossing told Xinhua.

More than 45 Egyptians who were stuck at the border after the Israeli air strike on Gaza along with the injured Palestinians were expected to arrive, but still no one showed up fearing the strike, added the official on condition of anonymity.

Arish hospitals in north Sinai have been placed on alert with all necessary equipment and blood donation to cure the Palestinians, Adel Adawi, Egyptian Health Minister said in a statement.

Wednesday 9 July 2014

Abbas: Israel committing ‘Genocide’ in Gaza

Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas told a crisis meeting in Ramallah on Wednesday that Israel is committing “genocide” in Gaza during its military offensive which has so far killed at least 50 Palestinians.

“It’s genocide -- the killing of entire families is genocide by Israel against our Palestinian people,” Abbas told the crisis meeting of the Palestinian leadership.

“What's happening now is a war against the Palestinian people as a whole and not against the (militant) factions.

Tuesday 8 July 2014

Record number of NATO warships staying in Black Sea since Soviet times.(The Montreux Convention)

There are nine NATO warships in the Black Sea now, a record high number in decades, the RIA Novosti news agency reports citing a military-diplomatic source.

These include the US Vella Gulf Aegis-guided missile cruiser, the French Surcouf frigate and two reconnaissance ships – France’s Dupuy de Lome and Italy’s Elettra.

In addition, there’s a group of NATO minesweepers taking part in the Breeze-2014 naval exercises off the Bulgarian coast. Led by Italy’s ITS Aviere, it also comprises an Italian and Turkish minesweepers, ITS Rimini and TCG Akcay, and the Chiddingfold anti-mine ship of the British Royal navy.

Sunday 6 July 2014

China slashes Chris Patten's comments on Hong Kong political reform

China has reiterated its firm objection to outside forces' interference into the internal affairs of Hong Kong, according to the Office of the Commissioner of China's Foreign Ministry of China in Hong Kong.

Asked to comment on former Hong Kong governor Chris Patten's recent remarks on the political reform in Hong Kong, a spokesperson of the commissioner's office said over the weekend that Hong Kong has entered the critical stage of its political reform, it is worth noting that some people are making unfounded comments on Hong Kong's political reform for other purposes in disregard of the facts.

Friday 4 July 2014

Secret UK plan to "train 100,000 Syria rebels" exposed. (at bases in Turkey and Jordan)

A plan to train and equip a 100,000-strong rebel army to defeat Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was drawn up by Britain, then scrapped as it was deemed too risky, BBC Newsnight reported on Thursday.
The alleged proposal, put forward two years ago, was the idea of General David Richards, then chief of Britain's defense, according to the BBC.

The secret "extract, equip, train" proposal was considered by Prime Minister David Cameron and the National Security Council, as well as U.S. officials, the BBC said, citing Whitehall sources.

Wednesday 2 July 2014

Kurdish President: Conditions Favorable for Independence. (The Kurds tried to help build “a new Iraq.”)

As Iraq’s attempts at building a new government failed on Tuesday, Kurdish President Massoud Barzani said he would push for a referendum on independence for Kurdistan.

Barzani spoke with VOA's Persian service on Tuesday in Irbil, the largest city in the Kurdistan region of Iraq.

The Iraqi army has struggled against offensives by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the Islamic militant group that has captured large sections of Iraq’s north and west.

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