Boris Johnson has been re-elected as the mayor of London as the city prepares to host the Olympic Games in the summer. Johnson, the Conservative Party candidate was declared the winner of mayoral race late on Friday. The 47-year old Johnson narrowly beat the Labour Party's Ken Livingstone, his predecessor as mayor. In his victory speech, Johnson thanked voters for giving him a "new chance'' and promised to continue "fighting for a good deal for Londoners.''
The death toll from Friday’s drug violence in a Mexican border city has risen to 23 after police discovered 14 decapitated bodies stuffed in a vehicle, AFP reports. Fourteen heads corresponding to the beheaded corpses were found in ice boxes outside the city hall. The gruesome discoveries come after nine bodies were found hanging from a bridge in the town of Nuevo Laredo near the US border on the same day. The town of Nuevo Laredo is located on the main road from Mexico to the US and has regularly seen atrocious crimes committed in the dispute between the Zetas drug gang and the Gulf cartel.
Adam Yauch from the seminal hip-hop group The Beastie Boys died on Friday in New York after battling cancer for nearly three years. "It is with great sadness that we confirm that musician, rapper, activist and director Adam 'MCA' Yauch, founding member of Beastie Boys and also of the Milarepa Foundation that produced the Tibetan Freedom Concert benefits, and film production and distribution company Oscilloscope Laboratories, passed away in his native New York City this morning after a near-three-year battle with cancer," an official statement from the group reads. Yauch is survived by his wife and daughter.
Five men and four women, some bound and blindfolded, have been found hanging from a bridge over a highway in north-eastern Mexico near the US border, Reuters reports. Police are yet to determine who is responsible for the killings, but a message found with the bodies may indicate the attack was carried out by the Zetas cartel against the rival Gulf cartel. More than 50,000 people have died in drug-related violence in Mexico since 2006.
At least 64 people have been injured as a powerful explosion hit Armenia’s capital Yerevan during a political rally in the city center. The explosion occurred as participants were pumping up balloons with gas. Dozens of ambulances have arrived at the scene. About 60 people have been hospitalized with burns of varying degrees. The meeting ahead of the parliamentary elections had attracted more than 15,000 participants.
The Texas-based wife of a US officer serving in Afghanistan witnessed her husband's death as the two had a video chat via Skype, AP reports. The circumstances of Captain Bruce Kevin Clark's death on Monday were not immediately available. "Bruce's wife tragically witnessed her husband's death during one of their regular Skype video-chats on Monday," said his brother-in-law, adding that the family was hoping for a rescue, but that did not happen. The soldier's body was returned to the US on Thursday.
The journal Nature has published a controversial paper about laboratory-enhanced versions of the deadly bird flu virus, sparking fears among US bio-security experts that it could be used as a bio-terrorism weapon. It is the first of two papers announced. The publication was preceded by months of debate as some argued that science should be free from censorship, while others feared for public security as such research may lead to a devastating flu pandemic.
Dagestan security services have named the suspected perpetrators behind the recent bombings in Makhachkala that claimed the lives of 14 and wounded nearly a hundred others. Local gang-leader Guseyn Mamaev and three members of his group have been put on the wanted list in connection with the terror attack. The suspects had allegedly been recruiting young men for suicide bombings, Interfax reports.
Pro-government gunmen fighting Al-Qaeda alongside the Yemeni army have killed 12 suspected militants, fighters said on Friday. Local forces repulsed a jihadists’ attack on the southern town of Loder in Abyan province, AFP reports. The gunmen from the so-called Popular Resistance Committees were supported by army artillery. Four civilians were reportedly wounded by mortars fired by Al-Qaeda suspects. Loder is 150 kilometers northeast of Zinjibar, the capital of the restive Abyan province.
Protesters clashed with Egyptian armed forces in Cairo on Friday as they tried to march on the Defense Ministry. Troops fired water cannons and tear gas at demonstrators, who threw stones in return, AP reports. The clashes have erupted for the second time this week as mainly Islamist protesters were attacked by unidentified assailants on Wednesday. Demonstrators representing Islamist and leftists movements gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square earlier on Friday. They demanded the military hand over power to civilians and warned of possible vote-rigging during the May 23 presidential election.
French investigators looking into Dominique Strauss-Kahn's ties to a suspected prostitution ring plan to extend the inquiry and to cover alleged group rape, prosecutors said on Friday. The former IMF chief is under formal investigation over whether he was aware he was dealing with prostitutes when attending sex parties in Lille, Paris and Washington in 2010 and 2011. Investigators asked prosecutors to widen the inquiry after a prostitute told them that Strauss-Kahn and his friends “forced her to have sex in a group” in Washington in December 2010, Reuters reports. The prosecution is studying the request.
Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Egypt will return to Cairo next week, a Saudi official said on Friday. The envoy was withdrawn almost a week ago after protests in Cairo against the arrest of an Egyptian lawyer in the kingdom. Egyptian media reports said the Saudi king had ordered the envoy to return. A Saudi Foreign Ministry spokesman confirmed the information, Reuters said.
A French court has sentenced a former researcher at Switzerland's CERN laboratory to five years in prison for plotting terrorism with Al-Qaeda's North African wing. The Algerian-born nuclear physicist Adlene Hicheur, 35, was convicted of "criminal association with a view to plotting terrorist attacks,” AP said. He was arrested in October 2009. Hicheur and his lawyers say he was a victim of French anti-terrorism laws as he only explored ideas on jihadist websites but never took any concrete steps. The investigators cited emails between Hicheur and an alleged contact with Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb as evidence.
The US State Department has said a blind Chinese activist has a fellowship at a US university. Washington expects China to quickly handle the travel procedures for Chen Guangcheng, spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said on Friday. The possible agreement includes allowing Chen's wife and two children to leave also, she said, as cited by AP. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton earlier said the US was working to give Chen the future he wants. The activist said he wanted to leave China with his family.
Head of the Berlin clinic Charite, Dr. Karl Max Einhaupl, flew to Ukraine on Friday to visit former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko in a prison hospital. German diplomats are accompanying the doctor on the trip, DPA reports. Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Ukraine on Thursday to give the jailed ex-premier “proper treatment” for her ailments. Merkel has yet to decide whether to boycott Euro 2012 football matches in Ukraine over Tymoshenko’s case.
Lebanese Military Prosecutor Judge Saqr Saqr charged 21 individuals on Friday in connection with a Syria-bound arms cargo. It was seized over the weekend in Lebanese territorial waters. The individuals - 14 of whom are in custody – were charged with purchasing weapons and ammunition and shipping them from Libya to north Lebanon, media reports say. They were also accused of the intention of carrying out terrorist acts with the weapons. Among the suspects 13 are Syrian nationals.
The European Commissioner responsible for sport has said she will boycott European Football Championship matches in Ukraine. Androulla Vassiliou said on Friday the decision was made out of concern for the political situation in the country and the treatment of opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko, RIA Novosti reports. Vassiliou joins European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding. They had earlier pledged not to attend games in Ukraine. Vassiliou said she could “visit one of the matches taking place in Poland.”
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Friday urged China to help deal with challenges posed by Iran’s and North Korea's nuclear programs and violence in Syria and between Sudan and South Sudan. As a great nation, China should share “the burden of solving common problems abroad and protecting the fundamental freedoms of all citizens at home,” she said in remarks prepared for the final session of an annual dialogue with Beijing. The four hotspots “are some of the most pressing challenges we face,” Clinton said, as cited by AP. She added the US and China “have a shared interest in resolving them.”
Tehran said on Friday that it sees no reason to close the Fordow underground site and warned it would not suspend its uranium enrichment program. There is "no justification" for closing Fordow, which is under the surveillance of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran's ambassador to IAEA Ali Asghar Soltanieh told Reuters. “Fordow is a safe place," he said, adding that “the enrichment in Iran will never be suspended.” The US and other Western countries will demand at nuclear talks that Tehran stop higher-grade enrichment and close the Fordow facility.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is expected on Friday to urge troops to behave according to military standards. He will deliver his first personal appeal to soldiers on the issue at Fort Benning, Georgia, AP reports. The service leaders have recently focused on discipline in meetings with mid-level commanders around the country as many think standards have been declining. The deterioration of discipline has led to a series of incidents involving troops, including those serving in Afghanistan.
Battles between government troops and Kachin ethnic rebels killed 31 people last week, a state-run Myanmar newspaper said on Friday. The New Light reported 11 clashes had taken place in the last week of April. One battle involved an attack by the Kachin Independence Army on a government border guard base, AP said. Among those killed 29 were reportedly rebels, and government forces suffered two dead and 15 wounded. Although the government had reached ceasefires with several ethnic rebel groups in recent months, peace talks with the Kachin have failed.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Friday that Washington was willing to work with North Korea if it reformed itself. “The new leadership in Pyongyang still has the opportunity to change course and put their people first,” Reuters quoted her as saying in Beijing. She urged the country’s authorities to focus on rejoining the international community, and “on feeding and educating their citizens.” Clinton also called on Syria to honor a UN-brokered ceasefire and on Sudan to stop all cross-border attacks.
Britain’s opposition Labour Party is expected to win a large number of seats in UK local elections, according to early results on Friday. The two parties in Britain's coalition government are reportedly suffering widespread losses, seen as a blow to Prime Minister David Cameron's policies. Early results show Labour was winning 586 council seats, while the Conservatives had 330 council seats after losing 167 to other parties. The Lib Dems reportedly dropped 69 seats. Elections were held Thursday in 128 English councils, all 32 Scottish councils and 21 Welsh councils. Opinion polls expect Boris Johnson, the Conservative mayor of London, to win a second term, beating Labour Party challenger and former Mayor Ken Livingstone.
President Dmitry Medvedev believes that former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko's conviction for exceeding her authority is "a political affair," the Kremlin’s spokeswoman has said. Natalya Timakova was quoted by Rossiya television on Thursday as saying that, “as before, Medvedev considers it a political affair.” Tymoshenko was sentenced in 2011 for seven years in prison for abusing power while signing a 2009 natural gas deal with Russia. Prime Minister and President-elect Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that the agreements the two countries signed in 2009 were “in full conformity with the Russian and Ukrainian legislations.”
Moscow authorities have issued official permission for a march and rally organized by opposition groups on May 6. “Permission was given for a march along Yakimanka Street and a rally on Bolotnaya Square," the city's Regional Security Department Director Aleksey Mayorov told Interfax on Friday. He added that the organizers of the so-called March of Millions stated the expected turnout “at up to 5,000.” Coordinator of the Left Front movement Sergey Udaltsov said the organizers were ready to pay a fine if more people turn up.
Chinese blind activist Chen Guangcheng can apply to study abroad, the country’s Foreign Ministry has said. The move may help resolve a diplomatic standoff with Washington over Chen’s case. The activist would be allowed to apply to study overseas “in accordance with laws of relevant departments,” the ministry said in a statement. Chen, who is now being treated at a hospital, has said he would like to leave China with his family. On Friday, he told AP his situation was “dangerous.” The activist said US officials who had wanted to see him “have not been allowed in.”
A bombing in a Pakistani market near the Afghan border killed 20 people on Friday, officials said. Five of the dead in the Bajur region were local members of the security forces, AP reports. The others were passers-by. At least 40 people were wounded. Media reports say Pakistani Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack.
The Argentine Congress has approved the move by President Cristina Fernandez to take over the formerly state-owned YPF energy company from Spanish shareholders. The lawmakers voted 207-32 on Thursday night to give the force of law to the president’s decision to expropriate Spanish giant Repsol’s $10.5 billion stake in the YPF announced two weeks earlier. The measure, which declared that the country’s energy self-sufficiency is a national priority, was highly popular at home and was described as a historic recuperation of Argentina’s national sovereignty. The move drew criticism from Spain and the EU, who threatened to retaliate for the takeover, for which as yet no compensation has been paid.