Two US Navy ships, USS Essex and USNS Yukon, have collided during a replenishment operation off the southern California coast on Wednesday morning, reports NBCSanDiego.Com, quoting Navy officials. Officials believe a steering malfunction on the Yukon could have been the cause. No injuries among the crews or oil spills have been reported. However, both ships sustained some damage.
Foreign observers of Egypt's election say their movements are being restricted by the authorities. They say they've not yet received the paperwork allowing them to be witnesses. The election commission's toughened the rules under which observers can operate, although many of the restrictions go against international monitoring principles. The vote to decide who will succeed ousted leader Hosni Mubarak is due to take place next week.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said her country will provide Afghanistan with €150 million a year to support its security forces. The funding will start in 2015, the year after NATO-led forces are scheduled to leave the country. Merkel made the announcement after signing a long-term bilateral agreement with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Berlin. The deal came ahead of a NATO summit in Chicago that is expected to focus on Afghanistan.
France’s newly-appointed prime minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, has formed his new cabinet. As Ayrault previously stated, his first cabinet would meet on Thursday, a public holiday. After that, ministers will help plan the Socialists’ strategy for their campaign to win a parliamentary majority in June’s legislative elections, which will be a key test for the party. "What's essential, and that's why the cabinet will meet as soon as Thursday, is to get quickly to work to allow France to get back on its feet in a just way," the PM told journalists before heading off to the Elysee Palace to put his cabinet suggestions to Hollande.
A new reshuffled 25-member Palestinian government has been sworn in at a ceremony in Ramallah, in the central West Bank. Ministers took the oath of office in the presence of Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas. Despite some changes in the newly-formed 14th Palestinian cabinet, Salam Fayyad remains as prime minister. The move has angered Hamas, which said that the creation of a new government will cause a split between the Hamas and Fatah movements. The previous Palestinian cabinet resigned in February 2011.
At least 30 passengers have been injured as two subway trains crashed in Sao Paulo, Brazil. None of those injured are in a serious condition, the Fire Department reported. The crash occurred at around 9.30 am local time between the stations of Carrao and Tatuape.
At least seven people have been killed and more than 20 wounded after a group of gunmen raided the southern Libyan city of Ghadames. The military have entered the city and taken the situation under control, said Libya's interim government spokesman, Nasser al-Manaa. He confirmed the deaths and said the assailants were from an "armed group from outside the town," AFP reports giving no further details. Unconfirmed reports suggest the attackers were nomadic Tuareg tribesmen from the desert.
The captain of the wrecked Costa Concordia cruise liner was in no fit state to hold the crisis situation under control stated the judge of the court of appeal who was reviewing prosecutors demand for a pretrial detention of Francesco Schettino. The statement published in local media says Schettino was not suitable for a job that requires ensuring safety and security of the people who entrusted him their lives because he is not capable to withstand stress. Schettino has been under investigation since February. He faces charges of multiple manslaughter, causing an accident and abandoning the ship before the evacuation of all of those on board was complete. The Costa Concordia was carrying over 4,200 passengers and crew when it ran aground and capsized off the Italian island of Giglio in the Tyrrhenian Sea on January 13. Thirty people died as a result of the accident.
Anti-drug agents in Mexico have detained two army generals, including a former assistant defense secretary, federal prosecutors said. Soldiers detained retired Gen. Tomas Angeles Dauahare and Gen. Roberto Dawe Gonzalez, according to the Attorney General's Office. The officers are being investigated for alleged links to a Mexican drug cartel, AP reports. Angeles Dauahare was assistant defense secretary from 2006 to 2008.
Bahrain has summoned Iran's charge d'affaires to protest against what it called a "gross violation of its sovereignty," Reuters reports. The move was prompted by Tehran’s criticism of recent efforts by Gulf Arab states to forge a closer union. Earlier this week, Sunni Muslim Arab heads of state met in Riyadh to discuss how to counter Shiite Muslim Iran's growing influence. They failed to agree on further integration, but the Iranian foreign ministry said that Bahrain should better heed the calls of its people instead of seeking a union with other Gulf Arab monarchies.
Western companies have announced finds of huge additional quantities of gas off the coast of Mozambique and Tanzania. Italian oil group Eni said on Wednesday it had discovered a vast new field at its exploration block in Mozambique, Reuters reports. Britain's BG Group and explorer Ophir Energy said they made a big find at their Mzia well in Tanzanian waters. The finds cement the future of East Africa as a major new supplier of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to energy-hungry Asia.
The South Sudanese military said on Wednesday it would soon acquire anti-aircraft missiles to defend its territory against air attacks from neighboring Sudan. South Sudanese army spokesman Philip Aguer told Reuters the missiles will be purchased as part of plans to modernize the armed forces. He did not say where South Sudan would seek to purchase the anti-aircraft weapons. Much will depend on the market and “the political will to sell to us,” he said.
New clashes erupted in two neighborhoods in Lebanon’s northern city of Tripoli on Wednesday, wounding several people, officials said. Shooting reportedly erupted when soldiers tried to remove barricades in the neighborhood of Bab al-Tebbaneh. The opposite Jabal Mohsen district is populated mainly by loyalists of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad. Bab al-Tebbaneh residents support the Syrian opposition.
Ukraine's Prime Minister Nikolay Azarov said on Wednesday that the EU will be allowed to send experts to assess the medical state of jailed former PM Yulia Tymoshenko. European lawyers will be able attend to the appeal of the Tymoshenko case, Interfax reports. Azarov took part in at a European Parliament conference held in Brussels on Wednesday. EU Parliament President Martin Schulz described Azarov's commitments on the medical and legal visits as “a real step forward.”
The latest fighting in Yemen’s south on Wednesday killed 13 Al-Qaeda militants, military officials say. Four soldiers and two militiamen fighting alongside the army were also killed, AP reports. Al-Qaeda fighters died as they tried to recapture a strategic hilltop overlooking the town of Lawder in Abyan province. The militants had been driven out from the area a day earlier.
New elections in Greece will be held on June 17, Greek state TV said on Wednesday. Until then, the Council of State head Panagiotis Pikramenos will be appointed interim prime minister, AP reports. Party leaders agreed that the interim government will not be able to make any internationally binding decisions, according to Communist Party leader Aleka Papariga. Greek voters have to cast their ballots again as a nine-day coalition negotiations failed after inconclusive elections.
US President Barack Obama raised a combined $43.6 million for his campaign and the Democratic Party in April. Some 400,000 donors contributed last month, Obama's campaign says. The number includes 169,000 who donated for the first time, AP reports. Campaign manager Jim Messina said on Wednesday that the November election would be close and warned that “special interests” were dumping millions into anti-Obama ads.
A blind Chinese activist who sparked a diplomatic crisis between Washington and Beijing last month filled out a Chinese passport application on Wednesday in his bid to study in the US. Paperwork for Chen Guangcheng, his wife, and two children was completed in a hospital, AP reports. The officials were sent by the government, the activist believes. Lawyers also tried on Wednesday to visit Chen's nephew, who was detained in Shandong province's Linyi city last month.
Prime Minister Salam Fayyad is replacing almost half of his West Bank-based Cabinet, according to Palestinian officials. They say the 10 new ministers are to be sworn in later on Wednesday, AP reports. A new finance minister has also reportedly been appointed. The reshuffle may show that efforts to blend separate governments in the West Bank and Gaza are stuck despite recent agreements. Gaza has been under Hamas control since the 2007 takeover.
German police told Frankfurt Occupy protesters on Wednesday to clear a tent-camp from near the European Central Bank. The move follows a court ruling that the camp was a threat to public safety. About 30 police trucks were at the scene in the morning as about 300 Occupy protesters remained on the site. The camp has been in a park across from the ECB for months.
Israeli warplanes staged mock raids over the territory of south Lebanon on Wednesday, Lebanese media say. The fighter jets reportedly crossed the border and flew low over Sidon, Tyre, Nabatiyeh and Marjayoun. The raids came just days after a senior Israeli military official said that Hezbollah may not want a new war with Israel, but that any order to attack “would come from Iran” in the event of an Israeli strike on that country.
Russian and Afghan police seized more than four tonnes of narcotics in a joint operation, assisted by US law-enforcement agencies, director of the Russian drug control service (FSKN) Viktor Ivanov said on Wednesday. Almost three tonnes of hashish have been seized in the operation on the Afghan territory, he said, as cited by Itar-Tass. This is more than the amount confiscated in Russia annually. Police also seized 400 kilograms of opium, 410 kilograms of heroin and 150 kilograms of morphine. Ivanov described the operation as a “phenomenal result” which shows the efficiency of international cooperation in fighting drug trafficking.
Attackers fired shots and detonated grenades outside a nightclub in Kenya's coastal town of Mombassa, killing one person and injuring four, police said on Wednesday. A security guard died in the hospital after the Tuesday night attack. The assailants had been denied entry and began firing and detonating the grenades, AP reports, citing police. There have been several hit-and-run grenade attacks in recent months in Nairobi and northern Kenya.
Australia has pledged to contribute $100 million annually for three years to the Afghan National Security Forces after they assume full responsibility. Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Defense Minister Stephen Smith said on Wednesday they will take this commitment to the NATO and ISAF summit in Chicago on Sunday and Monday, AP said. Australia had already committed to the Afghan National Army Trust Fund of $200 million over five years beginning in 2009-10. Afghanistan will have responsibility for its own security by the end of 2014. The total cost of running Afghan security forces is $4 billion a year.
The US Air Force is to restrict flights of its most advanced fighter jet, the F-22, following an order from the defense secretary, Leon Panetta, Pentagon spokesman George Little told reporters on Tuesday. The decision comes in response to complaints from pilots who experienced dizziness and blackouts while piloting the jets. At least a dozen F-22 pilots have reported suffering oxygen deficiency. However, it is yet unclear what exactly caused the problem. Meanwhile, Panetta has ordered that the F-22 Raptor will not be conducting long-range flights and will stay within range of runways.