All warships of the Russian Black Sea Fleet remain in their bases and the crews are engaged in everyday activities, a naval source has told RIA Novosti. The only exception is the Cesar Kunikov large landing ship, which is returning from Messina in Italy and passed through the Bosphorus Strait on Friday. It is expected to arrive back at its base in Sevastopol on Saturday. Earlier reports in the US media suggested that a number of warships of the Russian Black Sea Fleet are preparing to go to Syria in order to strengthen, or protect, Moscow’s naval base in the Syrian port of Tartus. A group of Russian warships, led by the Admiral Kuznetsov heavy aircraft-carrying cruiser, visited the base in January for maintenance and to replenish its reserves.
Seven people, including four police officers, have been injured as striking coalminers clashed with police in northern Spain. The protesters blocked roads and fired missiles from homemade rocket launchers after the government slashed mining subsidies by two thirds. Mining is an integral part of Spain's already ailing economy and the cuts could spell the end for the industry in the country.
At least 17 people have been killed and some 100 injured after police clashed with landless farmers in Paraguay’s remote northern forest reserve. The government deployed the army on Friday to resolve the land dispute after police tried to evict 150 farmers from the reserve, which is owned by a Colorado Party politician opposed to leftist President Fernando Lugo. Among the dead are seven police officers and ten farmers. “I extend my sorrow and repudiation of the actions that led to the killing of these people,'' Lugo said following the violence.
The Italian government announced a raft of measures valued at $100 billion to stimulate economic growth. The sale of government assets including property, downsizing the public sector and the issuance of bonds for infrastructure projects were among the 60 measures approved by the Cabinet on Friday.
The EU has announced a 14th round of sanctions on Syria, imposing an embargo on some luxury items and goods of “dual use.” The statement listed some prime examples of such goods: caviar, gems and cars costing more than €25,000. The sanctions will take effect from Sunday.
Paris is considering providing communications equipment to Syrian rebels, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Friday. France fully supported international special envoy Kofi Annan's peace plan, the minister said, adding that other options are being considered as well. “We are also considering - and the Americans have done this - not giving weapons but providing communications equipment so that a stronger revolt develops amongst the population,” Fabius told France Inter radio.
The ruling military council in Egypt has ordered parliament to close its doors in line with a High Constitutional Court verdict deeming the current assembly unconstitutional, Al-Ahram newspaper reported on Friday. The parliament's secretary-general, Sami Mahran, on Thursday received an official notification from the council to immediately dissolve, the report said. The notification also prohibits everyone except workers and parliamentary reporters from entering the parliament building.
The Italian government on Friday announced urgent measures worth 80 billion euro (US$100 billion) to spur economic growth and lower debt. Prime Minster Mario Monti's cabinet approved the reforms that include the sale of government property and issuing special bonds for infrastructure projects. The government plans to raise 10 billion euro through the sale of financial and oversight companies controlled by the treasury to pay down public debt, AP said. Other measures will simplify bankruptcy filings so companies can restructure debt and relaunch themselves.
The Obama administration will stop deporting and begin granting work permits to younger illegal immigrants who came to the US as children. The election-year initiative bypasses Congress and will affect as many as 800,000 immigrants, AP said, citing two senior officials. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano was to announce the new policy on Friday. Next week, President Barack Obama is expected to address the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials' annual conference. Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney is also scheduled to speak to the group on Thursday.
Ethnic Rohingya Muslims protested in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur on Friday, calling for an end to the violence against their community in Myanmar. More than 3,000 people, including refugees, held banners that read “Stop genocide” and “Stop religious violence,” AFP said. The Myanmar Ethnic Rohingya Human Rights Organization in Malaysia urged international intervention to stop the violence. Clashes in western Rakhine state between Buddhist Rakhine and Muslim Rohingya, not recognized as citizens, have left dozens dead and more than 30,000 displaced.
A Tibetan man set himself on fire on Friday morning in northwest China's Qinghai province, advocacy groups for Tibetan rights said. They identified the man as Tamding Thar, about 60 years old. China's Xinhua news agency confirmed that a self-immolation happened Friday morning in Jianzha County in the province's Huangnan Tibetan autonomous prefecture. The identity of the person and cause of the death are being investigated, the agency said. About three dozen self-immolations have happened over the past year in ethnic Tibetan areas in protest of Beijing's policies in the region.
Turkey's Constitutional Court ruled on Friday against an opposition bid to bring President Abdullah Gul's presidency to an end in August. The court ruled in favor of a government-backed January law stating Gul would serve a seven-year term expiring in 2014, Reuters reports. The court also ruled that Gul could seek re-election when his term expires. Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan is expected to seek the post if the country introduces a presidential system by 2014.
The Dalai Lama began a tour of Britain on Friday. The Tibetan spiritual leader kicked off his eight-day trip in Manchester, AFP reports. He will also visit Leeds, Edinburgh and London. On Saturday, the Dalai Lama is expected to address thousands of young people at an event in Manchester. The trip comes a month after the Buddhist leader's visit to London to collect the $1.7 million Templeton Prize that will be donated to charity.
A Bosnian court on Friday convicted four former elite soldiers of crimes against humanity. They were sentenced to up to 43 years for executing some 800 Bosnian Muslims during the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, AFP said. The men, three Bosnian Serbs and a Slovene, were members of an elite Bosnian Serb unit at the time. They were acquitted of genocide charges.
The head of the UN observer team in Syria said on Friday that a spike in violence is derailing the monitoring mission. Maj. Gen. Robert Mood blamed both sides of the conflict for the escalating bloodshed. “Violence over the past 10 days has been intensifying willingly by the both parties, with losses on both sides and significant risks for observers,” Mood said in Damascus, as cited by AP. The violence is now limiting the mission's ability “to observe, verify, report, as well as assist in local dialogue and stability projects,” he stressed. The mission remains the only functioning part of an international peace plan to sop the Syria crisis.
The European Council said on Friday it had authorized a ban on exporting to Syria some luxury or "dual use" items. The list to be published on Saturday will include caviar, shoes and garments costing more than $750, pearls, and cars costing more than $31,400, AP said. Gas masks, certain chemicals and toxins were also banned. EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the sanctions had been designed to avoid harming ordinary Syrians.
Hundreds of security forces restored order in Indonesia's restive Papua province on Friday following riots over the killing of an independence activist by police. Rioters killed one person, injured four others and burned five shops, AP reports. Police detained three people and seized several handmade bombs, machetes and separatist flags during a raid in a student dormitory in Jayapura. Riots began after police on Thursday shot and killed Mako Tabuni, the deputy chairman of the National Committee for West Papua.
Three employees of an armored vehicle company – two men and one woman – were shot and killed at the University of Alberta early Friday morning, Edmonton police said. A fourth victim is reportedly in hospital with critical injuries. Police had been called to reports of gunshots at the University of Alberta’s HUB Mall after midnight following what they believe was a robbery attempt.
Yemen's army recaptured the third Al-Qaeda stronghold in Abyan province on Friday, officials and residents said. At least 17 militants were killed during Friday's clashes as fighters who occupied the southern town of Shaqra fled, Reuters reports. This is the latest major success for a US-backed offensive to drive Islamist militants from towns they seized a year ago. The fleeing militants reportedly included Jalal al-Baleidi, also known as Abu Hamza al-Zinjibari, the leader of Ansar al-Sharia (Partisans of Islamic Law), an offshoot of Al-Qaeda in Abyan.
Chinese dairy maker Yili has started recalling batches of baby formula after authorities found they contained high levels of mercury. The recall that covers baby formula produced from November 2011 to May 2012 was started earlier this week after a national food safety monitoring system detected "abnormal" levels of mercury, state-owned Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group said. The firm did not state how much baby formula was affected, AFP said. China's quality watchdog carried out an "urgent monitoring" of 715 samples of baby formula by various producers following the Yili case. No other products have been found to be unsafe so far.
A court in Paris has convicted four Somalis and acquitted two others over a 2008 attack on a French luxury vessel. Sentences handed down late Thursday for the attack on the Ponant in the Gulf of Aden ranged from four to 10 years, AP said. The 10-year prison term went to the only man, Ismael Ali Samatar, 31, who admitted he was a pirate. The 30 people on the Ponant were freed after its owner paid a ransom of $2.15 million. The group of six suspected of piracy was arrested by French army on Somali territory.
Colombia's Congress has passed a law that could pave the way for peace talks with leftist guerrillas. The document approved late Thursday raises hopes for an end to the war. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) has stepped up attacks in recent months despite being at their weakest in decades. The so-called Legal Framework for Peace, which calls for soft sentences for FARC leaders if a peace deal is reached, Reuters reports. Only members of the FARC and the National Liberation Army (ELN) could benefit from the law as it excludes criminals involved with drug cartels or former paramilitary groups. President Juan Manuel Santos supported the approval of the law.
China is preparing to launch three astronauts to live and work on a space station. The group, which includes a 34-year-old mother, is expected to be launched on Saturday on the Shenzhou 9 spacecraft. It will dock with the Tiangong 1 space module, orbiting 300 kilometers above earth, AP said. The mission will last about 10 days before the capsule is expected to land on the western Chinese grasslands. If completed, the flight will put China alongside Russia and the US as the only states to have independently maintained space stations.
Japanese police on Friday arrested the last fugitive suspected in a doomsday cult's deadly nerve gas attack on Tokyo subways 17 years ago. Katsuya Takahashi, 54, a former member of Aum Shinrikyo and the cult leader's former bodyguard, was arrested on suspicion of murder, Tokyo police said. An employee at a downtown Tokyo cafe had recognized him and called police, AP reports. Takahashi was on Japan's most wanted list for his suspected role in the sarin gas attack on Tokyo subways, which killed 13 people and injured more than 6,000.
Tens of thousands of people have been displaced and 29 killed after clashes between Muslims and Buddhists in Northern Myanmar. Over 2,000 homes have been burnt, with many victims being housed in temporary camps. Neighboring Bangladesh is guarding its border to stop more refugees from fleeing in. The violence was sparked after the murder of a Buddhist woman, which led to nearly a dozen Muslims being beaten to death.
Torrential rains have swamped large areas of central China, triggering mudslides and forcing hundreds from their homes. Officials have set up shelters to house those displaced by flooding. Emergency repairs are underway, as several highways have been destroyed by landslides and cave-ins. Heavy rains have also wrecked China's southern regions over the past weekend, leaving five dead and two missing.