Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa will “give his instructions tomorrow” about Julian Assange’s request for political asylum, deputy foreign minister Marco Albuja said Thursday. "We still can't make a final decision public yet, until tomorrow,” Albuja said as cited by AFP. Assange is seeking political asylum in Ecuador and is currently at the embassy in London’s Hans Crescent, with Scotland Yard aware of his whereabouts. British police say Assange breached his house arrest conditions by staying at the Ecuadorian Embassy Tuesday night.
Former Romanian Prime Minister Adrian Nastase shot himself in the neck after the country’s Supreme Court upheld a corruption conviction that sentenced him to two years in prison, the country’s current Prime Minister Victor Ponta reported. Nastase was taken to hospital and his condition was reportedly under control. Nastase served as the country’s prime minister from 2000 to 2004, under President Ion Iliescu. He ran for president in 2004, but lost to Bucharest mayor Traian Basescu. Nastase was then accused of using funds obtained by charging companies and state agencies to attend a conference to finance his unsuccessful campaign. In March this year, he was found guilty, but appealed the decision to the Supreme Court.
A woman became unresponsive aboard a Delta Airlines flight from Detroit to Phoenix, and was pronounced dead after the plane made an emergency landing in Colorado Springs, a Delta spokesperson said. Flight attendants and a doctor performed CPR on the woman while the aircraft was making its way to the airport, but officials determined she was dead after the plane landed. The name, age and cause of death of the woman have not been disclosed. The plane continued its flight to Phoenix shortly after the incident.
At least 28 militants and three soldiers have been killed in a Yemeni offensive against al-Qaeda, military officials said. They also discovered the bodies of seven militants, including three Egyptians, killed in earlier fighting. The clashes have been taking place in the southern provinces of Abyan and Shabwa. At least six air raids have been launched on militants’ positions in Mahfad, an al-Qaeda stronghold in the Abyan province, alone. The Yemeni strikes are supported by a US military command center at the al-Annad air base. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has claimed responsibility for several attacks in Yemen.
The US Federal Reserve reduced its forecast of economic growth, saying the US economy will grow no more than 2.4 per cent this year, down from the 2.9 per cent figure it gave in April. It also noted that unemployment is not likely to fall and will stay at 8.2 per cent until the end of the year. In order to stimulate the economy, the Federal Reserve extended its “Twist” program, which seeks to spur borrowing and spending by drastically cutting the interest rate for long-term bonds. The body’s chairman, Ben Bernanke, said additional action was needed as no improvements were seen in the job market. He cited the European debt crisis and worries over tax hikes and spending cuts set to take effect next year if Congress doesn’t come up with a debt-reduction plan as the main factors holding back economic growth.
The military wing of Hamas, the Palestinian movement governing the Gaza Strip, says it will agree to an Egyptian-brokered truce with Israel as long as Israel stops its airstrikes. The statement came amidst an upsurge in violence, with Israel conducting airstrikes on what it claims are militants, and Hamas’ Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades firing rockets and mortars at Israeli settlements along the border. The clashes have so far resulted in eight deaths, all of them of the Palestinian side, over the past three days.
Egypt’s election commission has delayed the official announcement of presidential results scheduled for Thursday, the official MENA news agency reports. The new date of the results’ announcement has not been made public. The election commission said it was looking into more than 400 appeals from lawyers of both candidates into alleged campaign violations. Earlier both candidates – the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi and former prime minister Ahmed Shafiq – claimed victory in the presidential run-off which took place on June 16 and 17.
Kuwait's highest court annulled the results of a winter parliamentary poll, reinstating the previous assembly on Wednesday. February’s elections were won by opposition politicians as the emir dissolved the previous parliament amid a sharpening corruption conflict. Mainly Islamist lawmakers had threatened to summon senior ministers to parliament for questioning over allegations the government’s activities held up economic reforms and the Arab country’s development.
Wounded and trapped civilians are preparing to be evacuated from Homs as the government and opposition forces agree to halt their fight, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said Wednesday. “The ICRC and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent are ready to enter the old city of Homs and the neighborhoods of Al-Qarabees, Al-Qusour, Jurat al-Shayyah and Al-Khalidiya as soon as possible,” the committee’s spokesperson told Reuters. The NGO will also deliver aid and medical supplies to Homs hospitals.
Turkish warplanes and helicopters struck Kurdish rebel targets across the border in northern Iraq on Wednesday. The military said they responded to Tuesday's rebel attack that killed eight Turkish soldiers near the Iraqi border. Turkish troops killed 26 Kurdish rebels and captured another one alive, according to the military. Meanwhile, the President of Iraq's self-governed Kurdish region called for an end to the fighting between Turkey and Kurdish rebels. Massoud Barzani told Turkey's state television that “the time for war and guns has passed.”
Floods fed by a steady torrential downpour have forced residents to evacuate their homes in a northeast Minnesota city of Duluth. Officers helped staff at the Lake Superior Zoo in Duluth to catch escaped animals, including a polar bear, AP reports. Zoo officials said on Wednesday that some barnyard animals died. About a dozen homes in nearby Fond du Lac have been evacuated.
The International Committee of the Red Cross has appealed to Syria's government and rebel groups to allow it to reach hundreds of civilians trapped in the city of Homs. The Geneva-based organisation wants to evacuate the sick and wounded from several Homs neighborhoods to safe areas. Both sides officially agreed on Tuesday to a pause in the fighting, the Red Cross said. Beatrice Megevand-Roggo, the head of operations for the region, said on Wednesday that “hundreds of civilians are stuck in the old city of Homs, unable to leave and find refuge in safer areas, because of the ongoing armed confrontations.”
Three US service members and an Afghan interpreter have been killed in an explosion in eastern Afghanistan, the US Embassy said on Wednesday. The explosion also left 17 Afghans dead, AP reports. Afghan officials said a suicide bomber rammed a vehicle packed with explosives into a military convoy.
At least 80 people have been killed since Monday in clashes in northern Nigeria, police and the Red Cross said on Wednesday. The clashes were triggered by Islamists waging an insurgency against the government. Some of the violence was sparked by church bombings over the last three Sundays. Boko Haram insurgents waged gun battles with security forces in the northeastern city of Damaturu throughout Tuesday. Police said 40 people were killed, 34 insurgents and six security personnel, Reuters reports. At least 40 people were killed and 62 wounded in separate clashes between Muslim and Christian residents of the northern city of Kaduna on Tuesday.
Taiwanese authorities on Wednesday evacuated thousands of people as tropical storm Talim struck Taiwan. A total of 247 flights were cancelled and schools were closed after the storm sparked rainfall of up to 50 centimeters in the south. It is not expected to make landfall, but the storm may still introduce heavy rains, weathermen said, as cited by AFP. The southern Kaohsiung city received much of the rainfall.
Greek pro-euro parties have clinched a coalition deal, the leader of the socialist Pasok party said on Wednesday. “Greece has a government,” Evangelos Venizelos said, as cited by AFP. The new government was formed by New Democracy, Pasok and the small Democratic Left party, he added. The details are to be announced later on Wednesday. Venizelos made the statement after talks with Antonis Samaras, the leader of the conservative New Democracy party, which won Sunday’s elections.
Turkey's military on Wednesday killed four more Kurdish rebels in the country’s southeast. The ongoing clashes have so far left eight soldiers and 24 rebels dead, and wounded another 19 soldiers, AFP reports. Fighting between soldiers and Kurdish rebels erupted early Tuesday when a group of rebels attacked an army post in the town of Yuksekova in Hakkari province near the border with Iraq.
Kuwait's constitutional court on Wednesday declared February's legislative elections illegal. “The court declared that the emiri decree that called for the 2012 election was unconstitutional and ordered reinstating the previous assembly,” the state KUNA news agency said. Kuwait Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah dissolved the parliament in December. A few days later, another decree was issued to elect a new parliament on February 2, in which the opposition swept to victory.
Yemen's security forces have foiled a militant plot to attack embassies in Sanaa, state news agency SABA said on Wednesday. A terror plot targeted foreign embassies in the capital, top security officials say. Three suspects “armed with weapons, explosives and maps showing the location of foreign embassies” were detained. Days earlier, Yemen’s army forced Al Qaeda-linked militants out of bastions in the south.
About 90,000 people are displaced and in need of assistance in Rakhine state in western Myanmar as a result of recent clashes, the UN World Food Programme has said. The violence started over a week ago. WFP has reached more than 66,000 displaced people in Sittwe, Maungdaw, Buthidaung and Rathedaung with emergency food supplies. After clashes between Rohingyas and ethnic Rakhine Buddhists, a state of emergency was declared in Rakhine state.
A suicide bomber on a motorbike attacked a joint Afghan-NATO patrol in the eastern Afghan town of Khost on Wednesday, killing at least four civilians, police in Kabul said. Six other Afghan civilians were injured in the blast, AFP reports. Security officials link the attack to a spring offensive led by Taliban insurgents.
At least 20 Syrian soldiers have been killed in clashes with rebel fighters in the province of Latakia, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has said. Five rebels were also killed in the fighting that began late Tuesday and continued on Wednesday in the Kurdish Mountain region near the border with Turkey, AFP reports. A number of soldiers, including an officer, were captured by the rebels, the Britain-based watchdog said.
Yemen's government says it has killed a militant Islamist who directed suicide bombers for an Al Qaeda-linked group. Security forces killed militant Salah al-Jawhari in the southern al-Bayda province, the state news agency Saba said. Residents of the province's al-Yafea district say, however, that a drone had fired missiles at al-Jawhari's vehicle, Reuters reports. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has claimed responsibility for several attacks in Yemen.
NASA has said the Carbon Dioxide Removal Assembly (CDRA) in the US Lab of the International Space Station has experienced a hardware failure and shutdown. The problem was caused by irregular readings on Bed 2 Temperature sensor C on Saturday. The crew connected this sensor back into the system last week. The CDRA was recovered on Sunday morning. However, the temperature sensor has been behaving erratically. Specialists are trying to find future troubleshooting scenarios, NASA said.
A car bomb killed two people and wounded 16 in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk on Wednesday. The attack targeted Judge Aziz Ibrahim who oversees terror cases, AP reports. The judge and two of his bodyguards were among the wounded, and three policemen were also injured, police Col. Sherzad Mofari said. The ethnically divided Kirkuk is some 290 kilometers north of Baghdad.
Israeli military aircraft carried out three raids against Gaza early Wednesday after militants pounded Israel with rockets. The raids targeted a training center for the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas at Rafah in the south of Gaza, AP reports. Palestinian security officials said no one had been hurt in the raids. The Brigades reportedly fired 45 rockets in 24 hours at Israeli territory, wounding four border guards. The militants have said they will continue firing unless the air strikes ended. Earlier, six Palestinians were killed and five others injured in a series of air strikes across the coastal strip.
Pakistani security forces have arrested a French man accused of being a top Al Qaeda militant. Officials on Wednesday identified the man as Naamen Meziche, AP said. He is believed to be an Al Qaeda operative with links to European jihadi groups. Meziche was detained on the border of Pakistan and Iran.
The US was moving towards creating its missile defense system for many years and "nothing can change its approach," Russian President Vladimir Putin said at a news conference in the wake of the G20 summit in Mexico's Los Cabos. "I think that the missile defense problem will not be solved if Obama is reelected or not," Putin added.
An infant was killed and a toddler was critically wounded by a man at a Holiday Inn-Civil Center room in southern Texas, local police say. Authorities have arrested the man. Police came to the hotel after receiving a phone call from a different police station saying that the boys' mother checked into the hotel, and that the family may be in some kind of trouble. Police arrived on the scene and knocked on the door, then heard shots. The building was evacuated and police entered the room and arrested the man. Authorities are still searching for the boys’ mother and say they are “fearing the worst.”
A regime change in Syria, if it happens, should result in stabilizing the situation in the country, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at a news conference in the wake of the G20 summit in Mexico's Los Cabos. Putin reiterated that Russia’s principal position is that "no one has the right to decide for other peoples who should come to power and who should be ousted." While a part of the Syrian people indeed would like President Assad to go, "this is not the whole Syrian people," Putin said. All conflicting parties in Syria should start negotiations and agree “in advance on how they will live together in a single country,” Putin added.