Britain will work outside the UN Security Council to support the opposition movement in Syria. “We will all be doing more outside the Security Council and intensifying our work to support the Syrian opposition,” said British Foreign Secretary William Hague, as cited by Voice of America. On Thursday, Russia and China blocked the latest Security Council resolution aimed at imposing sanctions on the Assad government. Hague's statement came just hours before ambassadors met at the Security Council in New York on Friday. But the chief diplomat did say the UK would not provide any “lethal” support to the Syrian rebels.
The funeral of Egypt’s former spy chief and vice president Omar Suleiman are to take place in Cairo on Saturday. A private plane carrying his body is expected to arrive in Cairo overnight. Suleiman, 76, died in a US hospital Thursday morning. He had been appointed to the long-vacant Vice Presidency by then-President Hosni Mubarak in January 2011. The following month, Suleiman announced Mubarak's resignation and vacated his post. He fled the country, initially traveling to Dubai, then to Germany, and then on to the US for treatment.
At least 21 people have been killed, and 29 more injured, as a bus overturned and fell off a bridge into a ravine in western Mexico, about 750 kilometers northwest of Mexico City. Eleven of those injured were children. Seven adults remain in critical condition. It was not immediately clear how many people were on board the bus at the time of the crash. The vehicle was heading to a beach in the village of Rincon de Guayabitos.
North Korea says America's “hostile policy” has forced it to "reexamine" its nuclear program, the country’s Foreign Ministry said. "Without the US' fundamental repeal of its hostile policy toward the DPRK first, it will be completely impossible to settle the issue of ensuring lasting peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula," reads the statement. The North has denied in recent months that it has been preparing a third nuclear test, following the failure of a rocket launch widely seen as a long-range missile test in disguise.
The UN's highest court on Friday ordered Senegal to prosecute former Chadian dictator Hissene Habre on torture charges if the country does not extradite him to Belgium. The International Court of Justice said that Senegal breached the UN's torture convention by failing to prosecute Habre, AP reports. He is accused of torturing hundreds of his opponents to death during his 1982-1990 reign in the Central African nation. Habre now lives in a luxury villa in Senegal. Belgium indicted Habre in 2005 based on complaints filed there by survivors of his regime. Brussels brought Senegal before The Hague after Dakar failed to extradite Habre.
Finance ministers from the 17 eurozone countries unanimously approved on Friday the terms for a bailout loan for Spanish banks of up to 100 billion euro ($122.9 billion). The document calls for strict monitoring of the banks that receive aid. It also requires the Spanish government to present this month plans to reduce its budget deficit to under three per cent of gross domestic product by 2014, AP reports. The agreement will be signed in the next few days. It calls for an initial disbursement of 30 billion euro ($36.9 billion) this month. Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund, welcomed the agreement.
A man who set himself on fire a week ago to protest the Israel's high cost of living has died from his injuries, an Israeli hospital said on Friday. The Sheba Medical Center said that 58-year-old Moshe Silman died as a result of the severe burns he sustained, AP reports. Silman set himself alight during a rally in Tel Aviv last Saturday. He felt he had no way out after falling on hard times, Silman’s friends say. The desperate act highlights how dire Israel's social problems have become, social activists say.
Moscow's Khamovnichesky Court on Friday ruled to extend the current term of detention for participants of the ‘Pussy riot’ punk group until January 12, 2013. Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Yekaterina Samutsevich and Maria Alyokhina have been in jail since February for a guerilla performance inside Russia’s main Orthodox cathedral in February 2012. Their current term of detention was to expire on July 24. The state prosecutor had asked the court to prolong the custodial term to six months. The group’s members face up to seven years in prison for hooliganism.
Three repaired Mil Mi-25 helicopters and air defense systems will be delivered to Syria after the situation there returns to normal, a Russian military-diplomatic source said on Friday. The extension of the timeframe for the delivery “is of course due to a deterioration in the military-political situation in Syria,” he said. The source was referring to a terror attack that killed and wounded several Syrian military officials, as well as an intensification of the opposition’s operations.
Tanzanian authorities have given up hope of rescuing more than 80 people who went missing after a ferry sank on Wednesday off the Indian Ocean island of Zanzibar. Emergency workers had rescued 146 people and recovered 62 bodies, AFP reports. The vessel was officially carrying 291 passengers and crew, including more than 30 children. It went down after leaving Tanzania's commercial capital Dar es Salaam. “Search operations continue but it is now almost impossible survivors will be found,” Zanzibar police spokesman Mohamed Mhina said.
Pyongyang said on Friday it had no choice but to “completely review” the nuclear issue and accused the US and South Korea over a plot to blow up a statue of its founding leader. The alleged plot amounted to a “war action” and ran counter to a deal under which Pyongyang agreed to dismantle its nuclear program, the North's foreign ministry said in a statement published by the KCNA news agency. The statement did not elaborate on what was meant by the review, AFP reports. The statement adds to concerns Pyongyang is planning to conduct a third nuclear test following its failed rocket launch in April. North Korea, however, said last month it had no plans "at present" to conduct such a test.
A Moscow court has begun preliminary hearings for the ‘Pussy Riot’ case concerning the punk group’s notorious guerilla performance inside Russia’s main Orthodox cathedral. They face up to seven years in prison on hooliganism charges. It has been almost two weeks since the court rejected their lawyers' appeal of an earlier decision that the three should stay in jail until July 24. ‘Pussy riot’ briefly seized the pulpit of the Christ the Savior Cathedral this past February in brightly colored masks, chanting and singing a song attacking President Putin and the Russian Orthodox Church.
Tens of thousands of Iraqi refugees in Syria are increasingly feared to be targets of violence in the country, the UN refugee agency said on Friday. One family of seven was found shot dead at close range in their Damascus apartment, refugee agency spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said, as cited by AP. Another three Iraqi refugees also were killed by gunfire last week. Some 88,000 Iraqi refugees are registered in Syria, along with about 8,000 refugees from other nations. Baghdad has evacuated some 750 its citizens from Damascus by air since Thursday.
Washington has warned global port authorities to be on the lookout for Iranian shipping vessels flying false flags or sailing under fraudulent registrations. The Treasury Department said on Thursday that Iran's state-run shipping line, IRISIL, has been caught operating vessels whose registration from other nations has been revoked as a result of sanctions. The number of such vessels has risen, and port and canal officials were asked to scrutinize the registry of Iranian vessels and take action if violations are found.
Syria’s national security chief has died from wounds suffered from a rebel bombing, state TV said on Friday. Gen. Hisham Ikhtiyar is the fourth member of President Bashar al-Assad’s inner circle to die in Wednesday’s bombing. The attack targeted security chiefs meeting in the national security headquarters in Damascus. Ikhtiyar died in a Damascus hospital, AP reports. Gen. Assef Shawkat, the deputy defense minister who was married to Assad’s elder sister, Defense Minister Dawoud Rajha and Hassan Turkmani, a former defense minister, were also killed in the blast.
About half of the 290 members of Iran's parliament have reportedly backed a bill favoring the closing of the strategic Strait of Hormuz. Lawmaker Javad Karimi Qodoosi, who proposed the legislation, says the key to the strait is in Iran's hands. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei will make the final decision, AP said, citing officials. Tehran’s foreign minister indicated recently that such a move was unlikely. The strait is a passageway for a fifth of the world's oil.
The start of the holy month of Ramadan in Indonesia and Thailand was marred by two bomb blasts in Thai provinces that killed one person and injured seven, officials said. In southern Thailand, where a majority of Thai Muslims live, a car-bomb detonated in the morning. The incident took place in a commercial area of Sungai Kolok in Narathiwat province. Police Col. Maitree Chimcherd blamed a group of Muslim insurgents for the homemade bomb which was hidden in a pickup truck parked in front of a computer store, AP said. On Thursday night, a roadside bomb killed a villager and wounded his companion in the woods in Yala province.
The United States has said it will now work outside of the UN Security Council to confront Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. “We will intensify our work with a diverse range of partners outside the Security Council to bring pressure to bear on the Assad regime and to deliver assistance to those in need,” US ambassador Susan Rice said, as cited by AFP. She slammed Russia and China for vetoing a resolution threatening sanctions against Assad. Eleven of the 15 nations on the council voted for the resolution, while Pakistan and South Africa abstained.
Beijing will hold a new round of human rights talks with the United States, Chinese state media has said. A new two-day round of talks will begin on Monday in Washington. After talks in April, the US envoy described the meetings as respectful in tone, but unproductive, AP reports. The two sides admit that regular exchanges have not brought any significant narrowing of differences on human rights so far.
Ukraine's former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko has refused to attend court hearings of a new criminal case, the State Penitentiary Service said on Friday. The case concerns Unified Energy Systems of Ukraine's alleged financial frauds. Tymoshenko is currently serving a prison sentence after being convicted of abuse of power. She “refused to attend the court hearings, citing the necessity to consult German doctors,” the Penitentiary Service statement said, as cited by Interfax. The European Court of Human Rights will hear Tymoshenko’s complaint against her allegedly unlawful arrest on August 28.
France’s parliament has voted to end tax breaks on overtime work and raise a tax on wealth, abolishing two cornerstones of the former president Nicolas Sarkozy’s economic policy. The measures were taken in a budget bill on Thursday, Reuters reports. The Socialist-dominated lower house of parliament endorsed plans to scrap the tax-free status of overtime hours from August onwards. Sarkozy came to power in 2007 with the “work more, earn more” slogan. MPs said tax breaks had encouraged firms to pay overtime instead of hiring, costing the economy between 40,000 and 80,000 jobs. The increased tax on wealth was designed to generate an extra 2.3 billion euros.
Four suspects have been detained following Thursday’s attacks on Tatarstan's Muslim leaders, Russian Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said. The head of Tatarstan’s Spiritual Board of Muslims education department Valiulla Yakupov was shot dead while walking out of his home on Thursday. Tatarstan’s Mufti Ildus Faizov was injured some 30 minutes later after three bombs went off in his car in Kazan. Those detained include the Idel-Hajj company director, the Vakf parish head and two local residents, Markin told Interfax on Friday. The attacks could have been caused by Faizov’s efforts “to put financing of the hajj under control,” Markin said.
Former Liberian President Charles Taylor has appealed the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone's war crimes conviction that sentenced him to 50 years in jail. The ex-leader was found guilty in April of war crimes and crimes against humanity during the 1991-2001 civil war in Sierra Leone, for aiding and abetting "some of the most heinous crimes in human history." The former warlord was sentenced in May to 50 years in jail on 11 counts of arming Sierra Leone's rebels in return for "blood diamonds" in a conflict that claimed 120,000 lives. Taylor is the first head of state to be convicted by an international court since the Nuremberg Nazi trials in 1946.
The US House of Representatives has passed next year's $607 billion defense bill. After two days of debate and amendments, the Republican-controlled House approved the measure in a 326-90 vote. The bill increases Pentagon base funding by roughly $1 billion, but cuts war spending. Many lawmakers have criticized the ongoing war in Afghanistan as a waste of lives and money.
The biggest child pornography bust in Northern California's history is underway in Silicon Valley, according to San Jose police. Law enforcement agents are serving search warrants at 20 homes in the area. More than 165 detectives from 30 law enforcement agencies are taking part in the operation, called "Chickenhawk." At least 20 arrests are anticipated on Thursday.