Three people en route to Downtown Island Airport in Knoxville have died after their light aircraft crashed into a home in Palm Coast, Florida. The homeowner was taken to the hospital in stable condition. The pilot reportedly declared an emergency at about 2:10 pm local time saying that the plane was severely shaking. The identities of the victims have not been released.
City transportation workers in Madrid have started a two day strike against the government’s austerity measures. Bus and underground workers are angry at not receiving bonus pay at the end of the year. Some services are still operational, but commuters are facing limited options.
Nepal has summoned the British ambassador in the country to voice concern over the detention of one its army officers in the UK over allegations he was involved in torture. Kathmandu says London is violating its sovereignty by making the arrest. Col Kumar Lama, who was visiting the UK, is accused of committing war crimes during civil conflict in Nepal in 2005, in which more than 16,000 people perished.
Hyundai has paid about $187,000 ransom to free four kidnapped South Korean workers and their local colleague, police announced Friday. Officials in Seoul declined to comment on whether a ransom was paid when they announced the hostage release on December 22. Kidnapping for ransom has become a frequent problem for foreign governments and companies operating in the Niger Delta.
Iraq's Sunnis staged mass protests across the country demanding the release prisoners whom they claim were jailed because of their religious background. Thousands of Sunnis gathered inside the Abu Hanifa mosque in Bagdad, but the security forces banned them from going out into the streets. The activists also demanded human rights provisions for prisoners in Iraqi prisons and the repeal of anti-terror laws which they claim the Shiite-led authorities misuse against their community.
The Church of England has agreed to allow gay clergy in civil partnerships to become bishops as long as they remain sexually abstinent. Conservative evangelical Anglicans say they will fight the move in the Church’s ruling General Synod. The issue has been a subject of heated internal debate within the Church since 2003, when a homosexual cleric was forced to step down amid protests from Church members.
Six anti-aircraft and anti-tank rockets of unknown origin, which smugglers intended to send to the Gaza Strip, were seized by Egyptian authorities in the Sinai Peninsula, security sources reported Friday. Egyptian security forces are trying to reassert control over the Sinai region, which has faced lawlessness since the territory was turned over to Egypt in February 2011. The army also announced that it had recently seized rockets and weapons smuggled from Libya.
Saudi Arabia reportedly provided the US with its fighter jets to assist in American drone strikes against Al Qaeda targets in Yemen, the Times reported Friday, citing a US intelligence source. At the moment, US drones are backing Yemeni forces combating Al Qaeda militants in the Arab region. US drone attacks in Yemen nearly tripled in 2012, compared to the year previous
Seven people – one soldier, one police officer and five gunmen – were killed during a rebel attack on government soldiers in Marte, Nigeria, a region where security forces have battled Islamist militants, the army said Friday. During the last two weeks, about 44 people have been killed in clashes between Islamist sect Boko Haram and security forces. The sectarian violence, which is regarded as the biggest threat to stability in Africa’s top oil exporter, is mostly against security forces in northeast Nigeria.
Ansar Dine – one of the main Islamist rebel groups controlling northern Mali’s desert since the April rebellion – announced on December 26 it had suspended its “hard-won” ceasefire with the Malian government, Reuters reported Friday. The rebels also accused the government of ignoring peace talks in favor of preparing for war. Ansar Dine, the Malian government and the Tuareg separatists agreed to a ceasefire during peace talks mediated by Burkina Faso on December 5. Ansar Dine's decision to end the ceasefire coincided with preparations for the deployment of West African troops to end rebel control of northern Mali. The intervention was authorized by the UN Security Council and the European Union.
The town of Khovu-Aksy in Russia's Siberian Republic of Tuva remains without central heating after a breakdown at a local boiler house. Russian emergency services have started providing stoves to the town's 3,700 people, as daily temperatures have reached -27 Celsius. The breakdown at the reserve boiling house took place on December 20, after a failure occurred earlier at the village's main boiler house. Some 2,600 people have been evacuated.
Iran has agreed to hold talks on its controversial nuclear program at an unspecified date and place, the country's top nuclear negotiator announced Friday. The six powers – the United States, Russia, France, Britain, Germany and China – have held talks since April on Iran's uranium enrichment program, but have yet to form a consensus. The countries, through both diplomacy and sanctions, aim to curb Iran’s program to ensure that it can only be used for civilian energy production. Iran has long denied Western claims that it is secretly developing nuclear weapons.
A man in Yemen has been charged with spying for Israel and will soon face trial in the southern city of Aden. Ibrahim Dharahi was arrested in the city of Taiz three weeks ago after a period of surveillance. He was then brought to Aden and charged with being an agent for the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad. Dharahi, who carries both Yemeni and Israeli ID cards, will be tried in a criminal court in coming days.
Chinese authorities have shut down the online page of a leading reformist magazine, apparently over the publishing of an article urging political reforms and constitutional government. Yanhuang Chunqiu ('China Through the Ages') is an influential Beijing magazine that features essays from reformist retired officials. The magazine posted on its microblog that they've been informed the website's registration had been canceled, and were given no explanation for the move.
A protest march in Chile’s capital Santiago turned violent while commemorating the 2008 death of a Mapuche Indian at the hands of a policeman. Demonstrators threw Molotov cocktails at two bank branches, while others clashed with riot police. The disturbances on Thursday night resulted in dozens of arrests, including some journalists. The protest march commemorated Matias Catrileo, who was killed during a land dispute in southern Chile. Mapuche Indians have attempted to reclaim farmlands there, which they claim belonged to their ancestors.
Malala Yousafzai, the 15-year-old Pakistani women's activist shot in the head by the Taliban, has been discharged from a hospital in Birmingham, UK. Yousafzai was attacked in October, with the Taliban saying they shot her over her activism for women's education and "promoting secularism."
Flag-waving crowds are gathering in Gaza to celebrate the 48th anniversary of the Fatah movement of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Traffic has slowed to a standstill around Saraya Square where the rally is taking place, Ma'an news agency reported. The celebrations will include cultural events, as well as a recorded speech by Abbas. Opposition movement Hamas said last week that it would allow Fatah to celebrate, as Abbas announced his intention to seal a reconciliation deal with Hamas.
At least seven children died and scores were injured after a blaze broke out on Friday morning at a private orphanage in Henan province in central China, state website China Internet Information Center reported. The exact number of victims is not immediately known. The shelter was run by a local woman, Yuan Lihai, who had taken in more than 100 orphans over the past two decades.
As cancer-stricken Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez battles a lung infection, his top aides have alleged that the president's opponents and the Venezuelan media are waging a “psychological war,” using Chavez's poor health as a means to destabilize the country, AFP reported. Chavez has been suffering from complications for three weeks after undergoing cancer surgery, and his condition has recently worsened.
A gunman has killed three people and wounded several others before turning his pistol against himself, Philippine police reported. The incident occurred in a crowded market in the town of Kawit, about 40 kilometers south of the capital Manila.
Three New York police officers have been wounded in two separate shootings in the Bronx and Brooklyn. All of the officers are expected to survive. The Bronx incident involved an off-duty officer shot in the leg at a car dealership where he had intervened in an quarrel. The Brooklyn shooting, involving two officers, took place on the platform of the Fort Hamilton Parkway stop on the city subway's N line.
The US government has demanded $1.4 billion in criminal and civil fines from a drilling firm involved in 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The drilling rig operator Transocean has agreed to plead guilty to violating the Clean Water Act and pay the fines, the Justice Department said. Two month ago, in November, BP, the main actor in disaster, was fined $4.5 billion. The Deepwater Horizon disaster of April 20, 2010, killed 11 oil rig workers and sent some 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.
Eight policemen have been injured in Northern Ireland during rioting that erupted at loyalist protest over newly introduced restrictions on flying the Union Flag at Belfast City Hall. Two people were arrested as vehicles were torched. The police said officers came under attack from a mob of about 100 as gasoline bombs and other objects were thrown at them. This is the latest incident in a wave of unrest since Belfast city council last month limited the number of times the British Union Flag, also known as the Union Jack, could be raised above City Hall to just 17 times a year. It previously flew all year round.