The Soyuz-2.1b rocket with spacecraft Glonass-M on board departed from Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia on June 14. The launch was carried out in "normal mode,” according to an Aerospace Defense Forces representative. It is expected the satellite will reach orbit at 20:53 GMT. The current launch of the Russian satellite navigation series Glonass was the fourth one launched from Plesetsk, with the first Glonass launch having taken place there in February 2011. All previous launches were from Baikonur using a Proton-M rocket. Glonass (Global Navigation Satellite System) is the Russian equivalent to the US Global Positioning System (GPS), with its network providing real-time positioning and speed data for land, sea, and airborne receivers.
Voting in the second round of the Afghanistan presidential election has concluded, with people heading out to the polls despite dozens of reports of rocket fire and gunshots. The run-off vote is between Abdullah Abdullah, a former foreign minister, and Ashraf Ghani, a former finance minister, to replace President Hamid Karzai. The Taliban had previously vowed to disrupt the vote.
The United Nations (UN) and aid agencies in South Sudan announced a new crisis response plan on June 14, aiming to support millions of people in the country torn by civil war. To implement the plan $1.8 billion is needed, the UN aid chief for South Sudan Toby Lanzer said. "Fifty thousand children could die this year if they do not get assistance. Thousands of survivors of rape could go without psychosocial support," Lanzer warned. The UN humanitarian coordinator said the mission was dealing with "six killers" including violence, malnutrition, measles, diarrhea, cholera and respiratory infection. The subsequent fighting between forces of the President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Macharhas has been ongoing since late 2013 and created a serious humanitarian crisis for large swathes of the country's population.
A 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck Saturday in the south of the Indian Ocean ad a depth of 7.1 km, USGS reported. The closest land to the epicenter is the Cocos Islands, located 675km east southeast. A tsunami warning was issued following the tremor, but residents of the islands are not required to evacuate, only to move away from waterfront.
"A big explosion hits a terrorist arms market in Mayadeen, killing 30 terrorists and wounding dozens of others," Syria state TV reported. Meanwhile, a rebel official told AFP that the explosion killed at least 15 civilians in a street market. According to the rebel, a car bomb was detonated by the jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a group which is advancing and capturing cities in the north of Iraq and declared the capture of the capital, Baghdad, as their top priority objective.
At least ten people have reportedly been killed in clashes between Bengalis and Urdu-speaking Biharis, or stranded Pakistanis, during festival celebrations in a refugee camp north of Bangladesh capital of Dhaka. "We can confirm the death toll of eight people [in the camp]. All of them are Biharis [Bihari Muslims]," fire service director Mahabubur Rahman told AFP. The exact reason for the riots is still unclear.
Iran may achieve a comprehensive agreement with major powers on its nuclear program by July 20, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said in a press conference broadcast live on state TV. Iran and the P5+1 world powers (Russia, the US, Britain, France, Germany and China) set the July 20 deadline for reaching a comprehensive nuclear agreement in an interim deal they reached in Geneva on November 24. The long-term deal is expected to end Western economic sanctions against Tehran.
Iraqi officials have said that the country’s one-million-man army collapsed, failing to stop the ISIL advance towards Baghdad. “I know the reasons why the army collapsed, but now is not the time to point the blame to whoever ordered the army to fall back,” Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki said. The Iraqi officials also told World Tribune media outlet that two US-trained Iraq Army divisions, or 30,000 fighters, fled the ISIL offensive since June 10, with commanders ordering their troops to leave weapons and equipment behind.
A moderate 6.0 earthquake struck parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in Pakistan, with the epicenter being the Koh-e-Hindukush in Afghanistan. Different parts of the area, including the provinces of Peshawar, Mardan, Malakand, Swat and Buner were rocked Saturday morning, Radio Pakistan reports. According to the Pakistan Meteorological Department, there were no immediate reports of casualties or any serious damage.
Three people, a nine-year-old girl among them, have been shot and wounded outside a pizzeria in the New York suburb of Yonkers. A 31-year-old woman suffered a gunshot wound to the arm, and a 28-year-old man was found with a bullet wound to the leg, CBS New York reported. The identity of the gunman hasn’t been established yet.
Kim Jong-un ordered high-intensity military drills to be performed after visiting one of North Korea’s military units. According to local media reports, this is how the supreme leader plans to increase the country’s military readiness and better prepare it for possible incidents in the Yellow Sea and the Sea of Japan. The leader has noted the importance of continuing to raise military morale and further cementing the political ideology within the armed forces. This was after visiting the Ryo-do Island, which Kim was happy to admit was an “unassailable fortress capable of withstanding any attack by the enemy.”
The Los Angeles Kings ice hockey team has won Stanley Cup, beating the New York Rangers 3-2 in double overtime in Game 5. Defenseman Alec Martinez scored in the second overtime to give his team a win against the rangers. The victory brought the Kings their second Stanley Cup title.
At least 400 commuter rail workers in Philadelphia have gone on strike Saturday morning. It shut down about 13 train lines that carry about 60,000 passengers a day to the suburbs and Philadelphia International Airport. The protest started after the Southeast Pennsylvania Transportation Authority and two unions didn’t reach a new contract deal.
Afghanistan is headed to the polls to determine who will succeed outgoing president Hamid Karzai, who has led the country since 2001 when a US-led invasion removed the Taliban regime. Voters will decide whether the country’s presidency will be handed to Abdullah Abdullah, the country’s former foreign minister, or ex-World Bank economist Ashraf Ghani. The eight-man race was narrowed down to two candidates following a first round of voting in April, which recorded a 50 percent voter turnout. Abdullah had then secured 45 percent of the vote, followed by Ghani with 31.6 percent. The Taliban has vowed to target polling booths with “non-stop” assaults, though the first round of voting saw no high-profile attacks. Vote counts are expected to take weeks, while a preliminary result is due by July 2, with a final tally by July 22.
General Motors is recalling over 500,000 Camaros - every one built since the make was relaunched in 2010 - due to an ignition switch problem. GM found that in “an atypical seating situation,” drivers could bump the key fob with their knees, moving the ignition switch out of the ‘run’ position. “If you sit somewhat normally and don't pull your seat way up, you are not going to have this problem," GM safety spokesman Alan Adler said in an interview with Reuters. This is a similar problem to the one that caused Chevrolet to recall Cobalts and other small cars after at least 13 deaths, where bumping the key fob could turn off the engine, disable power steering and airbags. "GM said it's not the same problem, but it's a first cousin," Clarence Ditlow, director of the Center for Auto Safety, a Washington-based watchdog group, told Reuters. The Camaro and the Cobalt ignitions do not have any parts in common. GM says it is aware of only three crashes that resulted in four minor injuries from the faulty Camaro switches. The solution will be for GM dealers to separate the key from the fob, then replace the set in a couple of weeks, according to automotive blog Motoramic.
A Chinese official says China will never send its military to address an ongoing disagreement with Vietnam over an oil rig in disputed waters of the South China Sea. Vietnamese and Chinese ships have confronted each other many times since the rig was towed to disputed territory in May. "I can tell you very clearly that from May 2 to today, including to when the (drilling) operations are complete, we have never, are not and will never send military forces. Because we are carrying out normal, civilian, commercial activities," said Yi Xianliang, deputy director-general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Department of Boundary and Ocean Affairs. "What I can tell you is that this is on a maritime route and at some periods there have been certain Chinese military ships coming back from the south but these have been far away" from the area in dispute, Yi added, speculating that Vietnam might be attempting to force an international lawsuit out of the conflict.
The Venezuelan government has been outlining an alleged assassination plot against President Nicolas Maduro, culminating in the issuance of three arrest warrants for members of the opposition, reports El Pais. Police are seeking to detain Diego Arria, Pedro Mario Burelli, and Ricardo Koesling. According to the Maduro administration, the three men are implicated by emails intercepted in connection with the suspected assassination attempt. According to the country’s government, former deputy Maria Corina Machado, an opposition member, is also implicated by the emails, which mention “annihilating Maduro.” Arria, who has served as governor of Caracas and as an ambassador the the United Nations, responded to the government’s claims: “They call on me to testify and 24 hours before they ordered my arrest. If they were to charge me, the attorney general, who is in the service of Cuba, would order my execution.”