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26072014

Russian security chiefs hit with EU sanctions

The EU announced it has introduced asset freezes on several top Russian officials. The list includes the head of Russia’s FSB security service, Aleksandr Bortnikov, and foreign intelligence service chief Mikhail Fradkov. The latest round of sanctions over the Ukrainian crisis was revealed on Thursday and consists of 15 Russians or Ukrainians and 18 companies, according to the EU’s Official Journal.

China tested anti-satellite missile, US says

The US has urged Beijing to refrain from destabilizing actions after China reportedly tested a missile designed to destroy satellites. According to State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf, the “non-destructive” test took place on Wednesday. Harf said that previous tests in 2007 created thousands of pieces of dangerous debris in space. China’s state-run Xinhua news agency did report a successful missile interception test conducted, but did not refer to it as an anti-satellite system.

French police ban anti-Israel protest planned for Saturday

French police have banned a protest against Israel’s Gaza offensive that was scheduled to take place in Paris on Saturday. The ban comes after clashes took place at pro-Palestinian demonstrations earlier this month, in which some protesters shouted anti-Semitic slogans and fought with police. Previous rallies had been banned but went ahead anyway. The most recent protest against the Israeli operation in Gaza attracted about 14,500 people, while organizers put the figure at 25,000.

Huge wildfire destroys hundreds of homes in Washington state

A massive wildfire in Washington state triggered by lightning has burned through 300 homes, according to the Associated Press. Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers said the number is double what his office previously projected, and the damage spans 750 miles of roadway and 400 square miles northeast of Seattle. Hundreds of livestock were also killed.

​Israel’s security cabinet rejects Gaza ceasefire proposal – report

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s security cabinet has rejected proposals for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, a government source told Reuters. US Secretary of State John Kerry had hoped the 18 days of fighting and exchanges of rocket fire would draw to a close through the proposed deal. However, the official, who wished to remain anonymous, stated that Israel is seeking changes to the agreement. Hamas is yet to respond.

Liberian man suspected having Ebola virus dies in Nigeria

A 40-something year old Liberian man suspected of having the Ebola virus has died in quarantine in Lagos, Nigeria, a Nigerian official in Geneva told Reuters. The man collapsed on arrival at the airport in the country’s commercial center and was immediately put in quarantine. He did not enter the mega-city of 2 million people.“While he was in quarantine he passed away,” the official said. If confirmed, the unidentified man’s case would represent the first recorded instance of the world’s deadliest disease popping up in Africa’s most populous nation, which boasts 170 million people. Despite having Africa’s largest economy, Nigeria has substandard healthcare infrastructure in comparison with its neighbors. An Ebola outbreak which hit in February has killed 632 people across Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Poland sets up own space agency

Poland’s parliament has adopted a law to create a space agency for the country. The new body is called POLSA (Polish Space Agency), RIA Novosti reported. POLSA will coordinate activities of other organizations in the space industry in different parts of the country. The new agency will also help scientific organizations get funds from the European Space Agency.

Death toll in West Africa Ebola outbreak rises to 660 – WHO

The death toll in West Africa’s Ebola outbreak has risen to 660, the World Health Organization said on Friday. The number of cases has surpassed 1,000, AFP reported.“It’s hard to get an exact picture on the scale of the situation at the moment,” WHO spokesman Paul Garwood said. The health agency said 28 new deaths were recorded between July 18 and July 20 – 13 were in Sierra Leone, 11 in Liberia and four in Guinea, which had previously borne the brunt of the deadly contagion.

Soccer match in Austria moved after violent anti-Israel protest

A soccer match to be played on Saturday by Maccabi Haifa and Paderborn will be relocated due to security concerns, Reuters said. “The match will take place at 1500 GMT tomorrow but not in Kirchbichl,” Hannes Empl, head of the SLFC organization said on Friday. On Thursday, protesters against Israel’s military offensive in Gaza ran onto the pitch and attacked Maccabi Haifa players at a friendly game against Lille in the Austrian town of Bischofshofen. The incident caused the match to be abandoned.

Investigators bring charges against 2 over fatal Moscow Metro accident

Two people have been charged in the criminal case over the accident in the Moscow Metro on July 15, when 23 people were killed and dozens wounded, the Russian Investigative Committee’s spokesman Vladimir Markin said on Friday. The charges were brought against senior track supervisor Valery Bashkatov and Yury Gordov and track supervisor’s assistant Yury Gordov for alleged violation of rules of safety and exploitation of the metro, ITAR-TASS quoted Markin as saying. He added that the charges will soon be brought against two other suspects.

PACE condemns Arizona execution

Marietta Karamanli, rapporteur general on the abolition of the death penalty for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has condemned cruel executions in the US, ITAR-TASS said. The execution of a convicted murderer in Arizona on Wednesday took nearly two hours as his attorneys raised questions about a controversial drug. Karamanli noted that the US has a status of observer in the PACE and shares the organization’s principles of human rights, but still continues the practice of inhumane executions.

French officials see bad weather as likely cause of Air Algerie crash

Poor weather was the most likely cause of the crash of an Air Algerie flight in the West African state of Mali that killed all 116 people on board, Reuters quoted French officials as saying on Friday. Investigators say the airliner broke apart when it hit the ground, and this meant it was unlikely to have been the victim of an attack.

FIFA speaks out against boycotting the 2018 World Cup in Russia

FIFA has spoken out against calls to boycott the 2018 World Cup in Russia, saying that a“policy of isolation or confrontation aren’t the most effective ways to solve problems.”The World Cup could be a “powerful catalyst for constructive dialogue between people and governments,” football’s governing body stressed. The Dutch football association is postponing discussion over the country’s participation in the 2018 event after the national day of mourning to remember the victims of the Malaysia Airlines MH17 plane, two-thirds of whom were from the Netherlands. The passenger jet was reportedly shot down over Ukraine last week, with the West blaming anti-Kiev rebels, who they believe are supported by Russia.

1 killed, 800 hospitalized due to abnormal heat wave in Japan

One person died and more than 800 have been reportedly hospitalized in Japan due to an abnormal heat wave. A record of 37.4 Celsius was registered in the southeast of the country, RIA Novosti said. Last week, three died and 3,179 were hospitalized in Japan due to the searing conditions.

Paris bans pro-Palestinian rally on Saturday

French capital, Paris, has banned a pro-Palestinian demonstration planned in the city for Saturday, AFP reports. Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said the decision was justified after protests last weekend led to violence. Previously, around 50 political parties, unions and activist groups called for rallies across France demanding an“immediate end” to the Israeli offensive in Gaza, which has already left nearly 800 people dead.

Car bomb kills 3 in southern Thailand

Three people were killed and 36 others injured as a car bomb exploded outside a hotel in the town of Betong in southern Thailand, the AFP reports. “A car bomb went off in front of Holiday Hotel at around 4:00 pm (0900 GMT),” Sophon Saisuree, a Thai police lieutenant colonel, said. More than 6,100 people have been killed in frequent bombings and shootings in the Muslim-majority region of Yala near Thailand’s southern border with Malaysia since 2004.

6.1 magnitude earthquake strikes off Alaska

A magnitude 6.1 earthquake struck on the coast of Alaska on Friday, the US Geological Survey said. The quake’s epicenter was 55 kilometers west-northwest of Elfin Cove, Reuters reported. The depth was 35.4 kilometers.

Turkish FM to seek Gaza truce in Qatar talks

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu canceled a trip to France and flew to Qatar on Friday to help efforts for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, Reuters said. Davutoglu held a “teleconference with his counterparts from the US and Qatar on Thursday. He also spoke separately with the Palestinian groups, a Turkish official told AFP. “The minister made an abrupt decision to fly to Qatar to contribute to efforts for an immediate ceasefire,” the official said.

Jordan air force shoots down drone near Syria border

The Jordanian air force shot down an unidentified drone in a desolate desert area near the north-eastern border with Syria, Reuters reported. Jordanian government spokesman, Mohammad al-Momanim, said that the “aerial target was shot after being intercepted” in Jordanian air space near the northern border city of Mafraq.

France’s Hollande says Air Algerie flight black box found

There are no survivors in the Air Algerie crash in Mali, AP quoted French President Francois Hollande as saying. He said on Friday that one black box has been found in the debris after French troops reached the site in the Gossi region near the border with Burkina Faso. No hypothesis will be excluded in the investigation, the president said. Paris is sending soldiers to guard the Air Algeria wreck.

Taliban stop buses, kill 14 Shiite civilians – Afghan official

Taliban insurgents halted minibuses in western Afghanistan and shot dead 14 Shiite passengers by the side of the road, AP said, citing an official. Sayed Anwar Rahmati, the governor of the western Ghor province, says the Taliban stopped three minibuses traveling from Kabul overnight on Friday. The buses were carrying around 30 passengers. After questioning the passengers, the Islamic militants identified 14, including three women, as Hazara Shiites. The passengers had gone to Kabul to shop for the upcoming holiday marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

McDonald’s Japan halts sales of all chicken from China

McDonald’s Holdings in Japan halted sales of all products that use chicken originating from China on Friday. The sourcing was switched completely to Thailand, Reuters said. McDonald’s Japan had already stopped selling items that used meat sourced from the Shanghai Husi Food Co. The China-based supplier has been shut down over food safety concerns. “We made this decision in view of the growing concern over McDonald’s chicken products made in China,” McDonald’s Japan Chief Executive Sarah Casanova said.

Average of 38 US kids a year died of heatstroke in cars in 1998-2013

An average of 38 children a year died of heatstroke in cars from 1998 through 2013 in the US, AFP reported, citing officials. The overwhelming majority of them were under the age of five. The toll stands at 17 so far this year, prompting a national campaign: “Where’s Baby? Look Before You Lock.” Twenty-nine percent of children who die of heat stroke in cars got into the vehicle by themselves. However, in 52 percent of cases, they were simply left behind by forgetful adults, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

S. Korea agency says impossible to determine cause of ferry businessman’s death

South Korea’s forensic agency said on Friday it was impossible to determine the cause of death of a businessman linked to a ferry that sank and killed 304 people in April, Reuters said. An autopsy and DNA tests on the decomposed body of Yoo Byung-un revealed no evidence that he was poisoned, and there was also no indication of external trauma, according to forensic agency chief Seo Joong-seok. Yoo, 73, was found dead in an orchard on June 12 after eluding authorities for nearly two months in South Korea’s biggest manhunt.

Venezuela govt rejects detention of ex-intelligence chief Carvajal wanted in US

Venezuela’s former military intelligence chief, accused of involvement in drug trafficking by the US, was arrested on the Caribbean island of Aruba while on diplomatic business, Reuters reported. “The government rejects the illegal and arbitrary detention,” the foreign ministry said, when announcing news of the arrest of military general Hugo Carvajal. The detention came as another former Venezuelan official was hauled into federal court in Miami, accused of taking bribes from South American drug cartels.

Al Jazeera journalists to appeal 10 year prison terms in Egypt

Al Jazeera journalists jailed in Egypt last month plan to appeal their convictions, the family of Australian reporter Peter Greste said. All three journalists – Greste, along with Al Jazeera English Cairo bureau chief Mohamed Fahmy and Egyptian producer Baher Mohamed – were charged with “aiding a terrorist organization,” with the court referring to the Muslim Brotherhood group. They were then sentenced to up to 10 years in jail.

US and the Netherlands seeking further sanctions against Russia

In a phone call between President Barack Obama and Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Thursday, the White House said both leaders agreed that more sanctions need to be levied against Russia for arming separatists in eastern Ukraine and for failing to“de-escalate the situation” in the wake of the MH17 tragedy. Obama also spoke with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who reportedly agreed that international investigators need access to the crash site immediately.

France sends troops to secure Air Algérie crash site

France has sent troops to “secure” the Air Algérie flight crash site and “gather the first elements of information,”a statement from French President Francois Hollande’s office said. The wreckage of the Air Algérie flight thatcrashed with 116 passengers on board was found close to the Malian town of Gossi, “50 kilometers (30 miles) north of the Burkina Faso border.” It was said that no one survived. Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita is expected to visit the crash scene on Friday.
Media agencies

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