By John Davison and Phil Stewart BEIRUT/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. forces have carried out an air drop of small arms ammunition to Syrian Arab rebels in northern Syria, barely two weeks after Russia raised the stakes by intervening in the war on the side of President Bashar al-Assad. A U.S. military official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said on Monday the air drop of supplies to the opposition fighters on Sunday was part of a revamped U.S. strategy announced last week to help rebels in Syria battling Islamic State militants. Last week, Washington shelved a program to train and equip "moderate" rebels opposed to Assad who would join the fight against Islamic State.
By Daren Butler and Humeyra Pamuk ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkey's government said on Monday Islamic State was the prime suspect in suicide bombings that killed at least 97 people in Ankara, but opponents vented anger at President Tayyip Erdogan at funerals, universities and courthouses. Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Saturday's attack, the worst of its kind on Turkish soil, was intended to influence the outcome of November polls Erdogan hopes will restore a majority the ruling AK party lost in June. Two bombs struck seconds apart, targeting a rally of pro-Kurdish activists and civic groups near Ankara's main train station.
By Daniel Dickson and Anna Ringstrom STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - British-born economist Angus Deaton has won the 2015 economics Nobel Prize for his work on consumption, poverty and welfare that has helped governments to improve policy through tools such as household surveys and tax changes. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said the microeconomist's work had been a major influence on policy making, helping for example to determine how different social groups are affected by specific changes in taxation. "To design economic policy that promotes welfare and reduces poverty, we must first understand individual consumption choices," the award-giving body said in announcing the 8 million Swedish crown ($978,000) prize.
By Toby Sterling AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The Dutch Safety Board, issuing long-awaited findings on Tuesday of its investigation into the crash of a Malaysian passenger plane over eastern Ukraine, is expected to say it was downed by a Russian-made Buk missile but not say who was responsible for firing it. MH17 was shot down over territory held by pro-Russia rebels in eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014, killing all 298 people aboard, most of them Dutch citizens. Safety Board director Tjibbe Joustra will present findings on Tuesday first to victims' families, then to journalists at a military base in Gilze-Rijen, where parts of the plane have been brought from the crash site and reconstructed.
By Patrick Markey and Ahmed Elumami ALGIERS/TRIPOLI (Reuters) - After months of stalled negotiations, the United Nations has handed Libya's warring factions a unity government proposal in what it calls a major step towards ending the crisis, but the applause of Western officials cannot disguise serious obstacles. The proposal is just that, one hinging on the approval of both sides, and hardliners may treat a weak accord as a chance to drag Libya and its oil wealth deeper into war and division. Voices in both camps have criticized a proposal some say the U.N. wants to impose.
By Michael Georgy and Mariam Karouny CAIRO/BEIRUT (Reuters) - Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, one of the world's most wanted men, is counting on veteran jihadis and former Iraqi army officers who form the core of the militant movement to take over if he is killed. New questions arose over Islamic State's leadership structure and who might succeed Baghdadi after Iraq's military said on Sunday air strikes had hit a convoy carrying him, though Iraqi security officials later denied this. Baghdadi, who rarely appears in public and delivers few audio speeches, makes the vast majority of decisions, including which of the group's enemies should be killed.
By Aziz El Yaakoubi RABAT (Reuters) - National pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions, even if fully implemented, would cap global warming at 3 degrees Celsius rather than the 2 degrees targeted to avoid dangerous consequences, the European Commission said on Monday. European Climate and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete said 149 countries had submitted pledges known in U.N. language as INDCs, or Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, ahead of pivotal climate change talks in Paris in December. "...If we do not do something, if we do business as usual, the increase of temperatures will be between 3.8 and 4.7 degrees." The 149 states that have submitted promises is up from 62 to have done so a few months ago and they cover 90 percent of global emissions, Canete told reporters on the sidelines of a pre-Paris preparatory meeting in the Moroccan capital Rabat.
Guinea's opposition on Monday called for a re-run of this weekend's first-round presidential vote, condemning the ballot as fraudulent even before the results were in and pledging to take to the streets in protest. Despite clashes between Conde and Diallo supporters in the final days of the campaign that left a dozen people dead, voting was peaceful though the opposition complained about logistical problems. "It was a masquerade, a massive fraud throughout the day," said Diallo.
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Puerto Rico's education secretary says public school students can for the first time choose to wear pants or skirts as part of their uniform regardless of their gender without being punished.
The European Union agreed Monday to suspend sanctions against the regime of Belarussian strongman Alexander Lukashenko after he won a fifth term as president, even though observers said the poll was flawed. Once dubbed "Europe's last dictator" by Washington, Lukashenko, 61, won a fifth consecutive term on Sunday, picking up 83.5 percent of the vote, according to official figures. "We have taken the decision to suspend the sanctions for the next four months but they can be reinstated immediately if that is required," minister Harlem Desir told reporters, adding that the situation would be reviewed after that.
BEIJING (AP) — Two senior Chinese officials — one who earlier led the country's biggest petroleum company and the other a deputy party chief in populous Sichuan province— were convicted of corruption Monday and sentenced to 16 and 13 years in prison, respectively, Chinese authorities said. Hanjiang Intermediate People's Court in central China said Jiang Jiemin, former chairman of the state-run China National Petroleum Corp., accepted 14 million yuan ($2.3 million) in bribes and failed to explain the source of another 15 million yuan. Jiang also violated regulations by providing assistance to others, resulting in losses to the state, the court said. It sentenced him to 16 years in prison.
Two South African men who rent the house where Oscar Pistorius shot dead his girlfriend have appeared in a video showing the bathroom where the crime took place and boasting of the property's potential as a party venue. David Scott, 33, and Kagiso Mokoape, 23, gave a local television news crew a tour of the house in Pretoria where Pistorius killed Reeva Steenkamp in 2013. Oscar built this house to entertain," Scott said on the video while clutching a tin of beer.
The prime minister of Iraq's Kurdistan region has removed four members of his cabinet, a spokesman said on Monday, in an escalating political crisis that threatens to destabilize the relatively peaceful region. Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani is also vice president of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), which accuses the Gorran party of provoking violent unrest that recently left five people dead. The ministers of Religious Affairs, Finance, Trade and Peshmerga forces, all of whom are from Gorran, met on Monday with Nechirvan Barzani.
Sitting down is no worse for you than standing up as long as you take regular exercise, a British study said Monday, casting doubt on the health benefits of sit-stand work stations. Exeter University and University College London researchers followed more than 5,000 people over a 16-year period and their findings were published in the International Journal of Epidemiology. "Any stationary posture where energy expenditure is low may be detrimental to health, be it sitting or standing," said Melvyn Hillsdon from Exeter's sport and health sciences department.
Port-au-Prince (AFP) - The legitimacy of the future Haitian president is already compromised two weeks before the vote gets underway, with a lackluster electoral campaign and a very low expected turnout. The record number of candidates to lead the poorest country in the Americas in and of itself is a tell-tale sign of the weakness of the Haitian political fabric. "The political parties only exist when it's time for elections, and the candidates are not mobilizing voters the way they should," a foreign diplomat said, requesting anonymity in order to speak freely on the issue.
Qatar's coach Jose Daniel Carreno warned on Monday against complacency ahead of his team's 2018 World Cup qualifier against the minnows of Maldives. Qatar go into Tuesday's match with four wins from four and sit on top of AFC Group C, five points ahead of their nearest rivals, Hong Kong and China. Having just beaten China last week, a confident Qatar are fully expected to extend their 100 percent record against the Maldives.
Six Air France employees were arrested Monday for their role in a violent protest that forced an executive for the struggling airline to flee an angry mob after his shirt was ripped off. The arrests sparked anger from union representatives and leftist politicians. A police source said some of them are union representatives.
US-British microeconomist Angus Deaton won the Nobel Economics Prize on Monday for groundbreaking work using household surveys to show how consumers, particularly the poor, decide what to buy and how policymakers can help them. "By emphasising the links between individual consumption decisions and outcomes for the whole economy, his work has helped transform modern microeconomics, macroeconomics and development economics," the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said. More than anyone else, Angus Deaton has enhanced this understanding," it said.
By Sarah Young FUENGIROLA, Spain (Reuters) - For some sun-seeking Britons, a cloud has formed over the whitewashed villages, beach bars and golf courses of Spain - the risk that Britain will drop out of the European Union. Over the last three decades, hundreds of thousands of Britons have used the EU's right to free movement to settle in Spain, drawn by warmer weather, cheaper property and a new life. "It's very scary, I've been here 31 years," said Valerie Luber, 75, a retired British nanny, at a coffee morning held by British-run Age Care in Calahonda on Spain's southern Costa del Sol.
MAPUTO, Mozambique (AP) — Craters lie where concrete bunkers once stood, testament to the powerful explosions that occurred when a Mozambican ammunition depot accidentally blew up in 2007, killing more than 100 people.
CONAKRY, Guinea (AP) — Guinea's opposition candidates said Monday they will not recognize provisional results for the country's presidential election, citing fraud, a move the government criticized as systematic.
LUXEMBOURG (AP) — European Union nations on Monday criticized Russia's military intervention in Syria, with the bloc's top diplomat calling it a worrying "game changer." But EU countries maintained Moscow's efforts wouldn't keep President Bashar Assad in power.
VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis' sex abuse commission has begun an important new phase of its work: Bringing the expertise of its members to the developing world where bishops' conferences have lagged behind their English-speaking counterparts in crafting guidelines to prevent abuse and care for survivors.
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Saudi Arabia's King Salman said Monday that "irresponsible comments" and criticism of the kingdom's management of the hajj will not affect his country's oversight of the annual Islamic pilgrimage.
HELSINKI (AP) — Alerted by a passer-by that bearded men with a black flag were acting suspiciously at a castle ruins in southern Sweden, police found to their relief that it wasn't a group of Islamic State sympathizers but a meeting of hirsute do-gooders.
RABAT, Morocco (AP) — Europe's climate chief has acknowledged for the first time that climate pledges made by national governments ahead of a major U.N. conference fall short of meeting the international goal of keeping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).
Conservative cardinals have accused Pope Francis of stacking the cards against them in an ongoing battle over issues including the Church's approach to gays and to divorced and remarried believers, it emerged Monday. The ostensibly private (but quickly leaked) letter was delivered to the pope by Australian Cardinal George Pell and reportedly signed by peers including the archbishops of Toronto and New York, Thomas Collins and Timothy Dolan, and arch-Vatican conservative Carlo Caffarra, the archbishop of Bologna. A day later, without making any reference to the letter, Francis made an unscheduled intervention in the synod discussions to warn participants not to be taken in by "spiritually unhelpful" conspiracy theories.
By Stephanie Nebehay and Tom Miles GENEVA (Reuters) - The U.N. mediator trying to convene Syria peace talks said on Monday it was urgent for Russia and the United States to reach an understanding to avert a military escalation that could effectively dismember the country. The two powers are pivotal to ushering Syria's warring sides into talks, Staffan de Mistura said, though their differences seem so deep Moscow and Washington may not be able to establish a cohesive steering group of countries with peacemaking clout. De Mistura said intensifying fighting coinciding with Russia's military intervention in Syria made it more urgent to get Syrian government and opposition groups talking.
U.S. forces carried out an air drop of small arms ammunition on Sunday to Syrian Arabs in northern Syria, a U.S. military official said on Monday. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the air drop of supplies to the opposition fighters was part of a revamped U.S. strategy announced last week to help rebels in Syria battling Islamic State militants.
The European Union's current relocation scheme for refugees is "not enough" to address the scope of the problem, the head of the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said on Monday. UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said the current EU scheme to share out 160,000 refugees from Italy and Greece over the next two years had to be broadened and "more legal opportunities" had to be provided to exiles. "You cannot have a technocratic approach to relocation," he told a news conference in Athens.
JERUSALEM (AP) — Palestinians carried out three stabbings Monday in Jerusalem, leaving a teenage Israeli boy in critical condition, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu angrily accused the country's Arab leaders of helping incite weeks of violence. Two of the attackers, both teenage boys, were killed.
The Washington Post on Monday slammed the conviction of its reporter Jason Rezaian in Iran as an "outrageous injustice" and said it was working with his family and lawyer to prepare a quick appeal. A spokesman for Iran's judiciary, Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejeie, said the verdict that had been issued could be appealed. "The guilty verdict announced by Iran in the trial of The Washington Post's Jason Rezaian represents an outrageous injustice," the paper's executive editor Martin Baron said in a statement.
Syrian troops aided by Russian air strikes fought their fiercest clashes with rebels in weeks on Monday, as Europe's top diplomats demanded that Moscow stop targeting non-jihadist rebels. Meeting in Luxembourg, European Union foreign ministers also said lasting peace in Syria was impossible without a transition from President Bashar al-Assad's rule. Baghdad, meanwhile, said it was trying to confirm reports that Islamic State jihadist group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had been wounded in an Iraqi strike on his convoy.
By Dan Williams JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Surrounded by Israeli police, Israa Abed holds a knife in one hand and a cellphone in the other before shots ring out and she falls to the ground. The incident, filmed by passersby on their smartphones, has been viewed thousands of times since it was posted online last Friday, one of dozens of such videos encapsulating a new dynamic in what looks like a third Palestinian uprising, or intifada. Four Israelis and 25 Palestinians have died in 12 days of bloodshed partly fueled by Muslim agitation over high-profile Jewish visits to a contested holy site in Jerusalem.
By Andrei Makhovsky and Robin Emmott MINSK/LUXEMBOURG (Reuters) - Belarus's election fell short of democratic standards, monitors said on Monday after President Alexander Lukashenko won a fifth term, but Europe still looked set to ease sanctions as France and Germany welcomed a lack of political repression. Moves by Lukashenko, including the pardoning of six opposition figures before the election, suggest Lukashenko could be seeking to improve his image abroad to rely less on his ally Russia, which is under Western sanctions due to the Ukraine conflict. "It is clear that Belarus still has a long way to go towards fulfilling its democratic commitments," said Kent Hasted, head of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's observer mission for the election, in a statement.
Palestinian foreign minister Riad al-Malki on Monday accused Israel of seeking to spark "a third intifada", as violence again flared in Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. "(Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu wants to instigate a third intifada. Malki said Netanyahu had committed a "grave mistake" by "violating the status quo" of East Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa compound, one of Islam's holiest sites and the holiest site in Judaism.
Fighting flared in eastern Afghanistan Monday as Taliban insurgents threatened to storm another provincial capital, two weeks after their lightning capture of northern Kunduz city which marked their biggest military victory in 14 years. The attempt to seize Ghazni city was repelled by Afghan forces but it raised security alarm bells as the resurgent militant group pushes to expand beyond its rural strongholds in the south of the country. The violence, which prompted local shops and schools to close, follows the Taliban's three-day occupation of Kunduz and an attempt by the militants to capture the capital of northern Faryab province.
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