Category Archives: The World

Obama and Cameron fail to see eye to eye on surveillance

British Prime Minister David Cameron and US President barack Obama addressing the world press at the East Room in the White House on Friday.

US President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron struck different notes on surveillance powers after the president conceded that there is an important balance to be struck between monitoring terror suspects and protecting civil liberties. As Cameron warned the internet giants that they must do more to ensure they do not become platforms for terrorist communications, the US president said he welcomed the way in which civil liberties groups hold them to account by tapping them on the shoulder. Obama agreed with the prime minister that there could be no spaces on the internet for terrorists to communicate that could not be monitored by the intelligences agencies, subject … Continue reading

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Russia pushing on the limits of international order

US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen Martin

By Lisa Ferdinando Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russia in general are pushing the limits because they don’t believe the international order was crafted in a way that met their national interests, the US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey said during a question-and-answer session at an event on hiring veterans in New York. Putin and Russia, the Chairman said, express a sense of victimization following the collapse of the Soviet Empire. Noting that the Russian president recently delivered a speech on that narrative, Dempsey characterized it as “an anti-Western soliloquy that literally lasted for about three hours.’ “Our principal responsibility here, of course, is our NATO … Continue reading

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How Al Qaeda’s power has increased rather than lessened

Al- Qaeda leader Ayman Zawahiri. Al Qaaeda is said to be getting stronger rather than weaker nearly three years since its founding leader was killed by the US.

Two years after the end of the Iraq war, the U.S. State Department confirmed this week that it is providing the fragile country with sophisticated weapons and drones. Iraq needs help fighting against a growing and serious threat – al Qaeda. For those who don’t avidly follow the complicated machinations of the globe’s top terror group, this could be confusing. Hasn’t the line for years from the U.S. government and its allies been that al Qaeda is on the run, that its fiercest fighting ability has been weakened by U.S. strikes? That truth is far more complex, of course. The terror group’s manpower has increased in recent years, it has … Continue reading

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Al-Qaeda chief Zawahiri urges ‘lone-wolf’ attacks on US

Al- Qaeda leader Ayman Zawahiri orders new attacks on the West

The leader of al-Qaeda has issued a message marking the 12th anniversary of the 11 September 2001 attacks. In the audio message, Ayman al-Zawahiri talks of the need for small-scale attacks – and even a boycott – to damage the US economy. The message may be seen as a sign of diminishing ambitions and a more realistic assessment of what al-Qaeda’s central organisation can achieve. Zawahiri’s message also praised the bombings in Boston in April. His message begins with a familiar claim that his organisation has the upper hand. He says that the US has fled Iraq and Afghanistan in “defeat”. He goes on to emphasise the importance of so-called … Continue reading

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Risks of doing nothing are greater than acting – John Kerry

British Foreign Secretary William Hague and US Secretary of State John Kerry at the FCO today (Monday).

William Hague says the UK and US remain “closely aligned” on Syria, after talks with his US counterpart John Kerry. The British Foreign Secretary said the two were working together to save lives and revive peace talks as well as press for a strong response to the Assad government’s use of chemical weapons. Mr Kerry said the risks of doing nothing were greater than acting. The two countries remained “true friends” despite the UK ruling out any military involvement, he insisted. Their meeting in London comes as the US tries to gather support for military strikes. British Prime Minister David Cameron has said that Parliament’s vote last month means the … Continue reading

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‘Ex-gay’ group Exodus International shuts down

A prominent US Christian group that purported to rid gay people of same-sex attraction through prayer has said it is shutting down. Three-decade old Exodus International made the announcement alongside an apology from President Alan Chambers to people “hurt” by its treatment. He acknowledged “the shame and guilt you felt when your attractions didn’t change”. The move comes as California seeks to ban “conversion therapy” of gay people. The state passed a law in September banning the therapy for minors, with Governor Jerry Brown saying it had “no basis in science or medicine”. The law only applies to licensed therapists, not ministers or others; supporters of the therapy have appealed. … Continue reading

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New British Visa requirements ‘tearing British families apart’

New migration rules for people from outside the European Union are “tearing British families apart”, a group of MPs and peers have claimed in a report. It said thousands of Britons have been unable to bring a non-EU spouse to the UK since July 2012, when minimum earnings requirements were introduced. Children have also been separated from a parent, the committee said. The Home Office said the rules are designed to ease the burden of migration on the taxpayer. Rules that came into force a year ago require any British citizen who wants to sponsor their non-European spouse’s visa to be able to show they earn at least £18,600 a … Continue reading

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Mass points to Pope’s new priorities

By Robert Pigott From the moment he walked out onto the balcony on St Peter’s Basilica and stood calmly surveying the crowd, Pope Francis’ body language has suggested a change of style. Tuesday’s shorter, simpler, inaugural Mass reinforced the impression of a Pope of humility and simplicity. Pope Francis’ homily – direct and comprehensible – suggested that those qualities would shape his pontificate too.  He acknowledged that his election as Pope placed him in a position of power.  But he said for that power to be valid, or “authentic”, it must be exercised in self-sacrificing service to others. That service, he told the thousands of clergy among the throng in … Continue reading

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Security and privacy await Pope Benedict XVI after he retires

Pope Benedict’s decision to live in the Vatican after he resigns will provide him with security and privacy. It will also offer legal protection from any attempt to prosecute him in connection with sexual abuse cases around the world, Church sources and legal experts say.  “His continued presence in the Vatican is necessary, otherwise he might be defenceless. He wouldn’t have his immunity, his prerogatives, his security, if he is anywhere else,” said one Vatican official, speaking on condition of anonymity. “It is absolutely necessary” that he stays in the Vatican, said the source, adding that Benedict should have a “dignified existence” in his remaining years. Vatican sources said officials had … Continue reading

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France leads the way in recognising Syrian opposition coalition

France has become the first Western power to recognise Syria’s opposition coalition as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people. The move was announced by President Francois Hollande at a televised news conference in Paris. Syrian opposition groups struck a deal in the Qatari capital Doha on Sunday to form a broad coalition to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad. The US and Britain have both signalled support for the coalition. But they stopped short of recognising it as a government-in-exile. On Monday, Gulf Arab states declared the coalition to be the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people. Opposition and human rights activists estimate that more than 36,000 people have … Continue reading

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