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Saudi-led campaign strikes Yemen's Sanaa, Morocco joins alliance

People carry ammunition boxes they took from army depots in AdenBy Mohammed Mukhashef ADEN (Reuters) - Yemen's beleaguered government said Saudi-led airstrikes against its Houthi militia opponents would not last long on the second day of a Gulf Arab-led campaign against the Iranian-allied militia that could escalate a proxy conflict spreading through the region. Warplanes targeted Houthi forces controlling Yemen's capital and their northern heartland on Friday and, in a boost for Riyadh, fellow monarchy Morocco said it would join the rapidly-assembled Sunni Muslim coalition against the Shi'ite Muslim group. Tribes in Yemen's oil producing Marib region said they supported the air campaign, but Houthi forces advanced south despite the airstrikes and Pakistan, named by Saudi Arabia on Thursday as a partner, said it had made no decision on whether to contribute. Riyadh’s move is the latest front in a growing regional contest for power with Iran that is also playing out in Syria, where Tehran backs Assad’s government against mainly Sunni rebels, and Iraq, where Iranian-backed Shi’ite militias are playing a major role in fighting.

Date Posted : Fri, 27 Mar 2015 11:09:10 -0400
Torn-up sick notes show crash pilot should have been grounded

Andreas Lubitz runs the Airportrace half marathon in HamburgBy Tom Käckenhoff DUESSELDORF, Germany (Reuters) - German authorities found torn-up sick notes showing that the pilot who crashed a plane into the French Alps was suffering from an illness that should have grounded him on the day of the tragedy, which he apparently hid from the airline. French prosecutors believe Andreas Lubitz, 27, locked himself alone in the cockpit of the Germanwings Airbus A320 on Tuesday and deliberately steered it into a mountain, killing all 150 people on board. "Documents with medical contents were confiscated that point towards an existing illness and corresponding treatment by doctors," said the prosecutors' office in Duesseldorf, where the co-pilot lived and where the doomed flight from Barcelona was heading. Lubitz's mental health - and what Germanwings and parent company Lufthansa knew about it - could become central questions in any future legal case over the crash.

Date Posted : Fri, 27 Mar 2015 10:01:50 -0400
Iran, six powers demand mutual concessions in tense nuclear talks

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif walks with others after a meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry and other US officials at the Beau Rivage Palace HotelBy Louis Charbonneau and John Irish LAUSANNE, Switzerland (Reuters) - Major powers and Iran were pushing each other for concessions on Friday ahead of an end-March deadline for a preliminary nuclear deal, with Tehran demanding an immediate end to sanctions and freedom to continue sensitive atomic research, officials said. Tehran and six major powers -- the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China -- are meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland, to hammer out a political framework accord by the end of this month that would lay the foundations for a full deal by June 30. Under a final settlement, Tehran would halt sensitive nuclear work for at least a decade and in exchange, international financial and oil sanctions on Iran would be lifted. This would aim to end Iran's 12-year nuclear standoff with the West and reduce the risk of war in the Middle East.

Date Posted : Fri, 27 Mar 2015 10:46:43 -0400
Syria's Assad calls chlorine allegations 'malicious propaganda': CBS

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad speaks during an interview with Venezuelan state television TeleSUR in DamascusPresident Bashar al-Assad of Syria dismissed as "malicious propaganda" allegations that his troops used chlorine gas in the fight against insurgent rebels, according to an interview broadcast on Friday on CBS "This Morning." Asked about allegations Syrian government forces have used chlorine gas and barrel bombs, Assad said: "Let me fully answer this. This is part of the malicious propaganda against Syria. First of all the chlorine gas is not military gas. Syria agreed in 2013 to destroy its entire chemical weapons program under a deal brokered with the United States and Russia after hundreds of people were killed in a sarin gas attack on the outskirts of the capital, Damascus.

Date Posted : Fri, 27 Mar 2015 08:17:44 -0400
Iran accuses Turkish leader Erdogan of fomenting regional strife

Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif attends Human Rights Council at UN in GenevaIran's foreign minister accused Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Friday of fomenting strife in the Middle East, rebuffing his accusation that Iran was trying to dominate the region. "It would be better if those who have created irreparable damages with their strategic mistakes and lofty politics would adopt responsible policies," Mohammad Javad Zarif was quoted as saying by the semi-official Fars news agency. "Under the current circumstances, all countries must work toward establishing stability and preventing the spread of insecurity in the region," Zarif, who is attending negotiations on Iran's disputed nuclear program in Switzerland, added. Erdogan declared his support on Thursday for a Saudi-led military operation in Yemen targeting the Houthis, and suggested the group's links to Tehran were evidence of Iranian ambitions.

Date Posted : Fri, 27 Mar 2015 09:31:06 -0400
Somali special forces enter hotel compound, battle militants

Somali police hold their weapons as they walk outside the Maka Al-Mukarama hotel during an Islamist group al Shabaab attack in the capital MogadishuMOGADISHU (Reuters) - Somali special forces broke through the compound wall of a hotel seized by militants in the capital Mogadishu on Friday and exchanged fire with fighters inside the building, police said. Islamist group al Shabaab said its followers had taken control of the popular Maka Al Mukaram hotel. At least seven people died in the attack and government officials were trapped inside, said police and witnesses. (Writing by Andrew Heavens)

Date Posted : Fri, 27 Mar 2015 12:44:27 -0400
Germanwings crash co-pilot hid illness from airline

French gendarmes and investigators sift through the scattered debris on March 26, 2015 at the crash site of the Germanwings Airbus A320 in the French Alps above the southeastern town of SeyneThe Germanwings co-pilot who crashed his Airbus into the French Alps, killing all 150 aboard, hid a serious illness from the airline, prosecutors said Friday amid reports he was severely depressed. The black box voice recorder indicates that Andreas Lubitz, 27, locked his captain out of the cockpit on Tuesday and deliberately flew Flight 4U 9525 into a mountainside, French officials say, in what appears to have been a case of suicide and mass murder. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said that "everything is pointing towards an act that we can't describe: criminal, crazy, suicidal". German prosecutors revealed that searches of Lubitz's homes netted "medical documents that suggest an existing illness and appropriate medical treatment", including "torn-up and current sick leave notes, among them one covering the day of the crash".

Date Posted : Fri, 27 Mar 2015 12:55:47 -0400
Warships move in key strait as airstrikes widen in Yemen

Shiite rebels, known as Houthis, hold up their weapons to protest against Saudi-led airstrikes, as they chant slogans during a rally in Sanaa, Yemen, Thursday, March 26, 2015. Saudi Arabia bombed key military installations in Yemen on Thursday, leading a regional coalition in a campaign against Shiite rebels who have taken over much of the country and drove out the president. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Saudi and Egyptian warships deployed Friday to the Bab al-Mandab strait off Yemen to secure the strategic sea passage, Egyptian military officials said, as a Saudi-led coalition widened its strikes on the second day of an air campaign against Shiite rebels and their allies, aiming to pave the way for possible ground operations.

Date Posted : Fri, 27 Mar 2015 12:54:42 -0400
Swiss bankers avoid prison, get probation in US fraud case
ALEXANDRIA, Virginia (AP) — Two former Swiss bankers avoided prison time Friday for their roles in a tax fraud scheme that helped U.S. customers hide billions of dollars in assets.
Date Posted : Fri, 27 Mar 2015 12:53:31 -0400
Swedish poet Tomas Transtromer dies at 83
STOCKHOLM (AP) — Swedish poet and Nobel Literature Prize winner Tomas Transtromer has died at age 83, Swedish publisher Bonniers said Friday.
Date Posted : Fri, 27 Mar 2015 12:52:39 -0400
Nearly 70 migrants found on berm on Greek-Turkish border
THESSALONIKI, Greece (AP) — Greek border police said Friday they had rescued 68 people, most of them Syrians, trying to cross illegally into Greece after they became stranded on a berm on the Greek-Turkish border.
Date Posted : Fri, 27 Mar 2015 12:52:10 -0400
Critters found in Antarctic ice show how tenacious life is

This undated image released by Bob Goldstein and Vicki Madden taken with an electron microscope, shows a micro-animal "tardigrade" also known as a water bear, at the UNC in Chapel Hill, N.C. In Jan. 2015, scientists found the DNA of a tardigrade in Antarctica's Lake Vostok, located in an area considered the most remote place on Earth. The mostly freshwater lake is buried under miles of ice, and hasn’t been near open air for 15 million years, exciting astronomers who search for possible forms of life on other planets. (AP Photo/Bob Goldstein & Vicki Madden, UNC Chapel Hill)DECEPTION ISLAND, Antarctica (AP) — Deep below the ice, far from the playful penguins and other animals that bring tourists to Antarctica, is a cold and barren world that by all indications should be completely void of life.

Date Posted : Fri, 27 Mar 2015 12:46:03 -0400
Valverde wins 5th stage, Porte leads Volta a Catalunya
VALLS, Spain (AP) — Alejandro Valverde won the fifth stage of the Volta a Catalunya on Friday, while Richie Porte took the lead of the seven-day race.
Date Posted : Fri, 27 Mar 2015 12:42:38 -0400
European air authority recommends 2 crew in cockpit

FILE - In this Feb. 22, 2010 file picture, a Lufthansa Airlines pilot holds the brim of his cap at the airport in Frankfurt, Germany. Carsten Spohr, CEO Lufthansa _ the parent company of Germanwings _ says his pilots undergo yearly medical examination but that doesn't include psychological tests. (AP Photo/dpa, Boris Roessler, File)COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — The European Union's aviation safety agency recommended Friday that airlines always have two people in the cockpit of a flying aircraft after it emerged that the co-pilot of Germanwings Flight 9525 had apparently locked himself in alone to crash the plane.

Date Posted : Fri, 27 Mar 2015 12:35:45 -0400
Federal charge for ex-cop in confrontation with Indian man

Handout of Sureshbhai Patel at Huntsville Hospital, in HuntsvilleBIRMINGHAM, Alabama (AP) — A former Alabama police officer is charged with violating the civil rights of an Indian man during a violent confrontation in February.

Date Posted : Fri, 27 Mar 2015 12:35:37 -0400
Top Asian News at 4:30 p.m. GMT
BANGKOK (AP) — Thailand's junta leader has vowed to take legal action against companies using forced labor, after an Associated Press investigation revealed that fish caught by enslaved migrant workers was being exported from Thai ports to global markets. In comments published Friday by the English-language Bangkok Post newspaper, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha acknowledged he had seen this week's AP article and said his government was stepping up efforts to combat the scourge and prosecute those responsible.
Date Posted : Fri, 27 Mar 2015 12:32:44 -0400
Tribes kill 21 Shiite rebels in south Yemen: local official

An armed Yemeni supporter of the southern seperatist movement walks towards a tank bearing the movement's flag, which they confiscated from a military depot, in the southern city of Aden on March 27, 2015At least 21 Yemeni Shiite rebels were killed Friday when residents in a tribal southern region opened fire at their vehicles, a local official and witnesses told AFP. The Huthi rebels, who are also facing Saudi-led air strikes, were travelling in three vehicles from Lahj province towards Aden, the southern stronghold of embattled President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, when they were ambushed. At least eight people were killed in clashes around Aden airport, where the Shiite militiamen were deployed on the runway, security and medical sources said.

Date Posted : Fri, 27 Mar 2015 12:30:58 -0400
Greek minister: government ready for 'rupture' in aid talks

The 19th century statue of the ancient goddess Athena stands at the Athens Academy on Friday, March 27, 2015. Greek bank deposits dropped by more than 7.5 billion euros ($8.2 billion) in February, ramping up pressure on the country's teetering financial system as its government scrambles to reach a deal with creditors within days. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece's government is prepared for a "rupture" with creditors in its bailout talks and is being deliberately vague about its intentions as a negotiating tactic, a cabinet minister said Friday.

Date Posted : Fri, 27 Mar 2015 12:29:11 -0400
Swedish publisher says poet and Nobel Prize winner Tomas Transtromer has died at age 83.
STOCKHOLM (AP) — Swedish publisher says poet and Nobel Prize winner Tomas Transtromer has died at age 83. .
Date Posted : Fri, 27 Mar 2015 12:28:31 -0400
At least 9 dead as militants attack hotel in Somali capital
MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — A suicide bomber detonated his explosives-laden car at the gate of a hotel popular with government officials in Mogadishu on Friday, killing at least nine people, police said.
Date Posted : Fri, 27 Mar 2015 11:31:58 -0400
Prosecutors: Evidence Germanwings co-pilot hid illness

Investigators carry boxes from the apartment of Germanwings airliner jet co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, in Duesseldorf, Germany, Thursday March 26, 2015. On Thursday, French prosecutors said Lubitz, the co-pilot of Germanwings Flight 9525, "intentionally" crashed the jet into the side of a mountain Tuesday in the French Alps. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)MONTABAUR, Germany (AP) — Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz appears to have hidden evidence of an illness from his employers, including having been excused by a doctor from work on Tuesday, the day authorities say he crashed a passenger plane into a mountain, prosecutors said.

Date Posted : Fri, 27 Mar 2015 12:24:29 -0400
England Rugby World Cup CEO quits 6 months before tournament
LONDON (AP) — The chief executive of the Rugby World Cup in England has suddenly quit less than six months before the tournament starts.
Date Posted : Fri, 27 Mar 2015 12:23:53 -0400
6N best player: Ireland captain Paul O'Connell
DUBLIN (AP) — Paul O'Connell has been named the Six Nations' best player, less than a week after leading Ireland to successive championships.
Date Posted : Fri, 27 Mar 2015 12:22:48 -0400
Saudis 'very pleased' with US support for Yemen air campaign
WASHINGTON (AP) — Saudi Arabia is praising the U.S. for helping an Arab air campaign against Yemen's rebels.
Date Posted : Fri, 27 Mar 2015 12:21:52 -0400
US stock indexes are slightly higher at end of a tough week

FILE - In this Monday, Aug. 8, 2011, file photo, a pedestrian walks past the New York Stock Exchange in New York. U.S. stocks were mostly unchanged Friday, March 27, 2015, after four straight days of losses. (AP Photo/Jin Lee, File)NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks were flat to slightly higher Friday, giving investors a break after four straight days of losses. The price of oil slipped following a big gain the day before, when traders worried that the escalating conflict in the Middle East would affect the flow of crude from the region.

Date Posted : Fri, 27 Mar 2015 12:21:38 -0400
The Latest: Europe aviation agency urges 2 crew in cockpits

People pay tribute next to a stele and flowers laid in memory of the victims in the area where the Germanwings jetliner crashed in the French Alps, in Le Vernet, France, Friday, March 27, 2015. The crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 into an Alpine mountain, which killed all 150 people aboard, has raised questions about the mental state of the co-pilot. Authorities believe the 27-year-old German deliberately sought to destroy the Airbus A320 as it flew Tuesday from Barcelona to Duesseldorf. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)5:15 p.m. (1615 GMT, 12:15 a.m. EDT)

Date Posted : Fri, 27 Mar 2015 12:16:55 -0400
EU weighs new methods to coax Israel back to peace talks

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a ceremony with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, in Jerusalem, Wednesday, March 25, 2015. Netanyahu struck a conciliatory tone on Wednesday as he was formally tapped to form a new government, vowing to heal rifts in Israeli society and fix ties with the United States following an acrimonious election campaign. (AP Photo/Dan Balilty)BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union is assessing new ways to push Israel back to the peace negotiating table with the Palestinians for a deal based on a two-state solution, working in tandem with the United States, EU officials say.

Date Posted : Fri, 27 Mar 2015 12:14:02 -0400
CAS defends its position in Claudia Pechstein doping case

Overall World Cup winner Martina Sablikova of Czech Republic, right, celebrates together with the second placed Claudia Pechstein of Germany, left, and a mascot during the women's 3,000 meters flower ceremony at the Speedskating World Cup in Erfurt, Germany, Sunday, March 22, 2015. (AP Photo/Jens Meyer)LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — The legal challenge in Germany over five-time Olympic speedskating champion Claudia Pechstein's doping case endangers the entire international arbitration system, the Court of Arbitration for Sport said Friday.

Date Posted : Fri, 27 Mar 2015 12:08:58 -0400
Saudi pounds Yemen rebel camps, lashes out at Iran

A tank bearing the flag of southern Yemeni seperatist movement, which was confiscated from a military depot, is driven on a street in the southern city of Aden on March 27, 2015Arab coalition warplanes bombed rebel camps in Yemen Friday in a second straight day of strikes led by Saudi Arabia, which accused Iran of "aggression" across the region. A months-long rebellion by Shiite fighters has escalated into a regional conflict that threatens to tear apart the impoverished state at the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula. Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia has vowed to do "whatever it takes" to prevent the fall of its ally President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, accusing Shiite Iran of backing the Huthi rebels' power grab. At least 39 civilians have been killed in the Saudi-led Operation Decisive Storm against the Huthis, officials at the rebel-controlled health ministry in the capital said.

Date Posted : Fri, 27 Mar 2015 12:08:25 -0400
Spain, England look to fresh faces in Euro 2016 bids

(From L) Spain's David de Gea, Iker Casillas and Sergio Andres run during a training session at the Sport City training ground in Las Rozas, near Madrid, on March 25, 2015, ahead of their Euro 2016 qualifying match against UkraineA rejuvenated Spain recommence their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign at home to Ukraine in Seville on Friday, while the prospect of seeing Harry Kane make his debut is the main attraction as England face Lithuania. In their first outing since a 1-0 friendly loss to Germany in November, reigning European champions Spain put their record of never having lost at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stadium on the line as they face Ukraine in qualifying Group C. Vicente del Bosque's side are second in the group after four games, three points behind Slovakia, who beat Spain in October.

Date Posted : Fri, 27 Mar 2015 12:01:00 -0400
Somalia's Shebab militants raid Mogadishu hotel, casualties

Somali police officers secure an area in Mogadishu on January 22, 2015Somalia's Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab militants launched a car bomb attack followed by an armed raid on a Mogadishu hotel Friday, causing several casualties, a police official said. "There was an explosion outside and gunmen stormed the hotel. We don't know how many dead there are," police official Ahmed Abdi Fatah told AFP. He added that some government officials were also believed to have been wounded in the attack, and that security forces had surrounded the hotel.

Date Posted : Fri, 27 Mar 2015 12:00:22 -0400
Israel to release tax funds to Palestinians: PM's office

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pictured during the weekly cabinet meeting at his Jerusalem office on January 4, 2015Israel will release to the Palestinian Authority tax funds it collects on its behalf and withheld as punishment for its move to join the International Criminal Court, the premier's office said Friday. "Tax revenues that have been accumulated through February will be transferred, after payments for services to the Palestinian population have been deducted, including electricity, water and hospital bills," a statement said. Israel froze the transfer at the beginning of January, after the Palestinians moved to join the ICC, where they would be able to sue Israeli officials. The decision comes 10 days after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was reelected and subsequently chosen to form the next government.

Date Posted : Fri, 27 Mar 2015 11:56:31 -0400
Uganda media ordered to boost coverage of president

President Yoweri Museveni, aged 70 and Uganda's leader since 1986, has already been chosen as the ruling National Resistance Movement's (NRM) candidate for presidential elections due in 2016Radio and television stations in Uganda were on Friday ordered to provide live coverage of major events involving the country's veteran President Yoweri Museveni, prompting protests by activists and the opposition. The Uganda Communications Commission, a state-controlled body, told local broadcasters they were subject to "licensing conditions issued by the commission, whereby all broadcast stations are expected to provide live coverage of major national events and addresses" by the president. The Commission said it will be "monitoring this coverage," and that "non-compliant stations will be penalised", without specifying the punishment. "This is a draconian directive," said Geoffrey Ssebaggala, the head of Uganda's Human Rights Network of Journalists.

Date Posted : Fri, 27 Mar 2015 11:54:53 -0400
Puerto Rico's jobless rate lowest in nearly 7 years
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Puerto Rico's unemployment rate has dropped to 11.6 percent, the lowest level in nearly seven years.
Date Posted : Fri, 27 Mar 2015 11:53:55 -0400
Romania questions ex-minister over 3 Picassos, 100 paintings
BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Romanian prosecutors investigating an alleged bribery scheme have questioned the former finance minister about the origins of 100 paintings, including three works by Pablo Picasso.
Date Posted : Fri, 27 Mar 2015 11:53:53 -0400
With big projects, Ethiopia shedding famine stereotype
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Ethiopia's planned new airport on the outskirts of the capital is still years from becoming a reality but Tewodros Dawit can already envision how grand it will look.
Date Posted : Fri, 27 Mar 2015 11:52:40 -0400
Russian air controllers charged for Polish presidential jet disaster

The Polish government Tupolev Tu-154 went down in thick fog while approaching Smolensk airport in western Russia killing 96, including then president Lech Kaczynski, his wife, the central bank head and military chief of staff among othersPilot error was to blame for the 2010 crash of a Polish presidential jet in Russia, but two Russian air traffic controllers also triggered the disaster that killed Poland's then head of state, prosecutors in Warsaw said Friday. The aircraft went down in thick fog while approaching Smolensk airport in western Russia killing 96, including then president Lech Kaczynski, his wife, the central bank head and military chief of staff among others. One of the Russian controllers charged with "being directly responsible for having endangered air traffic... while the other is charged with unintentionally causing an air traffic disaster," Warsaw's chief military prosecutor Ireneusz Szelag told reporters.

Date Posted : Fri, 27 Mar 2015 11:48:59 -0400
Brazil police report massive tax fraud scheme
SAO PAULO (AP) — Brazil's Federal Police agency said Friday it has begun legal proceedings against companies allegedly involved in a fraud scheme that has cost the public coffers almost $2 billion in unpaid fines and taxes.
Date Posted : Fri, 27 Mar 2015 11:47:53 -0400
Newcastle's Haidara to miss rest of season

Newcastle United's Massadio Haidara will be out until the end of the season following knee surgeryLyon (AFP) - Newcastle defender Massadio Haidara underwent surgery on his right knee in Lyon and will be ruled out until the end of the season, a medical source said on Friday.

Date Posted : Fri, 27 Mar 2015 11:45:33 -0400
Hamas denounces EU decision to keep it on terror list

A Palestinian supporter of the Hamas Islamist movement holds a mock rocket during a rally following the Friday prayers in the West Bank town of Hebron on August 29, 2014Hamas on Friday denounced a European Union decision to keep the Palestinian Islamist group and de facto Gaza Strip ruler on its terrorism blacklist, despite a court ordering its removal. "This decision completely contradicts the court's ruling," Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum told AFP. "We reject this decision and call for its review, and to remove all forms of injustice against our people and Hamas," Barhum said. A spokeswoman for the European Council said on Friday Hamas would stay "on list" during the council's appeal process, which is expected to take around a year and a half.

Date Posted : Fri, 27 Mar 2015 11:44:29 -0400
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