The Islamic State (IS) had apparently held freelance reporter of GlobalPost James Wright Foley, hostage for two years. His recent appearance in a video as an IS extremist beheads him shocked the entire world. According to the masked man in the video, who had a British accent, Foley’s death was a consequence of the US’ air strikes in support of Iraq and Kurdish campaigns against the militant group.
James Foley’s Mother Diane Foley said on her social media profile that she is very proud of her son for “exposing the world to the suffering of the Syrian people. Foley had remained in the Middle East for five years, writing stories from the Libyan dictatorship to the Syrian clashes
Meanwhile, US intelligence is still trying to verify the authenticity of the video.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) had condemned Foley’s incarceration during his work in Libya by Libyan forces loyal to Muammar Qaddafi. He then returned to Syria to cover the clashes between Syrian and Rebel groups. The CPJ revealed that such abduction of journalists were common in Syria during the time.
GlobalPost had asked for prayers for “Jim and his family” while the world waited if the video is truly an execution of the journalist.
Included in the video, another reporter was shown to be next in line for the beheadings if the US does not withdraw its forces in Iraq.
Despite the ceasefire agreement between Israel and Gaza, Israel can only stop Gaza from rebuilding its tunnels and its military through an external force. Israel is currently seeking to have an international force monitor and disarm Hamas and other militant groups in Palestine. However, no countries have put their foot forward to do the job.
The proposition of three top Israeli officials may be crucial at ending the three-week old conflict.
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that despite the ceasefire, they will continue to close down tunnels used by militants to access Israel undetected. Israel had also called for additional 17,000 reserve forces, and will have its forces in Gaza remain stationed.
Stopping the tunnels can stop the rocket fire, which was the aim of Israel’s ground assault on Gaza. Egypt and Saudi Arabia support the Israeli action against the tunnels.
The UN and the US responded positively to the idea of an external force monitoring and disarming Hamas, but no country had forwarded any initiative to do the task of demilitarisation.
Israel pointed out that it is imperative that international aid for Hamas is not spent for buying new arms. It would also be important to monitor the materials entering Gaza that they may use to rebuild their tunnels or make armaments.
US Secretary of State John Kerry has flown into Cairo to facilitate the formulation of a peace plan between Israel and Gaza. The two countries have been locked in spontaneous skirmishes, the bloodiest being on Sunday, claiming 120 Palestinian lives, majority of which were civilians.
Israel attacked Gaza with a combination of aerial, sea and land bombardment. Israeli troops have also advanced into eastern Gaza and are fighting with Hamas militants on the ground.
International pressure for a ceasefire had increased. According to the United Nations, the conflict is deteriorating into a humanitarian crisis as bombardment had hit electricity and water lines in Gaza. Sixty-one schools have opened to provide shelter for 81,000 refugees fleeing from destroyed homes and combat-ridden areas.
Jen Psaki, Department Spokeswoman for the United States, had said that the US and its international partners are growing “deeply concerned about the risk of further escalation of the conflict.”
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had said the operations will still continue and the Hamas are using civilians as “human shields”. The Israeli campaign only aims to stop the Gaza rocket fire, which continues to bombard parts of Israel. The truce introduced by Egypt continue to be refused by the Hamas, who had escalated their own attacks against Israel.
The Israeli military found the three bodies of Israeli teenagers on Monday. The three were reported missing the last two weeks. According to Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Hamas was responsible for the abducting and killing of the children. He said the murder was done “in cold blood by human animals.”
However, political analysts see that the Israel Prime Minister is in a very difficult situation as the international community may call on Israel to practice restraint while the Israel public is still fuming over the abduction and death of the children.
The teenagers were Eyal Yifrah, 19 years old, Gilad Shaar, 16 and Naftali Fraenkel, a 16 year old Israel-American. The three were hitchhiking home when they did not arrive to their destination. Upon knowing of the situation, the Israeli Army went through an operation that dispatched thousands of Israel troops in the area, which led to the closing of roads in Hebron and had 400 Hamas operatives in the area arrested
Two Hamas operatives may be involved in the situation. Marwan Qawasmeh and Amer Abu Aiseh, who are still hiding from the Israeli military, are the primary suspects of the killing of the two kids.
Meanwhile, Israeli media delivered updates around the clock for the missing teenagers and the efforts of the Israel army. The entire nation grieved upon the verification of their deaths, with the public singing songs and sending prayers to the deceased children.
Despite a weakened aggressive effort to push back the militant threat in Iraq, US military advisers said that many soldiers in the Iraqi military are suffering a ‘psychological collapse’ after the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria fighters have executed captured Iraqi soldiers. The advisers also said news of desertions have rattled many in the Iraqi military, especially of the breeding fear of their capabilities to defend the country.
Shia volunteers have resorted to defending themselves and their country where the Iraqi military could not handle the advance of the ISIS militants. The Iraqi President Nouri al-Maliki himself had encouraged the effort.
According to former US military adviser and Rand Corporation analyst Rick Brennan, the Iraqi military has no ability to defend themselves because they could not find a meaningful difference when they fight the militants. According to Brennan it is possibly the beginning of Iraq’s disintegration.
Some Iraqi Generals had said that ISIS fighters were hardened military veterans, who had fought consistently in the Syrian civil war and had more advanced weaponry thanks to the indirect funding of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and some members of the Arab league to Syrian rebels.
Another US adviser in Iraq had said that the armed forces’ incapability to fight against ISIS is the result of poor leadership, intelligence and corruption in the system.
Family representatives wrote Monday last week that they hope to see Najib after they have sent emails, letters and made telephone calls to Malaysia Airlines and the representatives of Malaysian and Chinese governments. The announcement of Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak on June 1 to China had Chinese families hopeful that they could meet him.
Many of the Chinese families wondered if their requests and messages have been “forwarded to the top?” after a Chinese Foreign Ministry response said that they were not aware of the Chinese families’ requests.
Most of the victims of the missing MH370 flight, which disappeared on March 8, only carried Chinese nationals. The 400 Chinese family members returned home after Malaysia and Malaysian Airlines’ Family Assistance Centres closed in early May.
Meanwhile, intelligence from Malaysia’s Civil Aviation Authority had released new raw satellite logs following the calls of relatives from those on-board the airline. The British company Inmarsat, had the data drawn up and it consisted of 47- pages, with a table of satellite logs from 4pm March 7, until the last moments it had before leaving Kuala Lumpur on March 8.
The data from Inmarsat the company made available after passenger relatives asked that company release the information to the public.
The US military has aircraft standing by in Italy as it considers evacuating its US Embassy personnel at the wake of impending and growing violence in Tripoli, Libya. Armed assaults and fighting continue after groups have assaulted the Libyan Interim Parliament.
The speaker of the Interim Parliament, Nuri Abu Sahmain had ordered the Central Libya Shield Forces to deploy into the capital. Political analysts see it as a potential contributor to the already growing violence in the capital.
The Saudi Arabian Embassy had closed and its staff had left the capital due to the violence, according to the Saudi Ambassador Mohammed Mahmoud al-Ali. He said the embassy will only re-open when the violence finally ends. Along with Saudi, Turkey had also shut down its Embassy accrording to Turkish news agencies.
Four people had been killed and 90 people were heavily injured on Sunday after armed men assaulted the General National Congress as the Sunday session was concluded. They evacuated members. Then armed fighting spread to the other parts of Tripoli.
Liberal parties backed by heavily armed militia’s from the western mountain city of Zintan accused Islamists of using their power to control the Libyan government. Islamist forces back the interim parliament.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye had said that the government’s “long-running” evils and habits had cost the country’s government numerous failings in servitude to its citizens. South Korea’s Prime Minister Chung Hong-won had resigned because of the governments’ failure to respond properly to the Sewol disaster.
Chung had taken responsibility for the government’s handling of the ferry disaster, which killed 100 people and 200 still missing, with majority assumed dead. Park had accepted his resignation but she asked him to stay until the government completes its rescue operations.
Chung said that he resigned because of the errors in procedures that had cost the lives of many people, especially high-school students, who boarded the Sewol in its routine trip. According to investigations, the Sewol ferry may have been overloaded and was under the command of an inexperienced junior officer during the time of the tragedy. Chung said the deep-rooted evils were not corrected in time, which contributed greatly to the tragedy’s possibility.
President Park said “I feel so regretful for having been unable to correct such long-running evils and letting an accident like this take place. I do not know how to apologise for the failure to prevent this accident and the insufficient first response. I am sorry to the people and heavy-hearted that many precious lives were lost.”
The public criticised South Korea’s lack of safety standards and corruption that led to the disaster.
Russia had blamed Ukraine authorities for the checkpoint attack in Slaviansk that claimed three lives as gunmen exited from four cars and opened fire at Pro-Activist militants manning the checkpoint at 2am. According to Russia, Ukraine Right Sector members are trying to ignite a civil war in a region and that they will intervene should bloodshed continue.
However, Ukraine officials said that Russian Secret Services may be behind the attck to use it as a pretext for invading Slaviansk. Currently, 40,000 Russian troops are situated near the Ukrainian border.
The incident violently shakes the Geneva accord signed by both Ukraine and Russia to de-escalate the Ukraine crisis. However, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Ukraine was not fulfilling its role because pro-Russian activists are still occupying government offices and towns in defiance of the peace accord.
The accord calls upon all “illegitimate groups” to surrender their arms and vacate all government offices and towns as soon as possible.
According to Lavrov, Slaviansk citizens had been calling on Russia to save them from the outrage and that the country was being placed in an extremely complex situation. Russia had also accused Ukraine of not disbanding protest camps near Kiev’s Independence Square. The failure of honouring the accord will not give way towards a resolution between Ukraine and Russia according to Lavrov.
Political analysts said that North Korea’s shelling of South Korean waters was a response to its failing attempts to gain outside aid from the US and South Korea. It recently launched 500 artillery shells into South Korean waters calling it a live-fire exercise. South Korea retaliated with 300 artillery shells into North Korean waters.
All the shells fell into the water. Residents of the South Korean border islands were delivered into bomb shelters to protect themselves. Fishing boats in the area were advised to return to port. According to South Korean Ministry of National Defense Spokesman Kim Min-Seok, it was a pre-mediated provocation that tests the will of South Korea in protecting its borders. He said that South Korea will act decisively against North Korea.
Kim said that South Korea’s artillery response showed its vigor that it can defend its seas with enough capability against North Korea. It is also sending a message that South Korea will not tolerate any offensive by the North at any cost. According to political analysts, the situation may get worse if North Korea goes beyond its responses, such as shelling the waters of South Korean borders.
According to Korea Specialist and Professor of Political Science at Angelo State University in Texas Bruce Bechtol, the aim of North Korea is to stir the situation between them, South Korea and the United States.
According to Citizens Advice, only 1 out of 7 people know that they can make PPI claims on their own. The organization estimates that claims management companies or CMCs gain at least up to £5 billion of the £13.3 billion PPI compensation already paid back to consumers.
Citizens Advice blames banks for their lack of action allowing CMCs, like www.ppiclaimsadviceline.org.uk, to take on the role to persuade consumers to make a PPI claim. According to them, CMCs are now costing them higher administrative fees now that they have no chance against an estimated 1,050 CMCs existing in the United Kingdom.
Most claims management companies work under a no win no fee basis that entitles a maximum of 25% of the refund to the CMC upon success of the payment protection insurance claim. This raises certain issues especially for indebted consumers. They can use the PPI to pay off their debt, but they are then indebted to their CMC instead.
According to Citizens Advice, most CMCs will try to persuade a consumer to let them make a claim for them on their behalf. Consumers who are uncertain about having payment protection insurance are often the ones to fall prey to CMCs.
PPI is designed to repay loans, mortgages and credit cards in case a consumer gets sick, unemployed or encounters an accident. However, due to incentives, many bank employees sold the insurance to many consumers who did not need or were ineligible for the insurance policy.
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, who recently replaced Enrico Letta, had won a senate confidence vote Tuesday. The former Mayor of Florence had gained favour from the public and his political party with youthful fervor and his critical attacks against Enrico Letta’s government. Renzi promises to deliver Italy from its financial problems by removing an “asphyxiating bureaucracy.”
Matteo Renzi is the youngest prime minister Italy had ever had at 39 years old. He said that he plans to lower Italy’s unemployment rate, specifically, the youth unemployment, which is currently at 40%.
Despite his victory with the senate confidence vote, many from Renzi’s democratic party are questioning his political style. Some said that his take-over from Enrico Letta had been very “heavy-handed”.
Currently, Italy is slowly recovering from its recession and carrying the burden of €2 Trillion in public debt.
Renzi promised that Italy’s improvement also lies in solidifying its financial organization and that complaints regarding austerity must end now. He stressed that complaints never had anything done at all, and action will be needed.
He was sworn in last Saturday in Napolitano in Rome. His cabinet is also the youngest in Italy’s history with an average age of 47.8 years old. However, the public still looks at the government critically because of their expected absence of political maturity in the political group.
After a US Grand Jury had granted her immunity from a Visa fraud case, the US State Department had advised Indian Diplomat Devyani Khobragade to leave the United States immediately. Khobragade had not left the United States immediately according to her lawyer, but as of 10PM local time Friday, she had flown back to India.
Khobragade’s case, which had strained US and Indian relations specifically for the US authorities’ “strip search” conducted on the Indian diplomat that “humiliated” her.
The US grand jury granted her diplomatic immunity even if she is indicted for visa fraud and making false statements. The charges still remain with her and she will be tried without diplomatic immunity should she return to the United States.
Her visa fraud and the domestic help complaint from Sangeeta Richard was discovered when the latter complained about Khobragade not paying her on time and in proper dues. She was arrested December 12, 2013 for making false declarations in her maid’s visa application. A $250,000 bond ensured her release.
According to the Indian diplomat’s lawyer, she stayed for a night in her home after the State Department advised he to leave with her children then proceeded to fly back to India, as confirmed by the Indian Foreign Ministry.
The Lloyds Banking Group announced that they are adding a further £750 million to their PPI recompense package, bringing the bank’s total to £8 billion in overall PPI redresses. Lloyds is the biggest mis seller of PPI, with RBS coming second at £3 billion with an additional £250 million to their PPI redress package.
The total PPI recompense package is now at £17 billion. Observers said that this number is likely to surpass £20 billion, making it the most expensive financial fraud in the United Kingdom. It is more expensive than the London Olympics in 2012.
Payment protection insurance repays loans, mortgages and credit cards from unsavoury interest rates by addressing payment when consumers get sick or unemployed. But because ineligible consumers were mis sold the insurance, the government forced banks to refund the mis sold consumers. To know more about how to claim back your refunds, PPIClaimBackCo.co.uk could help you with further information.
Without a sign of letting down, PPI complaints continue to soar. The Financial Ombudsman Service had announced that it has received its millionth claim. It reported that it had also received more than 265,000 PPI complaints in the previous two quarters of 2013.
The Financial Conduct Authority announced that a significant decrease in PPI complaints could be expected for 2014.
According to the White House, if Afghan President Hamid Karzai will not sign an agreement on a remaining US military presence in the country, it will pull out all US forces stationed in Afghanistan. The deadlock on the agreement had strained the relationship of the two countries.
US National Adviser Susan Rice said that if Karzai delays the signing of the contract by the following year, it jeopardises the US plan to keep a security presence in the country as majority of the US forces in Afghanistan are recalled. According to Rice, the US will be forced to plan for a post-2014 future without any military or NATO presence in Afghanistan.
Without the signature, the US cannot verify clarity to initiate its plan that would stretch to 2014.
The signing of the contract turned for the worse when Karzai had brought up the issue on the release of Afghan prisoners from Guantanamo, to which US ambassador James Cunningham bluntly gave a response that became the root of all disagreements further in the meeting.
According to Cunningham, the peace process was not United States’ responsibility and the release of Afghan prisoners were not part of the security pact they were endorsing.
According to Senator Lindsey Graham, Karzai needs to realize that White House’s patience is not unlimited.
New Jersey becomes the 14th state to approve same-sex marriages. Mayors of different cities have led ceremonies to marry same-sex couples, who have either hastily planned their marriages or have waited for the right time the law becomes approved in the state.
Gay couples now own a pink marriage license. Many couples said that they were very happy with the approval of the law, feeling like they’ve won a major athletic competition. Couples of the same genders wearing suits or dresses held hands and hosted their respective receptions.
However, some of the public marriages were met with discontent. Some protesters shouted that it was “unlawful” against nature and religion. The police brought the protester in Newark out of the marriage proceedings. The mayor proceeded that the objection was “invalid and not worthy”, which led to the acclaim of the audiences of the first marriages.
Gay couples are now recognized with the same benefits as heterosexual couples, including joint tax filings, the right to live together and the right to share their financial burden and name in transactions.
Many couples expected a delay, but the court did not want to delay the evaluation of the case. Many exp
ect that more weddings will continue in the coming weeks.
Around 77 people, including choir members and children were killed during a suicide bombing at a Protestant church in northwest Pakistan. According to the locals, it was one of the most vicious attacks the Christian community in history.
The All Saints Church of Pakistan in Peshawar hosts at least 500 people. By the end of the mass, two of the suicide bombers blew themselves up after entering the Church compound from the main gate. A great crowd of people were bloodied from the attack due to the hurling debris and fragments.
Aside from the 77 people who died during the attack, around 120 people were also wounded. The attack was claimed by an offshoot of the Pakistani Taliban, who said that unless drone strikes stop, they will continue to attack non-Muslims. The main Pakistani Taliban did not claim responsibility for the attack and said that it was only an attempt to sabotage the peace talks between the government and the Taliban.
The Church’s Reverend and Bishop of Peshawar, Humphrey S. Peters, condemned the local authorities for its failure to protect minorities from violence. Hundreds of people also took to the streets after the attack, protesting against the lax protection of minority groups.
In Pakistan, around 3% of the total population are Christians. Other minorities in the area were Shiite Muslims, who are targeted by the Sunnis in the country.
US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power accused Russia and Vladimir Putin for holding the United Nations Security Council hostage as it continuously vetoes draft proposals for a Syrian strike by allied nations. She openly said that the Security Council was no longer a “viable path” for ensuring justice and security in the international community.
The United Nations investigation team confirms that sarin gas was indeed used in the suspected chemical attack in Syria. Scientists at the Porton Down research laboratories in the United Kingdom said that traces of the gas were found on the cloth and soil samples.
The United States is currently campaigning on garnering support for a limited military strike in Syria along with France. Britain has stood down from their initial calls for an attack.
Russia and China continue to stand ground. Russian President Vladimir Putin said that he will consider a military strike against Syria if the United States and the United Nations could show evidence that the regime was indeed responsible for the attack.
Power claimed that Putin was holding the United Nations Security Council hostage as the Syrian attack greatly shattered the international norm against the use of chemical weapons in the war. She said that the security council needed to deal with the Syrian crisis is not the existing United Nations Security Council.
A violent stand-off in Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital, has ended with the arrest of a gunman. The gunman in question was shot in the leg by blue-uniform police after a certain politician had tried to disarm him but got shot himself. The politician, Zamurd Khan, is currently in good health and there does not seem to be any threat to his life.
Strangely, the gunman was in his car with a woman and two children when he was stopped for a traffic violation. This apparently set him off as he began firing two weapons indiscriminately and refused to leave the car or give up the arms. The name of the man was revealed simply as Sikandar. The others in the car were said to be his wife and children, who were duly arrested .The children are reported to be in “safe custody”. Media reports quoted the police as saying that the interior ministry gave them orders to prevent any death at all costs.
The whole stand-off shut down a part of central Islamabad, as all the drama was screened live on at least two Pakistani television stations. Various sources have reiterated the fact that police originally stopped the man for driving on the wrong side of the street. The gunman then came out his car and, initially using his wife as an intermediary to pass on notes to police, began swinging around weapons and demanding to see senior officers of the police. The gunman asserted “I am against vulgarity and immorality. My associates have taken up positions in the whole of Pakistan,” as he spoke to a local TV channel while making various other demands. The Twitter platform had seen a lot of strong criticism for some some TV channels for giving him so much publicity, as well as for interviewing him live.
Huge groups of wary onlookers gathered in the central Jinnah Avenue, hearing occasional gunshots resounding in the air. Interestingly, a close neighbour has told TV sources that the gunman’s house had been packed up and that the car at the centre of the stand-off was in fact hired. Various sources have said that security has been tight in Islamabad after police were warned about the possibility of attacks by militants based in tribal areas close to the Afghan border. Armed police are now present at most major access points into the city, which is home to most government buildings and diplomatic missions.
A train that bounced off the tracks in northwest Spain sent into collision four carriages that overturned in the crash. The incident resulted to a confirmed death of 77 passengers, leaving 143 more injured after the incident. Authorities are looking at a speeding angle as the cause of the crash.
The four train carriages pummelled into each other. The force of the crash tore one carriage apart as one of its ends remain exposed after the incident. The accident occurred at 8:42 PM local time as the 218 passenger-carrying train was about to enter the Santiago de Compostela station in Galicia.
Rescue teams have recovered 73 bodies from the crash site. Four seriously injured died in the hospital due to blood loss and nerve damage according to Galicia Regional High Court’s Spokesperson.
Witnesses said that the accident was one of the most brutal accidents Spain ever had. Nearby residents saw a few flying bodies after the crash and a fire before they rushed to help the people trapped inside the carriages.
Authorities speculate that the rushing train derailed due to speeding, but they claim it was too soon to be proven. They have begun an investigation as they uncover the contents of the train’s black box