Category Archives: World

Yemen's Houthis dissolve parliament, assume power: televised statement

Followers of the Houthi movement attend a gathering to show support to the movement outside the Presidential Palace in Sanaa February 4, 2015.  REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

Followers of the Houthi movement attend a gathering to show support to the movement outside the Presidential Palace in Sanaa February 4, 2015.

Credit: Reuters/Khaled Abdullah


(Reuters) – Yemen’s dominant Houthi movement dissolved parliament on Friday and said a new interim assembly and government would be formed, a move denounced by a main political faction as a coup.

Yemen has been in political limbo since President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi and the government of Prime Minister Khaled Bahah resigned last month after the Houthis seized the presidential palace and confined the head of state to his residence in a struggle to tighten control.

Yemen’s instability has drawn international concern as it shares a long border with top world oil exporter Saudi Arabia, and the country is also fighting one of the most formidable branches of al Qaeda with the help of U.S. drone strikes.

The Houthis, who became power brokers when they overran Sanaa in September, had been holding talks with the main political factions trying to agree a way out of the stand-off.

Friday’s declaration suggested that the Houthis had taken on more powers including forming the new parliament and control over the military and security forces.

Some political leaders attended the announcement, which took place at the Presidential Palace. Former interior and defense ministers were also there, indicating that the announcement might have had the blessing of some other political factions.

But this was unlikely to be tolerated by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Sunni Arab allies who eye the Shi’ite Houthis with suspicion for being close to their regional rival Iran.

The new assembly is to elect a five-member interim presidential council to manage Yemeni affairs in a transitional period of up to two years, according to a televised statement.

“What the Houthis have done is political suicide and also a coup that would lead the country into the unknown,” said Nasser al-Noubah, a leader of the southern separatist movement al-Hirak.

Hundreds of protesters took to the streets in the Yemeni city of Taiz to reject the Houthi takeover, eyewitnesses said.

Other main political forces such as the Sunni Islamist Islah party and the Common Front coalition said they were still studying the latest developments and would meet on Saturday to declare their position.

The Houthis had set a Wednesday deadline for political factions to agree a way out of the crisis, otherwise the group would impose its own solution.

Saudi Arabia has suspended most of its financial aid to Yemen, a clear indication of its dissatisfaction with the growing power of the Houthi.

(Additional reporting and writing by Rania El Gamal; Editing by Mark Heinrich)


Source: Newsjyoti World

U.S. measles outbreak prompts vaccine crackdown in New Mexico schools

A measles vaccine is seen at Venice Family Clinic in Los Angeles, California February 5, 2015.  REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

A measles vaccine is seen at Venice Family Clinic in Los Angeles, California February 5, 2015.

Credit: Reuters/Lucy Nicholson


(Reuters) – One of New Mexico’s largest public school districts, spurred by a measles outbreak that has infected about 100 people in California, will start barring unvaccinated students from class unless they have a valid state exemption, the head of the school board said on Friday.

The move by the 14,000-student Santa Fe district came as legislators in California, Oregon and Washington state are considering laws to make it harder for parents legally to opt out of vaccinating school-aged children. Bills in several other states would loosen restrictions.

The Santa Fe district notified parents this week that any students who lack up-to-date vaccinations or bona fide state waivers for medical or religious grounds will be barred from class starting on Feb. 17, board President Steven Carrillo said.

District officials have not determined how many Santa Fe public school children are unvaccinated and how many have already obtained waivers. Some schools are known to be at 100 percent compliance, others at 60 percent, Carrillo said.

The board’s action comes as New Mexico has documented a steady rise in the number of vaccine exemptions obtained by school-aged children during the past two years, up 17 percent from 2012 to 2014 to a total of 3,335 waivers.

Kenny Vigil, a spokesman for the New Mexico Department of Health, said the total still represents less than 1 percent of school-aged children statewide, though the department has voiced concern over the trend.

“An increase in vaccination exemptions can increase the risk for outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases, such as measles,” the department says on its website.

Only one case of measles has been confirmed in New Mexico so far this winter, an unvaccinated baby who was hospitalized with the highly contagious disease in December and has since recovered, Vigil said. It was the first case since 2012.

The origin of the child’s infection is unknown, he said, but the case was unrelated to the California outbreak because the onset occurred in late November, before the first infection in California’s Disneyland is believed to have occurred.

Even so, “the impetus (for Santa Fe’s action) was obviously the measles outbreak in California,” Carrillo said, adding that other New Mexico districts would likely follow suit.

California public health officials report 99 people have been diagnosed with measles in the state, many of them linked to exposure to an infected person from outside the country who visited Disneyland in late December.

More than a dozen other cases have been confirmed in 19 other U.S. states and Mexico, renewing debate over the anti-vaccination movement. Fears about potential side effects of vaccines, debunked by the medical community, have led a small minority of parents to refuse to have their children vaccinated.

In Santa Monica, California, a toddler and infant center that was closed after one baby came down with the virus reopened on Friday under the caveat that all staff and returning children provide proof of inoculation. Fourteen infants deemed too young to be vaccinated must stay home, a spokeswoman said.

(Reporting by Steve Gorman; Editing by Leslie Adler and Dan Grebler)


Source: Newsjyoti USA

U.S. judge rejects third request to move Boston bombing trial

(Reuters) – A U.S. judge on Friday rejected a third request by lawyers for the accused Boston Marathon bomber to move his trial out of the city, saying the jury selection process had been successful so far in identifying potential impartial jurors.

Attorneys for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 21, who is accused of carrying out the largest mass-casualty attack on U.S. soil since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, have repeatedly sought to move the trial out of Boston. They have contended that too many potential jurors had a personal connection to the April 15, 2013 attack that killed three people and injured 264.

The jury selection process, which wrapped up its fifth week on Friday, has shown a number of candidates with direct ties to the event, including a man married to a nurse who tended to the wounded, as well as others who were locked down in their homes during a manhunt for Tsarnaev three days after the attack.

Still, of the more than 150 potential jurors so far brought in for questioning at U.S. District Court in Boston, a process known as “voir dire,” some have been suitable, the judge said.

“The voir dire process is successfully identifying potential jurors who are capable of serving as fair and impartial jurors in this case,” U.S. District Judge George O’Toole wrote in his ruling on Friday.

“That the voir dire process has been time-consuming is not an indication that a proper jury cannot be selected for this case,” O’Toole added. “It is rather in the main a consequence of the careful inquiry that the court and counsel are making into the suitability of prospective jurors.”

Of the 1,350 people who were brought in early last month to fill out questionnaires, a minimum of 64 need to qualify for the final pool from which a panel of 12 jurors and six alternates will be selected.

Adding to the challenge is the fact that Tsarnaev could face the death penalty if convicted by a federal jury. Massachusetts state law does not allow for capital punishment and it remains unpopular in the state, a fact that has also been made clear by the jury selection process.

Prosecutors contend that Tsarnaev and his older brother, Tamerlan, placed bombs at the race’s crowded finish line and three days later shot dead a police officer as they prepared to flee the city. Tamerlan died that night, following a gun battle with police.

(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Dan Grebler)


Source: Newsjyoti USA

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Source: Reuters

Detroit man with marathon walking commute surprised with new car

Detroit resident James Robertson reacts next to the 2015 red Ford Taurus sedan he was surprised with as a free gift at the Suburban Ford dealership in Sterling Heights, Michigan, February 6, 2015.  REUTERS/Rebecca Cook


(Reuters) – A Detroit factory worker who has walked more than 20 miles (32 km) during his daily commute to work for a decade was surprised on Friday with a brand new car, donated by a suburban car dealership.

The unexpected gift is the latest in an outpouring of donations from supporters across the globe who, touched by James Robertson’s plight, have raised more than $310,000 to help him buy a car.

Robertson has told the Detroit Free Press that his car broke down a decade ago and, making $10.55 an hour, he has been unable to save for a new one.

“I don’t like it, I love it,” said Robertson, 56, who appeared baffled as he sat behind the wheel of his 2015 red Ford Taurus. “If only my parents could see me now.”

Robertson thought he was going to look at cars to purchase with Evan Leedy and Blake Pollock, who both helped coordinate the gift, worth an estimated $37,000.

Instead Robertson was greeted by reporters and a team of supporters who first learned of his marathon commute this week in a story that ran in the Sunday Detroit Free Press.

The story has since been widely shared on social media, and Robertson has been featured on national network news programs. The publicity has prompted a renewed discussion about reforming Metro Detroit’s troubled public transportation system.

Leedy, 19, a student at Wayne State University, launched an online GoFundMe.com fundraiser after he read about Robertson’s daily trek between his home in Detroit and the Schain Mold & Engineering factory in the suburb of Rochester Hills.

He spent part of the week negotiating a reasonable insurance rate for Robertson, who has not driven in 10 years. Leedy told Reuters he was initially quoted a $15,000-a-year premium, a quote that illustrates Detroit’s notoriously high insurance rates.

The Free Press was tipped off by Pollock, a banker who had befriended Robertson two years ago when he spotted the factory worker walking by his office on his way to work.

The newspaper said Robertson takes buses to work, but has to walk more than 20 miles round trip because buses do not cover the whole route. He starts his commute at 8 a.m. for his 2-10 p.m. shift, and does not get home until 4 a.m.

He has perfect attendance at his job, the Free Press said.

(Editing by Fiona Ortiz and Mohammad Zargham)


Source: Newsjyoti USA

U.N. sets sights on Syria antiquities, Islamic State oil, ransoms

(Reuters) – The United Nations Security Council appears set to ban all trade in antiquities from war-torn Syria and threaten sanctions on anyone buying oil from Islamic State and al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front militants or paying kidnap ransoms to the groups.

The United States worked with its veto-wielding counterparts on the council – Russia, China, Britain and France – to draft a resolution that was to be circulated to the remaining members of the 15-nation council on Friday, a U.S. official said.

Russia initially suggested the council ratchet up pressure on Islamic State, also known by one acronym as ISIL, diplomats said.

“We’re relatively bullish, we think that it is going to enjoy the support of the council,” said a U.S. official familiar with the discussions on the resolution, which he said aimed to “degrade ISIL’s ability to raise funds, to move funds.”

The official added that it was hoped the council could vote as soon as next week. The draft text, obtained by Reuters, seeks to build on previous resolutions on terrorism financing.

It would ban all trade in antiquities from Syria and reaffirms a similar ban imposed by the council on Iraqi artifacts about a decade ago.

The draft expresses concern that Islamic State, al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front and other groups are generating income from the illicit antiquities trade “which is being used to support their recruitment efforts and strengthen their operational capability to organize and carry out terrorist attacks.”

The resolution is under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which makes it legally binding and gives the council authority to enforce decisions with economic sanctions or force. However, it does not authorize using military force.

According to a U.N. report in November, Islamic State has been plundering antiquities in Syria and Iraq and there was also evidence that the group encourages the looting and subsequent smuggling of antiquities and then taxes the looters. But it said it was very difficult to estimate how much money was generated.

It also said Islamic State raises several million dollars a month from illegal taxation and approximately $96,000 to $123,000 per day from ransom payments, while estimated revenue from crude oil ranged between $846,000 to $1.6 million a day.

However, the Pentagon has said it assessed that oil was no longer the main source of revenue for Islamic State. Western diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity, have said this was due to air strikes on oil installations and a plunge in oil prices that has affected black market prices as well.

The draft resolution calls on states to consider appropriate measures to prevent the smuggling of weapons, in particular portable surface-to-air missiles, to Islamic State, Nusra Front and other al Qaeda-linked groups.

The council would also push states to take steps to stop the use of aircraft, cars and trucks to smuggle oil, precious metals, grain, livestock, electronics, and cigarettes for international sale or to barter for weapons.

The draft resolution requires states to report back in 90 days on measures they have taken to comply with the resolution.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Tom Brown)


Source: Newsjyoti World

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Source: Reuters

Top court says Canadians have right to die, strikes down ban

Lee Carter (L) embraces her husband Hollis Johnson while speaking to journalists at the Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa February 6, 2015. Carter's mother, Kay Carter, traveled to Switzerland to end her life in 2010. REUTERS/Chris Wattie


(Reuters) – The Supreme Court of Canada overturned a ban on physician-assisted suicide on Friday, unanimously reversing a decision it made in 1993 and putting Canada in the company of a handful of Western countries to make it legal.

The top court said mentally competent, consenting adults who have intolerable physical or psychological suffering from a severe and incurable medical condition have the right to a doctor’s help to die. The illness does not have to be terminal. The decision takes effect in 12 months.

“We do not agree that the existential formulation of the right to life requires an absolute prohibition on assistance in dying, or that individuals cannot ‘waive’ their right to life,” the court said.

Friday’s decision rejected the argument by Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government that the ban should remain intact. The case related to two women with debilitating illnesses who have since died.

Gloria Taylor, an activist who had a neuro-degenerative disease, joined the right to die lawsuit in 2011 and died of her illness in 2012.

The family of a second woman, Kay Carter, who traveled to Switzerland to end her life, was also a plaintiff. Assisted suicide is legal in Switzerland, along with Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands and a handful of U.S. states.

LAST RULING IN 1993

Canada’s Supreme Court ruled narrowly, 5-4, against assisted suicide in 1993. It agreed last year to take another look.

The sole judge left on the court from the last time is Beverley McLachlin, now chief justice, and she supported assisted suicide then.

“This is one incredible day,” said Grace Pastine, litigation director of B.C. Civil Liberties Association, which initiated the challenge.

“Physician-assisted dying is now recognized for what it is: a medical service that brings an end, for some individuals, to unbearable suffering.”

Parliament can overturn the court’s ruling, using a rarely used constitutional clause, but that is an unlikely outcome.

The Canadian government said it would study the decision and gave no indication whether it would oppose it.

The 9-0 ruling was the latest defeat for the government before the Supreme Court, where the prime minister has sought to appoint more conservative judges. Harper has appointed seven of the nine judges since taking office in 2006.

Last year, the court blocked Harper’s plans to introduce elections to the Senate and term limits for senators. In 2013, it struck down Canada’s restrictions on adult prostitution as unconstitutional, over the government’s objections. Both decisions were unanimous.

OCTOBER ELECTION ISSUE?

Canadian parliamentarians, heading into a federal election in October, will have a year to implement a regulatory framework. The government can also do nothing and simply allow the court ruling to come into effect in 12 months’ time.

Parliament has previously rejected several attempts to legalize physician-assisted suicide through bills brought by its members.

Religious groups and organizations representing disabled people had opposed any relaxation of the ban, arguing that this would make them vulnerable to being killed.

“This ruling has made it clear that people with disabilities are being targeted and invited to end their lives,” said Taylor Hyatt, who has cerebral palsy and spoke from a wheelchair in the Supreme Court foyer. “There’s an assumption that your life is unbearable and there’s nothing good in it.”

Others, such as quadriplegic Conservative Member of Parliament Steven Fletcher, argued that they should have the choice.

“There does need to be some criminal code provision, I think, to prevent abuse. I don’t want people, because they have a bad hair day, to get their car mechanic to take them down,” Fletcher said in the lobby of the court on Friday.

“We want to make sure that we move forward quickly, but thoughtfully, and the Supreme Court has really given us a clear path.”

Fletcher said to avoid the matter becoming an election issue, it should be dealt with in the current session of Parliament which ends in June before politicians take to the hustings.

It is too early to know if Canada will become a suicide tourism destination, like Switzerland, said Right to Die Society of Canada president Ruth von Fuchs. She said it was unclear whether Canadian law would allow the practice for non-residents.

Allowance for those suffering unbearable psychological pain is not unique, von Fuchs said. It was included in a bill passed last summer by the Canadian province of Quebec, for example, and Switzerland allows assisted suicide for people suffering debilitating mental illness, though it is uncommon.

The case is Carter v. Canada (Attorney General), 2015 SCC 5.

(Additional reporting by Susan Taylor and Allison Martell in Toronto; Editing by Amran Abocar and Howard Goller)


Source: Newsjyoti World

Atlanta police respond to fight between singer Bobby Brown's relatives

(Reuters) – Two relatives of singer Bobby Brown, whose daughter with Whitney Houston is said to be fighting for her life in Atlanta after being found unresponsive in a bathtub, got into a fight early Friday at a downtown hotel in the city, police said.

Officers were called to the W Hotel at about 1 a.m. after one of Brown’s family members, Tina Brown, hit another relative, Shayne Brown, in the head with a bottle, Atlanta police spokeswoman Kim Jones said.

Shayne Brown suffered cuts and drove himself to the hospital, and Tina Brown left the scene before the police arrived, according to Jones. No charges have been filed.

Police did not say how the family members are related to Bobby Brown.

Brown, a Grammy Award winner who began his career as front man for the R&B group New Edition, has been seen outside Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, where his only child with late pop star Houston has been reported to be receiving care.

Bobbi Kristina Brown, 21, was found face down in a bathtub on Saturday in her suburban Atlanta home, police said, nearly three years after her famous mother drowned in a hotel bathtub in Beverly Hills, California.

Houston, a six-time Grammy Award winner and actress who battled substance abuse, was 48 when she died on Feb. 11, 2012. Authorities said cocaine use and heart disease contributed to her death.

A family source on Thursday denied media reports that Bobbi Kristina Brown had been taken off life support or declared brain dead.

(Reporting by David Beasley; Additional reporting and writing by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Eric Beech)


Source: Newsjyoti USA

Islamic State says female U.S. hostage killed in Syria

(Reuters) – The Islamic State militant group said on Friday that an American female hostage it was holding in Syria had been killed when Jordanian fighter jets hit a building where she was being held, the SITE monitoring group said.

In Washington, U.S. officials said they could not confirm that the woman, who has been identified as Kayla Mueller, had been killed. Reuters also could not immediately confirm the report.

Islamic State has executed five British and American aid workers and journalists in recent months.

A representative in the United States of Mueller’s family said the family had no information on Islamic State’s statement that she had been killed.

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters during a briefing in Washington that “I cannot confirm those reports in any way.”

“We have said that there are a number of Americans being held overseas, including still by the Islamic State. I’m not going to get into further details than that,” Harf added.

“We are obviously deeply concerned by these reports. We have not at this time seen any evidence that corroborates ISIL’s claim,” Bernadette Meehan, spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council, said in a statement, using an acronym for the group.

Islamic State’s claim comes just days after the group released a video on Tuesday appearing to show a captured Jordanian pilot, Mouath al-Kasaesbeh, being burned alive in a cage.

(Reporting by Mariam Karouny and Susan Heavey; Writing by Will Dunham; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Eric Beech)


Source: Newsjyoti World