Category Archives: World

Professor among the two dead in University of South Carolina shooting

(Reuters) – A University of South Carolina professor died of multiple gunshot wounds to his upper body after being shot in Thursday’s apparent murder-suicide in a campus building in downtown Columbia, a coroner said on Friday.

Dr. Raja Fayad, 45, appeared to be the victim in the incident, Richland County Coroner Gary Watts said. The likely shooter, also dead, will be identified after that person’s family is notified, Watts added.

“All indications are the incident was a murder-suicide with the individuals involved having a history together,” Watts said in a statement.

Fayad was an associate professor of applied physiology who served as graduate director at the university’s Arnold School of Public Health. University officials told the coroner that Fayad was born in Lebanon.

He was found on Thursday afternoon in a fourth-floor office at the school’s research building, police said. The shooting, which occurred just blocks from the state capitol and governor’s office, put the campus of about 30,000 students on lockdown for around an hour.

Classes were canceled for Friday at the public health school, and student leaders planned to hold a memorial candlelight vigil.

“The sun is out this morning,” university President Harris Pastides said on Twitter. “Let’s honor Professor Fayad with respect. Show someone that we care.”

Fayad had been at the university since 2008, according to the school. He graduated from the Aleppo University School of Medicine in Syria in 1995, according to university documents, and was a specialist in colon cancer research.

(Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Will Dunham)

Source: Newsjyoti USA

UAE sees no defeat of Islamic State without Iraq's Sunnis: Etihad paper

Smoke raises behind an Islamic State flag after Iraqi security forces and Shiite fighters took control of Saadiya in Diyala province from Islamist State militants, November 24, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer

Smoke raises behind an Islamic State flag after Iraqi security forces and Shiite fighters took control of Saadiya in Diyala province from Islamist State militants, November 24, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Stringer

(Reuters) – The United Arab Emirates pulled out of U.S.-led air strikes on Islamic State positions partly because it thought they could not succeed without a push to arm Sunni Muslim tribes in Iraq, a newspaper close to the government said on Friday.

The UAE’s decision to withdraw its planes, reported by U.S. officials after a Jordanian pilot was shot down over Iraq on Dec. 24, raised fears that regional support for the coalition air campaign might be slipping.

The UAE has not commented on the reports of its decision but U.S. officials said it was concerned about pilots’ safety — Islamic State released a video this week purporting to show it burning Jordan’s First Lieutenant Mouath al-Kasaesbeh to death.

Al-Etihad newspaper said on Friday that was only part of the reasoning.

“The other important part behind the UAE’s reservation … was its discontent with the coalition which has not kept its promise in supporting the Sunnis in Anbar, not preparing them, equipping them and arming them to take part in the war against Daesh,” the newspaper’s editor-in-chief, Mohammed al-Hammadi, wrote in an editorial.

“Neither the air strikes nor the media war are enough to defeat Daesh,” said the paper, using a pejorative Arabic acronym for Islamic State.

Etihad reported that UAE officials had brought up their concerns about the failure to arm Sunni tribes at a meeting of countries supporting the coalition in London

“The UAE said: ‘the main point is what we have expressed in the last London conference — coalition against Daesh — about the continuation of not empowering the Sunni tribes in Anbar province despite the promises to do so’,” the paper reported.

It did not give any details on the source of its information.

Tribes in Iraq’s western Anbar province, which borders Jordan, Syria and Saudi Arabia, are divided. Some have chosen to join the hardline Sunni Muslim fighters of Islamic State, while others are fighting the group.

The fall of large parts of Anbar province to Islamic State poses a major security risks for its neighbors.

The United States has said the coalition includes more than 60 countries, carrying out various tasks, including military attacks, humanitarian support, propaganda and cracking down on Islamic State’s finances.

Washington says Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan and Bahrain have also participated in or supported air strikes in Syria. Australia, Britain, Canada and France have joined U.S. operations against Islamic State targets in Iraq.

(Reporting by Rania El Gamal; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

Source: Newsjyoti World

District of Columbia seeks to limit homeless access to rooms

(Reuters) – The District of Columbia is seeking a court order to allow the U.S. capital to put homeless families in shelters on cold nights rather than comply with a judge’s ruling that it provide them with individual rooms.

The emergency motion from Mayor Muriel Bowser’s administration filed late on Thursday said Washington was within a day of running out of space for families in hotel rooms.

“This imbalance is ongoing; the situation is dire and growing more so,” said the motion filed in District of Columbia Superior Court.

The filing underscores the plight of the homeless in the U.S. capital, which takes 10 to 12 new families into shelters each night when the temperature falls below freezing.

Washington is among a handful of U.S. jurisdictions where the government is legally obligated to provide shelter on cold nights.

An influx of newcomers has put the city’s population at a level not seen in decades and sent the cost of housing soaring for many residents, exacerbating the homeless problem.

The city’s Department of Human Services has more than 800 families in emergency shelter, which includes space at a disused hospital and other sites. The District of Columbia places 50 homeless families in shelter a week, while only 10 leave it, the court filing said.

As of Thursday, the U.S. capital had 66 days of below-freezing temperatures, 31 of them in a row, it said.

Superior Court Judge Robert Tignor ordered the city in March to begin vacating recreation centers that had been partitioned as shelters for families. He ruled that families should each be given a separate room.

In the filing, Bowser’s administration warned that it “will soon be unable to comply with the Court’s injunction, despite its diligent, good-faith, and ongoing efforts.”

The city has agreements with hotels to provide a total of 370 rooms. The Department of Human Services estimates the cost of supporting homeless families at more than $12 million in the current fiscal year, the document said.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Eric Beech)

Source: Newsjyoti USA

U.S. states probe massive data breach at health insurer Anthem

People enter the office building of health insurer Anthem in Los Angeles, California February 5, 2015.   REUTERS/Gus Ruelas

People enter the office building of health insurer Anthem in Los Angeles, California February 5, 2015.

Credit: Reuters/Gus Ruelas

(Reuters) – Several U.S. states are investigating a massive cyberattack on No. 2 U.S. health insurer Anthem Inc that a person familiar with the matter said is being examined for possible ties to China.

Anthem disclosed the attack late Wednesday, saying unknown hackers had penetrated a database with some 80 million records. The insurer said it suspected they had stolen information belonging to tens of millions of current and former customers as well as employees.

Attorneys general of Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Arkansas and North Carolina are looking into the breach, according to representatives of their offices and internal documents. California’s Department of Insurance said it will review Anthem’s response to the data attack.

Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen asked Anthem Chief Executive Joseph Swedish to provide by March 4 detailed information about the cyberattack, the company’s security practices and privacy policies, according to a letter obtained by Reuters on Thursday.

“We hope and expect to work in close coordination with other attorneys general,” said Jaclyn Falkowski, a spokeswoman for Jepsen.

A source familiar with the probe told Reuters that a possible connection to China was being investigated, and the Wall Street Journal reported that people close to the investigation say some tools and techniques used against Anthem were similar to ones used in previous attacks linked to China.

The origin of cyber attacks is difficult to determine, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Hong Lei, said on Friday.

“Such careless identification of the relevant attacker clearly is unreasonable,” Hong told a news briefing in Beijing.

Late on Wednesday, the FBI said it was looking into the matter but did not discuss suspects.

“As far as China being involved, I don’t know,” said FBI spokesman Paul Bresson. “I don’t think we know yet. Our investigation is ongoing.”

On Friday, Anthem officials are scheduled to brief the House Energy and Commerce Committee on the breach.

“This latest intrusion into patients’ personal information underscores the increasing magnitude and evolving nature of cyber crimes,” Fred Upton, the committee’s chairman, said in a statement. “Every business is at risk and American consumers are anxious.”

President Barack Obama’s cybersecurity adviser, Michael Daniel, speaking at a seminar in Washington, called the data breach “quite concerning” and warned consumers to change their passwords and monitor their credit scores.

Connecticut has worked with other states to investigate some of the biggest U.S. data breaches reported to date, including ones at retailers Target Corp and Home Depot Inc. The office of Connecticut’s attorney general said Anthem has agreed to two years of credit monitoring for customers there.

A representative for New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman declined to say whether he planned to work with Connecticut but noted his office had contacted Anthem to discuss protecting its customers in the wake of the data breach.

A representative with FireEye Inc, which was investigating the attack on behalf of Anthem, declined comment.

(Reporting by Karen Freifeld. Additional reporting by Caroline Humer, Jim Finkle, Joseph Menn and Deena Beasley, and Michael Martina in BEIJING; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn, Steve Orlofsky, Ken Wills and Clarence Fernandez)

Source: Newsjyoti USA

Sixty-one bodies found in abandoned crematorium in Mexico

(Reuters) – Sixty-one bodies were discovered in an abandoned crematorium near the decaying seaside resort of Acapulco in Western Mexico, local authorities said on Friday, adding they believed it was a case of negligence rather than linked to drug violence.

The bodies, wrapped in sheets with most of them in a state of decomposition, were found 130 miles (211 km) from the town of Iguala, where 43 student teachers were abducted by corrupt police and apparently massacred by drug gang members.

President Enrique Pena Nieto is facing his deepest crisis over his government’s handling of the students’ disappearance. The case laid bare Mexico’s deep problem of impunity and corruption and it has overshadowed his efforts to focus attention on economic reforms.

(Reporting by Lizbeth Diaz and Alexandra Alper; Editing by Simon Gardner and Bernadette Baum)

Source: Newsjyoti World

Egyptian military kills 27 militants in the Sinai

(Reuters) – Military air strikes killed 27 Islamic militants in Egypt’s Northern Sinai on Friday in one of the biggest security operations in the region in months, security sources said.

Apache helicopters targeted militants from the Sinai Province group, which pledges allegiance to Islamic State, the ultra-hardline militants who have seized swathes of Iraq and Syria, the sources said.

Sinai Province, fighting to topple the Cairo government, has claimed responsibility for coordinated attacks that killed more than 30 members of the security forces in late January.

After that bloodshed, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi told Egyptians the country faced a long, tough battle against militants.

Sinai-based militants have killed hundreds of soldiers and police since then army chief Sisi toppled president Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood in mid-2013 after mass protests against his rule.

A security crackdown on Brotherhood supporters — hundreds were killed in the streets and thousands arrested — has weakened the group.

On Friday, Brotherhood supporters and security forces clashed in the Cairo suburb of Matariya, the state news agency reported.

Eighteen people were killed in the Brotherhood strongold during the January 25 anniversary of the start of the 2011 uprising that ousted autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

Egyptian authorities have also jailed liberal activists, including some that gained prominence in the 2011 popular uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak, on charges of violating a law that effectively bans protests.

(Writing by Michael Georgy; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

Source: Newsjyoti World

German, French leaders head for Moscow to press for Ukraine peace

Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko (C) shakes hands with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande during their meeting in Kiev, February 5, 2015.  REUTERS/Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Mikhail Palinchak/Handout via Reuters

(Reuters) – The leaders of Germany and France are expected to take peace proposals to Moscow on Friday on the second leg of a dramatic initiative to end a conflict in Ukraine that has killed more than 5,000 people and driven Russia-West relations to new lows.

The planned trip by Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Francois Hollande to see Russia’s Vladimir Putin on Friday evening follows five hours of late-night talks with Ukrainian leader Petro Poroshenko in snow-bound Kiev on Thursday.

Back in their respective capitals in between, Hollande called the talks “the first step”, while Merkel said it was unclear whether the meeting in Moscow would secure a ceasefire.

Their initiative follows fierce fighting and territorial gains in eastern Ukraine by Russian-backed separatists since a peace blueprint was agreed in Belarus in September.

The Ukrainian military reported that two more soldiers had been killed in the past 24 hours in the east, with 26 wounded.

The growing military pressure has shaken the Ukrainian economy and driven a debate over the possibility of the United States providing Kiev’s hard-pressed army with arms.

Merkel said she and Hollande were not on the road as neutral mediators but were representing European interests. “These interests are peace, maintaining Europe’s peaceful order.”

A statement on Poroshenko’s website said the sides had expressed the hope that “Russia had an interest in” a peaceful settlement of the conflict.

For Moscow’s part, Russia’s ambassador to France Alexander Orlov told Europe 1 radio there was an urgent need to avoid war. “I wouldn’t say it’s a last chance meeting, but it’s not far off,” he said.

Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert said there “was no sign whatsoever” of a breakthrough so far.

The Ukrainian presidential statement said he and the German, and French leaders had called for a quick ceasefire, the withdrawal of foreign forces from Ukraine, the pull-back of heavy weapons and equipment, the closure of the border and the release of all prisoners.

On the ground, the rebels are advancing on a railway hub held by Ukrainian troops, who are almost encircled.

A collapse in Ukraine’s hryvnia currency further highlighted the importance of reaching a deal. It lost nearly a third of its value on Thursday after the central bank halted daily auctions at which it sold hard currency to banks.

Though details of the peace deal were under wraps, much might depend on whether Ukraine is being pressed to acknowledge existing front lines as the new negotiating reality – and whether Kiev would accept this.

German government sources said on Thursday the key problem for resuming peace talks was that current front lines no longer tally with what was agreed at talks in Minsk, Belarus, last year.

One idea was that a new attempt at a ceasefire should take in the current front lines, which reflect rebel gains, without Kiev having to give up its claim to these areas as part of the Ukrainian state. 

German government sources continued to say however on Friday that the Minsk talks last September were still the basis for negotiations – the view also of Kiev, France and the United States.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk said on Thursday that Kiev would not consider any peace plan that cast doubt on the nation’s territorial integrity, sovereignty or independence.

NATO says Russia has provided vital support to the rebels in the shape of weapons, funds and troops, something denied by Moscow.

Speaking on BBC radio on Friday, Ukraine’s ambassador at large, Dmytro Kuleba, said: “What was discussed yesterday is not a new peace plan actually, it is a set of steps that will allow to implement the existing peace plan and that is the Minsk agreement signed back in September also by Russia.

“We are not speaking about a completely new initiative. It is a set of steps and decisions that will allow to implement commitments already undertaken,” he said.

Speaking after meeting Poroshenko in Kiev on Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Washington supported diplomacy, but would “not close our eyes” to Russian tanks and troops crossing the border.

U.S. President Barack Obama will decide soon whether to provide Ukraine with lethal weapons to fight the separatists, Kerry said.

Asked by Europe 1 to react to reports of possible U.S. arms supplies to Ukraine, Russia’s ambassador to France Orlov said: “We are not afraid of that but it would be madness because that would be like pouring oil on the fire.”

The rebels have been concentrating on Debaltseve, a rail hub northeast of the big city of Donetsk, where a government garrison has held out despite being nearly encircled.

A temporary truce appeared to be in force around the town on Friday as convoys of buses converged from two sides to allow civilians to be evacuated. Ukrainian authorities said, however, that their forces remained in full control of the town.

A Reuters correspondent who reached Debaltseve with the rebel convoy of buses saw several homes peppered with splinters and shell holes. North of the town there was the sound of sporadic artillery in the distance, but otherwise there was no firing.

(Additional reporting by Natalia Zinets in Kiev, Aleksandar Vasovic in Horlivka, Kylie MacLellan in London and Marine Pennetier and Elizabeth Pineau and John Irish in Paris; writing By Richard Balmforth; editing by Philippa Fletcher)

Source: Newsjyoti World

Troubled overhaul of NYC's 911 system $700 million over budget: WSJ

(Reuters) – An overhaul of New York City’s 911 system has cost at least $700 million more than expected and suffered years of delays caused by mismanagement, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.

The modernization project was launched in 2004 under former mayor Michael Bloomberg to address failings in the emergency system experienced during the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks and a 2003 blackout in the U.S. Northeast, the Journal said.

Current Mayor Bill de Blasio ordered a review of the project by the New York City Department of Investigation and DOI Commissioner Mark Peters said in a preliminary report in August that the program had “suffered from significant mismanagement which at times was nothing short of governmental malpractice.”

Citing the DOI’s final report, due to be released on Friday, the Wall Street Journal said senior program managers had exaggerated their progress to the Bloomberg administration and officials had failed to properly oversee contractors.

DOI representatives did not immediately respond to request for comment.

(Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

Source: Newsjyoti USA

Low oil prices have yet to rattle North Dakota small businesses

Baristas Jennifer Greiner (L) and Whitney Carson prepare for Friday's grand opening at the Lantern Coffee Company in Williston, North Dakota, February 5, 2015. REUTERS/Ernest Scheyder

Baristas Jennifer Greiner (L) and Whitney Carson prepare for Friday’s grand opening at the Lantern Coffee Company in Williston, North Dakota, February 5, 2015.

Credit: Reuters/Ernest Scheyder

(Reuters) – Even as plunging crude oil prices fuel anxiety in North Dakota, small business owners in the No. 2 U.S. oil producing state say they are confident that demand for their products and services will remain strong enough to keep things humming.

North Dakota’s oil patch has been one of the faster-growing U.S. regions. Small businesses employ three-fifths of the state’s private workforce, about 195,000 people, with food service and construction among the larger employers, according to data from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

While big oil companies grab the most headlines out of the state, much of the local economy still relies on hotel owners, plumbers, contractors and other small businesses, said Mike Gallagher, manager of the SBA’s North Dakota district.

“There’s a note of caution right now around oil prices, but many know the trends: things go down and things go up,” Gallagher said. “I haven’t found anyone that’s alarmed.”

New coffee shops, restaurants and health food stores have recently opened or are set to open in Williston, capital of the state’s oil boom. Roughly 78 percent of North Dakota’s small businesses that opened in 2013 were still around in 2014, SBA data show.

“Even if oil prices continue to fall, I think people will still treat themselves to a good cup of coffee,” said Louise Skaare, manager of Lantern Coffee Company, a niche affair opening Friday with a menu anchored by ristretto and cortado.

At first blush, organic food store Fresh Palate appears out of place in hard-scrabble Williston, selling gluten-free biscotti, dairy-free pepper jack cheese and organic baby powder suffused with probiotics.

“We saw a need for this type of store here,” said co-owner Lacey Dixon, a Williston native who opened Fresh Palate in December. “So I’m not nervous at all about the oil price.”

To be sure, the new businesses open during a difficult time for a region so linked to oil, with crude prices down about 50 percent since June. Layoffs are happening at companies both large and small, though more than 2,000 jobs are still waiting to be filled.

The number of job openings shows the labor market remains tight. Skaare plans to close Lantern Coffee at 5:30 p.m. each day because she cannot find enough staff.

Culvers, a privately held restaurant chain that competes with McDonald’s, held a job fair last month to find 100 employees. It still has jobs to fill before opening later this month.

“This oil price dip is going to have an impact, but it’ll just be short term,” said Rob Woodling, who is franchising the restaurant with his wife, Casandra. “Williston has developed enough of an infrastructure to support itself.”

Qdoba, a Mexican chain owned by Jack in the Box Inc, is looking for workers ahead of an early March opening. Red Wing Shoe Co, the privately held work boot manufacturer, is looking for a manager for a new Williston store.

“I’m not worried about oil prices at all,” said Chris Duell, a Little Caesars franchisee who plans to open by April if his contractor can get enough staff to finish renovations. “Pizza sells, no matter what.”

(Reporting by Ernest Scheyder; Editing by Terry Wade and David Gregorio)

Source: Newsjyoti USA

Celebrated Los Angeles school food executive removed from job

(Reuters) – A Los Angeles school food executive, who took salt and fat out of school meals and was praised by U.S. first lady Michelle Obama, has been removed from his job, officials said in a brief statement on Thursday.

David Binkle, Los Angeles Unified School District food services director, had been “temporarily reassigned” pending an investigation into a “confidential personnel matter”, the district statement said.

The Los Angeles Times, citing a draft report from the inspector general’s office, said that Binkle failed to report ownership interests in a food consulting firm, mismanaged the school system’s $500,000 yearly marketing budget, and had not disclosed payments from suppliers to attend conferences.

Representatives for the district could not be reached to provide additional details.

Binkle could not be reached, but told the LA Times by email, “I have done nothing wrong and have nothing to hide since my actions were approved and encouraged from senior district officials, general counsel or the ethics office.”

“I am confident the truth and facts will show the allegations are unsubstantiated,” he said.

Binkle was spotlighted by Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move youth health initiative last year for exceeding school nutrition standards in the country’s second largest school system.

(Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Editing by Louise Ireland)

Source: Newsjyoti USA