28 February 2015

New Zealand edge past Australia, India thrash UAE at World Cup

New Zealand's Brendon McCullum plays a shot during against Australia at Eden Park in Auckland on February 28, 2015New Zealand reached the World Cup quarter-finals with a nail-biting one-wicket win over Australia in Auckland on Saturday, while 5,500km away in Perth India destroyed the amateurs of the UAE by nine wickets. New Zealand carved out a fourth win in four games in Pool A but, in pursuit of just 152 and sitting comfortably at 78 for one, the Black Caps were crippled by sudden stage-fright as their next eight wickets fell for just 68 runs with 40,000 fans at Eden Park on the edge of their seats.


28 February 2015

Lesotho snap poll under way six months after coup bid bid

A resident casts her ballot for the parliamentary elections at a voting station on the outskirts of Lesotho's capital Maseru on February 28, 2015Voters in the southern African mountain kingdom of Lesotho went to the polls Saturday in a snap election, six months after an alleged coup bid plunged the country into a political crisis. Voting got underway at 0500 GMT at more than 2,000 polling stations across the landlocked nation, which is completely surrounded by South Africa. Lesotho has been mired in a political crisis since Prime Minister Thomas Thabane suspended parliament in June 2014 to avoid a motion that would have seen him ousted from power after his fragile coalition government fell apart. Thabane described the violence as a coup attempt fuelled by the opposition and fled to neighbouring South Africa.


28 February 2015

Mugabe turns 91 with million-dollar birthday bash

Robert Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980, is the world's oldest leaderZimbabwean President Robert Mugabe on Saturday will celebrate his 91st birthday with a million-dollar bash attended by thousands of faithful party supporters. As elephants are slaughtered for the feast at a luxury hotel in Zimbabwe's famed Victoria Falls, critics are questioning the scale of the festivities, calling them "obscene" in a country where millions live in poverty. Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980, is the world's oldest leader. Mugabe's violent seizure of white-owned farms triggered food shortages and hyper-inflation, while Europe and the United States imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe over elections seen as rigged.


28 February 2015

Nemtsov urged end to Ukraine conflict hours before killing

Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov served as deputy premier in the late 1990sThree hours before his death, Boris Nemtsov gave an interview to a Moscow radio station, condemning President Vladimir Putin's actions in Ukraine and calling for an end to the conflict. In a 45-minute live interview on the popular Echo of Moscow station, Nemtsov urged listeners to take part in an opposition rally in Moscow on Sunday. Nemtsov had said the rally would demand "an immediate end to the war in Ukraine," backing the Western view, denied by the Kremlin, that Russian troops are engaged in the fighting between Ukrainian forces and pro-Moscow separatists.


28 February 2015

Drone raid 'kills three Qaeda militants in Yemen'

The United States has described the Yemen-based 'Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) as the deadliest branch of the global extremist networkA drone strike Saturday killed three Al-Qaeda militants in Yemen, a tribal source said, in a region where the United States is the only country operating the unmanned aircraft. The raid "targeted a vehicle in which three members of Al-Qaeda were riding in the village of Bijan, in Shabwa province," the source said. Yemen has descended into chaos since a Shiite militia overran the capital in September. The Huthi militia effectively placed President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi under house arrest in January but last week he escaped to the southern city of Aden.


28 February 2015

Indonesia's stance 'clear' on Australians' executions: Widodo

Australian drug smugglers Andrew Chan (front) and Myuran Sukumaran (back) were found guilty of trying to traffic heroin out of Indonesia and sentenced to death during their 2006 trial in DenpasarIndonesian President Joko Widodo has said his country's stance is "clear" on the pending executions of two Australian drug smugglers, despite the suggestion by Australia's prime minister that he is "carefully considering" his position. The executions by firing squad of Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan, the Australian ringleaders of the so-called "Bali Nine" drug smuggling gang, are believed to be imminent. Their appeals for presidential clemency, typically the final chance of avoiding death, were recently rejected by Widodo, and a court this week dismissed a bid to challenge that decision. The looming sentences have dramatically heightened tensions between Australia and Indonesia, fraying ties that were only just recovering from a spying row.


28 February 2015

Obama mourns passing of Nimoy: 'I loved Spock'

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama said Friday that Leonard Nimoy, who made the sign for "Live long and prosper" famous around the world, achieved that goal during his 83 years on planet Earth.

28 February 2015

Annoyance arises from gov't error on health care tax forms

This undated handout photo provided by Access Health CT shows Access Health CT CEO Kevin Counihan. It’s not uncommon to feel some trepidation around tax-filing season. But there’s an added hassle this year for nearly a million consumers who got financial help with health insurance premiums under President Barack Obama’s law. Taxpayers who got erroneous tax information from the government are now receiving robo-calls and electronic messages advising them not to file their returns yet. Some are taking it in stride; others wonder what else could go wrong. (AP Photo/Access Health CT)WASHINGTON (AP) — It's not uncommon to feel some trepidation around tax-filing season. But there's an added hassle this year for nearly a million consumers who got financial help with health insurance premiums under President Barack Obama's law.


28 February 2015

Homeland Security funding fight shows limits on GOP power

WASHINGTON (AP) — Two months into full Republican control of Congress, GOP leaders are struggling to demonstrate they're really in charge.

28 February 2015

Russian opposition leader Nemtsov shot dead near Kremlin

Medics lift the body of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, covered with plastic, on Moskvoretsky bridge near St. Basil cathedral in central Moscow on February 28, 2015Western leaders on Saturday condemned the drive-by shooting of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, a fierce critic of President Vladimir Putin, as he was walking across a bridge near the Kremlin. US President Barack Obama decried the "brutal" and "vicious murder" of Nemtsov, which came ahead of a major opposition rally planned for Sunday, and called on Russia to conduct an impartial probe. French President Francois Hollande called the killing a "hateful murder" of a "defender of democracy". The Kremlin said Putin had taken personal control of the investigation.


28 February 2015

Wisconsin's Walker adjusts to rigor of presidential politics

In this Feb. 26, 2015, photo, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker gestures while speaking during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Md. Wisconsin’s governor recently leapt into the top-tier of the Republican Party’s 2016 presidential class. In the weeks since, Walker has stumbled under the bright lights of his newfound status. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)OXON HILL, Md. (AP) — Scott Walker may have won three elections in the past four years, but he's still finding his way in presidential politics.


28 February 2015

Democrats caught between Obama, Netanyahu on speech

FILE - In this Feb. 8, 2015 file photo, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in his Jerusalem office. Jewish House Democrats personally offered Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a chance to lower the political temperature after he accepted a Republican invitation to speak to Congress next week on Iran _ a less provocative, closed-door session. Netanyahu turned them down, frustrating members of President Barack Obama's party caught between the White House and the Israeli leader. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner, File)WASHINGTON (AP) — Jewish House Democrats personally offered Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a chance to lower the political temperature after he accepted a Republican invitation to speak to Congress next week on Iran — a less provocative, closed-door session.


28 February 2015

Kuwait reopens Yemen embassy in Aden, instead of Sanaa

Armed supporters of Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi take to the streets on February 24, 2015 in southern AdenKuwait has joined its Gulf partners Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates and decided to reopen its Yemeni embassy in Aden, instead of the militia-controlled capital Sanaa. "In the framework of supporting constitutional legitimacy in Yemen represented in President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi... the state of Kuwait has decided to reopen its embassy in the city of Aden," the foreign ministry said, quoted by the official KUNA news agency.


27 February 2015

North Korean leader tells army: 'prepare for war'

This undated picture released from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency on April 27, 2014 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (C) looking at a computerNorth Korean leader Kim Jong-Un has urged his army to prepare for war with the United States and its allies, state media said Saturday, as Pyongyang ramps up the rhetoric ahead of US-South Korea military drills. Kim's comments came after South Korea and the United States Friday conducted a joint naval drill involving 10 South Korean warships and a US Aegis destroyer, ahead of the launch of large-scale military exercises that have enraged the North. "The prevailing situation where a great war for national reunification is at hand requires all the KPA (Korean People's Army) units to become (elite) Guard Units fully prepared for war politically and ideologically, in military technique and materially", he was quoted by the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) as saying. North Korea regularly ratchets up hostile rhetoric at times of joint US-South Korea military exercises that spark a sharp surge in tensions on the divided peninsula.


27 February 2015

US Congress averts Homeland Security shutdown

The US Senate approves funding for the Department of Homeland Security hours before a midnight deadline, but remaining congressional hurdles pushed the agency responsible for domestic security to the brink of shutdownWashington (AFP) - Feuding US lawmakers narrowly avoided a Department of Homeland Security shutdown at the 11th hour, but funded the agency only until March 6, forcing Congress to revisit the issue next week.


27 February 2015

Assad or no Assad, West asks, as IS rises and conflict rages

People's Protection Units (YPG) fighters stand on a hill at sunset on February 26, 2015, after they retook parts of the town of Tal Hamis, southeast of the city of Qameshli, after six days of clashes with Islamic State (IS) group jihadistsFaced with a seemingly unending bloody conflict in Syria and the rise of the Islamic State group, is President Bashar al-Assad the lesser of the country's evils and should the West re-engage with him? While world powers such as the United States, France and Britain refuse to have anything to do with a leader the French prime minister described as a "butcher", the question is increasingly being raised within these countries. Staffan de Mistura, the UN envoy for Syria, echoed this feeling this month when he said Assad was "part of the solution" to end a conflict that has killed more than 210,000 people, displaced nearly half the country's population and spilled over into neighbouring nations. "The Assad regime is trying to give the impression of unstoppable momentum towards normalisation of ties," said Shashank Joshi, senior research fellow at Britain's Royal United Services Institute defence and security think-tank.


27 February 2015

Paul makes amends as Clippers avenge loss to Grizzlies

Chris Paul (R) of the Los Angeles Clippers tries to get past Patrick Beverley of the Houston Rockets on February 11, 2015 at Staples CenterThe Los Angeles Clippers avenged a loss to Memphis earlier in the week with a 97-79 victory Friday behind a stellar 19-point performance from Chris Paul. Paul, who botched the closing seconds of Memphis' win on Monday, carried the Clippers Friday by scoring 11 of his points in the fourth quarter. Paul got all his final quarter points in a three-minute span and his three-pointer pushed the Clippers' lead to 86-70 with just over four minutes left. His costly turnover helped Memphis to a 90-87 victory at Staples Center arena four days earlier.


27 February 2015

Australia may join New Zealand's Iraq training mission

Iraqi volunteer soldiers march after graduating from a training camp in the central city of Kufa on September 1, 2014Australia is considering joining New Zealand in a training mission in Iraq to help counter the Islamic State (IS) militant group, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Saturday. New Zealand announced Tuesday it will send troops to Iraq on a "behind-the-wire" non-combat mission to boost the local military's ability to fight the jihadists. Abbott said while Australia had been heavily involved in the campaign against the Islamic State group for some months, New Zealand's new commitment would inform its future assistance.


27 February 2015

Germany approves Greek bailout extension despite unease

People carry a banner reading 'out of EU' and 'cancel the debt' during a demonstration in Athens on February 26, 2015German lawmakers approved a hard-won bailout extension for Greece's new anti-austerity government in a move Berlin's finance chief called "not easy" but necessary, keeping a crucial lifeline open to Athens. Greece's left-wing Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras welcomed the German vote Friday as "a political act of common sense and democracy", saying there would be no third bailout for his country and pledging to get to work on reforms. He promised that now his month-old government would "start working hard, in order to change Greece within a Europe that changes direction". The four-month bailout extension for Greece, approved by eurozone finance ministers Tuesday, averts a potentially calamitous end-February deadline that could have seen Athens default and exit from the euro.


27 February 2015

US sets out 'bottom lines' for Iran nuclear deal

The director of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization, Ali Akbar Salehi, leaves after a meeting on February 23, 2015 in GenevaThe United States set out what it called its "bottom lines" to reach a deal with Iran to rein in its nuclear program, ahead of new talks next week. Washington had stuck to its guns that it wanted a "good deal" and had agreed to several extensions of the negotiations "because we have held firm to certain bottom lines," a senior US administration official said. "We will only accept an agreement that cuts off the different pathways to the fissile material that Iran needs for a nuclear weapon," the official stressed. US Secretary of State John Kerry will leave at the weekend for Switzerland, where he will meet once again with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif.