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Updated: 3 hours 58 min ago

UN, Malaysia Civic Groups Seeking to Repeal Fatwa Requiring FGM

4 hours 13 min ago
In 2009, Malaysia's National Fatwa Committee, the nation's top Islamic council, required all Muslim women in the country to undergo female genital mutilation, otherwise known as female circumcision. A recent study indicated that nearly all Muslim women in the country have had the procedure. But now the United Nations is working with the Committee to repeal ruling that made it mandatory. Government health officials who are in negotiations with Malaysia's National Fatwa...

Namibia's Pohamba First Ibrahim Prize Winner Since 2011

4 hours 30 min ago
For the first time since 2011, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation on Monday gave out its award for excellence in African leadership, highlighting the work of outgoing Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba with a $5 million prize. Pohamba has led Namibia since 2005 and won a second term in 2009 as the country enjoyed political stability.  The prize committee praised the president for "wise and sound leadership" and the promotion of democracy during his...

China Boosting Aid to South Pacific

4 hours 46 min ago
The first comprehensive study of China's growing aid program in the South Pacific has found that Beijing provided financial assistance worth more than a billion dollars in the past decade. China is poised to overtake Japan as the region's third-biggest donor after Australia and the United States, according to the Sydney-based Lowy Institute for International Policy. The Lowy Institute considers China’s aid to the South Pacific mostly to be a good deed by a responsible global...

Bangladesh Arrests Main Suspect in US Blogger's Killing

4 hours 51 min ago
Bangladesh's anti-terrorism unit has arrested what it called the prime suspect in the killing of Avijit Roy, a prominent Bangladeshi-American blogger who wrote against religious fundamentalism. He was hacked to death in Dhaka last week. The Rapid Action Battalion arrested Farabi Shafiur Rahman in the capital Monday morning.  An RAB spokesman told the French new agency (AFP) that Farabi is a "fundamentalist blogger" who had threatened Roy through comments on Facebook...

Iraqi Forces Launch Offensive to Recapture Tikrit

6 hours 17 min ago
Iraqi troops and militia fighters attacked Islamic State militants in a key area north of Baghdad Monday, opening a highly publicized offensive to recapture the city of Tikrit. Iraq's air force carried out airstrikes while ground troops advanced on multiple fronts, military commanders said. The Islamic State group has held Tikrit since June when the militants stormed across northern Iraq. That land grab also netted them Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, located just north of...

US Calls for Investigation of Boris Nemtsov Murder

6 hours 46 min ago
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has called for a thorough and transparent investigation into the murder of Russian opposition politician and activist Boris Nemtsov. Former Russian chess champion and rights activist Garry Kasparov says he is shattered by the news and says it comes amid an atmosphere of propaganda and hatred aimed at opponents of President Vladimir Putin. Appearing on the ABC network program “This Week” Sunday, Secretary Kerry said the United States has no intelligence...

Japan to Continue to Push its Stance on History

7 hours 15 min ago
Japan said on Monday that it would continue to look to pursue its country's viewpoint on history after South Korea's president urged Japan to acknowledge the “historical truth.” The request was made by President Park Geun-hye on Sunday at an official ceremony to mark the Independence Movement Day. This year commemorates the 96th anniversary of the declaration of the nation's independence from Japanese colonization on March 1, 1919. Chief Cabinet Secretary, Yoshihide...

UNICEF Demands Release of Seized South Sudanese Children

8 hours 43 min ago
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said it believes scores of children abducted by armed men in South Sudan in mid-February are being used as child soldiers.  John Budd, UNICEF communication officer for South Sudan, said hundreds of children preparing for exams were forcefully recruited as soldiers.   He said the children were seized by a Shiluk militia aligned with the South Sudan government forces, a claim the government has denied.   “The government of...

North Korea Fires Rockets as Joint U.S.-South Korean Maneuvers Begin

8 hours 58 min ago
Authorities say North Korea has fired two short-range missiles into the sea, in an apparent protest against joint U.S. and South Korean military exercises launched Monday. South Korea's Yonhap news agency quoted officials as saying the missiles fell into the East Sea 490 kilometers from the North Korean port city of Nampo. South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said the incident was considered "a deliberate provocation seen as an armed protest" as the North...

Netanyahu to Address Pro-Israeli Group Ahead of Congress Speech

9 hours 21 min ago
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was due to speak at a pro-Israeli group's conference Monday in Washington, one day ahead of his address to the U.S. Congress that has caused friction with the White House. Netanyahu spoke at the policy meeting for the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) last year, but this time will do so before going in front of Congress under circumstances that Secretary of State John Kerry described as "odd, if not...

Kerry Meets With Lavrov in Switzerland

9 hours 56 min ago
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has met with his Russian counterpart, with the two talking for more than an hour Monday to discuss contentious issues between the two countries. Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met in Geneva to talk about the conflict in Ukraine and the shooting death of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov. Neither man smiled as they shook hands and posed for pictures ahead of the talks. The two last met nearly a month ago on the sidelines of the...

N. Korea Fires Rockets as Joint US-South Korean Maneuvers Start

Sun, 2015-03-01 20:20
Authorities say North Korea has fired two short-range missiles into the East Sea, in an apparent protest against joint U.S. and South Korean military exercises launched elsewhere in the region Monday. South Korea's Yonhap news agency quotes officials as saying the missiles fell into the East Sea 490 kilometers from the North Korean port city of Nampo. South Korea says its military "remains vigilant against any additional launches" as it maintains "the readiness...

30 Arrested as Hong Kong Anti-China Protesters Scuffle With Police

Sun, 2015-03-01 20:07
More than 30 people were arrested as a group of about 400 demonstrators in Hong Kong clashed with police in the latest sign of tensions caused by China's influence in the city. Protesters in Yuen Long, in Hong Kong's New Territories just a stone's throw from mainland China, chanted to "cancel the multiple-entry permit" and "topple the Chinese Communist Party" as they complained about so-called parallel traders, who buy goods in Hong Kong to sell at a profit...

Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Sun, 2015-03-01 17:41
Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.

Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Sun, 2015-03-01 17:39
Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack.  The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year.  But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it.   On the hills overlooking the sea of Azov, soldiers of the Ukrainian army are digging in. These trenches,...

First Iranian Direct Flight Lands in Shi'ite-Held Yemen Capital

Sun, 2015-03-01 16:52
An Iranian airliner carrying medical supplies and aid workers landed Sunday in the Yemeni capital, Sana'a, less than 24 hours after Shi'ite rebels controlling the city signed an aviation pact with Tehran. Witnesses say senior Iranian diplomats were on hand to greet the flight -- the first since Shi'ite rebel Houthis seized control of the capital in January and placed Sunni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi under house arrest. Yemen's official Saba News Agency -- now...

Surveillance Video Shows British Teens in Istanbul

Sun, 2015-03-01 16:36
Three teenage British girls suspected of traveling to Syria to join the Islamic State terrorist group have appeared on surveillance video in Turkey. Turkish media reports said the images show the teens boarding a bus in Istanbul. It is the first reported sighting of the girls since they left London almost two weeks ago. Authorities have said they have no reason to believe the girls are still in Turkey, and believe they have crossed into neighboring Syria, parts of which have been taken...

Iraq PM: Offensive to Retake Tikrit Under Way

Sun, 2015-03-01 15:32
An Iraqi coalition of government troops and militias has begun a highly publicized offensive to push Islamic State militants out of the city of Tikrit. The country's Prime Minister and Commander-in-Chief Haider Al-Abadi announced the start of the operation Sunday as he traveled to nearby Samarra to oversee efforts "to liberate Tikrit" and the surrounding governorate of Saladin. Abadi called on Sunni tribal fighters to abandon the Islamic State group.  He offered what...

Washington Braces for Controversial Netanyahu Address to Congress

Sun, 2015-03-01 15:21
An increasingly-strained relationship between the Obama administration and Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu will be on display this week, as the prime minister visits Washington to address a joint meeting of Congress. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Netanyahu will decry a potential accord on Iran’s nuclear program in a speech organized by House Speaker John Boehner, without White House consultation, sparking controversy in Washington and Jerusalem.

Washington Braces for Controversial Netanyahu Address to Congress

Sun, 2015-03-01 15:19
An increasingly-strained relationship between the Obama administration and Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu will be on display this week, as the prime minister visits Washington to address a joint meeting of Congress. Netanyahu will decry a potential accord on Iran’s nuclear program in a speech organized by House Speaker John Boehner, without White House consultation, sparking controversy in Washington and Jerusalem. Netanyahu insists he respects President Barack Obama, but adds: “It...

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