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  • Islamic State says it has full control of Syria's Palmyra

    A soldier loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad carries his weapon in Palmyra cityBy Sylvia Westall BEIRUT (Reuters) - Islamic State fighters tightened their grip on the historic Syrian city of Palmyra on Thursday and overran Iraqi government defenses east of Ramadi, the provincial capital that they seized five days earlier. The twin successes not only pile pressure on Damascus and Baghdad but throw doubt on a U.S. strategy of relying almost exclusively on air strikes to support the fight against Islamic State. U.S. and coalition forces had conducted 18 air strikes against Islamic State targets in Syria and Iraq since Wednesday, the U.S. military said.




  • China says U.S. actions in South China Sea 'irresponsible, dangerous'

    Still image from United States Navy video purportedly shows Chinese dredging vessels in the waters around Mischief Reef in the disputed Spratly IslandsBEIJING (Reuters) - China said on Friday actions by the United States in the South China Sea were "irresponsible and dangerous" and called on it to stop after it vowed to keep up air and sea patrols in international waters. China was "strongly dissatisfied" with U.S. military overflights, said Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei. (Reporting by Sui-Lee Wee; Writing by John Ruwitch)




  • Saudi-led air strikes target Houthis in Sanaa: residents

    Fire is seen from the Noqum Mountain after it was hit by an air strike in Yemen's capital SanaaCAIRO (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia-led air strikes continued to target Iran's Houthi allied fighters in the Yemeni capital Sanaa on Friday, residents in the area told Reuters. The residents said the strikes were focused on the presidential compound area in Sanaa and Houthi military sites in mountainous areas on the outskirts of the city. (Reporting by Mohamed Ghobari; Editing by Hugh Lawson)




  • Shelling kills one worker at east Ukraine coke plant: Metinvest
    Ukraine's largest steel company, Metinvest, said on Friday one worker had been killed and two wounded after its Avdiyivka coke plant in east Ukraine was hit by heavy shelling, damaging the factory's equipment and transport infrastructure. Avdiyivka, one of the largest coke plants in Europe, is on territory controlled by government forces, but it lies close to the frontline and the Ukrainian military have accused separatists of attacks there since the ceasefire came into force in February. "This was the heaviest shelling since the declaration of the ceasefire," Metinvest said in a statement on Friday.

  • Al Shabaab attacks village in Kenya's Garissa
    Al Shabaab militants attacked a village in the northeastern Kenyan county of Garissa, the ministry of interior said on Friday. The Somalia-based al Shabaab group, which has carried out frequent attacks in Kenya in recent years to try to force Nairobi to pull its troops out of Somalia, struck a university in the same area last month, killing 148 people. A ministry statement said the militants entered Yumbis village, 70 km (45 miles) north of Garissa town, but were driven back.

  • Thailand again says election could be delayed

    Thai PM Prayuth Chan-ocha smiles as he arrives at the Education Ministry in Bangkok, ThailandThai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said on Friday a general election will take place in the Southeast Asian country in April or May 2016 - but could be delayed by three months if a referendum takes place. Thailand's cabinet agreed this week that a referendum should be held on the new constitution and the military's blueprint for restoring democracy, a move likely to delay any return to democratic rule. Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said on Tuesday the election would take place in August 2016 at the earliest to allow for the referendum.




  • Myanmar navy rescues boat with 200 migrants aboard

    A Rohingya migrant mother (R) and her child, who recently arrived in Indonesia by boat, hold a placard while posing for photographs for immigration identification purposes inside a temporary compound for refugees in Aceh Timur regencyBy Aung Hla Tun YANGON (Reuters) - Myanmar's navy has found a boat carrying more than 200 migrants, a government spokesman said on Friday, amid mounting international pressure to tackle a "boat people" crisis that has seen hundreds of migrants land in Indonesia and Malaysia over the past month. The announcement came after Myanmar's military commander-in-chief said some migrants landing in Malaysia and Indonesia were likely pretending to be Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar to receive U.N. assistance and were likely from Bangladesh. "While on patrol in Myanmar waters the Myanmar navy ship 568 found a boat loaded with about 200 Bengalis and another empty boat at sea..." on Thursday, government spokesman Ye Htut posted on his Facebook page.




  • German business confidence drops slightly in May
    BERLIN (AP) — A closely watched survey shows German business confidence has slightly slipped as companies expressed satisfaction with their current situation but increasing worries about the future.

  • Prime minister's wife visits controversial Japanese shrine
    TOKYO (AP) — Japan's first lady has visited the Yasukuni shrine honoring the country's war dead, including convicted war criminals, in a move that risks outraging neighboring countries that suffered under Japan's World War II aggression.

  • Top Asian News at 8:00 a.m. GMT
    BANGKOK (AP) — Attention turned Friday to the seas off Southeast Asia's west coast as Malaysian naval vessels searched for stranded boat people and the U.S. military prepared air patrols to step up its involvement. Thousands of Bangladeshis and Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar are believed to be trapped on crowded boats with little food or water — some after being pushed back by the navies of at least three countries — and the international community has warned that time to save them is running out.

  • The Latest on Rohingya: Myanmar rescues over 200 boat people

    A Rohingya boy sleeps on the floor at a temporary shelter in Langsa, Aceh province, Indonesia, Thursday, May 21, 2015. In the past three weeks some thousands of people, mainly Rohingya Muslims fleeing persecution in Myanmar and Bangladeshis trying to escape poverty, have landed in overcrowded boats on the shores of Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. After initially pushing many boats back, Malaysia and Indonesia announced on Wednesday that they will offer temporary shelter to incoming migrants. (AP Photo/Binsar Bakkara)2 p.m. (0730 GMT)




  • A year after Thai coup, stability trumps growth for business

    Thai PM Prayuth Chan-ocha gestures in a traditional greeting to National Legislative Assembly members at the parliament in BangkokBy Amy Sawitta Lefevre and Panarat Thepgumpanat BANGKOK (Reuters) - When Thailand's army seized power in a bloodless coup, much of the business establishment quietly cheered them on. A year on, the captains of Thai industry remain firmly behind the junta, despite a lackluster economy and a delayed return to democracy. At the very least it has made the country peaceful and it has brought order," Poj Aramwattanont, President of Thai Frozen Foods Association (TFFA), told Reuters.




  • Cameron promises tough times for EU ahead of referendum

    Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron answers a question from a journalist after delivering a speech on immigration at the Home Office in London, Thursday, May 21, 2015. Cameron on Thursday announced strict new measures designed to control immigration to Britain as new official figures show increasing levels of migration. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, Pool)RIGA, Latvia (AP) — British Prime Minister David Cameron is warning the European Union of tough times ahead as his nation is seeking a drastic reform of the bloc ahead of a referendum on whether to leave.




  • Islamist Shebab gunmen storm Kenya village

    A billboard put up by the Kenyan interior ministry shows alleged Shebab commander Mohamed Mohamud on April 17, 2015 NairobiIslamist gunmen raided a village in northeastern Kenya, the interior ministry said Friday, the latest in a string of brazen attacks by the Somali-led, Al-Qaeda affiliated insurgents. There were no casualties reported in the remote village, close to the porous border with Somalia, and some 80 kilometres (50 miles) northeast of regional capital Garissa. "Security forces on Thursday evening thwarted an attempted attack at Yumbis village," interior ministry spokesman Mwenda Njoka said in a statement Friday.




  • PM predicts 'ups and downs' in EU renegotiation bid

    Prime Minister David Cameron predicted there would be "ups and downs" in Britain's bid to renegotiate its relationship with the European Union as he arrived at a summit in RigaPrime Minister David Cameron predicted there would be "ups and downs" in Britain's bid to renegotiate its relationship with the European Union as he arrived at a summit in Riga Friday. "There will be lots of noise, lots of ups and downs along the way," he said, while voicing "determination" to secure EU reforms ahead of a referendum by the end of 2017 on a possible British exit. "It's in Britain's interest that this is a success," Cameron added on arrival at the summit between leaders of the EU and six former Soviet states.




  • UK PM predicts 'ups and downs' in EU renegotiation bid

    Prime Minister David Cameron predicted there would be "ups and downs" in Britain's bid to renegotiate its relationship with the European Union as he arrived at a summit in RigaPrime Minister David Cameron predicted there would be "ups and downs" in Britain's bid to renegotiate its relationship with the European Union as he arrived at a summit in Riga Friday. "There will be lots of noise, lots of ups and downs along the way," he said, while voicing "determination" to secure EU reforms ahead of a referendum by the end of 2017 on a possible British exit. "It's in Britain's interest that this is a success," Cameron added on arrival at the summit between leaders of the EU and six former Soviet states.




  • Merkel says 'a whole lot left' to do on Greece bailout talks

    In this photo provided by German government Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and French President Francois Hollande, from left, smile as they pose for a photograph at the beginning of their meeting at the sidelines of the Eastern Partnership summit in Riga, on Thursday, May 21, 2015. (Guido Bergmann/Bundesregierung via AP)RIGA, Latvia (AP) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel says after talks with her Greek counterpart Alexis Tsipras that there is still "a whole lot left to be done" to avoid a financial meltdown in Athens.




  • Sold! to the man with $12,400: a pair of Japanese melons

    A successful bidder (C) shows a single pair of Yubari melons with a price of 1.5 million yen ($12,400) after this year's first auction at the Sapporo Central Wholesale Market on Hokkaido island on May 22, 2015A single pair of premium melons fetched an eye-watering 1.5 million yen ($12,400) at an auction in Japan on Friday. The winning bid was placed by a local fruit wholesaler for the first Yubari melons to go under the hammer this year at the Sapporo Central Wholesale Market in northern Hokkaido, officials said. The figure -- enough to buy a brand new car in Japan -- is some way short of the record for the luxury fruit, which fetched 2.5 million yen last year.




  • Colombia air strike kills 18 FARC rebels as talks resume

    A bombing raid by Colombia's army killed 18 FARC guerrillas, the deadliest attack since President Juan Manuel Santos lifted a suspension of air strikes against the group last month, an official saidA Colombian air strike killed 18 FARC guerrillas, the deadliest attack since President Juan Manuel Santos lifted a suspension of air strikes against the group last month, an official said. The air strike raises doubts over peace talks that resumed the same day between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and Santos' government. "It is the first major blow against FARC since President Santos ordered the resumption of air strikes against the guerrillas on April 15," the Defense Ministry official said about the strike, speaking on condition of anonymity.




  • China's mega-tours draw attention abroad, critique at home

    FILE - In this May 8, 2015 file photo, employees of the Tiens Group, a Chinese company which sells medicinal products, including via direct marketing, cheer as they attend a parade organized by CEO Li Jinyuan as part of a four-day celebration weekend for the 20th anniversary of his company, on the Promenade des Anglais, Nice, southeastern France. All-expenses-paid trips to reward top earners aren’t unusual, but Chinese direct-sales companies are taking it to an extreme by sending thousands abroad on the same package tour. (AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau, File)BEIJING (AP) — All-expenses-paid trips to reward top salespeople aren't unusual, but direct marketing companies that are the Chinese versions of Amway, Avon and Herbalife are taking it to an extreme by sending thousands abroad on package tours.




  • US readies air patrols in search for Rohingya boat people

    A migrant woman reads the Koran at a temporary shelter in Lhoksukon, Aceh province, Indonesia, Thursday, May 21, 2015. In the past three weeks some thousands of people, mainly Rohingya Muslims fleeing persecution in Myanmar and Bangladeshis trying to escape poverty, have landed in overcrowded boats on the shores of Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. After initially pushing many boats back, Malaysia and Indonesia announced on Wednesday that they will offer temporary shelter to incoming migrants. (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)BANGKOK (AP) — Attention turned Friday to the seas off Southeast Asia's west coast as Malaysian naval vessels searched for stranded boat people and the U.S. military prepared air patrols to step up its involvement.




  • Tuk-tuk taxi maker aims to make inroads in US

    In this photograph taken Friday, Feb. 27, 2015, Colin Sommers, left, director of engineering for eTuk USA, Walid Mourtada, center, chief executive officer, and Michael Fox show off one of their company's electric Tuk-Tuk models being prepared for delivery at the trio's manufacturing plant in northeast Denver. It's too soon to know if Americans will embrace tuk-tuks, but Fox, director of sales and marketing for eTuk USA, says the company has been selling the vehicles across the country to individuals, marketing companies and food vendors for between $16,950 and $25,000, depending on how they are customized. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)DENVER (AP) — They're ubiquitous in Asia, swarming the bustling streets of Bangkok, New Delhi and Beijing.




  • Spain: Local election seen as test for new upstart parties

    An electoral worker carries boxes with ballot papers inside to be distributed in a polling station for the upcoming local elections in Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, May 21, 2015. The Spanish municipal elections will be held on Sunday May 24 to elect the composition of all the city councils in Spain. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)MADRID (AP) — Spain could be set for a political upheaval in key local elections this weekend, with strong signs that voters fed up with economic crisis and corruption scandals may punish both the ruling conservative Popular Party and the leading opposition Socialists.




  • US planes keep distance from Chinese 'islands' -- for now

    Aerial photograph taken from a military aircraft on May 11, 2015 shows alleged on-going reclamation by China on Mischief Reef in the Spratly group of islands in the South China SeaUS surveillance aircraft and naval ships have yet to test China's territorial claims around artificial islands built in the South China Sea, but the Pentagon warned that could be "the next step". Although the United States does not recognise China's claims of sovereignty around the man-made structures, American P-8 surveillance planes and naval vessels patrolling the area have not ventured within 12 nautical miles of the artificial islands -- the standard territorial zone around natural land. US officials have said they are weighing sending warships and surveillance aircraft within 12 nautical miles of the man-made islands in the South China Sea to test Beijing's controversial territorial claims.




  • Cameron determined to give Britons 'proper choice' on reformed EU

    Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron delivers a speech on immigration at the Home Office in LondonBritish Prime Minister David Cameron predicted "ups and downs" on Friday in European Union reform negotiations but said he was determined to give Britons a proper choice on a reformed EU in a referendum he has promised before the end of 2017. "There will be ups and downs. You'll hear one day this is possible, the next day something else is impossible," Cameron told reporters as he arrived for an EU summit with six ex-Soviet states where he hopes to have initial contacts on his drive to reform the 28-nation bloc.




  • For Kimball, racing competitively is all about numbers

    Charlie Kimball pulls off his balaclava following a practice session for the Indianapolis 500 auto race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Tuesday, May 12, 2015. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Race day is all about numbers for Charlie Kimball.




  • Serena's bid for 20, other things to know about French Open

    FILE - In this June 8, 2013, file photo, Serena Williams, of the U.S, celebrates as she defeats Russia's Maria Sharapova in the women's final match of the French Open tennis tournament in Paris, France. (AP Photo/David Vincent, File)The very day that Serena Williams won this year's Australian Open for her 19th Grand Slam championship, she was thinking ahead.




  • World Bank: Gaza economy on 'verge of collapse'
    JERUSALEM (AP) — Gaza's economy is on the "verge of collapse," a new World Bank report warned Friday, saying the unemployment rate there is now the highest in the world and calling on Israel and international donors to remedy the situation.

  • Appeals court frees 'nut rage' Korean Air heiress

    Former Korean Air executive Cho Hyun-Ah is surrounded by journalists after she received a suspended jail sentence and was freed by a Seoul appeals court in Seoul on May 22, 2015 for disrupting a flight in a rage over macadamia nutsThe former Korean Air executive jailed for disrupting a flight in a rage over macadamia nuts walked free Friday when a South Korean appeals court overturned her conviction for violating aviation safety laws. The High Court in Seoul ruled that Cho Hyun-Ah, who had been in jail since her arrest in December, was not guilty of the most serious charge of altering an aircraft's route while in flight. "The accused had no intention of hampering the safe operation of the plane," High Court judge Kim Sang-Hwan said, handing down a reduced sentence of 10 months, suspended for two years.




  • Side story of slain Salvadoran archbishop: A family divided

    Maria Luisa de Martinez poses for photos at her home in San Salvador, El Salvador, Thursday, May 21, 2015. De Martinez is the sister of Roberto d’Aubuisson, the man widely believed to have ordered the Roman Catholic Archbishop Oscar Romero’s 1980 assassination. In 1979 de Martinez learned that her brother belonged to a paramilitary group called ORDEN, or “order,” whose mission was to identify and eliminate supposed communists in rural communities. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (AP) — Maria Luisa de Martinez is one of the staunchest defenders of the memory of slain Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero.




  • Cameron makes British reform case to EU peers

    With a host of bloc leaders in attendance at the EU summit, newly re-elected British Prime Minister David Cameron will take his case for re-negotiating his country's EU membership terms before an "in-out" referendum promised by 2017British Prime Minister David Cameron takes his case for far-reaching reform to his EU peers Friday as they meet six former Soviet states, some of whom would gladly swap places with London in the bloc. The Eastern Partnership summit in the Latvian capital Riga aims to review and affirm ties with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and especially war-torn Ukraine, whose future is overshadowing the talks. "Today I will start discussions in earnest with fellow leaders on reforming the EU and renegotiating the UK's relationship with it," Cameron said in comments released by his Downing Street office ahead of his arrival in Riga in the early hours of Friday.




  • Ireland votes on legalizing gay marriage; verdict Saturday

    Members of the Yes Equality campaign begin canvassing in the center of Dublin, Ireland, Thursday May 21, 2015. People from across the Republic of Ireland will vote Friday in a referendum on the legalization of gay marriage, a vote that pits the power of the Catholic Church against the secular-minded Irish government of Enda Kenny. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)DUBLIN (AP) — For months, Ireland has debated whether to legalize gay marriage. Now it's time to vote, and the choice is a simple yes or no.




  • South Korea court frees Korean Air "nut rage" executive

    Former Korean Air executive Cho Hyun-ah, center, leaves the Seoul High Court in Seoul, South Korea, Friday, May 22, 2015. The upper court Friday sentenced Cho to 10 months in prison and then suspended the sentence for two years. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — A South Korean court Friday suspended the prison term of the former Korean Air executive whose onboard "nut rage" tantrum delayed a flight last year, immediately ending her incarceration.




  • Tunisia's sunbeds and souks empty after museum attack

    It's another sun-drenched day but the deckchairs of a four-star hotel on the island of Djerba stand empty, in a sign of the "catastrophic" summer on the horizon for Tunisian tourismIt's all over for this year," was the blunt verdict from Adel Tarres, manager of the hotel on the holiday island off the south coast of Tunisia that has in past years been a magnet for tourists from Italy across the Mediterranean. The tourism sector, which accounts for seven percent of Tunisia's GDP and almost 400,000 direct and indirect jobs, had already been rattled by political instability and rising Islamist violence since the 2011 revolution.




  • Qatar's pearl divers seek tradition and riches

    Off the coast of southern Qatar traditional dhow boats bob gently in the blue-green waters of the Gulf in what could be a scene from the country's ancient past, but is part of a keenly competed annual pearl diving event, the "Senyar"From a distance it could be a scene from Qatar's ancient past, long before the country's modern-day wealth was secured by the discovery of gas and oil. On board each vessel are a number of gawas, or pearl divers. In the midday heat, divers take it in turns to swim the six metres (20 feet) or so to the sea bottom unaided to find pearl oysters.




  • The Latest on Rohingya: UN estimates 3,000 still adrift

    A Rohingya boy sleeps on the floor at a temporary shelter in Langsa, Aceh province, Indonesia, Thursday, May 21, 2015. In the past three weeks some thousands of people, mainly Rohingya Muslims fleeing persecution in Myanmar and Bangladeshis trying to escape poverty, have landed in overcrowded boats on the shores of Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. After initially pushing many boats back, Malaysia and Indonesia announced on Wednesday that they will offer temporary shelter to incoming migrants. (AP Photo/Binsar Bakkara)10 a.m. (0300 GMT)




  • Gaza facing 'dangerous fiscal crisis': World Bank

    A Palestinian boy sits atop a destroyed house on which a banner is displayed during a rally marking the 67th anniversary of the "Nakba" on May 15, 2015 east of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza StripThe Gaza Strip has the world's highest unemployment and Palestinians, Israelis and donors must take action to avoid a "dangerous fiscal crisis," the World Bank said Friday. The report, prepared ahead of the bi-annual meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC) which coordinates international donor support for the Palestinians, comes nearly a year after the 50-day conflict between Gaza militants and Israel, in which around 2,200 Palestinians were killed.





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