(In 8th paragraph, corrects to say Perry would replace Ernest Moniz, not Steven Chu)WASHINGTON President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday named former Texas Governor Rick Perry to head the U.S. Department of Energy, handing the job to a climate change skeptic with close ties to the oil industry who once proposed abolishing the department.The choice adds to a list of drilling proponents who have been tapped for top jobs in Trump's administration, pleasing an industry eager for expansion but worrying environmental groups concerned by the U.S. role in global climate change.Trump, who takes office on Jan.
WASHINGTON The head of U.S. forces fighting Islamic State said on Wednesday that weapons seized by the group when they captured the Syrian city of Palmyra posed a danger to U.S.-led coalition in the region, but he said that threat could be managed.Army Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend told a Pentagon video briefing that the weapons seized by Islamic State when it captured Palmyra recently included armored vehicles and air defense equipment."I'm not really exactly sure ..
By Harriet McLeod | CHARLESTON, S.C. CHARLESTON, S.C.
ROME Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni won a confidence vote in the upper house Senate on Wednesday, allowing his coalition government to take office.Former premier Matteo Renzi resigned last week after losing a referendum on his proposed reform of the constitution. Looking to stave off political turmoil, the head of state asked Gentiloni, the outgoing foreign minister, to form a new cabinet.Gentiloni re-appointed virtually all of Renzi's old ministers and easily won an initial confidence vote in the lower house of parliament on Tuesday. His administration might only last a few months, with many party leaders pushing for elections in the first half of 2017, a year ahead of schedule.
By David Brunnstrom | WASHINGTON WASHINGTON China appears to have installed weapons, including anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems, on all seven of the artificial islands it has built in the South China Sea, a U.S.
By Laila Bassam, Tom Perry and Lisa Barrington | ALEPPO, Syria/BEIRUT ALEPPO, Syria/BEIRUT The planned evacuation of rebel districts of Aleppo stalled on Wednesday as air strikes and heavy shelling hit the city and Iran was said to have imposed new conditions on the deal.Iran, one of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's main backers in the battle that has all but ended four years of rebel resistance in the city, wanted a simultaneous evacuation of wounded from two villages, Foua and Kefraya, that are besieged by rebel fighters, according to rebel and U.N. sources.Rebel groups said that was just an excuse to hold up the evacuation from a shrunken insurgent enclave shattered by a powerful government offensive.
By Laila Bassam and Angus McDowall | ALEPPO, Syria/BEIRUT ALEPPO, Syria/BEIRUT Syrian rebels prepared to withdraw from Aleppo on Wednesday after a ceasefire agreement that ended years of fighting in the city and gave President Bashar al-Assad his biggest victory yet after more than five years of war.The agreement was a result of talks between Russia, Assad's main ally, and Turkey, a leading backer of the rebels, a Turkish government official said. The guns fell silent late on Tuesday in Aleppo
ERBIL, Iraq Islamic State militants have been producing weapons on a scale and sophistication which matches national military forces and have standardised production across their self-styled caliphate, an arms monitoring group said on Wednesday.Conflict Armament Research (CAR) said the jihadist group had a "robust supply chain" of raw materials from Turkey, and the technical precision of its work meant that it could not be described as "improvised" weapons production."Although production facilities employ a range of non-standard materials and chemical explosive precursors, the degree of organisation, quality control, and inventory management indicates a complex, centrally controlled industrial production system," it said in a report following visits last month to six facilities once operated by Islamic State in eastern Mosul.Iraq's military launched a sweeping operation on Oct. 17 to retake the northern city, the jihadists' last major stronghold in the country, more than two years after government forces dropped their weapons and fled.Elite army troops have retaken a quarter of the city in a gruelling U.S.-backed campaign, but their advance has been slow and punishing.
WASHINGTON The White House said on Tuesday it would be "very damaging" to both Cubans as well as the United States' standing in Latin America if the next administration reverses President Barack Obama's normalization of relations with Cuba."We're seeing real progress that is making life better for Cubans right now. Sustaining this policy will allow for further opening ..
By David Brunnstrom | WASHINGTON WASHINGTON Defence spending in Taiwan has not kept pace with the threat posed by China and should be increased, a senior U.S. defence official said on Tuesday, days after U.S. President-elect Donald Trump touched off a storm by questioning American policy over the island.Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Abraham Denmark said the Obama administration's "One China" policy remained unchanged, but he could not predict Trump's intentions when he takes office on Jan
By Lin Noueihed and Ahmed Mohammed Hassan | CAIRO CAIRO Islamic State claimed responsibility on Tuesday for a suicide bombing at Cairo's main Coptic cathedral on Sunday that killed at least 25 people.The militant group said in a statement carried by its news agency Amaq that a suicide bomber whom it identified as Abu Abdallah al-Masri had detonated his explosive belt inside the church."Every infidel and apostate in Egypt and everywhere should know that our war ... continues," it said.The Interior Ministry identified the bomber on Monday as 22-year-old student Mahmoud Shafik Mohammed Mostafa, and said he was a supporter of the banned Muslim Brotherhood political movement who had joined a militant cell while on the run from police.In an interview with Reuters, Mostafa's mother said he had been sexually abused in police custody in 2014, but that she had seen no sign that he had been radicalised.In addition to the dead, at least 49 people were wounded when the bomb went off in a chapel adjoining St Mark's Cathedral, Cairo's largest church and seat of the Coptic Christian papacy.President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said four people had been detained and two were on the run.PREVIOUS ARREST Sisi took power in 2013, deposing the Brotherhood's Mohamed Mursi, and has since outlawed the Islamist movement as part of a crackdown in which hundreds of its supporters have been killed and thousands jailed. The Interior Ministry said Mahmoud had been arrested in March 2014 for carrying arms during a protest, and freed on bail after two months.
By Eric M. Johnson A 20-year-old British tourist who prosecutors say caused a security scare at a Donald Trump campaign rally in Las Vegas by trying to wrestle a gun from a police officer was sentenced on Tuesday to a year and a day in prison.Michael Sandford, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge James Mahan in Las Vegas after pleading guilty in September under a plea agreement with prosecutors to one count each of illegal weapon possession by an alien and disrupting the orderly conduct of government business or functions.A lawyer for Sandford, federal public defender Brenda Weksler, said she was "happy with the result," calling the sentence a "fair disposition of the case given the unique circumstances."When asked whether Sandford intended to harm Trump, Weksler said: "Our client is not political at all." Sandford admitted as part of the plea deal that he had approached a Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department officer at the event in June, saying he wanted an autograph from the presidential candidate, then tried to pull the officer's gun from his holster with both hands.Sandford, who had by then overstayed his tourist visa by about 10 months, was immediately arrested and removed from the rally, the Justice Department said.He also acknowledged having visited a Las Vegas gun range the day before the campaign incident at the Treasure Island casino-hotel, to take shooting lessons with a rented Glock handgun, firing 20 rounds at a paper target, the Justice Department said.
By Francesco Guarascio | STRASBOURG STRASBOURG The European Union's centre-right grouping on Tuesday elected Antonio Tajani as its candidate to replace socialist Martin Schulz as speaker of the European Parliament, a move that could increase calls for a reshuffle of other top EU jobs.Tajani, a former EU commissioner, is a member of the rightist Forza Italia party and a close ally of former Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi.The socialists, the second biggest grouping, have said the election of a conservative president would unsettle the EU's balance of power by giving the conservative European People's Party (EPP) the presidencies of all three major EU bodies.Luxembourg's Jean-Claude Juncker runs the executive European Commission and Donald Tusk of Poland chairs EU summits as president of the European Council.
By Phil Stewart and Warren Strobel | WASHINGTON WASHINGTON The United States has decided to limit military support to Saudi Arabia's campaign in Yemen because of concerns over widespread civilian casualties and will halt a planned arms sale to the kingdom, U.S. officials told Reuters.The United States will also revamp future training of the kingdom's air force to focus on improving Saudi targeting practices, a persistent source of concern for Washington
By Dustin Volz | WASHINGTON WASHINGTON More than 100 employees of technology companies including Alphabet Inc's (GOOGL.O) Google, Twitter Inc (TWTR.N) and Salesforce pledged on Tuesday to not help U.S. President-elect Donald Trump's administration build a data registry to track people based on their religion or assist in mass deportations. Drawing comparisons to the Holocaust and the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, the employees signed an open letter at neveragain.tech rebuking ideas floated by Trump during the campaign trail
DUBAI Four suspected members of al Qaeda's Yemen branch, including a local commander, were killed on Tuesday by a drone strike on their vehicle east of the capital Sanaa, local officials said.It was the latest in a series of strikes by pilotless planes, believed to be operated by the United States, in war-torn Yemen.The officials said the vehicle was travelling on a main road between the Marib governorate and al-Jawf when it was attacked.
By Stephanie Nebehay | GENEVA GENEVA North Korea protested on Tuesday against a U.N.
LIMA The office of Peru's attorney general has reopened a corruption inquiry into whether President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski helped a Brazilian company win public work contracts while he was prime minister a decade ago, legal documents showed on Tuesday.The anti-corruption unit in the attorney general's office ordered prosecutors to broaden a preliminary investigation into Kuczynski, ex-president Alejandro Toledo, and engineering conglomerate Odebrecht after concluding it had been prematurely closed in September, according to a decision signed by a leading prosecutor and seen by Reuters.Kuczynski is currently facing the worst political crisis so far in his five-month old government as the opposition-controlled Congress prepares to oust his education minister.
By Ed Cropley | JOHANNESBURG JOHANNESBURG South Sudanese rebel leader Riek Machar, who fled to Democratic Republic of Congo in August after fierce fighting, is being held in South Africa to stop him stirring up trouble, diplomatic and political sources said on Tuesday.Removing Machar from circulation would be a blow to his rebel SPLA-IO faction in its three-year war with President Salva Kiir's mainstream SPLA, and could sway a conflict the United Nations fears is tilting towards genocide.Over a million people have fled the world's youngest nation since conflict erupted in late 2013 when Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, fired Machar, a Nuer, as his deputy. The cross-border exodus is the largest in central Africa since the 1994 Rwanda genocide.In South Africa, a well-connected regional political consultant said Machar was being held "basically under house arrest" near Pretoria with his movements restricted and his phone calls monitored and controlled."If he wants to go to the toilet, he has to hand over his phone and a guy stands outside the cubicle," the source said.Foreign ministry spokesman Clayson Monyela denied Machar was being held against his will, describing him instead as a "guest" of Pretoria as South Africa tried to prevent the civil war sliding into genocide."Him being our guest here is part of our responsibility as a mediator," Monyela said, adding that it was "difficult to predict" the duration of his stay.