Obama makes rare campaign trail appearance, people leave early- By Jeff Mason4 hours ago Wochit Obama Makes Rare Campaign Trail Appearance, People Leave EarlyWochit Obama Makes Rare Campaign Trail Appearance, People Leave Early By Jeff Mason Related Stories
UPPER MARLBORO Md. (Reuters) – President Barack Obama made a rare appearance on the campaign trail on Sunday with a rally to support the Democratic candidate for governor in Maryland, but early departures of crowd members while he spoke underscored his continuing unpopularity.With approval levels hovering around record lows, Obama has spent most of his campaign-related efforts this year raising money for struggling Democrats, who risk losing control of the U.S. Senate in the Nov. 4 midterm election.Most candidates from his party have been wary of appearing with him during their election races because of his sagging popularity.Not so Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown of Maryland, who is running for governor, and Governor Pat Quinn of Illinois, who is running for re-election. Obama plans to appear at an event for Quinn later in the evening.”You’ve got to vote,” Obama repeated over and over at a rally for Brown in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, near Washington.U.S. President Barack Obama waves as he arrives for a campaign rally for Maryland Lt. Gov. Anthony B …Democrats have a history of not turning up to vote in midterm elections.”There are no excuses. The future is up to us,” Obama said.A steady stream of people walked out of the auditorium while he spoke, however, and a heckler interrupted his remarks.Obama’s help, or lack thereof, may not matter much to Brown, who is 11 points ahead of Republican opponent Larry Hogan, according to an average of polls by RealClearPolitics.Quinn’s race is tighter. He is ahead of Republican opponent Bruce Rauner by 1.8 points, according to the RealClearPolitics average.Obama is scheduled to spend the night at his Chicago home after the campaign event for Quinn.(Reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)
Sweden says credible reports of foreign submarine in its waters By Niklas Pollard and Alistair Scrutton6 hours ago Swedish corvette HMS Visby patrols the Stockholm Archipelago October 19 2014, searching for what the …By Niklas Pollard and Alistair Scrutton STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Sweden released on Sunday a grainy photo of a mysterious vessel in Stockholm’s archipelago, as the military hunted for a foreign submarine or divers in the country’s biggest such mobilization since the Cold War.The search in the Baltic Sea less than 30 miles (50 km) from Stockholm began on Friday and reawakened memories of the final years of the Cold War when Sweden repeatedly sought out suspected Soviet submarines along its coast with depth charges.The military showed one picture of what appeared to be a craft surrounded by white ripples. The witness who took the photograph said the vessel then submerged — one of three sightings that the military said were credible reports.The Swedish armed forces have consistently labeled the their hunt one of investigating „foreign underwater activity” but elaborated on what that might entail on Sunday.”It could be a submarine, or a smaller submarine,” Rear Admiral Anders Grenstad told a news conference. „It could be divers using some form of moped-like underwater vehicle and it could be divers that don’t have any business on our territory.”yThis amateur photo made available on October 19, 2014 by the Swedish Defence Ministry shows an objec …Grenstad said the sightings had taken place in „an area that is of interest to a foreign power”, but added he was not in a position to link the observed activity to any particular nation.”This does not belong to us. It is a foreign vessel and we have no indications that there would be any civilians involved in underwater activity,” he said.The incident comes amid rising tension with Russia among the Nordic and Baltic states — most of them European Union members — over Moscow’s involvement in the Ukraine crisis. Finland last week accused the Russian navy of interfering with a Finnish environmental research vessel in international waters.Reported sightings of one man dressed in black wading through waters led to speculation of Russian special forces in the archipelago, normally a popular holiday destination consisting of thousands of small islands.EMERGENCY FREQUENCYSwedish minesweeper HMS Koster patrols the waters of the Stockholm archipelago, October 19, 2014. RE …The Swedish military has said the initial information about suspicious underwater activity came from a trustworthy source, without providing details, and that more than 200 military personnel were involved in the search.The Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet, citing unidentified sources with knowledge of the hunt, said it began after a radio transmission in Russian on an emergency frequency.Further encrypted radio traffic from a point in the archipelago and the enclave of Kaliningrad, home to the Russian Baltic fleet’s headquarters, was intercepted on Friday evening after the Swedish search started, the newspaper said.Grenstad said the armed forces had not received any information about a distress signal.The Russian Defence Ministry said on Sunday there were no emergencies in the Baltic involving its vessels.Swedish Rear Admiral Anders Grenstad speaks during a news conference in the headquarters of the Swed …”Russian Navy ships and submarines are fulfilling their duties in the world ocean waters in accordance with the plan,” Interfax news agency quoted a ministry spokesman as saying. „There are no extraordinary, let alone emergency, situations involving Russian warships.”Countries in the Baltic Sea region have become increasingly wary of Russia’s military ambitions since Moscow annexed Ukraine’s Crimea region in March following the overthrow of Kiev’s pro-Moscow president by protesters.Last month, Sweden said two Russian warplanes entered its air space, calling the intrusion a „serious violation”.Should the present search find proof of foreign military activity in Swedish coastal waters it will represent the first real test of Prime Minister Stefan Lofven’s center-left minority government less than three weeks after it took office.In 1981, a Soviet submarine known under its Swedish designation U137 was stranded deep inside Swedish waters not far from a major naval base in the neutral country, sparking intense suspicion about the scale and motives of such incursions.(Additional reporting by Alexei Anishchuk in Moscow, Editing by Crispian Balmer)
Algeria-Morocco tensions flare over border shooting 7 hours agoA September 13, 2013 picture shows buildings at a crossing point along the Moroccan-Algerian border near Oudja, Morocco (AFP Photo/Fadel Senna)Algiers (AFP) – Tensions flared Sunday between Algeria and Morocco after Rabat accused an Algerian soldier of firing on Moroccan civilians across their shared border and seriously wounding one of them.Algeria charged on Sunday that Rabat was twisting the facts and summoned its envoy to express its „exasperation” a day after Morocco had summoned the Algerian ambassador to „vigorously protest” against the shooting.The border between the two North African neighbours has been closed since 1994, and relations have been tense mainly because of a dispute over Western Sahara.The Moroccan government said in a statement that an Algerian soldier on Saturday opened fire on a dozen civilians along the border near the northeastern city of Oujda.One of them, a 28-year-old, was hit in the face by three bullets and „seriously wounded”, said the statement.It described the shooting as „a grave incident” and „an irresponsible act that comes on top of other provocative acts… along the border.”The foreign ministry summoned the Algerian ambassador to demand explanations while Interior Minister Mohamed Hassad said the soldier should be „brought to justice”, said Morocco’s MAP news agency.But on Sunday the Algerian foreign ministry hit back, saying Rabat’s allegations were „false”.A statement acknowledged that Algerian border guards had fired „two warning shots in the air” after coming under attack from „Moroccan smugglers who pelted them with stones”.”The border guards… reacted professionally by firing two warning shots in the air which can in no way cause anyone to be injured,” the ministry said.The „facts have been manipulated and the declarations of Moroccan officials… reflect an irresponsible attitude which does not fit with the values of fraternity and good neighbourly relations,” it said.Algeria also summoned Morocco’s top diplomat, a charge d’affaires filling in for the ambassador who is away on leave, to complain about „recurrent accusations” from Rabat.Western Sahara has been a thorn in relations between Morocco and Algeria.Morocco occupied much of Western Sahara in 1975 after former colonial power Spain withdrew but the territory is claimed by the pro-independence Algerian-backed Polisario Front.The dispute has hindered the work of the five-nation Arab Maghreb Union trade bloc — which also includes Libya, Tunisia and Mauritania.
EU’s Barroso warns Britain against bloc exit By Naomi O’Leary58 minutes ago London (AFP) – European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso will argue that Britain is better in the European Union on Monday, as pressure mounts from British eurosceptics seven months out from a general election.Related Stories
„In the years to come the UK could be facing a choice – to stay or leave the European Union,” the outgoing head of the 28-member bloc’s executive body will say, according to an advance copy of his speech to thinktank Chatham House.”Could the UK get by without a little help from your friends? My answer is probably not.”Squeezed by growing momentum of the anti-EU UK Independence Party (UKIP), Prime Minister David Cameron has vowed to re-negotiate the terms of Britain’s EU membership and hold an in-out referendum if he is re-elected.Barroso will urge politicians to make „the positive case” for staying in Europe, expressing concern about „negative and false portrayals in… newspapers from Monday to Saturday.””It worries me that so few politicians on this side of the Channel are ready to tell the facts as they are,” Barroso will say.Newly elected United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) MP Douglas Carswell enters the Houses of Parl …After press reports that Cameron might seek to impose a cap on EU migrants coming to Britain, Barroso told a BBC interview in London that such a limit would be against European law.”Any kind of arbitrary cap seems to me to be not in conformity with European laws. Because for us it’s very important the principle of non-discrimination,” he said.”The freedom of movement is a very important principle in the internal market: movement of goods, of capital, of services and of people.”The Sunday Times this week reported that Cameron was exploring whether national insurance numbers issued to EU migrants could be capped — personal identifying codes needed to work in Britain.Migration to Britain from other countries in the EU, particularly from newer and poorer member states in Eastern Europe, is a sensitive political issue in Britain and UKIP have put border control at the heart of their electoral campaign.UK Independence Party (UKIP) leader Nigel Farage is pictured as he looks through a window of the UKI …The party won its first elected seat in the Westminster parliament in a by-election earlier this month with the re-election of lawmaker Douglas Carswell, who had defected from the ruling Conservative Party.UKIP hope to win a second seat in a November by-election, following the defection of another Conservative MP to the once-fringe party that has risen to around 17 percent support in polls.The prime minister has vowed to negotiate hard to „get what Britain needs” on immigration, but has not given detail on specific proposals International Development Secretary Justine Greening, a cabinet minister in the Conservative-led government, said on Sunday that a need to address migration from within the EU meant the rules would have be examined.”That means taking a fundamental look at some of the rules that allow unrestricted immigration in a way that we don’t think is sensible,” Greening told Sky News.
75 killed in five days of fighting in Libya’s Benghazi 6 hours agoAn image from a video made available on October 9, 2014, by the official media outlet of Benghazi-based Islamist Ansar al-Sharia group, al-Raya Media Foundation, allegedly shows a tank belonging to the group during a battle in Benghazi, Libya (AFP Photo/) Related Stories
Benghazi (Libya) (AFP) – Nine people were killed Sunday in new violence in Benghazi where pro-government forces have launched an offensive against Islamist militias, raising the toll to 75 dead in five days, medics said.In the latest violence a woman was killed in a bomb attack that targeted the vacant house of former general Khalifa Haftar, the commander of the offensive launched Wednesday, a military source said.The woman was walking past the house with her daughter, who was wounded in the bombing, said the Benghazi Medical Centre, adding that it had also received the bodies of eight other people including two soldiers.Fierce fighting raged in several parts of Libya’s second city between pro-government forces led by Haftar and Islamist militias, an AFP correspondent and witnesses said.Air raids carried out by units of the air force loyal to Haftar pounded Islamist positions.On Saturday the United States joined Britain, France, Germany and Italy in calling for an „immediate” end to long-running violence there between government forces and militias.Since a 2011 revolution that toppled Libya’s longtime leader Moamer Kadhafi, interim authorities have failed to establish a regular army and had to rely on state-backed militias.The European powers and the United States said they were „concerned” by the operations carried out by Haftar, although he has the backing of army units while civilians too have taken up arms.”We consider that Libya’s security challenges and the fight against terrorist organisations can only be sustainably addressed by regular armed forces under the control of a central authority which is accountable to a democratic and inclusive parliament,” a joint statement said.
Paris Opera expels veiled woman during performance 7 hours agoThe Bastille opera house in Paris, France, on February 16, 2010 (AFP Photo/Loic Venance) Paris (AFP) – France’s government is drawing up a new set of rules for theatres after the Paris Opera ejected a woman for wearing a veil during a performance, the institution’s deputy director said Sunday.The incident took place when a veiled woman was spotted on the front row of a performance of La Traviata at the Opera Bastille, Jean-Philippe Thiellay told AFP, confirming a media report.France brought in a law in 2011 banning anyone from wearing clothing that conceals the face in a public space, or face a 150 euro ($190) fine.The woman was sitting just behind the conductor, visible to monitors, wearing a scarf covering her hair and a veil over her mouth and nose during the performance on October 3.”I was alerted in the second act,” said Thiellay, adding that „some performers said they did not want to sing” if something was not done.France’s ministry of culture said a bill was currently being drafted to remind theatres, museums and other public institutions under its supervision of the rules regarding veils.The spectator and her companion — tourists from the Gulf, according to MetroNews — were asked to leave by an inspector during the interval.”He told her that in France there is a ban of this nature, asked her to either uncover her face or leave the room. The man asked the woman to get up, they left,” Thiellay said.”It’s never nice to ask someone to leave… But there was a misunderstanding of the law and the lady either had to respect it or leave,” he said.
Jihadists take heavy losses in battle for Syria’s Kobane By Fulya Ozerkan with Sara Hussein in Beirut7 hours ago Mursitpinar (Turkey) (AFP) – The Islamic State group took heavy losses Sunday in the Syrian battleground of Kobane as Iraqi forces fought the jihadists buoyed by US backing for top government security appointments.Related Stories
Secretary of State John Kerry said the appointment of defence and interior ministers after weeks of delay was a „very positive step forward” in the fightback against IS in Iraq, which Washington has made its priority.American-led warplanes launched 11 air strikes near Kobane on Saturday and Sunday, US Central Command said, helping Kurdish fighters repulse a new IS attempt to cut their supply lines from Turkey.Kobane’s Kurdish defenders have been under IS assault for more than a month. They weathered fierce street fighting and at least two jihadist suicide bombings but the front line remained unchanged on Sunday, a Kurdish official said.”(IS) brought in reinforcements… and attacked hard,” Idris Nassen told AFP by telephone. „But thanks to air strikes and (the Kurdish fighters’) response, they did not make any progress.”The IS fighters suffered heavy losses in Kobane, which has become a key prize as it is being fought under the gaze of the world media massed just across the border in Turkey.An image from a video posted on YouTube on October 19, 2014 by Aamaq News, allegedly shows IS milita …From Saturday into Sunday morning, 31 jihadists died in the battle, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.Coalition air strikes near Kobane hit 20 IS fighting positions, five IS vehicles and two IS-held buildings, said Central Command.The Observatory, which has a network of sources inside Syria, said 15 jihadists were killed in the air strikes while 16 others died in ground clashes along with seven Kurdish fighters.- Hospital counts IS bodies -With the fighting raging, the corpses of at least 70 jihadists were brought over the past four days into an IS-controlled mortuary in the town of Tal Abyad further east, said the Observatory.Kurdish people watch the Syrian town of Kobane from the Turkish border village of Mursitpinar on Oct …The US military has said it sees „encouraging” signs in the battle for Kobane, but has warned the town may still fall.On Sunday the White House said President Barack Obama called his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan and they pledged to „strengthen cooperation” against IS in Syria.But US commanders say their top priority remains neighbouring Iraq, where IS swept through much of the Sunni Arab heartland north and west of Baghdad in June.Grievances of the Sunni majority against the Shiite led-government were a major factor in the lightning advance, and Washington has been piling pressure on Baghdad to form an inclusive government to mount a fightback.On Saturday, the remaining posts in a new government line-up were finally approved by parliament, including a Sunni as defence minister and a Shiite as interior minister.Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi attends a UN Security Council summit meeting on foreign terrori …”These were critical positions to be filled, in order to assist with the organising effort” against IS, Kerry said. „So we’re very pleased.”- Iran-Iraq talks -With Washington voicing approval, Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi’s office announced he would visit Iran on Monday to discuss the fightback with Iraq’s other key ally.The US has kept Iran out of the coalition for fear of alienating Sunnis but acknowledges Tehran has an important role to play in the battle against IS.Abadi’s talks in Iran are part of his bid „to unite the efforts of the region and the world to help Iraq in its war against the terrorist group,” his office said.A US Air Force B1-B bomber plane flies above the Syrian town of Kobane on October 18, 2014 as seen f …Tehran is a key backer of Abadi’s government in its efforts to hold back the advance of the Sunni extremist IS.Kurdish officials say Iran has deployed troops on the Iraqi side of the border in the Khanaqin area northeast of Baghdad and played a role in Amerli, a Shiite Turkmen town where security forces and allied militiamen broke a months-long jihadist siege in August.Evidence also indicates that Iran sent Sukhoi Su-25 ground attack jets to Iraq, though it is unclear who subsequently piloted the aircraft.As well as Syria, the US-led coalition is carrying out air strikes against IS in Iraq, including 10 on Saturday and Sunday. It has also deployed military advisers.On Sunday a suicide bomber detonated explosives at a Shiite mosque in Baghdad, killing at least 18 people and wounding 30.It came as Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said in Baghdad that she had reached a deal to deploy about 200 special forces in Iraq to assist in the fight against the jihadists.
UN rights chief blasts Kinshasa for expelling top envoy 7 hours agoHigh Commissioner of the United Nations for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein attends a press conference on October 16, 2014 in Geneva (AFP Photo/Fabrice Coffrini)Geneva (AFP) – The UN rights chief on Sunday condemned Kinshasa for expelling his top envoy to the Democratic Republic of Congo, and accused the authorities of intimidating other members of his staff.”Not only has my highly experienced and respected representative in DRC, Scott Campbell, been told to leave, but two other staff working in his team have been seriously threatened in recent days,” Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said in a statement.”This is unacceptable,” he said, demanding an investigation into the threats.”With these acts of intimidation and reprisal, the Congolese authorities risk setting back years of strenuous efforts by UN human rights staff and some sectors of the Congolese authorities to assist victims of human rights violations and strengthen the rule of law,” he warned.Campbell, who headed the UN Human Rights office in the country, was declared persona non grata on Thursday, a day after the publication of a damning report on a police crackdown on youth gangs.”The fact that their work, mandated by the Security Council, has led to these acts of reprisal is a very disturbing development indeed,” said the UN rights chief.The report, published jointly by the UN mission in the country, MONUSCO, and Zeid’s office, said at least nine people had been summarily executed and 32 went missing during the police operation in Kinshasa between last November and February.Bodies had been dumped in a river or buried in mass graves, according to the report, which held the Congolese interior ministry responsible.MONUSCO head Martin Kobler had urged Kinshasa to reconsider its decision, stressing that he had „full confidence and trust in Scott Campbell and the work undertaken by his whole team.”Zeid said he joined „wholeheartedly with Mr. Kobler in supporting (the report’s) conclusions and recommendations.””The government of the DRC should be investigating its deeply disturbing findings and bringing alleged perpetrators to justice rather than seeking to punish the leader of the team that researched and produced the report,” he said.