Obama asks the questions in interview with British naturalist Attenborough By Peter Cooney3 hours agoU.S. President Barack Obama smiles while delivering remarks after the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 to uphold …By Peter Cooney WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama for a change was the one asking the questions in an interview that aired on Sunday with British naturalist David Attenborough in which they agreed that combating climate change would require a global effort.Saying he had long been a „huge admirer” of Attenborough’s television documentaries about the environment, Obama turned the tables on Attenborough in an interview taped on May 8 at the White House, which aired on BBC and other international broadcasters.Climate change is one of Obama’s top priorities for his remaining time in office, but he faces resistance from Republicans in Congress on how to deal with the issue.Obama noted the U.S. agreement with China last year to set new limits on carbon emissions starting in 2025. The two countries are the world’s leading carbon emitters.He told Attenborough, „We’re not moving as fast as we need to, and part of what I know from watching your programs, and all the great work you’ve done, is that these ecosystems are all interconnected.”If just one country is doing the right thing, but other countries are not, then we’re not going to solve the problem. We’re going to have to have a global solution to this,” he said.Attenborough agreed that „the solutions are global.”Obama also asked the naturalist if he thought it was possible „to get a handle on these issues.”After Attenborough stressed the value of finding ways to generate and store power from renewable resources, Obama said,”I think you’re right about that. There has got to be an economic component to this.”Attenborough, 89, brother of the late actor and director Richard Attenborough, has been making television documentaries for 60 years. The BBC has called him „the godfather of natural history TV.”It was the latest in a series of unusual media appearances for Obama, who has been willing to tap almost any avenue that reaches as many eyes and ears as possible to get his message out.It came as his administration is finalizing rules to curb carbon emissions from power plants. Obama has pushed world leaders to agree to new targets at a summit later this year in Paris.Obama told Attenborough that children were „much more environmentally aware” than adults, and cited his daughters Malia, 16, and Sasha, 13, as examples.”They do not dispute, for example, the science around climate change,” Obama said.(Reporting by Peter Cooney; Additional reporting by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Toni Reinhold)
Pro-European candidate leads in Moldova vote By CORNELIU RUSNAC5 hours ago CHISINAU, Moldova (AP) — Near-final results gave a pro-European Union candidate a comfortable lead in the runoff vote for mayor of Moldova’s biggest city Sunday, in an election seen as a test of whether the former Soviet republic moves closer to the EU or to neighboring Russia.With over 99 percent of the votes counted, incumbent Dorin Chirtoaca had 53.44 percent of the vote with pro-Russian challenger Zinaida Greceanai, a former prime minister, trailing at 46.56 percent.Moldova, which declared independence in 1991 after the Soviet Union broke up, is located between Romania and Ukraine. Last year, it signed an association agreement with the 28-nation EU, angering Russia, which then banned some of its fruits and vegetables. That hurt the largely agricultural nation, one of Europe’s poorest.A victory for Chirtoaca would boost Moldova’s pro-European parties, who hold a slim margin in Parliament and struggle to remain united.Fireworks exploded in the capital just before midnight when it looked like Chirtoaca would win another four-year mandate. He has been mayor since 2007 of this city of 1 million.Earlier, the 38-year-old Chirtoaca said he was confident of victory because votes from the suburbs which are traditionally pro-European had not come in yet.A woman casts her ballot in runoff local elections in Chisinau, Moldova, Sunday, June 28, 2015. Mold …”I hope we will clarify things … and build something that is certain, definitive, irreversible, for the future of Chisinau and Moldova,” Chirtoaca said after voting.Greceanai, 59, is a former member of the Communist Party who later joined the pro-Moscow Socialists’ Party.Greceanai thanked her voters and said she would continue to fight for the interests of Chisinau residents, without outright acknowledging defeat.However, leader of the Socialists’ Party, Igor Dodon, claimed the ballot was flawed by irregularities. He said the pro-Europeans were „celebrating too soon. We don’t recognize the result of the elections. There were too many irregularities,” he said early MondayTurnout was 47.5 percent when polls closed at 9 p.m. (1800 GMT), slightly lower than in the first round on June 14. However, turnout in the capital was 48.8 percent, higher than in the first round.A man crosses the street backdropped by posters of Zinaida Greceanai, the pro-Russian candidate for …Greceanai said „residents have a great desire to see deeds and not just statements.”Interim Prime Minister Natalia Gherman, who is pro-European, voted in Chisinau, saying: „I voted for a city to look like Stockholm, Brussels or Vienna.”Runoffs were being held in 458 towns in this country of 4 million and results were expected late Sunday. Some 348 seats were already decided in the first round.Renato Usatii, a pro-Russian businessman, won outright on June 14 in Moldova’s second-largest city, Balti, and pro-Russian businessman Ilan Shor won in the eastern town of Orhei.Moldova’s currency has lost 20 percent of its value this year against the euro.Moldovans earn an average monthly salary of only $250. Some 600,000 Moldovans work abroad and send remittances home, which make up 30 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.Moldovan officials, meanwhile, have been investigating the disappearance of $1.5 billion from state-owned and private banks before the parliamentary election last November, and Shor is being investigated in that probe._Alison Mutler in Bucharest, Romania, contributed to this report.
Jerusalem (AFP) – Israeli naval forces boarded and took over an activist vessel seeking to break the Gaza blockade, and were escorting it to an Israeli port early Monday, the military said, saying that the navy did not use force.”In accordance with international law, the Israeli Navy advised the vessel several times to change course,” it said in a statement. „Following their refusal the Navy visited and searched the vessel in international waters in order to prevent their intended breach of the maritime blockade of the Gaza Strip.””The forces have reported that use of force was unnecessary, and that the process was uneventful,” it added. „The vessel is currently being escorted to Ashdod Port and is expected to arrive within 12-24 hours.”A military spokeswoman confirmed to AFP that the vessel was the Swedish-flagged Marianne of Gothenburg, part of the so-called Freedom Flotilla III — a convoy of four ships carrying pro-Palestinian activists including Arab-Israeli lawmaker Basel Ghattas, Tunisia’s former president Moncef Marzouki and at least one European lawmaker.There was no immediate word on the other three ships, which a reporter on the Marianne had said on Sunday were sailing some way behind it.”This flotilla is nothing but a demonstration of hypocrisy and lies that is only assisting the Hamas terrorist organisation and ignores all of the horrors in our region,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday in a statement congratulating the Israeli forces involved.”Preventing entry by sea was done in accordance with international law and even received backing from a committee of the UN Secretary General,” he said.
US warship visits Georgia amid Ukraine crisis 13 hours agoThe US 6th Fleet’s guided missile destroyer USS Laboon „will conduct routine combined training with the Georgian Coast Guard,” the US embassy in Tbilisi said (AFP Photo/MC2 JEFFREY M. RICHARDSON)Batumi (Georgia) (AFP) – A US warship arrived Sunday in Georgia’s Black Sea port of Batumi on a training mission, the US embassy said, sending a message of support to the NATO aspirant amid the conflict in Ukraine.The US 6th Fleet’s guided missile destroyer USS Laboon „will conduct routine combined training with the Georgian Coast Guard,” the US embassy in Tbilisi said.The port call „reaffirms the United States’ commitment to strengthening ties with NATO allies and partners like Georgia, while working toward mutual goals of promoting security and stability in the Black Sea region,” the embassy said in a statement.Moscow’s seizure of Crimea from Kiev’s rule and its support for Ukrainian rebels have alarmed Georgia, which fought and lost a brief war with Russia in 2008.The Ukraine crisis has triggered the worst confrontation between Russia and the West since the Cold War, and the US said last week it would deploy heavy weapons in central and eastern Europe in a move that angered Moscow.Georgia’s bid to join NATO and the European Union infuriated its former imperial master Russia, which bitterly opposes the alliance’s expansion into former Soviet republics.US warships delivered humanitarian aid to Georgia in the wake of the Russia-Georgia conflict in August 2008.Moscow criticised the decision to send the sophisticated warships, saying they were unsuitable for aid missions.
S.Sudan rebels battle over key town as talks collapse 14 hours agoCivil war began in December 2013 when President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy Riek Machar of planning a coup, setting off a cycle of retaliatory killings across the country that has split the poverty-stricken, landlocked country (AFP Photo/Ivan Lieman)Juba (AFP) – Warring forces in South Sudan battled Sunday over a key northern town with both rebels and the army claiming control after the latest peace talks collapsed without progress.Related Stories
Rebels said militia commander Johnson Olony, a notorious ex-government general accused of recruiting an army of child soldiers, was in „full control” of the ruined town of Malakal, the state capital of Upper Nile, but the army dismissed the claim.Aid workers in the town confirmed heavy fighting began on Saturday. The town, the gateway to the country’s last remaining major oil fields, has repeatedly changed hands in the 18-month long conflict.Civil war began in December 2013 when President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy Riek Machar of planning a coup, setting off a cycle of retaliatory killings across the country that has split the poverty-stricken, landlocked country along ethnic lines.Meanwhile the latest effort to bring the rivals to a deal failed in the Kenyan capital Nairobi.Kiir and Machar have inked seven ceasefires, all broken within days or even hours, but in talks on Saturday did not even meet in face-to-face.Instead, they met separately with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta who appealed for them to halt the war to „end the suffering of the people.”Rebel spokesman Mabior Garang said the talks „failed to bear any tangible results.”The UN children’s agency said in a report last week that warring forces have carried out horrific crimes against children, including castration, rape and tying them together before slitting their throats. Others were thrown into burning houses.Two-thirds of the country’s 12 million people need aid, according to the UN.
Eight arrested over Albania ‘cannabis kingdom’ shootout 13 hours agoAlbanian police officers searches the area where a policeman was shot and killed in the village of Lazarat, south of the Albanian capital Tirana, on June 25, 2015 (AFP Photo/Gent Shkullaku)Tirana (AFP) – Police arrested eight people overnight Saturday in connection with a deadly shootout in an Albanian village known as a „cannabis kingdom” for its industrial-scale production of the drug.On Wednesday more than 400 policemen, supported by army helicopters, surrounded the southern village of Lazarat where an armed group — firing from machine guns and anti-tank rockets — had entrenched itself.Those arrested include two brothers suspected of being directly involved in the shooting, in which one police officer was killed and two others seriously wounded, police spokeswoman Enrjeta Camani told AFP.Early investigations suggest brothers Albian and Alban Aliko, aged 17 and 20 respectively, had spent the last six months planning to attack police in Lazarat, Camani said.Some 15 other youngsters, all aged from 17 to 21, are believed to have been working on the plan with the Aliko brothers, police allege.The group were very well-armed and their goal was to take control of the village and make it a safe haven for drug manufacturers and traffickers, the police spokeswoman said.Camani did not give details of the other six people arrested but said that some 40 other individuals were brought in for questioning.The operation was ongoing Sunday morning as officers searched the area, including the homes of people suspected of involvement in the shootout, she added.A year ago Albanian police clashed for five days with armed groups before taking control of Lazarat.According to an Italian police report, until that operation the village was producing about 900 tonnes of cannabis annually, worth some 4.5 billion euros ($5 billion) — equivalent to almost a third of Albania’s gross domestic product.
Cautious Merkel on verge of biggest risk with ‘Grexit’ By Noah Barkin9 hours agoGerman Chancellor Angela Merkel and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras leave after addressing a news …By Noah Barkin BERLIN (Reuters) – „If you break it, you own it,” former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell warned President George W. Bush before his invasion of Iraq.Whether it will ever be fair to blame Angela Merkel for „breaking” Greece is debatable.But if the euro zone’s weakest link does default this week and is eventually forced out of the single currency, it seems inevitable that the German chancellor, Europe’s most powerful leader, will „own” the Greek problem and that a decision to let Athens go would profoundly shape her legacy.For months, the notoriously cautious Merkel has been wrestling with the question of whether to risk a „Grexit” and accept the financial, economic and geopolitical backlash it would surely unleash.Unlike her finance minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble, who sent abundant signals in recent months that he could accept a euro zone that does not include Greece, Merkel has been determined to avoid such an outcome, according to her closest advisers.If Greece ends up leaving the euro zone anyway, many in Germany and elsewhere will blame the left-wing government of Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras that came to power in January. It has infuriated its partners with what they have perceived to be an erratic, confrontational stance in the debt talks.German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends a debate at the Bundestag, the lower house of parliament, in …Tsipras’s call on Friday for a referendum on Europe’s latest bailout offer, only days before Greece is due to run out of cash, made it easy for Merkel, 60, to say enough is enough, and threaten to pull the plug once and for all.But it will be Merkel, more than any other European leader, who will have to sort through the rubble of a „Grexit” and answer the question of why disaster was not averted.A Greek exit could lead to a humanitarian crisis on Europe’s southern rim, spark contagion in euro countries that are only just emerging from years of deep recession, and stoke a fiery new debate about German austerity policies and Merkel’s handling of the crisis.Allowing Greece to exit would be by far the boldest move she has taken since coming to power nearly a decade ago, far riskier than her decision in 2011 to phase out nuclear power.In private conversations Merkel has acknowledged as much, saying her biggest fear is that Germany could be blamed for „blowing up Europe” for the third time in a century.With a British referendum on its membership in the European Union looming, the standoff with Russia over Ukraine unresolved and the continent struggling to find answers to a migration crisis and growing threat from Islamic extremists, chaos in Greece would send a horrible signal to the world about the state of Europe.A woman jogs next to graffiti reading „Mrs Merkel we still love you, Greece” in Athens, Ju …”Europe’s internal crisis is playing out in a dangerous, unstable geopolitical environment,” former German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer wrote in a recent article for Project Syndicate. „Preventing the EU from falling apart will require, first and foremost, a strategic solution to the Greek crisis.”ROLE OF SCHAEUBLE It is the lack of a „big picture” strategy that Merkel’s critics have faulted her for since the euro zone crisis first erupted in Greece over five years ago.She has stuck doggedly to her „step by step” approach, in which aid is doled out in return for commitments to economic reform and deep spending cuts. Some economists – and the new Greek government – argue that this strategy has crushed the country, preventing, rather than aiding, recovery.In recent weeks, Merkel has come under criticism for letting Schaeuble take the lead in the negotiations with Greece, even though his scepticism is well known.As far back as 2012, the German finance minister was arguing that the euro zone might be better off without Greece. In his 2014 memoir „Stress Test”, former U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner described Schaeuble’s stance, laid out in a meeting between the two on the North Sea island of Sylt three years ago, as „frightening”.German Chancellor Angela Merkel leaves the EU Council headquarters after a European Union leaders su …Still, it is difficult to fault Merkel for not pushing hard for an agreement behind the scenes. Back in March, during Tsipras’s first visit to Berlin as prime minister, she spent over five hours with him at a dinner in the Chancellery going through Greek reform pledges line for line.”What we told the Greeks is that if they came up with a viable plan, then Merkel would fight for it,” a senior aide said after the meeting.For now, the sense that she did her best to reach a deal with Tsipras, and the widespread feeling in Germany that the Greek government has behaved irresponsibly in the negotiations, is likely to ensure broad domestic support.Over the weekend, politicians from across the political spectrum took to the airwaves to condemn Tsipras and back Merkel. Influential conservative media, like top-selling daily Bild and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, have also swung behind her, after questioning in recent weeks whether she would „go soft” in the final round of talks.How long the German consensus lasts however, is an open question. Merkel’s coalition partners, the Social Democrats (SPD), will be quick to turn on her if the economic and financial costs of an eventual „Grexit” prove unwieldy.And Germany’s allies in Europe and beyond could also begin to question her handling of the crisis.The United States, worried about the geopolitical consequences of Greece leaving the euro at time of rising global threats has been pushing hard behind the scenes for Merkel to keep Athens in the currency bloc at all costs.In a sign of this concern, U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew called Schaeuble, his French counterpart Michel Sapin and IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde over the weekend, pressing them to agree a „sustainable solution” for Greece that includes debt relief – a step Merkel has resisted.More worrying than complaints from Washington would be cracks in the European consensus on Greece.France has toed the German line until now. But at a decisive meeting of euro zone finance ministers on Saturday, France broke with Germany and other countries, arguing in favor of extending Greece’s bailout to allow a referendum to take place, euro zone officials said.The French were slapped down and the Greek request for an extension denied. Now Merkel, barring a miraculous eleventh hour deal with Athens, must face the consequences.(Additional reporting by Andreas Rinke and Ingrid Melander; editing by Janet McBride; Writing by Noah Barkin)
British dead in Tunisia attack may rise over 30: report 6 hours agoBritain’s flag flies at half-mast above the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in central London, on June 28, 2015 (AFP Photo/Niklas Halle’N)Related Stories
London (AFP) – The number of British victims of a mass shooting in Tunisia may increase to at least 30, according to reports in British media on Monday.The BBC reported the death toll from the mass shooting would rise to „at least 30”, without giving a source for the information.The official toll of British deaths is 15, according to the Foreign Office, though ministers have warned that figure is likely to rise. A spokesman declined to comment further.At least 38 were killed when a gunman opened fire in the beach resort of Sousse on Friday, including three Irish people, a Belgian, a Portuguese and one German.Several British tourists were seriously injured, according to a statement released by the foreign office on Saturday, while desperate families have said some relatives are still unaccounted for.The British victims included three members of the same family, according to media reports, and amounted to the worst loss of British life in a terror attack since 52 people died in suicide bombings on the London transport system on July 7, 2005.On Monday interior ministers from Britain, France and Germany will visit Tunisia as the country prepares to arm tourism police and deploy reinforcements to increase security.Britain earlier warned that further attacks were possible in updated travel advice from the Foreign Office.