NASA sees no risk for Earth in new asteroid discovered by Russian scientists
NASA has said a newly-spotted 1,300-foot (396-meter) wide asteroid is not a threat to Earth, AP reported. The asteroid, discovered in October by Russian scientists, won’t even get that close to Earth in the next 150 years, according to NASA’s Near Earth Object program manager Donald Yeomans. It isn’t a threat to any other planet, either. Moscow State University Professor Vladimir Lipunov who discovered it, also said the space rock 2014 UR116 posed no immediate threat. Its orbit isn’t close enough to the Earth’s orbit to cause a collision. NASA and Harvard say the closest the 2014 UR116 will get to Earth is about 2.7 million miles (4.3 million km) in April 2047.
3,400 died in Mediterranean in 2014 on way to EU
More than 3,400 people have died in the Mediterranean this year trying to reach Europe, the UN refugee agency said Wednesday. The UNHCR said that more than 207,000 people have made the risky sea crossing since January, almost three times the previous high of 70,000 during the Libyan civil war in 2011, AFP reported. Of these, a record 3,419 died, out of a total of 4,272 reported deaths worldwide on migrant vessels. Most people set off from Libya bound for Italy and Malta, and the numbers include 60,051 Syrians and 34,561 Eritreans.
Last French hostage Lazarevic arrives in Paris
Serge Lazarevic, the last French hostage held in Africa, arrived in France on Wednesday morning, France 24 said. He was released the previous day, following more than three years in captivity in Mali. The Paris-based businessman, 50, who has dual French and Serbian citizenship, traveled to France from Niamey, the capital of Niger. Lazarevic was kidnapped by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, in the Malian town of Hombori on November 24, 2011.
Uber taxi driver held for rape in India ‘career criminal’
The Uber taxi driver held on suspicion of raping a passenger in India is a career criminal, Reuters said, citing police. Shiv Kumar Yadav, 32, has charges dating back more than a decade, according to Madhur Verma, a deputy commissioner with the Delhi police. Yadav’s offences include robbery, molestation and possessing an unlicensed firearm. On Monday, Yadav was remanded in custody for three days by a Delhi court. The Uber service stopped working in the Indian capital on Wednesday after the state government banned it.
Israel blasts Amnesty Int. for ‘unfounded’ report outlining Gaza attack ‘war crimes’
Israel has dismissed a report by Amnesty International that it was guilty of committing “war crimes” during its military operation in the Gaza Strip this summer. Israel said Amnesty had “decontextualized” its description of events, and relied on unsubstantiated witness testimony. On Monday night, Amnesty International issued a report criticizing Israeli actions at the tail end of its 50-day military operation in the Gaza Strip. Amnesty singled out Israeli airstrikes on four landmark buildings which it called a deliberate and direct attack on civilian buildings which amounted to “war crimes.”
Last French hostage Lazarevic freed ‘in good health’ – Hollande
France’s only remaining hostage held abroad, Serge Lazarevic, has been freed and is in “relatively good health,” French President Francois Hollande said on Tuesday. “There are no more French hostages in any country in the world,” Hollande said. He added that Lazarevic would be met by his daughter in Niger’s capital Niamey, AFP reported. Lazarevic, who has dual French and Serbian citizenship, was accompanying Frenchman Philippe Verdon on a business trip when they were both seized by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) on November 24, 2011. Verdon was found shot dead last year.
Lebanese authorities issue arrest warrant for ‘ISIS chief’s wife’
Lebanese authorities have issued a formal arrest warrant for a wife of the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) group leader, AP said. The detained woman was also referred to military prosecutors, according to judicial officials. Saja al-Dulaimi is being held at the Defense Ministry on suspicion of “terrorism crimes.” Last week, the Interior Ministry said that DNA tests have confirmed that a child captured along with al-Dulaimi late last month is the daughter of IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Al-Dulaimi was reportedly married to al-Baghdadi six years ago for three months.
7 people arrested in Moldova on suspicion of uranium smuggling
Moldovan police have detained seven people on suspicion they smuggled uranium and mercury from Russia to be used in a dirty bomb, AP said. Police confiscated 200 grams of uranium-238 mixed with uranium-235 and a kilogram of mercury, smuggled by train. The material has a black-market value of $2 million. Authorities in Moldova are cooperating with Ukrainian and Russian police to identify other gang members.
Bomb blast kills 9 on Philippines passenger bus
A suspected bomb blast has killed at least nine people on a bus in front of Central Mindanao University in the southern Philippines, AP reported. More than 20 others were also injured when a powerful blast ripped through the bus Tuesday as it was traveling near the gate of the university in Bukidnon province’s Maramag town, police said. In the past, officials blamed Muslim rebels and extortion gangs for bus bombings in the south.
Russia will ‘adequately’ respond to US anti-missile system
Moscow will have to “adequately” respond to the development of US anti-missile system in Europe, RIA Novosti quoted Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov as saying. “We warn that we will have to take adequate measures at a certain stage of the creation of the US missile defense system,” he said.“Russia has no intention to drift into a costly arms race, however we will surely maintain the defense capacity of our country.”
Donetsk, Lugansk prepare ‘big exchange of prisoners’
Self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk Peoples’ Republics (DNR and LNR) in eastern Ukraine are preparing for ‘a big exchange of prisoners’ with authorities in Kiev, Deputy Chair of the DPR Parliament Denis Pushilin said Tuesday. The timing will be discussed during talks in Minsk and a Skype conference on Wednesday, RIA Novosti quoted him as saying. Ukraine has already submitted lists that include 223 people, Pushilin said, adding that the republics’ lists include 152 people.
Trucks deliver MH17 wreckage to Netherlands from E. Ukraine
Trucks carrying wreckage from Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 collected from eastern Ukraine crossed into the Netherlands overnight, Reuters said. Investigators will try and rebuild the airliner almost five months after it crashed in on July 17, killing all 298 people on board, two-thirds of them Dutch. The wreckage was transferred under a deal with Kiev and self-defense forces in eastern Ukraine.
Twin suicide car bombs kill at least 6 soldiers in SE Yemen
At least six soldiers were killed by twin suicide car bombs on Tuesday in an attack on an army headquarters in southeast Yemen. Eight others were injured after the explosive-laden vehicles were detonated at the entrance to the base in the town of Seiyun in Hadramawt province, AFP said, citing a military source. A general who arrived at the base shortly before the blasts was unharmed. Also in Hadramawt province, suspected Al-Qaeda militants late on Monday killed two soldiers and wounded a third in an ambush in the town of Shehr.
Israel must be investigated for ‘war crimes during Gaza offensive’ – Amnesty
The Israeli military must be investigated for war crimes committed during its Gaza offensive this summer, Amnesty International said on Tuesday. Activities to destroy four multi-story buildings during the last four days of the 50-day war were in breach of international humanitarian law, according to the group’s report. Evidence indicate the attacks were “a collective punishment against the people of Gaza” designed to destroy their livelihoods, AFP quoted Philip Luther, director of Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa program, as saying.
Internet taxi firms banned in India capital after Uber rape claim
India’s capital has banned internet-based taxi firms after a female passenger reported she was raped by a driver contracted to US online cab company Uber, Reuters said. Only six registered radio taxi companies are allowed to operate, the Indian Express said, citing an order issued late on Monday by the Delhi transport department. Police said it had failed to run background checks on the driver, who was arrested three years ago in a similar case but later acquitted.
Policeman killed in attack in Shiite Bahraini town
One policeman was killed in a “terrorist” attack in a Shiite town in Bahrain, AFP reported, citing officials of the Interior Ministry. Foreign Minister Khalid al-Khalifa blamed Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah for the attack that occurred Monday night in Damistan, southwest of the capital Manama. It was the first fatal attack on the security forces since parliamentary elections in November, boycotted by the main Shiite opposition.