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Middle East - At War Blog: Returning to Service, and Iraq, With Blackwater

Iraq veteran Matt Pelak returned to the country via a job with Blackwater. He writes that it`s hard to square that experience, and his respect for his colleagues, with the recent coverage of the Blackwater employees on trial for shooting Iraqi civilians in 2007.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014  15:53


World - Libya seeks ceasefire as south Tripoli a militia `war zone`

By Patrick Markey and Aziz El Yaakoubi TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Black plumes of smoke marked shell blasts and bulldozed earthen barricades mapped out the frontlines around Tripoli`s largest airport, now at the heart of a standoff between the country`s powerful militias. With barrages of Grad rockets, anti-aircraft guns and artillery fired at their rival enclaves just kilometers apart, brigades of former rebels have turned parts of southern Tripoli in a battleground for nearly a fortnight. The clash over Tripoli International Airport is the latest eruption in a deepening rivalry among bands of ex-fighters who once battled side by side against Muammar Gaddafi, but have since turned against each other in the scramble for control. Since the 2011 fall of Tripoli, fighters from the western town of Zintan and allies have controlled the area including the international airport, while rivals loyal to the port city of Misrata had entrenched themselves in other parts of the capital.

Saturday, July 26, 2014  00:07


World - U.N. rights inquiry says more Syrians joining Islamic State

By Michelle Nichols UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - More and more Syrian rebels are defecting to join the ultra-hardline Islamic State insurgency, said U.N. human rights investigators on Friday, in what they described as a `Syrian-ization` of the al Qaeda offshoot. Members of the independent Commission of Inquiry on Syria, set up by the U.N. Human Rights Council in September 2011, informally briefed the United Nations Security Council on Friday ahead of submitting their latest report next week. Brazilian chief investigator Paulo Pinheiro said the Islamic State - formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, ISIL or ISIS - was undergoing a `Syrian-ization.` `What began with a lot of foreign fighters, now you have authentic Syrian citizens,` Pinheiro told reporters. Karen Koning AbuZayd, a member of the commission, said most of the Syrians joining Islamic State were defecting from other armed opposition groups fighting in the country`s civil war, now in its fourth year.

Friday, July 25, 2014  23:41


Business - US consumer prices up 0.3 percent in June

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. consumer prices rose in June at a slightly slower pace than in May with two-thirds of the June advance driven by the largest jump in gasoline prices in a year.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014  13:39


World - Norway honors victims of 2011 terror attacks

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg said Tuesday the best way to honor the 77 people who died in terror attacks in her country three years ago is to `fight for openness, tolerance and diversity.`

Tuesday, July 22, 2014  16:19


Business - Standard & Poor`s may face SEC charges over ratings

The parent of Standard & Poor`s, which is defending against a $5 billion lawsuit by the federal government over its credit ratings, said on Wednesday it may soon also face U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission charges over another set of ratings. In a regulatory filing, McGraw-Hill Financial Inc said it received a `Wells notice` on July 22 indicating the SEC is weighing filing civil charges for alleged securities law violations over S&P`s ratings of six commercial mortgage-backed securities transactions issued in 2011. Catherine Mathis, an S&P spokeswoman, said it has been reported the SEC was examining its decision in 2011 to `pull` ratings of a CMBS transaction.

Thursday, July 24, 2014  00:30


World - U.S. judge tosses FDA panel report on menthol cigarettes

By Mica Rosenberg NEW YORK (Reuters) - A federal judge ruled on Monday in favor of two tobacco companies that challenged a 2011 U.S. Food and Drug Administration committee report on menthol cigarettes, finding three of the panel`s members had conflicts of interests. U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon ordered the FDA reconstitute the committee and barred the agency from using the panel`s findings, which said removing menthol cigarettes from the market would benefit public health. Lorillard Inc and Reynolds American Inc`s R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co unit filed the lawsuit in 2011 arguing the panel`s members were biased against the industry. `The presence of conflicted members on the Committee irrevocably tainted its very composition and its work product,` Leon wrote in ruling filed at the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. He called the panel`s findings and recommendations `at a minimum suspect, and, at worst, untrustworthy.` Leon has sided with the tobacco companies in the past.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014  01:32


World - Somalia facing new famine threat, aid agencies warn

Three years to the day since a famine that eventually killed more than a quarter of a million people was declared in Somalia, aid agencies warned Sunday the country faced a new catastrophe without urgent aid. A joint statement issued by a group of charities and aid agencies said there were more than 300,000 malnourished children in Somalia and a total of 2.9 million people in need of life-saving help. `Aid agencies today caution, again, that the signs of a drought are re-emerging in Somalia and urge for these not to be ignored in order to avoid a relapse into the conditions of the 2011 catastrophe,` the statement said, warning that without funding, aid programmes were likely to be forced to shut down. `Most affected people are still recovering from the massive losses of the 2011 drought and famine.

Sunday, July 20, 2014  13:03


Business - Citigroup unit to pay $5 million to settle SEC charges

A business unit of Citigroup will pay $5 million to settle civil charges that one of its private trading venues violated federal law by failing to protect clients` confidential trading data, U.S. regulators said on Friday. The Securities and Exchange Commission said the unit, LavaFlow Inc, is settling the case without admitting or denying the charges. The LavaFlow trading venue failed to put adequate safeguards and procedures in place to protect its subscribers` confidential trading information from March 2008 through March 2011, the SEC said in a statement. Another Citigroup affiliate was able to access LavaFlow`s subscribers` confidential trading information to decide where to route certain orders, the regulator said.

Friday, July 25, 2014  17:27


World - New clashes between Libya militia at Tripoli airport

Fresh clashes broke out Friday between rival Libyan militias battling for control of Tripoli airport, the target of 13 days of shelling that have disrupted air links to the outside world. Columns of smoke billowed into the sky around the airport perimeter, while loud explosions were heard throughout the morning, an AFP correspondent reported. Libya`s main international airport has been shut since fighting erupted on July 13, a bout of violence that has killed at least 47 people and wounded 120, according to the health ministry. The clashes, the most violent since the overthrow of dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011, started with an assault on the airport by a coalition of groups, mainly Islamists, which has since been backed by fighters from third city Misrata.

Friday, July 25, 2014  17:00

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