UK News

Culture

 

British Queen celebrates

World News

 

Three men arrested when police raided a Chicago apartment ahead of the Nato summit had been planning to attack President Barack Obama's campaign headquarters, US prosecutors have said.

They also allegedly plotted to hit Mayor Rahm Emanuel's home and other targets, including police stations and squad cars.

The men were arrested on Wednesday in a night raid in the Bridgeport neighbourhood on the South Side.

They are accused of trying to make Molotov cocktails ahead of the two-day Nato summit which starts on Sunday.

The three were charged with providing material support for terrorism, conspiracy to commit terrorism and possession of explosives.

The suspects were named as Brian Church, 20, of Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Jared Chase, 24, of Keene, New Hampshire; and Brent Vincent Betterly, 24, of Oakland Park, Florida.

 

 

World leaders will huddle at Camp David Friday with the focus on Greece as it stumbles toward an unprecedented eurozone exit that holds wildly uncertain repercussions for the global economy.

Leaders from the Group of Eight industrialised nations will gather at the history-imbued US presidential retreat near Washington for a two-day summit, with the dramatic denouement of Greece's economic crisis firmly at the top of the agenda.

The recent clobbering of Greek parties that back austerity measures under the country's 173-billion-euro ($220 billion) bailout has sparked a fresh round of market panic and left the two-year-old effort to prevent a Greek default on life support.

Governments in many G8 countries believe the odds of a chaos-inducing Greek default and exit from the euro have risen spectacularly since the polls.

Already, markets across the globe have been rocked by speculation that the crisis is slipping beyond control.

Fresh Greek polls are scheduled for June 17, but there is no certainty that supporters of the painful reforms will win, and already nervous Greeks have been pulling money from bank accounts. 

"The crisis in Greece is a very serious and immediate problem," said Uri Dadush, a former senior World Bank official. "Bank deposits are leaving Greece today."

While G8 governments are trying to frame the choice for Greek voters as starkly as possible, donors could yet face a tough choice: Acquiesce to Greek demands for some slack -- risking the ire of taxpayers -- or cut off funding to Athens, a move likely to trigger default and Greece's exit from the euro.

But elections France and Germany have shattered a long-standing consensus that spending cuts are the answer to Greece -- and Europe's -- woes leaving the G8 divided as the end game approaches.

Freshly elected French President Francois Hollande is sure to use his maiden G8 to press for pro-growth policies, and is likely to win the backing of most people around the table.

That puts German Chancellor Angela Merkel firmly in the hot seat. 

Wary of German taxpayer anger about repeated bailouts for countries on Europe's periphery, Merkel has insisted on a toolkit of austerity first, second and third.

But the resulting slow-down in growth has made it even more difficult for governments to get tax revenues and boost their coffers.

"The medicine that they have been taking is not working" said Dadush.

"This will be an opportunity for the US, Italy and France, not to gang up, but to work together on Merkel to say 'look, you need a somewhat different approach.'"

Merkel may even find herself arguing with her host, President Barack Obama.

Fearing the impact of European financial chaos on the United States as it approaches elections in November, Obama seems poised to wade into what has largely been a European debate.

At the summit, Obama will raise "specific" actions Europe could take, as the US welcomes the "debate in Europe about the imperative for jobs and growth," according to National Security Adviser Tom Donilon.

Still, with Obama unwilling or unable to put more cash on the table, he may find himself with minimal leverage.

A compromise may be found in the creation of joint European bonds for specific infrastructure or investment projects in hard-up countries.

 

Voters in North Carolina approved a state constitutional amendment explicitly forbidding gay marriages, civil unions and domestic partnerships.

The measure was passed by 61 percent against 39 percent as of 0230 GMT, according to preliminary results from the North Carolina State Board of Elections.

Similar state constitutional amendments have been approved in some 30 US states.

The amendment solidifies and expands already enacted North Carolina law forbidding same-sex marriage.

Money from national interest groups poured into North Carolina ahead of the election -- the National Organization for Marriage contributed $425,000 to the Vote for Marriage campaign, according to the latest reports, and the Human Rights Campaign contributed some $257,000 to the opposition, the Coalition to Protect All N.C. Families.

The Rev. Billy Graham, an evangelical preacher who was born and lives in North Carolina and at 93 remains enormously influential, took out full-page newspaper ads across the state supporting the ban.

"At 93, I never thought we would have to debate the definition of marriage," Graham said in the ads.

 

The world's leading brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev, maker of Budweiser, Beck's and Stella Artois, posted on Monday a 75 percent jump in first quarter net profit to $1.69 billion (1.28 billion euros).

The Belgium-based company attributed the increase to a strong operating performance, lower net finance costs and a lower effective tax rate, one year after recording profits of $964 million over the same period.

The first quarter 2012 result was well above the $1.39 billion forecast by analysts polled by Dow Jones Newswires.

AB InBev recorded a 6.2 percent rise in turnover to $9.33 billion in the first quarter, "driven by good performances" in North America, Latin America and the Asia Pacific region, the company said in an earnings statement.

The company's three global brands, Budweiser, Stella Artois and Beck's, performed well with growth of 4.8 percent.

 

 

Syrian troops have stormed and shelled districts in a suburb of the capital Damascus, activists said.

The attacks came a day after the Security Council voted to expand the number of UN truce monitors to 300 members in the hope of salvaging an international peace plan marred by continued fighting between the military and opposition rebels.

An eight-member team is already on the ground in Syria, and has visited flashpoints of the 13-month-long conflict since Thursday. Fighting generally stops when they are present, but there has been a steady stream of reports of violence from areas where they have not yet gone.

Douma-based activist Mohammed Saeed said two people were killed by indiscriminate firing in the sprawling district, the scene of intense clashes between rebels and security forces before a ceasefire went into effect more than a week ago.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based opposition group with a network of activists on the ground, confirmed the deaths.

It reported that a third person was killed overnight in the village of Hteita outside Damascus when troops opened fire from a checkpoint.

 

Specialized Oil-Loading Seaport Vitino captured by Russian security officials through hostage taking keeps on being a subject of carve-up and litigations by Russian and international companies.

 

The fate of Russian Specialized Oil-Loading Seaport Vitino located on the White Sea coast has been one of the most discussed Russia related topics in Great Britain for past months.

 

This case is accompanied with a chain of scandals and legal proceedings connected with a struggle for the port at the courts in Cyprus, Great Britain and Russia.

 

Co-owner of Vitino Seaport citizen of Kazakhstan Mr. Abliazov, known in Europe as enemy to the current government of Kazakhstan, struggles at the courts of European jurisdiction for one of Arctic basin’s largest terminals against his Russian ex-partners Maxim Pukhlikov and Sergey Sheklanov.

 

In February 2012, London’s Commercial Court adopted a decision to take into custody for the period of 22 months co-owner of the port, citizen of Kazakhstan Mr. Abliazov for the expressed contempt of court – for having refused to disclose his assets. Mister Abliazov appealed against the decision at the Supreme Court of London. Experts believe that the Commercial Court’s resolution may weaken the standing of Mr. Abliazov in his efforts for the Specialized Oil-Loading Seaport Vitino disputed at European courts.

 

However, the story of Vitino Seaport lies mush deeper. It dates back to the far year of 1993 that Russian businessman Zurab Musinyan made a bold venture to build Vitino Seaport in harsh environmental conditions of the north.

 

Specialized Oil-Loading Seaport Vitino successfully cooperated with Russian oil-producing companies, loaded and shipped 50-80-metric-ton tankers to Europe and North America. The port reached the peak of prosperity in 2005-2006. The port handled 4.76 million tons of oil products in 2006; the staff of over 1000 people received salaries in time, the trading volume reached USD 80 million a year, and capitalization – USD 400 mln. Ninety-seven percent of the port stocks was held by Zurab Musinyan.

 

That very time a story occurred, which laid the foundation of further events to become a subject of extended disputed and litigations at the courts in many countries.

 

The story began in Moscow. On a December day in 2005, Mister Musinyan, the port owner, was approached on the street by officials of the Murmansk Regional Federal Security Service (FSB) of Russia demanding making his property over to Alexander Mitrofanov (65 percent) and Dmitry Sorokin (32 percent), within a month. Upon his refusing to do so, FSB would initiate a criminal case on incitement to terrorism.

 

UK diplomats are investigating reports that a British man has been arrested in Somalia on suspicion of links to the Islamist rebel group al Shabaab.

The 45-year-old was held at the airport in the capital, Mogadishu, after travelling from the UK via Nairobi in Kenya, according to reports.

He is alleged to have told immigration officials he was planning to go to Kismayo in southern Somalia, a port city held by al Shabaab, which is affiliated to al Qaida.

 

A "chuffed to bits" President Barack Obama gushed over British Prime Minister David Cameron on Wednesday, but deepening world crises conspired to darken a warm welcome for a special ally.

Obama went out of his way to hail America's "indispensable" relationship with Britain, even offering to learn the rules of cricket, gifting his guest a top of the range American grill, and laying on a sumptuous state dinner.

But both men were forced to dwell on the terrible human costs of war, with sharp questions looming about the justification for more combat in Afghanistan and the possibility of new Middle East combat over Iran's nuclear program.

Obama and Cameron

conspicuously used a joint press conference to try and convince weary American and British voters that recent sacrifices in Afghanistan had wrought "real progress" towards a future secure state.

The US leader went on the record for the first time to back NATO's planned transfer to a support role in 2013 before a full withdrawal the next year, though said there would be no sudden unscheduled drawdowns in coming months.

He also used the press conference in an unseasonably warm White House Rose Garden, with cherry blossoms in full bloom, to deliver a clear, and stiffened warning to Iran -- take new nuclear talks seriously, as time is running out.

But the elaborately choreographed event, from a 19-gun salute to Cameron to the state dinner, was about celebrating an alliance forged in war that endures.

"Through the grand sweep of history, through all its twists and turns, there is one constant: the rock-solid alliance between the United States and the United Kingdom," said Obama.

Both men quipped about the time in 1814 when the British sent a colonial army to burn down the White House.

"They made quite an impression -- they really lit up the place," Obama said.

Cameron gazed across ranks of troops in ceremonial dress on the White House lawn and joked: "You're clearly not taking any risks with the Brits this time."

Obama also lapsed into some cliche British vernacular, telling Cameron he was "chuffed to bits" to welcome him for a "good natter" and wanted to keep the US-British relationship in a "top notch" state.

After their trip to a college basketball game in Ohio on Monday, Cameron said he would get his own back by taking Obama to a cricket match, prompting a wide presidential grin.

The visit gave Obama a brief respite from the grind of a crisis-scarred presidency and allowed him to underline his credentials as a statesman as he cranks up the pace of his reelection effort.

Cameron may have enjoyed the trip even more as his coalition government is slogging through a grim period of fiscal austerity and with stagnant growth threatening to plunge Britain back into recession.

 

A US soldier has come out of his base in southern Afghanistan and started shooting Afghan civilians, the provincial governor said.

People were both killed and wounded in the shooting spree in Panjwai district of Kandahar province, Governor Tooryalai Wesa told reporters, though he did not provide numbers.

Nato forces spokesman Justin Brockhoff said a US service member had been detained as the alleged shooter but did not provide details on the incident.

He said the coalition had reports of "multiple wounded" but none killed. The wounded are receiving treatment at Nato medical facilities, he said.

The service member is being held at a Nato base and US forces are investigating the shooting in co-operation with Afghan authorities, Mr Brockhoff said. He said it was not clear if the alleged shooter knew the victims.

The shooting comes after weeks of tense relations between US forces and their Afghan hosts following the burning of Korans and other religious materials at an American base.

 

China called for an end to violence in Syria Sunday as the regime of Bashar al-Assad sparked international outrage by blocking aid from reaching the battered Baba Amr flashpoint in Homs city.

As more bloodshed was reported across Syria, Britain and Turkey joined the outcry, accusing the regime of committing a crime by barring Red Cross convoys from entering Baba Amr for the second day.

China, which twice joined Russia in blocking UN Security Council resolutions against Syria's lethal crackdown on dissent, urged all parties in Syria to "unconditionally" end the violence.

Xinhua news agency cited a foreign ministry statement attributed to an unnamed official calling for dialogue between the Syrian regime and those expressing "political aspirations."

But the official reportedly added: "We oppose anyone interfering in Syria's internal affairs under the pretext of 'humanitarian' issues.'"

As condemnation spiralled, the bodies of US reporter Marie Colvin and French photographer Remi Ochlik were flown back to Paris overnight from Damascus.

Relatives of Ochlik were there to meet his coffin as the regular Air France flight, via Amman, touched down at Charles de Gaulle airport in the French capital, an airport source said.

The two western journalists were killed in a rocket attack in the rebel Baba Amr neighbourhood of Homs on February 22.

Colvin's body was expected to be flown on to her native United States on Monday or Tuesday, according to a representative of her newspaper, The London Sunday Times.

French reporter Edith Bouvier of Le Figaro newspaper and British photographer Paul Conroy were wounded in the attack that killed their two colleagues.

Bouvier, 31, and photographer William Daniels, 34, who was not hurt in the rocket attack, have already been smuggled out of Homs by activists to Lebanon and on to Paris.