U.S. President Ronald Reagan, right, shakes hands with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev after the two leaders signed the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty to eliminate intermediate-range missiles during a ceremony in the White House East Room in Washington. In an escalation of tensions, the Obama administration accused Russia on July 28, 2014, of conducting tests in violation of a 1987 nuclear missile treaty, calling the breach "a very serious matter" and going public with allegations that have simmered for some time. The treaty confrontation comes at a highly strained time between President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin over Russia's intervention in Ukraine and Russia's grant of asylum to National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden.
Monday, July 28, 2014
Palestinians look at a pool of blood from victims of an explosion that killed 10 people, 9 of them children, at a park at Shati refugee camp, in the northern Gaza Strip, Monday, July 28, 2014. Israeli and Palestinian authorities traded blame over the attack and fighting in the Gaza war raged on despite a major Muslim holiday.
Sunday, July 27, 2014
Supporters of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) broke into celebration, victory songs and almost turned the premises of the Court of Appeal into a carnival ground as the court reaffirmed the ruling of the Anambra State Election Petitions Tribunal on the victory of Chief Willy Obiano in the November 2013 governorship election.
Delivering judgment in four separate appeals, the five justices of the court: Hon. Justice Mohammed Lawal Garba; Hon. Justice Ejembi Eko; Hon Justice I.O. Akeju; Hon. Justice Tijjani Abubakar; and Hon Justice M. Mustapha, yesterday, unanimously dismissed the appeals of the All Progressive Congress (APC) and its candidate, Senator Chris Ngige; the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP), its candidate Tony Nwoye; and governorship aspirant in the election, Dr. Chike Obidigbo, for lack of merit.
In the election Ngige, came third behind Obiano while Nwoye of the PDP came second. Ngige and Nwoye had proceeded to appeal after losing at the Election Petition Tribunal presided by Hon. Justice Ishaq Bello, which on June 4 in Awka upheld the victory of Obiano, declaring that he was validly elected, as the November 16, 17 and 30 governorship ballot complied substantially with the provisions of the Electoral Act and the 1999 Constitution.
Pronouncing ruling in the appeal by Ngige against the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Obiano, APGA, and others, the Presiding Justice, Mohammed Garba said: “The appeal lacks merit and is dismissed in its entirety. The ruling of the Election Tribunal on June 4, 2014, is hereby affirmed by me. I have assessed cost at N50,000 in favour of the third respondent (Obiano).”
That became the pattern in the subsequent appeals, as each Justice affirmed the lack of merit in the appeals. On the second ruling, which is the appeal by Nwoye against INEC, Obiano and others, the PDP candidate had, like Ngige, canvassed a cancellation of the election and a fresh poll held because of irregularities and the double registration by Obiano. His appeal was also unanimously dismissed by the five justices, and N50,000 cost awarded in favour of Obiano.”
The PDP’s appeal which was similar to the one by Nwoye was also dismissed in similar fashion.
Dr. Obidigbo, an APGA governorship aspirant, who wanted the court to declare him the rightful candidate of the party after he merged with the candidate of another faction of the party, also canvassed a cancellation of the election and a fresh election held.
The Presiding Justice apologized for the delay in delivering the ruling following extensive typographical errors in the judgement. These errors necessitated the delay of the ruling from 9am till 2 pm. Although the corrections of errors could not be completed at the time of the delivery, Garba opted to pronounce the ruling without reading the entire judgment.
Taking time off the celebrations, the National Chairman of APGA, Chief Victor Umeh told journalists that the party was grateful to God for the Judiciary.
He noted that, “it has become obvious that over 95 per cent of judicial officers in this country have decided to uphold the rule of law and principles of law. Today, a five-man panel of the Court of Appeal unanimously dismissed all the appeals standing against our victory at the lower tribunal in Awka following our victory at the governorship election in November 2013.
“We were not in doubt that all these appeals will be dismissed because APGA’s candidate, Chief Obiano, won this election. Our opponents, the APC and PDP, decided to head to the Tribunal. During the hearing at the Tribunal, they did not prove anything, and the Tribunal ruled in our favour. Both the APC and its candidate, the PDP, and another petitioner, who claimed to be a member of APGA, Chike Obidigbo, had their petitions dismissed for lack of merit.”
---------DAILY TIMES NIGERIA, SUNDAY, JULY 27, 2014
A pro-Russian fighters' APC stands abandoned near the city of Lisichansk, Luhansk region, eastern Ukraine Saturday, July 26, 2014. Volunteers from the Donbas Battalion, a volunteer militia for a united Ukraine, told The Associated Press their units, along with the Ukrainian army, regained control of Lisichansk on Friday.
As her brother-in-law Mazen Keferna, background left, weeps, Palestinian Manal Keferna, 30, right, cries upon her return to the family house, destroyed by Israeli strikes in Beit Hanoun, northern Gaza Strip, Saturday, July 26, 2014. Thousands of Gaza residents who had fled Israel-Hamas fighting streamed back to devastated border areas during a lull Saturday, and were met by large-scale destruction: scores of homes were pulverized, wreckage blocked roads and power cables dangled in the streets.
Saturday, July 26, 2014
Palestinians salvage usable things in their belongings they find at their destroyed houses during a 12-hour cease-fire in Gaza City's Shijaiyah neighborhood, Saturday, July 26, 2014. Thousands of Gaza residents who had fled Israel-Hamas fighting streamed back to devastated border areas during a lull Saturday to find large-scale destruction: scores of homes were pulverized, wreckage blocked roads and power cables dangled in the streets.
Friday, July 25, 2014
JERUSALEM (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Friday that more work was needed to reach a deal between Israel and Hamas for a seven-day truce in the Gaza war. Israel's defense minister warned that the military may soon broaden its ground operation "significantly."
In a statement issued shortly after Kerry spoke at a press conference in Cairo, Yaalon's office quoted him telling troops in the field that "you need to be ready for the possibility that very soon we will instruct the military to significantly broaden the ground operation in Gaza."
"Hamas is paying a very heavy price and will pay an even heavier price," Yaalon said. "At the end of the operation, Hamas will have to think very hard if it is worth it to taunt us in the future." Israel has said a key objective of its ground operation is to destroy Hamas military tunnels under the Gaza-Israel border — and Israeli media have said the military wants more time to complete the mission.
Of 31 discovered so far, about half have been destroyed. The tunnels, used by Hamas in the past to sneak into Israel, are seen as a strategic threat against Israel. For days, Kerry has been moving between the Egyptian capital, the West Bank and Jerusalem and talking to officials from Qatar, which is in contact with Hamas. But the most Kerry seemed to have won so far was a willingness from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to consider a far less ambitious 12-hour halt in fighting, proposed by U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon.
Netanyahu, Kerry said, "has indicated his willingness to do that as a good faith down payment to move forward." Still, Kerry said that the parties are closer than ever to an agreement for a seven-day "humanitarian" truce to start with the Muslim Eid holiday on Monday, ending the holy month of Ramadan.
Speaking alongside the U.N. secretary-general and the Egyptian foreign minister, Kerry insisted that there was a general agreement on the "concept" of a truce but that both sides had concerns over details of carrying it out.
"Gaps have been significantly narrowed," he said. "It can be achieved, if we work through some of the issues that are important for the parties." Gaza fighting continued alongside the truce efforts. Israeli airstrikes hit more than 80 sites in Gaza, while militants in the tiny Mediterranean strip fired 50 rockets at Israel, the army said. Among the sites hit in Gaza were 30 homes, including that of a leader of the Islamic Jihad group who was killed along with his sons, Palestinian officials said.
And unrest sparked by the conflict intensified in the West Bank, where five Palestinians were killed during protests against the Israeli operation in Gaza. The U.S. top diplomat said the goal of halting fighting for seven days was to provide time to work out further talks to address each side's demands. He said some "terminology" on a truce's framework still needed work.
Hamas demands the release of Palestinian prisoners in addition to an end to the 7-year-old border blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt after the group seized Gaza from the Western-backed government of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Israeli TV reports said Israel's Security Cabinet unanimously rejected Kerry's proposal in its current form, mainly because it would mean Israel has to cut short the effort to destroy tunnels. But Kerry said he had not submitted a formal proposal to Israel for the Cabinet to vote on.
Israeli government officials were not immediately available for comment. The worst round of cross-border fighting in more than five years has killed 828 Palestinians and wounded more than 5,200, according to Palestinian health officials. The U.N. says civilians make up three-fourths of the dead and a majority of the wounded.
In Israel, 38 people have been killed since July 8, including 35 soldiers, two Israeli civilians and a Thai worker. The army announced on Friday that an Israeli soldier whom Hamas had claimed to have captured earlier this week had in fact died in battle on that day. The declaration lifts fears of a soldier in Hamas custody — one of Israel's worst-case scenarios in any fight with the militants.
The army said it determined that Sgt. Oron Shaul was killed among seven soldiers killed in a vehicle that was hit by an anti-tank missile in Gaza on Sunday. The others in the vehicle were confirmed dead soon after the battle ended but Shaul's remains were not immediately identified. Shaul is among the count of 35 soldiers killed in the fighting.
As the Gaza fighting drags on, the West Bank is becoming increasingly restive. Protests erupted Friday in the northern village of Hawara, near the city of Nablus, and the southern village of Beit Omar, near the city of Hebron. Palestinian hospital officials said three Palestinians were killed in Beit Omar and two in Hawara.
The mayor of Hawara, Mouin Idmeidi, said he and hundreds of others from the village participated in a protest after emerging from a local mosque after Friday prayers. Hawara is located along a main north-south thoroughfare that is also used by Israeli motorists. The mayor said an Israeli motorist slowed down as he passed the march and fired at the group.
The mayor said four people were wounded and that one of them, a 19-year-old, died at Rafidiyeh Hospital in Nablus of his injuries. After the shooting, clashes erupted between Palestinians and Israeli troops who opened fire, killing a 22-year-old from Hawara, the mayor said.
Rafidiyeh hospital confirmed the deaths. An Israeli police spokesman, Mickey Rosenfeld, said paramilitary border police opened fire to disperse violent protests at Hawara, and that masked Palestinians threw firebombs. He said he was unaware of a shooting involving an Israeli civilian.
In Beit Omar, clashes erupted between Israeli forces and Palestinian stone-throwers. Hebron hospital officials said three Palestinians were killed. The Israeli military said it was looking into the reports.
On Thursday, thousands of Palestinians clashes with Israeli forces at a West Bank checkpoint and in east Jerusalem, the largest protests in those areas in several years.
Associated Press writers Mohammed Daraghmeh in the West Bank and Yousur Alhlou in Jerusalem contributed to this report.
KIEV, UKRAINE (AP) — Russia is launching artillery attacks from its soil on Ukrainian troops and preparing to move heavier weaponry across the border, the U.S. and Ukraine charged Friday in what appeared to be an ominous escalation of the crisis.
If true, the allegations mean Moscow is playing a more direct role in the fighting than it has been accused of up to now — a dangerous turn in what is already the gravest crisis between Russia and the West since the end of the Cold War.
In addition, Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, said that the U.S. has seen powerful rocket systems moving closer to the Ukraine border and that they could be put into the hands of the Russian-backed separatists as soon as Friday.
It wasn't clear what those developments mean for the international investigation into the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. U.S. authorities believe the separatists shot it down with a missile, perhaps in the mistaken belief it was a military plane.
A small group of Dutch and Australian investigators combed the sprawling, unsecured field where the plane came down on July 17, taking notes and photos as their governments prepared police detachments they hope can protect the crash site and help bring the last of the 298 victims home.
U.S. officials said this week that they had new evidence that Russia intended to deliver heavier and more powerful multiple rocket launchers to the separatists. Warren said Friday that the delivery could happen at any time, adding "it's that close" to the border.
Warren also corroborated Ukrainian reports of artillery fire from Russia. He said there was no indication Ukraine had shelled Russia. "For the last several days Russian forces using Russian artillery from Russian soil have conducted attacks against Ukrainian military positions in Ukraine," Warren said. "This is unquestionably an escalation from a military perspective."
Russia's Foreign Ministry responded to U.S. allegations about cross-border shelling by saying: "Facts and details to confirm these lying contentions do not exist." The allegations come amid a Ukrainian government offensive against the separatists that has won back control of several important towns over the past few weeks.
Douglas Lute, U.S. ambassador to NATO, accused Russia of waging "civil war by proxy" in Ukraine and said the Russians have about 15,000 troops massed near the border. He spoke at a security forum in Aspen, Colorado.
In another development, CNN said pro-Russian rebels abducted one of its local freelancers on Tuesday outside the separatist-controlled city of Donetsk and was still holding him on Friday. Anton Skiba had worked for the network for only a day when he was seized as he and other members of a CNN crew returned to their hotel from the jetliner crash site.
CNN said the abductors first accused Skiba of "terrorism" and of using his Facebook page to post cash rewards for killing separatists. Later they dropped that accusation and said he was being questioned for using identification with different last names. Later they said he had confessed to being a Ukrainian "agent."
The U.S. and human rights groups condemned Skiba's abduction as an attempt by the rebels to sow fear, CNN reported. "We chose not to report his abduction at the time while making efforts to obtain his release," CNN spokeswoman Bridget Leininger told The Associated Press. "That has not happened to date, so we are now publicly asking those who are holding Skiba to release him immediately."
Russia said a group of its investigators came under Ukrainian mortar fire Friday in the Russian village of Primiussky. They were investigating the reported shelling two days earlier of the village, which is about 2.5 kilometers (1.2 miles) from the border. No deaths were reported.
European Union ambassadors, meanwhile, reached a preliminary deal Friday on stepped-up sanctions against Russia for its involvement in Ukraine, targeting Moscow's defense and technology sectors and its access to European capital.
EU spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said EU member states must decide whether the measures need to be approved by a summit meeting of the trade bloc's 28 member countries to go into effect. The ambassadors also ordered asset freezes and travel bans against 15 more Russians and pro-Russian Ukrainians accused of undermining Ukraine. Eighteen businesses or other entities will also be subject to sanctions.
Russia increased its economic pressure on Ukraine when its agency in charge of agricultural products announced that it is banning imports of Ukrainian dairy. Russia is the biggest export market for Ukrainian milk and cheese.
__ Associated Press staff writers Peter Leonard in Kiev, John-Thor Dahlburg in Brussels and Vanessa Gera in Warsaw, Poland, contributed to this report.
Thursday, July 24, 2014
Palestinian children, wounded in an Israeli strike on a compound housing a U.N. school in Beit Hanoun, in the northern Gaza Strip, lay on the floor of an emergency room at the Kamal Adwan hospital in Beit Lahiya, Thursday, July 24, 2014. Israeli tank shells hit the compound, killing more than a dozen people and wounding dozens more who were seeking shelter from fierce clashes on the streets outside. Gaza health official Ashraf al-Kidra says the dead and injured in the school compound were among hundreds of people seeking shelter from heavy fighting in the area.