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Exclusive - U.N. support for Congo campaign against Rwanda rebels in doubt over abuses

30 January, 2015 - 19:21
By Michelle Nichols and Aaron Ross UNITED NATIONS/KINSHASA (Reuters) - United Nations support for a planned military operation against Rwandan rebels in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo could be in doubt because Congo named a general accused of rights abuses to head the offensive, diplomats and officials said on Friday. General Bruno Mandevu was appointed on Sunday to head a Congolese army (FARDC) operation against the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), which had been jointly planned with the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Congo (MONUSCO).
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UK asset managers weak on disclosing environmental, social investing - survey

30 January, 2015 - 19:07

UK asset managers are often failing to show they consider environmental and social factors when they invest, despite signing up to codes of conduct on responsible investing, an investment watchdog said on Saturday. ShareAction ranked Threadneedle as the most responsible in a survey of 33 UK asset managers who invest a combined 13.8 trillion pounds on behalf of pension funds, charities and universities around the world. Only 42 percent of those surveyed disclosed policies on how they include environmental and social factors in their investment decisions, though this is up from 34 percent in 2010, when ShareAction last conducted the survey. "A wide range of big names in asset management ... still refuse to be transparent about how they invest clients' money," ShareAction Chief Executive Catherine Howarth said in a statement.

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Clegg: I've wanted to slap Cameron

30 January, 2015 - 19:07

Nick Clegg has admitted he wanted to slap David Cameron on more than 20 occasions during their time in coalition.

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Aviation leaders seek new safety mandate after deadly 2014

30 January, 2015 - 18:39

By Allison Lampert and Allison Martell MONTREAL (Reuters) - Aviation leaders will try to secure a mandate to implement new safety standards when they meet next week after a string of high-profile accidents around the world made 2014 the deadliest year for commercial airlines in almost a decade. Efforts to adopt new standards for global plane tracking and co-operation on the risks of flying over conflict zones will dominate the meeting on safety in Montreal from Feb. 2-5, weeks ahead of the anniversary of the disappearance of flight MH370, the Malaysian Airlines jet with 239 people on board. "Issues such as flight restrictions over conflict zones can only be tackled at a global or regional level," Patrick Ky, executive director of the European Aviation Safety Agency, said. "The global aviation regulatory system should also act more quickly to address the recommendations for safety improvement made by accident investigators," he told Reuters ahead of the talks at the International Civil Aviation Organization.

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Islamic State chemical weapons expert killed in airstrike in Iraq - U.S.

30 January, 2015 - 18:37
An Islamic State chemical weapons expert was killed in a coalition airstrike last week near Mosul, Iraq, the U.S. Central Command said in a statement on Friday. Abu Malik, who was killed Jan. 24, had been a chemical weapons engineer during the rule of Saddam Hussein and then affiliated himself with al Qaeda Iraq in 2005, Central Command said. When he joined Islamic State, also known as ISIL, it gave the insurgent force a chemical weapons capability, the statement said.
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AT&T top buyer at U.S. airwaves auction; Dish spends big

30 January, 2015 - 18:28

By Alina Selyukh and Malathi Nayak WASHINGTON/SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - AT&T Inc spent close to half the total in the record-setting U.S. sale of airwaves for mobile data, with Dish Network Corp spending heavily to manage a surprise win at No.2 ahead of Verizon, results showed on Friday. AT&T bid a total of $18.2 billion (12.1 billion pounds) to win licenses of so-called AWS-3 spectrum. Dish itself did not win any licenses, but had invested in bidding partners SNR Wireless LicenseCo LLC and Northstar Wireless LLC, which bid a total of $13.3 billion. The two companies, backed also by financial firms including BlackRock Inc but with little to no revenue, had applied to receive a discount as small-business entities, bringing their net bid amount to $10 billion.

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Obama, Dalai Lama set to attend National Prayer Breakfast

30 January, 2015 - 18:27

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama and the Dalai Lama will be at the National Prayer Breakfast next week in Washington, the first time the two men have been together in nearly a year.

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Burgess fails to shine for England Saxons

30 January, 2015 - 18:16

(Reuters) - Former rugby league player Sam Burgess failed to shine on his first appearance in an England shirt as the second string Saxons overcame the Ireland Wolfhounds 18-9 in Cork on Friday. The 26-year-old Bath inside centre was watched by England head coach Stuart Lancaster, whose team kick off the Six Nations against Wales on Feb. 6, but Burgess had few chances to catch the eye and was replaced late on as he continues to adapt to the new code. ...

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ECB's Praet says QE will help fend off damaging deflation

30 January, 2015 - 18:06

European Central Bank Executive Board member Peter Praet defended the ECB's decision to buy government bonds in an interview published on Saturday, saying it took pre-emptive action to prevent a deflationary spiral in the euro zone. "If inflation in the euro zone were to rise to 4 percent, everyone would expect the ECB to do something about it. So the ECB also has to act when inflation falls to zero percent," he told Saturday's edition of Germany daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung. "Foresight is better than hindsight," Praet said, adding that he expected the ECB's decision to contribute to positive growth developments in the euro zone economy in coming months.

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Venezuela confirms shooting down small plane near Aruba

30 January, 2015 - 18:03
Venezuela said on Friday it shot down a civilian plane after it ignored communications off its Caribbean coast near the island of Aruba, but denied any violation of international airspace. Authorities on Aruba, a semi-autonomous island that is part of the kingdom of the Netherlands, had said on Thursday the aircraft being pursued by Venezuelan military jets went down off its coast, with human remains and packages of drugs visible in the water. Defence Minister Vladimir Padrino told reporters the plane, which first landed in Apure state, was shot down after ignoring communications on takeoff. Venezuela for several years has operated under a shoot-down policy when drug flights are suspected.
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US to provide privacy group with memo on surveillance

30 January, 2015 - 17:46
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department has agreed to turn over a legal opinion regarding government surveillance and census data after a years-long court fight with a privacy group.
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Republican Romney opts out of 2016 run for president

30 January, 2015 - 17:31

By Steve Holland WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republican Mitt Romney bowed out of the 2016 U.S. presidential race on Friday after considering a third run, telling supporters it was time for the next generation of party leaders to seek the White House. Romney's decision helps clarify an emerging Republican field split between potential establishment candidates like former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and conservative voices represented by Texas Senator Ted Cruz and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee. The move will likely boost Bush, the brother of former President George W. Bush and son of former President George H.W. Bush, even though Romney has privately made known to aides he is not convinced that Bush can defeat Hillary Clinton if she becomes the Democratic presidential nominee. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, all of whom will have a better chance for money and media attention with Romney on the sidelines.

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Factbox - The U.N. agency examining 2014's aviation disasters

30 January, 2015 - 17:28
The following are some facts about the organization: - ICAO is a Montreal-based specialised agency of the United Nations which oversees civil aviation. Created in 1944, ICAO's 191 member states are signatories to the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation, the treaty that governs international flight by civil aircraft. - The agency sets standards that typically become regulatory requirements in its member states. States can choose not to follow any of ICAO's more than 10,000 "standards and recommended practices," but they are supposed to report deviations to ICAO.
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Factbox - U.N. aviation conference agenda

30 January, 2015 - 17:25
The following are some of the main proposals on the agenda: TRACKING PLANES ICAO's Secretariat has asked members to endorse a proposed global flight tracking system called the Global Aeronautical Distress and Safety System, or GADSS, after the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 last March on a flight to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur. Australia, which has led a nearly year-long hunt for MH370, wants ICAO to clarify who should be responsible for such searches once rescue efforts are called off. Malaysia has said it would split the costs.
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Winston Churchill's Funeral, Recreated

30 January, 2015 - 17:23

On Friday, the United Kingdom observed the 50th anniversary of former Prime Minister Winston Churchill's funeral. While anniversaries are typically noted or marked, observed seems more precise here considering both the gravity and extent of the ceremonies held to honor the iconic leader. AP

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Basketball-Barcelona, Panathinaikos and Fenerbahce march on

30 January, 2015 - 17:18
By Zoran Milosavljevic BELGRADE, Jan 30 (Reuters) - Heavyweight trio Barcelona, Panathinaikos and Fenerbahce eased to victory in the fifth round of the Euroleague's second group stage on Friday. Twice former champions Barcelona strolled to an 89-72 home win over Lithuanians Zalgiris Kaunas, Panathinaikos beat Galatasaray 86-77 and Fenerbahce triumphed 68-60 at Unicaja Malaga in the day's most exciting contest. ...
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Oil rallies on U.S. rig count drop; dollar up seventh month

30 January, 2015 - 17:05

By Caroline Valetkevitch NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil prices rallied on Friday following the sharpest weekly drop in U.S. oil rig count in nearly 30 years, while the dollar index ended January with its longest run of gains since the greenback was floated in 1971. U.S. stocks finished the day down more than 1 percent as data showed U.S. economic growth slowed sharply in the fourth quarter. Major U.S. stock indexes posted losses for the week and month, with the declines driven by falling oil prices and concern about weak overseas demand. The U.S. dollar index advanced for a seventh straight month in January, marking the longest streak of monthly gains since the greenback was floated in 1971.

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Dozens detained in Austrian ball protests

30 January, 2015 - 16:55
Austrian police detained dozens of protesters during violent demonstrations on Friday against an annual ball in Vienna's imperial Hofburg palace that traditionally draws right-wing figures. Around 5,000 demonstrators, many from abroad, took to the streets of Austria's capital to protest against the so-called Academics' Ball, part of the annual Viennese ball season, which was hosted by the far-right Freedom Party. The formal ball, which in past years has attracted such far-right luminaries as French National Front leader Marine le Pen, is now an annual flashpoint for clashes with leftist opponents of the event.
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Turmoil at congress of Germany party swiping votes from Merkel

30 January, 2015 - 16:54

By Erik Kirschbaum BREMEN, Germany (Reuters) - The congress of a eurosceptic German party that is stealing votes from Angela Merkel's conservatives got off to a turbulent start on Friday, with delegates in the Alternative for Germany (AfD) squabbling over the agenda and debate rules. With a post-war record 2,200 delegates, the AfD party congress is more than twice as large as Merkel's CDU party meetings, but with size and the novelty of having been formed just two years ago comes the almost inevitable in-fighting. AfD founder Bernd Lucke, who wants Greece to leave the euro zone, said open debate should make the AfD stronger and united by Sunday's close of the meeting, including a decision on whether to change the rules to pick just one leader by December. The power struggle is being closely followed by Merkel's conservatives, who are worried about the sudden rise of a group that siphons off some of its support.

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Romney not running: Former GOP nominee out of 2016 race

30 January, 2015 - 16:44

WASHINGTON (AP) — Mitt Romney ended his rollercoaster return to presidential politics on Friday, declaring his party would be better served by the "next generation of Republican leaders" and concluding his unlikely comeback as suddenly as it began.

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by Dr. Radut