Four security personnel and two militia killed in north-central Iraq
FOUR security personnel, including two anti-al-Qaeda militia men, have been killed in shootings in north-central Iraq.
Police officials said the first attack took place early yesterday when gunmen in a speeding car killed two fighters and wounded four others at a security checkpoint manned by Sunni Sahwa militiamen in the city of Samarra. Police also said they found the bodies of two police officers killed by gunshots to the head in a town near the northern city of Mosul, a day after they were kidnapped. Medical officials confirmed the casualty figures.
'COMMON SENSE' HOPE IN JOURNALIST CASE
THE mother of a British journalist detained in Russia while covering a Greenpeace protest hopes "common sense, and a sense of fair play and justice" will prevail.
Videographer Kieron Bryan (29), from Devon, was among 30 people, including six Britons, who were held when armed Russian officials boarded their vessel, the Arctic Sunrise, in September. The six Britons, including Mr Bryan, who was documenting the protest, were being investigated for piracy, but were later charged with hooliganism.
BARCLAYS SUSPENDS SIX IN FRAUD PROBE
BARCLAYS bank has suspended six traders amid an investigation into whether international currency markets were rigged, the BBC, the Financial Times and other outlets reported.
Barclays, Britain's second-largest bank, revealed on Wednesday that it was the subject of an investigation by regulators in Britain and other countries over "possible attempts to manipulate certain benchmark currency exchange rates".
KOSOVO POLL 'TESTS COUNTRY'S MATURITY'
KOSOVO President Atifete Jahjaga says this weekend's local election will test the country's political maturity as it seeks peace with Serbia and aspires to eventual membership of the European Union.
Jahjaga told media a day ahead of today's vote that the participation of Serbs in the election for the first time since Kosovo's 2008 secession from Serbia will help integrate the minority community that has defied Pristina's rule. Serbia and Kosovo have agreed in talks mediated by the European Union to smooth over their differences as a condition to move closer to the bloc and unlock EU funds.
PUSSY RIOT MEMBER MOVED TO NEW JAIL
IT has been reported that Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova is being sent to a new penal colony.
The Federal Penitentiary Service said Tolokonnikova was being sent to a new prison and that in accordance with regulations, her family would be informed within 10 days of arrival. Tolokonnikova is serving two years following the band's politically provocative performance in Moscow's main Orthodox cathedral in 2012.
BIDEN BIDS TO SWAY SENATORS ON IRAN
US Vice President Joe Biden and senior Obama administration officials convinced a number of senators to hold off on another round of Iran sanctions as western powers test Tehran's willingness to scale back its nuclear aims.
The pressure did not sway every senator who participated in the hours-long, closed-door briefing, but the chances that the Senate Banking Committee would draft new, punitive measures next week just as negotiations occurred in Geneva diminished significantly.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said Mr Obama is not seeking an open-ended delay to new sanctions and believes there may come a point where additional economic penalties against Iran are necessary.
TEXAS REINSTATES ABORTION RESTRICTIONS
AN appeals court has reinstated most of Texas's new abortion restrictions.
A panel of judges at the fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling last night, three days after District Judge Lee Yeakel said one provision served no medical purpose. The panel says that the law requiring doctors to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital can take effect while a lawsuit moves forward. The Texas attorney general's office argued that the law is a constitutional use of the Legislature's authority. Lawyers for Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers had argued that the regulations did not protect women and would shut down a third of the abortion clinics in Texas.
HONDA RECALLS MINIVANS OVER BRAKES
HONDA is recalling 344,000 Odyssey minivans of the 2007-2008 model years to fix a problem that can cause the vehicle to brake suddenly.
The company says it will replace a "yaw sensor", but the part will not be available until early next year. In the meantime, it issued instructions online on how to drive to prevent the problem from occurring.
KING TUT 'SPONTANEOUSLY COMBUSTED'
THE mummified body of Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun spontaneously combusted after a botched attempt to embalm him, according to scientists in a new documentary.
A fragment of flesh from the boy pharaoh, whose tomb was discovered in 1922, was tested by researchers who confirmed his body was burnt while sealed in his coffin. Fire investigators, featured in a new Channel 4 documentary, believe a chemical reaction caused by embalming oils used on Tutankhamun's mummy sparked the blaze.
MONEY IN THE BANKSY FOR CHARITY SHOP
THE renegade graffiti artist Banksy snubbed the art world again on Tuesday when he dropped off one of his paintings at a New York City charity shop.
The Housing Works charity shop, part of a chain that sells donated knick knacks to fund charities for AIDS and the homeless, began auctioning the Banksy original for $74,000 (€54,000) on Tuesday. By Wednesday afternoon, it was already going for $220,000.
NZ POST SERVICE CUTS TO THREE-DAY WEEK
NEW Zealand's postal service says it plans to cut up to 2,000 jobs as it moves to delivering the mail just three days a week to most customers.
The job cuts amount to about one-fifth of the service's workforce and will be implemented over three years. New Zealand Post made the announcement yesterday after the government last week agreed to allow the service to reduce its six-day delivery service from 2015 in urban areas.
Rural residents, who make up about 12 per cent of customers, will get their mail delivered five days a week.
MAN CONFESSES TO CHILD MURDERS
CHINESE authorities detained a man who they said confessed to kidnapping three children from the same southern village and killing them in a forest, officials said yesterday.
Zhang Xingyan (33), was taken into custody two days after a boy and two girls aged between eight and nine went missing on their way to school early last week, the city government of Yueyang in China's Hunan province said.
VENEZUELA SEIZES TWO US OIL RIGS
VENEZUELA has quietly seized control of two oil rigs owned by a unit of Texas-based Superior Energy Services after the US company shut them down because the state oil monopoly was months behind on payments.
The seizure took place on Thursday after a judge, accompanied by four members of the local police and national guard, entered a Superior depot and ordered it to hand over control of two specialised rigs to an affiliate of PDVSA, the state-owned oil producer.