North AmericaStay updated with Business News, Pakistan news, Current world news and latest world news with Business Recorder.., 01 Sep 2015 03:55:47 +0000SRA Framework 2.0en-gbMexico president reshuffles cabinet CITY: Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto appointed seven new ministers Thursday in a cabinet reshuffle, including naming a new foreign minister, in a mid-term shakeup of his administration.

"I have decided to make changes to meet new circumstances and challenges we have as a country," said Pena Nieto, whose terms runs until 2018.

It was the first significant cabinet reshuffle since much-maligned attorney general Jesus Murillo Karam quit in February, after the presumed slaughter of 43 college students.

Pena Nieto dispensed with Jose Antonio Meade as foreign minister, moving him to the portfolio of social development. Claudia Ruiz Massieu replaced him.

Another major change concerned Renato Sales, who had served as anti-kidnapping commissioner.

He now takes charge of homeland security in place of Monte Alejandro Rubido.

Rubido paid the price for the fiasco involving gang kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, who escaped a high-security prison in July and is still at large.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

]]> (Parvez Jabri)North AmericaFri, 28 Aug 2015 05:24:22 +0000
Colombia, Venezuela recall ambassadors amid border tension Colombia and Venezuela recalled their ambassadors on Thursday for consultations, amid mounting tensions that began nearly a week ago when Caracas closed off their shared border.

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro made the move to indefinitely close the frontier last Friday, declaring a state of emergency in part of the border region over an attack that wounded four people.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said Thursday that his nation "wanted to tell the world... what had happened, because it was totally unacceptable."

He said he made the decision to recall his ambassador after Venezuela failed to comply with an agreement for a Colombian official to visit the border town where the aggressions allegedly took place.

Santos also said he had asked his foreign minister to convene an extraordinary meeting of foreign ministers from South American regional security bloc UNASUR.

Shortly thereafter, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez announced that Caracas was recalling its ambassador to Colombia for consultations.

"Following instructions from @NicolasMaduro, we have recalled our ambassador to Colombia, Ivan Rincon," she said on Twitter.

After closing the border, the Venezuelan government launched mass deportations, unleashing what Colombian Interior Minister Juan Fernando Cristo has decried as "a humanitarian tragedy."

According to the latest official report, 1,097 people have been deported from Venezuela, and some 6,000 people have left voluntarily.

Tensions run high along the 2,200-kilometer (1,400-mile) porous border, rife with guerrilla and smuggling activity. The two countries almost went to war in 2008.

Maduro initially closed the border for just 72 hours, before extending the closure indefinitely and declaring a state of emergency in the western state of Tachira, a hotbed of opposition to his leftist government.

Venezuelan authorities said two assailants on a motorcycle fired on a patrol that was on a counter-smuggling mission in the town of San Antonio del Tachira, wounding three soldiers and a civilian.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

]]> (Parvez Jabri)North AmericaFri, 28 Aug 2015 05:01:17 +0000
US to welcome 5,000 to 8,000 Syrian refugees in 2016 The United States expects to accept between 5,000 and 8,000 Syrian refugees in 2016, officials said on Monday.

State Department spokesman John Kirby also said 15,000 Syrian refugees have been referred to the US for resettlement by the UN refugee agency.

In December, Washington had said it had received 9,000 referrals from the UN.

It had also previously said it would admit between 1,000 to 2,000 Syrian refugees in fiscal year 2015, and increase that number by a few thousand in fiscal year 2016.

The United States has been criticized for not taking more of the estimated four million refugees fleeing the civil war that began in 2011.

Kirby argued that the US was a "leader" in terms of accepting refugees and contributing financially to resettlement efforts, but that this work was "not the metric of success here."

"And so, what we're really committed to is helping to foster the kind of political transition inside Syria, so that it is a safe environment for Syrian people to return, including the millions that are seeking refuge in Turkey right now," he added.

The US has contributed $4 billion in humanitarian aide to those affected by the Syrian violence since 2011.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres has said that the number of Syrian refugees surpassed four million in July and was expected to grow to 4.27 million by the end of the year.


Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

]]> (Parvez Jabri)North AmericaTue, 25 Aug 2015 05:22:18 +0000
US to deploy F-22 Raptor fighter jets in Europe The United States soon will deploy F-22 Raptors in Europe, sending the stealth fighter jets to reassure NATO partners concerned about Russia's actions in Ukraine, a Pentagon official said.

Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James did not offer specifics about where or when the single-seat jets would be deployed, citing operational security reasons. James also would not say how many of the planes would be deployed.

The deployment comes at the request of commanders in the region, she said, adding that F-22 pilots will train with NATO partners.

The F-22 was designed for air-to-air combat -- attacking other warplanes -- but also is capable of ground attacks.

The US Air Force has about 180 F-22s, which became operational in 2005. They have been used in US-led coalition strikes on the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

]]> (Parvez Jabri)North AmericaTue, 25 Aug 2015 05:19:50 +0000
Obama makes case for renewable energy VEGAS: US President Barack Obama made a full-throated defence of renewable energy Monday, hitting coal-championing critics as free market hypocrites.

With one eye on a looming battle over power plant emissions limits, Obama took on fossil fuel supporters during a speech in the parched desert oasis of Las Vegas.

Framing climate change as "one of the most important issues not just of our time, but of any time," Obama said renewable energy offered a viable solution.

He made the economic case for developing green industries that provide "a steady stream of well paying jobs."

"The solar industry now employs twice as many Americans as mining coal," he claimed.

His comments come after the White House backed the first national emissions limits for power plants. That has energy firms and lawmakers in coal-rich states such as Kentucky lobbying heavily against the proposals.

He accused coal champions as being fair-weather capitalists, perhaps a subtle dig at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

"We see the trend lines, we see where technology is taking us, we see where consumers want to go," Obama said.

"That, let's be honest, has some big fossil fuel interests pretty nervous. To the point where they are trying to fight renewable energy."

"It's one thing if you are insistent on being free market, it's another thing if you're free market until it's solar that's working and people want to buy it."

Solar power currently makes up a fraction of America's energy mix and has enjoyed government grants and subsidies to get up and running.

But Obama also said it was an example of American ingenuity.

"We can do good and do well at the same time," he said.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

]]> (Parvez Jabri)North AmericaTue, 25 Aug 2015 05:14:42 +0000
White House admits Biden mulling 2016 run The White House on Monday acknowledged that Vice President Joe Biden is still weighing a possible run for the top job, amid controversy surrounding Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton.

Biden, President Obama's deputy for nearly seven years, has previously said he would make a decision on entering the 2016 race by the end of the summer.

"I would assume that that means he's got a another month or so to think about this and announce a decision," said White House spokesman Josh Earnest.

Obama has so far been careful not to pick among the Democratic candidates.

But several close aides have jumped from the White House to Clinton's campaign in recent months.

Her struggles to explain why she used a private email server to conduct state business has raised questions about her status as presumptive nominee.

Democrats have long been concerned about the prospect of a half-hearted primary race leading to Clinton's nomination.

Biden would provide Clinton with stiff competition, but his path back to the White House is not entirely clear.

He has been a presidential candidate twice and twice lost badly.

Earnest did not rule out the possibility that Obama would ultimately chose between his vice president and his former secretary of state.

"I wouldn't rule out an endorsement," he said.

Speculation about Biden's plans were fueled by reports over the weekend that he had met privately with Senator Elizabeth Warren, an influential voice in the Democratic Party's left wing.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

]]> (Imaduddin)North AmericaMon, 24 Aug 2015 22:07:09 +0000
US air strike kills 'IS number two': White House The second-in-command of the Islamic State group has been killed in a US air strike in northern Iraq, the White House said on Friday.

The National Security Council identified the slain militant as Fadhil Ahmad al-Hayali, also known as Haji Mutaz, and said he was IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's senior deputy.

This is not the first time that US officials have announced Hayali's death.

In December, US defence officials, speaking to reporters on condition of anonymity, said he was one of several senior figures killed in coalition strikes, giving another of his pseudonyms, Abu Muslim al-Turkmani.

But US forces now say they were able to kill him, along with an IS "media operative" known as Abu Abdullah, on August 18 in a strike on a vehicle near the city of Mosul.

The White House described Hayali as a member of the Islamic State's ruling council, and "a primary coordinator for moving large amounts of weapons, explosives, vehicles and people between Iraq and Syria".

"He supported ISIL operations in both countries and was in charge of ISIL operations in Iraq, where he was instrumental in planning operations over the past two years, including the ISIL offensive in Mosul in June 2014," it said, using another name for Islamic State.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

]]> (Parvez Jabri)North AmericaSat, 22 Aug 2015 04:52:04 +0000
First women to pass US Army's Ranger School speak out BENNING: The first women to pass the grueling training course at the US Army's elite Ranger School said Thursday they hoped their success would open doors for women seeking jobs in frontline combat.

Lieutenant Shaye Haver and Captain Kristen Griest will graduate on Friday as the first women combat leaders to pin the coveted Ranger tag on their uniform, trained to become infantry leaders.

The US military is currently considering opening up roles in previously male-only units to women, including some frontline infantry and Special Forces roles.

Appearing before the news media for the first time since they emerged battered but grimly triumphant from the Florida swamps after months of training, the young officers hoped their example would influence the debate.

"I do hope that we've been able to inform that decision as to what they can expect from women in the military, that we can handle things physically and mentally on the same level as men and that we can deal with the same stresses in training that men can," said Griest, 26.

Ranger School takes at least 61 days to complete and in some cases, if sections are repeated, many more.

Griest took four months to qualify, training for 20 hours a day and carrying 90 pounds (41 kilograms) of kit and weapons.

But she never thought of giving up.

"I never seriously considered it. I definitely had low points, particularly in the swamps in Florida," she said.

"But I never actually thought anything was going to be too difficult that it was worth leaving the course."

Haver, an Apache attack helicopter pilot, admitted she had thought about quitting, but that the shared experience of the men and women around her kept her going.

"There's a point that you hit along the way, doesn't matter where it is, it's different for everybody," said Haver, 25.

"But the ability to look around to my peers and see that they were sucking just as bad as I was kept me going and I'm pretty sure that they could probably say the same thing."

Along with the two women, 94 men will graduate from Ranger School this week.

"A lot of the time, you couldn't tell the difference between the men and women," said Colonel David Fivecoat, commander of the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

]]> (Parvez Jabri)North AmericaFri, 21 Aug 2015 04:53:15 +0000
Ten years after Katrina, New Orleans is bustling ORLEANS: Ten years ago, Hurricane Katrina swept buildings off their foundations and deluged nearly all of New Orleans with floodwaters which rose so fast some people drowned in their homes.

Those who made it to their rooftops or the relative safety of dry land waited days to be rescued as the Big Easy descended into chaos.

Today, colorful homes on stilts have replaced many of the rotting hulks left behind after the low-lying coastal city in the southern United States was finally drained.

Brass bands are once again marching through the bustling French Quarter, pulling dancing locals and tourists in their wake. And the gastronomical paradise boasts 600 more restaurants than it had before the storm.

"Our city has stood back up and this comeback is one of the world's most remarkable stories of tragedy and triumph, resurrection and redemption," Mayor Mitch Landrieu said Tuesday.

"In one word: resilience," he said.

More than 1,800 people were killed across the US Gulf Coast -- the vast majority in New Orleans -- and more than a million people were displaced when the Category 5 hurricane struck on August 29, 2005. The financial toll topped $150 billion.

Some of the deadliest damage was caused by the failure of poorly-built and badly maintained levees, which burst under the pressure of a massive storm surge. Around 80 percent of New Orleans was flooded with water that rose as high as 20 feet (six meters).

The botched government response exposed the nation's failure to improve emergency preparedness despite billions spent on homeland security after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

It took four days for supply trucks to arrive with food and water for tens of thousands of stranded people.

Eventually, the entire city was evacuated. It took weeks to drain the floodwaters and conduct a house-by-house search for bodies. It was months before most people could return to their homes.


Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

]]> (Parvez Jabri)North AmericaThu, 20 Aug 2015 05:20:24 +0000
US military to let women try out for Navy SEALs: report The US Navy plans to open its famed SEAL fighting units to women, provided they can pass the notoriously difficult training course, Defense News reported Tuesday.

The move comes as the military announced that two American women will on Friday become the first female soldiers to graduate from the elite Ranger School combat leadership course.

"Why shouldn't anybody who can meet these (standards) be accepted? And the answer is, there is no reason," Admiral Jon Greenert told Defense News.

"We're on a track to say, 'Hey look, anybody who can meet the gender non-specific standards, then you can become a SEAL.'"

The Navy SEALs have carried out some of America's most dangerous and storied raids, including the May 2011 killing of Osama bin Laden, the late Al-Qaeda leader, in Pakistan.

Aspiring SEALs must undergo the so-called Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training -- known as BUD/S.

The six-month course includes eight weeks of basic conditioning peaking with "Hell Week," during which two thirds or more of would-be SEALs quit.

"Sheer fatigue and sleep deprivation will cause every candidate to question his core values, motivations, limits and everything he's made of and stands for," according to the website

SEAL is an acronym for SEa, Air, Land teams, reflecting the special force's capabilities.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

]]> (Parvez Jabri)North AmericaWed, 19 Aug 2015 05:02:38 +0000