German police arrest three suspected jihadists

German police said they arrested three people in Berlin on Tuesday suspected of trying to reach foreign “war zones” in order to train to carry out an attack.The suspects may be linked to the Islamic State group and had “planned to travel to war zones,”…

German police said they arrested three people in Berlin on Tuesday suspected of trying to reach foreign "war zones" in order to train to carry out an attack.

The suspects may be linked to the Islamic State group and had "planned to travel to war zones," likely Syria or Iraq, a Berlin police spokesman told AFP.

Police also carried out searches, but there has been "no indication of concrete plans to carry out an attack in Germany", according to the Bild daily's website.

The suspects, whose gender was not immediately given, were aged 21, 31 and 45, the spokesman said. He added that investigators suspect they were trying to reach a camp to train to launch an attack.

At least two of the people arrested lived in Berlin, Bild reported.

Those arrested frequented the same mosque attended by a Tunisian man suspected of ploughing a hijacked lorry into a Berlin Christmas market, killing 12. The December 19 attack was claimed by IS.

The mosque, which is being investigated by authorities, was also searched.

Fighting rages in east Ukraine for third day

Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed rebels were on Tuesday locked in fighting for a third straight day at a flashpoint town that left thousands shivering without power and sparked renewed EU concern about security in its backyard.

Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed rebels were on Tuesday locked in fighting for a third straight day at a flashpoint town that left thousands shivering without power and sparked renewed EU concern about security in its backyard.

Payet leads stars who forced transfer showdown

Dimitri Payet and Leonardo Ulloa led industrial action by European stars to force a transfer and top clubs may have no choice but to grin and bear the battle.

French international Payet refused to play for West Ham in order to get a 30 million euros ($32 million) move to Olympique Marseille.

The 29-year-old hero of France’s Euro 2016 campaign showed little regret over reports that he had to give back £500,000 (580,000 euros/$625,000) in wages for the January games missed before West Ham finally let him go.

Ulloa branded the strike threat after demanding that English champions Leicester City’s manager Claudio Ranieri let him leave.

“I feel betrayed by Ranieri and let down by the club. I will not play again for them,” he said on Twitter ahead of the final day of football’s horse-trading. Ulloa has struggled to get a first team place this season.

With the stakes so high, other players also decided on a go-slow to pressure their clubs. Julian Draxler dragged his feet at German side Wolfsburg after one transfer request was rejected last year until he signed for Paris Saint Germain on January 1.

– No respect –

And they are not the first. Since George Eastham went on strike in 1959 at Newcastle United over a rejected transfer to Arsenal, it is a tactic that has been regularly used.

“You cannot compel a player to play for you. You cannot get an injunction to force your player onto the team bus,” said Chris Lynn, a labour and employment lawyer at Squire Patton Bloggs in London.

But he said even a fine would not make much difference “considering the modern football salary.”

Lynn said football clubs are at a major disadvantage compared to ordinary companies.

“Usually, an employer can simply dismiss an employee who is refusing to carry out their duties or the inherent threat of such a dismissal will prevent an employee refusing in the first place.”

“It is not so simple for a football club” as players are clubs’ most valuable assets as they seek playing success and build up commercial revenue through image rights, shirt sales and potential transfer fees.

West Ham could not dismiss Payet for refusing to play because it would then not be able to sell him, the lawyer said.

“The club?s equivalent of recruitment costs will also be rather more painful than the ?normal? employer given they will likely need to buy a replacement for a potentially large transfer fee.”

“The easy route is to simply accept the player?s position and sell him, but then the club sets a precedent for the future which it is unlikely to want. Any player who wishes to move will simply go on ?strike? as per Payet, knowing the club will likely avoid the fight and simply cash in.”

West Ham co-chairman David Gold slammed his former French player, saying “Payet did not show the same commitment and respect to West Ham United that the club and fans showed him.”

“With a number of top Premier League players holding clubs to ransom is it time to close the January transfer window?” Gold said in a recent Twitter comment as the showdown with Payet mounted.

Yet despite West Ham’s protests, club manager Slaven Bilic has also acknowledged that insisting they did not want to sell Payet was part of their campaign to get a higher price.

Bilic and co-owner David Sullivan vowed throughout January that they would not sell Payet for any price.

But Bilic acknowledged: “That was part of the the tactics. It was obvious from the day I announced it openly that he would go and we wanted the best price possible, of course.

“I want to thank him for everything he did for us – he was brilliant last year. We were brilliant for him also. Now that story’s finished I wish him luck and all the best in Marseille.”

Dimitri Payet and Leonardo Ulloa led industrial action by European stars to force a transfer and top clubs may have no choice but to grin and bear the battle.

French international Payet refused to play for West Ham in order to get a 30 million euros ($32 million) move to Olympique Marseille.

The 29-year-old hero of France's Euro 2016 campaign showed little regret over reports that he had to give back £500,000 (580,000 euros/$625,000) in wages for the January games missed before West Ham finally let him go.

Ulloa branded the strike threat after demanding that English champions Leicester City's manager Claudio Ranieri let him leave.

"I feel betrayed by Ranieri and let down by the club. I will not play again for them," he said on Twitter ahead of the final day of football's horse-trading. Ulloa has struggled to get a first team place this season.

With the stakes so high, other players also decided on a go-slow to pressure their clubs. Julian Draxler dragged his feet at German side Wolfsburg after one transfer request was rejected last year until he signed for Paris Saint Germain on January 1.

- No respect -

And they are not the first. Since George Eastham went on strike in 1959 at Newcastle United over a rejected transfer to Arsenal, it is a tactic that has been regularly used.

"You cannot compel a player to play for you. You cannot get an injunction to force your player onto the team bus," said Chris Lynn, a labour and employment lawyer at Squire Patton Bloggs in London.

But he said even a fine would not make much difference "considering the modern football salary."

Lynn said football clubs are at a major disadvantage compared to ordinary companies.

"Usually, an employer can simply dismiss an employee who is refusing to carry out their duties or the inherent threat of such a dismissal will prevent an employee refusing in the first place."

"It is not so simple for a football club" as players are clubs' most valuable assets as they seek playing success and build up commercial revenue through image rights, shirt sales and potential transfer fees.

West Ham could not dismiss Payet for refusing to play because it would then not be able to sell him, the lawyer said.

"The club?s equivalent of recruitment costs will also be rather more painful than the ?normal? employer given they will likely need to buy a replacement for a potentially large transfer fee."

"The easy route is to simply accept the player?s position and sell him, but then the club sets a precedent for the future which it is unlikely to want. Any player who wishes to move will simply go on ?strike? as per Payet, knowing the club will likely avoid the fight and simply cash in."

West Ham co-chairman David Gold slammed his former French player, saying "Payet did not show the same commitment and respect to West Ham United that the club and fans showed him."

"With a number of top Premier League players holding clubs to ransom is it time to close the January transfer window?" Gold said in a recent Twitter comment as the showdown with Payet mounted.

Yet despite West Ham's protests, club manager Slaven Bilic has also acknowledged that insisting they did not want to sell Payet was part of their campaign to get a higher price.

Bilic and co-owner David Sullivan vowed throughout January that they would not sell Payet for any price.

But Bilic acknowledged: "That was part of the the tactics. It was obvious from the day I announced it openly that he would go and we wanted the best price possible, of course.

"I want to thank him for everything he did for us - he was brilliant last year. We were brilliant for him also. Now that story's finished I wish him luck and all the best in Marseille."

Irish author first novelist to win Costa prize twice

Irish writer Sebastian Barry on Tuesday became the first novelist to scoop the Costa Book of the Year award twice, with his portrayal of an 1850s gay relationship between US soldiers.

“Days Without End” was the judges’ unanimous choice for Barry’s “searing, magnificent and incredibly moving description of how the West was won”, said the award chair Kate Williams.

The novel follows the relationship of two young men fighting for the US army, as they journey from Wyoming to Tennessee.

Collecting his £30,000 ($38,000, 35,000 euros) prize at a ceremony in London, Barry said he was thrilled with the win.

“You have made me crazy happy from the top of my head to my toes in a way that is a little bit improper at 61,” said the author.

Barry previously won the Costa Book of the Year award in 2008 for his novel “The Secret Scripture”.

While he is the first novelist to take the prize on two occasions, poets Seamus Heaney and Ted Hughes have each won twice.

Williams praised the “beautiful characterisations and brilliant writing” of this year’s winner, explaining Barry chose to write about the same-sex relationship between the two soldiers after the author’s son came out as gay.

The award is open to authors living in Britain and Ireland and attracted 596 entries for the 2017 prize, five of which were shortlisted.

Last year the award was picked up by Frances Hardinge for “The Lie Tree”, a 19th-century detective novel.

Irish writer Sebastian Barry on Tuesday became the first novelist to scoop the Costa Book of the Year award twice, with his portrayal of an 1850s gay relationship between US soldiers.

"Days Without End" was the judges' unanimous choice for Barry's "searing, magnificent and incredibly moving description of how the West was won", said the award chair Kate Williams.

The novel follows the relationship of two young men fighting for the US army, as they journey from Wyoming to Tennessee.

Collecting his £30,000 ($38,000, 35,000 euros) prize at a ceremony in London, Barry said he was thrilled with the win.

"You have made me crazy happy from the top of my head to my toes in a way that is a little bit improper at 61," said the author.

Barry previously won the Costa Book of the Year award in 2008 for his novel "The Secret Scripture".

While he is the first novelist to take the prize on two occasions, poets Seamus Heaney and Ted Hughes have each won twice.

Williams praised the "beautiful characterisations and brilliant writing" of this year's winner, explaining Barry chose to write about the same-sex relationship between the two soldiers after the author's son came out as gay.

The award is open to authors living in Britain and Ireland and attracted 596 entries for the 2017 prize, five of which were shortlisted.

Last year the award was picked up by Frances Hardinge for "The Lie Tree", a 19th-century detective novel.

‘War on the poor’: Amnesty slams Duterte’s anti-drug campaign as ‘crime against humanity’

Preview Officials involved in the Philippines’ war on drugs, launched by President Rodrigo Duterte last year, are targeting innocents, faking evidence, and profiting from murder as they carry out thousands of extrajudicial killings, says advocacy group Amnesty International.
Read Full Article at RT.com

Preview Officials involved in the Philippines’ war on drugs, launched by President Rodrigo Duterte last year, are targeting innocents, faking evidence, and profiting from murder as they carry out thousands of extrajudicial killings, says advocacy group Amnesty International.
Read Full Article at RT.com

Kin of victims of El Salvador wartime massacre get compensation

Relatives of more than 1,000 people murdered in the worst massacre of El Salvador’s 1980-1992 civil war are to be given up to $35,000 each by a compensation commission set up Tuesday, the government said.The disbursement complies with a ruling by the I…

Relatives of more than 1,000 people murdered in the worst massacre of El Salvador's 1980-1992 civil war are to be given up to $35,000 each by a compensation commission set up Tuesday, the government said.

The disbursement complies with a ruling by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights handed at the end of 2012.

The court ordered a full investigation of the 1981 massacre that occurred in the town of El Mazote, where government troops raped and slaughtered its inhabitants on suspicion of aiding leftwing guerrillas. It also said the remains of those killed should be given to their families for burial, and compensation paid.

A president's office official, Roberto Lorenzana, confirmed that the commission had been formed to give the court-ordered compensation, of between $10,000 and $35,000, to each of the relatives.

He and representatives of the families are sitting on the panel.

Liverpool’s Mignolet denies Chelsea, Watford stun Arsenal

Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet went from zero to hero as Premier League leaders Chelsea were held to a 1-1 draw at Anfield, while Arsenal’s title challenge was torpedoed by Watford’s shock 2-1 win on Tuesday.Antonio Conte’s Chelsea grabbed the lea…

Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet went from zero to hero as Premier League leaders Chelsea were held to a 1-1 draw at Anfield, while Arsenal's title challenge was torpedoed by Watford's shock 2-1 win on Tuesday.

Antonio Conte's Chelsea grabbed the lead in the 25th minute when David Luiz cheekily took a quick free-kick that flashed past Mignolet, who was caught out while he lined up his defensive wall.

Mignolet looked bewildered that the Brazil defender's effort wasn't ruled out, but referee Mark Clattenburg allowed Luiz to celebrate his first goal since rejoining Chelsea from Paris Saint-Germain in August.

Georginio Wijnaldum came to Liverpool's rescue as the midfielder equalised with a 57th minute header from James Milner's cross.

Costa should have won it for Chelsea in the 76th minute when Joel Matip fouled him in the penalty area.

However, the Spain striker's spot-kick was pushed away by Mignolet as the keeper made amends for his earlier error.

For just the second time in their last 17 leagues games, Chelsea finished without three points, but the Blues are still nine points clear of second placed Tottenham.

Fourth placed Liverpool, 10 points behind Chelsea, have only won one of their last nine matches in all competitions, but their battling display at least partially eased the pain of Saturday's FA Cup embarrassment against second tier Wolves.

At the Emirates Stadium, Arsene Wenger was again watching from high in the stands as he served his touchline ban and the Arsenal boss was rocked in the 10th minute when former Tottenham defender Younes Kaboul's powerful strike deflected in off Aaron Ramsey.

Watford suffered an embarrassing FA Cup defeat at third tier Millwall on Sunday and had gone seven league games without a win.

But the view from the posh seats got even more uncomfortable for Wenger three minutes later as Troy Deeney doubled Watford's lead with a close-range finish after Etienne Capoue unhinged the Arsenal defence.

Alex Iwobi got one back for Arsenal when the young winger rammed home from Alexis Sanchez's cross in the 58th minute.

- Stunned -

Gunners forward Lucas Perez hit the crossbar in the closing stages, but Watford held on for their first league victory at Arsenal since 1988.

Arsenal are nine points behind Chelsea in third place.

Tottenham missed a chance to close the gap on Chelsea after being held to a dour 0-0 draw by struggling Sunderland.

Mauricio Pochettino's side, who lost England left-back Danny Rose to a first half injury, rarely got into top gear in their second successive draw.

Struggling champions Leicester crashed to a third successive league defeat as Sam Vokes' controversial strike gave Burnley a 1-0 win at Turf Moor.

Claudio Ranieri's team were shattered when Michael Keane nodded down for Vokes from a corner and the ball appears to hit the striker's hand before he lashed in from close range in the 87th minute.

Leicester, with just one win in their last eight league games, are now two points above the relegation zone.

Sam Allardyce celebrated his first league win as Crystal Palace manager at the sixth attempt as the lowly Eagles won 2-0 at Bournemouth.

Scott Dann's 46th minute tap-in from Damien Delaney's flick on put third bottom Palace ahead and Christian Benteke wrapped up the points in second half stoppage-time.

Fourth bottom Swansea boosted their bid for survival with a 2-1 win over Southampton at the Liberty Stadium.

Alfie Mawson's 38th minute headed opener was cancelled out by Saints striker Shane Long's cool finish in the 57th minute, only for Gylfi Sigurdsson to win it for Swansea with a 70th minute volley.

Middlesbrough drew 1-1 with West Bromwich Albion at the Riverside Stadium.

James Morrison put Albion ahead with a long-range strike in the sixth minute, but Alvaro Negredo equalised with a 17th minute penalty after being fouled by Gareth McAuley.

‘Ghost worker’: Spanish civil servant paid €50,000 annually despite ditching work

Preview A Spanish civil servant from Valencia has been receiving an annual salary of €50,000 despite not showing up for work. The provincial council has launched an investigation into how this ‘ghost worker’ was paid for so long.
Read Full Article at RT.com

Preview A Spanish civil servant from Valencia has been receiving an annual salary of €50,000 despite not showing up for work. The provincial council has launched an investigation into how this ‘ghost worker’ was paid for so long.
Read Full Article at RT.com

Apple profit dips as iPhone sales rebound

Apple on Tuesday reported that its profit for the past quarter slipped 2.6 percent to $17.9 billion even as iPhone sales jumped to a new high.Revenue in the quarter climbed to an all-time record $78.4 billion compared with $75.9 billion in the same per…

Apple on Tuesday reported that its profit for the past quarter slipped 2.6 percent to $17.9 billion even as iPhone sales jumped to a new high.

Revenue in the quarter climbed to an all-time record $78.4 billion compared with $75.9 billion in the same period a year earlier, the company said in its earnings update for the fiscal first quarter.

Vokes extends Burnley’s home form, Leicester woes

Wales striker Sam Vokes hit a late winner to snap Burnley’s 10-match winless streak against defending Premier League champions Leicester on Tuesday.Vokes got on the end of a Michael Keane headed pass to tap in from close range in the 87th minute with t…

Wales striker Sam Vokes hit a late winner to snap Burnley's 10-match winless streak against defending Premier League champions Leicester on Tuesday.

Vokes got on the end of a Michael Keane headed pass to tap in from close range in the 87th minute with the game looking set for a goalless draw.

The result, a fifth consecutive win at Turf Moor, extended Burnley's remarkable home record of nine wins and 28 points from 13 games, a record only bettered only by the Premier League's current top three.

But it meant that Claudio Ranieri's Leicester now enjoy the worst record after 23 games by a reigning top-flight champion, with five wins, six draws and 12 defeats, eclipsing the Ipswich side of 1962-63.

It was Leicester's 14th away game without a win, their worst league run since an 18-match spell between December 2004 and October 2005. They also failed to score for a fourth consecutive league game.

US travel ‘extreme vetting’ to include social media, phone contacts

Travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries singled out for “extreme vetting” will face scrutiny of their social media footprint and phone records, the new Homeland Security secretary said Tuesday.Secretary John Kelly sought to explain Presiden…

Travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries singled out for "extreme vetting" will face scrutiny of their social media footprint and phone records, the new Homeland Security secretary said Tuesday.

Secretary John Kelly sought to explain President Donald Trump's travel ban four days after he issued it with no warning, setting off mass protests, legal challenges and confusion.

"There are many countries, seven that we are dealing with right now, that in our view and my view don't have the kind of law enforcement, records-keeping, that kind of thing, that can convince us that one of their citizens is indeed who that citizen says they are," Kelly said in a press conference.

For that reason, he said, US authorities will investigate visa applicants' social media use and telephone contacts, "so that we can see who they are talking to."

On Friday, Trump ordered a suspension of arrivals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, as well as all refugees, to give time for the new government to develop procedures for extreme vetting to weed out potential extremists.

With the move under widespread criticism, Kelly denied it specifically targets Muslims, which could violate the US Constitution.

"The vast majority of the 1.7 billion Muslims that live on this planet, all other things being equal, have access to the United States," he said.

"And a relatively small number right now are being held up for a period of time until we can take a look at what their procedures are."

- Longer ban possible -

Trump's order halted immigration from the seven countries for at least 90 days, but Kelly suggested that for some the ban could go on longer if stronger vetting procedures are not in place once the review period has elapsed.

"Some of those countries that are on the list may not be taken off the list anytime soon. There are countries that are in various states of collapse, for example," Kelly said, without offering specifics.

The sudden order caught many US immigration gateways and foreign airlines by surprise, resulting in many people with legal US residency being blocked from boarding aircraft for the United States or being detained upon arrival.

US Customs and Border Protection Acting Commissioner Kevin McAleenan cleared up an issue that had impacted many travelers with dual nationality, saying they could enter the United States as long as the passport they present is acceptable.

"Travelers will be assessed at our borders based on the passport that they present, not any dual national status," he said.

That clarification got a cheer from Europe's Commissioner for Migration Dimitris Avramopoulos, who tweeted after speaking by phone with Kelly: "Glad that issue of EU dual nationals is resolved."

McAleenan meanwhile said that through Monday 721 people had been denied boarding while more than 1,000 people were granted waivers from the Trump order to allow them to enter the country.

Siemens sees brighter outlook after strong quarter

The German industrial conglomerate Siemens said Tuesday that full-year earnings would surpass previous estimates, after reporting a 25 percent jump in quarterly net profit.The company said the stronger earnings in the three months to December 31 reflec…

The German industrial conglomerate Siemens said Tuesday that full-year earnings would surpass previous estimates, after reporting a 25 percent jump in quarterly net profit.

The company said the stronger earnings in the three months to December 31 reflected healthier operating margins in most of its business lines.

CEO Joe Kaeser has been pursuing a far-reaching restructuring of the company, whose activities range from gas and wind turbines to trains and medical equipment.

"We are sending a clear signal", Kaeser said in a statement, adding that Siemens would "continue to rigorously executive our strategy programme", called Vision 2020.

It raised its forecast for full-year earnings per share to 7.20 euros to 7.70 euros ($7.77 to $8.30), compared with its previous goal of 6.80 to 7.20 euros.

But the company still expects economic headwinds, including unfavourable foreign exchange rates and limited economic growth and investments because of "complex geopolitical environment".

It expects only "modest" revenue growth for the full year, after revenue growth of just one percent in the first quarter, to 19.1 billion euros.

Net profit jumped to 1.94 billion euros, from 1.56 billion in the same period last year.

New orders fell 14 percent in the quarter, to 19.6 billion euros.

Budget tipped to offset pain of India’s cash crisis

India will unveil a budget Wednesday expected to contain measures to ease the pain of its sudden decision to pull most of its currency from circulation, a policy it concedes has dragged on the economy.Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is tipped to increase…

India will unveil a budget Wednesday expected to contain measures to ease the pain of its sudden decision to pull most of its currency from circulation, a policy it concedes has dragged on the economy.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is tipped to increase spending to offset the impact of the so-called demonetisation scheme, which triggered countrywide cash shortages and forced the government to lower its growth forecast.

"It's a foregone conclusion that there will be an increase in spending," said Jaijit Bhattacharya, partner at KPMG in India.

"The more pertinent question is what will it spend on. I expect the government to spend on infrastructure and on schemes for social safety nets."

On the eve of the budget, the government concluded the shock move to remove all 500 ($7.30) and 1,000 rupee notes from circulation had hurt a host of sectors, but could boost long-term tax revenues.

The cash crunch has already prompted the International Monetary Fund to knock a percentage point off its forecast for India's economy in the current fiscal year to 6.6 percent, bringing it below China's projected rate of 6.7 percent.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's unanticipated decision removed around 86 percent of India's available cash at one stroke, triggering massive queues outside banks as the authorities struggled to print enough new notes.

The abrupt shortage of high-value notes hit businesses across the country, especially in cash intensive sectors like agriculture, real estate and jewellery.

This pain, coupled with looming elections in key battleground states Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, has analysts predicting the government will be tempted to spend big on health, education and rural employment.

But the drag on growth, and its related impact on revenue collection, has many asking where the government will source the money for this unexpected stimulus kick.

"The finance minister will have a fairly tough task in terms of balancing his revenues, which are contingent on GDP growth and expenditure," Sunil Sinha, principal economist at India Ratings and Research, told AFP.

The government could relax its fiscal deficit target, experts say, to bolster demand. The current deficit of 3.5 percent is set to drop by half a percentage point come April, but analysts predict that the government may not stick to that target.

"Silence on the fiscal deficit target perhaps indicates the government's desire to loosen the purse strings to spur growth and demand," said Mukesh Butani, managing partner at BMR Legal.

The government Tuesday lowered its growth forecast for the 2016-17 fiscal year ending in March to 7.1 percent, down from 7.6 percent in the previous year, acknowledging the pain of its demonetisation scheme.

"Growth slowed as demonetisation reduced demand... and increased uncertainty," stated the annual economic survey.

The survey said the estimate was based mainly on data for the first seven to eight months of the financial year, before Modi's announcement in November to withdraw notes from circulation.

Harley-Davidson slumps in ‘America First’ era

Harley-Davidson on Tuesday revealed gloomy sales ahead after soft results last year, due to weakness in its home market despite the ascendancy of President Donald Trump’s “America First” agenda.The chief of the iconic motorcycle brand said he hopes to …

Harley-Davidson on Tuesday revealed gloomy sales ahead after soft results last year, due to weakness in its home market despite the ascendancy of President Donald Trump's "America First" agenda.

The chief of the iconic motorcycle brand said he hopes to turn the company's fortunes around by drawing in new, younger, fans, and introducing dozens of new models.

Net profit for 2016 fell eight percent to $692.1 million, as motorcycle sales dropped nearly two percent, faltering especially hard in the fourth quarter, when the count was 42,414, down 12 percent from late 2015.

Harley said deliveries would be flat to slightly lower in 2017.

Chief executive Matthew Levatich said the company is hoping to turn things around by attracting "young adults age 18 to 34, women, African-Americans and Hispanics to join our sport and brand in the US."

Levatich said the company plans to introduce 50 new models in the next five years.

The quintessential American brand has been contending with an aging core-consumer population in the US and tough competition from "cruiser" bikes made in Japan and Europe.

Chief financial officer John Olin said the industry has been hit "by weakness in oil-dependent areas and soft used-bike values compounded by economic uncertainty."

In addition, he said, "US dealers had too many 2016 motorcycles in retail inventory at the end of the fourth quarter, and we will continue to support their efforts to sell through these motorcycles."

Shares in Harley-Davidson tumbled 2.6 percent to $56.40 in afternoon trading.

In theory, Trump's tough approach to international trade negotiations could hold out hope of helping the troubled motorcycle brand.

The company endured a difficult run in the early 1980s due to rising competition from Japanese rivals, which sparked US tariffs, something Trump has threatened to impose on products from Mexico.

However, the Harley-Davidson in 2014 began to manufacture some of its low-end models in India and Trump has criticized other big US companies for offshoring production.

US envoy to UN says Iran missile test ‘absolutely unacceptable’

Iran’s test-firing of a medium-range ballistic missile is “absolutely unacceptable,” US Ambassador Nikki Haley said Tuesday following a closed-door meeting of the UN Security Council.The United States requested the urgent talks following the weekend mi…

Iran's test-firing of a medium-range ballistic missile is "absolutely unacceptable," US Ambassador Nikki Haley said Tuesday following a closed-door meeting of the UN Security Council.

The United States requested the urgent talks following the weekend missile launch, the first action taken at the council by President Donald Trump's envoy.

"We have confirmed that Iran did have a medium-size missile launch testing on January 29, on Sunday. This is absolutely unacceptable," Haley told reporters.

She challenged Iran's assertion that its missiles are not in violation of UN resolutions because they are for defense purposes and not designed to carry nuclear warheads.

"They know that they are not supposed to be doing ballistic missile testing" of anything that can carry warheads, said Haley.

The missile launched Sunday was capable of carrying a 500-kilogram payload and had a range of 300 kilometers, she said.

"That is more than enough to be able to deliver a nuclear weapon."

The ambassador said Iran was trying to convince the world that "they are being nice" before adding: "I will tell the people across the world that is something we should be alarmed about."

"The United States is not naive. We are not going to stand by. You will see us call them out," warned Haley.

"We are committed to making them understand that this is not anything that we will ever accept."

Haley said the United States wanted to shut down supplies of missile technology to Tehran.

"No country should be supplying Iran with any of the technology allowing them to do that," she said.

The council requested a report on the missile launch from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and from a committee set up after the council endorsed the Iran nuclear deal, British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft said.

Britain maintains that the test is "inconsistent" with UN resolutions, but has not declared the launch to be a violation.

Kuwait minister faces confidence vote over sports ban

Opposition lawmakers in Kuwait on Tuesday filed for the information and youth minister to face a confidence vote after blaming him for causing a 15-month international sports ban.The move came after a marathon 10-hour questioning in parliament of Sheik…

Opposition lawmakers in Kuwait on Tuesday filed for the information and youth minister to face a confidence vote after blaming him for causing a 15-month international sports ban.

The move came after a marathon 10-hour questioning in parliament of Sheikh Salman Humoud Al-Sabah, a member of the ruling family, for also failing to lift the ban.

The confidence vote will take place on February 8, parliament speaker Marzouk al-Ghanem said.

To pass, the motion needs the support of 25 lawmakers in the 50-member elected parliament. Cabinet ministers are not allowed to vote.

Under Kuwaiti law, the minister will automatically be dismissed if the motion is approved.

Sheikh Salman categorically denied the charges, and accused Kuwaitis who hold senior positions in international sport organisations of orchestrating the Gulf state's suspension.

World football's governing body FIFA, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and several international federations suspended Kuwait in October 2015, for the second time since 2010, over alleged government meddling in sports.

Three parliamentarians who questioned the minister on Tuesday -- Waleed al-Tabtabai, Al-Humaidi Al-Subaie and Abdulwahab al-Babtain -- claimed he had failed to take steps to satisfy conditions to lift the ban.

Babtain said the international suspension came after Kuwaiti authorities violated the Olympic Charter.

"The minister has misled the Kuwaiti people... He has violated international (sports) laws and agreements," triggering the ban, he said during the debate.

The lawmakers also accused Sheikh Salman of committing administrative and financial infractions in the two ministries he heads.

Last month, FIFA and IOC rejected a request by the minister and Kuwait's public sports authority to lift the ban temporarily while it amended controversial laws.

IOC has demanded Kuwait amend its sports laws and immediately reinstate the Kuwaiti Olympic Committee, which was dissolved in August.

It has also urged the emirate to withdraw all cases it has filed in Swiss courts against international sports bodies claiming the suspension was illegal.

But on Tuesday, the minister said Kuwait would not withdraw the cases, in which the government is demanding $1 billion in damages from IOC and FIFA over the ban.

As a result of the suspension, Kuwait was barred in early January from taking part in qualifiers for the 2019 Asian Cup.

The wealthy emirate has already missed out on the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and qualification for the 2018 World Cup.

Analysts say the crisis was partly caused by a political struggle involving senior ruling family members and politicians.

Le Pen spurns deadline, refuses to repay €300,000 to EU Parliament in misused funds scandal

Marine Le Pen has refused to repay €298,000 to the European Parliament following allegations the French far-right leader misused funds, disregarding a deadline set by the body.

Marine Le Pen has refused to repay €298,000 to the European Parliament following allegations the French far-right leader misused funds, disregarding a deadline set by the body.

Venezuela bans Hugo Chavez TV series

Venezuela has banned TV networks from broadcasting a new series on late president Hugo Chavez, calling the US-Colombian production an attack on the legacy of the charismatic socialist firebrand.”El Comandante,” a 60-episode series on Chavez’s life, pre…

Venezuela has banned TV networks from broadcasting a new series on late president Hugo Chavez, calling the US-Colombian production an attack on the legacy of the charismatic socialist firebrand.

"El Comandante," a 60-episode series on Chavez's life, premiered Monday night in Colombia. It is also due to air in seven other Latin American countries and the United States from Tuesday.

But in Venezuela, the National Telecommunications Commission banned the series and launched a campaign Tuesday urging Venezuelans to "report any cable channel that insults Hugo Chavez's legacy by broadcasting the series 'El Comandante.'"

"Here we don't speak badly of Chavez," it said on Twitter.

The move comes after Chavez's successor, President Nicolas Maduro, branded the series "trash," and urged Venezuelan filmmakers to respond with their own productions showing "the deep truth of a giant man like Hugo Chavez."

Maduro's culture minister, Adan Chavez -- the late leader's brother -- announced Sunday on the president's weekly TV show that two new Venezuelan productions would faithfully retell Chavez's story: a film called "Chavez, El Comandante" and a series called "Chavez de Verdad" (The True Chavez).

Venezuelan state TV is also due to broadcast a series of documentaries on Chavez starting Tuesday.

"El Comandante" stars Colombian actor Andres Parra, who previously played Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar in another series, "El Patron del Mal" (The Boss of Bad).

Produced by Sony Pictures Television, the series is airing on the RCN network in Colombia and on cable channel TNT in other Latin American countries.

RCN calls it "a tale of action and suspense, combining politics and romance."

Filmed entirely in Colombia, it takes liberties with the facts but is based on "meticulous research" by the creator, Venezuelan writer Moises Naim, the network said.

Naim, an opinion columnist and former trade minister, is a well-known opponent of Chavez and Maduro.

Chavez ruled Venezuela from 1999 until his death from cancer in 2013 with a mix of authoritarianism and charisma, using the oil giant's booming crude revenues to fund a populist economic model.

But Venezuela has gone off the rails since his death, as low oil prices have strained his "21st-century socialism" to the breaking point, leading to food shortages and a nosedive in Maduro's popularity.

The pilot episode of "El Comandante" follows Chavez from boyhood up to his failed coup attempt against president Carlos Andres Perez as a paratroop officer in 1992 -- the event that launched his political career.

Despite a heavy marketing campaign, the premiere got lukewarm ratings in Colombia: the audience size scored four points out of a possible 10, according to W Radio.

Kruis knee injury adds to England Six Nations worries

George Kruis a key member of the England side that completed the Six Nations Grand Slam last year could be in doubt for Saturday’s opening game with France after suffering a knee injury on Tuesday. The 26-year-old lock — who has just recovered from a …

George Kruis a key member of the England side that completed the Six Nations Grand Slam last year could be in doubt for Saturday's opening game with France after suffering a knee injury on Tuesday.

The 26-year-old lock -- who has just recovered from a fractured cheekbone -- is to undergo further tests on Wednesday to ascertain the extent of the injury.

"George Kruis will go for further medical assessment tomorrow morning (Wednesday 1 Feb) to determine the extent of a knee injury picked up in training today," read the statement form the Rugby Football Union (RFU).

England and coach Eddie Jones -- who is defending a 13 match winning streak since taking over after the 2015 World Cup -- have had their Six Nations preparations disrupted by a series of injuries to players.

Wing Anthony Watson is out for at least two matches -- the French match and Wales in Cardiff on February 11 -- because of a hamstring injury.

Former captain Chris Robshaw is set to miss the entire tournament after undergoing shoulder surgery, while fellow loose forward Billy Vunipola will miss at least the opening rounds with a knee injury.

Meanwhile experienced back row James Haskell is struggling to overcome the lingering effects of a foot injury.

Vunipola's brother prop Mako is also out but fortunately for Jones his understudy Joe Marler has made a remarkable recovery from a fracture to his lower left leg.

Injury-prone centre Manu Tuilagi will play no part owing to a season-ending groin injury.

England are on a 14-Test winning streak, 13 of those victories coming since Australian coach Eddie Jones took over after their 2015 World Cup debacle on home soil.

They are set to be captained once again by Dylan Hartley.

The France match will be the Northampton hooker's first competitive fixture since he served a six-week ban for striking Leinster's Sean O'Brien.

Kiev continues to violate ceasefire agreement, opts for military solution – Moscow

Ukrainian forces are using heavy artillery to shell Donetsk residential areas in a clear violation of the Minsk agreements, the Russian Foreign Ministry has said, adding that Kiev seems to favor a military resolution of the Ukrainian conf…

Preview Ukrainian forces are using heavy artillery to shell Donetsk residential areas in a clear violation of the Minsk agreements, the Russian Foreign Ministry has said, adding that Kiev seems to favor a military resolution of the Ukrainian conflict.
Read Full Article at RT.com

Quebec mosque rampage suspect Bissonnette painted as a quiet radical

Alexandre Bissonnette’s catalogue of social-media likes included US President Donald Trump, Garfield the Cat, French far-right leader Marine Le Pen, heavy metal rockers Megadeth and popstar Katy Perry.

Alexandre Bissonnette's catalogue of social-media likes included US President Donald Trump, Garfield the Cat, French far-right leader Marine Le Pen, heavy metal rockers Megadeth and popstar Katy Perry.

Europe hopes to restart Gulf free trade talks, says Commission vice president

Europe hopes to restart dormant free trade talks with Gulf states partly in response to the “worrisome” rise of protectionism from the new American government, a European Commission vice-president said Tuesday.”We would like to restart FTA negotiations…

Europe hopes to restart dormant free trade talks with Gulf states partly in response to the "worrisome" rise of protectionism from the new American government, a European Commission vice-president said Tuesday.

"We would like to restart FTA negotiations with GCC," Jyrki Katainen, who is in charge of jobs, growth, investment and competitiveness for the EU's executive arm, told AFP in an interview during a visit to the Saudi capital.

Free trade talks that began almost 30 years ago between the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council and the EU have been on hold for many years, the former Finnish prime minister said.

But things are different now with "political momentum" in favour of such negotiations, he said after talks with Saudi officials including the finance and commerce ministers.

Katainen arrived from similar meetings in the United Arab Emirates.

"It's been quite interesting to hear that authorities here as well as in UAE, they agreed with us... that (the) political situation is quite worrisome," Katainen said.

He cited "growing protectionism" and said "it's partially true" that the isolationist policies of US President Donald Trump are giving impetus to EU free trade efforts.

If free trade talks resumed "it would be a strong signal" to the world that the EU and the Gulf believe in open trade.

Shortly after taking office on January 20 Trump withdrew the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an agreement of 12 Pacific Rim economies.

There is growing protectionism in developed economies -- not only the United States -- where globalisation is increasingly regarded as a responsible for sending jobs abroad and eroding living standards.

Katainen, however, said "the benefits come from increasing trade."

He said the need for the economies of both Europe and the Gulf to "modernise" is another factor boosting the prospects for a resumption of free trade talks.

Saudi Arabia, the world's largest petroleum exporter, has begun a wide-ranging economic diversification effort to cope with a collapse in crude revenues since 2014.

After the interview with AFP Katainen left for talks with Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is leading the kingdom's economic reform drive.

Israel prosecution seeks 3-5 years for soldier who killed Palestinian

An Israeli military prosecutor on Tuesday sought a prison sentence of three to five years for an Israeli soldier who shot dead a wounded Palestinian as he lay on the ground.”We believe the appropriate sentence for the accused should not be less than th…

An Israeli military prosecutor on Tuesday sought a prison sentence of three to five years for an Israeli soldier who shot dead a wounded Palestinian as he lay on the ground.

"We believe the appropriate sentence for the accused should not be less than three years and not more than five years," the prosecutor, Nadav Weisman, said during a court hearing in Tel Aviv.

Elor Azaria, 20, was convicted this month of manslaughter in a military court for the killing of Abdul Fatah al-Sharif, after a trial that deeply divided Israel.

The March 24 shooting in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron was caught on video and spread widely online.

It showed Sharif, 21, lying on the ground, shot along with another Palestinian after stabbing and wounding a soldier, according to the army.

Azaria then shoots him again in the head without any apparent provocation.

Convicting him of manslaughter on January 4 after a months-long trial, a three-judge panel ruled there was no reason for Azaria to open fire since the Palestinian was posing no threat.

Judge Colonel Maya Heller called his testimony "evolving and evasive".

"His motive for shooting was that he felt the terrorist deserved to die," she said.

Azaria, who also has French nationality, faces up to 20 years in prison.

On Tuesday the prosecutor said Azaria "acted deliberately, he used his weapon to punish, he killed a person, even if it was a terrorist".

Colonel Gay Hazut, who formerly commanded the unit in which Azaria was serving, said he had "committed something serious and should be punished".

"But," he added, "I do not think he should spend 20 years or even 10 years in prison."

The case has sparked political tensions.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who heads what is seen as the most right-wing government in Israeli history, has called for him to be pardoned.

Right-wing ministers have defended Azaria despite top army brass condemning his actions in an extraordinary public rift between politicians and the military.

EU states can reject asylum for ‘terrorists’, court rules

EU states can reject asylum applications from people who have worked with terrorist groups, even if their role was only logistical, the bloc’s highest court ruled Tuesday.The Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice (ECJ) was ruling on the case of Mo…

EU states can reject asylum applications from people who have worked with terrorist groups, even if their role was only logistical, the bloc's highest court ruled Tuesday.

The Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice (ECJ) was ruling on the case of Mostafa Lounani, a Moroccan sentenced to six years in a Belgian jail in 2006 for terrorist activities over his links to the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group (GICM).

Lounani had been found guilty of procuring false passports for members of a recruitment network that was sending fighters to Iraq.

In 2010 he requested asylum in Belgium, saying he feared persecution if he was sent back to Morocco as authorities there would consider him a radical Islamist due to his Belgian conviction, a court statement said.

Belgian legal authorities gave contradictory rulings on the matter, finally landing his case in the ECJ.

The EU court said in its judgment that while there was no evidence Lounani had personally committed or planned a terrorist act, European countries like Belgium had no obligation to offer asylum to a person in his position.

The "exclusion of refugee status... is not limited to the effective perpetrators of acts of terrorism, but can also extend to the persons who engage in activities of recruitment, organisation, transportation or equipment", of people travelling abroad to carry out attacks.

Laidlaw promises no let-up for Ireland star Murray

Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw has told rival scrum-half Conor Murray to expect another tough encounter when Ireland open their Six Nations campaign at Murrayfield on Saturday.Murray believed his standing leg had been deliberately targeted while kickin…

Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw has told rival scrum-half Conor Murray to expect another tough encounter when Ireland open their Six Nations campaign at Murrayfield on Saturday.

Murray believed his standing leg had been deliberately targeted while kicking during Munster's Champions Cup clash against Glasgow at Scotstoun on January 14.

Glasgow, however, were adamant that while forceful there was nothing outside the laws of the game in their treatment of Murray, a view backed up by Laidlaw, who plays his club rugby in England for Gloucester.

"Glasgow did everything within the rules of the game," Laidlaw said Tuesday. "As a nine (scrum-half) you are always going to get teams putting pressure on you.

"In that game, Glasgow got a a charge down on him but they were trying to get the ball back -- they weren't trying to deliberately injure the player.

"Will we be putting pressure on him? For sure we will. He's not going to come to Murrayfield and get an armchair ride.

"We need to do that to every Irish player but we can expect the same back, I'm sure."

Murray's task wasn't made any easier when Ireland announced Tuesday that his regular half-back partner Jonathan Sexton had been ruled out of the Scotland showdown with a calf injury.

But Laidlaw warned Scotland against getting too carried away by the absence of the British and Irish Lions fly-half.

"He has been struggling with injury so Ireland will probably have known that he wouldn't make Saturday a lot longer than we have," Laidlaw said. "I'm sure they have been training to cover that up.

"They have quality in behind, whether it be Paddy Jackson or the young fella coming in from Munster (Rory Scannell).

"Their strength in depth is one of their keys to Ireland's recent success.

"Sexton is a quality player of course but we can't focus on one player. We just need to fixate on ourselves and get that part right first and foremost.

"It won't affect us. We have done some in-depth analysis and we have a game plan we believe can give us the best possible chance of winning."

Russia to take tit-for-tat measures if MSM acts to limit RT broadcast in US – telecom watchdog

Preview Moscow has warned it will take relevant reciprocal measures should the US MSM attempt to limit RT’s broadcasting; emphasizing US media pressure on RT’s partners will not be tolerated, the head of Russia’s media watchdog, Roskomnadzor has said.
Read Full Article at RT.com

Preview Moscow has warned it will take relevant reciprocal measures should the US MSM attempt to limit RT’s broadcasting; emphasizing US media pressure on RT’s partners will not be tolerated, the head of Russia’s media watchdog, Roskomnadzor has said.
Read Full Article at RT.com

Dutch experiment with ‘Tinder for orangutans’

An animal reserve in the Netherlands is having apes respond to images of their fellow creatures on a tablet, a programme dubbed “Tinder for orangutans” by the Dutch press.To better understand their emotions, orangutans and bonobos at the Apenheul Prima…

An animal reserve in the Netherlands is having apes respond to images of their fellow creatures on a tablet, a programme dubbed "Tinder for orangutans" by the Dutch press.

To better understand their emotions, orangutans and bonobos at the Apenheul Primate Park near the central town of Apeldoorn are shown pictures of other apes, and researchers evaluate their responses -- from neutral to aggressive, the park said.

"After seeing the photos, the monkeys have to push a button on the screen," the park said. "In this way we can measure their capacity for reaction."

The research, conducted with Leiden University, could improve breeding programmes for the apes, the park said.

The local De Stentor newspaper wrote: "Apenheul wants to know if female orangutans like Samboja, looking at pictures on a tablet, can show a preference for potential mates, before they are flown to the Netherlands."

Initial results indicate that bonobos, an endangered ape species, react most strongly to photos showing positive behaviours, such as sexual activity or searching for lice, the park said.

"The study shows that primates pay attention to the emotions of their peers," the park said. "We now know, for example, that bonobos use body language to recognise emotions."

But the study had to be suspended for the orangutans, after Samboja, a young female, destroyed a tablet showing potential suitors.

Deutsche Bank to stop financing coal projects

German banking giant Deutsche Bank on Tuesday announced it would stop financing coal projects as part of its commitments under the Paris Agreement to tackle global warming.”Deutsche Bank and its subsidiaries will not grant new financing for greenfield …

German banking giant Deutsche Bank on Tuesday announced it would stop financing coal projects as part of its commitments under the Paris Agreement to tackle global warming.

"Deutsche Bank and its subsidiaries will not grant new financing for greenfield thermal coal mining and new coal-fired power plant construction," it said in a statement.

Existing exposure to such projects will be gradually reduced, it added.

The lender said the decision was in line with the pledges it made at last year's Paris climate conference, along with 400 other public and private companies, to help fight global warming.

A study last month by the legal group Arabella Advisors found that global funds were increasingly signalling plans to pull out of fossil fuel investments, one year on from the Paris climate agreement.

The accord, signed by 192 countries, is the world's first universal, legally binding climate deal.

It sets out a plan to limit global warming to below two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-industrial levels.

US President Donald Trump has vowed to withdraw his country, the world's second-largest greenhouse-gas polluter after China, from the agreement.

Iraq PM says US ban punishes those ‘fighting terrorism’

Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Tuesday that President Donald Trump’s decision to ban Iraqis from travelling to the United States punishes those who are “fighting terrorism”.Trump signed an executive order barring citizens of Iraq and six…

Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Tuesday that President Donald Trump's decision to ban Iraqis from travelling to the United States punishes those who are "fighting terrorism".

Trump signed an executive order barring citizens of Iraq and six other Muslim-majority countries from entering the US for at least 90 days, a move he billed as an effort to make America safe from "radical Islamic terrorists".

The travel restrictions, which come on the heels of repeated assertions by Trump that the US should have stolen Iraq's oil before leaving in 2011, risk alienating the citizens and government of a country fighting against militants the president has cast as a major threat to America.

"You come to the victim to hold him accountable, to the people who are sacrificing, who are fighting terrorism, to punish them," Abadi said, in his first reaction to the ban.

"We do not now want to do anything now... but we are studying all our choices."

The Iraqi foreign ministry has already called on Washington to review the travel restrictions, which it said were the "wrong decision".

And parliament voted to back reciprocal measures against the US if Washington does not change course -- a move that does not implement restrictions but which does reflect the widespread displeasure with Trump's ban.

The dispute over the travel ban comes amid a massive Iraqi operation to retake the city of Mosul from the Islamic State group -- a battle for which a US-led coalition is providing air support and other assistance.

Even if Iraq did implement travel restrictions on Americans, it does not seem likely that they would be applied to coalition forces.

But US senators John McCain and Lindsay Graham said the ban could impact military cooperation and security in other ways.

- Lives upended -

"This executive order bans Iraqi pilots from coming to military bases in Arizona," where they have received training, they said in a joint statement that drew condemnation from Trump.

"Ultimately, we fear this executive order will become a self-inflicted wound in the fight against terrorism," they said.

The travel restrictions have upended the lives of Iraqis who were planning to move to the US -- some of whom have waited for years to obtain visas.

Fuad Sharif and his wife quit their jobs, sold their belongings and left for the US with their three children, but were prevented from boarding their flight in Cairo despite having valid visas.

Now they are back in Iraq, staying at his brother-in-law's empty home and living off savings, Sharif said.

"I am relying on the money I have to live... now I am without work and my wife is without work and the children are without schools," he said.

The measures do not only affect those seeking to move to the US -- they also bar people from visiting.

Vian Dakhil, An Iraqi lawmaker who has campaigned prominently for fellow Yazidi women enslaved by the Islamic State group, said the restrictions may prevent her from travelling to the US to accept the Lantos Human Rights Prize next week.

The Lantos Foundation said Dakhil's situation highlights the flaws in Trump's decision.

It "is a startling example of how the executive order signed by President Trump is having unintended consequences and ensnaring not only those who have no links to terrorism but also those who have risked their lives to fight terrorism in cooperation with the United States," the foundation said.

Israel sets up cyber education centre: Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday announced the creation of a National Centre for Cyber Education to train young people in a sector he views as key.The new facility will have a $6-million budget over the next five years, Netanyahu to…

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday announced the creation of a National Centre for Cyber Education to train young people in a sector he views as key.

The new facility will have a $6-million budget over the next five years, Netanyahu told students in Tel Aviv on the sidelines of the Cybertech 2017 international conference.

Its aim will be to "increase the number and raise the level of young Israelis for their future integration into the Israeli security services, industry and the academic world," he said in a statement released by his office.

It will focus on "the development of programmes and education for children, youth and graduates in the cyber sphere," it added.

Israel is a world leader in cyber security with 65 start-ups created last year, according to a report by Start-Up Nation Central, a non-profit organisation in the Jewish state.

A record $581 million allocated last year -- an increase of 9 percent over 2015 -- put Israel second in the world after the United States for the volume of venture capital funds in the sector.

At the end of 2016, there were 365 companies specialising in cyber security in the country compared with 187 four years previously.

The rapidly increasing sector can be explained partly by ex-members of elite military intelligence groups such as Unit 8200 founding their own start-ups after their military service ends.

Many former members of such units are also employed in existing firms specialising in cyber security, either inside Israel or abroad.

The country's largest arms groups, including Israel Aerospace Industries, also have their own cyber units.

Trump faces wall of resistance to immigration order

US President Donald Trump has crushed the most defiant display yet of official opposition to his immigration and refugee restrictions — but resistance continued to spread Tuesday, inside and outside the government.Trump’s swift dismissal of acting att…

US President Donald Trump has crushed the most defiant display yet of official opposition to his immigration and refugee restrictions -- but resistance continued to spread Tuesday, inside and outside the government.

Trump's swift dismissal of acting attorney general Sally Yates for refusing to defend his executive orders capped a night of high drama, Washington-style, that drew comparisons with a flurry of urgent housekeeping by a desperate Richard Nixon at the height of the Watergate scandal.

Trump came out fighting Tuesday morning, accusing Democrats of delaying approval of his nominee for attorney general and the rest of his cabinet.

"They should be ashamed of themselves! No wonder D.C. doesn't work!" Trump wrote on Twitter.

But as Trump defended his sudden executive order barring the entry of people from seven mainly Muslim countries and halting the US refugee resettlement program, challenges were mounting on all sides -- from the United Nations to lawmakers in his Republican Party.

The order has led to the detention of more than 100 people at US airports and mass protests in many cities, and raised howls of protests abroad.

Critics including in Trump's own camp complain that the order is too broad and was rolled out hastily, reportedly without consultation with key officials who would be tasked with overseeing it.

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly insisted Trump's top advisors were not caught unawares by the unveiling of the order on Friday, saying "high-level folks in the government, attorneys as well" were consulted on the draft.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres nevertheless sharpened his criticism of the ban, saying that "blind measures, not based on solid intelligence, tend to be ineffective."

As former national security officials warned that the order sends exactly the wrong message to Muslims -- that America is at war with them over their faith -- even US diplomats are jumping into the fray in a rare display of dissent in an administration just a week old.

Trump's order bars US entry for travellers from seven mainly Muslim countries -- Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen -- for 90 days. It also suspends the arrival of all refugees for at least 120 days, and Syrian refugees indefinitely.

The order has also drawn criticism that it amounts to a religious test for refugees aimed at barring entry to Muslims.

"While not explicitly a religious test, it comes close to one which is inconsistent with our American character," Republican Senator Lamar Alexander said.

Several federal judges have since filed temporary stays against the decree's implementation.

On Sunday, attorneys general from 16 US states, including California and New York, condemned Trump's directive as "unconstitutional" and vowed to fight it.

Legal challenges to the ban look set to loom large during confirmation hearings for Trump's Supreme Court nominee, whose name he will unveil on Tuesday night.

- Dissent channel-

Possibly the most dramatic gesture of protest to date came from the country's top law enforcement official, Yates, who instructed Department of Justice attorneys Monday not to defend Trump's immigration ban in court, expressing doubts about its legality and morality.

Trump wasted no time in crushing the rebellion.

Yates -- an Obama appointee held over pending confirmation of Trump's own nominee Jeff Sessions -- was sacked within hours as the White House said she had "betrayed" the administration.

She was replaced as acting attorney general by federal prosecutor Dana Boente, who vowed to defend Trump's directive.

Trump did get a vote of support Tuesday from House of Representatives speaker Paul Ryan, who defended the restrictions as a legitimate way to keep out potential terrorists.

"There is nothing wrong with taking a pause and making sure we had the proper vetting standards in place so that we do not have a problem like France had with Paris," Ryan said, alluding to November 2015 suicide bombings and shootings that left 130 people dead in the French capital.

Around 48 percent of Americans support a freeze on immigration from "terror prone" regions, even if it means turning refugees away, according to a Quinnipiac poll released Monday.

But challenges to the measure have been mounting on all sides.

At the State Department, diplomats are preparing to use a "dissent channel" to protest the order, reportedly arguing that it will aid jihadist propaganda while offending vital Muslim allies in the fight against terror.

Word of these rumblings drew a scathing riposte from White House spokesman Sean Spicer, who said of the diplomats, "I think they should either get with the program or they can go."

Senior national security officials from the Barack Obama and George W. Bush administrations warned in a letter to top Trump cabinet members that the order will do long-term damage to US national security, calling it a tragically "unnecessary" move that will fuel violent extremist propaganda.

And according to industry sources, a broad coalition of US technology firms -- -- including Google parent Alphabet, Netflix, Airbnb and Twitter -- is planning a joint legal strategy challenging Trump's order, which is expected to have a large impact on a sector that employs thousands of immigrants.

Young set for debut with injury-hit Wales in Six Nations

Injuries could see promising Wales flanker Thomas Young make his Test debut against Italy in this weekend’s opening round of the Six Nations Championship.The Welsh have suffered a double blow ahead of Sunday’s match in Rome, with Bath forwards Taulupe …

Injuries could see promising Wales flanker Thomas Young make his Test debut against Italy in this weekend's opening round of the Six Nations Championship.

The Welsh have suffered a double blow ahead of Sunday's match in Rome, with Bath forwards Taulupe Faletau and Luke Charteris both ruled out.

In No 8 Faletau's expected absence, Young could occupy a place on the bench at the Olympic Stadium.

Were he to face the Azzurri, 24-year-old Wasps back-row Young would follow his father Dai, a former Test prop and now Wasps boss, in representing Wales.

Wales's likely starting back-row against Italy could feature Ross Moriarty at No 8, with former captain Sam Warburton and Justin Tipuric the flankers.

With Charteris out, Jake Ball is set to partner new Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones in the second row.

Faletau has still to recover fully from a knee injury suffered on December 24 while Charteris has a "slight fracture in his hand, according to Wales forwards coach Robin McBryde.

Both Faletau and Charteris remain on course to face arch-rivals England in the second round of the Championship when Wales play the defending Grand Slam champions in Cardiff on February 11.

"He (Faletau) is still progressing," McBryde said Tuesday. "It is still early days. Everything is heading in the right direction, really.

"(Fit) for this week? No, it will be too early this week.

"It is all about getting the balance right in that back-row. We are in a healthy place at the moment, and whoever gets the nod, I am sure they will perform on the day," he added.

Wales last lost to Italy in 2007 and topped 60 points in winning their last two Six Nations matches against the Azzurri.

But with Italy beating South Africa for the first time in November, McBryde is taking nothing for granted against a team who've enjoyed something of a revival under new coach Conor O'Shea, the former Ireland fullback.

"Italy will come into the competition full of confidence having had a good result against South Africa, so they know they can perform on the big stage against a good team," said McBryde.

"They took it up-front against the Springboks. They got to a stage in that game where they thought they were in with a shout, and everybody raised their game."

Shiffrin storms Stockholm slalom

American Mikaela Shiffrin finetuned her preparations for next month’s world championships by winning Stockholm’s World Cup slalom city event on Tuesday.In the absence of Swiss arch-rival Lara Gut, Shiffrin’s victory saw her consolidate her lead atop th…

American Mikaela Shiffrin finetuned her preparations for next month's world championships by winning Stockholm's World Cup slalom city event on Tuesday.

In the absence of Swiss arch-rival Lara Gut, Shiffrin's victory saw her consolidate her lead atop the overall World Cup standings. The American has now amassed 1,203 points, with Gut second on 1,023.

"I came for that," said Shiffrin, two-time defending world slalom champion and also reigning Olympic gold medallist in the discipline.

In front of 9,000 fans at the 180-metre-long Hammarbybacken slope in downtown Stockholm, Shiffrin saw off France's Adeline Baud Mugnier and Canadian Marie-Michelle Gagnon, before beating home hope Frida Hansdotter in the semi-final.

Shiffrin made no mistake in the final, winning the two runs over Slovakia's Veronica Velez Zuzulova.

"I was a great show. I could hear the people cheering, it was a great feeling," she said.

There was a turn-up in the men's event as German Linus Strasser, only racing as a late inclusion after a pull-out, edged Frenchman Alexis Pinturault for a maiden World Cup victory, never having even troubled the podium before.

Austria's Marcel Hirscher, seeking a sixth consecutive World Cup overall crystal globe, was beaten out early on by Norway's Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, who later fell when racing Pinturault in the quarters.

"It was going faster, race after race, and the next moment I was standing in final against Alexis," Strasser said.

"Then I thought, it's my chance."

I’m lucky to be alive, says Hull City’s Mason after horror injury

Hull City midfielder Ryan Mason says he is lucky to be alive after fracturing his skull in a horrific clash of heads with Chelsea’s Gary Cahill.Mason was rushed to hospital following the nasty incident in the first half of Hull’s 2-0 defeat at Stamford…

Hull City midfielder Ryan Mason says he is lucky to be alive after fracturing his skull in a horrific clash of heads with Chelsea's Gary Cahill.

Mason was rushed to hospital following the nasty incident in the first half of Hull's 2-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge on January 22.

The 25-year-old feared the worst before surgery and eventually spent eight days in hospital before being released on Monday.

"It has been an emotional rollercoaster and I feel lucky to be alive, but I'm happy to say I'm now at home resting and recovering," former Tottenham star Mason said on Tuesday.

"My fiancee and family have read so many messages of support to me over the past week.

"To have had so many people send messages to me, including from fellow players, clubs (in particular the support shown to me from both Hull City and Tottenham Hotspur), so many fans as well as the support I have received from the general public around the world has been completely overwhelming.

"Each and every message of support really has given me strength and I cannot tell you how much it means to me.

"The love and support my Mum, Dad, sisters, fiancee Rachel and all of my friends and family have shown to me during what has been an extremely traumatic time for all involved has been incredible and I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart for being there throughout.

"Finally I would like to say a special thank you to all the medical staff at Hull, as well as the medical team at Chelsea and of course the fantastic treatment and support I have received from all of the staff during my stay at St. Mary's hospital."

Greece relocates migrants after camp deaths

Greek authorities on Tuesday relocated dozens of migrants from a congested camp on the island of Lesbos following three deaths attributed to carbon monoxide poisoning.State agency ANA said around 150 people were moved out of the camp of Moria, and work…

Greek authorities on Tuesday relocated dozens of migrants from a congested camp on the island of Lesbos following three deaths attributed to carbon monoxide poisoning.

State agency ANA said around 150 people were moved out of the camp of Moria, and work is underway to improve facilities for others still sleeping in tents.

"There are currently around 250 migrants in single-person tents. At the end of the week we aim to have none," immigration ministry official Anthee Karangeli told ANA.

Some 50 migrants were relocated to a Greek navy ship moored at the local port and another 100 were moved to a second camp on the island where conditions are better, the agency said.

Immigration minister Yiannis Mouzalas on Monday told reporters in Athens that additional heated tents would be installed in Moria.

The moves came after three men died in the camp in the space of six days, and a fourth was hospitalised.

The four men from Pakistan, Egypt and Syria were sharing two tents.

Greek media have cited carbon monoxide poisoning as a possible cause of death, as the cold weather has forced migrants to use makeshift stoves in tents pitched outside to keep warm.

Coroners have not announced the definitive results on what caused the three deaths, but a police source told AFP that the deaths were probably not drugs-related.

The UN refugee agency, which helps the Greek government manage the camps, declined to comment.

In November, a 66-year-old Iraqi Kurd and her six-year-old grandson died in Moria from the apparent explosion of a cooking gas cannister inside their tent.

The boy's mother and four-year-old sibling also suffered serious burns.

Greece has over 60,000 refugees and migrants on its soil, the result of a series of border closures in the Balkans and eastern Europe last year.

Many of the camps are overcrowded, especially on the islands facing Turkey. On Lesbos there are nearly 5,000 people in camps nominally built to hold 3,500, according to government figures.

The Greek immigration ministry has refused to permit large-scale relocation from the islands to the mainland, fearing that such a move could jeopardise an EU-Turkey agreement that has helped stop further arrivals to the continent.

There are frequent clashes in the island camps, with the residents tired of the long wait for asylum papers and fearful of being returned to Turkey.

Holder Vinci advances in St Petersburg

Defending champion Roberta Vinci battled into the second round of the WTA St Petersburg tournament on Tuesday following a tough three-set win over Timea Babos.It took sixth-seeded Italian Vinci, 33, just over two hours to get past the 28th-ranked Hunga…

Defending champion Roberta Vinci battled into the second round of the WTA St Petersburg tournament on Tuesday following a tough three-set win over Timea Babos.

It took sixth-seeded Italian Vinci, 33, just over two hours to get past the 28th-ranked Hungarian 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 in a replay of last year's quarter-final.

"It's always tough to play against Timea," Vinci said. "She's a great player with a very good serve.

"Today it was really difficult to change the course of the match. And I'm really happy to win because it's always hard to play in the first round.

"But I love this tournament as I have great memories from the last year."

Vinci looked in command, winning the opening set in 37 minutes, but Babos struck back in the second and appeared to take command when she broke at the start of the third.

But Vinci, ranked 21, moved up a gear and broke back twice to claim her fifth win over Babos in six meetings.

The Italian next plays German qualifier Andrea Petkovic, who saw off Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu 6-1, 7-5, for a place in the quarter-finals.

Frenchwomen Kristina Mladenovic and Alize Cornet dispatched Belgian qualifiers Elise Mertens 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 and Kirsten Flipkens 6-4, 6-2 respectively.

Mladenovic is slated to meet US star Venus Williams for the first time in the second round.

Meanwhile, home favourite Daria Kasatkina, the eighth seed, eased past Switzerland's Belinda Bencic 6-2, 7-5.

Blizzards wreak havoc on Russia’s Arctic city of Norilsk (VIDEO)

Preview A powerful cyclone has triggered days of severe snowstorms in the world’s northernmost city of Norilsk, leaving inhabitants battling to maintain a regular lifestyle in the face of extreme cold, biting winds, and low visibility.
Read Full Article at RT.com

Preview A powerful cyclone has triggered days of severe snowstorms in the world’s northernmost city of Norilsk, leaving inhabitants battling to maintain a regular lifestyle in the face of extreme cold, biting winds, and low visibility.
Read Full Article at RT.com

Accused Quebec mosque killer quietly embraced far-right ideology

Alexandre Bissonnette cut a low profile as a shy, withdrawn political science student, keen on far-right ideas.Now, he stands accused of gunning down six worshippers at a Quebec mosque in one of the worst attacks ever to target Muslims in a western cou…

Alexandre Bissonnette cut a low profile as a shy, withdrawn political science student, keen on far-right ideas.

Now, he stands accused of gunning down six worshippers at a Quebec mosque in one of the worst attacks ever to target Muslims in a western country.

The 27-year old grew up in a quiet suburb of Quebec City, posting online about friends, family and food.

He studied anthropology and political science at nearby Laval University, and most recently lived in a fourth-floor apartment with his twin brother that neighbors described as often noisy.

The apartment is one kilometer (0.6 miles) from the Sainte-Foy mosque where Bissonnette allegedly shot worshippers in the back.

His Facebook account has since been deleted, but an analysis of stored pages by SITE Intelligence Group -- a US-based organization that monitors extremists' activities -- described his posts as "largely apolitical."

"It is a cruelly banal profile that resembles many others and it is extremely difficult to perceive the evolution," David Morin, co-director of the Observatory on Radicalization and Violent Extremism, told AFP.

Bissonnette went to classes at Laval University, read the essays of French poet Charles Baudelaire, and worked part-time at the province's blood collection agency. It has expressed alarm over learning that one of its employees was suspected in the mosque shooting.

Although Bissonnette was not affiliated with any group, he appears to have embraced a "right-wing, a bit reactionary, somewhat anti-immigrant, anti-feminist ideology," said Morin.

He espoused positions taken by US President Donald Trump, French National Front leader Marine Le Pen, and a Quebec group that rejects multiculturalism.

SITE Intelligence Group noted that on his Facebook page, "There were no posts about Al-Qaeda, the Islamic State (ISIS), or Muslims, nor were there any posts related to immigration."

But he "liked" the pages of Le Pen, Trump and Quebec's Generation Nationale.

- 'The light went out' -

Morin said it is always hard to determine exactly what will lead to a person's break with reality, to an existential crisis, insecurity about their identity, and a need for self-affirmation.

In fact, this young man "may not even have been radicalized" to nationalist ideas. In a moment it is likely simply "the light went out," he said.

This might explain why after allegedly carrying out these murderous acts, Bissonnette fled and called police to turn himself in.

Morin suggests parallels with a case in the US state of South Carolina in which Dylan Roof shot dead nine black parishioners at a church in 2015.

Profiles of the suspects in both cases run contrary to the fanatics who typically commit suicide, including blowing themselves up during or after an attack.

There were no obvious signs of Bissonnette's predilection for violence. Prior to Le Pen's controversial March 2016 visit to Quebec City, he showed little interest in politics, despite majoring in it at school, his friends told local media.

Former classmates described him as a quiet, unassuming guy who blended in. Others said he was introverted, socially awkward and frequently bullied in high school, but that he brushed it off.

People who knew him described him as having lately become a xenophobe, an ethnic nationalist and an online troll, but not a racist.

He denounced, for example, the flood of Syrian migrants into Europe last year.

"He was someone who made frequent extreme comments in social media denigrating refugees and feminism. It wasn't outright hate, rather part of this new nationalist conservative identity movement that is more intolerant than hateful," Francois Deschamps, who runs a refugee-support Facebook page, told the daily Globe and Mail.

One of Bissonnette's last online postings was a photo circa 2002 of himself as a boy in a military cadet uniform, stone-faced.

Portugal court upholds ex-cop’s acquittal in Maddie McCann case

Portugal’s supreme court on Tuesday upheld the acquittal of an ex-policeman sued for libel by the parents of Madeleine McCann, the British toddler who disappeared during a family vacation in 2007.Goncalo Amaral, who had led the inquiry into the child’s…

Portugal's supreme court on Tuesday upheld the acquittal of an ex-policeman sued for libel by the parents of Madeleine McCann, the British toddler who disappeared during a family vacation in 2007.

Goncalo Amaral, who had led the inquiry into the child's disappearance just a few days before her fourth birthday, in Praia da Luz in southern Portugal, was sued over his 2008 book "The Truth of the Lie".

In the book, he accused Kate and Gerry McCann of concealing their daughter's body after her accidental death.

Goncalo had originally been ordered to pay the parents of the missing girl 500,000 euros ($540,000), plus more than 100,000 euros in interest, but that judgement was struck down on appeal last April.

The supreme court ruled Tuesday that "Goncalo Amaral did not abuse the liberty of expression", as his claims remained "within the limits tolerated in an open and democratic society".

The decision is final in Portugal, but can be appealed before the European Court of Human Rights.

After 14 months of controversial investigations -- which saw Madeleine's parents investigated and Amaral sacked -- Portuguese police closed the case in 2008 before reopening it five years later.

British police opened their own inquiry in July 2013, but excavations in Praia da Luz yielded no evidence.

Coe aide kicked out of IAAF over hidden payment

Nick Davies, one of IAAF president Sebastian Coe’s closest aides, was expelled from world athletics’ governing body on Tuesday for concealing a ?30,000 payment from disgraced ex-head Lamine Diack linked to the Russian doping scandal.An International As…

Nick Davies, one of IAAF president Sebastian Coe's closest aides, was expelled from world athletics' governing body on Tuesday for concealing a ?30,000 payment from disgraced ex-head Lamine Diack linked to the Russian doping scandal.

An International Association of Athletics Federations ethics board found that the influential former deputy secretary general had lied to the inquiry over the funds.

Davies' wife and IAAF project manager Jane Boulter-Davies and medical manager Pierre-Yves Garnier were both allowed to resume working for the world body, with each ordered to pay 2,500 euros in costs.

But the ethics board ordered that Davies, named by Coe as his chief of staff when he took over in August 2015, was "expelled from his position with the IAAF with immediate effect" and ordered to pay 5,000 euros in costs.

Davies' downfall was "accepting a concealed remuneration" through Diack's son Papa Massata Diack, lying about it to the ethics board and failing to disclose it to French judicial authorities and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). Davies received ?30,000 euros, ?5,000 paid into his joint bank account with Boulter-Davies, while ?25,000 went into his own account, without his wife's knowledge.

"Mr Davies has admitted misleading the investigation," said an ethics board report.

"That is an extremely serious matter. It is all the more serious for the fact that Mr Davies only admitted his lie when his hand was forced upon requests being made of him for his bank statements."

Davies, the board said, "has admitted a serious error of judgment and has reflected upon and sincerely apologised for that error".

Davies will be free to seek employment elsewhere in athletics and to be involved in IAAF organised competitions. He can also still appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The allegations stem from an email sent by Davies to Papa Massata Diack on July 19 before the 2013 World Athletics Championships in Moscow which outlined a plan to delay naming Russian doping cheats to avoid bad publicity.

In the email to Papa Massata, a marketing consultant, Davies suggested a "very secret" five-point plan to manage media reaction to doping failures.

Lamine Diack is now under house arrest in France on corruption and money laundering charges while Papa Massata is wanted by French authorities but is in his native Senegal.

The ethics board ruling came on the same day that Coe again found himself in the spotlight amid allegations he knew of corruption claims concerning the Russian doping scandal four months before they became public.

Coe told a House of Commons committee in December 2015 he was "not aware" of specific allegations of corruption in Russian athletics until a German documentary in December 2014.

But in an August 2014 email to the IAAF ethics commission published Tuesday by the parliament culture, media and sport committee, Coe, a two-time Olympic 1500m champion, stated: "I have now been made aware of the allegations."

Daft Punk to play Grammys in first performance in years

Daft Punk will perform at next month’s Grammy Awards, organizers announced Tuesday, in the reclusive French electronic duo’s first live appearance in three years.

The robot-clad DJs will take the stage at the music industry’s gala awards in Los Angeles on February 12 to play with R&B sensation The Weeknd, whose latest album featured collaborations with the duo.

Daft Punk, who went from the nascent French house music scene of the 1990s to international fame, has rarely performed since closing a tour in 2007, and members Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter never show their faces in public.

Daft Punk’s last performance was at the Grammys in 2014, when the duo won the most prestigious awards of Album of the Year and Record of the Year — accepting the prizes silently while in costume.

The Grammy performance is sure to renew speculation of a larger return of Daft Punk, who have been quiet since the worldwide success of the duo’s 2013 album “Random Access Memories.”

Daft Punk re-emerged late last year to contribute to two tracks on The Weeknd’s chart-topping latest album “Starboy,” including the title track.

The Grammy Awards frequently pair nominated artists with high-profile established acts.

The Recording Academy, announcing collaborations for the televised ceremony, said that Anderson .Paak — whose innovative blend of hip-hop, soul and jazz has won him a nomination for Best New Artist — would take the stage with alternative rap pioneers A Tribe Called Quest as well as Foo Fighters, fronted by Nirvana rocker Dave Grohl.

Country singer Maren Morris, who is also up for Best New Artist, will perform at the Grammys with pop and R&B star Alicia Keys.

The Recording Academy previously announced acts who will perform on their own including superstar English ballad singer Adele, funk revivalist Bruno Mars and metal legends Metallica.

Daft Punk will perform at next month's Grammy Awards, organizers announced Tuesday, in the reclusive French electronic duo's first live appearance in three years.

The robot-clad DJs will take the stage at the music industry's gala awards in Los Angeles on February 12 to play with R&B sensation The Weeknd, whose latest album featured collaborations with the duo.

Daft Punk, who went from the nascent French house music scene of the 1990s to international fame, has rarely performed since closing a tour in 2007, and members Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter never show their faces in public.

Daft Punk's last performance was at the Grammys in 2014, when the duo won the most prestigious awards of Album of the Year and Record of the Year -- accepting the prizes silently while in costume.

The Grammy performance is sure to renew speculation of a larger return of Daft Punk, who have been quiet since the worldwide success of the duo's 2013 album "Random Access Memories."

Daft Punk re-emerged late last year to contribute to two tracks on The Weeknd's chart-topping latest album "Starboy," including the title track.

The Grammy Awards frequently pair nominated artists with high-profile established acts.

The Recording Academy, announcing collaborations for the televised ceremony, said that Anderson .Paak -- whose innovative blend of hip-hop, soul and jazz has won him a nomination for Best New Artist -- would take the stage with alternative rap pioneers A Tribe Called Quest as well as Foo Fighters, fronted by Nirvana rocker Dave Grohl.

Country singer Maren Morris, who is also up for Best New Artist, will perform at the Grammys with pop and R&B star Alicia Keys.

The Recording Academy previously announced acts who will perform on their own including superstar English ballad singer Adele, funk revivalist Bruno Mars and metal legends Metallica.

Zebras moved from Israel to Palestinian zoo: army

Two male and two female zebras were transferred Tuesday from Ramat Gan Safari Park near Tel Aviv to a Palestinian zoo in the northern occupied West Bank, Israel’s army said.The transfer of the four animals to their new home in Qalqilya took place smoot…

Two male and two female zebras were transferred Tuesday from Ramat Gan Safari Park near Tel Aviv to a Palestinian zoo in the northern occupied West Bank, Israel's army said.

The transfer of the four animals to their new home in Qalqilya took place smoothly, according to a statement from COGAT, the defence ministry body responsible for coordinating Israeli activities in the Palestinian territories.

"The Civil Administration is responsible for civilian matters in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) and has coordinated a few animal transfers in the past, such as lions and hippos," COGAT said in a statement.

Last August, a tiger, two turtles, two eagles, two porcupines, a pelican, an emu and a deer were transferred from a dilapidated zoo in the Gaza Strip to more comfortable homes in South Africa, Jordan or Israel.

Many other animals had died in the zoo because of poor conditions as the owners ran out of money in the Palestinian enclave, hit by three wars with Israel since 2008 and Israel's decade-long blockade.

EU Commission defends Apple tax ruling

The EU’s competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager on Tuesday defended a landmark decision that US tech giant Apple should pay billions in back-taxes to Ireland.In August, the European Commission, the EU executive arm, ordered the iPhone maker to rei…

The EU's competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager on Tuesday defended a landmark decision that US tech giant Apple should pay billions in back-taxes to Ireland.

In August, the European Commission, the EU executive arm, ordered the iPhone maker to reimburse a record 13 billion euros ($14 billion) in unpaid taxes in Ireland.

The EU had accused Ireland of giving Apple a secret tax deal that allowed it to enjoy near zero tax on its huge sales worldwide for more than a decade.

Addressing Irish lawmakers in Dublin on Tuesday, Vestager denied that Brussels was conducting a "witch-hunt" against multinationals such as Apple.

Vestager said the investigations in this and other cases in other European countries were purely about illegal state aid.

"We simply want to make sure that they are not used to rubber stamp a way of allocating profits that does not match economic reality," she said.

It did not mean that the EU Commission was assuming the authority over a country's tax rules, the commissioner argued.

The investigations "do not affect the sovereign right of member states to determine their own corporate tax systems, or to set their own tax rates. They are simply about special treatment for certain companies," she said.

Vestager said "good progress" was being made by the Irish authorities with regards to the collection of the money.

Kenya extradites four drug smuggling suspects to the US

Kenya has handed over to the United States four men suspected of trying to smuggle large quantities of heroin, more than two years after their arrest, police said Tuesday.Kenyan brothers Baktash and Ibrahim Akasha were arrested in November 2014, along …

Kenya has handed over to the United States four men suspected of trying to smuggle large quantities of heroin, more than two years after their arrest, police said Tuesday.

Kenyan brothers Baktash and Ibrahim Akasha were arrested in November 2014, along with Indian national Vijaygiri Goswami and Pakistani citizen Gulam Hussein, following a sting by the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) which infiltrated the Mombasa-based organisation.

East Africa is emerging as a key staging post in the international heroin trade and US officials believe the Akashas are a crucial link in a supply chain that connects Afghanistan's poppy fields with consumers in Europe and the US.

"They were deported last night on a private charter plane and we expect them to be arraigned in court in the US to stand trial for smuggling drugs," said a senior Kenyan anti-narcotics officer on condition of anonymity.

Local media on Tuesday also reported their extradition, though their lawyer Cliff Ombeta said he had not been informed and did not know where they were.

Ombeta said if they had been sent to the US, "then consequences must follow because there is an order in the lower court that says they should not be removed from this jurisdiction".

An explanation was needed if they had been moved, he added.

According to a US indictment, Ibrahim Akasha personally delivered 99 kilos of heroin and two kilos of methamphetamine to undercover agents. Meetings and conversations were recorded.

The US indictment describes Baktash Akasha as "the leader of an organised crime family in Kenya" and his younger brother Ibrahim as his "deputy".

It also describes "Old Man" Hussein as "the head of a transportation network that distributes massive quantities of narcotics throughout the Middle East and Africa", while "Vicky" Goswami "manages the Akasha Organisation's drug business".

The men are accused of conspiring to import pure "white crystal" heroin into the US at a knock-down price of around $10,000 (9,100 euros) a kilo.

US officials believe the Akasha brothers are continuing the business of their late father, also named Ibrahim, who was described in a secret 2006 US diplomatic cable published by WikiLeaks as a "drug baron".

He was killed in Amsterdam -- shot four times by a bicycle-riding assassin -- in May 2000 as he took a morning stroll with his wife along Blood Street in the city's red light district.

Over the last two years the extradition request has foundered in Kenya's courts while the four suspects have been out on bail.

President Uhuru Kenyatta said Tuesday that Kenya must "fight the war on drugs".

"We have said we are no longer going to target those small peddlers. We are going for the real drug dealers," Kenyatta said, without specifying whether he was referring to the Akasha case.

Calm prevails in Europe as football transfer deadline nears

With Tuesday’s transfer deadline fast approaching, Europe’s major clubs have largely remained inactive this month with the exception of Manchester City, who completed the transfer of Brazilian starlet Gabriel Jesus, and Sevilla.European champions Real …

With Tuesday's transfer deadline fast approaching, Europe's major clubs have largely remained inactive this month with the exception of Manchester City, who completed the transfer of Brazilian starlet Gabriel Jesus, and Sevilla.

European champions Real Madrid and city rivals Atletico Madrid were barred from signing new players under a FIFA imposed ban, while Barcelona elected to stand pat amid another fierce title battle in Spain.

But Sevilla and revered sporting director Monchi actively looked to strengthen with the Andalusian club in the hunt for a first Liga crown since 1946 and through to the Champions League knockout phase.

After snapping up France Under-21 defender Clement Lenglet, Sevilla plucked Montenegrin striker Stevan Jovetic from Inter Milan on loan while signing Argentine midfielder Walter Montoya from Rosario Central.

However, there has been precious little movement elsewhere with Italy international Simone Zaza joining Juventus and Brazilian striker Alexandre Pato following the money trail by leaving Villarreal for China's Tianjin Quanjian.

Unfashionable Las Palmas pulled off a potential coup with the arrival of Paris Saint-Germain flop Jese Rodriguez, the Spanish forward returning to his home city after a difficult six months in France.

In England, the arrival of Jesus at Eastlands remains the standout deal, but there has been a flurry of moves involving clubs fighting to avoid the drop and subsequent exile from the Premier League's riches.

City agreed to sign Jesus on a five-year contract in August, but the 19-year-old was immediately loaned back to Palmeiras until the end of the Brazilian season in December.

- England's top six unmoved -

Title frontrunners Chelsea recalled Dutch defender Nathan Ake from Bournemouth, but the Blues have primarily offloaded players with Oscar moving to China's Shanghai SIPG in an Asian record 60-million-euro ($63 million) deal and John Mikel Obi joining Tianjin TEDA.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said he had no need to make any last-ditch signings, with 20-year-old defender Cohen Bramall, signed from non-league Hednesford Town, the Gunners' only January arrival.

"I believe that number-wise and quality-wise, we have what is required to do well," said Wenger, with top-four rivals Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool also standing firm in the transfer market.

After their summer spending spree that included the return of Paul Pogba to Old Trafford in a world-record deal, Manchester United have made no new signings this month.

Jose Mourinho instead sanctioned the departures of fringe first-team players Memphis Depay to Lyon and Morgan Schneiderlin to Everton, roughly recouping an initial 40 million euros for the pair.

Second-bottom Hull City made Inter Milan centre-back Andrea Ranocchia their sixth recruit of the transfer window, joining fellow loan signings Oumar Niasse, Evandro, Omar Elabdellaoui and Lazar Markovic.

Markus Henriksen has also arrived for an undisclosed fee from Dutch side AZ Alkmaar, while Jake Livermore and Robert Snodgrass have left to join fellow Premier League sides West Brom and West Ham respectively.

- Germans gamble on youth -

German clubs have shattered Bundesliga winter transfer spending records, forking out close to 100 million euros and largely gambling on the potential of youngsters like Leon Bailey and Alexander Isak.

Promising Jamaican teenager Bailey joined Bayer Leverkusen for a reported 12 million euros, while Swede Isak -- dubbed the 'next Zlatan Ibrahimovic' -- turned down Real Madrid to sign for Borussia Dortmund.

France's Dayot Upamecano swapped Red Bull Salzburg for RB Leipzig for a reported 10 million euros, yet the trio are all in their teens and untested in Europe's top leagues.

Defending champions Bayern Munich completed a double swoop for Hoffenheim pair Niklas Suele and Sebastian Rudy, who will join Carlo Ancelotti's side at the start of next season.

In Italy, Inter Milan brought in Roberto Gagliardini on loan from Atalanta and have an option to buy the midfielder for around 25 million euros.

Serie A leaders Juventus picked up Venezuelan international Tomas Rincon from Genoa, while Patrice Evra returned to France after a decade abroad as he signed for Marseille.

Roma loaned injury-plagued France midfielder Clement Grenier from Lyon and sent the misfiring Juan Iturbe to Torino, while Napoli picked up striker Leonardo Pavoletti from Genoa.

AC Milan reinforced their attacking options with the loan arrivals of Lucas Ocampos (Marseille via Genoa) and Gerard Deulofeu (Everton) to offset the departures of M'Baye Niang (Watford) and Luiz Adriano (Spartak Moscow).

Reigning French champions Paris Saint-Germain splashed out on Germany international Julian Draxler, while adding Portugal's Goncalo Guedes for around 30 million euros, as well as 20-year-old Argentine midfielder Giovani Lo Celso.

Dimitri Payet completed a controversial return to Marseille from West Ham for a club-record 30 million euros following a well-documented and protracted struggle with his now former employers.

OM have also recruited Evra, Montpellier midfielder Morgan Sanson and Bordeaux centre-back Gregory Sertic as the 1993 Champions League winners continue their rebuilding process under new billionaire American owner Frank McCourt.

Montpellier’s South African star Steyn appeals four-week ban

Montpellier’s South Africa fly-half star Francois Steyn appealed on Tuesday against the four-week ban imposed for a dangerous tackle on Leinster counterpart Jonny Sexton in a European Champions Cup tie earlier this month.The 29-year-old — capped 53 ti…

Montpellier's South Africa fly-half star Francois Steyn appealed on Tuesday against the four-week ban imposed for a dangerous tackle on Leinster counterpart Jonny Sexton in a European Champions Cup tie earlier this month.

The 29-year-old -- capped 53 times and one of the Springboks' stars of the 2007 World Cup triumph -- was red-carded just before the half-hour mark of his team's 57-3 mauling which ended their hopes of making the quarter-finals.

"The Montpellier player, Francois Steyn, has lodged an appeal against the four-week suspension imposed on him by an independent Disciplinary Committee following his sending off during his club's European Rugby Champions Cup, Round 5 match against Leinster Rugby at the RDS on 13 January 2017," read the European Professional Club Rugby statement.

If he fails in his appeal on Wednesday he will be sidelined until March 6.

Guinea’s Conde lays down law with tardy lax presidents

African presidents who wander into meetings hours late, or don’t bother showing up at all, received a slap on the wrists Tuesday from new African Union leader, Guinea’s Alpha Conde.Addressing the closing of a two-day summit in Ethiopia, a combative Con…

African presidents who wander into meetings hours late, or don't bother showing up at all, received a slap on the wrists Tuesday from new African Union leader, Guinea's Alpha Conde.

Addressing the closing of a two-day summit in Ethiopia, a combative Conde railed against presidential tardiness, slow internet, and the media.

"From now on we are going to start on time. If we say 10:00am then we must start at 10:00am," said Conde.

"How can we explain that when we have meetings with outside countries, we are on time, whether it be in China, Japan or India?

"Why can't we be on time for our meetings? And why when we go to these meetings we stay until the end but when we come from afar to Addis Ababa, we leave right after the opening ceremony?"

Conde's remarks received loud applause -- from lower level representatives who remained behind to hear them as many heads of state had already left the building.

His comments come as part of an AU effort to reform itself from a lumbering, bureaucratic institution to one that is effective and relevant to Africans.

Rwanda's President Paul Kagame earlier in the summit delivered a blistering report slamming the AU's inability to see things through and over-dependence on donor funding.

An irate Conde did not stop at punctuality.

He said heads of state must attend meetings in person, or send their deputy president, and not ministers or ambassadors.

"If we are convinced that we must strengthen our organisation then heads of state must attend big continental meetings in person," he said.

On a lighter note, he shared his bemusement after learning that the reason interpretation was so bad and choppy at the gleaming new Chinese-built AU headquarters, was because they were working with microphones "from the sixties".

"How can you imagine that in an era of new technology we are still working with microphones from the sixties?

"How can we explain that the internet connection in our headquarters is very slow when next door, at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, the internet works better?" he asked.

Later, when Conde appeared in front of journalists for the closing press conference, he began by pointing out that the African Union was considering establishing its own media service to give the "correct version of events", criticising some media for failing to do so.

Conde, 78, took over the rotating presidency of the African Union from Chad's Idriss Deby.

He won Guinea's first democratic election in 2010 after long years as an exiled opposition leader. While praised as a talented orator who can fire up a crowd, critics describe him as authoritarian and impulsive.

UPS reports loss as it pumps up e-commerce investments

UPS defended its pricey capital investments Tuesday and downplayed worries about free trade in the Trump era after reporting a loss in the fourth quarter and offering a disappointing forecast.The package-shipping giant, which is midway through a series…

UPS defended its pricey capital investments Tuesday and downplayed worries about free trade in the Trump era after reporting a loss in the fourth quarter and offering a disappointing forecast.

The package-shipping giant, which is midway through a series of costly capital upgrades to help compete in the e-commerce era, reported a loss of $239 million in the quarter ending December 31.

Revenues jumped 5.5 percent to $16.9 billion on an increase in package volumes during the holiday season.

But profits were dented by weak industrial activity and a one-time charge of $1.7 billion due to adjustments in the allotment for its pension plans, the company said.

The company's profit forecast for 2017 was below analyst expectations, and it cited the strong US dollar as factor. UPS shares fell sharply following the report.

Executives announced plans for $4 billion in capital spending in 2017, up from the $3 billion last year, as it builds more high-tech package hubs in response to swelling e-commerce activity.

In November, UPS announced plans for a new $400 million regional package sorting hub in Atlanta, creating 1,250 new jobs.

The package delivery giant also plans new projects in Ohio and Florida, and estimates automation technology at these facilities will boost productivity 20 to 25 percent.

Executives defended the investments when questioned by analysts on when they would pay off.

"With this tremendous opportunity, we feel like we need to take the challenge on, because the market is expanding and gives UPS an opportunity to continue to grow," UPS chief financial officer Richard Peretz said.

Chief executive David Abney said he was "pretty excited" about the prospect of tax reform out of Washington, but was concerned about a border adjustment tax being contemplated that has worried retailers.

Abney said he favored free trade and was confident President Donald Trump would not end it.

"Trump is really not against free trade agreements," Abney said, although "he's made it very clear that he wants trade agreements to be fair."

Even so, "we don't believe the world is falling off a cliff," Abney said. "We think there will still be trade agreements."

Shares slumped 5.5 percent in mid-morning trading to $110.63.

Barcelona boss backs video refs as La Liga prepares testing ground

Barcelona coach Luis Enrique stressed his desire for Spanish football to embrace video technology in crucial refereeing decisions on Wednesday, whilst league chiefs expect trials to take place from next season.Barca were denied a clear goal in Sunday’s…

Barcelona coach Luis Enrique stressed his desire for Spanish football to embrace video technology in crucial refereeing decisions on Wednesday, whilst league chiefs expect trials to take place from next season.

Barca were denied a clear goal in Sunday's controversial 1-1 draw at Real Betis when referee Alejandro Jose Hernandez failed to see the ball had crossed the Betis goal line and was unaided as, unlike Europe's other major leagues, La Liga doesn't have goal line technology.

"I think we have to differentiate between video refereeing which means re-refereeing many things and I am not in favour of...and helping the referees with technology in key moments of the game," said Enrique ahead of his side's Copa del Rey semi-final, first leg at Atletico Madrid.

"A ball over the line or disallowed goal or red card offence...these are the plays where the referees need help and would only lose two or three seconds to check and clarify."

La Liga president Javier Tebas has previously dismissed the use of Hawk-Eye technology used for goal line incidents in other leagues on cost grounds and believes the type of video refereeing, trialed by FIFA at December's Club World Cup, is a cheaper and more practical resource for the future.

"We have always defended the use of technology in football and in this case we believe video refereeing is the most advanced form," Tebas said on Monday.

"The cost was almost 4.5 million euros ($4.8 million). Every year there are seven or eight incidents like this and it seemed to us a fortune when there are other (technologies) in the market at a far lower cost.

"In Spain we have to agree with the referees' committee and we have already communicated to them that next year there will be trials like there are in the Bundesliga or Premier League."

And Tebas believes all the major leagues will move towards a system of video refereeing for controversial incidents by 2018 should FIFA approve.

"By July 2018 if FIFA have already definitively approved it we will install (video refereeing)," added Tebas.

"Given how the trials are going by July 2018 there will be video refereeing in all professional leagues."

Thousands of gay men receive posthumous pardon in UK

Thousands of British gay men convicted for now-abolished sexual offences have been posthumously pardoned under a new law named after World War II hero Alan Turing that came into effect on Tuesday.Despite campaigners’ demands, however, the blanket pardo…

Thousands of British gay men convicted for now-abolished sexual offences have been posthumously pardoned under a new law named after World War II hero Alan Turing that came into effect on Tuesday.

Despite campaigners' demands, however, the blanket pardon in England and Wales does not apply automatically to people still living who will have to apply individually to have their convictions removed.

"This is a truly momentous day. We can never undo the hurt caused but we have apologised and taken action to right these wrongs," junior justice minister Sam Gyimah said in a statement.

The amendments to the Policing and Crime Bill mean about 49,000 men are to be cleared of crimes which no longer exist today.

"Another important milestone of equality has been secured in law," the gay rights charity Stonewall said.

"Gay and bi men, cautioned or even convicted for kissing, holding hands or just chatting up men, can now have these 'crimes' deleted from their record.

"The more equality is enshrined into our law books, the stronger our equality becomes, and the stronger we as a community become," Stonewall said.

The pardons were first announced last year and the law has now received royal assent and comes into force.

The change was dubbed "Turing's Law" after Second World War code-breaker and mathematician Turing.

He received a posthumous pardon from Queen Elizabeth II in 2013 over a conviction in 1952 for gross indecency with a 19-year-old man, triggering calls for a blanket pardon for other men.

Turing did not go to prison but was chemically castrated and died of cyanide poisoning in an apparent suicide two years later.

The Oscar-winning 2014 film "The Imitation Game" starring Benedict Cumberbatch brought belated acclaim for Turing's role in World War II code-breaking.

Private homosexual acts between men aged over 21 were decriminalised in England and Wales in 1967, but the law was not changed in Scotland until 1980 and in Northern Ireland not until 1982.

Anyone alive convicted of same-sex acts before the law was abolished could already apply to have their names cleared through the "disregard process".

They will now receive an automatic pardon but only once their "disregard" application is approved.

The government said this "due diligence" was necessary to avoid people from claiming to be cleared of offences that are still crimes, including sex with a minor and non-consensual sexual activity.