Obama to sign Venezuela sanctions bill

Washington : US President Barack Obama plans to sign into law a bill expanding sanctions on Venezuelan officials accused of violently oppressing protests against the country's leftist government, the White House said Thursday.

The administration shares Congress' concerns about the situation in Venezuela, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said.

Obama will continue working with the Congress to prevail upon Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to respect basic freedoms and democratic norms, Earnest said.


Brazil murder suspect confesses to 41 other killings

Rio de Janeiro : A man arrested after the stabbing death of a woman in the Rio suburb of Nova Iguaçu has confessed to 41 additional homicides, Brazilian police said Thursday.

Sailson Jose das Graças, 26, told investigators that over the past nine years he has killed 37 women, three men and a 2-year-old boy.

The toddler was the son of one of his female victims, killed to stop his crying from alerting the woman's neighbours, police said.

Russia to supply $2.1 bn worth of rough diamonds to India

New Delhi: In a bid to create alternative import sources of rough diamonds for the Indian cutting and polishing industry, Russia's state-led Alrosa mining group has entered into direct selling agreements with 12 diamantaires for supplies worth $2.1 billion over three years.

Some of the top Indian exporters of cut and polished diamonds will benefit from the deal that is expected to create an alternative source of roughs for India, which is the world's largest hub for this industry, accounting for nearly 80 percent of volume, officials said.

Al Qaeda blames Obama for death of hostages in Yemen

Sanaa: Al Qaeda terrorists Thursday blamed US President Barack Obama for the deaths of two foreign hostages in Yemen and claimed that it was the result of "political hostility and war against the Muslims".

A senior leader of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Ali bin Nasr al-Ansi, said in a video that "Obama adopted his erroneous decision, which was signing of the death sentence against US citizen Luke Somers and South African Pierre Korkie".

PNA, Hamas hail Irish parliament's recognition of Palestinian state

Ramallah/Gaza: The Palestinian National Authority (PNA) and Hamas movement Thursday welcomed the Irish parliament's recognition of a Palestinian state.

The PNA foreign affairs ministry said in a statement that the overwhelming vote of the Irish parliament in favour of a Palestinian state reflects the harmony of Irish parties, which support the just Palestinian cause, Xinhua reported.

Germany seeks probe into Palestinian minister's death

Berlin: The German government Thursday called for a complete investigation into the death of Palestinian cabinet minister Ziad Abu Ein, who died Wednesday in an incident with Israeli security forces.

"The tragic death of Ziad Abu Ein in the West Bank represents a new low in the weeks-long tensions between Israelis and Palestinians," Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said.

“Now it is important to promptly shed light to the conditions of his death, in a comprehensive manner, one that will be comprehensible to all," Germany's senior diplomat added.

Nigerian president retains deputy for 2015 polls

Abuja : Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan Thursday announced that he would retain Vice President Namadi Sambo as his running mate for the February 2015 presidential election.

Jonathan named his running mate after accepting his endorsement as sole presidential candidate of the Nigerian ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP), at a special national convention of the party which kicked off late Wednesday in Abuja, Xinhua reported.

Earlier, there was speculation that the Nigerian leader might opt for a different running mate.


Former Sri Lankan opposition leader joins government

Colombo : Former Sri Lankan opposition leader, Tissa Attanayake, Thursday took oath as the new health minister.

Attanayake, former general secretary of the United National Party (UNP), reportedly took oath before President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Xinhua reported.

"He will fill the post left vacant by the former health minister Maithripala Sirisena who joined the opposition as the common candidate to challenge President Rajapaksa at the polls," a notice issued by the information department said.


31 Chinese officials under scanner for coal mine mishaps

Beijing : China's top procuratorate is investigating 31 officials for cover-ups in three coal mine accidents that killed 39 people, authorities said Thursday.

According to the Supreme People's Procuratorate (SPP), the officials, including coal industry administrators, work safety watchdog staff and town government officials, allegedly committed crimes including abuse of power, dereliction of duty and accepting bribes, Xinhua reported.


15,000 from various countries joined jihadi groups: Interpol

Maspalomas (Spain) : Nearly 15,000 people from varous countries have enlisted in one of the jihadi groups involved in the conflicts in Syria and Iraq, according to Interpol figures.

That estimate was made public in the meeting Wednesday of senior police officers from more than 35 countries held in the Spanish town of Maspalomas, on the Atlantic island of Gran Canaria.

Experts belonging to three international police organisations met to discuss the challenges involved in the search and capture of jihadi combatants.