World News | WRHL World News 2015-05-28T05:09:58Z World News Blatter defies calls to quit as FIFA scandal widens By Mike Collett and Brian Homewood ZURICH (Reuters) - The corruption charges engulfing soccer's governing body have heaped shame and humiliation on the game, FIFA President Sepp Blatter said on Thursday, although he flatly rejected calls to resign over the scandal. With FIFA facing the worst crisis in its 111-year history, Michel Platini, who heads Europe's soccer confederation UEFA, said he had told Blatter to go "with tears in my eyes", but the 79-year-old had refused. "I said, 'I'm asking you to leave, FIFA's image is terrible.' He said that he couldn't leave all of a sudden," Platini, a former French international, told reporters. U.S. hopes Chinese island-building will spur Asian response By David Alexander WASHINGTON (Reuters) - By releasing video of Beijing’s island reclamation work and considering more assertive maritime actions, the United States is signaling a tougher stance over the South China Sea and trying to spur Asian partners to more action. The release last week of the surveillance plane footage - showing dredgers and other ships busily turning remote outcrops into islands with runways and harbors - helps ensure the issue will dominate an Asian security forum starting on Friday attended by U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter as well as senior Chinese military officials. As it pushes ahead with a military “pivot” to Asia partly aimed at countering China, Washington wants Southeast Asian nations to take a more united stance against China's rapid acceleration this year of construction on disputed reefs. Insurgents claim capture of last Syrian town in Idlib province By Suleiman Al-Khalidi AMMAN (Reuters) - Nusra Front, the Syrian affiliate of al Qaeda, said on Thursday it had taken over Ariha, the last city in Idlib province in northwestern Syria near the Turkish border that was still held by the government. A coalition of rebel groups called Jaish al Fateh, or Conquest Army, said it had taken over the city. Nusra Front is part of the coalition. Outgoing U.N. aid chief paints harrowing portrait of Syria war By Louis Charbonneau UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United Nations' outgoing humanitarian chief on Thursday painted a harrowing portrait of savagery in Syria's civil war, now in its fifth year, and urged the Security Council to take collective action to put an end to the carnage. The Syrian war has killed more than 220,000 people. Of the country's roughly 23 million people, some 12.2 million are in need of humanitarian aid, including 5 million children. Putin classifies information on deaths of Russian troops in peacetime By Gabriela Baczynska MOSCOW (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin ordered on Thursday that deaths of Russian soldiers during special operations in peacetime should be classified as a state secret, a move that comes as Moscow stands accused of sending troops to fight in eastern Ukraine. Putin, who has repeatedly denied any involvement of Russian troops in a pro-Russian separatist rebellion there, amended a decree that had previously classified only deaths during war time as secret. Asked to explain the rationale behind Putin's move, his spokesman Dmitry Peskov denied any link to Ukraine. Islamic State settles into Ramadi, but the lull unlikely to last When the evening prayer was over, the man, whose head was shrouded in black, delivered a speech to the faithful, hailing the Islamic State's capture of the capital of Anbar Province -- its greatest victory over Iraqi forces in almost a year. Ali Attiya al-Jubouri, widely known as "the blind judge", is one of Islamic State's most senior figures and his presence in the mosque signaled the group's dominance over the city, which it seized on May 17 from hapless government forces. "By the blessing of God, we now have an open road between Ramadi and Raqqa," he said, referring to the ultra hardline group's de-facto capital in neighboring Syria. Cameron urges 'flexible and imaginative' EU reforms British Prime Minister David Cameron called for "flexible and imaginative" reforms from the EU as he swung through Paris Thursday on a tour of Europe to lobby for changes to the 28-nation bloc. Cameron's two-day tour came as his government published a law paving the way for a vote on whether Britain should leave the EU that must be held by the end of 2017. The prime minister has moved rapidly to kickstart efforts to secure EU reforms before the referendum which he promised voters ahead of his surprise election win earlier this month. Top Asian News at 9:00 p.m. GMT WASHINGTON (AP) — Satellite imagery shows significant new construction at North Korea's main rocket launch site in a sign of leader Kim Jong Un's determination to pursue a space program despite international censure, a U.S. research institute said Thursday. North Korea is barred under U.N. Security Council resolutions from launching rockets as that technology can also be used to launch ballistic missiles. Kim, however, declared this month that its space program "can never be abandoned." Automakers, gov't reveal models in expanded Takata recall DETROIT (AP) — Car owners are beginning to find out if their cars or trucks are included in a big expansion of a recall of air bags made by Takata Corp. THE LATEST: Brazilian soccer federation head leaves Zurich ZURICH (AP) — The Latest on FIFA developments: 2 ex-Guantanamo Bay detainees to tie the knot in Uruguay MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay (AP) — Two former Guantanamo Bay detainees are planning to tie the knot with women from their adopted home of Uruguay. US stocks fall slightly; Greece debt deadline looms NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks fell slightly Thursday, following a sell-off in the Chinese market and continued worries about the approaching debt payment deadline for cash-starved Greece. Hamburg draws 1-1 with Karlsruhe in relegation playoff HAMBURG, Germany (AP) — Hamburger SV remains on the verge of Bundesliga relegation after drawing 1-1 with second-division Karlsruher SC in the home leg of their playoff on Thursday. Red Cross sends Ebola team to at-risk GBissau border Guinea-Bissau said on Thursday it had strengthened health screening at its borders after a rash of Ebola cases in neighbouring Guinea. The announcement came after the Red Cross said it had sent epidemiologists to prepare for a possible outbreak in the west African country's border area with Guinea. "We have no cases of Ebola. FRENCH OPEN LOOKAHEAD: Federer faces unheralded Dzumhur PARIS (AP) — Roger Federer goes up against an opponent he has never played before in Friday's French Open third round: 88th-ranked Damir Dzumhur. French Open at a glance PARIS (AP) — A look at the French Open on Thursday: McIlroy in danger of missing the cut after first round shocker Tournament host Rory McIlroy faces the embarrassment of missing the cut for a second week in succession after posting his worst European round in five years on day one of the Irish Open. At Newcastle in Northern Ireland, the world number one failed to record a single birdie in a shock round of a nine over par 80 on a difficult day of steady win and intermittent showers at the Royal County Down course. McIlroy ended the round sharing 150th place in the now 155-player field and trailing a massive 13 shots behind the leading duo of fellow Irishman Padraig Harrington and Germany's Maximilian Kieffer. Asia's migrant crisis meeting unlikely to yield solutions By Amy Sawitta Lefevre and Simon Webb BANGKOK (Reuters) - A meeting in Bangkok on Friday about Southeast Asia's migrant crisis is unlikely to produce a binding agreement or plan of action to save thousands of people believed stranded on boats in the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea, participants said. The meeting will bring together 17 countries from across the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and elsewhere in Asia, along with the United States, Switzerland and international organizations like UNHCR, the U.N. refugee agency. According to the Thai Foreign Ministry, at least three of the countries central to the crisis will not be sending ministers: Myanmar, Indonesia and Malaysia. Greece could use 'Zambia' option as progress on deal unclear ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece and rescue lenders remained at odds over whether the two sides are close to a breakthrough in negotiations, as the International Monetary Fund confirmed Thursday that Athens had the right to ask for "bundled" repayments next month. Russia classifies military casualties in peacetime MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree to make losses of Russian troops in peacetime a secret. Syria: Europeans block it from UN culture protection measure UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Syria says a newly adopted U.N. General Assembly resolution on the Islamic State group's threat to Iraq's cultural heritage doesn't address the same threat to his country because member states threatened to reject the measure. Photographer gets 3-year prison term in L'Oreal heiress case PARIS (AP) — A French court has handed a famed photographer a three-year prison sentence on charges of swindling millions of euros from France's richest woman, L'Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt, by taking advantage of her weak mental state. Libya tribal chiefs set up council to aid peace efforts Libyan tribal leaders wrapped up a four-day meeting Thursday in Cairo by announcing the creation of a unified council to help find a solution to their strife-torn country. "We announce the creation of a council of Libyan tribes," said tribal representative Abdel Matlub al-Abyad, reading from a final statement. Another tribal figure, Abdel Kader Belkheir, called on Libyans to rally around the armed forces and confront "terrorism". Illegal baby sale, abortion ring dismantled in Colombia Colombian authorities have dismantled a trafficking ring involving illegal abortions and stolen babies, arresting five suspects, police said Thursday. A doctor and two nurses were among those called before authorities in the northern city of Cucuta, on the border with Venezuela. "They are suspected of belonging to a criminal network that trafficked newborn babies and performed illegal abortions," police said in a statement. The Latest: 9 seeded players go out on French Open day 5 PARIS (AP) — The Latest from the French Open: 15 Chinese nationals accused in US of student visa scheme PITTSBURGH (AP) — Fifteen Chinese citizens conspired to take college entrance exams on behalf of others or paid to have that done for them so they could obtain student visas, federal prosecutors said Thursday. More storms lash Texas after severe weather kills 16 By Jon Herskovitz AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Storms on Thursday pounded parts of Texas still reeling from torrential rains that killed at least 16 people, turned streets into rivers in major cities and set a record for the wettest month in the state's history. The National Weather Service issued a flash flood watch on Thursday stretching from south of San Antonio to Dallas, through Oklahoma, where severe weather this week killed an additional six people, and into Kansas. China land reclamation in South China Sea creates 'new facts': U.S. By David Alexander ABOARD A U.S. MILITARY AIRCRAFT (Reuters) - U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter, in Washington's latest challenge of Chinese land reclamation in the South China Sea, said the scale of Beijing's activities, not the United States, was altering the status quo in the region. Carter, speaking to reporters at the start of a 10-day trip to Asia, said the United States was trying to maintain a shared regional security structure that has advanced "prosperity for everyone" over the past 70 years. "We’ve been flying over the South China Sea for years and years and years, and ... will continue to do that: fly, navigate, operate. New French Open challenges await Williams, Djokovic, Murray PARIS (AP) — For Serena Williams, it was a bad right elbow that led to some shaky serving and a dropped set. Coalition strikes, fighting kill 40 rebels in Yemen's Aden Saudi-led coalition strikes against Iran-backed Shiite rebels in Yemen's second city Aden on Thursday and ground clashes killed at least 40 Huthis and their allies, the city's deputy governor said. Residents reported non-stop air raids on rebel positions across the city amid heavy fighting. The coalition air campaign against the rebels and allied forces loyal to former leader Ali Abdullah Saleh began on March 26 in an effort to restore UN-backed President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi to power. US to "fine tune" Iraq strategy in light of Ramadi debacle WASHINGTON (AP) — Pentagon leaders are trying to "fine tune" U.S. strategy for ousting the Islamic State group from Iraq, focusing on faster and better training and arming of Sunni tribes whose combat role is central to reversing the extremists' advances, senior U.S. officials said Thursday. UN nations agree to action to save Iraqi cultural sites UN member-states on Thursday declared that the destruction by jihadists of Iraqi cultural sites may amount to war crimes and agreed to take steps to curb the trade of stolen ancient artifacts. The General Assembly adopted a resolution on saving Iraq's cultural sites as international concern mounted over the fate of the Syrian archeological site of Palmyra captured by Islamic State fighters a week ago. Videos of IS combatants destroying artifacts at the Mosul museum and smashing sledgehammers into ancient walls at Hatra and Nimrud sparked an outcry and calls to prevent the "cultural cleansing" of the Middle East. Floods in Texas and Oklahoma bringing surprise snakes to homes By Lisa Maria Garza and Heide Brandes DALLAS/OKLAHOMA CITY (Reuters) - The heavy rains that have pelted Texas and Oklahoma this week have brought some unexpected visitors to homes in the region, like the 4-foot (1.22-meter) rat snake that found cover in an unexpected spot at Jeff Lara's residence. "I opened my grill cover and he jumped at me," said Lara, who lives Edmond, north of Oklahoma City. Wildlife officials have warned that flooding in Texas and Oklahoma is causing snakes, alligators and other reptiles to seek dry land in populated areas. Crying baby gets Canadian singer kicked off flight A Canadian singer-songwriter was kicked off a United Airlines flight in San Francisco because her two-year-old toddler would not stop crying, triggering outrage from her supporters. "Just got kicked off a @united flight because my son was crying really loud," Sarah Blackwood from the band Walk Off the Earth wrote Wednesday on Twitter, accusing the airline of hating mothers. Canadian music award-nominated Walk Off the Earth gained international fame recording covers such as Miley Cyrus's "Wrecking Ball," Pharrel Williams's "Happy," and Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off," and original tunes. Qaeda-led rebels take Idlib's last Syria regime bastion A rebel coalition led by the Syrian affiliate of Al-Qaeda stormed and seized the last regime-held city in Idlib province Thursday, as Iraq exhumed the remains of 470 jihadist victims. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Al-Nusra Front and its allies in the Army of Conquest -- Jaish al-Fatah in Arabic -- captured Ariha after fierce clashes with regime forces including their Hezbollah allies, who were seen withdrawing. The rebel sweep saw their fighters quickly enter outer districts of Ariha, the Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP. McIlroy shoots 80, risking another early exit at Irish Open NEWCASTLE, Northern Ireland (AP) — Rory McIlroy can't seem to perform in front of a home crowd. Catholic Church scraps support for Burundi polls, EU suspends mission Burundi's influential Catholic Church said Thursday it was withdrawing support for June elections in the crisis-hit country, as the EU announced it was also suspending its mission to observe the vote. Both moves dealt fresh blows to President Pierre Nkurunziza's bid to run for a third consecutive term, which has sparked mass protests in the small central African nation. A statement from Burundi's bishops said that "after considering the manner in which the elections have been organised and the way they are evolving", the Church had asked priests who serve in electoral commissions across the central African nation to step down. Spectre of 'Grexit' stalks G7 finance meeting The possibility of Greece quitting the eurozone cast a long shadow over a meeting of finance ministers from the Group of Seven leading industrialised nations Thursday, with the International Monetary Fund appearing to warn that such a scenario was possible. A so-called "Grexit", or Greek exit from the euro, was "a potential," IMF chief Christine Lagarde -- who is attending the meeting -- told the daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Lagarde dismissed Athens' assertion that a deal with its creditors was imminent. WRHL 2015-05-28T22:09:58Z