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For wandering tankers with $300 million of Kurdish crude, end-game still in doubt

By Jonathan Saul LONDON (Reuters) - After a legal show-down in Texas this week, the outlook for a handful of tankers holding some $300 million worth of Kurdish oil is not looking good. Unless they can seal last-minute discreet sales or reach some kind of deal with Baghdad over how to share oil revenues, experts say, chances are slim of unloading ships now dotted around the globe, from Texas to Malaysia. "There will not be many people who will want to take the cargo in circumstances where there is a dispute about the ownership of it," said Ben Knowles of law firm Clyde & Co. Iraqi Kurdistan is exporting crude oil independently of Baghdad in a bid toward seizing greater political and economic autonomy, in spite of Baghdad's protests that it has the sole authority to sell Iraqi oil. In the modern maritime world, satellite vessel tracking technology and a globally networked shipping system make it nearly impossible for the Kurds to quietly unload the vessel at some remote port without the intervention of Baghdad, which says the oil has been illegally sold outside its control.

Fri, 01 Aug 2014 03:32:21 -0400
Israel, Palestinian militant groups begin three-day Gaza truce

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announces a 72-hour humanitarian ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, while in New DelhiBy Nidal al-Mughrabi GAZA/JERUSALEM (Reuters) - A three-day ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian militant groups in the Gaza Strip went into effect on Friday and appeared to be holding, with negotiators due to travel to Cairo to discuss a longer-term solution. The 72-hour break announced in a joint statement by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was the most ambitious attempt so far to end more than three weeks of fighting, and followed mounting international alarm over a rising Palestinian civilian death toll. After the truce began at 1 a.m. EDT (0500 GMT), Gaza's streets began to fill with Palestinian families. In Israel, sirens that have sent tens of thousands running for shelter daily fell silent.

Fri, 01 Aug 2014 02:58:06 -0400
Ukraine premier stays on, envoys agree on crash site route

Ukrainian tanks move along a road near Eastern Ukrainian village of Novoselivka PershaBy Pavel Polityuk and Natalia Zinets KIEV (Reuters) - Ukraine's parliament rejected Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk's resignation on Thursday and finally passed legislation he said was needed to finance an army offensive against a separatist rebellion in the east and avert a national default on its debts. The assembly's about-turn on laws it refused to back a week earlier offers relief to Kiev's Western backers, who had feared Ukraine was sliding deeper into political chaos and might renege on an international bailout as it heads into an election period. The first is that Argentina has defaulted, and the second is that Ukraine has not defaulted and never will," Yatseniuk told the chamber, making clear he would stay in office. The political battle has been taking place against the backdrop of a military campaign to win back parts of the Donbass region, which borders Russia, from the pro-Moscow rebels.

Thu, 31 Jul 2014 14:05:08 -0400
Gas blast in Taiwan kills 25, injures 267, topples buildings

Wreckage of a damaged car is pictured after an explosion in KaohsiungA series of explosions caused by a gas leak killed 25 people and injured 267 in Taiwan's second city on Friday, sending flames shooting 15 storeys into the air, setting ablaze entire blocks and reducing small shops to rubble. Rescue authorities said police and soldiers had been drafted in to help firefighters after the midnight explosion and blaze gutted a district in the port city of Kaohsiung packed with shops and apartment buildings. Four firefighters were among the dead. President Ma Ying-jeou pledged tough measures to prevent any recurrence of the incident.

Fri, 01 Aug 2014 03:13:26 -0400
China's Xi pledges hard strike against military corruption

Soldiers of People's Liberation Army stand in front of a tank in a drill during a organized media tour at a PLA engineering school in BeijingChinese President Xi Jinping has pledged to strike hard against graft in the military, urging soldiers to banish corrupt practices and ensure their loyalty to the ruling Communist Party, state media reported on Friday. The vow to punish graft in the military came only days after the Communist Party began an investigation into former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang, by far the highest-profile figure caught up in Xi's corruption crackdown. Xi said troops should remember where their priorities lie, the official PLA Daily reported. His remarks were made during a visit to a military base in the southeastern province of Fujian on Thursday to mark the 87th birthday of the People's Liberation Army (PLA).

Fri, 01 Aug 2014 00:36:39 -0400
Sierra Leone declares emergency as Ebola death toll hits 729

Sierra Leone's President Bai Koroma attends a meeting of ECOWAS in YamoussoukroBy Umaru Fofana FREETOWN (Reuters) - Sierra Leone has declared a state of emergency and called in troops to quarantine Ebola victims, joining neighboring Liberia in imposing controls as the death toll from the outbreak of the virus hit 729 in West Africa. The World Health Organisation said it would launch a $100 million response plan on Friday during a meeting with the affected nations in Guinea. The WHO on Thursday reported 57 new deaths in the four days to July 27 in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria, raising the death toll to 729. It said the number of Ebola cases had topped 1,300.

Fri, 01 Aug 2014 03:00:34 -0400
Ukrainian troops suffer heavy loss in ambush

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) Ukrainian authorities say at least 10 government troops have been killed in an ambush by pro-Russian separatist rebels in an area near the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.

Fri, 01 Aug 2014 03:35:05 -0400
Athlete tested for Ebola at Commonwealth Games

GLASGOW, Scotland (AP) Commonwealth Games officials say an athlete competing at the games has been tested for the Ebola virus but the tests were negative.

Fri, 01 Aug 2014 03:34:21 -0400
Top Asian News at 7:30 a.m. GMT

KAOHSIUNG, Taiwan (AP) At least 25 people were killed and 267 injured when underground gas explosions ripped through Taiwan's second-largest city, hurling concrete and cars through the air and blasting long trenches in the streets, authorities said Friday, as they searched for the cause. The series of five explosions about midnight Thursday and early Friday struck a densely populated district where petrochemical companies operates pipelines alongside the sewer system in Kaohsiung, a southwestern port with 2.8 million people.

Fri, 01 Aug 2014 03:32:40 -0400
London's theatres in 'golden period' says study

The Garrick Theatre in London's West End hosts the musical show 'Chicago' on September 1, 2012London's theatre scene is experiencing a "golden period," better attended than Premier League football and taking more at the box office than cinema in the capital, according to a report. "We believe this makes London the biggest theatre city in the world," said a report by the Society of London Theatre and the National Theatre. London theatres also took 618.5 million ($1.05 billion, 780 million euro) at the box office in 2012-2013, more than the capital's cinemas. "London theatre is widely held to be enjoying a golden period.

Fri, 01 Aug 2014 03:29:34 -0400
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