Hong Kong democracy stalemate sets stage for possible financial district shutdown
Chinese officials and Hong Kong democrats failed on Thursday to resolve a standoff over political reforms in the freewheeling former British colony, a deadlock that could end up shutting down the city's financial district next month. Hong Kong, which returned to Chinese rule in 1997, has been roiled over the past year over how its next leader is chosen in 2017 - by universal suffrage, as the democrats would like, or from a list of pro-Beijing candidates.
Scottish nationalists look to broaden independence debate beyond currency
With less than a month to go until Scotland votes on independence, nationalists are seeking to broaden the debate away from a difficult focus on what currency would be used after breaking from the United Kingdom. Health care and other social issues such as justice and equality are likely to get a bigger airing if pro-independence First Minister Alex Salmond has his way in a second televised debate on August 25.
Israeli air strike kills three Hamas commanders in Gaza
An Israeli air strike killed three senior Hamas commanders in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, a clear sign of its intention to hit the group's armed leadership days after a ceasefire failed. Hamas, which dominates Gaza, named the men as Mohammed Abu Shammala, Raed al-Attar and Mohammed Barhoum, the three highest-ranking casualties it has announced since Israel started its offensive six weeks ago. Read more
Pakistani government, protest leaders discuss way out of impasse
Leaders of Pakistani protesters trying to bring down Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif were talking with the government on Thursday on a way out of an impasse that has raised fears for the nuclear-armed country's political stability. Former cricket star Imran Khan and cleric Tahir ul-Qadri, who controls a
network of Islamic schools and hospitals, have been leading protests in the capital, Islamabad, since last Friday. Read more
Russian aid convoy starts moving into Ukraine
The first trucks from a Russian aid convoy on Thursday passed a Russian border check point and started moving towards the border crossing with Ukraine, a Reuters reporter at the scene said. The trucks have moved into the no man's land between the Russian and Ukrainian border checkpoints and it was not immediately clear if the trucks had entered Ukrainian territory, or stopped at the Ukrainian checkpoint. Read more
Indonesia police fire teargas ahead of court verdict on election
Indonesian police fired teargas to disperse thousands of protesters outside the country's top court in Jakarta on Thursday, as judges started delivering their verdict into last month's disputed presidential election. Losing candidate Prabowo Subianto has asked the Constitutional Court to overturn the election result, saying the vote in the world's third largest democracy was tainted by mass fraud.
Syria sees Islamist threat bringing detente with West, but not soon
Syria is wagering that Islamic State's push to reshape the Middle East will eventually force a hostile West to deal with President Bashar al-Assad as the only way to tackle the threat. While Assad's forces escalate their fight with Islamic State militants in the Syrian civil war, the United States is staging air strikes on the same group across the frontier in Iraq.
Thai junta leader appointed PM by hand-picked parliament
Thailand's coup leader General Prayuth Chan-ocha was appointed prime minister on Thursday by a legislature he hand-picked, giving the army chief a veneer of legitimacy even while the military presses on with efforts to silence its critics. The army seized power on May 22 in a bloodless coup following six months of sometimes deadly street protests that contributed to the ousting of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, whose populist government was opposed by the Bangkok royalist establishment. Read more
US military failed in rescue attempt for journalist Foley
The U.S. military earlier this summer carried out an attempt to rescue journalist James Foley and other American hostages held in Syria, a U.S. official said on Wednesday, in an operation that the Pentagon said ultimately failed to find the captives. Foley, 40, was beheaded by an Islamic State militant in a video that surfaced on the Internet on Tuesday. President Barack Obama expressed revulsion on Wednesday at the execution and vowed the United States would do what it must to protect its citizens. Read more
Violence, threats, prompt more Muslim women in Britain to wear a veil
When youth worker Sumreen Farooq was abused in a London street, the 18-year-old decided it was time to take a stand - and she started to wear a headscarf. Farooq is one of many young Muslim women living in Britain who have, for various reasons, chosen to adopt the headscarf to declare their faith to all around them, despite figures showing rising violence against visibly identifiable Muslims.