Russia accuses U.S. of training ex ISIS fighters to destabilise Syria


The chief of the Russian General Staff on Wednesday accused the U.S. of training former Islamic State fighters in Syria  to destabilise the country.

Valery Gerasimov’s allegations, made in a newspaper interview, centre on a U.S. military base at Tanf, a strategic Syrian highway border crossing with Iraq in the south of the country.

Russia says the U.S. base is illegal and that it and the area around it have become “a black hole” where militants operate unhindered. Continue reading “Russia accuses U.S. of training ex ISIS fighters to destabilise Syria”

U.S. life expectancy drops again as drug deaths spike


Health researchers have some grim news for Americans: We are dying younger, and life expectancy is now down for the second straight year something not seen in more than half a century.

One undeniable culprit is the opioid epidemic, which is cutting down young adults at alarming and increasing rates, the researchers say.

The numbers are “disturbing,” said Robert Anderson, chief of the mortality statistics branch of the National Center for Health Statistics. The branch is part of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which released two reports Thursday. One focused on all causes of death and the other zeroed in on drug overdose deaths.

A baby born in the United States in 2016 could expect to live 78.6 years, a decrease of more than a month from 2015 and more than two months from 2014. That’s the first two-year decline since 1962 and 1963 when spikes in Continue reading “U.S. life expectancy drops again as drug deaths spike”

U.S. Congress passes Trump’s massive tax cut bill


Republicans in the House of Representatives, after a second round of voting Wednesday, joined the Senate to deliver an epic overhaul of U.S. tax laws to President Donald Trump.

The $1.5 trillion tax cut was opposed by Democrats for its embedded generous tax cuts for corporations and the wealthiest Americans and because it will add billions to the national debt, which is now at a record $24 trillion.

Although Republicans touted it as a huge boon for the middle class and a spark to economic growth, the opposition said in reality, it provides smaller tax cuts for middle- and low-income families.

The bill slashes the corporate income tax rate from 35 per cent to 21 per cent.

The tax cuts for business are permanent, but reductions for individuals and Continue reading “U.S. Congress passes Trump’s massive tax cut bill”

U.S. Republican lawmaker resigns after sex scandal


U.S. Republican Congressman Tim Murphy has announced his resignation after his affair with a young woman came to light, official statement said on Friday.

“Upon further discussion with my family, I have made the decision to resign my position,’’ Murphy, an eight-term member of the House of Representatives, serving since 2003, said.

The statement came one day after the 65-year-old said he would not seek re-election to Congress at the end of his current term, which would terminate in 15 months.

Continue reading “U.S. Republican lawmaker resigns after sex scandal”

North Korea warns U.S. over sanctions, pushes ahead of UN vote


North Korea warned the U.S. on Monday that it would pay a “due price” for spearheading efforts for fresh sanctions on the regime following its latest nuclear test.

However, diplomats say the UN Security Council will vote on the issue later in the day.

But a U.S.-drafted resolution originally calling for an oil embargo on the North, a halt to its key exports of textiles and subjecting leader Kim Jong Un to a financial and travel ban appears to have been watered down to placate Russia and China, which both have veto powers, diplomats said.

It no longer proposes blacklisting Kim and relaxes sanctions earlier proposed on oil and gas, a draft reviewed by Reuters shows. It still proposes a ban on textile exports.

Continue reading “North Korea warns U.S. over sanctions, pushes ahead of UN vote”

Hackers gain entry into U.S., European energy sector


Advanced hackers have targeted U.S. and European energy companies, in a cyber-espionage campaign that has in some cases successfully broken into the core-systems that control the companies’ operations, according to researchers at the security firm Symantec.

Malicious email campaigns have been used to gain entry into organisations in the U.S., Turkey and Switzerland, and likely other countries well, Symantec said in a report published on Wednesday.

The cyber-attacks, which began in late 2015 but increased in frequency in April this year, are probably the work of a foreign government.

The attacks bear the hallmarks of a hacking group known as Dragonfly, Continue reading “Hackers gain entry into U.S., European energy sector”

U.S Supreme Court declares churches eligible for some public funds

Supreme Court church-state

The U.S Supreme Court ruled decisively Monday that religious institutions should be eligible to receive public funds for purely secular purposes.

Like, for instance, playgrounds.

The justices ruled 7-2 that Missouri stretched the constitutional separation of church and state too far by declaring a Lutheran church ineligible to receive a competitive state grant for playground resurfacing. The decision could have implications for as many as 39 states with constitutional provisions that block public funds from going to religious organizations.

Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor dissented.

Even though the state’s denial of funds likely would lead only to “a few Continue reading “U.S Supreme Court declares churches eligible for some public funds”

U.S Supreme Court will hear religious liberty challenge to gay weddings

In washington The Supreme Court agreed Monday to reopen the national debate over same-sex marriage.

The court will hear a challenge from a Colorado baker who had lost lower court battles over his refusal to create a wedding cake for a gay couple. Like a New Mexico photographer three years ago, the baker cited his religious beliefs.

The case will be scheduled for the 2017 term that begins in October and most likely will be heard later in the fall.

The justices — who upheld same-sex marriage nationwide in a landmark 2015 ruling — apparently decided that despite state laws barring discrimination based on sexual orientation, the merchants’ obligation to Continue reading “U.S Supreme Court will hear religious liberty challenge to gay weddings”

U.S. warplane blasts Syrian drone from sky


A U.S. warplane on Tuesday shot down an armed drone linked to Syrian regime forces, the latest in a series of clashes between U.S.-backed forces and the regime of Bashar Assad that risks drawing American forces deeper into the conflict.

The drone, an Iranian-built Shaheed-129, was shot down by an F-15E Strike Eagle after it “displayed hostile intent and advanced on coalition forces,” the U.S. military said in a statement.

The incident occurred in the same vicinity as previous conflicts with pro-regime forces, near the combat outpost in At-Tanf, where a Continue reading “U.S. warplane blasts Syrian drone from sky”

Oil prices tumble amid U.S. Climate pact withdrawal

Crude oil extraction [Photo credit: Bloomberg]

Oil prices tumbled on Friday amid worries that United States’ President Donald Trump’s decision to abandon a climate pact could spark more crude drilling in the United States, US.

Analyst said the U.S’ decision may worsen global glut.

Brent crude tumbled below $50 Friday afternoon, heading for a second straight week of losses, while Benchmark Brent crude futures were off by 1.8 per cent at $49.73 per barrel, down 90 cents from the previous close.

On its part, the U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures fell 84 cents to $47.54 per barrel, figures from Reuters show.

Continue reading “Oil prices tumble amid U.S. Climate pact withdrawal”