April 18, 2015
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China’s economy grows by 7 percent in first quarter, slowest in 6 years

China’s economy grows by 7 percent in first quarter, slowest in 6 years

BEIJING, CHINA (BNO NEWS) — China’s economy expanded by 7 percent in the first quarter of 2015, marking the slowest growth in six years though close to what economists had been expecting, the country’s National Bureau of Statistics reported on Wednesd…

Nigeria’s military releases 2 Al Jazeera journalists held for nearly 2 weeks

Nigeria’s military releases 2 Al Jazeera journalists held for nearly 2 weeks

ABUJA, NIGERIA (BNO NEWS) — Two Al Jazeera journalists who were detained by Nigeria’s military last month while reporting on military operations against the Islamist extremist group Boko Haram have been released, the network confirmed on Sunday, just days after the channel commenced legal action.

Ahmed Idris and producer Ali Mustafa were detained at their hotel in Maiduguri in northeastern Nigeria on March 24 after they returned from covering a story on military operations against Boko Haram. Al Jazeera said the story, which was part of the channel’s election coverage, had been done with “the full cooperation” of the military.

But the journalists had their equipment confiscated when they returned and both were kept restrained in their hotel for nearly two weeks, with a military statement accusing the men of operating “without protection, accreditation or due clearance.” The network, however, claimed that both journalists had been accredited by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to report from anywhere in Nigeria.

An emailed statement from Al Jazeera on Sunday said both Idris and Mustafa had been allowed to leave their hotel, after which they completed their journey back to Al Jazeera’s bureau in Abuja. The news came just three days after Al Jazeera commenced legal action at Abuja’s high court to declare the continued detention as “illegal and unconstitutional.”

“We’re pleased for Ahmed and Ali that their ordeal is over. They’re looking forward to spending some time with their families and loved ones,” Salah Negm, director of news for Al Jazeera English, said in Sunday’s statement. “I know that both of them want to thank everyone that helped secure their release, including NGOs, politicians and fellow journalists.”

(Copyright 2015 by BNO News B.V. All rights reserved. Info: sales@bnonews.com.)

2 UK teenagers arrested as part of terror probe

2 UK teenagers arrested as part of terror probe

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND (BNO NEWS) — Two teenagers aged 14 and 16 have been arrested in northwest England on suspicion of preparing for an act of terrorism, British police said on Sunday, though details have not been disclosed. Both teenagers have since b…

U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) charged in corruption probe

U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) charged in corruption probe

WASHINGTON, D.C. (BNO NEWS) — U.S. Senator Robert Menendez was charged Wednesday in connection with a bribery scheme in which the Democrat from New Jersey allegedly accepted gifts from a Florida ophthalmologist in exchange for using his position in Congress to benefit his friend’s financial and personal interests.

Menendez, 61, and Salomon Melgen, also 61, of West Palm Beach, Florida, were indicted in the District of New Jersey for one count of conspiracy, one count of violating the travel act, eight counts of bribery and three counts of honest services fraud. Menendez was also charged with one count of making false statements.

According to allegations, between January 2006 and January 2013, Menendez accepted close to $1 million worth of lavish gifts and campaign contributions from Melgen in exchange for using the power of his Senate office to influence the outcome of ongoing contractual and Medicare billing disputes worth tens of millions of dollars to Melgen and to support the visa applications of several of Melgen’s girlfriends.

Prosecutors allege that, among other gifts, Menendez accepted flights on Melgen’s private jet, a first-class commercial flight and a flight on a chartered jet; numerous vacations at Melgen’s villa in the Dominican Republic and at a hotel room in Paris; and $40,000 in contributions to his legal defense fund and over $750,000 in campaign contributions. Menendez failed to disclose these gifts on his financial disclosure forms.

As part of the bribery schemes, Menendez allegedly supported the tourist and student visa applications of three of Melgen’s girlfriends, as well as the visa application of the younger sister of one of Melgen’s girlfriends. Throughout these efforts, Menendez allegedly engaged in advocacy for Melgen all the way up to the highest levels of the U.S. government, including meeting with a U.S. cabinet secretary, contacting a U.S. Ambassador, and meeting with the heads of executive agencies.

Menendez, who is on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has rejected the allegations against him, slamming the investigation as a “smear campaign.”

“Every action that I and my office have taken for the last 22 years that I have been privileged to be in the United States Congress, has been based on pursuing the best policies for the people of New Jersey and of this entire country,” he said at a press conference last month.

Menendez added: “As to Dr. Melgen, anyone who knows us knows that he and his family, and me and my family, have been real friends for more than two decades. We celebrated holidays together, we have been there for family weddings, and sad times, like funerals, and have given each other birthday, holiday, and wedding presents, just as friends do.”

(Copyright 2015 by BNO News B.V. All rights reserved. Info: sales@bnonews.com.)

Singapore’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew dead at 91

Singapore’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew dead at 91

SINGAPORE (BNO NEWS) — Former Singapore prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, who is widely recognized as the founding father of modern Singapore and who led the country for more than three decades, died early Monday after a battle with severe pneumonia, the government said. He was 91.

Lee “passed away peacefully” at the Singapore General Hospital at 3:18 a.m. local time on Monday, the prime minister’s office said in a statement. The former prime minister had been hospitalized with severe pneumonia since early February, but an infection worsened his condition and caused it to become critical last week.

Lee’s son, current Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, declared a week-long period of national mourning and ordered flags to be flown at half-mast. His office said Lee’s body would lie in state from Wednesday through Saturday, after which a state funeral service will take place on Sunday afternoon.

U.S. President Barack Obama, in a statement released from the White House, hailed Lee as “a true giant of history” and offered his condolences on behalf of the American people. “A visionary who led his country from Singapore’s independence in 1965 to build one of the most prosperous countries in the world today, he was a devoted public servant and a remarkable leader,” Obama said.

The president added: “Minister Mentor Lee’s views and insights on Asian dynamics and economic management were respected by many around the world, and no small number of this and past generations of world leaders have sought his advice on governance and development.” … He was a true giant of history who will be remembered for generations to come as the father of modern Singapore and as one the great strategists of Asian affairs.”

Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush, who was in office at the end of Lee’s tenure as prime minister, said he was “deeply saddened” by the news, and added that he respected his “effective leadership of his wonderful, resilient and innovative” country. “I will always be proud that Lee Kuan Yew was my friend,” he said.

(Copyright 2015 by BNO News B.V. All rights reserved. Info: sales@bnonews.com.)

Condition of Singapore’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew ‘weakens further’ – gov’t

Condition of Singapore’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew ‘weakens further’ – gov’t

SINGAPORE (BNO NEWS) — The condition of former Singapore prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, who is widely recognized as the founding father of modern Singapore and who led the country for more than three decades, has weakened further, the prime minister’s o…

Forensic experts identify another MH17 crash victim, 2 still unaccounted-for

Forensic experts identify another MH17 crash victim, 2 still unaccounted-for

HILVERSUM, THE NETHERLANDS (BNO NEWS) — Forensic experts in the Netherlands have identified another victim of downed Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, leaving only two people whose remains have not yet been accounted-for, the Dutch government said on Sat…

Condition of Singapore’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew worsens

Condition of Singapore’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew worsens

SINGAPORE (BNO NEWS) — The condition of former Singapore prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, who is widely recognized as the founding father of modern Singapore and who led the country for more than three decades, has deteriorated further, the prime minister’s office said on Saturday.

“Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s condition has worsened,” the office of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in a one-sentence statement issued on Saturday morning, providing no other details.

Lee, 91, has been hospitalized with severe pneumonia since early February, but an infection worsened his condition and caused it to become critical on Tuesday.

(Copyright 2015 by BNO News B.V. All rights reserved. Info: sales@bnonews.com.)

[UPDATE] Magnitude-6.6 earthquake strikes eastern Indonesia, no tsunami threat – seismologists

[UPDATE] Magnitude-6.6 earthquake strikes eastern Indonesia, no tsunami threat – seismologists

A strong 6.6-magnitude earthquake struck the Molucca Sea off the island of Sulawesi in eastern Indonesia on early Wednesday morning, seismologists said, but no tsunami alerts were issued. There were no immediate reports of damage or casualties.

The 6….

[OFFICIAL] 2 service members killed in Dutch helicopter crash in northern Mali – defense chief

[OFFICIAL] 2 service members killed in Dutch helicopter crash in northern Mali – defense chief

Two Dutch service members were killed Tuesday when a helicopter belonging to the UN force MINUSMA crashed in northern Mali, Dutch defense chief General Tom Middendorp said at a press conference. He said the helicopter crash happened during a training e…