Sunday, April 22, 2018
News Roundup

Putin seeks to crank up economy

Russia

Putin seeks to crank up economy

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced Friday at an annual forum for international investors that his government will draw on the country's pension fund to finance a highway and two ambitious rail upgrades costing $14 billion over five or six years. The country's gross domestic product grew at an annual rate of just 1.6 percent in the first quarter of this year, and the government hopes its action will attract private investors to also invest in the Russian economy. But the projects address none of the problems identified by speakers at a three-day forum in St. Petersburg, including disregard for the rule of law, bad corporate management, and a poisonous environment for small and medium-size businesses.

Washington

Obama touts nominee for director of FBI

President Barack Obama on Friday formally nominated Republican James Comey to be the next FBI director, saying the former senior Justice Department official has "law enforcement in his blood" and touting his independence and integrity.

Comey will replace Robert Mueller, who is retiring after a dozen years and led the FBI through the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Comey, 52, worked with Mueller at the Justice Department during the George W. Bush administration.

Qatar

Taliban considers canceling U.S. talks

Taliban leaders were debating Friday whether to cancel peace talks with the Americans and the Afghan government because of criticism of their use of their flag and formal name at their new office in Doha, Qatar.

A senior Taliban official said the insurgents were determined to keep their flag from when they ruled Afghanistan and also a sign declaring that the office belonged to the "Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan," despite furious reaction from the Afghan government.

U.S. officials had been expected to arrive in Doha on Thursday to begin talks, but the dispute caused an indefinite delay. Afghan government representatives say they no longer plan to come to Qatar.

With the sign and the flag, the Taliban seemed to signal an attempt to create a rival Afghan embassy in the country.

United Nations

North Korean envoy says U.S. plans a war

North Korea's U.N. envoy demanded the dissolution of the United Nations command in South Korea on Friday, accusing the United States of using the force to prepare for war against the North and build an Asian version of NATO to realize President Barack Obama's pivot to Asia.

At a rare news conference at the United Nations, Ambassador Sin Son Ho accused the Americans of threatening his country with nuclear weapons and exhorted all other member states to ignore the litany of economic sanctions imposed on the North for its nuclear and missile tests.

The news conference came a week after the North Korean government revived a proposal for direct talks with the United States after months of increasingly bellicose threats, including nuclear missile attacks on U.S. cities, and a near total breakoff in communications with South Korea.

India

More than 550 killed in monsoon flooding

At least 556 people have been killed by devastating monsoon flooding in northern India and 50,000 remained stranded Friday with more rain in the forecast, authorities said.

Flooding in the mountainous Himalayan state of Uttarakhand coincided with a period when about 60,000 Sikh and Hindu pilgrims were trekking to four sacred sites in the region. Many pilgrims, tourists and local residents were trapped as roads, bridges and houses were washed away.

Elsewhere

New York: The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating why a Delta Air Lines Boeing 747 arriving at John F. Kennedy International Airport and a Shuttle America Embraer E170 departing from LaGuardia Airport came too close to each other around 2:40 p.m. June 14, the FAA said in a statement Friday.

Colombia: Colombian police are hunting down a group of men suspected of killing a U.S. Drug Enforcement Agent late Thursday in what authorities believe was a robbery gone wrong.

Times wires

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