LONDON (AP) ? London-based Lloyds Banking Group passed a milestone Friday in its recovery from the financial crisis, reporting an annual profit and announcing plans to pay a dividend for the first time since it was rescued by British taxpayers.
By Natalia Zinets KIEV (Reuters) - Ukraine on Friday reported the first deaths in three days in east Ukraine, denting hopes a ceasefire will hold, and President Petro Poroshenko said Russia would pose a "military threat" even if the truce is solid. Government troops fighting pro-Russian separatists in the east began towing artillery away from the front line on Thursday, a sign that Ukraine's military recognised a ceasefire meant to take effect on Feb. 15 was at last holding. "Even under the most optimistic scenario ... the military threat from the east would unfortunately remain," Poroshenko said, referring indirectly to Russia in a televised speech at the National Defence University.
MOSCOW (AP) ? Cash-strapped Ukraine sought to buy time in its effort to ensure continued gas supplies from Russia, making a $15 million payment to Moscow on Friday as it waits for international rescue loans to arrive.
Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today:
KIEV (Reuters) - Three Ukrainian servicemen have been killed and seven wounded in fighting with pro-Russian separatists in east Ukraine in the past 24 hours, a military spokesman said on Friday. The deaths follow two consecutive days in which the military reported none of its troops had been killed, which had raised hopes a ceasefire deal could hold despite initial violations. (Reporting by Natalia Zinets, Writing by Alessandra Prentice, Editing by Timothy Heritage)
LONDON (AP) ? British spy agencies are facing questions about how a young Londoner who was on their radar as part of terrorist investigations was able to travel to Syria and become the masked militant known as "Jihadi John."
THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) ? International Criminal Court judges on Friday upheld the acquittal of a Congolese man who was cleared at trial of leading a deadly militia attack in eastern Congo.
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) ? The Rev. Theodore Hesburgh was always a man of conscience.
Panathinaikos have been deducted three points by the Greek Super League for fan violence during Sunday's 2-1 win over league leaders Olympiakos which led to the postponement of league matches this weekend by the government. The deduction, which was annoynced late Thursday,means that Panathinaikos are now six points behind Olympiakos with nine matches remaining in the season. Per aspera ad astra (a Latin phrase meaning through hardships to the stars,? Panathinaikos said in a statement. Panathinaikos claim that the trouble on Sunday was instigated by the appearance on the pitch of Olympiakos president Evangelos Marinakis and comments made by Olympiakos coach Vitor Pereira before the derby game.
South Africa captain AB de Villiers hammered the second-fastest century in World Cup history as he led his side to a crushing 257-run victory over the West Indies at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Friday. De Villiers finished on an unbeaten 162 off just 66 balls as South Africa raced to the second-highest World Cup total of 408 for five, behind only the 413 for for five made by India against Bermuda, a non-Test nation, in Trinidad in 2007. The Proteas' skipper's innings was also the fastest 150 in ODIs and de Villiers now has the fastest fifty, hundred and 150 in ODI cricket -- all coming against the West Indies.
BERLIN (AP) ? Germany's Parliament overwhelmingly approved the four-month extension of Greece's financial bailout on Friday, despite unease over the new government in Athens.
Mali said three of its nationals were killed in a village near the Guinean border during a violent skirmish between miners over a gold discovery. Guinean miners armed with guns and knives killed them in the village of Sanafara, about 100 kilometres west of the capital, according to a Malian government statement.
BAGHDAD (AP) ? Iraqi authorities say eight people have been killed in a series of bombings and mortar strikes around Baghdad.
The UN Security Council on Friday was to hold an emergency session on the fragile truce in Ukraine, a year to the day since Russian troops and pro-Moscow forces began seizing ports and cities on the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea. Both sides said they were continuing to withdraw heavy weapons from along the frontline, a key part of a stuttering peace plan aimed at ending ten months of bloodshed in east Ukraine that has cost some 5,800 lives. Kiev said Thursday that it had started withdrawing 100-mm cannons, while rebels claim they have nearly completed their pull-back. The situation on the ground remains intensely fragile and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko cautioned the withdrawal was "just a first, test step".
Berlin (AFP) - The parliament in Germany, Europe's largest economy and effective paymaster, on Friday overwhelmingly backed a four-month extension of Greece's bailout programme by international creditors.
By MacDonald Dzirutwe HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's 91-year-old President Robert Mugabe told state television that his wife Grace, a rising political star in the ruling party, is not the power behind his throne. Mugabe, the only leader his country has known since independence from Britain in 1980, will be in the resort town of Victoria Falls on Saturday where his ZANU-PF party is planning $1 million birthday celebration with thousands of supporters. Grace, a former typist in Mugabe's office before they married, was hoisted into the top echelons of ZANU-PF last December after attacking former vice president Joice Mujuru, who was later fired by the veteran leader.
COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) ? Danish police say they have arrested a third man suspected of assisting a gunman who killed two people in attacks in Copenhagen this month.
BERLIN (AP) ? German Parliament approves four-month extension to Greece's financial bailout.
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) ? Iran's Revolutionary Guard on Friday announced it has test fired a "new strategic weapon" in the final day of a large-scale naval and air defense drill, saying the system would play a key role in any future battle against the United States.
JOHANNESBURG (AP) ? South African police say a foreigner was seriously injured when his shop was petrol bombed.
Beijing has imposed a one-year ban on imports of ivory carvings, but questions remained Friday on its effect on rising Chinese demand, which critics say could push wild African elephants to extinction within a generation. The move comes days ahead of a visit to China by Britain's Prince William, who has campaigned against illegal wildlife trafficking and is expected to speak on the issue during a stop in the southwestern province of Yunnan next Wednesday. The measure took effect Thursday and was announced by China's State Forestry Administration in a statement posted on its website. China is a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites), but conservationists say it is the world's largest consumer of illegal ivory, with skyrocketing demand leading to the slaughter of tens of thousands of African elephants each year.
India's economy will grow by more than eight percent in the next financial year, the government said in a report published Friday, a day ahead of its first full-year national budget. The India Economic Survey said growth would be between 8.1 and 8.5 percent in the 2015/16 financial year, returning to levels last seen in 2010/11. The upbeat forecast came weeks after the government put growth for the current financial year at 7.4 percent, making India one of the world's fastest-growing economies, after changing the way it calculates its Gross Domestic Product. The figures surprised many economists as India had been thought to be in its worst economic slowdown since the 1980s.
GUIUAN, Philippines (AP) ? French President Francois Hollande on Friday took his warning about the need for funds for a landmark climate deal to a central Philippine town that was devastated by a killer typhoon in 2013.
By Sara Ledwith and Martinne Geller LONDON (Reuters) - Electronic cigarette firms in Italy say a new levy that doubles the price of e-liquid refills unfairly helps tobacco giants like Philip Morris International and will hurt their industry. The tax, which was adopted in January, is set at half the rate of that on traditional cigarettes. The controversy centers on the fact that the lower rate is applied to both electronic cigarettes and to tobacco products such as Marlboro HeatSticks, which Philip Morris is launching in Italy alongside a 500 million euro ($568 million) factory investment.
Socialite Paris Hilton began a visit on Thursday to Cuba, where her family lost a hotel a half-century ago when Fidel Castro took power, according to a picture posted online. Hilton will be joined on the island by British model Naomi Campbell, who was seen in Havana Wednesday. Both stars took the trip to the island to appear with other prominent visitors, including former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, following an announcement of rapprochement between Cuba and the US by President Barack Obama.
Prime Minister David Cameron will set out plans on Friday to give Wales greater powers, including more responsibility over raising its own funding. With a national election in May, the issue of devolution to the United Kingdom's constituent parts has risen to the fore after a last-ditch promise to transfer powers to Scotland's devolved parliament from London helped swing a close referendum in September. Wales, like Scotland and Northern Ireland, elects representatives for its own regional parliament as well as for the Westminster parliament. It has a budget of around 15 billion pounds a year but has no powers over how that money is raised.
A Hong Kong mother of two who punched her maids, beat them with mops and threatened to kill their relatives was jailed for six years on Friday in a case that triggered outrage and exposed the plight of millions of domestic helpers across Asia. Former beautician Law Wan-tung, 44, looked stunned as the sentence was passed after being found guilty of 18 of 20 abuse charges. The charges included inflicting grievous bodily harm and criminal intimidation against Erwiana Sulistyaningsih and an another maid, also from Indonesia. Judge Amanda Woodcock read out her verdict saying "damning evidence" revealed "how little care and kindness the defendant showed" for Erwiana.
NOVOAMVROSIIVSKE, Ukraine (AP) ? Separatist fighters in east Ukraine moved rocket launchers to a location 70 kilometers (43 miles) back from the front line with government troops Friday in the first confirmed compliance with a cease-fire agreed earlier this month.
STOCKHOLM (AP) ? Wireless equipment maker Ericsson is suing Apple for alleged patent infringement.
PARIS (AP) ? Airbus says its net profit soared 59 percent last year as a record-high number of jet deliveries helped offset a 551 million euros end-of-year charge against its delayed A400M military transporter program.
Turkish police on Friday sealed off a street outside the U.S. consulate in Istanbul, a Reuters witness said, and local media reported a suspect had been detained. Dogan News Agency said police had detained a man, believed to be mentally unstable, for questioning. A police official said he was not able to immediately comment. Istanbul has been on high security alert since January, when a suicide bomber blew herself up at a police station in the historic Sultanahmet district, killing one officer and wounding another.
WASHINGTON (AP) ? The new mayor of the nation's capital gave her constituents what they wanted ? the ability to legally grow and share marijuana in private.
By Emelia Sithole-Matarise LONDON (Reuters) - European shares rose to fresh seven-year highs on Friday, extending a two-month rally fueled by the European Central Bank's money printing program which starts in the coming weeks. European shares bucked a softer trend in Asian and U.S. markets as a sharp overnight pullback in crude oil prices dampened risk appetite there. The FTSEurofirst 300 index index of top European shares was up 0.3 percent at 1,561.60 points, with strong annual results from Airbus Group , the world's second-largest aerospace company, spurring the rally. About two-thirds of the way into Europe's earnings season, 55 percent of companies have met or beaten profit forecasts.
ISTANBUL (AP) ? A Turkish news agency says police have detained man who claimed to have explosives attached on his body, outside the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul. The man was described as "mentally unstable"
By Loucoumane Coulibaly ABIDJAN (Reuters) - Prominent members of Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara's main coalition partner on Thursday rejected a deal by their party's leader to support Ouattara's bid for re-election later this year. Their party, the Democratic Party of Ivory Coast (PDCI), is still expected to endorse the deal at its party congress on Saturday. Backing Ouattara "would finish the PDCI off once and for all," Kouadio Konan Bertin, the party's former youth leader and currently a member of parliament, told a press conference in the commercial capital Abidjan. He was joined by ex-Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny, former foreign affairs minister Amara Essy and a former deputy speaker of parliament, Jerome Brou Kablan.
BEIJING (AP) ? Global stocks were lackluster Friday after Japan reported mixed economic data and investors waited for revised U.S. growth figures.
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) ? The death toll from severe weather that caused avalanches and flooding across much of Afghanistan has jumped to more than 200 people, and the number is expected to climb with cold weather and difficult conditions hampering rescue efforts, relief workers and U.N. officials said Friday.
OXNARD, Calif. (AP) ? Federal investigators said a pickup truck driver who turned on to railroad tracks before a crash that derailed a California commuter train made a "mistake," while prosecutors released him from jail as they considered whether to pursue criminal charges.
Zambia's former mines minister Maxwell Mwale was sentenced to one year in jail with hard labour on Friday after being convicted of corruption in the award of licences to a Chinese mining company in 2009. Mwale, a former cabinet minister in Africa's second-largest copper producer, was found guilty of interfering in the granting of licences to Zhonghui International Mining Group. "Abuses of authority by public officers have become rampant and need to be stopped," said Magistrate Lameck Mwale while handing down the sentence.
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) ? A lawyer for the family of an unarmed Mexican man killed by police in Washington state says independent autopsy results differ in at least two key details from statements made by authorities investigating the death.