• Battle over Israel's budget risks election, more economic gloom
    JERUSALEM, October 20 (Reuters): A festering government crisis over passage of a national budget could push Israel into its fourth election since mid-2019, further straining an economy hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic. Crunch time is approaching: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's bickering coalition, patched together in May, has by law until Dec. 23 to pass the 2020 budget, a move held up by political stalemate and successive national ballots. Failure to do so by t
  • Pope wears mask for first time at public service
    ROME, October 20 (Reuters): Pope Francis wore a mask for the first time at a public function on Tuesday when he and other religious leaders attended a prayer service for peace around the world. The pope wore a white mask during the service at the Rome Basilica of Santa Maria in Aracoeli. Previously he wore masks only in a car taking him to his weekly audiences in the Vatican. He had come under some criticism, particularly on social media, for not wearing a mask at his genera
  • Thais defy protest ban for sixth day with 'Hunger Games' salutes
    BANGKOK, October 20 (Reuters): Thai protesters raised three-finger salutes to the national anthem at public places across Bangkok on Tuesday in a sixth day showing defiance of a ban meant to end three months of protests against the government and monarchy. Protests have only grown despite a crackdown in which dozens have been detained. Two protest leaders were arrested on Tuesday on new charges just as soon as they were granted bail on previous charges. "This is not a l
  • Brexit brinkmanship: UK says no to more EU trade talks
    LONDON/BRUSSELS, October 20 (Reuters): Britain sees no basis to resume trade talks with the European Union unless there is a fundamental change in approach from Brussels, chief negotiator David Frost said on Monday, dashing earlier optimism that negotiations could resume. Earlier, Michael Gove, the minister overseeing Brexit, had said there was agreement on the need to intensify trade talks and work on legal texts, after the negotiations broke down last week. The two si
  • Indonesia, Japan seek stronger security, economic ties in China's shadow
    JAKARTA, October 20 (Reuters): Japan and Indonesia agreed on Tuesday to speed up talks on the export of Japanese defence gear and technology to Indonesia and to have their defence and foreign ministers meet soon, reflecting concern over China's regional assertiveness. Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is on a four-day trip to Vietnam and Indonesia, his first since taking office last month, and part of Tokyo's effort to strengthen ties with the two key countries in
  • Sudanese strains surface as U.S. pressure triggers debate on Israel
    KHARTOUM, October 20 (Reuters): U.S. pressure on Sudan to normalise ties with former adversary Israel has stirred public debate on a topic that was long taboo, exposing splits that could complicate any swift settlement of a deal. An agreement between Sudan and Israel may have edged closer on Monday when U.S. President Donald Trump signalled that Washington would remove Khartoum from its list of state sponsors of terrorism. Military figures leading Sudan's political trans
  • EU takes legal action against 'golden passport' schemes in Cyprus, Malta
    BRUSSELS, October 20 (Reuters): The European Union's executive said on Tuesday it was launching legal action against Cyprus and Malta over their investor citizenship programmes, also known as "golden passport" schemes. The schemes allow wealthy foreigners to buy citizenship in exchange for an investment of around 1 million euros ($1.2 million) in Malta and 2 million euros in Cyprus. The European Commission said the decision was taken because the two member stat
  • Trump pushes for major COVID-19 deal over Senate Republican objections
    WASHINGTON, October 20 (Reuters): President Donald Trump on Tuesday pushed for a comprehensive COVID-19 relief package, saying he would accept a deal worth more than $2.2 trillion despite opposition to large spending measures among his fellow Republicans in the U.S. Senate. "I want to do it even bigger than the Democrats," Trump said in an interview with Fox News, as talks between House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin appr
  • Global HIV response found to neglect gay and bisexual men, trans women
    LONDON, October 20 (Thomson Reuters Foundation): Funding to fight HIV among gay and bisexual men and transgender women is a fraction of what it should be, researchers said on Tuesday, with advocates blaming stigma for the shortfall. Gay and bisexual men account for about one in five new HIV infections, but they were only allocated 1% of the $57 billion in global donor funding to treat the virus and combat its spread between 2016 and 2018, Dutch HIV charity Aidsfonds found. A
  • Indonesia rejected U.S. request to host spy planes - officials
    JAKARTA, October 20 (Reuters): Indonesia rejected this year a proposal by the United States to allow its P-8 Poseidon maritime surveillance planes to land and refuel there, according to four senior Indonesian officials familiar with the matter. U.S. officials made multiple "high-level" approaches in July and August to Indonesia's defence and foreign ministers before Indonesia's president, Joko Widodo, rebuffed the request, the officials said. Representative
  • Suspected Islamists free 900 prisoners from east Congo jail
    BENI, Democratic Republic of Congo, October 20 (Reuters): Armed men freed at least 900 prisoners from a jail in Beni in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo in a coordinated attack early on Tuesday morning, the town's mayor said, blaming an Islamist militant group operating in the area. Only 100 out of more than 1,000 inmates remained following the simultaneous assaults on the Kangbayi central prison and the military camp defending it, said the mayor, Modeste Bakwanamaha.
  • Swelled by rain and COVID curbs, locust swarms ravage Ethiopia
    KOMBOLCHA, Ethiopia, October 20 (Reuters): Widow-of-ten Marima Wadisha screamed, threw rocks and in her desperation even fired bullets at the locusts that descended on her sorghum fields in northeast Ethiopia. But the insect swarms were so relentless that her entire crop - her family's only source of income - was destroyed. "They never left for a week. We are left with an empty harvest, we tie our waist and cry day and night. How can (I) feed ... my children like th
  • N.Korean media slams Seoul-US defence talks
    SEOUL, OCTOBER 20 (IANS): A North Korean media outlet on Tuesday slammed South Korea for its recent defence talks with the US, terming the discussions as a "reckless scheme to crush its own race with its master". Last week, Seoul and Washington held their annual ministerial talks, the Security Consultative Meeting (SCM), and reaffirmed their joint efforts to denuclearize North Korea, noting that the Pyongyang's nuclear and ballistic missile programs continue to pose se
  • Beheaded teacher Paty will get France's highest honour - minister
    PARIS, October 20 (Reuters): Samuel Paty, the 47-year old history teacher beheaded by a suspected Islamist last week, will posthumously get France's highest award, the "Legion d'Honneur", education minister Jean-Michel Blanquer told BFM TV on Tuesday. Paty was murdered on Friday in broad daylight outside his school in a middle-class Paris suburb by an 18-year-old of Chechen origin. Police shot the attacker dead. The teenager sought to avenge his victim'
  • Nagorno-Karabakh ceasefire under severe strain after new fighting
    YEREVAN/BAKU, October 20 (Reuters): A ceasefire in the mountain territory of Nagorno-Karabakh was under severe strain on Tuesday after new clashes between Azeri and ethnic Armenian forces in their deadliest fighting since the 1990s. The ceasefire, agreed on Saturday, has had little impact on fighting that began on Sept. 27, despite concerns it could spark a wider conflict involving Russia and Turkey and fears over the security of gas and oil pipelines in the South Caucasus
  • Another possible risk in U.S. election: 'faithless electors'
    Reuters U.S. presidents are chosen by electors, party loyalists who pledge to vote for their candidate once their state's voters have made their selection clear. The polarized climate in the United States has heightened the risk that "faithless" electors may break that promise to voters, however, increasing the possibility of confusion around this year's result. Below is an explanation of "faithless" electors and how they could disrupt the outcome of t
  • Kuwait's new emir calls for national unity ahead of elections
    KUWAIT, October 20 (Reuters): Kuwait's Emir Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Sabah called on Tuesday for national unity to meet challenges facing the Gulf state, in a speech to lawmakers ahead of elections on Dec. 5. The parliamentary elections come at a time when the wealthy OPEC member is facing a liquidity crisis caused by low oil prices and the coronavirus pandemic against the backdrop of continued tensions between larger neighbours Saudi Arabia and Iran. "National unit
  • Israel says UAE visit 'making history' - Palestinians call it 'shameful'
    JERUSALEM, October 20 (Reuters): In an historic first visit by a Gulf Arab nation, a United Arab Emirates delegation arrived in Israel on Tuesday to cement the normalisation deal signed last month. U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and other American officials accompanied the delegation on Etihad Airways plane from Abu Dhabi to Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv. They were given a red carpet welcome by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Gabi Ashke
  • China says U.S. should stop meddling after exiled Tibetan leader visits State Dept
    BEIJING, October 20 (Reuters): China's foreign ministry said the United States should immediately stop interfering in its internal affairs, after the leader of the head of the Tibetan government-in-exile met a U.S. State Department official in Washington. Lobsang Sangay, the president of the Tibetan Central Administration (CTA), met the new U.S. special coordinator on Tibet last week. Sangay said it was the first time that the head of the CTA had been received at the State
  • Final Trump-Biden debate will feature 'mute' button after chaotic first clash
    WASHINGTON, October 20 (Reuters) - The final debate between President Donald Trump and Democratic rival Joe Biden will feature a mute button to allow each candidate to speak uninterrupted, organizers said on Monday, looking to avoid the disruptions that marred the first matchup. The Trump campaign voiced objections to the change - made after the president repeatedly talked over both Biden and the moderator at last month's debate in violation of its agreed-upon rules - but said t