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  • Saudi postpones flogging of blogger for third week

    Saudi Arabia postponed Friday for a third week in a row the flogging of a blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes for insulting Islam, his wife said. Raef Badawi "was not flogged" on Friday, Ensaf Haidar told AFP, adding that the reason was unclear. Badawi's case has already prompted worldwide outrage…

    AFP
  • New Saudi king in major government shake-up

    Saudi Arabia's new King Salman has tightened his hold on power, firing two sons of his predecessor and replacing the heads of intelligence and other key agencies in a sweeping shakeup. The appointments, which analysts said supported signs the kingdom will chart a steady course on foreign and oil…

    AFP
  • Myanmar opens deep sea port for Chinese oil pipeline

    YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Myanmar has officially opened a deep sea port off its western coast, part of a $2.45 billion port and pipeline project that will carry crude oil from the Middle East to China.

    Associated Press
  • Families plead for lives of IS hostages as swap hopes fade

    TOKYO (AP) — A deadline of sunset Thursday for a possible prisoner swap purportedly set by the Islamic State group holding a Japanese journalist and a Jordanian military pilot passed with no sign of whether the two men were still alive.

    Associated Press
  • Factbox: Under-reported conflicts in 2015

    By Alex Whiting LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The wars in Syria, Iraq and Ukraine are getting wide coverage in Western media, but there are at least 30 other conflicts in the world that are likely to go largely unnoticed this year and keep millions of people in crisis. Here are a few of…

    Reuters
  • Nokia turns to fourth quarter profit buoyed by strong growth

    HELSINKI (AP) — Nokia made a net profit of 443 million euros ($502 million) in the fourth quarter and sales grew nearly 10 percent, but its share price fell Thursday as the results were offset by a poor performance in some regions, higher costs and a low dividend.

    Associated Press
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  • Rights group blasts IS for atrocities

    BEIRUT (AP) — Human Rights Watch on Thursday blasted Islamic State militants over their atrocities, but also criticized the "sectarian and abusive" policies of the Syrian and Iraqi governments, saying they fuel extremism.

    Associated Press
  • Egyptian prosperity, not protests, could define Sisi rule

    By Maggie Fick CAIRO (Reuters) - A crackdown on protests in Egypt is not expected to provoke widespread unrest that threatens President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's rule, as most Egyptians crave an end to years of political turmoil that have hammered their hopes of prosperity. More than 25 people were…

    Reuters
  • Turkey, Lebanon restart Baghdad flights after shooting, Gulf waits

    Turkish Airlines and Lebanon's Middle East Airlines (MEA) resumed flights to Baghdad on Thursday after halting them earlier in the week when bullets hit a plane as it was landing in the Iraqi capital. Samir Kubba, the head of Iraq's civil aviation authority, told Reuters a flight from Istanbul had…

    Reuters
  • Iraq, UAE play for Middle East supremacy in 3rd-place match

    MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — After falling one game short of an Asian Cup finals appearance, Iraq and the United Arab Emirates will play for Middle Eastern supremacy in the third-place playoff in Newcastle on Friday.

    Associated Press
  • Japan analyzing purported new voice recording of IS captive: PM's spokesman

    The Japanese government is analyzing a purported new voice recording in which a Japanese journalist held captive by Islamic State says a Jordanian pilot also in their custody will be killed if a swap for a would-be suicide bomber is not carried out by sunset on Thursday, a spokesman for Prime…

    Reuters
  • Prehistoric skull a key 'piece of the puzzle' in story of humanity

    By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A partial skull retrieved from a cave in northern Israel is shedding light on a pivotal juncture in early human history when our species was trekking out of Africa to populate other parts of the world and encountered our close cousins the Neanderthals. The…

    Reuters
  • Kobane in ruins after Kurds drive out IS

    Pulverised buildings, heavily armed fighters roaming otherwise deserted rubble-strewn streets: the ferocious battle for Kobane has left the Syrian border town in ruins, according to a team of AFP journalists who arrived there Wednesday. Kurdish forces recaptured the town on the Turkish frontier…

    AFP
  • Ancient Israeli skull may document migration from Africa

    NEW YORK (AP) — Long ago, humans left their evolutionary cradle in Africa and passed through the Middle East on their way to Europe. Now scientists have found the first fossil remains that appear to document that journey, a partial skull from an Israeli cave.

    Associated Press
  • IS suffers 'devastating' blows but biggest fighting still ahead

    The Islamic State group has suffered "devastating" blows in Syria's Kobane and on several Iraqi fronts, but analysts warn such victories in the fight against the jihadists cannot be replicated everywhere. "Kobane shows that intense air strikes concentrated in a small space can succeed in…

    AFP
  • Hostage parents make anguished pleas as IS deadline nears

    The parents of a Japanese journalist and a Jordanian airman held by Islamic State militants made last-ditch pleas for their lives as a deadline for an exchange with a jihadi bomber neared Wednesday. Safi Kassasbeh begged the Jordanian government to save his pilot son's "at any price", while the…

    AFP
  • Pentagon docs: Obama to request big Pentagon budget hike

    WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama will ask Congress for a hefty, almost 8 percent boost for the Pentagon, including $5.3 billion to equip and train Iraqi soldiers and moderate Syrian rebels to fight Islamic State militants in the Middle East.

    Associated Press