Ken Odeluga, July 4th, 2014
Britain planned to train 100, 000-strong Syrian Rebel Army
Britain at one point had planned to train and equip a 100,000-strong rebel army to defeat Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, according to the BBC’s Newsnight show.
The plan was shelved before being put into action because it was deemed too risky, Newsnight reported on Thursday.
The BBC said the secret “extract, equip, train” proposal, put forward two years ago, was the idea of General David Richards, then Chief of the Defence Staff of the United Kingdom.
The UK Ministry of Defence declined to comment on the article, according to Reuters.
The secret initiative was considered by Prime Minister David Cameron and the National Security Council, as well as U.S. officials, the BBC said, citing Whitehall sources.
Richards’s initiative proposed vetting and training “a substantial army” of moderate Syrian rebels at bases in Turkey and Jordan.
Sources: BBC, Reuters
US Embassy in Algeria On Alert for potential Terror Attack
The United States embassy in Algeria has warned about a potential attack by a “terrorist group” on targets in Algiers, possibly near a U.S.-branded hotel in the capital.
A statement on the embassy website told embassy employees to avoid hotels owned or operated by U.S. companies on the July 4th U.S. Independence Day holiday and Algerian Independence Day on July 5.
The warning posted on Wednesday was one of several U.S. security alerts about possible attacks by radical groups.
The U.S. embassy in Uganda warned on Thursday about a “specific threat” of an attack on Entebbe International Airport near Kampala “by an unknown terrorist group”.
In the United States, airlines with direct flights arriving from abroad were told to tighten screening of mobile phones and shoes in response to intelligence reports of increased threats from al Qaeda affiliated militant groups, U.S. officials said.
“As of June 2014, an unspecified terrorist group may have been considering attacks in Algiers, possibly in the vicinity of a U.S. branded hotel,” said the statement dated July 2 on the Algiers embassy website.
Algeria is concerned about militants using the political chaos in neighbouring Libya as a refuge.
In January last year, militants raided Algeria’s Amenas gas plant near Libya’s border, killing 40 oil contractors, all but one of them foreigners.
Following that attack, British-based BP and Norway’s Statoil pulled employees out of the region.
Fighters loyal to veteran Algerian militant Mokhtar Belmokhtar carried out the attack.
Deadly overpass collapse in World Cup City
An unfinished overpass collapsed in the Brazilian World Cup host city of Belo Horizonte on Thursday, killing at least two people.
The bridge, located about two miles from Mineirao Stadium where the World Cup is being played, collapsed as vehicles were passing on a busy road underneath.
Part of a passenger bus was crushed and another car was still trapped in the wreckage hours later, as the news emerged.
Reports suggested that further passengers might still be trapped in vehicles involved in the accident.
Belo Horizonte has already hosted five World Cup games and the semi-final of the World Cup is due to be played in the city on Tuesday.
Israel boosts forces at border with Gaza Strip
Israel has reinforced its forces along its frontier with the Gaza Strip whilst launching air strikes against militant Hamas targets there on Thursday.
The moves follow Palestinian cross-border rocket attacks staged in recent days.
The developments come amid a second day of violent Palestinian protests in Jerusalem after the discovery of the body of a 16-year-old Palestinian boy on Wednesday in a forest near the city.
Israeli police are investigating the possibility that he was the victim of a revenge killing over the deaths of three Jewish teenagers, whose abduction on June 12 Israel has blamed on Islamist Hamas militants in the occupied West Bank.
Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Lerner, a military spokesman, said troops were taking up “defence positions” in Israeli communities that have been struck by the rockets from Gaza. He did not comment on the scale of the deployment.
It is the first time since the border began to heat up in mid-June – in tandem with an Israeli military sweep and search for the three abducted Israeli youths in the West Bank – that Israel has announced troop movements near the Gaza Strip.
Five Die in Egypt Violence as Anniversary of Mursi Exit Looms
Five people died in a bomb blast and clashes that broke out between security forces and protesters on Thursday on the first anniversary of the army’s ouster of elected Islamist President Mohamed Mursi.
81 Migrants Dead or Missing off Southern Italy Coast – UNHCR
Migrants arriving on boats in southern Italy say 81 other people travelling with them died or are missing following their sea journeys from North Africa, the UN refugee agency, UNHCR said on Wednesday.
A group of 27 migrants picked up on Tuesday by Italy’s naval rescue mission and brought to the town of Catania said there had been 75 other people on their boat, who were feared drowned, the agency said in a statement.
Other migrants arriving in Sicily’s Porto Empedocle said two of the party they travelled with had died and four had disappeared.
Authorities said the death toll on another packed fishing boat, discovered by an Italian rescue mission on Monday, had reached 45. The victims are believed to have suffocated.
All those found dead on Monday by the “Mare Nostrum” or “Our Sea” naval operation were men from Sub-Saharan Africa, the U.N. said.
Now you see it: Google Un-disappears News Stories
Google Inc. said on Thursday it had reversed a decision to remove several links to stories in The Guardian newspaper, having initially said the links would be removed from its search engine as a consequence of implementation of the European Union’s “right to be forgotten” ruling.
The Guardian protested the removal of its stories describing how a football referee lied about reversing a penalty decision. It was unclear who asked Google to remove the stories.
Separately, Google has not restored links to a BBC article that described how former Merrill Lynch Chief Executive Officer E. Stanley O’Neal was ousted after the investment bank racked up billions of dollars in losses.
In a further twist, E. Stanley O’Neal, Merrill Lynch’s former CEO, said on Thursday he had “no knowledge” of an apparent effort to remove a BBC article mentioning him from Google search results in Europe.
Google intends to adhere to a May European court ruling that gave its citizens the “right to be forgotten:” to request the scrubbing of links to articles that pop up under a name search.
FINANCE – M2
UBS Forex Strategy Chief Exits
UBS AG’s chief currency strategist Mansoor Mohi-uddin has left the Swiss bank as part of cost-cutting measures, WSJ.com said Wednesday, citing two people familiar with the situation.
Mr. Mohi-uddin joined Swiss Bank Corp. in 1998 as an emerging-markets strategist just before the company’s merger with Union Bank of Switzerland.
Through his numerous and frequent strategy reports, Mr. Mohi-uddin’s strategy came to be known for its staunch bullishness about the U.S. dollar.
Abbvie quietly presses case for Shire bid
AbbVie CEO Richard Gonzalez has pressed the case for his $46 billion pursuit of drugmaker Shire in discreet meetings with shareholders in London this week and is now weighing his next move, according to Reuters, which cites people familiar with the matter.
Shire shareholders who met with Gonzalez said he had reiterated the case for a deal, arguing that AbbVie would create more value from Shire’s assets than the hyperactivity and rare diseases specialist could do on its own, Reuters said.
The news agency said one person described the meeting he attended as fairly uneventful, with AbbVie giving no indication on the possibility of raising its offer – although analysts widely expect the offer to be raised in order to get the deal done.
Gonzalez, who under British takeover rules has until July 18 to make a firm bid for Shire or walk away, has flown back to Chicago for the U.S. long holiday weekend.
AbbVie declined to comment on the meetings.
Shire has rejected three separate proposals from the U.S. group, arguing the last offer of £46.26 a share in cash and stock fundamentally undervalues the company.
While AbbVie has yet to budge on price since Reuters first revealed its bid interest on June 19, it has stated that a deal at £46.26 would lift its earnings “materially” – a comment taken by analysts as a signal that it can afford to pay more.
Dented Gowex to announce Action Plan on Monday
Spanish wireless network provider Gowex said late Thursday it would present an action plan on Monday after a report by Gotham City Research LLC questioned the company’s revenue reporting, wiping about 60 percent off the value of the shares over two days.
Shares in Gowex had been suspended earlier on Thursday from Spain’s alternative stock exchange, MAB, pending a statement from the company.
Spain’ stock market regulator said on Wednesday it had asked the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to provide information about Gotham City Research LLC and its administrators to investigate whether the publication of the report could constitute a market abuse.
VW Denies plans for US Truckmaker Acquisition
Volkswagen on Thursday denied reports that it was planning to bid for U.S. truck maker Paccar next year.
A note by Singapore-based Bernstein Research analyst Max Warburton published earlier on Thursday quoted Daimler Trucks Chief Wolfgang Bernhard as saying that VW was preparing a takeover bid for 2015, citing “serious, multiple sources”.
Trainline May come to Market
The owner of popular Internet ticketing website, trainline.com, has hired Morgan Stanley to oversee a potential listing, according to Sky News.
Exponent, which has had a controlling stake in Trainline since 2006, hopes to raise as much as £400 million, according to Sky News.