By Amy Sawitta Lefevre and Kanupriya Kapoor BANGKOK (Reuters) - The United States said on Friday that thousands of vulnerable migrants adrift in Southeast Asian seas needed urgent rescue, as Myanmar told a regional meeting on the crisis that it was not to blame. More than 3,000 migrants from Bangladesh and Myanmar have landed in Indonesia and Malaysia since Thailand launched a crackdown on human trafficking gangs this month. "We have to save lives urgently," U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Anne Richard told reporters on her way into the meeting at a Bangkok hotel.
By Simon Gardner VALLE DE BRAVO, Mexico (Reuters) - Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto misrepresented to authorities the circumstances under which he acquired one of his properties, public documents reviewed by Reuters show, a discrepancy that could add to a controversy surrounding his personal finances. According to an official asset declaration first made in 2013, Pena Nieto stated that he acquired the property through a "donation" or gift from his father. Pena Nieto, who made his asset declaration public in 2013 as part of a transparency and accountability push, has since updated and ratified this declaration twice.
By Mike Collett and Brian Homewood ZURICH (Reuters) - The corruption charges engulfing world soccer's governing body have heaped shame and humiliation on the game, FIFA President Sepp Blatter said on Thursday, although he flatly rejected calls to resign over the widening scandal. With FIFA facing the worst crisis in its 111-year history, Michel Platini, who heads Europe's soccer confederation UEFA, said he had told Blatter to go "with tears in my eyes", but the 79-year-old had refused. "I said, 'I'm asking you to leave, FIFA's image is terrible.' He said that he couldn't leave all of a sudden," Platini, a former French international, told reporters.
By Suleiman Al-Khalidi AMMAN (Reuters) - The Syrian army has pulled back from the northwestern city of Ariha after a coalition of insurgent groups seized the last city in Idlib province in northwestern Syria near the Turkish border that was still held by the government. Syria's al Qaeda offshoot Nusra Front is a major part of the coalition. The Syrian army said intense fighting was going on with Nusra forces that had infiltrated Ariha.
By Se Young Lee and Sohee Kim SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korean lawmakers passed a bill early on Friday to ban taxi services provided by private drivers, marking what is likely the first nationwide legislation to outlaw Uber Technologies Inc's low-cost uberX service. "Uber respects this decision by the National Assembly and looks forward to continuing its conversations with Seoul City on how to best serve Seoul and its citizens within the legal framework allowed by Korean Law," the U.S. company said in a statement to Reuters ahead of the floor vote. While the legislation, which amends an existing law on transportation services, imposes a blanket ban rather than explicitly mentioning Uber, it was pushed by lawmakers to block uberX.
By Lincoln Feast SYDNEY (Reuters) - Al Jazeera reporter Peter Greste, deported after spending 400 days in an Egyptian jail on charges that included aiding a terrorist group, fears he will be found guilty in absentia at a retrial that resumes in Cairo next week. Australian Greste and two Al Jazeera colleagues, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, were sentenced to seven to 10 years in prison last June in a case that provoked an international outcry. A retrial was ordered after Egypt's highest court found procedural flaws in the initial case began in February, soon after Greste was deported to his native Australia.
TOKYO (AP) — Japanese data on Friday showed a mixed outlook for the world's third-largest economy while a renewed decline in the value of the yen is adding to uncertainty over whether the recovery is gaining ground.
Prime Minister David Cameron prepared Friday to lobby German Chancellor Angela Merkel for "flexible and imaginative" EU reforms, but faces an uphill battle against Franco-German plans for a more integrated eurozone. The second day of Cameron's European tour came as his government published a law paving the way for the controversial vote on whether Britain should leave the EU that must be held by the end of 2017. The prime minister has moved rapidly to kickstart efforts to secure EU reforms before the referendum which he promised voters ahead of his surprise election win earlier this month.
By Elaine Lies TOKYO (Reuters) - A volcano on the remote southern Japanese island of Kuchinoerabujima erupted suddenly on Friday, blasting plumes of black smoke high into the sky, prompting authorities to start evacuating the island and airlines to re-route flights. A pyroclastic flow of super-heated gas and rock flowed down the side of Mount Shindake and reached the ocean after the mountain's "explosive" eruption, but officials said there was no danger to human life. "There was a huge bang and black smoke rose up immediately," Nobuaki Hayashi, an island official, told NHK television, adding that residents were gathering to await evacuation.
It was a symbol of a more liberal Egypt where young Muslims and Christians mingled under its leafy canopies, bands played and a young Omar Sharif wooed the glamorous Faten Hamama in the classic film romance "The River of Love". A rare oasis in a metropolis home to eight million people, Merryland park offered respite from Cairo's dusty, traffic-choked cacophony. "Merryland was a vent for eastern Cairo," said Magdy Badr al-Din, whose balcony overlooks the park.
Muhammadu Buhari becomes Nigeria's new head of state on Friday, in an unprecedented ceremony after he won the first opposition victory over a sitting president in the nation's history. The 72-year-old takes charge of Africa's most populous nation, which is facing crises on several fronts, from severe economic turmoil to Boko Haram's still-raging Islamist insurgency. The inauguration, before visiting heads of state and dignitaries, comes 32 years after the former army general seized power in a military coup.
BANGKOK (AP) — A regional meeting called to address the swelling tide of boat people in Southeast Asia began Friday with a defensive Myanmar official criticizing those who blame his country for causing the crisis, saying "finger pointing" would not help.
Mexican authorities have detained a senior operative of a drug cartel that has clashed with security forces in the western state of Jalisco in recent weeks, officials said. Victor Manuel Garcia Orozco, 47, is suspected of running criminal activities of the Jalisco New Generation cartel in the Cienega region, including drug smuggling, fuel theft and extortion, the interior ministry said. The investigation into their disappearance led to the discovery of 37 clandestine graves containing 75 bodies in the Jalisco municipality of La Barca, which borders Michoacan, the statement said.
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — A world away from the turmoil of corruption and political infighting plaguing soccer, there will be a reminder this weekend of what is best about the game — the talent showcase of the Under-20 World Cup.
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N.'s poor handling of child sexual abuse claims against French soldiers has human rights staffers fearing for their jobs as they struggle with how to respond to highly sensitive allegations in the future, according to a letter to the world body's human rights chief obtained by The Associated Press.
OXON HILL, Maryland (AP) — They couldn't be rattled. They couldn't be denied. Indian-Americans Gokul Venkatachalam and Vanya Shivashankar had worked too hard and come close too many times not to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
Australia said Friday it was confident it had done enough to prevent the United Nations from listing the Great Barrier Reef, the world's biggest coral reef ecosystem, as being 'in danger'. Amid concerns about planned coastal developments, including ports, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) is set to announce overnight a draft decision on the site, which teems with marine life. "They can see we are doing real work to improve the reef," Environment Minister Greg Hunt told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.