Yahoo shares rallied 6% after the Internet company said it would spin off the remaining holdings in Alibaba.
Stock in the new company will be distributed to Yahoo shareholders.
For the fourth quarter, Yahoo reported revenue dropped to $1.25 billion, slightly down from $1.27 billion in the year-ago quarter, while earnings were more than half of what they were–$166 million this quarter versus $348 million in 2013.
Operating earnings were 30 cents a share. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expect fourth-quarter earnings of 29 cents a share on $1.19 billion in revenue.
The company, which is still the no. 2 most visited web property after Google, has been battling declining advertising sales, as high-profile CEO Marissa Mayer is in the midst of a multi-year comeback attempt.
Mayer said the results show a “stability in our core business,” with a focus on mobile showing significant results. Mobile sales are up 23% from the previous quarter, with $254 million in revenues, and $1.26 billion for the complete year.
Most investors look to Yahoo not for its popular e-mail, entertainment, sports and news properties, but it’s investment in China’s high-flying e-commerce giant Alibaba. The news of the split-off encouraged investors, who have been down on the stock over the last 12 months.
The stock is down 9% from the 52-week intra-day high of $52.37 reached on November 17, 2014.
“We haven’t seen any material uptick in revenue growth for awhile,” says Scott Kessler, an equity analyst with S&P IQ. “But they clearly own a substantial stake in one of the most important tech companies on the planet (Alibaba), and that now carries more weight than the company’s proud history.”
Yahoo is still one of the most visited websites. In its most recent survey of online traffic, Yahoo was No. 2 to No. 1 Google’s 253 million monthly visitors, with 217 million, ahead of Facebook’s 206 million, according to measurement firm comScore Media Metrix.
But in the all-important advertising market, Yahoo has been hurting.
Yahoo’s share of the $146 billion worldwide digital advertising market fell in 2014 to 2.36%, from 2.83% in 2013, says eMarketer. Google and Facebook dominate with 31.1% and 7.75% in 2014.
And its share of search continues to fall, despite a new deal with Firefox as the default search engine for the browser. Google dominates with 71.6%, to Bing’s 9.2% and Yahoo’s 5.7%, down from 6.1% in 2013.
It is growing in mobile advertising, however. In the U.S., Yahoo reaped 3.2% of the $18.75 billion mobile ad market in 2014, and according to eMarketer, “is expected to see the largest share increase among the top US mobile ad selling companies between now and 2016.”
A Kurdish fighter walks through rubble in Kobani, Syria.
Kurdish fighters said they are close to regaining complete control of the long-besieged town of Kobani after months of fighting Islamic State militants, a Britain-based monitoring group said Monday.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and senior Kurdish official Idriss Nassan said Syrian Kurdish YPG forces and Iraqi Kurdish forces known as peshmerga have forced Islamic State militants to the eastern outskirts of the town, also known as Ayn al-Arab.
Kobani, on the Syrian-Turkish border, has been under siege by the militant group since July, and has become a symbol of the battle against the Sunni Muslim insurgents who captured huge swathes of Iraq and Syria over the past year.
Street-by-street warfare has nearly emptied Kobani of civilians since Islamic State began an offensive in September.
If the Islamic State group had captured Kobani, the group would have had control of a border crossing with Turkey and would have been able to open direct lines between its positions along the border.
Fighting on town’s outskirts
Rami Abdel Rahman, director of the Syrian Observatory, told AFP that Kurdish fighters had “expelled all Islamic State fighters from Kobani and have full control of the town.”
But “the Kurds are pursuing some jihadists on the eastern outskirts of Kobani, but there is no more fighting inside now,” Rahman said.
The Syrian Observatory said Islamic State fighters planted mines in the city as they retreated, forcing YPG fighters to proceed with caution.
“Our forces are making progress, but until now the YPG has not declared that it has taken all of Kobani back. We think tomorrow Kobani will be free,” Nassan told Reuters by telephone.
Kurdish fighters, backed by U.S.-led airstrikes that began September 23, have pushed back the jihadists, with analysts saying the loss could put the brakes on Islamic State plans for expansion in Syria.
On Monday, the U.S. military said it had launched 21 airstrikes in Syria and 13 in Iraq over a 24-hour period, conducting 17 strikes on Islamic State positions near Kobani.
A Combined Joint Task Force statement said the strikes in Iraq hit targets near Mosul, Tal Afar, Haditha and Fallujah.
The U.S. began airstrikes against IS in Syria in mid-September, and more than 80 percent of all coalition airstrikes in Syria have been in or around Kobani, The Associated Press reported.
The U.S. military said Monday, 17 airstrikes targeted IS tactical units and fighting positions in Kobani.
Kurdish official Nassan said that half of the town had been completely destroyed and much of the rest of it had suffered damage, leaving many homeless. He said the town lacks water, electricity, hospitals and food.
Since mid-September, the battle for Kobani has killed about 1,600 people, including 1,075 Islamic State group members, 459 Kurdish fighters and 32 civilians, the Observatory reported earlier this month.
The Islamic State group, increasingly under pressure, has carried out more than 35 suicide attacks in Kobani in recent weeks, activists say.
Russia hosts Syria talks
Russia is hosting Syrian delegations for talks Monday in Moscow as part of a push to relaunch substantive peace talks and find a political resolution to the civil war. Officials say the goal of the four days of talks is to lay the groundwork for a new peace conference like the two rounds of U.N.-mediated negotiations last year in Geneva. Those talks achieved little progress.
Expectations for the Moscow meetings are low amid a boycott from the main Western-backed opposition and questions about how to negotiate an agreement among the diverse groups fighting the government.
In an interview published Monday by the U.S.-based journal Foreign Affairs, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said “any war ends with a political solution,” but discussions must be with a true Syrian opposition and not a “puppet” controlled by Qatar, Saudi Arabia or Western nations.
Assad questioned Western countries describing the existence of a “moderate opposition” in Syria, saying those fighters are really “rebels” who have mostly become part of al-Qaida or rejoined the Syrian army. His government has long described opposition fighters as “terrorists” and blamed the influence of foreign governments.
In the interview, he accused Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar of going against a U.N. Security Council resolution and supporting Islamic State fighters and the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front. He further said Turkey is providing a “continuous supply” of new rebels to fight in Syria.
The president also said the Islamic State group has gained more territory since the beginning of U.S.-led airstrikes targeting the militants, calling the U.S. effort “window dressing” instead of real progress that can only come with ground fighting.
What began in March 2011 as peaceful protests against Assad’s government has spiraled into a war involving both moderate opposition fighters and Islamic militants battling government forces and each other for territory and influence.
The conflict has left more than 200,000 people dead and forced a huge chunk of the country’s population to flee their homes. Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt are hosting 3.7 million Syrian refugees, while the United Nations says another 7.6 million people are displaced within Syria.
A woman with a child casts her ballot at a polling station in an elementary school during Greece’s parliamentary elections in Athens January 25, 2015.
BY ANGELIKI KOUTANTOU AND JAMES MACKENZIE
Greeks voted on Sunday in an election expected to bring to power the radical leftist Syriza party, which has pledged to take on international lenders and roll back painful austerity measures imposed during years of economic crisis.
Barring a huge upset, Syriza, which has led opinion polls for months, will be the biggest party and aims to form the first euro zone government openly committed to cancelling the austerity terms of its EU and IMF-backed bailout program.
“In Greece, democracy will return,” the party’s 40-year-old leader Alexis Tsipras told a throng of cameras as he voted in Athens. “The message is that our common future in Europe is not the future of austerity.”
A Syriza win would represent another turning point for Europe after last week’s announcement by the European Central Bank of a massive injection of cash into the bloc’s flagging economy after years of trying to clamp down on budgets and pushing countries to pass structural reforms.
Polls close at 7 p.m. (1200 ET), with 9.8 million Greeks eligible to vote. An exit poll is expected immediately after voting ends, with the first official projections due at 9.30 p.m. with results updated into the night.
While Syriza is expected to form the biggest group in the 300-seat parliament, it is unclear if it will be able to govern alone or have to form a coalition with a smaller party.
Final polls on Friday gave the party a lead of up to 6.7 points with 31.2-33.4 percent of the vote, slightly under the level needed for an outright victory.
However the final result could hinge on whether it can convince enough voters that it can keep Greece on a sustainable course, with many wary of idealistic promises.
“I voted for a small party to force them all to collaborate, get us back to growth and keep us in the euro,” said Christos Mousouris, 52, a civil engineer. “People should be realists and not believe in fairy tales.”
Syriza appeared to be widening the gap in the final days of campaigning over the center New Democracy party of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, who appealed to undecided voters to ensure Greece stays on the path of stability and reforms.
“Today we are deciding if we move ahead with power, safety and confidence or if we get into an adventure,” Samaras said after voting in the western Pelopponese region.
After its most severe crisis since the fall of the military junta in 1974, Greece’s economy has shrunk by some 25 percent, thousands of businesses have closed, wages and pensions have been slashed and unemployment among youth is over 50 percent.
At the same time, its massive public debt has climbed from 146 percent of gross domestic product in 2010 to 175.5 percent last year, the second highest in the world.
For a factbox on the Greek elections, click:
“ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!”
Greece’s economy last year emerged from recession for the first time in six years and unemployment has begun to come down slightly, but it may be years before the country recovers.
Tsipras’ campaign slogan “Hope is coming!” has resonated with austerity-weary voters, despite Samaras’ warnings that a Syriza government could bankrupt Greece.
“We can’t take more austerity,” said 47 year-old civil servant, Maria Avrami, who said she used to vote for the center PASOK party which shared power with New Democracy in the outgoing government. “I hope Syriza gets a high vote to be strong enough to negotiate with the Europeans,” she said.
Renouncing much of the firebrand rhetoric that was once his hallmark, Tsipras has promised to keep Greece in the euro and dropped threats to “tear up” the tough requirements of its 240 billion euro bailout.
He has promised to renegotiate a deal with the European Commission, ECB and International Monetary Fund “troika” and write off much of Greece’s 320 billion-euro debt, despite clear signs from partners including Germany that they would refuse.
At the same time, he wants to raise the minimum wage, cut power prices for low income families, cut taxes and reverse pension and public sector pay cuts.
Financial markets have been on edge ahead of the elections, although the ECB’s massive bond-buying program and growing confidence that a Syriza-led government could compromise with its creditors boosted confidence last week.
Syriza would need around 40 percent of the vote to be guaranteed a majority but it could win with less depending on how well other parties perform.
If not, it may need to form a coalition with a small party such as the centrist To Potami, the center PASOK or the anti-bailout Independent Greeks or form a minority government, relying on ad-hoc support from other parties.
Syriza officials have said they would seek a six-month “truce” whereby the bailout program due to end on Feb. 28 would be put on hold while talks with creditors begin.
But they face stiff resistance from the rest of Europe over demands for a debt write-off, raising the specter of Greece being forced out of the euro if no agreement is reached.
The German chancellor reportedly offers an agreement with the European Union at the World Economic Forum in Davos
Mrs Merkel said Germany was “ready” to discuss “possibilities of cooperation in a common trade areas” with Russia
By Justin Huggler
Angela Merkel has reportedly offered Russia negotiations on a free trade agreement with the EU in exchange for a peace deal in Ukraine.
The German chancellor made the offer at the World Economic Forum in Davos, where she spoke of a free trade area “from Lisbon to Vladivostok”, according to a report in Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper.
Mrs Merkel said Germany was “ready” to discuss “possibilities of cooperation in a common trade areas”. But she made it clear talks could not start until Russia abides by the Minsk Agreement, the ceasefire agreed in September, which it has so far failed to honour.
Mrs Merkel’s vice-chancellor, Sigmar Gabriel, who was also in Davos, spelt out the offer more clearly. “The next step is to discuss a free trade zone,” he said. “We should offer Russia a way out.”
Russia’s economy is currently suffering from the effects of heavy EU and US sanctions imposed in response to the Ukraine crisis.
Mrs Merkel said that while the EU sanctions were “inevitable” after Russia’s annexation of Crimea, they could be lifted if Russia met certain conditions, adding: “Unfortunately we’re not there yet.”
But this is the first indication she is prepared to offer Vladimir Putin more than respite from sanctions in return for a peace deal over Ukraine.
The Ukraine crisis was triggered in part by Russian disquiet over the country’s association agreement with the EU, which includes a free trade deal.
Mr Putin has proposed a free trade agreement between Russia and the EU before, and Mrs Merkel’s use of the phrase “from Lisbon to Vladivostok” appeared to be a deliberate echo of comments he made in 2010, when he spoke of creating “a harmonious economic community from Lisbon to Vladivostok”.
The motivations behind Mrs Merkel’s offer may not be wholly altruistic. Germany has extensive trade links with Russia, and German businesses have suffered from the EU sanctions as well as Russian ones.
German exports to Russia fell by 18 per cent in 2014, a drop of more than €6 billion (£4.5billion), the head of an influential business lobby told the Rheinische Post newspaper.
“The decline in exports accelerated last month, so we have to fear an even worse development in 2015, if there’s no political solution to the crisis soon,” Eckhard Cordes, chairman of the Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations, said.
People surround a damaged trolley bus that was shelled, killing at least 13 people, in Donetsk, Ukraine, Jan. 22, 2015.
Ukrainian authorities said an artillery shell has hit a trolley bus in the eastern city of Donetsk, killing at least seven people and sparking accusations of blame from both Ukraine and Russia. Earlier reports had put the casualty number at 13.
“Russian terrorists today again committed a terrible act against humanity, and the Russian Federation bears responsibility for this,” Ukraine’s Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said in a statement published on the government’s website.
Russia reponded with similar terms.
“We regard the incident [in Donetsk] as a crime against humanity [and a] gross provocation,” Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in a statement published on the ministry’s website.
Lavrov also called for an independent investigation of the incident in the city that has been at the center of a territorial struggle between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russia separatists.
A Ukrainian military spokesman denied government troop involvement, saying their closest position is too far away from Donetsk for its artillery to have reached the area of the incident.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian military authorities say its troops have withdrawn from most of Donetsk airport after months of struggle to keep control over the structure that has taken on symbolic significance in a conflict that to date has claimed more than 4,800 lives.
NATO: more signs of Russian involvement
NATO has expressed renewed concern Thursday over an escalation in fighting and what it sees as heightened Russian involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
“The situation along the line of contact in Ukraine is not good. The fighting has intensified to essentially pre-agreement or pre-standdown levels and in some cases beyond,” said NATO’s top military commander, U.S. General Philip Breedlove, referring to a September truce deal which called on both sides to pull back their forces.
Breedlove also pointed to new signs of a Russian presence on Ukrainian territory.
“We are beginning to see the [heat] signatures of air defense systems and electronic warfare systems that have accompanied past Russian troop movements into Ukraine,” said Breedlove at news conference in Brussels after a meeting of NATO defense chiefs.
NATO has previously cited evidence which it said pointed to the presence of Russian troops in eastern Ukraine, but Breedlove said he could not confirm Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s recent estimate of 9,000 Russian soldiers on Ukrainian soil.
Breedlove also announced that alliance military leaders would try to re-establish contacts with their Russian counterparts, broken off as a result of tensions over Ukraine.
US denounces Putin ‘peace plan’
Meanwhile, the United States has denounced a peace plan on Ukraine put forth by Russian President Vladimir Putin as an “occupation plan.”
“It is time to pull the veil away from Putin’s peace plan and call it for what it is – a Russian occupation plan,” said U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power, speaking at a Security Council meeting late Wednesday.
“Time and again President Putin has extended an olive branch in one hand, while passing out grad missiles and tanks with the other,” added Power, reiterating Western accusations that Russia has been providing military hardware for separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine, a charge the Kremlin denies.
Moscow says Putin sent Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko new peace proposals last Thursday. A Kremlin spokesman subsequently said that the Ukrainian leader rejected them. Ukrainian media has been reporting that the new plan contained proposals which in effect would allow Russia to extricate itself from commitments it made under a broader peace agreement it signed in September in Minsk, Belarus.
Responding to Power’s accusations, Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin blamed Washington and Kyiv for the latest escalation in fighting in eastern Ukraine, saying that “the United States has been playing a destructive role [in the Ukrainian crisis].”
‘Land grab’ accusation
On Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry accused pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine of violating an earlier truce deal with “a blatant land grab” in new fighting near the Russian border.
Kerry spoke Wednesday alongside European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini in Washington. He called the new fighting “an alarming situation,” adding that rebels have violated a deal they signed in September by extending their control of disputed territory more than 500 square miles (1,300 square kilometers).
Earlier Wednesday, Ukraine’s president linked the new fighting – much of it near the rebel-controlled cities of Donetsk and Luhansk – to what he said was the recent deployment of more than 9,000 regular Russian troops into Ukraine’s territory.
Speaking at an economic forum in Davos, Switzerland, Petro Poroshenko said the Kremlin has also sent more than 500 tanks, heavy artillery and armored personnel carriers into eastern Ukraine. He renewed his demand that Russia seal its border and withdraw all of its forces.
4 men charged with providing logistical support to one of the Paris attackers
Paris attacks: France announces sweeping counterterrorism measures
France announced sweeping new measures to counter homegrown terrorism Wednesday, including giving security forces better weapons and protection, going on an intelligence agent hiring spree and creating a better database of anyone suspected of extremist links.
The measures detailed by Prime Minister Manuel Valls came as four men were handed preliminary charges of providing logistical support to one of the Paris terror attackers — the first charges issued for three days of mayhem that left 20 people dead, including three gunmen.
The new security measures include increased intelligence-gathering on jihadis and other radicals, in part by making it easier to tap phones. Valls said Internet providers and social networks “have a legal responsibility under French law” to comply with the new measures.
Some 2,600 counter-terrorism officers will be hired, 1,100 of them specifically for intelligence services. Anti-terror surveillance is needed for 3,000 people with ties to France — some at home, others abroad, the prime minister said.
Authorities say more than 1,200 French citizens and residents are now linked to foreign jihad — the defence minister said Wednesday about 10 of those who have gone to Syria or Iraq to fight are former French soldiers. Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian insisted the phenomenon remains an “extreme rarity.”
Since three police were among those killed by the Paris terrorists, the prime minister said improving officers’ weapons and protective gear was among the top priorities.
France will spend 425 million euros ($593 million Cdn) over the next three years for all the counter-terror efforts, he said.
France has repeatedly strengthened its counterterrorism laws over the years, including a measure passed in November that focused on preventing French extremists from joining fighters abroad. Another measure — expected to be activated in the coming weeks — would allow authorities to ask Internet service providers to block sites that glorify terrorism.
Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin, head of France’s national data protection agency CNIL, told reporters Wednesday her agency would insist that any additional snooping privileges for France’s intelligence services should only be allowed if they are matched by greater protections for personal data.
Suspected of buying weapons
Outlining a web of phone calls, shared keys and prison friendships, Paris Prosecutor Francois Molins said the four suspects given preliminary charges overnight will remain behind bars while the investigation continues. All are in their 20s, and all were arrested in the Paris region.
He identified them only as Willy P., Christophe R., Tonino G. and Mickael A.
Three of the men are suspected of buying weapons for Amedy Coulibaly. Coulibaly shot a policewoman to death Jan. 8 on the outskirts of Paris and then a day later killed four hostages at a kosher supermarket before being killed in a police raid.
Three of the four suspects charged had criminal records; at least one met Coulibaly in prison, Molins said. Coulibaly himself had met Cherif Kouachi, one of the two brothers behind the attack on the Charlie Hebdo newspaper, in prison.
Among the measures announced by Valls was hiring new officers to counter prison radicalization and segregating those prisoners who are already radicalized.
The DNA of Mickael A. was found on a revolver in Coulibaly’s apartment and on a glove the gunman wore in the supermarket, Molins said. Mickael A. also had 18 phone contacts with Coulibaly on Jan. 6.
Molins said three of the men are believed to have procured weapons and tactical material for Coulibaly.
The lawyer for one of those charged said his client was unaware of any terrorist plot and feared Coulibaly since being roughed up by him six years ago.
“Coulibaly is known in this neighbourhood as an outlaw, a big shot. People were afraid of him,” said the lawyer, Fabrice Delinde. He would not identify his client for security reasons.
The client “acted as an intermediary so that Coulibaly would not be buying weapons directly. He was forced. If he refused, he would have been beaten,” the lawyer told The Associated Press.
Also Wednesday, authorities acknowledged that Coulibaly and his common-law wife Hayat Boumeddiene were stopped by police in a routine control Dec. 30, the week before the attacks, then let go. The incident is now under investigation. Boumeddiene fled to Syria as Coulibaly carried out his attacks in Paris.
Search for more possible accomplices
The Paris prosecutor acknowledged that investigators have made less progress in their probe of the Kouachi brothers than the probe into Coulibaly.
French authorities are working with other countries to search for other possible accomplices, Molins said. They are especially trying to find out who was responsible for the posthumous video of Coulibaly, edited and released days after he and brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi died in standoffs with police.
In the video, Coulibaly pledges allegiance to the Islamic State group and details how the Paris attacks were coordinated.
In a separate terrorism investigation in neighbouring Belgium, authorities said a fifth suspect linked to an alleged terror cell plotting a major attack on Belgian police was put behind bars. Belgium prosecutors also said those killed in an anti-terror raid in eastern Verviers last week were two Belgian nationals in their twenties.
With terror alert levels raised around Europe, European Union officials are working on better ways to combat terrorism continentwide. European lawmakers met Wednesday to assess plans for an EU-wide deal on exchanging sensitive air passenger information, but were resisting pressure to push the deal through quickly.
Yemen’s presidential palace has been completely taken over by Shiite Houthi rebels, the country’s Minister of Information Nadia Sakkaf told CNN on Tuesday amid reports of renewed clashes.
Sakkaf said the Prime Minister’s residence was also under attack from the street.
She called the situation “the completion of a coup,” adding that “the President has no control.”
Fighting was earlier reported around the presidential palace in the capital, Sanaa, a day after heavy fighting between government forces and Houthis — Shiite Muslims who have long felt marginalized in the majority Sunni Muslim country — ended in a ceasefire deal.
Nine people were killed and 67 others injured in the fighting between government forces and Houthi militants on Monday, Yemen’s Health Ministry said, before the sides agreed to a ceasefire.
Gunfire could be heard sporadically across the city Tuesday, whereas a day earlier it was constant.
Unknown assailants fired shots Monday night at a U.S. Embassy vehicle in Sanaa, the U.S. Embassy said Tuesday.
The shooters fired first into the air and then turned the guns on its vehicle, the embassy said. The vehicle carried U.S. diplomatic personnel and was at a checkpoint near the embassy at the time. No injuries were reported.
The latest violence comes at a time of prolonged turmoil and intermittent clashes between government and opposition forces in Yemen, a U.S. ally in the battle against al Qaeda.
The government faces pressure from not only the Sunni Muslim extremist group al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula but also Houthi militants.
Houthis swept into the capital last year, sparking battles that left more than 300 dead in a month. In September, they signed a ceasefire deal with the government, and Houthis have since installed themselves in key positions in the government and financial institutions.
But tensions flared again last weekend as Houthis said they abducted presidential Chief of Staff Ahmed bin Mubarak in Sanaa on Saturday. Osama Sari, senior media adviser to the Houthi movement in Yemen, said Houthis detained bin Mubarak because President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi wanted to introduce a new constitution without the Houthis’ approval.
Turmoil between the two sides is worrisome to the West because a power vacuum in Yemen could benefit al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a terrorist organization based in Yemen that took credit for the attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris. It also tried to blow up a plane landing in Detroit in 2009.
U.N. chief ‘gravely concerned’
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s spokesman said Ban was “gravely concerned about the deteriorating situation” in Yemen.
“The secretary-general calls on all sides to immediately cease all hostilities, exercise maximum restraint, and take the necessary steps to restore full authority to the legitimate government institutions,” the spokesman said.
“All sides must abide by their stated commitments to resolve differences through peaceful means.”
Ban also condemned the kidnapping of bin Mubarak and called for his immediate release.
Mark Lyall Grant, UK ambassador to the United Nations, said the U.N. special adviser on Yemen, Jamal Benomar, was on his way to Sanaa and would brief the U.N. Security Council from there.
“There’s a lot of conflicting reports, but clearly the situation has deteriorated very significantly over the last 48 hours, and that’s why the Security Council needs to meet and decide its response,” the UK envoy said.
7 things to know about Yemen
Tehran confirms Gen Mohammad Allahdadi killed in Israeli helicopter attack on convoy in Golan Heights, showing increasing openness with which Iran is declaring its military presence in Syria
sraeli soldiers of the Golani brigade train in the Israeli controlled Golan Heights, near Israel-Syria border.
By Richard Spencer
An Iranian general has become the second to be killed in action in less than a month as the country becomes ever more deeply involved in its Arab neighbours’ conflicts.
Gen Mohammad Allahdadi, a senior figure in the Revolutionary Guard, was killed by an Israeli helicopter on Sunday in Syria, a strike which also killed a number of Hizbollah fighters.
The statement, released in an Iranian newspaper, shows the increasing openness with which Iran is declaring its military presence around the region.
Iranian officers are in Syria acting as “advisers” to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, which has become reliant on outside support.
Hizbollah, the Lebanese Shia militia backed by Iran, is also part of that alliance and has lost hundreds of men in the Syrian war.
Iranian-backed Shia militia are meanwhile also fighting alongside government forces against Islamic State of Iraq and Levant in Iraq (Isil).
At the end of December, a retired Revolutionary Guard general acting as an adviser to the Iraqi forces, named as Gen. Hamid Taghavi, was shot dead by a sniper in the city of Samarra.
Israel has made no official comment on its attack on the Hizbollah unit operating on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights.
However, officials briefed reporters that the strike was to prevent an attack being planned on Israel.
Iranian sources suggested to The Telegraph that the real target may have been Abu Ali Tabtabaii, a senior Hizbollah figure in charge of a special operations unit.
There were no reports that he had been killed. But among the dead was Jihad Mughniyeh, son of the former Hizbollah military chief Imad Mughniyeh, who was assassinated in Damascus in 2008, almost certainly by the Israeli intelligence service Mossad.
The strike took place near Quneitra, a town near the Syrian border with the Israeli-occupied part of the Golan Heights, in an area which is also being battled over by Assad regime forces and a variety of rebel groups including Jabhat al-Nusra, Al-Qaeda’s Syrian arm.
Although the Israeli air force has hit targets inside Syria several times since the start of the war, the reason hinted at before this has been to prevent Hizbollah transferring arms to their store-houses in Lebanon, scene of a major war between Hizbollah and Israeli forces in 2006.
The allegation of a planned terror attack by Hizbollah on Israel would, if true, mark an escalation of that conflict. Hizbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrullah, threatened retaliation against Israel in a speech last week.
The death of Gen Allahdadi shows how deeply embedded inside both Hizbollah and the Syrian conflict Iran has become. According to one report, several other Iranian soldiers were killed in the strike.
• Syria has started the long-delayed destruction of a dozen underground bunkers and hangars that were used for the production and storage of chemical weapons, according to Reuters.
Damascus last year handed over 1,300 metric tonnes of toxic agents after joining the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), but it is months behind schedule in destroying the facilities used to make and store its deadly stockpile.
Almost all of the freed prisoners are in poor health and bore signs of abuse and neglect.
Yazidi’s wait for medical assistance from doctors at Al-Tun Kopri health centre, located half way between the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk and Arbil.
By: Bram Janssen Vivian Salama
ALTON KUPRI, IRAQ—The Islamic State group released about 200 Yazidis held for five months in Iraq, mostly elderly, infirm captives who likely slowed the extremists down, Kurdish military officials said Sunday.
Almost all of the freed prisoners are in poor health and bore signs of abuse and neglect. Three were young children. The former captives were being questioned and receiving medical treatment on Sunday in the town of Alton Kupri.
Gen. Shirko Fatih, commander of Kurdish peshmerga forces in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, said it appears the militants released the prisoners because they were too much of a burden.
“It probably became too expensive to feed them and care for them,” he said.
Tens of thousands of Yazidis fled in August when the Islamic State group captured the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar, near the Syrian border. But hundreds were taken captive by the group, with some Yazidi women forced into slavery, according to international rights groups and Iraqi officials.
The militants transported the mainly elderly captives from the northern town of Tal Afar and dropped them off Saturday at the Khazer Bridge, near the Kurdish regional capital of Irbil.
“Their situation is very bad, especially the psychological condition,” said Hersh Hussein, a representative from the Irbil governor’s office who was in Alton Kupri. “Regarding other diseases we provide first aid and the most important medical treatment.”
Maha Faris Qassem, 35, was released with her two young sons, both of whom were covered from head to toe in bug bites which appear to be infected. She said their condition in captivity were so dire that infection was inevitable.
About 50,000 Yazidis — half of them children, according to U.N. figures — fled to the mountains outside Sinjar during the onslaught. Some still remain there.
The U.S. launched airstrikes and humanitarian aid drops in Iraq on Aug. 8, partly in response to the crisis on Sinjar mountain. Since then, a coalition of eight countries have conducted more than 1,000 airstrikes across Iraq in an effort to eradicate the IS group, which now holds a third of both Iraq and Syria.
The Sunni militant group views Yazidis and Shiite Muslims as apostates, and has demanded Christians either convert to Islam or pay a special tax.
“I don’t know the details of why they released us,” Gawre Semo, 69, told The Associated Press. “They are very bad people. They took our children and they took the women. They did bad things with us. We’ve been humiliated by them.”
Hello to all of our readers on ponderingtheessence. My Name is Jeffrey, I am the tech advisor for ponderingtheessence.com and an experienced freelance programmer.
I have been researching Bitcoin and have signed up to several Bitcoin exchanges. I have been curious about why Bitcoin was fluxuating so wildly in price and value.
I was also interested in finding an exchange that seemed honest and trustworthy to me. COINBASE is the exchange I recommend. It is secure and links directly to your US Bank Account. It is very similar to paypal. This exchange provides you tangible access to your digital money!
Bitcoin is a success considering that at it’s conception it was valued at $0.05 USD in 2009 and that now in 2015 it is valued at (at the time of this article) $199.00 USD. While the price sored in mid 2014 to $1145.00 USD, it has been on a steady decline since a few hacks (don’t worry this will encourage value creation).
Why don’t these hacks concern me? Bitcoin is a form of bartering across the world free from government intervention. Sound familiar? Think of the early internet and how information was first being distributed over the web. The first search engines. The first websites. With a lot of work and innovation the internet has become a tool for worldwide communication despite the efforts of governments to control or disrupt that freedom. In a similar way Bitcoin will become a means of everyone having wealth. Every time the value goes down someone will create value. As more value is created in the form of development the more value Bitcoin will have! Take it from me as a freelance programmer I love to develop new ways of coding, new apps, new software, I am thinking about Bitcoin code all the time now and am excited to help create value in this digital money!
As development of the tech evolves into something beyond what it is today. You will notice the steady and overwhelming value of Bitcoin going up.
Bitcoin is in it’s early stages and will not ever go away! What is going to happen is developers are going to come up with ways to get more value out of them and also developers are going to create value from them. Just like the internet was a new way of processing and accessing information becoming more and more valuable with development. Bitcoin will become a new way of processing and accessing money becoming more and more valuable with development. If you do not have a Bitcoin exchange account now is the time to get one Here (We trust this one).
This is the ground floor for finacial success. Do no be swayed by finacial advisors that do not understand! Buy some Bitcoin and wait watch it’s value steadily grow.
Imagine if you had purchased google stock at the beginning of google. What kinda of development of technology will come from Bitcoin? Who knows but this is your chance!