ISIS claims it’s beheaded one Japanese hostage, offers a swap for the other
By Jason Hanna and Greg Botelho, CNN Updated 0419 GMT (1219 HKT) January 25, 2015
A picture and audio posted online Saturday purport to show that one of two Japanese hostages held by ISIS has been killed after a deadline for ransom passed. It also appears to relay the group’s new demand for the other’s freedom: a prisoner exchange.
The static image, shown in a video file posted by a known ISIS supporter, shows surviving Japanese hostage Kenji Goto, alone, in handcuffs and dressed in orange, holding a photo of what appears to be beheaded compatriot Haruna Yukawa.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Sunday that the video is “highly credible.” U.S. authorities said they had no reason to doubt its authenticity.
Abe told Japanese broadcaster NHK that the killing was “abominable” and “unforgivable,” demanding the immediate release of Goto.
Asylum seekers forcibly removed from Darwin detention in middle of the night
Four men were suddenly returned to detention centres on Manus Island and Nauru after being brought to Australia for medical treatment
Helen Davidson in Darwin
theguardian.com, Sunday 25 January 2015 05.58 GMT
Four asylum seekers have been forcibly removed from a Darwin detention centre where they were receiving medical treatment and returned to Manus Island and Nauru in the middle of the night.
The men had been brought over from Manus Island and Nauru for medical treatment but their level of recovery before being returned is not known. It is believed one man suffers chronic pancreatitis.
Two asylum seekers were returned to Nauru and two to Manus Island. Guardian Australia has had the removal confirmed by separate sources, but multiple calls over several days to the office of immigration minister Peter Dutton have not been returned.
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty
Out of America: These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large
Rupert Cornwell Sunday 25 January 2015
Exactly 24 years ago, I started work as a correspondent in Washington, primed for my first presidential campaign. That was in 1991, and the match-up that emerged was Bush versus Clinton. Now we’re in 2015 and what may lie in wait, six presidential cycles later? Bush versus Clinton, the rerun.
Not the same individuals, to be sure. Then it was the first president Bush up against Bill Clinton; now it’s Bill’s wife, Hillary, who could face Bush senior’s youngest boy, Jeb, in the presidential election next year – a bare eight years after his oldest son, George W, left the White House. But then again, why the surprise? These days in America things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large.
Greece to choose between austerity and change in parliamentary polls
Greek voters are going to the polls in an election that is being closely watched all over the EU. The vote could result in a party taking power that wants to renegotiate the terms of Greece’s international bailout.
Opinion polls, published on Friday, the last day of the election campaign, gave the far left, anti-austerity Syriza party, led by 40-year-old Alexis Tsipras, a clear lead over the governing conservative New Democracy party, led by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.
Nine separate polls gave Syriza a lead of anywhere from 2.8 percent over New Democracy, but they also indicated that around 10 percent of Greece’s nearly 10 million eligible voters remained undecided.
There were no official campaign events on Saturday, a “day of reflection” that precedes every Greek election.
Attention turns to a prisoner named Sajida al-Rishawi as Islamic State makes new demands after killing hostage Haruna Yakuwa
Islamic State changes tack by offering to exchange Japanese hostage for female jihadist, but grisly conclusion to video reminds world of its true colours
Richard Spencer January 25, 2015 – 1:51PM
The United States wasted no time offering support to Japan over the fates of Haruna Yukawa, the latest hostage whose beheading has been claimed by the so-called Islamic State, and Kenji Goto, the journalist forced to confirm his murder.
That message of support is for once not just a routine expression of regret. The latest demands by IS – withdrawing the ransom demand and replacing it with a call for a prisoner exchange – draw the Western allies directly into deciding the fate of the Japanese hostages in a way that its first video with the two men, posted online last week and demanding a $US200 million ransom, did not.
Experts agree, the tide is turning in fight against Ebola
While officials agree that conditions are much improved in Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea, it’s unclear if this Ebola outbreak could have been responded to quicker, with less cost and suffering.
By Krista Larson and Maria Cheng, Associated Press
Dakar, Senegal – A top U.N. official in the fight against Ebola greeted just three patients at one treatment center he visited this week in Sierra Leone. Families in Liberia are no longer required to cremate the remains of loved ones to halt the spread of the virulent disease.
And in the streets of Guinea’s capital, it is rare to see the formerly ubiquitous plastic buckets of bleach and water for hand washing.
Ten months after it dawned on health officials that they were facing an unprecedented Ebola outbreak in West Africa, experts and officials agree the tide is turning, although previous lulls have proved short-lived.