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Jerusalem Post: 'US, Israel agree Iran abandoned nuclear bomb'

US and Israeli intelligence agencies mostly agree that Iran has not restarted its development of a nuclear bomb, the New York Times reported on Saturday.

According to the report, the assessment among top US officials is that Iran has not yet decided to pursue a nuclear weapon, a conclusion which was established based on intelligence analyses.

Israel - while seeing an existential threat in Iran's possible pursuit of a nuclear bomb - mostly agrees with those assessment, a US intelligence official speaking on the condition of anonymity told the Times.

“Their people ask very hard questions, but Mossad does not disagree with the US on the weapons program,” the Times quoted the official as saying.

BBC: Germany elects pastor Joachim Gauck as president

A former Lutheran pastor and civil rights activist has been elected as Germany's new president.

Joachim Gauck, from the former East Germany, won 991 votes out of 1,232 at a special assembly of MPs.

The 72-year-old has no party affiliation, but has gained a reputation as an eloquent speaker not afraid to address controversial issues.

He will replace Christian Wulff, who resigned last month in a scandal over financial favours.

AP: Rahm Emanuel to Romney: ‘If You Can’t Stand up to Rush, How Are You Going to Stand up to Russia?’
Mitt Romney, in his bid to retake the momentum in the Republican primary from Rick Santorum with a win next week in Illinois, arrives in Chicago on Friday. But the city’s mayor – and former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel - couldn’t wait to rip into the GOP front-runner, saying Romney lacked “the fortitude, strength or character” to serve in the Oval Office.

“Now I’m not going to give advice to Republicans. They don’t take it and I don’t want to give it. They’ll make whatever decision they want to make,” Emanuel said at an event Thursday morning in Chicago. “You just take a look at the fortitude, the strength, the determination and the vision the president made on the auto industry and juxtapose it to Mitt Romney, who doesn’t have the fortitude, the strength or the character in my view to stand up to Rush Limbaugh. How can he stand up and make a decision to save 1.3 million manufacturing jobs?

“That Oval Office requires vision. That Oval Office requires spine. That Oval Office requires determination and grit. Mitt Romney says, ‘Let it go.’ The president said the American workers are too important to let go, and he doubled down on the American workers. When a decision comes to the Oval Office, who’s got the fortitude, who’s got the grit, who’s got the determination and who’s got the back of the American people and middle-class families? And nothing coming into that Oval Office is easy. It’s not clear. And I think when you see the character, the fortitude and the strength measured up, and the determination to reject conventional wisdom and see around the corner what’s right for the American middle class, people who work every day, play by the rules, you’ll see the difference of the two individuals and their vision for America.”

USA Today: Blast rocks Syrian city as opposition rallies blocked
Syrian opposition groups are calling for protests Sunday in the capital Damascus and elsewhere to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the first nationwide demonstrations of the country's uprising.

Many activists consider March 18, 2011, the start of the uprising against authoritarian President Bashar Assad. On that day, thousands took to the streets in cities across Syria, and security forces killed marchers in the southern city of Daraa.

Since then protests have spread and many in the opposition have taken up arms to defend themselves and attack government forces as the conflict has grown more militarized.

BBC: Lagarde says China must reform economy and yuan
International Monetary Fund (IMF) head Christine Lagarde has said that China must stop its economy being too dependent on exports and investment.

She also said the yuan could become a global reserve currency if China implemented market-oriented changes.

Ms Lagarde is on a visit to China and India that began over the weekend.

Speaking to politicians and business leaders in Beijing she said there were signs the global economy was stabilising.

CNN: Brazil bars Chevron executives from leaving over spill
A federal court in Brazil has issued an order barring 17 executives from U.S. oil giant Chevron and Transocean Ltd. from leaving the country while it mulls criminal charges against them for an oil spill last year.

Among the 17 who were ordered Saturday by a federal judge in Rio de Janeiro to give up their passports is an American: George Buck, the chief operating officer of Chevron's Brazil division.

Kurt Glaubitz, a Chevron spokeman, said the company has not received a formal notification of the order.

"Any legal decision will be abided by the company and its employees," he said. "We will defend the company and its employees."

Guardian: US teacher shot dead in Yemen
Two gunmen on a motorcycle have shot dead an American teacher working at a language institute in a central Yemeni city, according to the region's provincial governor.

Hamoud al-Sufi said the teacher had been shot in his car in Taez city on Sunday morning. He did not have details on who the killers might be, and said an investigation had begun.

Much of Yemen saw a collapse of central state authority during the year-long uprising against the longtime leader Ali Abdullah Saleh, who stepped down as president last month.

Militants affiliated with al-Qaida took advantage of the chaos to seize control of towns in nearby provinces.

Yahoo:
Death of consul's daughter spurs Venezuela outcry

The killing of a Chilean diplomat's teenage daughter by police is reigniting concerns among Venezuelans about excessive force by officers and their alleged involvement in rampant violent crime.

Nineteen-year-old Karen Berendique was riding in a vehicle with her older brother and another young man when police at a checkpoint opened fire early Saturday in the western city of Maracaibo, said her father Fernando Berendique, Chile's honorary consul in the city.

He said they ignored a police command to stop, fearing the officers might be robbers.

Independent: FBI poised to step up investigation into News Corp
The FBI has told Scotland Yard it is "prepared to step in" if the Metropolitan Police fails to investigate the full extent of impropriety in the Murdoch empire. The warning came at a meeting between the transatlantic law enforcement groups at the Ministry of Justice in London.

Every piece of evidence surrendered by News Corporation to Scotland Yard is also being passed to US investigators. The disclosures, which prompted more than 20 arrests, including Sun journalists, have also sparked a separate FBI inquiry into whether News Corporation bribed officials in Russia. US investigators are collecting evidence given to the Leveson inquiry and parliamentary select committees.

"The FBI made it perfectly clear that if the British police drop the ball on this they will pick it up and run with it," said one legal source familiar with the US investigation.

Fear of such a US investigation, where financial penalties and potential jail sentences are held to be more punitive than in the UK, is one reason cited why News Corp, Murdoch's US holding company, has stepped up efforts to assist UK police in recent months. It is widely believed to be one of the reasons it handed over to police a cache of millions of emails containing evidence of possible crimes, to the dismay of many of its own staff. The Murdoch operation has assembled a team of US legal "big guns" to deal with inquiries by the FBI and other investigators, including the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Yahoo: US man captured by militia in Iraq released to UN
Wearing a U.S. Army uniform and flanked by Iraqi lawmakers, an American citizen announced Saturday that he was being released from more than nine months of imprisonment by a Shiite militia that for years targeted U.S. troops.

The man did not identify himself. But at a bizarre press conference outside the Green Zone in Baghdad, lawmakers showed U.S.-issued military and contractor ID cards that identified him as Randy Michael Hultz.

Speaking calmly and tripping over Arabic names in a monotone voice, Hultz said he was grateful for his release.

"It was explained to me that this is a gift to me, my family and to the American people who oppose the war," he said at the press conference that was held for Iraqi media.

BBC: Nurses charged over 'induced deaths' at Uruguay hospital
Two male nurses in Uruguay have been charged in connection with the deaths of several patients at two hospitals in the capital Montevideo, police say.

The men were held after a two-month police investigation. A third nurse was charged with concealing evidence.

The judge in the case said the two admitted to a total of 16 induced deaths, but they could be responsible for dozens more.

A lawyer for one nurse said her client had acted for humanitarian reasons.

AP: Romney wins Puerto Rico, GOP campaign continues
Mitt Romney scored an overwhelming win Sunday in Puerto Rico's Republican presidential primary, trouncing chief rival Rick Santorum on the Caribbean island even as the two rivals looked ahead to more competitive contests this week in Illinois and Louisiana.

The victory in the U.S. territory was so convincing that Romney, the GOP front-runner, won all 20 delegates to the national convention at stake because he got more than 50 percent of the vote. That padded his comfortable lead over Santorum in the race to amass 1,144 delegates to clinch the nomination.

Nevertheless, the GOP nomination fight is unlikely to end anytime soon, with Santorum refusing to step aside even though Romney is pulling further ahead in the delegate hunt.

As the day began, Santorum claimed he was in contest for the long haul because Romney is a weak front-runner.

USA Today: Romney looks to Illinois for Republican nomination
Mitt Romney has yet another chance this week — Tuesday's primary election in the critical heartland state of Illinois — to prove he is the inevitable Republican candidate in the extended and bitter fight for the nomination to challenge President Obama in the November election.

The former Massachusetts governor and multimillionaire, who accumulated his fortune buying and selling troubled business ventures, has, however, proven singularly unable to win the hearts of the base of the Republican party, an increasingly conservative bloc of voters who distrust Romney for his moderate past positions on important social issues like abortion and gay rights.

To assure himself of the nomination he must accumulate 1,144 delegates to the Republican National Convention— allocated through state-by-state primary elections and caucuses. He has been battling to capture sufficient support to end the primary fight early, but it now looks as if it will take him to the end of the primary and caucus season in late June.

BBC: British Press TV journalists freed by Libya
Two British journalists detained in Libya after admitting entering the country illegally have been released, the Foreign Office has confirmed.

Gareth Montgomery-Johnson, from Carmarthen, and Nicholas Davies-Jones, of Berkshire, were held last month.

The Libyan Interior Ministry earlier said the two men had been released and would be deported on Monday.

The journalists, who had been working for the Iranian broadcaster Press TV, have apologised for their actions.

BBC: Five suspects killed in Bali anti-terror raids
Indonesian police have shot dead five suspected militants on Bali island, officials say.

The men, killed in two raids on Sunday, had targeted several locations in Bali, the chief of Indonesia's anti-terror unit told the BBC.

Officers also seized firearms and ammunition on the island, where a bombing in 2002 killed more than 200.

The five are believed to be linked to the Jemaah Islamiah (JI), a regional group that is linked to al-Qaeda.

Guardian: EU outraged after Belarus executes two men accused of Metro bombing
The EU and human rights groups have strongly condemned the execution of two young men in Belarus following their conviction for a deadly attack on the Minsk metro last April.

Late on Saturday, state television reported that Vladislav Kovalyov and Dmitry Konovalov, both 26, had been put to death. In Belarus, execution is performed by a shot to the back of the head. Kovalyov's mother said she had received a note from the authorities saying the death sentence on her son had been carried out.

European governments said they were dismayed by the sentence and described the men's trial as deeply flawed. The Belarus president, Alexander Lukashenko, described as "Europe's last dictator" by the former US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, had rejected pleas for clemency from the EU.

"Belarus is the only country in Europe which still executes people," Thorbjørn Jaglan, the secretary general of the Council of Europe, said. "With its disrespect of basic human rights and democratic standards, the government of Belarus is increasingly isolating its country and its people from the rest of the world."

BBC: Tonga King George Tupou V dies in Hong Kong, aged 63
King George Tupou V of the South Pacific nation of Tonga has died at the age of 63.

He died at a hospital in Hong Kong with his brother, Crown Prince Tupouto'a Lavaka, at his side.

The BBC's Siobhann Tighe in Tonga says a period of mourning has begun and a state funeral is being organised.

Tonga is the last Polynesian monarchy, although the king was instrumental in bringing about democratic reform. He had been king since 2006.

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