Besides the leaders of the five-nation force, delegations representing Europe, the African Union and international organizations were in attendance Wednesday. The G5 force is expected to grow into a 5,000-strong army by March but needs soldiers, training, operational autonomy and funding. He has taken the lead in persuading partners to help make it viable, arguing that the fate of the Sahel region affects Europe. The budget to launch the force is 250 million euros ($293 million), with 400 million euros ($470 million) needed down the road, French Defense Minister Florence Parly said on RFI radio. French officials estimate that the extremists in the Sahel region number no more than 1,000, compared to several thousand in northern Mali in 2013, when France intervened.

December 13, 2017 09:00 UTC

The Russian communications watchdog has moved to block a news website financed by top Kremlin foe Mikhail Khodorkovsky. The Russian Communications Oversight Agency said in a statement on Tuesday that it has put Khodorkovsky's Open Russia website on the black list after it received a request from the Prosecutor General's Office to block it. The prosecutors' plea came after Khodorkovsky's NGO was listed as an "undesirable" organization, a label stemming from a new law intended to tighten the Kremlin's tight control over the political landscape. Khodorkovsky, once Russia's richest man, spent 10 years in prison on two sets of charges largely regarded as political retribution before he was pardoned in December 2013. He has been living in exile since, supporting human rights initiatives and independent media.

December 13, 2017 08:48 UTC

The Committee to Protect Journalists says the international community has failed to pressure the world's "worst" jailers of journalists, including Egypt, to improve press freedom conditions. Wednesday's report by the New York-based CPJ says that for a second year in a row, Egypt is in third place on the list of world's top jailers of journalists, after Turkey and China. CPJ says President Donald Trump's "nationalistic rhetoric" and labeling of critical media as "fake news" provided the framework for such countries to jail journalists. Egypt ranked second in CPJ's 2015 census and was among the top 10 in 2014, the year President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi took office. Egypt has regularly detained, jailed, and prosecuted journalists under el-Sissi, who led the military's 2013 overthrow of an elected Islamist president.

December 13, 2017 08:26 UTC

Sprawling Russian conglomerate Sistema says a court has frozen some of its assets to secure a pending $2 billion lawsuit from Russia's largest oil company, the state-owned Rosneft. Rosneft, led by a close ally of President Vladimir Putin, last week sued Sistema for damages related to its ownership of oil company Bashneft that Rosneft bought last year. Sistema's CEO spent three months under house arrest in 2014 before money laundering charges related to its purchase of Bashneft were dropped. Russia then renationalized Bashneft, one of Russia's fastest-growing oil companies at the time, and Rosneft bought it last year. Sistema said in a statement on Tuesday that it considers the court order freezing some of its assets to be "unlawful, baseless and knowingly dishonest."

December 13, 2017 08:26 UTC

This is the lesson that the working-class city of Everett has learned: It takes a community to rescue the hardcore homeless. For starters, the city put together a team that would track the 25 most costly and vulnerable cases, and hover over each one individually until he or she was in treatment or housing. Officials also are pushing new permanent supportive housing and sending social workers out with police officers. The crisis had become so dire that Everett city officials became the first to sue the manufacturer of the painkiller OxyContin in January. Without permanent housing, advocates and city officials say the homeless will end up back on the street after completing their treatment, repeating the cycle.

December 13, 2017 08:15 UTC

The operator of a major natural gas hub in Austria where an explosion left one person dead and 21 injured says gas flow in all pipelines to and from the plant has been restored. The facility at Baumgarten an der March, east of Vienna, was taken offline after Tuesday's explosion, and gas transport to countries south and southeast of Austria, including Italy, was disrupted. Operator Gas Connect Austria said Tuesday evening that it would start restoring gas flows. On Wednesday, it said that "all transit systems are functional again in all directions and in service" and that gas supplies to Austria itself also are up and running. Investigators are still working to pinpoint the cause of the explosion but they believe a technical fault was to blame.

December 13, 2017 08:15 UTC

Iranian media say another earthquake has jolted the country's south, followed by several aftershocks. The semi-official ISNA news agency says the magnitude 6.1 temblor rocked the village of Hajdak in the southern province of Kerman in the early hours on Wednesday, about 700 kilometers, or 400 miles, south of Tehran. It says the area was jolted by several aftershocks, ranging in magnitude from 4 to 5.1. In November, a 7.2 magnitude quake hit western Iran, killing more than 600 people. In 2003, a 6.6 magnitude quake flattened the historic city of Bam, killing 26,000 people.

December 13, 2017 08:03 UTC

The group has been linked to killings and attacks on secular academics and atheist bloggers in Bangladesh. The wife was questioned in Bangladesh and told investigators that her husband discussed Rahman's writings with her during his last visit home, Islam said. Ullah is accused of strapping a crude pipe bomb to his body and detonating it during rush hour Monday. Relatives and police said Ullah last visited his wife and newborn son in Bangladesh in September, after which he returned to the United States. Muslim-majority Bangladesh is governed by largely secular laws but the impoverished nation has struggled with a rise in radical Islam in recent years.

December 13, 2017 07:08 UTC

At a summit in the French capital marking the second anniversary of the Paris climate accord, President Emmanuel Macron held up a sign riffing on President Trump's campaign slogan: "Make our planet great again." World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said his agency would stop funding oil and gas projects in two years. French President Emmanuel Macron hosted the One Planet Summit in Paris on Dec. 12, two years after the Paris climate accord was signed. "Identity in general — and Islam in particular — remain crucial issues in France, yet on both questions Macron has been quiet." — Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) December 12, 2017This dynamic is not exclusive to France.

December 13, 2017 06:00 UTC

He was joined by Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, who stayed with the president at the White House well into the evening and took updates from the staff to pass along, a White House official said. The latest internal White House polls showed the race nearly tied — with Moore losing by less than two points. “The election was almost a carbon copy of what happened in 2016 with President Trump,” Andrew Surabian, a top Bannon aide, said before the polls closed Tuesday. The White House told Ronna McDaniel, the RNC chair, that she would also have to reenter the race against her wishes. Several people close to the White House said Trump needed to reshape his political shop and get better advisers.

December 13, 2017 05:45 UTC

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore did not concede and raised the possibility of a recount after Democrat Doug Jones appeared to win the election. That’s 49.9 percent of the vote for Jones and 48.4 percent for Moore — because 22,819 voters wrote in someone else. Merrill noted that either candidate could call for a recount regardless — but that candidate would then have to foot the bill. Even if all of those servicemembers voted and all of them voted for Moore, Jones would still have a lead of 0.9 percentage points. Update: What’s more, election law expert Rick Hasen argues that Moore can’t pay for a recount anyway since he sought a federal office.

December 13, 2017 05:25 UTC

(CNN) Republican Roy Moore did not concede to Democrat Doug Jones in the US Senate race as he addressed supporters Tuesday in Montgomery, Alabama -- even after CNN and other networks projected Jones the winner, Jones declared victory and President Donald Trump congratulated Moore's Democratic opponent. You know, I really want to thank you for coming tonight and realize when the vote is this close, that it's not over. But we also know that God is always in control. Many shall see it and hear it and shall be moved by that, if you will. And that's what we've got to do, is wait on God and let this process play out.

December 13, 2017 05:18 UTC

(CNN) The Alabama Senate race is over. And Democrat Doug Jones has pulled off an absolutely massive upset , edging embattled Republican Roy Moore. A Democrat hadn't won a Senate race in the state since 1992 when then Democratic Sen. Richard Shelby won. But, if a Democrat can win in Alabama, a Democrat can win just about anywhere in the country. At issue for McConnell is that the forces at work in the Alabama race suggest that his plans to expand the GOP Senate majority in 2018 may be in trouble.

December 13, 2017 05:05 UTC

Thank you for understanding that sending a credibly accused child molester to represent Alabama in the U.S. Senate would not only have denigrated your state, it would have denigrated that whole legislative body. Thank you for seeing the decency of Doug Jones, even though he is a Democrat, and seeing the indecency of Roy Moore. Advertisement Continue reading the main storyI speak from some experience, because I have peered into this tribal abyss. If the driver used the standard Lebanese pronunciation, “banadurra,” he was allowed to pass. If he used the Palestinian pronunciation, “bandora,” he could be pulled out of his car and shot on the spot.

December 13, 2017 05:03 UTC

Tuesday’s special U.S. Senate election in Alabama was never destined to bring good news for the Republican Party, no matter the outcome. But the stunning victory by Democrat Doug Jones was a devastating blow to a party wracked by divisions and intraparty rivalries and a humiliating defeat for President Trump. For those reasons, many Republicans will privately be pleased to see Bannon and even Trump get their comeuppance. As long as Trump is president, this is the division and the reality that Republicans will live with — an uneasy coalition at best. Read more:As Democrats add Senate seat, GOP left to bicker over what happened in AlabamaHeeding Bannon in Alabama election, Trump gambles and losesDemocrats are jubilant — and newly confident about 2018 — as Alabama delivers win on Trump’s turfHow different groups voted in Alabama

December 13, 2017 04:56 UTC