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Hakimullah Mehsud killed by drone, Pakistan Taliban say
The leader of the Pakistani Taliban, Hakimullah Mehsud, has been killed in a drone strike, a high-ranking Taliban official has told the BBC.
The strike targeted a vehicle used by Mehsud with four missiles in the north-western region of North Waziristan.
Four other people were killed in the strike, including two of Mehsud's bodyguards, intelligence sources say.
Several previous claims of his death, made by US and Pakistani intelligence sources, have proven untrue.
BBC:Obama and Maliki discuss 'more active' al-Qaeda in Iraq
Obama and Maliki discuss 'more active' al-Qaeda in Iraq
US President Barack Obama and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki have discussed how to counter a "more active" al-Qaeda in the country.
But following talks at the White House, nearly two years after the last US soldier left Iraq, Mr Obama did not unveil any new offer of military aid.
He stressed the importance of an inclusive and democratic Iraq.
Mr Maliki's visit to Washington DC, his first since 2011, comes as bloodshed hits a five-year high in Iraq.
BBC:Germany hopes for details from Snowden on US spying
Germany hopes for details from Snowden on US spying
The German government says it is keen to hear directly from the fugitive NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden about the US spy agency's activities.
Reports that the US bugged Chancellor Angela Merkel's mobile phone for years have caused a diplomatic rift.
Mr Snowden's lawyer said there could be a meeting with German investigators in Moscow, but not Germany.
Earlier the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, said that in some cases, US spying had gone too far.
BBC:Mexico passes 'junk food tax' reform
Mexico passes 'junk food tax' reform
The Mexican Congress has approved a tax reform bill imposing new levies on junk food and soft drinks.
President Enrique Pena Nieto's project also aims to boost government revenue by increasing top earners' income tax.
The government says the extra cash will go on infrastructure and social security, but critics say it will hurt Mexico's sluggish growth.
Mexico recently surpassed the United States as the country with one of the highest obesity rates in the world.
BBC:Indian stock market hits record high
Indian stock market hits record high
India's main stock index, the Sensex, has hit a record high, propelled by an increased inflow of foreign capital.
The index reached 21,293.88 early on Friday, surpassing its previous high of 21,206 set during the stock market boom of 2008, before closing at 21,196.81.
The rise marks a remarkable turn around from two months earlier, when foreign investors were pulling out money from the country amid worries over growth.
However, some analysts doubted whether the current rally was sustainable.
BBC:Australia ambassador summoned amid Asia US spying reports
Australia ambassador summoned amid Asia US spying reports
Indonesia has summoned Australia's ambassador amid reports that Australian embassies have been used as part of a US-led spying network in Asia.
The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) reported that diplomatic posts in Asia were being used to intercept phone calls and data.
China has also demanded an explanation from the US over the allegations.
The reports were based on a US National Security Agency document leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Reuters:UK: Snowden reporter's partner involved in 'espionage' and 'terrorism'
UK: Snowden reporter's partner involved in 'espionage' and 'terrorism'
(Reuters) - British authorities claimed the domestic partner of reporter Glenn Greenwald was involved in "terrorism" when he tried to carry documents from former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden through a London airport in August, according to police and intelligence documents.
Greenwald's partner, David Miranda, was detained and questioned for nine hours by British authorities at Heathrow on August 18, when he landed there from Berlin to change planes for a flight to Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.
After his release and return to Rio, Miranda filed a legal action against the British government, seeking the return of materials seized from him by British authorities and a judicial review of the legality of his detention.
At a London court hearing this week for Miranda's lawsuit, a document called a "Ports Circulation Sheet" was read into the record. It was prepared by Scotland Yard - in consultation with the MI5 counterintelligence agency - and circulated to British border posts before Miranda's arrival. The precise date of the document is unclear.
Reuters:Some Wall Street brokerages push up Twitter IPO targets
Some Wall Street brokerages push up Twitter IPO targets
(Reuters) - Morningstar on Friday joined three other brokerages in setting price targets for Twitter Inc well above its IPO price range, suggesting the stock has room to rise at least 30 percent.
The Wall Street brokerage on Friday set a price target of $26 a share, compared to the initial public offering's $17 to $20 indicative range. Last month, Pivotal Research had set its price target for the social media micro-messaging company at $29 a share, SunTrust at $50 and Topeka Capital at $54.
Twitter, which is wrapping up its first week of meetings with prospective investors across the United States, will arrive on the New York Stock Exchange with a fraction of the users and revenue - and hype - that accompanied Facebook Inc's much-heralded debut last year.
Twitter said in October it doubled its revenue in the third quarter to $168 million, but its losses widened as costs grew. It has never made a profit.
Reuters:German, Brazilian U.N. draft urges halt to excessive spying
German, Brazilian U.N. draft urges halt to excessive spying
(Reuters) - Germany and Brazil circulated a draft resolution to a U.N. General Assembly committee on Friday that calls for an end to excessive electronic surveillance, data collection and other gross invasions of privacy.
The draft resolution, which both Germany and Brazil made public, does not name any specific countries, although U.N. diplomats said it was clearly aimed at the United States, which has been embarrassed by revelations of a massive international surveillance program from a former U.S. contractor.
The German-Brazilian draft would have the 193-nation assembly declare that it is "deeply concerned at human rights violations and abuses that may result from the conduct of any surveillance of communications, including extraterritorial surveillance of communications."
It would also call on U.N. member states "to take measures to put an end to violations of these rights and to create the conditions to prevent such violations, including by ensuring that relevant national legislation complies with their obligations under international human rights law."
Reuters:Four extra sites opened to search for U.S. troops missing in Vietnam
Four extra sites opened to search for U.S. troops missing in Vietnam
(Reuters) - Vietnam advised the United States at the start of high-level talks this week it would open four additional sites to investigators seeking the remains of American military personnel missing since the Vietnam War, a senior U.S. defense official said.
Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary Vikram Singh, who oversees U.S. military ties with South and Southeast Asia, said an eight-member delegation led by Senior Lieutenant General Nguyen Chi Vinh told U.S. defense officials about the decision at the outset of talks at the Pentagon this week.
"They basically opened the meeting by turning over the information and providing us access to an additional four sites for remains recovery operations to go look for our fallen," Singh said, calling it a "really meaningful" gesture.
A U.S. official said on Friday the sites were in the southern part of Vietnam and were small areas where specific incidents are believed to have taken place. Officials declined to elaborate, citing concerns for the families of the missing.
Reuters:Japan, Russia agree on next step toward peace treaty
Japan, Russia agree on next step toward peace treaty
(Reuters) - Foreign ministers from Japan and Russia on Friday agreed to hold a vice ministerial-level meeting early next year to work toward the resolution of an island dispute and signing of a peace treaty formally ending their World War Two hostilities.
Tokyo and Moscow have conflicting claims over a string of windswept islands called the Southern Kuriles in Russia and the Northern Territories in Japan. The dispute has prevented the two from signing a peace treaty for nearly 70 years.
Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, in a meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, was quick to praise improving Russo-Japanese ties, a prerequisite for achieving the difficult tasks of concluding a peace treaty and putting an end to the island dispute.
"Ever since Prime Minster (Shinzo) Abe visited Russia in April, bilateral cooperation has been progressing in many fields such as economy, security and human exchanges," Kishida told Lavrov.
Reuters:Removal of Fukushima's spent fuel on target: U.S. Energy Secretary
Removal of Fukushima's spent fuel on target: U.S. Energy Secretary
(Reuters) - A "significant milestone" is at hand for cleanup of Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant, with spent nuclear fuel removal likely to start on schedule, the U.S. Energy Secretary said on Friday after a visit to the site.
"It appears that spent nuclear fuel will begin to be removed from Unit 4 as scheduled in mid-November," Ernest Moniz said in a statement. "This will be significant milestone for Tepco and the Japanese government and in the process of decommissioning the site."
Moniz, a nuclear physicist, is the highest ranking U.S. official to visit the crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station since a nuclear disaster in March 2011 that followed an earthquake and tsunami.
The cleanup and decommissioning of Fukushima Daiichi, which had been operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co, or Tepco, is expected to take decades.
SF Gate:Food stamp cuts take effect, hurting families
Food stamp cuts take effect, hurting families
One less bowl of cereal a week for his boy, one less sandwich a week for himself. That's what Friday's cut to national food stamp allotments means to Lionel Hill, but the math equation for lost meals is bound to get worse in the coming months.
Hill, 57, and others who need the government aid to eat have no hope of getting their lost benefits back, considering the only debate in Congress over the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program - food stamps - is how much further to slash it. That makes the situation both personal and worrisome in his household.
"Food stamps mean a lot to me," said the retired elections worker, who lives in San Francisco with extended family and is attending community college to retool his job skills. "I'm raising my 7-year-old nephew, and with food stamps I can concentrate more on paying rent, gas, bus fare, utilities.
"Without them, something has to give. And it won't be good."