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Scotland enacts fracking moratorium

Scotland moratorium on frackingThe Scottish government will take a cautious look at shale oil and gas extraction during a moratorium period, the energy minister said Thursday.

"I am announcing a moratorium on the granting of planning consents for all unconventional oil and gas developments, including fracking," Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said in a statement.

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Gas blast at Mexico City children's hospital, dozens injured

Mexico gas blastA powerful gas tank truck explosion shattered a maternity and children's hospital in Mexico City on Thursday, killing at least three people and injuring dozens.

Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera told Milenio television that three were killed, a woman and two men.

He earlier told the Televisa network that at least 54 people were injured, 22 of them children. Most of the injuries were relatively minor, he said, many caused by flying glass.

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Lawyers seek review of ICC refusal to probe Gaza flotilla

ICC refuses Flotilla investigationLawyers are calling for a review of the International Criminal Court prosecutor's decision not to investigate the storming by Israel of an aid flotilla that was heading to Gaza.

A team of lawyers representing the government of Comoros filed a request Thursday for the court to order Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to reconsider her refusal to launch a probe into the May 31, 2010, storming of one of the vessels in the flotilla, which was sailing under a Comoros flag.

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Hezbollah offers Israel a draw, but will Netanyahu accept?

HezbollahEverything about Hezbollah’s attack on an Israeli border patrol on Wednesday seemed precisely calibrated to send a message of “deterrence” while signaling a desire to avoid a full-blown war. In fact, Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said Thursday that Israel had received a message from the Lebanese Shia group, via the United Nations, making clear that Hezbollah seeks no further escalation.

It remains unclear how Israel plans to respond to an attack for which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday blamed Iran — as does the strategy behind the Israeli helicopter strike 10 days ago that provoked Hezbollah’s retaliation.

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Raúl Castro demands that US return Guantánamo base to Cuba

Raul CastroCuba’s President Raúl Castro has demanded that the United States return the US base at Guantánamo Bay, lift the half-century trade embargo on Cuba and compensate his country for damages before the two nations re-establish normal relations.

Castro told a summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States that Cuba and the US are working toward full diplomatic relations but “if these problems aren’t resolved, this diplomatic rapprochement wouldn’t make any sense”.

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Hezbollah strikes Israeli soldiers amid escalating tensions

Hezbolla missiles strike Israeli troopsIsrael's northern border region had braced over the past ten days for a Hezbollah response to the Israeli missile strike that killed some of its senior personnel on January 18. The Lebanese Shia movement's retaliation came Wednesday, as its fighters fired an anti-tank missile at an Israeli military vehicle near the Lebanon border, setting off a protracted exchange of fire.

Two Israeli soldiers were killed and seven wounded in the clashes, and a Spanish soldier serving with a U.N. peacekeeping mission was reportedly killed by Israeli fire.

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Criticism of Netanyahu’s planned U.S. speech mounts in Israel

NetanyahuPrime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing growing criticism in Israel for a planned speech to the U.S. Congress about Iran, accused by his political rivals of damaging ties with Washington to promote his election campaign.

Netanyahu accepted an invitation from House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to address a joint session of Congress on March 3, two weeks before the Israeli elections.

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