Nicki MinajRapper reveals she had an abortion


American female rapper, Nicki Minaj, has come out for the first time to talk about having an abortion.

In a candid interview with American music magazine, Rolling Stone, the rapper detailed the horror of making the decision to terminate a pregnancy at a very young age.

I thought I was going to die. I was a teenager. It was the hardest thing I’d ever gone through,” she said about the experience at that time. “It has thaunted me all my life. It’d be contradictory if I said I wasn’t pro-choice. I wasn’t ready. I didn’t have anything to offer a child,” she said.

Though this is the first time Nicki Minaj is talking about this abortion, she has however always hinted it in some of her songs. She first made mention of it in her 2008 record “Autography” where she referred as “Mommy” before touching on the topic again in a recent song titled “All Things Go”.

“My child Aaron would have been 16, any minute/ So in some ways I feel like Caiah is the both of them/ It’s like he’s Caiah’s little angel, looking over him,” she rapped on the song referring to a child who would have been 16, the same age as her beloved younger brother, Micaiah.

Although it is not known who “Aaron” is, the man who impregnated her, but he is believed to have been an older man from Queens, New York who she met while studying at the revered LaGuardia performing arts school.


Cameroon bombs Boko Haram positions

First air strikes by Cameroon come after armed group from neighbouring Nigeria seized a military camp.

Cameroon’s air force has bombed Boko Haram positions in the Far North province of the country for the first time after the armed group from neighbouring Nigeria seized a military camp, the government has said.

President Paul Biya personally ordered Sunday’s air strike, which forced the Boko Haram fighters to flee the camp at Assighasia, Communications Minister Issa Tchiroma Bakary said in a statement late on Sunday.

“Fighter planes went into action for the first time since the start of the conflict” on Cameroon’s side of the border, after several months of deadly raids on troops and civilians by Boko Haram, Bakary added.

“After two strikes and heavy fire … the assailants fled the Assighasia camp, … losing several fighters,” the minister said, adding that military operations were still under way and that “the toll from combat will be released once the operational evaluation is complete”.

A Boko Haram squad attacked the Assighasia camp on Sunday morning and the “Cameroonian defence forces had to withdraw after trying to defend the position”, the government statement said.

Increased strikes

According to local reporter, Eugene Nforngwa, the attack by Boko Haram was also the first time the group had succeeded in taking a military base in the Far North of Cameroon.

The last serious attack took place in mid-October when a suicide bomber exploded a car outside the military base in Amchide. The army succeeded in destroying a tanker belonging to the fighters just before it smashed through the base of the Rapid Response Battalion (BIR in French) in the locality – just 800m from the Cameroon-Nigeria border, Nforngwa reported.

The military said then – in interviews and briefings – that it believed Boko Haram was determined to seize several border towns in Cameroon, in order to expand its caliphate across the border into Far North Cameroon, Nforngwa said. It believed that the group was also recruiting fighters in Cameroon.

Difficult to police

Though Cameroon has deployed thousands of troops to the Far North, the region is difficult to police because of the rugged terrain.

Vast expanses of territory are uninhabited and there are few physical barriers demarcating Cameroon’s border with Nigeria. Many on either side speak the same language and it is often difficult to distinguish locals from foreigners.

Boko Haram has become a deadly force to be reckoned with since 2009 in northern Nigeria and have made raids into Cameroon.

Cameroon has encouraged locals to form vigilante groups, to report strangers and suspicious behaviour in their communities and has enforced a partial curfew including on the movement of motorbikes.

Boko Haram tactics include massacres of civilians on both sides of the frontier, the razing of villages, large-scale kidnappings and, most recently, direct assaults on Cameroonian troops.

Palestinian shot dead by Israeli forces

A Palestinian boy has been killed and another injured at the Zaatara checkpoint in the occupied West Bank.

The Israeli army has shot dead a Palestinian in the occupied West Bank at the Zaatara checkpoint south of Nablus city, Palestinian security officials said.

The Israeli military shot and killed 17-year-old Imam Dwikat on Monday after soldiers encountered a group of stone throwing Palestinians near the Zaatara checkpoint. A 19-year-old Palestinian man was wounded in the same incident.

Israeli forces said they had fired warning shots in the air and when those shots did not disperse the crowd, the soldiers responded with live fire. A military investigation is under way.

Nearly 20 Palestinians have been killed by the Israeli army in the West Bank since June, according to an AFP tally.

USA Russia: Obama suggests Putin ‘not so smart’

NPR's Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep interviews President Barack Obama in the Oval Office on Thursday, December 17, 2014.

President Barack Obama has said Vladimir Putin made a “strategic mistake” when he annexed Crimea, in a move that was “not so smart”.

Those thinking his Russian counterpart was a “genius” had been proven wrong by Russia’s economic crisis, he said.

International sanctions had made Russia’s economy particularly vulnerable to changes in oil price, Mr Obama said.

He also refused to rule out opening a US embassy in Iran soon.

“I never say never but I think these things have to go in steps” he told NPR’s Steve Inskeep in the Oval Office.

‘Reliant on oil’

Mr Obama was giving a wide-ranging interview with NPR shortly before leaving for Hawaii for his annual holiday.

He criticised his political opponents who claimed he had been outdone by Russia’s president.

“You’ll recall that three or four months ago, everybody in Washington was convinced that President Putin was a genius and he had outmanoeuvred all of us and he had bullied and strategised his way into expanding Russian power,” he said.

“Today, I’d sense that at least outside of Russia, maybe some people are thinking what Putin did wasn’t so smart.”

Mr Obama argued that sanctions had made the Russian economy vulnerable to “inevitable” disruptions in oil price which, when they came, led to “enormous difficulties”.

“The big advantage we have with Russia is we’ve got a dynamic, vital economy, and they don’t,” he said. “They rely on oil. We rely on oil and iPads and movies and you name it.”

Vladimir Putin
Russia’s President Putin has come under pressure following the collapse of the rouble

Following a disputed referendum in Crimea, Russia unilaterally annexed the peninsula from Ukraine in March. It did so weeks after a revolution ousted Ukraine’s pro-Russian President, Viktor Yanukovych.

The US, EU and other countries then implemented a series of economic sanctions against Russia.

The Russian currency has since lost half its value against the dollar and the economy has begun to contract.

Mr Obama also said that sending US troops to fight against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria would be counter-productive.

“If we do for others what they need to do for themselves – if we come in and send the Marines in to fight ISIL [IS], and the Iraqis have no skin in the game, then it’s not going to last,” he said.

Egypt urged to free al-Jazeera staff on arrest anniversary

Mohammed Fahmy, Baher Mohamed, Peter Greste

The parents of one of the three al-Jazeera journalists jailed in Egypt are optimistic they will soon be released.

Speaking to the BBC on the first anniversary of their arrest, Peter Greste’s father said he was confident their convictions would be overturned.

Mr Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed were sentenced to between seven and 10 years in June for spreading false news to help a terrorist group.

Later this week, a court will decide whether they have grounds for appeal.

The journalists strenuously deny collaborating with the banned Muslim Brotherhood after the overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi by the military last year. They say they were jailed simply for reporting the news.Journalists protest against the imprisonment of al-Jazeera journalists Baher Mohamed, Mohamed Fahmy and Peter Greste outside the Egyptian embassy in London (29 December 2014)

Brazil lightning strike kills four people on beach

General view of a house hit by fallen trees and lamp posts close to Ibirapuera park due to an electric storm registered in Sao Paulo, Brazil, 29 December 2014

Four people in Brazil have been killed by a lightning strike on a beach crowded with holidaymakers, according to media reports.

Four others were taken to hospital – two of them are said to be in a serious condition.

The incident occurred during a sudden storm at Praia Grande on the coast of south-eastern Sao Paulo state.

The victims were sheltering from heavy rain in a beachside kiosk when they were struck.

They were all from the same family and included a pregnant woman, according to news site G1 (in Portuguese).

The storm tore down trees and power lines across Sao Paulo state.

BBC map of Praia Grande in Brazil's Sao Paulo state

AirAsia QZ8501: Forty bodies found in missing plane search

Relatives at Surabaya airport react to the sighting of bodies - 30 December

At least 40 bodies have been recovered from the sea in the search for missing AirAsia Flight QZ8501, the Indonesian navy says.

The bodies were spotted along with debris floating in the Java Sea off the Indonesian part of Borneo, in one of the search zones for the plane.

There has been no official confirmation that the remains come from the plane.

The Airbus A320-200, carrying 162 people from Surabaya in Indonesia to Singapore, disappeared on Sunday.

Relatives cried and hugged each other as bodies were shown on live TV
Debris floating in the Java SeaPictures of debris were taken by search and rescue aircraft

The search operation is now in its third day, with the area widened to cover 13 zones over land and sea.

During a news conference by the head of the operation, shown live on Indonesian TV, pictures of the debris were shown including a body floating on the water.

Relatives of passengers on the plane watching the pictures were visibly shocked.

Later, the Indonesian navy reported that 40 bodies had been retrieved by one warship.

Its spokesman said the rescuers were continuing to recover bodies and were “very busy now”.

AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes tweeted to the families: “My heart is filled with sadness for all the families involved in QZ 8501. On behalf of AirAsia my condolences.”

Alice Budisatrijo witnessed relatives screaming and crying as they watched a news conference on screens in Surabaya

Search operation head Bambang Soelistyo said he was 95% certain the objects shown were from the plane, adding that a shadow was spotted under water which appeared to be in the shape of a plane.

All resources were now being sent to the area where the debris was found, and all objects or bodies found would be taken to Pangkalan Bun, a nearby town in Central Kalimantan province, he said.

Mr Soelistyo added that ships with more sophisticated technology were being deployed to check whether larger parts of the plane were submerged beneath the debris.

Indonesian civil aviation chief Djoko Murjatmodjo, quoted by AFP news agency, said “significant things” such as a passenger door and cargo door had been found.

He added that the objects had been found 160km (100 miles) south-west of Pangkalan Bun.

At least 30 ships, 15 aircraft and seven helicopters joined the operation when it resumed at 06:00 local time on Tuesday (23:00 GMT Monday).

Search and rescue operations are now in their third day
Family and friends of those on board the plane are gathered and awaiting news at Surabaya airport

The operation, led by Indonesia, includes assistance from Malaysia, Singapore and Australia, with other offers of help from South Korea, Thailand, China and France. The US destroyer USS Sampson is on its way to the zone.

Communication lost

Earlier, Indonesian officials said they were investigating reports of smoke seen rising from an island close to Belitung island, one of the focal points of the search, though experts cautioned it could be unrelated to the missing plane.

On board the plane were 137 adult passengers, 17 children and one infant, along with two pilots and five crew.

Most were Indonesian but the passengers included one UK national, a Malaysian, a Singaporean and three South Koreans.

Editor Geoffrey Thomas: AirAsia flight QZ8501 may “have have been caught in a severe thunderstorm updraft”

The plane left Surabaya at 05:35 Jakarta time on Sunday and had been due to arrive in Singapore two hours later.

Safety officials say the captain had asked for permission to take the plane higher but, by the time permission was granted, communication with the plane was lost.

It was officially declared missing at 07:55.