By Kanupriya Kapoor CILACAP, Indonesia (Reuters) - Relatives of several convicts on death row in Indonesia made emotional last-ditch appeals for mercy on Sunday, adding their voices to foreign governments and the head of the United Nations who called for the group of nine to be spared the firing squad. Indonesia this weekend informed the group of drug-crime convicts, which includes nationals from Brazil, Ghana, Nigeria, the Philippines and Australia, that they would be executed in a matter of days, possibly as soon as Tuesday. The appeals for clemency were directed at President Joko Widodo, whose determination to deal harshly with drug crimes has won popular support at home. "There are nine people with families that love them ... so we ask the president to use his powers to intervene and save their lives," Chintu Sukumaran told reporters after visiting his Australian brother, Myuran, at a high-security jail on Nusakambangan Island in central Java.
Eliud Kipchoge led a Kenyan clean sweep of the podium places as he won the men's London Marathon on Sunday in an unofficial time of two hours, four minutes and 41 seconds. The final mile saw former world 5,000 metres champion Kipchoge sprint clear of Wilson Kipsang, last year's London winner, with world record-holder Dennis Kimetto finishing in third place. Victory saw Kipchoge add the London title to his wins in last year's Rotterdam and Chicago marathons. His winning time on Sunday was well outside Kipsang's London record of 2hrs 04 mins and 29 secs set last year but as he smiled and waved to the crowd down the finishing straight, it was clear that victory meant more to Kipchoge than a fast time.
By Dan Williams JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel will take part as an observer in a major nuclear non-proliferation conference that opens at the United Nations on Monday, ending a 20-year absence in hope of fostering dialogue with Arab states, a senior Israeli official said. Assumed to have the Middle East's sole nuclear arsenal, and having never joined the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Israel has stayed away from gatherings of NPT signatories since 1995 in protest at resolutions it regarded as biased against it. Citing the example of disarmament talks in other regions, Israel says it would consider submitting to international nuclear inspections and controls only once at peace with the Arabs and Iran. Those countries want Israel curbed first.
By Joan Biskupic WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court's arguments on Tuesday over same-sex marriage will cap more than two decades of litigation and a transformation in public attitudes. Based on the court's actions during the past two years, a sense of inevitability is in the air: That a majority is on the verge of declaring gay marriage legal nationwide. Justice Anthony Kennedy, the court's pivotal member on gay rights, has been marching in this direction with opinions dating to 1996. In his most recent gay rights decision for the court in 2013, rejecting a legal definition of marriage limited to a man and woman for purposes of federal benefits, Kennedy deplored that U.S. law for making gay marriages "unequal." That 5-4 decision did not address a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, but lower court judges interpreted the ruling as an endorsement of it and began invalidating state bans.
Police in Burundi's capital Bujumbura shot dead two people on Sunday who were taking part in protests against President Pierre Nkurunziza's seeking a third term, the Burundi Red Cross said. "We counted two protesters killed by police, four others were injured and one is in a coma in hospital after being hit by a bullet," Alexis Manirakiza, spokesman for the Burundi Red Cross, told Reuters. Earlier riot police used water cannon, tear gas and in some cases live bullets to scatter demonstrators, a day after Burundi's ruling party nominated Nkurunziza as its presidential candidate.
Gay marriage is now legal in 37 US states and the capital Washington, but it cannot be officiated and is not recognized in 13 other states. The US Supreme Court is due to rule on the status of gay marriage nationwide in late June, after hearing arguments on the issue next week. Each of the 50 US states can determine whether it recognizes a same-sex union officiated in another state, which has consequences on what subsidies and tax credits a couple can claim. A total of 37 states, the federal capital Washington and at least 10 Native American tribes legally or constitutionally authorize gay marriage.
In the chaotic last days of the Vietnam War, the US airlifted thousands of children out of Saigon. Forty years later, many Operation Babylift survivors have returned, looking for answers from a family or country they never knew. During the controversial mass evacuation, some 3,000 children were flown out of Vietnam to be adopted by families from America to Sweden. "My (adoptive) parents received a telegram... saying they couldn't find us... we were missing and presumed dead," said Landon Carnie, who was on the C5-A Galaxy plane on April 4, 1975.
By Abdi Sheikh and Feisal Omar MOGADISHU (Reuters) - Somalia's al Shabaab militants killed two city council officials, a former parliamentarian and a senior prison officer in Mogadishu, police and the rebel group said on Sunday. Six people were killed in an attack on a vehicle carrying U.N. staff in the semi-autonomous Puntland region on Monday, and a suicide bomber killed 10 in a restaurant in Mogadishu on Tuesday. Gunmen shot dead the former lawmaker and two city council officials on Saturday, and a senior prison officer was killed near the Bakara market in Mogadishu on Sunday, Major Nur Afrah, a police officer, told Reuters.
The U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear arguments this week on whether a drug used in Oklahoma's lethal injection mix should be banned in a case that comes as a shortage of execution chemicals has sent some states scrambling for alternatives. The main question before the nine justices in the case brought by three death row inmates that will be heard on Wednesday is whether the use of the sedative midazolam violates constitutional protections against cruel and unusual punishment. The case does not address the constitutionality of the death penalty in general, but brings fresh attention to the debate over whether executions should continue in the United States. Opponents say midazolam is not approved for use in painful surgeries and should not be used in the death chamber because it cannot maintain a coma-like unconsciousness, potentially leaving inmates in intense pain from lethal injection drugs that halt breathing and stop the heart.
Nepalese doctors set up makeshift operating theatres in a hospital car park Sunday as they worked round the clock to treat the wounded from a monster quake that has also left morgues overflowing with bodies. As disaster officials said nearly 6,000 people were injured in Saturday's 7.8 magnitude quake, medics in the impoverished Himalayan nation told how they had been unable to save some of the most grievously wounded. Samir Acharya, a doctor at Annapurna Neurological Hospital, described how medics were working out of a tent set up in a parking lot after being overwhelmed by patients. "Most patients have head injuries or fractures.
KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) — At least 17 people were killed and 61 injured when an avalanche set off by Saturday's massive Nepal earthquake swept down the Himalayas. The snow and ice ripped through key Mt. Everest climbing routes and tore into base camp, the nylon mountaineering city that blossoms every year at the base of the world's highest peak. On Sunday, the first group of survivors was flown in to Kathmandu; most of the 15 people are injured Sherpa guides. Two spoke to The Associated Press:
By John McCrank NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is convening a group of financial industry veterans for the first time next month to consider stock market reforms, but one group will be conspicuously absent: retail brokerages. The SEC's 17-member Market Structure Advisory Committee includes representatives of fund companies, an exchange, off-exchange trading venues, dealers, and academia, among others. The group, which meets four times a year, will review old rules, and advise the SEC on a range of new regulations designed to make sure the market is as stable and fair as possible. Still, given that the SEC has said its main priority is to protect retail investors, the omission of retail brokers raises questions, because without their point of view the panel may recommend changes that favor institutional investors, analysts said.