17 November, 2014
A French official says there is a strong likelihood that a French citizen was among the Islamic militants who executed an American aid worker.
Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve announced on Monday that French intelligence experts studied a newly-released video from Islamic State militants. The video shows the execution of aid worker Abdul-Rahman Kassig. The minister said the experts believe a 22-year-old Frenchman can be seen among images showing the American's head and the beheading of several Syrian soldiers. Officials are trying to learn if a second Frenchman may have taken part.
Also, a Welshman, Ahmed Muthana, says one of the other people shown in the video looks like his son, medical student Nasser Muthana.
Abdul-Rahman Kassig was captured 13 months ago while doing humanitarian work in Syria. He was known as Peter Kassig before accepting Islam during his captivity. The United States confirmed the beheading of the aid worker. He is the third American to be executed in Syria by Islamic State militants. President Barack Obama offered prayers and sympathy to the parents and family of Mr. Kassig. The president condemned the killing, calling it "an act of pure evil."
An unexpected recession in Japan
The Japanese economy unexpectedly entered a recession between the months of July and September. The recession comes two years after Shinzo Abe became Japan's prime minister. Mr. Abe promised to help the economy through public spending and reforms, a plan he called "Abenomics."
The news of the recession makes it likely that Prime Minister Abe will delay an unpopular sales tax. He also is likely to call general elections two years earlier than planned.
Economists have predicted the Japanese economy would expand. The economy shrank 7.1 percent in the period from April through June 2014.News of the recession caused the leading measure of Japanese stock prices to fall nearly three percent on Monday.
Australia and China signed free trade agreement
Australia and China have signed a free trade agreement. The two sides hope the trade agreement will open up markets worth billions of dollars to Australian exporters. The deal was approved after Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke to Australia's parliament.
President Xi is only the second Chinese leader to speak to the Australian parliament. He told parliament that his goal is to create a modern, socialist country and to double China's national income by 2020.
After his speech, Mr. Xi approved the free trade agreement. It is expected to open up markets to Australia farmer exports and the services industry, while easing investment in Australia.
Almost 200 received experimental Ebola vaccine
Scientists reported on Monday that they have given an experimental Ebola vaccine to almost 200 people. The drug company GlaxoSmithKline developed the vaccine.
The trials began just over two months ago in the United States, Britain, Mali and Switzerland. The scientists have been testing the experimental drug on healthy volunteers, instead of patients infected with the Ebola virus.
The experimental vaccine uses a single Ebola virus gene from a chimpanzee virus to activate the body's natural defenses against disease.
The World Health Organization says Ebola has infected more than 13,000 people, mainly in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. More than 5,000 of them have died from the disease.
*This report was based on articles from VOANews.com. George Grow wrote this story for VOA Learning English. Jeri Watson was the editor.
Words in This Story
militants - n., people active in trying to cause political change, often by the use of force or violence
recession - n., a temporary reduction in economic activity, when industries produce less and many workers lose their jobs
trade - n. the activity of buying, selling or exchanging products or services
vaccine - n. a substance containing killed or weakened organisms given to a person or animal to produce protection against a disease
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