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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Apparently inspired by Arab world’s tumult, thousands of Georgians protest, demanding ouster of President Saakashvili

Thousands of Georgians, inspired by the popular uprisings sweeping the Arab world, took to the streets of the capital Tbilisi to demand the ouster of President Mikhail Saakashvili. They also called for early presidential and parliamentary elections.

About 10,000 protesters from the National Assembly opposition alliance rallied in the capital Tbilisi and hundreds more in the Black Sea resort of Batumi, where police broke up protests, Agence-France Presse reported.

Barack Obama: US 'would repeat Bin Laden raid'

President Obama has indicated he would order a similar operation to that which killed Osama Bin Laden if another militant leader was found in Pakistan.
He said the US was mindful of Pakistani sovereignty but said the US could not allow "active plans to come to fruition without us taking some action".
The killing of Bin Laden by US forces in a Pakistani garrison town on 2 May strained ties between the two allies.
President Barack Obama was speaking to the BBC ahead of a European visit.

Libya says NATO causing humanitarian crisis

Tripoli, Libya (CNN) -- Libyan officials sounded an alarm Saturday over NATO bombings of three ports that they said would trigger a crisis by limiting the movement of supply ships carrying critical supplies in and out of the war-torn nation.
NATO jets destroyed eight Libyan warships in the ports of Tripoli, Al-Khums and Sirte after concluding that Col. Moammar Gadhafi had started using naval assets to lay mines and hamper international humanitarian aid, said Mike Bracken, NATO's military spokesman.

Benazir asked U.S. for security, was turned away --Wikileaks

Two months before her assassination in December 2007, Benazir Bhutto's forebodings about her violent end and her suspicions that elements in the Musharraf regime were out to eliminate her, led the two-time Prime Minister to ask the United States to provide her security.
The U.S. refused, advising Benazir that it would be hardly in her political interests to be seen protected by American security guards during an election campaign, also telling her it was “not productive” for her to blame the Musharraf regime.

North Sudan army takes control of oil-rich Abyei, raising prospects of war

The northern Sudanese army has taken control of main town of the disputed oil-producing Abyei region, the state television reported late on Saturday, adding that President Omar Hassan Al Bashir had ordered the dissolution of the region’s administrative council.

UN spokeswoman Hua Jiang earlier said Sudan had deployed around 15 tanks in Abyei. The spokesman said that gunshots could be heard in the town but it was unclear what exactly was happening.

Defiant Spaniards continue protests

Tens of thousands of protesters furious over soaring unemployment keep up their week-long movement on election day.

Thousands of Spaniards have filled city squares and camped out across the country to protest against government austerity before regional elections on Sunday which are likely to deal a blow to the Socialist government.
"In theory, we are going to continue" the protests after the elections, said Angela Cartagena, a spokeswoman for the organisers at the ramshackle protest 'village' that has sprung up in Madrid's Puerta del Sol square.

Obama: Doomed to disappoint

In his speech on the Middle East, the US president failed to break the chains of the status quo and set a new path.
Barack Obama gave a major speech on the Middle East on Thursday, May 19, and it is clear from the subsequent commentary that he impressed few people. The main reason for this is that he did not say much new or indicate that there would be any serious changes in US policy in the region. It was essentially more of the same with some tweaking here and there. Nevertheless, he did manage to anger some people. For example, Israel's hard-line supporters were outraged that he said: "Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps." For them, the 1967 borders are "Auschwitz borders" and thus can never serve as a basis for negotiations.

Opposition signs Yemen transition deal

President Saleh, still to sign GCC-brokered deal intended to end country's months-long crisis, warns of al-Qaeda threat.
Yemen's opposition has signed a deal brokered by the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) to end the country's political crisis by easing Ali Abdullah Saleh, the president, out of power after months of unrest.
The deal, signed by the opposition in the capital, Sanaa, on Saturday, commits Saleh to leaving office within 30 days in return for immunity from prosecution.

Turkey opposition politicians quit in sex video scandal

Six senior politicans in Turkey's opposition Nationalist Action Party (MHP) have resigned amid a sex scandal, shortly before national elections.
Turkish media say the six, including four vice-presidents, quit following threats to publish compromising videos.
Four other senior MHP leaders resigned earlier this month after secretly filmed images were posted online.
The scandal has fanned tensions ahead of the June poll in which the Islamist-rooted AKP is seeking a third term.

NATO pounds pro-Qadhafi forces' command centres

The raids targeted a facility near the capital on Friday and a command and control node near Sebha, a Qadhafi stronghold deep in Libya’s south-western desert, a NATO statement said. Three surface—to—air missile launchers were hit near the government—held town of Sirte, and three rocket launchers near the rebel—held town of Zintan in the mountains south of Tripoli.

Yemen’s Saleh slams Gulf initiative as ‘coup,’ warns of Al Qaeda takeover if he exits

Yemen’s embattled president Ali Abdullah Saleh on Saturday slammed a Gulf initiative to end months of deadly anti-regime protests as a “coup,” and warned that the fall of his regime would allow Al Qaeda to flourish and perhaps even take over his country.

“The initiative is in fact purely a coup operation but we will deal positively with it for the sake of the motherland,” President Saleh said of the transition plan of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council.

Iran arrests 30 suspected of being US spies, says American network dismantled

Iran has arrested 30 people it said were spying for the United States.

“Due to the massive intelligence and counter-intelligence work by Iranian agents, a complex espionage and sabotage network linked to America’s spy organization was uncovered and dismantled,” an intelligence ministry statement read out Saturday on the television said.

“Elite agents of the intelligence ministry in their confrontation with the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) elements were able to arrest 30 America-linked spies through numerous intelligence and counter-intelligence operations,” it added.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Deadly Nato tanker explosion in Pakistan

A Nato oil tanker has exploded in northwest Pakistan, killing at least 15 people, say officials.
Police said the tanker was hit by a small bomb overnight near the town of Landi Kotal in the tribal Khyber region.
People gathered to collected spilt fuel when another fire broke out, said one senior police official.
The tanker had been transport fuel through Pakistan to Nato forces in Afghanistan.

“Chase what you love, chase excellence”

Experts' advice to students at The Hindu Education Plus Career Fair
Parental and peer pressure had compelled H. Sushmitha to forego her passion for computer sciences and consider pursuing Electronics and Communication Engineering. “But after listening to so many experts speak at The Hindu Education Plus Career Fair 2011 today, I have enough reasons to substantiate my decision,” she says.

NATO intercepts Libya-bound oil tanker

Vessel stopped after alliance claims to have sunk eight warships in most concerted strike yet on Gaddafi's naval forces.
NATO says it has intercepted an oil tanker it had reason to believe was set to deliver fuel for use by Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's military forces.

The ship was intercepted on Friday hours after the alliance sunk eight Libyan warships in an attack said to be the broadest on Libya's naval forces since the alliance joined the conflict.

How India kept Kashmir out of U.S. Af-Pak envoy's brief

Weeks before the Obama administration appointed Richard Holbrooke as the Special Representative to Pakistan and Afghanistan, New Delhi sent an unequivocal message to the United States that any move to include India in his brief would be “unacceptable.”
External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee registered India's strong disapproval of President-elect Barack Obama's plan to appoint a special envoy for the India-Pakistan-Afghanistan region.
During a meeting with U.S. Ambassador David Mulford on January 9, 2009, Mr. Mukherjee is reported to have said the move “smacks of interference and would be unacceptable [to India].”
The meeting took place two weeks before Mr. Holbrooke's appointment. India was conspicuously absent from his designation, suggesting that New Delhi had — as speculated in some quarters — successfully lobbied the Obama administration in ensuring that neither India nor Kashmir were included in Mr. Holbrooke's official brief.
A cable (186057: secret) dated January 7, 2009 sent by Mr. Mulford to Washington shows the speculation was not far off the mark.
“Mukherjee was deeply concerned about any move toward an envoy with a broad regional mandate that could be interpreted to include Kashmir.

Iran, Syria say Obama speech on Middle East shows US ‘despair,’ ‘arrogance’

Iran on Friday slammed US President Barack Obama’s speech on the Middle East as a sign of “despair” and “contradictions” in Washington’s policies in the region. Syria said the speech “had nothing new” and that it only reaffirmed the Obama Administration’s staunch support for Israel.

“The despair, contradictions and lies are visible in the speech by Mr. Obama and his support for the Jewish state clearly shows the racist nature of US policy,” said Saeed Jalili from the Supreme National Security Council, the body that sets Iran’s national security policy.

Kanimozhi lodged in Tihar Jail

DMK MP Kanimozhi was on Friday lodged in a 15 ft x10 ft cell at the Tihar Jail after being sent there for her role in the 2G spectrum case, far from the air-conditioning and other comforts which she is used to at her palatial bungalow in Chennai’s CIT colony.
43-year-old Kanimozhi was taken to Jail No. 6 by women personnel after a special CBI court rejected her bail plea and order her “forthwith” arrest.
A woman police personnel was seen holding Ms. Kanimozhi’s hands when she was taken from the Patiala House complex.
According to jail officials, Ms. Kanimozhi will have access to a television set, newspapers, a ceiling fan and a cot in her 15ft x 10 ft cell.
Madhuri Gupta, a former official of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad arrested on charges of spying, Sonu Punjaban, arrested in the biggest prostitution network in Delhi and NCR through “word of mouth” and Sharda Jain, who was given a life term last year for her role in the murder of city councillor Atma Ram Gupta too are lodged in Jail No. 6.
Co-accused in the case Sharad Kumar, MD of Kalaignar TV, will be kept in Jail No 4.
Mr. Kumar will join former NALCO CMD Abhay Kumar Srivastava and sacked CWG Organising Committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi in Jail No 4. 


Syrian security forces on Friday shot dead at least 21 people, including a child, during pro-democracy protests across the country, activists and witnesses told Al Arabiya.

Pro-democracy protests erupted in several Syrian towns and villages on Friday, with demonstrators calling for more freedom in defiance of a brutal crackdown, as President Barack Obama of the United States put fresh pressure on Damascus to curb a brutal crackdown on pro-democracy protests.

Netanyahu faces tense meeting with Obama, who is accused of ‘betraying Israel’

President Barack Obama’s endorsement of a longstanding Palestinian demand on the borders of their future state sets the stage for what could be a tense meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday as Republicans accused the US president of betraying Israel.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

UN and Sudanese soldiers attacked in Abyei

Unknown assailants attack a convoy of northern Sudanese soldiers escorted by UN peacekeepers in the flashpoint region.
Unknown assailants have attacked a convoy of northern Sudanese soldiers and UN peacekeepers in Sudan's Abyei flashpoint region, wounding two, the United Nations said.
A convoy of northern Sudanese soldiers escorted by UN peacekeepers came under fire on their way to Goli, north of Abyei town, late on Thursday, said a spokesman for the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) on Friday, adding that the attackers were unknown.

Earthquake hits western Turkey; 3 dead

A 5.9-magnitude earthquake partly collapsed some buildings and one mosque in western Turkey, killing at least three people and injuring nearly 100 people, authorities said on Friday.
The quake that struck at 11.15 p.m. on Thursday (1.45 a.m. Friday, IST), sent terrified residents running from their homes before midnight. It was centred in the town of Simav, the Istanbul-based Kandilli Observatory said.

Libya: Nato strikes hit eight Gaddafi warships in ports

Ships on fire in Tripoli port after Nato strikes (Libya, 20 May 2011) Nato said all the ships hit were "naval warships with no civilian utility"
Nato air strikes have hit eight warships belonging to Col Muammar Gaddafi's forces in co-ordinated raid on Tripoli, Al Khums and Sirte.
In a statement, a spokesman said Nato had to take "decisive action" given Col Gaddafi's increasing use of naval assets to launch attacks on civilians.
Flames and smoke could be seen rising from vessels hit in the capital's port.
Meanwhile, the Libyan rebel leadership has appealed for international help for towns in the mountains west of Tripoli.

Bomb hits US consulate car in Peshawar

A roadside bomb has hit a US consulate vehicle in the Pakistani city of Peshawar, causing minor wounds to some Americans, an embassy spokesman said.
Two armoured vehicles were travelling on University Road when the blast occurred. One of the vehicles was damaged, he said.

Lady Gaga tops Forbes magazine celebrity power list

US pop singer Lady Gaga has claimed the top spot in Forbes magazine's annual Celebrity 100 list, at the expense of chat show mogul Oprah Winfrey.
The flamboyant star - real name Stefani Germanotta - moved up four positions from last year to knock Winfrey, 2010's chart-topper, down to two.
Gaga's ranking takes into account her earnings over the past 12 months - an estimated $90m (£55.6m).
It also cites her 32 million Facebook fans and 10 million Twitter followers.
"Lady Gaga beat Oprah this year because of her social media power," said Forbes editor Dorothy Pomerantz said.
"She's the best example of how celebrities will need to manage their careers in the coming years."
Canadian pop star Justin Bieber makes his first appearance on the list in third place, thanks in part to his estimated earnings of $53m (£32.7m).
Irish rockers U2 come fourth in the countdown with estimated pre-tax income between 1 May 2010 and 1 May 2011 of $195m (£120.5m).
Talk show host Oprah Winfrey with celebrity guests in Chicago

Ecuador referendum final tally gives Correa victory

Final results in Ecuador's 7 May referendum on political reforms have handed victory to President Rafael Correa.
The president's plans include greater control over the media and judiciary, but his win still needs final confirmation from the national electoral council.
The opposition has several days to challenge the results.
The margin of his victory is slimmer than first expected.
The final count shows the Yes camp gathered between 44.96% and 50.46% of the vote on the nine proposals put to the voters.

Mamata sends colleague to invite Buddhadeb

Even as the final touches were being given to preparations for the swearing-in ceremony on Friday of Mamata Banerjee and her new Council of Ministers, the Trinamool Congress chief sent an emissary to the residence of out-gong Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on Thursday to invite him and his wife to the event.
Partha Chatterjee, deputy leader of the Trinamool Congress Legislature Party went across to Mr. Bhattacharjee's residence on Palm Avenue to invite him to the swearing-in ceremony of the new Ministry “as per the instructions of Mamata Banerjee.”

The Obama Speech: Israel rejects peace plan, Palestinians wary, Arabs indifferent

President Barack Obama initially didn’t quite get the enthusiastic response in the Arab world that some of his supporters may have expected as he outlined his vision of US foreign policy in the Middle East against the backdrop of pro-democracy uprisings sweeping the region.

Some Arab media pundits saw the Obama speech, the steps he has taken to impose sanctions on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and his pledge of support for the nascent democracies in Egypt and Tunisia, as encouraging and demonstrate a change in the US foreign policy.

Text of President Barack Obama address in Washington: ‘A Moment of Opportunity’

The following are remarks of President Barack Obama as prepared for delivery:

I want to thank Hillary Clinton, who has traveled so much these last six months that she is approaching a new landmark – one million frequent flyer miles. I count on Hillary every day, and I believe that she will go down as of the finest Secretaries of State in our nation’s history.


President Barack Obama of the United States read out the riot act to President Bashar al-Assad of Syria on Thursday by warning him that he had a choice of leading a transition to democracy or “get out of the way.”

“While Libya has faced violence on the greatest scale, it is not the only place where leaders have turned to repression to remain in power. Most recently, the Syrian regime has chosen the path of murder and the mass arrests of its citizens,” Mr. Obama said in a globally televised speech at the State Department in Washington. “The United States has condemned these actions, and working with the international community we have stepped up our sanctions on the Syrian regime – including sanctions announced yesterday on President Assad and those around him.”


In a bold and sweeping televised speech in Washington on Thursday, President Barack Obama of the United States offered a streamlined vision for a new Middle East whose societies would be based on freedom for all people, and whose people would have the opportunities for economic advancement and social progress that were long denied to them by authoritarian regimes.

Speaking in the ornate eighth floor Benjamin Franklin Room at the State Department, Mr. Obama also unveiled to a world audience a multi-billion dollar economic plan to spur and reward democratic change in the Arab world, modeled on the evolution of post-Soviet eastern Europe.

Russia counters U.S. missile defence

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has warned the United States that its plans to deploy a unilateral missile defence in Europe will trigger a new Cold War arms race.
If the U.S. rejects the Russian offer to cooperate on missile defences for Europe, Moscow would be forced to deploy new first-strike nuclear missiles and tear up the bilateral Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (Start) the two countries signed last year, Mr. Medvedev told a rare press conference in Moscow on Wednesday.
“If we fail to agree we would have to take retaliatory measures… [and] speed up the development of the offensive potential of our nuclear capabilities. This would be a very bad scenario that would throw us back into the Cold War era,” said Mr. Medvedev.

Finance, food and the poor ---- C. P. Chandrasekhar

The World Bank’s Food Price Index ruled 36 per cent higher than a year earlier, with increases being the sharpest in maize, wheat, palm oil and soya bean.
The Hindu The World Bank’s Food Price Index ruled 36 per cent higher than a year earlier, with increases being the sharpest in maize, wheat, palm oil and soya bean.
All eyes are focused on the world’s food economy as food prices show renewed buoyancy, just 3 years after their previous spike. By March 2011, the World Bank’s food price index was close to its previous 2008 peak, generating fears that the world is just an event or two away from a major food crisis. The Bank’s Food Price Index ruled 36 per cent higher than a year earlier, with increases being the sharpest in maize, wheat, palm oil and soya bean (see chart).

Russia 'to oppose use of force against Syria'

President Medvedev comes out against any UN move to authorise use of force, saying Syria must settle own affairs.
Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian president, has said Russia will not support any United Nations resolutions on the use of force against the Syrian government.

"As for a resolution on Syria, I will not support such a resolution even if my friends and acquaintances ask me about it," Medvedev told reporters during a rare news conference on Wednesday, arguing Syria must be allowed to settle its domestic affairs.
He did not specify what he meant, adding that such resolutions were open to interpretation.

Syria condemns US sanctions on Assad

US says sanctions meant to pressure Assad to end violent crackdown, Syria condemns move as "serving Israel's interests".

Syria has condemned the imposition of sanctions on its president by the United States as being "part of a regional scheme, aimed primarily at serving Israel's interests", state media reports.
The Syrian government said that the sanctions "have not and will not" affect any of its decisions, nor would it affect Syria's stand on regional and international politics, the SANA news agency reported on Thursday.

The United States imposed sanctions a day earlier on Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, and six senior officials, citing alleged human rights abuses committed during a government crackdown on pro-democracy protests across the country.

'Dozens dead' in Afghan attack by Taliban

At least 35 reportedly killed and 20 wounded as road construction company is targeted in eastern Paktia province.
Taliban gunmen have attacked an Afghan road construction company in the eastern province of Paktia, reportedly killing at least 35 people and wounded another 20 in the worst single attack in months.

"A large group of Taliban attacked a road construction company in Paktia province. The fighting between the company guards and Taliban attackers continued for five hours," Rohullah Samoon, Paktia provincial spokesman, said on Thursday.

Hundreds of Qadhafi supporters rally in Tripoli

In the main square in Tripoli, crowds of teenagers, young men and security officers turned out overnight for a government—sponsored rally, spraying gunfire into the air, setting off fireworks and waving green Libyan flags.
Hundreds of Muammar Qadhafi’s loyalists staged a show of support in the capital early Thursday, claiming the rebel insurgency was nearing an end, as the Libyan leader’s forces intensified a campaign to take strategic heights in a western mountain range.

Japan falls back into recession

Japan's economy contracts sharply after devastating earthquake and tsunami.

Japan's economy has slipped into recession after a worse than expected performance for the first quarter of the year.
The economy contracted sharply in the first quarter as factory production and consumer spending declined in the aftermath of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Spanish anti-crisis protesters defy ban

Thousands of angry protesters press with rallies against economic crisis despite government ban on demonstrations. 

Several thousand protesters angry over Spain's economic crisis and soaring jobless rate have defied a ban by Madrid authorities and pressed with demonstrations ahead of weekend local elections.
Demonstrators have camped in Madrid's central Puerta del Sol square and in cities around the country since the weekend, responding to calls on online social networks and by the Real Democracy protest organisation.
Some have vowed to stay until the regional and municipal elections on Sunday.

Obama to lay out Arab world economic plan, initially targeting Egypt, Tunisia

President Barack Obama of the United States on Thursday will unveil a multi-billion dollar economic plan to spur and reward democratic change in the Arab world, modeled on the evolution of post-Soviet eastern Europe.

The comprehensive US scheme, initially targeting Egypt and Tunisia, will serve as an incentive for other states currently rocked by “Arab Spring” turmoil, to embrace people power and turn towards democracy, officials said, according to Agence-France Presse.

Bin Laden fosters Arab revolt in message, US says ‘somebody’ in Pakistan knew his den

Al Qaeda released a posthumous audio recording by Osama Bin Laden in which the Islamist group’s leader praised revolutions sweeping the Arab world, as Washington hinted that “someone” in Pakistan knew of Bin Laden’s hideout.

Islamists have often been conspicuous by their absence in the uprisings largely led by ordinary citizens angered by autocratic rule, corruption and economic mismanagement.

Strauss-Kahn resigns as IMF chief, vows to battle sexual assault charges

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the embattled managing director of International Monetary Fund (IMF), resigned saying he wanted to devote “all his energy” to battle the sexual assault charges he faces in New York.

The IMF’s executive board released a letter from the French executive Wednesday in which he denied the allegations lodged against him but said that with “sadness” he felt he must resign. He said that he was thinking of his family and that he wanted to protect the IMF, The Associated Press reported.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Historic royal visit divides cash-strapped Irish

CNN) -- It is a state visit that many in Ireland believed would never happen. But when the UK's Queen Elizabeth II lands in Dublin on Tuesday it will mark the reconciliation between two neighboring countries that once viewed each with suspicion and hostility.
Ireland's fight to free itself from its former imperial master is likely to form much of the narrative of the visit, the first by a UK monarch to the republic since it gained independence in 1921.

U.N. report: North Korea continues banned weapons trade

United Nations (CNN) -- A new unpublished U.N. report claims North Korea continues to trade banned weapons technology with several countries, including Iran.
The report, which was examined by CNN Monday, was compiled by a U.N. panel of experts looking into Security Council violations by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
The report asserts that North Korea has "continued to defy the bans on imports and exports of nuclear-related items, of conventional arms and of luxury goods." In addition, the document says that "the panel has discovered loopholes and other vulnerabilities in shipping and transportation practices that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and others have exploited."

The £400 test that tells you how long you'll live

DNA breakthrough heralds new medical era – and opens ethical Pandora's box
By Steve Connor, Science Editor
Monday, 16 May 2011
The results of the tests might also be of interest to companies offering life-insurance policies or medical cover that depend on a person's lifetime risk of falling seriously ill or dying prematurely.
The results of the tests might also be of interest to companies offering life-insurance policies or medical cover that depend on a person's lifetime risk of falling seriously ill or dying prematurely.

A blood test that can show how fast someone is ageing – and offers the tantalising possibility of estimating how long they have left to live – is to go on sale to the general public in Britain later this year.
The controversial test measures vital structures on the tips of a person's chromosomes, called telomeres, which scientists believe are one of the most important and accurate indicators of the speed at which a person is ageing.

African youth for qaddafi----Detail report

Africanyouth Forkadhafi
Libya as a Nation and Kadhafi as a Guide has more to say in Africa than any other African Nation in terms of investing and enhancing development in the continent. Libyan investments in Africa are not just only for Libyans but for Africans in general as many can gain employment and earn a living. Also it has immensely contributed in projecting Africa’s image when it comes to infrastructure and beautiful sceneries. Libya is not the richest African Country when it comes to Petroleum and Mineral resources but because of Khadafi’s vision and competence they stand strong and it is this same vision he wishes to light up Africa with. Addressing the Libyan Legislature in 2002 Kadhafi said: “your future and future of your children is in Africa…. You have money and gas; Africa should benefit from them” he continued; “we have the chance now with the birth of the AU. Our riches and our oil must be put at the service of the African economic zone” “Africa should also benefit from Libya’s riches and you should not be opposed to it”

U.S. hits debt ceiling

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- It's official: The U.S. government hit the debt ceiling on Monday, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told Congress.
Geithner said he would have to suspend investments in federal retirement funds until Aug. 2 in order to create room for the government to continue borrowing in the debt markets.
The funds will be made whole once the debt limit is increased, Geithner said. "Federal retirees and employees will be unaffected by these actions."
He went on to urge Congress once again to raise the country's legal borrowing limit soon "to protect the full faith and credit of the United States and avoid catastrophic economic consequences for citizens."

Libya unrest: Gaddafi envoys to hold talks in Moscow

Envoys of Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi are to hold talks in Moscow with Russian officials.
Separate talks with in Moscow with rebel officials had been expected a day later, but were put off "for technical reasons," Russia said.
The Kremlin has refused to accept the rebels as the legitimate power, and still has formal ties with Col Gaddafi.
On Monday, the International Criminal Court (ICC) chief prosecutor pressed for the arrest of Col Gaddafi.
Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said Col Gaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam, and intelligence chief Abdullah al-Sanussi bore the greatest responsibility for "widespread and systematic attacks" on civilians.
ICC judges must still decide whether or not to issue warrants for their arrest.

Iranian aid ships set sail to Bahrain

Two ships carrying Iranian activists return to docks after facing "threats" from warships en route to Bahrain
Two ships carrying 120 Iranian activists sailed for Bahrain on Monday in an act of solidarity with the island country's Shia majority population.
The Iranian government ordered the two boats to return, while activists threw into the water letters they were carrying as "moral support" to Bahraini Shia, a journalist for Iran's English-language Press TV reported live aboard the ships.

IMF chief denied bail in sex case

Dominique Strauss-Kahn remanded to custody by US judge over allegations he attempted to rape hotel maid.
Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), has been remanded to custody after a New York city judge denied him bail over charges that he attempted to rape a 32-year-old hotel maid.
Lawyers for Strauss-Kahn, who appeared in the court on Monday, said he would plead not guilty to the accusations.

U.N. envoy holds cease-fire talks in Tripoli

Tripoli, Libya (CNN) -- A U.N. envoy held talks in Libya on Sunday, as NATO warplanes kept up their bombardment of forces loyal to longtime strongman Moammar Gadhafi, Libyan government officials said.
The special envoy, Abdul Ilah al-Khatib, visited Tripoli in hopes of negotiating a cease-fire between government and rebel forces, Libyan officials told CNN. The talks included Libyan Prime Minister Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi and Foreign Minister Suleiman al-Shehoumi, the United Nations said. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon followed up with a call to al-Mahmoudi, the U.N. said.

Will act as a constructive opposition in Tamil Nadu, says Karat

The CPI(M) will be act as a “constructive” opposition in Tamil Nadu where its ally AIADMK assumed power, party General Secretary Prakash Karat said on Monday.
“We will be a constructive opposition in Tamil Nadu,” he told a press conference here.
Asked about the presence Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and Left leaders at the swearing—in function of Ms. Jayalalithaa, he said the AIADMK might have invited many leaders.
Left parties - CPI(M), CPI and Forward Bloc - fought the elections in Tamil Nadu in an alliance led by AIADMK. The CPI(M) won ten seats while the CPI emerged victorious in nine and the Forward Bloc one.
In the last elections, the CPI(M) had nine seats and the CPI six. 

Left leaders meet Governor over post-poll clashes

Left leaders met Governor M.K. Narayanan and sought his intervention in ending what they described as a “reign of terror” unleashed by the Trinamool cadres against Left activists and organisations after the Friday poll results.
The CPI(M) has alleged that three of its activists have been killed in the clashes that were reported from some parts of West Bengal after the announcement of Assembly poll results.

Israel unblocks Palestinian funds

Palestinian Authority set to receive $86m in taxes, withheld by Israel following unity deal between Fatah and Hamas.
The Palestinian Authority is due to receive tax revenue funds withheld by Israel since Palestinian factions agreed a unity deal earlier this month, according to Israeli officials.
Approximately $86m in tax and customs revenues from ports and border was held after Fatah and Hamas agreed the deal. Israel justified the freeze on the grounds that some of the money would go to Hamas, which it considers a terrorist organisation.

Saudi diplomat killed in Pakistan

Gunmen on motorcycle opened fire on official's vehicle in southern port city of Karachi, then fled. 
Gunmen have shot and killed a Saudi diplomat in Karachi, Pakistan's largest city, as he was driving to his country's consulate, police and Saudi embassy staff say.
Hassan al-Khatani, a diplomat who worked at the Saudi consulate, was shot dead by two gunmen who were riding a motorcyle early on Monday morning, Pakistani police officials said.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Russia denounces Libya contact group as 'illegitimate'

Russia has denounced the Libya contact group as illegitimate and warned that the West's intervention in the North African country risks inflaming conflict across the entire Middle East. 

In a series of sharply worded comments on the situation, Sergei Lavrov, Russia's hawkish foreign minister, made it clear that the Kremlin bitterly regretted not vetoing the United Nations resolution that sanctioned a no-fly zone over Libya in March.
"The contact group is a self-appointed organisational structure that somehow made itself responsible for how the (UN) resolution is carried out," Mr Lavrov said while on a trip to Kazakhstan.
"From the point of view of international law this group has no legitimacy." The contact group was formed at an international ministerial conference in London on 29 March and includes European powers such as Britain as well as the US, allies from the Middle East and a number of international organisations.
But according to Mr Lavrov, who said Russia had no intention of joining the group, it set a dangerous precedent by giving false hope of Western intervention to opposition movements across the Middle East.
The Kremlin would therefore not allow the West to push any Libya-style resolutions through the UN regarding Syria or any other countries in future, he warned.
"We do not want the Libyan scenario repeated," he said, arguing that the West had gone well beyond the terms of the original UN mandate anyway.
"There are too many violations of the UN security Council resolution." In particular, he said Russia found the alleged bombing of civilian targets, hospitals and diplomatic facilities unjustifiable. "These are unacceptable acts. The UN Security Council did not sanction such actions and to try to justify them by claiming that the coalition is not exceeding its mandate is not enough," he said.
The issue of how Russia responds to events in Libya has revealed splits in the Kremlin with President Dmitry Medvedev apparently more sympathetic to the West's actions in contrast to Vladimir Putin, the prime minister, who has likened them to a medieval crusade.
The Telegraph


Libyan rebel commander: French military contractor killed in accidental shooting in Benghazi

BENGHAZI, Libya - The head and founder of a French military contracting company was killed in an accidental discharge of a weapon in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi as he was arguing about his team getting arrested, a rebel commander said Friday.
In Paris, the private military company SECOPEX Conseil said Pierre Marziali died Thursday at a Benghazi hospital after being wounded at a checkpoint as he and colleagues were leaving a restaurant overnight.

Deadly border clashes mark Israel's founding, Arab 'catastrophe'

Jerusalem (CNN) -- Clashes between pro-Palestinian protesters and Israeli forces erupted along Israel's borders Sunday, leaving at least 12 dead on a Palestinian mourning day marking the birth of the Jewish state.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decried what he called "violent demonstrations" aimed at undermining Israel's existence.
"We hope for the peace and restfulness to return quickly, but no one should be mistaken -- we are determined to defend our borders and our sovereignty," Netanyahu said.

Governor's report jolts BJP

The special report of Karnataka Governor H.R. Bhardwaj to the Union government has come as a rude shock to the BJP and, in particular, the legislators who only a few days ago regained their membership of the Assembly and affirmed their support to the leadership of Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa early on Sunday.
Although the contents of the Governor's report have been kept confidential, sources in the State government told The Hindu that it was evident that the report contained a recommendation for severe action (possibly President's rule and dissolution of the Assembly) in the light of the orders of the Supreme Court in the case relating to disqualification of legislators.
The Chief Minister and top leaders of the State unit of the BJP, including president K.S. Eshwarappa, expressed their shock over the developments.
The BJP has decided to take the Governor head on as it made all efforts during the day to convince him that the ruling party enjoys a comfortable majority and that there is no necessity even for a trial of strength on the floor of the House.

IMF chief Strauss-Kahn to undergo tests over sex charge

IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn has consented to a medical examination over allegations of serious sexual assault.
Ms Strauss-Kahn, who was arrested on Saturday, denies attacking and attempting to rape a hotel maid.
He had been due to appear in court on Sunday but the hearing has been postponed until Monday to allow the forensic tests to be carried out.
The married former French finance minister is also considered a possible Socialist candidate for the presidency.

Saudi Arabia opens largest women’s university in the world

King Abdullah Bin Abdul-Aziz of Saudi Arabia opened on Sunday the largest women’s university campus in the world in a major move to boost women’s higher education in the Kingdom.

The SAR20 billion ($5.3-billion) new campus of Princess Nora Bint Abdulrahman University (PNU) on the outskirts of the capital, Riyadh, was inaugurated in the presence of senior royal family members, ministers and foreign diplomats.

The university campus, spreading over eight million square meters (26 million feet), will host up to 50,000 students in its 15 departments.

Arab League chooses another Egyptian as new secretary general at turbulent time

Foreign Minister Nabil Al Arabi of Egypt was elected as the new secretary general of the Arab League on Sunday after last minute diplomacy left him as the only candidate in the race.

Shortly before the vote, Egypt replaced its original candidate Mustafa el-Fiqqi, who was a member of ousted president Hosni Mubarak’s ruling party.

Could the Arab revolt hit 'Pipelineistan'?

In Central Asia, battles for geopolitical control over oil resources play out against a backdrop of popular anger.
In spite of Tunisia and Egypt, those "happy" days of total power are still alive and kicking all across the world, from North Korea to Myanmar, from Saudi Arabia to Central Asia.
Early last month, Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev won another election by the Kim Jong-ilesque margin of 95.5 per cent of the vote. There was virtually no previous political debate, because - no irony involved - all three of his rivals wanted him to win.

Analyst: USA Orders Italy to Send More Arms to Libyan Rebels

Interview with former Assistant Secretary to US Treasury Paul Craig Roberts

Following Libya's National Transitional Council's announcement that Italy has agreed to supply revolutionary forces with weapons, former Assistant Secretary to US Treasury Dr. Paul Craig Roberts told Press TV that Rome's decision was made on behalf of Washington.

The following is the transcript of the interview:

Press TV: What do you think of Italy's role in the ongoing war in Libya?

CPI(M) remains the most popular party in Kerala

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] remains ahead of the Congress in vote share in the State despite the defeat of the Left Democratic Front (LDF) in the Assembly elections, an analysis of election data shows.
The CPI(M) secured 28.2 per cent of the valid votes polled in this year's elections, though its vote share dipped by 2.3 percentage points from the figure in the 2006 Assembly elections. The Congress secured 26.7 per cent of the votes against 24.1 per cent in 2006.
The CPI(M) contested for 84 seats this time, while the Congress had candidates only in 82 constituencies. However, even a projection of the Congress party's vote share for 84 seats would not bring it on a par with the CPI (M).
The Congress had fielded candidates only in 77 constituencies last time, while the Democratic Indira Congress (Karunakaran) [DIC(K)] contested for 18 seats. The DIC(K) has since merged with the Congress, and their combined vote share in 2006 was 28.5 per cent.
Besides the Congress, the real gainers in this election in terms of vote share are the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Kerala Congress(M). The BJP's vote share went up by about 1.3 percentage points (from 4.75 per cent in 2006 to 6.03 per cent in 2011). The party's vote share, however, is lower than what it got in the Lok Sabha elections in 2009 (6.3 per cent) and 2004 (10.4 per cent).

Strange encounter at a Saudi airport

A visit to the rose farms near the Saudi Arabian city of Taif, ended with a startling and memorable encounter at an airport.
East of Mecca, Saudi Highway 15 scoots across the sweltering Tihama plain. Switchbacks as tight as the coils of a desert viper climb 6,000ft (1,800m) to Al-Hada Mountain, the Mountain of Tranquillity.
The Prophet Muhammad came this way 1,392 years ago, resting in the highland city of Taif and sampling the local grapes.
Today, Taif is the focus of Saudi Arabia's multi-billion-pound domestic tourism industry.

Libya: Nato 'must widen' targets, says UK military head

The head of the British armed forces has said Nato must intensify its military campaign in Libya by easing the restrictions on bombing targets.
General Sir David Richards told the Sunday Telegraph direct attacks should be launched against the infrastructure propping up Colonel Gaddafi's regime.
He said it was necessary to prevent the Libyan dictator remaining in power.
The UK and other countries have been bombing Libya under a UN resolution authorising force to protect civilians.

Israeli forces 'fire on Palestinians' near Gaza border

Israeli forces have opened fire on a crowd of Palestinians in Gaza approaching a border crossing with Israel, wounding 15, reports say.
Israeli forces also opened fire on a group at the border with Syria on the Golan Heights, wounding a number.
Israeli security forces and Palestinians have also clashed in the West Bank town of Ramallah.
Palestinians are marking the Nakba, or catastrophe, when many lost their homes with the founding of Israel in 1948.
Palestinian medical officials in Gaza said at least 15 people were wounded by tank and machine gun fire.
Palestinian health official Adham Abu Salmiya said all those wounded in Gaza were under 18 years old, Associated Press news agency reported.
One was in a critical condition, he said.

Hike in petrol prices a cruel blow by UPA govt: Left

The Left parties on Sunday termed the hike in petrol prices as a “cruel blow” by the UPA government and demanded a reversal of the deregulation policy.
“By increasing the price of petrol by Rs. 5 a litre, the UPA government has given another cruel blow to the people who are already suffering from all-round price rise,” a statement issued by CPI(M), CPI, RSP and Forward Bloc said.