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Saturday, May 28, 2011

Germany: Ten die from E.coli-infected cucumbers

The death toll in Germany from an outbreak of E.coli caused by infected cucumbers has risen to at least 10.
The cucumbers, believed to have been imported from Spain, were infected with a severe complication of E.coli called hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS).
Hundreds of people are said to have fallen sick.
Officials in the Czech Republic said the cucumbers may have been exported there, as well as to Austria, Hungary and Luxembourg.
Adults at risk

Honduras: Ousted President Manuel Zelaya returns

Mr Zelaya was forced into exile by the military after he failed to abide by a Supreme Court order to cancel a non-binding vote on changing the constitution.
Thousands of supporters greeted him at the airport in Tegucigalpa.
A deal signed by Mr Zelaya and current President Porfirio Lobo on Monday helped pave the way for his return.

Singapore bank closes accounts of Speak Asia

The Singapore-based United Overseas Bank has closed the accounts of multi-level marketing company Speak Asia, a development that will have bearing on the company’s 19 lakh members in India.
“Our bank account in Singapore has not been frozen... we are only moving our company account to another bank. We are approaching and evaluating various other banks in Singapore from where we will soon be able to disburse the payments to all panelists,” Speak Asia said in a statement.

CPI(M) opposes FDI in multi-brand retail trade

MNCs will manipulate prices to their benefit, it says
The CPI(M) on Saturday opposed the move to allow foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail trade and called upon political parties and organisations to protest against this retrograde move.
The CPI(M) Polit Bureau, in a statement, opposed the suggestion by the Inter-Ministerial Group on Inflation headed by the Chief Economic Adviser and said it was perpetration of yet another instance of pro-MNC neo-liberal framework which would badly affect Indians.

Arab League backs Palestinians state recourse to UN

The Arab League said on Saturday it backs seeking UN recognition for a Palestinian state, as Qatar proposed at a meeting that the Middle East peace process be suspended until Israel was "ready" for talks.

At a meeting of an Arab monitoring committee chaired by Qatar, the Arab League said in a statement it "supports the appeal to the UN asking that Palestine, within the 1967 borders, becomes a full-fledged state" of the international organization.

North Sudan says Abyei military operations stop

The northern Sudanese army has full control of Abyei and stopped military operations, state media said on Saturday, as officials from the north and south prepared to meet to defuse tensions over the disputed region.

Northern Sudanese armed forces seized the Abyei region last week, forcing tens of thousands of people to flee and raising fears the north and south could return to full-blown conflict. The move drew sharp international criticism.

Maoists to consider proposal for talks with Mamata govt.

The Maoists on Saturday said they would consider a proposal for talks with the Mamata Banerjee government if the Chief Minister spelled out her stand on ‘Junglemahal’, comprising Maoist affected areas of West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia districts.
“Immediately after the swearing-in ceremony, Banerjee said she was ready to hold talks to sort out problems in Junglemahal, but she did not speak about specific plans,” West Bengal State committee members of Communist Party of India (Maoist) Bikram and Bikas said in a faxed statement here.

NATO air strikes in Libya target area of Qaddafi’s residence

Fresh NATO air strikes on Tripoli early on Saturday targeted the district where Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi has his residence, an Agent-France Press reporter said.

A powerful explosion rocked Bab Al-Aziziya district, close to the city centre, at around 01:00 am (2300 GMT Friday), followed by another a few minutes later.

Social media challenges Singapore's rulers

The city state's ruling party lost seats in recent elections and analysts believe new technologies aided the opposition.
Weeks after a watershed general election in Singapore, the influential role played by social media to dramatically transform political debate in this affluent city- state continues to reverberate through cyberspace.
"Social Media in Singapore Politics: It's Serious Business Folks!" was the headline of an analysis that appeared this week on theonlinecitizen, a popular website featuring commentary challenging the official narrative of the southeast Asian country's ruling Peoples' Action Party (PAP) and the mainstream media - all of which are pro-government mouthpieces.

Egypt permanently opens Gaza border crossing

After four years, Egypt has permanently opened the Gaza Strip’s main gateway to the outside world.
The move to lift most travel restrictions on Gaza residents brings long-awaited relief to the territory’s Palestinian population and a significant achievement for its Hamas rulers. But it raises Israeli fears it will be easier for militants to go in and out of Gaza.
The first busload of passengers crossed into Egypt on Saturday morning at the Rafah terminal, where about 400 Gazans awaited.
Egypt and Israel have maintained a blockade over Gaza since 2007 to weaken Hamas following its violent seizure of the area. But after the ouster of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in February, Egypt’s new military rulers decided to ease the blockade.

‘Lead transition or go,’ Sarkozy tells Assad as eight people killed in Syria demos

President Nicolas Sarkozy of France on Friday joined US President Barack Obama’s call for Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad to lead the protest-hit nation’s transition to democracy or step down as at least eight people were killed during anti-regime demonstrations on Friday across Syria.

“Could I have said that? Yes,” Mr. Sarkozy said in an answer to a journalist’s question at the end of the G8 summit in the French resort of Deauville, according to Agence-France Presse.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Taryn Manning Releases Sexy New Video

Nigerian youth employed to guard oil pipelines

Nigeria's government has employed 12,000 young people to protect oil and gas pipelines in the Niger Delta.
Petroleum Minister Diezani Alison-Madueke said the youth would patrol some 5,000km (3,000 miles) of pipeline to stop it from being vandalised.
She said it was part of the government amnesty programme offered to the region's militias who were fighting for a greater share of oil revenues.
Locals and criminal gangs often try to pierce the pipes to siphon off oil.
Ms Alison-Madueke's announcement comes after at least two people died this week in Sapele, Delta state, in an explosion at a pipeline damaged by villagers trying to steal the oil.
Few residents of the Niger Delta, home to Nigeria's oil industry, have benefited from the area's oil wealth.
Nigeria is Africa's largest oil producers, but attacks by militants on oil installations led to a sharp fall in output during the last decade.
The thousands of fighters who laid down their weapons in a government amnesty in 2009 were promised training and jobs.

Anger as police tries to clear Barcelona protest camp- -SPAIN

Anger over Spain's dire economic situation has prompted thousands of people to fill Barcelona's famous Plaza de Catalunya.
It follows an attempt by riot police to break up an anti-government protest camp there.
City authorities said they needed to empty the square, which is popular among football fans, ahead of Saturday's Champions League final between Barcelona and Manchester United.

U.S. cannot solve Pakistan's problems, says Hillary

Without mincing words, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Friday said Pakistan would have to make some difficult choices regarding its future course. Maintaining that the U.S. could not solve Pakistan's problems for it, she added that they could not be wished away by whipping up anti-Americanism or conspiracy theories either.

Medvedev could also be eyeing Libya's oil and gas markets, analysts have said, and preparing for the prospect that the lucrative Libyan market will fall into full opposition control.

Fresh NATO strikes rock Libyan capital 

Libya's capital, Tripoli, has been rocked by a series of NATO air strikes for the fifth night in a row, Libyan state television reported.
A number of explosions were heard throughout the night into Saturday, and at least one of the blasts was said to be near a compound used by Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan leader.
Columns of smoke were seen rising over the skyline of the city and loud booms could be heard.

Pro-reform protesters pack Cairo square

Thousands return to Tahrir Square for "day of anger" demonstrations, pressing military rulers for speedier reforms.
Thousands of protesters have returned to downtown Cairo's Tahrir Square for what they called a "second revolution", calling for Egypt's military rulers to speed up the pace of democratic reforms in a country that is still charting its political future.
Protesters streamed into Tahrir Square - the symbolic heart of protests that toppled Hosni Mubarak on February 11 - carrying banners reading "Egyptian revolution is not over".

Yemen on brink of civil war as tribal chief says truce in effect but ready to fight Saleh

Yemeni opposition tribal chief Sheikh Sadiq al-Ahmar said on Friday that there is a truce between his fighters and security forces in Sana’a, but he is ready for war if the embattled president wants one.

Earlier in the day, 12 tribesmen and a Republican Guards general were killed and an unknown number of other Guards killed and wounded in fighting sparked by tribesmen trying to reach Sana’a to aid Sheikh Ahmar, tribal and military sources said, according to Agence-France Presse.

Libya rejects G8 call for Qaddafi to go and says open only to African Union

The Libyan regime on Friday rejected calls from a summit of G8 world powers for Colonel Muammar Qaddafi to stand down and said any initiative to resolve the crisis would have to go through the African Union.

“The G8 is an economic summit. We are not concerned by its decisions,” said Libya’s deputy foreign minister, Khaled Kaaim, after Russia joined NATO calls for Qaddafi’s departure, according to Agence-France Presse.

Tripoli also rejects Russian mediation and will “not accept any mediation which marginalizes the peace plan of the African Union,” he said. “We are an African country. Any initiative outside the AU framework will be rejected.”

Libya calls on Russia to mediate cease-fire

Moscow (CNN) -- Libya is calling on Russia to mediate a cease-fire, a sign that Moammar Gadhafi's regime may be ready to bring about an end to the months-long war.
In a telephone call, Libyan Prime Minister Al-Baghdadi Ali al-Mahmudi asked for help in achieving a cease-fire and starting talks without preconditions, according to a statement posted by late Thursday by the Russian Foreign Ministry.

Eight killed as two blasts hit U.S. troops in deadly attack in Afghanistan

It was the deadliest day for NATO in Afghanistan since April 27, when a veteran Afghan military pilot killed eight U.S. troops and an American civilian contractor at Kabul airport.
Eight U.S. troops who died in the latest attack in southern Afghanistan were hit by two different blasts while they were on foot patrol.

Obama: US, France resolved to 'finish job' in Libya

The US and France are joined in their determination to "finish the job" in Libya, Barack Obama has said at the G8 summit in France.
The US president said that meeting the UN resolution could not be achieved while Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi was still in power.
Mr Obama was speaking following talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Meanwhile, G8 leaders are expected to announce a $20bn (£12bn) package to support new Arab democracies.
The leaders of Egypt and Tunisia are due to meet President Obama and other G8 and European Union leaders who are discussing how to aid their new governments, after recent uprisings.

G8 "appalled" by Syria’s violence against protesters, warns of "further measures"

DEAUVILLE -The Group of Eight leaders said on Friday they were "appalled" at the killing of peaceful protesters by Syrian authorities and demanded an immediate end to the use of force.

But in a communique to be issued later after a two-day G8 summit in France -- a copy of which was obtained by Reuters -- the leaders of the seven Western powers plus Russia refrained from an explicit proposal, contained in earlier drafts of the document, to act against Damascus in the UN Security Council.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Egypt to open Rafah border permanently

Palestinians welcome easing of four-year blockade on Gaza Strip, a sharp departure from policies of former president.
Egypt will permanently open its Rafah border crossing starting from Saturday, the country's official news agency reported, easing a four-year blockade on the Gaza Strip.
The news agency MENA said on Wednesday that Egypt's new military rulers had set the date for the opening of the crossing as part of efforts "to end the status of the Palestinian division and achieve national reconciliation".

Bomb kills seven US soldiers in southern Afghanistan

Seven US soldiers have been killed by a roadside bomb in southern Afghanistan, US officials say.
The incident is the deadliest single attack on foreign troops in a month. Nato initially confirmed the deaths but declined to disclose the nationalities.
Earlier, a Nato helicopter crashed in eastern Afghanistan, killing one soldier, officials said.
Almost 200 foreign troops have been killed by militants in Afghanistan so far this year.

Activists in Egypt call for ‘second revolution’

In what is being dubbed as a “second revolution”, Egyptian activists are planning to stage a huge rally on Friday, targeting the military rulers for being slow on implementing the democratic transition process, even as signs of a rift appear in the protest movement.
Protesters are terming the rally, to be held in Cairo’s iconic Tahrir Square, as “second revolution” and a “Friday of Rage”.

This is taliban.

Taliban claim responsibility for 27 killed in suicide blast in Hangu, Pakistan

The Taliban has claimed responsibility for a suicide attack in which 27 people died and scores were injured on Thursday at a District Central Office in Hangu, northwest Pakistan.

Agence-France Presse reported officials as saying that the blast was carried out by a suicide bomber driving an explosive-laden vehicle.

Libya offers truce without Qaddafi departure amid fresh bombardment of Misrata

Libya’s prime minister on Thursday said the government had asked the United Nations and African Union to prepare and monitor a ceasefire, but ruled out the departure of Colonel Muammar Qaddafi, as government forces bombarded the revolt-held city of Misrata with mortars.

“We have asked the United Nations and the African Union to set a date and specific hours for a ceasefire, to send international observers and take the necessary measures” to end combat, said Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi, according to Agence-France Presse.

Venezuela Rejects US Sanctions Imposed on State-Owned Oil Company for Links with Iran

Venezuela yesterday (24 May) rejected the US Department of State's decision to impose sanctions on state-owned oil company Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA)—put in place as a result of its commercial links with Iran—in another sign that relations between the US and Venezuela continue to deteriorate.

IHS Global Insight Perspective
The Venezuelan administration of Hugo Chávez yesterday (24 May) rejected the US Department of State's imposition of sanctions on Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA), as a result of its commercial links with Iran.
The sanctions will have little impact on PDVSA's day-to-day activities and will not affect oil supplies and exports from Venezuela to the US or its subsidiaries in commercial terms, The sanctions do, however, impose certain limited operational constraints and further limit access to overseas credit and are a warning that more severe sanctions could follow.
The event is a clear indication that the US is developing a harder line against Venezuela as a result of Chávez's links with Iran; while ties can be expected to remain strong between Venezuela and Iran, the former should be careful not to push its "warm relations" with Iran too far beyond US tolerance limits.
The Venezuelan administration of Hugo Chávez yesterday (24 May) rejected the United States' Department

Iran helicopters: Spain holds eight over 'illegal sale'

Spanish police say they have prevented the illegal sale of nine military transport helicopters to Iran and have detained eight people.
The operation, which took place in Madrid and Barcelona, led to the arrests of five Spanish businessmen and three Iranian nationals, reports say.
As well as the Bell-212 helicopters, police also found spare parts for export to Venezuela, police said.
Iran is banned from buying attack helicopters under UN sanctions.

G8 summit: Arab uprisings set to dominate agenda

World leaders are gathering in the French resort of Deauville for a summit of the G8 bloc of wealthy nations.
The leaders are expected to discuss how to end the seemingly deadlocked Libya conflict, and their response to the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia.
Correspondents say recent events such as uprisings in the Arab world and Japan's nuclear crisis have given the G8 a new sense of purpose.

Bosnian Serb general Ratko Mladic arrested

Serbia announces the arrest of Ratko Mladic, Europe's most wanted man, accused of perpetrating war crimes in Bosnia.
Ratko Mladic, the Bosnian Serb general wanted for alleged war crimes committed during the 1992-95 Bosnian conflict, has been arrested, Serbia has announced.

"On behalf of the Republic of Serbia we announce that Ratko Mladic has been arrested," Boris Tadic, the country's president, said.

"Today we closed one chapter of our difficult history that will bring us one step closer to full reconciliation in the region.

Thousands rally in Iraq against U.S. troop presence

The rally was a message to Prime Minister Nouri al—Maliki about the staunch opposition by Iraq’s most devout Shiites - and the ones who grudgingly helped him clinch a second term in office last year - to a continued U.S. military presence in 2012.
Iraqi Shiite militia fighters led a massive rally of followers of a hard—liner anti—American cleric on Thursday, marching in Baghdad in a show of defiance as Iraqi leaders weigh whether to keep U.S. troops in the country beyond the end of the year.
An estimated 70,000 supporters of Muqtada al—Sadr waved Iraqi flags and shouted “No, no, America!” as the tight columns of the unarmed but ominous Mahdi Army marched though one of Baghdad’s poorest neighbourhoods.
U.S., Israeli and British flags were painted on the pavement to be stomped on by the marching protesters, and Iraqi military helicopters buzzed overhead while soldiers stood guard to keep peace if needed.
The rally was a message to Prime Minister Nouri al—Maliki about the staunch opposition by Iraq’s most devout Shiites - and the ones who grudgingly helped him clinch a second term in office last year - to a continued U.S. military presence in 2012.
Under a security agreement between Washington and Baghdad, the 46,000 combat troops still in Iraq are required to leave by December 31. But Iraq’s widespread instability has led U.S. and Iraqi leaders to reconsider the deadline for the sake of the country’s security.
“I am ready to fight the Americans whenever Sayyida (Muqtada) orders me to,” Mohammed Moyad, 18, who said he skipped five days of school to train with his colleagues for Thursday’s march.

US-Russian differences over Middle East put reset of relations in jeopardy

The US-Russian reset button may have to be reset again.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signaled as much by placing a phone call to his embattled Syrian counterpart, Bashar al-Assad, just before leaving for this week’s Group of Eight (G-8) meeting in the French seaside resort of Deauville.

Mr. Medvedev wanted Mr. Obama to know about the phone call with the Arab anti-government protests and the situations in Libya and Syria high up on the G-8 agenda. A statement by the Kremlin stressed that the Russian president had expressed Moscow’s “support for the Syrian leadership’s plans to carry out the internal reforms announced by Mr. Assad in order to prevent the situation in the country from deteriorating, prevent human casualties, and maintain civil peace.”

Khartoum militias fire at UN helicopters in Abyei as up to 40,000 flee unrest

Four United Nations helicopters were shot at, probably by militias allied to north Sudan, in the central region in Abyei but the crews landed safely, as violence in and around the contested region has displaced up to 40,000 people amid reports of war crimes, looting and burning.

A total of 14 rounds were fired when the helicopters took off on Tuesday, UN spokeswoman Hua Jiang said.

North Sudan seized Abyei at the weekend, forcing thousands of people to flee and raising tensions ahead of southern secession planned for July.

Ms. Jiang said militias of the Arab Misseriya tribe supported by Khartoum were probably responsible for the attack, adding that they were now moving southwards after civilians had left the main settlement of Abyei, according to Reuters.
“There are reports that they are moving south,” she said.

Ms. Jiang said fighting and looting in Abyei had stopped after inhabitants left, adding that some stockpiles of UN agencies had been looted.

Senior UN aid official Lise Grande said Wednesday that estimates of the number of people fleeing had dramatically increased.

“Our initial estimates are that 30,000 to 40,000 people have been displaced,” said Grande who helps coordinate UN humanitarian efforts in south Sudan.

“That includes some 10,000 people from Abyei area fleeing direct fighting and 25,000 more from the Agok area, just across the southern border, where people are leaving homes fearing future violence,” she said.

Sudan’s northern army moved tanks into Abyei, the border area’s main settlement, on Saturday, sparking an international outcry as well as fears of new north-south fighting.

Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir said on Tuesday that North Sudan will not withdraw from the disputed Abyei border region it seized over the weekend as the area belongs to the north.

“Abyei is northern Sudanese land,” Mr. Bashir said in a speech in the capital Khartoum. “We will not withdraw from it.”

He added he had given the green light to the northern army to respond to any possible “provocation” by the army of south Sudan which plans to become independent on July 9.

“We are concerned ... about the grave humanitarian consequences of what's transpired in Abyei. There have been horrific reports of looting and burning,” said Susan Rice, US ambassador to the UN, visiting the southern capital Juba.

“The increased tensions over Abyei... and the use of violence threaten to derail the post-referendum negotiations and introduce a dire period of uncertainty as South Sudan prepares for independence,” South Africa said on Wednesday, according to Agence-France Presse.

“It is imperative that the two parties address the contentious post-referendum issues, including the border demarcation, the status of Abyei, the sharing of resources, amongst other matters, in a cordial manner that would ensure peaceful and amicable coexistence,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

“The South African government calls on the Sudanese government and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement to cease hostilities,” it said.

South Africa had in recent years lobbied for south Sudan’s secession, with former president Thabo Mbeki playing a pivotal role in the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement that led to the January referendum paving the way towards independence.

For all but 11 years since Sudan became independent in 1956, a civil war has been fought in the country of 42 million people, Africa’s largest by land mass. Abyei contributes more than a quarter of Sudan’s daily oil production of 480,000 barrels. Sudan’s proven crude oil reserves are nearly 2 billion barrels.

The south is important to the north because that’s where most of the country’s oil is produced. But refineries are in the north, as is the main pipeline carry oil for exports.

The Abyei Area covers 10,460 kilometers in the State of Northern Bahr al-Ghazal in South Sudan.

Abyei is contested between the regions Ngok Dinka people, who are settled in the area and consider themselves southerners, and Misseriya nomads who herd their cattle south in the dry season and are supported by the Khartoum government.

The region postponed a vote, originally scheduled for January, on whether to join the south or remain a special administrative region in the north because of disagreements on who was eligible to vote.

Abyei produces less than 2,500 barrels of oil a day, according to Sudan’s Oil Ministry.

Fighting in the area three years ago between the armies of northern and Southern Sudan killed 89 people and forced more than 90,000 people to flee their homes, according to the UN.

(Abeer Tayel, an editor at Al Arabiya

Tribal chief tells Saleh to go, as overnight blast leaves 28 dead

Yemen’s opposition tribal chief Sadeq al-Ahmar blamed the country’s violence on President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s forces, saying they should stop the fight first, Al Arabiya TV reported on Thursday.

Sheikh al-Ahmar said that he is open to negotiating on the Gulf Cooperation Council plan-brokered deal again but only on the condition that Mr. Saleh’s forces halt the fighting.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

South Korea police break up Yoosung Hyundai strike

South Korean police have broken up a strike at a car parts factory which was threatening the country's car industry.
More than 3,000 riot police moved in to disperse protesters at the Yoosung Enterprise factory in Asan, south of Seoul, Korea's Yonhap news agency said.
About 500 workers had been staging a sit-in at the factory since last week after wage negotiations broke down.

NATO blitz fails to break Libyan stalemate

Western powers, despite stepping up diplomatic support for the opposition and sharply escalating the air campaign against forces loyal to Libyan strongman Muammar Qadhafi, are finding it hard to break the stalemate in Libya.
In a visible surge on Tuesday, NATO aircraft heavily bombed the area surrounding Mr. Qadhafi's Bab al-Aziziya compound in central Tripoli without pause for about 30 minutes. Witnesses counted at least 20 loud explosions. Several fires lit up the night sky after the bombing.

Bashir claims Abyei belongs to north as US says Sudan risks losing debt relief

North Sudan will not withdraw from the disputed Abyei border region it seized over the weekend as the area belongs to the north, President Omar Hassan al-Bashir said on Tuesday.

"Abyei is northern Sudanese land," Mr. Bashir said in a speech in the capital Khartoum. "We will not withdraw from it."

Tunisian government confirms July 24 as date of post-revolution election

Tunisia's transitional government said Tuesday elections for a national constituent assembly would go ahead on July 24 despite calls from the election commission for a delay until October 2011.

“The council of ministers discussed at length the proposal of the independent committee for the elections, and it decided to respect the date fixed by the government of July 24,” said government spokesman Tayeb Baccouche.

Where are India's millions of missing girls?

India's 2011 census shows a serious decline in the number of girls under the age of seven - activists fear eight million female foetuses may have been aborted in the past decade. The BBC's Geeta Pandey in Delhi explores what has led to this crisis.
Kulwant has three daughters aged 24, 23 and 20 and a son who is 16.
In the years between the birth of her third daughter and her son, Kulwant became pregnant three times.

India's unwanted girls

A shortage of women in Haryana has led some Indian men to seek wives from other states, but the "imported" brides often struggle to adapt, writes the BBC's Soutik Biswas.
On the face of it, Sreeja leads a contented life with her husband, two children and a pet dog in a cosy two-room brick and cement village home in this northern state.
But prod her a little, and she begins speaking openly about life in a society steeped in patriarchy.
"Men here don't allow their women to go out and work. They just dominate."
She sits in her tiny, unkempt garden in Sorkhi in Hissar district, drinking black tea and munching on banana chips and local sweets laid out on a plastic chair.

“Start Quote

Safety is a concern - women are not safe here”
End Quote Sreeja Singh

Syria condemns EU sanctions on Bashar al-Assad

Syria has denounced sanctions imposed on President Bashar al-Assad by the European Union, saying the measures would "harm the Syrian people".
Foreign Minister Walid Muallem accused the EU of "trying to impose their will" on Syria.
"Today, the Europeans have added a black page to their record of colonialism in the region," he said.
EU ministers had earlier added Mr Assad and nine officials to a list affected by travel bans and asset freezes.
They had already placed restrictions on the president's brother, four of his cousins and others in his inner circle, in response to the Syrian regime's crackdown on pro-democracy protests.

‘West is playing India against China in Africa'

Siddharth Varadarajan

Taking exception to the Western portrayals of the emerging Asian powers engaging in a “scramble for Africa,” India on Monday said the West had a vested interest in portraying the business ventures launched by itself and China on the continent in a negative light.
“The West is setting up Africa as a zone of contention,” a senior Indian official travelling with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for the Second Africa-India Forum summit said here on Monday. “They want to play India against China. They want us to be at each other's throat.”

US says Sudan risks losing debt relief, other incentives with seizure of oil-rich Abyei

Sudan has risked $38 billion in potential debt relief and other incentives by occupying oil-rich Abyei, and must agree to resume talks on the disputed region quickly, the US special envoy for Sudan has told Al Arabiya.

Ambassador Princeton Lyman said he would return to Sudan this week as diplomats scramble to defuse the crisis over Abyei, which has pushed north and south Sudan close to conflict just weeks before south Sudan is due to declare independence on July 9.

Heaviest NATO airstrikes rock Tripoli as Washington says time against Qaddafi

NATO warplanes bombarded targets in Tripoli with more than 20 airstrikes early Tuesday, striking around Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi's residential compound in what appeared to be the heaviest night of bombing of the Libyan capital since the Western alliance launched its air campaign against his forces.

Taxpayers with income below Rs. 5 lakh need not file returns in india

Salaried taxpayers with income below Rs. 5 lakh a year and without any other source of income will be exempted from filing tax returns, Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said on Tuesday.
The new rule would apply for the 2011-12 assessment year for the income earned in 2010-11, and a notification would be issued soon, he said, addressing the 27th annual conference of the Chief Commissioners and the Directors-General of Income Tax here.

Governments must regulate the Internet: Sarkozy - AP

Mr. Sarkozy told hundreds of business executives, creative minds and reporters on Tuesday that the free market "has its own means of regulation, but no exchange is really free if the terms of this exchange aren’t equal."
French President Nicolas Sarkozy says governments need to lay down and enforce rules in the digital world.
The French leader, hosting a so—called e—G8 conference in Paris, has said creativity in the online world must be fostered, but that governments “in our democracies are the only legitimate representatives of the general will.”
Mr. Sarkozy told hundreds of business executives, creative minds and reporters on Tuesday that the free market “has its own means of regulation, but no exchange is really free if the terms of this exchange aren’t equal.”
The conference of top digerati is billed as the first of its kind, being held in connection with Group of Eight powerful nations, whose leaders are holding a summit in the Normandy resort town of Deauville on Thursday and Friday.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Sudan president, who seized oil-rich Abyei, wants ‘peaceful solution’ for dispute

The UN demanded that Khartoum withdraw its troops from Abyei region after what the south branded an “invasion” by northern troops of the flashpoint border area, while the United States warned said that Sudan stands “close to the precipice of war.”

Members of a visiting delegation of the UN Security Council said they were “very, very concerned about the rapidly deteriorating situation in Abyei,” and formally called on Khartoum to withdraw its troops.


Britain to join France in deploying helicopters in Libya as EU opens Benghazi office  Monday, 23 May 2011

France and Britain are deploying attack helicopters to strike Muammar Qaddafi’s forces, top French ministers said Monday, in a shift in tactics two months into NATO’s air war in Libya.

NATO says it has seriously degraded Colonel Qaddafi’s military machine with a relentless onslaught from combat jets, but it has yet to deliver the deathblow to the regime, which still governs in Tripoli while rebels control the east.

Syria, dubbing EU sanctions as ‘black page’ in history, taunts West about military

The EU “erred” in imposing sanctions on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his top aides, Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said on Monday, branding the measures a new “black page” in Europe’s history.

Mr. Muallem also said that he expected more measures against Syria, but the measures would not reach military action, according to Agence-France Presse.

Syria characterized the sanctions as interference in Syria’s internal affairs and said that the actions would hurt EU interests.

Markets hit by continuing eurozone debt crisis

The euro and stock markets across Europe have fallen, with the eurozone debt crisis showing no sign of abating.
Borrowing costs for heavily indebted governments also rose further, with Italy and Spain suffering.
Market worries focus on a possible debt restructuring by Greece that could hit Europe's banks and other governments.
Latest bad news included weak eurozone economic data, a local election defeat for Spain's government and a negative credit rating outlook for Italy.
Business confidence European stock markets were down sharply in afternoon trading, with the FTSE 100 1.5% lower, the Cac losing 1.8%, and the Dax falling 1.9%.
Energy and mining stocks were particularly badly hit, as the oil price fell back towards recent lows on fears the global recovery may be slowed by debt problems in Europe and tighter monetary policy in China.
Meanwhile, the euro dropped two cents against the dollar, to below $1.40, bringing its total fall since Friday to nearly four cents.

Start Quote

We would be letting a genie out of the bottle without knowing in which direction it would be flying.”
End Quote Jean-Claude Juncker Luxembourg Prime Minister and head of the eurogroup
Against the Swiss franc - seen as a haven from the debt crisis - the euro hit a new all-time low of 1.2324 francs.
Sentiment was not helped by the latest purchasing managers index (PMI) for the eurozone - a survey of business expansion plans - which indicated that growth in France and Germany slowed significantly this month.
"The eurozone PMI continued to show robust expansion, but the rate of increase showed the sharpest slowing since just after the collapse of Lehman's in late-2008," said Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit, the research firm that produces the index.
He pointed to a concurrent fall in service sector business confidence to its weakest since July 2009 as a sign that the slowdown may prove more than a temporary blip.
Any such economic slowdown will intensify market concerns about whether some eurozone governments - chief amongst them Greece - will ever be able to pay off their debts.
'Enormous problem' Meanwhile, in an interview for German weekly der Spiegel, the Luxembourg Prime Minister and head of the eurogroup, Jean-Claude Juncker, reiterated his idea that Greece could be granted a "soft restructuring" or debt "reprofiling", but only if its government met demanding policy targets.

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Mr Juncker explained that the restructuring would involve a delay in repayments and a cut in interest payments, to be agreed with the country's lenders.
However, he said it would need to be done in a way that would not be deemed a default by the international rating agencies, which would cause an "enormous problem" for Europe's banks, who would then have to recognise billions of losses on their balance sheets.
"In the case of a national bankruptcy with a subsequent debt restructuring, we would be letting a genie out of the bottle without knowing in which direction it would be flying," he warned.
Mr Juncker also confirmed that any restructuring - and any additional rescue loans - would only be forthcoming if Greece stepped up privatisations and painful austerity measures.
The Greek cabinet met on Monday to discuss a doubling of budget cuts this year to 6bn euros, including public pay cuts, civil service redundancies and an increase in value added tax.
The government also intends to meet opposition leaders later in the week to hammer out a four-year cross-party austerity plan demanded by Brussels.
Meanwhile, Greece's cost of borrowing in bond markets has continued to rise steadily, as expectations of an eventual default rise.
The yield on its 10-year bonds rose another half a percentage point to 16.8% on Monday, up from 15.3% a week ago.
Hidden debts However, other countries also saw their borrowing costs rise, as markets remain concerned that a Greek default could trigger a broader meltdown.

Euro v US Dollar

Last Updated at 23 May 2011, 15:30 GMT *Chart shows local time EUR:USD intraday chart
€1 buys change %
1.4010 -
Spain's 10-year borrowing cost increased to 5.6%, its highest level since January.
The Spanish minority Socialist government suffered its worst defeat on record at local elections held over the weekend.
Analysts say that with control of some heavily indebted regional governments changing hands, there are fears that hidden financial problems may be unearthed by the incoming administrations.
The result follows a week of protests by tens of thousands of mostly young people, expressing their anger over austerity measures and the country's high unemployment rate, including a youth unemployment rate of 45%.
Meanwhile, rating agency Standard & Poor's lowered its outlook on Italy's debts to negative, indicating future downgrades are more likely.
Italy's government is said to be planning to bring forwards 35bn-40bn euros (£30bn-£35bn; $49bn-$56bn) of austerity measures to this June in response.
The country's cost of borrowing rose slightly in financial markets following S&P's move, to 4.87% from 4.77%, before falling back again in morning trading.

Yemen unrest: Key Hashid tribe in clashes with police

Heavy fighting has broken out in the Yemeni capital Sanaa between security forces and members of the country's powerful Hashid tribe.

Several people were hurt in the clashes in a northern district, near the home of tribal leader Sheikh Sadeq al-Ahmar.
Witnesses said machine-guns and grenades were used, sending some local residents fleeing in panic.
Sheikh Ahmar, a former supporter of President Abdullah Saleh, joined protests against his rule in March.
The clashes come a day after Mr Saleh refused to sign a Gulf-brokered transition deal.
He said he would only sign in the presence of opposition leaders.
Saleh supporters besieged Western and Arab diplomats in the United Arab Emirates embassy, preventing the Gulf mediators from reaching the palace for the intended signing.

Middle East unrest: Yemen

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Photo: 22 May 2011
  • President Ali Abdullah Saleh in power since 1978
  • Population 24.3m; land area 536,869 sq km
  • The population has a median age of 17.9, and a literacy rate of 61%
  • Youth unemployment is 15%
  • Gross national income per head was $1,060 (£655) in 2009 (World Bank)
The Gulf Co-operation Council then suspended the initiative because of "a lack of suitable conditions".
The deal called for Mr Saleh to step down after 33 years in office and hand over power to a unity government within a month.
It would also have given the president immunity from prosecution.
Mr Saleh has been criticised by Western powers, in particular the US and France, for failing to agree to a transfer of power.
Many protesters meanwhile - inspired by the successful revolts in Tunisia and Egypt - say the accord does not go far enough, and are calling for Mr Saleh's immediate departure.
In March, Sheikh Ahmar said he was "joining the revolution" and called on Mr Saleh, himself a member of the Hashid tribe, "to exempt Yemen from the bloodshed and make a quiet exit".

Spanish Socialists suffer crushing defeat

Ruling party loses traditional strongholds in local elections, amid nationwide protests over economic policy.
Spain's ruling Socialists reeled Monday from an unprecedented mauling in local elections as protesters vented their anger over the highest jobless rate in the developed world.

The drubbing was a grim omen for the party ahead of general elections due next year, when the conservative Popular Party (PP) of Mariano Rajoy is expected to romp into office after eight years in opposition.

France to deploy 12 helicopters in Libya as European Union opens office in Benghazi---this is direct war, no means of UN resolution

France plans to deploy attack helicopters in Libya, the first to be used in the coalition against Muammar Qaddafi’s forces, a French newspaper reported on Monday hours after the European Union opened a mission office in the revolt capital of Benghazi.

Twelve helicopters were shipped out to Libya on French battleship Tonnerre on May 17, daily Le Figaro reported, to help break a military stalemate three months into an uprising against Mr. Qaddafi’s four-decade rule.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Yemen unrest: Gulf states suspend transition deal

The Gulf Co-operation Council has supsended its effort to mediate in Yemen's political crisis, after President Ali Abdullah Saleh has refused to sign a deal to step down.
State TV said he would only sign in the presence of opposition leaders, who had signed the agreement on Saturday.

UN urges Sudan to pull out of Abyei

Call comes after Sudanese troops gained control of disputed region and moved tanks into main town.
The UN Security Council has called on the north Sudanese army to withdraw from positions it has taken in the disputed region of Abyei.
In a statement read to reporters in Khartoum by the French council ambassador on Sunday, the council also condemned south Sudanese forces for attacking a UN convoy in Abyei on Thursday.
Susan Rice, the United States ambassador to the United Nations, called the escalation of the situation in Abyei "quite dangerous" as she visited the country with UN and British envoys.

Moroccan police beat up protesters

Protesters calling for more rights and economic benefits dispersed by police in Rabat and Casablanca.
Police in Morocco have violently dispersed protesters who defied a ban on demonstrations, beating them up with batons and taking several into custody.
Sunday’s police action in the capital, Rabat, and Casablanca seemed to suggest a tougher government response to the increasingly defiant protests that first erupted in February.

Netanyahu will work with Obama, but doesn’t apologize for insulting US president

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel on Sunday seemingly sought to be more reasonable with US President Barack Obama as he vowed to work on renewing peace talks with the Palestinians.

Mr. Netanyahu said Sunday he shared Mr. Obama’s vision for peace in remarks appeared aimed at defusing a deepening row with the United States. Many American have said that the Israeli prime minister’s behavior toward the US president had been petulant and churlish.

Battle with militants rages on at PNS Mehran Base in Karachi

KARACHI: An overnight battle with militants at Pakistan’s naval aviation base erupted again after dawn on Monday, with blasts ringing out and choppers hovering overhead as security forces launched a counter-offensive. 
“The operation still continues. It is not over yet,” said one security official, eight hours after a group of up to 15 militants stormed the installation with guns and grenades, killing at least five people and blowing up at least two military aircrafts.

British end military mission in Iraq

The last of Britain's military forces in Iraq pulled up anchor on Sunday, ending more than eight years of fighting militants and training security forces since invading in 2003.
Eighty-one Royal Navy sailors turned over the task of patrolling waters off the southern port city of Umm Qasr on the Persian Gulf to Iraq's fledgling Navy. It was the last hands-on mission that British troops had in Iraq since combat forces pulled out of the southern city of Basra in July 2009.


Gunmen claiming to be loyal to President Ali Abdallah Saleh of Yemen laid siege Sunday afternoon to the embassy of the United Arab Emirates in Sana’a, trapping ambassadors of the United States, Britain and the European Union, and those from the six members states of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

Also trapped inside the UAE embassy was the secretary general of the GCC, Abdullatif al-Zayani.

Singapore raises growth forecast on manufacturing boost

Singapore has raised its economic growth forecast after a manufacturing boost at the start of year.
Gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 8.3% in the first quarter compared to the same period a year earlier, the Trade and Industry Ministry said.
The government said it now expects growth of between 5% and 7% this year, 1 percentage point higher than its previous forecast.
Singapore was the fastest growing Asian economy in 2010.
According to the latest government figures the economy grew by an annualised rate of 22.5 in the first three months of 2011.
Singapore's continued growth was lead by manufacturing, especially in pharmaceutical production.
Manufacturing rose 13% from the previous year and 75% from the previous quarter, the ministry said.

Economic recovery at risk over oil supply says IEA

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has urged oil producing countries to increase supply to avoid "derailing the economic recovery".
The organisation says high oil prices are threatening the global recovery by reducing spending power and driving up inflation, placing upward pressure on interest rates.
The IEA statement suggests it could release emergency stockpiles if action is not taken.

'Rapture': Believers perplexed after prediction fails

Followers of an evangelical broadcaster who declared that Saturday would be Judgement Day are trying to make sense of the failed prediction.
Some believers expressed bewilderment or said it was a test from God of their faith, after the day passed without event.
Meanwhile, the evangelist at the centre of the claim, Harold Camping, has not been seen since before the deadline.
He had predicted that Jesus Christ would return to earth on Saturday.
True believers would then be swept up, or "raptured", to heaven, he had pronounced.
The 89-year-old has used broadcasts on a Christian network and billboards to publicise his ideas as part of a campaign that went global.
He said biblical texts indicated that a giant earthquake on Saturday - which he said would begin at 1800 at various time zones around the world - would mark the start of the world's destruction, and that by 21 October all non-believers will be dead.

Chile: Valparaiso protesters in clashes with police

Police in Valparaiso, in Chile, have clashed with demonstrators protesting against government policies.
A protest march was timed to coincide with President Sebastian Pinera's annual state of the nation address.
Demonstrators held up signs opposing the government's environmental, education and labour policies.
Many said they had come to protest against a hydro-electric dam project in southern Chile, which they say will destroy 6,000 hectares of forest.
The march had been called by one of the country's main trade union movements, the CUT.
CUT officials said they wanted President Pinera to fulfil his campaign promises.

Pakistanis protest against US drone strikes

Imran Khan leads thousands in Karachi rally, calling for an end to strikes seen as violation of Pakistan's territory.
Imran Khan, Pakistan's cricket-great-turned-politician and the chairman of the Tehreek-e-Insaf party (Movement for Justice), has led around 6,000 protesters in Karachi demanding an end to US drone strikes on Pakistani soil.

On Saturday, thousands of anti-US protesters gathered near the port of Pakistan's largest city Karachi to stage a protest on the first of the planned two-day sit-in against what they regard as violations of Pakistan's territory by the US and NATO forces.

Wave of bombings strikes Iraq

More than a dozen blasts across mostly Shia areas in Baghdad target government and police, leaving at least 13 dead.
At least 13 people have been killed and dozens injured after a wave of apparently co-ordinated bombings hit mostly Shia areas in central Iraq on Sunday.
Most of the blasts occurred between 7am and 8am, during rush hour on the first day of the work week, and targeted police officers and government officials, though some hit markets and injured civilians.