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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

German cucumber E.coli outbreak 'may last months'

The head of the German public health body tackling a deadly E.coli outbreak says it may be months before it stops.
Reinhard Burger, president of the Robert Koch Institute, told the BBC "we may never know" the infections' source.
He expressed sympathy for Spanish farmers affected by the false charge that their cucumbers were to blame.
More than 1,500 people have been infected by enterohaemorrhagic E.coli (EHEC), which can cause the deadly haemolytic-uraemic syndrome (HUS).
Seventeen people have died - 16 of them in Germany and one in Sweden.
Meanwhile, Russia has banned the import of fresh vegetables from European Union countries. A quarter of all vegetables exported from the EU are sent to Russia.
Russian consumer protection agency head Gennady Onishchenko announced the ban and criticised health standards within the EU.
"This shows that Europe's lauded health legislation - one which Russia is being urged to adopt - does not work," he said.
Spread to US

US not trying to hold China down, says Robert Gates

The US is not trying to hold China down or block it as a global power, Defence Secretary Robert Gates has said.
Mr Gates said he felt that US-China relations were in "a pretty good place" but continuing dialogue was essential.
He was speaking as he flew to a conference in Singapore which will include a delegation led by China's Defence Minister, Liang Guanglie.

Sepp Blatter wins re-election as president of Fifa

Fifa president Sepp Blatter has been voted in for a fourth term in office.
The 75-year-old Swiss was the only candidate in Wednesday's election, with the English and Scottish Football Associations failing to delay the vote.
They wanted a delay amid corruption allegations within the sport's world governing body, but were only supported by 17 member associations.
Blatter was re-elected after receiving 186 of the 203 votes cast to remain in charge until 2015.

Yechury wants JPC chief to circulate all his letters to Manmohan

“This will be useful in 2G probe with increasing reports on Maran's alleged role”
Amid unconfirmed reports that Shahid Usman Balwa, Swan Telecom promoter and one of the accused in the 2G spectrum scam, has expressed his desire to testify before the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC), Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sitaram Yechury has requested the Chairman of the Committee, P.C. Chacko, to circulate among the members all his letters to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the subject from February 2008.

BJP, Jayalalithaa want Dayanidhi Maran to quit

Karat for thorough probe into spectrum allocation
Union Textiles Minister Dayanidhi Maran came under increasing pressure on Wednesday, with the Bharatiya Janata Party and the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam demanding his resignation and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) calling for a thorough investigation into reports that alleged his family benefited from policies and decisions he made as Minister for Communications between 2004 and 2007.
BJP general secretary Jagat Prakash Nadda wanted Mr. Maran to quit following reports that alleged that an investment made by Malaysian company Maxis Communications in a direct-to-home company of the Sun TV Network owned by Mr. Maran's brother, Kalanidhi Maran, could have been a quid pro quo for Aircel getting 14 mobile telephony licences after Maxis took it over.
AIADMK general secretary and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa demanded that the Minister quit and face legal proceedings.
“I am quite sure the Prime Minister knows what should be done… The Prime Minister should ask him to quit immediately, if he has already not done so,” Ms. Jayalalithaa said at a press conference in Chennai.

41 people killed in Sana’a fighting as reports predict Saleh likely out of power in 2011

Forty-one people were killed in overnight heavy fighting in Sana’a between opposition tribesmen and security forces, Al Arabiya correspondent said on Wednesday as a European think-tank predicted that the Yemeni President is unlikely to stay in power through 2011.

Clashes between tribesmen loyal to Sheikh Sadiq al-Ahmar, who heads the powerful Hashid confederation, and security forces broke out in Sana’a on Tuesday shattering a truce announced on Friday.

opposition hires mercenaries while Libyan turns to crooks

British mercenaries working for private security companies are in the Libyan city of Misrata, advising the protesters and supplying information to NATO.

The Guardian newspaper also reported Wednesday that Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has armed criminals to crush the opposition in Zlitan.

Former members of the Special Air Service (SAS) are among those gathering information about the location and movement of troops loyal to Colonel Qaddafi, British military sources told the paper.

Qaddafi committed war crimes, says UN panel, but rebels also stand accused

The United Nations human rights forum said on Wednesday a fact-finding mission in Libya has concluded that Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi's forces committed war crimes and crimes against humanity, as NATO extended its Libya air war by three months.

It also said the mission found some evidence of war crimes by opposition forces.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Buddhadeb demands immediate end to violence

Trinamool leaders and police jointly going to CPI (M) offices to conduct raids
Claiming that an alarming situation had been created in West Bengal since the results of the Assembly elections were announced on May 13, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, member of the Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) on Tuesday called for an immediate end to the attacks on supporters and offices of the Left parties.

Assad declares amnesty for protesters, opposition says ‘Too little, too late’

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Tuesday decreed a general amnesty for Muslim Brotherhood members and political prisoners after two months of deadly anti-regime protests, while at least 15 demonstrators were killed and 100 people injured during an assault by Syrian security forces that began the previous day.

“President Assad has by decree issued an amnesty on all crimes committed before May 31, 2011,” Syria’s state-run SANA news agency said.

Indian and Danish firms in U.S. death penalty row

The embroilment in a death penalty row of an Indian supplier of sodium thiopental, one of three drugs used in the lethal injection cocktail in the United States, deepened recently when one death row inmate’s lawyers questioned the firm’s “competence and credibility” and leaked emails between officials of the firm revealed internal conflicts.

‘Number of hungry people in India rose by 65 mn between 1990-2005’

The number of hungry people in India has increased by 65 million — more than the population of France — because economic development excluded the rural poor, and welfare programmes failed to reach them, according to charity organisation Oxfam.
In a report titled ‘Growing a better future’, it said today that India’s economy doubled in size from 1990 to 2005, but the number of hungry in the country had risen by 65 million during the period.

Thousands protest Mladic’s arrest: Bosnia

The Serb protesters regard the former Bosnian Serb commander as an officer who defended them against Muslims and prevented what they regarded as the spread of Islam over their region.
About 10,000 people held a peaceful protest on Tuesday against the arrest of Gen. Ratko Mladic, calling Serbia’s president a traitor for ordering it.
Many of the demonstrators travelled by bus to Banja Luka, the administrative capital of the Serb—dominated region of Bosnia, to take part in the protest.
Mladic was arrested last week in Serbia after 16 years on the run, and he will be extradited to a U.N. tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, to face charges for some of the worst atrocities of the 1992—95 Bosnia war, including the Srebrenica massacre that left some 8,000 Muslim men and boys dead.
The Serb protesters regard the former Bosnian Serb commander as an officer who defended them against Muslims and prevented what they regarded as the spread of Islam over their region.
The demonstrators chanted Mladic’s name and carried his picture alongside those of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev, whom they regard as allies in their struggle.
“We love our general, Ratko Mladic, and we love freedom. We came here to support our hero,” said Vojo Gusic, from the southeast town of Nevesinje.
Other, smaller pro—Mladic protests have been held every day since his arrest in Serbia.
The protesters also criticized Serbian President Boris Tadic for ordering Mladic’s arrest, branding the leader as a “traitor” for doing so. “Boris, kill yourself and save Serbia!” the demonstrators chanted.

Centre seeks views of CMs, political parties on Lokpal

Seeking to widen consultations, the Centre on Tuesday wrote to all Chief Ministers and leaders of political parties eliciting their views on issues including whether to bring the Prime Minister under Lokpal.
A day after civil society activists on the Joint Drafting Committee on the Bill threatened to take to streets, Home Minister P. Chidambaram and HRD Minister Kapil Sibal addressed a press conference to make it clear that the government was committed to bringing a Bill in the Monsoon session of Parliament.
The government is also trying to avert a situation like the one that evolved during the indefinite fast by Anna Hazare last month with Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and top Ministry officials talking to Baba Ramdev to persuade him not to go ahead with his proposed indefinite fast from June 4.
Mr. Mukherjee, who is also the chairman of the panel, on Tuesday wrote a letter to the Chief Ministers and leaders of political parties’ representatives in Parliament to give their views on six issues.

Big corporate sponsors, chagrined at corruption scandal, urge FIFA to reform

Corporate sponsors of world soccer body FIFA, in a serious blow to the organization as it opens it general assembly Tuesday amid the worst corruption scandal in more than a century, have expressed concern at president Sepp Blatter’s handling of the crisis.

The sponsors’ concern could threaten FIFA’s financial situation and comes as Mr. Blatter stands as the sole candidate in a presidential election scheduled for Wednesday. Marketing rights accounted for $227 million of FIFA’s $1 billion turnover in 2009.

North and south Sudan agree on demilitarized zone to be despite deadlock over Abyei

North and south Sudan have agreed to create a demilitarized zone to bolster security along their border, despite a deadlock over the disputed region of Abyei, the African Union said on Tuesday.

The agreement, signed in Addis Ababa on Monday evening, established a joint political and security mechanism, headed by the defense ministers, “to ensure that the two parties can maintain stable and secure relations,” according to the Agence-France Presse.

NATO strikes Tripoli as South Africa calls for immediate ceasefire after Zuma’s visit

NATO pounded Libya’s capital on Tuesday, only hours after South Africa’s president left following talks that produced only a commitment to a peace plan already rejected by the military alliance and opposition.

South Africa’s foreign minister called for an immediate ceasefire in Libya on Tuesday, after President Jacob Zuma’s talks Muammar Qaddafi in Tripoli failed to advance a regional peace plan.

Karzai bans NATO strikes on Afghan homes

Afghan president says foreign forces risk becoming an occupying force if they do not halt air strikes on civilians.

Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, has warned that the NATO forces fighting in his country risk becoming an "occupying force" if they do not stop air strikes on Afghan civilian homes as they hunt armed fighters.
On Tuesday, Karzai told reporters in Kabul that "from this moment, air strikes on the houses of people are not allowed.
"The people of Afghanistan so far have endured casualties and have given sacrifices. So these operations should not be used against Afghan people and their houses.
"That's why bombing Afghan houses is banned."

Italian PM suffers setback in local elections

Silvio Berlusconi loses vote in Milan, his political stronghold, and in the southern city of Naples.
The Italian prime minister has acknowledged his centre-right party has suffered defeats in local elections in his political stronghold of Milan and in the southern city of Naples.
Speaking to reporters on Monday during a visit to Romania, Silvio Berlusconi said: "This time we didn't win, but we continue. I am a fighter. Any time I have lost, I tripled the effort."
Berlusconi's administration has been beset by corruption allegations, which he denies. He also faces a trial in Milan in a prostitution scandal.

Yemen truce ends, stoking worries of civil war, as Saleh refuses to exit presidency

A truce that ended days of street fighting between Yemeni tribesmen and security forces loyal to President Ali Abdullah Saleh has broken down, a government official said on Tuesday.

The government and the supporters of Sadiq al-Ahmar, the leader of the powerful Hashed tribe, accused each other of breaking the truce and bringing the embattled country closer to a civil war, according to Reuters.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Egyptian general admits 'virginity checks' conducted on protesters

Cairo (CNN) -- A senior Egyptian general admits that "virginity checks" were performed on women arrested at a demonstration this spring, the first such admission after previous denials by military authorities.
The allegations arose in an Amnesty International report, published weeks after the March 9 protest. It claimed female demonstrators were beaten, given electric shocks, strip-searched, threatened with prostitution charges and forced to submit to virginity checks.

China: Food safety violators to face death penalty

Beijing (CNN) -- Amid deepening public concerns over the country's food safety following a wave of recent scandals, China's highest court has ordered judges nationwide to hand down harsher sentences, including the death penalty, to people convicted of violating food safety regulations.

Colombia details scale of land stolen in civil conflict

The Colombian government says almost 7m hectares (17m acres) of land have been stolen by armed groups involved in the country's civil conflict over the past 25 years.
Agriculture Minister Juan Camilo Restrepo said hundreds of thousands of families were driven from their land.
He said paramilitaries, rebels and drug dealers had used violence and fraud to take the land.
Colombia this week passed a law which aims to return the land to its owners.
'Historic law' In an interview with the Colombian newspaper El Tiempo, Mr Restrepo said getting that land back would be a "gigantic administrative and judicial task".

Sepp Blatter denies Fifa is in crisis

Sepp Blatter has insisted that Fifa is not in crisis, despite the "great damage" done to its image by ongoing corruption allegations.
"Football is not in a crisis, only some difficulties," said the Fifa president.
Blatter brushed off suggestions, from the British government among others, that Wednesday's presidential election - for which he is the only candidate - should be suspended.
"If governments try to intervene then something is wrong," he said.
"I think Fifa is strong enough that we can deal with our problems inside Fifa."
Blatter, unusually appearing alone at a news conference in Zurich, gave a defiant display despite the storm surrounding the organisation.

Mr Zuma said Col Gaddafi would agree to a ceasefire

Mr Zuma said Col Gaddafi would agree to a ceasefire but would not step down - as demanded by Nato and Libyan rebels.
The ceasefire proposal was rejected last month after a mediation mission by Mr Zuma on behalf of the African Union.
A spokesman for Libya's rebels dismissed calls for a ceasefire, and promised to continue their offensive.
Italy Foreign Minister Franco Frattini is expected to visit the rebel-held city of Benghazi on Tuesday.
Mr Frattini will meet members of the Libya Transitional National Council, the opposition alliance against Gaddafi.

Central aid should have come earlier, says Asim Dasgupta

Welcoming Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee's announcement of financial help to West Bengal, Asim Dasgupta, the former Finance Minister, said here on Monday that the assistance should have come at least a year back.
“We have repeatedly said that there is a need for debt relief. It is good that the Government of India and the Finance Ministry has already set up a high-power committee to look into this aspect and we have already made our presentation. It would have been proper if the debt relief had started last year,” Dr. Dasgupta told journalists at the State headquarters of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) here.

Contentious issues bog down Lokpal Bill panel

UPA government for excluding PM, higher judiciary and acts of MPs in Parliament from scrutiny
The Joint Drafting Committee on the Lokpal Bill on Monday for the first time got bogged down by contentious issues. The UPA government opposed scrutiny by the Lokpal of the Prime Minister, the higher judiciary and acts of MPs inside Parliament — in the context of seeking cash for votes and for raising questions — and, as a way out, embarked on wider consultations.
Both Union Minister for Human Resource Development Kapil Sibal, who briefed the media on behalf of the government, and representatives of civil society Arvind Kejriwal and advocate Prashant Bhushan separately said the next meetings on June 6 and 10 would be an attempt at resolving these issues after eliciting the opinions of the States, political parties and the general public.
Both sides admitted divergence of opinion on four of the five contentious issues discussed at the fifth meeting of the committee, and the expression of the two sides on the deliberations was equally at variance.
Mr. Sibal stressed the guiding principle of the exercise was the supremacy of the Constitution and any Lokpal Bill had to be consistent with the Constitution.

Qaddafi appears on TV greeting Zuma and has a French lawyer to his defense

South African President Jacob Zuma met Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi for truce talks on Monday as NATO said the strongman's "reign of terror" was nearing its end and top military officers deserted him.

State news agency JANA said Mr. Zuma left the capital after a visit lasting several hours during which he met the embattled Qaddafi.

State television broadcast footage of Libya’s Qaddafi welcoming Mr. Zuma at the entrance to a building, in the Libyan leader's first reported public appearance since May 11, Agence-France Presse reported.

Yemen soldiers killed in restive city

At least six soldiers ambushed in Zinjibar hours after security forces opened fire on protesters in Taiz, killing 20.
At least six Yemeni soldiers have been killed and dozens injured in an apparent ambush as they travelled to Zinjibar, a southern city reportedly under the control of al-Qaeda fighters, a security official has said.

According to residents, Yemeni warplanes later targeted positions held by the fighters.
Earlier on Sunday, residents spoke of up to 300 fighters entering Zinjibar and taking over "everything". The fighters were alleged to be al-Qaeda members.

Bin Hammam blasts FIFA decision to suspend him

One-time world soccer body FIFA presidential candidate Mohamed bin Hammam has blasted a decision by the body's ethics committee to suspend him alongside three other soccer officials on suspicion of bribery, charging that the committee had not applied fair play.

Mr. Bin Hammam, a Qatari national, said in a statement that he did not understand the logic the suspension given that the committee had not been found guilty of wrongdoing.

Govt. against bringing Prime Minister under Lokpal

Civil society members were unhappy with government insisting on "self regulation" to control corruption in higher judiciary and MPs inside parliament instead of bringing them under Lokpal.
Sharp differences came to the surface at a meeting of the drafting committee for Lokpal bill on Monday with the government strongly opposing proposals for inclusion of Prime Minister, higher judiciary and acts of Members of Parliament inside Parliament under its purview.
At the meeting held under the Chairmanship of Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, contentious issues came up for discussion in the committee for the first time.
Anna Hazare, one of the members of the committee, who is spearheading the campaign for a strong and effective Lokpal bill, said that he was not hopeful of the government meeting its deadline of June 30 for preparing the bill.
Arvind Kejriwal and Prasahant Bhushan, both civil society members of the committee, said except on one issue of keeping citizen charter and public grievances under the jurisdiction of Lokpal, the government opposed the demands for bringing the Prime Minister, higher judiciary and the corrupt acts of MPs inside the Parliament under the ambit of the Lokpal.

Bomb wounds 12 in Pakistan tribal region

Witness Adnan Wazir says the blast hit a hotel in the main market, badly damaging the building.
Intelligence officials and a witness say a bomb has exploded in a hotel in the main town of a militant—infested Pakistani region close to the Afghan border.
They said the blast on Monday wounded 12 people in the town of Miram Shah in North Waziristan.
Witness Adnan Wazir says the blast hit a hotel in the main market, badly damaging the building.
Intelligence officials who discussed the blast are not allowed to give their names.
Miram Shah is said by locals to be under the effective control of al Qaeda and Taliban militants.
The United States has long urged Pakistan’s army to launch an operation in North Waziristan.

I know how to survive tough times, says Mayawati

“Opposition parties have tried to bribe, threaten and drag the good name of Bahujan Samaj Party workers for many decades, but could not take away the devotion of our workers,” said party supremo and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati. She was addressing the North zone convention of the party here on Sunday.
Asserting that the BSP was the only party that worked for the welfare of the poor, she said all others worked only for rich industrialists and business houses who fund their activities.

Germany decides to abandon nuclear power by 2022

Chancellor Angela Merkel pushed through measures in 2010 to extend the lifespan of the country’s 17 reactors, with the last one scheduled to go offline in 2036, but she reversed her policy in the wake of the Japanese disaster.
Germany’s coalition government agreed early Monday to shut down all the country’s nuclear power plants by 2022, the environment minister said, making it the first major industrialized power to go nuclear—free since the Japanese disaster.

UP to 20 protesters killed, 150 injured as Yemen forces control Freedom Square in Taez

At least twenty people have been killed and up to 150 others have been wounded when Yemeni forces entered Freedom Square in Taez, Al Arabiya reported on Monday citing its correspondent. The government forces used bulldozers and live rounds, according to the report.

Yemen’s security forces have been launching a crackdown campaign against anti-regime protesters in the southern city of Taez. Thousands of demonstrators have been camped out at the square to demand the ouster of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Libya: South Africa's Jacob Zuma in peace mission

South African President Jacob Zuma is heading for Libya for what is being seen as a last attempt to find a peaceful solution to the conflict.
It is unclear if the visit, Mr Zuma's second, will focus on exit strategies for leader Col Muammar Gaddafi.
Rebels fighting Col Gaddafi's forces since February have refused to negotiate unless he steps down.
Meanwhile Mr Zuma's ruling African National Congress has condemned the Nato bombing of Libya.
"We... join the continent and all peace loving people of the world in condemning the continuing aerial bombardments of Libya by Western forces," the ANC said in a statement on the eve of the visit.

French minister quits over sexual harassment accusation

A French junior minister accused of having sexually harassed staff of a town hall where he is mayor has resigned from the government.
A statement by the prime minister said Civil Service Minister Georges Tron had acted "in the general interest", and noted he denied the allegations.
His resignation comes in the wake of the US arrest of ex-IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn earlier this month.
He is charged with sexually assaulting a chamber maid in a New York hotel.
In the wake of the Strauss-Kahn case, there has been speculation internationally over whether France is prepared to re-examine its strict observance of privacy laws to report scandals affecting politicians.
'Foot massages'

Bomb blast in Nigeria kills 10

At least 10 people were killed in an explosion at a market in northern Nigeria, only hours after President Goodluck Jonathan was sworn in for a new term, a news report said Monday.
Twenty people were also injured when the bomb went off at 1900 GMT Sunday at a market near an army barracks in the city of Bauchi, the BBC said, quoting local officials. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Brotherhood says won't force Islamic law on Egypt

The Muslim Brotherhood wants a diverse parliament after elections in September and is not seeking to impose Islamic law on Egypt, the head of the group's newly formed political party said in an interview.

The Brotherhood, which has emerged as a powerful force after years of repression under ousted President Hosni Mubarak, has said it does not want a parliamentary majority, although rivals see it as well placed for a dominant position.

Yemen rebel generals say Saleh allowed Qaeda to capture Zinjibar

Dissident Yemeni generals on Sunday accused the embattled president of surrendering Abyan province to "terrorists" after suspected Al Qaeda militants took its capital, and called for others to defect.

A security official said that more than 200 suspected Al Qaeda gunmen have wrested control of the south Yemen city of Zinjibar, Abyan's capital, in fighting that has left 21 dead.

Karzai's “last warning” to U.S. over civilian deaths

Afghan President Hamid Karzai called Sunday on the U.S. military to avoid operations that kill civilians, saying it was his “last warning” to Washington after 14 people allegedly died in an air strike.
Reacting to the alleged deaths of 10 children, two women and two men in an air strike on Saturday Helmand province, Mr. Karzai said such incidents were “murdering of Afghanistan's children and women”.

NATO airstrike kills 14 civilians in southern Afghanistan

A NATO airstrike in southern Afghan province of Helmand killed 14 civilians including women and children, a government spokesman said Sunday.
The raid in Nawzad district was initiated after U.S. Marines came under Taliban fire, a spokesman for the provincial governor said.
“The foreign forces called for air support and NATO aircraft bombed two civilian homes,” Daud Ahmadi said.

Suicide bomber strikes at top NATO, Afghan leaders

A Taliban suicide bomber wearing a police uniform blew himself up inside a heavily guarded compound as top Afghanistan and international officials were leaving a meeting, killing two senior Afghan police commanders and wounding the German general who commands coalition troops in northern Afghanistan.
Two German soldiers and two other Afghans were also killed in the blast on Saturday, the latest in an insurgent spring offensive.

Nepal politicians extend parliament's term

Political parties reach last-minute deal, saving the Assembly and averting a political crisis in the country.

Nepal's main political parties have agreed to extend parliament's term for three months, leaders said, in an eleventh-hour deal that will see the prime minister step down.
The agreement on sunday followed days of tense negotiations over the future of Nepal's parliament, or Constituent Assembly (CA), elected in 2008 on a two-year mandate to write a new constitution for the young republic.