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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Economic situation worries Greeks

Protests against austerity measures continue as government tries to deal with debt crisis.
The economic situation in Greece continues to look grim as the government gets set to usher in controversial austerity measures.
Weeks of protests continued into Saturday against the cuts proposed by George Papandreou, the prime minister, to deal with the country's increasing debt.
Papandreou will open a three-day parliament debate that will end on Tuesday with a vote of confidence.

Nato raid in Tripoli kills five under the mission of 'humantarion ads'

At least five people have died in a Nato air strike that hit a house in the Libyan capital Tripoli, Libyan government officials say.
A three-storey house was badly damaged at the scene of the alleged air raid in the city's Souk al Juma residential district.
Correspondents were later shown five bodies at a Tripoli hospital.
Nato has not commented, but it has admitted mistakenly hitting civilian areas in previous bombing raids.
If proved to be a Nato strike, it will raise more questions about the alliance's mission in Libya, says the BBC's Jeremy Bowen in Tripoli.

Congress core group suggests all-party meeting on Lokpal Bill

After a two-hour long meeting on Saturday morning, the Congress core group – meeting for the second time in two days – asked the government to call an all-party meeting to discuss the proposed Lokpal Bill, sources said. The Congress wants the contentious issue to be settled soon to ensure it does not cause disruption of the House when Parliament is convened next month.
The decision also follows differences within the Congress on whether the Lokpal Bill should cover the Prime Minister or not: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, whose personal image has taken a battering in the last few months, has even gone on record to say he has no objection to the office of the Prime Minister being included in the Lokpal Bill. Indeed, in the government's draft of the Bill, the Prime Minister can be scrutinised, unless the issues involve national security and defence.
However, most of Dr. Singh's senior colleagues in the government and the party feel the Bill needs to be drafted, anticipating all contingencies, not merely for the next three years. Including the Prime Minister, they believe, could have grave implications for the constitutional scheme of things, especially if a future Lokpal is less than scrupulous.

Question: How do I survive in office? Answer: Don’t befriend the West

A popular political joke doing the rounds in the Middle East these days is that leaders will stay in power longer if they are not friends of the West – like Muammar Qaddafi has proved in Libya, as opposed to Hosni Mubarak’s fate in Egypt.

Just when it appeared that Mr. Mubarak was at his vulnerable worst for the first time in three decades, the US administration’s reaction was: “Mubarak has been an ally of ours in a number of things.

NATO planes accidentally hit Libya rebels

NATO aircraft accidentally hit a column of Libyan rebel forces in the area of Brega on June 16, the alliance said Saturday.

The alliance said in a statement that after looking into reports that an airstrike hit opposition forces in the Brega region on Thursday, “NATO can now confirm that the vehicles hit were part of an opposition patrol.”

“This incident occurred in an area of conflict between (Muammar) Qaddafi forces and opposition forces,” the statement added.

“We regret any possible loss of life or injuries caused by this unfortunate incident,” NATO said.

The statement said a column of military vehicles including tanks was observed in an area where Colonel Qaddafi forces had recently been operating.

“In a particularly complex and fluid battle scenario, it was assessed these vehicles were a threat to civilians and they were subsequently engaged by NATO aircraft.”

NATO said it strove at all times to avoid civilian casualties.

Earlier Saturday, the alliance said that claims by Colonel Qaddafi’s regime that the alliance was perpetrating war crimes in Libya were “outrageous.”

Responding to accusations of “war crimes and crimes against humanity” by Prime Minister Baghdadi al-Mahmudi in Tripoli, NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said in a statement that “the claims made by Qaddafi and members of his regime are outrageous.”

“It is Qaddafi and his regime that have been systematically and brutally attacking the Libyan people,” she said.

Speaking at a Tripoli news conference, Mr. Mahmudi said his accusations were based on NATO “directly targeting civilian sites” with air raids over the past three days.

“We are conducting operations with utmost care and precision to avoid civilian casualties,” Ms. Lungescu said. “Civilian casualties figures mentioned by the Libyan regime are pure propaganda.”

The Libyan prime minister also called for “an urgent meeting” of the United Nations to examine “crimes committed by NATO against Libyan civilians,” saying the alliance had hit targets including a university and a hotel in Tripoli on Friday.

In its daily operational update, NATO listed its Friday hits in Tripoli as two military vehicle storage facilities.

In the vicinity of Tripoli, the alliance hit an armored vehicle storage and maintenance facility, three surface-to-air missile loaders and three self-propelled anti-aircraft guns, it said.

China says 18,000 corrupt officials flee with $120 billion

Corrupt Chinese officials siphoned more than $120 billion out of the country in less than two decades, the central bank has said in a study highlighting the widespread scourge of government graft.

Between 16,000 and 18,000 government officials and executives of state-owned firms have fled China or simply vanished with up to 800 billion yuan ($123.7 billion) in illegal gains, according to the study.

Afghanistan's Karzai: US 'in peace talks with Taliban

The US is engaged in talks with the Taliban, Afghan President Hamid Karzai has said, in the first high-level confirmation of US involvement.
Mr Karzai said that "foreign military and especially the US itself" were involved in peace talks with the group.
Hours later, sucicide bombers attacked a Kabul police station, killing two.
Earlier this month, US Defence Secretary Robert Gates said there could be political talks with the Taliban by the end of this year.
The US is due to start withdrawing its 97,000 troops from Afghanistan in July.

US President Obama ignored top legal advice and continued Libya operations

President Barack Obama overruled two senior government lawyers in deciding that he had the authority to continue US military operations in Libya without Congressional approval.

In reaching his conclusion Mr. Obama rejected the opinions of Jeh C. Johnson, the Pentagon general counsel, and Caroline Krass, the acting head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, The New York Times reported.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Morocco's King Mohammed unveils constitutional reforms

Morocco's King Mohammed VI has announced proposals for constitutional amendments in a landmark speech.
The king said the measures would entrench democratic institutions and protect rights, though he confirmed that he will retain some key powers.
The reforms would give the prime minister and parliament more executive authority and make Berber an official language in Morocco, alongside Arabic.
The proposals will be put to a referendum on 1 July.
The king promised in March to introduce "comprehensive constitutional reform" after anti-government protests inspired by those elsewhere in the region.

Libya unrest: Government says in talks with rebels

Libya's prime minister has said his government has been in talks with the rebel fighters, despite denials from the rebels themselves.
Al-Baghdadi al-Mahmudi called for new negotiations between the government and rebel leaders to resolve the conflict.
He also accused Nato of crimes against humanity in its attacks on Libya.
Earlier, Libyan rebels said that 10 civilians had been killed and 40 wounded in a rocket attack by Col Gaddafi's forces on Misrata.
"Our doors are open to all and we are in contact with all the parties," Mr Mahmudi said, according to Agence France-Presse.

South Korean troops mistakenly shoot at passenger jet

South Korean troops have fired at a passenger jet after mistaking it for a North Korean aircraft, South Korean media report.
Soldiers on Gyodong island, off South Korea's west coast, fired 99 rifle rounds at the Asiana flight, which was out of range and landed undamaged.
The incident took place on Friday close to the tense border between the Koreas.


Security forces shot dead 19 protesters at several demonstrations across Syria on Friday demanding the removal of President Bashar Al Assad, a main activists’ group coordinating protests said.

The deaths included the first protester to be killed in Syria’s second city, the commercial hub of Aleppo, the Local Coordination Committees said in a statement, according to Reuters.

Will Saleh return home to Yemen from Saudi Arabia? No, says a Saudi source

Embattled Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, being treated for shrapnel wounds in Riyadh, will not return home, a top Saudi official said on Friday, contrary to Sanaa’s claims that he will return soon.

A Yemeni official promptly denied the claim, as hundreds of thousands of anti-Saleh demonstrators pressed for an interim ruling council that would replace the veteran leader and make sure he does not return to power.

“The Yemeni president will not return to Yemen,” the Saudi official told AFP, requesting anonymity.
“It has not been decided where he will stay,” the official added, apparently suggesting that Mr. Saleh might eventually leave Saudi Arabia for another country.

Qaddafi on Libyan TV pledges to defeat NATO, calls rebels ‘traitors’ and ‘cowards’

Libyan TV aired an audio speech from leader Muammar Qaddafi on Friday in which he vowed to defeat the NATO alliance trying to dislodge him from Tripoli.

“This is the first time they are facing an armed nation of a millions,” he said. “They will be defeated, the alliance will be defeated.”

The TV station said the speech was from “a telephone call from the brother leader on June 17,” although this could not be independently verified.
“We are in our country and we are determined to stay and defend it ... We are staying, we are staying. Let them even use nuclear bombs,” the 68-year-old leader said, before referring to rebels seeking his overthrown as “traitors” and “cowards.”

Libyan rebels and pro-Qaddafi forces exchanged heavy artillery fire near the western city of Zlitan on Friday as the rebels tried to push deeper into governm

Rebels deny negotiations with Qaddafi as heavy exchanges reported near key Libyan western town

New Che Guevara diary published in Cuba

A previously unpublished diary by the Argentine-born revolutionary Ernesto Che Guevara has been unveiled in Cuba.
His widow, Aleida March, said she had decided to publish the writings unedited.
She said she wanted readers to get to know Che Guevara just as he was.
Diary of a Combatant covers his three-year guerrilla campaign which resulted in the overthrow of then-president Gen Fulgencio Batista and brought Fidel Castro to power.

Sex, Lies and US Politicians. Analysis

The dictionary defines scandal as the “loss of or damage to reputation caused by actual or apparent violation of morality or propriety.” It would not be a stretch to say that scandal, especially sexual, also is one of the hallmarks of American politics.

Afghan cash crunch looms in bank ‘Ponzi’ scam, IMF rejects rescue plan, US worried

The International Monetary Fund has rejected Afghanistan’s plan to deal with a failed bank at the center of a corruption crisis, a step that has blocked tens of millions of dollars in aid and may put development projects worth billions more at risk.

Three diplomats involved in negotiations between the aid-reliant Afghan government, donor nations and the IMF said Kabul had failed to address the fund’s concerns over the scandal-hit Kabulbank by a deadline last Saturday. That meant a scheduled payment of $70 million from the World Bank-administered Afghan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF) was automatically withheld.

Argentine leader says UK 'arrogant' over Falklands

The president of Argentina, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, has called Britain "arrogant" for refusing to negotiate on the Falklands.
She was speaking a day after UK Prime Minister David Cameron said the issue of sovereignty was non-negotiable.
President Fernandez called his refusal to hold talks on the sovereignty of the Falklands, or Malvinas, arrogant and bordering on stupidity.
Britain defeated an Argentine invasion of the islands in 1982.
The Falklands are at the centre of a territorial dispute dating back to the 19th Century.
Argentina has repeatedly requested talks on the islands' future sovereignty.

Syria crisis: Troops move into towns in north

Syrian troops travelling on tanks, armoured personnel carriers and buses have moved into two northern towns.
Security forces were gathering in Khan Sheikhun and Maarat al-Numan, a town of 90,000 between Damascus and Aleppo.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has urged Syria to halt the bloodshed and "stop killing people".
The UN says that at least 1,100 people have died as the government has violently sought to quash protests over the past three months.

Deaths in Israeli coastal city blast

At least four people killed and scores injured in explosion suspected by police to have been caused by a gas leak.
An explosion in the Israeli town of Netanya, north of the capital Tel Aviv, has killed four people and injured another 60, Israeli police officials say.
"There was an explosion in a four-storey building in Netanya, and several people were hurt," Micky Rosenfeld, an Israeli police spokesman, told the AFP news agency.

Libyan rebels reject election offer

Anti-government forces and the United States quickly dismiss offer by Gaddafi's son to hold elections within months.

Libya's Muammar Gaddafi is willing to hold elections and step aside if he lost, his son has said, an offer quickly dismissed on Thursday by rebels and US officials.
The rebel leadership in the eastern stronghold of Benghazi described the offer as "wasting our time".
"Saif al-Islam is not in a position to offer elections. Libya will have free elections and democracy but the Gaddafi family has no role to play in this process," Jalal el-Gallal, a rebel spokesman, told Reuters.

Blast rocks police headquarters in Nigeria

Powerful bomb claimed by Boko Haram explodes inside police car park in Abuja, the capital, killing at least two people.

At least two people have been killed after a powerful blast triggered by a suicide bomber struck Nigeria's police headquarters in Abuja, the country's capital.
Boko Haram - a group calling for wider application of Islamic law in Nigeria - has said it was behind the attack.
Abu Zaid, a man claiming to speak for Boko Haram, told the BBC's Hausa language service that his group was responsible.

Why the NATO powers are trying to assassinate Moammar Gaddafi Protecting civilians or western oil companies?

Wikileaks-released State Department cables from November 2007 and afterwards show the real reason for the mounting U.S. hostility to the Libyan government prior to the current civil war.
NATO has been dropping devastating bunker-busting bombs on Muammar Gaddafi's home in an attempt to assassinate him. One son and several grandchildren have died but Gaddafi has survived. The State Department cables give background to the hostility directed against Gaddafi by the United States and other NATO powers.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Sudan crisis: People, land and, of course, oil. Analysis

Current violent clashes along the dotted division of Sudan could escalate into a prolonged civil war, the future of oil taking a front seat in this transition.

Abyei is slated to come under UN control after a closed-door meeting in Addis Abba ended today promising the full removal of President Omar Al Bashir’s troops. However, the entrance of troops into Abyei and surrounding areas raise alarms including – how autonomous will the South truly be despite the nearly unanimous January 2011 vote for independence?

Bahrain to sue UK newspaper, accuses legendary journalist Robert Fisk of defamation

Bahrain said it plans to sue British newspaper, The Independent, amid accusations of “defamation and a premeditated media campaign,” against the Gulf Arab kingdom, which was embroiled in weeks of political protests earlier this year.

“The Independent has deliberately published a series of unrealistic and provocative articles targeting Bahrain and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” Nawaf Al Mawada, of the Information Affairs Authority, told Bahrain’s state news agency.

Sudan army ‘to fight by all means’ to stop rebellion in South Kordofan

The Sudanese army will continue to fight by all available means to stop the rebellion in South Kordofan, its spokesman said on Thursday, as concern grew over the humanitarian impact of the conflict.

“Until this moment we are continuing our operations in the hills around Kadugli, to stop this rebellion... We will continue to fight by all the means we have,” Sawarmi Khaled Saad told a news conference in Khartoum.

Al Qaeda appoints Egyptian-born physician Zawahiri as leader

Al Qaeda has appointed Egyptian-born physician and surgeon Ayman al-Zawahiri as its new leader, an Islamist website reported on Thursday.

“The general leadership of Al Qaeda group, after the completion of consultation, announces that Sheikh Dr Ayman Zawahri, may God give him success, has assumed responsibility for command of the group,” Islamist website Ansar al-Mujahideen (Followers of the Holy Warriors) said in a posted statement.

UPA ‘playing tricks’ with people on Lokpal: Hazare

Accusing the UPA of “playing tricks” with the people of the country, Anna Hazare on Thursday questioned the rationale behind sending two versions of Lokpal Bill to the Cabinet for consideration.
Mr. Hazare also said he would have to restart the protest at Jantar Mantar if a “weak” anti-corruption legislation is cleared by the government, which he alleged was going back on its promises.
A day after the “deadlocked” meeting of the joint drafting committee on Lokpal Bill, the Gandhian said, “If you want to have two drafts, then what was the need for setting up a joint committee?
“They (government) have wasted our time. We had our draft ready earlier and they too had theirs. They why did they not bring this to the Cabinet earlier. The government is playing tricks,” Mr. Hazare alleged.
After the government and civil society failed to achieve any common ground at the sixth meeting yesterday, it was decided to forward two versions of the Bill to the Cabinet for its consideration.


New Delhi, June 15: The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has issued the following statement:

The CAG draft report that nails the connivance between Government agencies and Reliance Industries Ltd. leading to huge losses to the Government exchequer is yet another example of the power of corporates in the UPA Government to subvert rules and regulations in their favour.

Millions strike in Greece over austerity plans

Greece, the sickest patient in the ailing eurozone, was rocked yesterday by a nationwide strike of millions of workers and hours of rioting in street protests against the government's austerity plans.
The day ended with an announcement by its embattled Prime Minister, George Papandreou, that he would reshuffle his Cabinet in an attempt to push through measures to alleviate the country's crippling debt crisis.
Earlier, he had offered to step down and form a unity government with opposition parties, a gesture he abandoned after the conservative New Democracy demanded Athens renegotiate its year-old, €110bn international bailout.

Under cover of darkness, Assad's enemies take up arms as their foe closes in

The Kalashnikov was held in nervous, shaking hands. The face above peering into the gathering darkness was drawn and tense. The guard for the refugees, barely past his teens, was on anxious alert for the pursuing forces of the regime.
Sitting and lying in huddles behind Fouad Al-Habsi, with only the branches of trees and clumps of bushes for cover, were the most recently dispossessed in Syria's bloody conflict. Exhausted and fearful, uncertain of the future, they were trying to reach the relative safety of the Turkish border.
The Independent had chanced across the group north of Ghassaniye after going into Syria through a smugglers' route from Turkey.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Russian envoy travels to Tripoli for Libya talks

An envoy leading Moscow's efforts to help end the war in Libya departed for Tripoli today for talks with senior officials in Muammar Gaddafi's government, Russian media reported.
Mikhail Margelov, President Dmitry Medvedev's special representative for Africa, plans to meet Libya's prime minister, foreign minister and other cabinet members.

Syrian envoy expected in Ankara for crisis talks as thousands seek refuge in Turkey

A Syrian envoy was due to arrive in Turkey on Wednesday for crisis talks with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, days after the Turkish leader described the Syrian government’s repression of protests as “savagery.”

The once-close relationship between the neighbors appears close to breaking point as thousands of Syrians have fled to Turkey to escape a fierce crackdown by President Bashar Al Assad’s security forces.

Black magic money

Recent events such as the Japanese Tsunami and circumstances like high oil prices seem to be slowing down the US.
Economic growth in the United States seems to be slowing again. This might reflect temporary factors, like the Japanese tsunami, which disrupted supply chains and caused some factories to suspend operations. Also, high oil prices have taken a toll on disposable income, impeding growth in consumption demand. This has led to a build-up of inventory - and thus to cuts in production.

Obama resists pressure over Libya campaign

Ten members of Congress file suit against Obama for committing US forces to Libya without congressional authorisation.

The White House insists that President Barack Obama has the legal authority to press on with US military involvement in Libya and urged sceptical legislators not to send "mixed messages" about their commitment to the NATO-led air war.
Senior administration officials, offering a detailed legal analysis to Congress to justify Obama's Libya policy, argued he had the constitutional power to continue the US role against Muammar Gaddafi's forces even though legislators had not authorised the mission.

Greek PM to form new government

George Papandreou pledges to press ahead with austerity measures despite protests turning violent in capital, Athens.
George Papandreou, the Greek prime minister, has in a televised address said he will form a new government on Thursday and seek a vote of confidence from his PASOK parliamentary group.
His announcement on Wednesday came shortly after the opposition turned down his offer to stand down to facilitate the formation of a unity government for passing tough austerity measures.
"I will continue on the same course. This is the road of duty, together with PASOK's parliamentary group, its
members, and the Greek people," Papandreou said.

Lokpal: no consensus on fundamental issues

In the absence of any convergence of opinion on fundamental issues, government representatives and civil society members decided on Wednesday to conclude the deliberations and present their separate Bills on the structure and provisions of the Lokpal to the Union government.
Emerging from the seventh meeting of the Joint Drafting Committee on the Lokpal Bill, the two sides admitted to fundamental differences on crucial issues and their inability to break the deadlock and conclude the proceedings ahead of the June 30 deadline set by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
The committee will meet, perhaps for the last time, on June 20 and 21 when the civil society members as well as the government representatives will come up with their draft Bills and make the last effort at building a consensus on the contentious issues.
Strong divergence

Kuwait emir warns against political chaos

Kuwait City
Kuwait's ruler issued a stern warning against chaos on Wednesday as the oil-rich Gulf state plunged into political turmoil and protests by youth activists demanding the premier's ouster.

"Conditions no longer permit more chaos, lawlessness and confrontations ... which threaten the security of our nation and its resources," Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah said in a televised speech.

The emir lashed out at wrangling in parliament, saying some practices by MPs were "serious ... and breached the constitution," describing them as "oppressive ... and used for settling scores."

Eight killed in suicide attack: Afghan official AP

Provincial spokesman Halim Ayar says the attacker blew himself up about 220 yards (200 meters) from the office of Governor Azizul Rahman Tawab on Wednesday.
An Afghan official says eight people have been killed and four wounded in a suicide attack in the north-eastern Kapisa province.
Provincial spokesman Halim Ayar says the attacker blew himself up about 220 yards (200 meters) from the office of Governor Azizul Rahman Tawab on Wednesday.
Mr. Ayar says four of the dead were police officers and four civilians. All the wounded were civilians.

Pact with West Bengal govt. not “final”: GJM

Facing resentment in Darjeeling hills over its agreement with West Bengal government on setting up an autonomous hill council, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha on Wednesday said the new council will be a step towards getting a separate state or a Union Territory status.
After a meeting of Morcha leaders from the three hill sub-divisions of Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong on Tuesday at the Gymkhana Club here, Bimal Gurung said in a statement that the agreement was not “final“.
“A final solution would take place only according to the wishes of the hill people, an overwhelming majority of whom wanted separate statehood,” Mr. Gurung said.
“The new council will be a step towards getting a separate state or a Union Territory status,” he said.
Besides, the statement said, the Morcha does not want a constitutional guarantee for the new council as that would give a stamp of final status on the set-up.
Sources in the Morcha said the Gymkhana meeting was prompted by clashes between two groups of the GJM over the so-called dilution of the original demand for a separate Gorkhaland state at Kalimpong two days after the agreement was signed in Kolkata.

Sudan deal reported but talks run into extra time over disputed Abyei

Addis Ababa
Talks on Sudan dragged into a third day Tuesday as delegations from the rival north and south thrashed out sticking points after a reported agreement that northern troops would leave disputed Abyei.

Sudan President Omar Al Bashir left Addis Ababa Monday night but members of his delegation stayed behind to iron out remaining points of contention, officials said.

Berlusconi's vote defeat dubbed 'Italian Spring'

They are calling it the Italian Spring.

After Silvio Berlusconi's long years in power, the electorate rose up and said they had enough, overturning laws passed by his government to revive nuclear energy, privatize the water supply and help him avoid prosecution.

Greeks set to strike as MPs debate austerity measures

Workers in Greece are due to stage a general strike, as the parliament meets to debate new austerity measures.
Demonstrators say they will encircle the parliament building in an attempt to prevent MPs from taking part.
Prime Minister George Papandreou is trying to push through fresh policies as part of the conditions for the EU and IMF's bail-out package.
A top credit agency has cut Greece's rating, making it the least credit-worthy country of 131 it monitors.
The Greek government said the downgrade by Standard & Poor's - from B to CCC - ignored its efforts to secure funding.

Yemen sees largest protests since president left

Hundreds of thousands of Yemenis have demonstrated in nearly every major city of the country, demanding trial for the family and close aides of the ailing president.
Tuesday’s rallies were the largest protests since President Ali Abdullah Saleh went abroad for medical treatment for injuries suffered in an attack on his compound. Some of Mr. Saleh’s family and closest aides remained behind, and Yemen remains locked in a power struggle between the president’s allies and tribesmen demanding an end to the regime’s nearly 33-year rule.

Syria widens crackdown in north and east

Crackdown reportedly widening in Jisr al-Shughur and surrounding villages, while troops deploy in east of the country.
Syrians continue to flee towns in the north of the country as the crackdown on the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad's one-party rule reportedly widens.
Troops pushed towards the town of Maarat al-Numan after detaining hundreds of people in a sweep through villages near Jisr al-Shughur, the Reuters news agency reported on Tuesday, citing people who fled the area.
Residents streamed south towards Aleppo and to villages in the desert to the east, while some headed to neighbouring Turkey.

NATO resumes airstrikes on Tripoli

NATO has resumed its airstrikes on the Libyan capital of Tripoli, blasting at least two targets just before midnight, after military leaders voiced concerns about sustaining the operations if the alliance mission drags on.
The targets of the late night airstrikes on Tuesday were not immediately clear, and there was no word about casualties.
East of the capital, alliance aircraft have begun dropping leaflets warning government troops to abandon their posts outside Zlitan, which lies just west of the rebel—held port city of Misrata.


Pakistan’s top military spy agency has arrested some of the Pakistani informants who fed information to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the months leading up to the raid that led to the death of Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden, the New York Times reported citing American officials.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Fresh violence claims 13 lives in Karachi

In different incidents of target killing and violence, activists of the major political parties Mutthaida—e—Qaumi Movement, Awami National Party and the Pakistan Peoples Party were killed by unidentified assailants
At least 13 people have been killed in the city overnight in a fresh spate of violence fed by political and ethnic tensions.
In different incidents of target killing and violence, activists of the major political parties Mutthaida—e—Qaumi Movement, Awami National Party and the Pakistan Peoples Party were killed by unidentified assailants.
Orangi Town was the worst hit with target killers gunning down six people in the town.

Gunmen attack government building in Baquba

At least eight people dead after armed men explode car bombs outside building and briefly take hostages in Iraqi city.
Gunmen have stormed an Iraqi provincial council building in Baquba after two car bombs exploded outside, killing at least eight people and wounding dozens more, police and health officials said.
Two car bombs were set off outside the government compound in the city, after which armed men attacked the building and took hostages.

US House votes to block funding for Libya

Bill to prohibit funds for US military operations in Libya unlikely to become law, but seen as snub to president.

The US House of Representatives has voted to prohibit the use of funds for US military operations in Libya.
Politicians adopted the amendment to a military appropriations bill by a vote of 248 to 163 late on Monday.
A number of members of Congress have expressed their dissatisfaction at Barack Obama's, the US president,  decision to go ahead with operations in Libya in March and to continue without congressional authorisation.

Nervous Iraqis buying more assault rifles, pistols

Iraqis are facing a changing and uncertain future, and they’re dealing with it by arming up.
Saadoun al—Sahil already had an AK—47 assault rifle at home but just didn’t feel safe. The furniture merchant was worried about violence in Baghdad and the impending U.S. withdrawal of troops. So he bought two pistols and some more ammunition.
Iraqis are facing a changing and uncertain future, and they’re dealing with it by arming up.
“These weapons are for the protection of myself and my family. I fear that things will get as worse as it was in 2005 and 2006. We cannot predict what will happen tomorrow or after tomorrow,” said al—Sahil.
Weapons are an everyday part of the Iraqi landscape. Nearly every home has at least one weapon, often an AK—47 assault rifle. At many buildings, residents and bodyguards can be seen checking their pistols with security before they’re allowed to go inside. Political figures are protected by bodyguards often carrying a pistol and an assault rifle.

Myanmar govt. battles rebels near Chinese border AP

The fighting has killed at least four people and forced 2,000 more to flee since it started on Thursday, according to the U.S. Campaign for Burma.
Government troops in Myanmar have attacked one of the country’s powerful northern militias with artillery in a bid to force rebel fighters from a strategic region where China is constructing major hydropower plants.
The fighting has killed at least four people and forced 2,000 more to flee since it started on Thursday, according to the U.S. Campaign for Burma.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Gaza unemployment levels 'among worst in world'

Gaza's unemployment rate was among the world's highest, at 45.2% in late 2010, the UN has found, as Israel's blockade of the territory enters its fifth year.
Real wages meanwhile fell by more than a third, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) said.
Its report says that private businesses have been hardest hit by the continuing ban on virtually all exports.
Israel tightened sanctions on Gaza in 2006 after militants captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

New Lebanese Cabinet gives Hezbollah more power

Hezbollah’s favoured candidate, Najib Mikati, was named the new prime minister. But Mr. Mikati has struggled to form a Cabinet, insisting that he would not be beholden to the militant group’s demands.
Five months after Hezbollah and its allies brought down the Lebanese government, the prime minister formed a new Cabinet on Monday that gives the Iranian—backed militant group far more power.
Hezbollah has seen a steady rise over the past few decades from a resistance group fighting Israel to Lebanon’s most powerful military and political force.
Opponents of Hezbollah - which the U.S. considers a terrorist organization - say having an Iranian proxy at the helm of Lebanon’s government will lead to international isolation.
Hezbollah forced the collapse of Lebanon’s pro—Western government in January over fears it would be indicted by a U.N.—backed tribunal investigating the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Hariri’s son, who was prime minister at the time, was forced from office when he refused to withdraw support for the investigation.
Hezbollah’s favoured candidate, Najib Mikati, was named the new prime minister. But Mr. Mikati has struggled to form a Cabinet, insisting that he would not be beholden to the militant group’s demands.
On Monday, Mr. Mikati announced a Cabinet that gives Hezbollah and its allies 16 of the 30 seats. In the previous government, they had 10 seats.

The magical realism of body counts ---Opinion

The US government, and a pliant mainstream media, are making sure the public remain ignorant of civilian casualties.

A gypsy named Melquiades who died many years ago in Singapore returned to live with the family of Colonel Aureliano Buendia in Macondo, because he could no longer bear the tedium of death. These are the kinds of characters that populate Gabriel Garcia Marquez's magnificent work One Hundred Years of Solitude. Today they also seem to occupy the tribal badlands of Pakistan's north-western frontier.

Italian PM humiliated in crucial referendums

Voters back motions against nuclear power, water privatisation and trial immunity for government ministers.
The referendum outcome has 'probably ended any prospect of using atomic energy in Italy', Berlusconi said [Reuters]
Silvio Berlusconi has suffered a humiliating defeat after Italians turned out in large numbers to vote in referendums which the Italian prime minister had encouraged them to boycott.
The proposals to repeal Berlusconi-era legislation on nuclear power, water privatisation and trial immunity for government ministers were backed by opposition parties and opposed by the centre-right.
Interior ministry figures put the turnout at 57 per cent, a huge change from the lacklustre participation in previous referendums, and 95 per cent of the votes counted backed the motions.

Libyan rebel fighters suffer losses

Germany's endorsement of opposition council tempered by news of at least 25 deaths near the eastern city of Brega.
Forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi have killed at least 25 anti-government fighters on the frontline between Ajdabiya and Brega in eastern Libya, according to rebel sources.
The rebels have spent months trying to seize the strategic oil hub of Brega, which would open the road to Sirte, the Libyan leader's home town, and from there to the capital Tripoli.
"Our men were tricked. Gaddafi's soldiers pretended to surrender, coming with a white flag, and then they fired on us," Mussa al-Mograbi, a rebel commander, told the AFP news agency on Monday.

Syria is in defining moment for Arab World: Analysis

Syria is once again one of those beautiful countries with a deep and fascinating history. If it were peaceful and more open to the world it could be a tourism paradise that could link its great sites to those of Turkey, Jordan, and more. The potential for tourism development in Syria is vast.

North Korean leader meets senior Chinese official

The official Xinhua News Agency says Li Yuanchao spoke to Mr. Kim on Monday about the countries’ strong ties and how Mr. Kim’s recent visit to China pushed bilateral cooperation to a higher level. Mr. Li is head of the Chinese Communist Party’s organization department.
China’s state news agency says North Korean leader Kim Jong Il has met with a senior Chinese official in Pyongyang.
The official Xinhua News Agency says Li Yuanchao spoke to Mr. Kim on Monday about the countries’ strong ties and how Mr. Kim’s recent visit to China pushed bilateral cooperation to a higher level. Mr. Li is head of the Chinese Communist Party’s organization department.
China is North Korea’s most important diplomatic and economic supporter.
Mr. Kim’s trip to China last month was to study market—oriented reforms. North Korea and China have also recently begun a new joint economic project.
Xinhua quoted Mr. Kim as saying the countries should boost solidarity and communicate about their experiences in socialist development.

Stop the Violence in West Bengal, Defend Democracy

Hyderabad, June 12:  The Central Committee of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) met in Hyderabad on June 11-12, 2011.  It has issued the following statement:
Election Review
The Central Committee conducted a review of the results of the recent Assembly elections in the four states of West Bengal, Kerala, Tamilnadu, Assam and the Union Territory of Puducherry.
The review examined the reasons for the big defeat of the Left Front in West Bengal. It identified the causes  for the erosion of support for the CPI(M) and the Left Front among different sections of the people.  The CPI(M) and the Left had come under a big attack since the reverses suffered in the Lok Sabha elections.  Under the TMC leadership there was a concerted effort to ensure a gang-up of disparate political forces ranging from the extreme right to the Maoists to isolate and weaken the Left Front.

Do not disrespect Parliamentary system for political gimmick: Hasim Abdul Halim

Hasim Abdul Halim, former Speaker of West Bengal Assembly, has advised Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee not to disrespect  Parliamentary system and norms while taking steps simply for political gimmick.
Expressing concern at certain steps being taken by the newly formed Trinamool-Congress government headed by Mamata Banerjee, Halim, who was a Speaker of West Bengal Assembly for more than 28 years, said Assembly was the sacred place to protect the country’s democratic set-up. The government at no cost undermine its right and supremacy.

Clinton to press African Union on Libya and to highlight rising tensions in Sudan

Reuters Dar Es Salaam
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton of the United States will urge the African Union to get tougher on Libya on Monday, hoping to push Africa’s leaders into a firmer stance on the ousting of Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi.

Mrs. Clinton, the first US secretary of state to address the 53-member AU in Addis Ababa, is also expected to warn that Middle East protests could echo in Africa, where many entrenched leaders have yet to deliver on political and economic reforms.

Libya 'repulses rebels' in Zawiya

The Libyan government says it has repulsed a fresh attempt by rebels to take the western town of Zawiya.
Rebels said there had been heavy fighting in the centre but journalists taken to the town said it appeared calm and under government control.
In March government forces retook the town, 30km (18 miles) west of Tripoli, after two weeks of heavy fighting.
Separately the BBC has learned that the rebels are smuggling weapons through Tunisia to fight Col Muammar Gaddafi.
Brega attack Reporters taken to Zawiya by government officials said the green national flag was flying in the central square.
Government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim said an attack by rebel fighters had been driven off.