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May 10 - EU sets up $1 trillion eurozone/IMF defense package to protect euro from disintegration. The European Union and the International Monetary Fund pledged nearly $1 trillion Monday to defend the embattled euro, hoping to repel relentless speculative attacks on the weakest of Europe's debt-laden nations and prevent the common currency from disintegrating. Central banks around the world joined the coordinated effort to prop up the euro and prevent Europe's debt crisis from derailing the global economic recovery. The US Federal Reserve reopened a currency "swap" program to ship billions of US dollars overseas in a bid to pump more short-term cash into the financial system and ensure banks have the dollars they need. Separately, the ECB jumped into the bond market, saying it is ready to buy debt from the eurozone — EU nations that use the euro — to shore up liquidity in "dysfunctional" markets. [More>>abcnews.go.com]
05.10.10 68 killed in Iraq's bloodiest day this year
May 10 - Twin car bombs at a factory, followed by a suicide blast against emergency workers, and coordinated attacks on security forces killed 68 people on Monday. In Iraq's bloodiest day this year, there were more than 20 attacks nationwide, a surge in violence that came as the country moved closer to forming a new government two months after a general election seen crucial to US combat troops leaving the country by August 31. The deadliest attack saw two explosives-packed vehicles detonated minutes apart in the car park of a textiles factory in the central city of Hilla, 95 kilometers (60 miles) south of Baghdad, as workers boarded buses to go home. About an hour later, a massive blast, which an interior ministry official said was a suicide bomber wearing an explosives-filled belt, engulfed the area as emergency service workers treated victims at the scene. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]
05.10.10 40 militants killed in Orakzai; 4 soldiers martyred
KOHAT, Pakistan, May 10 - Forty militants were killed and over 15 more injured in a fierce clash with security forces in Upper Orakzai while 4 soldiers were martyred, Geo News reported Monday. According to official sources, the security forces are pushing forward towards Dabori. A fierce clash between security forces and militants occurred in Khan Qamar Klay area in which 40 militants were killed and more than 15 wounded. Those killed also included a key militant commander. Four security men embraced Shahadat during the clash. [>thenews.com.pk]
05.10.10 Serbia uncovers 'Kosovo mass grave'
May 10 - A mass grave believed to contain the bodies of 250 ethnic Albanians killed in the 1998-99 Kosovo conflict has been uncovered, Serbian officials have said. Serbia's war crimes prosecutor said the grave had been found in a pond at a quarry in the country's southwestern region of Raska, with the help of the European Union's law and order mission in Kosovo (Eulex). "This is more proof that Serbia does not shy away from its dark past and is ready to bring to justice all those who have committed crimes," Vladimir Vukcevic told the AFP news agency. He said exhumation of the site was expected to begin soon. Thousands of ethnic Albanians were killed in the Kosovo conflict, while more than 1,000 are still missing. [More>>aljazeera.net]
05.10.10 South Korean defense chief confirms explosive chemical found in sunken ship's wreckage
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) May 10 - South Korea's defense minister confirmed Monday that traces of an explosive chemical substance used to make torpedoes were found in the wreckage of a naval ship that sank near the border with North Korea. The 1,200-ton Cheonan went down in the Yellow Sea on March 26 after an explosion tore through the frigate. Fifty-eight sailors were rescued, but 46 were killed. Seoul has not directly blamed North Korea for the sinking, and Pyongyang has denied involvement. However, suspicion has focused on the North, given its history of provocations and attacks. South Korean Defense Minister Kim Tae-young said earlier that an initial investigation indicated that a torpedo was likely to blame for the disaster. On Monday, he confirmed media reports that traces of a high explosive were found on the ship's wreckage. [More>>foxnews.com]
05.09.10 Holder: Pakistani Taliban behind Times Square attack
May 9 - Attorney General Eric Holder links Faisal Shahzad to Pakistani Taliban. Attorney General Eric Holder says the accused Times Square bomb plotter, Faisal Shahzad, was backed by the Pakistani Taliban. "We've now developed evidence that shows that the Pakistani Taliban was behind the attack," Holder said in an interview on ABC News' "This Week." "We know that they helped facilitate it," Holder added. "We know that they probably helped finance it and that he was working at their direction." The Pakistani government, Holder said, has been "extremely aggressive" in assisting with the investigation. "They've been cooperative with us, and I think we have been satisfied with the work that they have done," Holder said. Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, in another "This Week" interview, criticized the Obama administration for reading Shahzad his Miranda rights. [More>>abcnews.go.com]
05.09.10 US missiles kill 10 in Northwestern Pakistan, intelligence officials sayDERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan (AP) May 9 - The missiles struck in North Waziristan, a tribal region near the Afghan border where many Taliban-affiliated militant networks are based. Suspected US missiles killed 10 people in a militant-controlled region close to the Afghan border Sunday, the first such strike since an alleged Pakistani-trained extremist was linked to a bombing attempt in Times Square. Last week's failed car bomb in New York City has added to pressure on Pakistan to crack down on al-Qaeda and Taliban militants who have long had safe havens along the Afghan border. A Pakistan-American detained soon after the bomb attempt has allegedly told investigators he received explosives training in the Waziristan area there. US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Washington expects more cooperation from Pakistan in fighting terrorism and warned of "severe consequences" if an attack on US soil were traced back to the South Asian country.
..The US missiles hit in North Waziristan, which has been the target of nearly all of the some 30 other American attacks this year. al-Qaeda leaders and jihadis from all over the world congregate in the region, as well as members of the Pakistani Taliban, which has reportedly been linked to the Times Square attempt. Two Pakistani intelligence officials said the two missiles hit the house of local tribesman Awal Gul in Enzer Kasa village of the Datta Khel area. Ten people were killed, among them an unknown number of militants who were staying at the home, the officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to reporters. It was not immediately clear whether Gul had any ties to militant groups.[Full story>>foxnews.com; See other details,
thenews.com.pk, May 9, "US drone strike kills 10 in North Waziristan" : ...The strike took place in Inzarkas village, 50 kilometres (31 miles) west of Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan tribal district, known as a hub for Taliban and Al-Qaeda linked militants..."The compound became suspicious as it was being used by foreigners." Pakistani officials use the term "foreigners" for al-Qaeda linked militants operating in the tribal regions.
05.09.10 Tar blobs hit Alabama as 1st oil diversion aborted
May 9 - Containment dome put over leak site doesn't work; may take a day before BP can try something different. It could be at least a day before BP can make another attempt at putting a lid on a well spewing thousands of gallons of crude into the Gulf of Mexico, as a big box meant to siphon away the oil sat idle and encased in ice crystals. The company's first attempt to divert the oil was foiled, its mission now in serious doubt. Meanwhile, thick blobs of tar washed up on Alabama's white sand beaches, yet another sign the spill was spreading. "The containment dome that was put over the leak site developed ice crystals," Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen told "Face the Nation" anchor Bob Schiffer. "The next tactic with be a junk shot. They'll take a bunch of debris, shredded up tires, golf balls and things like that and under very high pressure shoot it into the preventer itself and see if they can clog it up and stop the leak." [More>>cbsnews.com; See related story, wwltv.com, May 9, "Oil spill cleanup important phone numbers and information."]
05.09.10 German flights cancelled, some airports closed by volcanic ash
(AFP) May 9 - The airspace around the southern German city of Munich has been closed since 1300 GMT Sunday due to volcanic ash from Iceland, grounding flights at several airports, authorities said. "Due to the high level of contamination from volcanic ash, there have been no flights taking off or landing at Munich airport," said the country's DFS air safety agency, adding the measures would be in force "until further notice." [More>>france24.com]
05.08.10 New York car bomb suspect Faisal Shahzad 'knew key militants'
May 8 - Times Square car bomb suspect Faisal Shahzad's family knew at least two key Pakistani militants who were involved in terrorist activities, AFP reports, citing The Los Angeles Times. Citing an unnamed US Government source, the newspaper said the circle of acquaintances included someone who became a Taliban leader and another who took part in the "2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai, India," in which 166 people died. The newspaper said US officials believe the Pakistani-born Mr. Shahzad's family background may help explain why he grew radicalized and allegedly contacted the Pakistani Taliban on the internet. "What we don't know is if he was actively recruited by these guys or if he recruited himself," the paper quotes a senior US official as saying. [More>>news.com.au; See related story,
05.08.10 Saudi king decries terror funding
JEDDAH, May 8 - Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah said that financing terrorist acts is "as bad as terrorist deeds." "This reprehensible crime is not only as bad as terrorist deeds but also sustains terror, attempts to sabotage our land, destabilizes our security and destroys our resources and our moderate approach," the king said in a message to Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh, who is also president of the Council of Senior Islamic Scholars. The council last month condemned terror financing. The 20-member council said the terror financing was a crime as big as terrorism itself because it empowers and enables sabotage, insecurity, murder and destruction of property. [>thenews.com.pk]
05.08.10 Canada unveils proposal to resolve conflict over Jerusalem
May 8 - Plan was funded by Canadian government but initiated by University of Windsor, with former top Canadian and US diplomats, the Montreal Gazette reports. Canada has formally unveiled a proposal to resolve the conflict over the future of Jerusalem's Old City, the Montreal Gazette reported on Saturday. The proposal, which was released after seven years of research and planning, calls for a "special regime" comprising Israeli and Palestinian officials headed by "an effective and empowered third-party"" commissioner to oversee a 0.9-square-kilometer district that contains the city's contested Jewish, Muslim and Christian holy sites. [More>>haaretz.com]
05.08.10 Palestinians agree to restart indirect peace talks
(Reuters) May 8 - The PLO has authorised the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmud Abbas (pictured), to restart indirect peace talks with Israel. The "proximity talks" will be mediated by US Middle East envoy George Mitchell, Palestinian officials said. The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) on Saturday approved indirect talks with Israel, clearing the way for the first negotiations in 18 months and giving a boost to US peace diplomacy. The PLO executive committee, meeting in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, approved the so-called « proximity » talks, whose launch may be announced later on Saturday and will be mediated by US Middle East envoy George Mitchell. The Arab League last week approved four months of indirect negotiations. [More>>france24.com]
05.08.10 Secretary Clinton on Pakistan and The War on Terror
May 8 - Says Pakistan more helpful in War on Terror; warns of "severe consequences" if successful terror attack originated there. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the Pakistani government has been warned that if a terror operation like the failed Times Square bombing were to be successful and found to be originated in their country, "there would be very severe consequences." Clinton also acknowledged Pakistan's increased cooperation in the war on terror, but said the US wants and expects even more from the Muslim nation. The interview was conducted in Washington Friday by "60 Minutes" correspondent Scott Pelley for a report to be broadcast this Sunday, May 9, at 7pm ET/PT. "We've made it very clear that if, heaven-forbid, an attack like this that we can trace back to Pakistan were to have been successful, there would be very severe consequences," Clinton tells Pelley. [More>>cbsnews.com]
05.08.10 Volcanic ash cloud shuts Spanish airports
May 8 - Spain has closed 19 airports as a cloud of ash from an Icelandic volcano drifts south over Western Europe. Spain's second biggest airport at Barcelona is among those affected, the National airport management agency Aena said on its website. The restrictions would be in place until at least 1800, Aena added. Most flights between Europe and North America are being diverted because of the ash cloud's latest drifting, officials at Eurocontrol said. Flights are being rerouted north and south of the 1,200 mile (2,000km) long cloud. On average, 600 airliners make the Atlantic crossing every day, correspondents say. Aena said the airports affected were Barcelona, Girona, Sabadell, Bilbao, San Sebastian, Vitoria, Zaragoza, Huesca, Pamplona, Logrono, Santiago, La Coruna, Vigo, Asturias, Santander, Leon, Valladolid, Burgos and Salamanca. [More>>bbc.co.uk]
05.07.10 Rocky start for Wall Street after turbulent day
May 7 - Job growth does little to boost investor optimism as Greece fears continue to weigh down market. Turbulence continued in the stock market Friday, a day after some of the most volatile trading in history. Traders looked past a surprisingly strong report on the US jobs market and focused instead on Europe's spreading debt crisis and Thursday's plunge. The Dow Jones industrial average was down nearly 1,000 points Thursday afternoon — its largest one-day drop — before recovering most of its losses. The Dow was off about 140 points in late morning trading Friday, paring some of its earlier losses. But stock prices were fluctuating sharply. Traders remained on edge after questions remained about what caused Thursday's sudden drop, which sent the stocks of several companies briefly to zero.
05.07.10 Iran belongs to world's 'nuclear club' : cleric
TEHRAN (Reuters) May 7 - Iran has entered the world's "nuclear club" and major powers should accept it, an influential cleric told worshippers on Friday, underlining Tehran's defiance in a dispute with the West over its atomic activities. Ahmad Khatami, a conservative hardliner in the clerical establishment, also warned the major powers that Iran could "endanger your entire world" in any future confrontation. The United States is lobbying UN Security Council members to back a fourth round of sanctions on Iran, to press it into curbing sensitive nuclear work the West suspects is aimed at making bombs. Iran, the world's fifth-largest crude exporter, says its nuclear programme is aimed at generating electricity and has refused to bow to international pressure to halt it. "In regard to the nuclear issue, you should regard the nuclearisation of Iran as a bygone fact," said Khatami, who is a member of a powerful clerical body, the Assembly of Experts. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]
05.07.10 Suspected money courier sought in NYC plot
NEW YORK (AP) May 7 - Investigators are probing possible financing by foreign groups. Investigators of the failed car bombing in Times Square are looking for a money courier they say helped funnel cash from overseas to finance a Pakistani-American's preparations to blow up a crude gasoline-and-propane bomb in the heart of New York, a law enforcement official told The Associated Press. Investigators have the name of the courier who they believe helped Faisal Shahzad pay for the used sport utility vehicle and other materials to rig up a car bomb that would have caused a huge fireball in Times Square if it had gone off, the official told the AP. The official didn't know how much money may have changed hands. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the investigation. [More>>msnbc.msn.com]
05.07.10 Uighur leader killed in Pakistan
BEIJING, May 7 - Pakistan and China have "broken the back" of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), which China accuses of orchestrating attacks in its restive Xinjiang region, Pakistan's Interior Minister said in Beijing on Friday. An alleged leader of the group, about which little is known, has been killed, Rehman Malik said at the end of a visit to discuss security cooperation between the two countries. China has granted long-standing ally Pakistan a $180 million loan to purchase police equipment, including armored personnel carriers and bullet-proof jackets, Malik told reporters. "I am happy to inform you that their back is broken, it's weakened," Malik said, referring to ETIM. "We treat ETIM not only as an enemy of China but also as an enemy of Pakistan ... Now the other so-called gang leader Haq has been killed recently, I can confirm that." Malik appeared to be referring to Abdul Haq, an ETIM leader also known as Memetiming Memeti, who China says took over leadership of ETIM in 2003 after the death in Pakistan of previous leader Hasan Mahsum.
05.07.10 US carbon emissions down record 7 percent in 2009
(AFP) May 7 - US energy-related carbon dioxide emissions fell a record seven percent in 2009, officials said late Wednesday, citing the economic slump and other factors including increased energy efficiency. The drop of 405 million metric tones was the largest absolute and percentage decline since energy data collection began in 1949, the Energy Department said in a statement. "Emissions developments in 2009 reflect a combination of factors, including some particular to the economic downturn, other special circumstances during the year, and other factors that may reflect persistent trends in our economy and our energy use," the agency's Energy Information Administration said. The decline is positive for efforts by the US and other countries to reduce emissions linked to global warming. Officials said that even though some of the decline came from reduced economic activity, the country's so-called energy intensity also fell. Economic activity measured by gross domestic product fell 2.4 percent in 2009, but the population increased an estimated 0.9 percent. [More>>independent.co.uk]
05.07.10 Taliban commander Mullah Atiqullah captured in Afghanistan
(AAP) May 7 - The Australian military says it captured a Taliban commander in a joint operation Afghan police last month. The captured Taliban leader, Mullah Atiqullah, is responsible for the kidnapping of New York Times journalist David Rodhe and two Afghans working with him. "Taliban commander Mullah Atiqullah and two of his close associates were captured on the afternoon of April 3, in an Afghan-led operation," a defence statement said today. Atiqullah is now understood to be in the hands of the Afghan government after being initially passed to Dutch forces. [More>>news.com.au]
05.07.10 12 terrorist suspects arrested in Greater Jakarta: Police
May 7 - Twelve terrorist suspects were arrested at four different locations in Greater Jakarta, National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Edward Aritonang said on Friday. The suspects were arrested in Menteng, Central Jakarta; Petamburan, Central Jakarta, Setu Bekasi in Bekasi, West Java; and Pejaten in Pasar Minggu, South Jakarta. However, Edward refused to disclose the identities of the suspects. "Give us time to complete the identifications, we will announce to the public as soon as possible," he told the press. Edward said the suspects were linked with the previously-arrested suspects running a training camp in Seulimun, Aceh Besar, Aceh province. "They are supporting time whose roles are to provide logistic, facilitate escapes, run training camps, and seeking new members," Edward said. [>thejakartapost.com]
05.06.10 Evidence mounts for Taliban role in car bomb plot
WASHINGTON, May 6 - American officials said Wednesday that it was very likely that a radical group once thought unable to attack the United States had played a role in the bombing attempt in Times Square, elevating concerns about whether other militant groups could deliver at least a glancing blow on American soil. Officials said that after two days of intense questioning of the bombing suspect, Faisal Shahzad, evidence was mounting that the group, the Pakistani Taliban, had helped inspire and train Mr. Shahzad in the months before he is alleged to have parked an explosives-filled sport utility vehicle in a busy Manhattan intersection on Saturday night.
05.06.10 Five militants killed in Orakzai Agency clash
HANGU, May 6 - Five militants were killed in clash between security forces and militants in lower Orakzai Agency. Sources said that militants fired rocket launcher at FC fort in Kalaya area in lower Orakzai. One security man was injured in the attack. Five militants were killed during retaliatory action of the forces. Search operation has begun in the area after the attack. [>thenews.com.pk]
05.06.10 Russian navy retakes oil tanker
May 6 - The Russian navy has retaken an oil tanker that had been hijacked by suspected Somali pirates off the coast of Yemen, officials say. At least one pirate was killed and 10 other captured after marines boarded the MV Moscow University, Russia's state-run RIA news agency reported on Thursday. A Russian defence ministry official said all 23 crew on board the China-bound tanker, which was seized on Wednesday with $52 million worth of crude oil onboard, were alive and well following the rescue.
05.06.10 War crimes suspect arrested in Kosovo
May 6 - A war crimes suspect has been arrested by European Union police officers in Kosovo, officials say. Local media identified the suspect as Sabit Geci, a member of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). The suspect is accused of torturing prisoners between April and June 1999 at a detention facility run by the KLA in the town of Kukes, northern Albania. The suspect was detained after a police raid on a house in the capital Pristina, local media reported. The arrest was made by the European Union Law and Justice Mission (Eulex). The mission did not provide any further details. Sabit Geci, 51, is suspected of torture and mistreatment of prisoners at the Kukes detention facility, which was a key supply point for the KLA during the conflict in the 1990s. War crimes investigations have been carried out by the International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague, by the UN Mission in Kosovo, and most recently by the EU mission, the BBC's Nick Thorpe in Pristina reports. But this is the first arrest related to war crimes which allegedly took place on Albanian territory, our correspondent adds. [More>>bbc.co.uk]
05.06.10 Robber uses woman's burka as disguise
May 6 - A cross-dressing robber has breached security at a jewellers by wearing a burka and a hijab - before raiding the store with a trio of other masked men. Staff at Capri Jewellers in Bury had buzzed the man into the shop after mistaking him for a woman. The criminal used the full-length garment, favoured by some Muslim women, along with the face veil showing only his eyes, to hide his identity. As soon as the door was open the rest of the gang — all wearing balaclavas and one brandishing a shotgun — barged in. They stole a large amount of jewelry, including bangles rings and lockets, before making their escape in a waiting getaway car. Detective Constable Chris Jameson said: "The store has very tight security so the ruse used to gain entry shows a level of detailed planning." The burka-clad raider has been described by police as Asian — as have the other gang members — over 6ft tall and thin. [More>>news.sky.com]
05.06.10 Kasab sentenced to death
MUMBAI, May 6 - Pakistani gunman Ajmal Amir Kasab was sentenced to death for the Mumbai terror attacks by a special court, which said that keeping such a terrorist alive will be a "lingering danger" to the society and the Indian government. The special anti-terror court of M L Tahaliyani pronounced capital punishment for the 22-year-old terrorist on five counts of murder, conspiracy to murder, waging war against the country, abetting murder and committing terrorist activities under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. 166 people were killed in the carnage. Kasab was also awarded life imprisonment on five other counts including attempt to murder, criminal conspiracy and under the Explosive Substances Act.
05.06.10 Amature images of Cannes and Nice seafronts destroyed by freak weather
May 6 - Waves reaching six to ten metres high hit the Côte d’Azur in southern France on Tuesday. The Cannes coastline and the famous Promenade des Anglais in Nice were submerged during the ordeal, leaving some 15 seafront restaurants destroyed. One person was injured after being hit by a wave. With the Cannes Film Festival set to open in just one week, local authorities in both Nice and Cannes have requested that the area be classed as a natural catastrophe zone. [More>>france.24.com]
05.06.10 Brazil Air France crash black boxes found
May 6 - The French navy has closed in on the black boxes of an Air France jet that crashed in the Atlantic nearly a year ago raising hope that light will be shed on the disaster that left 228 dead. French officials cautioned however that this breakthrough did not mean that the black box flight recorders will be successfully retrieved from the ocean floor. "It's like trying to find a shoebox in an area the size of Paris, at a depth of 3,000m (9,800ft and in a terrain as rugged as the Alps," said navy spokesman Hugues du Plessis d'Argentre. The flight recorders have been localized within three nautical miles (5km) in an area 200 nautical miles northwest of the Brazilian archipelago of Sao Pedro and Sao Paulo, the navy said. Flight 447 was en route to Paris from Rio de Janeiro when it went down on June 1 in stormy weather, killing all 228 people on board. [More>>telegraph.co.uk]
05.05.10 Pakistan arrests suspects linked to Times Square bomber
ISLAMABAD (Xinhua) May 5 - In the wake of the arrest of a US citizen of Pakistani origin in New York, Pakistani law-enforcement agencies swung into action on Tuesday and nabbed several suspects, local newspapers reported Wednesday. The arrests came when the special investigation group of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) was tasked to investigate the car bombing plot in which Faisal Shahzad, a naturalized US citizen arrested Monday late night, was allegedly found guilty. The friend Tausef and father-in-law Iftikhar Mian of Shahzad were picked up by intelligence personnel from a house in southern city Karachi, the DAWN said. According to the report, Faisal's immediate family, his wife Huma Mian and two children are also in Pakistan, but it could not be confirmed if his wife has also been detained. Sources said that Faisal Shahzad had come to Karachi in 2009. He is son of Air Vice Marshal (retd) Baharul Haq, who retired in early 1990s. Later, he got a senior post in the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and his family moved to Karachi, the sources said.
05.05.10 Three killed in Athens bank fire amid strike
May 5 - Three people have died after rioters in Greece set fire to a bank in Athens during a nationwide strike against huge spending cuts aimed at rescuing the country's economy. Greek police clashed with protesters in the capital as tens of thousands of people joined a 24-hour walkout. The three bank workers — two women and a man — were killed when their branch went up in flames after a protester threw a petrol bomb inside. Firefighters rescued another five people from the balcony. Greek prime minister George Papandreou condemned the killings, saying:
05.05.10 New EU growth figures calm fears of debt contagion
(Reuters) May 5 - New European Commission growth figures released on Wednesday have helped calm fears of the Greek debt crisis spreading to the rest of the eurozone, with 0.9 percent growth expected this year, up from the 0.7 percent predicted in February. Fears of contagion from the Greek debt crisis knocked the euro to a 14-month low and sent world stocks reeling as violent protests erupted over Athens' austerity measures and Moody's warned Portugal's debt could be downgraded. US and German bonds surged on investor fears that a massive aid package would not be enough to ensure other fiscally weak euro-zone nations don't spiral down. The euro tumbled 1 percent to $1.2850, its lowest point since mid-March 2009 and steepest one-day loss since June of last year. It is down roughly 3.5 percent against the greenback this week Skepticism that Greece can deliver on its promises of tough austerity measures dominated the markets. [More>>france24.com]
05.05.10 UK: Fall in fish stocks far worse than feared, study shows
May 5 - The dramatic decline of fish stocks around the British Isles is highlighted by a study showing that fishing fleets today have to work 17 times as hard to catch a given amount of fish than the largely sail-powered vessels of the late-19th century. In 1889, Britain's fishing fleets were landing twice as much fish as today's advanced vessels; this catch rose to a peak in 1937 when fishing vessels in England and Wales landed more than 14 times as much by weight as the average annual catch of today. Scientists said that data gathered since the 1880s, when records began, showed a dramatic collapse in stocks of cod, haddock, ling, halibut and other commercial species of fish. "For all its technological sophistication and raw power, today's trawl fishing fleet has far less success than its sail-powered equivalent of the late-19th century because of the sharp declines in fish abundance," said Ruth Thurstan of York University, the lead author of the study published in the journal Nature Communications. [More>>independent.co.uk]
05.05.10 Ahmadinejad defends Iran's seat on UN women's commission
May 4 - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday appeared to defend his country's recent re-election to a seat on the UN Commission on the Status of Women, arguing that Iranian women are "highly respected" in his country while 70 percent of European women are physically abused. Speaking at a news conference in New York, Ahmadinejad said that a "woman is the symbol of beauty of God" in his country while there is "no dignity left for women in Europe." The Islamic nation's appointment to the 45-nation group came last week after the US helped prevent Iran from gaining a seat on the Human Rights Council. A week before Iran's re-election to the women's commission, one of its senior clerics declared that women who wear revealing clothing are to blame for earthquakes, a statement that created an international uproar. [More>>foxnews.com; See related stories, Maravot News 04.30.10 Exclusive: UN elects Iran to Commission on Women's Rightsx
05.05.10 Where's Bin Laden? He's in Washington DC, says Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
(AFP) May 6 - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has denied reports that Osama bin Laden is in Tehran and insisted that the al-Qaeda leader is, in fact, in Washington DC. "Rest assured that he's in Washington. I think there's a high chance he's there," he said. Without backing up the claim, Mr. Ahmadinejad said he had "heard" that Bin Laden was in the US capital. "Yes, I did. He's there. Because he was a previous partner of Mr. Bush," he said referring to former president George W. Bush.
05.05.10 Giant oil well dome launching soon
NEW ORLEANS (AP) May 5 - Might be best short-term solution to capping undersea gusher. The best short-term solution to bottling up a disastrous oil spill threatening sealife and livelihoods along the Gulf Coast should be headed out to sea Wednesday in the form of a specially built giant concrete-and-steel box designed to siphon the oil away. At about midday, a barge will haul the 100-ton contraption 50 miles offshore to a spot where a mile-deep gusher from a blown-out undersea well has been spewing at least 210,000 gallons of crude a day into the Gulf for two weeks. BP spokesman John Curry said it would be deployed on the seabed by Thursday. It's the latest idea engineers from oil giant BP PLC are trying after an oil rig the company was operating exploded April 20, killing 11 workers. It sank two days later. [More>>msnbc.msn.com]
05.05.10 Scottish, Irish and Northern Irish airports shut by ash
May 5 - Thousands of passengers are facing long delays after airports in Scotland and Ireland closed because of a fresh cloud of volcanic ash from Iceland. Flights have been grounded in Glasgow, Prestwick and Derry since 0700 BST, while the airspace over Dublin, Belfast and Edinburgh has also since closed. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) advised passengers to check with airports before travelling. Last month, ash clouds from the same volcano grounded flights for six days. [More>>bbc.co.uk]
05.05.10 Afghan police kill five would-be suicide bombers
KABUL, May 5 - Afghan officials say police have killed several would-be suicide bombers in western Afghanistan. Zemeri Bashary, spokesman for the Afghan Interior Ministry, says police killed five bombers Wednesday before they could carry out an attack in Nimroz province. The deputy police chief there, Musa Rasooli, said militants were targeting the provincial governor's compound. Nimroz province is in extreme southwestern Afghanistan along the Iranian border. Thousands of US, NATO and Afghan troops conducted an offensive earlier this year to rout the Taliban from neighboring Helmand province. [>thenews.com.pk]
05.05.10 Somali pirates seize Russian tanker in Gulf of Aden
MOSCO (RIA Novosti) May 5 - Somali pirates on Wednesday attacked and seized the Russian tanker Moskovsky Universitet (Moscow University) in the Gulf of Aden, a Navy source said. He earlier said the incident had occurred around 8.00am Moscow time [04:00 GMT], when the tanker was on en route from the Red Sea to China. The pirates attacked the Russian vessel 350 miles east of the Gulf of Aden. There are 23 people on board, all of them Russian citizens. He added that a Russian warship, the RFS Marshal Shaposhnikov, was on its way to help the tanker but would be unable to reach it until Wednesday night, most likely "between 1am and 3am on Thursday." [More>>en.rian.ru]
05.05.10 Taliban hits government compound
May 5 - At least 12 people have been killed, including a provincial council member, during a Taliban attack on a government compound in southwestern Afghanistan, officials said. Nine fighters armed with guns and suicide vests launched the attack in the town of Zaranj, the capital of Nimroz province on Wednesday, police and local officials said. Eight of the attackers managed to detonate their explosives at three separate locations in the town — the governor's compound, the justice department and the court house, Abdul Jabar Pordeli, the provincial police chief, said. The attack sparked a nearly two-hour-long gun battle with security forces, in which a ninth fighter was shot dead by police, he said. [More>>aljazeera.net]
05.04.10 US, Pakistan make arrests in failed Times Square bomb attempt
May 4 - A 30-year-old US immigrant from Pakistan was arrested late Monday at John F. Kennedy International Airport in connection with a failed car bombing in Times Square, and a Pakistani intelligence official reported multiple arrests in that country Tuesday as investigators pursued leads overseas. Faisal Shahzad, a recently naturalized US citizen living in Shelton, Conn., was taken off an airliner bound for the Persian Gulf sheikhdom of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates about 48 hours after the attempted bombing, authorities said Tuesday. Investigators believe Shahzad paid cash for a Nissan Pathfinder that was found packed with explosives Saturday night on a tourist-crowded block in Midtown Manhattan. The vehicle was set on fire, but a homemade bomb inside failed to detonate.
05.04.10 Alleged bin Laden associate arrested in Iraq
BAGHDAD, May 4 - The alleged leader of a militant group responsible for global "jihadist recruitment" was arrested in Baghdad on Monday, the US military said. Iraqi security forces seized Abu Abdullah Al Shafi'l, the emir of Ansar Al Islam, and "seven criminal associates" during raids in the Baghdad neighborhoods of Mansour and Adhamiya, the military said in a statement issued on Monday. Ansar Al Islam "is allegedly responsible for funding and terrorist operations in Europe and the United Kingdom" and the distribution of "extremist propaganda." Al Shafi'l is believed to have served the group since its inception and is believed to be behind attacks against Iraqi civilians, Kurdish police, and Iraqi and coalition forces. Al Shafi'l also is believed to have had an association with Osama Bin Laden and apparently modeled himself after the al-Qaeda leader. The military believes the capture of the militant leader should significantly degrade the country's Ansar Al Islam network, which authorities say "has long been a direct threat" to Iraq's unification. A Kurdish counter-terrorism organization supported by US advisers helped Iraqi security forces search residential buildings in the raids. [>cnn.com]
05.04.10 Police stop Muslim woman wearing veil in Italy
May 4 - A woman visiting a post office in Novara, north-western Italy, has been stopped by police for wearing an Islamic veil covering her face. A police official told the AFP news agency the woman would have to pay a 500-euro (£430) fine. It is the first such police action since Novara brought in a by-law in January banning clothing preventing immediate identification in public. The city is run by the anti-immigration Northern League. The party is a powerful junior coalition partner in Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's national government. [More>>bbc.co.uk]
05.02.10 US joins search for Times Square suspect
NEW YORK, May 2 - Federal authorities have joined the search for a suspect who planted a crude car bomb of propane, gasoline and fireworks in a smoking Nissan Pathfinder in the heart of Times Square on Saturday evening, prompting the evacuation of thousands of tourists and theatergoers on a warm and busy night. Although the device had apparently started to detonate, there was no explosion, and early on Sunday the authorities were reviewing surveillance tapes and forensic evidence as they sought out a motive. "We are very lucky," Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said at a 2:15am press conference. "We avoided what could have been a very deadly event." A large swath of Midtown — from 43rd Street to 48th Street, and from Sixth to Eighth Avenues — was closed for much of the evening after the Pathfinder was discovered just off Broadway on 45th Street. Several theaters and stores, as well as a portion of the Marriott Marquis Hotel, were evacuated. The streets and hotels have since reopened.
05.02.10 Oil spill grows, with little success stopping flow
(AP) May 2 - Massive Gulf oil spill creeps outward, while efforts to stop the flow bring little success. BP's chairman defended his company's safety record and said Sunday that "a failed piece of equipment" was to blame for a massive oil spill along the Gulf Coast, where President Barack Obama was headed for a firsthand update on the slick creeping toward American shores. BP PLC chairman Lamar McKay told ABC's "This Week" that he can't say when the well a mile beneath the sea might be plugged. But he said he believes a dome that could be placed over the well is expected to be deployed in six to eight days. The dome has been made and workers are finishing the plan to get it deployed, McKay said. He said BP officials are still working to activate a "blowout preventer" mechanism meant to seal off the geyser of oil. "And as you can imagine, this is like doing open-heart surgery at 5,000 feet, with — in the dark, with robot-controlled submarines," McKay said. [More>>abcnews.go.com]
05.02.10 US assures Palestinians on Jerusalem settlement
CAIRO (AFP) May 2 - The key guarantee given by Washington to the Palestinians to persuade them to enter indirect talks with Israel was a halt to a controversial plan to build 1,600 new settler homes in east Jerusalem, a top official said on Sunday. The Arab League on Saturday said it backed indirect negotiations with Israel after the Palestinians said they received unspecified US guarantees.
05.02.10 Christians targeted in Mosul blasts
May 2 - A shopkeeper has been killed in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, as two bombs went off near buses carrying Christian students. More than 100 people, including students and other civilians, were injured in the blasts on Sunday morning. Abdul-Rahim al-Shammari, the head of the provincial council's security committee, said a roadside bomb exploded first, followed by a car bomb moments later. The buses were transporting university students from the mainly Christian town of Hamdaniya, 40km east of Mosul. "All of them were Christian students. They go in buses like that to Mosul's university after the troubled times when Christians were targeted in the past," Nissan Karoumi, the mayor of Hamdaniya, said...About 750,000 of Iraq's 30 million population are Christians. The US-based National Council of Churches last week sent a letter to Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, calling on her to urge Iraqi officials to do more to protect Iraq's Christian community. [Full story>>aljazeera.net]
05.02.10 Militant positions pounded in Orakzai, 40 killed
PESHAWAR, Pakistan, May 2 - At least 40 militants were killed and their 10 hideouts were destroyed on Sunday in aerial bombing[s] carried out by security forces in Orakzai Agency. According to sources, security forces backed by helicopter gunships pounded militant dens situated in Dabori, Ghalju and Khadzai areas. As a result at least 40 militants were killed and several others injured. In [the] Orakzai offensive, so far over 550 militants were killed and their 75 hideouts were destroyed in more than five weeks. [>thenews.com.pk]
05.02.10 Somali insurgents take hold of pirate haven
MOGADISHU (Reuters) May 2 - Hizbul Islam seize Haradheere, want part in lucrative trade. Somali insurgent group Hizbul Islam took control of the pirate haven of se on Sunday and wants to get involved in the lucrative trade, pirates and residents said. Pirates said Hizbul Islam sent agents to the coastal town demanding a slice of the business. The pirates said they refused and the insurgent group entered Haradheere in armed pickup trucks without a fight. "They have entered the town now. Their fighters are in every street," resident Mohamed Hussein told Reuters. "They came with 14 battlewagons. Many pirates fled with cars from the town," Haradheere, and Hobyo further up the coast, are two of the main bases for pirates operating out of Somalia. The gunmen have made tens of millions of dollars by hijacking merchant vessels, bringing them to the coast and demanding ransoms. [More>>alarabiya.net]
05.01.10 BP says first quarter net profits more than double
(Reuters) May 1 - European oil giant BP reported Tuesday that its first quarter net profits jumped 135 percent from a year earlier to 6.08 billion dollars, thanks to rising energy prices. BP said replacement cost net profit, which strips out unrealized gains related to rises in the value of inventories, was $5.65 billion in the quarter, after Brent crude rose 72 percent to average over $76/barrel. One dealer said the stock was likely to open up 2 percent-3 percent on the results. [More>>france24.com]
05.01.10 Obama to visit Gulf Coast to monitor oil cleanup
May 1 - Weather hampers efforts to stem tide of massive oil spill; all fishing east of Mississippi River closed. The worst US oil spill in decades spread into precious shoreline habitat along the Gulf Coast as documents emerged showing British Petroleum downplayed the possibility of a catastrophic accident at the offshore rig that exploded. Already, at least 1.8 million gallons of oil have leaked from the wreckage of BP's Deepwater Horizon oil rig since the rig exploded more than a week ago, reports CBS News correspondent Michelle Miller. The underwater spill remained unstopped and impossible to measure, raising fears that it could be pouring more oil into the Gulf than estimated. The Wall Street Journal reported Friday ($) that industry experts estimate that as much as 25,000 barrels of oil per day could be emptying into the Gulf — five times the current estimate. [More>>cbsnews.com]
05.01.10 US, Canada, Australia warn citizens of 'imminent' terrorist attacks planned in Indian capital
NEW DELHI (AP) May 1 - The US, Australia and Canada warned Saturday that terror groups were likely planning "imminent attacks" in India's capital and foreigners there should be vigilant. The US Embassy's alert, adding the word "imminent," appeared to be more urgent than an advisory last month that cited increased indications of attacks in New Delhi. The warnings noted that markets and other areas frequented by Westerners in New Delhi have been targeted in past attacks. Militants linked to Pakistan-based Islamic groups have been blamed for previous attacks in the Indian capital. [More>>foxnews.com]
05.01.10 Thirty dead in Somalia mosque bombings
May 1 - At least 30 people have been killed after two bombs exploded at a mosque in the Somalian capital Mogadishu on Saturday. A high-ranking member of Somalia's most powerful militia, who was inside the mosque during the blast, is believed to be the target of the attack. Officials said that at least 30 people, mostly worshippers awaiting noon prayers, were killed and 70 others were inured. Witnesses claim the Abdalla Shideye mosque, in Mogadishu's main market, was hit by two separate explosions....It is believed Fuad Mohamed Kalaf, a prominent member of Islamist al-Shabab militia, was injured in the attack. Kalaf, who recently had his assets frozen by the US for suspected links to terrorism, gives speeches at the mosque every Saturday. [Full story>>timesonline.co.uk]
05.01.10 France plans to jail burka enforcers: report
PARIS (AFP) May 1 - Proposed French law to impose jail term, fine over burka. France will jail and impose huge fines on anyone who forces a Muslim woman to wear a full-face veil, as well as fining the wearer, according to leaked extracts of a proposed law published Friday. While women will face a 150-euro penalty if they choose to don a burka or a niqab, President Nicolas Sarkozy wants to slap one-year prison terms and 15,000-euro ($20,000) fines on those who make others wear them. "No-one may wear in public places clothes that are aimed at hiding the face," says the text of a new law that is to be presented to parliament in July, according to a copy seen by the pro-government newspaper Le Figaro.[More>>alarabiya.net; See related story,
05.01.10 Kuwait breaks up Iranian 'spy cell' : paper
KUWAIT CITY, May 1 - Employees of interior, defense ministries among detained. Security agencies in Kuwait have busted a spy cell working for Iran's Revolutionary Guards, feeding information on Kuwaiti and US targets, a newspaper reported on Saturday. Citing high-ranking security sources, al-Qabas daily said Kuwait arrested at least seven men, some of whom served in the interior and defence ministries, while others include bidoon, or stateless Arabs, and other Arabs. Security agencies are still hunting for six to seven other men suspected of being members of the cell, which was broken up in a coordinated effort between the secret service and army intelligence, the paper said. Cell members have taken pictures of Kuwaiti military and other vital targets in addition to US military sites, al-Qabas said. [More>>alarabiya.net]
05.01.10 Four Turkish soldiers killed, 7 wounded in attack in Turkey
ANKARA (AP) May 1 - Members of an outlawed Kurdish group killed four Turkish soldiers and wounded seven others in eastern Turkey in the largest attack on troops in several months, authorities said Saturday. The suspected terrorists attacked a remote military outpost with rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons in foggy weather late Friday, private CNNTürk and NTV televisions said. The commander of the outpost was killed along with three other soldiers, authorities said. Two of the seven wounded were in serious condition, according to media reports.
05.01.10 3 civilians, 3 militants killed in Pakistan blast
MINGORA, Pakistan (AP) May 1 - A suicide bomber on Saturday killed three civilians and three other militants in a busy market area in a northwestern Pakistani region wrested from the Taleban last year, an army commander said. Seven soldiers and five civilians were also wounded in the blast. Maj. Gen. Ashfaq Nadeem, who commands military operations in Swat, said the blast happened when security forces with help from two recently captured insurgents traced two other militants in the city of Mingora and asked them to surrender. The pair ignored warning and one of them blew himself up, killing himself and his associate, Nadeem said. The blast also killed the two captured militants who were helping the troops, he said. Nadeem claimed that the military had almost eliminated militants from the Swat Valley. But the latest violence raised fears that the Taleban are returning in a region where the army waged a major offensive against the extremists last year — part of a broader military campaign against militants across the volatile northwest. [More>>khaleejtimes.com; See related story,
04.30.10 Goldman's shares plunge on inquiries and downgrades
April 30 - Already facing investigations on two fronts into its practices in the mortgage market, Goldman Sachs came under pressure from investors as well on Friday. After reports on Thursday evening that federal prosecutors had opened an investigation into trading at Goldman, raising the possibility of criminal charges against the Wall Street giant, the firm's stock was downgraded on Friday by two analysts. Standard & Poor's lowered its rating from hold to sell, and Bank of America Merrill Lynch dropped its rating from buy to neutral, citing the mounting investigations. Investors responded by sending the stock down 9 percent in midday trading, to $145.89, contributing to an overall decline in financial shares on Wall Street. The financial impact of Goldman's troubles continues to mount. Since the Securities and Exchange Commission announced on April 16 that it had filed a civil fraud suit against the firm, its stock is down 20 percent, removing about $20 billion from its market capitalization. The drop is all the more striking given that Goldman delivered a blockbuster quarterly report last week, with first-quarter earnings doubling from last year. [More>>nytimes.com]
04.30.10 Oil hits Louisiana shore, Obama order safety review of offshore drilling
April 30 - White House says no new drilling until 'adequate review;' first damage to wildlife. Oil from a wrecked offshore drilling platform oozed into the marshes of southernmost Louisiana today, coating birds and threatening to create America's worst environmental disaster in two decades. The oil began washing ashore near the mouth of the Mississippi River. Louisiana is home to 40 percent of the United States' wetlands and the oil now threatens some 400 species of animals, from shrimp to pelicans to river otters.
04.30.10 Belgium bans wearing of Islamic burqa in public
(AFP) April 30 - Belgium became Europe's first country to vote for a ban on the full Islamic veil or burqa, sparking dismay today among Muslims and warnings of a dangerous precedent with France set to follow suit. The bill, which also drew fire from human rights group Amnesty International, will not enter force for weeks and may have to be re-examined if early elections are called as Belgium battles a political crisis. "We're the first country to spring the locks that have made a good number of women slaves, and we hope to be followed by France, Switzerland, Italy, and the Netherlands; countries that think," said Liberal Deputy Denis Ducarme. In the lower house of the federal parliament yesterday, 136 deputies supported a nationwide ban on clothes or veils that do not allow the wearer to be fully identified, including the full-face niqab and burqa. There were two abstentions. No one voted against. [More>>news.com.au; See related stories,
04.30.10 Two NY men arrested for trying to help al-Qaeda
April 30 - Two United States citizens residing in New York have been charged with trying to aid al-Qaeda terrorists. According to the indictment obtained by CBS News, the men, Wesam el-Hanafi and Sabirhan Hasanoff, are charged with "conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization." Also according to the indictment, "the defendants would and did agree to provide al-Qaeda with, among other things, computer advice and assistance, services, and currency, knowing that al-Qaeda had engaged and was engaging in terrorist activity[.]" Hasanoff also received money from another conspirator, according to the indictment, and el-Hanafi traveled overseas "to Yemen where he met with two members of al-Qaeda who instructed him on operational security measures and directed him to perform tasks for al-Qaeda," according to the indictment. A statement from US Attorney Preet Bharara is expected later Friday. [More / complete indictment>>cbsnews.com]
04.30.10 Video shows Guantanamo detainee building bombs in Afghanistan
GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba, April 30 - During a pretrial hearing here Thursday, military prosecutors played a 25-minute video that showed Canadian detainee Omar Khadr building roadside bombs in Afghanistan with several reputed al-Qaeda operatives. "Allah willing, we will get a good number of Americans," said a voice on the poor-quality tape, which US forces seized from the rubble of a compound where Khadr was wounded and captured in July 2002. For the government, the video is a key piece of evidence that shows Khadr conspiring to kill US service members. But the defense views it as illustrating Khadr's youth and that he was in thrall to a group of adults. Khadr, who was 15 at the time he was captured, was first taken to Pakistan and Afghanistan when he was 10 by his father, an Osama bin Laden associate. The video cuts among various scenes, including one showing Khadr and others wiring Russian anti-vehicle mines and some that show him sitting in a compound by an AK-47 assault rifle. It also shows mines being planted at night, but Khadr was not seen in those shots. [More>>washingtonpost.com]
04.30.10 Terrorist suspect arrested after two months of manhunt
JAKARTA, April 30 - Police have arrested a suspected terrorist who helped operate a training camp in Jalin Mountain in the Aceh regency of Aceh Besar. National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Edward Aritonang said on Friday the suspect, identified as Eko Prasetyo, was nabbed in a mosque compound in the East Java town of Lamongan on Monday. "The suspect managed to flee Aceh and run as far as East Java," Edward said.
04.30.10 Ex-ISI official found dead in North Waziristan
ISLAMABAD, April 30 - An ex-intelligence official associated with Pakistan's spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) who was abducted last month by militants was found dead on Friday in North Waziristan. On March 26, former spy agents Khalid Khawaja, retired colonel Amir Sultan Tarar, knick-named Colonel Imam and channel 4 journalist Asad Qureshi went missing while travelling to North Waziristan to shoot a documentary and interview Taliban and al-Qaeda leaders. Khawaja, one of the abductees, was found dead beside a road near the town of Mir Ali, in North Waziristan, intelligence sources said.
04.30.10 Ahmadinejad pledges to 'knock teeth out' of any Iranian enemy
MOSCOW, April 30 - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has described Iran as a "fist" that will "knock teeth out" of anyone who has the courage to attack the Islamic republic, Iranian news agency ISNA said on Friday. The statement came during Ahmadinejad's visit to Kish Island in the Persian Gulf marking National Persian Gulf Day. The Gulf, which hosts large oil deposits, has been an area of increased attention from regional powers, as well as from the United States. "They [the US authorities] want to dominate the Middle East... Though it should be mentioned that they have not reached their goal and will not do it [in the future]," the agency quoted the hard-line Iranian leader as saying.
NEW YORK, April 30 - Without fanfare, the United Nations this week elected Iran to its Commission on the Status of Women, handing a four-year seat on the influential human rights body to a theocratic state
in which stoning is enshrined in law and lashings are required for women judged "immodest." Just days after Iran abandoned a high-profile bid for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council, it began a covert campaign to claim a seat on the Commission on the Status of Women, which is "dedicated exclusively to gender equality and advancement of women," according to its website. Buried 2,000 words deep in a UN press release distributed Wednesday on the filling of "vacancies in subsidiary bodies," was the stark announcement:
04.30.10 Clinton in Middle East warning
April 30 - The US secretary of state has warned Syria and Iran of taking actions that threaten the security of Israel, saying that Washington's commitment to its traditional ally is "unshakeable." Hillary Clinton said that the transfer of sophisticated weaponry to Lebanon's Hezbollah and the Palestinian Hamas movement by Syria, as well as Iran's nuclear ambitions, could destabilise the region. "These threats to Israel's security are real, they are growing and they must be addressed," she said in a speech to the American Jewish Committee, a US-based advocacy group. Relations between the US and Israel have been strained in recent months over settlement construction in the occupied West Bank and East Jeursalem, but Clinton's comments sought to reassure Israel that ties remain strong. Clinton told the audience in Washington that Israel was currently "confronting some of the toughest challenges in her history", highlighting support for Hezbollah and Hamas from Syria and Iran. "Transferring weapons to these terrorists, especially longer-range missiles, would pose a serious threat to the security of Israel," she said. [More>>aljazeera.net]
04.30.10 'US told Palestinians it would consider allowing UN censure of Israel'
April 30 - The Obama administration would consider allowing the United Nations Security Council to censure Israel over its activity in West Bank settlements in order to encourage the Palestinians to participate in peace talks, a Palestinian source told The Guardian on Friday. According to the source, US special Mideast envoy George Mitchell's deputy, David Hale, told Abbas that the Obama administration views Israeli construction in East Jerusalem as "provocative." Hale reportedly promised Abbas that the US would consider allowing a Security Council condemnation should such activity continue at a significant level — though he did not clarify what the Obama administration considered significant. This assurance would mean a US abstention on any resolution, rather than a veto, said The Guardian. [More>>haaretz.com]