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12.10.09 Obama accepts peace prize, defends 'just wars'
OSLO, Norway, December 10 - Obama hails "great" Islam, criticizes "cruelties" of Crusades. The United States must uphold moral standards when waging wars that are necessary and justified, President Barack Obama said on Thursday as he accepted the Nobel Prize for Peace. In a speech at the award ceremony in Oslo, Obama said violent conflict would not be eradicated "in our lifetimes," there would be times when nations would need to fight just wars and he would not stand idle in the face of threats to the American people.
12.10.09 Goldman alters bonus policy to quell uproar
December 10 - Moving to quell the uproar over the return of big paydays on Wall Street, Goldman Sachs announced on Thursday that its top executives would forgo cash bonuses this year and that it would give shareholders a say in determining compensation. With a resurgent Goldman set to award billions of dollars of bonuses — a trove that could rival the record payouts of the bubble years — the bank said that its 30 most-senior executives would be paid in the form of a special stock, rather than in cash. Goldman also said that it would let its shareholders vote on its executives’ pay, although the decision would be nonbinding. [More>>nytimes.com; See related story,
12.10.09 Beleaguered Iraqi leader puts off Gates meeting
BAGHDAD, December 10 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates arrived here on Thursday for talks with Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, but the prime minister said he was too busy to see Mr. Gates because he had to defend himself before a Parliament outraged by a recent series of bombings. American defense officials insisted that Mr. Maliki had not rebuffed the defense secretary, but it was not until late Thursday, hours after Mr. Gates landed in Baghdad, that they said that Mr. Maliki had agreed to see him on Friday morning. Mr. Gates's aides scrambled to rearrange his schedule. "He certainly doesn't consider it a snub,” said Geoff Morrell, the Pentagon press secretary. “He completely understands and respects that the prime minister of this country has to be accountable to the legislature." [More>>nytimes.com]
12.10.09 Iran's investigations into abuses are a sham, says Amnesty International
DECEMBER 10 - Iranian security forces used rape, torture and mock executions in their campaign to crush anti-government protest this summer, an Amnesty International said today, citing a "climate of impunity" that has seen human rights in the country plunge to their lowest point in 20 years. Amnesty said in a report that protesters were incarcerated in appalling conditions, raped and tortured into false confessions and sentenced to death after suspect show trials while official investigations into alleged abuses "seemed to have been more concerned with covering up abuses than getting at the truth."
12.10.09 Philippine gunmen free 18 hostages, 57 remain captive
MANILA, December 10 - A group of disgruntled former government militia raided a remote village and its community elementary school in southern Philippines Thursday, kidnapping at least 125 civilians, police officials said. So far, 50 hostages had managed to escape as kidnappers dodged police pursuits and negotiations have resulted in the release of 18 others, including 17 school children, police said. "We have already deployed the provincial mobile group and organized the provincial management committee to pursue the negotiations. As of now, there are no longer children hostages," said regional police director Chief Superintendent Lino Calingasan.
12.10.09 Americans held in Pakistan 'wanted to join jihad'
SARGODHA, Pakistan (Reuters) December 10 - Five young Americans detained in Pakistan, which is fighting a violent Taliban insurgency, wanted to join a holy war and were in contact with militants through the internet, officials said on Thursday..."We watched them for one and a half days and then arrested them," Usman Anwar, police chief of Sargodha, told reporters. "We seized laptops and other things from their possession. Later we came to know that they have come here with the intention of 'jihad.' " A Pakistani security official said the men were detained on Monday. They had flown to Karachi on Nov. 30 and then travelled to Lahore on Dec. 5, and then on to Sargodha, he said.
12.10.09 Russia successfully test launches Topol ICBM
MOSCOW (RIA Novosti) December 10 - Russia successfully test launched a Topol intercontinental ballistic missile on Thursday, a spokesman for the Strategic Missile Forces said. Col. Vadim Koval said a RS-12M Topol missile was launched from the Kapustin Yar test site in south Russia's Astrakhan Region, and hit the designated target in Sary-Shagan, Kazakhstan. He said the launch was designed to test the operational capability of the Topol ICBM. The missile was in active service from 1987 until 2007, and deployed with the 54th Strategic Missile Division near the town of Teikovo, about 150 miles (240 km) northeast of Moscow.
12.09.09 Pre-Budget Report 2009: Banks may delay bonuses to avoid tax
December 9 - City bankers may delay paying Christmas bonuses until next spring, after the deadline for the Chancellor's new 50 per cent levy has expired. Alistair Darling said today that banks would have to pay the levy on any bonus paid to staff before April 5 to address public fury over City remuneration. Only banks have to pay the levy — hedge funds and insurers are exempt, and any banker who is entitled to a guaranteed bonus will also escape the super-tax. Banks may dramatically slash bonuses this year to £1 billion, down from an estimated £6 billion, as a result of its new tax on payouts over £25,000. Bankers were in shock at the chancellor's statement yesterday. One said: "No one has done any work this morning. Everyone is thinking about whether it is worth turning up to work tomorrow. This is an unmitigated disaster." [More>>timesonline.co.uk]
12.09.09 Iran: We'll hit Israel's nuclear sites if attacked
December 9 - Iran would strike back at Israeli weapons manufacturing sites and nuclear installations if Israel attacks the Islamic Republic's nuclear facilities, Defence Minister Ahmad Vahidi was quoted as saying on Wednesday. Israel has not ruled out military action if diplomacy fails to resolve an international dispute over Iran's nuclear program, which the West suspects is aimed at making bombs. Iran denies the charge and says it would retaliate if attacked. "The Islamic Republic of Iran's armed forces are fully prepared," Vahidi told reporters during a visit to Syria, the semi-official Mehr news agency reported. If attacked by Israel, Iran's first targets would include various weapons manufacturing sites and "unconventional nuclear centers," Vahidi said. Also on Wednesday, Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi, speaking in Damascus, hailed Syrian-Iranian defense ties as a "deterrent" against Israeli "threats," Iranian media reported. [More>>haaretz.com]
12.09.09 5 foreign nationals held in Sargodha: police
SARGODHA, Pakistan, December 9 - An Anti Organized-crime Cell raided a house situated in Aziz Bhatti Town of Sargodha and arrested five foreign nationals. DPO Sargodha Dr. Usman Anwar told Geo News that the police raided the house of Khalid Farooqi, an activist of banned outfit Jaish-e-Muhammad, and arrested five foreign nationals from there. The arrested foreigners include 2 Yemenis, 1 Egyptian, 1 Swedish and 1 US-born Pakistani. The DPO told that these people had been living in Sargodha since Nov. 30 and it was quite a possibility that they were engaged in acts of terrorism. Initial investigations have identified them as Ahmed Abdullah, Waqar Hassan Khan, Eman Hassan, Yasir and Rami Zamzam. Security agencies have initiated further investigations in this regard. [>thenews.com.pk; See also,
ISLAMABAD - Pakistani police say they have detained five US citizens in a raid on a house in the east of the country. Police officer Tahir Gujjar declined to say why the men were arrested Wednesday in the town of Sargodha. He says three of the men are Americans of Pakistani descent, one is of Egyptian descent and the other is of Yemeni heritage. He says they are being interrogated by senior police officers. A US Embassy spokesman said officials there were aware of the reported arrests, but had no more information. [end]
12.09.09 China: US, EU expected to do more on emission cuts
COPENHAGEN, December 8 - The United States and the European Union (EU) are expected to bring to the Copenhagen climate talks more notable targets on cutting its carbon emissions, the Chinese chief negotiator in UN climate talks said on Tuesday. The US target on emissions reduction and financial support to developing nations is key to the success of the ongoing Copenhagen climate change conference, Su Wei, the deputy head of the Chinese delegation to the Copenhagen conference, told a press conference. In the run-up to the Copenhagen conference, Washington pledged to reduce its carbon emissions by 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020, equivalent to a reduction of 4 percent compared with 1990 levels. Climate scientists were proposing a 25-40 percent cut in carbon emissions in order to keep global warming under control. The US goal could not be considered "notable," Su said. [More>>xinhuanet.com; See also,
12.09.09 Giant iceberg spotted south of Australia
SYDNEY (AFP) December 9 - A monster iceberg nearly twice the size of Hong Kong island has been spotted drifting towards Australia in what scientists on Wednesday called a once-in-a-century event. Australian glaciologist Neal Young pinpointed the slab, which is some 19 kilometers (12 miles) long and about 1,700 kilometers south of the country, using satellite imagery. He said he was not aware of such a large iceberg being found in the area since the days when 19th century clipper ships plied the trade route between Britain and Australia.
12.09.09 Iran frees three detained Belgians
December 9 - Iran has released three Belgians who were detained two months ago for allegedly entering a prohibited area and gathering information, Iranian state television has said. The IRNA news agency said the three men were released and handed over on Tuesday to the Belgian ambassador in Tehran on the orders of Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi, a prosecutor in the capital. Dolatabadi was quoted as saying that the three men, identified as Van den Bosch, Vincent Binfleur, and Diego Gomatio, were detained for "entering a prohibited area and gathering intelligence." Wednesday's report gave no details about when or where they were arrested and the detentions had not been previously reported in Iran. Belgium's foreign ministry declined to comment on the case. [More>>aljazeera.net]
12.09.09 New Iran clashes as government threatens 'no mercy'
TEHRAN, December 8 - Hundreds arrested during student demonstrations. Protesters clashed with supporters of the Iranian regime for a second straight day Tuesday even as the chief prosecutor threatened to try the main opposition leader and vigilantes briefly besieged his office. The new crackdown on the opposition to hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad drew strong criticism from Western governments already angered by Iran's rejection of a UN-brokered deal aimed at allaying concerns over its nuclear ambitions. Supporters of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi clashed at the prestigious Tehran University with backers of the Iranian government, official media said. "Rioters wearing green wristbands" gathered from early in the day in front of the university's engineering college to protest against Monday's crackdown by authorities on people protesting against Ahmadinejad's hotly disputed June re-election, the state news agency IRNA said. [More>>alarabiya.net]
12.09.09 Iraq's Maliki blasts foreign support for bombings
(Reuters) December 9 - Bombings that killed 112 people were carried out with foreign backing, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said on Wednesday. He also signalled a shake-up of security officials to try to thwart pre-election violence. A series of car bombs on Tuesday ripped through Baghdad in Iraq's deadliest attack in six weeks, a brutal reminder of the threat still posed by an insurgency that has killed thousands since the 2003 US invasion. Health Ministry officials said 77 people died, but police sources put the figure higher at 112. The attacks came hours before the government announced March 7 as the date for the parliamentary election, ending weeks of political bickering that had delayed the vote from mid-January and could have complicated US military withdrawal plans. [More>>khaleejtimes.com; See also,
12.09.09 'Qaeda cannot be defeated until Osama is captured or killed'
WASHINGTON, December 9 - America's top military commander in Afghanistan believes that al-Qaeda cannot be defeated until Osama bin Laden, the most wanted fugitive of the world, is either killed or captured. "I don't think it would make, it would not defeat al-Qaeda to have him captured or killed, but I don't think that we can finally defeat al-Qaeda until he is captured or killed," General Stanley McChrystal, the commander of the US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, told Senators at the Congressional hearing on Afghanistan. Appearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, General McChrystal said Osama bin Laden is an iconic figure at this point whose survival emboldens al-Qaeda as a franchising organization across the world.
12.09.09 Swine flu damage reaches deep into lungs
December 9 - Swine flu damages the entire airway, from the trachea to deep in the lungs, just as the viruses that caused the deadly 1918 and 1957 influenza pandemics did, but unlike seasonal flu, a report said Tuesday. Scientists from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and New York City's chief medical examiner's office examined microscope slides of tissue from 34 people who died of pandemic swine flu earlier this year. They found "a spectrum of damage in both the upper and lower respiratory tracts," said Jeffery Taubenberger, one of the researchers on the study. In all cases, the upper respiratory tract — the trachea and bronchial tubes — were inflamed and sometimes severely damaged. In 18 cases, or more than half, damage was seen lower down, in the finer branches of the bronchial tubes, and in 25 cases, or nearly three-quarters of the study sample, the researchers found damage to the small globular air sacs, or alveoli, of the lungs. [More>>independent.co.uk]
12.07.09 Chicago suspect charged in 2008 Mumbai attack
WASHINGTON, December 7 - The Chicago man with roots in Pakistan who was arrested two months ago for planning to attack a Danish newspaper now faces the much more serious charge that he aided the 2008 massacre in Mumbai, according to court documents filed by the Justice Department. Court documents charge that David Coleman Headley, 49, an American citizen who is the son of a former Pakistani diplomat and Philadelphia socialite, with conducting extensive surveillance of targets in Mumbai for more than two years prior to the attacks by the Pakistan-based terrorist group called Lakshar-e-Taiba. The attacks left 170 people dead, including six Americans. He has been charged with conspiracy to murder and maim in a foreign country, and material support of terrorism. The Justice Department said that Mr. Headley, who is cooperating with the government's investigation, spent several years and considerable effort on behalf of the plotters, attended training by the group in Pakistan, videotaping targets, and briefing the other conspirators on how to carry out the attack on India's largest city. [More>>nytimes.com]
12.07.09 East Jerusalem not part of Israel: European MP
BRUSSELS, December 7 - Luxembourg minister says Palestine includes east Jerusalem. East Jerusalem, which Palestinians want as a national capital, is "not part of Israel," Luxembourg's Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn said Monday ahead of a meeting with his EU counterparts. "We all recognize, in discussions, that east Jerusalem is occupied, and if it is occupied then it is not part of Israel," Asselborn told reporters as he arrived for the talks in Brussels. "I don't understand how Israel fails to recognize that Palestine is composed of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem," he added, pleading for Europe and the US to use "clear language" when pronouncing on the issue. However Europe does not speak with a single voice on east Jerusalem, which Israel invaded and occupied in 1967 and subsequently annexed. [More>>alarabiya.net]
Editorial note: "UN Resolution November 29, 1947 placed Jerusalem under UN jurisdiction - Minister Jean Asselborn is wrong " The UN Resolution that created the state of Israel established the boundaries of Israel and set aside a territory from Jerusalem to Ein Karim in the west as The Corpus Separatum of Jerusalem. This territory was to be governed by the United Nations, as listed in Part III. (From Maravot News 9.27.09 Editorial note to article 9.27.09 Israeli police, protesters clash at holy site):
It is relevant to note that a Palestinian Declaration of Independence submitted in response to the UN resolution of 1947 should include a statement on its boundaries. Any claim to east Jerusalem will contravene the UN Resolution 181 of 1947, i.e.,:
12.07.09 Police clash with thousands in Iran
(AP) December 7 - Security forces and militiamen clashed with thousands of protesters shouting "death to the dictator" outside Teheran University on Monday, beating them with batons and firing tear gas on a day of nationwide student demonstrations, witnesses said. The protests were the largest in months, bringing tens of thousands out in marches at more than a dozen campuses around the country and in several squares in Teheran, as university students — a bedrock of support for the pro-reform movement — sought to energize the opposition. The opposition has been reeling under a fierce crackdown since turmoil erupted over the disputed presidential election in June.
12.07.09 US wants to stop mankind's savior: Iran leader
DUBAI, December 7 - Ahmadinejad says US planning to prevent coming of Mahdi. Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said he has documented evidence that the United States is doing what it can to prevent the coming of the Mahdi, the Imam that Muslims believe will be ultimate savior of mankind, press reports said Monday. "We have documented proof that they [US] believe that a descendant of the prophet of Islam will raise in these parts [Middle East] and he will dry the roots of all injustice in the world," the hard-line president said, addressing an audience of families of those killed during the 1980's war against Iraq. "They have devised all these plans to prevent the coming of the Hidden Imam because they know that the Iranian nation is the one that will prepare the grounds for his coming and will be the supporters of his rule." Iranian news website Tabnak said Ahmadinejad further revealed plots by both the East and the West to wipe out the Islamic Republic. [More>>alaraabiya.net]
12.07.09 Nine EU countries to unite wind power in North Sea
BRUSSELS (RIA Novosti) December 7 - The energy ministers of nine European Union countries signed on Monday a joint declaration on a common system of wind-driven power generators in the North Sea, an EU Council spokesman said Monday. The participants of the project, announced on the opening day of the UN climate conference in Copenhagen, are Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Britain, Ireland, Sweden, Germany, Denmark and France. Experts will now have to study the project to determine its feasibility. The EU aims to increase its energy consumption from renewable sources to 20% by 2020. [>en.rian.ru]
12.07.09 10 killed, 50 injured in Peshawar suicide bombing
PESHAWAR, December 7 - At least 10 people were killed and nearly 50 others injured when a suicide bomber blew himself up outside a crowded court complex in this northwestern Pakistani city on Monday, the latest in a wave of deadly terrorist attacks across the country. The bomber, who came to the court complex in a rickshaw, tried to flee when he was challenged by police, said North West Frontier Province Senior Minister Bashir Bilour. He blew himself up when police opened fire, the minister told reporters at the site of the explosion. Ten people, including two policemen and as many lawyers, were killed in the blast. Nearly 50 injured people were brought to Lady Reading Hospital and four of them were in a serious condition. Several policemen, lawyers and passers-by were among the injured. [More>>indianexpress.com; See related stories,
12.07.09 Deaths in Baghdad school blast
December 7 - At least eight people have been killed, mostly students, in a bombing at a school in Baghdad, the Iraqi capital. Among the dead were six children between the ages of 6 and 12, an Iraqi police official said. Monday's blast also wounded at least 41 others. The toll is expected to rise. An interior ministry official confirmed the casualties. The blast took place at Abaa Dhar School for boys, in Baghdad's Shia district of Sadr City, an area that has seen only infrequent attacks because it is encircled by US and Iraqi security forces and has its own neighbourhood security. Many children were returning to school for the first time after the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha. Twenty-five children were among the wounded, two hospital officials said. [More>>aljazeera.net]
12.06.09 Chinese windpower companies target global markets
BEIJING (AP) December 6 - China's Goldwind Science & Technology Ltd. is one of the world's biggest makers of wind turbines — a cornerstone of the booming clean power business — but is virtually unknown outside its home country. Goldwind aims to change that. In a Minnesota farmer's cornfield, the company is erecting three 20-story-tall windmills in its first American project and hopes it will help to woo other buyers. "There are a lot of leads and we are following them up," said Kerry Zhou, Goldwind's director of development. "We certainly expect that by 2011 we can get good results."
12.06.09 Rainforests turned into smoldering ruins
SUMATRA, Indonesia, December 6 - The land still smolders, tinted with a depressing gray. Twisted hulks of tree trunks take on abnormal shapes. A dark black canal cuts through the wasted landscape. It looks like a scene from an apocalyptic movie where an unknown force has obliterated all life. But this is the reality of Sumatra, Indonesia's largest island. The Kampar Peninsula was once virgin rainforest, some of the most biodiverse in the world. The region has now been transformed into a lifeless plain, soon to be replanted with monocultures. Environmental groups describe the degradation as rampant pillaging — the work of multibillion dollar paper, pulp and palm oil conglomerates. Already 85 percent of Sumatra's forests are gone. What is left is vanishing at an alarming rate — an area the size of 50 football fields disappears every hour, according to Greenpeace and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. [More>>cnn.com]
12.06.09 Rafsanjani urges 'freedom' in Iran
December 6 - Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a former Iranian president and opposition member, has accused the country's rulers of being intolerant, amid restrictions on journalists imposed by the authorities. "The situation in the country is such that constructive criticism is not accepted," Rafsanjani told students in the northern city of Mashhad on Sunday, the ILNA news agency reported. He called on Iran's political groups to work together to "create a climate of freedom which will convince the majority of people and erase ambiguities." Rafsanjani was speaking a day before the annual Student Day, when demonstrations against the rule of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, are expected to go ahead. Several websites have urged people to gather on Student Day near Tehran University campus.
12.06.09 Men seek to kill woman for adultery in Spain
December 6 - Men claimed to be applying Sharia law. Spanish police have arrested nine men suspected of seeking to have a woman killed after they accused her of adultery, claiming they were following Islamic law, authorities said on Sunday. The men were arrested on November 14 and seven have been held in jail, a police spokesman said. According to police, the woman had been taken in March and held in an isolated house in Valls in northeastern Catalonia. Authorities say the men set up a court there to judge her for adultery. "These men had formed a kind of court to apply (Islamic) Sharia law," the spokesman said, adding the woman told authorities she was tried and sentenced to death. She was later able to escape and report what happened to police. [>alarabiya.net]
12.06.09 1 militant killed, 13 suspects held in Operation Rah-e-Nijat: ISPR report
WANA, Pakistan, December 6 - One militant was killed while 13 suspected militants held as security forces carried out [a] search operation in parts of South Waziristan, according to a statement released by ISPR today (Sunday). The ISPR said that security forces conducted [a] search operation in Jandola and apprehended six suspected people. In addition, they cleared area around Abbas Khel Tsappara Ghundai, Waspass Kalle, Ospana Raghazai, Darakai, Spin Kai near Nanu, Barwand and Ospana Raghazai, Kudwam, Shinsar near Tiarza, Kudiwarn, Kund Sarai and Imar Khan Killi in Shakai sector. During [the] operation in Shewa area, the forces killed one militant and arrested seven other suspected people. The terrorists fired rockets and small arms at Green Top which was effectively engaged. Meanwhile, during operation Rah-e-Rast in Swat and Malakand, 19 militants were held while 13 others surrendered. [>thenews.com.pk; See related story,
12.05.09 Internet down in Iran ahead of planned protests
TEHRAN (AFP) December 5 - Most of the Iranian capital's Internet links with the outside world were down on Saturday, two days ahead of planned demonstrations by opponents of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Sources close to Iran's technical services told AFP the cut was the result of "a decision by the authorities" rather than a technical breakdown, but telecommunications ministry officials were unavailable for comment. Internet lines, texting and at times even mobile phone connections have often been cut or scrambled since Ahmadinejad's contested re-election in June, but this was the first such occurrence a full two days before planned protests.
12.05.09 Gazans fleeced in investment scam
December 5 - Underground tunnels in the Gaza Strip are the only way for millions of dollars worth of essential supplies to get past Israel's siege of the coastal territory. But it has now emerged that at least 40,000 Gazans have lost their life savings in a scheme that promised up to 50 percent profits in return for an investment in tunnel trading. Hamas, which has de facto control of Gaza, returned a fraction of the $100m that disappeared through the scheme, and has said that [it] is investigating the fraud. However, with hundreds of middlemen as yet unpunished and many of them rumored to have had links to Hamas, the duped Gazans say that more should be done. Al Jazeera's Zeina Awad reports from Gaza. [>aljazeera.net]
12.05.09 Aerial strikes kill 7 militants in Orakzai
PESHAWAR, Pakistan, December 7 - Seven militants were killed in fresh aerial strikes carried out by security forces on Saturday in different parts of Orakzai Agency, according to sources. Backed by helicopter gunship, security forces bombed militants' hideouts in Sheikhan, Mashti, Ghaljo and Dabori areas, in which seven militants were killed and 11 other wounded. In aerial strikes, three vehicles and five hideouts of Hakimullah Mehsud's aides were also destroyed. While local population is continuing to flee the fighting zone. [>thenews.com.pk ; See related story, i
12.05.09 Little resistance to new Afghan operation
KABUL, Afghanistan, December 5 - US Marines and Afghan troops conducting the first offensive since the new American war plan was announced, met little resistance from insurgents on Saturday as they worked to disrupt Taliban supply and communications line in a key valley in southern Afghanistan. About 1,000 Marines and 150 Afghan troops are taking part in “Operation Cobra's Anger” in the Now Zad Valley of Helmand province, the scene of heavy fighting last summer. On Friday, helicopters and MV-22 Osprey aircraft dropped hundreds of troops behind Taliban lines in the northern end of the valley in the first offensive since President Barack Obama announced a troop buildup. A second, larger Marine force pushed northward from the Marines’ main base.
12.05.09 Dozens in critical condition after Russian nightclub fire kills 103
MOSCOW (RIA Novosti) December 1 - Dozens of people are being kept alive with medical ventilators after a horrific fire in a Russian Urals nightclub overnight that claimed the lives of at least 103 people, the health minister said. The fire broke out at the Lame Horse club in the city of Perm during an indoor fireworks display soon after 01:00am local time on Saturday. Tatyana Golikova said that most of the injured have burns covering more than 50% of their bodies. Several of them are being flown to Moscow for treatment. "Unfortunately, the burns are quite serious..
12.05.09 Attack of the killer tomatoes
December 5 - Botanists at Kew discover the plant is carnivorous, with ability to trap insects. Potatoes and tomatoes make good eating but they may also have a vicious side that makes them deadly killers on a par with Venus fly traps and pitcher plants. They have been identified as among a host of plants thought to have been overlooked by botanists and explorers searching the world's remotest regions for carnivorous species. Researchers at Royal Botanical Gardens Kew now believe there are hundreds more plants that catch and eat insects and other small animals than they previously realized. Among them are species of petunia, ornamental tobacco plants, potatoes and tomatoes and shepherd's purse, a relative of cabbages. "Widely recognized carnivorous plants number some 650 and we estimate that another 325 or so are probable additions — so an increase of about 50 per cent," said Dr. Mike Fay, of Kew.
12.05.09 Italy police seize secret stash of masterpieces
(AP) Decelmber 5 - Secret attic stash: Police seize Van Gogh, Picasso, Monet art from disgraced dairy founder. Italian tax police said Saturday that they had seized works by Van Gogh, Picasso, Cezanne and other giants of art in a crackdown on assets hidden by the disgraced founder of the collapsed dairy company Parmalat. Authorities estimated the 19 masterpieces stashed away in attics and basements were valued at some euro100 million ($150 million). Parma Prosecutor Gerardo Laguardia said that, based on wiretapped phone conversations, officials believed at least one of the paintings hidden by Calisto Tanzi was about to be sold. "We got lucky. We learned that there were negotiations under way to sell one of the paintings" and raid three apartments in the area of Parma, near Parmalat's headquarters, Laguardia said in an interview on Italy's Sky TG24 TV. He didn't identify the painting. [More>>abcnews.go.com]
12.05.09 Anti-Islamic protesters held after clashes
December 5 - Eleven men have been arrested during violent skirmishes at a demonstration by far-right protesters. A 29-year-old police officer was also taken to hospital after suffering an arm injury during the clashes between police and members of the English Defence League. More than 700 officers were involved in the £1m security operation to prevent violence during the rally outside Nottingham Castle. Supt. Mick Luke, in charge of the police operation, said tempers flared when some protesters tried to break off from the agreed route of the march. He told Sky News: "There were a few who were determined to go where we didn't want them to go, although they eventually complied." Police on horseback used batons and those on the ground used dogs to contain the violence. During the protest some EDL members, with their faces covered with scarves and hooded tops, chanted: "We want our country back." Others waved placards which read: "Protect Women, No To Sharia" and "No Surrender." [More>>news.sky.com]
12.05.09 London climate change march draws 20,000
LONDON, December 5 - People chant "End Is Nigh" as leaders meet in Denmark. Around 20,000 people joined a climate change march in central London on Saturday calling for world leaders to agree a deal to protect the environment at their summit in Copenhagen, which advertisers have cleverly dubbed "Hopenhagen" to call people to the issue. The protest was organized by a coalition of green groups and charities calling for action to prevent global temperatures rising more than two degrees centigrade, seen by many scientists as the threshold for dangerous climate change. The marchers, many wearing blue clothes and face paint, made their way towards the Houses of Parliament chanting slogans and blowing whistles, bearing placards saying "Climate Justice Now" and "Climate Change: The End Is Nigh." [More>>alarabiya.net]
12.05.09 Gunmen kill 5 peacekeepers in Darfur attacks
CAIRO (AP) December 5 - Gunmen killed five Rwandan soldiers in a series of attacks on the international peacekeeping force in Darfur, a spokesman for the mission said Saturday, marking a swift upsurge in violence in the western Sudanese region. The attacks on Friday and Saturday targeted peacekeepers from the United Nations-African Union force, which deployed nearly two years ago to protect civilians and improve security in Darfur. Fighting between rebels and Sudanese government forces began there in 2003, killing up to 300,000 people and driving 2.7 million from their homes. The government says those figures are exaggerated. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]
12.04.09 Britain's bank bailout cost £5,500 per home
December 4 - The cost of supporting Britain's failing banks ran to the equivalent of £5,500 per family - but the expense was justified, a report has found. However, the actual cost to the taxpayer is likely to be significantly less as the Government sells off the assets it acquired, the National Audit Office concluded. The watchdog's survey investigated the response to the financial crisis and said it had achieved the end result of protecting customers' money and restoring financial stability. Its report shows the Treasury has forked out £117bn in support of the likes of RBS, and once various guarantees and insurance schemes are included, the value of total public support reaches £850bn. [More>>news.sky.com]
12.04.09 40 killed in Rawalpindi in Pakistan mosque attack
ISLAMABAD, December 4 - At least 40 people were killed and 83 injured on Friday when suicide attackers stormed a mosque near army headquarters in Pakistan's Rawalpindi city spraying bullets on hundreds of Friday worshippers, including military personnel, and hurling grenades before blowing themselves up. The attackers, who used ladders to clamber over the walls of the Jamia Masjid near Parade Lane, lobbed grenades and fired indiscriminately at worshippers. They also exchanged fire with the mosque's security guards. There was confusion over the total number of terrorists involved in the attack. Some witnesses said seven to eight gunmen stormed the mosque, which was packed with Friday worshippers including serving and retired military personnel, while police and army officials put the number of assailants at five to six.
12.04.09 CIA can expand using drones in Pakistan: report
WASHINGTON (AP) Drones to be used to strike Taliban, al-Qaeda suspects. The White House has authorized the CIA to expand the use of unmanned aerial drones in Pakistan to track down and strike suspected Taliban and al-Qaeda members, the New York Times reported Friday. The Times, citing unnamed sources, said that authorization to expand CIA drone usage in Pakistan's tribal areas came this week, coinciding with President Barack Obama's announcement Tuesday of sending 30,000 more US troops to Afghanistan. Washington is also talking with Pakistani officials about using the drones to strike in Baluchistan, a vast region outside of the tribal areas that borders Afghanistan and Iran, where Afghan Taliban leaders are reportedly hiding, the Times reported.
12.04.09 NATO pledges 7,000 troops, but avoids details
BRUSSELS, December 4 - Responding to American entreaties for more soldiers in Afghanistan, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the NATO secretary general, announced Friday that the alliance had agreed to contribute a further 7,000 "new forces" to the coalition there after Washington's decision to commit some 30,000 American reinforcements. But he did not specify crucial details: which countries would be sending troops, and when. At least 1,500 of the number are NATO troops already in the country, having been sent to bolster security before the country's disputed, fraud-riddled election.
12.04.09 Marines, Afghans launch major offensive
(AP) December 4 - "Cobra'a Anger," 1st major operation since Obama announced troop surge, also 1st use of Ospreys in large-scale offensive. US Marines and Afghan troops on Friday launched the first offensive since President Barack Obama announced an American troop surge, striking against Taliban communications and supply lines in a southern insurgent stronghold, a military spokesman said. Hundreds of troops from the 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines and the Marine reconnaissance unit Task Force Raider were dropped by helicopter and MV-22 Osprey aircraft behind Taliban lines in the northern end of the Now Zad Valley of Helmand province, scene of heavy fighting last summer, according to Marine spokesman Maj. William Pelletier.
12.04.09 Top Indian separatists captured
NEW DELHI (AFP) December 5 - A rebel leader from India's northeast whose group is blamed for more than 500 bomb blasts in the last three decades has been arrested in Bangladesh and transferred to India, an official said. Arabinda Rajkhowa, Chairman of the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), was arrested this week in Dhaka, where he was believed to be in hiding, along with the group's deputy military chief, a bodyguard and seven family members.
"Bangladesh has handed over the top leaders of ULFA and their family members to India to investigate all the criminal cases against them," said Vijay Singh, a spokesman from India's Border Security Force in New Delhi. ULFA, one of the most powerful rebel armies in the northeast among 30-odd militant groups active in the region, has been fighting for an independent homeland for ethnic Assamese since 1979. Rajkhowa, 53, has been the subject of an arrest warrant from international police body Interpol since 1997 for a range of crimes, including murder, extortion and kidnapping. [More>>news.com.au]
12.04.09 Nepal holds cabinet meeting on Everest
December 4 - Nepal held the world's highest Cabinet meeting today when ministers wearing oxygen masks gathered on the slopes of Mount Everest to highlight the danger global warming poses to Himalayan glaciers. The 23 government ministers, also wearing purple sashes reading "Save the Himalayas," sat at folding tables on a plateau next to Everest base camp at an altitude of 17,192ft (5,250m). Wrapped in thick jackets and woolly hats, they posed for photographs, and signed a commitment to tighten environmental regulations and expand the nation's protected areas, before flying back to the capital, Kathmandu.
12.04.09 Marine life in the Galapagos 'devastated'
December 4 - The coastal wildlife of the Galapagos Islands has been devastated by rising ocean temperatures due to global warming and human activity like fishing and tourism, scientists say. Several species of marine animals and plants on the world-famous archipelago are believed to be extinct. A new report, in the journal Global Change Biology, claims Charles Darwin's "living laboratory," which is arguably the planet's most celebrated environmental treasure, has changed forever. The researchers warned the Galapagos was a "canary in a coalmine" indicating what the world could expect from global warming. Conservation International found coral reefs and kelp beds had been wiped out in just a few decades. And once-abundant marine species like the Galapagos black-spotted damselfish and Galapagos stringweed, as well as the 24-rayed sunstar, are thought to be extinct. Dozens of others — including the Galapagos penguin — were within "a hair's breadth of annihilation." [More>>news.sky.com]
12.04.09 Three sentenced to death for murder in Urumqi riot
URUMQI, December 4 - Three people were sentenced to death for murder and other crimes committed in and after the July 5 riot in Urumqi, capital of west China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, on Friday. The defendants were Heyrinisa Sawut, Ruzikhari Niyaz and Li Longfei. Another one was sentenced to life imprisonment by the Intermediate People's Court of Urumqi, while three others were given jail terms. The trials were heard in open sessions with presence of relatives of the defendants and the victims. On Thursday five people were sentenced to death by the court, two others were sentenced to life imprisonment while another six were given jail terms. [>xinhuanet.com]
12.03.09 Russia says will help US reach Afghan peace
ROME / BRUSSELS, December 3 - NATO states commit more troops to Afghanistan. Russia is willing to do its part to help the United States and Europe achieve peace in Afghanistan, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Thursday as more than 20 countries are planning to send more troops to Afghanistan. "We are obliged to help in Afghanistan ... what the armies of the United States and Europe are doing (in Afghanistan) is peacekeeping. This is very important because a threat for all Europe came from Afghanistan," Medvedev said.
12.03.09 'Details of Iran arms seizure revealed'
December 3 - The nature of the Iranian cargo seized in July, a Bahamas-flagged cargo vessel called the ANL Australia, has raised fears that Iran is ramping up efforts to arm itself and anti-Israel militias in the Middle East the Washington Post reported Thursday. Israeli officials have warned that they may use force to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons...The freighter seized in this port enclave was one of five ships caught this year carrying large, secret caches of weapons apparently intended for the Hizbullah, Hamas, and a wing of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps that supports terrorist activity in Iraq, according to US and UN officials and intelligence analysts.
12.03.09 EU navy arrests 13 pirates off Oman
(AFP) December 3 - The crew of a Dutch warship has arrested 13 suspected pirates following an attack by fast boats on a cargo vessel in waters south of Oman, the EU naval mission said. "In total there were thirteen pirates and two of the original crew on board. Ladders, grappling hooks, and nine automatic weapons, one RPG (rocket propelled grenade) with three grenades and cases with ammunition were found," it said. "The suspected pirates have been detained."
12.03.09 Syria tire explosion kills 3, terrorism ruled out
DAMASCUS, December 3 - Explosion caused by bus tire kills three in Damascus. A tire from a bus of Iranian pilgrims exploded with force near a Shiite shrine in Damascus on Thursday, killing three people, with Syria's interior minister dismissing reports of a terrorist attack. "It is not a terrorist act at all," Interior Minister Saeed Sammur told journalists at the scene. "It happened while one of the empty bus' tires was being repaired. An explosion took place as result of the excessive pressure. Two workers who were repairing the tire and the bus driver, who was standing near them, were killed in the explosion." ...Speculation centered on a possible terrorist attack, as the incident coincided with a visit to Damascus by Saeed Jalili, Tehran's chief nuclear negotiator and secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council. [Full story>>alarabiya.net]
12.03.09 Ministers killed in Somalia attack
December 3 - At least 19 people have been killed including three government ministers after an explosion ripped through the Shamo Hotel in Mogadishu, the Somali capital, during a graduation ceremony. A suicide bomber disguised as a woman carried out Thursday's attack at the hotel during a crowded graduation ceremony for medical students from a local university, Dahir Mohamud Gelle, the Somali information minister, said. Witnesses said the attack appeared to have targeted government officials.
12.03.09 Iraq bomb kills seven, including anti-terror cop
TIKRIT, December 3 - Seven people were killed, including a senior anti-terror police officer, by a bomb in executed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit on Thursday, police said. Lieutenant Colonel Ahmed al-Fahel, the head of Salaheddin province's anti-terror squad, and at least two of his bodyguards were among the dead in the blast, a police officer said, speaking on condition of anonymity. [>thenews.com.pk]
12.03.09 3 militant commanders among 13 arrested in Kyber Agency
KHYBER AGENCY, Pakistan, December 3 - Security forces on Thursday arrested 13 extremists, including three key militants commanders, and seized a cache of arms and ammunition from their custody during [a] fresh offensive in Khyber Agency. According to the Frontier Corps media cell, the security forces conducted operation in Akakhel area of Bara Tehsil, arresting 13 militants and recovering huge number of weapons. According to the media cell, the arrested militants also include three key commanders, who were trying to escape by wearing ladies dresses. [>thenews.com.pk See related stories,
12.03.09 Five sentenced to death for murder in Urumqi riot
URUMQI, December 3 - Five people were sentenced Thursday to death for murder and other crimes committed in the July 5 riot in Urumqi, capital of west China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. The defendants were Memeteli Islam, Mamattursun Elmu, Memeteli Abburakm, Kushiman Kurban and Helil Sadir. Two others were sentenced at the Intermediate People's Court of Urumqi to life imprisonment and another six were given jail terms. Memeteli Islam was convicted of battering to death police officer Wan Jingang with a brick. Mamattursun Elmu and Memeteli Abburakm were convicted of killing bystander Wang Zhenwu with a rock, before smashing the van of Zou Yuqiang and killing Zou and a woman, Fan Silan, inside. Mamattursun Elmu was also convicted of setting fire to a van and a grain shop, which resulted in the deaths of five people in the shop: Zhao Zhangshi, Zhang Liujun, Zhang Yu, Yu Xinli and Liu Kunpeng. Kushiman Kurban was convicted of smashing the windows of a tire store with a rod and stabbing to death bystander Wang Ningning. Helil Sadir was convicted of killing Wang Lei with a beer bottle. Another person involved in the beating, Abdulla Memet, was sentenced to life imprisonment. [More.>xinhuanet.com]