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# Title Dateline Author Category Country Posted Transcript Keywords
9986 Royal commission into Australia bushfire begins   GRN News Australia 20 April 2009 07:47 Mon

Victims of February's bushfires in Victoria have complained they are being locked out of a public inquiry into the worst disaster in Australian peacetime, the BBC says. The Royal Commission into the fires is opening in Melbourne, the state capital, but victims groups say they are being denied a voice. Victoria's Attorney-General, Rob Hulls, admits some people may not get the chance to give direct testimony at the Bushfires Royal Commission. ABC News says the commission has begun 10 weeks after the Black Saturday bushfires ripped across Victoria, claiming 173 lives. Concerns have been raised that bushfire victims have not been granted leave to provide oral evidence at the commission. Mr Hulls says he is confident the views of fire survivors are being heard by the Royal Commission. "Anybody who wants to make a submission to the royal commission have been able to do that," he said.

9987 Sri Lanka suicide bomb kills 17   GRN News Sri Lanka 20 April 2009 08:08 Mon

Reuters: A Tamil Tiger suicide bomber who was among thousands of civilians fleeing Sri Lanka's war zone into army-controlled areas set off a blast that killed at least 17 people, the Defense Ministry said Monday. At least 5,000 people burst out of the war zone Monday after soldiers broke through a long earthen wall the Tiger rebels had built to stall their advance, the military said earlier. "An LTTE suicide bomber has attacked thousands of Tamil civilians who are now trying to seek refuge with the Sri Lankan Army, this morning," the ministry's website said. "Battlefield sources said at least 17 civilians, including women and children, have been killed in the cowardly bomb blast." A military spokesman, told Al Jazeera that the army had pushed into the so-called "no-fire zone" to rescue the civilians. "The army captured 3km of the bundline [earth wall] constructed by the LTTE [Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam] to prevent innocent civilians escaping the safety zone," he said.

9988 Irish to investigate Bolivia shooting   GRN News Bolivia 20 April 2009 08:20 Mon

The BBC: An Irishman killed by Bolivian police who "foiled a plot to kill" president Evo Morales had no criminal record, an Irish government minister has said. Michael Martin Dwyer, 24, from Tipperary, was one of three men killed in what the Bolivian government claimed was "a gun battle" in Santa Cruz. An Irish diplomat is to meet senior Bolivian government officials later. There was nothing in Mr Dwyer's background to suggest any misbehaviour, an Irish minister said. RTE News says Mr Dwyer, 24-year-old from Ballinderry, Co Tipperary was killed on Thursday in Santa Cruz in Bolivia. He was one of three men killed in a shooting incident with police. The representative from the embassy in Argentina has now travelled to Bolivia where he will meet with officials from the Justice Department in the capital La Paz today.

9989 IAEA chief hopes for return of nuclear inspectors to North Korea   GRN News China 20 April 2009 08:38 Mon

Reuters: The U.N. nuclear watchdog chief said on Monday he hoped North Korea, which expelled U.N. nuclear inspectors last week, would return to dialogue and that Iran would allow more thorough visits and inspections. "There is no other solution apart from dialogue," International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei said of North Korea, adding that he hoped the six-party talks, joining the United States, the two Koreas, Japan, Russian and host China and which North Korea branded "useless," would resume. Pyongyang last week expelled all international monitors and threatened to re-start its nuclear programme after UN criticism of its recent rocket test.Officials from 65 nations are debating nuclear energy in the 21st Century. China is hosting the three-day conference, but its neighbour North Korea is taking up much of the attention, the BBC says.

9990 Somali pirates release ship after ransom paid   GRN News Somalia 20 April 2009 08:50 Mon

The BBC: Somali pirates have released a Togo-flagged cargo ship seized last week, reportedly after a ransom was paid. The 5,000-tonne Lebanese-owned MV Sea Horse was taken by gunmen on 14 April in up to four skiffs east of Mogadishu. A pirate source told Reuters news agency that they had received a ransom of $100,000 (£68,000). Pirates have intensified attacks on shipping in recent weeks in one of the world's busiest sea lanes, despite patrols by several foreign navies. "Somali traders were involved in the release of this ship. They mediated and paid some money. I think it was not more than $100,000," a source told Reuters by telephone. Peter Smerdon, a spokesman for the World Food Programme (WFP), told AFP news agency the cargo ship, which was on its way to pick up food aid, had been released on Friday.

9991 India launches spy satellite   GRN News India 20 April 2009 08:59 Mon

The BBC: India says it has successfully launched a spy satellite that will be able to track movement on its borders. The Israeli-built Radar Imaging Satellite was launched from the space centre at Sriharikota in southern Andhra Pradesh state. The satellite was carried on the Indian Space Research Organisation's PSLV-C12 rocket. India has an ambitious space programme that last October saw its first unmanned mission to the Moon. The 300kg satellite has been placed in orbit about 550km (340 miles) above the Earth. G. Padmanabhan, a scientist from India's Space Research Organisation told AFP by phone. "It has been successfully placed in the orbit 20 minutes after lift off this morning," India says the Mumbai attackers came by boat from the Pakistani port city of Karachi. India's existing satellites get blinded at night and in the monsoon season. The new acquisition will also provide New Delhi with the capability to track incoming hostile ballistic missiles. India treated Israel like a pariah for decades, but has forged close military links with Tel Aviv in recent years with the Jewish state replacing France in 2007 as its second-largest arms supplier after Russia.

9992 Mandela smiles as Zuma calls for his machine gun   Sebastien Berger News South Africa 20 April 2009 09:56 Mon

Watched by a smiling Nelson Mandela and the anti-apartheid icon's ex-wife Winnie, Jacob Zuma raised his fist in the air and launched into his campaign anthem. "Umshini wami, umshini wami," chanted the African National Congress leader, accompanied by more than 50,000 delirious supporters packing Ellis Park stadium in Johannesburg to the rafters -"Bring me my machine gun". The rally was the final campaign event for South Africa's ruling party ahead of the general election this week, which it is certain to win. For Sebastien Berger's Telegraph full article, click here.

9993 30000 Civilians Escape LTTE in Sri Lanka 20/04/2009 Florence Muchori News Sri Lanka 20 April 2009 10:50 Mon

30000 civilians have escaped LTTE control and streamed into the government controlled area of Mullaitivu. The civilians broke free after the military overcame a 3km earthbud built by the LTTE in a desperate bid to stop advancing military forces. Meanwhile the government has issued a 24hr ultimatum to surrender, failure to which the government will result to military means. Speaking to the press earlier, Defence Minister Keheliya Rambukwela said the military will rescue the civilians militarily if Prabakharan does not surrender in 24hrs. Meanwhile, a total of 3 suicide attacks directed at the fleeing have taken place leaving over 20 people injured.

Sri Lanka, LTTE
9995 Britain and EU diplomats walk out as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad calls Israel 'racist'   Bruno Waterfield News Belgium 21 April 2009 09:36 Tue

Britain and other European Union countries have walked out of a United Nations conference after Iran's president attacked Israel as the "most cruel and racist regime". Mahmoud Ahmadinejad smiled as European diplomats left in protest over his opening address to a controversial UN summit to fight racism. President Ahmadinejad, speaking as Israelis prepare to commemorate the Holocaust on Tuesday, described Jews and Israel's creation as the "ugly face" of a Western conspiracy.  For Bruno Waterfield's Daily Telegraph full article, click here.

9996 Philippines bans its sailors from waters off Somalia   Tom Bell News Thailand 21 April 2009 09:40 Tue

The Philippines, which is home to 10 per cent of the world's ocean going seamen, has banned its sailors from the pirate infested waters off Somalia. One hundred and five of the 320 foreign sailors currently held by Somali pirates are from the pacific island nation and the government is confronted with emotional pleas for help from scores of families. "Over the [weekend], President Arroyo issued a series of directives banning the deployment of our seamen on the pirate-threatened sealanes," Cerge Remonde, a spokesman for the president, said. For Tom Bell's Daily Telegraph full artcile, click here.

9998 North and South Korea hold first talks in more than a year   GRN News Korea 21 April 2009 09:51 Tue

CNN says government officials from South Korea arrived in the North on Tuesday for the first inter-Korean talks in more than a year. The details surrounding the session were sketchy. The exact nature of the talks, their agenda and location were to be determined after the delegation's arrival, a Unification Ministry official said. The BBC says the talks are being held at the Kaesong joint industrial zone, a factory complex built with South Korean money but located inside the North. Pyongyang, which has been toughening its rhetoric in recent days, said it wanted to deliver an important message. The BBC says the site is all that is left of the big, liberal-era economic co-operation projects championed by the two previous governments in the South.

9999 Clashes kill 24 in Central Kenya   GRN News Kenya 21 April 2009 09:58 Tue

Reuters: Clashes between residents and members of an outlawed criminal gang erupted in central Kenya overnight, killing 24 people, police said on Tuesday. The Mungiki gang, notorious for beheading and mutilating victims, is Kenya's version of the mafia and is involved in extortion and racketeering rings, protection fees, kidnapping and murder, police say. The AP reports police spokesman Eric Kiraithe said three people have been seriously injured in the violence and police have arrested 37 suspects. Police took machetes, axes and clubs from the suspects, Kiraithe said. Initial investigations have found residents reacted when Mungiki tried to expel people who came from a neighboring district, Kirinyaga, because members of Mungiki had been lynched in Kirinyaga, Kiraithe said.

10001 Tamil Tigers face final assault   GRN News Sri Lanka 21 April 2009 10:05 Tue

The Daily Telegraph: The Sri Lankan army is preparing to launch a final assault on the Tamil Tigers' last stronghold on the island, as the United Nations voiced its fears for the safety of thousands of civilians being used as human shields. Officials from the UN pleaded with the LTTE to release the remaining estimated 65,000 civilians trapped in a 'no-fire zone' in the north of the island and urged the Sri Lankan government to show restraint. The BBC says the government has denied the allegations, in turn accusing the rebel group of targeting civilians. The defence ministry says at least 31,000 civilians fled the Tamil Tiger-held area on Monday alone. A deadline for the rebels to surrender or face a final assault expired at 0630 GMT with no word from the Tigers. "The [Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam] has not responded to the government's call to surrender, so we are keeping up our offensive to rescue the civilians," said army spokesman Brig Udaya Nanayakkara.

10007 Somali pirate to appear in US federal court   GRN News United States of America 21 April 2009 01:08 Tue

A Somali teenager captured by the US during the rescue of an American sea captain from pirates is due to appear in a federal court in New York. Abde Wale Abdul Kadhir Muse will be the first person to face piracy charges in the US in over a century, US media reports say. He was held over the seizure of Maersk Alabama Captain Richard Phillips off Somalia and flown to the US on Monday. Earlier, his mother appealed to US President Barack Obama to free him.  Adar Abdurahman Hassan told the BBC her son was innocent and just 16 years old.

10008 curry killer sentenced to death   GRN News Japan 21 April 2009 01:24 Tue

The BBC: A Japanese woman who killed four people and poisoned 63 with arsenic-laced curry has lost her appeal against a death sentence at the Supreme Court. A judge upheld the verdict, calling the crime "cruel and despicable". Masumi Hayashi, 47, was convicted of killing two adults and two children at a village fete in 1998 in the western Japanese prefecture of Wakayama. The case has gripped Japan. At the time, it sparked a rash of copycat incidents across the country.  The AP says Hayashi was arrested in October 1998 but has since maintained her innocence.The courts never clarified a possible motive, although prosecutors have said she was angry with housewives in the neighborhood. She was also convicted without direct evidence linking her to the poisonings. But the top court said that the circumstantial evidence proves beyond doubt that Hayashi is guilty. "The defendant's criminal responsibility is extremely serious ... the court has no choice but to approve the death sentence by the district court," Kyodo News agency said, quoting the ruling.

10009 RP Labor Dept. Oppose Seafarer Ban April 21, 2009 Dean M. Bernardo News Philippines 21 April 2009 01:56 Tue

MANILA, PHILIPPINES (April 21, 2009/6:43PM +800GMT) – The Philippines Labor and Employment Department class the ban on Filipino seafarers to travel near the coast of pirate infested Somalia detrimental to shipping industry. During a morning media briefing Tuesday, Sec. Marianito Roque claimed that nearly twenty five (25%) of shipping traffic passes through the gulf off Somalia. With nearly ten (10%) percent of the manpower employed by the world’s shipping companies composed of Filipino seafarers, the ban is nearly impossible to happen and would kill the industry. Roque added the envisioned plan was not completely feasible which would “complicate their respective contracts with manpower agencies” or their shipping companies. Contracts of Filipino seafarers does not include a limitation on travel through the Gulf of Aden where Somali pirates are operating and this restriction would also cause difficulties in future hiring of Filipinos. The ban was suggested by the Philippine Foreign Affairs department which was “approved” and for “execution” by the office of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. The Labor department clarifies they still have not received any formal instructions from the President to implement the ban. The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs reported that some one hundred (100) Filipino seafarers are being held captive by Somali pirates aborad ships being held by bandits. The Philippines is a major supplier of seafarers the world over with some 40,000 Filipinos operate small to large shipping vessels cruising all over the world. Despite the pronouncements of the Labor chief, Presidential Press Secretary Cerge Remonde belied the allegations that Roque was opposed to the policy. Remonde countered in an afternoon media briefing that the government is “pushing ahead with the ban,” The government is currently consulting with shipping stakeholders. As a ban is being developed by the Philippine government, three (3) more Filipinos were reportedly held by Somalian pirates this Tuesday. On board a 65-meter Belgian registered vessel named “Pompei,” along with its Belgian captain and three (3) Croatian crew mates. The Philippines economy is heavily dependent on the export of professionals and skilled workers all over the world, with Filipino seafarers, they remit valued U.S. Dollars back to the Philippines, with total remittances totaling to US$375 million in 2008. 

Somalia pirates Philippines seafarers ban labor
10013 Marines Pursues Abu Sayyaf Holding Italian Red Cross Worker April 21, 2009 Dean M. Bernardo News Philippines 21 April 2009 05:22 Tue

A contingent of the Philippine Marines is in pursuit of the Jamiyah Islamiyah allied terror group Abu Sayyaf who is still holding captive Italian national Eugenio Vagni, an aid worker of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). The camp site of the Abu Sayyaf in the mountains of Sulu province has been captured. Vagni and two other former captives from ICRC, Swiss national Andreas Notter and Filipina aid worker Mary Jean Lacaba were abducted last January 15. Lacaba was released last April 2 and Notter was rescued last April 18. Meanwhile, Andreas Notter boarded a flight to Switzerland via Hongkong Tuesday and despite his captivity, pledged to return to the Philippines and continue with his work as a Red cross volunteer.

Eugenio Vagni Italian Red Cross worker Philippines Marines Abu Sayyaf terror Swiss Andreas Notter
10014 Third of Russians concerned by global crisis   GRN News Russia 22 April 2009 09:35 Wed

A third of Russians polled by the BBC are concerned by falling living standards and financial problems due to the global economic crisis. Some 30% of those polled said a falling standard of living was the single biggest issue facing the country. A significant number also mentioned inflation and high prices. The BBC Russian service poll found that many more Russians believe PM Vladimir Putin holds real power in the country, rather than President Dmitry Medvedev. The Moscow News says, according to the same poll, opinions outside of Russia are very different. Across the 20 other countries polled earlier this year, substantially more now have a negative view (42 percent) than a positive view (30 percent) of Russia’s influence in the world.The belief that Russia is viewed as a positive influence is reflected in Russians’ advocacy of an active multilateral approach to foreign policy: exactly half think that Russia should use its power and influence to cooperate with other countries in solving international problems, compared to 26 per cent who believe they should be used to defend Russia’s own interests and only 14 per cent who say that the focus should be on providing an alternative to US global leadership.

10015 Korean killer sentenced to death   GRN News Korea 22 April 2009 09:39 Wed

A South Korean judge Wednesday sentenced a serial killer to death for murdering 10 women including his wife and mother-in-law, saying he seemed to have enjoyed the killings, the AFP says. Kang Ho-Sun met most of his victims in karaoke bars or picked them up from isolated bus stops, according to police investigators who described him as a typical psychopath who feels no remorse. Kang was arrested in January for abducting and murdering a female college student and later also confessed to killing and burying seven other women since 2006. Fearful women flocked to buy pepper spray and personal safety alarms after news of his crimes emerged.

10016 Opponent of Hugo Ch├ívez flees to Peru to escape corruption charges   GRN News Venezuela 22 April 2009 09:48 Wed

Venezuela's opposition leader has fled to Peru to escape corruption charges, which he said were part of a campaign of political persecution by President Hugo Chávez. Manuel Rosales, a former presidential candidate and the mayor of Maracaibo, Venezuela's second city, is expected to request political asylum in the Peruvian capital Lima, claiming he would not receive a fair trial in Venezuela. "He entered as a tourist and as a tourist he can remain for 180 days," Peru's foreign minister, José Antonio García Belaúnde, said yesterday. Rosales's prosecution and his decision to flee have raised the stakes in a bitter tussle between the Chávez government and opposition leaders. In recent weeks several opponents of the president have been jailed on corruption charges, threatened with legal action or have had their powers clipped. For  Rory Caroll's Guardian full article, click here.

10017 250 Maoists hijack train in eastern India   Amy Kazmin News India 22 April 2009 09:52 Wed

Maoist rebels in India’s restive state of Jharkhand hijacked a train with hundreds of passengers on board and held it hostage on Wednesday, just a day before the state’s voters were due to participate in the second phase of India’s Parliamentary elections. However, the radical leftist rebels freed the train – and all the passengers on board – around four hours after the 7.30am hijacking. The rebels – known in India as Naxalites – have called for an election boycott, and analysts said the temporary capture of the train was intended to generate fear among the electorate and discourage participation in tomorrow’s voting in state.  For Amy Kazmin's Financial Times full article, click here.

10018 ANC expecting victory in South African election   GRN News South Africa 22 April 2009 10:00 Wed

The AP: Voters lined up before sunrise Wednesday in an election that has generated an excitement not seen since South Africa's first multiracial vote in 1994, and that was expected to propel Jacob Zuma to the presidency after he survived corruption and sex scandals. Zuma says he is eager to set up a new government that will bring "visible change" to improve the lives of the country's black majority. His governing African National Congress is expecting an overwhelming victory in the parliamentary election. Parliament elects South Africa's president, putting Zuma — one of the ANC's most popular leaders ever — in line for the post when the new assembly votes in May.

10019 Thousands of civilians flee Sri Lanka war   GRN News Sri Lanka 22 April 2009 10:24 Wed

Sky News says thousands more civilians have surged out of Sri Lanka's war zone while soldiers fight the Tamil Tiger rebels in their crucial last defence. The Sri Lankan military said its troops had pushed deep into the only remaining Tamil rebel enclave and killed 35 guerrillas while nearly 78,000 civilians had fled the northern zone in the past two days. In recent months, soldiers have ousted the rebels from all their former strongholds and hemmed them into what the government had previously declared to be a "no fire" zone. A spokesman said to the BBC soldiers had taken control of "10 to 15%" of the last remaining territory held by the rebels. The Tamil Tigers were trying to move their leader Prabhakaran to a safe haven, the spokesman said. He said 30 civilians had been killed in the last 48 hours. This included 17 killed in a rebel suicide attack. The rebels said the army had killed about 1,000 civilians in the latest fighting. There is no confirmation. The rebels also said that about 2,300 civilians have been injured since Monday, and accused the government of using Tamil people as human shields and forcing them to clear landmines.

10020 EU envoy to visit Moldova   GRN News Moldova 22 April 2009 10:34 Wed

The BBC: The EU is sending a senior politician, Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, to Moldova amid continuing tensions over a disputed parliamentary election. The Czech leader, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, is visiting a day after a recount confirmed that the governing Communist Party had won. The election dispute triggered riots in Moldova's capital Chisinau this month. Moldova blamed neighboring Romania, an EU member, for stoking the violence and expelled the Romanian ambassador.

10021 Japan exports show signs of recovery   GRN News Japan 22 April 2009 10:39 Wed

Times Online: Japanese exports staged a surprise recovery in March, baffling many investors and providing markets with a rare glimmer of hope for the world’s second biggest economy, even as it posted its worst trade deficit since 1980. But any optimism was immediately tempered by perhaps the starkest warning yet by Kaoru Yosano, the Finance Minister, who openly questioned the global value of the “Made in Japan” brand. Describing today’s trade figures as “alarming”, he said that everyone in Japan should take the numbers seriously. “We need to find out if made-in-Japan products and services are still staying competitive internationally,” he said.

# Title Dateline Author Category Country Posted Transcript Keywords
10022 Two senior Tamil Tigers surrender   GRN News Sri Lanka 22 April 2009 11:06 Wed

Two senior Tamil Tiger rebels in Sri Lanka have surrendered to the military, the army's website says. It says that the rebels' media co-ordinator, Daya Master, gave himself up along with a top interpreter, named George, who worked for senior rebels. The BBC says that if the reports are true it will be a major setback for the rebel leadership.

10024 4 go on trial in foiled German terror plot   GRN News Germany 22 April 2009 11:16 Wed

Deutsche Welle: One of Germany's biggest terrorism trials begins this Wednesday. The authorities have accused four men of plotting a series of terror attacks, on a scale comparable with the London and Madrid bombings. The Sauerland cell was named after a region in western Germany where police seized three terrorism suspects in September 2007, along with hundreds of kilos of bomb-making materials. The fourth suspect was arrested in Turkey and extradited to Germany last November. The four men, whose ages range between 23 and 30, are accused of planning to bomb discos, restaurants, airports, the Federal Prosecutors' Office, and US army installations, in a spate of attacks allegedly planned for October 2007.

10025 Philippine Capital Submerged in Unusual Summer Down Pour April 22, 2009 Dean M. Bernardo News Philippines 22 April 2009 12:01 Wed

The Philippines’ capital Metro Manila was affected by an extreme flooding mid-day of Wednesday after two-hours of an unusual non-stop down pour in the month of April, the peak of the dry season in the country. A new shallow low pressure area (SLPA) embedded on an Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) 300 kilometers (186 miles) west of the main island of Luzon will continue to cause rains across the whole Philippines. Knee deep floods stalled vehicles and stranded commuters across the capital for more than 5-hours starting at noon. Sporadic flooding were also reported in various parts of Luzon. Weather forecaster Gener Quitlong described the phenomena as “abnormal weather condition,” a probable sign of climate change. 

environment weather floods Philippines Manila Earth Day climate change dry season summer
10027 Iran: Love letter plea for US journalist   GRN News Iran 22 April 2009 12:26 Wed

The BBC says the partner of jailed US-Iranian reporter Roxana Saberi has written an emotional love letter in an attempt to have her freed. Iranian film director Bahman Ghobadi, whose films have won prizes in Cannes and Berlin, said Ms Saberi was a victim of Iran's "political games". The Daily Telegraph says Mr Ghobadi begged the authorities to let her go and described her as "an Iranian" who had devoted her time to researching a book in praise of Iran. He said she was a woman "too pure" to be used for political purposes, the paper said, and accused those Iranians who were aware of her research and her sympathies of keeping silent despite knowing "how guiltless she is".

10029 Eleven suspected pirates moved to Kenya   GRN News Kenya 22 April 2009 01:14 Wed

The BBC: A French naval frigate has docked in the Kenyan port of Mombasa carrying 11 Somalis accused of piracy. French commandos captured the men last week after an attempt to hijack a Liberian tanker. The Somalis will be handed over to Kenyan authorities for prosecution under a special agreement with the EU. Voice of America News says France is part of the international effort to fight piracy in the region and has been particularly aggressive in arresting pirate suspects. Many suspects have been sent to France for trial. Naval patrols by NATO, the United States, and other world powers have not stopped pirates from seizing ships and receiving large payments for their release. The International Maritime Bureau says pirate activity off the coast of Somali has caused attacks worldwide to nearly double in the first quarter of 2009.

10030 Barack Obama invites Middle East leaders to White House   Tim Butcher News Israel 22 April 2009 01:51 Wed

Barack Obama is seeking to restart the flagging Middle East peace process by inviting Israeli, Palestinian and Egyptian leaders for a series of bilateral meetings in Washington. A White House spokesman confirmed that Mahmoud Abbas, the moderate president of the Palestinian national authority, would visit the White House on May 28. Dates are yet to be set for President Obama's meetings with Benjamin Netanyahu, the newly-elected Israeli prime minister, and Hosni Mubarak, Egypt's president, but they are likely to be towards the end of next month. The election of Mr Netanyahu has caused a major diplomatic hiatus in the peace process which had been proceeding under what was known as the Annapolis plan. For Tim Butcher's Daily Telegraph full article, click here.

10031 South Africans vote in record numbers   Sebastien Berger News South Africa 22 April 2009 10:07 Wed

South Africans have formed long queues to participate in an election in which a record 23 million people were registered to vote. In a vote which will see Jacob Zuma, the leader of the African National Congress (ANC), become the country's next president, electoral officials said that they expected a turnout of about 80 per cent. In Johannesburg's Alexandra township, some voters arrived hours early clutching chairs and mugs of coffee. For Sebastien Berger's Daily Telegraph full article, click here.

10032 Fidel Castro says olive branch to US from brother Raul 'misinterpreted'   Rory Carroll News Cuba 22 April 2009 10:13 Wed

Fidel Castro has dampened expectations of improved ties between Cuba and the United States by saying an apparent olive branch from his brother Raul had been "misinterpreted". The retired president repeated longstanding criticism of US policy and said the Obama administration's support of the embargo against the island was doomed to fail. Raul Castro, who succeeded Fidel last year, triggered a diplomatic flurry last week by promising to discuss "everything, everything, everything" with the US, including political prisoners and human rights. Barack Obama called the comments an "advance" and told a regional summit the US wanted a fresh approach in Latin America. Days before Raul's speech the US president had slightly loosened the 47-year-old embargo, which Havana calls a blockade. Obama also called on Cuba to free political prisoners and cut taxes on remittances to the island. For Rory Carroll's Guardian full article, click here.


Pope Benedict is expected to acknowledge abuse of aboriginals at Catholic-run school in Canada when he meets with survivors on April 29th.   From the 19th century until the 1970's, more than 150,000 aboriginal children were forced  to attend state-funded Christian schools to assimulate them into Canadian society.  Nearly 75 percent of the schools in question were run by Catholic Church missionary congregations.   Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper apoligized in parliament last year, calling the treatment of children at the schools where they were often physically and sexually abused a sad chaper in the country's history.

10034 Train hijacked as leftwing rebels mount attacks in election protest   Amy Kazmin News India 23 April 2009 09:38 Thu

Maoist rebels in eastern India held several hundred travellers hostage for several hours yesterday, hijacking a passenger train in a dramatic show of strength just a day before the second phase of voting in India's month-long parliamentary elections, writes Amy Kazmin . The radical leftwing rebels, known in India as Naxalites, boarded the train in the eastern state of Jharkhand and forced the driver to take it to a remote station in a Maoist stronghold. They held it there for several hours before disappearing into the jungle, leaving those on the train unharmed. The guerrillas, who claim to be fighting on behalf of landless and poor farmers in some of India's most remote and undeveloped regions, have called for a boycott of the elections, which they have called a "fake exercise". For Amy Kazmin's Financial Times full article, click here.

10035 ANC headed for victory   GRN News South Africa 23 April 2009 09:48 Thu

The Telegraph: South Africa's ruling ANC is headed for victory in an election that will give party leader Jacob Zuma control of the continent's biggest economy as it teeters on the brink of recession. Early results showed the African National Congress with 60 per cent support, defying some predictions the new Congress of the People (COPE) party formed by ANC dissidents would pose the first real challenge since white minority rule ended in 1994. COPE won only 7.6 percent of the early votes counted. The biggest challenge came from the Democratic Alliance - led by a white woman - with 21.4 per cent. Monday's poll was the country's fourth general election since the end of apartheid 15 years ago. Turnout was comparable to the last general election in 2004, when it was 76% and the ANC won 70% of the vote. Results are still expected from many big townships, where the ANC is expected to do well, the BBC says.

10036 Japan pays foreign workers to go home   Julian Ryall News Japan 23 April 2009 09:53 Thu

For decades the foundations of Japan's manufacturing industries, Brazilians of Japanese descent are now being offered cash to go home on the understanding that they never attempt to work in the country again. With the global economic crisis showing few signs of abating and Japan's unemployment spiking to a three-year high of 4.4 per cent, authorities have introduced a plan that provides immigrants with handouts of Y300,000 (£2,120), plus Y200,000 (£1,413) for each dependant, if they leave the country. The first applicants received their cash from the controversial scheme this month, although critics say the government and companies are merely taking advantage of the weakest members of society. For Julian Ryall's Daily Telegraph full article, click here.

10037 Sri Lanka's civil war reaches its endgame   GRN News Sri Lanka 23 April 2009 10:01 Thu

The AP: Civilian casualties are rising rapidly in Sri Lanka's war zone despite the exodus of tens of thousands as government troops close in on separatist rebels, a medical relief group said Thursday. The U.N. Security Council expressed concern Wednesday at the plight of the civilians trapped along Sri Lanka's northeastern coast and asked the Tamil Tiger rebels to lay down their arms, renounce terrorism and join talks to end the nation's 25-year civil war. It also urged the government to allow international agencies access to those affected by the fighting. The BBC says Sri Lanka's President, Mahinda Rajapaksa, has ruled out a pardon for Tiger leader Velupillai Prabhakaran if he is captured alive by advancing government soldiers. On Wednesday, Sri Lanka's government said the rebels' media co-ordinator, Daya Master, had given himself up, along with an interpreter involved in talks with the press and foreign diplomats.

10038 Clinton toughens US stance on Pakistan   GRN News Pakistan 23 April 2009 10:06 Thu

Los Angeles Times: Clinton says the government in Islamabad is ceding more and more territory to the militants and is 'abdicating to the Taliban and the extremists' in some matters. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton warned in unusually bleak terms Wednesday that Pakistan's fragile government is facing an "existential threat" from Islamic militants who are now operating within a few hours of the capital. Clinton told a House committee that the government in Islamabad is ceding territory and "basically abdicating to the Taliban and the extremists" in signing a deal that limits the government's involvement in the war-torn Swat Valley.

10039 German economy seen shrinking 6% in 2009   GRN News Germany 23 April 2009 10:42 Thu

The Deutsche Welle says figures leaked ahead of a report by leading German economic institutes show that Europe's largest economy may shrink even more than projected by the IMF in its 2009 forecast. The BBC says Germany's economy will shrink by 6% this year and continue to contract in 2010 according to a forecast from the country's leading economic think tanks. The estimates, compiled by eight institutes for the German Economy Ministry, also predict that the rate of unemployment will hit 10% next year. The gloomy forecast chimes with that of the IMF, which shows the German economy contracting by 5.6% this year. This is faster than any other major economy apart from Japan, says the IMF.

10040 UN Demands LTTE to surrender, Appeals for Funds to Relieve Sri Lanka Civilian Plight   Florence Muchori News Sri Lanka 23 April 2009 11:11 Thu

The United Nations Security Council on Wednesday demanded LTTE terrorists to renounce violence, lay down arms and to stop using civilians as human shield immediately. In an informal briefing held Wednesday 22nd, Ambassador Claude Heller, the President of the UN Security Council, strongly pointed out that “LTTE is a terrorist organization and should be condemned for its use of civilians as a human shield. The LTTE should immediately lay down arms and renounce its terror tactics". The informal briefing to the Council was a follow-up to the visit of UN Under-Secretary General Vijey Nambiar to Sri Lanka earlier this week. The Security Council unanimously agreed that the LTTE's holding civilians hostage was unacceptable and welcomed the movement of large numbers of civilians out of harms way. This call has further strengthened the Sri Lankan government in pushing on with its military offensive in the now firing zone where civilians have been fleeing in tens of thousands. The number of rescued civilians has now reached 103,000, making it a historic military rescue operation yet recorded.

In a statement released to the press in Colombo, UN’s Humanitarian Coordinator  Neil Buhne gave a personal account of his observations after returning from the camps where over 80,000 people are being held. “I saw infants with dysentery, malnourished children and women, untended wounds, and people dressed in the ragged clothing they’ve been wearing for months.” said Neil Buhne. “We need funds for all the basics like food, medicine, water, sanitation, nutrition, shelter, and clothing. And we want to try to get kids as soon as possible back into school in order to give them some semblance of normality.” In launching his appeal for funds to cope with the situation, Buhne said, “any of these people were forced from their homes by fighting more than a year ago, and it is something of a miracle that they have survived such a terrible ordeal,” said Buhne. “We need to ensure that no more lives are lost by meeting their immediate needs, and beyond that to help them get back on their feet, so that they can eventually return to their homes.” The UN says that over-crowding in the camps is now a grave concern, and has urged the government to make available more land and public buildings for accommodation and to quickly identify and release people from the existing sites who present no security threat. Buhne said that while some elderly have been released, “there are many more people such as the elderly, disabled, unaccompanied children and pregnant women who could be rapidly identified and released in order to reduce the camp population.” The UN has also urged the government to release UN national staff so that they can return to work.

10041 Paris bans posters of Coco Chanel star smoking   Henry Samuel News France 23 April 2009 11:54 Thu

The city of Paris has banned posters of the actress Audrey Tautou in her new role as Coco Chanel because she is holding a cigarette. The transport authority's decision to remove the posters because they were "unhealthy and inappropriate" was condemned as "ridiculous" by Chanel fans and even by the man who drew up France's draconian anti-smoking laws. The posters show Tautou as the chain-smoking French creator of the little black dress gazing sensuously at the camera in silk pyjamas, with a cigarette smouldering in her right hand. For  Henry  Samuel's  Daily Telegraph  full article, click here.

10042 Appeals Court Acquits U.S. Marine April 23, 2009 Dean M. Bernardo News Philippines 23 April 2009 11:59 Thu

The Philippines’ Court of Appeals reverses the decision of a lower court convicting a United States Marine of raping a Filipina sometime in November 1, 2005. Lance Corporal Daniel Smith of St. Louis, Missouri was convicted on December 4, 2006 of rape while in the Philippines during an official visit in 2005 for a joint U.S.-Philippines military exercise. Three Court of Appeals justices found “reasonable doubt” on the accusation made against Smith. In a 71-page decision, the justices believed that there was no rape involved and that Smith and his Filipina companion were engaged in a consensual sex despite high levels of intoxication. The Court has ordered the immediate release of Smith provided that there are no other pending cases against him. Since December 29, 2007, Smith has been “imprisoned” inside the United States Embassy compound in Manila pending final resolution of the case. The rape case caused a strain in the relations between Washington and Manila. Militants and anti-US groups have been call for an end to the Visiting Forces Agreement between the two countries.


United States Marine Lance Corporal Daniel Smith rape acquit Philippines Manila
10043 'Malnourished' Miss Universe finalist who is just 'skin and bones'   GRN News Australia 23 April 2009 12:14 Thu

Reuters says Australia's Miss Universe contest was thrown into controversy on Thursday with doctors and dieticians complaining a leading finalist was "skin and bones" and dangerously malnourished. Sydney model Stephanie Naumoska, 19, was one of 32 contestants from more than 7,000 hopefuls to make the glittering final at an event promoting "healthy, proportioned, bodies." "Bony or beautiful?" newspaper headlines said over photographs of a gaunt Naumoska posing in a red string bikini. Dietitians, shocked by her skinny frame, warned Miss Naumoska, who is 5 ft 11in tall, weighs just 108lbs and has a body mass index of just 15.1, was too thin to be held up as an example of a healthy body type and may need medical attention. Daily Telegraph says Miss Naumoska was well under the official World Health Authority 18 benchmark for malnutrition. "She would be categorised as underweight and I would certainly want to be doing an assessment of her diet to make sure she doesn't have some type of eating disorder," she said. "She needs blood tests, diet analysis and an overall assessment."

10044 Suicide bomber kills 13 in Baghdad   GRN News Iraq 23 April 2009 12:23 Thu

Reuters says a suicide bomber wearing a vest stuffed with explosives blew himself up in a group of police in Baghdad on Thursday, killing 13 people and wounding 32 others, Iraqi police said. The police were helping to distribute relief supplies to Iraqis who had been driven from their homes during the sectarian bloodshed and insurgency unleashed by the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. Violence across Iraq has fallen sharply over the least year but insurgents such as al Qaeda continue to carry out frequent attacks. Suicide bombings are often associated with al Qaeda.

10045 Turkey and Armenia agree to reconciliation plan   GRN News Turkey 23 April 2009 12:44 Thu

Turkey announces road map for establishing diplomatic relations after long-running row over Armenia genocide, the Guardian reports. Armenia and Turkey today agreed to establish diplomatic relations, in a step forward after years of no diplomatic ties and a bitter row over Turkey's refusal to recognise Armenia's genocide. The BBC says the Turkish foreign ministry announced that both sides had agreed a comprehensive "road map" that would lead to the normalisation of bilateral relations, the Russian news agency Interfax reported. A statement by Turkey and Armenian foreign ministers said they had "achieved tangible progress and mutual understanding". But it did not say how the neighbours would resolve their dispute over the mass killings of hundreds of thousands of Armenians by Ottoman Turks in 1915.


10046 Zimbabwe unity government sours and might disintergrate Harare GRN Politics Zimbabwe 23 April 2009 01:56 Thu

Zimbabwe’s fragelling unity government soured this week and threatened to disintegrate after police re-arrested some MDC activists accused of acts of banditry and trying to overthrow Mugabe’s government while fresh farm invasions erupted across the country. There are still some outstanding issues such as the appointment of regional governors, as well as senior government officials such as the appointment of the central bank governor and the registrar general that the MDC wants addressed. Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Wednesday called on Zimbabwe's

political leaders to conclude discussions on implementation of the country's

power-sharing agreement, in a sign he may be losing patience with talks that

have dragged on for days with little progress.

10047 Taliban withdrawal in Pakistan   GRN News Pakistan 24 April 2009 09:19 Fri

Reuters say a Pakistani Taliban commander has ordered his men to withdraw from Buner district, a spokesman said on Friday, amid mounting alarm in the United States and Islamabad over the militants' creeping advance. Taliban spokesman Muslim Khan said there were around 100 fighters in Buner, a district just 100 km (60 miles) from Islamabad, and less than five hours drive from the capital. "Our leader has ordered that Taliban should immediately be called back from Buner," Khan told Reuters. Khan belongs to faction led by Taliban commander Fazlullah, whose stronghold is in the neighboring Swat valley where the government has caved in to militants' demands for the imposition of Islamic law. He said government and Taliban representatives were en route to Buner, along with a radical Muslim cleric who brokered the Swat deal, to deliver a message to fighters to vacate the district. Khan was quoted in the past week as saying al Qaeda would be given refuge in lands under Taliban control.

10048 North Korea charges US reporters with spying   GRN News Korea 24 April 2009 09:26 Fri

According to Reuters two U.S. journalists detained by North Korea since last week appear to have been charged with espionage, the State Department said on Tuesday. "We're certainly aware of the charges," said State Department spokesman Robert Wood, asked to comment on media reports the pair had been charged with spying. "The North has assured us the detainees will be well-treated," Wood said. The United States, which does not have a diplomatic presence in North Korea, is trying to resolve the case of the two journalists, who were arrested by North Korean guards at the border with China last week. The two, identified by South Korean media as Euna Lee and Laura Ling, have been moved to the capital Pyongyang and are being interrogated there, a South Korean newspaper said, quoting intelligence sources. Their arrest came at a time of mounting tension on the Korean peninsula, with the North accusing the United States and South Korea of aggressive behavior while Pyongyang continued preparations to launch a long-range missile. "We understand the two female reporters are staying at a guest house in the suburb of Pyongyang overseen by the Security Command (the North's intelligence agency) and are being interrogated," the South Korean newspaper JoongAng Ilbo quoted an intelligence source as saying. The two were arrested before dawn on March 17 and driven in separate cars the next day to Pyongyang, JoongAng Ilbo reported. CBS say North Korea's state news agency says the country has concluded an investigation of two detained American journalists and formally decided to indict them. Pyongyang's Korean Central News Agency said in a short dispatch Friday that the North decided to indict the women reporters "based on criminal data confirmed." Laura Ling and Euna Lee, journalists working for former Vice President Al Gore's San Francisco-based Current TV, were arrested after they allegedly crossed the border from China on March 17 while reporting on North Korean refugees. The North said last month it would indict them on charges of unspecified "hostile acts." If convicted of espionage, the women could face at least five years in prison under North Korean law. Investigators were poring through the journalists' notebooks, videotapes and camera for signs they were spying on the North's military facilities, the JoongAng Ilbo newspaper said last month, citing an unnamed South Korean intelligence official. The two were being held at private quarters run by North Korean military intelligence agency on the outskirts of the capital, the report said.

10049 No breaks in Sri Lanka fighting   GRN News Sri Lanka 24 April 2009 09:35 Fri

According to the BBC (see link) the Sri Lankan army has said there will be no more breaks in fighting against the Tamil Tigers in the north of the country, as it closes in on the rebels. Spokesman Brig Shavendra Silva said the only way civilians could leave the area was if the army rescued them, as the rebels would not let any more out. The UN has been calling on both sides to pause hostilities so aid can be sent in and people evacuated. It is sending an aid team to the area, where it says 50,000 are trapped. The government says 100,000 people have fled since Monday's military push. An estimated 60,000 people had already fled in recent months.  Meanwhile, Times Online says more than 6,400 Sri Lankan civilians have been killed and 14,000 injured in fighting between the army and Tamil Tiger rebels since mid-January, according to the United Nations.The figures were not made public by the UN, but were circulated among foreign embassies in Colombo, the Sri Lankan capital, and released to the media by a foreign diplomat.The UN's previous estimated death toll – released in similar circumstances a week ago – was 4,500. According to its new figures, 6,432 civilians have been killed in the fighting since January 20 and another 13,946 have been wounded. There was no immediate comment from the UN's office in Colombo.

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