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|10227||Pope celebrates mass in Nazareth||GRN||News||Israel||14 May 2009 11:42 Thu||
RTE: Pope Benedict XVI has urged Christians and Muslims to put their differences behind them and build bridges to peaceful coexistence as he celebrated mass in Nazareth. His message was delivered in a homily before tens of thousands of people at an open-air mass. The pontiff also called on the faithful to follow the example of Jesus and his parents Mary and Joseph and 'come to appreciate even more fully the sacredness of the family'. 'Sadly, as the world knows, Nazareth has experienced tensions in recent years which have harmed relations between its Christian and Muslim communities,' Benedict said. 'I urge people of goodwill in both communities to repair the damage that has been done, and in fidelity to our common belief in one God, the father of the human family, to work to build bridges and find the way to a peaceful coexistence.'
|10228||Nigeria militants say 15 foreigners taken hostage||GRN||News||Nigeria||14 May 2009 01:36 Thu||
Nigerian oil militants say they have kidnapped 15 foreign hostages in the restive Niger Delta region. The BBC says the kidnapping follows a clash between militants and soldiers in Delta state on Wednesday. A military spokesman confirmed two vessels had been hijacked overnight and the crews taken hostage, but could not give any more details. The clashes could spark a new wave of violence in Nigeria's southern oil-producing swamps. Lt Col Rabe Abubakar said the militants took a cargo ship and its crew, along with another ship loaded with petrol belonging to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.
|10229||Indian court grants breather to Varun Gandhi||GRN||News||India||14 May 2009 01:44 Thu||
The BBC: The Supreme Court in the Indian capital, Delhi, has revoked stringent restrictions imposed upon the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) Varun Gandhi. Mr Gandhi, a grandson of former PM Indira Gandhi, was on bail after being detained under the National Security Act for inciting religious tension. The restrictions meant he was banned from making "provocative speeches". The government of the state of Uttar Pradesh says that it will appeal against the court's decision. Mr Gandhi is standing as a parliamentary candidate for the BJP in India's general elections. The court's decision has been welcomed by members of Mr Gandhi's family. "Varun has always maintained he had full faith in the judiciary and that has been once again vindicated today," his aunt, Ambika Shukla, said. "As you can imagine it has been a very difficult time... he spent 20 days in jail unfairly at a time when every other candidate was free to campaign.
|10230||Search for backpacker continues||GRN||News||Australia||14 May 2009 01:50 Thu||
RTE: The sisters of Irish man Sean Walsh, who has been missing in Sydney since last Saturday night, have said they are hopeful he is still alive. Mr Walsh's older sisters Brid and Mairead arrived in Sydney on Tuesday morning and are receiving regular updates from the local police. The family are also carrying out their own searching and have created a number of appeals over the Internet on websites, including Bebo, Twitter and Facebook. Mr Walsh, 26, from Dungarvan in Co Waterford has not contacted anyone in the last five days. He was last seen by his flatmates at his home on Randwick in Sydney in the early hours of Sunday 10 May. Detective Inspector Paul Pisanos of Maroubra Police said that at this stage they are dealing with it as a missing.
|10231||Thousands Flee Accelerated Sri Lanka Fighting||14/05/2009||Florence Muchori||News||Sri Lanka||14 May 2009 03:13 Thu||
Thousands Flee Accelerated Sri Lanka Fighting
Over 2000 people had by this afternoon fled the ongoing fighting between Sri Lanka military and the Tamil Tiger rebels after the army created an escape route via the lagoon separating them with the tigers. Military reports reaching Colombo say the army expects more thousands of people to flee over the next day putting an end to what is being termed as the "world's largest hostage rescue."
The tamil tigers have been fighting for a separate state for over 25 years in what is Asia's longest modern war. They are proscribed as a terrorist outfit in countries including the United States, Canada and the EU. The Sri Lanka government has rebuffed numerous calls for a ceasefire claiming the rebels will regroup and re-arm, a thing that has happened all too often in the past, whenever there was a window of ceasefire. They are believed to be holding over 50,000 civilians hostage as a human shield in a bid to garner international sympathy and perhaps a ceasefire in an attempt to 'save' the civilians.
|Sri Lanka, Colombo, LTTE|
|10232||American journalist leaves Iran||GRN||News||Iran||15 May 2009 09:42 Fri||
CNN: Journalist Roxana Saberi landed in Vienna on Friday after being freed from an Iranian prison, according to the U.S. Embassy in Austria. It wasn't clear whether she was headed immediately to the United States. But her father, Reza Saberi, had said earlier that she and her parents would return as soon as possible. Saberi, an Iranian-American journalist, had lived in Iran since 2003. Her parents flew there from their home in North Dakota to push for their daughter's release. She received international support after she was jailed in Iran in January, becoming a symbol of the fight for journalists' freedoms worldwide. Saberi, 32, was convicted last month on espionage charges in a one-day trial that was closed to the public. She was sentenced to eight years in prison after being accused of spying for the United States.
|10233||Germany's economy experiences biggest contraction in 39 years||GRN||News||Germany||15 May 2009 09:55 Fri||
Deutch Welle: Germany's economy shrank dramatically in the first quarter of 2009. According to new figures, it was the biggest contraction since 1970.Official figures show that Germany's recession worsened in the first quarter, as the economy shrank by 3.8 percent compared to the previous three-month period. This is the fourth quarter in a row of falling Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which is the basic measure of an economy's economic performance. Last quarter the economy shrank by 2.1 percent after two quarters of contracting 0.5 percent. The Federal Statistical Office says this is the strongest contraction Germany has seen since 1970, when it began tracking quarter-to-quarter growth. It is also the first time since reunification in 1990 that the German economy has experienced so many quarters of negative growth. "This is a dramatic plunge," Juergen Michels, an economist at banking group Citigroup said. "And a worse start to the year than we could have imagined."
|10234||Dalai Lama is free to visit SA any time||GRN||News||South Africa||15 May 2009 10:12 Fri||
The BBC: South Africa's government has made a U-turn over its decision in March to deny the Dalai Lama a visa. New International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said Tibet's spiritual leader could now visit whenever he wanted. The government caused an international outcry when it said it would not allow him to attend a peace conference, linked to the 2010 Football World Cup. Critics accused South Africa of caving in to Chinese pressure. The visa ban prompted Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former South African President FW de Klerk to pull out of the conference for Nobel laureates, forcing organisers to postpone it indefinitely. Despite the furore at the time, government spokesman Thabo Masebe said no visa would be issued "between now and the World Cup", which South Africa is hosting. The government said his presence would distract attention from the World Cup - the first to be held in Africa. But Ms Nkoana-Mashabane, appointed this week to newly elected President Jacob Zuma's cabinet, said she wanted to clarify the position.
|10235||President Obama to restart Guantanamo Bay military tribunals||GRN||News||United States of America||15 May 2009 10:17 Fri||
The Daily Telegraph: President Barack Obama has given permission for military trials to restart at Guantanamo Bay in an announcement that effectively repudiated one of his first decisions in office. The White House attempted to forestall criticism from President Obama's liberal supporters by promising improved legal safeguards. President Obama stopped military commissions, which were trying suspects in the September 11, 2001 attacks on America by al-Qaeda as soon as he took over from George W Bush. President Obama ordered a review of the procedures, declaring the system did not work. But he was careful not to rule out the use of a modified tribunal system in future. The new legal framework, which will try the most prominent Al-Qaeda suspects now at the Guantanamo Bay war on terror camp in Cuba, would include restrictions on the use of hearsay evidence against detainees. The revisions would also reportedly ban evidence obtained through coercion, such as waterboarding and other enhanced CIA interrogation techniques.
|10236||Pakistan Rejects Peace Talks With Taliban in Swat||GRN||News||Pakistan||15 May 2009 10:22 Fri||
The AP: Pakistan's army lifted its curfew in battle-scarred Swat Valley on Friday, allowing thousands to flee as troops prepared for street-to-street battles with Taliban militants entrenched in the valley's biggest town. Pakistan has vowed to eliminate militants from Swat and two neighboring districts under intense American pressure for action against extremists threatening both nuclear-armed Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan. Columns of cars, trucks and horse-drawn carts packed with people and laden with bundles of possessions streamed out of Mingora, according to witnesses and television reports. Some picked their way past the carcasses of burned-out vehicles that failed to make it to safety. Others opted for rough dirt roads through the fields and mountains. Many more were hurrying south on foot with no more than the clothes on their backs. "I was waiting for the opportunity to leave Mingora. I got the chance today, and now I am going to Mardan," a city just to the south, said Ismail Khan, a 66-year-old shooing his relatives onto a bus. Khan said he had seen bodies lying in some of the fast-emptying town's streets, but he didn't know if they were militants or civilians.
|10237||UN: 90 dead after Hutu attack in Congo||GRN||News||Congo||15 May 2009 10:44 Fri||
Radio Netherlands: Humanitarian organisations are reporting claims by local sources that Rwandan Hutu rebels have killed dozens of people in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo. In the country's North Kivu province, between 60 and 90 people are said to have been killed, among them many civilians. The Hutu rebels have been causing problems in the region for 15 years. At the beginning of the year, in cooperation with the Rwandan government, the Congolese army began a successful offensive against the rebels. However, in recent weeks the Hutus have begun to reclaim much of the territory they have lost. Aid organisations have been warning for some time that the rebels might carry out revenge actions on the local population. GRN correspondent Duncan Woodside is available for 2-ways and has exclusive footage and interviews.
|10238||UK political sleaze||LONDON||LARRY MILLER||News||United Kingdom||15 May 2009 11:41 Fri||
The headline in today's London Times reads "Parliament's Darkest Day." The scandal over expense claims made by lawmakers widens, with some parliamentarians facing possible criminal charges. A Member of parliament was suspended after receiving $25,000 in mortgage payments, though he didn't have a mortgage...Another was demoted after claiming the same expenses as his wife who is also an MP .Two members of the House of Lords were suspended for 6 months for allegedly offering to sell their votes. Excuses range from poor book keeping, to blaming the system. Politicians of all parties are being exposed, but the ruling labor party seems to be facing the greatest public wrath. An opinion poll puts Labor as its lowest level ever with just 22% support. Local government and European Parliament elections are next month and many British say they won't vote because they're disgusted with politicians. A low turnout could lead to extreme fringe groups gaining seats, such as the right wing British National Party.
|10239||Sri Lanka War Enters Last 48 Hours||15/05/2009||Florence Muchori||News||Sri Lanka||15 May 2009 04:22 Fri||
Sri Lanka War Enters Last 48 Hours
The over 2 year war between the Sri Lanka armed forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam is staring at its end. The war that began 26 years ago in a bid for a separate motherhood by the tigers draws to an end with the government reclaiming all the territory captured by the tigers over the years of a long and bloody war that has left 70,000 people dead and hundreds of thousands of others displaced.
Speaking in Jordan where he is attending the G11 economic summit, Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapksa said the war and the civilian liberation will be over in 48 hours. In a last bid attempt to regroup an drearm, the tigers have been holding over 50,000 civilians after a 100,000 were rescued by the military in what is considered the world's historic hostage rescue. The tigers who have been using civilians to build bunkers and barriers to the advancing forces, as well as recruiting children to boost its fighting numbers, were hoping the civilians held hostage would invoke humanitarian outcry and bring about a ceasefire. Sri Lanka government has scoffed at all calls for a ceasefire, reminding all of its sovereignty hence pushing the war forward.
Calls by US, EU as well as the United Nations for a humanitarian pause, combined with outcries and massive public rallies by the diaspora were received by deaf ears as Sri Lanka army intensified its assault on the rebels.
Meanwhile, the battlezone lifeline ICRC and the Red Cross have suspended all their activities till further notice. In a statement released to the press this morning, the ICRC cites inabilitity to deliver their services due to security situations as an impediment, which they say is unacceptable. Their staff are witnessing the great humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in a very thin stretch of land where the battle is taking place. With the ICRC's withdrawal, and intense fighting from both sides, there is no humanitarian organisation that can help them, and people have been left to their own devices, the ICRC has observed.
Over 10,000 people had fled the tigers grip by this afternoon.
|Sri Lanka, Colombo, LTTE, War|
|10240||Moscow to clamp down on gay parade||GRN||News||Russia||16 May 2009 09:49 Sat||
The authorities in the Russian capital Moscow are warning that they will use force to break up a banned gay rights parade that is to be held today coinciding with the Eurovision Song Contest final, Radio Netherlands says. Organisors are vowing to press on with the demonstration. Activists who in the past defied similar bans were harassed by ultra-nationalist skinheads and Orthodox groups. Dutch singer Gordon, an outspoken gay activist who is participating in the contest and was planning to join the parade, has decided not to do so after speaking with the Dutch ambassador in Moscow. The culture minister, Ronald Plasterk, will discuss Russia's suppression of gay rights with the Russian authorities.
|10241||Suspected US strike in Pakistan kills militants||GRN||News||Pakistan||16 May 2009 09:56 Sat||
Reuters: A suspected U.S. drone aircraft fired missiles at militants in a Pakistani region on the Afghan border on Saturday, killing 10 of them including two Arabs, Pakistani intelligence officials said. Civilian casualties caused by the missile-carrying drones, operated by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, have infuriated many Pakistanis and made it harder for the government to cooperate with the United States. Here are some facts about the U.S. missile attacks, the controversy they have caused, and a list of some of the more prominent militants killed according to Pakistani officials. Many al Qaeda members and Taliban fled to northwestern Pakistan's ungoverned ethnic Pashtun belt after U.S.-led soldiers ousted the Taliban in 2001. From the sanctuaries, the militants have orchestrated insurgencies in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The United States and Afghanistan have pressed Pakistan to eliminate the sanctuaries. Apparently frustrated by Pakistan's inability to do so, the United States is hitting the militants itself.
|10242||Japan's opposition picks new leader||GRN||News||Japan||16 May 2009 10:08 Sat||
The BBC: Japan's opposition Democratic Party has chosen Yukio Hatoyama, the grandson of a former prime minister, as leader ahead of elections later this year. Mr Hatoyama succeeds Ichiro Ozawa, who stepped down amid a fundraising scandal on 11 May. The new opposition leader has pledged to cut wasteful spending. Opinion polls suggest the Democrats are ahead of PM Taro Aso's Liberal Democratic Party, which has ruled for some 50 years, with one short break. Mr Hatoyama, 62, won a swiftly organised election among Democratic Party members of Japan's Diet, or parliament. Mr Ozawa had been under pressure to resign after a close aide was charged in a fundraising scandal in March. Tokyo prosecutors alleged Mr Ozawa's political funding organisation received 21 millionc yen ($216,000; £142,000) in illegal donations from Nishimatsu Construction between 2003-07. Before the scandal broke, Mr Ozawa had been thought likely to unseat the beleaguered prime minister, Taro Aso, in parliamentary elections. But opinion polls have suggested his popularity had waned as a result of the scandal.
|10243||Democracy party faces poll dilemma||Amy Kazmin||News||Burma||16 May 2009 10:15 Sat||
In Burma’s business capital, Rangoon, a city rapidly acquiring a surprising veneer of affluence, the headquarters of the National League for Democracy remains dilapidated and frozen in time. Above the ramshackle two-storey building, three faded party flags flutter forlornly in the breeze. Taxi drivers are reluctant to stop just in front of the building, dropping passengers a safe distance away. From a tea-shop across the street of the office, plainclothes military intelligence agents snap photos of those coming and going from the party office, especially foreigners, writing notations in a large log book. Burma’s state run media regularly publish articles noting how many foreigners visit the office.
|10244||BJP concedes defeat||GRN||News||India||16 May 2009 10:29 Sat||
The AP: The governing Congress party-led alliance was headed to a resounding victory Saturday in the monthlong national elections, media reports said, setting off celebrations and claims of success by party leaders. "We will sweep the election. The Congress and its allies will form the government," Congress leader Motilal Vora told the Press Trust of India news agency. The Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, the country's other main party, fell just short of conceding defeat, with top party official Arun Jaitley saying: "We accept the people's verdict. ... Certainly something did go wrong." News channels called the election in Congress' favor based on more than 70 percent of votes counted.
|10245||Peru sends army to tackle Amazon 'insurgency'||GRN||News||Peru||17 May 2009 11:25 Sun||
Indigenous groups protesting laws opening Peru's Amazon to oil and natural resource development said Saturday they would withdraw a call for an insurgency against the government, but vowed to press ahead with their protests. Indian leader Alberto Pizango said the government misinterpreted the use of the term insurgency in his group's declaration on Friday, and "for that reason we are withdrawing it". "But the mobilization of the Amazon people will continue within the rule of law," said the president of the Inter-ethnic Association for the Development of Peru's Jungle, which leads a movement that has blocked roads, waterways and a state oil pipeline since April. The AP says the government had warned that anyone participating in an uprising could be charged with sedition. On Saturday, it authorized the armed forces to support police in quelling protests and guaranteeing services in five Amazon provinces.
|10246||over 1000 militants killed in operation in NW Pakistan||GRN||News||Pakistan||17 May 2009 11:33 Sun||
The AP: A recent Pakistani military offensive against Taliban fighters in the northwest has killed more than 1,000 suspected insurgents, a top official said Sunday after visiting a relief camp hosting thousands of people displaced by the battle. Interior Minister Rehman Malik gave no time frame for how much longer the operation would proceed, except that it "will continue till last Taliban are flushed out." It was not possible to independently verify the figures provided by Malik. The areas covered by the operation, including the northwest's Swat Valley, are too dangerous for journalists to freely roam. The military also does not explain how it differentiates civilian from militant killings, and it has not released a civilian death toll. The operation has involved fighting in Lower Dir and Buner districts that dates back to last month, but the offensive began in full force in Swat — the main Taliban stronghold in the northwest beyond the lawless tribal regions — in early May.
|10247||Al Shabaab captures strategic Somali town||GRN||News||Somalia||17 May 2009 11:38 Sun||
The BBC: Hardline Islamist militants have captured a strategically important town north of the Somali capital, Mogadishu, eyewitnesses say. Members of al-Shabab, a group fighting government forces in Somalia, seized the town of Jowhar on Sunday morning. One resident told Reuters that there had been "serious fighting" in which at least seven people had been killed. Jowhar was in 2005 chosen as the temporary location for the country's transitional government. The Somali government has been losing ground in recent weeks and now controls little more than the centre of the capital, with the support of African Union troops. On 15 May, Somalia's president appealed to Islamist insurgents to negotiate as intermittent fighting continued in Mogadishu.
|10248||India's Congress Plots Government Shape After Election Triumph||GRN||News||India||17 May 2009 11:44 Sun||
Reuters: India's ruling Congress-led coalition began choosing on Sunday a small group of allies to push the alliance to a parliamentary majority and focus on reviving the economy after a sweeping general election victory. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's coalition defied predictions of a tight election and was only about 12 seats short of an outright majority from the 543 seats at stake, according to election commission data. In a country where unwieldy coalitions were becoming the order of the day and hobbling policy, the electoral verdict this time means Congress will call the shots in coalition building rather than being dependent on the goodwill of regional parties. The Congress must form a government by June 2. "The election has led to a stable government that will not have to succumb endlessly to the irritations of coalition politics and the threat of a mid-term breakdown," political commentator Swapan Dasgupta wrote in the Times of India newspaper.
|10249||Kuwait elects its first ever women MPs||GRN||News||United Arab Emirates||17 May 2009 11:48 Sun||
The BBC: Kuwait has elected its first female MPs following the oil-rich country's third general election in three years. US-educated Aseel al-Awadhi and Rola Dashti were among winners in the third district, official results declared. The 10 leading candidates from each of Kuwait's five electoral districts are elected to the 50-seat parliament. The emir dissolved the previous parliament in March because it wanted to question his nephew, the prime minister, about alleged corruption. There are no political parties in Kuwait; the prime minister appoints ministers most of whom are unelected. "It's a victory for Kuwaiti women and a victory for Kuwaiti democracy," Ms Awadhi told AFP news agency. "This is a major leap forward," she said. The right to vote and stand for election to Kuwait's parliament, the oldest in the Gulf, was extended to women in 2005.
|10250||Tamil Tigers 'Silence Their Guns'||GRN||News||Sri Lanka||17 May 2009 11:56 Sun||
The BBC: Tamil rebels trapped in a tiny enclave of northern Sri Lanka have declared a ceasefire, a rebel spokesman says. The Tamil Tigers (LTTE) had given up their fight against a major government offensive and "decided to silence our guns", he said on a pro-Tamil website. "This battle has reached its bitter end," said Selvarasa Pathmanathan, the Tigers' chief of international relations, in a statement on Tamilnet. President Mahinda Rajapaksa has already claimed victory in the 26-year war. A later statement on the Tamilnet website appeared to modify the rebel position. Mr Pathmanathan said the LTTE was "prepared to silence its guns if that is what needed by the international community to save the life and dignity of the Tamil people". "In the past 24 hours, over 3,000 civilians lie dead on the streets while another 25,000 are critically injured with no medical attention," said the statement.
|10252||Abu Garda's appearance at the ICC in The Hague||Deon de Lange||News||Netherlands, The||17 May 2009 01:08 Sun||
Abu Garda, the leader of one of the rebel factions in the Sudanese civil war will be appearing at a pre-trial hearing of the ICC in The Hague tomorrow (Monday) afternoon. He stands accused of three war crimes charges, including the 2007 attack on the African Union (AU) mission in Sudan (AMIS) that killed twelve peace keepers. He is the first Sudanese suspect to appear before the court and also the first to voluntarily come to the ICC to face trial. Correspondent Deon de Lange will be attending the pre-trial session tomorrow Monday and will be available for coverage.
|10253||Hubble telescope gets final tune-up||Cape Canaveral, Florida||Jacqui Goddard||News||United States of America||18 May 2009 04:42 Mon||
Astronauts on an 11-day mission aboard the space shuttle Atlantis will pay the Hubble Space Telescope one more visit on Monday during a fifth and final day of spacewalks aimed at repairing and upgrading the orbiting observatory's eye on the universe. In a six and a half hour excursion in the vacuum of space, they will leave Atlantis and board Hubble - which is orbiting 350 miles above Earth at a speed of 17,500mph - to complete the last in a series of maintenance tasks aimed at extending Hubble's life for another five years. The mission has been fraught with tension as the astronauts have faced challenge after challenge in fixing Hubble's woes. But with this being the last ever shuttle mission to the orbiting telescope, failure is not an option.
|Hubble, space, telescope, astronauts, Atlantis, Nasa|
|10254||Darfurian rebel commander to face war crimes charges||GRN||News||Netherlands, The||18 May 2009 09:35 Mon||
A Darfur rebel accused over a 2007 attack that killed 12 peacekeepers in the war-torn Sudanese province is set to appear before the International Criminal Court on war crimes charges. Bahr Idriss Abu Garda, who led a splinter faction of the anti-government Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), surrendered to the court in The Hague on Sunday. The AFP says he will be the first to appear before the ICC regarding the Darfur conflict, which the UN says has claimed 300,000 lives and displaced more than 2.2 million since 2003, when ethnic minority rebels took up arms against the Arab-dominated regime for a greater share of resources and power. The Sudanese government says 10,000 people have been killed. The ICC, the world's only permanent tribunal for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, announced Sunday that Abu Garda had arrived in the Netherlands and would appear before a judge at 3:00 pm (1300 GMT) on Monday.
|10255||Sri Lankan rebel leader killed||GRN||News||Sri Lanka||18 May 2009 09:40 Mon||
The BBC: The leader of the Tamil Tiger rebels, Velupillai Prabhakaran, is dead, Sri Lankan state television has said. The announcement came shortly after the military said it had surrounded Prabhakaran and about 200 rebels in a tiny patch of jungle in the north-east. The claim cannot be verified as reporters are barred from the war zone. Sri Lankan forces had routed the rebels in the past few weeks, over-running their territory and bringing the 26-year war to its conclusion. The broadcast said Prabhakaran was killed along with two of his deputies. In the past few days, the Tigers (LTTE) had been penned into a 1.5 square kilometre (0.6 sq mile) area.
|10256||Somalia says new coast guard can stop piracy||GRN||News||Somalia||18 May 2009 09:47 Mon||
The AFP: Somali officials appealed for international help to establish a properly equipped coastguard, saying it was the key to eradicating rampant piracy off its coast. Deputy Prime Minister Abdirahman Aden Ibbi said in a speech to an international conference that foreign naval patrols alone would not wipe out pirates who are disrupting one of the world's busiest maritime trade routes. "Somalia needs a more effective coastguard to protect its sea, to protect our fishermen and to protect foreign ships against piracy because international naval operations are not enough," he said. "We know where they hide. We are prepared to fight. We ask the international community to help us to fight piracy," he said in a speech read by Nur Mohamed Mohamoud, deputy director of Somalia's national security agency. Ibbi said that with a "massive increase in patrol boats and well-trained crew," Somalia could rid the world of the high-seas menace. A country of seven million people, Somalia has had no effective central authority since former president Mohamed Siad Barre was ousted in 1991, setting off a bloody cycle of clashes between rival factions.
|10257||Trading halted on India markets after poll surge||GRN||News||India||18 May 2009 09:56 Mon||
The BBC says Indian stocks have surged after the Congress party won a surprisingly decisive victory in national elections. The benchmark Sensex index jumped 17%, or 1,306 points, to 14,272, forcing the Bombay Stock Exchange to shut down for the day. Trading had already been halted earlier, after investors pushed stocks above their daily maximum limit. The Congress victory gives the party a strong mandate to continue reforms that have spurred Indian economic growth. The broader Nifty index, traded on the National Stock Exchange, also rose 17%, over 500 points, to 4,308. Trading was also halted earlier and the stock exchange was closed down. Meanwhile, the Indian rupee jumped over 2% to 48.32 a dollar, its biggest gain since 1998. "This was the big bang event that investors were looking for," said Hitesh Agrawal, head of research with Angel Broking. "We expect the government to have greater flexibility to boost economic reform and growth from here on."
|10258||Suu Kyi on trial accused of house arrest breach||GRN||News||Thailand||18 May 2009 10:01 Mon||
Radio Netherlands says Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has gone on trial in the capital Yagon on charges of violating the rules of her house arrest. Earlier this month, a United States citizen swum across a lake to her home. A lawyer says the man was not invited and that he was only allowed to stay at her home because he was suffering from exhaustion and cramps. The Nobel Peace Prize laureate has been under house arrest for more than five years. Her supporters say the country's military rulers are using the incident as an excuse in order to prevent her from taking part in next year's election. She could face a five-year sentence if found guilty. Two of Ms Suu Kyi's assistants and the US visitor are on trial in Yangon.
|10260||Serial killer arrested in Iran is a woman||Mike Theodoulou||News||Cyprus||18 May 2009 10:24 Mon||
A stocky female athlete has been arrested over the serial murders of five elderly women which terrorised a city in northern Iran. The suspected killer has been identified only by her first name, Mahin, 32. The mother-of-two has confessed to the murders that were committed between February and May in the city of Qazvin. Psychologists believe Mahin was motivated by a deeply troubled relationship with her parents when she was a child. “It is likely that the murderer took revenge on women who resembled her mother and were of the same age because of her intense hatred of her own mother,” said Qazvin’s police chief Akbar Hedayati. The murder victims – all aged between 50 and 70 -- were strangled after being fed fruit juice laced with anaesthetics. Mahin had lured them into her yellow Renault with the offer of a free ride, local newspapers reported. Qazvin residents were shocked that the alleged serial killer who had sown so much fear was a woman. Police knew a serial killer was at work because of the identical way the women were killed, and all five victims had gold jewellery stolen from them. Hedayati said Mahin was arrested after her last intended victim, a 60-year-old woman, managed to get away from the car on May 11 and provided police with a firm lead. Mahin, a heavily-built track and field athlete, faces the death penalty if convicted. Hundreds of people are hanged every year in Iran which has executes more people than any other country apart from China.
|10264||Morgan Tsvangirai appeals to African leaders to intervene in Zimbabwe||Sebastien Berger||News||South Africa||18 May 2009 11:37 Mon||
Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change has appealed to Africa's leaders to intervene in its disputes with President Robert Mugabe. As the unity government formed in February approaches 100 days in office this week, the move is evidence of the difficulties the MDC and its leader, the prime minister, Morgan Tsvangirai, is facing in what is supposed to be a power-sharing agreement. "The national council has resolved that all oustanding issues be referred to SADC [the Southern African Development Community) and the African Union," said a statement issued by MDC leaders. For Sebastien Berger's Daily Telegraph full article, click here.
|10265||European Commission headquarters on fire||Bruno Waterfield||News||Belgium||18 May 2009 01:41 Mon||
A fire has forced the evacuation of the European Commission's Berlaymont headquarters in Brussels. Smoke was pouring out of the building as thousands of commission staff rushed to safety in the streets outside. Firemen and security guards are evacuated the state-of-the-art building. The lower floors were seen filling with smoke but no fire alarm was sounded. Officials expressed shock and anger at the chaotic evacuation as dark billows of smoke were seen coming from ventilation shafts at the top of the building. For Bruno Waterfield's Daily Telegraph full article, click here.
|10266||WHO May Raise Alert Level as Swine Flu Cases Leap in Japan||GRN||News||Japan||18 May 2009 01:49 Mon||
The AFP: The World Health Organisation's annual assembly opened here on Monday, with the spectre of a global flu pandemic hanging over the gathering following a sharp spike in swine flu infections in Japan. "We are all under pressure to make urgent and far reaching decisions in an atmosphere of considerable scientific uncertainty," WHO Director General Margaret Chan told the 193 member states in a special debate on the new influenza A(H1N1) virus. However, Chan, who would have the power to declare a pandemic after consulting a panel of scientists, said more information was needed on the virus that emerged in Mexico and the United States a few weeks ago. "We have lived for five long years under the threat of pandemic caused by the lethal H5N1 avian influenza virus. This has left our world very prepared but also very scared," said Chan. "We need to warn the public whenever necessary but reassure them whenever possible. This is a difficult balancing act," she explained. Since the swine flu outbreak was signalled by Mexico last month, the WHO has raised the global flu alert to level five, one step short of a pandemic. More than 8,800 people have been infected by the new virus after it spread to 39 other countries with travellers, according to the WHO.
|10267||Hindu nationalists at crossroads||Amy Kazmin||News||India||19 May 2009 09:43 Tue||
Surveying the political landscape after its decisive parliamentary election defeat, India’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party could be tempted to see one bright spot: the southern state of Karnataka, where the opposition party clinched 19 of the 28 seats on offer. The strong performance in the state, the home of Bangalore, India’s information technology hub, capped a turbulent period in which rightwing Hindu groups affiliated to the BJP attacked Christian churches and women visiting bars or wearing western clothes. For Amy Kazmin's Financial Times full article, click here.
|10268||Bill Clinton named as envoy for Haiti||GRN||News||Haiti||19 May 2009 09:49 Tue||
The United Nations, according to news reports, plans to announce on Tuesday that former President Bill Clinton will become a special envoy to Haiti, which has been ravaged by a series of storms and hurricanes that left nearly 1,000 dead. Mr. According to the New York Times, Clinton visited the nation along with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon a few months ago, and he appealed at a donors conference here for contributions to help with disaster aid as well as investment aid. While the former president’s actions are independent of his wife, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, she, too, visited Haiti briefly in mid-April to call attention to the nation’s plight and to pledge rebuilding aid.
|10269||Suu Kyi trial set to resume||GRN||News||Thailand||19 May 2009 09:56 Tue||
Al-Jazeera: The closed-door trial of Myanmar's detained opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, has resumed for a second day amid tight security in the former capital, Yangon. Hundreds of police in full riot gear, some carrying rifles, were deployed on Tuesday along roads leading to the city's Insein prison where the trial is being held. Aung San Suu Kyi has been accused of breaking the terms of her house arrest, following an apparently uninvited visit to her home by an American man earlier this month. She faces up to five years in jail if convicted. Her current period of house arrest is due to expire on May 27. The trial is taking place against a backdrop of mounting international criticism, with the US state department calling the charges "unjustified" and France labelling the trial a "scandalous provocation".
|10270||WHO assesses swine flu spread at Geneva conference||GRN||News||Switzerland||19 May 2009 10:01 Tue||
The BBC: UN chief Ban Ki-moon is to meet top pharmaceutical firms to discuss the production of a swine flu vaccine. Together with World Health Organization (WHO) head Margaret Chan, he is set to ask for commitments over the scale and cost of vaccine production. There is concern about the global distribution of a possible vaccine after wealthy states pre-ordered large stocks, correspondents say. Meanwhile, Japan has confirmed dozens more cases of the flu. The new cases brought the total number of people to have caught the virus in Japan to 173. Japanese media say the new wave in infections makes Japan the fourth-most infected country in the world, after Mexico, the US and Canada.
|10271||'Tamil Tiger Leader's Body Shown On Video'||GRN||News||Sri Lanka||19 May 2009 10:09 Tue||
The BBC: Sri Lankan leader Mahinda Rajapaksa has declared the country "liberated" from Tamil Tiger rebels after a 26-year war. Mr Rajapaksa made the announcement in a speech to the country's parliament, a day after the army said rebel leader Velupillai Prabhakaran had been killed. Sri Lankan television stations broadcast footage of a body purported to be that of Prabhakaran. Tamil media outside Sri Lanka have denied the army's claims that the Tiger chief is dead. Pictures broadcast on Tuesday showed the top half of a body clad in the Tigers' uniform. The forehead was covered by a cloth, the eyes were open and the face was bloated. The footage also showed a copy of a military ID tag written in Tamil, bearing the number "0:01", and what appeared to be a Tamil Tiger identity card bearing Prabhakaran's photograph.
|10272||Carla Bruni criticises Pope Benedict XVI||Henry Samuel||News||France||19 May 2009 10:32 Tue||
Carla Bruni has issued a scathing attack on Pope Benedict XVI saying that she has allowed her Catholic faith to lapse because of his approach to contraception in Africa.France's First Lady said that the Church's teachings had left her feeling "profoundly secular". She departed from her post's traditional religious neutrality to accuse the Pope of "damaging" countries like Africa with his stance on birth control. The Italian-born former supermodel risked angering believers in France and beyond by declaring that the Pontiff's proclamations showed that the Church needed to "evolve". For Henry Samuel's full article click here.
|10273||Ethiopia troops enter Somalia again.||GRN||News||Somalia||19 May 2009 10:55 Tue||
Ethiopian military forces have crossed back into Somalia, barely three months after leaving, witnesses told the BBC
|10274||Memorial for NYC's 1st swine flu death||GRN||News||United States of America||19 May 2009 10:56 Tue||
The AP: A makeshift memorial has been erected outside a New York City school for the assistant principal who was the city's first swine flu death. Mitchell Wiener (WEE'-ner) died Sunday after being hospitalized since Wednesday. He had been on a ventilator. Candles and flowers were placed outside Intermediate School 238 in Queens in his memory. Wiener's death is the country's sixth. Officials closed the school Thursday. A total of 16 schools have been closed because of the city's most recent outbreak of the virus. The first known cases of swine flu in the United States appeared at another Queens school in late April. A hospital spokesman says medical complications likely played a part in Wiener's death. But Wiener's family says the only pre-existing medical problem he had was gout.
|10275||Michael Martin 'to stand down' as Speaker||GRN||News||United Kingdom||19 May 2009 11:26 Tue||
The Guardian: Martin is to make a statement to MPs this afternoon announcing his resignation, according to Whitehall sources.Michael Martin, the Commons Speaker, will resign this afternoon, it was reported today. The news came as an unprecedented motion appeared on the House of Commons order paper, signed by 23 MPs, calling for Martin to resign because of his failure of leadership over the expenses issues.Martin will make a statement to MPs at 2.30pm announcing his resignation, according to Whitehall sources. It was not immediately clear whether he would also resign his seat, triggering a byelection in his Glasgow North East constituency. Martin will be the most high-profile casualty of the expenses catastrophe. Some MPs believe that he has been made a scapegoat for the failure of the Commons as a whole, although Martin has faced persistent accusations of incompetence since his election in 2000. Under new Commons rules already agreed, the next Speaker will be chosen by secret ballot. Sir Alan Haselhurst, the Tory MP who is the most senior of the three deputy Speakers, and Sir Menzies Campbell, the former Liberal Democrat leader, are two of the favourites for the post. Martin appeared to have lost the support of all three main party leaders. Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, has openly called for his resignation, David Cameron, the Tory leader, signalled today that he wanted the no-confidence motion to be called and Gordon Brown, the prime minister, has now given up saying that he thought Martin was doing a good job. But what seems to have persuaded him to go was the reaction when he made a statement in the Commons yesterday apologising for his role in the expenses affair. In scenes for which there is no precedent in modern times, MPs from all sides of the house told him to his face that he ought to go.
|10276||Pakistan fighting sparks exodus||GRN||News||Pakistan||19 May 2009 11:52 Tue||
About 1.5 million refugees have fled the Pakistani military's offensive against Taliban forces in the northwest of the country, officials say. The fighting has resulted in an exodus with a speed and size that could rival the displacement caused by Rwanda's genocide, the UN said. The humanitarian challenge comes as the military said its troops are fighting street battles against fighters in important towns in the Swat valley. Lieutenant-General Nadeem Ahmed, who leads a group dealing with the uprooted Pakistanis, said that the government had enough food for the displaced, but said it needed donations of fans and high energy biscuits. Al-Jazeera said: "The staggering figure, in details released by the UN, shows that only about 2,000 people are actually in the refugee camps." Around 20 per cent of the Pakistani displaced are in about 24 camps at the moment, John Holmes, the UN humanitarian chief, said.
|10277||Hundreds feared dead in landslides in Southern Philippines||May 19, 2009||Dean Bernardo||News||Philippines||19 May 2009 11:59 Tue||
Hundreds are feared to have buried alive in the landslide in the mining village of Napnapan, Pantukan town in the province of Compostela Valley in Mindanao island southern Philippines. Nineteen bodies have been retrieved by Tuesday as search and retrieval operations continue. Monsoon rains in the southern portions of the Philippines is blamed for the landslides affecting the country. The town of Pantukan was a primary gold mining site for the country and after exhausting the gold deposits, the government has been issuing warnings indicating the area has become prone to landslides. Small time miners and their families have migrated into these landslide prone areas with hopes that there are still something left to mine.
|landslide mining gold Philippines Compostela Valley province Pantukan town buried alive|
|10279||U.S. Diplomat Flies In for Key Nuclear Talks||GRN||News||Russia||19 May 2009 12:05 Tue||
The Moscow Times: Crucial disarmament talks kick off in Moscow on Tuesday when U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Rose Gottemoeller meets with Foreign Ministry officials to discuss replacing the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or START I. Pressure on participants will be high, because Presidents Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev agreed last month in London to have a replacement ready when the treaty regulating both countries' Cold War-era nuclear stockpiles expires in December. In addition, both sides pledged to have a road map ready as soon as July 8, when Obama is due in town for his first visit to Russia. Gottemoeller said after a preliminary meeting in Rome last month that the negotiations are important for "hitting the reset button" in U.S.-Russian relations. The negotiators' task seems formidable not just because of the extremely tight time frame and highly complex technical issues, but because Moscow wishes to tie in other arms disputes. Washington has said it would like to handle START in isolation to increase the chances of success.
|10282||Obama pressures Israel over settlements||GRN||News||United States of America||20 May 2009 09:11 Wed||
Reuters say Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faced fresh pressure on Tuesday from the United States to freeze Jewish settlement activity that Palestinians see as an impediment to peace. Netanyahu, on his first visit to Washington since taking over as prime minister less than two months ago, resisted the pressure. He also said Palestinians need to make concessions, and underscored Israeli worries about Iran. Making the rounds on Capitol Hill, Netanyahu held talks with Massachusetts Democratic Senator John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who raised the settlement issue. See also: NY Times article.
|10283||UK parliament debates expenses scandal||GRN||News||United Kingdom||20 May 2009 09:18 Wed||
The BBC says British MPs are to debate wide-ranging changes to their expenses regime, which will sweep away what Gordon Brown has called "centuries of history" for parliament. Commons Speaker Michael Martin, who has announced his resignation over the expenses row, has put forward emergency proposals aimed at stopping abuses. The measures - agreed to by party leaders - include a £1,250-a-month cap on rent and mortgage interest payments. They would also ban second homes claims for furniture, cleaning and stamp duty. Additionally, MPs will not be allowed to "flip" the designation of their second home during 2009/10.
|10284||Burma allows reporters in to cover Suu Kyi trial||GRN||News||Thailand||20 May 2009 09:23 Wed||
The Guardian says Myanmar's military regime unexpectedly opened pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi's trial to reporters Wednesday and announced that diplomats will be allowed to meet her after the session, a rare concessions in the face of worldwide outrage over the handling of her case.Suu Kyi, who has been in detention without trial for more than 13 of the past 19 years, is accused of violating the terms of her house arrest by allowing an American visitor to stay at her home without official permission. The offense is punishable by up to five years' imprisonment. She is standing trial with two female members of her party who live with her, and John W. Yettaw, the American man who triggered the charges by swimming to Suu Kyi's property under the cover of darkness earlier this month and sneaking uninvited into her home. See also: Sydney Morning Herald article.
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