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|12684||Gordon Brown in Kabul to meet Hamid Karzai||Times Online||News||Afghanistan||13 December 2009 10:32 Sun||
Times Online: Gordon Brown arrived in Kabul on an unannounced visit this morning for talks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in which he stressed the UK’s commitment to defeat the Taleban. Mr Brown, whose troops have this year faced Britain's deadliest fighting in a generation, said the next few months would be critical in Afghanistan as the United States and its allies ramp up their forces to try to turn the tide against Taliban insurgents. "What we need to show is that there's a determination to take on the Taliban and to weaken them, but also a determination on the part of the Afghan government to play a bigger part in the future in what is to be done," Mr Brown told reporters at Kandahar air field, where he spent the night bedding down ibnn forces accommodation before meeting Mr Karzai.It was the first time a British premier had stayed overnight in either Afghanistan or Iraq, and came at the start of a surprise pre-Christmas visit to the troops.
|12686||Italian PM Berlusconi spends settled night after attack||BBC||News||Italy||14 December 2009 09:22 Mon||
Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi spent a settled night in hospital after being hit in the face by an attacker, Italy's Ansa news agency said. The agency said Mr Berlusconi's first request upon waking up in the hospital in Milan was to see some newspapers. The PM, 73, suffered a broken nose, two broken teeth and a cut lip after being hit with a model of Milan cathedral following a rally in the city. A 42-year-old man was arrested and has been charged with aggravated assault. The suspect, Massimo Tartaglia, is reported as having a history of mental illness. The San Raffaele hospital, where Mr Berlusconi is being treated, is expected to issue a statement around midday, Ansa said. Mr Berlusconi's doctor, Alberto Zangrillo, said it would take a few weeks for the prime minister to fully recover... click here for the rest of this article from, BBC News.
|12687||Police arrest hundreds of protesters in Copenhagen march||The Times||News||Denmark||14 December 2009 09:28 Mon||
Danish police arrested at least 200 climate activists today as they attempted to march on Copenhagen docks. About 1,000 protesters from across Europe had joined the march on the fringes of the UN climate summit but police quickly moved to disrupt it as it targeted the Danish shipping giant Moller-Maersk. A couple of hundred protesters, many of them British, were corralled at a junction near the American embassy about a mile from their target in an echo of the controversial "kettling" tactics deployed at G20 protests in London earlier this year. Outnumbered at least 2-1 by police in full riot gear, the protesters were told that they would be searched individually and then released. But when some of the activists refused to co-operate the entire group - including a Times reporter - were told that they were under arrest and taken to a requisitioned warehouse in Valby, on the outskirts of town, where they were processed and put into cells... click here for the rest of this article from, The Times.
|12688||Thais Extend North Korean Arms Cargo Crew's Detention||The New York Times||News||Thailand||14 December 2009 09:35 Mon||
A Thai court on Monday extended the detention of the crew of a seized cargo aircraft loaded with 35 tonnes of arms from North Korea as its unscheduled arrival in Bangkok stirred questions over illicit-weapons trade. Bangkok Criminal Court approved a police request to extend the detention of four crew members from Kazakhstan and one from Belarus by 12 days, giving authorities more time to scrutinise the rocket-propelled grenades, surface-to-air missile launchers and other weapons found on board. "They have initially been charged with possession of heavy weapons and misstated details of the cargo," said government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn. The plane apparently made an emergency landing on Friday en route to other stops in Asia and the Middle East. The seizure of the cargo is the latest execution of rules imposed in June by the U.N. Security Council to try to stop Communist North Korea from selling weapons in response to its defiant nuclear and missile tests... click here for the rest of this article from, The New York Times.
|12689||Iran makes arrests over torn ayatollah photo||The Washington Post||News||Iran||14 December 2009 09:39 Mon||
Iranian state radio is reporting that authorities have arrested several people accused of involvement in destroying photos of the country's supreme leader and the revered founder of the Islamic Republic. In student demonstrations last week, supporters of Iran's pro-reform opposition movement burned and trampled on pictures of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. They oppose him for backing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's disputed June re-election. But the opposition denies tearing up a photo of the leader of Iran's 1979 revolution, the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who remains a widely respected figure in Iran. They accuse the government of staging video of someone destroying Khomeini's picture to discredit their protest movement... click here for this article from, The Washington Post.
|12690||Chile runoff pits Ex-president against billionaire||The AP||News||Chile||14 December 2009 09:43 Mon||
A conservative billionaire who fell shy of a first-round presidential victory can win a January runoff if he peels enough voters away from the center-left coalition that has governed Chile for nearly two decades. Sebastian Pinera, the right's greatest hope of regaining the presidency since the 1990 departure of dictator Augusto Pinochet, won 44 percent of Sunday's vote, to 30 percent for former President Eduardo Frei, with 98 percent of the vote counted. "We have to understand that this win doesn't belong to us," Pinera said in a victory speech to his alliance of right-wing parties. "It belongs to all Chileans, to the humble people, to the poor and the middle class, the people who most need change from their government." Frei, meanwhile, appealed for all leftists to support him on Jan. 17, promising a prominent role for women and young people and saying he would adopt his rivals' ideas as his own, making a priority of electoral reform to include independent politicians. "The people have told us that there are things they don't like, that things must change, and I share this mission," said Frei... click here for the rest of this article from, The AP.
|12691||Taiwan probes reports of nuclear-linked sales to Iran||Reuters||News||Taiwan||14 December 2009 09:46 Mon||
Taiwan said on Monday it would investigate reports that local firms had sold nuclear technology to Iran, which the West suspects aims to build bombs. The Economic Ministry's Import and Export Administration pledged the investigation due in part to a report in the London Daily Telegraph that said Iran had set up a nuclear-equipment smuggling network using Taiwan companies, administration director Chen Ching-chih said. Other intelligence also pointed to a Taiwan-Iran link, he said. Iran obtained 100 transducers, tools that convert pressure into electrical signals, that were made in Europe and sold to a company in Taiwan, the Telegraph said, citing Western intelligence officials. It said Taiwan sold them onward to Iran. "This is going to take some time. It's a thorough investigation and very detailed," Chen said. "We need to know after all which if any domestic firms are involved." Taiwan firms are not known globally for their nuclear technology, Chen said, and none had a permit to sell to Iran. The Taiwan Defence Ministry, which can authorise military-related trade deals, said last week it had heard of no such transactions. A government probe in March following intelligence from overseas cleared a Taiwan company said to be working with a foreign partner to offer nuclear technology to Iran, Chen said... click here for the rest of this article from, Reuters.
|12692||Sudan protesters beaten on way to demo||AFP||News||Sudan||14 December 2009 09:49 Mon||
Several protesters from the southern Sudan People's Liberation Movement were beaten by police on Monday as they tried to reach parliament for a planned pro-democracy rally, an AFP reporter said. Sudanese authorities closed all roads leading to parliament in Khartoum's twin city of Omdurman and several members of the SPLM who were carrying their party flag were beaten on their way to the protest, the correspondent said. Some 21 opposition groups, including the SPLM and the Ummah party have called a rally to demand greater democracy, even after a deal was reached on Sunday between Sudan's two main political parties on reforms... click here for the rest of this article from, AFP.
|12693||1 of 31 escaped Basilan inmate killed, another captured||GMA News||News||Philippines||14 December 2009 09:53 Mon||
Philippine security forces on Monday shot dead an escaped prisoner and captured another as the hunt continues for dozens of gunmen and inmates who escaped from a detention facility in Basilan province. Basilan Vice Governor Al Rasheed Sakalahul said 31 prisoners, many of them Abu Sayyaf bandits and two senior rebel leaders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, escaped December 13 after more than a hundred gunmen raided the jail in the capital city of Isabela. "One prisoner was killed in a clash and another was captured...the hunt continues until all those who escaped are recaptured," Sakalahul said, adding that the clash occurred in the village called Maligui in Isabela City. Sakalahul said Abu Sayyaf bandits and Moro rebels staged the daring raid, breaking a hole in the prison walls and killing a jail guard before overpowering the three other guards and springing the prisoners. One of the attackers was also killed in an ensuing firefight that wounded another jail guard, he said. At Camp Aguinaldo in Manila, military information chief Lt. Col. Romeo Brawner said ground and naval operations against the Abu Sayyaf and MILF rebels believed to have perpetrated the attack are underway. "Our Philippine Marines are now conducting manhunt against the escapees who are members of the [Abu Sayyaf] and MILF and of course we are also going after those who rescued them, who brought them out of jail," Brawner told reporters... click here for the rest of this article from, GMA News.tv.
|12694||Cuba and Venezuela criticise US at Alba trade summit||BBC||News||Cuba||14 December 2009 09:57 Mon||
Cuba's President Raul Castro and Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez have criticised the US during a key alternative trade summit in Havana. Mr Castro accused the US of treating Latin America as its "backyard" and denounced a deal giving US armed forces access to Colombian military bases. Meanwhile Mr Chavez said US criticism about Latin America's relationship with Iran was an "imperial offensive". Both were speaking at the opening of the left-wing Alba summit in Havana. A regional political and economic bloc, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of America (Alba), was founded five years ago as a radical alternative to America's free trade policies in the region. Mr Castro's harsh rhetoric was reminiscent of the Cold War. It could be a signal that ties between Cuba and the US might be taking a turn for the worse... click here for the rest of this article from, BBC News.
|12695||Taliban blow up school in NW Pakistan: official||AFP||News||Pakistan||14 December 2009 10:02 Mon||
Taliban militants blew up a girls' school in Pakistan's Khyber district Monday, officials said, as two soldiers and seven insurgents were killed in clashes in the northwest tribal belt. The pre-dawn school attack took place in Saddokhel town in northwest Khyber tribal district, where militants detonated explosives planted around the building, destroying all five school rooms but causing no injuries. "They are Taliban. They are the same people who do not want children to get an education," senior administration official Rahim Gul Khattak told AFP. Islamist militants opposed to co-education have destroyed hundreds of schools, mostly for girls, in the northwest of the country in recent years as they wage a fierce insurgency to enforce Sharia law. Pakistani troops launched an offensive in Khyber district in September to try and flush out both the Taliban and homegrown militant group Lashkar-e-Islam (Army of Islam), led by feared warlord Mangal Bagh. The fabled Khyber tribal region is the main land bridge to neighbouring Afghanistan and is also close to the northwest provincial capital Peshawar, which has been hit by a series of suicide bombings in recent months. Pakistan's military is engaged in offensives against Islamist fighters across much of the northwest including the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan, a region branded by Washington as the most dangerous place on earth... click here for the rest of this article from, AFP.
|12696||Berlusconi joins long list of targeted politicians||The AP||News||Italy||15 December 2009 08:27 Tue||
The AP: The souvenir-flinging man who attacked Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi joins a long list of gatecrashers, shoe-throwers and other security breachers who have embarrassed, bruised and even killed leaders worldwide. As Berlusconi remained hospitalized Tuesday with a broken nose and two broken teeth, officials pledged to review security measures while deflecting mounting criticism of the premier's bodyguards. A mentally unstable man bloodied Berlusconi's face Sunday with a souvenir statuette of Milan's Duomo cathedral as the leader ventured into the crush of a political rally in the northern Italian city. Italy's debate follows a familiar pattern: How much security is necessary when politicians seek to mingle with their public? "The security failed because, as usual, Berlusconi did what you should never do: Seek direct contact with the crowd," said Andrea Nativi, a researcher at the Rome-based Military Center for Strategic Studies.
|12697||Series of car bombs kill four in Baghdad||BBC||News||Iraq||15 December 2009 08:33 Tue||
The BBC: A series of three car bombs in central Baghdad has killed at least four people and wounded about 14, Iraqi police say. The blasts occurred outside the heavily fortified Green Zone near the Iranian embassy, the foreign ministry, and a popular restaurant, reports say. There has been a recent upsurge of violence in the city. A week ago, at least 127 people were killed in multiple car bombings. Analysts say al-Qaeda is trying to destabilise Iraq ahead of March polls. The blasts happened within minutes of each other shortly after 0730 local time (0430 GMT). Iraqi government figures have shown that violence generally has fallen over the past 18 months. In October, however, co-ordinated bomb attacks killed at least 155 people and wounded hundreds in Baghdad. There have been a number of attacks since then - including last week's co-ordinated car bombings. Correspondents say that besides occasional massive bombings, insurgents also stage frequent smaller-scale attacks against targets such as marketplaces, mosques or schools. Security has been heightened ahead of March's parliamentary elections.
|12698||China accuses developed countries on climate||AP||News||Denmark||15 December 2009 08:37 Tue||
AP: China has accused developed countries of backsliding on what is says are their obligations to fight climate change and has warned that the U.N. climate talks in Copenhagen have entered a critical stage. Foreign Ministry spokewoman Jiang Yu said Tuesday there had been "some regression" on the part of developed countries, who had "put forward a plethora" of demands on developing countries. She said it "will hamper the Copenhagen conference." China and the United States are the world's top two carbon polluters and have been at odds in Copenhagen. Beijing's view is that the U.S. and other rich nations have a heavy historical responsibility to cut emissions, and any climate deal should take into account a country's development level.
|12699||US-Iranian tensions rise after move to try American hikers||Guardian||News||Iran||15 December 2009 08:42 Tue||
The Guardian: Tension between the US and Iran rose sharply today after Tehran said it would put on trial three Americans who apparently entered the country illegally during a hiking trip. Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, described accusations against the three as "totally unfounded" and called for their immediate release. The three had been on a hiking trip in the mountains on the border between Iran and Iraqi Kurdistan in July when they were arrested by the Iranians. A high-profile trial in Iran of the Americans would be an emotive issue in the US and would threaten to become a cause célèbre at a time when relations between Washington and Tehran are already strained over the nuclear stand-off. The Iranian foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, said the three had "entered Iran illegally with suspicious aims". An Iranian prosecutor last month accused them of spying. Mottaki said: "They will be tried by the Iranian judiciary system and verdicts will be issued." He did not say what they had been charged with.
|12700||Suicide car bomber strikes Kabul hotel||Guardian||News||Afghanistan||15 December 2009 09:00 Tue||
The Guardian: Eight people have been killed in the Afghan capital, Kabul, after a suicide car bomber struck a hotel frequented by westerners, officials said. The mid-morning blast came as the Afghan president, Hamid Karazi, was due to attend an anti-corruption conference elsewhere in the city. The ministry of interior spokesman Zemeri Bashary said four men and four women died in the explosion. "It was a suicide attack," he said. "We are investigating. We don't know the target of the attack." He said about 40 others were wounded. The car exploded near the Heetal hotel in the Wazir Akbar Khan district, home to government officials, international organisations and diplomatic residences. Speaking at the conference, Karzai said the explosion occurred near the home of his former first vice-president, Ahmed Zia Massoud. The president said two of Massoud's guards were among those killed.
|12701||North Korean arms plane linked to East European arms traffickers||Times Online||News||Korea||15 December 2009 09:13 Tue||
Times Online: The weapons laden plane seized in Bangkok en route from North Korea at the weekend has been linked to two renowned East European arms traffickers by a respected Swedish think tank in the latest twist in the mysterious saga. The Ilyushin-76 aircraft, which was found to be carrying 35 tons of weapons including rockets and grenades, was most recently registered under a company called Beibars, linked to Serbian arms dealer Tomislav Dmanjanovic. It had previously been registered with three companies identified by the US Department of the Treasury as firms controlled by the notorious Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, according to a researcher at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Hugh Griffiths, who monitors air cargo companies involved in arms trafficking for SIPRI, said other past owners of the aircraft had also been documented by the UN as trafficking arms to Liberia, Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, Sudan and Chad
|12702||Mayon volcano in Philippines oozes lava||AP||News||Philippines||15 December 2009 09:16 Tue||
The AP: Authorities moved thousands of villagers from harm's way near the Philippines' most active volcano Tuesday after it oozed lava and shot plumes of ash, and said they probably would spend a bleak Christmas in an evacuation center. State volcanologists raised the alert level on the cone-shaped, 8,070-foot (2,460-meter) Mayon volcano overnight to two steps below a major eruption after ash explosions and dark orange lava fragments glowing in the dark trickled down the mountain slope. Nearly 50,000 people live in a five-mile (eight-kilometer) radius around the mountain, and authorities began moving thousands of them in case it erupts, Albay provincial Gov. Joey Salceda said. "Whatever the volcano does, our target is zero casualty," Salceda told The Associated Press. Salceda said he had decided to cancel a trip to Copenhagen, where he was to attend the U.N. climate conference to discuss his central Albay province's experience with typhoons and other natural disasters. He said he would appeal for foreign aid to deal with the expected influx of displaced villagers to emergency shelters.
|12703||Japan Delays Decision on Moving U.S. Marine Base||New York Times||News||Japan||15 December 2009 09:23 Tue||
New York Times: The Japanese prime minister, Yukio Hatoyama, said Tuesday that he will postpone a decision on relocating an American military base on Okinawa until next year, leaving unresolved an issue that has strained Washington’s ties with its closest Asian ally. Mr. Hatoyama said members of his governing coalition will continue to discuss whether to change a 2006 agreement between Washington and Tokyo to relocate the base, known as Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, to a less populated part of Okinawa. The Obama administration has asked Mr. Hatoyama to implement the original agreement, but he is under pressure from two small leftist parties in his coalition to honor campaign promises to move the base off Okinawa or out of Japan. On Tuesday, Mr. Hatoyama did not say when he would make a final decision but suggested he wanted to do so as quickly as possible. “I will inform the United States quickly” about Tuesday’s decision, Mr. Hatoyama told reporters. “I want to begin negotiations immediately.”
|12704||Pakistan military not seeking takeover: U.S. general||Reuters||News||Pakistan||15 December 2009 09:31 Tue||
Reuters: The United States believes Pakistan's military has no intention of trying to seize power, U.S. Central Command chief General David Petraeus said during a visit to an ally that is struggling against Taliban militants. The movements of Pakistan's all-powerful military are closely watched both at home and in Western countries such as the United States and Britain, which are piling pressure on the government to help them fight a resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan. The military has ruled for more than half of Pakistan's turbulent 62-year history and no civilian government has ever served out a full term, earning the nuclear-armed country the reputation of being an unstable state. In a briefing with Pakistani journalists during a visit to Islamabad, Petraeus said Pakistan's military had told him it was not interested in destabilizing the elected civilian government. "I have seen no indication that (army chief) General Ashfaq Kayani is entertaining such a notion," local newspapers on Tuesday quoted Petraeus as telling reporters at the U.S. ambassador's residence when asked about his meeting with Kayani.
|12705||Graft, violence hit Sri Lanka's recovery||AFP||News||Sri Lanka||15 December 2009 09:35 Tue||
AFP: Sri Lanka's recovery from its decades-long civil war has been marred by graft, violence and a culture of lawlessness, a global watchdog said Tuesday. Transparency International rapped the government -- which crushed the Tamil Tiger separatist rebels in May -- for a lack of democracy, accountability and transparency. "The latter half of 2009 marks a period of hope and potential for Sri Lanka. Yet, winning the war seems to have been easier than winning the peace," said the report by the body's local branch. "Nowhere is this more clear than in the case of the government's record on human rights and media freedom." It said the authorities had cracked down on dissent in the final stages of the war, with journalists, diplomats and aid workers reprimanded or deported for making critical comments. Transparency International said 34 journalists had been killed between 2004 and 2009, including Lasantha Wickrematunga, a prominent anti-establishment newspaper editor.
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