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NEWS – Distillation 18 MAY 2011 (TCP)CHICAGO

Today's Headlines - (TCP)CHICAGO


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(TCP)CHICAGO – Dateline Chicago –

Afghanistan – Reports say that a NATO raid over night killed 4 people. The (AFP) reports that, eleven people were killed and over 50 others injured, including two German soldiers, at protests in Afghanistan on Wednesday over the deaths of four people in a Nato raid, officials said. Police opened fire as around 2,000 people took to the streets in Taloqan, capital of the usually peaceful northeastern province of Takhar. The troubles erupted after Nato-led forces said they killed four insurgents including two armed women in an overnight raid in the town. A spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said the raid targeted the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), a militant group that operates from bases including in Afghanistan.

TunisiaReuters reports that, The wife and daughter of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi crossed over the border into Tunisia several days ago, a Tunisian security source said on Wednesday. Gaddafi’s wife Safia and his daughter Aisha came to Tunisia with a Libyan delegation on May 14 and are on the island of Djerba in the south. Officials say they should be leaving soon, no destination is specified.

Libya – Reports say that, Spanish photographer Manu Brabo and three other journalists detained by forces loyal to Moammar Gaddafi were released Wednesday in Tripoli, a Libyan government spokesman said on state television. The four newly-freed journalists are Brabo, U.S. reporters James Foley and Clare Morgana Gillis and Briton Nigel Chandler, according to the Libyan spokesman. However, South African photographer Anton Hammerl – who disappeared along with Brabo and the two Americans – has not been released. The four journalists were put on trial on Tuesday in an administrative court in Tripoli, which declared them guilty and sentenced each of them to a year’s probation and a fine of 200 dinars ($154) for illegally entering the country, according to the spokesman.

Middle East – Reports say that Al-Jazeera has announced over their airwaves that an interim leader for al Qaeda has been named. Saif al-Adel, who is on the US list of 22 “Most Wanted Terrorists” is said to be the man involved. Other reports about shifts in al-Qaeda’s command structure were discovered Tuesday by Noman Benotman, a former Libyan fighter aligned with al-Qaeda, now working at London’s counter-extremism think tank, the Quilliam Foundation serves as the corroboration for the story by Al-Jazeera.

Egypt –  Amnesty International is filing reports that Egypt’s justice system is still using military courts to try civilians and torture as a means of information gathering. They report that Egy6pt’s police have not changed much since eventually quelling  mass protests there.

YemenBloomberg News reports that, Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh refused to sign a Gulf Cooperation Council proposal to begin a transition of power, objecting to the inclusion of some opposition members in the deal, said Abdu al-Janadi, the deputy information minister. Saleh’s decision came after the U.S. stepped up pressure on the Yemeni leader to accept the proposal as a step toward ending protests against the regime. John Brennan, President Barack Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser, called Saleh this morning to urge him “to sign and implement the Gulf Cooperation Council-brokered agreement so that Yemen is able to move forward immediately with its political transition,” a White House statement said.

Iran – The WSJ reports that, Officials at Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency, has complained of being thwarted in their attempt to determine whether Iran’s nuclear program is for military purposes, and are angered at what they say are Iran’s blatant attempts to compromise their security, diplomats say. The U.N. is probing whether Iran succeeded in hacking into the computers and telephones carried by the agency’s inspectors while monitoring nuclear facilities in country, say people familiar with the matter.

Mexico – Reports are surfacing that say x-rays of trucks at our nation’s borders with Mexico are showing scans revealing human trafficking efforts. Reports say that, more than 500 people were found packed into two trucks in Mexico’s southern most state. Mexico authorities say they’ve intercepted almost 800 migrants entering the country illegally just this month. Border observers say that means many times that number made it through.

CanadaCBS reports that, Canada’s prime minister unveiled a new cabinet, promoting one of his most trusted lieutenants to the job of foreign affairs minister. Prime Minister Stephen Harper named John Baird as Canada’s new foreign affairs minister on Wednesday. Baird replaces Lawrence Cannon, who was defeated in the May 2 election. Baird previously served in Harper’s cabinet as house leader, environment minister and treasury board minister. Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and Defense Minister Peter MacKay are among the veterans keeping their posts.

Australia –  Moody’s downgraded Australia’s credit rating on Wednesday. Moody’s decision to downgrade several Australian banks encouraged traders to reduce their exposure to the currency.

Ireland –  On a lighter note – (Reuters) reports that, Queen Elizabeth offered her sympathy and regret on Wednesday to all those who had suffered from centuries of conflict between Britain and Ireland in a powerful and personal address to the Irish nation. “To all those who have suffered as a consequence of our troubled past I extend my sincere thoughts and deep sympathy,” the queen said in a televised speech at a banquet in Dublin Castle, once the nerve center of British rule in Ireland. Dressed in a floor-length white gown with a diamond harp brooch glittering on her shoulder, the queen floored the assembled dignitaries when she began by addressing Ireland’s President Mary McAleese and the audience in the Irish language. “Wow,” McAleese exclaimed, and the room burst into a spontaneous round of applause. In her four-day state visit, the first by a British monarch since Ireland won its independence from London in 1921, the queen has shown a determination to address the bloody past and offer powerful gestures of reconciliation.


Washington DC – The WSJ reports that, China’s top military officer warned that America’s tendency to “hype” the threat from Beijing could thwart better U.S.-China military relations. In a speech Wednesday at National Defense University in Washington, Gen. Chen Bingde, the People’s Liberation Army chief of general staff, said China’s economic rise and recent military-modernization efforts had “unfortunately aroused unfounded suspicion and exaggeration of China’s defense and military development.” Overstating the threat posed by China’s military, he said, “not only distorts China’s strategic intention, and tarnishes our international image, but also pollutes the political environment for Sino-U.S. [military-to-military] relations.” Gen. Chen is leading a Chinese military delegation to the U.S. this week, a visit the Pentagon is billing as an important trust-building exercise.

Washington DC – Reports say, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates stated in a press conference Wednesday that someone must have known in Pakistan’s government infrastructure bin Laden was hiding there. He also said he doubted government officials at the top of Pakistan’s leadership knew anything about it. He advised against cutting any foreign aid to Pakistan at this time.

Washington DC – President Barack Obama on Wednesday ordered sanctions on Syrian President Bashar Assad and six of his top deputies in response to their crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations there. As has been reported earlier, Syria has used military force on it’s citizens in recent months, killing over 1000 protesters.

Washington DC – A report filed by the ACLU says, the House Armed Services Committee late last night finished marking up the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which contains a provision that authorizes a worldwide war against terrorism. The bill was also amended to include a provision delaying the implementation of the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. The war authorization provision was added to the bill by the committee’s chairman, Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA), and goes further than the current authorization of war. It has no expiration date and would allow a president to use military force in any country around the world where there are terrorism suspects, even when there are no connections to the 9/11 attacks or other specific harms or threats to the United States.

Washington DC – Goodwin Liu, a President Obama nominee for the 9th District Court of Appeals is being reviewed and is up for a vote tomorrow for for that post. Reports say that he faces opposition from Republican Senators and reports say the Senators consider him to be not fit for the post.

Washington DC – After the House approved a bill for offshore drilling, The Senate rejected the measure Wednesday. The outcome was largely expected by all accounts.


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