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5-6 November 2011
Greece – Bloomber Business NEWS reported: Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou agreed to step down to allow the creation of a national unity government intended to secure international financing and avert a collapse of the country’s economy. Papandreou met with Antonis Samaras, leader of the main opposition party, and agreed to form a government to lead Greece “to elections immediately after the implementation of European Council decisions on October 26,” according to an e-mailed statement yesterday from the office of President Karolos Papoulias in Athens. Papandreou already stated he won’t lead the new government, the statement said. “If we take it to mean that Greece is making efforts to ensure that they continue to receive funding support from the Eurozone, then the move is positive,” Sacha Tihanyi, a Hong Kong-based currency strategist at Scotia Capital, the investment banking unit of Bank of Nova Scotia, said today of the decision. “However, it would be much better to see sustained political stability out of the country.”
American & Europrean Markets – In a related dispatch Bloomberg Business NEWS also reported: U.S. stock futures were little changed, following the first weekly drop since September, as investors watched Greece’s efforts to form a new government and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s parliamentary majority showed signs of unraveling ahead of a budget vote. Standard & Poor’s 500 Index futures expiring in December declined less than 0.1 percent to 1,250.10 as of 11:43 a.m. Tokyo time after rising as much as 0.6 percent and falling 0.3 percent. The benchmark gauge retreated 2.5 percent last week. “So goes Greece, so goes the market,” Matt McCormick, a money manager at Cincinnati-based Bahl & Gaynor Inc., which oversees $4.1 billion. “The appearance that they are trying to make progress to fix the situation is being reflected positively. It’s just like the weather. As long as it’s sunny and nice, the market will continue to go up. If people start focusing on the reality that Greece is broken and there’s not an easy solution, that’s going to have a negative effect.” Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou met with Antonis Samaras, the leader of the main opposition party, and “agreed to form a new government with the aim of leading the country to elections immediately after the implementation of European Council decisions on October 26,” according to an e-mailed statement from the office of President Karolos Papoulias in Athens. Papandreou has already said he won’t lead this new government, the statement said.
Nigeria – The Financial Times reported: High quality global journalism requires investment. At least 63 people have been killed in a string of bomb, suicide and gun attacks in Nigeria’s remote north-east, where Islamist militants are waging a bloody insurgency against the federal government and army. The attacks, which took place on Friday and Saturday ahead of the Muslim holiday of Eid, were among the bloodiest since the Boko Haram sect launched its campaign in the city of Maiduguri in 2009. The deaths belie army and federal government claims that the insurgency is close to being crushed. High quality global journalism requires investment. The latest bloodshed follow a suicide bomb blast in August on UN headquarters in Abuja, the federal capital, which government officials believe points to the group’s evolving links with jihadist groups elsewhere in Africa, including al-Qaeda in the Maghreb. The Red Cross said at least 63 people had been killed. But Nigerian journalist Aminu Abubakar from a French news agency said he had counted 97 bodies in the town of Damaturu where the attacks took place. Police headquarters had been completely destroyed, he said by telephone from the town.
Syria – FOX NEWS reported: Syrians in the restive region of Homs performed special prayers for a major Muslim holiday to the sound of explosions and gunfire as government troops pushed forward their assault on the area, killing at least 11 people Sunday, residents and activists said. The violence on the first day of Eid al-Adha, or Feast of the Sacrifice, added to fears that a peace plan brokered by the Arab League last week was unraveling and prompted Qatar’s prime minister to call for an emergency meeting Saturday to discuss the Syrian government’s failure to abide by its commitments. Egypt’s official news agency MENA reported that Sheik Hamad Bin Jassem Bin Jabr Al Thani called for the meeting “in light of the continuing acts of violence and the Syrian government’s noncompliance” with the terms of the Arab plan.
Moscow – The Washington Post reported: Tens of thousands of Muslim men knelt shoulder-to-shoulder in prayer on the freezing streets of Moscow on Sunday to celebrate the religious holiday of Eid al-Adha. Estimates of the number of Muslims living or working in the Russian capital run from 2 million to as high as 5 million, but the city only has a few mosques. Police said 170,000 people celebrated the holiday in Moscow, including 80,000 who gathered on the street outside what was once the main mosque. The 100-year-old pastel green Cathedral Mosque was torn down in September and a new mosque being built next to it is still under construction. Many of those who braved temperatures of minus 8 degrees Celsius (18 degrees Fahrenheit) to pray on Sunday morning were migrant workers from countries in Central Asia that were once part of the Soviet Union. “Of course new mosques are needed,” said Maruv, a shop worker from Tajikistan who gave only his first name. “Look at how many people are in the street and it’s cold. They have been standing here waiting for the beginning of prayers since 6 a.m. and there are no facilities.” Police cordoned off the area and set up metal detectors to screen worshippers. The mosque is located next to the Olympic Stadium, where this weekend women tennis players from Russia and the Czech Republic played the Fed Cup final. Muslim prayers also were held at three other mosques and in three city parks.
Afghanistan – The VOA reported: Two suicide bombers targeted worshippers as they were leaving a mosque in northern Afghanistan Sunday, with one blowing himself up and killing seven people, including a police officer. At least 18 people were wounded in the blast. Authorities said the second would-be bomber was captured before he could set off his explosives. The attack took place on the outskirts of Baghlan city, the capital of Baghlan province, following prayers marking the start of the Eid al-Adha Muslim holiday. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but the Taliban routinely targets Afghan officials and security forces, as well as international troops. On Friday, the Taliban issued a statement urging its fighters to avoid killing civilians. Commander of NATO-led coalition forces, General John Allen, joined Afghan President Hamid Karzai in condemning the bombing. Allen said “it is obvious by these acts that the insurgents do not respect the holy religion of Islam or the people of Afghanistan.” He called the attack “despicable.”
Boston – The The Boston Globe reported: Senator Scott Brown yesterday denounced Friday evening’s sit-in protest at the Israeli consulate in Boston. “This group of protesters has a poisonous message which needs to be loudly refuted, “Brown, a Massachusetts Republican, said in a statement. “Israel is a friend and ally to the United States. It was shocking to hear the protestors chanting anti-Israel slogans in support of the terrorist-backed intifada uprising, which has created so much misery and death in Israel.” The Boston protest came after Israel’s navy intercepted two small boats carrying about two dozen pro-Palestinian activists of several nationalities on Friday, according to the Associated Press. The vessels that tried to breach Israel’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip were towed to a port north of Gaza, AP reported. No one was injured and the 22 activists are expected to be deported from Israel, according to AP reports. Israel says its naval blockade is vital to stop weapons from reaching Palestinian militant groups such as Hamas, which rules Gaza, AP reported. Last year, Israeli forces killed nine Turks in a raid to halt a larger protest flotilla. Brown’s statement included a link to a YouTube video that showed about 20 demonstrators sitting in the lobby of the Israeli consulate at Park Plaza in downtown Boston, shouting chants including: “Hey hey, ho ho, Israeli apartheid’s got to go”; “Occupy the consulate, not Palestine”; and “Militarization is a crime.” In the video, Boston police are shown escorting protesters out of the building, as the demonstrators chant, “We will be back.”
Pakistan – USA Today reported: A suicide bomber detonated his explosives Monday as a former government official greeted others outside a mosque in northwestern Pakistan on an important Islamic holiday, killing the official and his guard, police said. Malik Hanif Khan Jadoon had just finished morning prayers celebrating Eid-al-Adha at the mosque in Swabi district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province when the attack occurred, said Ijaz Khan, a senior local police officer. Jadoon and his guard were killed and nine others were wounded, including the former official’s son, said Khan. Jadoon used to be a senior official in Swabi and was a member of the Awami National Party, a Pashtun nationalist party whose members have often been targeted by the Pakistani Taliban. There has been no claim of responsibility yet for Monday’s attack.
Liberia – Reuters reported: Liberia could tip into chaos not seen since its civil war if a presidential run-off election set for Tuesday is not delayed and reorganized, presidential hopeful Winston Tubman said on Sunday. Tubman, a former United Nations diplomat, was meant to stand against incumbent Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf in the November 8 run-off but last week withdrew his participation in the process and called for a boycott, citing electoral fraud during the first round of voting last month. “I think that at the end of the day we will have to evaluate what is likely to be better for the country: delaying the elections or going forward with them in a way that doesn’t carry the support of such a big party in the country,” Tubman told Reuters in an interview in the garden of his residence in the capital Monrovia.
Iraq – RTT NEWS reported: At least eight people have been killed and dozens of others injured in a series of bomb attacks targeting a busy market in the Iraqi capital city of Baghdad, local reports quoting officials said late Sunday. According to officials, three well-coordinated explosions had ripped through the busy market in the commercial district of Shurja one after the other as people were out in numbers shopping for food and other items for the major Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha. Although violence has dropped across Iraq in recent years, the country continues to witness such attacks on a regular basis. Most of the attacks, including Sunday’s, have been blamed on Sunni Islamist insurgents, who are still active in the country despite ongoing efforts to improve security. Sunday’s bombings came after a twin bomb attack left at least 36 people dead and more than 70 others wounded in the Iraqi capital on October 27. Those bombings, also blamed on Sunni insurgents, occurred in Baghdad’s northeastern Shiite neighborhood of Ur district.