The Bittersweet Player – Clear your browser cache to hear the latest play list.
21 May 2012
Yemen – The LA Times reported: A suicide bomber targeted soldiers rehearsing Monday for a military parade here, killing as many as 112 people and signaling that Islamic extremists may be shifting their focus to Yemen’s capital after weeks of intense battles in outlying provinces with U.S.-backed government forces. Al Qaeda affiliate Ansar al Sharia claimed responsibility for the bombing in retaliation for American-assisted government offensives against its strongholds in southern Yemen. Unnerved by increasedU.S. military and drone strikes, the militants struck directly at the heart of the new and fragile government of President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi. The attack, in which at least 300 people were injured, was the bloodiest in the capital in years and came a day after gunmen fired on a car carrying three U.S. civilian contractors training the Yemeni coast guard in the Red Sea port of Hudaydah. The Pentagon said the trio suffered minor injuries.
Afghanistan – The Christian Science Monitor reported: With an eye to withdrawing their combat forces from Afghanistan by 2014, NATO leaders Monday approved a US-promoted plan to shift the command of combat operations to Afghan forces by mid-2013. The shift, part of what President Obama called a “phased transition … to responsibly bring this war to an end,” is another step in the NATO alliance’s withdrawal from a fighting role in the decade-long Afghanistan war. While the end of the Afghan war may be on the horizon for US and other international troops, that does not mean the conflict will be over in two years, regional experts say. The Taliban will remain a fighting force, they say, and the fundamental question of Afghanistan’s stability is likely to be just as uncertain then as it is today. “This will not mark the end of Afghanistan’s challenges, obviously,” Mr. Obama said of the plan adopted at the summit to “transition” out of the Afghan war. But he said it is a plan for “helping the Afghans to stand on their own.” The handover of operations command to the Afghans by the middle of next year is a sign that the 28-nation alliance is accelerating its drawdown from Afghanistan, say some regional experts – particularly as NATO faces pressure from countries, like France, that have announced plans to step up their troop withdrawals.
Iran – Bloomberg Businessweek reported: Intent on weakening Iran economically, the Senate on Monday approved tough new penalties on the Tehran regime to thwart its nuclear ambitions. By voice vote, the Senate backed the measure ahead of talks between leading nations and Iran in Baghdad on Wednesday. The bill would target Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, require companies that trade on the U.S. stock exchange to disclose any Iran-related business to the Securities and Exchange Commission and would expand penalties for energy and uranium mining joint ventures with Tehran. The bill also would deny visas and freeze assets on individuals and companies that supply Iran with technology that could be used to crack down on its citizens, such as tear gas, rubber bullets and surveillance equipment. Both the Obama administration and the international community have imposed tough sanctions on Iran over its nuclear development program, which Iran maintains is for peaceful purposes only.
Syria – WCDB TV Charleston, SC via (AP) reported: Syria’s war has barreled over the border with an angry, raucous funeral for an anti-Syrian cleric whose killing set off a night of deadly street battles in Beirut and raised fears that Lebanon is getting drawn into the chaos afflicting its neighbor. The violence is a reflection of Lebanon’s political dysfunction, a legacy of years of civil war when the country became a proxy battleground for other nations. Lebanon walks a fragile fault line over Syria, which had troops on the ground here for nearly 30 years until 2005 and still has strong ties to Lebanon’s security services. To many observers, it was only a matter of time before the violence in Syria infected Lebanon. The U.N. estimates the Syrian conflict has killed more than 9,000 people since March 2011, when President Bashar Assad started cracking down on a popular uprising. “The Syrian regime is seeking to sow chaos in Lebanon!” Khaled Daher, a Sunni member of parliament, said during a fiery speech Monday at the funeral for Sheik Ahmed Abdul-Wahid, the slain anti-Syrian cleric. “But we will not be scared.” Daher stood surrounded by Sunni clerics and armed gunmen in the northern village of Bireh, Abdul-Wahid’s hometown. Syria is visible across the border, on the other side of a green valley dotted with homes and farms. Gunmen shouting “Down with Bashar!” roamed the streets ahead of the funeral procession, which drew thousands of people who fired their rifles in the air as a sign of mourning.
Serbia – The (AP) reported: Serbia is still likely to get a government that hopes to join the European Union despite the election of a pro-Russian nationalist as the country’s new president, officials said Monday. Tomislav Nikolic, a former ultranationalist ally of the late Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic, beat incumbent Boris Tadic for Serbia’s presidency on Sunday. The result could slow down the Balkan country’s attempts to join the EU and reconcile with wartime foes, including the former province of Kosovo that declared independence in 2008. The state electoral commission said Monday its near-complete vote count showed Nikolic won 49.5 percent of the vote against Tadic’s 47.3 percent. The outcome was a sign of the fading allure of the EU, which is plagued by a debt crisis, and voter discontent with Serbia’s weak economy. Tadic is one of many politicians in Europe who have recently lost elections because of the continent’s financial crisis.
Mali – The Christian Science Monitor reported: Mali’s interim president, Dioncounda Traore, has been taken to the hospital, unconscious, after mobs of protesters broke into the presidential palace today. The protesters were supporters of the military junta that has ruled Mali since a March 22 coup. Protesters at the scene voiced support for the military junta, but not with the interim president chosen by the junta. The injury of President Traore could complicate a deal worked out over the weekend between West African leaders and the head of the military junta, Capt. Amadou Sanogo, who named Mr. Traore interim president until elections can be held. The West African bloc, ECOWAS, which led the negotiations, has raised the possibility of military intervention, and has already approved 1,500 troops to restore order in Bamako and contain an ethnic rebellion in Mali’s north that has effectively carved out a Tuareg-majority independent country by force. Military spokesman Bakary Mariko told Reuters that the protesters broke into the presidential palace and assaulted acting President Traore.
North Korea – The (AP) reported: North Korea has ramped up work at its nuclear test site over the last month, according to an analysis of satellite images released Tuesday, a day after the top U.S. envoy for North Korea warned Pyongyang that an atomic test would unify the world in seeking swift, tough punishment. Glyn Davies’ comments after meetings Monday in Seoul with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts reflect widespread worry that North Korea may follow a failed April 13 long-range rocket test with its third nuclear test. Both of its previous nuclear tests, in 2006 and 2009, followed rocket launches. Satellite images taken by DigitalGlobe and GeoEye in the past month show heightened activity at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site in North Korea’s northeast, including mining carts, excavation equipment and a large amount of debris taken from inside a tunnel and piled around its entrance, James Hardy, IHS Jane’s Asia Pacific specialist, said in a statement Tuesday. The most recent image was from May 9. South Korean intelligence officials said last month that satellite images showed North Korea was digging a new tunnel in what appeared to be preparation for another nuclear test at the site. A new tunnel is likely needed because existing ones probably caved in and became contaminated with radioactive material after previous tests.
Italy – The New York Daily News reported: Small aftershocks continue to shake northern Italy causing evacuation of at least 6,000 people. A 6.0-magnitude quake north of Bologna Sunday killed seven people, injured over 50, and destroyed dozens of old buildings. The tremor was followed by at least 17 aftershocks around the region till late Monday. Governor of Emilia-Romagna region Vasco Errani said that at least 6,000 people had been evacuated from Modena, Ferrara and Bologna – the three provinces hit the hardest by the disaster. Most of the displaced residents, whose houses were destroyed in the quake, have been put in temporary tent camps. Some people cannot return to their homes until the buildings have been checked for safety. Emilia-Romagna has a population of about 4.4 million and is considered one of the richest and most developed regions in Europe. It is a major centre for food and automobile production, being home for iconic Italian companies, such as Ferrari, lamborghini, Maserati, De Tomaso and Ducati.
Unexpected Data Loss For Rest Of Week