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11 June 2012
Russia – The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported: Undeterred by a sudden escalation in the Kremlin’s crackdown on the opposition, tens of thousands thronged Moscow’s tree-lined boulevards Tuesday in the first mass protest against Vladimir Putin since he returned to the presidency in May. The crowd was even larger than at a demonstration on the eve of Putin’s inauguration, which disintegrated into violent clashes and ushered in the crackdown. Tuesday’s rally ended peacefully, as both protesters and riot police took pains to prevent a confrontation as tensions were already running high. Putin himself spoke of the need “to strive for mutual understanding and to find compromise.” Although in his address on Russia Day, a national holiday, he also warned of the dangers posed by attempts to split society.
Burma – The BBC Asia Corps reported: The United States is urging an end to violence in Burma’s Rakhine state where at least seven people have been killed. The situation “underscores the critical need for mutual respect among all ethnic and religious groups”, said US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton. Violence flared after the murder of a Buddhist woman last month, followed by an attack on a bus carrying Muslims. Meanwhile the EU expressed satisfaction at President Thein Sein’s government’s handling of the violence. Both the US and EU recently eased sanctions on Burma amid a process of reform that began with the election of a military-backed nominally civilian government in November 2010 that ended decades of military rule.
United Kingdom – The BBC reported: Rupert Murdoch warned John Major to switch policy on Europe or his papers would not support him, the ex-prime minister has told the Leveson Inquiry. Sir John recalled the exchange from a private meeting in 1997, which he said he had not spoken about before. Later that year, his Conservative party lost power to Labour, with the Sun backing his rival Tony Blair. Sir John said he was subjected to some “hurtful” press coverage while he was PM, but was “too sensitive” at times. The third module of the inquiry is focusing on the relationship between the press and politicians. Labour Leader Ed Miliband and his deputy Harriet Harman also gave evidence.
Syria – USA Today reported: Fractured, splintered, disorganized. This is how U.S. officials and the international community have branded Syria’s opposition, and many say that is why the West opposes military intervention. At a conference on Syria here recently, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said, “The opposition has work to do.” Activists and analysts say the U.S. administration is not giving an accurate picture of the opponents to Syrian dictator Bashar Assad. “Of course you will not get 23 million Syrians in one organization — this is impossible,” said Radwan Ziadeh, a spokesman for the Syrian National Council (SNC), a committee of Syrian exiles. “This hasn’t been possible in other cases or countries (either).”
North Korea – Bloomberg Businessweek reported: North Korea said it isn’t planning to test a nuclear weapon “at present,” releasing the denial on the day a U.S. envoy arrived in South Korea to discuss tensions on the Korean peninsula. South Korea “seeks to rattle the nerves of the DPRK in a bid to cause it to conduct a nuclear test, though such a thing is not under plan at present,” an unidentified Foreign Ministry spokesman said in a statement carried June 9 by the official Korean Central News Agency. DPRK refers to North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. South Korea has no comment to make on the KCNA statement, the Unification Ministry’s spokesman, Kim Hyung Suk, said yesterday. North Korea needs to “show its sincerity through dialogue and positive actions, not provocations,” he said.
Kenya – The Voice of America reported: Kenyan Internal Security Minister George Saitoti has been killed in a helicopter crash, along with an assistant minister and four other people. The helicopter carrying Saitoti and Assistant Internal Security Minister Joshua Orwa Ojode went down around nine in the morning, local time, near the town of Ngong. Government officials say everyone on board, including the pilots and two policemen were killed. Saitoti, a former vice president, was planning to run for president in next year’s election. He was 66 years old. Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga called the event a “great tragedy,” and referred to the crash as an accident. Speaking to reporters in Nakuru, he described his last meeting with Saitoti.
Pakistan – Michigan NEWS via BNO reported: A team of U.S. negotiators is returning home from Pakistan after several weeks of talks aimed at re-opening vital supply routes to NATO-led forces in Afghanistan ended with no progress, officials in both countries said on Monday. The United States is trying to convince the Pakistani government to reopen its key ground routes into neighboring Afghanistan which were closed in November 2011 after a cross-border NATO air raid accidentally struck military posts and killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, bringing U.S.-Pakistani relations to a new low. Pentagon spokesman George Little said a part of the U.S. team already left Islamabad over the weekend, and the rest will return shortly. “We’ve not reached a resolution yet with the Pakistanis on reopening the ground supply routes,” he said. “We hope to resolve the issue soon.”
Afghanistan – The Oklahoman reported: As many as 100 people are feared dead in an earthquake and landslide that buried more than 20 houses in northern Afghanistan on Monday, officials said. Rescuers have so far pulled two women’s bodies from the rubble of the landslide in Baghlan province, said provincial Gov. Abdul Majid. The U.N. confirmed one other death and said houses were destroyed across five districts. A massive landslide of mud and rocks buried houses so deep in the remote mountain village of Sayi Hazara that rescuers gave up trying to use shovels to dig through the buried buildings, said Jawed Basharat, a spokesman for the provincial police chief who was part of a team that examined the village after the slide. There were no visible signs of the buildings underneath. “We need bulldozers or other machinery to remove all this earth and get the bodies out, or the survivors if there are any,” Basharat said.
Greece – The Guardian UK reported: Greek talk shows are by nature combustible affairs. But rarely have they witnessed anything quite as shocking as the moment when a leading member of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party launched a physical assault on two female politicians. Ten days before the debt-stricken nation goes to the polls in an election that will not only decide Greece’s fate but quite possibly the course of Europe too, the attack, captured on live TV, involved Ilias Kasidiaris, a high profile member of Golden Dawn, lashing out at two prominent leftwing MPs – all part of a seven-strong panel attending the popular Good Morning Greece TV show. The nation that triggered Europe’s debt drama is now a boiling cauldron. In the third year of its worst crisis since the second world war, it has reached the point where fury becomes violence.
Israel – The New York Times reported: Vandals spray-painted graffiti overnight Monday on the walls of Yad Vashem, Israel’s official Holocaust memorial, with messages attacking Zionism and blaming Zionists for the Holocaust. Nearly a dozen messages were scrawled around the Warsaw Ghetto Square monument and other parts of the campus. One said, “If Hitler hadn’t existed, the Zionists would have invented him,” and another said, “The Zionists wanted the Holocaust.” One message was signed “Global Haredi Judaism,” fueling suspicions that those behind the act were ultra-Orthodox Jewish extremists who reject the modern state of Israel.
12 June 2012
Syria – The Jerusalem Post reported: Concern is mounting in Israel over the possibility that Hezbollah will try to move sophisticated weaponry, including Scud missiles, from Syria to Lebanon to protect them in the event of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s downfall. The concern stems from reports that Assad might be losing control over certain military capabilities including an air defense base which was captured by rebels earlier this week. Syria is believed to have allocated a number of Scud D missiles – the most advanced missile in its arsenal – to Hezbollah already in 2010 but they have been stored in bases in Syria. The understanding until now has been that the missiles would only be transferred to Lebanon in the event of a war with Israel but not before as to prevent a potential Israeli military strike.
Russia – The LA Times reported: Antigovernment slogans and calls for change resounded in Moscow’s central boulevards Tuesday, suggesting that Russian authorities’ recent moves to suppress dissent haven’t damped the opposition’s spirits. In the first major protest since President Vladimir Putin began a new six-year term May 7, Muscovites of all ages and political convictions flooded the city center, chanting “Russia without Putin” and “Enough of KGB rule.” The event was dubbed the “March of Millions” to symbolize the wave of discontent that has enveloped Russia’s largest cities since disputed parliamentary elections in December. Protest organizers estimated the turnout at more than 100,000, but police, known for downplaying participation, said it was about 18,000.
Iraq – USA Today reported: A coordinated wave of car bombs struck Shiite pilgrims in Baghdad and several other cities Wednesday, killing at least 66 people and wounding more than 200 in one of the deadliest days in Iraq since U.S. troops withdrew from the country. The bloodshed comes against a backdrop of political divisions that have raised tensions and threatened to provoke a new round of the violence that once pushed Iraq to the brink of civil war. Nobody immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks, but they bore the hallmarks of Sunni insurgents who frequently target Shiites in Iraq. Wednesday’s blasts were the third this week targeting the annual pilgrimage that sees hundreds of thousands of Shiites converge on a golden-domed shrine in Baghdad’s northern neighborhood of Kazimiyah to commemorate the eighth century death of a revered Shiite saint, Imam Moussa al-Kadhim. The commemoration culminates on Saturday.
Iraq – The San Francisco Chronicle reported: Yemeni troops backed by armed tribesmen routed al Qaeda on Tuesday from two southern strongholds the terror network had held for more than a year, the most significant victory so far in a monthlong offensive against a local franchise that has tried time and again to bomb U.S.-bound planes. The military campaign, orchestrated by U.S. military advisers and bankrolled by neighboring Saudi Arabia, has left al Qaeda’s dangerous Yemen branch on the run. The group remained in control of only a handful of towns, with hundreds of its members scattered in the mountains, valleys and vast desert of the Arab world’s most impoverished country. In one of the liberated strongholds, Jaar, residents flocked to the town center, firing guns in the air in celebration after the army’s dawn attack. Others looted warehouses filled with humanitarian supplies delivered by relief groups, Waleed Mohammed, a resident, said in a telephone interview.
Germany – Bloomberg NEWS reported: The night the Berlin Wall fell, Angela Merkel joined thousands of East Germans who pushed west over the border crossing at the Bornholmer Bridge, helping sweep away almost half a century of Cold War division. Merkel, 57, is again at the nexus of history — this time as its agent and leader of Europe’s dominant country. The union built out of the ashes of World War II faces an existential threat and the common currency she champions is at risk of collapse. Critics at home and abroad blame Merkel, saying she has invited disaster by bowing to public opinion and refusing to do enough to help Europe’s weakest links pay their debts. “We’re at a crossroads,” Horst Teltschik, who advised then-Chancellor Helmut Kohl during the diplomacy that led to the reunification of East and West Germany in 1990, said in an interview. “The question is what’s politically important and historically necessary. Do I want further integration? Only then do you ask what it costs.”
Iran – The Telegraph reported: Iran said it was drawing up designs for its first nuclear powered submarine yesterday, putting it in position to become the first nation not nuclear armed to put the technology to front line military use. Designing and building a nuclear propulsion system for a submarine would mark a further violation of UN sanctions against Iran. The UN sanction regime penalises the country for building and developing nuclear facilities outside the international inspections framework. Tehran has provoked worldwide concern over its failure to address suspected military dimensions of its nuclear programme. Harsh economic and political penalties imposed by the UN Security Council, as well as additional embargoes by the US and Europe, have failed to force Tehran to back down. It maintained yesterday that its programme would remain peaceful and even if it introduced nuclear-powered systems into its submarines. “Initial steps to design and build nuclear submarine propulsion systems have begun,” Admiral Abbas Zamini, the technical deputy navy chief said. “All countries have the right to use peaceful nuclear technology, including for the propulsion system of its vessels,” he said. The navy “needs the (nuclear-powered) propulsion system to succeed in realising very long-distance operations.”
Afghanistan – The LA Times reported: The United States and Pakistan had nearly completed a deal to reopen crucial NATO supply routes into Afghanistan, officials from both countries said, when Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta harshly criticized Islamabad last week for allowing militants to mount cross-border attacks from its territory. And with that, new problems erupted. U.S. and Pakistani negotiators had been putting the final touches on the agreement when Panetta, speaking in Kabul on Thursday, said the U.S. was “reaching the limits of our patience” over Islamabad’s failure to root out Afghan insurgents in its tribal areas, the officials said. In the wake of his comments, Pakistani officials refused to meet with a senior Defense Department official over the weekend in Islamabad, and the Pentagon announced Monday that it was bringing home a negotiating team that had worked in the Pakistani capital for nearly two months to end the bitter impasse over the supply routes.
Syria – The Australian reported: When Syrian troops entered the village of Ayn Larouz in Idlib province on March 9 they killed 11 civilians, three of them boys aged between 15 and 17. They seized several dozen other children, some as young as eight, from their homes for use as human shields, placing them in the front windows of buses carrying soldiers and Shabiha militiamen into the village.
Europe – The Telegraph reported: European finance officials have reportedly discussed limiting the size of withdrawals from ATM machines, imposing border checks and introducing eurozone capital controls as a worst-case scenario should Athens decide to leave the euro. EU officials told Reuters that the ideas were part of a range of contingency plans. They emphasised that the discussions were merely about being prepared for any eventuality rather than planning for something they expect to happen – no one the agency spoke to expected Greece to leave the single currency area. But with increased political uncertainty in Greece following the inconclusive election on May 6 and ahead of a second election on June 17, there is now an increased need to have contingencies in place, the sources said.
Afghanistan – The Washington Post reported: As many as 50 people are feared entombed under tons of rock and stone that buried a village in a landslide after two earthquakes in northern Afghanistan, authorities said Tuesday. A single bulldozer worked to uncover the bodies of those killed in Monday’s landslide after the earthquakes struck the Hindu Kush region, but villagers fear there will be no survivors. So far, rescuers have only recovered the bodies of two women, according to Gov. Abdul Majid of Baghlan province who reached the area on Tuesday afternoon after a four-hour drive from the provincial capital of Pul-e-Khumri. “It’s impossible to get to the bodies,” the governor said. “They estimate that they are buried in 30 meters of rock. There are tons of rocks and stones covering the village.”
13 June 2012
Syria – The Hindustan Times reported: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has warned Russia that its support for the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will have negative consequences. “The situation is spiralling towards civil war, and it’s now time for everyone in the international community, including Russia and all Security Council members, to speak to Assad with a unified voice and insist that the violence stop, and come together with Kofi Annan to plan a political transition going forward,” Clinton said on Wednesday at a joint press conference with Indian Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna. “It is something that we believe is in everyone’s interests, most particularly the Syrian people. And Russia says it wants peace and stability restored. It says it has no particular love lost for Assad. And it also claims to have vital interests in the region and relationships that it wants to continue to keep. They put all of that at risk if they do not move more constructively right now,” she said. According to UN estimates, over 10,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in Syria and thousands displaced since the uprising against Assad began about 15 months ago.
Iraq – The Seattle Times reported: A series of explosions Wednesday that mostly targeted Shiite Muslims demonstrated the capabilities of the Sunni insurgency and were a reminder of the instability left behind by U.S. forces. A homemade bomb exploded in the capital, Baghdad, early Wednesday, and was followed about five hours later by a truck-bomb explosion in Kazimiya, a Baghdad neighborhood where Shiite pilgrims had begun to gather to commemorate the life and death of a revered imam. From then on, reports of other attacks flooded in from around the country — Samarra, Kirkuk, Mosul, Fallujah, Ramadi, Hillah — and by afternoon officials said more than 90 people were dead and at least 260 wounded. The only large cities spared were the southern port city of Basra and Najaf.
India – CBS NEWS reported: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton welcomed progress in U.S. efforts to invest in India’s civilian nuclear power industry but said more action is needed to translate improving ties into economic benefits. The two governments held their annual strategic dialogue in Washington on Wednesday, seeking to boost relations that have blossomed in recent years but have yet to meet U.S. hopes for greater market access for American companies. “It’s not enough just to talk about cooperation on issues ranging from civil nuclear energy, attracting U.S. investment to India or defending human rights or promoting women’s empowerment,” Clinton said, alongside India’s foreign minister, S.M. Krishna. “We have to follow through so that our people, citizens of two, great pluralistic democracies, can see and feel the benefits,” she said.
Japan – FOX NEWS reported: Japan has evidence that vehicles capable of transporting and launching missiles were exported to North Korea by a Chinese company in possible violation of U.N. sanctions, Japanese media reported Wednesday. China called the reports inaccurate, and denied violating any U.N. restriction. According to the Japanese reports, four of the vehicles were shipped from Shanghai to North Korea last August aboard the Harmony Wish, a Cambodian-flagged cargo vessel. Japanese authorities tracked the ship by satellite, and searched it after it had delivered its cargo, when it transited through Japan the following month, the reports said. Such vehicles — called TELs, for transporter, erector, launcher — became the focus of international attention when North Korea displayed what looked like several of them during a military parade in its capital, Pyongyang, in April.
Egypt – The New York Times reported: The military-led government issued a decree on Wednesday reimposing martial law ahead of an anticipated court ruling that could delay the presidential election scheduled for this weekend and the promised transition to civilian authority. Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court unexpectedly announced last week that it would rule Thursday on a legal challenge to the legitimacy of the presidential elections — two days before a scheduled runoff between Mohamed Morsi, head of the Muslim Brotherhood’s political arm, and Ahmed Shafik, former President Hosni Mubarak’s last prime minister. The announcement’s timing has stirred speculation here that the court might invalidate the first round of the elections and require a revote. Legal experts say the court’s ruling is impossible to predict. But during his final years in office, Mr. Mubarak packed the court with loyalists in anticipation of presidential elections then scheduled for 2011. Many judges are believed to be suspicious of the Islamists of the Muslim Brotherhood, a group that dominates the Parliament.
Egypt – The Sydney Morning Herald of Australia reported: Judges appointed by Hosni Mubarak have dissolved the Islamist-dominated parliament and ruled his former prime minister eligible for the presidential runoff election this weekend – setting the stage for the military and remnants of the old regime to stay in power. Thursday’s politically charged rulings dealt a heavy blow to the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood, with one senior member calling the decisions a “full-fledged coup”, and the group vowed to rally the public against Ahmed Shafiq, the last prime minister to serve under Mubarak. The decision by the Supreme Constitutional Court effectively erased the tenuous progress from Egypt’s troubled transition in the past year, leaving the country with no parliament and concentrating power even more firmly in the hands of the generals who took over from Mubarak.
Israel – The Seattle Times reported: An Israeli government watchdog criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday for poor decision making in the lead-up to a deadly Israeli military raid on an aid flotilla bound for the Gaza Strip in 2010. Netanyahu, the state comptroller wrote, failed to heed multiple warnings, including from the army chief, that an Israeli military effort to enforce its blockade by intercepting the vessels could erupt in violence. The report also said he did not sufficiently coordinate or document high-level government discussions on how to handle the event. Although the report appeared unlikely to dent the domestic strength of Netanyahu, whose governing coalition is one of the largest in Israel’s history, it renewed questions about his willingness to weigh alternatives as Israel considers a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Argentina – ABC NEWS reported: Argentina’s president took her country’s claim to the Falkland Islands to the United Nations on Thursday, challenging Britain in a highly emotional speech to “act more intelligently” and sit down to talk about the future of the tiny archipelago. President Cristina Fernandez chose to appear at the annual meeting of the little-known U.N. Decolonization Committee on the 30th anniversary of Britain’s ouster of an Argentine invasion force from the Falklands, using the occasion to reiterate Argentina’s opposition to any more wars and to criticize the British prime minister’s decision to mark the day by flying the Falklands flag over his official 10 Downing Street residence. “I felt shame from far away for them because wars are not to be celebrated or commemorated,” she said, pointing to the hundreds of deaths in the 74-day conflict over the islands, which Argentina calls Las Malvinas.
Pakistan – The Washington Post reported: Pakistani intelligence officials say a U.S. drone strike has killed three suspected militants in an attack on a building in a town close to the Afghan border. The strike Thursday in Miran Shah in North Waziristan was the second in the region in less than 24 hours. The officials say the identities and nationalities of the men killed were not known. They didn’t give their names because they were not authorized to speak to the media on the record. Washington has pushed on with its drone campaign against suspected Taliban and al-Qaida operatives in Pakistani tribal areas, despite Pakistani objections.
14 June 2012
Syria – The National Post of Canada reported: The Syrian town of Haffeh was smoldering and nearly deserted on Thursday after days of clashes between government forces and rebels, while activists reported more army assaults on pro-opposition areas across the country. United Nations monitors had been trying to enter the town after several days of fighting but were forced to turn back on Tuesday when a crowd attacked them. They finally gained access on Thursday to find state buildings burnt down, shops abandoned and a body lying in the street. Smoke rose from destroyed buildings and burnt-out cars littered the roads. There were signs of heavy bombardment. Only a handful of residents could be seen and one man said 26,000 people had fled. Rebels pulled out of the town this week saying the thousands of remaining citizens risked being killed in cold blood, a warning echoed by the United States.
Greece – Reuters reported: Central banks from Tokyo to London checked their ammunition on Friday in preparation for any turmoil from Greece’s election, with the European Central Bank hinting at an interest rate cut and Britain set to open its coffers. Tensions were high about how to manage the euro zone’s debt crisis – epitomized by Greece’s bankruptcy and need for international aid – and a rare fight broke out between Germany and France, normally the glue that keeps the bloc together. German Chancellor Angela Merkel criticized France’s economic performance, effectively taking a swipe at Socialist President Francois Hollande who has called for more emphasis on economic growth and less on budget austerity. The feeling of crisis was real. “We must do everything possible to prevent the euro zone from falling apart,” Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on television.
Myanmar – Bloomberg NEWS reported: Clashes in western Myanmar involving Muslim Rohingyas are giving opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi one of her first political tests since an April by-election win that prompted Western nations to ease sanctions. The fighting near the Bangladesh border claimed dozens of lives this month and highlighted the plight of Rohingyas who are denied citizenship in Myanmar and restricted from traveling freely. Suu Kyi, who spent 15 years under house arrest and is making her first trip to Europe since 1988, declined to say whether they should be granted citizenship. “A very broad segment of people in Myanmar are stridently anti-Rohingya,” Michael Montesano, a visiting research fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore, said by phone. “We’re seeing her heed very ugly political realities in Myanmar by being so cautious.” Suu Kyi, who landed in Geneva two days ago, will tomorrow accept the Nobel Peace Prize she won in 1991 on a trip that will include an appearance with U2 singer Bono in Dublin and an address to the U.K. Parliament. Calm has returned to Myanmar’s Rakhine state, where President Thein Sein declared an emergency, after six days of violence killed 29 people and displaced more than 30,000, the Associated Press reported.
China – CBS NEWS reported: China suspended three officials and apologized to a woman who was forced to undergo an abortion seven months into her pregnancy in a case that sparked a public uproar after graphic photos of the mother and her dead baby were circulated online. The case has renewed criticism of China’s widely hated one-child limit, which, while designed to control the country’s exploding population, has led to often violently imposed forced abortions and sterilizations as local authorities pursue birth quotas set by Beijing. Feng Jianmei, 27, was beaten by officials and forced to abort the baby at seven months on June 2 because her family could not afford a 40,000 yuan ($6,300) fine for having a second child, Chinese media reported this week. Photos of her and the reportedly stillborn baby lying on a hospital bed were posted online and went viral, triggering a public outpouring of sympathy and outrage.
Israel – The New York Times reported: Fifty international aid groups and United Nations agencies urged Israel on Thursday to open Gaza’s borders, saying its border blockade violates international law and indiscriminately harms Gaza’s 1.6 million people. The appeal was issued on the fifth anniversary of the imposition of the blockade, a response to the takeover of Gaza by the Islamic militant group Hamas in 2007. Two years ago, Israel started allowing imports of most consumer goods, but it continues to ban virtually all Gaza exports and travel through Israeli crossings. Israel has said the blockade is meant to prevent Hamas from building up its military arsenal and Gaza militants from attacking Israel. International aid agencies say the blockade mainly punishes Gazan residents by crippling the territory’s economy. The appeal was signed by 43 aid groups and seven United Nations agencies, including the World Health Organization.
Russia – Bloomberg Businessweek reported: President Vladimir Putin says Russia needs a new strategic bomber and will develop it despite high costs. Speaking Thursday at a meeting with the military top brass after visiting a base in southern Russia, Putin said the project would be expensive and technologically challenging. He added that the job needs to be done despite high costs, according to Russian news agencies. Putin didn’t mention any specific figures or a give a time frame for the project. Russia’s air force has several dozen Soviet-built Tu-95 four-engine turboprop bombers whose design dates back to the 1950s and just over a dozen more modern supersonic Tu-160 bombers. Efforts to upgrade the fleet has been stymied by the 1991 Soviet collapse that left Russian economy in shambles.
Iran – The Guardian UK reported: Iran has claimed it has arrested the “main elements” behind the assassination of two of its nuclear scientists, alleging they were spies working for Israel. The intelligence ministry said on Thursday it had identified a number of agents affiliated with the “Zionist regime” involved in the January assassination of Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, a key figure at one of Iran’s main uranium-enrichment facilities and the 2010 killing of Majid Shariari, a senior nuclear scientist. Local news agencies published what appears to be a terse statement by the ministry, which does not shed light on the numbers, names or nationalities of those said to be detained nor clarifies where and when they were arrested.
Brazil – The Guardian UK reported: Europe’s financial crisis should not be used as an excuse for inaction and underfunding of moves towards a more sustainable global economy, a senior Brazilian diplomat warned at the Rio+20 conference on Thursday as the UN talks suffered a disruption over money. Negotiators from developing nations walked out of a core working group on the “green economy” because wealthy countries were refusing to include the transfer of money and technology that might achieve this goal. The wobble was temporary but it bodes ill for the conference because negotiators were already running short of time to draft an agreement ahead of an Earth Summit next week that is billed as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to set mankind on a more sustainable path of development. The G77 bloc of developing countries and China said cash and intellectual property were crucial to implement the changes envisaged, such as phasing out fossil fuel subsidies, boosting “green jobs” in the fields of renewable energy, moving towards more sustainable agriculture and incorporating social and economic indicators into GDP measurements.
Germany – The New York Times reported: German authorities carried out a nationwide crackdown on Thursday on an ultraconservative Islamic organization, raiding homes, meeting halls and mosques. Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich said he had banned the Salafist organization Millatu Ibrahim, which he said had been calling on Muslims to fight against Germany’s “constitutional order.” The raids, conducted by 850 police officers in seven German states, focused on two other groups to determine whether evidence exists to ban them as well. Millatu Ibrahim taught followers to reject German law and follow Islamic Shariah law and told them that “the unbelievers are the enemy,” a German security official said. Intelligence and security agencies have been monitoring Germany’s approximately 4,000 Salafists.
15 June 2012
Egypt – The BBC Middle East Corps reported: Egyptians are voting in a two-day run-off election to choose their first freely elected president. Mohammed Mursi, head of the Muslim Brotherhood’s political wing, is up against Ahmed Shafiq, former President Hosni Mubarak’s last prime minister. The ruling generals have vowed to hand over power to the winner by 30 June. But correspondents say there is less enthusiasm than there was for previous rounds of voting, and some have called for a boycott or spoiled ballots.
India – The Hindustan Times reported: As Prime Minister leaves for two crucial back-to-back international summits on Saturday, India on Friday cautioned against trade restrictive measures and protectionism in the garb of pushing for green economy norms. On a eight-day foreign tour, Singh will attend the seventh summit of the Group of 20 developed and developing countries (G-20) starting in the Mexican resort town of Los Cabos on June 18 and the Rio+20 Summit in Rio De Janeiro. The Rio Summit, commencing on June 20, is being held 20 years after the first Earth Summit, a landmark gathering, in a renewed bid to rally the world behind a common environmental blueprint. “We do not want trade restrictive measures or protectionism in the name of green growth,” environment minister Jayanti Natarajan said briefing newsmen ahead of the Rio+20 Summit. In the run up to RIO+20, the theme of “Green Economy” has attracted wide attention.
Australia – The Sydney Morning Herald of Australia reported: Prime Minister Julia Gillard and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak have issued a joint statement urging “resolute action” by Europe to address uncertainty in the global economy. Ms Gillard and Mr Lee will be among the G20 nation leaders to gather in the Mexican resort city of Los Cabos on Monday and Tuesday. “We need a clear message from Europe that it is taking decisive steps to stabilise and strengthen its banks,” they said. Advertisement: Story continues below “A crucial element of restoring confidence in Europe is agreement on a roadmap for the eurozone to underpin its monetary union by a fiscal union and a banking union.” Ms Gillard will land in Los Cabos on Sunday, where she will address a B20 business forum being held in the sidelines of the leaders’ summit.
Germany – Bloomberg Businessweek reported: German Chancellor Angela Merkel has underlined her determination to reject pressure for quick solutions at the Group of 20 summit, saying Europe must tackle its problems “at the roots” by lowering debt and increasing economic competitiveness. Merkel said Friday that fueling growth through more government spending “will rather increase the problems than decrease them.” Speaking at a conference of a group representing family-owned companies, she acknowledged that Germany — Europe’s biggest economy — will be a focus of attention at next week’s G-20 summit of world leaders in Mexico. Merkel said: “Germany will not be convinced by all the quick solutions,” such as jointly issued eurobonds — favored by French President Francois Hollande. She insisted “you can only resolve a crisis of confidence if you tackle things at the roots.”
China – The National NEWS of Australia reported: Despite an apology from the Chinese authorities after a woman was forced to undergo an abortion seven months into her pregnancy, rights groups have said China is not serious about dealing with abuses linked to its one-child policy. According to the official Xinhua news agency, a local government in central China’s Shaanxi province apologised to Feng Jianmei late on Thursday and suspended three officials after the 27-year-old was forcibly taken to hospital and her pregnancy terminated. Yet Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) said yesterday the apology only came because of the negative publicity the case has attracted, with graphic photographs of Ms Feng on her hospital bed beside the dead baby having sparked outrage online. The baby was reportedly stillborn 36 hours after medical officials gave Ms Feng an injection to induce an abortion because she already has a daughter, who was born in 2007.
Yemen – Reuters reported: The Yemeni army drove al-Qaeda-linked fighters from two of their main strongholds on Tuesday after weeks of fighting, the Defence Ministry said, a major breakthrough in a U.S.-backed offensive meant to secure stability in the wider oil-rich Gulf region. Jubilant residents took to the streets of the Abyan provincial capital of Zinjibar and the strategic city of Jaar in spontaneous celebrations after militants from Ansar al-Sharia (Partisans of Islamic Law), who had held the two southern cities for more than a year, fled advancing Yemeni troops. “I am now speaking from the local government headquarters in Zinjibar,” Major General Salem Qatan, commander of the southern region, told Reuters by telephone. “The cities of Zinjibar and Jaar have been completely cleansed,” he said.
Canada – The Globe and Mail of Canada reported: A B.C. Supreme Court judge has struck down Canada’s assisted suicide law and given Ottawa one year to rework the laws. Supporters of the terminally ill who wish to die with dignity applauded the decision.
Myanmar – The Press Trust of India reported: Fifty people have been killed and scores wounded in communal clashes in western Myanmar, state media said today, raising the toll from riots that have displaced more than 30,000 people. According to state mouthpiece the New Light of Myanmar, 50 people have died, with 54 injured between May 28 and June 14 in Rakhine state, which has been rocked by violence between local Buddhists and Muslim Rohingya.