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2 June 2012
Canada – The (AP) reported: A gunman fired shots in a crowded food court in one of Canada’s busiest malls Saturday killing a man and injuring seven others, police said. Police Chief Bill Blair said the shooting at Eaton Centre in downtown Toronto targeted one individual and there were a number of innocent bystanders. Police constable Victor Kwong said two people were in critical condition after being shot at the Eaton Centre in downtown Toronto, including a 13-year old boy. The 25-year-old man who was killed died at the scene, he said. Kwong said six people were shot in all, including the deceased. Two people were trampled on and pushed, including a pregnant woman who went into labor after she was pushed, he said. Blair said investigators have a description of the suspect.
Egypt – The (AP) reported: Former President Hosni Mubarak has received a life sentence for failing to stop the killing of protesters during Egypt’s uprising. But he and his sons have been cleared of corruption charges, setting off protests for greater accountability for 30 years of abuses under the old regime. By nightfall on Saturday, a large crowd of up to 10,000 was back in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the birthplace of the uprising, to vent anger over the acquittals. Similar protests went on in the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria and Suez on the Red Sea. “Justice was not served,” said Ramadan Ahmed, whose son was killed on Jan. 28, the bloodiest day of last year’s uprising. “This is a sham,” he said outside the courthouse. Protesters chanted: “A farce, a farce, this trial is a farce” and “The people want execution of the murderer.”
Russia – Bloomberg Businessweek reported: Russia said it agreed to step up pressure on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government to return to the negotiating table, as the United Nations warned the risk of sectarian war was increasing daily. Kofi Annan, the UN special envoy to Syria, said that the level of violence has “escalated” and “the specter of total civil war, with a worrying sectarian dimension, grows by the day,” he told a meeting of Arab League foreign ministers today in Doha, Qatar. Speaking to reporters later, Annan said he will brief the UN about Syria on June 7. Assad “must act now to implement all points” of the UN’s six-point plan to resolve the crisis, he said.
Ghana – The Times of India reported: A cargo plane crash-landed on Saturday near the airport in Ghana’s capital Accra after overshooting the runway and hit a bus on the ground, killing at least 10 people, but the crew survived, officials said. Wreckage from the Boeing 727 Allied Air plane could be seen in an area near the airport along with a badly damaged bus. Rescue, police and fire officers flooded the scene and cordoned off the immediate area of the crash. The plane had arrived from the Nigerian economic capital Lagos when it attempted to land in Accra. Ghana’s airport operator confirmed in a statement that “flight number DHV 111, cargo aircraft, operating from Lagos to Accra, has overshot the runway on landing on Saturday June 2, at 7:10 pm local time.”
Afghanistan – The LA Times reported: Four aid group workers held hostage in a cave in northeastern Afghanistan were rescued early Saturday by NATO-led forces, according to British and alliance officials. The four, a British woman and Kenyan woman and their two male Afghan colleagues, were reportedly in good condition. They had been kidnapped May 22 as they headed to impoverished areas of Badakhshan province on horseback during a mission for Medair, a charity group based in Switzerland. The rescue occurred shortly after midnight in a remote, forested area reportedly inhabited by smugglers and bandits. The province borders Tajikistan, China and Pakistan. Abdul Maroof Rasekh, spokesman for the Badakhshan governor, said NATO and Afghan forces worked together on the 5½-hour operation, in which five of the captors were killed. There were no immediate reports of injuries among rescue team members.
Lebanon – The BBC Middle East reported: At least nine people have been killed and more than 20 hurt in the Lebanese port of Tripoli, in clashes linked to unrest across the border in Syria. Supporters and opponents of the uprising against Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad clashed with rifles and rocket-propelled grenades. Tensions in the northern port city have mounted since Syria’s uprising began. Recent months have seen increased clashes between armed Alawite groups and Sunni fighters in the city. Mr Assad is Alawite, while the uprising against him is Sunni-led. UN peace envoy Kofi Annan has warned that the conflict in the region is developing an alarming sectarian dimension.
Pakistan – The (AP) reported: An American drone strike in the frontier tribal areas of Pakistan killed 10 suspected militants Sunday, Pakistani officials said as the U.S. pushes ahead with its drone campaign in the face of Pakistani demands to stop. It was the sixth American drone strike over the last two weeks and emphasized the importance the U.S. government puts on the drone campaign, which it considers to be a vital tool in the war against al-Qaida and the Taliban. Two Pakistani intelligence officials say four missiles were fired at the village of Mana Raghzai in South Waziristan near the border with Afghanistan on Sunday morning. At the time of the attack, suspected militants were gathered to offer condolences to the brother of a militant commander killed during another American unmanned drone attack on Saturday. The brother was one of those who died in the Sunday morning attack. The Pakistani officials said two of the dead were foreigners, and the rest were Pakistani. The American drone campaign has been a source of deep frustration and tension between the U.S. and Pakistan.
Washington D.C. – The WSJ reported: The U.S. is pursuing a wide-ranging, high-tech campaign against Iran’s nuclear program that includes the cybersabotage project known as Stuxnet, which was developed by the Central Intelligence Agency in conjunction with Idaho National Laboratory, the Israeli government, and other U.S. agencies, according to people familiar with the efforts. The covert CIA effort also includes persistent drone surveillance and cyberspying on Iranian scientists, they said. The U.S. strategy to use technologically advanced measures against Iran illustrates how the Internet and other remote-access capabilities are facilitating spy operations deep inside denied territories. “It’s part of a larger campaign,” said a former U.S. official familiar with the efforts. “It’s a preferable alternative to airstrikes.”
China – The Times of India reported: President Vladimir Putin visits China on Tuesday on the first trip to Asia of his new Kremlin mandate to tighten an increasingly close alliance that is key for Russia’s diplomatic and economic strategy. Putin, who began a historic third term as president less than a month ago, has already made a lightning trip to Germany and France but will symbolically be visiting Beijing before the United States. The sometimes troubled Moscow-Beijing relationship has warmed during Putin’s 12 years of domination over Russia and the two governments are notably in lockstep in opposing outside intervention to solve the Syrian crisis.
Tibet – The Voice of America reported: A leading Tibetan exile group is reporting a massive security clampdown in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, as Chinese security forces push to control community life in the aftermath of two Tibetan self-immolations on Sunday. The Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy quotes witnesses as saying that scores – and perhaps hundreds – of people have been rounded up for questioning in the isolated city since two young men set themselves on fire in an apparent protest against Chinese rule. The group told VOA’s Tibetan service the police roundup includes anyone appearing on security video taken near the site of the protest. It was not clear Thursday how many people remain in police custody. The two young men launched their fiery protest outside Lhasa’s famed Jokhang Temple – the first such incident reported in the heavily guarded city. State media say one of the protesters died at the scene, while the other was hospitalized.
3 June 2012
Pakistan – USA Today reported: A drone strike in Pakistan’s tribal areas killed eight suspected militants early Monday, Pakistani officials said, as the U.S. pushes ahead with the controversial drone program despite Pakistani demands to stop. The strike was the seventh in less than two weeks and highlights the importance that Washington places on the drone program as a way to combat al-Qaida and Taliban fighters who use Pakistan as a base for attacks against American and NATO forces in Afghanistan. In the most recent attack, three Pakistani intelligence officials say four missiles were fired at a suspected militant hideout in a village near the town of Mir Ali in North Waziristan early Monday morning. North Waziristan is one of the tribal areas along the border with Afghanistan that has become a hub of militant activity.
Egypt – The BBC Middle East reported: Demonstrations have continued in Egypt’s Tahrir Square over six former police chiefs, who have escaped punishment because of a “lack of evidence”. Egypt’s state prosecutor has lodged an appeal against the acquittal of the men, who worked for the former President Hosni Mubarak. Prosecutors are also appealing Mr Mubarak’s 30 year prison sentence for his role in the deaths of 900 people during the revolution in 2011. Many activists were disappointed that the court did not sentence him to death.
Iran – Euro NEWS reported: Iran’s supreme leader accused the West on Sunday of lying about his country’s nuclear plans in order to cover up their own problems, in a fiery speech that gave no indication he was ready to compromise in talks with world powers. In an address marking the 23rd anniversary of the death of his predecessor Ruhollah Khomeini, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned Israel that any attack on Iran would be answered with a “thunderous blow”. Khamenei – who has total command over Iran’s nuclear policy – has publicly forbidden the development of nuclear weapons, but western nations suspect that Tehran is developing in isolation each of the components required for an atomic bomb capability.
Nigeria – The (AP) reported: A suicide car bomber drove into a church compound in northern Nigeria Sunday and detonated his explosives as worshippers left an early morning service, killing at least 15 people and wounding dozens more, officials and witnesses said. The bomber targeted the Living Faith church, in a neighborhood near the airport in Bauchi, the capital of Bauchi state. The timed blast caught many people outside the church without any cover to protect themselves from the explosion, causing heavy casualties, witnesses said. At least 15 people died in the blast, not counting the suicide bomber, the Nigerian Red Cross said, while more than 30 people suffered injuries. Bauchi state police commissioner Mohammed Ladan said security personnel stationed near the church compound stopped the car from getting any closer to worshippers than it did.
India – The BBC India Corps reported: Indian yoga guru Baba Ramdev has said he will launch a protest in August unless the government brings back illegal money in foreign banks. He made the announcement during a hunger strike with campaigner Anna Hazare to protest against corruption. Reports say $500bn of illegal money was deposited in overseas tax havens. The government has proposed setting up fast-track courts to deal with the two contentious issues of illegal money and tax evaders. Baba Ramdev joined leading campaigner Anna Hazare on Sunday to undertake a day-long fast in protest against corruption, illegal money and strong anti-corruption laws.
Qatar – The Washington Post reported: A top Palestinian negotiator says Arab nations have promised $100 million a month if Israel follows through with threats to block critical tax funds as punishment for the statehood drive by the West Bank and Gaza. Saeb Erekat says the so-called “safety net” was pledged by Arab League foreign ministers meeting Saturday in Qatar’s capital Doha. Erekat says the Arab funds would only begin if Israel stops the monthly tax payments to the Palestinian Authority. In December, Israel backed down from halting the payments under intense international pressure. But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he could reconsider the decision if Palestinians step up their push for U.N. recognition of an independent state.
Israel – The Eurasia Review reported: Germany is supplying the Israeli Navy with submarines that are fully capable of being fitted to carry cruise missiles with nuclear-warheads, Spiegel reports. Thus, if Israel does indeed have any such missiles, it could deploy them immediately. The extensive military deal suggests that German shipyards are to supply Israel with six Dolphin-class diesel-electric submarines, four of which have already been delivered. “The Germans can be proud to have secured the existence of Israel for many years,” Israeli defense minister, Ehud Barak, told Spiegel.
Japan – Reuters reported: Gains in the yen have been one-sided recently and do not reflect Japan’s economic fundamentals, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said on Monday. Noda, speaking at a news conference, declined to comment on whether Japan has intervened in currency markets. The dollar inched up 0.2 percent to 78.16 yen on Monday but was still not far off Friday’s low of 77.65, the greenback’s lowest since mid-February.