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    International News - MAY

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    Abhishek

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    International News - MAY

    Post  Abhishek on Wed Apr 27, 2011 12:02 am

    This thread is for updating daily International Affairs from leading newspapers , so that these news can help aspirants during the Xam.

    Please Post authentic Information from news along with Source .


    Last edited by Abhishek on Sat May 07, 2011 12:44 am; edited 1 time in total
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    Re: International News - MAY

    Post  Abhishek on Sun May 01, 2011 5:13 pm

    Qadhafi encouraging mass rape: U.S. official
     


    A top United States official has alleged that Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Qadhafi supplied Viagra, a drug to treat sexual impotence, to his forces to encourage them to commit mass rape.

    Susan Rice, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, reportedly brought up the Viagra issue “during a discussion about whether there is moral equivalence between the Qadhafi forces and the rebels”.

    Media reports said her statements were based on claims by the Al Jazeera news channel last month that “Libya-based doctors... had found Viagra in the pockets of pro-Qadhafi soldiers”.

    The Guardian quoted an unnamed diplomat as saying “I was in the room when she mentioned Viagra... She listed human rights abuses by Gaddafi's forces, including snipers shooting children in the street and the Viagra story.” The report added that Ms. Rice was “trying to persuade doubters that Libya was not just a civil war and that Qadhafi was encouraging human rights abuses.”

    Diplomatic sources reportedly said that no one else present at the meeting responded to the allegation and it “did not cause a stir.”

    However contradicting Ms. Rice, NBC News carried comments by U.S. military and intelligence officials to the effect that there was no evidence that Colonel Qadhafi's forces were being supplied Viagra and engaging in systematic rape in rebel areas.

    Political angle

    According to media reports, “The officials added that although rape has been used as a weapon in many other African conflicts, they have not seen reports of that coming from Libya.”

    Apart from the political angle, Ms. Rice's claim also begs the medical question of what effects the drug has on the human body. Speaking to The Hindu a doctor said,

    “Viagra does not affect libido, it only acts locally. Further it has a limited period of action.”

    She added that the link between Viagra and sexual drive was “very weak,” and concurred that it would only result in mass rape in this case if the soldiers were anyway intent on committing rape and at the same time suffering from problems relating to sexual impotence.
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    Re: International News - MAY

    Post  Abhishek on Sun May 01, 2011 5:14 pm

    China expands presence in Myanmar




    China has announced it will build a railway line connecting a Myanmar border town to the planned deep-sea port it is building at Kyaukphyu, which will, along with an ongoing pipeline project, help secure access to both energy resources and a strategically-significant Indian Ocean port in that country.

    The state-run Xinhua news agency reported on Friday the China Railways Engineering Corporation and the Myanmar Union Ministry of Rail Transportation had signed a memorandum of understanding to complete the 126-km first phase of the railway line by 2014. The line will run from Kyaukphyu to the border town of Muse.

    Xinhua said the project would be implemented in line with the gas pipeline China was building from Kyaukphyu to Ruili in Yunnan province, which bordered Myanmar. China is also planning to invest in setting up a special industrial zone at Kyaukphyu, which the Chinese government hopes will emerge as an important centre of energy imports, amid an ongoing effort to reduce its dependence on the Malacca Straits as a route for its oil imports. Earlier this month, China and Myanmar pledged to deepen their political cooperation. Underscoring the closeness of their ties, Chinese political adviser Jia Qinglin, who is also the fourth-ranked official on the Communist Party Politburo's Standing Committee, became the first high-ranked foreign official to visit Myanmar following last year's controversial elections.

    Mr. Jia expressed China's support to newly-elected President Thein Sein, who earlier served as head of the military regime. He said China “supports Myanmar's development mode chosen in accordance with the country's own conditions”.
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    Re: International News - MAY

    Post  Abhishek on Sun May 01, 2011 5:15 pm

    Taliban declares spring offensive




    The Afghan Taliban announced on Saturday the start of their spring operations against foreign troops and government officials.

    A statement from the Leadership Council of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, as the insurgents call their movement, on Saturday declared their offensive would start May 1.

    The operation called Badar will target the troops of the United States and its foreign and Afghan allies, said the statement. The focus would be on military centres, airbases and convoys.

    More than 140,000 foreign troops led by NATO are struggling against an insurgency which has lasted since the Taliban were ousted in 2001.

    A NATO official on Saturday said they anticipate the militants to “increase use of assassinations, spectacular attacks, and claims of infiltration.” Militants were planning to attempt a surge of violence in the coming days to gain a propaganda victory but it will have no lasting impact due to gains Afghan and coalition forces have made through the winter, said General Josef Blotz, spokesman for NATO-led International Security Assistance Force.

    General Blotz claimed the Taliban suffered increasing setbacks over the past several months, losing weapons caches, being pushed out of historic sanctuaries, suffering the loss of thousands of fighters and hundreds of leaders. The Taliban were also under pressure from more than 100,000 additional Afghan and coalition forces in the field.

    “We have increased our security posture because of a credible threat of coordinated insurgent attacks,” said the German general.

    Violence

    “ISAF will support Afghan government efforts to protect citizens from insurgent violence, in addition to protecting our own forces.” The Taliban in their Saturday statement also said they will attack high-ranking Afghan government officials, both military and civilian, members of the cabinet, parliamentarians, senior employees of foreign and local companies, and contractors.

    They said members of High Peace Council would also be targeted because it “prolongs the American occupation.” — DPA
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    Re: International News - MAY

    Post  Abhishek on Sun May 01, 2011 5:18 pm

    Blake to visit Kilinochchi


    A top U.S. State department official landed in The Maldives on Saturday, the second such official visit in four months, against the backdrop of increasing radicalisation of its youth.

    Mr. Blake Jr. will arrive in Sri Lanka on May 3. He is slated to visit USAID-supported programmes and meet local leaders in Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu. He was U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lankan between 2006 and 2009.

    Earlier, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg, who is on a whirl-wind visit of the major capitals of Asia and Africa, held discussions with officials and civil society leaders in Maldives on January 28 and 29.

    Specific areas raised with the Maldivian government by Mr. Steinberg — who is the acting Secretary of State in Hillary Clinton's absence — included the challenges of economic development, the need to strengthen education and build educational opportunities, as well as the challenge of confronting growing extremism.

    In a December 15 telephonic press conference with south Asian journalists, Mr. Blake Jr. said : “It's going to be very important now for I think all of the parties to work together to find common ground and to work to help the interests of the Maldivian people… So it's important, again, I think for all the parties to work together… It's important to set aside a lot of the rancour and again, focus on what is going to benefit the Maldivian people.”

    While Maldives remains important on his agenda, Mr. Blake Jr. is expected to engage the Sri Lankan government on issues that have arisen following the publication of the United Nations Secretary-General's expert panel report on the last months of the war.

    Though his visit to Mullaitivu is to review a project, he is also expected to be taken around the final theatre of war in the area. News website Daily Mirror quoted a U.S. official as saying Mr. Blake's visit had been planned a month ago and was not linked to the war panel report released on Monday but that it was certain to come up in conversation.
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    Re: International News - MAY

    Post  Abhishek on Sun May 01, 2011 5:19 pm

    China enforces first-of-its-kind law to ban smoking in public





    The first thing Wang Shuying did after exchanging wedding rings was to whip out a cigarette lighter. Her first act as a newly-wed was to light a cigarette for her husband, following a widely prevalent modern Chinese tradition where brides embark on married life by helping the groom and his best men light up. The unusual wedding practice points to the ubiquity of smoking in Chinese society, where the practice has wide cultural acceptance and is rarely frowned upon in a nation now home to the world's biggest smoking population.

    But starting this Sunday, brides like Ms. Wang will no longer mark their weddings in a puff of smoke — at least in theory, according to a first-of-its-kind law to ban smoking in public. This week, China will take a small — and for many, a long overdue — first step in attempting to stub out the nation's addiction, by banning smoking in all enclosed public places, including hotels, restaurants, railway stations, wedding halls and hospitals — in China, even waiting rooms and toilets in hospitals are not out of bound for smokers.

    The Ministry of Health said starting this week, business owners would be required to set up “conspicuous non-smoking signs” as well as carry out promotional activities to warn people of the dangers of smoking.

    While the ban marks an important signal from a government that has been reluctant to clamp down on a lucrative industry, critics of the new law say it lacks teeth — the law does not mention penalties that business owners and customers who break the regulations will face.

    In China, awareness of the harmful effects of smoking remains low — the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates less than 25 per cent of people are aware of its harmful effects. Yang Gonghuan, Deputy Director of the CDC, told state media this week that he believed the regulation was “hastily enacted,” and by failing to specify punishments for violators, enforcement and supervision would likely remain inadequate.

    While the Chinese government ratified the World Health Organisation's (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control eight years ago, it has been criticised for failing to meet targets and inadequate implementation. According to the WHO, smoking-related diseases kill 1.2 million Chinese every year.

    China's tobacco consumption has risen from 589.9 billion cigarettes in 1978 to about 2.3 trillion in 2009, according to the China National Tobacco Corporation, a State-run enterprise that in 2009 brought in $77.3 billion, as much as 7.5 per cent of the government's revenue. According to a CDC report, more than 300 million Chinese — 28 per cent of the population — inhale a regular diet of cigarettes, while more than 740 million, including 182 million children, were exposed to second-hand smoke in China last year.

    Many remain sceptical whether the new law will be enforced tightly enough to curb the widely prevalent habit.

    “There are too many smokers in China, so it is hard to see restaurants enforcing it,” said Hanbing Chen (25), a student at a Beijing university who has been a smoker for seven years. Mr. Chen pointed to a 2009 regulation requiring Chinese restaurants set up designated smoking areas. Two years on, it is rarely enforced. Even on Saturday evening, few restaurants in a popular Beijing dining district had any arrangements in place to enforce the regulations.

    Deeply ingrained

    Others say smoking is too deeply ingrained in modern Chinese culture to be stubbed out by new regulations. “Whether it is Chinese cinema, television shows, or even in the fashion industry, smoking is still portrayed positively,” said Wang Minghua, who works as an agent for a modelling agency in Beijing. He said he started smoking in high school, where the practice was common, perceived as a “masculine” trait. “You had to smoke to fit in,” he said. “And that won't change.”
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    Re: International News - MAY

    Post  Abhishek on Sun May 01, 2011 11:40 pm

    Libyan leader Gaddafi survives Nato air strike, son killed

    Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi survived a Nato air strike that killed his youngest son and three grandchildren and destroyed a Tripoli house, a Libyan government spokesman said on Saturday.

    "What we have now is the law of the jungle," government spokesman Mussa Ibrahim told a news conference. "We think now it is clear to everyone that what is happening in Libya has nothing to do with the protection of civilians."

    Gaddafi, who seized power in a 1969 coup, is fighting an uprising by rebels who have seized much of the eastern part of the country. British and French-led Nato forces are permitted under a United Nations resolution to attack Gaddafi forces to protect civilians.

    There was no immediate Nato reaction or independent confirmation of the incident.

    Libya's government took journalists to the house, which had been hit by at least three missiles. The roof had completely caved in in some areas, leaving mangled rods of reinforcing steel hanging down among chunks of concrete.

    A table football machine stood outside in the garden of the house, which was in a wealthy residential area of Tripoli.

    The blasts had been heard across the city late on Saturday. Rifle fire and car horns rang out in the rebels' eastern capital of Benghazi as news of the attack spread.

    Authorities said Gaddafi's youngest son, Saif al-Arab, had been killed in the attack. Saif al-Arab is one of Gaddafi's less prominent sons, with a limited role in the Tripoli power structure.

    Ibrahim said Saif al-Arab, 29, was a student who had studied in Germany.

    "We will fight and fight if we have to," Ibrahim said. "The leader offered peace to Nato yesterday and Nato rejected it."
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    Re: International News - MAY

    Post  Abhishek on Mon May 02, 2011 6:44 pm

    Maldivians protest currency devaluation

    Maldivians took to the streets in Male on Saturday night, even as a top U.S. State Department official was assessing the situation in the country.

    The people were protesting against the government's decision to allow the Maldivian currency, the Rifiya, to “float” in a 20 per cent band which, in effect, devalued it by 20 per cent. Maldives imports all its essentials and fuels and the move has hit citizens hard.

    Independent news website ‘Minivan News' said that although the protest was led by Opposition leaders, its reporters observed many unfamiliar faces not identified as members of either major party. “The protest's leadership consisted mostly of those from the ‘Z-DRP' faction of the Opposition loyal to the former President, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, including MPs Ahmed Mahlouf, Ilham Ahmed and the dismissed Deputy Leader, Umar Naseer, Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) MP Riyaz Rasheed and Jumhoory Party (JP) MP Ibrahim Muthalib. Other Opposition allies were also present at the protest,” it added.

    The government has condemned the violent protest on Saturday night and said it was organised by supporters of Mr. Gayoom. “Scores of people were injured and shops and private property damaged when protesters hurled bricks and other projectiles at the police. The police responded with tear gas and made several arrests. “The government condemns the violence perpetrated by some of Gayoom's supporters last [Saturday] night,” said President's Office Press Secretary Mohamed Zuhair.

    “Peaceful political activity, such as the right to protest, is legal — and indeed welcome — in the Maldives' new democracy. But there can be no excuse for needlessly causing violence in the streets,” Mr. Zuhair said. “We have numerous peaceful political rallies, protests, petitions and other forms of legitimate democratic activity throughout the year, which is a healthy part of our democracy. However, whenever Mr. Gayoom's supporters take to the streets, it always seems to end in violence,” he added.
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    Re: International News - MAY

    Post  Abhishek on Mon May 02, 2011 6:51 pm

    Israel suspends cash transfers to PA

    Israel's concern over the reconciliation efforts between Palestinian Authority and Islamist group Hamas prompted the Jewish nation on Sunday to suspend the transfer of $89 million in tax revenues to the PA.

    “The agreement that was initiated recently between Hamas, which calls for the destruction of the state of Israel, and the Fatah movement [the dominant faction in the PA], must concern not only every Israeli, but all those in the world who aspire to see peace between us and our Palestinian neighbours,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He said peace is possible only with those who want to live in peace alongside us.

    Israel's Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz told Army Radio that Israel is suspending a routine handover of $89 million in customs and other levies that Jerusalem collects on behalf of the Palestinians under interim peace deals.

    He said Israel feared the money would be used to fund Hamas. The crucial decision comes days after Palestinians announced a new unity deal between the western-backed PA led by President Mahmoud Abbas of the Fatah movement and Islamist Hamas, which has rejected calls to recognise Israel.
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    Re: International News - MAY

    Post  Abhishek on Mon May 02, 2011 7:11 pm

    Osama bin Laden dead

    Osama bin Laden, the glowering mastermind behind the September 11, 2001, terror attacks that killed thousands of Americans, was killed in an operation led by the United States, President Barack Obama said on Sunday.

    "Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of Al-Qaida, and a terrorist who's responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women and children," Obama said in a surprise late night White House address.

    The world's most wanted man had been killed in a Pakistani compound in an operation on Sunday, which had been carried after cooperation from Islamabad, the US leader said.

    Obama said in the historic address from the White House that he had directed the US armed forces to launch an attack against a compound in Pakistan on Sunday acting on a lead that first emerged last August.

    "A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability. No Americans were harmed. They took care to avoid civilian casualties."
    A jubilant crowd gathered outside the White House as word spread of bin Laden's death after a global manhunt that lasted nearly a decade.

    "Justice has been done," the president said.

    The development comes just months before the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Centers and Pentagon, orchestrated by bin Laden's al-Qaida organization, that killed more than 3,000 people.

    The attacks set off a chain of events that led the United States into wars in Afghanistan, and then Iraq, and America's entire intelligence apparatus was overhauled to counter the threat of more terror attacks at home.

    Al-Qaida organization was also blamed for the 1998 bombings of two US embassies in Africa that killed 231 people and the 2000 attack on the USS Cole that killed 17 American sailors in Yemen, as well as countless other plots, some successful and some foiled.
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    Re: International News - MAY

    Post  Abhishek on Mon May 02, 2011 7:15 pm

    Osama bin Laden's body buried at sea

    Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden's body has been buried at sea, as the United States does not want his burial place to become a terrorist shrine, a US official has said.

    The official said that the body was handled according to Islamic practice and tradition, Fox News reports.

    That practice calls for the body to be buried within 24 hours, the official added.

    "Finding a country willing to accept the remains of the world's most wanted terrorist would have been difficult. So, the US decided to bury him at sea," the official said.

    The Saudi-born terrorist, who had evaded capture for a decade, was killed in a top secret operation involving a small team of US special forces in Abbottabad city, located 50 kilometres northeast of Islamabad and 150 kilometres east of Peshawar, Pakistan.

    Under Islamic tradition, the body is washed by Muslim men and buried as soon as possible.

    The body is usually buried in a simple white sheet -whether buried in the ground, or at sea.
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    Re: International News - MAY

    Post  Abhishek on Tue May 03, 2011 5:48 pm

    Pakistan exudes sense of quiet resignation

    It was with a sense of quiet resignation that Pakistan on Monday absorbed Barack Obama's announcement that Osama bin Laden had been killed in Abbottabad, a district that is a two-hour drive away from the federal capital.

    The usually “conservative” media did not refer to his death as shahaadat (martyrdom), but used the word halaak (killed). Many media-watchers found this to be refreshing. “While reporting deaths of religious militants, Pakistani media – particularly, the mainstream vernacular print and electronic media – usually uses shaheed (martyr) or jaan bahaq (laid down life) unless they have been killed by the military.”

    As the news poured in, the blogosphere provided evidence of Pakistanis steeling themselves for more terror attacks as organisations linked to the al-Qaeda are expected to avenge the death. By afternoon there were reports of a blast in a mosque in Charsadda north-west of Abbottabad. At least four persons were killed.

    While the Pakistan Government was slow to break its silence, when it did so, the first statement raised eyebrows as the Foreign Office maintained that bin Laden had been killed in a U.S. operation. How Pakistan could claim to have been out of the loop defied logic, considering that four helicopters were used in the operation. Add to this the location of bin Laden's fortified hideout, within sight of the Pakistan Military Academy in Kakul.

    The general perception was that Pakistan would have known about the operation but was not admitting that, to cushion the blowback effect. Also, some security analysts said the Foreign Office statement reflected no anger at the operation that took place on Pakistani soil. In turn, it actually seeks to portray the al-Qaeda as an enemy of Pakistan.

    No street protests

    There have been no reports of any street protests — despite some analysts describing the operation deep inside the country's boundaries as an attack on Pakistani sovereignty, much like the drone attacks.

    After the initial silence, politicians from across the spectrum joined the debate. Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif demanded a clear statement from the federal government on who had carried out the operation. “Was it a U.S. operation, or was it a joint operation?” he asked. His counterpart in Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa, Ameer Haider Khan Hoti, maintained that the provincial government had no information. “Our police went to the spot only on hearing the blasts,” he said.

    ‘Heavy price'

    For his part, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader Imran Khan said that, if indeed bin Laden had been killed, then the U.S.-led International Security Assistance Force should leave Afghanistan as this was a war on the al-Qaeda. “Pakistan has paid a heavy price for supporting this war and there is now no point in the ISAF staying on in the region.”
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    Re: International News - MAY

    Post  Abhishek on Tue May 03, 2011 5:50 pm

    China focuses on stability in Pakistan

    China has indicated it will deepen cooperation with Pakistan on counterterrorism issues and back its long-term strategic ally's efforts to maintain stability, in the wake of renewed international concern over the country's efforts to clamp down on terrorist groups on its soil following Osama bin Laden's killing.

    While the Chinese government, as of Monday evening, had not issued any statement on Osama's death, strategic analysts at official think-tanks here told The Hindu they believed China's primary concern now was that any subsequent toning down of counterterrorism operations could destabilise the region.

    China would, in coming months, look to step up its already substantial economic and development assistance to both Pakistan and Afghanistan, with the United States preparing for the withdrawal of troops from the region, they said.

    Strategic dialogue

    Only on Saturday, less than a day before the death of the al-Qaeda leader, China and Pakistan concluded a strategic dialogue which focused on expanding cooperation on counterterrorism and in Afghanistan.

    Pakistan Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir and Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun agreed to deepen coordination on “matters relating to counter-terrorism and the imperative need of promoting stability and peace in Afghanistan”, the official Associated Press of Pakistan reported.

    “The exchange of views between China and Pakistan on assessing how to maintain closer coordination and cooperation is to address the uncertainties in the region in the context of the United States aiming to scale down or withdraw forces from July 2011,” Rong Ying, vice-president of the China Institute of International Studies (CIIS) and an expert on China's relations with Pakistan, told The Hindu.

    “Now with the death of Osama bin Laden, this kind of coordination and consultation is even more significant,” he added.

    One concern, he noted, was that bin Laden's killing “would give the U.S. and NATO an excuse, that now their mission is fully accomplished so they don't have to invest so much resources”. “The death of Osama is not the end of the war on terror,” he said. “He has been a kind of symbol, but operationally, there are more localised ways of functioning.”

    Mr. Rong and other analysts downplayed reported strains in relations between Pakistani and U.S. intelligence agencies, amid debate over how involved the Pakistanis were in Sunday's operation.

    Asked whether these reported strains would bring Pakistan even closer to China, one analyst said Pakistan's relations with the U.S. were “too complicated and close” for one or two disagreements to fundamentally alter their strategic partnership.
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    Re: International News - MAY

    Post  Abhishek on Tue May 03, 2011 5:50 pm

    ‘U.S. must pull out of Afghanistan, Iraq'



    The death of Osama bin Laden has spurred demands for speedy withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan and Iraq, notwithstanding fears that the deep rooted instability in parts of South-West Asia is unlikely to end anytime soon.

    The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood advocated that with Osama's death, the United States should end its occupation of Muslim countries.

    “With Osama bin Laden's death, one of the reasons for which violence has been practised in the world has been removed. It is time for Obama to pull out of Afghanistan and Iraq and end the occupation of U.S. and Western forces around the world that have for so long harmed Muslim countries,” Essam al-Erian, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, said.

    The “revolutions” that were unfolding in the region showed that democracy with indigenous roots could be achieved without foreign occupation, he added. He, however, acknowledged that a spurt of violence could be expected in countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Morocco and Algeria, where the al-Qaeda continues to possess a prominent foothold.

    Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal A. Khashoggi amplified in an interview with Saudi daily Arab News that Afghanistan and Pakistan were not yet ideologically prepared to shed the Osama legacy. “The Arab spring did not reach Islamabad and Kabul, and that is rather unfortunate. The al-Qaeda mindset is still very strong in those two countries. One hopes the end of Osama will lead to a change in that mindset,” he said.

    Afghanistan's former intelligence chief, Amrullah Saleh, alleged that the Pakistani intelligence was complicit in shielding Osama.

    He told The Telegraph that in “no way” Osama could have rented a compound in Abbottabad without the knowledge of the government or Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

    “Does Pakistan want the whole world to believe that the intelligence agency of a nuclear state did not know Osama bin Laden was there?”

    In its official response, Saudi Arabia has welcomed the killing of Osama and expressed the hope that his death “would be a step toward supporting international efforts aimed at fighting terrorism.”

    But unlike the Saudi establishment, the Palestinian Hamas has praised Osama as an “Arab Holy warrior.” “We condemn the assassination and the killing of an Arab holy warrior. We ask God to offer him mercy with the true believers and the martyrs,” Ismail Haniyeh, head of the Hamas administration in Gaza, said. He added: “We regard this [Osama's killing] as a continuation of the American policy based on oppression and the shedding of Muslim and Arab blood.”

    In Osama's ancestral home Yemen, AFP is quoting a source in the al-Qaeda in Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), who independently confirmed the al Qaeda chief's death. “This news has been a catastrophe for us. At first we did not believe it, but we got in touch with our brothers in Pakistan who have confirmed it,” an AQAP member was quoted as saying.

    At the Shumukh-al-Islam forum, internet outlet for al-Qaeda traffic, users pledged unrestrained enmity towards the United States. “America will reap the same if the news [of Osama's death] is true [or] false, one message warned. “The lions will remain lions and will continue moving in the footsteps of Osama,” said another.
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    Re: International News - MAY

    Post  Abhishek on Tue May 03, 2011 5:51 pm

    Zawahiri, now most wanted

    Al-Qaeda number two Ayman al-Zawahiri, the Egyptian surgeon considered the real mastermind of the global terror franchise, is now set to succeed Osama bin Laden as the world's most wanted man.

    Like his Saudi-born co-conspirator, Zawahiri has been hiding ever since the United States declared its war on terror after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

    Unlike his late comrade, who President Barack Obama said was killed by U.S. forces in Pakistan, Zawahiri is presumed still at large with organisational skills, cunning and intelligence said to eclipse that of bin Laden.

    Reportedly last seen in October 2001 in eastern Afghanistan, close to the Pakistan border, he has released multiple videos from his hiding, calling for war on the West.

    While bin Laden was seen as al-Qaeda's inspiration, his deputy is believed to be the real brains that steered operations, including the September 11 attacks, and as a result arguably even more dangerous.

    The former eye surgeon's position as bin Laden's main strategist and mentor earned the 59-year-old a $25 million bounty on his head.

    The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation's list of most wanted terrorists said he was also bin Laden's personal doctor. As bin Laden withdrew from the public eye after 2004, it was often up to Zawahiri to motivate the group's followers with a series of hectoring video appearances, jabbing his finger and staring from behind heavy-rimmed glasses. Zawahiri met bin Laden when thousands of Islamist fighters from around the world flooded into Afghanistan during the 1980s jihad against Soviet forces.
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    Re: International News - MAY

    Post  Abhishek on Tue May 03, 2011 5:52 pm

    Sarkozy hails U.S. tenacity

    In France, political leaders, editorial writers and terrorism experts were quick to comment on the death of Osama bin Laden, reflecting a spectrum of responses. President Nicolas Sarkozy praised the “tenacity “of the U.S. in tracking the al-Qaeda leader and described his death as “a major blow to international terrorism”.

    In a communique, Mr. Sarkozy said: “Osama bin Laden promoted an ideology of hate and headed a terrorist organisation which claimed thousands of victims around the world, especially in Muslim countries. Those victims received justice today and France has thoughts for them and their families.” However, Mr. Sarkozy said “the death of [Osama] bin Laden will not spell the end of al-Qaeda.” e added that “the fight against these criminals must continue and the states who are their targets must unite to fight them.”

    French terrorism experts including Gerard Chaliand, author of a number of books on terrorism and guerilla warfare, and Roland Jacquard, president of the International Terrorism Observatory, warned that the killing could place the lives of French hostages held by al-Qaeda groups in Afghanistan, Niger and Mali in danger. “There'll probably be operations in retaliation… Even though their strength today is far less than it was because of relentless tracking by western agencies and governments, these groups, which operate independently, still have the capacity to spread terror,” Mr. Jacquard told The Hindu.

    His apprehension was in sharp contrast to claims by both Foreign Minister Alain Juppe and Defence Minister Gerard Longuet, that the death could have a “positive” outcome for French hostages in Afghanistan.

    Commentators dwelt at length on the role of Pakistan, especially the ISI, in the killing, as well as on India's comments describing Pakistan as “a sanctuary” for terrorism. “The fact that bin Laden was found not in some inaccessible cave but in the heart of Abbottabad… comfortably housed in a massive complex of buildings in an area peopled by well-heeled retired army officers, indicates that the Pakistani Army and spy agencies knew of his whereabouts all along. Did they actively cooperate in the enterprise or did the Americans succeed despite Pakistani reluctance to hand over Bin laden is a key question?” said Gerard Chaliand.
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    Re: International News - MAY

    Post  Abhishek on Tue May 03, 2011 5:53 pm

    High-stakes poll in Canada

    Canada went to the polls on Monday with Prime Minister Stephen Harper seeking an elusive Conservative majority but fearful of being unseated by a late surge from the left-leaning New Democratic Party (NDP).

    For the fourth time in seven years Canadians will choose a new government. Opinion polls showed the Conservatives facing a strong challenge from Jack Layton's NDP and all eyes were on how this would play out on election day.

    Support for the social democratic NDP grew rapidly towards the end of the five-week campaign, while the Conservatives have been unable to broach the 40 per cent mark that typically translates into a parliamentary majority.

    Polls leading up to the election showed Conservatives in the lead with about 37 per cent support while the New Democratic Party polled at 31.7 per cent.

    The Liberals, who governed for most of the last century and have traditionally been the second party in Canadian politics along with the Conservatives, appeared to be big losers with just over 20 per cent, along with the separatist Bloc Quebecois, who were polling at just 5.7 per cent. Analysts say that if the Conservatives fall short of a majority Mr. Harper could be in real trouble and the NDP and the Liberals could end up forming a coalition with Mr. Layton becoming Prime Minister.

    Polling stations opened at 1100 GMT in the easternmost Atlantic island province of Newfoundland and Labrador, with others to elect a total of 308 MPs opening at staggered times across Canada.
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    Re: International News - MAY

    Post  Abhishek on Tue May 03, 2011 6:32 pm

    William and Kate to honeymoon in Seychelles: Newspaper report

    Prince William and his wife Kate will honeymoon at a luxury villa on an island in the Seychelles, according to Monday's Daily Mail newspaper.

    The newly-weds delayed their honeymoon, but will jet out later this month to spend ten days at a £4,000 ($6,700, 4,500 euros) a night retreat in the Indian Ocean archipelago, the British paper reported.

    The 28-year-old prince's protection officers reportedly visited the top-secret location to assess its suitability and were satisfied that the isolated resort would offer the required privacy.

    The luxury wooden villa comes complete with an open-air bathroom, a private garden, a freshwater rock pool and a personal butler and chef.

    A private jet will fly the newly-titled Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to the main island from where they will take a helicopter to the unnamed holiday hideaway, the paper claimed.

    William, who is a search and rescue helicopter pilot at a Royal Air Force station in the Welsh island of Anglesey, was forced to split the annual leave needed for the wedding and honeymoon and is due back at work on Tuesday.

    A helicopter carried the couple away from Buckingham Palace on Saturday, a day after the wedding which was watched by an estimated two billion people worldwide, to an undisclosed British location for a "mini-moon".

    The royal family is thought to be prepared to take legal action to prevent any media outlet attempting to disrupt the couple's main trip.

    Meanwhile, The Sun reported that William was to travel to the Falkland Islands in September where he will serve for ten weeks without his wife.

    The south Atlantic island group was the scene of a war between Britain and Argentina in 1982.
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    Re: International News - MAY

    Post  Abhishek on Thu May 05, 2011 6:09 pm

    “Geronimo EKIA” said it all

    “Geronimo EKIA” — this was the code message conveyed to U.S. President Barack Obama to inform him that al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden had been killed in Pakistan.

    While EKIA stands for “Enemy Killed In Action”, Geronimo, after whom bin Laden was codenamed, was an elusive 19th century American Indian leader who fought Mexico and the United States, which were colonising Indian lands.

    Thousands of soldiers were involved in the manhunt for Geronimo in 1885. He surrendered in September 1886.

    His band was one of the last major forces of independent American Indian warriors.

    While Geronimo was fighting for his land, the U.S. administration considered it as an act of terrorism.

    Geronimo went on to live till the age of 79 and died in 1909. In 1905, he appeared in President Theodore Roosevelt's inaugural parade.
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    Re: International News - MAY

    Post  Abhishek on Thu May 05, 2011 6:10 pm

    Canada's Harper back with majority

    Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper won his coveted majority government in elections on Monday that also marked a shattering defeat for the opposition Liberals, preliminary results showed.

    Mr. Harper, who took office in 2006, has won two elections but until now had never held a majority of Parliament's 308 seats, forcing him to rely on the opposition to pass legislation.

    While Mr. Harper's hold on the 308-member Parliament has been tenuous during his five-year tenure, he has managed to nudge an instinctively centre-left country to the right. He has gradually lowered sales and corporate taxes, avoided climate change legislation, promoted Arctic sovereignty, upped military spending and extended Canada's military mission in Afghanistan.

    Elections Canada reported preliminary results on its website, giving the Conservatives 164 seats, which will give Mr. Harper four years of uninterrupted government.

    The leftist New Democratic Party was projected to become the main opposition party for the first time in Canadian history with 106 seats, in a stunning setback for the Liberals who have always been either in power or leading the opposition.

    The New Democrats' gains are being attributed to leader Jack Layton's strong performance in the debatesand a desire by the French-speakers in Quebec for a new face and a federalist option.
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    Re: International News - MAY

    Post  Abhishek on Fri May 06, 2011 6:50 pm

    Russia demands legal safeguards over U.S. interceptors in Romania

    Russia voiced concern over Romania's decision to host United States interceptors for a European missile shield and demanded legal safeguards that the system would not target Russian missiles.

    “According to our estimates, the planned missile defence system may pose risks for Russian strategic nuclear deterrence forces in the future,” said the Russian Foreign Ministry in a statement.

    The statement was issued hours after the U.S. and Romania announced that missile interceptors would be stationed at a former Soviet air base in southern Romania.

    Practical steps

    “We regret to say that practical steps on building the European segment of the U.S. global missile defence system are being made regardless of the Russian-U.S. dialogue on missile-defence issues, which was launched under the initiative of President Dmitry Medvedev and President Barack Obama.”

    Moscow is concerned that U.S. interceptors would have the capacity to target Russia's long-range missiles once the missile shield is fully deployed by 2020

    under Mr. Obama's plan for “phased adaptive approach” plan.
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    Re: International News - MAY

    Post  Abhishek on Fri May 06, 2011 6:51 pm

    Syria protesters firm on freedom

    Anti-regime protesters pledged to press ahead with their “revolution” on Wednesday despite sweeping arrests by Syrian authorities, as France called for sanctions against President Bashar al-Assad.

    The vow came as around 150 students held a brief sit-in at the university in the besieged southern flashpoint town of Daraa, as activists said more than 1,000 people had been arrested across the country so far this week.

    “We must continue our peaceful revolution throughout Syria until we achieve the freedom we demand,” said the committee coordinating the anti-government protests in a string of cities.

    They include Daraa, the epicentre of protests, Banias on the Mediterranean coast and the central industrial city of Homs.

    The opposition said the “live ammunition fired into the crowds has not stopped the young people from demonstrating”.

    “The crowds are only growing in size and momentum. The governments fierce campaign of arbitrary mass arrests will not succeed where their bullets have failed,” it said in a statement obtained by AFP.

    “Having failed to stop the protests and demonstrations in Syria through their various means of oppression, besieging cities, censoring and cutting off communications, and even firing live ammunition, ... the Syrian government has, in recent days, intensified their effort to arrest citizens,” it said.

    At least 500 people are being arrested every day on average, it added.— AFP
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    Re: International News - MAY

    Post  Abhishek on Fri May 06, 2011 6:52 pm

    East Asia on backlash alert

    Several East Asian countries are on high alert for a possible al-Qaeda backlash in the wake of Osama bin Laden's death. The aim is to protect potential targets associated with America and its friends.

    However, political nuances, too, are in evidence. East Asia is home not only to the well-known U.S. allies like Japan and Australia. Singapore and Thailand are known for their often-close links to the U.S., while Malaysia and Indonesia are two proactive members of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC).

    The leaders of Japan and Australia expressed their solidarity with both Washington and Islamabad.

    Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said in Tokyo his country “pays respect for the efforts of those parties concerned, such as the United States and Pakistan,” in the killing of bin Laden. Emphasising that his death would not spell the end of history in the domain of “counter-terror measures,” Mr. Kan announced the strengthening of “precautionary security measures … at borders.” Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard pledged to “continue mission in Afghanistan” as a U.S. ally. Though several Australian lives were already lost, “that work is vital.”

    Within the OIC-linked segment of East Asia, both Malaysia and Indonesia sounded a security alert though they differed on al-Qaeda's attitude towards them.

    A Malaysian Minister said his country had “never been a target” in the eyes of al-Qaeda. There were “no real concerns” on this score even now, and Malaysia itself had “never been a breeding ground [for terrorists].” However, the “porous” nature of national borders in the present globalised world could not be ignored, he said in justification of the heightened security alert now. At the same time, he would like the world to seek an “understanding of the root causes” of terrorism.

    Indonesia, in recent years a theatre of al Qaeda-inspired and local militancy, struck a posture of security preparedness. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, known already for his anti-terror activism, reaffirmed commitment to carry such an agenda forward. An Indonesian terror suspect Umar Patek, arrested in Pakistan a few weeks ago, was said to have gone there to meet Osama.

    Singapore, now savouring a general election campaign, was the first Southeast Asian country to have alerted the world to the existence of Jemaah Islamiyah as a suspected regional affiliate of al-Qaeda. The City-State's first reaction to Osama's death was to emphasise the need for “continued vigilance and cooperation by all countries" against the “complex and long-term challenges [of] terrorism and the ideologies that perpetuate it.”
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    Re: International News - MAY

    Post  Abhishek on Fri May 06, 2011 6:53 pm

    More protests in The Maldives


    One more night in The Maldives, and one more rally that tried to push its way to the commercial hub in Male.

    Maldives Police Service said about 300 people, led by MPs and politicians from the former President, Gayoom's Z-DRP faction of the opposition, held a demonstration at the artificial beach area of Male on Tuesday evening. As many as 30 persons were detained following instances of fisticuffs between the police and protesters. They later attempted to march to the main commercial area of Male on numerous occasions, however, the police repeatedly blocked their path and protesters returned to the artificial beach area. Police and the protesters apparently had “contact” and Mr. Gayoom's spokesperson Mohamed Hussain Shareef claimed that police had ‘baton charged' protesters. The Maldivian Police have denied this.

    The government condemned the Z-DRP for orchestrating this week's often violent protests and calling on people to topple a democratically elected government. “It is unclear what Mr. Gayoom hopes to achieve through violent protest. His faction says it wants ‘the price of things' to fall.
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    Re: International News - MAY

    Post  Abhishek on Fri May 06, 2011 6:54 pm

    Palestinian factions sign unity pact

    The leaders of two main Palestinian-factions, Fatah and Hamas have signed a reconciliation agreement paving the way for the formation of transitional national unity government followed by elections.

    The pact is widely seen as a fall-out of the Egyptian uprising that resulted in the formation of military-led transitional government in Cairo, which played a key role brokering the intra-Palestinian accord.

    The accord signed on Wednesday, ending a four year feud between Fatah and Hamas, will be followed by preparations for the formation of an interim government. Three separate committees are to be formed, which will plan for the upcoming polls, and recommend internal reforms within the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) — the umbrella group of the Palestinian factions. One of the committees would also study new security arrangements between Gaza and the occupied West Bank.

    Bitter fighting in 2007 had led to the exit of forces loyal to Fatah from Gaza, which, has since been administered by the Islamist Hamas.

    Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal said in a veiled reference to the “Arab spring”— the season of Arab uprisings — that the accord reflected a newly-discovered spirit of Arab and Palestinian assertion. Speaking in Cairo on Tuesday night, he said the pact marked the beginning of “a new Arab era and a new Palestinian era, putting Israel in a corner”. On Wednesday, after the accord was signed, he stressed that a viable Palestinian state should emerge on land occupied by Israel in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. “Our aim is to establish a free and completely sovereign Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza Strip, whose capital is Jerusalem, without any settlers and without giving up a single inch of land and without giving up on the right of return [of Palestinian refugees],” he said.

    A more cautious Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas observed that there were “no guarantees for the success of the agreement, which has many enemies and there are attempts to undermine the agreement from several parties”. In an interview with Egypt's Al-Ahram newspaper, Mr. Abbas said the agreement did not oblige Hamas to recognise Israel. “We will form a government of technocrats and we will not ask Hamas to recognise Israel.”

    Israel has rejected the pact, and reinforced it with a warning to Mr. Abbas that he must “choose between Israel or peace with Hamas, who “aspires to destroy Israel”.

    Analysts say the accord reflects new geopolitical realities where an assertive Egypt, after the exit of its former President, Hosni Mubarak, is seeking new regional allies, including a willing Iran.

    On Monday, Iranian Foreign Minister speaking in Doha said cooperation between Iran and Egypt “especially in the political sphere, will contribute to the stability, security, and peace in the region”.

    However, observers are of the view that Tel Aviv is unlikely to face undue international pressure so long as Hamas refuses to recognise Israel's right to exist. On Sunday, Israel's chief ally, the United States said in a statement “any Palestinian government must…renounce violence, abide by past agreements, and recognise Israel's right to exist”.

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