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Posts from June 2013
by Associated Press posted Jun 28 2013 7:11AM
 VATICAN CITY (AP) - A Vatican official has been arrested in an alleged plot to bring the equivalent of $26 million into Italy from Switzerland aboard an Italian government plane.
 
     The attorney for Monsignor Nunzio Scarano says his client is accused of fraud, corruption and other charges stemming from the plot, which never got off the ground.
 
     Lawyer Silverio Sica tells the Associated Press that Scarano was a middleman in the operation: Friends had asked Scarano to intervene with a broker, Giovanni Carenzio, to return 20 million euro they had given him to invest. Scarano persuaded Carenzio to return the money, and an Italian secret service agent, Mario Zito, went to Switzerland to bring it back aboard an Italian government aircraft.
 
     The lawyer says the plot failed because Carenzio reneged. Carenzio and Zito also were arrested. 
 
Filed Under :
Topics : Law_CrimePolitics
Location : Vatican City
by Associated Press posted Jun 28 2013 7:09AM
  WASHINGTON (AP) - The focus is on the House after the Senate passed historic immigration legislation that would provide a path to citizenship for 11 million immigrants in the country illegally. 
 
     Prospects for the bill's future are highly uncertain. Conservatives hold great sway in the House and many oppose citizenship for those who entered the country illegally or overstayed their visas. 
 
     Still others would prefer to address the immigration issue piece by piece, rather than attempt a comprehensive bill like the Senate produced Thursday. 
 
     House Speaker John Boehner made clear ahead of the Senate's action that the House would proceed in its own way, not simply accept the Senate bill. 
 
     President Barack Obama called on the House to act, a plea echoed by outside advocates and Senate supporters of the bill.
 
Filed Under :
Topics : PoliticsSocial Issues
Location : Washington
by Associated Press posted Jun 26 2013 8:17AM
 MADRID (AP) - Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon says he won't represent fugitive National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden.
 
     In a statement Wednesday, Garzon said his legal firm had decided not to take on Snowden's case but gave no explanation. 
 
     Snowden, who is charged with violating American espionage laws, is said to be in the transit zone of a Moscow airport. He has asked for asylum from Ecuador.
 
     Snowden sought legal help from Garzon, who represents WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
 
     Garzon became famous for indicting former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in 1998, and trying to put him on trial for crimes against humanity.  He was suspended from office in Spain for overstepping his powers by starting an investigation into killings committed on behalf of former Spanish dictator Gen. Francisco Franco.
 
by Associated Press posted Jun 25 2013 5:53AM
  SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - South Korea has issued a cyberattack alert after government websites shut down on the anniversary of the start of the Korean War.
 
     Officials said Tuesday they were still investigating whether hacking was responsible. The alert warns government and the public sector to be wary of the possibility of cyberattacks.
 
     Multiple government websites and at least one media website were down.
 
     The shutdown happened on the 63rd anniversary of the beginning of the Korean War. 
 
     South Korean officials say that North Korea orchestrated a cyberattack in March that shut down tens of thousands of computers and servers at South Korean broadcasters and banks. Seoul said in April that an initial investigation pointed to a military-run spy agency as the culprit. 
 
Filed Under :
Topics : Politics
Location : Seoul
by Associated Press posted Jun 25 2013 5:52AM
 MOSCOW (AP) - Russia's foreign minister has rejected U.S. demands to extradite National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, who has apparently stopped in Moscow while trying to evade U.S. justice. 
 
     Sergey Lavrov said that Snowden hasn't crossed the Russian border and insisted that Russia has nothing to do with him, his relations with U.S. justice or his travel plans.
 
     Speaking at a news conference Tuesday, he angrily lashed out at the U.S. demands for the extradition and warnings of negative consequences if Moscow fails to comply.
 
     Lavrov said that accusing Russia of "violation of U.S. laws and even some sort of conspiracy" with regard to Snowden is "absolutely ungrounded and unacceptable."
 
     He wouldn't specify the location of Snowden, who booked a Havana-bound flight from Moscow Monday but didn't show up on the plane.  
 
 
Filed Under :
Location : HavanaMoscow
by Associated Press posted Jun 25 2013 5:50AM
  WASHINGTON (AP) - For President Barack Obama, National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden's globe-trotting evasion of U.S. authorities has dealt a startling setback to efforts to strengthen ties with China and raises the prospect of worsening tensions with Russia.
 
     Relations with both China and Russia have been at the forefront of Obama's foreign policy agenda this month, underscoring the intertwined interests among these uneasy partners. Obama met just last week with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the Group of Eight summit in Northern Ireland and held an unusual two-day summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping (shee jihn-peeng) in California. 
 
     Obama has made no known phone calls to Xi since Snowden surfaced in Hong Kong earlier this month, nor has he talked to Putin since Snowden arrived in Russia. 
 
Filed Under :
Topics : Politics
Location : CaliforniaWashington
by Associated Press posted Jun 24 2013 6:25AM
 MILAN (AP) - Former Premier Silvio Berlusconi faces a verdict in his sensational sex-for-hire trial, charges that could bring an end to his two-decade political career. 
 
     Berlusconi is charged with paying an under-age Moroccan teen for sex and then trying to cover it up with phone calls to Milan police officials when she was picked up for alleged theft. Berlusconi and the woman deny having had sex with each other. 
 
     A court is expected to deliver a verdict Monday.
 
     Prosecutors are seeking a six-year jail term and a lifetime ban from politics. 
 
     Berlusconi holds no official posts in the current Italian government, but remains influential in the uneasy cross-party coalition that emerged after inconclusive February elections. 
 
     Berlusconi's tax fraud conviction and four-year prison sentence were upheld on a first appeal.  
 
Filed Under :
Topics : Law_Crime
Location : Milan
by Associated Press posted Jun 24 2013 6:24AM
  MOSCOW (AP) - National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden is set to leave Moscow for Cuba, the next step on his journey to evade U.S. justice and seek asylum in Ecuador.
 
     A representative of Aeroflot told The Associated Press that Snowden registered for the flight to Havana that leaves Moscow on Monday at 2:05 p.m. (1005 GMT).
 
     The airline says he registered for the flight on Sunday using his U.S. passport, which American officials say has been annulled as part of an effort to prosecute him for revealing highly classified government secrets.
 
     Snowden arrived in Moscow on Sunday from Hong Kong, where he had been hiding for several weeks. Ecuador's foreign minister said Sunday that the country is considering his application for asylum.
 
Filed Under :
Location : HavanaMoscow
by Associated Press posted Jun 24 2013 6:23AM
  BEIJING (AP) - Chinese authorities are investigating a former vice governor, making him the latest senior provincial official to be ensnared in a crackdown on corruption that the new leadership hopes will show its determination to root out widespread graft.
 
     The Ministry of Supervision said on its website that Guo Yongxiang was suspected of unspecified "serious disciplinary violations," a vague term that usually refers to corruption.
 
     Guo is chairman of Sichuan's provincial arts and literary federation, but was formerly vice governor of the southwestern province. 
 
     China's new leader Xi Jinping has made a crackdown on corruption and extravagant, wasteful work styles a key feature of his first half-year in power.
 
     But observers noted Guo's long association with former security chief Zhou Yongkang, saying the probe could be part of a factional struggle.
 
Filed Under :
Location : Beijing
by Associated Press posted Jun 21 2013 5:17AM
  MADRID (AP) - Spanish police say they have arrested eight people suspected of recruiting jihadist militants for al-Qaida-linked groups in Syria.
 
     The Interior Ministry said the arrests were made early Friday in the Spanish enclave of Ceuta, which is located on the northwest African coast, surrounded by Morocco on one side and the Mediterranean Sea on the other.
 
     A ministry statement said the group was suspected of sending dozens of potential fighters from Spain Morocco to Syria, some of whom had carried out suicide attacks. It says others had been sent to training camps.
 
     The ministry said the group gathered recruits and provided them with the money and the means to travel abroad under the orders of al-Qaida.
 
     Details of the identities of those arrested were not immediately available. 
 
Filed Under :
Topics : War_Conflict
Location : Madrid
by Associated Press posted Jun 21 2013 5:16AM
  KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) - Asian stocks endured moderate losses Friday, but European markets appeared set to stabilize even though investors remained edgy about a possible change of course by the U.S. Federal Reserve. 
 
     Markets have also been unnerved by signs of a worsening slowdown in China's factory output this month and a big jump in the overnight lending rate - sparking worries that tighter lending could pinch economic growth even further in the world's No. 2.
 
     "If markets had had only that to worry about then maybe the current sell-off mightn't have been so steep, unfortunately when you put concerns about China into the mix as well it makes for a rather potent mix for risk aversion," said Michael Hewson at CMC Markets in an email commentary. 
 
     Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.4 percent in early trading. Germany's DAX rose 0.2 percent to 7,945.11. France's CAC-40 gained 0.6 percent to 3,720.83. Wall Street looked set to recoup some big losses from the day before. Ahead of the opening bell, Dow Jones industrial futures rose 0.5 percent to 14,769. S&P 500 futures rose 0.5 percent to 1,592.40.
 
     Japan's Nikkei 225, the region's biggest benchmark, bucked the losing trend in Asia, as the yen weakened against the dollar. That helps the country's exporters by making their products more price competitive abroad. The Nikkei rose 1.7 percent to close at 13,230.13. Honda Motor Corp. rose 2 percent while Suzuki Motor Corp. advanced 3.8 percent.
 
     Elsewhere in Asia, markets fell. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index dropped 0.6 percent to 20,263.31, while South Korea's KOSPI index shed 1.5 percent to 1,822.83.  Benchmarks in Singapore, Taiwan, the Philippines and Indonesia also fell.
 
     For nearly five years, the Fed has been pursuing an aggressive monetary policy to shore up the U.S. economy, which was battered by the financial crisis in 2008. Now that the U.S. economy has shown signs of improvement, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke says the central bank is considering when it should start normalizing its policy.
 
     In the latest round of its monetary stimulus program - known as quantitative easing, or QE - the Fed has been buying $85 billion worth of financial assets each month to keep long-term interest rates low. Earlier this week, Bernanke said purchases will likely slow down this year and end next year.
 
     "Asia has benefited from U.S. capital inflows, partly in relation to QE. It has been forcefed with steroids, and now that the steroids are going to be pulled back, what will happen is a period of transitional volatility that can continue through summer," said Mitul Kotecha, analyst with Credit Agricole CIB.
 
     The Dow shed 2.3 percent on Thursday, its biggest loss since November 2011. The index has lost 560 points in the past two days, wiping out its gains from May and June. The Standard & Poor's 500 lost 2.5 percent.
 
     Some investors said the sell-off in stocks may be overdone. The Fed is considering easing back on its stimulus because the economy is improving. The central bank has upgraded its outlook for unemployment and economic growth.
 
     Benchmark oil for August delivery rose 51 cents to $95.65 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The settlement contract for July fell $2.84 to close at $95.40 on the Nymex on Thursday.
 
     In currencies, the euro rose to $1.3219 from $1.3197 late Thursday in New York. The dollar rose to 97.81 yen from 97.34 yen.
 
 
Filed Under :
Topics : Business_Finance
Location : Kuala LumpurNew York
by Associated Press posted Jun 21 2013 5:15AM
 RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) - Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff is holding an emergency meeting with top Cabinet members this morning, following more than a week of protests against a government viewed as corrupt at all levels and unresponsive to its people.
 
     Overnight, police and protesters fought in the streets as an estimated 1 million Brazilians swarmed through more than 80 cities in the biggest demonstrations yet.
 
     At least one protester was killed in Sao Paulo state when a car rammed into a crowd of demonstrators, after the driver apparently became enraged about being unable to drive along a street.
 
     In Rio de Janeiro, where an estimated 300,000 demonstrators poured into the seaside city's central area, running clashes played out between riot police and clusters of mostly young men with T-shirts wrapped around their faces. But peaceful protesters were caught up in the fray, too, as police fired tear gas canisters indiscriminately used pepper spray. 
 
     At least 40 people were injured. 
 
Filed Under :
Topics : PoliticsWar_Conflict
Location : Rio De Janeiro
People : Dilma Rousseff
by Associated Press posted Jun 20 2013 5:28PM
  LONDON (AP) - The head of the World Health Organization says violence against women is "a global health problem of epidemic proportions." 
 
     The U.N. agency says the first major review of violence against women finds that about a third of women worldwide have been physically or sexually assaulted by a former or current partner. 
 
     In papers presented today, experts estimate that nearly 40 percent of women killed worldwide were slain by an intimate partner.
 
     The report also examined rates of sexual violence against women by someone other than a partner. It found that about 7 percent of women worldwide had previously been a victim.
 
     WHO says all health workers should be trained to recognize when women may be at risk, and how to respond appropriately.
 
     According to the United Nations, more than 600 million women live in countries where domestic violence is not considered a crime. 
 
     The WHO report says the rate of domestic violence against women is highest in Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia, where 37 percent of women experienced physical or sexual violence from a partner at some point. The rate is 23 percent in North America. 
 
Filed Under :
Topics : Social Issues
by Associated Press posted Jun 20 2013 5:27PM
 ATHENS, Greece (AP) - The fate of Greece's shaky coalition government is hanging in the balance after crucial talks to end a major disagreement over the closure of state TV collapsed late Thursday.
 
     Conservative Prime Minister Antonis Samaras' surprise move last week to save money by shutting down ERT broadcaster - with the loss of all 2,656 jobs - sparked protests in Greece and abroad, and angered both his center-left allies.
 
     After a first two rounds of negotiations this week, the three parties seemed headed for a compromise that would stave off early elections just one year into the government's four-year mandate. But the talks broke down during the third meeting Thursday, and it was unclear just how severe the rift is.
 
     Samaras convened an urgent meeting with senior Cabinet aides, while Socialist Pasok head Evangelos Venizelos and Democratic Left leader Fotis Kouvelis consulted party officials. 
 
     Kouvelis said "no common political ground" was found in the meeting under Samaras. "This is not just a formal, procedural issue. ... For us it is a matter of the democratic rule of law."
 
     A government collapse would severely compromise Greece's economic reform program, without which its vital international bailouts would be in doubt, and push the country back into the political instability that forced two national elections a year ago. 
 
     Venizelos said Greece's situation is "particularly crucial."
 
     ""The question now is whether we will have early elections," he told journalists. "We do not fear elections ... but the people do not want elections. They want a government that works effectively."
 
     Samaras lacks enough seats in Parliament to pass legislation without the backing of Pasok and the Democratic Left - although with the Socialists alone he would hold a three-seat majority in the 300-member house.
 
     ERT, whose workforce costs have been considerably trimmed over the past three years, is funded by obligatory contributions from all Greeks - whether they own a TV set or not -  and by advertising revenue. After years of murky finances, the corporation is now turning a modest profit, and critics argue that sacking its entire workforce makes no financial sense, particularly as the state budget will have to bear the cost of compensating all laid-off workers.
 
     ERT's closure on June 11 sparked days of protests outside the corporation's Athens headquarters, and was sharply criticized abroad. 
 
     The Geneva, Switzerland-based, European Broadcasting Union has backed ongoing broadcasts by ERT employees that are being streamed online, while Amnesty International also condemned the shutdown.
 
     EBU Director General Ingrid Deltenre, speaking at the European Parliament Thursday, sharply criticized Samaras' actions.
 
     "The abrupt decision to close down ERT ... actually isn't going to save the country any money," she said. "ERT was funded from the license fee by citizens. ERT was generating a small surplus. The channel was not bankrupt."
 
     A high court has sanctioned ERT's closure but condemned shutting off the signal, in a provisional ruling issued this week. Fired ERT employees protested outside the central Athens court Thursday as judges met to reach their final decision.
 
Filed Under :
Topics : Politics
Location : AthensGeneva
by CBS posted Jun 18 2013 7:48AM


VIDEO - In Liverpool, England, a duck bus - which is supposed to be amphibious - sank while full of tourists.

Filed Under :
Location : Liverpool
by Associated Press posted Jun 17 2013 5:19PM
  ENNISKILLEN, Northern Ireland (AP) - The European Union and the United States will open negotiations next month on a long-sought deal to create free trade between the world's two mightiest economic regions, an effort designed to create millions of jobs that could take years to transform from dream to reality.
 
     EU and U.S. leaders announced the plans Monday at the start of the G-8 summit of wealthy nations in Northern Ireland.
 
     "America and Europe have done extraordinary things before and I believe we can forge an economic alliance as strong as our diplomatic and security alliances, which of course are the most powerful in history," U.S. President Barack Obama declared alongside EU leaders and the British host, Prime Minister David Cameron.
 
     At stake is a vision of boosting the value of trans-Atlantic trade in goods and services that Obama said already exceeds $1 trillion annually, as well as $4 trillion annually in investment in each other's economies. 
 
     EU and U.S. officials agreed at the start of the Group of Eight summit that these already colossal trade figures could be much higher if only both sides agreed to dismantle high tariff walls and bureaucratic hurdles that undermine the export of many products.
 
     "The whole point is to fire up our economies and drive growth and prosperity around the world - and there is no more powerful way to achieve that than by boosting trade," Cameron said against a backdrop of Northern Ireland's lush Fermanagh Lakeland, where the two-day summit at an isolated golf resort concludes Tuesday.
 
     Cameron said a tariff- and barrier-free trade environment could generate an extra $150 billion annually for the 27-nation European Union, perhaps $120 billion for the United States, and provide a similar growth jolt for the rest of the world. 
 
     The British leader said these figures would mean, in practical terms, "2 million extra jobs, more choice and lower prices in our shops. We're talking about what could be the biggest bilateral trade deal in history. ... This is a once-in-a-generation prize, and we are determined to seize it."
 
     A White House statement said the EU-U.S. talks could start the week of July 8. Both sides hope to reach agreement by late 2014.
 
     Yet the French government of President Francois Hollande has already illustrated the many speed bumps on the road to such a deal as each nation seeks to preserve tariff barriers and other shields of red tape for its own potentially uncompetitive industries.
 
     When discussing its negotiating position Friday before meeting Obama, European Union chiefs gave France an advance concession that its state-subsidized TV and movie industry would not be cut adrift to compete directly with Hollywood. At least, not yet.
 
     The head of the EU's executive arm, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, stressed that the negotiations would repeatedly confront such issues and each nation would have to be persuaded that a level playing field was in everyone's long-term self-interest.
 
     He said money currently wasted in overcoming other nations' obstacles could be spent "to invest in new innovative products and services and job creation."
 
     "Our regulators need to build bridges faster and more systematically. The current economic climate requires us to join forces and to do more with less," Barroso said. "More importantly, in doing so, we will remain strong global players who set the standards for the 21st century."
 
     The official launch of talks to achieve a free trade deal came just ahead of the opening of the summit of Group of Eight leading industrial nations: The U.S., Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, Canada and Russia, plus the European Union. 
 
     Northern Ireland's police commander, Chief Constable Matt Baggott, said the summit could prove one of the most peaceful in G-8 history, as the selection of the remote Lough Erne resort on a hard-to-reach peninsula proved an obstacle too far for Europe's cadre of professional protesters.
 
     The major anti-capitalist demonstration planned for the summit departed from central Enniskillen with far fewer than the 2,000 that police were expecting. 
 
     About 500 people marched several miles (kilometers) to one section of the steel fences and razor wire preventing access to the 300-acre golf resort. Some chanted "We will fight! We will win! What we want is socialism!" Others carried a giant mock rocket emblazoned with the slogan "Drop debt not bombs."
 
     As night fell, most demonstrators walked peacefully back into Enniskillen. But about 200, mostly youths with scarves over their faces, found a weak spot in the barriers with no fencing and stomped over the razor wire.
 
     Police standing 200 yards (meters) away opted not to confront the protesters as they milled about the farm field, some of them waving Palestinian flags, apparently unwilling to charge at the police. When officers picked up riot shields, the protesters fled back across the flattened wire. No arrests were reported.
 
     Police had deployed some 7,000 officers, half of them imported from Britain, to blanket Enniskillen with armored-car units at every intersection and side street in this town of barely 15,000 residents. But a central park earmarked for the potential invasion of thousands of anti-G-8 campers contained barely a dozen tents Monday.
 
by Associated Press posted Jun 17 2013 5:13PM
 MIAMI (AP) - A tropical depression has formed off the coast of Belize and forecasters say it is expected to bring as much as five inches of rain to parts of Belize, Guatemala and northern Honduras. 
 
     The National Hurricane Center in Miami said the Atlantic season's second tropical depression formed Monday. The depression has winds of 35 mph (56 kph). Some weakening is expected after the depression moves over Belize on Monday, but it could strengthen on Tuesday if the center emerges in the Bay of Campeche. It was about 10 miles (15 kilometers) northeast of Monkey River Town Monday evening.
 
     Forecasters say the several inches of rain could cause flash flooding, especially in mountainous areas, but no coastal watches or warnings were issued.
 
Filed Under :
Location : MiamiNorthern Honduras
by Associated Press posted Jun 11 2013 10:32PM
 VATICAN CITY (AP) - Pope Francis lamented that a "gay lobby" was at work at the Vatican in private remarks to the leadership of a key Latin American church group - a stunning acknowledgment that appears to confirm earlier reports about corruption and dysfunction in the Holy See.
 
     The Latin American and Caribbean Confederation of Religious - the regional organization for priests and nuns of religious orders - confirmed Tuesday that its leaders had written a synthesis of Francis' remarks after their June 6 audience. The group, known by its Spanish acronym CLAR, said it was greatly distressed that the document had been published and apologized to the pope.
 
     In the document, Francis is quoted as saying that while there were many holy people in the Vatican, there was also corruption: "The 'gay lobby' is mentioned, and it is true, it is there ... We need to see what we can do ..." the synthesis reads.
 
     The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said Tuesday the audience was private and that as a result he had nothing to say.
 
     In the days leading up to Pope Benedict XVI's Feb. 28 resignation, Italian media were rife with reports of a "gay lobby" influencing papal decision-making and Vatican policy through blackmail, and suggestions that the scandal had led in part to Benedict's decision to resign.
 
     The unsourced reports, in the Rome daily La Repubblica and the news magazine Panorama, said details of the scandal were laid out in the secret dossier prepared for Benedict by three trusted cardinals who investigated the leaks of papal documents last year. Benedict left the dossier for Francis.
 
     At the time, the Vatican denounced the reporting as defamatory, "unverified, unverifiable or completely false."
 
     Francis' remarks on the matter, as reported by the CLAR leadership, were published Tuesday in Spanish on the progressive Chilean-based website "Reflection and Liberation" and picked up and translated by the blog Rorate Caeli, which is read in Vatican circles.
 
     In the synthesis, Francis was quoted as being remarkably forthcoming about his administrative shortcomings, saying he was relying on the group of eight cardinals he appointed to lead a reform of the Vatican bureaucracy.
 
     The document quoted him as saying: "I am very disorganized, I have never been good at this. But the cardinals of the commission will move it forward."
 
     In its statement, CLAR said no recording had been made of Francis' remarks but that the members of its leadership team - a half-dozen men and women - together wrote a synthesis of the points he had made for their own personal use.
 
     "It's clear that based on this one cannot attribute with certainty to the Holy Father singular expressions in the text, but just the general sense," the statement said.
 
 
Filed Under :
Topics : Religion_Belief
Location : RomeVatican City
by Associated Press posted Jun 11 2013 10:31PM
  ISTANBUL (AP) - Riot police fired tear gas, water cannon and rubber bullets in day-long clashes that lasted into the early hours Wednesday, battling protesters who have been occupying Istanbul's central Taksim Square and its adjacent Gezi Park in the country's most severe anti-government protests in decades.
 
     The crisis has left Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan looking vulnerable for the first time in his decade in power and has threatened to tarnish the international image of Turkey, a Muslim majority country with a strongly secular tradition, a burgeoning economy and close ties with the United States.
 
     Throughout the protests, Erdogan has maintained a defiant tone, insisting he would not be bowed by what he described as a vocal minority. On Tuesday, as police clashed with protesters in Taksim, he insisted again that the unrest was part of a conspiracy against his government.
 
     The demonstrators, he said, " are being used by some financial institutions, the interest rate lobby and media groups to (harm) Turkey's economy and (scare away) investments."
 
     A peaceful demonstration against the park's redevelopment that began more than two weeks ago has grown into the biggest test of Erdogan's authority, sparked by outrage over a violent police crackdown on May 31 against a peaceful sit-in in the park.
 
     The unrest has spread to 78 cities across the country, with protesters championing their objections to what they say is the prime minister's increasingly authoritarian style and his perceived attempts to impose a religious and conservative lifestyle on a country with secular laws - charges he rejects.
 
     Four people have been killed, including a policeman, and about 5,000 have been treated for injuries or the effects of tear gas, according to the Turkish Human Rights Foundation.
 
     Thousands of police moved in early Tuesday, pushing past improvised barricades set up by the protesters who have swarmed through the massive square and park in the tens of thousands for the past 12 days.
 
     Police fired repeated rounds of tear gas that rose in stinging plumes of acrid smoke from the square in running battles with groups of protesters hurling fireworks, bottles, rocks and firebombs in a cat-and-mouse game that lasted through the day and into the night.
 
     More than 30,000 converged on the square again as dusk fell and were repelled by water cannon, rubber bullets and tear gas after Istanbul's governor, Huseyin Avni Mutlu, said the police came under attack from "marginal groups."
 
     By the early hours of Wednesday, cleanup crews had moved into Taksim Square, clearing the debris and dismantling the makeshift shelters the protesters had set up. 
 
     Protesters set up barricades of metal railings and smashed vehicles at the edge of the square leading into Gezi Park, where hundreds returned despite repeated rounds of tear gas being fired into their midst. Fearing injury, many protesters scrawled their blood type on their forearms with marker pens. 
 
     The area reverberated with the echoes of exploding tear gas canisters into the night, while volunteers ferried the injured to waiting ambulances.
 
     Gezi Park, with its thousands of camped-out demonstrators young and old, has become the symbol of the protests. Both the governor and the police initially promised that only Taksim Square would be cleared, not the park.
 
     But late into the night, the governor indicated a more muscular police sweep was imminent.
 
     "We will open the square when everything normalizes in the area, and our security forces completely control the area," Mutlu told A Haber news channel. "Our children who stay at Gezi Park are at risk, because we will clean the area of the marginal groups," he said, referring to what the government has said are troublemakers among the protesters.
 
     "We won't allow our government to be seen as weak."
 
     In the capital, Ankara, police fired water cannon and tear gas to disperse several hundred protesters - some throwing stones - who gathered in sympathy with their Istanbul counterparts. In the early hours of Wednesday, police moved in to Kugulu Park where protesters had  been camping. They made dozens of protesters pack up their tents, and arguments broke out with those unwilling to move. 
 
     Tuesday's clashes came a day after Taksim saw its smallest gathering since the demonstrations began. The government had said Erdogan would meet with some of those occupying the park on Wednesday to hear their views.
 
     Erdogan, a devout Muslim, says he is committed to Turkey's secular laws and denies charges of an authoritarian manner. As he defended his tough stance, he gave critics little hope of a shift in his position.
 
     "Were we supposed to kneel before them and say, 'Please remove your pieces of rags?"' he asked, referring to the dozens of banners and flags the protesters had festooned in the square. "They can call me harsh, but this Tayyip Erdogan won't change."
 
     Confident of his position of power after winning the last elections in 2011 with 50 percent of the vote, Erdogan has insisted he will prevail. He made it clear that he has come to the end of his patience with the protesters, whom he accused of sullying Turkey's image abroad and being vandals and troublemakers.
 
     "To those who ... are at Taksim and elsewhere taking part in the demonstrations with sincere feelings: I call on you to leave those places and to end these incidents and I send you my love. But for those who want to continue with the incidents I say: 'It's over.' As of now we have no tolerance for them."
 
     "Not only will we end the actions, we will be at the necks of the provocateurs and terrorists, and no one will get away with it," he added.
 
Filed Under :
Topics : PoliticsWar_Conflict
Location : AnkaraIstanbul
by AP posted Jun 7 2013 9:28AM


VIDEO - Russian President Vladimir Putin and his wife Lyudmila said Thursday they are divorcing after nearly 30 years of marriage. The made the announcement on state television after attending a ballet performance at the Kremlin.

Filed Under :
Topics : Politics
by Associated Press posted Jun 5 2013 6:23PM
 MARTE, Nigeria (AP) - Nigeria's military has allowed journalists to see one area where its soldiers have fought Islamic extremists as part of a new offensive.
 
     The tour happened Wednesday in Borno state, one of three now under emergency rule.
 
     In Marte, a village in the arid lands that border Cameroon, Chad and Niger, soldiers say extremists raised their own flag there. Journalists saw a church that had been set ablaze and a bombed police station. Commanders said an area with burned-out cars was the site of an extremist base.
 
     Nigeria has faced increasing attacks from Islamic extremists since 2010. This latest offensive comes after President Goodluck Jonathan acknowledged that extremists had taken over some small towns and villages in the northeast.
 
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Topics : War_Conflict
by AP posted Jun 5 2013 8:21AM


VIDEO  - Britain's Ambassador to the United Nations says there is credible evidence that Syrian troops have used chemical weapons against rebels in that country. Mark Lyall Grant says it does not appear that rebels were capable of using chemical weapons.

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Topics : PoliticsWar_Conflict
by AP posted Jun 5 2013 8:20AM


VIDEO  - Turkish police used water cannon, tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse protesters earlyWednesday morning. Turkish protesters held demonstrations for the fifth straight night.

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by AP posted Jun 5 2013 8:15AM


VIDEO  - Thousands of people lit candles in Hong Kong while others gathered in Taiwan to mark the 24th anniversary of China's crackdown in Tianamen Square in 1989. 

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Topics : Environment
by AP posted Jun 5 2013 8:13AM


VIDEO - Police say an American woman was gang-raped Tuesday in the northern Indian resort town of Manali.

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Topics : Law_Crime
Location : Manali
by Associated Press posted Jun 4 2013 7:01PM
  LONDON (AP) - It's rare for an American to generate more sympathy abroad than at home, but Bradley Manning and his trial are unique in a host of ways.  
 
     With Manning's trial heating up in the United States, where he is accused of aiding the enemy by leaking classified material to anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, his vocal supporters in Britain and Europe are again rallying to his side.
 
     While support for the imprisoned soldier may be weak in the U.S., Manning - a dual U.S. and British national by virtue of his Welsh mother - has a solid band of supporters in Britain.
 
     In countries with few national secrets at stake in the trove of classified documents that Manning unleashed, many have seized upon his case as a focal point for a wide range of human rights issues, from the ethics of waging pre-emptive wars to the protection of individual freedoms on the Internet. Many saw his harsh treatment in a U.S. military prison as a violation of his own human rights.
 
     "Every solder in every nation has a duty to expose war crimes. That's what Bradley Manning did," said Peter Tatchell, a British gay rights activist who has taken part in the "support Manning" movement. "In many ways, Manning is a true patriot because he's sought to uphold the U.S. constitution. Thanks to Bradley, the American people now know the truth."
 
     Manning,  a 25-year-old former intelligence analyst from Oklahoma who is accused of leaking more than 700,000 U.S. battlefield reports and diplomatic cables, has also drawn support from members of the Occupy movement, an international grassroots campaign that has opposed corporate greed. 
 
     Naomi Colvin, an Occupy activist, said attitudes toward Manning, an openly gay soldier, are more open-minded in Britain than in America.
 
     "It's much less politicized here than in the U.S. It's not really about 'Is Manning a traitor or not?' - that's never been the central question here," she said.
 
     Instead, Colvin said she and her fellow activists were more concerned with the rights abuses that Manning exposed - and the humiliation he experienced in detention. When the group started lobbying on Manning's behalf, its focus was on the mistreatment of a U.K. citizen abroad, she said.
 
     Manning's assertion that he was kept in isolation for months and stripped to his underwear every night while in pretrial detention helped build support for him from human rights groups around the world, including from some in the United States.
 
     Still, they face fierce criticism from Americans who side with the prosecutors. U.S. critics argue that Manning had no right to publicly release the classified material, and some have called him a traitor for embarrassing the U.S. military and threatening U.S. national security.
 
     "He indiscriminately put on the Internet the names of hundreds of people, risking their lives for cooperating with the U.S.," said Gabriel Schoenfeld, author of "Necessary Secrets" and a senior fellow at the conservative Hudson Institute.
 
     "I think he behaved recklessly," he said. "I think it's strange for people here that many in Europe are treating him as a hero."
 
     Manning admitted in court in February that he had provided a vast number of documents to WikiLeaks.
 
     In London, protesters have held vigils and demonstrations outside the U.S. Embassy to demand better treatment for Manning, most recently on Saturday. More rallies are planned in the coming weeks, Colvin said.
 
     Nathan Fuller, a campaigner for the Support Bradley Manning Network, said from Fort Meade in Maryland that when the group marked Manning's 1,000th day in prison in February, half of its events took place outside the U.S., in countries ranging from Uganda to Australia and Germany. 
 
     Backing for Manning has come from an official level, too. In a 2011 report, Council of Europe rapporteur Dick Marty, a noted human rights investigator, praised Manning for uncovering information about the secret rendition of terror suspects. Marty blasted the "cult of secrecy" in western governments and defended the "fundamental role" that whistleblowers like Manning play in society.
 
     Left-leaning segments of Britain's diverse press have been largely sympathetic to Manning's cause, particularly when compared to media coverage in America. 
 
     The Guardian newspaper, which has given the Manning and WikiLeaks cases extensive coverage, said 2,500 of its readers voted in favor of Manning winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 - more support than any other candidate received.
 
     On Tuesday, commentators in The Guardian again praised Manning, with one saying he had risked everything to stand up for truth.
 
     It may be easier for the British press, and newspapers in other countries, to be sympathetic to Manning's point of view because the secrets he made public deal with the American military and U.S. diplomats and not their own soldiers and envoys. 
 
     Joshua Benton, director of the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University, said American press coverage has been more "uniformly unsympathetic" than press reports from abroad.
 
     "Part of that is the mainstream press here doesn't cover the same ideological turf that it does in the U.K. or elsewhere," he said. "But I'd suspect most of it is the mundane fact it's American interests he's accused of threatening, and thatápeople accused of 'aiding the enemy,' rightly or wrongly, tend not to get the most flattering coverage in their home country."
 
     Tim Price, a British playwright who wrote a sympathetic play about Manning's teenage years in Wales called "The Radicalization of Bradley Manning," believed the harsh media coverage in the United States had exposed a blind spot in the U.S. press.
 
     "I think the U.S. media has been unable to make the leap that Bradley might actually be the one soldier defending American ideals and principles - and the U.S. military is the party guilty of putting soldiers at risk on a daily basis by waging wars with little idea how to end them," he said.
 
by AP posted Jun 4 2013 10:29AM


VIDEO - Oscar Pistorius has appeared in a South African court for a hearing ahead of the murder trial of the double-amputee Olympian, who killed his girlfriend on Valentine's Day. 

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Topics : Law_Crime
People : Oscar Pistorius
by AP posted Jun 4 2013 10:23AM


VIDEO- Protesters were trying to put out fires in the central Istanbul neighbourhood of Gummusyu as the anti government demonstrations continued for a fifth day in Turkey's largest city.

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Location : Istanbul
by Associated Press posted Jun 3 2013 6:16PM
   ANKARA, Turkey (AP) - Turkish riot police launched round after round of tear gas against protesters on Monday, the fourth day of violent demonstrations, as the president and the prime minister staked competing positions on the unrest.
 
     Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan rejected the protesters' demands that he resign and dismissed the demonstrations as the work of Turkey's opposition.  President Abdullah Gul, for his part, praised the mostly peaceful protesters as expressing their democratic rights.
 
     The two men could face off next year in Turkey's presidential election.
 
     Turkey has been rocked by violent demonstrations since Friday, when police launched a pre-dawn raid against a peaceful sit-in protesting plans to uproot trees in Istanbul's main Taksim Square. Since then, the demonstrations by mostly secular-minded Turks have spiraled into Turkey's biggest anti-government disturbances in years.
 
     Clashes continued late into the night Monday in both Istanbul and Ankara. 
 
     In Istanbul, the country's largest city, acrid clouds of tear gas billowed up from the streets of the Besiktas area as protesters ran for cover. Riot police deployed water cannons to keep demonstrators back. 
 
     An uneasy calm settled on the city's Taksim Square, which protesters were protecting with makeshift barricades using battered buses, cars and any other material they could find to prevent police from entering the square.
 
     In Ankara, protesters chanted for Erdogan to resign.
 
     Turkey's main stock exchange dropped 10.5 percent Monday as investors worried about the destabilizing effect of the demonstrations.
 
     The Turkish Doctors' Association said one protester died after a vehicle slammed into a crowd in Istanbul but the governor's office insisted the man's death was accidental. The doctors' group also said eight people hurt in Ankara were in critical condition.
 
     The protests are seen as a display of frustration with Erdogan, whom critics say has become increasingly authoritarian. Many accuse him of forcing his conservative, religious Islamic outlook on the lives of secular Turks.
 
     Erdogan rejects the accusations, insisting he respects all sections of Turkish society and has no desire to infringe on different lifestyles. He has also rejected accusations of being authoritarian, saying: "I am not a master but a servant" of the people.
 
     But he does believe the protests have a deeply political purpose.
 
     "The protests weren't about the squares or the trees, some parties were not happy about results of the elections," Erdogan said late Monday while on a visit to Morocco. "The situation is a lot calmer now and reason seems to be prevailing. I think things will return to normal. These demonstrations are not all over Turkey, just in some big cities."
 
     In Washington, the Obama administration voiced concern Monday over Turkey's crackdown on protesters, urging authorities to exercise restraint and all sides to refrain from violence.
 
     Secretary of State John Kerry, who has traveled to Turkey three times since becoming America's top diplomat, said the U.S. was following the situation closely and was troubled by reports of excessive force by the police. He also said Washington is "deeply concerned" by the large number of people who have been injured.
 
     Erdogan, in power since 2003 after winning three elections in landslides, will hit his term limit as prime minister and could run against Gul next year. Erdogan has also advocated a new system that would give the head of state increased powers, leading to criticism that he may be trying to monopolize power.
 
     The two men were close allies and among a core group who founded Erdogan's Islamic-rooted Justice and Development party in 2001 but there have been signs of growing differences between them. Last year, Erdogan openly criticized Gul, saying Turkey cannot have a "double-headed government" after the president called on police to halt a crackdown on a pro-secular rally. Both men have denied allegations of a rift, however.
 
     An opinion poll last year indicated that Turks would vote for Gul, rather than Erdogan, in the elections.
 
     On Monday, the leader of Turkey's secular, main opposition party discussed the protests with Gul.
 
     "The prime minister should apologize to protesters... We hope that once he does that the incident will be over completely," Kemal Kilicdaroglu, who heads the Republican People's Party.
 
     Gul was scheduled to meet Tuesday with Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc, who is acting prime minister in Erdogan's absence.
 
     Erdogan's adviser, Yalcin Akdogan, suggested the protests were an attempt to harm the prime minister's image.
 
     "(Erdogan) is a leader who appears once every 100 years. He is a leader who has transformed Turkey," Akdogan said. "We won't allow him to be harmed."
 
     On Monday, Erdogan angrily rejected comparisons with the current protests and the Arab Spring uprisings that toppled governments in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt.
 
     "We already have a spring in Turkey," he said, alluding to the nation's free elections. "But there are those who want to turn this spring into winter.
 
     "Be calm, these will all pass," he said.
 
     Erdogan also played down the drop in the markets, saying: "It's the stock market, it goes down and it goes up. It can't always be stable."
 
     Appearing defensive and angry, he lashed out at reporters who asked whether the government had understood the protesters' message.
 
     "What is the message? I want to hear it from you," Erdogan retorted.
 
     Gul said democracy was more than just going to the ballot box.
 
     "Democracy does not mean elections alone. There can be nothing more natural for the expression of various views, various situations and objections through a variety of ways besides elections," he said.  "The views that are well-intentioned have been read, seen and noted and the messages have been received."
 
     When asked in Morocco about Gul's comment that democracy is more than elections, Erdogan retorted, "I don't know what the president said, but for me democracy is all about the ballot box."
 
     The Dogan news agency said up to 500 people were detained in Ankara on Monday, and Turkey's Fox television reported 300 others were detained in Izmir, Turkey's third-largest city.
 
     Social media was awash with reports and videos of police abuse. Turkey's Human Rights Foundation claimed more than 1,000 protesters were subjected "to ill-treatment and torture" by police.
 
     Authorities said police excesses would be investigated, but they appeared to continue unabated. Fox showed footage of police telling one group by a building to come out, reassuring them that nothing would happen, then shooting a gas canister at them.
 
     Turkish television stations have been criticized for providing very limited coverage of the protests, with media moguls apparently wary of upsetting the government. On Monday, dozens of people demonstrated in front of the Istanbul offices of private NTV television.
 
     Another group of protesters drove a large bulldozer in Istanbul toward police water cannons, Dogan video showed. Medics were seen tending to the injured.
 
     A trade union confederation called for a two-day strike starting on Tuesday.
 
     Erdogan also blamed the protest on "internal and external" groups bent on harming Turkey and said the country's intelligence service was working to identify them.
 
     In neighboring Iraq, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said on his website that his government was worried about the security implications of the situation, saying Turkey was "an essential part of the stability of the region."
 
     "We believe that resorting to violence will widen the circle (of violence) ... in the region, and we call for restraint," he said.
 
     Iraq and Turkey share a long, mountainous border and Iraq is home to an ethnic Turkomen minority.
 
     The two countries' relationship has been increasingly strained over growing Turkish ties to Iraq's largely autonomous northern Kurdish region, and over Turkey's support for the Sunni rebels fighting to topple the Syrian regime.
 
     The two-year Syrian civil war has already killed at least 70,000 people and sent hundreds of thousands fleeing the country.
 
    
by AP posted Jun 3 2013 7:23AM


VIDEO - Officials in China say a fire at a poultry plant killed at least 113 people on Monday. It is feared that more people are trapped inside.

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by AP posted Jun 3 2013 7:22AM


VIDEO - More protests shook Turkey overnight, as Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan rejected accusations that he is a dictator.

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People : Tayyip Erdogan
by AP posted Jun 3 2013 7:18AM

VIDEO - A strong earthquake jolted Taiwan on Sunday, killing one person and injuring at least 18 others and causing panicked shoppers to rush out of a shaking multi-story department store, officials said.

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