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24 May, 2011

23:11

More lives lost in airstrike on Tripoli

­A NATO assault over the last 24 hours on military targets in Tripoli resulted in the deaths of 19 civilians and 150 more wounded, reported the Libyan national TV channel Jamahiriya. NATO insists the airstrikes were aimed at military infrastructure and vehicles.

Six major explosions were heard tonight in the Libyan capital, in addition to over 20 the previous evening.

22:40

EU nuclear power under scrutiny

­EU member states have agreed to conduct extreme stress tests on all of their 146 nuclear power plants, announced the EU commissioner for energy, Gunther Oettinger. After the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, a specially created expert group in Europe made the decision to perform in-depth tests to find out the vulnerable aspects of the European nuclear energy system, from situations arising from human error to an airplane crashing directly into a nuclear power plant. Europe’s biggest nuclear power producer, France, initially argued against including human error in the list of potential threats.

21:25

Dozens dead in Yemen unrest

­At least 38 people were killed in Yemen’s capital Sana’a during ongoing clashes between rioting tribes and the army. Local medics confirmed the death of 24 members of the influential tribe Hashid, while the military confirmed the death of 14 servicemen and listed 20 as missing.

Rallies against the 30-year rule of Ali Abdullah Saleh have been going on in Yemen since the beginning of February, and have reportedly cost more than 140 lives.

17:14

World Bank ready to loan Egypt and Tunisia $6 billion

Two countries which went through popular revolts in February and March may receive some $6 billion in financial aid in the coming years, the World Bank announced Tuesday. The money will be given to meet the needs of the revolution-hit nations and help them recuperate after the devastating revolts that toppled the countries’ long-serving rulers. The World Bank’s chief stressed that the loan will be a joint venture with the International Monetary Fund and other institutions. Earlier US President Barack Obama stated that financial aid for the unrest-hit Middle East is a top priority for his country and that the US is ready to back Tunisia and Egypt with $1 billion.

16:42

Hideout of Russia’s most-wanted terrorist located

­The location of Doku Umarov, Russia’s most-wanted terrorist and the mastermind of the deadly Domodedovo Airport blast, has been found by the Security Service, its chief stated Tuesday. Several past assault operations in Russia’s North Caucasus region were thought to have led to Umarov’s death, but DNA tests did not confirm that the terrorist leader had indeed been killed. The Chechen leader has constantly been in the police’s sights and his moves were being watched, the security chief stated. The authorities are now preparing an operation to liquidate the militant leader.

15:52

Sarkozy calls for Govt. regulation of Internet

The French President said Tuesday that the governments need to lay down and enforce rules in the digital world, as he was addressing the so-called e-G8 conference. Nicolas Sarkozy said a "balance" is needed to be struck to prevent misuse of the Internet and to boost its potential as a tool for economic growth. The two-day gathering is bringing together Internet and media world gurus like Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt, News Corp. Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch, and Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Conflicting visions about the Internet have pitted companies like Amazon.com and Google in opposition with government bodies who protect privacy and copyrights online. Last week, a UN independent expert on the freedom of speech said governments that cut users' access to the Internet are violating basic human rights.

15:23

4-12 million girls aborted in India because parents want boys – study

Sex selection of fetuses has become a major problem in India as the country faces a huge gender gap.  The problem has resulted in 7.1 per cent fewer girls than boys, according to Agence France-Presse, quoting a recent study. The results of the study, published Tuesday, suggest that parents in India often choose to abort the child if the testing shows it will be a girl. Between 1980 and 2010, they estimate that between four to twelve million girls were aborted because of their sex, the scientists revealed. Selective abortion of female fetuses accounts for two to four per cent of female pregnancies in India, roughly 300,000 to 600,000 per year, the study shows. A 1996 government regulation designed to prevent the use of ultrasound for prenatal sex determination is widely flouted, the researchers say, pointing out that few health providers have been charged or convicted.

14:28

NATO troops from Poland accused of war crimes in Afghanistan

Poland’s Military Prosecutor demanded on Tuesday that five to twelve year prison terms be handed out to seven Polish soldiers. The soldiers, who allegedly shot Afghan civilians in 2007, are thought to be on trial for war crimes, the Rzeczpospolita newspaper reports. The Prosecutor has accused the suspects for breaching Polish law as well as the Geneva Convention. The field commander was said to have been informed that there were no militants in the village, but the troops opened fire on several huts with machine-guns and rocket-propelled grenades, killing six civilians, including two women and three children. Others were wounded during the assault. The shelling was also filmed and the movie later posted on-line. The military commandment first rejected the accusations, stating that the troops were under attack from Taliban fighters and shot back in self-defense.

13:39

­Moscow Сity Сourt cuts Khodorkovsky sentence by one year

­The Moscow City Court on Tuesday upheld the second verdict against former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his business partner Platon Lebedev. However, the court ruled that the term of Khodorkovsky and Lebedev’s imprisonment be reduced by one year. The revised second verdict, which will see Khodorkovsky and Lebedev walk free in 2016, has now officially come into effect. Back in 2004, the two businessmen were sentenced to eight years in prison for tax evasion. In December 2010, a court in Moscow sentenced Khodorkovsky and Lebedev to 14 years in prison each for embezzlement and money laundering.  The new term is concurrent with the first one.

13:22

Moscow Сity Сourt cuts Khodorkovsky sentence by one year

The Moscow City Court on Tuesday upheld the second verdict against former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his business partner Platon Lebedev. However, the court ruled that the term of Khodorkovsky and Lebedev’s imprisonment be reduced by one year. The revised second verdict, which will see Khodorkovsky and Lebedev walk free in 2016, has now officially come into effect. Back in 2004, the two businessmen were sentenced to eight years in prison for tax evasion. In December 2010, a court in Moscow sentenced Khodorkovsky and Lebedev to 14 years in prison each for embezzlement and money laundering.  The new term is concurrent with the first one.

13:10

Pakistani Abbottabad may host “Bin Laden museum”

Rumors began to circulate among the tour centers in Pakistani Abbottabad that the compound where American SEALs allegedly killed Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden, may become one of the city attractions. At the moment, the residence where terrorist number one lived has not been included in any lists of the city’s places of interest. However, according to some tour operators On Tuesday, it may soon appear in the guide-books.  Some have stated that the liquidation of Bin Laden was an outstanding event and many tourists may be willing to visit the scene. However, many local residents criticize the idea, claiming the city has already obtained a negative reputation as “hotbed” of terrorism, a perception that would ultimately dissuade most tourists from visiting.

12:51

As Sudan struggles to find peace, many thousands flee border clashes

At least 15,000 people have fled the southern Sudanese town of Abyei after clashes in the disputed border area, Al Jazeera reports Tuesday. Earlier, gunmen were reportedly looting properties, days after troops from the government in Khartoum entered the area, while the town of Abyei was set ablaze. Peacekeepers from the UN mission in Sudan claimed Monday that the burning and looting was perpetrated “by armed elements” but it was not clear whether they were from the north or the south. Abyei, claimed by both the north and south, was due to vote on its future alongside a referendum on independence for the south. However, the referendum was not held due to disagreements over who was eligible to vote. On Sunday, the town was seized by northern troops.

12:29

­Russian Orthodox Church does not support initiative to bury Lenin’s body

Russian Orthodox Churh does not support calls to remove the body of Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin from the mausoleum in the heart of Moscow, where it has been on public display since Lenin’s death in 1924. Having Lenin’s body on display definitely goes against the Russian cultural tradition, says the head of the Orthodox Church Public Relations, Vsevolod Chaplin. But at the same time, removing it could stir the society and result in tensions, he maintains, so it is better not to rush into any action. Recently, activists who campaign to have Lenin’s body buried, appealed to the Orthodox Church for support.

12:18

2011 worst death toll from tornado since 1953

Out of the 1,000 plus tornadoes which hit the US this year, Sunday’s storm was the deadliest when it killed more than 100 people in the city of Joplin, according to the Columbus Dispatch newspaper on Tuesday. This year, at least 481 people have been killed, making this the deadliest year for tornadoes since 1953, when 519 people died. Unlike the multiple storms that killed more than 300 people last month across the South, Joplin was smashed by just one exceptionally powerful tornado. The National Weather Service gave the storm a preliminary label as an EF4 - the second-highest rating assigned to twisters based on the damage they cause.

11:42

Children among tourists missing in Central Russia

­Rescuers are searching for 11 tourists who went missing in Samara region on Tuesday while allegedly traveling near local mines. The group was in a natural reserve late on Monday, rescuers say, but they did not return from their hike. The group includes children aged four to eight. All of the mines in the immediate region have already been searched, though no one was found. Rescure brigades now plan to continue their search in the surrounding forest.

11:40

Russia to back Palestine’s call for independence – Fatah rep

If  Palestinian authorities file a request for independence at the United Nations, Russia will support the initiative, Fatah representatives stated on Tuesday during a visit to Moscow. Fatah previously declared that they will not seek a unilateral call for independence at the UN. Representatives from Palestinian movements Fatah and Hamas said that they appreciated the support of Russia in their efforts to reach national reconciliation and establish a sovereign Palestinian state. Representatives of both movements, who signed a reconciliation agreement in Cairo in early May, arrived in Moscow last Friday.  Their leaders met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday and agreed to a joint statement with Russia.

11:08

Clashes reemerge in Yemen as powerful tribe battles for capital

With chains and locks, a powerful Yemeni tribe has sealed several government buildings in an attempted siege of the vital capital district of Sanaa as fierce clashes continue with government forces. A total of seven people have reportedly been killed and 42 others injured since fighters of the Hashid, Yemen's biggest tribe, have engaged in an unprecedented confrontation with President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s troops on Monday, health officials reported Tuesday. Hashid leader, Sheik Sadeq al-Ahmar, announced that he is joining the uprising to try to oust Saleh. Automatic weapons, mortars, and tanks are being used to attack buildings, which have subsequently set government offices on fire.

10:46

Greek users the victims of Sony’s second major hack

Sony Co. websites have been hacked again on Tuesday with the personal data of some 8500 users having leaked from three separate domains in Greece, Reuters reports, citing Jiji news service. However, Sony representatives were not immediately available for comment. Hackers seem to have found flaws in the Sony BMG Greek websites and stole the accounts data in the second major security breech Sony has faced in two months. Earlier Sony predicted that the April hack would cost Sony US $170 million this year. Sony's PlayStation Network was hacked last month, leaving as many as 100 million accounts vulnerable. The attack left the PSN service down for several weeks, with Sony offering customers additional weeks of free access as compensation.

10:45

­Right Cause party to stay away from Putin’s Popular Front - Prokhorov

Business tycoon Mikhail Prokhorov, who has agreed to lead the Right Cause opposition party, does not want it to join United Russia’s recently established People’s Front. "I think a party should act independently," he said on Tuesday. People’s Front was established in May at the initiative of United Russia’s leader Vladimir Putin. It is expected to unite all public organizations which share the views of United Russia, and opposition activists and parties have been welcomed to join.

10:24

Forty killed and many more injured by severe lightning in Bangladesh

Lightning strikes during a heavy rainstorm in Bangladesh killed at least 40 people and injured more than 150 Monday.  Most of them were harvesting rice in fields or fishing, police said Tuesday.  These deaths constituted the largest number of casualties from lightning in a single day.  Such weather anomalies are common in the Asian country which prior to the start of the the monsoon season.

10:21

Moscow finds a partner for talks in Libyan opposition

­When it comes to negotiating Libya’s fate, Moscow accepts the Transitional National Council of Libya as a legitimate partner, Rusia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Tuesday. "I met Abdel Rakhman Shalgam, a representative of the Libyan opposition, yesterday. He underlined that the Transitional National Council does not ask [Moscow] to recognize it is as the only legitimate representative of the Libyan people, but as a legitimate partner in talks on Libya’s future," Lavrov said. This is exactly how the organization has been recognized in Russia, the official added. The Libyan Transitional Council, stationed in Benghazi, was established February 27.

10:00

­Medvedev to meet with Obama, Sarkozy in Deauville

At the upcoming G8 summit in Deauville, France, May 26-27, Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev is scheduled to hold five meetings with his top-level fireign colleagues: France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy, US President Barack Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Japan’s Prime Minister Naoto Kan, and British Prime Minister David Cameron. The Russian leader may also hold short meetings with Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Italian President Silvio Berlusconi, Medvedev’s press service adds.

09:39

US “prophet” sets new Doomsday date in light of miscalculation

After the Judgment day prophecies of the evangelical Christian broadcaster Harold Camping  went unfulfilled on Saturday, he rushed to state that this was due to a miscalculation.  He has recalculated the new date for the end of the world – October 21, Reuters reports. Camping, 89, said Tuesday he now believes his forecast is playing out “spiritually, with the actual apocalypse set to occur later this year. Camping, who launched a doomsday countdown in which some followers spent their life's savings in anticipation of being carried away to heaven, issued his correction during an appearance on his “Open Forum” radio show from Oakland, California. He insists October 21 has always been the end-point of his own End Times chronology, or at least, his “latest chronology.”

09:29

­Medvedev creates new federal copyright watchdog

President Dmitry Medvedev has signed an order on the establishment of a new federal service for intellectual property. The new service will take over responsibilities from RosPatent, Medvedev told a session of the Comission for Modernization.



08:36

­Medvedev aide blames Belarusian financial crisis on election outcome

The financial crisis in Belarus was provoked by the presidential election, presidential aide Arkady Dvorkovich maintains. "The elections in Belarus resulted in a number of decisions which destabilized the financial situation," Dvorkovich said in an interview on Tuesday. Results of the presidential election on December 19 ensured that President Aleksandr Lukashenko would remain in power for another term. Since then, the economic situation has been deteriorating. Last week, Russia and Belarus reached an agreement on a major loan from the Eurasian Economic Community. Hopefully, this financial aid will help Belarus stabilize its financial markets, Dvorkovich pointed out.

08:29

Iceland volcano’s ash causes delays and cancellations of UK flights

Iceland's Grimsvötn volcano continues to erupt as the ash cloud has delayed or cancelled flights to and from the UK, with Scottish airspace being virtually shut down and some airports closed, the Australian Business Traveler reports Tuesday. Travelers with plans to reach the UK should start considering other options, the newspaper suggests, reminiscent of last year’s Eyjafjallajökull eruption which caused dramatic delays in the whole of Europe. More than 250 flights have already been cancelled as a result of the threat the volcanic ash poses to planes, the BBC reports, citing European air traffic controllers.

07:42

Russia to back Palestine’s call for independence – Fatah rep

If  Palestinian authorities file a request for independence at the United Nations, Russia will support the initiative, Fatah representatives stated on Tuesday during a visit to Moscow. Fatah previously declared that they will not seek a unilateral call for independence at the UN. Representatives from Palestinian movements Fatah and Hamas said that they appreciated the support of Russia in their efforts to reach national reconciliation and establish a sovereign Palestinian state. Representatives of both movements, who signed a reconciliation agreement in Cairo in early May, arrived in Moscow last Friday.  Subsequently, their leaders as well as representatives from the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Palestinian People’s Party, Al-Shaabare, met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday and agreed to a joint statement with Russia.

07:30

­Russia to station S-400 anti-aircraft missile complexes in Belarus - official

Russia is going to station its latest anti-aircraft missile complexes, the S-400 Triumphs, in Belarus, says state secretary of the Union State of Russia and Belarus, Pavel Borodin. "They will be stationed in Russian and Belarusian territory. We have one territory, we have no border," Borodin said as Minsk prepares to host the MILEX-2011 international arms show. Ties between the defense industries of Russia and Belarus, nearly destroyed after the collapse of the Soviet Union, are now quickly recovering, the official observed.

07:11

­Kazakh officials deny terrorist link in blast near security service office

Kazakhstan’s Interior Ministry denies any terrorist connection in a blast which hit one of the National Security Committee’s buildings in Astana, killing two people. The blast took place early on Tuesday, when a car parked near the Temporary Detention Center caught fire and exploded. Both victims have already been identified, and there are no grounds to suspect they have links to any terrorist organization, a police spokesman said. Last week, a suicide bomber targeted the National Security Committee’s office in Aktubinsk, western Kazakhstan.  Both incidents are currently being investigated by authorities.

06:33

Ten killed in roadside bomb blast in Afghan Kandahar

Ten people were killed and 30 others wounded Tuesday when a truck carrying road workers was hit by a roadside bomb in Kandahar province in southern Afghanistan, Agence France-Presse reports. The injured have been taken to hospital, officials said. The workers were laborers riding to work to clean up streams and rivers in the southern province. Earlier it was also reported that a deputy intelligence chief survived an attempted Taliban suicide bombing. The official's bodyguards spotted the suspicious SUV laden with explosives and gunned down the driver in the streets of Kabul. These blasts come amid the declared spring offensive by Taliban insurgents who pledged to carry out several deadly attacks.

06:29

Moscow Court starts reviewing Khodorkovsky’s appeal of second verdict

The Moscow City Court on Tuesday began reviewing an appeal against the second verdict to former Yukos CEO, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, and his business partner Platon Lebedev. The review had been scheduled to begin earlier, but got postponed. In 2004, Khodorkovsky and Lebedev were sentenced to eight years each for tax evasion and fraud. Last December, the Khamovniki Court of Moscow also found them guilty in the second criminal case against them, and their jail terms were extended until 2017. Since the second verdict has been appealed, the sentence has not yet been implemented.

05:50

Six injured in Iranian refinery blast

At least six people have been injured Tuesday in an explosion possibly caused by a technical problem at the Abadan oil refinery in Iran, Xinhua news agency reports citing local agencies. An explosion caused a fire at the facility while President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was visiting. Ahmadinejad was scheduled to speak at the refinery. The president himself was not hurt, reports say. Firefighters have the blaze under control.

05:22

Fukushima’s TEPCO confirms meltdown at two more reactors

The operator of Japan's troubled Fukushima nuclear power plant confirmed a partial meltdown of the fuel rods at two more of the site's reactors. Before Tuesday’s statement, it had been thought that only reactor 1 had experienced a meltdown. The plant’s cooling systems were knocked out by March's devastating earthquake and ensuing tsunami. The liquidators still strive to contain the melting reactors and prevent a major radiation leak. The official death toll from the March disaster currently stands at some 14,000 people.

03:03

ISS crew successfully returns to Earth

Members of the 27th expedition to the International Space Station have successfully returned to Earth on board the Russian Soyuz spacecraft, which has landed safely in Kazakhstan.
The three space explorers onboard are the Soyuz commander Dmitry Kondratyev from Russia, NASA Flight Engineer Cady Coleman from the US, and European Space Agency Flight Engineer Paolo Nespoli, who is Italian. They have returned to Earth without a hitch after a five-month mission in orbit.

01:26

NATO conducts massive attack on Tripoli

NATO air forces have carried out a massive bombing raid on Tripoli. It is already being called the biggest attack on the Libyan capital since the beginning of the operation on March 19. According to Libyan state media, at least three people have been killed and more than 150 injured. The attack consisted of no fewer than 20 air strikes. Many explosions were heard near the hotel where foreign journalists are based. One of the alleged targets was again Gaddafi’s residence. Libyan officials claim the attacks were aimed at buildings housing volunteers that help the Libyan army. However, NATO insists its air strikes only hit military structures.

00:50

Missouri death toll climbs to 116

­The number of victims of the tornado that hit the city of Joplin in the US state of Missouri has risen to 116 people, Associated Press reports. The city administration said seven people had been rescued from under the debris. Meanwhile, more than 1150 people have been taken to hospital throughout the state. The tornado, 10 km high, hit Joplin, a town with a population of 50,000 people, on May 22 and practically destroyed about 30 per cent of the town.