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28 June, 2011

23:09

Space shuttle Atlantis to make its last voyage in July

­NASA has named July 8 as the date for the last journey of the Atlantis space shuttle to the International Space Station. In their Tuesday statement, NASA officials said that the shuttle will carry four US astronauts aboard. In its 33rd and final mission, Atlantis will deliver a multifunctional payload module and equipment that will ensure the functioning of the ISS throughout 2012. Upon returning to Earth, the space shuttle will remain in Florida and will be put on display at the J.F. Kennedy space launch center. The Atlantis has been in service for 26 years.

22:10

US Senate panel approves campaign in Libya

­The US Foreign Relations Committee has given President Barack Obama limited authority to continue the US military operation against Libya in Tuesday’s vote. The vote was 14-5 in favor, with the resolution imposing a one-year limit on US intervention and prohibiting the deployment of US ground forces. Last Friday Congress had overwhelmingly rejected a similar resolution.

21:36

Three suicide bombers attack Kabul

­The Afghan Interior Ministry has confirmed reports that three or four suicide bombers and at least two gunmen have attacked the Intercontinental Hotel in the country’s capital. According to the ministry, all the bombers either blew themselves up or were killed. Two gunmen have continued to fire from the roof of the hotel, the ministry said, but it also stressed that guests staying at the hotel are safe. A Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility for the attack in a telephone call to Associated Press.

20:12

Venezuela agrees $1.5 billion oil loan with Japan

Japan will lend Venezuela $1.5 billion to boost expansion of two large oil refineries. The Venezuelan energy minister said at the signing ceremony on Tuesday that the country would repay the loan over 15 years in cash or oil. Venezuela also signed two supply contracts with Japanese companies Mitsubishi and Itochu to ship some four million barrels of crude oil per year. According to Reuters, the new agreements increase Venezuela's oil shipments to Japan to around 11,000 barrels per day from about 1,000 bpd in 2009.

17:33

Moscow police disperse pro-Assad rally

Police in the Russian capital have dispersed a rally organized by Syrians in support of their embattled leader Bashar Assad. About 30 people gathered near the RIA Novosti news agency headquarters in central Moscow on Tuesday. The demonstrators were wearing T-shirts bearing Assad’s image, and were shouting “hands off Syria” and “thank you Medvedev.” The rally comes as Radwan Ziadeh, the head of the Syrian opposition delegation, pays a visit to Moscow on Tuesday to urge Russia to back the UN resolution on Syria. The delegation arrived at RIA Novosti headquarters for a media conference.

17:18

Netherlands may ban kosher slaughtering

Dutch lawmakers have passed a bill banning any slaughter of livestock without stunning, thus prohibiting Orthodox Jews and Muslims from butchering animals according to their traditional dietary rules. The law has sparked an outcry from Jewish and Muslim communities who say it violates their right to freedom of religion. They say stunning is actually more inhumane than the ritual slaughter carried out by swiftly cutting animals’ throats with a razor-sharp knife. The bill must still pass the senate and the government says it may be unenforceable in its current form.

16:42

Greek police drive protesters away from parliament

­Riot police in Athens have driven hundreds of angry demonstrators protesting against austerity measures away from the Greek parliament building. The protesters clashed with police on Tuesday, hurling rocks and fire bombs. For several hours, riot police fired repeated volleys of tear-gas, and battled with groups of hooded youths near the parliament building in the center of the Greek capital. The lawmakers are expected to vote this week on a package of new austerity measures. Labor unions have launched a 48-hour strike to protest against the measures. Greece needs to make cuts totalling at least 28 billion euros before the EU agrees to hand Greece another cash bailout. It is considered the country's last resort to avoid becoming the first Eurozone nation to default.

15:54

US backs Lagarde’s IMF bid

The US has supported the bid of French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde for the IMF leadership. "Minister Lagarde's exceptional talent and broad experience will provide invaluable leadership for this indispensable institution at a critical time for the global economy," The Wall Street Journal quoted Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner as saying. "We are encouraged by the broad support she has secured among the Fund's membership, including from the emerging economies," Geithner added. Earlier on Tuesday, Moscow endorsed Lagarde to be the next IMF chief. With the support of most of the EU nations, China, Russia and the United States, the French Finance minister is widely expected to take the position. She would become the first woman to head the organization.

15:32

Sweden reports first domestic case of E. coli

Swedish health authorities have reported the first domestic case of the deadly E. coli outbreak that has already claimed 48 lives in Europe. The Swedish Institute for Communicable Disease Control says it is the first case in Sweden without any direct link to Germany. The agency could not say how the latest patient was infected. The previous 53 cases of E. coli have been linked to Germany, the hotbed of the outbreak, where 3,901 people have been sickened. The outbreak has been traced to a sprout farm in Lower Saxony. One person has so far died in Sweden and 47 died in Germany.

14:59

Islam not equal to terrorism – Kazakh President

The Muslim world needs to explain to the West that Islam is not equal to terrorism, Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbaev said at a session of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in Astana on Tuesday. “A major problem in world politics is relations between the Muslim world and the rest of the globe. The West primarily associates the Muslim world with its radical elements, and is irrationally afraid of it,” Nazarbaev pointed out. “We must state clearly that Islam has nothing in common with political violence, extremism and terrorism,” he added. The Association of Islamic Cooperation, previously called the Organization of the Islamic Conference, unites 56 Islamic states promoting Muslim solidarity in economic, social, and political affairs.

14:48

Russia successfully test-fires new ballistic missile

Russia’s Defense Ministry says it has successfully test-fired advanced ballistic missile from a new-generation nuclear submarine. The Bulava missile has been launched from the Yury Dolgoruky submarine under the waters of the White Sea. The warhead reached the Kura testing site on the Kamchatka Peninsula in the Pacific region, some 5,500km away to the east. The Yury Dolgoruky was specially designed to carry the missiles that were hailed as a cornerstone of Russia's nuclear arsenal.

14:13

Moscow hopes for fair investigation of Libyan events

Russia hopes that the international investigation into the events in Libya will not be politicized, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Tuesday. “We count on the impartiality of the investigation,” he said. On Monday, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Gaddafi. “I hope that the International Criminal Court’s decision will not have a negative influence on attempts to stabilize the situation in Libya,” Lavrov added. Both the governmental and opposition forces have demonstratively violated human rights in Libya, Lavrov reminded the journalists, citing an international commission’s report.

13:49

ICC prosecutor urges Gaddafi’s aides to arrest him

The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has called on the inner circle of Muammar Gaddafi to arrest the Libyan leader and turn him over for trial on charges of crimes against humanity. Luis Moreno-Ocampo appealed to Gaddafi’s aides on Tuesday, saying they can be either part of the problem and be prosecuted, or they can be part of the solution of the crisis in Libya. He said in an official statement that Libya has the primary responsibility to implement the arrest warrants. “International forces operating under UN Security Council Resolution 1973 have no specific mandate to implement arrest warrants, and the Court is not asking for that,” he added.  On Monday, the court in The Hague issued arrest warrants for Muammar Gaddafi, his son Seif al-Islam and his intelligence chief Abdullah al-Sanoussi for killing civilians on the streets and persecuting alleged dissidents. “The Office of the Prosecutor will continue investigating new crimes regarding the situation in Libya since 15 February 2011, in particular allegations of rapes and efforts to cover up the crimes; we will eventually add new charges to the same case,” the prosecutor said Tuesday.

13:38

St. Petersburg Governor gives green light for federation council bid

St. Petersburg Governor Valentina Matvienko has decided to run for the post of the Federation Council speaker, President Medvedev’s press secretary Natalia Timakova said on Tuesday. Matvienko had been reluctant to take the chair, offered to her by President Medvedev last week, but was won over by his arguments. “Valentina Matvienko is holding the necessary consultations with the Federation Council’s board, and will then start the procedures to be elected to the upper chamber,” Timakova said. In order to take the post which was vacated last month by the opposition leader Sergey Mironov, Matvienko, she first needs to obtain a deputy’s mandate.

13:26

Kim Jong-il may visit Russia and meet with President Medvedev

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il may visit Russia and may meet with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, South Korean Yonhap news agency says. The 69-year-old leader of the communist state is expected to arrive by train through a station in the town of Khasan on Wednesday. Some media reports suggest that Kim will visit the far-eastern Russian city of Vladivostok, where he will meet with top Russian officials. "We are closely watching the situation with various possibilities in mind," the South Korean Foreign Ministry said referring to the possible visit.

13:23

St. Petersburg Governor gives green light for federation council bid

St. Petersburg Governor Valentina Matvienko has decided to run for the post of the Federation Council speaker, President Medvedev’s press secretary Natalia Timakova said on Tuesday. Matvienko had been reluctant to take the chair, offered to her by President Medvedev last week, but was won over by his arguments. “Valentina Matvienko is holding the necessary consultations with the Federation Council’s board, and will then start the procedures to be elected to the upper chamber,” Timakova said. In order to take the post which was vacated last month by the opposition leader Sergey Mironov, Matvienko, she first needs to obtain a deputy’s mandate.

12:56

Kim Jong-il may visit Russia and meet with President Medvedev

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il may visit Russia and may meet with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, South Korean Yonhap news agency says. The 69-year-old leader of the communist state is expected to arrive by train through a station in the town of Khasan on Wednesday. Some media reports suggest that Kim will visit the far-eastern Russian city of Vladivostok, where he will meet with top Russian officials. "We are closely watching the situation with various possibilities in mind," the South Korean Foreign Ministry said referring to the possible visit.

12:32

Syrian opposition urges Russia to pressure Assad

The Syrian opposition is calling on Russia to put pressure on the regime of President Bashar Assad to stop violence against civilians in Syria. Radwan Ziadeh, the head of an opposition delegation that is visiting the Russian capital on Tuesday, has urged Moscow to back the UN resolution on Syria. During talks with Russia’s Special Envoy to North Africa Mikhail Margelov, he said that demonstrations in Syria will not stop and the Syrian people do not see Assad as the legitimate leader anymore. He noted that Syrians want Russia to mediate in the crisis to help Syria become a truly democratic country. However, Ziadeh pointed out that the opposition is against any foreign interference in the crisis. Russia has been opposing international sanctions against Syria.

11:58

­St. Petersburg Governor lingers at Medvedev’s offer to head upper house

Valentina Matvienko, the Governor of St. Petersburg, is hesitant about accepting the post of Federation Council chairperson, she told President Medvedev on Tuesday. Medvedev insisted she took some time to think the proposition over. “I think it would be good for the state if you headed the upper house,” he said, advising Matvienko to hold consultations with other regional leaders. The idea to appoint Matvienko as speaker of the Federation Council was voiced last week, and welcomed by Dmitry Medvedev. The speaker’s seat has been vacant since Sergey Mironov, the previous upper house chairman, was recalled from his post last month.

11:51

­Russia to vote for Lagarde in IMF head elections

At the upcoming vote for the new managing director of the International Monetary Fund, Russia will give its support to Christine Lagarde. “I think she has the necessary qualities,” Finance Minister Aleksey Kudrin said at a governmental session on Tuesday. The IMF board is expected to meet on Tuesday to elect its new leader who is to replace Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the previous IMF head who had to resign last month over sexual assault allegations.

11:47

Russia to back Lagarde as IMF chief

Russia will support Christine Lagarde’s bid for top position at the IMF, Russian Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Aleksey Kudrin has said. “The Lagarde proposal fully complies with the IMF's aims. She will be able to bring dynamism to this key international organization, and ensure its further reform, taking the interests of states with developing markets into account," Kudrin said. Lagarde is broadly supported in Europe and was backed by Beijing. Many analysts expect that Washington will also back Lagarde’s bid.

11:23

­Moscow hopes for fair investigation of Libyan events

Russia hopes that the international investigation into the events in Libya will not be politicized, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Tuesday. “We count on the impartiality of the investigation,” he said. On Monday, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Gaddafi. “I hope that the International Criminal Court’s decision will not have a negative influence on attempts to stabilize the situation in Libya,” Lavrov added. Both the governmental and opposition forces have demonstratively violated human rights in Libya, Lavrov reminded the journalists, citing an international commission’s report.

11:12

East Africa hit by worst drought in 60 years

The United Nations says more than 10 million people are affected by the worst drought to hit eastern Africa in 60 years. The spokeswoman for the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs said on Tuesday: "We believe that the drought situation in certain regions is the worst in 60 years. In several regions, we can speak of famine." Elisabeth Byrs told reporters in Geneva that child malnutrition rates have reached emergency levels of 15 per cent in some areas of the Horn of Africa. The drought has affected Kenya, Somalia, Uganda, Djibouti and Ethiopia. The UN refugee agency says 20,000 Somalis fleeing the drought have arrived to Kenya over the past two weeks alone.

10:53

Ex-president urges Georgia to recognize Abkhazia

The former president of Georgia, Eduard Shevardnadze, has voiced support for an initiative to recognize Abkhazia’s independence. “Abkhazia will never be a part of Georgia,” Shevardnadze told a Georgian daily in an interview. “We could at least establish a good relationship with it,” he said. The process of mending ties might take up to 15 years, maintains Shevardnadze, Georgia’s president from 1995-2003. Georgian political scientist Mamuka Areshidze recently suggested recognizing Abkhazia’s sovereignty, proclaimed in 1994, in exchange for a Russian troop withdrawal from the republic and the right of return for Georgian refuges who fled the region.

10:51

­Russia lifts ban on vegetables from Belgium, Netherlands

Rospotrebnadzor has lifted the ban on the import of vegetables from Belgium and the Netherlands, the agency’s head, Gennady Onishchenko, said on Tuesday. “So far, after receiving confirmation from experts, we are [once again] allowing imports from Belgium and the Netherlands,” he said. Moscow placed an embargo on European vegetables on June 2 out of fears that an intestinal infection which claimed the lives of more than 40 in the EU would spread to Russia. Despite protests from EU officials, Russia required that all products from Europe were accompanied by special safety certificates.

10:48

­Syrian opposition asks Moscow to moderate Assad

A delegation of Syrian opposition figures that paid an unofficial visit to Moscow on Tuesday has expressed hope that Russia would use its political weight to pressure President Bashar Assad into negotiations with opponents of his regime. “We hope Russia will use its political weight to show the Syrian authorities that what they are doing is unacceptable,” head of the Syrian delegation, Radwan Ziadeh, said after a meeting with Russian Special Envoy to Africa, Mikhail Margelov. Margelov assured them of Russia’s desire for the Syrian political conflict be resolved quickly and peacefully. “We do not want to see the situation in Syria take the Libyan path,” said Margelov, who acts as the Russian mediator in the North African conflict.

10:34

Russia to partially lift ban on vegetable imports from EU

Russia is allowing the resumption of vegetable imports from Belgium and Netherlands, after it imposed a blanket ban on vegetables from the EU due to dangerous E. coli outbreak. According to Russia’s top sanitary official Gennady Onishchenko, the shipments are going to resume Tuesday because there have been no cases of E. coli contamination in those countries. He said seven countries have asked Russia to lift the ban, among them Spain, Denmark and Poland. However, Onishchenko underlined that re-exportation of vegetables is unacceptable, noting that Poland frequently re-exports goods. The ban will remain for Germany, which has become the hotbed of the deadly infection that has already claimed 48 lives.

10:09

Russia, Azerbaijan sign agreement to fight terrorism

The interior ministers of Russia and Azerbaijan met on Tuesday to sign an agreement intended to coordinate joint efforts against terrorism and extremism, especially in the frontier regions. The agreement technically extends a similar deal signed by the two states in 1996, Russia’s Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliev said. “But we have a different situation now: previously we did not face such threats of extremism, terrorism, and human trafficking,” the minister observed.

09:51

TEPCO president apologizes to shareholders for disaster

­The president of Tokyo Electric Power Company has apologized to the shareholders of the company for the nuclear accident at crippled Fukushima-1 power plant, NHK broadcaster says. Masataka Shimizu spoke at a morning meeting of shareholders in Tokyo. He apologized for company’s net loss of more than 1.2 trillion yen (US$15 billion). Shimizu also said the leak of radioactive materials outside the Fukushima plant has caused severe problems such as mass evacuations. Some shareholders expressed the view that TEPCO executives should sell their own assets to pay damages to victims of the disaster. Others proposed that the company should withdraw from nuclear power generation. Meanwhile, the utility is checking its troubled water-decontamination system to get it running as soon as possible. The new system had to be halted on Monday due to water leakage. The plant’s buildings are overloaded with highly radioactive water used for cooling down the crippled reactors.

09:22

­Ex-president urges Georgia to recognize Abkhazia

The former president of Georgia, Eduard Shevardnadze, has voiced support for an initiative to recognize Abkhazia’s independence. “Abkhazia will never be a part of Georgia,” Shevardnadze told a Georgian daily in an interview. “We could at least establish a good relationship with it,” he said. The process of mending ties might take up to 15 years, maintains Shevardnadze, Georgia’s president from1995-2003. Georgian political scientist Mamuka Areshidze recently suggested recognizing Abkhazia’s sovereignty, proclaimed in 1994, in exchange for a Russian troop withdrawal from the republic and the right of return for Georgian refuges who fled the region.

09:17

Blast hits power station in western Siberia, 13 injured

At least 13 people have been injured after a gas explosion rocked a major power plant in the Russian city of Surgut in western Siberia. Nine victims have sustained severe burns in the blast at the Surgut GRES-1 plant, with three of them in a serious condition. The fire triggered by the explosion was extinguished in an hour. Police are investigating the incident. Surgut GRES-1 power plant is one the biggest in Russia and is crucial for oil and gas industry in the western Siberian region.

08:54

Hamas admits Palestinian reconciliation at impasse

A top Hamas official says the reconciliation talks with rival Fatah group are at a stalemate. It is the first time an official from either group has admitted to the impasse in efforts to form a joint Palestinian government. Jordan’s ad-Dustour newspaper cited Mahmoud Zahar as saying the Palestinian unity talks have foundered over the nomination of a prime minister, and President Mahmoud Abbas’ refusal to submit a proposed Cabinet list for parliament’s approval. Gaza-based Hamas wants the current PM Salam Fayyad to step down, while Fatah wants him to retain the position. The two factions separated after Hamas overtook Gaza in 2007.

08:53

­Sacked Moscow Mayor's administration head kills himself

A former official from the Moscow Mayor’s office, who was close to ex-Moscow mayor Yury Luzhkov, has committed suicide in his Moscow apartment, law enforcement agencies said on Tuesday. Aleksandr Novikov lost the position as the deputy head of the Mayor’s Administration in autumn, after Luzhkov was dismissed from office in September. Novikov, 64, left a goodbye note and fatally shot himself with a hunting gun, police said. According to media sources, Novikov was deeply depressed after Luzhkov’s forced retirement and the subsequent reshuffling in the city administration. Luzhkov has voiced his regret over the tragic incident, and praised his former colleague as a good person and efficient professional.

08:22

Russia to halt power supply to Belarus at midnight

State-owned energy company Inter RAO UES is yet to receive a scheduled payment from Belarus, prompting the company to freeze power supplies to their crisis-hit neighbor at midnight, a spokesman for the company has announced. Inter RAO curtailed power supplies to Belarus on June 9, citing a 1.5-billion-ruble debt. However, delivery later resumed in full when Belarus began attending to the debt by paying a 600-million-ruble installment. Belarus claims the problem is not funds, but a lack of foreign currency reserves resulting from the financial crisis. The debt was to be paid off completely early on Tuesday. “

We are expecting our Belarusian partners to pay the debt in full

,” Inter RAO said. Russia’s energy supply to Belarus amounts to about 10 per cent of country’s demand.

08:04

­Islam not equal to terrorism – Kazakh President

The Muslim world needs to explain to the West that Islam is not equal to terrorism, Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev said at a session of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in Astana on Tuesday. “A major problem in world politics is relations between the Muslim world and the rest of the globe. The West primarily associates the Muslim world with its radical elements, and is irrationally afraid of it,” Nazarbayev pointed out. “We must state clearly that Islam has nothing in common with political violence, extremism and terrorism,” he added. The Association of Islamic Cooperation, previously called the Organization of the Islamic Conference, unites 56 Islamic states promoting Muslim solidarity in economic, social, and political affairs.

07:50

German doctors confirm Mubarak has cancer

­German doctors have confirmed that former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is suffering from early-stage cancer, RIA Novosti says, quoting Al Ahram newspaper. The medics who examined the ousted leader said the cancer “is progressing very slowly.” Last week, Mubarek’s lawyer claimed the ex-president has stomach cancer. Mubarak, who is facing trial over the violence during the popular uprising which resulted in his ouster, has been detained in a hospital in the Red Sea resort of Sharm El Sheikh. He is also accused of embezzlement and abuse of power throughout his three-decade rule. Mubarak's defense insists that he is not fit to stand trial.

07:19

­Russia to halt power supply to Belarus at midnight

State-owned energy company Inter RAO UES is yet to receive a scheduled payment from Belarus, prompting the company to freeze power supplies to their crisis-hit neighbor at midnight, a spokesman for the company has announced. Inter RAO curtailed power supplies to Belarus on June 9, citing a 1.5 billion rubles debt. However, delivery later resumed in full when Belarus began mending the debt by paying a 600 million ruble installment. Belarus claims the problem is not funds, but a lack of foreign currency reserves resulting from the financial crisis. The debt was to be paid off completely early on Tuesday. “We are expecting our Belarusian partners to pay the debt in full,” Inter RAO said.

07:14

Iran claims it can make longer-range missiles

A senior Iranian military official has said that Iran is capable of producing even longer range missiles than the ones it has now. However, Amir Ali Hajizadesh, a senior Revolutionary Guard commander, said Iran will not produce them as the existing missiles can already reach Israel and US bases in the Gulf. He said the country possesses missiles with a range of up to 2,000km.  Hajizadeh claimed on Tuesday that Iran “possesses the technology” but has “no intention of producing” missiles with a range of over 2,000 km. The comment comes amid Iran’s ten-day military drills. On Tuesday morning, it test fired 14 missiles.

07:09

­Informants to receive financial incentive from police

Russian police may start paying money to citizens who help solve crimes by providing valuable information, Interior Ministry spokesman Oleg Elnikov said on Tuesday. “The new law entitles Interior Ministry agencies to pay money for information valuable in terms of solving crimes,” he said.

06:36

Japan detects radiation in seabed near Fukushima plant

The operator of Fukushima-1 says radioactive strontium has been detected for the first time on the seabed near the crippled plant, NHK broadcaster says. According to the Tokyo Electric Power Company, strontium-89 and-90 were found in the seabed soil about 3km off the coast at two locations about 20km north and south of the plant. The radioactive substances pose a serious health risks as they can accumulate in the bones if ingested and cause cancer. Officials say no strontium was found in fish and seafood samples. But government’s Nuclear Safety Commission said more examination should be carried out to find out if the substance can accumulate in marine life.

06:05

IMF expected to elect Lagarde as next chief

The International Monetary Fund is preparing to name its next boss, with Christine Lagarde expected to win the vote. The French finance minister will be the first woman to lead the organization if she manages to beat her opponent Agustin Carstens, a central banker from Mexico. The new IMF head will replace Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who resigned last month over sexual assault charges. Lagarde is broadly supported in Europe and was backed by Beijing. Many analysts expect that Washington will also back Lagarde’s bid.

05:37

Aid flotilla set to depart for Gaza

Gaza-bound ships carrying humanitarian aid are preparing to set sail from Greece. But organizers face hurdles, as Israel is warning it will prevent any attempt to breach its sea blockade of the Palestinian territory. However, Israeli officials have dropped threats to ban and deport journalists on board. A year ago, a similar mission led to a deadly raid by Israeli commandos, in which nine activists were killed.

05:20

Afghanistan’s Central Bank chief flees country

Afghanistan's top banker has resigned and fled the country. The head of the Central Bank, who is now in the US, claims he feared for his life after the government interfered in his efforts to expose corruption within the bank. Kabul says Abdul Qadir Fitrat's resignation amounts to treason. It also says he was suspected of embezzling money that almost led to the collapse of Kabul Bank, the country's largest lender, last year. Fitrat did not notify the Afghan government of his resignation.

03:37

UAE grabs massive discounts from pharmaceutical companies

­Starting on July 1, the price of 67 drugs and other related products sold in the United Arab Emirates will be cut 5 percent to 60 percent. The discount wave will get a second surge in September, when another 498 pharmaceutical items will come at reduced prices. As the UAE Ministry of Health announced on Monday, the agreement on over 2,500 drugs and other healthcare products was reached with manufacturers from Europe, the United States, the UAE and other Arab countries. The agreement focuses on medicines that prevent the increase of chronic diseases such as diabetes, as well as cardiovascular and other viral diseases that have become major health challenges in the UAE.

02:08

Protesters in Senegal burn down government buildings

­emonstrators protesting against long power cuts set several government buildings on fire, including the offices of the state electricity company in the country’s capital late on Monday, Agence France-Presse reported. A tax office was raided and burned in a suburb of the capital. According to a local policeman, protesters took everything, including the safe. Electricity cuts in the West African country have steadily worsened over the past months, and last as long as two days in some areas.

01:07

Canadian delegation visits Libyan opposition in Benghazi

­Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird met with the head of Libya's Transitional National Council, Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, in the Libyan city of Benghazi on Monday. Baird told Abdel-Jalil he was happy to "lend our strong support to you and your fellow countrymen in their struggle and in this revolution," the Associated Press quoted him as saying. "Canada extended our mission in the Canadian parliament by a vote of 294 to 1, so there is substantial support for the military mission to protect the civilian population by all four of our political parties," Baird added.

00:48

Hackers got $2.7 million piece of Citigroup’s pie

­Citigroup, the third most prominent US bank, confirmed on Monday the loss of $2.7 million in a hacker attack in May. The criminals managed to withdraw money from the accounts of 3,400 Citigroup card holders, while the access they gained scooped some 360,000 people, or roughly 1.5 percent of the bank’s customers. The bank will compensate all damages lost. "Our customers are not liable for these losses or any unauthorized use of their accounts," Citigroup said in a statement. "We encourage our customers to review their account statements and to report any suspicious or unauthorized charges to us," they added.