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9 July, 2011


Foreign pro-Palestinian activists clash with Israeli security forces

­At least 50 pro-Palestinian activists, including a number of foreign activists who arrived in Israel in recent days as part of a "flight-illa," clashed with security forces in two separate incidents in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh. Some of the protesters hurled stones at Israeli soldiers, who responded by making several arrests. According to the Israeli daily Haaretz, four foreign activists were taken in for questioning. More than 120 European activists who managed to fly into Israel’s international airport as part of a pro-Palestinian protest will be expelled from Israel as soon as there are available seats on appropriate flights, a spokeswoman for Israel’s immigration service told Agence Presse-France.


Interpol issues alerts for Hezbollah men over Hariri murder

­Interpol has issued international alerts for four members of Hezbollah indicted in the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri, a senior Lebanese security official said. The red notices were issued on Saturday at the request of the Netherlands-based Special Tribunal for Lebanon, the official said on condition of anonymity. Hezbollah's leader has rejected the prosecution of the four, suggesting that Israel should instead be the main focus of the investigation. Hariri was killed along with 22 others in February 2005 in Beirut when a bomb exploded near his passing motorcade. As Hezbollah dominates Lebanon’s government and has thousands of guerilla fighters, it seems unlikely that authorities will be able to detain the suspects.


Egypt ends unrestricted entry for Libyans

Egypt has ended unrestricted entry for Libyans by imposing visa requirements. It comes after tens of thousands of Libyan nationals have fled the ongoing violent civil war and crossed into Egypt. The regulation went into effect on Thursday, causing confusion at Cairo’s international airport as dozens of Libyans landing from European countries were denied entry and sent back.


Turkmen leader wants opposition back in country for elections

Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov is urging the opposition to return to the country to take part in the upcoming presidential elections. He called for an open and transparent election, and said he will guarantee equal opportunities for all those taking part in the 2012 elections. In a remark published in a state newspaper on Saturday, the president stated that a legal framework has been set for creating a multiparty system. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Turkmenistan has been ruled by only one political party, the Democratic Party, which was formed from the remnants of the dissolved Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Members of the opposition have been either jailed or forced to flee the country.


Over 50 pro-Palestinian activists crossed into Israel despite special measures

­More than 50 pro-Palestinian activists managed to get into Israel despite unprecedented security measures taken by Israeli authorities to block them from arriving, RIA Novosti news agency says. The activists made it to the West Bank to show their solidarity with the Palestinian people. Israel earlier issued a blacklist of about 300 people not welcome in the country. It sent it to foreign airlines so they would prevent those listed from boarding flights to Israel. Meanwhile, police say some 120 suspected pro-Palestinian activists were stopped from entering the country and are awaiting deportation to their countries. The activists from European countries headed for Ben-Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv after Greece grounded a Gaza-bound aid flotilla which planned to breach Israel’s blockade of Gaza.


Russia recognizes South Sudan’s independence

Russia has recognized the world’s youngest nation, South Sudan, which proclaimed its independence on Saturday. Mikhail Margelov, Russian president’s special envoy to Africa, has arrived to the capital Juba, where he met with the head of the newborn state Salva Kiir Mayardit and delivered him a personal message from Dmitry Medvedev. Margelov noted that Moscow plans to develop political and economic relations with South Sudan and pointed out that several Russian companies have already expressed their willingness to do business with the country. Thousands of people have taken part in massive jubilant celebrations in Juba. President Kiir Mayardit has been sworn in it as the leader of the world’s newest nation following separation from the Khartoum-ruled North. However, the two separated countries have not yet reached an agreement on their borders, natural resources, or the status of their citizens. Clashes over disputed territories still continue in some areas.


Over 1,600 anti-government protesters detained in Malaysia

The number of people detained during a massive anti-government rally in the Malaysian capital has risen to more than 1,600. Police fired tear gas into the crowd of over 20,000 demonstrators on the streets of Kuala Lumpur on Saturday. The protest, which was the country's biggest political rally in years, was the culmination of weeks of pressure on the prime minister demanding electoral reforms, ahead of national polls expected next year. Those detained included several senior opposition officials. The ruling National Front has been in power for almost six decades and there are growing calls for change.


New Pentagon chief on first visit to Afghanistan

The newly appointed Pentagon chief Leon Panetta has for the first time arrived to Afghanistan. Defense Secretary Panetta arrived Saturday in Kabul, where he plans to meet with US troops and their commanders, as well as Afghan President Hamid Karzai and government officials. Aides say Panetta wants to discuss the US plan to withdraw 10,000 US troops this year and 23,000 more next year. Panetta will also meet the outgoing top US commander in Afghanistan Army Gen. David Petraeus and his successor, Marine Gen. John R. Allen. Panetta has recently stepped down as CIA chief and will be replace by Petraeus.


Iran says it test-launched long-range missiles to Indian Ocean

Iran has announced that earlier this year it test-launched two long-range missiles to the Indian Ocean, Iranian state TV reports. Tehran announced that two rockets were launched in northern Semnan province and reached their target in the middle of the Indian Ocean. It was an unusual target, as Iran normally conducts tests in its deserts. The latest test proves that the Islamic Republic has the capacity to reach goals far outside its borders. The announcement comes ten days after massive war games staged by Tehran in an apparent showdown of force and defiance of international concerns over its nuclear program.


Japanese PM says Fukushima clean-up could take decades

The Prime Minister of Japan Naoto Kan has said it could take decades to clean up and decommission the disaster-stricken Fukushima-1 power plant, according to Reuters. "

It will take three, five, ten years, or eventually several decades to take care of the accident,

" Kan told local officials from his Democratic Party of Japan meeting in Tokyo. It was the first time the government has offered a timeframe for the clean-up at the plant beyond the emergency measures now underway to shut down its troubled reactors. The March 11 mega earthquake and ensuing tsunami have damaged the plant in the Fuskushima Prefecture, triggering the worst nuclear catastrophe the world has seen since Chernobyl.


South Sudan officially proclaims independence

The newborn nation of South Sudan has formally proclaimed its independence from the Khartoum-based government in the north. James Wani Igga, the speaker of South Sudan’s legislature has read the proclamation to a jubilant crowd during the Saturday ceremony in the new country capital, Juba, which was attended by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, former US Secretary of State Colin Powell and dozens of other world leaders. The world’s youngest country’s flag was then officially raised for the first time. The South became independent on Saturday, following an almost unanimous referendum held in January. It is the culmination of a 2005 peace deal that ended a more than two decade-long bloody civil war between the south and the north. The new state has been already recognized by the United States, Egypt and Sudanese government in Khartoum.


Murdoch en route to London to face News of the World scandal

Rupert Murdoch, the head of News Corporation, is on his way to London to address the News of the World phone hacking scandal, which shocked the United Kingdom and forced the closure of the tabloid. The 168-year-old paper is due to issue its last edition on Sunday. Murdoch is to take charge of the crisis that shattered his media empire after the investigators accused News of the World journalists of bribing police and hacking into voicemails of celebrities, young murder victims and families of dead soldiers.


Defected Syrian troops describe shooting civilians

Human Rights Watch says defectors from the Syrian Army have described how they received and acted upon orders to shoot protesters during the ongoing uprising against the rule of President Bashar Assad. The New-York-based rights group says the defectors have described taking part in the shooting and wounding of dozens of protesters, as well as arbitrary detentions of hundreds. In a report released on Saturday, Human Rights Watch citied the soldiers as saying that if they refused to obey orders, they could have been shot themselves. Despite the promises of democratic reforms, the regime of Bashar Assad continues violent crackdown on the popular uprising that started 16 weeks ago.


UN chief calls for transparent elections in Egypt

­The UN chief Ban Ki-moon has urged Egypt to hold credible and transparent elections, Reuters says. During a meeting with Egypt’s foreign minister in the capital of South Sudan, Ban also called for ”acceleration in judicial procedures” in Egypt against those behind the killing of civilians during the uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak. The statement by the head of the UN comes after tens of thousands of Egyptians took to the streets on Friday to protest against the slow pace of transition to democracy. They demand speedy trials of the former regime’s officials and those responsible for shooting protesters.


Berlusconi’s holding company ordered to pay €560 million compensation

A Milan appeals court has ordered the holding company belonging to Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi to pay €560 million to rival CIR media group for alleged corruption in acquisition of the Mondadori, one of Italy’s largest publishing companies. The court upheld a lower court’s 2009 sentence in a ruling on Saturday. The amount of compensation was reduced from €750 million. This week, Berlusconi tried to introduce a measure into Italy’s austerity budget that would have allowed his investment arm to delay the payment until the final appeal.  He was widely criticized for the move and was forced to withdraw it.


Afghan official’s guard kills 2 NATO troops

Afghan police say a bodyguard of the country’s top intelligence official has shot dead two NATO troops. The soldiers were accompanying a reconstruction team convoy traveling to northern Panjshir province, about 100km north of Kabul. The guard stopped the convoy, engaged in an argument with NATO troops and opened fire. Another NATO soldier fired back killing the shooter. NATO is investigating the incident.


Georgia charges 3 photographers with espionage

Three Georgian photographers, including President Saakashvili’s personal photographer Irakli Gedenidze and his wife, have been charged with espionage. The lawyer for one of the detainees said they were charged early on Saturday but said no specifics were given about what they were alleged to have done. The other detainees are Zurab Kurtskidze, a representative of the European Press Photo Agency and Georgy Abdaladze, a photographer for the Foreign Ministry. The statement issued earlier by the Georgian Interior Ministry said they were suspected of sending information harmful to Georgia to an unspecified foreign country. If found guilty, the photographers could face up to 12 years in prison.


Over 500 protesters arrested in Malaysia

Malaysian police have arrested more than 500 people in the capital Kuala Lumpur as massive protests against the existing electoral system are being staged on Saturday. More than 10,000 demonstrators have taken to streets across the Malaysian capital to demand the government makes election laws fairer and more transparent ahead of national elections widely expected in mid-2012. The rally has been backed by the opposition and has become the culmination of weeks of intense pressure on Prime Minister Najib Razak’s long-ruling coalition to push the reforms. Authorities have sealed off roads, closed train stations and deployed trucks mounted with water cannon in downtown Kuala Lumpur to deter the protesters.


Japan detects radiation in beef from Fukushima

Radioactive cesium exceeding government limits has been detected in beef produced in the Japanese prefecture of Fukushima, where the disaster-stricken nuclear power plant is located. Japanese authorities said the radioactive substances were found in one of the packing facilities in Tokyo. The contaminated meat was brought from the city of Minamisoma, which is located near the 20km evacuation zone around the Fukushima-1 plant. The level of radiation was exceeding the government standard by three to six times. Earlier, authorities reported contaminated milk and vegetables.


Former US first lady dies at the age of 93

­Elizabeth Ford, the widow of former US president Gerald Ford, died on Friday with her family at her side. She had been living in California since the death of her husband in 2006.  Elizabeth Ford, who was widely known as Betty, campaigned for breast cancer awareness and was outspoken on women's rights issues. At the time of her death, she was the oldest surviving former resident of the White House.


Former News of the World editors granted bail while police make a third arrest

­Former Downing Street communications chief Andy Coulson and an ex-royal editor of the News of the World, Clive Goodman, have been released on police bail until October. Both men were questioned over alleged phone hacking and police bribery. Coulson is suspected of authorizing, while serving as editor of the News of the World, a private detective to hack into the phones of thousands of people, including terrorism victims, top-level politicians and celebrities. Goodman, meanwhile, was quizzed at a separate police station over claims he was involved in bribing police officers. British police now say they have made a third arrest: a 63-year-old man was also arrested late on Friday in connection with corruption allegations. The owner of the newspaper, media mogul Rupert Murdoch, is set to head to London.


Death toll from plane crash in Congo reportedly rises to 127

­The Congolese Transportation Ministry stated 127 people were killed when an airliner crashed while trying to land during a rainstorm Friday, Reuters reported. There were 51 survivors, Reuters reported. Earlier the CEO of Hewa Bora airline was quoted as saying that there had been 110 people on board the plane, of whom 53 had died and 57 survived. But a spokesman for the Transportation Ministry, Gudile Bualya, accused the airline of underestimating the number of passengers onboard.


Dozen killed in protests against Syrian regime

­Syrian rights activist claimed at least 13 people were killed and many more injured in a government crackdown on widespread protests against the Assad regime on Friday. An estimated 450,000 people took to the streets across the country to demand President Bashar Assad step down, with the restive city of Hama serving as the flashpoint of the rallies. On Friday US Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford remained for a second day in Hama, to which he traveled without Damascus’ permission to show solidarity with protestors. A Syrian Foreign Ministry official accused Washington of inciting unrest and interfering in the country’s affairs.