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27 August, 2011


Chavez to continue battle with cancer in Venezuela

­Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez is expected to soon begin his third round of cancer treatment - but in Venezuela rather than in Cuba. Chavez says that tests have not detected any malignant cells in his body and it is hoped that another chemotherapy session will complete his recovery. As a result of previous chemotherapy treatment Chavez’s hair began to fall out, so he started shaving his head. In June Chavez underwent surgery to remove a tumor, and then had two rounds of chemotherapy in Cuba.


Tony Tan snatches Singapore’s presidency

­Singapore’s former deputy prime minister Tony Tan has been elected the state's seventh president, edging out his rival Tan Cheng Bock, a former member of parliament, by the narrow margin of around 7,000 votes. The 71-year-old Tony Tan received 35 per cent of about 2.1 million votes. Singapore is a parliamentary republic, meaning the presidency is a ceremonial position rather than a governing one. Presidential elections have been held in Singapore since 1993 but all previous ones - with the exception of the first and the last - were uncontested due to the high criteria that need to be met in order run.


Libyan rebels get seat in the Arab League

­The 22-member Arab League has restored Libya's membership in the bloc and handed the country's seat over to the rebels' National Transitional Council. Outside the Arab League building in Cairo, Gaddafi's green flag has been replaced with the rebels' flag. The bloc's chief, Nabil Elaraby, also called on Arab countries to release Libyan assets in Arab banks to support the NTC, the Associated Press reports. Libya's membership in the Arab League had been suspended in February as a protest against Gaddafi's violent crackdown on protesters.


Ignore online calls to protest – Syria tells its citizens

­The Syrian Ministry of the Interior has urged citizens of the capital Damascus not to respond to calls for mass demonstrations and protests in the city’s public squares, the Syrian Arab News Agency reports.The ministry stressed the role of citizens in bolstering security and stability and told them to ignore any incitements to gather or disturb the peace.The authorities say their recommendation is made with a view to people’s safety. Earlier, an opposition activist group that helps organize the protests had published an appeal for a mass rally on the streets of Damascus. The security presence on Saturday was at its largest in the suburbs of Damascus, the eastern city of Deir el-Zour and the coastal city of Latakia. Meanwhile, SANA reporters have denied there have been any gatherings or demonstrations in any Damascus squares, though some satellite channels have aired stories claiming the contrary.


Al-Qaeda number two 'killed in Pakistan’

­Al-Qaeda's second-in-command has been killed in Pakistan, Al-Jazeera quotes a senior US official as saying. Atiyah Abd al-Rahman was killed on August 22 in the tribal Waziristan region, the official said on Saturday, insisting on anonymity while discussing intelligence issues. The official did not give details of how al-Rahman was killed. Al-Rahman, a Libyan national, was the group's operational leader until Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed in a US raid on his Pakistan compound in May.


New York court cancels decision to suppress Viktor Bout’s statement

­US federal judge Shira Scheindlin has canceled her own decision to hold back the first testimony of Victor Bout, a Russian suspected of arms-smuggling. The judge had previously insisted that the testimony obtained following Bout’s arrest prior to his arrival in the US was not legally admissible as evidence because the suspect had been under pressure and unable to consult his lawyer, which constituted a violation of his legal rights. Now Russia’s RIA Novosti reports that the judge “has canceled her decision without giving any reasons.”


Pakistan court orders ex-president’s assets to be seized

­A Pakistani court has ordered former president Pervez Musharraf's financial assets to be frozen and confiscated, France-Presses quotes the country’s prosecutor general as saying. Musharraf has been living in self-imposed exile in London and Dubai since leaving office in 2008. He is alleged to have been part of a conspiracy to assassinate his political rival, ex-premier Benazir Bhutto, in 2007. There is no information, however, about the size and possible value of Musharraf’s property or his financial assets.


Indian activist agrees to finish hunger strike

­Indian activist, Anna Hazare, has agreed to end his 11-day hunger strike after the country’s parliament expressed non-binding support for parts of his anti-corruption plan, AP news agency reports. The 74-year-old had demanded sweeping legislation to create a government watchdog, but said parliament's offer is enough for him to begin eating again. "It's only a half victory. Total victory is yet to come," Hazare told thousands of cheering supporters in New Delhi. Hazare, who promised to end his fast on Sunday morning, has lost 7.5 kilograms since he began his protest on August 16.


Two dead as Irene sweeps through North Carolina

­At least two people have died and more than 227,000 homes and businesses left without power as Hurricane Irene moves across North Carolina’s coastal areas. Hurricane Irene reached land in North Carolina, with sustained winds of 80mph (130kph), early on Saturday. President Barack Obama has declared a state of emergency in North Carolina and five other states: Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New York and New Jersey.


Evacuate right now – New York mayor

­New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has called hurricane Irene a "life-threatening storm" for the city’s residents. Speaking at a press conference on Saturday morning, he said that the tidal and storm surge from the disaster will bring flooding to NYC. The mayor added that the residents, who have to leave the city, should go as soon as possible because transit systems will be shut down at noon. Mandatory evacuations have been ordered for 370.000 New Yorkers, mostly living in low-lying areas. Irene is expected to reach New York on Sunday.


Dam breaks in Chechen capital

­Over 2,400 residents of the city of Grozny have been evacuated from their homes due to a dam break on the Sunzha River. Over 640 buildings are currently flooded in the capital of the Russia’s Republic of Chechnya. "According to preliminary reports, there are no dead or injured. The evacuees are housed in two dormitories and two schools in the higher part of Grozny or at their relatives," the head of the North-Caucasian Regional Center of the Russian Emergency Ministry, told RIA Novosti news agency.


Hurricane Irene reaches North Carolina

­Hurricane Irene has reached land in North Carolina, with sustained winds of 80mph (130kph). US President Barack Obama has declared the state of emergency in North Carolina and five other states: Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New York and New Jersey. The railway connection along the whole east coast is out of action and more than a thousand flights are delayed. Authorities warn that the "historic" hurricane, which threatens the lives of 65 million residents, could bring massive flooding, power outages and property damage in its path.


NATO does not recognize Abkhazia’s election

­NATO has refused to recognize the results of the presidential elections held on August 26 in Abkhazia, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen stated on Saturday. "The holding of such elections does not contribute to a peaceful and lasting settlement of the situation in Georgia," he said. He also reaffirmed the alliance’s position and said that NATO refuses to recognize Abkhazia as an independent state and fully support the “sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally-recognized borders.” Alexander Ankvab, received 54.86 per cent of votes, beating the challenge of two rivals. More than 70 per cent of eligible Abkhazian voters took part in the elections.


Three Pakistani soldiers killed at the Pakistan-Afghanistan border

­Three Pakistani soldiers have reportedly been killed and four other injured by Afghan militants in Chitral district in northwestern Pakistan. Over 50 militants crossed the Afghan border and attacked three security checkpoints. Ten of the militants have also been killed. "Militants attacked a Frontier Corps checkpoint and fired mortars and small arms," AFP quotes a government official as saying.


American doctor faces 14 life terms in prison for molestation

­American pediatrician Earl Bradley, accused of molesting more than 100 children, has been sentenced of 14 life terms, plus 164 years in prison without the possibility of parole on Friday. Bradley was arrested in 2009 in Lewes, Delaware. Initially he faced 529 charges, but the prosecution proved his culpability in 24 charges. Bradley had been abusing his patients for 10 years - from 1998 to 2009. Police arrested him after a two-year-old girl told her mother that the doctor had caused her pain. Police seized dozens of videotapes from his home and office.


Four killed, 22 wounded in a suicide bombing in Afghanistan

Four people have reportedly been killed and other 22 wounded as a suicide car bomb exploded in the capital of south Afghanistan's Helmand province, AFP reports. One child is said to be among those killed. "Among the injured are 10 soldiers and four policemen. The rest are civilians - one seven-year-old girl and three more young people have been killed," the source quotes the city's police headquarters Ism ail Khan. A bomb went off near the Kabul Bank where dozens queued to receive their salaries ahead of the Eid religious festival, which comes at the end of the holy month of Ramadan. The blast took place some 50 meters from the governor's office. No-one has so far claimed responsibility for the attack.


Six alpinists lost in North Ossetia

­A group of six alpinists have become lost in the mountains of Russia’s republic of North Ossetia. According to the group’s leader, who managed to call the rescuers, his team got lost in a snowfall at the height of 4,200 meters.  Then the connection failed and the group has not called back yet. Rescuers plans to start search operation on Sunday.


Turkmenistan grants amnesty to over 3,700 prisoners

­Turkmen President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov has told national TV channels that he signed a decree releasing more than 3,700 Turkmen prisoners and about 30 foreigners. The prisoners were released early on August 27. The president’s actions continue the policy of his predecessor Saparmurat Niyazov, who released prisoners on significant days. The mass release comes just days before the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.


Hurricane Irene weakens to Category 1

­Hurricane Irene has weakened to a Category 1 storm as it nears the North Carolina coast. Forecasters, however, say it remains extremely dangerous. The National Hurricane Center said at 07:00 GMT on Saturday the powerful storm's top sustained winds were 90 mph (150 kph), down from 100 mph (160 kph). It was moving at 14 mph (22 kph) and the center was about 60 miles (100 km) south of Cape Lookout, North Carolina.


UN condemns attack on its headquarters in Nigeria

­The UN Security Council has taken a grave view on the explosion that took place near the UN headquarters in the Nigerian capital Abuja and resulted in the death of 18 people. In its report, the UN labeled the explosion as a “horrible crime”. The UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon stated there were hundreds of people in the building when the blast occurred. The accident was harshly criticized by the US president and other world leaders. The radical Islamist group “Boko Haram” assumed responsibility for the explosion.


New swimming ban imposed on Russia's Pacific coast

­A swimming ban has been imposed on Russia's Pacific coast again after a third shark attack. A 26-year-old man was taken to hospital with his forearm badly injured and suffering wounds to his body.  Six vessels and three groups on the ground have been sent to the scene. The first ban was recently imposed after two men were also attacked last week in separate incidents. One lost both his forearms trying to protect his wife, and a 16-year-old diver's leg was severely lacerated. The original ban was lifted on August 26.


Ferry sinks in Indonesia leaving at least 10 dead

­An overcrowded ferry has sunk in eastern Indonesia near Sulawesi Island. So far, 93 people have been safely rescued from the passenger ship. At least 10 people are believed to have drowned. It is still not known how many passengers were on board. Most were heading home to celebrate the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.


Smuggling pipeline found near California-Mexico border

­California’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents have discovered an incomplete drug-smuggling pipeline originating at a shut-down supermarket in Calexico and extending some 90 meters towards Mexico. The ICE says that the use of pipeline tunnels is the criminal gangs’ most recent method of drug smuggling. In this cutting-edge technology PVC pipes about 4-inches in diameter are used to move drugs across the border.


Libyan rebels close on key border post

­Violent fighting is taking place between Libyan rebels and loyalist forces at the Ras Jedir border post, the primary crossing between Libya and Tunisia, according to Tunisia's official news agency (TAP). The fall of Ras Jedir into the hands of the rebels is imminent, observers believe according to TAP. The rebels are reportedly already in control of other posts along the border. The Tunisian National Army, police and customs have strengthened their presence on the Tunisian side of the border, which remains open for humanitarian cases and refugees from Libya.