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20 September, 2011


US death row inmate denied clemency

A Georgia parole board has rejected a clemency appeal by Troy Davis, a death row inmate whose case sparked an international campaign to save his life. The decision by the Georgia State Board comes a day before the scheduled execution. Davis was convicted of the 1989 killing of police officer Mark MacPhail. MacPhail’s family believes Davis is guilty and should be executed.


New York police arrest seven Wall St protesters

­Police in New York City have arrested seven more demonstrators at an ongoing protest on Wall Street. The people were part of a group of a few hundred protesters who had gathered in lower Manhattan to protest against the existing political and financial system. On Monday, five other protesters were arrested. Most of those arrested have been given disorderly conduct summonses and released. Protest organizers however accuse police of being too aggressive. The “Occupy Wall Street” protest started Saturday night and is still going on.


US Supreme Court halts execution of rapist and killer

­The US Supreme Court has for the third time this year blocked the execution of a former army recruiter for the rape and murder of a woman ten years ago. Cleve Foster, 47, who had been found guilty of the crimes in Fort Worth, was set to receive a lethal injection on Tuesday evening. The ruling came less than three hours before the scheduled execution. The court had twice earlier stopped Foster’s lethal injection.


Austria and Hungary ask EU for help to guard borders

Austria and Hungary have asked the EU for help in guarding the Schengen border with the Balkan region, Itar-Tass quotes an EU diplomat as saying. The two countries are concerned with the increasing number of refugees seeking to enter their territory. Illegal immigrants are heading for Western Europe from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, India and Somalia via the Austrian and Hungarian borders. The issue will be discussed on Thursday at a meeting of leaders of EU interior ministries.


Three militants killed in anti-terror operation in North Caucasus

Three militants have been killed during an anti-terror operation conducted by Russian special services in the restive North Caucasus region, officials say. Police had the militants holed up in a building, but the militants responded by opening fire. Two security forces officers were shot dead by the militants during the battle.


Death toll in Indian earthquake exceeds 80

­The death toll from the earthquake on the Indian-Nepalese border has climbed to 81, but authorities are afraid this number is not final, Indian media report. People from India, Nepal and Tibet are among the victims of the quake. Officials say more than 6,000 people are involved in rescue operations throughout the region. However, some areas remain inaccessible due to heavy rains and landslides. The Indian army is using helicopters to take food and other supplies to the survivors.


Libyan NTC head promises no revenge on Gaddafi allies

The head of the National Transitional Council, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, has announced that the new Libyan authority will not take revenge on members of Muammar Gaddafi’s government, Itar-Tass reports. The statement was made at a UN meeting on Libya on Tuesday. He added that many Gaddafi regime loyalists have been arrested and the new authority is bound to punish those responsible for crimes. However, Jalil stressed this would be done only through fair legal proceedings.


Mid-East Quartet not to meet at UN General Assembly – Russian FM

The Middle East Quartet will not meet on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly’s session as the sides have not prepared for the talks, Itar-Tass news agency cites Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov as saying on Tuesday.


One person dead as typhoon hits Japan

One person has been killed and two others are missing as typhoon Roke batters Japan in the country’s south. The tropical cyclone has paralyzed the traffic in some parts of the country. Overflowing rivers have damaged roads. The typhoon, which is making its way northeast, is expected to reach Tokyo on Wednesday.


Russia ready to support UNSC resolution on Syria, but opposes sanctions - FM

Russia is ready to support the UN Security Council resolution on Syria, but opposes the imposition of a new round of sanctions on the country, Itar-Tass news agency cites Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov as announcing on Tuesday. He has also noted that nobody needs a repetition of the Libyan scenario. Lavrov reminded that sanctions have already been unilaterally imposed on Syria by the US and EU.


Russian opposition parties combine efforts to monitor Duma elections

­Five opposition parties have agreed to co-operate in establishing control over the work of election commissions in Moscow during the December State Duma elections. The list of parties that signed the agreement on Tuesday include representatives of Moscow branches of three parliamentary parties – the Communists, LDPR and Fair Russia, and two other parties – the Patriots of Russia and Yabloko. Their monitors are expected to film violations if they occur during the voting and to post them online.


Gunmen attack in Pakistan kills 26

A group of gunmen has attacked a bus in southwestern Pakistan killing at least 26 people, Pakistani police say. The bus was carrying more than 50 Shiite Muslim pilgrims to the Iranian border. According to witness reports, the gunmen blocked the way with a pickup truck, got all the passengers off and then opened fire. Three more people were killed when gunmen fired at an ambulance driving to the scene of the attack. No group has claimed the responsibility for the violence. Sunni militants linked to Al-Qaeda and the Taliban have carried out attacks on Shiites in the region recently.


Politicians, tennis player and activists feature on Right Cause election list

­Andrey Dunaev, who became the Right Cause party’s acting leader after Mikhail Prokhorov’s resignation, will lead the party’s list of candidates during the parliamentary elections in December. He is followed on the ticket by former head of Democratic Party Andrey Bogdanov and tennis player Anna Chakvetadze. The top ten candidates include human rights activist Aleksandr Brod and political scientist Vyacheslav Inozemtsev. The whole slate comprises 376 candidates and 77 regional groups. Dunaev believes the party has a good chance of entering the State Duma. He said the party leader would be chosen after the parliamentary elections.


African Union recognizes Libyan NTC

The African Union has recognized the National Transitional Council (NTC) as the legitimate authority in Libya, according to the body’s communiqué published on Tuesday. The AU also noted in the statement that it is ready to support the NTC in its efforts to build a government that will include representatives of all segments of the political field and Libyan society.


European missile defense system could be aimed against China – pundit

­The planned European missile defense program could be aimed not so much against Russia as against China, according to Aleksey Arbatov, the head of the International Security Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of World Economy and International Relations. China can increase its current potential of 300 nuclear warheads tenfold in 10 years, he told reporters on Tuesday. “The Americans have never said this openly, they are preparing their response to China latently, on the quiet,” Interfax quoted him as saying. He added the US does not want an arms race, but it is “not against getting on” Russia’s nerves.


Oil-pipe explosion prevented in Syria

­A powerful explosion of an oil-pipe has been prevented in Syria, the country`s news agency SANA reports. An explosive device with a force equal to 25 kilograms of TNT was neutralized near an oil-pipe that supplies crude oil to a refinery in the city of Homs. The device was disguised and set to cause maximum damage, the agency reports. In July a terrorist group blew up another oil-pipe near the Lebanese border.


Afghan news says ex-president Rabbani killed in Kabul blast

Five people, including former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani, have been killed in a blast which rocked the country’s capital, Kabul on Tuesday, local media reports, quoting police.


Duma deputies allowed to become members of upper house

­United Russia’s majority in the State Duma on Tuesday adopted in the second and third readings a draft bill that allows its deputies to transfer to the Federation Council. Executive or legislative regional authorities will have the right to appoint a deputy as their representative in the upper house if he or she was on the list of local candidates during elections. Currently, only deputies from regional parliaments or municipal bodies can be appointed to the Federation Council. All three opposition factions voted against the bill, which the Communists say make it possible “to clone members of the upper house.”


Train derails in eastern Germany, injuring nearly 50

A train has hit a car and derailed in eastern Germany, injuring nearly 50 people, Associated Press cites police on Tuesday.


Lebanese police attack militant group, 2 killed

Lebanese special services have killed two militants who were plotting the kidnapping of foreign citizens. Officials say the two belonged to the group of Wael Abbas, which kidnapped seven Estonian citizens in March. Police ambushed the group reportedly consisting of nine militants at dawn and opened fire. The extremists returned fire. Two police officers were wounded in the shooting.


Third day of Yemeni clashes leaves 9 dead

Nine people have been killed during the third day of deadly clashes between opponents of Saleh’s regime and loyalists in Yemen, Associated Press cites medical officials on Tuesday. The scuffles began on Sunday and became the bloodiest in months against anti-regime demonstrators, tens of thousands of whom took to the streets to demand that President Ali Abdullah Saleh step down after 33 years in power. Mortar attacks are reported to have been used against unarmed protesters. All in all, at least 60 people have been killed since Sunday.


Ankara bomb blast was terror attack - prosecutors

Turkish prosecutors have announced that the bomb blast which rocked the Turkish capital, Ankara, earlier on Tuesday was a terrorist attack, RIA Novosti news agency reports. Three people have been killed and 15 more wounded as a result. Five are reported to be in a critical condition.


Tskhinval holds first Russian-South Ossetian business forum

­Russia and South Ossetia will sign 40 co-operation agreements between the two countries, according to Kremlin chief of staff Sergey Naryshkin. The republic is “steadily moving towards strengthening its statehood and creating a solid economic basis of its independence,” he said at the opening of the first Russian-South Ossetian business forum in Tskhinval on Tuesday. He stressed that Russian bodies have invested tens of billions of rubles in the republic’s economy. Moscow and Tskhinval have already signed 56 agreements in various areas, including those to develop a legal framework. Naryshkin participated in the festivities marking the day of the young republic’s independence.


Turkey puts US radar placement on hold

Turkey has postponed the final approval for deploying a NATO radar system till after the end of the UN General Assembly’s sitting, Turkish newspaper Hurriyet Daily News reports. According to Hurriyet, the government is waiting for Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to return from the United States, where he is to hold key talks with US President Barack Obama during the assembly. The meeting with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is also on Erdogan`s assembly agenda. Iran is highly concerned with the NATO system in neighboring Turkey, Hurriyet says. Last Wednesday, Turkey announced that it would host an early warning radar station in the southeast of the country.


Death toll from Ankara explosion climbs to 3

Turkey's interior minister has confirmed three people have been killed and 15 injured in a blast which hit the Turkish capital, Ankara, on Tuesday. The blast reportedly occurred on a vehicle in front of the Cankaya local administrator's office close to Ankara's downtown Kizilay Square. A Turkish deputy prime minister informed that officials suspect the explosion was caused by a bomb placed on the vehicle.


What is going on in Libya is ‘charade’ - Gaddafi

Libyan fugitive leader Muammar Gaddafi has described a change of power in the country as a “charade which can only take place thanks to the NATO air strikes, which will not last forever". The statement was made in an audio message broadcast on Syria’s Arrai television on Tuesday. He has also noted that his regime is still alive. "The political system in Libya is a system based on the power of the people ... and it is impossible that this system be removed," he added. Gaddafi’s whereabouts remain unknown, while some of his family members fled to Algeria and Niger after rebels seized Tripoli in August, with NATO assistance.


Abbas declines Israeli PM’s invitation to peace dialogue

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has declined Israeli Prime Minister’s call to hold peace talks on the sidelines of the 66th annual UN General Assembly’s session, Riyad al-Maliki, chief of foreign affairs for the PNA, told the EFE news agency on Tuesday. He has also noted that Abbas is not ready for a meeting that is unable to bring any results. Earlier, Benjamin Netanyahu called on the Palestinian side for direct negotiations at the meeting. Riyad al-Maliki added that the Israeli PM should agree to return to the pre-1967 borders and stop building settlement houses on the Palestinian territory first, and then Palestine will be ready to hold peace talks. Abbas informed UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that Palestine intends to file a bid for UN membership on September 23.


Rogozin says he’ll stay ambassador to NATO

­Russia’s NATO envoy Dmitry Rogozin has no plans to leave his post despite his political activities at home. He informed NATO’s leadership they would have to deal with him, “whether they like this prospect or not.” Rogozin denies reports in the Russian media that he will concentrate on domestic politics and leave the post in Brussels. The envoy told Interfax on Tuesday he would “find a balance of interests,” which will not affect his duties, especially as the president’s representative for talks on missile defense.


Typhoon nears Japanese shores, 1.3 mln evacuated

Typhoon Roke has approached Japan, threatening the industrial city of Nagoya with heavy rain and landslides on Tuesday and prompting the evacuation of 1.3 million people, Reuters reports. The eye of the typhoon was some 210 km east-southeast of the southern island of Tanegashima. The storm may reach Tokyo on Wednesday, reports said.


Suicide bombers attack government HQ in Iraq’s Ramadi

Suicide bombers have attacked government headquarters in the city of Ramadi in Iraq’s Anbar province, Reuters cites security sources on Tuesday.


Passenger bus crash in Turkey kills 1

A passenger bus carrying 17 Belarusian and Ukrainian tourists has overturned in the Antalya region of Turkey on Tuesday, killing one person, Itar-Tass cites an employee of the Federal Tourism Agency as saying. Sixteen people have been taken to hospital. The bus was en route to a rafting center when the accident occurred, according to the Russian consulate in the region. Police have launched an investigation into the case.


Suspect allegedly linked to Ankara blast detained

Turkish police have detained a suspect who allegedly has links to a blast in the Turkish capital, Ankara, according to local TV. It reports that the man was shouting slogans near the place where the explosion occurred on Tuesday. Two people have been killed and at least 15 more wounded in the blast. Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said there is information that the bomb was planted on the vehicle.


Ankara blast allegedly caused by vehicle bomb

An explosion which hit the center of the Turkish capital, Ankara, on Tuesday, was allegedly caused by a bomb planted on the vehicle, Associated Press cites the country’s Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc as saying. Another deputy prime minister, Besir Atalay, says 15 people have been wounded. Two people are reported to have been killed.


European court orders no damages in Yukos case

­The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on Tuesday ruled that Russia has violated the rights of oil company Yukos, but did not rule on the claim for more than $98 billion in damages. The court said the Russian authorities had violated several fundamental provisions of the European Convention on Human rights. But he ECHR made no decision on former Yukos shareholders’ demand of compensation for “alienation of property by the state.” Yury Shmidt, a lawyer for the former Yukos CEO told RIA Novosti this case “does not concern Mikhail Khodorkovsky.” According to Shmidt, a group of Yukos shareholders filed a suit to the ECHR in 2004 when Khodorkovsky was already no longer in control of the company.


United Russia will include Medvedev in ticket if he decides to run

­The ruling party is ready to consider including President Dmitry Medvedev in its list of candidates for parliamentary elections, Sergey Neverov, the secretary of the presidium of United Russia’s general council said on Tuesday. The party’s congress will determine who will be on its slate, he told reporters. “But if Dmitry Anatolyevich [Medvedev] expresses his willingness to be in the list, of course, we will discuss this decision with pleasure,” Neverov said. The party’s ticket is expected to be announced on September 24.


At least 2 killed in Ankara blast

At least two people have been killed and at least 10 more wounded in a blast that rocked the center of the Turkish capital, Ankara, on Tuesday, according to local television.


Explosion rocks Turkish capital, some casualties

An explosion has hit the Turkish capital, Ankara, on Tuesday, according to Reuters. Some casualties have been reported.


European court rules Russia violated rights of Yukos, but orders no damages

The European Court of Human rights has ruled on Tuesday that Russia illegally targeted the oil giant Yukos over tax fraud. However, the court added it needs more evidence from both parties before ruling on the company’s claim for nearly $100 billion in damages. Yukos had accused Moscow of illegally targeting it over tax fraud, a move which led to the company’s collapse. The oil giant, which was once headed by jailed tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, demanded almost $100 billion in damages - that is more than double Russia's annual defense budget. If Yukos won, the penalty would be the largest-ever handed down by the Strasbourg-based court.


Ukraine is ready for compromise with Russia on gas contract

­Kiev must get a normal gas contract on the terms acceptable for Russia, Ukraine’s Prime Minister Nikolay Azarov has said. Ukraine is now reconsidering the current gas deal, a move strongly opposed by Russia. Azarov told journalists on Tuesday the agreement could be based on a compromise that will “fall short of Russia’s and Ukraine’s expectations to some extent.” The prime minister expects “mutual concessions” in the process of negotiations.


Italy criticizes Standard & Poor's for downgrading credit rating

Italian government has criticized the recent Standard & Poor's downgrade of the country's credit rating, Associated Press reports on Tuesday. The government added that the move was out of touch with reality adding that the downgrade itself seemed ``contaminated'' by political considerations. Earlier, the agency cut Italy's sovereign debt by one notch, deepening the eurozone's economic woes. The agency now lists Italy as A/A-1, down from A+/A-1+. The move was prompted by fears that the country's huge debt is out of control, despite the fact that parliament recently passed an austerity budget.


No NATO forces needed in Arctic – Russian Foreign Ministry

NATO forces are not needed in the Arctic, Russia’s official representative in the Arctic Council Anton Vasilyev told Interfax news agency on Tuesday. He has added that there are no questions in the region that require military forces for their solution. Vasilyev also refuted recent reports that Arctic militarization is underway. The diplomat said that the Arctic must be declared a nuclear free zone, even though this could involve certain difficulties. “But how can this idea be organized, specifically in the Arctic, where alongside Russia, NATO countries are present and each of them is bound by NATO's nuclear doctrine? This is a big issue," Vasilyev stressed.


Israeli PM calls for peace talks with Palestine

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called on the Palestinian side for direct talks in the sidelines of the 66th annual General Assembly’s session, Itar-Tass news agency reports on Tuesday. He added that the dialogue with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas may be opened in New York and continued in Jerusalem and Ramallah. Earlier, Abbas informed UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that Palestine intends to file a bid for UN membership on September 23.


Moscow government to resume financing Black Sea Fleet

­The Moscow city government has reversed its earlier decision to scrap the assistance to the Russian Black Sea Fleet and the city of Sevastopol in Ukraine’s Crimea. The City Duma had earlier voted to suspend the program adopted under the previous mayor, Yury Luzhkov, “due to the wrong scheme of financing.” Moscow had allocated funds for repair works in the fleet’s barracks, the construction of schools and housing in Sevastopol, and for payments to teachers in the city. The financial program is widely considered as a Moscow government “political resource” aimed at assisting Russian compatriots abroad.


Russia’s NATO envoy pledges return of Motherland party to political scene

­Dmitry Rogozin, Moscow’s ambassador to NATO, has accused Fair Russia of a “raider seizure” of the Motherland (Rodina) party. “We will insist that [Fair Russia leader Sergey] Mironov returns what does not belong to him,” Rogozin told Interfax on Tuesday. He made the statement on the eve of the convention of the Congress of the Russian Communities (KRO), which will be attended by former members of the Motherland party. Rogozin was a founder of both KRO and Motherland. The latter merged with two other parties to form Fair Russia. The attempt of NATO’s envoy to “return” Motherland is another blow to Fair Russia in the run-up to December’s parliamentary elections.


Investigators may question Yak-42 crash survivor in nearest future

The condition of the only survivor of the Yak-42 crash in Central Russia, flight crew member Aleksandr Sizov, has improved, according to Interfax news agency. He has been moved to the main ward of the hospital he is in. The source has not ruled out that Sizov may be questioned by investigators in the nearest future. The plane crashed on September 7, just after taking off from the airport near Yaroslavl, killing 44 people. Most of the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl ice hockey team was on board.


Ban on open homosexuality in US army repealed

A policy that banned open homosexuality among service personnel in the US military has been repealed. The law known as “don’t ask don’t tell” was introduced in 1993 during the Clinton administration. Under its provisions, gays were allowed to serve in the army as long as they keep their sexual orientation private. The gay community has hailed its scrapping as a historic day for equality.


Top UN health official takes on tobacco and fast food

United Nations health chief Margaret Chan is calling for a stand against the tobacco and fast-food industries and for the promotion of healthy living. She warned world leaders that if urgent action is not taken, the cost of combating cancer, diabetes and heart and lung diseases will devour economic gains. “The root cause of these diseases are not being addressed, and widespread obesity is the telltale signal,” the director general of the World Health Organization said in a speech at Monday’s opening of the first-ever UN meeting on chronic diseases – which account for nearly two-thirds of deaths worldwide.


S&P downgrades Italy debt rating

Standard & Poor’s rating agency has downgraded Italy’s sovereign debt rating one notch due to the political, economic and fiscal situation in the country. S&P said it downgraded Italian debt to “A/A-1” from a “A+/A-1+” grade because of "Italy's weakening economic growth prospects," according to Agence France-Presse. "We believe the reduced pace of Italy's economic activity to date will make the government's revised fiscal targets difficult to achieve," the rating agency said in a statement. S&P noted that the Italian authorities “remain reluctant” to tackle such issues as modest foreign investment flows, low labor participation rates and an inefficient public sector.


Four quakes rock Guatemala, killing 3

Four earthquakes struck Guatemala’s southwestern coast on Monday, killing three people and forcing the evacuation of an estimated 400 others. An initial 4.8-magnitude tremor at 8:00 p.m. GMT was followed half an hour later by a 5.8-magnitude quake, according to the US Geological Survey. Two aftershocks followed later. Emergency services said the quake triggered a landslide and cut electricity and telephone service in the Santa Rosa region.


Libyan forces say they captured part of Gaddafi stronghold

Libya’s National Transitional Council says its forces have captured parts of one of Muammar Gaddafi’s last strongholds, Sabha, according to Reuters. "Our forces are there in the airport and in the castle.... Our flags are flying there," declared Ahmed Bani, the NTC’s military spokesman. Sabha, located 770 kilometers south of Tripoli, controls the main route south out of Libya.