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28 April, 2012


One dies, dozens injured in Missouri tent collapse

­One person died and at least 100 were injured as rough winds blew over a large tent at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri. The man who died suffered a heart attack, says The St. Louis Post-Dispatch. According to KSDK News, 17 people were taken to hospital with five of them in critical condition. The rest were treated at the scene. On Saturday, a few hundred people gathered at the stadium to celebrate, as the Cardinals beat the Milwaukee Brewers earlier in the afternoon.


Spain to obstruct ECB protesters with Schengen suspension

­Madrid has temporarily restored border checks along its borders ahead of the upcoming European Central Bank (ECB) meeting in Barcelona. Spain says it is required to hold foreign protesters back from disrupting the meeting, which is set for May 3. The government fears an overflow of activists hoping to protest austerity measures implemented throughout Europe. The unprecedented travel restriction, which overrides the Schengen Protocol, will run until May 4. Schengen, which provides for the free movement of citizens among the 27 EU nations, can only be temporarily interrupted in the case of a serious threat to public order or national security.


Six dead and 16 injured in Pakistani violence

­At least six people have been killed and 16 others wounded in Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city, police said Saturday. The victims, which included several police officers, were attacked by unidentified men armed with hand grenades and a rocket launcher. Police described them as “terrorists.” Several arrests followed the attack. Law enforcement agencies met heavy resistance Friday as they moved against criminal elements in the area.


Bolivian sex workers hunger strike to support doctors

­Sex workers in the Bolivian city of El Alto declared a hunger strike on Saturday, demanding that authorities find a solution to a month-long doctors’ strike there.  The Bolivian doctors’ public action has caused many hospitals in the country to close down. About a dozen male and female sex workers crowded in the lobby of a health center chanting: "Useless [Health] minister, we want a solution!" They claim their personal health is at risk as they have not received their weekly check-ups for several weeks.  The law provides they receive obligatory weekly examinations at hospitals, free of charge. The protesters warn of a possible outbreak of STDs or HIV/AIDS if the situation continues. Some 45,000 sex workers are registered in Bolivia.


Sarkozy dares Strauss-Kahn to prove scandal was a setup

­French President Nicolas Sarkozy dared IMF ex-chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn to take legal action to prove allegations that “political enemies” ensured a sex scandal to destroy his shot at a presidential bid.  "I say to Strauss-Kahn: explain yourself with the judicial authorities and spare the French people your comments," Sarkozy said on Saturday. Before his arrest in May, Strauss-Kahn topped the list of Socialist party nominees for president. He now tells The Guardian that operatives linked to Sarkozy made sure that hotel maid Nafissatou Diallo went to the police to report sex abuse. Strauss-Kahn's dramatic arrest in the New York, which followed the maid’s complaint, shattered his hopes of winning the presidency and forced his resignation from the IMF days later.


Five dead in airplane crash in Switzerland

­At least five people have been killed in a small airplane crash near the village of Tatroz in the western Swiss canton of Fribourg, a police spokesperson said. No one on the ground was hurt, though police are investigating whether an additional passenger was killed in the accident. The airplane was flying from a small airport near the city of Lausanne to an airstrip in Fribourg.


Nord Stream resumes gas supply to Europe

­Russia has restored the gas supply to Europe via its Nord Stream pipeline, following a two-week break. “The gas supply is restored, after a scheduled two-week shutdown. Nord Stream has completed adjusting its operating systems, which will allow it to integrate Nord Stream's two pipelines into one automated system,” the announcement said. Nord Stream is an offshore natural gas pipeline running from Russia to Germany.


Roadside bomb kills 10 policemen in Afghanistan

­A roadside explosion in eastern Afghanistan has killed 10 local policemen, Afghan officials reported Saturday. The bomb exploded as police were passing by in a pickup truck. The Afghan Local Police are a government-sponsored militia working alongside the Afghan army and the national police.


Sudan detains three foreigners in disputed border region

Sudanese authorities say they have arrested a Briton, a Norwegian and a South African on Saturday. Those detained allegedly illegally entered an oil-producing border area with a soldier from South Sudan, Reuters said. The disputed Heglig area has been the scene of recent fighting between Sudan and South Sudan. The three had been traveling in two cars that contained military equipment, said Mohammed Jadallah, spokesman for the Sudanese Defense Ministry. South Sudan's army occupied Heglig earlier this month but soon withdrew. The border conflict has brought the African neighbors close to an all-out war. South Sudan split from the north nine months ago.


Saudi Arabia shuts embassy in Cairo

Saudi Arabia has closed its embassy and consulates in Egypt and recalled its Ambassador, the kingdom’s official news agency said on Saturday. The move followed protests over a detained Egyptian human rights lawyer, AP reports. Hundreds of Egyptians have rallied outside the Saudi Embassy this week to demand the release of Ahmed el-Gezawi. He was detained in Saudi Arabia for allegedly insulting the kingdom's monarch. Saudi authorities say the lawyer was arrested trying to smuggle anti-anxiety drugs.


Germany negotiating Tymoshenko trip to Berlin for treatment – reports

Germany is reportedly negotiating with the Ukrainian authorities a trip to Berlin for former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko to undergo treatment at the Charite clinic. Tymoshenko's Batkivshchyna party quoted German Chancellor Angela Merkel as saying on NDR Info radio that “doctors believe that the best treatment can be provided at a German clinic.” The German Foreign Ministry and the chancellery are trying to arrange this, the party said, citing Merkel. She noted that Germany has sent doctors to examine the former PM several times, Interfax reports.


Roadside bomb kills 10 Afghan Local Police

A roadside bomb in eastern Afghanistan has killed 10 members of the Local Police, officials say. The officers were traveling in Chak district of Wardak province in a pickup truck, AP said. The Local Police are an Afghan government-sponsored militia force. They work alongside the Afghan army and the national police.


ElBaradei launches new Egyptian party

Mohamed ElBaradei has launched a new political party that he thinks will unite Egyptians. The Constitution Party may provide a counterbalance to the rise of Islamists and marks a return to public life for ElBaradei. "We hope through this party to start anew,” AP quoted him as saying. ElBaradei decided in January not to run for president. The new party aims to unite the youth groups behind last year's uprising.


Seven militants killed in clashes with Yemen tribesmen

At least seven militants linked to Al Qaeda were killed in clashes in Yemen's south, a regional tribal spokesman said on Saturday. Five militants from Ansar al-Sharia, an Al Qaeda-linked group, were killed in an ambush by tribesmen in the al-Arkoub area near the southern city of Lawder on Friday night, said Ali Aidah, spokesman for an army-allied tribal force. Two more militants were killed in an attack by tribesmen in another area outside of Lawder, Reuters quoted him as saying. More than 250 people have been killed since government forces stepped up their offensive on the militants who allegedly attacked a military camp near Lawdar earlier this month.


S. Sudan ‘repels attack’ by Sudan-backed rebels – officials

The South Sudanese army said on Saturday it repelled an attack by rebels backed by neighboring Sudan. “Sudan-supported militias attacked SPLA (South Sudan army) positions” around Malakal, the capital of the Upper Nile State on Friday, Colonel Philip Aguer told AFP. It is not clear whether there were any casualties. The two countries have seen threats of all-out war after recent cross-border fighting.


France seizes Berezovsky property worth 13 mln euro at Russian request

The property and bank accounts of businessman Boris Berezovsky worth a total of over $300 million have been seized abroad at the request of Russian authorities. The Russian Prosecutor General's Office said in a report sent to the Federation Council that Berezovsky's real estate worth some 13 million euro has  been seized in France, Interfax reports. The self-exiled tycoon, who now lives in London, is among several people charged in high-profile criminal cases whose property has been seized, the report said. Berezovsky has not confirmed that his property has been seized in France.


Northern Ireland police discover 2 bombs

Northern Ireland police said on Saturday they discovered two bombs in separate security alerts. A device was discovered on Friday under a parked car in the Ballygomartin Road area of north Belfast. About 80 people were evacuated from their homes in the area, AP reports. Chief Inspector Ian Campbell says army bomb experts defused the bomb. He believes dissident Irish nationalist terrorists were to blame. Police confirmed that a second device had been found late Thursday and defused in the town of Newry, close to the Irish border.


Gunmen attack Syrian military unit on Mediterranean coast – reports

Gunmen in inflatable dinghies have attacked a Syrian military unit on the Mediterranean coast, the official news agency SANA said on Saturday. The attack led to a fire-fight, and several people from both sides were killed, the agency said. The group attacked the military unit at night, the agency said, as cited by Reuters. The fighting reportedly occurred 30 to 35 kilometers south of the border with Turkey.


Britain halts arms exports to Argentina

The British government has said the country’s companies must stop providing equipment to maintain Argentina's armed forces. The companies had been allowed to sell equipment to the Argentine military to maintain, rather than enhance, the country's military capability. “The government has reviewed this policy in the light of recent actions by the Argentine government aimed at harming the economic interests of the Falkland Islanders," Business Secretary Vince Cable said.


Iran to hold talks with IAEA in Vienna on May 13-14

A new round of talks between Tehran and the UN's nuclear agency will be held in Vienna on May 13-14, Iran's state TV reported on Saturday. The technical talks in Vienna with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) come in addition to negotiations with the six world powers scheduled for May 23 in Baghdad. The talks in Vienna will focus on resolving "questions" about Tehran's nuclear program, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran's chief delegate to the IAEA, said, as cited by AP.


Israel ministers ‘misleading public’ over military action against Iran

Top ministers of the Israeli government are misleading the public about the consequences of any preemptive military action against Iran's nuclear facilities, a former Israeli security chief has warned. Yuval Diskin, who was head of the country’s internal security, said on Saturday he had no faith in the current leadership. “I don't believe in either the prime minister or the defense minister,” AFP quoted him as saying. “They tell the public that if Israel acts, Iran won't have a nuclear bomb,” he said. “This is misleading. Actually, many experts say that an Israeli attack would accelerate the Iranian nuclear race.”


Two Afghan attackers killed at governor's office in Kandahar

Security forces killed two suspected suicide attackers who entered the governor's compound in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar on Saturday. Two of the governor's bodyguards were killed and one wounded in an exchange of gunfire, Parwiz Najib, director of the Kandahar governor's media office, said, as cited by AP. The would-be attackers were equipped with suicide vests, hand grenades and automatic rifles. They were attempting to reach the governor's office.


Protesters gather at Ukrainian court as new trial of Tymoshenko begins

­Several thousand supporters and opponents of the former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko have gathered at a district court in the city of Kharkov. On Saturday, the court started hearing a new criminal case against Tymoshenko involving the work of the Unified Energy Systems of Ukraine (EESU). The former PM is accused of financial irregularities when she headed the gas corporation in the 1990s. Tymoshenko, who is already serving a seven-year term in Kharkov region for abusing office, did not attend the hearing for health reasons.


Police use tear gas to disperse 25,000 rally in Malaysia

Malaysian police fired tear gas and chemical-laced water at demonstrators demanding electoral reforms on Saturday. At least 25,000 protesters gathered in the capital Kuala Lumpur, AP said. Some of the demonstrators reportedly breached the barriers near a square that police had sealed off. Many expect Prime Minister Najib Razak's coalition to have an unfair upper hand in the future elections. The polls could be called as early as June.


Progress cargo spacecraft with waste to sink into Pacific

The Russian Progress М-14М cargo spacecraft carrying over a ton of waste from the International Space Station will splash down in the Pacific Ocean on Saturday. Most of the spacecraft will burn down in the dense layers of the atmosphere. The remaining debris will sink in a specifically designated site far from shipping routes, Itar-Tass reports. The spaceship spent nine days in orbit as a spacelab for a scientific experiment.


Chinese activist ‘under US protection’ after escape from house arrest

A blind legal activist who fled house arrest in a China village is reportedly under the protection of US officials. Reports say that Chen Guangcheng sought protection at the US Embassy in Beijing, AP said. High-level talks are currently underway between US and Chinese officials regarding Chen's status, according to the ChinaAid Association. Washington has refused to comment on his whereabouts. Chen and his family were put under house arrest after he completed a four-year jail sentence in September 2010. Chen's escape came as US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner are preparing for talks next week in Beijing.


Thousands rally in Malaysia pro-democracy demonstration

­Thousands of people have taken to the streets of Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur to call for free and fair elections. The demonstration is organized by the Bersih (Clean) movement, which is backed by the opposition. The rallies come as Malaysia prepares to vote in parliamentary elections in June. Last year a similar action ended in violence, when police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse the protest.


Thai police seize 3.5 tons of marijuana

­Thai police have seized almost 3.5 tons of marijuana destined for Britain, in what may be their biggest-ever single seizure of the drug. Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubumrung said police found 3,444 kilograms of marijuana – worth about $1.6 million – Friday in a house in the central province of Saraburi. A 43-year-old Thai man arrested there said he was hired to pack marijuana in hundreds of boxes with shipping labels addressed to a warehouse in Darford, Kent, in the United Kingdom.


Hijack threat forces Pakistani plane to land after takeoff

­A Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plane made an emergency landing in Karachi shortly after takeoff after a passenger threatened to hijack the airplane, officials said. Soon after takeoff a passenger warned the staff that he could hijack the plane, reports AFP. The captain was informed of the situation and returned the plane after getting the nod from the control tower. The passenger was detained and handed over to security personnel for questioning, PIA said, and the plane was searched and found to be safe.