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10 May, 2012


Michele Bachmann gives up Swiss citizenship

­Former Republican presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann has renounced her Swiss citizenship just a day after she confirmed that she had filed papers for it. The Minnesota Representative said on her website that she decided to relinquish her dual citizenship to show her full loyalty to the United States. Bachmann obtained the right to become a Swiss citizen in 1978, when she married Marcus Bachmann, who is himself a dual US-Swiss citizen.


Putin's press secretary calls opposition camp illegal, promises demolition

Dmitry Peskov, the Press Secretary for President Vladimir Putin, has called an encampment set up by Russian opposition activists around the Chistye Prudy area of Central Moscow “illegal,” Afisha magazine reports. Peskov promised that police will demolish the camp, and purportedly confirmed his own statement that those responsible for injuring a police officer in the “March of the Millions” protest should have their livers “smudged on the sidewalk.” The Press Secretary was giving an interview for next week's issue of Afisha.


Libyan finance minister to resign because of 'wastage'

­Libyan finance minister Hassan Ziglam said in an interview with Reuters that he will resign because of his inability to work in circumstances where there was a “wastage of public money.” He said the wastage was brought on by a lack of fear of God. Ziglam also pointed to the fact that he decided to stop paying compensation to militiamen who fought against Muammar Gaddafi’s forces last month because the lists of those due to receive the benefits were inaccurate and inconsistent. A spokesman for the ruling National Transitional Council (NTC) had noted at that time that the scheme was riddled with corruption and that the list included deceased people and those who never fought Gaddafi’s troops.


Underwear bomb plot informant was British citizen – officials

­The uncover agent assigned by al-Qaeda to conduct the suicide bombing of an airplane with explosives hidden in his underwear was a British citizen, counter-terrorism officials told Reuters. The officials also said that the British intelligence services, the MI-5 and the MI-6, played a key part in helping to foil the plot. US and Yemeni officials previously said they had foiled the bomb plot organized by al-Qaeda’s branch in Yemen.


Saudi Arabia transfers $1 billion to Egypt

­Saudi Arabia has transferred a $1 billion as part of an aid package closed in Riyadh a year ago. The eight-year deposit was given to Egypt after the return of the Saudi ambassador to Cairo last Saturday. Relations between the countries cooled after demonstrators in Egypt protested the arrest of an Egyptian lawyer in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia then recalled its ambassador from the country. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) had previously asked Egypt to find additional resources from international donors as a condition for receiving its $3.2 billion loan.


UN Security Council condemns Syria terrorist attacks

The UN Security Council issued a statement condemning the latest terrorist attacks in Damascus, Syria. The 15-member body said all acts of terrorism were unjustifiable regardless of their motivation. The Security Council also called on all parties in Syria to immediately and comprehensibly implement the six-point peace plan proposed by UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan. At least 55 people were killed and 372 wounded after two suicide bomb ripped through Damascus earlier Thursday, making them the deadliest attacks in the Syrian capital since the beginning of the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad's government last year.


­After 31 years in prison, innocent Canadian files $14 million lawsuit

Canadian Romeo Phillion has launched a $14 million lawsuit against the Ontario government for a wrongful murder conviction that landed him behind bars for 31 years. The judgment declaring him guilty of murdering an Ottawa fireman was quashed earlier. Phillion alleges that the charge, prosecution, wrongful conviction and imprisonment for murder resulted from the "malicious, reckless and negligent conduct" of the Attorney General of Ontario, the Ottawa Police Services Board and the retired detectives who worked the case.


Pakistan successfully tests missile capable of carrying nuclear warhead

Pakistan’s military claims to have conducted a successful test of a short-range missile capable of delivering a nuclear load to its nuclear rival India. This is the second missile test launch Pakistan has conducted in the last month. Both India and Pakistan have reportedly possessed nuclear weapons since at least 1998.


Albania to let EU investigate alleged organ trafficking

­Albania has granted the European Union permission to investigate claims that civilian captives from the 1998-99 war in Kosovo were murdered by organ traffickers. American prosecutor John Clint Williamson, the head of the EU investigation task force, called the Albanian parliament’s approval "a strong statement of Albania's commitment to accountability and the rule of law." Both Kosovo and Albania deny allegations of mass killings and organs trafficking on their territories.


UN, African Union ‘won’t impose will on Sudan’ - Al-Bashir

Neither the UN nor the African Union can impose its will on Sudan, President Omar al-Bashir warned on Thursday. He was commenting on international pressure over the country’s border conflict with South Sudan. “We will implement what we want and, what we do not want, no one can impose upon us,” Bashir said, as cited by AFP. The UN Security Council in a resolution on May 2 called for the two neighbors to cease hostilities along the disputed part of the border.


Egypt seizes rockets ‘smuggled from Libya’

Egyptian security said on Thursday they had seized a large weapons cache of surface-to-surface rockets, probably smuggled from its western neighbor Libya. The arsenal included 50 rockets, a mortar, thousands of bullets and seven assault rifles, AFP reports. The weapons had been carried by a convoy of three vehicles traveling eastwards from the western city of Marsa Matruh. Three men in the convoy were arrested.


Red Cross suspends operations in two Pakistan cities

The International Committee of the Red Cross suspended operations in two of Pakistan’s largest cities on Thursday. The move followed the killing of a British nurse working for the organization late last month. The group stopped operations in the provinces of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa and Sindh, AP reports. Work had already stopped in a third province, Baluchistan, following the nurse's abduction there. Thousands of people will go without medical or other assistance for the duration of the suspension. A field hospital in the northwestern city of Peshawar will close once patients have been transferred to other facilities.


China warns Philippines over disputed islands

Beijing said Thursday that its citizens were not safe in the Philippines. The government-controlled media in China also warned the country was prepared to go to war to end a stand-off over Scarborough Shoal, AFP reports. The month-long row is continuing as both countries claim small islands in the South China Sea as their territory. "The current Philippine leadership is intent on pressing us into a corner where there is no other option left but the use of arms," the China Daily said in an editorial.


Weapons found in Abkhazia ‘could have been used’ in terror acts at Sochi Olympics

Ten caches containing portable air defense missile systems that were found in Abkhazia could have been used to stage terrorist attacks during the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, the Russian National Antiterrorist Committee (NAC) has said. Militants planned to move these weapons, including Igla, Strela and PTURS systems to Sochi in 2012-2014, a NAC spokesman told Interfax. The Russian Federal Security Service and Abkhazia's State Security Service conducted a series of search operations from May 4 to 5 as part of an inquiry into the so-called Abkhaz Jamaat group.


Britain won’t purchase F-35c variants of Lockheed Martin fighter jet

Britain's Defense Secretary Philip Hammond said on Thursday that Britain would no longer purchase F-35c variants of the Lockheed Martin Corp. fighter jet. He told lawmakers that the cost of modifications needed to accommodate the plane were about $3.2 billion, AP reports. Britain will instead purchase F-35b jump jets. They don't require modifications to ships and are compatible with US and French vessels. The option was earlier supported by the previous Labor Party government, but dumped by Prime Minister David Cameron. Labor’s defense spokesman, Jim Murphy, said that the decision to reverse plans highlighted Cameron's "chaotic" handling of the military.


Olympic torch relay starts in Greece

The flame for the London Olympic Games was lit at the birthplace of the Ancient Olympics on Thursday. The event heralded the start of a torch relay that will last till the opening ceremony on July 27. The first torchbearer is Greek swimmer and Olympic silver medalist Spyros Gianniotis, the Liverpool-born son of a Greek father and a British mother. He is among 490 torchbearers who will carry the flame across 2,900 kilometers on Greek soil, AP reports. On May 17, the flame will travel from Athens to Britain for a 70-day relay covering 12,800 kilometers across the UK.


Pakistan test-fires short-range missile

A short-range missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead has been successfully test-fired, Pakistan's military have said. The Hatf III Ghaznavi with a range of 290 kilometers was launched Thursday at the conclusion of the annual field training exercise of Army Strategic Force Command, AP reports. On April 25, Pakistan launched an intermediate-range missile after India conducted its own missile test.


Russia’s Emergencies Ministry ready to send rescuers to Indonesia

The Russian Emergencies Ministry’s rescuers, planes and helicopters are ready to participate in the search-and-rescue operation at the site where a Superjet airliner crashed on Wednesday. Two Il-76 planes, two VK-117 helicopters, rescuers and equipment are on standby, a spokesman for the ministry’s information department said, as cited by Itar-Tass. The rescuers could head for the plane crash site at the request of the Indonesian side and on a decision of the Russian leadership. The Ministry of Industry and Trade and the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) have set up a commission to investigate the crash, Interfax reports.


S. Korea pastor starves himself to death in hope of resurrection

A South Korean Christian pastor has starved himself to death in the belief that he will be resurrected, local police said on Thursday. The pastor’s 48-year-old female partner was arrested on Saturday for negligence in the death, AFP said. The pastor in the Dongjak district of southwest Seoul, who was identified as Jung, reportedly died after fasting. He stopped eating on April 9 and died on April 18. He told his partner not to take him to hospital if he appeared near death, in the hope of resurrection three and a half days later.


NATO ‘must respect’ Afghanistan timetable – Merkel

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said the timetable laid out by NATO for troops to withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of 2014 must be respected. “The principle which applies for the German government is: we entered [Afghanistan] together, we will leave together,” she said on Thursday, as cited by AFP. She was commenting on French president-elect Francois Hollande’s statement that he wanted to pull French troops out this year. The upcoming NATO summit in Chicago should confirm “in a concrete way” the timetable fixed in 2010 in Lisbon for a withdrawal by the end of 2014, Merkel said, speaking in the Bundestag.


Passengers, crew of Sukhoi SuperJet-100 insured for $300 million – reports

The entire program of display flights of SuperJet-100 planes has reportedly been insured by Rosgosstrakh Group's Capital Insurance. The liability limit, including third party insurance, amounts to $300 million, representatives of the Sukhoi company told RIA Novosti on Thursday. Capital has insured the Sukhoi Superjet since 2008. A Sukhoi Superjet-100 airliner that crashed in Indonesia on Wednesday was carrying 45 people, according to the latest reports.


US destroys target missile in test of new Raytheon interceptor – reports

The United States destroyed a target missile in the first successful test of a new Raytheon Co interceptor, Reuters reported, citing a witness. “The US Navy lit up the sky, knocking out the target missile,” said Riki Ellison, a missile-defense advocate who observed the test from a missile range facility on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. The interceptor which was tested late on Wednesday was designed for the missile defense shield in Europe. The Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency has not yet confirmed a successful test.


Medvedev to make proposals on new government 'within days'

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev will present his proposals on the new government’s composition in the next few days, presidential aide Arkady Dvorkovich said on Thursday. “The premier is expected to present his proposals on forming the government within several days of his appointment," Dvorkovich said on Ekho Moskvy radio. He also said President Vladimir Putin will not attend the G8 summit in Camp David, because he will be tackling government structure issues. Medvedev will represent Russia at the meeting.


Two blasts hit Damascus

Two strong explosions shook the Syrian capital on Thursday, media reports say. The blasts were in the Qazaz neighborhood, where the headquarters of a Syrian intelligence agency is located, state-run Syrian TV said. The explosions happened at about 7:50 am, AP reports.


Atletico Madrid fans clash with police in Spanish capital

­Several fans of the Atletico Madrid soccer club were arrested after clashing with police in Madrid. The fans were celebrating their club’s victory over Athletic Bilbao in the Europe League final. The police installed fences to prevent the crowd from accessing Neptuno Square in the center of the city, blocking traffic in the process. Violence erupted after a group of fans started throwing bottles and other projectiles at the police.


Argentina passes law facilitating sex-change surgery

The Argentine Senate has passed a new law that would allow adults to use their private or public health care plans to finance sex-change surgeries or hormone therapy. The vote count was an overwhelming 55-0, with 17 senators declaring themselves “absent.” The law, which is expected to be signed by President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, will prohibit health care providers from charging extra for the sex-change services. The move was welcomed by a number of transgender rights activists. Argentina became the first Latin American country to legalize same-sex marriage two years ago.


Eight dead in Yemen missile strike – residents

­Eight people have been killed in a missile strike near the south Yemeni town of Jaar, local residents told Reuters. Several senior militants were believed to be among the dead. The US and Yemeni governments have conducted a number of airstrikes targeting al-Qaeda militants in the south of the country. The local branch of the terrorist organization effectively took control of some areas of Yemen after an uprising against former President Ali Abdullah Saleh destabilized the country.