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13 May, 2012


Greek radical left party declines to attend Monday coalition talks

­Critical negotiations to form a Greek coalition government stalled again Sunday, as party leaders failed to reach an agreement, and the radical left Syriza party pulled out. Leaders of the remaining three parties – the socialist PASOK, the conservative New Democracy and the Democratic Left party – will return to President Karolos Papoulias’s office on Monday to continue their efforts. They agree that the new government should guarantee Greece's presence in the eurozone, but insist on Syriza’s support. Syriza has openly rejected the austerity policies Athens took on in order to receive life-belt credits from international investors. Crisis-stricken Greece has until Thursday to form a coalition government, otherwise snap elections will be called for June.


Israeli minister calls for Gaza power cuts

­Israeli Environment Minister Gilad Erdan has proposed that Israel cut its electricity supply to the Gaza Strip this summer if it experiences power shortages. The letter, addressed to other ministers in Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, stated that it would be “absurd” to deprive Israeli citizens of electricity while continuing to supply it to Gaza, which has repeatedly been late in paying for the power. Gaza has experienced mass fuel shortages after the amount of fuel smuggled in from Egypt dwindled, forcing the Hamas authorities controlling the region to ask the Palestinian Authority, which controls the West Bank, for additional fuel supplies. This year Israel itself experienced fuel shortages, as Egypt ceased supplying gas to the country and its Yam Tethys gas deposit is nearly depleted. The Israeli government also approved a measure to limit electricity supplies in some areas and to use alternative electricity sources starting June 1. Despite its military blockade of Gaza, Israel has supplied the area with electricity since 1993, as stipulated by the Oslo Accords.


Egyptian authorities raid offices of Iranian TV station

Egyptian security officials have raided the Cairo offices of Al-Alam TV, an Iranian satellite channel, for operating without a license. The office director of Al-Alam, Ahmed el-Sioufi, said the channel first began operating nine years ago and applied for permits on a number of occasions, but their requests were repeatedly denied by Egyptian authorities. El-Sioufi also said his son and another staffer were detained during the raid, while some equipment was also confiscated. It is not the first time Egyptian authorities conducted a crackdown on media outfits. Last year, Egyptian security forces raided the offices of Al-Jazeera Live Egypt, also for operating without a license. The channel has since resumed its operations – without a permit.


German opposition wins important state election

­Germany's main opposition parties, the center-left Social Democrats and Greens, have won combined 51 per cent in the election in North Rhine-Westphalia state, the country's most populous. This would be enough to give them a majority in the state's legislature. Support for Merkel's Christian Democrats has dropped to 26 per cent from more than 34 per cent, their worst showing in the state since World War II.


Yahoo CEO to resign amid fake diploma scandal

­Yahoo Inc.’s Chief Executive Scott Thompson will step down following a controversy sparked by the revelation that he had included a computer science degree on his biography and resume, despite not having earned one. The Internet giant will reportedly say he is departing for “personal reasons.” The company’s global media head Ross Levinson is likely to replace Thompson in the interim.


Sectarian clashes erupt in Lebanon, killing 3

­Sectarian clashes have erupted in Lebanon's city of Tripoli, resulting in the death of three people. Reports say rocket-propelled grenades and automatic rifles were used in the fighting between the Alawite minority and a Sunni community. Clashes in Tripoli are common between the two Muslim sects.


Bus crash in southern Russia claims 4 lives

­Two young girls and two teachers have been killed after two buses collided in Russia's southern region of Stavropol. Fifteen other children and a bus driver have been hospitalized, officials say, with four children in grave condition. The bus carrying the children was hit by another bus from behind. The impact was so strong that the bus with children turned over. The children's group was traveling to a children's arts festival.


Greece stuck in cabinet crisis

­Emergency Greek cabinet talks have shown no clear progress, pushing the country closer to another election. President Carolos Papoulias have met with the representatives of the country's three newly-dominant political parties to discuss a coalition government. Later in the day he was to meet with the smaller parties' leaders. The last meeting is scheduled with Democratic Left Party. If the cabinet is not formed by Thursday, new elections will have to be called in June.


Fourty-nine bodies dumped on highway in Mexico

Mexican authorities have found 49 bodies, some of them mutilated, in plastic bags dumped on a highway in the north of the country, local media reports. The bodies of 43 men and six women were discovered early on Sunday near the industrial city of Monterrey. The incident is believed to be a result of bloody disputes between local drug cartels.


Palestinians dismiss Netanyahu peace letter

Palestinians officials said PM Binyamin Netanyahu’s response to a letter from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas does not represent “grounds for returning to negotiations", Reuters reports. Netanyahu replied on Saturday to a letter sent by Abbas last month. In it, the Israeli PM refused demands to halt Jewish settlement construction in the occupied territories and repeated calls for a return to failed 2010 peace talks.


Gunman shoots dead senior Afghan peace council member in Kabul

The assassin killed Maulvi Arsala Rahmani with one shot from a silencer-equipped pistol after ambushing him at a traffic intersection on Sunday. Rasmani was stuck in a traffic jam when another car pulled up alongside his vehicle and opened fire, Reuters quotes chief investigator for Kabul police General Mohammad Zahir as saying. Rahmani was a former Taliban official who reconciled with Karzai’s government.He then became a senior member of Afghanistan’s High Peace Council charged with setting up talks with insurgents.


Syrian regime troops take village, kill 7 civilians – opposition reports

­Syrian government forces have seized a Sunni village west of the city of Hama, shooting dead seven activists in the process, reports the Syrian Network for Human Rights. Troops backed by armoured vehicles allegedly set fire to houses in the village of al-Tamana. There has been no confirmation of the attack from official sources. Violence has racked Syria since the beginning of the anti-government uprisings 14 months ago.


China, Japan and S. Korea band together to calm N. Korean tension

At an annual trilateral summit, leaders from Japan, China and South Korea said they will work together to calm escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula. The three nations agreed that any further provocation from North Korea would be unacceptable and resolved to take preventative steps should it occur. North Korea angered its neighbours in April with the test launch of a rocket that was branded as a pretext for a missile test by the international community. Furthermore, satellite imagery of heightened activity at a nuclear test site has raised fears the government may be preparing for a third nuclear test, which is banned by a UN resolution.


Merkel faces stiff competition in state election

­Voters in Germany’s North Rhine-Westphalia region are expected to turn their backs on Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrat party in Sunday’s ballot. Analysts say voters are disillusioned with Chancellor Merkel’s unpopular austerity measures and are likely to back the centre-left Social Democrats. The state elections have no influence on a national level, but the opposition has said the vote will send an important signal ahead of next year’s national poll.


Death toll in China hailstorms reaches 40

­The death toll from hail and rain storms in the northwest Chinese Gansu province has risen to 40, Xinhua reports. Another 18 people are missing and there are power outages throughout the province. Around 30,000 people have been evacuated from the affected areas.


Russian forces kill six militants in Dagestan

­Russian police and Special Forces have killed six militants during a shootout in Dagestan, one of Russia's Caucasian republics, the Russian National Antiterrorist Committee reports. They were killed as part an operation to eliminate a local terrorist organization. The operation began three days ago, a week after two deadly bombings killed 14 people in Dagestan’s capital Makhachkala.


Israeli envoy delivers Netanyahu letter to Palestinian President

­Israeli envoy Yitzhak Molcho delivered a letter from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Molcho and Abbas met in Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian government. The exchange was the highest-level communication between the two governments in months. Negotiations to resume peace talks have largely stalled, with the latest negotiations held in the Jordanian capital Amman four months ago, failing to produce any result. Israel had been calling for Palestine to abandon its preconditions for peace talks to resume. Palestine has been demanding that Israel cease settlement construction in the occupied West Bank and Eastern Jerusalem