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29 October, 2012


Fighting ends fragile Israel-Gaza truce

Militants in Gaza have fired 11 rockets into Israel, shattering a brief ceasefire between the two sides. The latest salvo of missiles comes after Israeli aircraft hit targets in Gaza after militants fired rockets at Israel last week, which was reportedly some of the heaviest rocket fire from Gaza for months. Six militants were killed by Israeli air strikes last week in retaliation to the rocket attacks. Four Israeli civilians have been wounded by the attacks last week and one soldier killed by a roadside bomb on the Gaza border.


Russia demands $1.5 billion in compensation from Belarus over oil supplies – reports

Moscow has reportedly requested that Belarus compensate Russia’s $1.5 billion revenue loss caused by Minsk exporting duty-free gasoline and other oil products under the guide of solvents. As a member-state of the Customs Union, Belarus does not pay customs duties on oil supplies from Russia, and is expected to pay the duty to Moscow. Russia’s Transneft earlier proposed cutting back oil deliveries by pipeline to Belarus next year to 14-18 million tons, and increasing the load on the BPS-2 oil pipeline that bypasses Belarus, Interfax said. Transneft also wants to increase oil transports to Western consumers via the Druzhba pipeline through Belarus. Minsk expects that oil deliveries from Russia next year will amount to the requested 23 million tons.


Greek court postpones trial of publisher over Swiss bank names

Greek publisher Costas Vaxevanis went to court Monday for a misdemeanor charge of violating data protection laws, following the weekend publication in Hot-Doc magazine of a list of alleged depositors at an HSBC bank branch in Switzerland. The court has postponed the trial until Thursday, the AP said. The publication of the names of more than 2,000 Greek residents with Swiss bank accounts has caused widespread political controversy in Greece. The names were passed to the Greek government by French authorities. The Greek parliament recently questioned former officials for allegedly failing to investigate those identified by the list for potential cases of tax fraud.


Spanish, Italian PMs support Greece staying in eurozone

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said that Spain and Italy are committed to keeping Greece in the eurozone. Rajoy was meeting with his Italian counterpart Mario Monti in Madrid on Monday. “Our commitment towards the euro is unshakeable,” AFP quoted Rajoy as saying. “We will take any measures necessary to guarantee its stability and irreversibility.”


KPMG says 5 million UK workers paid less than living wage

One in five workers in Britain is paid less than the living wage, accounting firm KPMG said. Their research found that 4.82 million workers survive on less than a living wage, currently about $13.30 an hour in London and $11.60 in Britain. A ‘living wage’ is a rate of pay adopted voluntarily by some employers. Few companies have agreed to take up the living wage so far, but an estimated 10,000 people have benefited from the campaign.


Chinese Muslims fighting in Syria – reports

Muslim separatists from the northwest Chinese region of Xinjiang are battling Syrian government forces alongside other rebel groups, Chinese state newspaper Global Times reported Monday. Since May, radicals among China’s ethnic Turkic Uighur minority have traveled to Syria to join the fighting, the report said. The trips were allegedly organized by groups opposed to Beijing’s rule over Xinjiang. The report singled out two groups, the East Turkistan Islamic Movement and the Turkey-based East Turkistan Education and Solidarity Association. East Turkistan was the name given to two short-lived independent Uighur republics in Xinjiang.


Lithuanian president opposes Labor Party joining new coalition

On Monday, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite opposed the inclusion of the Labor Party into a new coalition government. The party finished third in Sunday’s election, and is expected to join in a new anti-austerity coalition founded by the Social Democrats. Labor, led by Viktor Uspaskikh, should be excluded from the next government because of allegations of voting and financial fraud, the president said. Uspaskikh said he would not prevent the party from working with the government despite the personal accusations leveled against him. The Social Democrats won 38 of 141 seats in parliament. The Labor Party and Order and Justice Party finished with 30 and 11 seats, respectively. The ruling party, the conservative Homeland Union-Christian Democrats led by Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius, was second with 32 seats.


Turkish police tear gas pro-secular protesters

Turkish police fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse tens of thousands of pro-secular protesters on Monday. The Ankara governor’s office did not authorize the Republic Day march for security reasons, but protesters gathered in the old district of Ankara near the building housing Turkey’s first parliament, in defiance of the government ban, the AP said. Protesters also marched to the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who founded the secular Turkish republic 89 years ago.


Renewable energy in Germany beats forecasts – official

The share of electricity in Germany produced by renewable energy sources is expected to reach almost 50 percent by 2025, beating the government’s forecast, the Federal Network Agency head said on Monday. Current expansions in wind, solar and other renewable power sources will easily top official targets of 35 percent by 2022, the AP quoted Stephan Kohler, head of the government-affiliated agency overseeing Germany's electricity grid as saying. However, he urged for more investment to upgrade the electricity grid to cope with the influx of unstable renewable energies. Following Japan’s 2011 nuclear disaster, Germany decided to speed up the phasing out of nuclear power, and has since raised electricity production from 17 percent to 25 percent.


Iraqi Al-Qaeda group claims Eid attacks

On Monday, Al-Qaeda’s front group in Iraq claimed responsibility for a series of shootings and bombings that killed 44 people during the Eid al-Adha festival. The Islamic State of Iraq said that the attacks over the four-day Muslim holiday were supposedly in response to the arrest of Sunni Arab women by Iraqi security forces, AFP reported. The women were allegedly arrested so that security forces could locate their male relatives.


Chemical spill after train derails in Kentucky

A train derailed in Kentucky’s southwestern Jefferson County, resulting in a chemical spill and the declaration of a hazardous material emergency, local media reported on Monday. Reports emerged of a strong chemical odor in the air following the derailment, which took place near the Ohio Valley Dragway on Catherine Station Road just after 6:00am. Firefighters called the derailment a Level 3 HazMat, the highest alert level for a hazardous material incident. No evacuation orders were reported following the incident.


10 wounded in Sierra Leone fighting as elections near

Violence broke out in Sierra Leone over the weekend, leaving at least 10 people wounded a few weeks before the country holds presidential and legislative elections. Clashes erupted Saturday in Kono, the home district of Sierra Leone’s incumbent vice president, the AP reported. The opposition party said that youth backing the governing APC party threw stones, seriously injuring several people. The ruling party blamed opposition supporters for the attacks.


Japan to boost coastal security amid islands dispute with China

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda pledged on Monday to strengthen security around the country’s coasts after Chinese surveillance ships were spotted again near disputed islands in the Sea of China. “I will make efforts in strengthening security in surrounding sea areas,” AFP quoted Noda as saying in parliament. “The security environment surrounding Japan is becoming more serious than ever,” he said. Four Chinese ships were witnessed near the Tokyo-controlled Senkaku islands on Sunday. Japan said on Friday that it would spend $213 million to strengthen its coast guard.


Police officer, 8 Kurdish rebels killed in Turkey clashes

One police officer and eight Kurdish rebels were killed in clashes in southeastern Turkey, state news agency Anatolia reported on Monday. The outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) launched five simultaneous attacks against security forces late Sunday, killing one police officer, the Sirnak governor’s office said. Turkish troops backed by jets attacked Kurdish rebels in the Beytussebap district of Sirnak province on Sunday, killing eight rebels.


Cyprus police thwart killing of attorney-general

Cyprus police have reportedly thwarted an attempt to kill Attorney-General Petros Clerides. Three Cypriot suspects are in police custody on charges of conspiracy to commit murder, the AP quoted an anonymous police official as saying on Monday. The arrests were made after one of the suspects received an arms cache that included an anti-tank missile launcher.


Turkey ‘responds’ to stray Syrian shell

Turkish artillery has again responded to a stray shell fired across the border from Syria that landed in Turkey’s territory, Anadolu state news agency said, without elaborating further. The shell landed around 300 meters from the Turkish border village of Besaslan on Monday. No injuries were reported, but a power line was destroyed in the incident. Turkey has retaliated against stray shells and mortar fire after a shell fired from Syria killed five civilians in a Turkish border town on October 3.


Iran has Hezbollah drone intel on secret Israeli sites – MP

Tehran has intelligence on Israeli secret sites obtained by Hezbollah’s Iranian-developed drone ‘Ayub,’ an Iranian lawmaker said. “We are now in possession of the images of [Israeli] forbidden zones,” Deputy Head of the Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Committee Esmail Kowsari told Iran's Arabic-language Al-Alam news channel on Sunday. Hezbollah said the drone recently flew deep into Israeli airspace without being detected by radar. Kowsari claimed Hezbollah is now in possession of aircraft more advanced than Ayub, Press TV reported. The MP claimed Iran also has the technology to build armed unmanned aircraft.


Clinton discusses Mali, Al-Qaeda with Algerian leadership

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Algeria on Monday to discuss the crisis in neighboring Mali with President Abdelaziz Bouteflika. Mauritania and Algeria have called for talks on Mali, where Islamist militants have seized a large northern region. The issue of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb is also on the agenda, the US State Department said. Algeria is Clinton’s first stop on a five-day trip that also includes visits to Bosnia, Serbia, Kosovo and Albania.


Allende’s granddaughter wins first race in Chile elections

Maya Fernandez Allende, the granddaughter of Chile’s deposed socialist President Salvador Allende, won her first major political race in municipal elections held in the country on Sunday. Fernandez, 41, a socialist politician and veterinarian, defeated incumbent Mayor Pedro Sabat of the center-right National Renovation party in Nunoa, a district of the capital, the AP said. Fernandez served on a local council in the district after growing up in Cuba. Leftist parties regained ground in nationwide elections, with their biggest victory in central Santiago, where Carolina Toha defeated Pablo Zalaquett of the ultra-conservative Independent Democratic Union.


Israel aircraft strike Gaza site after rocket attack

Israeli aircraft have struck a Palestinian rocket launching pad and a supposed militant site in the Gaza Strip. The attack was a response to persistent rocket and mortar fire from the coastal territory, the AP quoted the IDF as saying. Gaza militants reportedly launched 11 rockets and mortars into southern Israel early on Monday. No casualties were reported on either side. The renewed violence undercuts an informal ceasefire between the two camps that went into effect last week.


At least 13 dead, scores wounded in Baghdad attacks

­At least 13 people have been killed and 38 others injured in three bombings in and around the Iraqi capital Baghdad on Sunday. On Sunday evening, a car bomb in a predominantly-Shiite neighborhood killed at least 10 people and wounded 28 as they were outside celebrating Eid, officials said. Earlier in the day, two bombings in the town of Madain, just southeast of the capital, killed three people and wounded up to 10, police said. The latest violence targeted Shiite Muslims, despite announcements by authorities that they would boost security during the four-day Eid break which began Friday. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attacks Sunday or those a day earlier that left at least 40 dead people dead.