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14 November, 2012


Cable rupture won’t affect work of Russia’s military satellites – reports

A cable rupture in the Moscow Region has not disrupted the work of Russian military satellites, military sources told RIA Novosti on Wednesday. Earlier reports said the communication with the Russian segment of the International Space Station (ISS) was disrupted. The incident also endangered the Soyuz spaceship's undocking from the ISS, Itar-Tass reported, citing a source at the Mission Control Center. The spaceship is to bring an ISS crew back to Earth on November 19. Work was underway to fix the problem at the place of the cable’s rupture.


EU to donate Nobel Prize cash to children affected by war

The European Union plans to donate almost 1 million euro that came with this year's Nobel Peace Prize to children affected by war and conflicts. “The prize money should benefit the first hope for the future, but also the first victims of present and past conflicts: children,” European Union Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said, as cited by AFP. The Nobel Committee last month awarded the peace prize to the EU for bringing more than half a century of peace to the continent. The award included US$1.2 million in prize money.


Jerusalem Church of Holy Sepulcher unpaid water bills written off

The debt accumulated by the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem has reportedly been written off by the Israeli government. Earlier the bank account of the Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem was frozen over US$2.5 million unpaid water bills of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. The conflict over one of Christianity's holiest sites was adjusted after a meeting between the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Kirill and Israeli President Shimon Peres. The issue of unpaid bills over seven years has been solved, RIA Novosti reported. The Israeli government will create a commission on the debt for the previous years.


UN condemns failings during Sri Lankan civil war – report

A leaked internal UN report says weak response by United Nations contributed to 30,000 civilian deaths during final government onslaught against Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka. The UN Sri Lanka mission was too inexperienced and subject to government intimidation during the brutal culmination of the civil war, The Guardian writes, citing the document. The report also strongly criticizes UN officials for failing to protect civilians. More than 30,000 civilians were killed when the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam fought the country's armed forces in battles that led to the defeat of Tamil separatists in May 2009.


Hungary sentences Croatia's Deputy PM Cacic to 22 months for road accident

A court in the Hungarian city of in Kaposvar on Wednesday sentenced Croatia’s First Deputy Prime Minister Radimir Cacic to one year and 10 months in prison, the Hungarian media said. He was sentenced in absentia for causing a fatal road accident in which two people died in Hungary on January 8, 2010. The court changed the lower court's decision, omitting a three-year suspension on probation as well as a preliminary discharge, the MTI news agency said. Cacic did not attend the hearing.


EU approves plan for 40% of non-executives on boards to be women

The European Commission has approved plans to set a 40 per cent quota for women on the boards of listed companies by 2020. The announcement was tweeted by Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding, who initiated the proposal. Some countries earlier voiced opposition to forcing the quotas. The companies will now be encouraged to aim for that level of representation. However, national governments will decide whether to enforce the rules by inflicting sanctions. Currently, less than 15 per cent of board positions in EU member states are held by women. The proposal is expected to be put to the European Parliament, which could make gender quotas mandatory across the 27 EU member states.


Cote d’Ivoire president dissolves cabinet

President of Cote d’Ivoire Alassane Ouattara has dissolved the cabinet, a presidential spokeswoman said on Wednesday. Kady Traore gave no reason for the decision, the AP said. Ouattara came to power in a divisive 2010 election. The international community then had to intervene as former ruler Laurent Gbagbo refused to cede and used the army to hold on to power.


Three killed, nearly 50 poisoned by chlorine vapors in Russia’s Perm Region

­Three people have reportedly died and 50 poisoned in a chlorine outbreak at the Avisma plant in Berezniki, in the Russian Perm Region near the Ural Mountains. Some 38 people went to hospitals for medical aid, a spokesperson for the local Emergency Situations Ministry department told Interfax on Wednesday. The incident at the metallurgical plant was reportedly caused by depressurization of a facility where chlorine was stored.


EU approves $6.3bn financial aid to Egypt

The European Union has approved a 5 billion euro (about US$ 6.3 billion) financial aid package to Egypt, the office of the Egyptian president said on Wednesday. The European Investment Bank will grant Egypt 2 billion euro and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development a further 2 billion euro. EU countries will allocate 1 billion euro, the presidency said. The announcement came after President Mohamed Morsi met with EU Foreign Policy chief Catherine Ashton.


Turkey evacuates villages as Syria plane bombs border area

Ankara evacuated at least three Turkish villages on Wednesday after a Syrian warplane bombed the town of Ras al-Ain near the Turkish border for a third day. Villages west of Ceylanpınar have been evacuated to protect people from any spillover of violence from Syria, media reports say. The villages in the Suruç district of Sanlıurfa province reportedly have a combined population of around 1,000. Rebels overran Ras al-Ain last week during an advance into Syria's mixed Arab and Kurdish northeast.


Australia agrees to host 2 US space surveillance systems

Australia will host two US space surveillance systems as part of closer military ties. The move was agreed on Wednesday at an annual summit attended by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and their Australian counterparts. Australia will operate a US Air Force C-band ground-based radar system near the northwest town of Exmouth, the AP reported. Australian Defense Minister Stephen Smith said there are also plans to relocate a Space Surveillance Telescope from New Mexico to a location in Western Australia. The radar and telescope are intended to provide accurate tracking and identification of satellites and debris.


Clinton announces $30mn of additional US aid for Syria

The US will provide an additional $30 million in humanitarian aid to Syria, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday. The sum brings the total US aid to Syria to $200 million. The announcement was made in Western Australia, where Clinton is attending an annual summit with US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and their Australian counterparts, the AP said. On Tuesday, the US stopped short of following France to recognize Syria's newly formed opposition coalition as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people.


Rescue chopper crashes in northeastern Iran killing 10

Ten people were killed when a rescue helicopter ferrying wounded people from a vehicle accident to hospital crashed in northeastern Iran on Wednesday. Eight people were killed on the spot and two people died later in hospital, local emergency medical services official Reza Vafaeenejad told the ISNA news agency. Those killed included four members of the crew, five people who had been wounded in the minibus crash and a medic from the emergency services. The helicopter, which belonged to the air force and was on lease to the emergency services, reportedly hit high voltage power lines in thick fog.


Barclays ordered to reveal names of 208 staff over Libor probe

A high court judge ordered Barclays to reveal the names of 208 staff linked to attempts by the bank to manipulate Libor at a hearing. Lawyers for Barclays are expected on Wednesday to hand the names to the legal team of a care home operator, Guardian Care Homes, which is suing the bank for mis-selling it complex interest rate derivatives. Justice Julian Flaux said on Tuesday that it was “unacceptable” to deny access to the names, The Telegraph reported.


Pakistan to free Afghan Taliban leaders

Pakistan has reportedly agreed to release around 10 Taliban leaders from the country’s jails as a sign of support for Afghanistan’s reconciliation process. The decision was made during Afghan High Peace Council Chief Salahuddin Rabbani’s visit to Islamabad, media reports say. The meetings of Afghan and Pakistani officials are expected to continue on Wednesday. Afghanistan hopes the release of Taliban detainees could boost peace talks.


Japan PM threatens to dissolve parliament by Friday

­Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said on Wednesday that he is ready to dissolve the parliament by Friday during a heated debate with Liberal Democratic Party leader Shinzo Abe. This would lead to elections within weeks, should the opposition party agree to key electoral reforms. The LDP has been pushing the PM to make good on a promise to call elections soon, but has said lawmakers must first carry out reforms needed to make the vote constitutional. The reforms include shrinking the size of the lower house of parliament and approving an urgently-needed deficit financing bill.


Bomb blast kills one, injures 9 in Baghdad

One person was reportedly killed and nine others injured after a car bomb exploded early Wednesday in central Baghdad. The attackers are suspected to have targeted a military convoy. The Iraqi Airways office at the Palestine Hotel and several neighboring buildings were damaged in the blast, AP said. The Palestine and Ishtar Hotels were rocked by an explosion in January 2010.


Japan military removes WWII bomb from Sendai Airport

A military squad has safely removed a 250kg World War II bomb at the Sendai Airport in northern Japan. The team defused the rusty bomb Wednesday and transported it from the major airport, the AP said. More than 30 flights were canceled during the operation. The bomb was found two weeks ago near the airport’s runway. Sendai was damaged by last year's tsunami and the bomb was uncovered during restoration works. The airport was closed, but flights resumed the next day after sandbags were piled around the bomb. The US heavily bombed Japan during the war.


China’s Hu Jintao steps aside as Communist Party head

Chinese President Hu Jintao has stepped aside as Communist Party head, a move that clears the way for Vice President Xi Jinping to take the leadership. Hu was not re-elected a member of the party’s Central Committee on the final day of the party's national congress, meaning that he was no longer in the leadership, the AP said, citing delegates. Xi was re-elected along with other candidates for seats on the party's Politburo Standing Committee. Xi is expected to take over as party general-secretary from Hu on Thursday and as president next spring. Li Keqiang is due to take over from Wen Jiabao as premier in the second orderly transfer of power since 1949.


Death penalty sought for US soldier accused of killing 16 civilians

­Military prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for a US soldier accused of killing 16 civilians - nine of them children - in southern Afghanistan in March. Several soldiers told the preliminary hearing that Sergeant Robert Bales returned to their base covered in blood. But Sergeant Bales' lawyer says there is not enough evidence for him to stand trial. The lead investigator in the case will make a recommendation as to whether a full court martial ought to proceed.


Jackson-Vanik and Magnitsky Bill tie-in recommended for Congress

­A Committee on Rules of the US House of Representatives of the US Congress has recommended adopting a combined bill, repealing the Jackson-Vanik restrictive trade amendment, but adopting the so-called Magnitsky Law instead.  Now the document will be placed on the agenda of the full House of Representatives. The US Senate is expected to consider the document shortly after the decision of the House of Representatives. The vote is set to take place on November 16.


US starts budget year with $120 billion deficit

The US is starting its budget year with a US$ 120 billion deficit. The Treasury Department says spending is up by 22 per cent since October last year. This comes as President Obama tries to hammer out a deal with Congress to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff. Economists warn the country could tip back into recession if spending is not addressed.