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27 November, 2012


US falls short of labelling China a currency manipulator

The US Treasury has once again refused to call China a currency manipulator. In its semi-annual report on Tuesday it did however state that “available evidence suggests the RMB remains significantly undervalued” and urged China to do further appreciation of its currency against the dollar and other major currencies. If Washington had moved to libel China as currency manipulator, it could have led to US trade sanctions against its key economic partner and the world’s second largest economy. During the 2012 US presidential campaign, Republican nominee Mitt Romney had vowed to cite China as a currency manipulator.


Israeli strike that wiped out Gaza family was ‘no mistake’

The airstrike that killed 12 Palestinians in Gaza, most of them women and children from one family, was not a mistake, the Israeli army said Tuesday, stressing that the attack targeted a “terror operative,” AFP reports. The Israeli Defense Force had earlier said that while targeting Hamas’ rocket chief it mistakenly bombed the home of the Dallu family due to a technical error.. The strike took place on November the 18th, amidst Israel’s offensive against Gaza, killing 10 members of Dallu family, and two neighbors, including five children and five women. The father, Mohammed Jamal al-Dallu, a member of the Hamas police unit charged with protecting important people, was also killed in the strike.  On Tuesday the Israeli army claimed that al-Dallu was the target of the raid. "The father was a known terror operative affiliated with the military wing of Hamas," army spokeswoman Avital Leibovich told AFP. "There was no mistake from the IDF. It's tragic when a terror operative is hiding among civilians but unfortunately it is part of Hamas and Islamic Jihad tactics," she added.


Hugo Chavez to return to Cuba for cancer treatment

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez will return to Cuba to continue medical treatment for an undisclosed type of cancer, AFP cites the country’s top legislator as saying on Tuesday. Chavez, who was reelected to a third term as president in October, underwent chemotherapy and radiation therapy in Cuba several months back. The 58-year-old was first diagnosed with cancer in June 2011.


Police break crime group smuggling Iranian migrants

­A major ring, smuggling illegal Iranian migrants to Europe, has been busted by police. "In the early morning hours (on Monday), 11 suspects were arrested in Spain and seven in the United Kingdom," Euopol, the Europe-wide police body said in a statement. The gang, operating mainly in Spain was reportedly trafficking Iranian migrants through Turkey to Greece, providing them with false papers.  Its thought those being transported were destined for other countries, mainly the UK and Canada.


US scientists meet in Tokyo to learn lessons from Fukushima

­The head of the 22 member committee, Norman Neureiter, told AP they were trying to see which lessons from Fukushima could be applied to improving safety in the nuclear industry. Neureiter said that collusion between the industry and the regulators, a relationship known as ‘the nuclear village’, had caused deep-rooted mistrust amongst the Japanese public. A giant tsunami hit the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in March 2011, knocking out power and cooling systems and causing three reactors to partially melt down. More than 100,000 people were evacuated from their homes and are still unable to return owing to concerns about radiation.


M23 rebels refuse to leave Congo city of Goma

Congo’s M23 rebels said on Tuesday they will stay in the crucial eastern city of Goma and fight the Congolese army if it tries to retake it. Speaking in Goma, M23 political leader Jean-Marie Runiga said that the rebels will not leave the city of 1 million, the AP said. The International Conference on the Great Lakes Region imposed a deadline for the rebels to depart on midnight Monday. The insurgents seized the city a week ago. Congo’s military spokesman Col. Olivier Hamuli called the group’s refusal to leave “a declaration of war,” adding that the army will resume combat operations.


Italy’s Monti says Britain should vote on EU membership

Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti has reportedly told his UK counterpart David Cameron to ask the British people if they want to stay in the EU. Monti also suggested that some European politicians would like Britain to leave the EU. Italy has seen Britain as a key barrier to negotiations over a settlement for an EU budget freeze. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said earlier this month that Britain could be left “alone in the world” if it leaves the union. Cameron has not ruled out leaving the EU, although he currently supports the membership.


India suspends 2 policemen for Facebook arrests

Two senior policemen in the western Indian state of Maharashtra were suspended Tuesday for arresting two women over a Facebook post. The women had criticized the shutdown of Mumbai for the funeral of powerful rightwing politician Bal Thackeray last week, the AP said. The policemen were suspended indefinitely, and the magistrate who registered the case was transferred to another district. Police also arrested nine men who vandalized a medical clinic run by the uncle of one of the women. The women withdrew the Facebook comment and apologized after they posted the message.


Ericsson sues Samsung in US court for ‘violating patents’

Swedish telecommunications equipment-maker Ericsson is suing South Korean rival Samsung in a US court “for infringing its patents.” The two sides failed to reach an agreement after nearly two years of negotiations, Ericsson said. The dispute concerns Ericsson's patented technology that is allegedly essential to several telecommunications and networking standards used by Samsung's products. The lawsuit also focuses on other Ericsson's patented inventions “that are frequently implemented in wireless and consumer electronics products.” Samsung's positions were backed up earlier by courts in most of cases in Britain, Japan, The Netherlands and the US in other disputes with the US computer giant Apple.


Sri Lanka launches first satellite on Chinese rocket

Sri Lanka launched its first communications satellite SupremeSAT on a Chinese rocket on Tuesday. SupremeSAT, a private company collaborated with China's state owned China Great Wall Industry Corporation. The satellite was reportedly launched on board China’s Long March 3B/E Launch Vehicle from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in China. Deployed in the Geo-stationary orbit approximately 36,000km above the surface of the earth, the satellite, built by Thales Alenia Space in France, has a design life of 15 years. A payload of 56 transponders on board SupremeSAT is capable of providing communications services, including broadband Internet, telecom and broadcasting. It will cover parts of the Middle East, South and Central Asia and Australia, the company said.


Russia to introduce strict visa rules for EU airline crews from December 1

Russia will introduce strict visa rules for crewmembers from EU aircraft on December 1, Foreign Ministry Ambassador-at-Large Anvar Azimov said on Tuesday. The new rules were expected to be valid from November 1. “Mostly, crews had visas. But in some cases they did not, so we decided to… make November a transitional period,” Interfax quoted the diplomat as saying. “Russia will stop being flexible on December 1,” he said. Moscow has bilateral agreements on visa-free travel for crews with the majority of EU member states. But five or six countries do not have such agreements, Azimov noted. The European Commission has been entitled to hold the negotiations until an accord on easing visa rules is signed, and “it does not allow us to sign bilateral agreements,” he said.


Kenya political rivals Kenyatta, Ruto to form alliance

Former political rivals in Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto, who are facing trial at the International Criminal Court, have announced an alliance for next year's election. The disputed 2007 election resulted in two months of violence, which killed some 1,200 people. Both men, who were on opposite sides at the time, deny the ICC charges that they helped organize forces to attack rivals.


Protesters in Taiwan blast China media deal

About 100 Taiwanese demonstrators gathered outside the cabinet offices to protest the sale of Asian media mogul Jimmy Lai's Taiwan holdings to a group that includes an outspokenly pro-China businessman. The US$601 million deal involves the sale of the Taiwanese editions of Apple Daily, Next magazine and Next TV to businessman Tsai Eng-meng, banking scion Jeffrey Koo Jr., and Formosa Plastics Group president Wang Wen-yuan, the AP said. Protesters focused attention on Tsai, who made a fortune on the Chinese mainland, and whose China Times newspaper supports Chinese policies. Taiwan Reporters Association head Chen Siao-yi claimed Tsai's participation in the deal would have a chilling impact on Taiwanese press freedoms. “China is having more and more control over Taiwan's politics and economy,” she said.


Walmart distances itself from supplier after Bangladesh fire

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has terminated relations with a supplier that made clothes for the world’s largest retailer at a Bangladesh factory where at least 112 people died in a weekend blaze. The Tazreen Fashions Ltd. factory was no longer authorized to produce merchandise for Walmart after the supplier subcontracted work to it “in direct violation of our policies,” the US company said. “We will continue to work across the apparel industry to improve fire safety education and training in Bangladesh,” Walmart said.


Bomb attacks kill six in Iraq's Kirkuk province

Four people were killed by car bombs in Kurdish areas of the disputed northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk on Tuesday. One car bomb exploded in a Kurdish area of east Kirkuk, killing two people and wounding seven, AFP said, citing officials. A second car bomb exploded about 10 minutes later in another Kurdish area, killing a Kurdish security forces member and wounding four other people. A third car bomb detonated in the north of the city and killed one person and wounded five. Two roadside bombs exploded in an Arab-majority town about 50km east of Kirkuk, killing two people, and wounding one other. The attacks come a day after the federal government and Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region reached an agreement to ease tensions in disputed areas of northern Iraq.


Taliban targeted Pakistani TV anchor in failed bomb plot

The Pakistani Taliban has claimed responsibility for a failed assassination attempt against Geo TV's anchor Hamid Mir. The group targeted him because he was “promoting secular forces,” the AP quoted Taliban spokesman Ahsanullah Ahsan as saying on Tuesday. Police defused a bomb found underneath Mir's car in Pakistan's capital, Islamabad, on Monday. The Taliban threatened Mir and other Pakistani journalists last month after their coverage of schoolgirl activist Malala Yousufzai, 15, shot by the militants.


Four Tibetans set themselves on fire in China

Four Tibetans have set themselves alight in protest at China's rule, foreign media reports said on Tuesday. This takes the total burnings to 21 in November and 85 since 2009. The latest incidents took place on Sunday and Monday, the US-based Radio Free Asia said. Two happened in Gansu province, one in Qinghai and one in Sichuan. Three of the latest protesters, all in their teens or early 20s, died. One person was taken away by police with his condition currently unknown, AFP said, citing the report. London-based campaign group Free Tibet confirmed the incidents, saying that the burnings came as authorities in Qinghai province in northwestern China issued school booklets ridiculing the acts of self-immolation.


Israel ex-FM Livni returns to politics with new party

Former Israeli foreign minister and opposition leader Tzipi Livni has announced plans to return to politics less than seven months after quitting it. She is launching the party called The Movement, media reports said on Tuesday. The politician was expected earlier to join an existing party or try to form a center-left bloc of parties. Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met with Livni Monday night, and he may announce his political plans later this week. Israel’s general elections are scheduled for January 22.


Patriot missiles in Turkey to be under NATO command – Rasmussen

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has said the alliance will oversee the command and control of Patriot missiles to be deployed on the Turkish-Syrian border. Turkey has asked NATO to deploy missile defenses on its border against possible threats from Syria. The command of the missiles will be under the NATO Command Control System, Rasmussen told NTV news channel on Tuesday. The Turkish Defense Ministry earlier said that there were Turkish officials represented in the NATO control system. Huseyin Celik, deputy chairman of the ruling Justice and Development Party suggested that “Turkey will be holding the trigger.”


Congo rebels may withdraw from Goma as Uganda says they ‘need more time’

Uganda’s military expects the M23 rebel group in the Democratic Republic of Congo to withdraw its forces from the eastern cities of Goma and Sake soon, media reports said on Tuesday. Goma was captured last week, and Uganda mediated talks between the rebels and the government. Uganda's Deputy Foreign Minister Okello Oryem said Tuesday that the rebels need more time as well as reassurance that their grievances will be taken seriously, the AP said. “It's a question of another day or two before the rebels pull out,” he added. Bertrand Bisimwa, the political spokesman for M23 said earlier the group would stay in Goma and insist direct negotiations with the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo Joseph Kabila.


Russian wrestler Mirzaev ‘guilty of accidental murder’ of student – court

Zamoskvoretsky court in Moscow on Tuesday delivered a verdict in the controversial case of wrestler Rasul Mirzaev, who was accused of causing the death of student Ivan Agafonov. Mirzaev was initially accused of “malicious infliction of grave harm to health which resulted in the injured party’s death,” a penalty which carries of up to 15 years in prison. The prosecutor asked the court to soften the charges to “causing death by negligence.” The court on Tuesday agreed with the qualification, meaning that Mirzaev gets a jail term of a two-year restriction of freedom at maximum. The sambo champion is expected to be released on Tuesday, as he had been in the remand prison for more than a year, where each day is counted as two. As Russian nationalist groups protested the possible softening of the sentence near the court building, police reportedly detained leader of the Russkiye (Russians) movement Dmitry Demushkin.


Paraguay to start oil production in 2013

Paraguay will become an oil producing nation starting mid-2013, President Federico Franco has said. The country’s researchers have discovered “plenty of top quality oil” in the Cuenca de Pirity area in the Chaco region, west and north of Asuncion, close to the border with Argentina. “Paraguay will not only be a world champion in the production of clean and renewable hydroelectric energy,” Franco said on Monday. “Now it will also join the list of oil-producing countries.” The exploration was carried out by Pirity Hidrocarburos and US company Crescent Global Oil. Drilling is expected to begin in December.


Canada’s Carney to become Bank of England governor

The British government has chosen Mark Carney, a Canadian, to become governor of the Bank of England. This is the first time a foreigner has been tapped for the position since the central bank was founded in 1694. Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said Carney would apply for British citizenship, the AP said. Carney was appointed to run the Bank of Canada in February 2008 and is respected across the world financial community for his handling of the recession. Canada’s banks are rated among the soundest in the world. Carney will move to his new job on July 1.


Arafat remains exhumed for forensic examination

The remains of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat were exhumed from his grave on Tuesday, Palestinian officials said. French, Swiss and Russian forensic experts will now search for additional clues as to the cause his death. The remains were taken from the mausoleum in the West Bank city of Ramallah and moved to a nearby mosque, the AP said. Palestinian doctors will also take samples from the late leader’s bones. The new investigation into Arafat's death was sparked earlier this year after radioactive polonium was discovered on his clothing.