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12 December, 2012

21:13

Anti-virus magnate John McAfee returns to the US

Fugitive software pioneer John McAfee has been released from detention in Guatemala and is taking a flight to the United States. Initial reports said McAfee is being deported from the country, while AP quoted him as saying “I’m free, I'm going to America.” McAfee was arrested in Guatemala last week for illegally entering the country from Belize, where he was to be questioned by authorities about the murder of his neighbor.

19:52

UN Security Council condemns North Korea’s rocket launch

­North Korea has violated the 2009 Security Council resolution banning “any launch using ballistic missile technology” by launching the Unha-3 rocket and should await “an appropriate response,” the UN Security Council said in a short statement after the Wednesday emergency meeting. The Security Council will consider “additional restrictive measures,” the statement said. The successful North Korean launch comes after a previous rocket failed to deliver a satellite into orbit and fell into the Yellow Sea this April, sparking international concern.

19:33

Whitney, Gangnam, Sandy top Google searches in 2012

Deceased singer Whitney Houston, Youtube phenomenon Gangnam Style, and Hurricane Sandy were the three most-searched-for terms on Google throughout this year, the company has revealed. NBA newcomer Jeremy Lin was the most searched-for sportsperson, and The Hunger Games, the most popular film worldwide. “what is love?” was the top phrase searched for in ten different countries.

19:27

Syrian govt fired Scud missiles at insurgents – US official

A US official has confirmed a report that Syrian government forces fired Scud missiles at insurgents in recent days. The official estimated that more than six missiles were fired into northern Syria from the Damascus area. There was no indication that chemical weapons were aboard the missiles. Washington has expressed fears that rebel advances might prompt President Assad to consider using chemical weapons. The Syrian government says it will not use chemical weapons against its own people.

18:48

US Oregon mall shooter identified – police

­A man, suspected of being responsible for two deaths after allegedly going on a shooting spree in an Oregon shopping center, has been identified as 22 year old, Jacob Tyler Roberts. A 15-year-old wounded girl remains in critical condition. Under investigation is whether the suspect stole the rifle from somebody he knew. The motive of the violence remains unclear. The gunmen fired up to 60 shots in the mall’s food court full of holiday shoppers around 3.30 pm local time on Tuesday.

18:19

BBC’s late host Savile suspected in 199 crimes, 31 rapes

­UK police have confirmed the late BBC entertainer Jimmy Savile is suspected in 199 alleged crimes and 31 rapes. The number of potential victims identified by UK police in the Jimmy Savile sex abuse probe has risen to over 500. About 80 per cent of alleged victims were described as children or young people. Children's television presenter, Jimmy Savile died last year aged 84.

16:13

UK PM David Cameron condemns violence in Northern Ireland

­British Prime Minister David Cameron has spoken strongly against loyalists who have been rioting in Belfast after authorities decided not to fly the British flag on a daily basis. "Violence is absolutely unjustified in those and in other circumstances" said Cameron."In no way are these people being loyal or standing up for Britishness," he continued. Belfast has been hit by several nights of rioting by people who are strong supporters of Northern Irelands political union with Britain.

15:11

Jews in Copenhagen warned not to wear religious symbols

Israeli and Jewish officials in Denmark on Wednesday warned Jews to avoid openly wearing religious symbols and dress in Copenhagen. Israelis are advised to avoid wearing such symbols in the street, “irrespective of whether the areas they are visiting are seen as being safe,” Israel's ambassador to Denmark, Arthur Avnon, told AFP. Visitors were also advised not to “speak Hebrew loudly” or demonstrably wear Star of David jewelry. A few weeks ago the Israeli embassy in Copenhagen was attacked in the wake of a conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

14:47

Russian ‘gold’ bulker Amurskaya sank after ‘failure to observe safety rules’

A freighter carrying 700 tons of gold ore sank in the Sea of Okhotsk in Russia’s Far East because the owner, the freight sender, and the captain failed to comply with safety rules, the probe showed. The commission investigating the incident that took place at the end of October said Wednesday that the ship’s balance could have been broken. The ship could have also been overloaded or lost leak-tightness.

14:36

British Navy submariner Devenney jailed for breaching Secrets Act

British Navy submariner Edward Devenney, who offered secrets to MI5 agents posing as Russian spies, was jailed Wednesday for eight years. Petty Officer Devenney, 30, was a communications engineer on the nuclear sub HMS Vigilant and was arrested in Plymouth in March. Devenney was charged with communicating information that could be useful to the enemy in breach of the Official Secrets Act. He pleaded guilty to gathering details of programs used to encrypt secret information and admitted misconduct in a public office. The former submariner also acknowledged discussing the movement of nuclear submarines with the British secret service agents.

14:21

Deputies fight, Femen activists protest as Ukrainian parliament opens

Ukraine's newly elected parliament convened Wednesday as its first session was marred by a fight between deputies. Lawmakers from the party of jailed former premier Yulia Tymoshenko were wearing black jerseys with her portrait and the phrase "Freedom for Political Prisoners." Before the session, they scuffled with two associates accused of defecting to President Viktor Yanukovych’s Party of Regions. Meanwhile, activists from Ukraine's feminist group Femen staged a topless protest outside parliament against corrupt lawmakers.

13:50

Freedom March route in Moscow still unauthorized – opposition

Moscow city authorities and the organizers of the Freedom March on Wednesday failed to agree upon its route, the opposition Left Front leader Sergey Udaltsov said. The march was planned for December 15. “The mayor’s office hasn’t changed its position today,” Udaltsov told Interfax. “We were offered routes from Pushkin Square to Sakharov Avenue or from Trubnaya Square to the Cathedral of Christ the Savior.” The opposition groups “didn't accept those options,” he said. Udaltsov added that the organizers will not be responsible for the march if it is unauthorized.

13:45

France says 100 countries recognize united Syria opposition

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Wednesday that more than 100 countries have recognized the newly formed Syrian opposition coalition as the sole representative of the Syrian people. The decision opens the door for greater assistance to the forces fighting the government of President Bashar Assad. Opposition forces in Syria had previously been criticized for not being properly organized or representative of the people.

13:26

New Mali PM forms government to win back North

­Mali's new Prime Minister Diango Cissoko began putting together a new unity government Wednesday, which would later be empowered to call for foreign military intervention in the country's Islamist-occupied North. The ex-prime minister of Mali, Modibo Diarra, resigned on state television on Tuesday following his arrest by soldiers who were behind a military coup in March. UN chief Ban Ki-moon was "concerned" by the circumstances surrounding Diara's resignation and called for a halt to the military's interference in the country's political system.

12:41

Egypt army postpones unity meeting

Egypt's military said on Wednesday that it was postponing talks between President Mohamed Morsi and the opposition to a “later date.” The meeting was meant to take place on Wednesday. “The invitation addressed to national and political forces for a meeting of Egyptian unity… has been postponed to a later date because reactions to it were not at the level wished for,” the statement on the army’s official Facebook page said.

12:14

German prosecutors search Deutsche Bank offices in tax evasion probe

German prosecutors have searched the offices of Deutsche Bank AG, the country's biggest bank, as part of a tax evasion probe. Some 500 police officers swooped in on offices and other properities in Frankfurt, Berlin and Duesseldorf on Wednesday. The Frankfurt prosecutors' office said 25 employees of the bank are suspected of tax evasion, money laundering and attempted obstruction of justice. Arrest warrants have reportedly been issued against five of the bank's employees. Deutsche Bank said the raid was linked to an ongoing investigation of its carbon emissions trading business. The bank also said it was cooperating with authorities in the probe.

11:56

Spain gets EU bailout aid for banks

Spain's economic ministry announced Wednesday that 39.5 billion euro ($51.3 billion) in bailout aid approved by European authorities for Spanish banks has arrived. A state-run fund will now distribute the money among those entities worst hit by the property market collapse in 2008. The funds are part of a 100 billion euro rescue package earmarked for Spain by the eurozone states.

11:30

Pope's Twitter accounts hit 1 million mark after first tweet

Pope Benedict XVI tweeted for the first time on Wednesday, blessing followers of his account in eight different languages. “Dear friends, I am pleased to get in touch with you through Twitter,” the message said. He also responded to a few messages sent to him from around the world later in the day. The pope thanked his new followers for the generous response. He hit the 1 million Twitter follower mark soon after sending his first tweet.

10:39

Renault-Nissan, Russian Technologies agree to create JV for Avtovaz

The Renault-Nissan alliance and Russian state-owned corporation Russian Technologies have signed an agreement to create a joint venture that will get a majority stake in Avtovaz. Renault-Nissan will receive 67.13% of its capital by the middle of  2014. Afterwards, the joint venture will own 74.5% of Avtovaz. Renault will invest around 11.3 billion rubles ($367.4 million) in the new company and secure 50.1% in it by June 2014. Nissan will contribute 11.7 billion rubles to the joint venture, and its stake will come to 17.03%, Interfax said.

10:17

Kuwait names new government

Kuwait's ruler has named a new cabinet which will retain the incumbent prime minister, oil minister, and other top officials. Mustafa al-Shamali was also reinstated as the finance minister. Shamali had previously resigned in May after facing questions about alleged corruption from opposition lawmakers. The appointment of the ministers came less than two weeks after parliamentary elections were boycotted by anti-government factions protesting changes to the voting law. A strongly pro-government parliament was formed after the December 1 election as opposition groups continue to stage near daily protests.

09:36

'Al-Qaeda' inmate attempts prison suicide bombing in Iraq

An inmate in a Baghdad prison allegedly belonging to al-Qaeda detonated explosives in an attempted suicide bombing on Wednesday, security officials say. The blast wounded three guards and another prisoner, and the inmate himself was badly injured, AFP reported. The prisoner gathered the explosives over a number of days and apparently formed them into an explosive belt, an interior ministry official said.

08:54

Egyptian referendum in two rounds, opposition may attend unity talks

Voting on Egypt’s contentious referendum on a draft constitution started abroad on Wednesday. Egyptian state television also said the referendum will take place domestically on two separate dates, December 15 and 22. Meanwhile, opposition parties are expected to send their delegations or individual representatives to take part in national unity talks later on Wednesday. The talks will be hosted by Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

08:23

China revokes Shanghai Catholic bishop’s title

Beijing has revoked the title of Shanghai's new Catholic bishop who had dropped out of the government agency that oversees the officially sanctioned church. Ma Daqin has been confined to a seminary since he announced the move during his July 7 ordination as an auxiliary bishop, in which he challenged China's attempts to run the church independently of the Vatican. The decision to revoke Ma's title was reportedly announced at an internal meeting this week. Rev. Jeroom Heyndrickx of Belgium's Catholic University of Leuven was informed of the move by Chinese colleagues.

07:53

Human rights ombudsman urges Moscow mayor, opposition to find compromise on march

Russian human rights Ombudsman Vladimir Lukin has called on the Moscow mayor’s office and opposition groups to find a compromise over the march scheduled for December 15. The Ombudsman said he is concerned about the “inability” of Moscow authorities and the march’s organizers to agree on the details. Both sides “have succeeded in reaching agreement so far this year,” Lukin recalled, adding that he is ready to mediate the talks. The mayor’s office had not authorized the route of “the Freedom March” suggested by the organizers.

07:16

Proton launch with Mexico’s SatMex 8 postponed over Yamal satellite problems

The start of the Proton launch vehicle with the Briz-M upper stage and Mexican SatMex 8 satellite scheduled for December 27 has been postponed. A source in the Russian space industry said that experts are determining the causes of abnormal operation of the upper stage during the launch of the Yamal-402 satellite on December 9. The satellite failed to reach the intended orbit.

06:52

Russia urges N. Korea not to take steps against UNSC resolutions

The Russian Foreign Ministry on Wednesday called on Pyongyang to refrain from taking new steps against UN Security Council resolutions. Commenting on Pyongyang’s rocket launch, the ministry described it as the violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1874, “distinctly banning North Korea from launching any rockets with the use of ballistic technologies.” But Russia also expects other parties to refrain from taking steps that could escalate the conflict and put "new obstacles” to the resumption of the six-party negotiating process, the statement said.

06:19

Obama to decide on post-2014 US presence in Afghanistan – Panetta

US President Barack Obama will decide in the next few weeks how many US troops will stay in Afghanistan after the combat mission ends in December 2014, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said in Kuwait on Wednesday. Panetta did not elaborate on what options Obama is considering. US officials earlier said he may settle on a figure between 6,000 and 10,000 soldiers. Some 66,000 US troops are currently deployed in Afghanistan. After the scheduled 2014 withdrawal, the mission will focus on counterterrorism and advising Afghan security forces.

05:50

Legendary sitar player Ravi Shankar dies aged 92

­Ravi Shankar, the genius who introduced traditional Indian ragas to Western audiences over his 10-decade career, died Tuesday at the age of 92. The Indian prime minister's office confirmed his death and called him a “national treasure.” Shankar was also a trailblazer of the rock benefit platform and further gained notoriety as the estranged father of popular American singer Norah Jones.

05:37

Communications Data Bill not to go into effect - UK Deputy PM

­The UK deputy premier Nick Clegg said the government's draft Communications Data Bill focused on plans to give police and intelligence services the power to monitor all email and Internet use in the UK needs a "fundamental rethink." The Home Office said the new laws were needed promptly to stop serious crimes such as terrorism. The Conservative and Liberal Democrat leaderships agree on the need for new measures, but they disagree over the potential violations of privacy the legislation would enable if adopted.

02:29

Software magnate McAfee to be released in Guatemala

A Guatemalan judge has ordered the release of anti-virus magnate John McAfee who has been held in a detention center fighting deportation to Belize, his lawyer Telesforo Guerra says. Judge Judith Secaida ruled that McAfee's detention was illegal, ordering his release. Guerra said he was notified verbally and it might take a day to get formal written notification. McAfee was arrested in Guatemala for illegally entering the country. He went on the run from his home in Belize after his neighbor was murdered on November 11th, being sought for questioning by police. The founder of the McAfee anti-virus software company retired in 1994, netting $100 million in the process. He has lived in Belize, a tiny, English-speaking tropical country in Central America, for the past four years.