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23 December, 2012


Israeli Labor Party adopts two state solution as political platform

­Israel’s Labor Party has called for an immediate renewal of peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians. The party wants to create a binational state along the parameters laid out in the Camp David accord. In 2000, US President Bill Clinton offered guidelines to establish a Palestinian state. Now, the Labor party wants to focus negotiations on “ending Palestinian demands, ensuring security arrangements, relinquishing the [Palestinian] right of return, and recognizing Israel as a Jewish and democratic state,” party’s head, Shelly Yachimovich, said on Sunday.


Leader of the judicial movement against Morsi beaten in Cairo

­Egypt’s Judges Club chief Ahmad al-Zindhas been attacked and beaten by a group of 15 men waiting for him outside the club’s headquarter, Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper reported. Zind reportedly took cover in the HQ while security guards managed to detain three of the attackers. Ahmad al-Zind is the leader of the judicial movement against President Mohamed Morsi. Earlier on Sunday he and some 3,000 judges and prosecutors staged a demonstration in front of the Cairo High Court demanding the dismissal of Prosecutor General Talaat Abdallah.


Russia tests 5th generation fighter jet

­Russia’s fifth-generation Sukhoi T-50 stealth jet fighter will start flight tests in March, Russian Air Force Commander Viktor Bondarev said on Sunday. Eight jets are to take part in next years’ tests, he added. Three T-50s are currently performing test flights, the others are in the process of factory trials, Bondarev said. He estimated that project PAK-FA’s tests will be completed by 2015, and the planes, which are expected to be the core of Russia’s future fighter fleet, are expected to be supplied to Russia’s armed forces 2016.


Taliban says it's not demanding Afghan power monopoly

The Taliban has said it does not seek a total monopoly on power in Afghanistan. It has also pledged to grant rights to women that the militant Islamist group brutally suppressed in the past, according to a Taliban statement received Sunday.  The statement emerged following a rare meeting last week involving Taliban and Kabul government representatives. Afghanistan's Foreign Ministry spokesman said the government welcomed such talks but did not expect them to bridge the gap between the warring sides.


Somali troops rescue hostages held for 3 years

Authorities in Somalia’s semi-autonomous Puntland region say their forces raided a hijacked ship and safely rescued 22 hostages who had been held for nearly 3 years. The Panama registered Iceberg 1, was docked near the coastal village of Gara’ad in the Mudung region. The ship was hijacked on March 29th 2010. The crew members included 8 Yeminis, 2 Pakistanis, 5 Indians, 4 Ghanaians, 2 Sudanese and a Philippine. Almost 120 sailors are still held by Somali pirates.


Mali Islamists destroy 4 Timbuktu mausoleums

Ansar Dine rebels linked to al-Qaida in North Africa have torn down 4 mausoleums in Timbuktu, the capital of Mali. The director of the local tourist office, Sane Chirf, who reported the act of vandalism, said the historical sites housed the remains of Muslim scholars and teachers. Since taking control of Timbuktu earlier this year, the Islamists have destroyed 7 of the 16 ancient mausoleums listed as world heritage sites.


Newtown, CT, sees wave of international support in wake of massacre

People from all over the world have shown their support for the residents of Newtown, Connecticut, sending toys, money and other gifts to the town. Millions of dollars in donations have poured into Newton following the December 14 shooting massacre. The official donation fund had received $2.8 million by Saturday. In addition to the town's official donation fund, other private funds were also set up. The shocking massacre saw 20 children and six women shot dead at Newtown's Sandy Hook Elementary School.


Monti turns down Berlusconi's offer for joint run in Italian elections

Mario Monti has rejected Silvio Berlusconi's offer to run on a center-right ticket in Italy's February elections, but he said he would accept an offer to head the government after the vote. The Italian prime minister tendered his resignation to the president on Friday after 13 months in office. On Sunday, Monti told a news conference in Rome that he had not accepted the offer due to his predecessor's habit of inconsistently condemning the government's economic policies and then praising the premier. President Giorgio Napolitano dissolved parliament on Saturday after a series of consultations with party leaders. Italy's cabinet announced that the election will take place on February 24 and 25.


Israel to join NATO ops despite tensions with Turkey – report

Israel has been approved to participate in NATO operations in 2013, a decision that was previously stalled over tensions with Turkey, Israeli officials told the Jerusalem Post. The approval allegedly came at the same time as the decision to fulfill Ankara's request to station NATO Patriot missile batteries along the Turkey-Syria border. NATO reportedly used the Patriot deployment as leverage to persuade Ankara to improve relations with Israel.


Fire in Kabul market destroys hundreds of shops

A huge fire swept through a market in downtown Kabul, Afghanistan, on Sunday, destroying hundreds of shops and forcing the city's nearby currency exchange to evacuate, police and witnesses said. An electrical short circuit is reportedly the likely cause of the fire, which was so intense that NATO and Afghan army fire squads were called in to help battle the inferno. The Afghan capital, with a population of around 5 million people, has a generally poor fire safety record.


Japanese Emperor turns 79, airs worries over country's aging population

Japan's Emperor Akihito, who celebrated his 79th birthday Sunday, said he is concerned about the country's aging population. Akihito sympathized with elderly in Japan's snowy northern regions, who are facing their second winter after a 2011 earthquake and tsunami devastated the coastal area. Akihito and Empress Michiko spent nearly two months last year visiting disaster evacuees. The Emperor also said that he is in excellent health, and he is not considering reducing his public duties.


Damascus maintains control of Syria's chemical weapons – Israeli minister

The Syrian government is still in control of its chemical weapons stockpiles, despite the fact that some areas of the country have been seized by rebel forces, Israeli defense official Amos Gilad told Army Radio. Gilad stressed that the conflict in Syria between embattled President Bashar Assad and the opposition had reached a stalemate, and that the leader was no longer responsive to the international community. If Assad steps down, however, “there could be chaos… in the Middle East you never know who will come instead,” Gilad said.


Germans overwhelmingly oppose making circumcision illegal

A poll shows that 70 percent of Germans oppose a new law that would effectively prohibit male circumcision in the country, according to Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Only 24 percent supported the notion. The bill which was adopted on December 13, ended months of legal uncertainty after a court ruling claimed that the practice amounts to bodily harm, prompting outcry from Jewish and Muslim groups.


One hundred arrested in Sri Lanka over telephone fraud

­One hundred Chinese nationals have been arrested by the Sri Lankan Police for telephone fraud, a police spokesman said Saturday. Arrests were made with the assistance of officials from the Chinese police in the country, Xinhua reported. Telephone fraud is a major social security concern in China. Those engaged in such activity often use overseas servers to make phone calls from overseas, making it more difficult for mainland police to trace them.


Dominican police seize over 1,000 kg of drugs

­Dominican Republic authorities have arrested four Dominicans and three Venezuelans and seized more than more than 1,190 kilograms of cocaine and seven kilograms of heroin, the director of the country's National Drug Control Agency Rolando Rosado announced on Saturday. The drugs were found aboard a speedboat from South America. Although the crew managed to throw 30 of 47 drug packets into the sea, according to Rosado it was still the second-largest seizure of drugs by Dominican authorities in 2012.