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5 January, 2013


2.2. tons of cocaine seized in Puerto Rico

­Cocaine weighing over 2.2 tons has been seized from two Dominican Republic nationals in Puerto Rico. According to the authorities, the traffickers were trying to smuggle the cocaine in a small boat. Police said the operation has dealt a heavy blow to the drug trade in the country. The shipment is worth around 30 million dollars.


Florida woman shot in police standoff over dog euthanasia

­A woman in Florida has been shot and wounded by the police after she threatened officers with a gun. The woman said she was going to kill herself because her dog was being euthanized. Police officers spent nearly an hour calling to the woman to come out of the veterinary clinic. She came out twice but each time retreated pointing a gun, on the second occasion a deputy fired at her with a shotgun when she refused to lower her weapon. The third time she came out, the woman dropped the gun and deputies took her down. She was taken to Orlando Regional Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries.


Iran developing software to control social networking sites

­Iran is developing new software designed to control social networking sites and prevent Iranians from being exposed to malicious content, Iran's police chief Gen. Esmail Ahmadi Moghadam was quoted in Iranian newspapers Saturday. Moghadam did not specify when the software would be introduced or which social networking sites would be affected. Last year Iran created a government agency to oversee Internet usage in the country. Currently Iranians have access to most of the Internet, except a number of sites affiliated with the opposition.


Victim's blood found on accused Indian rapists' clothes

­Blood samples of a brutally raped woman, who later died in the hospital were found on the clothes of the five men standing trial for her rape, torture and murder. Forensic proof from the bus in which the 23-year-old Delhi student was gang-raped links the scene of the crime with the men accused of her attack, even after they tried to destroy what they were wearing. The accused have been ordered to appear in court on Monday. It will be their first public appearance since being detained two days after the attack. They face the death penalty.


Japan sends jets to intercept Chinese plane over disputed islands

Tokyo has sent fighter jets to escort a Chinese plane that flew close to disputed islands, a Japanese Defence Ministry spokesman said. Japanese fighters were mobilized at 12:00 pm local time after a Chinese maritime aircraft ended up 120 kilometres north of the Senkaku islands, which China calls the Diaoyus. The Y-12 twin-turboprop did not enter Japanese airspace over the islands, the ministry said. This was the first time this year that Japan sent its airforce to protect its interest over the islands in the East China Sea. Confrontations have become more tense since the dispute escalated in September last year.


Venezuela assembly chief confirmed as Speaker

Diosdado Cabello, a member of the ruling party, was confirmed as Speker by Venezuela’s National assembly on Saturday in a sign of solidarity with Hugo Chavez. The President is recovering from cancer treatment in Cuba. The reelection of Diosdado Cabello is seen as countering concerns about possible political change in Venezeula due to Chavez's ill-health.


Thousands of passengers locked in Chinese airport due to weather

­Ten thousands of angry passengers have been locked in an airport for more than 24 hours, provoking fights with airport staff and damage to technical equipment. The police have been called in to calm the unrest. The passengers have been forced to stay Changshui International Airport as heavy fog delayed more than 280 flights. The country is enduring the coldest winter for 30 years, according to news agency Xinhua.


Five Islamist militants killed in Indonesia

Five suspected Islamist militants have been killed by anti-terror police in eastern Indonesia, the authorities said Saturday. The men were killed on the remote island of Sumbawa on Friday night and Saturday morning, stated the news agency Antara. Suspected militants are reported to have killed at least 10 police officers around the country this year.


Rebels seize another town in Central African Republic

Rebels in Central African Republic have seized control of the town of Alindao, just days before they begin negotiations with the government. The area was taken by rebels of the Seleka alliance who now control 11 cities and towns, nearby residents told AP. The rebels were reportedly not met with any resistance when they burst into the town early Saturday. The seizure came after the UN Security Council called on rebels to halt their offensive and withdraw from other towns and cities.


Palestinian Authority changes name to ‘State of Palestine’

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas has signed a presidential decree changing the name of the Palestinian Authority to the “State of Palestine.” The change comes after the Palestinian Authority was upgraded to UN non-member observer status on November 30. All stamps, signs, and official letterheads will soon be changed to bear the new name, Wafa news agency reported. The move is the first concrete step the Palestinians have taken following their upgraded status.


Syrian journalist dies of injuries

­Syrian journalist, Suheil al-Ali, who worked for pro-regime Dunya TV-station, has died of injuries he sustained when he was attacked in a suburb of Damascus, state media SANA said Saturday. The journalist was shot on his way home allegedlly by a rebel fighter, he died four days later. According to the data published by Reporters Without Borders, 28 journalists were killed in 2012 covering the civil war in Syria.


Saudi Arabia denies air strike on Al Qaeda in Yemen

­Saudi Arabia fighter jets haven’t attacked Yemeni Al Qaeda targets, said the Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal on Saturday, rejecting the allegations made in a Times newspaper report on Friday. The report said that Saudi jets assisted US drones in attacks against Al Qaeda. Commenting on the situation, Prince Saud definitively said, "This is not true."


French actor Depardieu in Russia, may receive passport Saturday

­Gerard Depardieu, who earlier this week was granted Russian citizenship by President Vladimir Putin, has arrived in Sochi, southern Russia, where he is expected to meet with the president. During the meeting, the 64-year-old bon vivant may receive a passport confirming his Russian citizenship, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said. Depardieu renounced his French citizenship to search for an easier tax climate outside of his native country.


5 dead in private plane crash in France

­Five people died when a private plane crashed near the city of Grenoble in southeastern France. The plane, en route to Morocco, went down a few moments after takeoff, local police said. The identity of the dead and the cause of the accident are unknown.


Giant tuna sold for record price in Japan

­A 222-kilogram bluefin tuna was sold for a record price of $1.8 million in the first auction of the year at Japan’s Tsukiji fish market, a must-visit site for many Tokyo tourists. The price was nearly three times last year's record. The winning bidder, the president of the company that operates the Sushi-Zanmai restaurant chain, said he wanted to give Japan a boost after 2011’s devastating tsunami.


Majority of Chinese boycotting Japanese goods over isles dispute – poll

Two-thirds of the Chinese population have boycotted Japanese products after Tokyo purchased part of a group of islands also claimed by China, according to a poll cited by Kyodo News. The survey, which was conducted by research firms Searchina and Nippon, revealed that almost all Chinese feel that anti-Japan sentiment has intensified in their country. The poll also showed that more than 65 percent of Chinese and Japanese respondents felt no desire to visit the other country after the purchase took place.


US can’t afford future budget showdowns – Obama

US President Barack Obama says the country cannot afford further showdowns over the budget, and that the recently passed 'fiscal cliff' deal was just one step toward fixing the country’s economic problems. “We still need to do more to put Americans back to work while also putting this country on a path to pay its own debt,” he said in his weekly radio address. The deal, which was passed this week, raised tax rates on the wealthiest Americans while making the Bush-era tax cuts permanent for the middle class.


Eccentric Russian tycoon still in custody for threatening Cambodians – consul

Russian businessman Sergey Polonsky and two other men remain in custody after being arrested in Cambodia for threatening local sailors with a knife, said Pavel Seskanov, Russian consul to the country. Earlier reports said they had been released on condition that they remain in the city of Sihanoukville.


Japan to increase military spending over isles row with China – reports

Tokyo is expected to increase military spending levels for the first time in 11 years, Japanese media reported. The Cabinet of newly elected PM Shinzo Abe has pledged to respond decisively to a South China Sea territorial dispute with Beijing. The government intends to increase military expenditures by about 2 percent, to more than 4.7 trillion yen ($53.4 billion) in the fiscal year starting in April, Mainichi newspaper reported.


Mexican city's entire police force resigns

The entire police force of Marcos Castellanos, Mexico, has turned in their resignations. The mass resignation was reportedly due to a series of attacks on police officers in the last days of 2012, in which four officers were killed and five were seriously injured. Another police officer was kidnapped, and his fate is currently unknown. Residents of the city will now be forced to rely on the federal police and military for protection.


Argentina to hand out 82 million free condoms in 2013

­Argentinian authorities expect to give out 82 million condoms to the country’s citizens in a campaign to combat the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Around 5,500 people are newly diagnosed with HIV each year in Argentina, and "90 percent of new infections come from sex without using condoms," according to AFP and the country’s health ministry.


Tehran closes schools, universities due to pollution

­Authorities in the Iranian capital have ordered the closure of schools, universities, government offices and other institutions on January 5 because of high pollution levels in the city. Emergency and health employees are still expected to come to work. Sports matches have also been canceled in Tehran over concerns for players’ health, ISNA news agency reported. Officials will impose restrictions on traffic to lower pollution, according to reports. This is the second time that institutions have been closed in the Iranian capital over pollution problems.


Chavez could be sworn in later if he misses inauguration

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez could be sworn into office by the Supreme Court later, if he misses his inauguration next week as he struggles to recover from an operation to remove cancer, Venezuela’s vice president said Friday. VP Nicolas Maduro dismissed calls for new elections if Chavez doesn’t take office on Thursday. Opposition leaders also demanded the government provide more specific information about Chavez’s health condition as he fights a respiratory infection after cancer surgery in Cuba last month.


Saudi pilot arrested in the US for raping a boy

A Saudi Arabian military officer has been charged with raping a boy in a hotel on New Year's Eve. The 23-year-old sergeant in the Royal Saudi Air Force, Mazen Alotaibi was arrested on New Years eve in Nevada and accused of assaulting a 13-year-old boy in a Circus Circus hotel bathroom, while three other men were in the adjoining room smoking marijuana. According to the police report, Alotaibi said he offered to pay for sex but raped the boy when he refused. The accused was in the US for a training mission.


Russian man gets 3 years in US prison for cyber fraud

­A Russian man has been sentenced to three years in prison in the United States for orchestrating an internet fraud scheme targeting Americans and banks. Vladimir Zdorovenin pleaded guilty in federal court in Manhattan last February. The 55-year-old was arrested in Zurich in March 2011 and extradited in January 2012 to New York, where he was charged.  According to US authorities, between 2004 and 2005 the Russian father-son team engaged in a series of crimes in Russia by stealing US credit card information and bank accounts in Russia and Latvia. The son, Kirill, was involved in the technical aspects of the scheme, while the father was in charge of the general supervision of the project.


Former Israeli security head slams Netanyahu

­The former head of the Israeli internal security service has accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of placing his “opportunistic” interests over those of the state when conducting foreign policy. The interview with Yuval Diskin published in Yediot Aharonot, Israel’s leading newspaper, comes less than three weeks before Israel’s national elections. In it he accuses Netanyahu of personal interest when dealing with Iran and Palestine. Netanyahu’s office called the accusations “groundless.”


Ten officers injured in Belfast clashes

­At least ten police officers have been injured in clashes with loyalist supporters in Northern Ireland. A crowd of up to 300 people had to be tamed with water cannons as the rioter hurled fireworks, bricks and gas bombs at police in Belfast. This is the latest in a series of protests against a decision to restrict the number of days the union flag can be flown over Belfast city hall.


UK police to drug test saliva using new approved detection kit

­The UK Home Office has announced the approval of a device capable of detecting cannabis in an individual’s saliva. It is now ready to be used across police forces in the country. Once deployed, officers will no longer have to call a doctor before asking for a blood sample if they driving under the influence of drugs. The deployment of the Draeger DrugTest 5000 kit is aimed at reducing the number of drug related road accidents, which totalled 644 with 49 deaths in 2011.