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12 January, 2013


Palestinian killed by Israeli forces on West Bank border

Israeli security forces have shot dead a Palestinian who was trying to cross into Israel though a security barrier from the occupied West Bank, Reuters reports. The 21-year-old man was trying to cross into Israel to find work, his family said. Odai al Darawish was taken to a hospital in Israel where he was pronounced dead, they added. An Israeli military spokesman said the soldiers followed the rules of engagement as they saw the man and fired towards his legs.


Captive Syrians released by Somali pirates after more than two years

Three Syrian hostages, held by Somali pirates since 2010, have been released after the pirates holding them were captured by Somali authorities. "No ransom was paid. We had agreed that the pirates surrender, hand over their weapons and the release the hostages without ransom," said Mohamed Aden Tiicey, president of the government of Adado region. The hostages served as crew on the cargo ship MV Orna that was captured north of the Seychelles in December 2010 and later returned for a ransom.


Czechs gear up for second round of presidential election

Milos Zeman, a former left-leaning prime minister, will battle for the country’s presidency against the Czech Republics current foreign minister, in the second round of voting. Milos Zeman and Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, are set to compete for the top job on January 25-26, after the first vote proved inconclusive.Czechs are electing the country's president in a direct popular vote for the first time.Whoever wins will replace President Vaclav Klaus, whose second and final term ends on March 7. Since Czechoslovakia officially split into Slovakia and the Czech Republic in 1993, the country has had two presidents elected by Parliament, Vaclav Havel and Klaus.


Hundreds on strike at Chinese factory linked to Foxconn – report

At least 1,000 workers at a Chinese plant linked to Taiwanese firm Foxconn went on strike Thursday, according to the Hong Kong based, Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior. Employees were said to be discontent with working conditions at the Fengcheng site, located in Jiangxi province, China. Foxconn- the world’s largest grossing electronic manufacturer- denied owning the plant, describing it as a “supply chain factory”, adding that the strike ended Friday.Foxconn, known for assembling Apple, Sony and Nokia devices, has been blighted by scandals in recent years, after reports of suicides, labor unrest and the employment of underage interns.


Costa Concordia to be removed from Italian coast by September

The stricken cruise liner Costa Concordia, will be removed from the coast of Italy by September, according to the head of the Italian Ministry of Public Security, Franco Gabrielli. The 290-meter-long liner hit a reef off the Italian coast with 4,234 people on board.The incident occurred near the Giglio Island in the Tyrrhenian Sea on January 13, 2012.The disaster took the lives of 32 passengers. An investigation has since concluded that the crash occurred due to the wrongful actions taken by the crew, which led to a deviation from the correct course, ending in the ship hitting a submerged rock.


IDF orders Palestinian activists to shut down E1 protest tents

Israeli forces have moved to shut down protest camps in the E1 area of East Jerusalem, as Palestinian activists vowed to remain on the land. IDF soldiers handed eviction orders to protestors, stating that if they don’t vacate the area through their own free will, the military will do so by force. Israel has also prevented Palestinian officials from neighboring areas gaining access to the protest village. Earlier on Friday dozens of Palestinians pitched tents in the occupied West Bank, in a bid to preserve the area for an independent Palestinian state. Around 20 large, steel-framed tents were set up in the disputed E1 area, where Israel plans to build settlements.


French pilot killed in raid in Mali

­French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian confirmed that a helicopter pilot was killed during a raid in Mali on Friday, after France landed troops to help the national army prevent an advance of rebel Islamist forces. The pilot was wounded as he took part in the operation aimed at supporting Malian forces in the region and later died in hospital, according to France’s Defense Minister. The aerial strikes continued throughout Friday night and Saturday morning.


Antique cannon found loaded in New York City

­The 18th century cannon displayed at the Central Park Conservancy in New York was found ready to fire, the police reported Friday. The cannon, which came from a British Royal Navy Ship somewhere between 1763 to 1780, was loaded with gunpowder and a cannon ball when workers arrived to clean it. The ammunition was found when they removed a piece of rust from the cannon. Authorities were summoned to come to the scene and take the gunpowder out and make the cannon safe for the public again.


­France reveals name of the killed Somali hostage

The French hostage who was killed during the raid aiming to release him on Saturday, was the spy service agent codenamed Denis Allex, the French Defense Ministry said. The Somali captors, though, claim that he is still alive. The raid also killed 17 Islamists and two French commandos. The details of the rescue operation were not released.


French military intervention in Mali will come with ‘consequences’ – Islamist group

Islamist group Ansar Dine says intervention from the French military in Mali will have consequences for French citizens in the Muslim world, Reuters reports. The comment comes just one day after France deployed troops to push back rebel forces which have been controlling the country’s north for months. The rebels are currently threatening to take over the city of Mopti, which would leave the capital Bamako more vulnerable.


Switzerland to file petition calling for ICC investigation into Syrian war crimes

Switzerland will file a petition on Monday, calling for the International Criminal Court (ICC) to open a case on war crimes in Syria. "Serious war crimes are being committed in Syria. We must make sure they not go unpunished," Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter told TSR television. The petition has been signed by 52 countries. The UN Security Council will need to issue a referral in order for the court to look into the crimes. The petition has been deemed controversial by some, who say it will give Syrian President Bashar Assad more reason to stay in power. At least 60,000 people have been killed since the Syrian conflict began 22 months ago.


Missing Russian woman found alive on Mt. Elbrus

Rescue workers have found a missing Russian female alpinist on Elbrus Mountain at an altitude of about 5,100 meters above sea level, according to TASS news agency. The young woman was one of a group of three mountain climbers who went missing several days ago. She told the rescuers about the whereabouts of another missing alpinist, adding that he is unconscious. The third missing mountaineer apparently left the expedition for Moscow. The climbers had set out from Terskol settlement to climb Elbrus and reach its western peak. Radio contact with the group of climbers from the Russian capital was lost on January 9.


Shiites refuse to bury dead in Pakistan after bomb blast

Pakistani Shiite families are refusing to bury the dead after Thursday’s bomb blasts in country’s southwestern city of Quetta. Hundreds of protesters came out to the scene of the explosions to demonstrate against a lack of protection in the city, reported AFP. The crowd staged a sit-in protest and is said to continue it until the army takes over security in the area. Traditionally, in the Muslim culture the dead are buried on the same or the next day. At least 92 people have been killed and 121 others wounded in three bomb blasts. Sunni militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi claimed responsibility for the attack. The region is plagued by sectarian fighting between Sunni and Shia Muslims. The Taliban also carries out attacks in the area.


Mali neighbors to send troops against militants

Members of the West African regional bloc ECOWAS are to start sending troops to Mali starting on Monday, an Ivory Coast official said. The soldiers will help the central government in Bamako re-take the northern part of the country from the Islamist insurgents holding it. The news comes shortly after France sent hundreds of its troops to Mali to fight the militants threatening the former French colony.


France confirms troop deaths in failed hostage rescue

The French Defense Ministry said two soldiers and a French hostage were killed during an overnight raid in Somalia. A French spec ops team attempted to rescue Denis Allex from the captivity in the hands of a local Islamist group Al-Shabaab, but failed. The militants earlier said the hostage, who was abducted in July 2009, is still alive and has been transferred from the town of Bulo Marer near capital Mogadishu to a different location.


Reddit co-founder Aaron Swartz commits suicide – report

Aaron Swartz, 26, committed suicide in New York on Friday, MIT’s The Tech cites Swartz’s uncle Michael Wolf as saying. “The tragic and heartbreaking information you received is, regrettably, true,” confirmed Swartz’s attorney Elliot Peters in an email to The Tech. Swartz was a computer activist who co-authored RSS 1.0 specification, was a co-owner of the popular social news site Reddit, and founded in 2010, a campaign against the internet censorship bills SOPA/PIPA. In 2011 Swartz was accused for allegedly mass downloading documents from the online journal archive JSTOR with the intention of making the content available publicly, to which he pleaded not guilty in 2012. Swartz was released on US$100,000 unsecured bail. If charged he would have faced a potential prison term of 35 years and a fine up to US$1 million.


Over 30,000 flee Sudan violence

­More than 30,000 have fled Sudan’s Darfur after a fortnight of fierce clashes between government forces, rebels and rival tribes, AFP reported. Conflict has been raging in the region since 2003, when non-Arab tribes rebelled against the Arab government in Khartoum, accusing it of political and economic marginalization.


Russia’s Elena Vesnina wins first WTA title

­Russia’s Elena Vesnina has obtained her first WTA title over defending champion Mona Barthel in the Hobart International final in Tasmania, with a 6-3, 6-4 victory in the lead-up to next week’s Australian Open. Twenty-six-year-old Vesnina is currently the world number 68, and takes home $40,000 in prize money.


At least 30 killed in Nepal bus accident

­A bus veered off a steep mountain road in Nepal, killing at least 30 people, and leaving several others wounded. Among those who died in the accident were 22 men, seven women, and a child. Police told AP that it was dark, and the area was covered in thick fog. The vehicle rolled for about 300 meters from the road.


46 dead in China landslides, including 19 kids

­Three bodies have been pulled from the mud in China, bringing the death toll from landslides to 46. Nineteen of those killed in the disaster are children. Two other people were taken to hospital after the landslide struck on Friday morning, hitting 16 homes, bringing a thunderous crash and throwing up thick clouds of dust, according to the country’s Xinhua news agency.


Two train drivers die in Trans-Siberian derailment

­Two train drivers were killed in Russia’s Eastern Siberia region when their train carrying coal was derailed, according to the local Emergency Ministry. Russian Railways confirmed the deaths of its employees. At least 20 of the train’s 60 carriages were derailed, RIA Novosti reported. A passenger train travelling from Novosibirsk to Vladivostok (5,500 kilometers) was delayed due to the accident, so food and hot water were provided for passengers.


US won’t build Death Star

­The US government has refused to build a planet-cracking space station similar to the one described in the Star Wars franchise. The project would inflate the already-high national debt, goes against the American policy of not blowing up planets and has a fundamental construction flaw, which allows a one-man starship to completely destroy the station, explained the chief of the Science and Space Branch at the White House Office of Management and Budget, Paul Shawcross. He was responding to an online petition, which attracted more than 34,000 signatures since its submission to the White House petition website in November 2012.


Prominent Russian lawyer and rights activist dies in St. Petersburg

­Prominent Russian lawyer and rights activist Yury Shmidt has died at the age of 76 in St. Petersburg, reports Interfax citing a Twitter message from the city legislator Boris Vishnevsky. Shmidt took part in several high-profile legal cases, including the defense of oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky in 2004.


UN members push for International Criminal Court review of Syrian conflict

­More than fifty UN member states are supporting a call for the Security Council to refer the conflict in Syria to the International Criminal Court, which would bring the possibility of war crimes prosecutions. In a letter to the UNSC seen by the Associated Press on Friday, the members said the Syrian conflict should be reviewed by the war crimes tribunal at the Hague "without exceptions and irrespective of the alleged perpetrators." The letter refers to a UN expert panel's report showing rampant summary executions, torture and sexual violence since the uprising against the Assad government began in March 2011. The letter was signed by Switzerland's ambassador to the United Nations on behalf of dozens of other governments, including Security Council permanent members France and Great Britain. China, Russia and the United States, the council's other permanent members, had not signed it. A Swiss diplomat said the letter would be submitted officially to the Security Council on Monday. At least 60,000 people are thought to have been killed since the start of the uprising in Syria.


Greek Parliament passes tax overhaul, hoping for new revenues

­The Greek Parliament has passed tax legislation meant to add an additional €2.3 billion to the state revenue expected in 2013. The new law, passed early Saturday morning with broad support in the country's triumvirate ruling coalition, will simplify the tax scale, change the family benefits structure and expand the tax base to include some formerly exempt low earners. Under the law, the highest tax rate will be 42 per cent for Greeks taking in more than €42,000; the top rate had previously been 45 per cent on those earning more than €100,000. Athens says the new system will lighten the burden on Greeks with earnings below €25,000.