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11 February, 2013


Facebook faces legal battle over ‘like’ button

Facebook has been slapped with a lawsuit over its famous ‘like’ button. Rembrandt Social Media LP lodged the legal claim, which has the rights to a patent, stating that the feature was developed by Dutch programmer Joannes Jozef Everardus van Der Meer in 1998, five years before Facebook’s launch. The patent was given to Surfbook, a social diary created by Van Der Meer that had similar features to the later social media giant. After the programmer’s death, the patent holder is suing Facebook, as well as the company AddThis, for using the feature without permission.


Pakistan test fires nuclear capable missile

­Pakistan has successfully fired a missile capable of delivering a nuclear weapon, the country’s military announced on Monday. The short-range ballistic missile Hatf IX (Nasr) has a range of 60 km and in-flight maneuver capability. The test was conducted alongside the successful launches of two missiles from a state of the art multi-tube launcher.


Netanyahu warns of Iran approaching ‘red line’

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has claimed once again that Tehran is approaching the “red line”, after which Iran can obtain nuclear weapons. Netanyahu told visiting American Jewish leaders that the Islamic republic must be stopped and has called for stronger pressure and sanctions on Tehran, according to the PM’s office. In September, Netanyahu called on the UN General Assembly to draw a “clear red line” and stop Iran getting a nuclear bomb. Iran maintains that its nuclear program is designed for peaceful purposes.


Suicide car bomb kills 8 and injures 8 in northern Iraq city – police

­At least eight people are dead and eight injured after a suicide car bomb in the northern city of Mosul, Iraq, police and medics reported. The bomber targeted a military checkpoint in the city, which is 390 km north of Baghdad.


North Korea pulls out from nuclear test site – S Korea report

­North Korean manpower and equipment have pulled out of a primed nuclear test site, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported on Monday. Seoul has been closely watching the underground Punggye-ri nuclear test site, but until Monday no movement had been detected since Friday, said the agency. The apparent withdrawal could be a sign of an upcoming nuclear test, the agency quoted an unknown source as saying. It also stated that the withdrawal could be linked to the Lunar New Year's holiday. North Korea has warned about the upcoming third nuclear test, but the date was not specified. Seoul supposes the test may be carried out on February the 16th  Kim Jong-il’s birthday.


Bangladesh approves law to quickly execute war criminals

­Changes to legislation outlining war crimes has been approved by the Bangladesh government. The alterations were introduced to ensure opposition leaders on trial for violence during the 1971 independence war can be executed, if guilty. The move was prompted by hundreds of thousands of people in Dhaka, taking to the streets to call calling for the death penalty to be handed out to 10 alleged war criminals. Those on trial are alleged to have committed genocide and rape. The demonstrations started a week ago as a leader of the largest Islamic party was sentenced to life in prison for the war crimes. Students, bloggers, academics and journalists are among the demonstrators.


Libyan Ex-PM accused of wasting public funds and killing civilians

­The former Libyan Prime Minister, al-Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi, has been accused of killing civilians and conducting financial crimes, in a trial that commenced on Monday. The ex-prime minister is accused of redirecting funds to support armed forces during the 2011 uprising in Libya that led to Gaddafi’s ousting and death. The next hearing is scheduled for March the 18th .  Gaddafi was toppled and killed in October 2011 following bloody uprising in the country.


Hamas sets up its first official news agency

The Islamist movement Hamas has set up its first official news agency, the Palestinian territory’s government announced Monday. The media outlet, which has been named Al-Rai agency, “will be an important source of information on government activities, news releases, and letters from the (Gaza) prime minister,” Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniya told AFP. He added that the agency - which has been launched with 15 journalists - is independent in terms of personnel and administration, but will be supervised by the government. Hamas governs Gaza, while its rival Fatah movement rules the West Bank.


Online contest to name Pluto’s’ moons

­Astronomers started a contest to name the two moons of Pluto, which were discovered two years ago. Three existing moons of Pluto already have names associated with the underworld and its creatures: Charon, Nix and Hydra. The two new moons need to have the similar reference in their names, for now they are simply called P4 and P5. Online voting will last for two weeks.  


Thousands to attend EX-SEAL sniper memorial

­Thousands of mourners are expected to gather near the public memorial service for former Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle on Monday afternoon. The 38-year-old sniper, who served four terms in Iraq and wrote the best-selling  "American Sniper” book, was shot dead at a Texas shooting range. Eddie Ray Routh, a 25-year-old Iraq War veteran, was accused of killing Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield at a gun range on February the 2nd. Routh is being held in the Erath County on a $3 million bond. Kyle will be buried at the Texas State Cemetery in Austin.


Russian freighter Progress М-18М to deliver new cargo to ISS

Rocket carrier Soyuz-U with freighter Progress М-18М was launched on Monday evening from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Progress will deliver more than 2.5 tonnes of cargo to the International Space Station, including fuel, food, equipment and presents to the crew from their families. For the first time, Progress will dock the station just six hours after the launch. Earlier, spaceships of this type delivered cargoes after 24 hours.


Masked men block Cairo subway – report

­A central Cairo subway station was blocked by several masked men, who fought with passengers trying to stop them, witnesses told AP. At the same time, the doors of the main administrative building for state services, which is outside the station at Tahrir Square, were locked by protesters. They also blocked traffic at a main bridge near the presidential palace. The demonstrators have been protesting against President Mohamed Morsi at Tahrir Square since mid-November.


Activists claim 14 Syria security officers killed in twin suicide attacks

Jihadist rebels killed 14 Syrian intelligence officers in twin suicide car bomb attacks in the northeast province of Hasakeh on Monday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. “Al-Nusra Front fighters detonated car bombs in front of the state security headquarters and a military intelligence building in the town of Shadada,” the watchdog said. Many others were wounded and in critical condition, AFP said, citing the NGO. Al-Nusra Front has been blacklisted by Washington as a terrorist organization for its deadly suicide attacks.


Pakistan plane crash-lands in Oman's Muscat airport

A passenger plane of Pakistan International Airlines with about 70 people on board crash-landed on the runway of Oman's main airport Muscat on Monday. The pilot of the Boeing 737 aircraft had reported no injuries among the passengers or crew, Reuters quoted Ali Al Zuwaidi, flight safety director at Muscat International Airport, as saying. All flights were canceled from the facility following the incident. “A PIA aircraft crashed on the runway after its landing gear collapsed,” Zuwaidi said. The airport was closed indefinitely until the investigation has been completed. The scheduled flight was arriving from Islamabad when it crash-landed. Muscat airport is currently undergoing a US$7.4 billon extension.


NASA to launch $855 million Earth-observing satellite mission

NASA will launch an Earth-observation satellite later Monday. The Landsat Data Continuity Mission is set to take off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 10:02am local time (18:02 GMT). The $855 million mission will zip around earth at an altitude of 438 miles (777km), using two sensors to study the planet’s surface. The satellite’s observations are expected to illuminate the impacts of climate change and monitor agricultural output in order to help authorities respond to natural disasters. The satellite is the eighth in the Landsat program, which has been monitoring Earth from orbit since 1972.


Syria's largest dam seized by rebels – activists

Rebels on Monday seized control of the largest dam in Syria, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. The dam, 4.5km long, is a vital barrier along the Euphrates River in the northern province of Raqa. “The rebels took control of the dam, which is still in operation,” Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP. “They are guarding both entrances.” The dam holds back Lake Assad, named for Hafez Assad, the father and predecessor of the current president Bashar Assad.


Iran authorities arrest opposition leader’s daughters – report

­Two daughters of the opposition leader Mirhossein Mousavi - Narges and Zahra - were detained by Iranian authorities on Monday, an opposite-linked website Kaleme reported. It was not mentioned where they were taken. Mousavi, who stood for presidency in 2009, was a figurehead of street protests against vote rigging that followed the election. In February 2011 he was detained after calling for a rally in support of uprisings in the Arab world. He has been held under the house arrest for nearly two years.


Four dead as plane with top Guinea officials crashes in Liberia

­Several of Guinea’s senior military and defense officials were on board a plane which crashed in Liberia, killing at least four who were on board. The plane went down close to the Liberian capital Monrovia on Monday. Liberia’s defense minister said that an investigation is underway to identify the cause of the crash.


Ten women held in Israel for wearing prayer shawls at holy site

­Israeli police have detained 10 women for wearing prayer shawls, a male-only garment, at one of Judaism’s most sacred sites. The Orthodox-ruled Western Wall in Jerusalem’s old city bars women from wearing prayer shawls or reading the Holy Scriptures. After the police instructed them to remove the shawls, they refused. Micky Rosenfeld, a spokesman for national police, said the women had acted “against regulations set by the High Court.” Some of the women had been detained before for the same count and released without charge. They belong to a group which convenes for monthly prayer sessions at the Western Wall to promote gender equality in religious practice.


Suicide car bomb attack targets Somalia police commander

A suicide car bomb attack that targeted a senior police commander in a central Somali town killed only the bomber. Six people were wounded in the blast, said Ali Abdinor, a police officer in the central Somalia town of Galkayo. The car bomb driver reportedly rammed his vehicle into a car carrying the deputy police commander of Puntland, a semi-autonomous region of Somalia. The commander suffered burns to his upper body.


US begins equipment withdrawal from Afghanistan via Pakistan

The US has started the withdrawal of military equipment from Afghanistan. At least 25 containers reportedly crossed the Torkham border point heading to Karachi, Pakistan, for shipment, media reports said Sunday. The first convoy of containers, carrying US military equipment from a key NATO base in Afghanistan, was cleared and allowed to proceed to Karachi, Pakistani custom officials said. The second fleet of containers of military equipment is likely to reach Torkham from Bagram soon.


Kumbh Mela festival organizer resigns after deadly stampede

The head of the organizing committee for India´s massive Kumbh Mela religious festival announced his resignation on Monday. It came the day after a stampede killed at least 36 people at a train station. “I have resigned as the chairman of the festival committee,” said Mohammed Azam Khan. He is also a cabinet minister in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Khan said the stampede “happened beyond the scope” of his jurisdiction, but he was “deeply disturbed and stepped down on moral grounds.”


French troops bomb Gao in northern Mali

A French combat helicopter bombed a police station in Mali's northern city of Gao on Monday, witnesses say. The building was destroyed and body parts were lying in the debris, AFP said. The police station was the site of an hours-long gunbattle between Islamists and Malian soldiers on Sunday.


Military helicopter crashes in Caspian Sea near Baku, Azerbaijan

A military helicopter crashed in the Caspian Sea near Azerbaijan's capital, Baku, on Monday. Three people were on board, media reports say. One of those on board was found dead, and rescue works are underway for the two others. The Mi-17 belonged to Azerbaijani Defense Ministry. The helicopter fell into the sea 300 meters from the shore in dense fog.


Israel approves 90 settler homes in West Bank – reports

Israel has given final approval for 90 new homes in Beit El settlement near Ramallah in the West Bank, an NGO said. The move is likely to spark tension ahead of a top-level visit by US President Barack Obama, AFP reported. The plans has been published for validation in an Israeli newspaper in what was the "final stage of approval," Hagit Ofran of the Peace Now settlement watchdog said. The construction of the new homes is expected to begin “within a few days.”


Three killed as helicopter crashes on California reality TV set

Three people were killed Sunday in a helicopter crash in a rural area of northern Los Angeles County while filming for a new reality TV show for the Discovery Channel. The chopper crashed at about 3:40am local time at the popular filming location of Polsa Rosa Ranch in the city of Acton. All three people aboard died, Los Angeles County Fire dispatcher Robert Diaz said. The show is listed on a filming permit as an untitled military-theme TV program. It had not yet been aired or announced.


Horsemeat scandal spreads to 16 countries

The scandal that followed the discovery that foods sold in Europe labeled as beef actually contained horsemeat has spread now to up to 16 states. French authorities will hold talks with key players in the meat industry, while consumer safety authorities increased inspections of the country's meat business. A Swedish manufacturer is suing a French supplier central to the affair, and French supermarket chains have withdrawn frozen beef meals made by Findus and Comigel. The scandal has had an impact on distributors in the UK, France, Sweden, Ireland and Romania.


Miners trapped after blast in northern Russia

Some 18 miners could be trapped as an explosion ripped through the Vorkutinskaya mine in the northern Russian Republic of Komi. The blast happened at 06.28 GMT, when 22 miners were working at the site. Four of them managed to get to the surface themselves. Seven units of rescuers were sent to the scene. Overall, 242 miners came to the surface from other sections of the mine after the explosion, RIA Novosti said.


New blast strikes northern Mali city of Gao

An explosion reportedly shook the north of Gao, the largest city in northern Mali, early Monday. The blast possibly happened near the checkpoint at its northern entrance, which was the target of suicide attacks Friday and Saturday, AFP reported. The latest incident came a month into the French campaign to chase Islamist fighters out of the north of Mali. Sunday's attack by Islamist gunmen on territory reclaimed by French-led forces was the first large-scale urban guerrilla assault of the operation.


Sudan signs ceasefire agreement with Darfur rebel group

­Sudan signed a ceasefire agreement in Qatar with Darfur’s main rebel group, which put an end to a decade-old conflict, Reuters quoted Qatar's state news agency QNA as saying. Sudanese government representative Amin Hassan Amr signed the deal with Mohamed Bashir Ahmed of the Justice and Equality Movement in Qatar’s capital Doha. Darfur’s rebel group from western Sudan began its fight in 2003 against what they viewed as marginalization of minority and neglect of Arab-dominated government with years of international efforts failing to stop the rebellion.


At least 16 killed as bus crashes in Bangladesh

A bus carrying Muslim pilgrims plunged off a bridge into a muddy ditch early Monday in Bangladesh, killing at least 16 people, according to police. Rescuers took another 15 people who were injured to a hospital, local police officer Ranjit Kumar Barua said. The remaining 43 passengers were not hurt. The pilgrims were returning from a shrine of a local Muslim saint, Mujibur Rahman Maizbhandari, as the accident happened in Cox's Bazar district, 296km south of Bangladesh's capital, Dhaka.


Death toll in India train station stampede rises to 31

­The death toll from a stampede at a train station in northern India during a Hindu festival has reached 31, AP reports citing medical officials. The people were crushed at the main train station in the pilgrim city of Allahabad. Medical superintendent Dr. P. Padmakar of the main state-run hospital said 23 of the dead were women. Tens of thousands of people were in the station when a section of a footbridge there collapsed, leading to the stampede late Sunday. Millions of Hindu pilgrims gathered in the city for the Kumbh Mela festival, during which an estimated 30 million devotees were expected to take a dip in the Ganges to cleanse their sins.