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2 September, 2013


Brazil summons US ambassador over allegations that NSA spied on President Rousseff

Brazilian authorities have summoned US ambassador Thomas Shannon over allegations that the NSA spied on President Dilma Rousseff, an official said. It followed Guardian newspaper columnist Glenn Greenwald’s revelations to Globo television that the NSA spied on Rousseff’s and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto’s e-mails in June 2012. A spokesman for Pena Nieto declined to comment. Rousseff, who is due to visit Washington in October, is studying the revelations, the channel said.


​N. and S. Korea fail to agree on reopening industrial park

North and South Korea have failed to agree on specific dates for the reopening of the joint industrial park of Kaesong – which hasn’t been operating for more than three months. The next meeting between the two sides is planned for September 10. The Kaesong Industrial Complex, with 123 South Korean light industry factories, provided work to more than 53,000 North Korean workers. Pyongyang unilaterally withdrew them from the complex in April amid rising political tensions on the Korean peninsula.


UK govt has ‘no plans’ for second vote to attack Syria

The British government has no intention to hold a second parliamentary vote on taking military action against Syria, AFP reported. "Parliament has spoken and that is why the government has absolutely no plans to go back to parliament," a spokesman for Prime Minister David Cameron said. "The position we are in is that parliament has expressed its will and that is the basis on which we will proceed.” On Thursday, Cameron narrowly lost a vote in the House of Commons on the principle issue of taking military action against Syria in response to a suspected chemical weapons attack in Damascus. Cameron pledged after the vote to respect MPs’ decision.


Russia to consider blacklisting violent airline passengers

A bill that would allow Russian airlines to put known violent passengers on a blacklist has been submitted for consideration to the lower house of parliament, the State Duma. The blacklist would include passengers who have been involved in “violence, conflicts or hooliganism” on board a plane within the previous five years. In January, Russian airplane passengers were involved in a string of violent incidents that led to broken noses, head injuries and unscheduled landings.


Cairo police station struck by bomb attack

A bomb exploded at a police station in Cairo on Monday, wounding two workers, according to state news agency MENA. Three people riding a motorcycle lobbed an improvised hand-grenade into the station.


More than 100 Turkish generals go on trial over 1997 government coup

A total of 103 Turkish army officers, mostly serving and retired generals, including a former chief of staff, appeared in court Monday on charges of overthrowing an Islamist government 16 years ago. The events of 1997 were called the "post-modern coup" as the generals used pressure behind the scenes to force Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan from power. According to Reuters, the trial, targeting the once-supreme Turkish army, is expected to last several years.


Egyptian court 'advised' to strip Muslim Brotherhood of NGO status

An Egyptian judicial panel advised a court to dissolve the Muslim Brotherhood as a legally registered non-governmental organization on, Reuters reports. The court may come up with the ruling on the issue already on Monday, a judicial sources said, adding that the panel's recommendation isn’t binding. The movement behind ousted President Mohamed Morsi, founded in 1928, formally registered itself as an NGO this March in response to a lawsuit that argued it had no legal status.


Israel and Palestine to meet for negotiations on Tuesday

Two negotiation teams from Israel and Palestine are to meet with one another in Jerusalem on Tuesday for the sixth round of talks so far, according to a senior Israeli official who spoke to Haaretz. The talks between the delegations have thus far been held under a heavy veil of secrecy after the peace process resumed in July. The steady deliberations were deemed to have fallen under mild pressure at the beginning of August after Israel announced that it would be building some 1,200 homes in Jewish settlements on land viewed by Palestinians as the fundamental basis of their future state. However, the settlement announcement did not halt talks.


49 inmates escape in Tunisia prison breakout

Forty-nine inmates staged a breakout from a prison in Gabes, Tunisia on Sunday evening, but 12 were recaptured a little while later, prison governor Habib Sboui said. The prisoners “escaped in an ambush in which guards were assaulted, without any shooting,” Sboui said. The breakout comes amid deteriorating a security situation in the North African state after two opposition secular politicians were killed in a series of Islamist militants’ attacks. In 2011, thousands of prisoners escaped in Tunisia during nationwide unrest that followed the fall of autocratic president Zine al-Abidine Ali.


Pakistan's former military ruler faces new murder charges

Pakistan's former military ruler Pervez Musharraf is facing new murder charges, officials say. Currently under house arrest, Musharraf has already been charged over the deaths of Benazir Bhutto and a Baloch tribal leader, as well as charges over his attempt to sack Pakistan's higher judiciary in 2007. Musharraf claims all charges against him are politically motivated. The former military ruler returned to Pakistan from self-imposed exile in Dubai and London earlier this year. Musharraf came to power in 1999 after the ouster of then-PM Nawaz Sharif and ruled for nine years before being voted out.


​Israeli army reservists stood down as ‘Syrian aggression’ threat recedes

The majority of Israeli Defense Force reservists, urgently mobilized during the past week in response to the growing Syrian crisis, have been sent home, a military source told the RIA-Novosti news agency. Israel’s government has downgraded its assessment of the threat of aggression from Syria, but has sanctioned the deployment of extra missile defense batteries to Israel’s northern borders. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called on Israeli citizens not to panic and to celebrate the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, as usual. Since the suspected chemical weapons attack in Damascus on August 21, the demand for gas masks is Israel has grown six-fold.


S. Korea to give $6.3mn in humanitarian aid to North

South Korea will give $6.3 million in humanitarian aid to North Korea through a United Nations agency, South Korea's Yonhap agency reported. "The money to go to the World Health Organization will help repair medical facilities, train healthcare workers and give essential drugs to the North that can help all people," a Unification Ministry official said. Apart from that, 12 civic groups will also send $2.13 million worth of aid to the North. The aid includes medical supplies, vitamins, soup, soy milk, and stationary for children. Seoul said it would provide assistance to underprivileged people in the North regardless of political and diplomatic developments.


Syrian civil war displaced 7 million people

The war in Syria has displaced 7 million Syrians, or almost one-third of the population, the head of the UN refugee agency, Tarik Kurdi, says. Two million children are among those directly affected by the war. Kurdi stressed that UN assistance has been a "drop in the sea of humanitarian need" and that the funding gap is "very, very wide." More than 100,000 Syrians have been killed since an uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad erupted in 2011.


Five children arrested after fire destroys school in Lancashire, England

Five boys between 11 and 15 have been arrested in northern England on suspicion of burning down their school, which was due to reopen Monday after the summer holidays. The fire broke out after 4pm Sunday at the Leyland St Mary's Catholic Technology College, Lancashire police reported. The fire brigade is treating the fire as suspicious. The "devastating damage" at the school was aggravated by lack of sprinklers in the building, which was built in 1957.


Egypt to try former President Morsi for inciting violence and murder

Ousted President Mohammed Morsi is to be tried on charges of "incitement to murder and violence" in December 2012 when tens of thousands of demonstrators rallied outside the presidential palace. Egypt’s state prosecutor referred the former president for trial late on Sunday. Prosecutors’ investigation revealed that Morsi ordered to break up the protesters' sit-in, but his order was not obeyed. Fourteen members of the Muslim Brotherhood are also to stand trial on the same charges. The date for the trial is yet to be announced.


Iran intends to exclude dollar, euro from foreign transactions

Iranian Economy Minister Seyed Shamseddin Hosseini has announced that Tehran plans to exclude some Western currencies, specially US dollar and euro, from its foreign trade transactions, Fars news agency reported. "According to the decision made by the cabinet workgroup, the dollar and euro will be gradually put aside from Iran's trade with other countries," Hosseini said on Monday. He stated that Iran has already changed its trade partners and redirected its trade transactions from the UK Britain and Germany to Middle-Eastern states. In 2005, then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was the first to propose a switch in transactions from dollar to euro as a counter-measure to the US stance against Iran's controversial nuclear program.


NSA spying targeted Brazil, Mexico leaders directly – Greenwald

The US National Security Agency's global surveillance program directly targeted the communications of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, US journalist Glenn Greenwald told Brazilian TV news program Fantastico. Greenwald said the documents provided to him by NSA leaker Edward Snowden are dated June 2012 and show the communications of the leaders of Brazil and Mexico. Nieto, the contents of whose communications were accessed, was even being targeted while not yet the elected but still a presidential candidate.


​US admits peace envoy took part in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations

The US envoy for Israeli-Palestinian peace took part in the latest round of negotiations between Israel and Palestine that resumed in late July, the US State Department said on Sunday. “Israeli and Palestinian delegations have been meeting continuously since final status negotiations resumed on July 29,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement. “The negotiations have been serious, and US Special Envoy Martin Indyk and his team have been fully briefed on the bilateral talks and also participated in a bilateral negotiating session," she added without specifying whether any progress was made.