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World News

Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by PowderLove, Aug 7, 2007.

  1. PowderLove

    PowderLove Former Mod, Current Slacker

    Jul 12, 2007

    Chinese toy boss 'kills himself'
    The boss of a Chinese toy firm involved in a huge safety recall has committed suicide, Chinese media has said.

    Zhang Shuhong, who co-owned the Lee Der Toy Company, was reportedly found dead at his factory in southern China.
    About 1.5 million toys made for Fisher Price, a subsidiary of US giant Mattel, were withdrawn from sale earlier this month. Many were made by Lee Der.
    The recalled toys include characters from Sesame Street's Big Bird and Elmo, and Nickelodeon's Dora the Explorer.
    Increasing scrutiny
    Zhang killed himself on Saturday, according to the Southern Metropolitan Daily and other news sources.
    He reportedly hanged himself in his factory.
    "When I rushed there around 5pm, police had already sealed off the area," the newspaper quoted a manager at the firm as saying. "I saw that our boss had two deep marks in his neck."
    The news report did not give a reason for Zhang's apparent suicide, but Lee Der was known to be under pressure after the huge product recall.
    Fisher Price announced on 2 August that it was recalling some of Lee Der's Chinese-made toys, in a move affecting 83 product-types sold around the world, including the US and the UK.
    An internal investigation found the toys had been made using a non-approved paint pigment which contained excessive amounts of lead, violating safety standards.
    A manager at Lee Der blamed its paint supplier for the incident, according to the Southern Metropolitan Daily.
    Chinese-made products have come under increasing international scrutiny in recent months, after a series of safety scandals. A substance found in pet food made in China caused the death of a number of animals in the United States, and toxic ingredients were also found in Chinese-made toothpaste.

  2. PowderLove

    PowderLove Former Mod, Current Slacker

    Jul 12, 2007

    Darfur force 'to be all-African'
    Africa will provide all of the 26,000 peacekeepers to be sent to Sudan's Darfur region, the head of the African Union (AU) has said.

    AU chairman Alpha Oumar Konare said enough African troops had been promised for no outside help to be needed but he did not give details.
    The UN had expected to call on Asian troops. Critics say Africa lacks enough trained troops for an effective force.
    Sudan's government has long opposed the involvement of non-African soldiers.
    It only agreed to a joint United Nations-AU force after months of negotiations.
    The UN Security Council resolution setting up the force said the troops would be mostly African but they would be under UN command.
    Viable plan?
    UN spokesman Farhan Haq said that while there may be enough AU troops for the force, it was important to get the right mix of abilities on the ground.
    "It's not simply a question of raw numbers of troops - we¿re trying to find a good mix of skills," he told the BBC News website.
    "We're looking to make sure this force is robust, it's mobile, it's well-armed and equipped, so that it can carry out the full mandate that it needs to perform."
    Speaking after talks in Khartoum with the Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, Mr Konare said: "I can confirm today that we have received sufficient commitments from African countries that we will not have to resort to non-African forces."
    He added that the "ball is now in the court of the UN" to provide funding for the force.

    <!--So--><!--Eo--><!--Smva-->7,000 - existing AU force
    1,000 - pledged by Senegal
    800 - pledged by Malawi
    <!--Emva--><!--Smva-->Other pledges: <!--Emva--><!--Smva-->Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ethiopia and Egypt
    Indonesia, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh
    26,000 - total planned
    Mr Bashir, who has long argued that a UN-backed force would be a violation of Sudan's sovereignty and could worsen the situation there, backed Mr Konare's plan.
    "[We] support the AU force, which consolidates the efforts of the Sudanese government to ensure security, peace and stability in Darfur," he said after their meeting.
    Mr Konare did not give a breakdown of the countries offering to supply more personnel, leading correspondents to question the viability of an all-African force.
    BBC Africa analyst David Bamford said it was unclear where so many African troops would come from.
    Senegal and Malawi have promised to send peacekeepers to Darfur, while the AU has said that Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Egypt, Ethiopia and Nigeria have also promised to contribute.
    Hafiz Mohamed from lobby group Justice Africa said Sudan would be able to manipulate AU troops - as he said they had been doing with the 7,000 AU troops already in Darfur.
    "This will affect the whole credibility of the new resolution," he told the BBC's Network Africa programme.
    Deadline looming
    Mr Konare's announcement came just days after the UN published a list of Asian countries it said had already committed troops and police officers to a Darfur force.

    UN officials said the joint AU-UN force would be "predominantly African", but confirmed that countries including Indonesia, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh had pledged personnel.
    According to a UN resolution, the composition of the force must be decided by 30 August.
    At least 200,000 people are believed to have died and more than two million have been left homeless in Darfur since fighting broke out in 2003.
    Sudan's Arab dominated government, and the pro-government Janjaweed militias, are accused of war crimes against the region's black African population - although the UN has stopped short of calling it genocide. Sudan has always denied backing the Janjaweed militias and argued that the problems in Darfur were being exaggerated for political reasons.
  3. PowderLove

    PowderLove Former Mod, Current Slacker

    Jul 12, 2007

    WHO fears over Beijing pollution
    Some spectators attending the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing face serious health problems due to air pollution, a leading health expert has warned.

    Dr Michal Krzyzanowski of the World Health Organisation told the BBC that those with a history of cardiovascular problems should take particular care.
    He also said the city's poor air quality could trigger asthma attacks.
    The warning came as Beijing began a four-day test scheme to take 1.3m vehicles off the city's roads.
    During the test period, cars with registration plates ending in odd and even numbers will each be banned from the roads for two day.

    <TABLE><TBODY><TR><TD width=5></TD><TD class=fact><!--Smva-->All of the cities are pretty highly polluted by European standards, but even by the standards of Asia, Chinese cities are pretty highly polluted
    <!--Emva--><!--Smva-->Dr Michal Krzyzanowski <!--Emva--><!--So-->

    Any driver caught contravening the restrictions will be fined 100 yuan ($13, £6.50) by 6,500 police officers.
    If the strategy works, it will be used next August to reduce air pollution and traffic during the Olympics.
    Officials expect the ban to cut vehicle emissions by 40%, although correspondents said thick smog continued to hang over the city on Friday.
    Beijing's residents, who are being told to take public transport rather than their cars during the test period, appear to be supporting the pilot project.
    'Highly polluted'
    But despite the plans to cut emissions, Dr Krzyzanowski said the WHO still feared for the welfare of those planning to attend the games next year.
    "All of the cities are pretty highly polluted by European standards, but even by the standards of Asia, Chinese cities are pretty highly polluted," he told BBC Sport.

    <TABLE><TBODY><TR><TD width=5></TD><TD class=fact><!--So--><!--Eo--><!--Smva-->Exposure to high pollution levels may trigger serious problems
    <!--Emva--><!--Smva-->Dr Michal Krzyzanowski
    World Health Organisation <!--Emva--><!--So-->

    "The main problem in Chinese cities is air pollution, small particles which are suspended in the air and penetrate deep into the lungs," he added.
    "More importantly they penetrate other systems, like the cardio-vascular system and travel in the blood through the body."
    Dr Krzyzanowski said people who were not in perfect health ought to think twice before travelling to the games, given the additional stress generated by the excitement of a sporting event, the heat and the poor quality air.
    "For them, exposure to high pollution levels may be a trigger to serious problems if they already have, for instance, cardio-vascular disease," he said.
    "Those who come with asthma may suffer attacks - they usually know how to respond to it, but I would be concerned for those who have some cardiac condition," he added.
    "This might be more serious as it requires a much more specialised medical response."
    Traffic doubts

    International Olympic Committee chief Jacques Rogge warned last week that events could be postponed if conditions were unhealthy, while some countries say their competitors will arrive in Beijing as late as possible to avoid exposure to pollution.
    The air pollution expert also cast doubt on the effectiveness of the Beijing Organising Committee's experimental traffic ban, saying reducing pollution required long term planning rather than short term fixes.
    "I'd be amazed if substantial progress is made in the next 12 months," he said, pointing out that Beijing's problems are not just created locally.
    "Particles have the ability of travelling thousands of kilometres in the air, so it's possible the beneficial effect of cutting the traffic in the city will be compensated by the transport of pollution from other parts of China." Beijing, home to about 16 million people, has just over 3 million registered vehicles, mostly comprising private cars, buses, taxis and government vehicles.
  4. PowderLove

    PowderLove Former Mod, Current Slacker

    Jul 12, 2007

    S Korea gives flood aid to North
    South Korea is sending $7.5m (£3.7m) worth of emergency aid to North Korea after severe floods devastated large parts of the country.

    Seoul said the initial relief would include instant noodles, bottled water, powdered milk, blankets and medicine.
    South Korean Unification Minister Lee Jae-joung described what had happened in the North as "heartbreaking".
    At least 221 people have been killed and 82 people are still missing, the Red Cross in Pyongyang has said.
    Some 300,000 people have been left homeless after days of heavy rain brought flooding to large parts of the south of the country.
    Power lines are down, roads and bridges have been washed away and as much as one-tenth of the country's vital farmland has been destroyed.
    The coal mining industry - a key source of energy for the impoverished country - has also been badly damaged, North Korea's state news agency, KCNA, reported on Friday.
    Some 144,000 tonnes of coal had been lost and 300 mineshafts collapsed, the agency said.
    Relief efforts
    "Considering the large-scale damage and the urgency of the people who have been displaced, we plan to provide the emergency aid as swiftly as possible," Lee Jae-joung said.

    "The flood damage in the North is heartbreaking," he added.
    He said Seoul hoped to start shipping out emergency supplies to the North early next week, and would be considering how it could contribute to the reconstruction effort.
    Pyongyang has been unusually open about its post-flood difficulties, and need for outside help.
    International aid agencies are working with the government to identify those most in need, and have been distributing emergency supplies to the hardest-hit areas. World Food Programme officials were expected to travel out to the affected areas on Friday, hoping to begin diverting supplies from its hunger relief programme to the emergency effort.
  5. PowderLove

    PowderLove Former Mod, Current Slacker

    Jul 12, 2007

    Australia bans 'Mugabe students'
    Australia says it will deport eight Zimbabwean university students whose parents are senior members of the government of President Robert Mugabe.

    Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said the move was an extension of sanctions against Zimbabwe.
    It was aimed at preventing those behind human rights abuses from giving their children the education their policies denied ordinary Zimbabweans, he said.
    The Australian government is a vocal critic of Mr Mugabe.
    Earlier this year, it banned its cricketers from going on a planned tour to Zimbabwe.
    Mr Downer said the visa measure was necessary because of the continuing disregard for democracy and human rights in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe's government has accused Australia of funding violence by aiding civic groups in the country.
  6. PowderLove

    PowderLove Former Mod, Current Slacker

    Jul 12, 2007

    Russia restarts Cold War patrols
    Russia is resuming a Soviet-era practice of sending its bomber aircraft on long-range flights, President Vladimir Putin has said.

    Mr Putin said the move to resume the flights permanently after a 15-year suspension was in response to security threats posed by other military powers.
    He said 14 bombers had taken off from Russian airfields early on Friday.
    The move came a week after Russian bombers flew within a few hundred miles of the US Pacific island of Guam.
    A few days ago Moscow said its strategic bombers had begun exercises over the North Pole.
    Flexing muscles
    "We have decided to restore flights by Russian strategic aviation on a permanent basis," Mr Putin told reporters at joint military exercises with China and four Central Asian states in Russia's Ural mountains.
    "In 1992, Russia unilaterally ended flights by its strategic aircraft to distant military patrol areas. Unfortunately, our example was not followed by everyone," Mr Putin said, in an apparent reference to the US.

    <TABLE><TBODY><TR><TD width=5></TD><TD class=fact><!--So--><!--Eo--><!--So-->

    "Flights by other countries' strategic aircraft continue and this creates certain problems for ensuring the security of the Russian Federation," he said.
    In Washington, state department spokesman Sean McCormack played down the significance of Russia's move, saying: "We certainly are not in the kind of posture we were with what used to be the Soviet Union."

    "If Russia feels as though they want to take some of these old aircraft out of mothballs and get them flying again, that's their decision," he told reporters.
    One of the reasons Russia halted its flights 15 years ago was that it could no longer afford the fuel.
    Today Moscow's coffers are stuffed full of oil money, says the BBC's Rupert Wingfield-Hayes in Moscow, and the Kremlin is determined to show it is still a military power to reckon with.
    'Shadowed by Nato'
    Russian media reported earlier on Friday that long-range bombers were airborne, and that Nato jets were shadowing them.
    Itar-Tass quoted Russian air force spokesman Alexander Drobyshevsky as saying: "At present, several pairs of Tu-160 and Tu-95MS aircraft are in the air over the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, which are accompanied by Nato planes."
    Nato said it was aware of the flights but had no comment on whether Nato planes were in attendance.
    In last week's incident near Guam, the Russian pilots "exchanged smiles" with US fighter pilots who scrambled to track them, a Russian general said.
    The US military confirmed the presence of the Russian bombers near Guam, home to a large US base.
    Last month two Tupolev 95 aircraft - dubbed "bears" according to their Nato code-name - strayed south from their normal patrol pattern off the Norwegian coast and headed towards Scotland. Two RAF Tornado fighters were sent up to meet them. Russian bombers have also recently flown close to US airspace over the Arctic Ocean near Alaska.
  7. PowderLove

    PowderLove Former Mod, Current Slacker

    Jul 12, 2007

    BBC radio is taken off Russian FM
    The BBC's Russian-language service is being taken off an FM radio station in Russia at the orders of the country's media regulator.

    The broadcaster's last FM distribution partner in Russia, Bolshoye Radio, said it had been told to remove BBC content or risk being shut down.
    Two other Russian FM stations, have dropped BBC programming recently.
    The BBC's Russian Service can still be heard online and on medium and shortwave frequencies in Russia.
    BBC executives said they would appeal against the decision.
    "The BBC entered into the relationship with Bolshoye Radio in good faith," said Richard Sambrook, Director of BBC Global News.
    "We cannot understand how the licence is now interpreted in a way that does not reflect the original and thorough concept documents."
    He said the licensing agreement allowed for 18% of Bolshoye's content to be foreign-produced.
    Bolshoye Radio's owners, financial group Finam, told the BBC that Russia's media regulators required that all programming be produced by the station itself.
    A spokesman for the company said management had made the decision without outside prompting.
    "It's no secret that the BBC was established as a broadcaster of foreign propaganda," the spokesman, Igor Ermachenkov, told Associated Press news agency.
    Mr Sambrook said: "We are extremely disappointed that listeners to Bolshoye Radio will be unable to listen to our impartial and independent news and information programming in the high quality audibility of FM." Critics say Russia is taking measures to curb media freedom ahead of parliamentary elections in December and a presidential poll in March.
  8. PowderLove

    PowderLove Former Mod, Current Slacker

    Jul 12, 2007
    Hell yeah. Russia wants to be the US of the East.
  9. PowderLove

    PowderLove Former Mod, Current Slacker

    Jul 12, 2007

    Australia PM defends nuclear sale
    <!--Smvb--><TABLE><TBODY><TR><TD vAlign=bottom><!--Smvb-->By Nick Bryant
    BBC News, Sydney <!--Emvb-->
    <!--Emvb-->Australian Prime Minister John Howard has defended his controversial decision to sell uranium to India.

    The decision overturns Australia's long standing rule of not exporting to countries which have not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
    Mr Howard said the decision is the best way to bring India into the nuclear mainstream.
    But the opposition Labor Party has vowed to block any deal if it wins power in federal elections this year.
    "India does have a very good non-proliferation track record. It has indicated that it does not intend to join the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. So we think it worthwhile finding practical ways to bring it into the non-proliferation mainstream," Mr Howard said.
    Australia holds 40% of the world's known uranium reserves and has traditionally been very careful and very choosy about which countries it sells to.
    Policy shift
    Up until now its key stipulations were that customers should have ratified the global Non-Proliferation Treaty, that the radioactive material would be used only for peaceful purposes and should not be passed on to a third country.
    So by announcing that it is prepared to sell uranium to energy-hungry India - a country which has refused to sign up to the non-proliferation pact - the Howard government has signalled a major reversal of policy.

    <TABLE><TBODY><TR><TD width=5></TD><TD class=fact><!--So--><!--Eo--><!--Smva-->India does have a very good non-proliferation track record
    <!--Emva--><!--Smva-->John Howard <!--Emva-->

    In the face of strong criticism at home, John Howard has defended the decision, saying it would curb global warming by promoting nuclear power. Australia is also in negotiations to sell uranium to China.
    Safeguards will be put in place before any uranium exports begin.
    Delhi has to agree to international inspections of its power plants and hammer out the fine and troublesome details of its new nuclear partnership agreement with Washington.
    Still the opposition Labor party remains vehemently opposed and has threatened to tear up any deal with India if it wins the upcoming national election.
    Australia's decision to sell uranium to India will follow India's similar deal with the US.
    First agreed with the White House in March, the US-India deal reverses three decades of American anti-proliferation policy.
    Under the agreement, India will gain access to US civilian nuclear technology and uranium and be allowed to reprocess fuel - a move that could theoretically allow India to make more nuclear weapons. India's nuclear weapon stocks are currently estimated to be between 70 and 120.
  10. PowderLove

    PowderLove Former Mod, Current Slacker

    Jul 12, 2007

    HIV test before Nigerian marriage
    Couples must first take an HIV test before they will be allowed to marry, the Anglican Church in Nigeria says.

    The church says the move is to help parishioners make "informed choices" when choosing marriage partners.
    The BBC News website learnt that many Christian churches in Nigeria impose similar tests on their members as a condition for marriage.
    The policy is being implemented in all Anglican dioceses across Nigeria, the church's spokesman said.
    "The aim is to help intending couples to make informed decisions because we don't want anyone to be kept in the dark about their partner," spokesman for the church Rev Akintunde Popoola told the BBC News website.

    <TABLE><TBODY><TR><TD width=5></TD><TD class=fact><!--Smva-->If they find out their status and still want to go ahead, we cannot object. Instead, we offer them care and support
    <!--Emva--><!--Smva-->Rev Akintunde Popoola <!--Emva--></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>

    He said the church will not stop people from getting married if they test positive to HIV, the virus that causes Aids.
    "The whole point is for couples to know their HIV status before getting married," he said.
    "If they find out their status and still want to go ahead, we cannot object. Instead, we offer them care and support."
    But the authorities are already challenging the new policy by the church, saying it is unacceptable.
    "We cannot accept what the church is proposing. Every Nigerian must be allowed to decide on their own whether they want to be tested or not," Prof Tunde Oshotimehin, who heads Nigeria's state HIV control agency, told the BBC.
    "HIV testing and counselling must be voluntary. What the church is trying to do will encourage denial."
    Graduate tests
    The Catholic Church in Nigeria says it is not imposing such a policy on its members because it wants HIV testing to be voluntary and personal.
    "We know that some people do it, but we are not making it church policy," spokesman of the Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja Rev Fr Ralph Madu told the BBC News website.
    Recently, a church-owned college - Covenant University, Nigeria - announced that its graduates should take HIV and pregnancy tests as conditions for graduation.
    But the university suspended the policy after widespread condemnation and criticisms from government agencies and rights groups.
    Nigeria is a deeply religious country with her 140 million people almost evenly divided between Christians and Muslims. According to Nigeria's National Agency for the Control of AIDS (Naca), some 4.4% of Nigerians live with HIV.
  11. PowderLove

    PowderLove Former Mod, Current Slacker

    Jul 12, 2007

    Iraq bomb death toll reaches 344
    The governor of the Sinjar region of north-western Iraq has said 344 people died in Tuesday's multiple bomb attacks against the minority Yazidi community.

    He said another 400 people had been injured by the blasts and that he believed 70 others were still buried in the rubble of destroyed buildings.
    About 600 local residents had been made homeless, the governor added.
    The attacks on the two Yazidi villages near Sinjar were among the deadliest in Iraq since the US-led invasion in 2003.

    <TABLE><TBODY><TR><TD width=5></TD><TD class=fact><!--Smva-->We need food, medicine and water otherwise there will be an even greater catastrophe
    Mayor of Baaj district <!--Emva--></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>

    Elsewhere, the US military in Iraq said it had killed 13 suspected insurgents and one civilian in a clash near the town of Tarmiya, north of Baghdad.
    The Americans said they had been targeting a cell leader of the al-Qaeda in Iraq militant group.
    The US military said the raid came after the death of one of its soldiers, who was killed when his patrol came under fire from a Sunni mosque in the area on Thursday.
    A spokesman for the US military, Maj Mike Garcia, said its aircraft had fired a Hellfire missile at two gunmen on the roof of a nearby Sunni mosque in retaliation. The mosque sustained only minor damage, he added.
    "These insurgents displayed total disregard for the community by using a mosque, a sacred place for Muslims to worship, as a sanctuary to commit their acts of terror," he told the Reuters news agency.
    Plea for help
    US commanders have blamed al-Qaeda in Iraq for the attacks on the Yazidi villages, saying they fitted the profile of "spectacular" strikes expected by the group during the ongoing US "surge" operation.

    <TABLE><TBODY><TR><TD width=5></TD><TD class=fact>KEY FACTS: THE YAZIDIS
    <!--Smva-->Religious sect found in northern Iraq, Syria and the Caucasus
    Number about 500,000 worldwide, but largest number in northern Iraq
    Doctrine is an amalgam of pagan, Sabean, Shamanistic, Manichean, Zoroastrian, Jewish, Christian and Islamic elements
    Yazidis believe in a Supreme God, but do not believe in evil, sin, hell or the devil
    Violation of divine laws can be expiated by metempsychosis, or the transferring of a soul from one body to another
    Principal divine figure, Malak Taus (Peacock Angel), is the supreme angel of the seven angels who ruled the universe after it was created by God

    After surveying the scene of the attack on Friday, the mayor of Baaj district, which includes the villages, pleaded for help from the government and aid agencies.
    "People are in shock. Hospitals here are running out of medicine. The pharmacies are empty," Abdul Rahim al-Shimari told reporters.
    "We need food, medicine and water otherwise there will be an even greater catastrophe."
    The Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister, Barham Saleh, ordered the ministries of defence and health to immediately send tents, medicine and other aid after touring the area. He also said provincial officials had been given 1bn Iraqi Dinars ($807,000; £408,000) to distribute to the victims and their relatives.
  12. PowderLove

    PowderLove Former Mod, Current Slacker

    Jul 12, 2007

    Fresh rain worsens S Asia floods
    Fresh rains in north India have flooded new areas and worsened the situation in regions already badly hit by some of the worst floods in 30 years.

    Relief operations are being hampered in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh and landslides suspended the pilgrimage to a key shrine in Uttarakhand state.
    In Bangladesh, more than 50,000 people have fallen sick after eating stale food or drinking contaminated water.
    About 28m people have been affected by floods in India, Bangladesh and Nepal.
    The number of those killed varies widely from 500 to 3,000.
    Landslide toll
    In the worst affected Indian state of Bihar, officials say at least 300 people have died from the floods.
    Rain water has destroyed crops worth millions of dollars and left hundreds of thousands homeless, they say.

    Kanti Devi, a resident of Muzaffarpur, said: "The first time the flood water came in to my house it stayed for eight days. The water came back yesterday; almost 100 houses are flooded again here."
    She has had to seek refuge elsewhere with her family.
    "Everybody is nervous and scared. The children are frightened of snakes and leeches brought by the flood."
    Children's NGO Plan says doctors report suspected malaria cases up 30-fold since the beginning of the floods.
    Manish Mehta of Plan said: "If rain continues to fall, further assistance will be vital to prevent a disease epidemic, provide shelter and avert many more deaths."
    In Himachal Pradesh state, where a flash flood caused by a cloudburst in Ghanvi village struck this week, two more bodies have been recovered from the debris of houses.
    Eight people are confirmed dead and 44 are still missing, state officials told the BBC.
    Officials say the relief work is being hampered as roads leading to the village have been severely damaged and it is difficult to move in heavy machinery.

    <TABLE><TBODY><TR><TD width=5></TD><TD class=fact>THE ASIAN MONSOON
    <!--So--><!--Eo--><!--Smva-->Monsoon winds blow north-easterly for one half of the year, and from the south-west for the other half
    South-westerly winds bring the heavy rains from June to Sept
    Winds arrive in southern India six weeks before the north west
    Annual rainfall varies considerably

    Incessant rains in several parts of Uttarakhand have killed 40 people and several highways have been blocked.
    The pilgrimage to the Hindu shrine of Badrinath has been suspended after a 50-metre stretch of the national highway was washed away following heavy rains.

    Rain has also battered the eastern city of Calcutta for a third day, disrupting transport and closing shops.
    It has also continued to lash parts of eastern Uttar Pradesh and officials say the water level in major rivers, including the Ganges and Ghagra, has been rising steadily.
    In Bangladesh, officials say nearly 500 people have died from the floods.
    Doctors and health officials are struggling to cope with a major outbreak of disease which has put great pressure on the country's medical facilities.
    At least 53,000 people have contracted water-borne diseases and officials say extra health workers have been deployed to treat those suffering from diarrhoea.
    Many flood victims' homes are still under water.
    "Now we have taken shelter beside this road," one victim, Zulekha Begum, told Reuters. "I am with two of my young children suffering so much and no-one has come to help us as yet. In other places victims have been given aid, but we are not getting any," she said.
  13. PowderLove

    PowderLove Former Mod, Current Slacker

    Jul 12, 2007
    Click for full article

    TAIPEI, Taiwan (Reuters) -- A super-strength typhoon that brought flooding to parts of the Philippines tore into Taiwan on Friday, forcing the cancellation of flights and sending coastal residents rushing to secure their homes.
    <!--startclickprintexclude--><!-- REAP --><!-- PURGE: /2007/WORLD/asiapcf/08/17/taiwan.typhoon.reut/art.manila.ap.jpg --><!-- KEEP --><!----><!--===========IMAGE============-->[​IMG]<!--===========/IMAGE===========-->
    <!--===========CAPTION==========-->Filipino students wade through floodwaters as they walk outside their school in Manila Wednesday.<!--===========/CAPTION=========-->

    <!-- /PURGE: /2007/WORLD/asiapcf/08/17/taiwan.typhoon.reut/art.manila.ap.jpg --><!-- /REAP --><!--endclickprintexclude-->Waves swelled, winds picked up and rain battered the north of the island as Typhoon Sepat made landfall, a disaster-relief official and local media said. Two counties ordered class and work stoppages effective Friday afternoon, TV stations reported.
    "There's already a huge wind, and waves hitting the coast pose a danger," said Fei Yu, a resident of coastal Taitung County. "Most people living here are making preparations at home to ride out the storm."
    In the southern city of Kaohsiung, 16 domestic flights and one international flight were canceled.
    All flights from Taipei's domestic airport were due to stop in the evening. The Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, near Taipei, also canceled southbound flights to avoid the storm.
  14. PowderLove

    PowderLove Former Mod, Current Slacker

    Jul 12, 2007

    Australia targets British workers
    British workers will find it easier to move Down Under when Australia changes its immigration policy next month.

    New rules mean an extra five points will be awarded for passing a standard English language test under Australia's points-based immigration system.
    Australia has raised its annual target figure for skilled workers coming in to the country - from 97,000 to 102,500.
    Among the workers needed are teachers, doctors, accountants, plumbers, nurses, carpenters, dentists and IT managers.
    'Lacking workers'
    A total of 120 points is enough to fast-track a move to Australia under the country's immigration system, which awards points for factors such as youth, ability to speak languages, skills and experience.

    <TABLE><TBODY><TR><TD width=5></TD><TD class=fact><!--Smva-->The country is throwing its doors open to huge numbers of skilled and experienced British people
    <!--Emva--><!--Smva-->Chris Cook
    Australian Visa Bureau <!--Emva--></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>

    Australian Visa Bureau spokesman Chris Cook said: "The Australian government realises it is lacking workers in many professions it desperately needs to fill, so the country is throwing its doors open to huge numbers of skilled and experienced British people."
    He added the Australian government was looking for more immigrants than ever before.
    Andrew James of the Emigration Group, which helps English-speaking people move to Australia and New Zealand, told BBC News: "Australia is looking to tailor the policy to suit their needs.
    "That means trying to attract people away from the obvious places, like Sydney, Perth, Melbourne, and trying to direct them to what they call the regions, which doesn't mean living in the back of nowhere." The number of British people emigrating to Australia increased from 8,749 in 2001/2 to 23,290 in 2005/6.
  15. PowderLove

    PowderLove Former Mod, Current Slacker

    Jul 12, 2007

    Chinese pair face Iran spy claims
    Iran has arrested two Chinese nationals for allegedly spying on military and nuclear facilities.

    A judiciary spokesman said the two had been detained while taking photographs of a military complex in the town of Arak, in central Iran.
    Tehran is building a controversial nuclear reactor near the town.
    Iran has good relations with Beijing and correspondents say this is the first time Chinese citizens have been accused of spying there.
    Spokesman Ali Reza Jamshid said the two entered Iran via the beach resort of Kish island which lies off Iran's southern coast.
    Oil connection
    He told the Associated Press: "The Chinese nationals were detained while taking photos and recording video tape of a military complex in Arak city.
    "They entered Iran through Kish island as tourists."
    In Iran, taking pictures of military installations is a serious offence.
    In March 2006, two Swedes were arrested in Iran for taking pictures of military installations on the southern island of Qeshm.
    They were sentenced to two years in prison but were subsequently released in April this year.
    China's good relationship with Tehran means it has secured involvement in large oil deals in the country. However, it has voiced support for US-led international efforts to stop Iran from becoming a nuclear power.
  16. PowderLove

    PowderLove Former Mod, Current Slacker

    Jul 12, 2007

    Apartheid murder plotters guilty
    Five former security officials in South Africa's apartheid regime have received suspended prison sentences for plotting to kill an anti-apartheid activist.

    Former Police Minister Adriaan Vlok and his then police chief Johan van der Merwe got suspended 10-year sentences.
    The others received suspended five-year sentences from the court in Pretoria.
    Under a plea bargain, all five admitted trying to kill prominent black activist Frank Chikane in 1989 by lacing his underwear with a nerve toxin.
    Rev Chikane, who is now a director in the president's office, has said he did not want to see the men go to prison.
    Vlok sought forgiveness from Rev Chikane last year by washing his feet.
    The BBC's Peter Greste, at the court in Pretoria, says the case has threatened to reopen apartheid-era divisions.

    <TABLE><TBODY><TR><TD width=5></TD><TD class=fact><!--Smva-->How can there be reconciliation when there is no justice?
    <!--Emva--><!--Smva-->Former ANC activist Zweli Mkhize <!--Emva--><!--So-->
    Two protests took place outside the High Court during the trial.
    One called for justice for the victims of the apartheid regime while the other demanded that members of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) should also face charges for alleged offences committed during the apartheid era.
    "If the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) perseveres in not treating the ANC's leaders equally to other offenders, then any further prosecutions will amount to selective morality and a witch hunt," the Afrikaans civil rights group, Afri-forum, said in a statement reported by the AFP news agency.
    But victims of apartheid say justice should be served.
    "How can there be reconciliation when there is no justice?" former ANC activist Zweli Mkhize told AP news agency.
    Emergency laws
    The attempt on Mr Chikane's life came when he was secretary-general of the South African Council of Churches.

    The five accused attempted to assassinate the clergyman by placing underwear impregnated with a powerful nerve toxin in his suitcase while he was travelling.
    Vlok and Van der Merwe were in charge of law and order in South Africa during the late 1980s - a period when emergency laws granted police sweeping powers of arrest and detention against anti-apartheid activists.
    The three others were lower ranking police officers at the time.
    A post-apartheid Truth and Reconciliation Commission - headed by Nobel peace laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu - investigated offences committed during the apartheid era and granted amnesty to those who admitted their crimes.
    Vlok appeared before the commission, and received amnesty for a series of bombings, but did not ask for immunity for the attempted poisoning of Rev Chikane.
    Earlier this month, the former South African President, F W De Klerk, denied any involvement in crimes or human rights abuses committed during the apartheid era. At a news conference in Cape Town ahead of Vlok's trial, he said he had been falsely accused of being implicated in the attempt on Rev Chikane's life.
  17. PowderLove

    PowderLove Former Mod, Current Slacker

    Jul 12, 2007

    Warrant out for Saddam daughter
    Interpol has circulated an arrest warrant for the oldest daughter of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

    Raghad Saddam Hussein, who fled the US-invasion of Iraq in 2003, is accused of terrorism and other offences.
    She helped organise the legal defence of her father, who was hanged last December for crimes against humanity.
    Last year Iraq put Raghad and her mother, Sajida, on a list of its most wanted fugitives, alleging they supported the insurgency in Iraq.
    The Iraqi Interior Ministry told the BBC Interpol had notified member countries on Friday.
    Before her father was executed last year, Raghad asked for his body to be buried temporarily in Yemen until, she said, such time as coalition forces were expelled from Iraq. The Jordanian authorities said last year that she was living in their country as an asylum seeker, but it is not clear where she is at present.
  18. PowderLove

    PowderLove Former Mod, Current Slacker

    Jul 12, 2007

    Atrocity casts spotlight on US policy
    <!--Smvb--><TABLE><TBODY><TR><TD vAlign=bottom width=58>
    </TD><TD></TD><TD vAlign=bottom width=348><!--Smvb-->By John Simpson
    BBC World Affairs Editor <!--Emvb--></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>

    The attacks on the two Yazidi villages in northern Iraq on Tuesday were a form of ethnic and religious cleansing - genocide, you could almost say.

    Such things have become a part of the underlying pattern of warfare in Iraq.
    The Yazidis I have met have been gentle, quiet, justifiably nervous people. Some Muslims regard them as devil-worshippers, though their beliefs are both more complicated and far more innocent than that sounds.
    The situation in Iraq offers all sorts of opportunities to carry out violent attacks like these, settling old scores and wiping out religious, ethnic and political enemies.
    The Pentagon and the White House have blamed al-Qaeda for these atrocities, as they habitually do for most of the violence.

    <TABLE><TBODY><TR><TD width=5></TD><TD class=fact><!--Smva-->The main point of the surge is political, and it is mostly directed at American opinion. The White House wants to be able to declare victory and start withdrawing

    They maintain that American relations with Sunni Arabs are getting better, and that even Sunnis are turning against the extremists of al-Qaeda.
    This attack may certainly have been the work of an al-Qaeda group, attacking people they would regard as heretics.
    But it is equally possible that it was mainstream Sunni Arab insurgents, who in fact seem to be responsible for the large majority of killings and bombings in Iraq.
    Surge politics
    So what does all this mean for the success or otherwise of the American "surge" in troop numbers?
    US President George W Bush said there would be big attacks as a result of the surge. One effect of putting tens of thousands of extra American soldiers into Baghdad and other centres of violence is that it has forced the insurgent groups to carry out their bombings elsewhere.

    <TABLE><TBODY><TR><TD width=5></TD><TD class=fact>KEY FACTS: THE YAZIDIS
    <!--Smva-->Religious sect found in northern Iraq, Syria and the Caucasus
    Number about 500,000 worldwide, but largest number in northern Iraq
    Doctrine is an amalgam of pagan, Sabean, Shamanistic, Manichean, Zoroastrian, Jewish, Christian and Islamic elements
    Yazidis believe in a Supreme God, but do not believe in evil, sin, hell or the devil
    Violation of divine laws can be expiated by metempsychosis, or the transferring of a soul from one body to another
    Principal divine figure, Malak Taus (Peacock Angel), is the supreme angel of the seven angels who ruled the universe after it was created by God

    In this case they attacked two virtually defenceless villages.
    But for Mr Bush, the main point of the surge is political, and it is mostly directed at American opinion.
    The White House wants to be able to declare victory and start withdrawing. It claims that civilian casualties in Baghdad have halved as a result of the surge.
    Yet a careful examination of the figures does not necessarily support that.
    The McClatchy group of newspapers, part of the American mainstream media, with a considerable reputation for honesty and painstaking accuracy in its Iraq reporting, says there were 5% more car-bombings in Baghdad in July than in December, before the surge began.
    It also says the number of civilians killed in explosions is about the same.
    The BBC's own monitoring of the surge also indicates that the position is less satisfactory than the White House and the Pentagon say.
    Still, if the Bush administration can persuade Americans that things in Iraq are improving, then the figures are irrelevant.
    Bush legacy
    It's all about politics. And according to the Los Angeles Times, next month's assessment about the surge's success will be written by the White House, instead of by the two men we were previously told would make the judgement: General David Petraeus, the US commander in Iraq, and Ryan Crocker, the American ambassador there.

    Both men have the reputation of being independent-minded and frank. But at a time like this, such qualities are not primarily what the White House wants.
    The way history judges Mr Bush - his "legacy", to borrow the word Tony Blair always used - and the way the American electorate judges the Republican candidate for the presidency in November next year will be decided in part by the judgement on the Iraq war.
    President Bush wants to persuade Americans that, in spite of everything, the war in Iraq has finally turned a corner.
    The terrible loss of life among the Yazidis seems to indicate otherwise. Yet one of the worst features of this war has been the way in which one atrocity follows another, and each seems to dim the memory of the ones that went before.
  19. PowderLove

    PowderLove Former Mod, Current Slacker

    Jul 12, 2007
    Click for full article.

    Marine Helicopter Crashes Near Yuma

    Training Flight Had 5 People On Board

    POSTED: 8:58 am PDT August 17, 2007
    UPDATED: 10:50 am PDT August 17, 2007

    <SCRIPT src="/js/13260191/script.js" type=text/javascript></SCRIPT><LINK href="/css/13260803/style.css" type=text/css rel=stylesheet><!--startindex-->YUMA, Ariz. -- A U.S. Marine Corps search-and-rescue helicopter with five people on board has crashed during a routine training flight over southwest Arizona, but the status of the crew isn't yet known.
    The HH-1N Huey chopper assigned to the Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma was last heard from at about 4 p.m. Thursday, said Marine Sgt. Ryan O'Hare.
    ONLINE: Marine Corps Air Station - Yuma
    Base operations officials confirmed Friday morning that the aircraft crashed, but O'Hare said he had no other details and did not know if the wreckage had been found or if there were survivors. He said more information would be released later in the day.
    Helicopters and planes from the Marines, U.S. Border Patrol and Phoenix-area Luke Air Force Base had been actively searching for the overdue aircraft, which had been flying near the U.S. Army's Yuma Proving Ground, O'Hare said.
    Four Marines and one Navy sailor were on board the missing chopper, O'Hare said.
  20. PowderLove

    PowderLove Former Mod, Current Slacker

    Jul 12, 2007
    Oops, those were supposed to go in News at home...

    Edit: Fixed it myself
  21. PowderLove

    PowderLove Former Mod, Current Slacker

    Jul 12, 2007

    US rate cut boosts global markets
    UK shares swung firmly back into positive territory following the US Federal Reserve's move to cut the rate at which it lends to banks.

    The decision, designed to increase the flow of money in the US financial system, saw London's FTSE 100 jump 3.5% or 205.3 points to 6,064.2.
    Relief was also felt in Wall Street, where shares opened sharply higher, and elsewhere in Europe.
    In afternoon trade in New York, the Dow Jones was trading up 1.5% at 13,039.
    The Nasdaq, which is dominated by technology companies, was also the recipient of a recovery of sentiment from deeply negative to tentatively positive. It was 1.63% ahead at 1,876.27.

    <TABLE><TBODY><TR><TD width=5></TD><TD class=fact><!--Smva-->Tighter credit conditions and increased uncertainty have the potential to restrain economic growth
    <!--Emva--><!--Smva-->US Federal Reserve Open Markets Committee <!--Emva--><!--So-->

    At the end of the day in Europe, Frankfurt's Dax was up 1.49%, while the Cac 40 in Paris closed 1.86% higher.
    All three main European indexes had veered in and out of the red throughout the day's trading.
    The Fed's rate cut is intended to help with the liquidity problems facing many banks following the US housing slump.
    On Thursday, London's FTSE 100 fell 4.1%, cutting almost £60bn off the value of Britain's top companies.

    Wait and see
    The recent worldwide slide in share prices was triggered by problems in the US mortgage market.
    The problems centre on the sub-prime sector, which offers higher-risk loans to people with a poor credit history.
    As US interest rates have risen and the housing bubble has burst, a growing number of sub-prime borrowers have defaulted on their loans.
    Because the lenders have often sold on the debt, this has led to extensive financial difficulties for a number of investment funds with heavy exposure to the sector - prompting fears of a wider financial crisis.
    The worry for many investors is that stock market declines will resume next week, wiping even more money off the value of pension funds and global stock markets.
    Analysts said there was no guarantee that Friday's upward trend would be maintained when trading resumed after the weekend.
    Asian losses
    The European share recovery followed big falls on Asian stock markets.
    Japan's Nikkei declined 5.42%, its biggest points fall since April 2000, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng closed 1.38% lower.
    The Bank of Japan injected 1.2 trillion yen ($10.7 billion; £5.4bn) into money markets, which was its third intervention of the week.
    Japanese investors are worried that a slowdown in the US economy will hit exports from Asia.
    There is also speculation that the Bank of Japan could raise interest rates next week, despite the problems on the market.
    Elsewhere, the Australian central bank intervened to support its currency for the first time for six years.
    The Australian dollar was facing its biggest one-day fall against the US dollar since it was allowed to trade freely in 1983. The dollar has benefited from the financial crisis as investors sort a safe haven.
  22. PowderLove

    PowderLove Former Mod, Current Slacker

    Jul 12, 2007

    Italian bishop's Mafia feud plea
    An Italian bishop has urged women in the Calabrian village of San Luca to help end a feud between two families believed to be linked to six murders.

    Bishop Giancarlo Bregantini urged the women to become bearers of "forgiveness and peace," according to comments in Corriere della Sera daily newspaper.
    The bullet-ridden bodies of the victims were found near an Italian restaurant in the German city of Duisburg.
    The event has been linked to a feud between clans of the Calabrian Mafia.
    The six victims, all males aged between 16 and 39, were shot as they left the Italian restaurant in the early hours of Wednesday after a birthday party.
    St Valentine's Day trigger
    Police said the men were linked to the notoriously violent 'Ndrangheta Mafia.
    The San Luca feud began with a brawl in the village on St Valentine's Day (14 February) in 1991 and has since claimed some 15 lives.
    Italian Interior Minister Giuliano Amato said one of the victims was thought to be one of those originally involved in the San Luca dispute.

    <TABLE><TBODY><TR><TD width=5></TD><TD class=fact>'NDRANGHETA
    <!--Smva-->"Honoured Society", based in Calabria region of south Italy
    Origins thought to date back to shortly after Italian unification in 1861
    Group grew as reaction to richer class from north
    Operates clan-based power structure based on blood families
    Accused of cocaine and weapons smuggling
    Estimated to have made 16m euros (£10.8m) in 2002

    In his appeal to the women living in the village of San Luca, which is home to 4,000 people, Bishop Bregantini said that "women carry in their hearts forgiveness or vengeance".
    German police investigating the murders, who are being assisted by Italian detectives, have released a photofit of a man believed to have been the driver of the getaway car.
    Police say the suspect is about 5'9" (180cm) tall, with short black hair, long sideburns and a mole under his right eye.
    Witnesses reported seeing two men running from the scene before escaping in a dark sedan car driven by the third man.
    On Thursday, Italian police searched about 50 homes in the southern village of San Luca and set up road blocks around the Calabria region.
    "We need to deploy units so we can avoid a repetition of these acts," said Francesco Gratteri, the head of Calabria's anti-Mafia unit.
    The killings may have been retaliation for the murder last 25 December of the wife of the head of one of the rival 'Ndrangheta families, Italian police said.
    Italy's Deputy Interior Minister Marco Minniti said the apparent score-settling in a foreign country was "unprecedented" and "an element of great concern". "This feud marks a second chapter outside the territory where these clans usually operate - this time even outside our national borders," he told a news conference in Rome.
  23. PowderLove

    PowderLove Former Mod, Current Slacker

    Jul 12, 2007

    France announces paedophile curbs
    French President Nicolas Sarkozy has announced new measures to deal with repeat sex offenders in response to a paedophile scandal.

    Mr Sarkozy said a secure hospital would be built to detain paedophiles.
    In future, he added, offenders would not be released until doctors had decided they were no longer dangerous.
    The moves follow an admission by a prison doctor that he prescribed Viagra to a serial child molester accused of attacking a boy after his release.
    The doctor told police he had not been given access to the criminal records of the man, who had told him he wanted relationships with women.
    President Sarkozy said the government wanted to draw conclusions from an "unacceptable situation which has greatly shocked the French".
    He added that "everything must be done to make sure this won't happen again".
    Alert system
    The alleged aggressor, Francis Evrard, was a convicted paedophile who had spent most of the past 30 years behind bars.
    Yet within weeks of his release in early July, the 61-year-old had been left unsupervised.
    Speaking after meeting senior ministers, Mr Sarkozy said that in future sex offenders would have to complete their sentences. Evrard had served 18 years of a 27-year term.
    Mr Sarkozy added that serving a full term would not necessarily mean freedom. Sex offenders still regarded as a threat could be detained in a secure hospital to be built in the central city of Lyon.
    Under certain circumstances, Mr Sarkozy said, they would be allowed to leave the hospital. They would be tagged, and some may be chemically castrated.
    Evrard, 61, was found with a five-year-old boy within a few hours of the boy's abduction, police say.
    He was located with the help of a new nationwide alert system that makes intense use of radio and television announcements as well as public notices at train stations and on highways.
    The boy was abducted in a garage in the northern town of Roubaix on 15 August.
    Before the emergency cabinet meeting, Mr Sarkozy met the boy's father and grandfather. Magistrates and health professionals complain that a lack of resources means medical treatment and monitoring procedures for released offenders are not carried out effectively.
  24. PowderLove

    PowderLove Former Mod, Current Slacker

    Jul 12, 2007

    Plane gutted at Japanese airport
    <TABLE><TBODY><TR><TD width=5></TD><TD class=fact><!--So--><!--Eo--><!--Smva-->The plane burst into flames as it sat on the airport tarmac <!--Emva--><!--So-->
    <!--Eo--><!--Smvtb-->Plane fire footage <!--Emvtb--></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>A Taiwanese China Airlines plane has burst into flames at Naha airport, on the Japanese island of Okinawa.
    All 165 people on board survived, with some escaping just seconds before the plane exploded into a huge fireball.
    TV images showed flames and smoke billowing from the Boeing 737-800, and the pilot jumping out of the cockpit window as the plane exploded. Some reports said the left engine of the plane caught fire, but the airline said the cause was not yet known.

    "Everything was normal, including take-off and landing, until the pilots were told the airplane was on fire," China Airlines spokesman Johnson Sun said.
    "Then the crew on board immediately took the due procedure to evacuate all the passengers."
    Major setback
    The plane had been on a routine flight from the Taiwanese capital, Taipei, to the southern Japanese island of Okinawa, carrying 157 passengers and eight crew.

    <TABLE><TBODY><TR><TD width=5></TD><TD class=fact><!--So--><!--Eo--><!--So-->

    Airport officials told Kyodo news agency that black smoke and fire could be seen billowing from the plane just eight minutes after it had landed.
    Once the fire had been extinguished, an hour later, the plane was found to have broken into two.
    Japanese TV initially reported that two crew members were rushed to hospital, but airline officials said all eight were safe.
    The BBC's Caroline Gluck in Taipei says the incident is a major setback for the Taiwanese flag carrier, which once had one of the worst safety records for international airlines. The airline suffered several crashes during the 1990s, and in 2002 one of its fleet crashed into the sea near the island of Penghu with 225 passengers and crew on board.
  25. PowderLove

    PowderLove Former Mod, Current Slacker

    Jul 12, 2007

    Roadside bomb kills Iraq governor
    The Shia governor of Iraq's southern Muthana province has been killed by a roadside bomb, officials have said.

    The governor, Mohammed Ali al-Hasani, was killed when the bomb exploded next to his convoy as it drove through the provincial capital, Samawa, police say.
    Several bodyguards were also injured in the explosion, which happened at 0800 local time (0400 GMT).
    Mr Hasani belonged to the largest Shia party in Iraq, the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SiiC).
    He is the second Shia governor killed this month.
    On 11 August the governor of Diwaniya, Khalil Jalil Hamza, was killed by a roadside bomb along with police chief Maj-Gen Khaled Hassan.

    <TABLE><TBODY><TR><TD width=5></TD><TD class=fact><!--Smva-->Those behind this horrible crime want to flood the province with chaos... we call on our people in the Muthana province to exercise self-restraint and avoid the trap set by this act
    <!--Emva--><!--Smva-->Nouri Maliki
    Iraqi prime minister <!--Emva--></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>

    The governor was a key figure in the Badr Organisation, the military wing of SiiC.
    The Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, who is on an official visit to Syria, called Monday's attack on Muthana's governor an ugly crime.
    "Those behind this horrible crime want to flood the province with chaos and insecurity, thus implementing an agenda of hatred that does not want any good for our people," he said.
    "Therefore, we call on our people in the Muthana province to exercise self-restraint and avoid the trap set by this act."
    'Shia rivalry'
    The Badr Organisation has clashed frequently with the Mehdi Army militia loyal to Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr for control of areas in the south of Iraq.
    Officials are suggesting the latest killing could be the result of rivalry between Shia factions, says the BBC's Mike Wooldridge in Baghdad.
    But Mr Sadr's office condemned the killings of both governors, describing them as "a secret plan by the occupiers to create the environment to stay in Iraq".
    Iraq's interior ministry has sent a team to Muthana province to investigate.
    The attack comes as French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner visits Baghdad to meet Iraqi leaders.
    The trip marks the first time a French minister has been to Iraq since France opposed the US-led invasion in 2003.
    Franco-US relations have improved since Nicolas Sarkozy was elected president in May.
    Mr Kouchner held talks with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and was due to meet the leaders of several of the main political factions.
    Before the talks, Mr Kouchner said France was ready to offer its support to end sectarian violence, but that the solution lay in Iraqi hands. He also said there was no military solution to Iraq's problems.
  26. PowderLove

    PowderLove Former Mod, Current Slacker

    Jul 12, 2007

    Mexico coast braces for hurricane
    <TABLE><TBODY><TR><TD width=5></TD><TD class=fact><!--So--><!--Eo--><!--Smva-->Some people have been sheltering in local schools <!--Emva--><!--So-->
    <!--Eo--><!--Smvtb-->Storm hits Jamaica <!--Emvtb--></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>The Mexican authorities have evacuated tourist resorts and shut down off-shore oil facilities ahead of the potentially devastating arrival of Hurricane Dean.
    Thousands of tourists attempted to leave the resort of Cancun, but some were unable to get a flight.
    Neighbouring Belize is also bracing itself for the hurricane, which is registering winds of 150mph (240km/h). Forecasters think Dean may get even stronger before it reaches Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula overnight.

    The storm has already claimed at least six lives in the eastern Caribbean - but largely spared the Cayman islands earlier on Monday.
    In Jamaica, it tore off roofs, uprooted trees and destroyed power lines as the storm's centre passed just south of the island.
    Looting fear
    Experts believe that Cancun and other popular Mexican resorts will not suffer a "direct hit" but that has not stopped around two-thirds of Cancun's tourists leaving the area.

    <TABLE><TBODY><TR><TD width=5></TD><TD class=fact><!--Smva-->We are all boarded up sitting in the front room listening to the local radio and drinking wine
    <!--Emva--><!--Smva-->Nick Wilkins
    BBC News website reader
    George Town, Grand Cayman <!--Emva--><!--Smiiib--><!--So-->
    <!--Eo--><!--Smvtb-->Dean: Where next? <!--Emvtb--></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>

    The US National Hurricane Centre (NHC) said Dean, already "extremely dangerous", may reach Category Five strength in the coming hours, with sustained winds greater than 155mph (249km/h) and a storm surge 18ft (5.5m) above normal tide levels.
    Some holidaymakers camped overnight at the Cancun airport to get a flight while others were turned away.
    Police officers have been deployed to prevent looting while residents have boarded up their homes in preparedness for the storms.
    Mexico's state-oil company, Petroleos de Mexico, has evacuated the remainder of its 14,354 workers and shut down production on the offshore rigs.
    A hurricane warning is in effect for the coast of Belize and the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, from Belize City to Cancun.

    Daniel Brown, from the NHC, said the focus was now on other areas.
    "It looks like the biggest threat is going to be for portions of northern Belize and the Yucatan Peninsula coast of Mexico," he said.
    At 2 pm EDT (1800 GMT), Dean was located about 330 miles (530 km) east of Belize City, the largest city in Belize, which borders Mexico.
    The hurricane is heading west and is expected to move slightly north-westwards across the Yucatan Peninsula, the NHC said.
    After crossing the Yucatan, the storm is forecast to move over the Bay of Campeche in the south-west Gulf of Mexico, before striking Mexico's coast again near Tampico.
    Shuttle rescheduled
    Dean caused widespread damage as it careered along the south coast of Jamaica.

    <TABLE><TBODY><TR><TD width=5></TD><TD class=fact><!--So--><!--Eo--><!--So-->

    "I took a journey onto the streets of Kingston and saw huge trees, massive mango trees, coconut trees that have blocked the roads," said Kathy Barrett from Radio Jamaica.
    "Power lines are down, it really has been - we got a good beating from Hurricane Dean."
    Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller declared a month-long state of emergency, widening the powers of security forces.
    A general election is due to take place on 27 August, but the storm has cast doubt on that date. In the US, the return of the space shuttle Endeavour was brought forward by a day, to Tuesday in an attempt to beat the hurricane should it eventually reach Texas, where Nasa's mission control is based.
  27. PowderLove

    PowderLove Former Mod, Current Slacker

    Jul 12, 2007

    Pakistan frees 'al-Qaeda suspect'
    A Pakistani computer expert alleged to have had links with al-Qaeda has been released without charge after three years in custody.

    Mohammad Naeem Noor Khan, 25, has been reunited with his family in the city of Karachi, officials and his lawyer said.
    Mr Khan was accused of acting as a link between al-Qaeda leaders and militants.
    His detention led to the arrest of a suspect in the 1998 US embassy bombings in East Africa, and information on terror plots in the UK and US.
    Deputy attorney general Naheeda Mehboob Ilahi announced his release in a Supreme Court hearing, but gave no further details.
    Never charged
    Mr Khan's lawyer, Babar Awan, confirmed that his client was back with his family.
    He noted that Mr Khan had been held without charge and had never appeared in court.
    Security sources told the BBC that Mr Khan had been quietly released several weeks ago and that his home in Karachi was under surveillance.
    The Supreme Court has been pressing the government for information about hundreds of people whose relatives say were picked up by intelligence agents in recent years.
    Mr Khan was arrested in the eastern city of Lahore in July 2004.
    Pakistani investigators said Mr Khan had invented secret codes, which enabled al-Qaeda operatives to send encrypted emails and messages via the internet. Shortly after his arrest, police said a search of his computer files and email records revealed an active global al-Qaeda network, which was planning attacks in Britain, Pakistan and the US.
  28. PowderLove

    PowderLove Former Mod, Current Slacker

    Jul 12, 2007

    Australian woman killed by pet camel

    • <LI class=cnnhiliteheader>Story Highlights
    • Australian woman killed by a pet camel given to her as a 60th birthday present
    • The animal lay on top of her in what police suspect was mating behavior
    • The incident took place near Mitchell, Queensland, 350 miles west of Brisbane
    BRISBANE, Australia (AP) -- An Australian woman was killed by a pet camel given to her as a 60th birthday present, police said Sunday.
    The woman, whose name has not been released, was killed Saturday at her family sheep and cattle ranch near Mitchell, 350 miles west of the Queensland state capital Brisbane, state police Detective Senior Constable Craig Gregory said.
    The 10-month-old male -- weighing about 330 pounds -- had knocked her to the ground then lay on top of her in what police suspect was mating behavior, Gregory said.
  29. PowderLove

    PowderLove Former Mod, Current Slacker

    Jul 12, 2007

    Eleven injured on Cruise film set
    Eleven extras have been injured after falling off a truck on the German set of Tom Cruise's latest movie, Valkyrie.

    One man was seriously injured in the accident, which happened when the side of the vehicle burst open as it drove around a corner, Berlin police said.
    The other 10 were treated in hospital but later released. Police said there were "no findings to suggest anyone famous was involved".
    Cruise stars in the real-life story of a plot to kill Adolf Hitler in 1944.
    The truck, which was made to look like a Wehrmacht military vehicle, is now being inspected for technical defects as part of a police investigation.

    Valkyrie has faced criticism in Germany, where crew were banned from filming at the former staff quarters where Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, who led the plot, was executed.
    Rumours circulated that the ban was imposed because of Germany's hostility towards Cruise's Scientologist beliefs.
    A government spokesman later said the restriction was put in place to preserve the building's "dignity".
    The building, known as the Bendler Block, is now a memorial for Third Reich resistance fighters.
    Valkyrie - named after Operation Valkyrie, the codename of the failed 1944 plot to kill Hitler - is being directed by Bryan Singer and will co-star British actor Kenneth Branagh. Filming, which began last month, was called off following the accident on Sunday night. Police said they did not know whether there would be further delays as a result.

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