Saturday, July 6, 2013

World News



Venezuela,Nicaragua offers Snowden asylum

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has come through on an asylum offer to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, making the announcement on television during a the broadcast of a parade marking the country’s independence day.
On Friday Nicaragua also said that it would “gladly receive” Snowden, who is still holed up in a transit section of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport since fleeing Hong Kong twelve days ago, and give him asylum, “if circumstances permit.
“We are open, respectful of the right to asylum, and it is clear that if circumstances permit it, we would receive Snowden with pleasure and give him asylum here in Nicaragua,” Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega said at a public event.
Maduro, who often employs the same boisterous rhetoric employed by his predecessor and mentor, Hugo Chavez, has said Venezuela will shield the whistleblower from prosecution by the US.
“I have decided to offer humanitarian asylum to the young American, Edward Snowden, so that in the fatherland of Bolivar and Chavez, he can come and live away from imperial North American persecution,” said Maduro.
Venezuela has offered Snowden asylum despite a US extradition request, demanding that the whistleblower be “arrested” if he “travels to” or “transits through”Venezuela and “be kept in custody” for “the purpose of extradition”.
The leader of Venezuela’s political opposition, Henrique Capriles Radonski, criticized the asylum offer extended by President Maduro, and took the opportunity to tie Maduro’s move to ongoing domestic politics.

Council of Europe ask Turkey police probe over ‘excessive force’

The Council of Europe’s human rights commissioner Nils Muiznieks has urged an investigation into the use of “excessive police force” during a crackdown on anti-government protests in Turkey last month, AFP reported. Four protesters were killed and 8,000 injured as Turkish police violently cracked down on demonstrations that first began as a sit-in against plans to redevelop Istanbul’s Gezi Park, but later turned into nationwide mass protests. Muiznieks voiced criticism over the fact that only three police officers had been suspended, despite numerous accusations of rights abuses.

Students killed in school attack in Nigeria

41 students and one teacher have been killed in an Islamic extremist attack on a boarding school in northeast Nigeria, AP reported. Some students were burned alive in the attack on Government Secondary School in Mamudo town in the northeastern Yobe state, according to survivors that are currently being treated for burn and gunshots wounds. Since 2010, dozens of schools have been torched and over 1,600 victims murdered by extremists across the country.

Bomb blast  in Yemen

A roadside bomb killed 3 and injured 2 after detonating in Yemen’s capital city Sana’a, a local security official reported. The bomb exploded in the al-Hasaba district, the epicenter of opposition to Yemen’s former leader Ali Abdullah, who was overthrown in an Arab Spring protest last year. Local police have yet to link the attack to a particular individual or organization. Yemen is the poorest Arab state and is a known base of operations for Al-Qaeda.

Quake Magnitude-6.0  hits Indonesia’s Sumatra

A 6.0-magnitude earthquake rattled the Indonesian island of Sumatra on Saturday, the US Geological Survey said. No reports have emerged on injuries or property damage caused by the tremor, which struck at a shallow depth of 23 kilometers, 154 kilometers southwest of Sungaipenuh. A local official said there was no threat of a tsunami. Earlier this week a 6.1-magnitude quake struck the northwestern province of Aceh, killing dozens and injuring 275 people. It damaged over 4,300 houses and buildings, leaving about 6,500 people displaced.

North and South Korea start talks on joint industrial zone

North and South Korea started rare talks on re-opening a jointly run industrial zone a month after their previous attempt at dialogue collapsed. Both countries say they want to reopen the Seoul-funded industrial zone on the North Korean side of the border, but have been blaming each other for its suspension. Citing military tensions and hostility, North Korea withdrew its 53,000 workers from the 123 Seoul-owned factories in April, banning South Korean firms from crossing the border. Seoul is now expected to call for a written guarantee aimed at preventing a recurrence of the unilateral shutdown of Kaesong, AFP reported.

Explosions halt oil flow on Columbia-Venezuelan border

Two explosions have shut down Columbia’s second largest pipeline, which transports 80,000 barrels of crude oil per day. Local military officials claimed leftist rebels were responsible for the blasts. The pipeline, used by US oil producer Occidental and owned by Ecopetrol, Columbia’s state oil company, is expected to re-open within 10 days. The first explosion was near El Tarra and the second near Saravena. Pipeline attacks are a popular and frequent form of dissent among insurgency movements, happening nearly every 2 or 3 days in 2012, and twice as frequently in 2011. The Marxist FARC is the nation’s largest and most active rebel group.

Former East German Stasi agent praises Snowden as “hero”

In Germany, where revelations of classified NSA surveillance info leaked by Edward Snowden have left a huge wake, a former agent in East Germany’s secret police, the Stasi, has praised Snowden as a “hero” and dismissed charges of espionage being pursued by Washington. Aside from a broader discussion on privacy, revelations that US intelligence each month collate data on half a billion German emails, phone calls and texts have prompted outrage within Germany’s political circle. “Compared to NSA surveillance today, what we did was like a children’s game,” said Gotthold Schramm, a 71-year-old former intelligence agent. Schramm , who often worked closely alongside Stasi chief Markus Wolf said it is “naive” to think any country’s secret service will not exhaust the technical possibilities available for surveillance, reports The Irish Times. Another former Stasi chief, Erich Mielke, would have been “delighted” to take advantage of the spying opportunities such as those detailed in Snowden’s NSA leaks, says Schramm.

John Paul II one of two popes to be canonized ‘within a year’

Just eight years after his death Pope John Paul II has been cleared for sainthood, with his canonization expected to occur within the year. The Vatican said that John Paul, along with leading the Catholic Church for 27 years, completed two miracles during his tenure by healing a French nun of Parkinson’s disease and a sick woman in Costa Rica on the day of his beatification. Crowds celebrated in St. Peter’s Square, although critics decried Pope Francis’ decision to canonize John Paul before the full details and depths of the Church’s sex abuse habits in recent decades are known. Pope John XIII, who served from 1958 to 1963, was also approved for sainthood and is expected to ascend “within a year.”

Two missing Germans in Syria head home

Two out of the three German aid workers that went missing in Syria on May 14 are well and are on their way home, the German Foreign Ministry has announced. The whereabouts of a missing third person is unknown. The ministry did not disclose the identity of the two aid workers, but they are believed to be Bernd Blechschmidt, Simon Sauer. The third one Ziad Nouri is still missing after allegedly being taken hostage in the town of Harem.

Latest test of US missile interceptor ends in failure

The latest test of a US missile interceptor system from a Southern California coastal base failed to destroy its target, the third such consecutive result for Boeing Co., according to the Defense Department. In Friday’s test a target designed to emulate an incoming long-range ballistic missile was launched from the US Army’s Reagan Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll, in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. The interceptor missile was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, though it failed to intercept its target. The US military has tested the ground-based defense system a total of 16 times, with eight confirmed instances of a successful interception, the last of which was reported in December of 2008. The Pentagon has said that the latest test will not affect a decision to expand the missile defense system, which is in part aimed at North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. Defense secretary Chuck Hagel announced in March an additional 14 new anti-missile interceptor batteries at a cost of nearly $1 billion.

​Syrian National Coalition fails to choose a new leader

The top Syrian opposition candidates have failed to secure a simple majority in an early morning ballot in Istanbul needed to become president of the coalition fighting to replace President Bashar Assad. In a runoff ballot, scheduled for Saturday afternoon, Ahmad Jarba, a tribesman with links to Saudi Arabia, and Mustafa al-Sabbagh, a businessman, will compete to gain at least 56 votes in the 115 member Syrian National Coalition. The coalition has been without a leader for months after its previous president quit over disagreements about potential talks with Assad’s government.
American missile defense system fails test – Pentagon

A US missile defense system’s interceptor has failed to hit its intended target in a test over the Marshall Islands, the Pentagon announced. The objective of the exercise was to have an interceptor, launched from California destroy a long-range ballistic missile launched from the Pacific. An investigation into the failure is underway. Washington has 30 interceptors in Alaska and California, at a cost of about $34 billion that are designed to tackle potential threats emanating from North Korea.

San Francisco BART service resumes after strike

Thirty five trains have been placed back on track in the San Francisco Bay Area, after unions called off the BART strike and agreed to extend a labor contract while negotiation continues. The contract between BART, and its two largest unions will be extended for 30 days. BART, the nation’s fifth largest network serves more than 400,000 people a day. BART says their workers average $71,000 in base salary and $11,000 in overtime annually.

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