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  • wingover 9:23 am on March 17, 2009 Permalink | Reply  

    Madagascar under martial law 

    Madagascar president hands over power to military – Yahoo! News.

    ANTANANARIVO, Madagascar – Madagascar’s president handed over power Tuesday — but not to the rival who plunged this Indian Ocean island nation into weeks of turmoil with his bid for power.

    In a radio address Tuesday, President Marc Ravalomanana said he was ceding power to the military.

    “After deep reflection, I have decided to dissolve the government and give up power so that a military directorate can be established,” he said. “This decision was very difficult and very hard, but it had to be made. We need calm and peace to develop our country.”

    An aide to Ravalomanana said the military directorate would be made up of veteran, high-ranking military leaders who would organize a national conference that would be responsible for holding elections within two years. Ravalomanana’s term would have ended in 2011.

    The members of the directorate were not named.

    There was no immediate reaction from opposition leader Andry Rajoelina, who has led weeks of anti-government protests.

    Rajoelina accuses Ravalomanana of misspending public funds and undermining democracy in Madagascar — an impoverished Indian Ocean island of the coast of Africa known both for its natural beauty and its history of political infighting and instability.

    Over the weekend, Rajoelina declared himself president of a transitional government and promised new presidential elections within two years. On Monday, he called on the army to arrest the president, but soldiers refused.

    The president says Rajoelina is seeking power by unconstitutional means. A breakaway army faction had claimed it was neutral and interested only in restoring order, but the split in the military has greatly weakened the president.

  • wingover 12:26 pm on March 15, 2009 Permalink | Reply  

    Associated Press demonizes Pakistani civilians as anti-government 

    Violence mars Pakistani anti-government protest.

    LAHORE, Pakistan – Pakistan opposition leader Nawaz Sharif defied house arrest Sunday to lead an anti-government convoy toward the barricaded capital and a showdown with its pro-Western president.

    Earlier, Sharif’s supporters fought running battles with riot police in the eastern city of Lahore, a taste of what could come if authorities make good on pledges not to allow him and other anti-government protesters to enter Islamabad.

    The power struggle between President Asif Ali Zardari and former Prime Minister Sharif threatens to paralyze the one-year-old government and, alarmingly for the U.S., distract the nuclear-armed country from its fight against Taliban and al-Qaida militants operating along the Afghan border.

    “People have responded very overwhelmingly to the call of the hour, and I am thankful to the nation,” Sharif told Geo television by phone from his car. “This is a prelude to a revolution.”

    A prolonged crisis could lead to early elections or force Zardari to resign, particularly if the powerful military decides to intervene. Sharif and Islamist parties would be well-placed to profit from any early elections given popular discontent with Zardari’s party.

    Zardari’s spokesman said late Sunday the president had no intention of resigning, while the information minister repeated earlier offers of negotiations to end the standoff.

    “We want to get the nation rid of this situation at the earliest, this state of instability and uncertainty,” Information Minister Qamar Zaman said.

    Earlier Sunday, hundreds of police surrounded Sharif’s residence in Lahore, carrying an order for his house arrest, party spokesman Pervaiz Rasheed said. But Sharif, who denounced the order as illegal, later left the house in a convoy of vehicles and headed into town.

  • wingover 10:29 am on March 5, 2009 Permalink | Reply  

    Chinese Navy ship arrives at Pakistani port for multinational exercises 

    Chinese Navy ship arrives at Pakistani port for multinational exercises – People’s Daily Online.

    Chinese Navy destroyer “Guangzhou” Thursday arrived at the southern Pakistani port of Karachi for multinational exercises.

    Exercise AMAN 09 is scheduled to be conducted in the North Arabian Sea from March 5-14, 2009. Navies of some 30 countries are expected to take part in or observe the exercises.

    This is the second exercise of AMAN series. AMAN is an Urdu word meaning “PEACE”. Slogan of AMAN exercise is “Together for Peace”.

    First of the AMAN series was held in March 2007 when 14 ships of Bangladesh, China, France, Italy, Malaysia, the United Kingdom and the United States navies participated.

  • wingover 12:39 pm on February 27, 2009 Permalink | Reply  

    United Nations Exposed 


  • wingover 12:32 pm on February 22, 2009 Permalink | Reply  

    1.6 million Iraqis displaced since 2006 

    Reuters AlertNet – IRAQ: NGOs call for a new strategy for displaced people.

    In its report, IOM said that since the 2006 Samarra bombing more than 1.6 million Iraqis (about 270,000 families) had been displaced, 5.5 percent of Iraq’s population. Out of these, at least 49,000 families (almost 300,000 individuals) had returned to their homes.

    Those who are still displaced suffer a variety of hardships, top of which is a lack of shelter, followed by unemployment, food shortages, and a lack of basic services such as health care, electricity, clean water and sanitation.

    Many of those who have returned to their former homes have found them to be damaged or occupied by other displaced families, the report added.

  • wingover 12:28 pm on February 22, 2009 Permalink | Reply  

    Congo, Somalia conflicts make 350,000 new refugees 

    Reuters AlertNet – Congo, Somalia conflicts make 350,000 new refugees.

    NAIROBI, Feb 22 (Reuters) – Enduring conflicts in east and central Africa have produced some 350,000 new refugees since October, worsening an already dire humanitarian situation, aid agencies say.

    The region already hosts the continent’s biggest number of refugees, but conflicts in Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia are forcing many more from their homes.

    “Multiple conflicts in the region have worsened the refugee situation in the region,” said Hassan Yusuf, spokesman for the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) in Kenya.

    “We have seen the worst in recent months, seeing thousands of new refugees both internally and externally,” he said.

  • wingover 11:11 am on February 21, 2009 Permalink | Reply  

    US-Communist Chinese expanding cooperation between the two militaries?!? 

    AFP: US-Chinese military dialogue set to resume this month.

    “On 27-28 February 2009, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense David Sedney will hold annual Defense Policy Coordination Talks with the People’s Liberation Army in Beijing,” spokesman Bryan Whitman told AFP.

    The talks were to come just a few days after a visit to China by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton set for February 20-22 as part of her first foreign tour since her appointment as top US diplomat.

    The Chinese Army “invited the US to participate in these talks. We take this as a positive signal that the Chinese are prepared to begin working to resume regular military-to-military exchanges,” said Whitman.

    And this year’s talks “will address the US-China military-to-military relationship, challenges to regional and global security, and potential areas for expanding cooperation between the two militaries” including “potential for extended cooperation on piracy,” he added.

  • wingover 11:05 am on February 21, 2009 Permalink | Reply  

    China shuts chemical plant after 1.5 million people affected by water pollution 

    The Associated Press: China shuts chemical plant after water polluted.

    BEIJING (AP) — Chinese authorities closed a chemical plant being investigated for contaminating water supplies to 1.5 million people in the country’s east, state media said Saturday.

    Biaoxin Chemical Company caused “massive” tap water pollution in Yancheng, a city in east Jiangsu province, forcing the closure of two out of three tap water plants, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

    Water supplies were restored after a five-hour shutdown Friday, Xinhua said.

    There were no reports of immediate health problems and the Yancheng government Web site posted a notice Saturday saying that drinking water is safe.

    Investigators identified the pollutant as a phenol compound used to make products including air fresheners, medical ointments, cosmetics and sunscreens.

    The Beijing News newspaper said that hundreds of thousands of people had their water cut.

    In recent years, a series of high-profile industrial accidents along major rivers have disrupted water supplies to big cities, as the nation’s booming economy brought more heavily polluting industries.

    Local police have “controlled” the owners of the Biaoxin Chemical Company, Xinhua said, without giving further details. The term in Chinese is vague but implies the owners were detained.

    Last year, heavy pollution turned portions of the Han river, a branch of the Yangtze, in central Hubei province red and foamy, forcing the government to cut water supplies to as many as 200,000 people.

    In 2005 in one of China’s worst cases of river pollution, carcinogenic chemicals, including benzene, spilled into the Songhua River. The northeastern city of Harbin was forced to sever water supplies to 3.8 million people for five days. The accident also strained relations with Russia, into which the poisoned waters flowed.

    The country’s cites are among the world’s smoggiest, and the government says its major rivers, canals and lakes are badly polluted by industrial, agricultural and household pollution, with 200 million rural inhabitants without access to safe drinking water in 2008.

  • wingover 12:39 pm on February 17, 2009 Permalink | Reply  

    15,000 Congolese fleeing Ugandan rebel attacks pour into Sudan 

    Over 15,000 Congolese fleeing Ugandan rebel attacks pour into Sudan, UN reports.

    17 February 2009 – More than 15,000 Congolese have fled to South Sudan since the Ugandan rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) began launching attacks in north-east Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the United Nations refugee agency reported today.

    “It is critical to move all of these refuges away from border areas both for security reasons and to facilitate distribution of aid,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesman Ron Redmond told a news briefing in Geneva. “Access to the refugees will soon become impossible when the seasonal rains begin in April and roads become impassable.”

  • wingover 10:32 pm on February 16, 2009 Permalink | Reply  

    Israel launches covert war against Iran 

    Israel launches covert war against Iran – Telegraph.

    Israel has launched a covert war against Iran as an alternative to direct military strikes against Tehran’s nuclear programme, US intelligence sources have revealed.

    It is using hitmen, sabotage, front companies and double agents to disrupt the regime’s illicit weapons project, the experts say.

    The most dramatic element of the “decapitation” programme is the planned assassination of top figures involved in Iran’s atomic operations.

    Despite fears in Israel and the US that Iran is approaching the point of no return in its ability to build atom bomb, Israeli officials are aware of the change in mood in Washington since President Barack Obama took office.

    They privately acknowledge the new US administration is unlikely to sanction an air attack on Iran’s nuclear installations and Mr Obama’s offer to extend a hand of peace to Tehran puts any direct military action beyond reach for now.

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