Archive | March, 2012

Yemen clashes ‘leave dozens dead’ in south

Posted on 31 March 2012 by GGS News

Yemen,(GGS NEWS) 31 March 2012 : —Al-Qaida-linked militants staged a surprise attack on a Yemeni army base in the south Saturday, setting off clashes that left 30 dead on both sides before air strikes forced the militants to retreat, military officials said.

The attack reflects how al-Qaida’s branch in Yemen has exploited the political and security turmoil following the country’s yearlong uprising, managing to take control of large swaths of land in the south and staging increasingly bold attacks on the military.

The militants have overran cities and towns as the government focused its efforts on protecting the regime in the capital during protests against former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Saleh’s replacement, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, has made fighting al-Qaida one of his top priorities, but many Yemenis accuse the ousted president, whose loyalists are still influential in the military and in government bodies, of undercutting security operations and the new president’s authority.

In Saturday’s clashes, army officials said the militants attacked the base in al-Mallah town in southern Lahj province. The town is close to Abyan province, an al-Qaida stronghold.

The army fought back and by the time fighter jets were called in and forced the militants to retreat, 17 soldiers and 13 militants were dead. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media. Al-Mallah is adjacent to Abyan province, an al-Qaida stronghold.

The latest clashes come as Washington appears to be increasingly involved in fighting al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, as the Yemeni branch is known and which is believed to have plotted two failed attacks on American soil.

On Friday, unmanned U.S. drones targeted al-Qaida positions inside Shabwa province, another militant hideout, killing four militants, Yemeni officials said.

There was no immediate comment from U.S. officials, but Washington has carried out deadly airstrikes in Yemen in the past. Last year, a U.S. drone strike killed U.S.-born militant cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and a second American, Samir Khan, an al-Qaida propagandist.

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US lottery: Search on for $640m jackpot winners

Posted on 31 March 2012 by GGS News

US,(GGS NEWS) 31 Marh 2012 :  As soon as clocks across the Coachella Valley registered 8:01 Friday night, the process began — tens of thousands of people gazed hopefully at small pieces of paper laid before them in search of a match to a set of six random numbers that, if found, could change their lives forever.

46… 23… 38… 4… 2… And, Megaball number 23.

And for the holder or holders of the lucky ticket, those numbers were just right: An official with the Maryland lottery says a record $640 million winning lottery ticket was sold in that state, but it wasn’t immediately clear if that ticket holder would get sole possession of the $640 million jackpot or have to split it with other winners.

Carole Everett, director of communications for the Maryland Lottery, said late Friday that the winning Mega Millions ticket was purchased at a retailer in Baltimore County. She said it’s too early to know any other information about the lucky ticket-holder or whether others were sold elsewhere in the nation.

National lottery officials were expecting to list early Saturday on their website how many winning tickets were sold and from what states, but Maryland sent out its news release and called media organizations hours before the scheduled announcement. The headline of its news release said the winning sale was “one of several nationwide,” but Everett told The Associated Press she couldn’t immediately confirm any others.

Matching all those numbers might have been the longest of long shots, but that didn’t stop people from plopping down dollar bills for a chance at all or some of the record-setting jackpot.

Palm Springs resident David Franco didn’t consider himself much of a lottery enthusiast, but “there’s all this money they’re throwing out there,” he said about two hours before Friday’s drawing.

Franco, 23, said he bought four tickets at various locations and would buy a helicopter and a beach home in Santa Cruz should he hold the winning ticket.

He’d also become a philanthropist of sorts.

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UN asks India to repeal Armed Forces Special Powers Act

Posted on 31 March 2012 by GGS News

United Nations, (GGS NEWS) 31 Mar 2012 : It seems that after Sri Lanka, now India has fallen in the hawk eyes of United Nations and the country (India) may face similar situation like Sri Lanka if it (India) does not follow the instruction given by the UN.

Emphasising on the democracy prevailing in the nation, the UN on Saturday, Mar 31 asked India to repeal the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) which empowers Indian military and soldiers to tackle militants with massive power in the terror dominated region in the country, especially in Kashmir and the North-East states of India.

“Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act has become a ‘symbol of excessive state power’ and ‘has no role to play in a democracy’,” said Christof Heyns, UN’s Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial.

Heyns, stating about his experience in Kashmir, said, “During my visit to Kashmir, AFSPA was described to me as ‘hated’ and ‘draconian’. It clearly violates International Law. A number of UN treaty bodies have pronounced it to be in violation of International Law as well.”

“The main finding in my report is that despite constitutional guarantees and robust human rights jurisprudence, extrajudicial killings continue in India and it is a matter of serious concern,” Heyns continued as informing about his report.

“India also should ratify a number of international treaties, including the Convention Against Torture and the International Convention for the Protection of All persons from Enforced Disappearance,” the official added.

However, it seems that finally Irom Sharmila’s voice reached UN. Sharmila had her last voluntary meal on Nov 4, 2000. She started her agitation to repeal the AFSPA which gives power and rights to Indian soldiers and military to arrest suspected militants without a warrant and to shoot anyone suspected of being a rebel.

Citing the current situation of India, Sri Lanka might be overwhelmed as India recently cast its vote against Sri Lanka over a US moved UN resolution.

India is one among the 24 nations who cast vote to pressurise Sri Lanka to start an investigation over their alleged war crimes on the LTTE cadres during the 26-year-old civil war.

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CBI files chargesheet against Jagan, 12 others in illegal assets case

Posted on 31 March 2012 by GGS News

NEW DELHI,(GGS NEWS) 31 March 2012 : The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Saturday filed a chargesheet against YSR Congress party leader YS Jaganmohan Reddy and 12 others in an illegal assets case.

The investigating agency submitted the chargesheet to special CBI court at Nampally Criminal Court complex.

The accused have been charged with cheating, criminal conspiracy and criminal breach of trust, the CBI sources said.

While Jaganmohan Reddy, an MP and son of late chief minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy, is the number one accused, Vijay Sai Reddy, who was arrested by the CBI on Jan 2, is the second accused.

The MP from Kadapa has not yet been arrested.

The other accused include Indian Administrative Service (IAS) official B.P. Acharya, who is already in jail in the Emaar-APIIC case.

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Earth Hour 2012: Sydney Opera House goes dark

Posted on 31 March 2012 by GGS News

Sydney,(GGS NEWS) 31 March 2012 : Sydney’s iconic Harbor Bridge and Opera House went dark on Saturday as Australians switched off lights around the country for an hour as part of a global effort to shine a spotlight on climate change.

Hundreds of landmarks around the world including Washington’s National Cathedral, London’s Clock Tower, the Great Wall of China and Tokyo Tower will be dimmed at 8:30 p.m. local time.

The central Sydney icons have been taking part in the annual event since Earth Hour began as a Sydney-only event in 2007. Australia is among the first countries to hit the light switches each year.

In New Zealand, Sky Tower in Auckland and parliament buildings in Wellington switched off two hours earlier.

WWF, the Washington-based environmental group that organizes the event, said the number of countries and territories participating had grown from 135 last year to 147 this year.

Libya, Algeria, Bhutan and French Guinea are among those participating for the first time.

“Earth Hour 2012 is a celebration of people power; the world’s largest mass event in support of the planet,” WWF official Dermot O’Gorman told reporters in Sydney on Saturday, hours before the event.

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Pakistan foils plot to attack parliament: Minister

Posted on 31 March 2012 by GGS News

ISLAMABAD,(GGS NEWS) 31 March 2012 : Pakistan’s interior minister on Saturday revealed that police foiled a plot to attack Parliament during a presidential address and said a finance ministry official had been arrested.

“I commend the Islamabad police, they have foiled a plot to attack the Parliament during president’s address to the joint session,” Rehman Malik told reporters.

“Police has arrested a suspect and an official of the finance ministry involved in the plot.”

President Asif Ali Zardari addressed the joint sitting of the federal Parliament on March 17 amid tight security.

Islamabad’s government district is home to Western embassies, Parliament, the presidency and the ISI intelligence headquarters and has seen several bombings and suicide attacks.

In October last year, police unearthed a major plot and seized a large quantity of arms and ammunition in a raid on a house in a suburb of the capital.

Islamist militants have killed more than 4,900 people across Pakistan since government troops raided an extremist mosque in Islamabad in July 2007.

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Army chief names Tejinder Singh in his complain to CBI

Posted on 31 March 2012 by GGS News

New Delhi,(GGS NEWS) 31 March 2012 : Army chief Gen V.K. Singh has named retired Lt. Gen. Tejinder Singh in his complaint to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on the alleged Rs.14 crore bribe offered to him to clear tranche of nearly 600 Tatra trucks.

CBI sources said Gen V.K. Singh has assured them of providing more material about the alleged bribe offer very soon.

The agency has started examining the complaint received on Friday and may question Lt. Gen. Tejinder Singh in connection with the case, they said.

Sources said a call on whether to proceed with a preliminary enquiry or a regular FIR would be taken soon.

Lt. Gen. Tejinder Singh has refuted the allegations. He has also filed a defamation case against the Army chief and other officers.

The agency was waiting for a formal complaint from the Army chief regarding details of alleged bribe offer to initiate a formal probe into the matter referred to it by the Defence ministry. CBI officers had met him on Monday evening.

The Army Chief had claimed in media interviews that an equipment lobbyist had offered him a bribe of Rs. 14 crore, a matter which he had reported to Defence Minister A.K. Antony.

The Ministry had then recommended a CBI probe into the allegation made by the Army chief.

After receiving reference from the Ministry, the agency had asked it to make available a complaint from the Army Chief besides other details such as list of witnesses and supporting documents after which it would initiate its probe in the case.

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Posted on 31 March 2012 by GGS News

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Iran crisis: US to apply fresh oil sanctions

Posted on 31 March 2012 by GGS News

Lran,(GGS NEWS) 31 March 2012 : US President Barack Obama has approved the introduction of fresh sanctions on buyers of Iranian oil.In a statement, Obama said US allies boycotting Iranian oil would not suffer negative consequences because there was enough oil in the world market.

The move would allow the US to take measures against foreign banks that still deal with Iranian oil.Iran is facing international pressure to address concerns over its nuclear enrichment programme.

Western countries suspect Iran of attempting to develop a nuclear weapon. Iran insists the programme is purely peaceful.

Obama said in a statement that he would continue to monitor the global market closely to ensure it could handle a reduction of oil purchases from Iran.

The US president was required by a law he signed in December to determine by 31 March whether the market allowed countries to “significantly” cut their purchases from Iran.

‘On notice’

A statement from the White House acknowledged that “a series of production disruptions in South Sudan, Syria, Yemen, Nigeria and the North Sea have removed oil from the market” in the first months of 2012.

“Nonetheless, there currently appears to be sufficient supply of non-Iranian oil to permit foreign countries to significantly reduce their import of Iranian oil,” the statement says.

“In fact, many purchasers of Iranian crude oil have already reduced their purchases or announced they are in productive discussions with alternative suppliers.”

Under the law signed in December, countries have until 28 June to show they have significantly reduced the amount of crude oil they purchase from Iran or face being cut off from the US financial system.

Earlier this month, the US gave exemptions from the sanctions to Japan and 10 EU countries which have reduced their imports of Iranian oil.

The new measures will put pressure on other heavy importers of Iranian oil such as South Korea, India, China, Turkey and South Africa.

“Today, we put on notice all nations that continue to import petroleum or petroleum products from Iran that they have three months to significantly reduce those purchases or risk the imposition of severe sanctions on their financial institutions,” Senator Bob Menendez, who co-authored the sanctions legislation, told the Associated Press.

This is the latest in a series of gradual moves designed to put pressure on Iran over its nuclear programme.

An EU oil embargo also comes into effect in June.
Turkey announced on Friday that it would be cutting oil imports from Iran by 20%.US officials have refused to speculate on the likely impact on global oil prices of the latest move.

Correspondents say mounting pressure on Iran to make concessions over its nuclear programme has already been cited as one of the factors behind recent oil price rises, including a sharp rise in the price of petrol in the US.

Mark Mardell in Washington says Friday’s move is a significant tightening of the screw because it means, in theory, that if a company or country tries to buy oil from the Iranian central bank then it could face being cut off from the US banking system.

But, he says, the US has had to make exceptions to countries like Japan, who have already made moves to cut back, reflecting the reliance of countries on Iranian oil.

And other big consumers, he says, like China and India, get round the sanctions by bartering wheat and soybeans for oil.

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Winning ticket for record US prize sold in Maryland: MSNBC

Posted on 31 March 2012 by GGS News

ATLANTA,(GGS NEWS) 31 March 2012 :  — The drawing for what could be the single biggest lottery payout the world has ever seen is finally here.The numbers drawn Friday night in Atlanta were 2-4-23-38-46, Mega Ball 23.

A $640 million jackpot is up for grabs. Taken as a lump sum, it would amount to $462 million — or about $347 million after federal tax withholding. It will be a couple of hours for details on possible winners come out.

Across the country, Americans plunked down an estimated $1.5 billion on the longest of long shots: 1 in 176 million.

The rarity of Friday’s jackpot was fueling the fervor. Lines formed at grocery stores, gas stations, liquor stops and other venues across the country.

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