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Showing posts from February 18, 2013

Iranian warships to dock at Chinese ports: Navy cmdr.

Iran Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari says a fleet of Iranian warships will be docking at the Strait of Malacca and China in the near future.

In line with guidelines from the Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei to sail international waters and assert Iran’s maritime authority, Iranian naval forces have been sent to the high seas, said Sayyari Sunday.

The Iranian naval commander added that the presence of Iranian warships in international waters does not pose a threat to other countries, stressing that based on international law Tehran has the right to sail the high seas.

He stated that Iran’s oil tankers and merchant vessels -- which used to fall prey to pirates in the Gulf of Aden and the Bab el-Mandeb Strait in the past -- can now safely cruise in high seas, thanks to the protection offered by Iranian naval forces.

Sayyari said the Iranian Navy plans to station warships in the Strait of Malacca -- a narrow 805-kilometer (500-mile) stretch of w…

‘Majlis shrugs off offer to close Fordo’

Iran's Majlis (Parliament) has shrugged off the West’s offer to ease some sanctions in return for the closure of the Fordo nuclear facility plant, Press TV reports.

In an open session of the parliament held on Sunday, the Iranian parliamentarians shrugged off the offer by the major powers of the world about suspension of sanctions on trade in gold and precious metals in case the Islamic Republic agrees to close the Fordo nuclear facility plant.

The MPs believed that such an offer from the West is considered illicit within the framework of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

“Simply presenting such a proposal is against the rules of the IAEA while the proposal itself is not rational. We have said this very clearly and many times before that within the framework of the NPT closing down our site is completely out of question,” Hossein Naqavi Hosseini, the spokesman for Iran's Majlis Committee on National Security and Fore…

Furore over Obama's leaked immigration plan

WASHINGTON: Amid a furore over a leaked Obama administration plan to put America's 11 million illegal immigrants, including some 250,000 Indians, on a path to citizenship, the White House has reaffirmed its commitment to a bipartisan plan.

The Obama administration has circulated the draft legislation that would put the illegal immigrants on the citizenship after about eight years and would require them to go to the back of the line behind legal applicants within various government agencies, according to various media reports.

A draft proposal first reported by ‘USA Today’ included an eight-year path to permanent residency, and eventually citizenship, for illegal immigrants.

It also included a criminal background check, back taxes, English and US history requirement and a proposed new "Lawful Prospective Immigrant" visa.

The draft also included increases to the border security and legal process and expansion of the E-Verify system to check employability of potential hires.


Bangladesh shuts website following blogger’s murder

DHAKA: Bangladesh has shut down a blog site after it was linked to the murder of an anti-Islamist blogger who helped organise protests against the leaders of the largest Islamic party, officials said on Sunday.

Blogger Ahmed Rajib Haider, 35, was hacked to death near his home in the capital Dhaka on Friday night after he joined a huge protest demanding the execution of Jamaat-e-Islami party leaders who are on trials for war crimes.

Police have yet to comment on a possible motive, but his brother said Haider was targeted by Jamaat’s student wing for his online activities.

Fellow blogger Shakil Ahmed said a pro-Jamaat website had last week named Haider as a target.

Jamaat issued a statement on Sunday condemning the murder and said neither it nor its student wing had anything to do with the crime.

Officials of the telecoms regulator said that the Sonar Bangla blogsite had been shut down since Saturday for spreading “hate speech and causing communal tension.”

“It’s been closed down,” vice presi…

Three killed, seven hurt in Thai bombings

PATTANI: A series of blasts shook a town in the restive Thai south leaving three dead and 17 wounded, officials said on Sunday, days after a major attack on a military base in the unrest-hit region.

Three bombs have exploded in the provincial town of Pattani since late Saturday, while police said four more devices had been defused, in the latest attacks to rock the Thai south, where thousands have died in a nine-year insurgency.

The National Security Council, said the incident was linked to Wednesday’s failed assault on a military base in neighbouring Narathiwat province that left 16 militants dead — one of the bloodiest incidents in the conflict.

“The militants want to show their power,” NSC secretary general Paradorn Pattanathabutr said.

A blast at around noon on Sunday in the centre of Pattani town killed a local security volunteer instantly, police said.

Hospital staff said two defence volunteers later died of their wounds, while around 17 people, including civilians, were injured.

The …

Serial bombings leave 37 dead in Iraq

BAGHDAD: Multiple car bombs exploded within minutes of each other as Iraqis were out shopping in and around Baghdad on Sunday, killing at least 37 people and wounding more than 100 in mainly Shiite areas.

The explosions struck at the start of the local work week and primarily targeted outdoor markets.

The detonation of a parked car loaded with explosives in the sprawling Shiite district of Sadr City heralded the start of the bloody attacks on Sunday morning.

Two more parked cars later exploded elsewhere in the neighbourhood.Simultaneous explosions hit the southeastern Baghdad neighbourhood of Al Amin, where the force of the blasts left behind little except the mangled chassis of two cars that delivered their payloads.

NATO commander supports Karzai in limiting airstrikes

The newly appointed NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) commander Gen. Joseph Dunford on Sunday said he supports President Hamid Karzai’s intent to ban Afghan forces from calling in foreign air support, a move that will leave already under-equipped Afghan troops even more vulnerable.

While speaking during a meeting with journalists Gen. Joseph Dunford said, “This is a sovereign nation . The president is exercising his sovereignty.”

This comes as president Hamid Karzai during his visit to national military academy in Kabul ordered Afghan security forces to prevent calling for NATO air support during military operations.

His decree to be issued Sunday, came in the wake of an airstrike Tuesday in eastern Afghanistan that local officials said killed 10 civilians as well as four militants.

Losing NATO air support could be a crippling blow to the Afghan military, whose air force is little more than a collection of Soviet helicopters and small propeller planes.

Afghans themsel…

New Zealand ends Afghan combat mission in April 2013

New Zealand prime minister John Key announced that 27 New Zealand troops will stay on in Afghanistan for about a year following the withdrawal of the NZ Provincial Reconstruction Team in April this year.

Cabinet today agreed on New Zealand’s contribution to Afghanistan beyond the April withdrawal of the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) from Bamyan province, in line with the joint ISAF/Afghan transition plan.

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully and Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman say New Zealand will continue to make a small but proportionate military commitment to the international mission in Afghanistan from May 2013, and that we remain committed to international efforts to improve the security and prosperity of Afghanistan.

Nearly 200 personnel are serving in Afghanistan, but New Zealand’s contribution to peace keeping will end in April. However, the on-going commitment included three NZ SAS personnel in “planning and logistics” roles.

New Zealand will also continue to provide…

Afghanistan asks UN for clarification on graft survey report

The Attorney General office of Afghanistan has requested the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to provide evidence and documents regarding its report which highlights growing corruption in Afghan governmental organizations.

UNODC following a report released earlier this month announced, since 2009, Afghanistan has made some tangible progress in reducing corruption in the public sector. Despite fewer people paying bribes, the total corruption cost increased to US$ 3.9 billion. This is an increase of 40 per cent in real terms between 2009 and 2012. In 2012, half of Afghan citizens paid a bribe while requesting a public service, says a joint High Office for Oversight and Anticorruption (HOO) and UNODC survey on trends and patterns of corruption in Afghanistan, released today.

“The bribes that Afghan citizens paid in 2012, equals double Afghanistan’s domestic revenue or one fourth of the Tokyo pledge. Nobody doubts the seriousness of the issue, the art is to design the correc…

30 Afghan refugees among 84 killed in Quetta blast

According to Afghan consulate officials in Quetta city of Pakistan at least 30 Afghan refugees were among those killed following a deadly bomb blast in Baluchistan province.

The officials further added around 20 other Afghan refugees were also injured following the blast and there are fears that death toll of the Afghan refugees will rise.

In the meantime local security officials in Quetta city said the death toll of last evening’s blast has increased to 84 people.

On Saturday, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), regarded as the most ruthless Sunni sectarian group, claimed responsibility for the attack in Quetta, which deepened suspicions among Shias that Pakistan’s intelligence agencies were turning a blind eye to the bloodshed or even supporting extremists.

“The terrorist attack on the Hazara [an ethnic minority almost entirely belonging to the Shia sect of Islam] community in Quetta is a failure of the intelligence and security forces,” Nawab Zulfiqar Ali Magsi, governor of Baluchistan province, …