Browsing articles from "January, 2012"

Cold temperature to last some more days

Jan 1, 2012   //   by Administrator   //   News from Nepal  //  Comments Off on Cold temperature to last some more days

KATHMANDU, JAN 01 –

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Weathermen predict colder days in the Capital city for some more days with the mercury plummeting to freezing point in the next couple of days.

Rajendra Prasad Shrestha, senior meteorologist at the Meteorological Forecasting Division (MFD), said that the temperature across the country had dropped with the beginning of snowfall in the Hilly district like Mugu, Humla, Jumla, Dolpa, Manang, Mustang, Sankhuwasabha, Darchula, among others.

Shrestha also informed that the western part of Pokhara has seen some rainfall in the course. “There can be rainfall in the Capital as well,” he added.

Earlier years, there was a rainfall of 15 milliliter in average, Shrestha said. There was no rainfall during the month of December. “However, with the beginning of January, there can be some rainfall,” Shrestha added.

 

 

Posted on: 2012-01-01 03:31


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Holocaust Survivors Blast Nazi Garb At Protest

Jan 1, 2012   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Holocaust Survivors Blast Nazi Garb At Protest

JERUSALEM (AP) — Images of ultra-Orthodox Jews dressing up as Nazi concentration camp inmates during a protest drew widespread condemnation Sunday and added a new twist to a simmering battle over growing extremism inside Israel’s insular ultra-Orthodox community.

Religious extremists are facing increasing criticism for their efforts to separate men and women in public spaces, and Saturday’s protest, in which a child mimicked an iconic photo of a terrified Jewish boy in the Warsaw Ghetto, added to the outrage.

Thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews gathered Saturday night in Jerusalem to protest what they say is a nationwide campaign directed against their lifestyle. The protesters called Israeli policemen Nazis, wore yellow Star of David patches with the word “Jude” — German for Jew — dressed their children in striped black-and-white uniforms associated with Nazi concentration camps and transported them in the back of a truck.

Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial denounced the use of Nazi imagery as “disgraceful,” and several other survivors’ groups and politicians condemned the acts.

“We must leave the Holocaust and its symbols outside the arguments in Israeli society,” said Moshe Zanbar, chairman of the main umbrella group for Holocaust survivors in Israel. “This harms the memory of the Holocaust.”

Six million Jews were killed by German Nazis and their collaborators during World War II. About 200,000 aging survivors of the Holocaust live in Israel.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews make up 10 percent of Israel’s population. In the past, they have generally confined their strict lifestyle to their own neighborhoods. But they have become increasingly aggressive in trying to impose their ways on others, as their population has grown and spread to new areas.

Extremist sects within the ultra-Orthodox community have been under fire of late for their attempts to ban mixing of the sexes on buses, sidewalks and other public spaces.

In one city, extremists have jeered and spit at girls walking to school, saying they were dressed immodestly. They’ve also battled with police over street signs calling for segregation and attacked journalists who have covered their neighborhoods. In recent weeks, a few young Israeli women have caused nationwide uproars for refusing the orders of religious men to move to the back of public buses.

These practices, albeit by a fringe sect, have unleashed a backlash against the ultra-Orthodox in general, the climax of which came last week in a large demonstration where protesters held signs reading, “Free Israel from religious coercion,” and “Stop Israel from becoming Iran.”

Rabbi Yitzhak Weiss, one of the organizers of Saturday’s protest, said the use of Nazi symbols was intentional and aimed at highlighting what he said was a campaign by the secular media against his community.

“The idea was to convey a clear and simple message: that wild incitement against the ultra-Orthodox community will not be tolerated,” he told The Associated Press. “The Israeli media’s incitement is reminiscent of the German media’s before World War II.”

One of the protesters, Yaakov Israel, told Channel 2 TV that his community feels “persecuted” by the Israeli establishment. “We feel what is being done to us here is a spiritual Holocaust,” he said.

It’s not the first time ultra-Orthodox zealots have referred to the Holocaust in their political struggles. But the sight of children dressed in garb that conjures up images of the darkest period in Jewish history was unprecedented. It sparked angry rebuttals that only exacerbated Israel’s brewing religious war.

Israeli leaders condemned the display and called on the ultra-Orthodox leadership to speak out against it.

“This is a terrible offense against the memory of the Holocaust victims who were forced, secular and Ultra-Orthodox alike, to wear the yellow star in the ghetto on their way to extermination, and there is no demonstration in the world that can justify this,” said opposition leader Tzipi Livni.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak called the display “shocking and horrifying” and a “crossing of a red line.”

The American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants, an umbrella organization of U.S. survivors, expressed its “utter contempt at this disgraceful exploitation” of the Nazi symbols.

“We who survived and witnessed these Nazi crimes are particularly offended that demonstrators so blithely used children in this public outrage. They have insulted the memory of all the Jewish victims, including those who were ultra-Orthodox,” the organization’s vice president, Elan Steinberg, said in a statement.

“The Nazis made no distinction in their murderous treatment of our people — whether one was ultra-Orthodox, traditional, or nonbeliever, you were marked for cruelty and death.”

Israeli, Palestinian Negotiators To Meet In Jordan

Jan 1, 2012   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Israeli, Palestinian Negotiators To Meet In Jordan

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel and the Palestinians said Sunday that their chief peace negotiators would attend a gathering of international diplomats in neighboring Jordan this week, bringing the sides together for the first time in more than a year.

Officials stressed that the meeting would not be a formal negotiating session. Nonetheless, it could mark an important step toward restarting peace talks, which broke down in September 2010.

“The upcoming meeting is part of serious and continuous efforts to reach a common ground to resume the direct negotiations,” said Jordanian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammed Kayed.

He said Jordan’s foreign minister, Nasser Judeh, would host the meeting of Israeli and Palestinian representatives with teams from the international Quartet of Mideast mediators.

The Quartet, consisting of the U.S., European Union, Russia and the United Nations, has repeatedly tried to restart negotiations with the goal of forging a final peace agreement this year.

Judeh is expected to hold a separate meeting with the Israelis and Palestinians, Kayed said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said his chief envoy, Yitzhak Molcho, would attend the meeting, while the chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, said he would go.

The meeting comes about six weeks after Jordanian King Abdullah II made a rare visit to the West Bank for talks with the Palestinians. Abdullah, who often serves as a mediator, hosted Israeli President Shimon Peres the following week.

Peace efforts have been largely frozen since December 2008. Israel and the Palestinians briefly resumed negotiations in September 2010 only to see them break down after several weeks when an Israeli moratorium on settlement construction expired.

The Palestinians have said they will not resume peace talks unless Israel freezes settlement construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem — captured territories that they claim for their independent state. With some 500,000 Israelis now living in these areas, the Palestinians say continued settlement construction is a sign of bad faith. Israel says talks should resume without preconditions.

The Quartet has urged Israel and the Palestinians to submit proposals for security arrangements and final borders between Israel and a future Palestinian state. The Palestinians have already submitted proposals. Israel says it will only do so if negotiations resume.

The Palestinians say Israel should commit to withdrawing to its lines before the 1967 Mideast war — when it captured the West Bank and east Jerusalem — as the basis of a final border.

In the West Bank city of Ramallah, Erekat urged Israel “to use this opportunity to stop all settlement construction and accept the two state solution on the 1967 borders.”

Netanyahu has repeatedly rejected calls to return to the 1967 lines.

His office said Molcho would head to Amman “to participate in the Quartet meeting.” It gave no further details.

___

Halaby reported from Amman, Jordan. Mohammed Daraghmeh in Ramallah, West Bank, contributed to this report.

(This version CORRECTS spelling of Israeli envoy’s first name).)

Arab Body Calls For Pullout Of Monitors In Syria

Jan 1, 2012   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Arab Body Calls For Pullout Of Monitors In Syria

CAIRO (AP) — A pan-Arab body called Sunday for the immediate withdrawal of the Arab League monitors in Syria because President Bashar Assad’s regime has kept up killings of government opponents even in the presence of the observers.

The 88-member Arab Parliament said that Arabs are angered by the Syrian regime’s ongoing killings while the nearly 100 monitors are in the country. The monitors are supposed to be ensuring Syria complies with terms of the League’s plan to end the 9-month-old crackdown on dissent — a plan Syria agreed to on Dec. 19.

However, the Kuwaiti head of the Arab Parliament, Ali Salem al-Deqbasi, said the presence of the monitors is distracting from the “flagrant violations” committed by Assad’s regime.

“The killing of children and the violation of human rights law is happening in the presence of Arab League monitors, raising the fury of Arab people,” he said.

“The mission of the Arab League team has missed its aim of stopping the killing of children and ensuring the withdrawal of troops from the Syrian streets, giving the Syrian regime a cover to commit inhumane acts under the noses of the Arab League observers,” al-Deqbasi said in a statement.

The Arab League created the Arab Parliament, which is made up of lawmakers and advisers from states around the Middle East. Its recommendations are nonbinding and it operates separately from the Arab League.

While the Arab Parliament has little sway on Damascus or the Arab League, al-Deqbasi’s remarks about the observer mission represents growing concern about the monitors’ ability to deter Assad’s regime from killing protesters.

According to activists, more than 150 people have been killed across the country since the observers began their one-month mission on Tuesday.

The U.N. says more than 5,000 people have died as the government has sought to crush the revolt.

The Arab League plan demands that the government remove its security forces and heavy weapons from cities, start talks with the opposition and allow human rights workers and journalists into the country. It also calls for the release of all political prisoners.

The ongoing violence in Syria, and questions about the human rights record of the head of the Arab League monitors, Sudanese Lt. Gen. Mohamed Ahmed Mustafa al-Dabi, are reinforcing the opposition’s view that Syria’s limited cooperation with the observers is merely a ploy by Assad to buy time and forestall more international condemnation and sanctions.

The Syrian opposition has called for the removal of al-Dabi, a longtime loyalist of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted on an international arrest warrant on charges of genocide in the Darfur region.

Dead Blackbirds Fall In Arkansas Town, Again

Jan 1, 2012   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Dead Blackbirds Fall In Arkansas Town, Again

Thousands of dead blackbirds rained down on a town in central Arkansas last New Year’s Eve after revelers set off fireworks that spooked them from their roost, and officials were reporting a similar occurrence Saturday as 2012 approached.

Police in Beebe said dozens of blackbirds had fallen dead, prompting officers to ban residents from shooting fireworks Saturday night. It wasn’t immediately clear if fireworks were again to blame, but authorities weren’t taking a chance.

Officer John Weeks said the first reports of “birds on the streets” came around 7 p.m. as residents celebrated the year’s end with fireworks in their neighborhoods.

“We started shutting down fireworks,” he said. “We’re working on cleaning up the birds now.”

He said police were working with animal control workers and others to remove the birds and determine a death count.

“We’re not sure if they’re going to continue to fall throughout the night. I can’t tell you,” Weeks said.

Scientists say the loud cracks and booms from celebratory fireworks likely sent the birds into such a tizzy that they crashed into homes, cars and each other before plummeting to their deaths last New Year’s Eve. The birds landed on roofs, sidewalks, streets and fields. One struck a woman walking her dog. Another hit a police cruiser.

The blackbird die-off, coupled with tens of thousands of dead drum fish that washed up on the shores of the Arkansas River, flung the state into the national headlines and drew conspiracy theorists and filmmakers to the town about 30 miles northeast of Little Rock that shares Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe’s last name.

Some people speculated that the birds had been poisoned; others said their deaths marked the beginning of the apocalypse.

“It’s just got to be a pain in my career,” Beebe Police Chief Wayne Ballew said.

Prior to this New Year’s Eve, Ballew said he wouldn’t be surprised if people sit out on their front porches in case the winged creatures fall from the sky again.

“I guess we could have an annual blackbird watch,” he said with a laugh. “People can just bring their umbrellas, open them up and walk through the neighborhood and hope they don’t get hit.”

Charles Moore didn’t plan to have an umbrella at the ready, but said he would have his camera out on New Year’s Eve. Last year, he drifted off to sleep before the ball — and birds — dropped.

“When we got up on New Year’s Day and walked out to get the paper, we saw all the carnage out there,” he said. “So we thought we would be on the watch for it this time.”

___

Follow Jeannie Nuss at http://twitter.com/jeannienuss

Another Round Of Car Fires Hit LA

Jan 1, 2012   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Another Round Of Car Fires Hit LA

Four more car fires broke out in the Los Angeles area New Year’s Eve, leaving authorities to probe for any links to a series of arson blazes that burned dozens of cars and spread to some structures in recent days.

In a sobering counterpoint to the typical revelry of the night, fire trucks were stationed in neighborhoods, police patrolled the city, switchboards took hotline calls and thousands in rewards were offered.

Firefighters quickly put out a car fire at about 6 p.m. Saturday in Hollywood that “fits the profile of concern” authorities have been following for the arsons, fire department spokesman Brian Humphrey said.

A crew of 10 put out the fire in minutes. The flames did not spread beyond the car and no one was injured. Humphrey could not immediately say how the fire started.

Later at the Hollywood and Highland complex, a popular destination for holiday revelers, firefighters responded to a small car fire in a parking structure that was out by the time they arrived, Humphrey said.

He said only that the fire was under investigation, and could not say whether it was thought to be arson or tied to the others.

Shortly before 9 p.m., firefighters made quick work of two car fires in a carport in West Hollywood.

Fire dispatch supervisor Robert Diaz says the fires were put out before they could spread.

There was no word if they were linked to the arson fires.

But the fires resembled more than a dozen set before dawn Saturday, mostly in North Hollywood, and nearly two dozen fires set in and around Hollywood a day earlier.

Though some of the fires spread and damaged homes and apartments, none have brought injuries.

Still, some residents were on edge as authorities ramped up efforts to catch the culprit or culprits on a night when police and fire resources are always stretched thin as drunken New Year’s revelers hit the town.

“We’re pulling out all the stops,” Humphrey said. “We’re hoping that the person or people responsible will be brought to swift and complete justice.”

Firefighters were to be stationed around the city to respond to emergencies, while authorities set up a hotline and pored through tips. Authorities also were interviewing witnesses, looking at video footage for clues and have announced at least $35,000 in rewards for information leading to a conviction.

Among the most pressing questions: Were the fires set by a serial arsonist, multiple people or copycats? And why target cars, apparently at random?

“It’s really unnerving,” said Gary Joseph, one of several neighbors who stood looking at the frames of four badly charred vehicles in a carport in North Hollywood. Joseph said there was no way to stow his own car and keep it safe.

“It’s partly exposed, but there’s nothing I can do about it,” he said.

Sheila Kirk, who lives in the building next to the Hollywood freeway where the four cars were torched, said she quickly realized when she was awakened before dawn that the arson spree had spread to her neighborhood, though it’s several miles northeast of where the fires were set the previous night.

“We’d heard all about the fires in Hollywood and West Hollywood, then we heard what sounded like a giant hose and ran downstairs and found everything burning,” said Kirk, whose own car had a partly melted bumper despite being some 30 feet away from the cars that were set on fire. “It looks like they chose the spot where the cars were bunched together so they could do the most damage. Thank God no one got hurt.”

Neighbors and gawkers gathered to take cellphone pictures of the wreckage, and the smell of burnt plastic still hung in the air hours after the fire.

Kirk said she felt no safer because her building had already been struck.

“You don’t know, you just don’t know,” she said. “When you’re dealing with crazy people, who knows what they’re going to do?”

While few clues have emerged publicly, officials have speculated that it’s plausible that one person in a car, on a motorcycle or on a bike could have set all the fires, considering the limited area the blazes broke out in, but know they could be looking for multiple suspects.

Police said they were looking for a man who was driving a mid-1990s Lexus sedan, but offered no further description or details.

Fire officials also have yet to set a damage figure for the blazes. In West Hollywood alone, they said flames destroyed about $350,000 worth of property.

Also early Saturday some 25 miles to the south in an unincorporated section of Los Angeles, arson detectives from the Sheriff’s Department investigated a fire that destroyed eight vehicles, damaged six more, destroyed a carport and damaged an apartment building.

No evidence has been found linking that fire to those in the Hollywood area, Sheriff’s Sgt. Joe Acevedo said in a statement.

_____

AP reporter Terry Tang contributed from Phoenix.

Iraqi Leader Calls For Unity, Political Stability

Jan 1, 2012   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Iraqi Leader Calls For Unity, Political Stability

BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraq’s prime minister called Sunday for unity and greater political stability to ensure the country’s security after the end of the American military presence.

Speaking at a a televised celebration in Baghdad, Nouri al-Maliki warned Iraqis against “excessive joy” over the departure of American troops, saying the country’s security situation remains perilous. The last U.S. combat soldiers exited on Dec. 18.

Al-Maliki called on all Iraqis to unite in the interest of the nation and stressed that Iraq needs stability if it hopes to remain secure and rebuild.

“We need political stability so we can address the world in one voice and not in … conflicting voices,” al-Maliki said.

Al-Maliki’s comments came during a political crisis that started after his government issued an arrest warrant for Iraq’s top Sunni politician, re-igniting fears that sectarian tensions could divide the country and even re-ignite a civil war between Sunnis and Shiites.

Al-Maliki is also trying to get rid of his deputy prime minister, another Sunni, leaving many Sunnis worried that they are being sidelined from power.

On Sunday evening, a Katyusha rocket exploded in Abu Dshir, a Shiite enclave in the mainly Sunni neighborhood of Dora in the southwest of Baghdad, killing one civilian and wounding four others, according to police and a hospital officials.

In the capital’s southeast, a police car vehicle struck a roadside bomb, wounding seven, including three policemen, police and hospital officials said.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to disclose the information.

Gas Prices Rise 30 Percent In Myanmar For New Year

Jan 1, 2012   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Gas Prices Rise 30 Percent In Myanmar For New Year

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Gas prices unexpectedly rose more than 30 percent for the new year in Myanmar and sparked fears of other goods costing more as well.

Motorists learned of the increase at the pump Sunday when prices increased from 2,500 kyat (3.15 dollars) to 3,350 kyat (4.2 dollars) per Imperial gallon (4.5 liters).

The government made no announcement. But with the fuel price hike, and a new 40 percent electricity cost increase announced late last year, people are concerned about inflation of consumer goods, too.

Myanmar’s energy production is not enough to meet domestic demand, and it imports petrol and other fuels. The government subsidizes gas prices and rations it to two Imperial gallons (9 liters) a day.

An unannounced price hike in 2007 sparked anti-government protests that led to the “saffron rebellion.” The military government then in power crushed it, leaving at least 15 dead and thousands arrested.

The nominally civilian government that took power early last year has made political changes that have improved its relationship with citizens.

(This version CORRECTS Corrects conversion of Imperial gallon to liter, from 4.2 to 4.5. This story is part of AP’s general news and financial services.)

Yemenis Rally, Demand President Face Trial

Jan 1, 2012   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Yemenis Rally, Demand President Face Trial

SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Yemen’s opposition on Sunday accused outgoing President Ali Abdullah Saleh of trying to torpedo a power transfer deal by sparking a new crisis, as troops loyal to him clashed with opposition forces, killing three.

The violence was evidence that the president’s signature on a power transfer deal has not ended months of turmoil that have benefited al-Qaida-linked militants.

Sunday’s clashes followed Saleh’s decision not to leave the country, a move likely to embolden his relatives, who control key security posts.

His opponents demand the removal of all of Saleh’s relatives and other appointees from top positions. Huge crowds of protesters have called for Saleh himself to be put on trial for the killing of hundreds of protesters, though the power transfer deal gives him immunity from prosecution.

Vice President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi told his new national unity government on Sunday, in their first official session, that the power transfer agreement, engineered by Yemen’s powerful Gulf Arab neighbors, must be implemented soon.

“We need to move vigorously and effectively to implement the Gulf initiative and its mechanisms,” he said.

The new government’s first task is to push through the law shielding Saleh from prosecution for alleged corruption and for violence against protesters. Saleh made that a condition for signing the deal to relinquish power after 33 years of rule over the Arab world’s poorest nation.

Yet more than a month after Saleh signed, and after the possibility of his flying to the U.S. was raised, Saleh is still in Yemen, still wielding significant power and showing few, if any, signs of giving in.

Ten months of mass protests and armed clashes between forces loyal to Saleh and his opponents, including army units that followed powerful tribal leaders siding with the opposition, have left a power vacuum. The Yemen branch of al-Qaida, considered one of the world’s most dangerous, has taken advantage of that to dig in to positions in the country’s south, taking over towns and villages.

Yemen’s military fights frequent battles with the Islamist militants but has failed to dislodge them.

In the latest skirmish between Saleh backers and opponents, anti-government tribesmen in el-Fardha Nehem region, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) northeast of the capital Sanaa, said two people were killed and two others wounded when Saleh’s Republican Guards, led by his son, shelled their homes.

Opposition spokesman Mohamed Sabri accused Saleh of undercutting security as a way of arguing that he must stay in power.

“This man does not respect his commitments with others,” Sabri said. “Saleh is creating a new crisis.”

In the capital, a civilian bystander was killed when Republican Guard troops clashed with supporters of tribal chief Sadeq al-Ahmar, who was once a regime ally, but defected to the opposition in March, activists said.

Supporters of al-Ahmar and Saleh’s troops exchanged fire in Sanaa’s northern district of Hassaba, according to a security official and witnesses, resulting in the death of the bystander. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information.

The fighting Sunday ended after the vice president held talks with both sides. He was also able to quell violence in el-Fardha Nehem region.

Large crowds of Yemenis rallied in major cities Sunday, demanding the outgoing president be put on trial for the deaths of protesters.

The U.N. estimates that hundreds of protesters have been killed and thousands wounded since last February, when anti-government protests erupted across major cities.

Tens of thousands marched in the streets of Sanaa, chanting that Saleh “must stand before a judge.” Another large crowd of marchers echoed the chant in Taiz, Yemen’s second largest city.

Activist Fathi al-Hamadi said the “only place for Saleh to go to is the court dock.”

2 Teens Charged In Former Ill. Clock Factory Fire

Jan 1, 2012   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on 2 Teens Charged In Former Ill. Clock Factory Fire

PERU, Ill. (AP) — Police have charged two teenagers with setting a fire at a massive former clock factory in the northern Illinois city of Peru.

Peru Police Chief Doug Bernabei said at a news conference Sunday that a 15-year-old Peru boy and 17-year-old LaSalle boy have been charged with aggravated arson for the blaze at the former Westclox clock complex.

He says the 17-year-old is charged as an adult and that the charges were elevated against the two because a firefighter was injured.

Authorities say the fire at former factory started around the time revelers were welcoming the new year. The complex covers a two-by-four-block stretch of downtown Peru and is considered a landmark. It was converted and today houses several small businesses.

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