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Two suicide bombings in Pakistan kill at least 12
(Wallstreet Journal) - Suicide car bombs ripped through an office of Pakistan’s main spy agency and hit a police post in the country’s violent northwest on Friday, killing at least 12 people in what appeared to be the Taliban’s latest attempts to target the South Asian nation’s security forces.

The two separate strikes were launched within an hour of one another, and both took place near the South Waziristan tribal region, where Pakistan’s army is battling a major Taliban faction and its al Qaeda allies. The militants have vowed to continue launching terror attacks until the army pulls back from South Waziristan.
Friday’s first attack, which killed at least nine people, hit an office of the Inter-Services Intelligence spy agency in the northwestern city of Peshawar, the gateway to the Taliban-dominated tribal areas that run along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan.

The bomber, who officials said had packed more than 200 kilogrammes of explosives into his pickup truck, struck as people were arriving for work. The vehicle pulled up to a police post outside the office, a gunman opened fire from inside and then the explosives were detonated, said Malik Naveed Ahmed, the city’s Police Chief.

The blast reverberated throughout the city and left the immediate vicinity covered in smoke. “It was a massive blast that rattled the entire area,” said Khan Mohammed, a government employee who lives nearby.
Doctors at Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar said more than 50 people, including women and children, were wounded. Police said some ISI employees were killed and wounded, although they couldn’t say how many. There was no immediate comment from the ISI or the military, which oversees the spy agency.

About an hour after the attack in Peshawar, another suicide car bomber rammed his vehicle into a police post in the village of Bakka Khel in an area that abuts South Waziristan. At least three people were killed and 25 wounded, police said.

“It is a guerrilla war, and insurgents are targeting everything,” said Mian Iftikhar Hussain, the Information Minister of North West Frontier province, where both Peshawar and Bakka Khel are located.
Peshawar has borne the brunt of a six-week campaign of terror strikes in Pakistan’s cities and towns by the Taliban. The most deadly attack took place last month, when a suicide bomber struck one of Peshawar’s crowded markets, killing more than 120 people.

After Friday’s bombing, authorities in Peshawar shut down all of the city’s schools. They had recently reopened after being shuttered because of earlier attacks.

Obama calls for cooperation with China, greater involvement in Asia
(VOA) - U.S. President Barack Obama has pledged cooperation with China and a greater U.S. engagement in Asia during a major speech in Tokyo Saturday.
President Obama said the United States does not seek to contain China, and welcomes its efforts to play a greater role on the world stage.
However, he said the United States will never waver in speaking up for values it cherishes and said a discussion about human rights can take place in a spirit of partnership.
Highlighting his own childhood in Indonesia, President Obama emphasised America’s ties to Asia as he made his first trip to the region since becoming president. He said Washington’s commitment to Asia’s security was “unshakable.”
During his wide-ranging address, the president also spoke about nuclear proliferation, climate change, and the global economic downturn.
He urged North Korea to return to international talks on its nuclear programme, saying the United States will not be cowed by threats.
President Obama said Pyongyang has chosen a path of confrontation and provocation which he said only leads to less security.
On fighting climate change, Obama said that while solutions on the issue will be difficult, all nations must take action. He said developed nations must have clear reduction targets and developing countries need to take substantial action to curb their emissions.
The president also spoke about the global economy saying the world must pursue balanced and sustainable economic growth and must not return to the cycles of boom and bust that led to the financial crisis. He said the global recession has shown the limits of depending heavily on American consumers and Asian exports to drive growth.
President Obama also spoke about Burma, urging that country’s military government to release all political prisoners, including pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. He said reform on human rights will bring Burma “true security and prosperity.”
New bid to free Burma’s Suu Kyi
(BBC News) - Lawyers for Burma’s democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi have lodged an appeal with the Supreme Court against her extended house arrest.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has also repeated international calls for a speedy release of Ms Suu Kyi.
Mrs Clinton described the military rulers of Burma as being “on the wrong side of history.”

Suu Kyi had her house arrest extended in August beyond the elections planned by the military for next year.
“We submitted the appeal petition to the Supreme Court. Now we must wait to find out whether the court will agree to hear the case,” said Kyi Win, the head of Suu Kyi’s legal team.
“We hope for the best,” Kyi Win said.

Doubts that the Generals ruling Burma would make any early move to free their most popular opponent were shared by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Speaking in Manila before going to Singapore to join regional leaders at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, she said “I doubt it” when asked if she expected any change in Ms Suu Kyi’s detention.

“This is a long-term effort that requires a lot of patience,” Clinton told a public forum in Manila.
The APEC summit brings together leaders of the 10-member Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), which includes Burma, with the US President Barack Obama - marking the first time leaders of Burma and the US would be in the same room.

However, it remains unclear if a direct meeting will take place between Obama or Clinton and the Burmese delegation, which is led by Prime Minister Thein Sein.
Such a meeting would mark the first time in 43 years a US president has met a Burmese leader, and would ramp up engagement with the junta.

The Obama administration has said it favours cautious diplomatic engagement, with sanctions against the regime remaining in place until real progress on democratic change is made.
“There is no doubt in my mind that the leadership in Burma is on the wrong side of history. It is just a question of how long they stay there,” Clinton said

Turkey unveils reforms for Kurds
(BBC News) The Turkish government has formally launched a peace plan to try to end the conflict in the mainly Kurdish south-east of the country.
The interior minister presented a reform package to parliament, including freedom to use the Kurdish language.
But Besir Atalay said more substantial reform to the Turkish constitution would take time.
There was no mention of the amnesty that the armed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) has requested.
Four months after it first announced a plan to end the Kurdish conflict, the government is still having trouble spelling out what it intends to do.

“We should never forget that behind all our problems lies injustice,” Atalay told MPs.
“We want everyone in this country to be treated equally,” he said, but then warned that there would need to be a complete change in the mindset of the Turkish people to achieve that goal.
He listed reforms the government wanted to implement soon - full freedom to use languages other than Turkish, fewer military checkpoints in the south-east, new human rights bodies and bringing back people driven from their homes by fighting.

But throughout his half-hour speech, Atalay refused to refer specifically to the Kurds, whose resistance to the Turkish state is the real reason for these reforms.
Instead he chose to describe them as primarily for combating terrorism and preserving national unity.
The ferocious criticism the government has received over its initiative has clearly made it nervous, despite its commanding majority in parliament.

(National Geographic) It’s official: There’s water on the moon -and a “significant amount” of it, too, members of NASA’s recent moon-crash mission, LCROSS, announced today.
In October, NASA crashed a two-ton rocket and the SUV-size LCROSS (Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite) into the permanently shadowed crater Cabeus on the moon’s south pole.
The crashes were part of an effort to kick up evidence of water on the moon. Despite disappointing many amateur astronomers on the Earth, who had been expecting to see a giant plume of lunar dust and ice crystals, the moon-water mission was a success, NASA says.

The LCROSS team took the known near-infrared light signature of water and compared it to the impact spectra LCROSS near-infrared recorded after the probe had sent its spent rocket crashing into the moon.
A spectrometer helps identify the composition of materials by examining which wavelengths of light they emit or absorb.

“We got good fits” for the data graphs, said Anthony Colaprete, LCROSS’s principal investigator, at today’s press conference at the NASA Ames Research Centre in Moffett Field, California.
“We could not put other compounds [in] and generate the same fit.”

Additional evidence of water on the moon came from LCROSS’s ultraviolet spectrometer, which detected energy signatures associated with hydroxyl, a byproduct of the breakup of water by sunlight.
The amount of moon water kicked up by the LCROSS crashes could fill about a dozen 2-gallon (7.6-litre) buckets, said Colaprete, adding that this is just a conservative estimate.
The confirmation of water on the moon raises the possibility that humans may one day be able to extract drinking water or breathable oxygen as well as the raw ingredients for rocket fuel from moon rocks, Michael Wargo, Chief Lunar Scientist for Exploration Systems at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C., said at the conference.

Samples of water on the moon might also help shed light on the early history and evolution of the solar system, said Physicist Greg Delory, a senior fellow at the Space Sciences Laboratory and Centre for Integrative Planetary Sciences at the University of California, Berkeley.
“This is not your father’s moon,” Delory said at the conference.
“Rather than a dead and unchanging world, it could be a very dynamic and interesting one.”

(BBC News) - The Brazilian Government has announced that it aims to achieve a reduction of at least 36% on its carbon emissions by the year 2020.
If it meets its pledge, greenhouse gas emissions would be near 1994 levels.

The proposal, which is not a binding target, was revealed in advance of the major UN summit on climate change to be held in Copenhagen in December.
Brazil hopes to put pressure on richer nations to declare their intentions and break the deadlock in the negotiations.

Details of the government’s proposals were unveiled following a meeting involving President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and some of his senior ministers.
In common with other developing nations, Brazil is not setting a binding target for reducing carbon emissions, but is instead proposing to take voluntary action.

However with its promise to reduce the anticipated level of greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 by 36%-39%, South America’s largest country hopes to encourage others.

Officials here regard the proposal as “ambitious” and a meaningful way to combat climate change.
Much of the proposed reduction is expected to be achieved by improved protection of the Amazon.
The government here announced this week that deforestation in the rainforest was its lowest level since monitoring first began 21 years ago.
Deforestation is blamed for more than half of Brazil’s greenhouse gas emissions.

News in brief

Fort Hood suspect ‘is paralysed’

(BBC News) - The US Army psychiatrist accused of murdering 13 people at Fort Hood is paralysed, his lawyer says.
Maj Nidal Malik Hasan, 39, was shot by police during the incident at the Texas military base on 5 November.
Lawyer John Galligan told reporters his client had no feeling in his legs and doctors had told him the condition may be permanent.
Maj Hasan could face the death penalty after being charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder.
On Thursday, the military revised the number of people injured in the attack, revealing that a total of 43 people were wounded. Of those, 34 people received gunshot wounds, military investigators said.
It had been reported previously that 29 people and Maj Hasan had been injured, but more had come to light during the course of the investigation.
Police shot Maj Hasan four times, ending the gunman’s rampage through the base after an hour and a half. It was reported at first that he had been killed.

New York 9/11 trial ignites row

(BBC News) - Senior US Republicans have condemned the Obama administration’s move to try alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others in New York.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said bringing the suspects from Guantanamo into the US would put “Americans unnecessarily at risk”.
The five will be tried in a civilian court near Ground Zero. The prosecution says it will seek the death penalty.
Democrats hailed the decision, while families of 9/11 victims are divided.
The move is part of US President Barack Obama’s efforts to close the Guantanamo detention centre for terror suspects.
“The Department of Justice will pursue prosecution in federal court of the five individuals accused of conspiring to commit the 9/11 attacks,” US Attorney General Eric Holder told a news conference.
“I fully expect to direct prosecutors to seek the death penalty against each of the alleged 9/11 conspirators.”
But Republican leaders immediately criticised the move.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell described it as “a step backwards for the security of our country” that “puts Americans unnecessarily at risk.”

EU soldiers to help Somali troops

(BBC News) - The European Union is expected to endorse plans to send troops to help train up to 2,000 Somali troops, according to an EU official.
Under the plan, up to 200 EU troops will train Somali military personnel in Uganda in a bid to broaden engagement in the crisis-hit state.
A decision is expected to be taken at a meeting of EU ministers next week.
The move comes on the heels of a request by the Somali government to help build a 6,000-strong police force.
“Once this is approved, which we expect is going to happen during the (EU) council then we will be launching the real planning,” said Cristina Gallach, spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana.
“We think that this is a very good contribution to the global approach that the European Union has in order to tackle the Somali problems and all of its impact.”
The training plan is expected to last for roughly a year and will be carried out in two or three phases.
The move by the EU is expected to complement efforts made by France, Djibouti and Uganda who have all committed to training Somali troops.
Somalia has been gripped by fierce fighting since 2007 and the country has not had a strong central government since 1991.
More than 1.5 million people have been uprooted by the fighting which has claimed nearly 20,000 lives.

Major fire at Russia arms depot

(BBC News) - At least two people have been killed after a series of explosions and fires at a weapons depot in central Russia, officials say.
The blasts ripped through the defence ministry navy depot on the outskirts of Ulyanovsk when soldiers attempted to decommission munitions.
The officials later said that 43 people who were feared dead had been found safe in a bomb shelter near the site.

Some 3,000 people were evacuated from the surrounding area.
The depot is about 900km (550 miles) south-east of the capital Moscow.
Two fire-fighters died at the Arsenal 31 depot after the blasts and fires, Ulyanovsk Governor Sergei Morozov told the BBC.

Morozov was earlier quoted in Russian media as saying that at least 10 people were taken to hospital.
The governor also told Russia’s First Channel TV: “More than 40 people have been saved, including those who were reported missing.”
He was referring to the 43 people who had been found safe and well in the bomb shelter. Explosions at the depot continued into the night, with TV footage of the area showing intermittent blasts sending thick plumes of smoke high into the air. The blasts shattered windows of nearby homes.