|Two suicide bombings in Pakistan kill
at least 12
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.
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
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.
calls for cooperation with China, greater involvement in
|(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
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
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
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
“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
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
“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
“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
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
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.
|THERE’S WATER ON THE MOON
|(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
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
“We could not put other compounds [in] and generate the same
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
“Rather than a dead and unchanging world, it could be a very
dynamic and interesting one.”
|BRAZIL PROPOSES CARBON CUT TARGET
|(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.
|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
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
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
The depot is about 900km (550 miles) south-east of the
Two fire-fighters died at the Arsenal 31 depot after the
blasts and fires, Ulyanovsk Governor Sergei Morozov told the
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
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