Daily Archives: April 2, 2014

Breaking news – Series of explosions rock rally at Cairo University, 3 killed

A third blast has gone off near Cairo University, killing at least one. It follows two explosions which killed a police brigadier-general and a civilian during student protest.

At least four other police officers were wounded in the blasts, which went off near a parked police vehicle.

Officials said that the twin bombs went off within seconds of each other. The interior ministry said the bombs were hidden with other officials saying the devices had been concealed in a tree between two security posts.

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The moment of the second explosion has been caught on tape. 

Egyptian state television said that the double explosions happened outside Cairo University’s engineering facility during clashes between security forces and students. It described the devices as crude and homemade.

Egypt’s security forces have been the target of frequent attacks since a military backed coup toppled President Mohamed Morsi last July. Although attacks have mainly been on the restive Sinai Peninsula, they have begun to spread to major urban areas like Cairo.

Morsi’s supporters have staged regular protests against the military appointed government, which the authorities say have killed almost 500 people, most of them police and soldiers.

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Egypt police brigadier-general Tarek El- merjawy killed in Cairo blasts

Brigadier General Tarek El-Mergawy shortly after explosion

Brigadier General Tarek El-Mergawy shortly after explosion

Egyptian police brigadier-general Tarek El-merjawy was killed as two blasts hit outside Cairo University on Wednesday, state television said. Four police officers were wounded in an attack on a police vehicle, Reuters reported, citing security officials

 

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‘Arab Spring’ scenario used in Ukraine – Russian Defense Minister

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Russian Defense Minister – Sergei Shoigu

A scenario similar to the “Arab Spring” was used in Ukraine, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Tuesday. “With great sorrow, I noted that the scenario similar to the ‘Arab Spring’ was used in that country,” Shoigu said during a meeting with the heads of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

Policies of current authorities threaten collapse of Ukraine – Russian Defense Minister

Short-term actions by the current authorities in Ukraine are threatening the collapse of the country, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Tuesday.

“The games by the Kiev leadership with neo-nazis and the expansion of Russophobic tendencies may turn into a tragedy not only for Ukraine, but also for all of Europe,” Shoigu said during a meeting with the heads of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, RIA Novosti reports.

Shoigu said the most complex situation now is developing in the eastern and southern regions of Ukraine, where “nationalists are attempting to suppress the Russian-speaking population, including using force.”

Russia not threatening Ukrainian statehood – Defense Minister

Russia is posing no threat to Ukraine’s statehood, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Tuesday.

“The threat to Ukraine’s statehood is in the deep domestic political and economic crisis and not from Russia,” Shoigu said during a meeting with the heads of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

 

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المهمة المؤجلة – وجه كيري المشؤم يطل اليوم على الجزائر

تطرح زيارة وزير الخارجية الأمريكي جون كيري إلى الجزائر اليوم الأربعاء 2 أبريل، تساؤلات حول أهدافها، بخاصة أنها تأتي قبيل إجراء الانتخابات الرئاسية في الجزائر المقررة في 17 أبريل الجاري

تتعدد التكهنات والمواقف حيال زيارة كيري إلى الجزائر رغم أنها كانت مقررة منذ نهاية العام الماضي، وتم تأجيلها بسبب انعقاد مؤتمر جنيف الدولي الخاص بالبرنامج النووي الإيراني، بخاصة أنها ستكون الزيارة الرفيعة الثانية في غضون عام بعد تلك التي قامت بها وزيرة الخارجية الأمريكية السابقة هيلاري كلينتون إلى الجزائر في أكتوبر من العام الماضي

الخارجية الأمريكية قالت إن كيري سيبحث في الجزائر مع نظيره رمضان العمامرة سبل التقدم في “الحوار الاستراتيجي” الذي انطلق بين البلدين في أكتوبر عام 2012، إضافة إلى قضايا السياسة والأمن في المنطقة

بدورها أشارت الخارجية الجزائرية إلى أن الحوار بين كيري والعمامرة سيشمل جميع ميادين التعاون الثنائي وخاصة في المجالات الاقتصادية والسياسية وتطوير الاستثمار، إضافة إلى عدد من القضايا ذات الاهتمام المشترك على المستويين الإقليمي والدولي والتعاون في مجال محاربة الإرهاب

على المستوى الداخلي، عبّر رئيس حركة مجتمع السلم الجزائرية “الإخوان المسلمون” عبد الرزاق مقري عن “استغرابه” لزيارة وزير الخارجية الأمريكي مشيرا إلى توقيتها في أوج الحملة الانتخابية الرئاسية

أما زعيمة حزب العمال اليساري لويزة حنون، فانتقدت بشدة زيارة كيري واصفة إياها بالصفقة الخفية مع النظام الحالي لغض الطرف عن التجاوزات التي تحصل في الانتخابات الرئاسية مقابل التنازل عن الكثير من الأمور بما فيها قاعدة 51/49 في المائة التي تمنح النسبة الأكبر للجانب الجزائري في أي مشروع مع الأجانب، إضافة إلى السماح للشركات الأمريكية المستثمرة في الجزائر بتحويل أرباحها بالعملة الصعبة إلى الخارج

تؤكد مصادر إعلامية أن زيارة وزير الخارجية الأمريكي جون كيري إلى الجزائر يطغى عليها الطابع الأمني نظرا لحساسية منطقة الساحل الأفريقي وما تشهده من تقلبات كبيرة، وإلى موقع الجزائر ضمن نطاق ما يسمى بالنظام الفرعي الإقليمي الشرق أوسطي الأمريكي

  الإدارة الأمريكية كما تنقل جريدة “الخبر” الجزائرية عن مصادر مطلعة، ستوجه رسائل محددة في هذا الشأن من بينها ضرورة الانتقال إلى مرحلة فعلية من الإصلاحات واحترام قواعد الشفافية في الانتخابات، وضمان الاستقرار لما بعد الانتخابات الرئاسية

 

Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights Sarah Sewall to Travel to Algeria and Morocco.

Travel to Brussels, Algiers, and Rabat, April 1-5, 2014.

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Abbas applies to 15 UN bodies in pursuit of further recognition for Palestine

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Tuesday that the Palestinians are immediately applying for admittance to 15 UN agencies and conventions after Israel failed to release a fourth batch of prisoners in March.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) leader held an emergency meeting in Ramallah late Tuesday, where he signed a document to join 15 UN agencies and international organizations in a televised ceremony.

Abbas said he made the decision after Israel delayed a fourth release of Palestinian prisoners, which had been scheduled for March 29.

“We have nothing against American efforts,” he said, stressing that Israel is procrastinating.

“There was a commitment to a fourth prisoner release by March 29, since then there have been various promises but no results. This despite our leadership’s agreement to refrain from going to the UN for nine months, all in order to secure the release of prisoners,” he said.

Abbas stated that if the prisoners are not released, he will commit the Palestinian Authority to joining 63 international institutions, adding that he has the unanimous backing of the PA leadership.

The move could derail faltering US-mediated peace talks with Israel.

US Secretary of State John Kerry was due to fly to Ramallah for talks to try and extend the three-way negotiations until 2015. However, a US official has said the trip will no longer be taking place.

Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians resumed last July. In turn, Abbas said he would suspend attempts to join UN agencies, while Israel promised to release 104 Palestinian prisoners in four groups.

Israel has not yet commented on the matter, but it views the move by Abbas as an attempt to avoid further peace talks.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State John Kerry was close to a deal aimed at rescuing the faltering talks. His formula involved the release of convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard in return for freeing hundreds of Palestinians held by Israel.

The deal would also have involved a commitment from Israel to show “great restraint” in the occupied West Bank from building further settlements, but would not have included a complete freeze on settlement building.

The US has been pushing hard to keep the negotiations afloat past the end of the April deadline. The inclusion of Pollard in the deal has been viewed as surprising and a reflection of American desperation to keep the talks moving forward.

Pollard was arrested in 1985 and sentenced to life imprisonment in the US for spying for Israel. He is up for parole in November 2015.

The Palestinians have given a cool response to the US proposals, saying they need a complete halt to settlement construction and that 1,000 prisoners of their own choosing must be freed.

The prisoner release is a difficult political step for Israel, with far-right coalition partners angry at the idea of freeing terrorists who have committed lethal attacks.

But in Palestine, freeing inmates helps increase support for Abbas from popular Islamist groups who are opposed to negotiating with Israel.

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Militants in Syria prepare chemical attack in Damascus – UN envoy

Armed gangs in Syria are conspiring to stage a chemical attack in the Damascus suburbs in order to later lay the blame on the Bashar Assad’s government, Syria’s UN Ambassador Bashar Jaafari has warned the Security Council.

“Competent Syrian authorities intercepted a wireless communication between two terrorists in the Jawbar area of the Damascus governorate,” Jaafari said in a letter addressed to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the Security Council. The letter was published on Tuesday on the UN website.

In that communication, the diplomat said, one “of the terrorists said that another terrorist named Abu Nadir was covertly distributing gas masks.”

The Syrian security services, Jaafari said, also intercepted another communication between militants one of whom was called Abu Jihad. During that conversation, the latter indicated that toxic gas would be used and “asked those who are working with him to supply protective masks.”

Back in March, Jaafari informed the Security Council that a person named Haytham Salahuddin Qassab “transported chemical substances from Turkey on behalf of the terrorist organization known as Ahrar al-Sham.” He allegedly purchased the chemical agents from Turkey’s Dharwa Import and Export Company.

The substances reportedly included among others white phosphorous and isopropyl hydroxylamine. It was alleged, Jaafari said, that militants planned to use them to produce white smoke in certain areas and later claim that Syrian planes had bombed them.

However, the primary reason for requesting those substances was to use them as chemical weapons,” the Syrian diplomat warned.

The information in the previous letter along with new details obtained from the intercepted communications confirm “that armed terrorist groups are preparing to use toxic gas in the Jawbar quarter and other areas, in order to accuse the Syrian Government of having committed such an act of terrorism,” Jaafari said.

Syria’s UN Ambassador confirmed his concerns to RT Arabic. He said that militants had earlier followed a similar scenario in the chemical attacks in Allepo and in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta, when they blamed Assad’s forces for the deadly incidents. Jaafari said that the UN is currently considering the issue. The Secretary General as well as the Coordinator of the UN-OPCW joint mission to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons program, Sigrid Kaag, are also being kept up to speed with developments.

Syria agreed to the destruction of its chemical weapons arsenal through a deal brokered largely by Russia, after the US threatened to use military force against the country. That followed a deadly chemical attack in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta in August, 2013. The Syrian government and the opposition have pointed the finger of blame at each other over the incident that killed hundreds, and both have denied their involvement.

So far, 49 percent of the raw materials for Syria’s poison gas and nerve agent program scheduled for destruction have been shipped overseas, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said last week.

The rest is expected to leave the country by the end of April, the global chemical weapons watchdog added in a report to the UN, reported AP. The total amount of chemicals either removed or already destroyed inside Syria is 53.6 percent.

According to the OPCW, Damascus pledged to remove all chemicals by April 13, except for those in areas “that are presently inaccessible,” which face an April-27 deadline. But so far the deadlines have not been met, with the Syrian government blaming the unstable situation inside the country.

Under the deal, some chemicals are to be destroyed at facilities in the US and Europe, while a large part of the toxic material is to be eliminated on board a ship at sea. Syria has declared around 700 tons of the most-dangerous chemicals, 500 tons of less-dangerous precursor chemicals and 122 tons of isopropanol – an active ingredient in sarin gas production. The deadline for the mission’s completion is June 30.

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NSA carried out unauthorised searches on Americans’ calls and emails – DNI Clapper

US intelligence chiefs have confirmed that the National Security Agency uses loopholes in the surveillance law to carry out unsanctioned searches of Americans’ phone conversations and e-mail messages.

On the face of it, the NSA’s collection programmes are aimed at foreigners, but in August the Guardian published a secret change in the rules allowing the NSA to look through Americans’ messages.

James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, confirmed for the first time in a letter that data related to US persons was collected. The letter and all top-secret NSA documents were provided to The Guardian by Edward Snowden. Clapper did not specify how many unauthorized searches had been performed by the NSA.

Speaking of the broad surveillance in June, President Barack Obama said that no one listened to people’s telephone calls. The programme was meant to register phone numbers and durations of calls only, not people’s names or the content of calls. Now confirmation that the NSA inspects Americans’ phone call and email databases casts doubt on Obama’s words.

The NSA is allowed to collect communications without individual warrants as long as those are foreign communications. The communications of Americans in contact with foreigners can also be collected without a warrant, and intelligence agencies admit that purely domestic communications can also be unintentionally swept into the databases. This process is called ‘incidental collection’.

Initially, NSA regulations did not allow the databases to be searched for any information relating to US citizens or residents of the US. But in October 2011 the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court approved new procedures that allowed the agency to investigate US persons’ communications. This information was provided in documents revealed by Snowden. The ruling gives the agency free access to databases containing information relating to US people.

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Powerful earthquake strikes off the coast of Chile

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(CNN) — An 8.2-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of northern Chile on Tuesday, generating a tsunami, authorities said.

The U.S. Geological Survey reported the quake, which hit at at 6:46 p.m. local time, was centered some 60 miles northwest of Iquique at a depth of 12.5 miles.

It had previously put the magnitude at 8.0 and the depth at 6.2 miles.

Chile’s National Emergency Office tweeted Tuesday night that it was asking everyone to evacuate the South American nation’s coast.

CNN Chile broadcast video of people in Antofagasta, a port city, walking through the streets as traffic piled up in some places. They appeared to be calm.

A tsunami warning was in effect for Chile, Peru and Ecuador.

A tsunami watch was issued for Colombia, Panama and Costa Rica, according to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.

“Sea level readings indicate a tsunami was generated. It may have been destructive along coasts near the epicenter and could also be a threat to more distant coasts,” the center said in its evaluation.

Tsunami waves of more than 6 feet generated by the earthquake had already washed ashore on the coast of Pisagua, Chile, according to Victor Sardino with the center.

The center said nearly 7-foot waves were reported in Iquique, Chile.

There were no immediate reports of injuries, although an 8.2-magnitude earthquake is capable of causing tremendous damage.

Chile is on the so-called “Ring of Fire,” an arc of volcanoes and fault lines circling the Pacific Basic that is prone to frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

About 500 people were killed when a 8.8-magnitude earthquake struck Chile on February 27, 2010. That quake triggered a tsunami that toppled buildings, particularly in the Maule region along the coast.

According to researchers, the earthquake was violent enough to move the Chilean city of Concepcion at least 10 feet to the west and Santiago about 11 inches to the west-southwest.

The tsunami threat to Hawaii still was being evaluated Tuesday. The U.S. National Tsunami Warning Center was working to determine the level of danger for Alaska, Washington, Oregon and California, as well as Canada’s British Columbia.

via Powerful earthquake strikes off the coast of Chile – CNN.com.

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