Monthly Archives: February 2013

America must not “dictate” to world, new defence chief says

Decorated Vietnam veteran Chuck Hagel was sworn in as U.S. Defence Secretary on Wednesday after a bruising Senate confirmation battle, and promised to renew old U.S. alliances and forge new ones without attempting to “dictate” to the world. The swearing-in ceremony was held privately Wednesday morning inside Hagel’s new offices and attended by family members and his immediate office staff. Upon arriving at the Pentagon Wednesday for his first day on the job, Hagel was greeted by reporters and Marine Lt. Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, who will serve as Hagel’s military aide.  Waldhauser also held the same position under Leon Panetta, Hagel’s predecessor. Addressing Pentagon employees shortly after a small, closed-door … Continue reading

Posted in USA | Leave a comment

Rwandan woman loses US citizenship for lying over her status

A New Hampshire jury in the United States last Thursday convicted a Rwandan woman of lying about her role in a 1994 genocide in her home country to acquire U.S. citizenship. Beatrice Munyenyezi, 43, had her citizenship revoked and will face sentencing in June for two counts of lying on U.S. government applications, authorities said. She faces up to 10 years behind bars, a $250,000 fine on each count and possible deportation, according to the Justice Department. Munyenyezi, who was not on trial for war crimes, was found guilty of intentionally lying on a refugee questionnaire and naturalization documents about her role in the infamous slaughter in which ethnic Hutu … Continue reading

Posted in Rwanda | Leave a comment

Karzai orders US special forces out of Afghan province

The Afghan president has ordered US Special Forces to leave Wardak province within two weeks. The decision was being taken due to allegations of disappearances and torture by Afghans considered to be part of US Special Forces, said a spokesman for Hamid Karzai. The strategically significant central province of Wardak has been the recent focus of counter-insurgency operations. A US statement said it took all allegations of misconduct seriously. But the US could not comment specifically on this latest development “until we have had a chance to speak with senior government officials”, the statement by a spokesman for US special forces said. “This is an important issue that we must … Continue reading

Posted in Afghanistan, USA | Leave a comment

Syrian rebels storm police academy near Aleppo

Rebels stormed a police academy near the Syrian city of Aleppo on Sunday, the latest in a string of gains in the country’s north using weapons seized from the Syrian military. Turning President Bashar al-Assad’s own armaments against him, the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) used captured tanks to launch a fresh offensive on the compound in Khan al-Asal on the outskirts of the city. Opposition fighters took control of all four buildings in the complex, but clashes continued to rage, according to the Local Coordination Committees (LCC), an opposition activist network. The capture of the compound, a target of rebel attacks for months, would deal a damaging blow to the … Continue reading

Posted in Syria | Leave a comment

Mali conflict: US deploys 100 troops to neighbour Niger

The US has deployed 100 troops to Niger to assist French forces in neighbouring Mali, the US president has said. The armed troops will provide intelligence support, President Barack Obama informed Congress on Friday. France deployed troops to Mali in January to counter al-Qaeda-linked Islamist militants. The US and Niger signed a status of forces agreement last month, and the US is weighing a base for surveillance drones there, US media have reported. A senior Niger official said in January that US Ambassador Bisa Williams requested permission to establish a drone base in a meeting with Niger President Mahamadou Issoufou, the Reuters news agency reported. Last month, the US and … Continue reading

Posted in Niger, USA | Leave a comment

Pakistani man accuses ambassador to U.S. of blasphemy

Pakistani police registered an accusation from a businessman on Thursday that the country’s ambassador to the United States had committed blasphemy, a crime that carries the death penalty, in connection with a 2010 TV talk show. The accusation against Ambassador Sherry Rehman is the latest in a string of controversial blasphemy cases in Pakistan, a largely Muslim nation whose name translates as Land of the Pure According to Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, anyone found to have uttered words derogatory to the Prophet Muhammad can be put to death. Those who are accused are sometimes lynched by mobs even before they reach court. Rehman has already faced death threats from militants after … Continue reading

Posted in Pakistan | Leave a comment

Let parliament function, Indian PM implores opposition

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh pleaded with opposition parties on Wednesday to allow parliament to function during a session that begins this week, when the government plans to present the annual budget and legislation on economic reform. The last two sessions of India’s federal parliament have been disrupted by opposition members protesting against corruption, reforms and affirmative action policies, although the winter session in December finally managed to conduct business for a few days. The month-long monsoon session in August and September passed only four bills out of 30 due to be debated “It is our sincere hope that we will have a productive, constructive debate leading to agreed solutions … Continue reading

Posted in India | Leave a comment

Missile blast wounds Syrian rebel commander – activists

 A missile struck the command centre of the main Syrian rebel force near Damascus on Wednesday, wounding its leader, activists said, and a football player was killed when a mortar bomb hit a stadium in the centre of the capital. The missile attack on Liwa al-Islam Brigade, which is spearheading a three-week-old offensive that has given the rebels a foothold inside Damascus, deals a blow to efforts to undermine President Bashar al-Assad in his seat of power. A rebel spokesman said Sheikh Zahran Alloush, founder of the brigade, was wounded but declined to give further details. “We cannot disclose Sheikh Zahran’s condition,” said the spokesman, Islam Alloush, who is also … Continue reading

Posted in Syria, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Assad doesn’t yet realise it is inevitable he will go – Kerry

The new US Secretary of State John Kerry has said the United States has to change what he calls Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s “calculation” about his situation. Mr Kerry, who lost the US presidential elections eight years ago to former President George W Bush, said Assad has not yet realized that it is inevitable he will be thrown out of power. The Secretary of State told reporters at the US State Department he has a good sense of what he might propose to get Assad to change his perception. But Kerry said there are a lot of people who have to be consulted before any announcements are made. Kerry on … Continue reading

Posted in Syria, USA | Leave a comment

Security and privacy await Pope Benedict XVI after he retires

Pope Benedict’s decision to live in the Vatican after he resigns will provide him with security and privacy. It will also offer legal protection from any attempt to prosecute him in connection with sexual abuse cases around the world, Church sources and legal experts say.  “His continued presence in the Vatican is necessary, otherwise he might be defenceless. He wouldn’t have his immunity, his prerogatives, his security, if he is anywhere else,” said one Vatican official, speaking on condition of anonymity. “It is absolutely necessary” that he stays in the Vatican, said the source, adding that Benedict should have a “dignified existence” in his remaining years. Vatican sources said officials had … Continue reading

Posted in The Vatican, The World | Leave a comment