Monthly Archives: July 2013

Australia asylum needs military solution, says Tony Abbott

Australian opposition leader Tony Abbott: "There is a national emergency on our borders..."

Australia’s opposition has called for a military solution to fight people smugglers, as the toll from the sinking of an asylum boat rose to 11. Opposition leader Tony Abbott said the issue was “a national emergency”, and he would ask a military commander to tackle the boats, if elected. The migrant boat sank off Indonesia’s Java island, a transit point for people-smugglers, on Wednesday.Asylum policy is due to be a key issue in elections this year in Australia. Australia has experienced a spike in asylum seekers arriving by boat this year. “There is a national emergency on our borders,” Mr Abbott said on Thursday. “That’s why we need to have … Continue reading

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Syria conflict: Top US general outlines military options

 using force in Syria would be "no less than an act of war"

The top US military officer has outlined the costs, risks and benefits of possible American military involvement in the Syrian conflict. Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen Martin Dempsey offered five military options, including limited strikes and establishing a no-fly zone. But he said using force in Syria would be “no less than an act of war” and could cost the US billions of dollars. Washington has so far ruled out military intervention in Syria. Its role in the conflict is currently limited to delivering humanitarian aid to Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries and providing non-lethal help to the Syrian opposition. In an open letter to senators, Gen Dempsey analysed … Continue reading

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Protests across US at Zimmerman verdict over Trayvon killing

A rally in New York city to protest the Zimmerman verdict

Protests have taken place in more than 100 US cities, a week after George Zimmerman was cleared of murdering unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin. Demonstrators demanded federal charges to be brought against Mr Zimmerman, 29, over the February 2012 incident.  A Florida jury agreed that the neighbourhood watch volunteer killed the 17 year-old in self-defence. In his first comments, President Barack Obama admitted many black men in the US experienced racial profiling. The protests against the court’s decision were led by the National Action Network, headed by civil rights activist the Reverend Al Sharpton.  “We are not coming out with violence, we are coming to denounce violence. The violence that … Continue reading

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Veteran White House journalist Helen Thomas dies

Helen Thomas, a veteran of White House coverage who has died in Washington DC aged 92.

Helen Thomas, a trailblazing journalist who covered the White House for nearly five decades, has died aged 92. She died at her Washington apartment after a long illness, the Gridiron Club, Washington’s historic press organisation, said. Ms Thomas covered the administrations of 10 presidents and was known for asking difficult questions. She was a fixture at White House news conferences and considered a pioneer for women in journalism. Veteran NBC News correspondent Andrea Mitchell tweeted that Helen Thomas “made it possible for all of us who followed”. Born to Lebanese immigrants in Kentucky in 1920, Helen Thomas found her calling while working for her student newspaper at school. She started … Continue reading

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Obama offers a personal take on race in the United States

US President Barack Obama:“Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago.”

After days of angry protests and mounting public pressure, President Obama summoned five of his closest advisers to the Oval Office on Thursday evening. It was time, he told them, for him to speak to the nation about the Trayvon Martin verdict, and he had a pretty good idea what he wanted to say. For the next 15 minutes, according to a senior aide, Mr Obama spoke without interruption, laying out his message of why the not-guilty ruling had caused such pain among African-Americans, particularly young black men accustomed to arousing the kind of suspicion that led to the shooting death of Mr Martin in a gated Florida neighbourhood. On … Continue reading

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Migrant boat capsizes off Australia’s Christmas Island

 Another boatload of 60 asylum seekers and three crew arrived on a boat at Flying Fish cove, Christmas Island. (File photo)

A boat carrying about 150 suspected asylum seekers has capsized off Australia’s Christmas Island with several casualties reported. The Australian border agency said four bodies had been found and 144 survivors had been picked up by navy ships, 70 nautical miles (130km) from the shore. Christmas island is located about 1,600 miles north-west off the mainland. Several boats carrying migrants heading for Australia have disappeared in recent months. After making a distress call, the boat was picked up and escorted by one of two navy ships carrying out the rescue. However, it tipped over in bad weather on its way to Christmas Island, with a large number of people entering … Continue reading

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Syria mediators ‘killed by pro-regime militiamen’

A Free Syrian Army fighter rests on a sofa as he watches television and surveillance monitors inside a room in Aleppo"s Karm al-Jabal district July 15, 2013.

At least six mediators have been killed by pro-government militiamen in the Syrian province of Homs, reports say. The men were reportedly trying to broker talks between Sunni Muslims and members of the minority Alawite sect in the area when they were shot dead. Two of the men were retired military officers, and another was an imam, according to a UK-based activist group. President Bashar al-Assad’s government is dominated by Alawites, while the uprising has been predominantly Sunni. A video posted online by the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights purports to show the bodies of the six men and names them. The Observatory said they were trying to set … Continue reading

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Syria rebels want al Qaeda suspect to face trial

The killing of Kamal Hamami, also known as Abu Bassir al-Ladkani, has set liberal rebels and Islamists at each other

Syria‘s main rebel group said on Monday that it wanted an Islamic court to investigate the killing of one of its top commanders at the hands of foreign Islamist fighters last week. The call is the first official reaction by the Western-backed Supreme Military Council to the killing of Kamal Hamami, also known as Abu Bassir al-Ladkani, which has set liberal rebels and Islamists at each other’s throats. Rebel sources said Abu Ayman al-Baghdadi, the main suspect, is in hiding and there is no sign that he will be handed over to the court in the northern city of Aleppo by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, an … Continue reading

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Shot Pakistan schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai addresses UN

UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon looks admiringly at the Pakistan schoolgirl Malala Malala who was being given a standing ovation for her speech at the UN headquarters in New York Friday.

M alala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl shot by the Taliban, has told the UN that books and pens scare extremists, as she urged education for all. Speaking on her 16th birthday, Malala said efforts to silence her had failed. She was shot in the head on a school bus by Taliban gunmen because of her campaign for girls’ rights. The speech at the UN headquarters in New York was her first public address since last October’s incident in Pakistan’s north-western Swat valley. Malala has been credited with bringing the issue of women’s education to global attention. A quarter of young women around the world have not completed primary school. After … Continue reading

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Aleppo residents call for lifting of Syrian rebel siege

Syrian rebels fighting in Aleppo.

Dozens of Syrians in Aleppo have staged protests against a rebel siege of government-held areas in the city, residents have said. Rebels stopped supplies from entering western parts of the city in a bid to weaken the supply routes for President Bashar al-Assad’s forces, they add. They say the blockade has led to severe food and medicine shortages. The World Health Organization has urged Syrians to protect a convoy carrying medical supplies to the city. One protester was reportedly shot dead at a demonstration on Tuesday, according to the UK-based activist group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The group says it was not clear whether the man was shot … Continue reading

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