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Daily Archives: March 10, 2011

Gaza Strip's Hamas leader reshuffles Cabinet

File Photo : Senior Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh gives a speech to Palestinians and international peace activists inside al-Garbi mosque at Shati refugee camp in Gaza City October 22, 2010. Photo : REUTERS/Suhaib Salem

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip, March 10, 2011 (KATAKAMI.COM) – The Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip reshuffled his Cabinet on Thursday, naming the first foreign minister for the isolated militant-run Palestinian territory.

As reported by AP on Thursday, Hamas said Ismail Haniyeh’s move was unrelated to the unrest rocking the Arab region, but it is likely to be seen as an effort by the hard-line movement to convey a more open image to the outside world.

For the first time since the group’s violent takeover of the Gaza Strip in 2007, there is a Hamas foreign minister. Haniyeh appointed Mohammed Awad to the post. Awad will also keep his job as planning minister.

Thursday’s reshuffle added five ministers, including one woman. Most ministers kept their current portfolios.

Hamas fighters ousted its more moderate rival, Fatah, from control of Gaza four years ago. Fatah, which supports negotiations with Israel for creation of a Palestinian state, still controls the West Bank.

Hamas openly calls for Israel’s destruction, and its militants have targeted Israel with rocket attacks.(*)
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Posted by on March 10, 2011 in World News

 

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Ahmadinejad : Hegemonies crumbling

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

 

 

IRAN, March 10, 2011 (KATAKAMI.COM) — Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says hegemonic powers are already collapsing, reiterating that an Islamic awakening is spreading across the world, Iranian Television PRESS TV reported on Thursday.

“The human society is moving rapidly forward and today’s hegemonic powers, which are unrivaled in corruption, pillage, massacre and crimes, are already collapsing,” President Ahmadinejad said during a visit to the central Iranian city of Qom on Thursday.

“An Islamic awakening is taking place in the world. A major movement is underway and we can see its signs in every corner of the globe,” he went on to say.

The Iranian chief executive praised the role of clerics in inviting societies to salvation and prosperity and said that on account of clerics’ efforts and sacrifices, a global movement based on divine values is spreading all across the world.

President Ahmadinejad added that the Islamic Republic of Iran had two major global missions; specifically, setting an example for the world and disseminating divine ideas as widely as possible.  (*)

 
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Putin proposes scrapping visas between Russia, US

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (right) shakes hands with US Vice President Joe Biden ahead of talks in Moscow. Putin has proposed that Russia and the United States abolish visas in a "historic" step to seal a revival in ties. (AFP/Pool/Alexey Druzhinin)

 

 

MOSCOW, March 10, 2011 (KATAKAMI.COM / AFP) – Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Thursday proposed to visiting US Vice President Joe Biden that Russia and the United States take the “historic step” of abolishing visas between the two countries, AFP reported on  Thursday.

“If the United States and Russia agree to implement a visa-free regime before Russia and the European Union, then this would be a historic step in our relations,” Putin told Biden.

“This would break all the old stereotypes between Russia and the United States.”

Efforts by Russia and the European Union to agree visa-free travel between the two sides have continued for years without making substantial progress.

This appears to be the first time Putin has suggested cancelling visas with Moscow’s main Cold War foe.   (*)

 
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How do you spell a problem like Gadhafi?

This video image taken from Turkish television Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi is seen during an interview with the TV channel TRT, in Tripoli, Libya, Tuesday March 8, 2011. Gadhafi said in an interview broadcast Wednesday that Libyans would fight back if Western nations impose a no-fly zone to prevent the regime from using its air force to bomb government opponents staging a rebellion. (AP Photo/TRT)

 

 

CAIRO, March 10, 2011 (KATAKAMI.COM / AP )  – Qaddafi, Qazzafi, Qadhdhafi, Qaththafi, Gadhdhafi, Khadafy, Gadhafi, Gaddafi ?

Read about the unrest in Libya and you might wonder :

The man has been in power for 41 years, can’t anyone spell his name? For a leader so notoriously mercurial, perhaps it’s fitting no one can pin down Moammar Gadhafi’s last name using the English alphabet. It’s not just media organizations, even official Libyan government documents vary widely in rendering his name in Latin letters.

The Associated Press goes with Gadhafi.

Why?

It has to do with pronunciation — along with a series of letters the Libyan leader sent to American schoolchildren more than 25 years ago.

The spelling is complicated by a perfect storm of issues: Arabic letters or sounds that don’t exist in English, differences in pronunciation between formal Arabic and dialects, and differences between transliteration systems.

Let’s take it Arabic letter by Arabic letter:

His name’s first letter is the Qaf, representing a sound that does not exist in English. It’s sort of like a K but sounded from the back of the palate. (And no, it’s NOT the rough “kh” or German “ch” sound — that’s yet a different letter.)

Usually the Qaf is transliterated with a Q, as in Quran and Qatar and Iraq. An outdated but still seen transliteration is K, as in Koran.

But its pronunciation varies in different Arabic dialects. In Libya, it’s often pronounced as a G, so that’s the letter the AP and some others use.

The next letter is the Dhal. Its sound does exist in English, but not as one letter: In formal Arabic, the Dhal is pronounced like the soft “th” in “then” or “those.” It’s often transliterated as “dh,” to distinguish it from a separate letter that’s pronounced like the “th” in “thick” or “thorn.”

In dialect, the Dhal is often pronounced by Libyans and other Arabs as either a D or a Z — much like in English dialects where you might say “doze guys.” Thus some spell Gadhafi’s name with a D or Z in the middle.

Just to complicate matters, the middle dhal in Gadhafi’s name is doubled — in other words, you draw it out some in pronunciation. That’s why you see Qazzafi, or Qaddafi, or the more bizarre looking Qadhdhafi or Qaththafi.

The third letter is a Fa, which is simply an F. In some spellings of Gadhafi’s name, you see it doubled “ff” but there’s no reason to do that. It may just be a snarky way to slip “daffy” into the eccentric Libyan leader’s name.

The last letter is a Yaa, which is simply an “ee” sound, as in “tree.” That’s why you see either a Y or an I.

How does Gadhafi himself pronounce it? That’s easy since he refers to himself in third person quite often. He tends to say “Gath-thafi” with the middle letter pronounced like the soft “th” in “either.”

But writing it like that reads as if that middle letter is pronounced like the “th” in “ether” or “Matthew.” So we use “dh.” And if people read that as a D, that’s fine because it’s closer to correct than the wrong type of “th.” Many Libyans pronounce it as a D.

And doubling the “dh” looks bizarre, without changing the pronunciation much, so we just write it once.

So that’s where the AP spelling comes from. But it’s only part of the story:

Flash back to 1986, a year that started out with the AP (and many others) spelling the Libyan leader’s name Khadafy, based on the advice of Middle East experts. That changed when he sent letters to American schoolchildren, signed in Arabic script over his typed name: Colonel Moammar El-Gadhafi.

AP decided to drop the “El” — since at the time it was our style to not use the definite marker used in many Arab names — and went with Gadhafi.

The reason: AP’s general policy is to spell names based on a person’s preference. The letters to schoolchildren were believed to be the first time since Gadhafi took power in 1969 that he indicated in writing how he wanted his name spelled in Latin letters.  (*)

 
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19 dead as quake topples buildings in SW China

In this photo released by China's Xinhua news agency, citizens pass by a damaged building after a strong earthquake jolted Yingjiang county, southwest China's Yunnan province on Thursday March 10, 2011. The earthquake toppled houses and damaged a hotel and supermarket in China's extreme southwest near the border with Myanmar on Thursday, killing at least 14 people and injuring more than 150, officials and state media said. (AP Photo/Xinhua, Xiao Wenhui)

 

BEIJING, March 10, 2011 (KATAKAMI.COM / AP) – An earthquake toppled houses and damaged a hotel and supermarket in China’s extreme southwest near the border with Myanmar on Thursday, killing at least 19 people and injuring more than 150, officials and state media said.

Witnesses reported that people were buried under debris from buildings damaged by the quake, centered in Yunnan province’s Yingjiang county, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

China Central Television said the quake hit while many people, including students, were home for a customary midday rest. The report said at least two students were among those killed, but didn’t give details. The state broadcaster showed several buildings with concrete foundations that had cracked and buckled.

The website of the Chinese government earthquake monitoring station said the magnitude-5.8 quake struck just before 1 p.m. (0500 GMT) at a depth of 6 miles (10 kilometers). The U.S. Geological Survey measured the quake at a magnitude of 5.4 and at a deeper 21 miles (35 kilometers).

At least 19 people were killed and 157 other people were hurt, said Ren Xueli, an official with the Yunnan Disaster Relief Center. China Central Television said 166 were injured.

CCTV reported that about 100 armed police, firefighters and soldiers were using three excavators to try to rescue a man and a girl trapped inside a four-story building that had partially collapsed.

He Shuhui, head of an armed police squad, was quoted as saying they were trapped in a stairway on the ground floor of the building.

Another official on duty at the center, Gao Shaotang, said many houses had been toppled. Xinhua said the army was sending 400 soldiers to the site for rescue efforts.

The epicenter was in Shiming Village, just over a mile (kilometer) from the county seat, but triggered a power outage across Yingjiang, which has a population of about 300,000 people, Xinhua said.

The mountainous area lies 1,500 miles (2,400 kilometers) southwest of Beijing, close to the border with Myanmar, and is home to many ethnic groups on both sides of the border, which sees heavy traffic in people and goods.

Xinhua said the quake-prone region has been hit by more than 1,000 minor tremors over the past two months.

The Myanmar Meteorological Department released a statement saying a quake had hit some 230 miles (370 kilometers) northeast of Mandalay, the country’s second-largest city.

The statement did not mention injuries, damage or the specific area of Myanmar most affected by the quake. Authorities in the tightly ruled country tend not to immediately discuss the effects of natural disasters.

Much of the area on the Myanmar side been under the control of various armed ethnic groups, who have battled the Myanmar military to remain free from central government control.  (*)

 

 
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Oil installations ablaze in Libya as battles rage

Muammar Al Gaddafi

 

RAS LANOUF, Libya, March 10, 2011 (KATAKAMI.COM / AP) – A giant yellow fireball shot into the sky, trailed by thick plumes of black smoke Wednesday after fighting between rebels and forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi set two oil installations ablaze and inflicted yet more damage on Libya’s crippled energy industry, AP reported on Thursday.

In the west, Gadhafi claimed victory in recapturing Zawiya, the city closest to the capital that had fallen into opposition hands. The claim could not immediately be verified; phone lines there have not been working during a deadly, six-day siege.

State TV showed a crowd of hundreds, purportedly in Zawiya’s main square, shouting “The people want Colonel Gadhafi!” but the location of the rally could not be independently confirmed.

Western journalists based in Tripoli were taken late Wednesday to a stadium on the outskirts of Zawiya that was filled with Gadhafi loyalists waving green flags in a similar scene, complete with fireworks. Libyan TV cameras filmed the celebrations as food, drinks and cooking oil were distributed.

Government escorts refused journalists’ requests to visit the city’s main square.

The fall of Zawiya to anti-Gadhafi residents early on in the uprising that began Feb. 15 illustrated the initial, blazing progress of the opposition. But Gadhafi has seized the momentum, battering the rebels with airstrikes and artillery fire and repulsing their westward march toward the capital, Tripoli.

Gadhafi’s successes have left Western powers struggling to come up with a plan to support the rebels without becoming ensnared in the complex and fast-moving conflict. On Wednesday, a high-ranking member of the Libyan military flew to Cairo with a message for Egyptian army officials from Gadhafi, but no further details were known.

President Barack Obama’s national security team weighed how to force Gadhafi from power and halt his crackdown on rebels, but the White House said no action was imminent and set no timeline as attention shifted to a pivotal NATO session in Brussels.

The NATO alliance said it was planning for any eventuality in the Libyan crisis. But with Defense Secretary Robert Gates preparing to join a meeting of alliance defense chiefs to discuss military options on Thursday, there was little sign they would agree to set up a no-fly zone over the North African country.

A rebel spokesman said Wednesday they will buy weapons if the international community fails to declare a no-fly zone.

“If a no-fly zone is not imposed, we do have the means to get armaments. We don’t expect any country to refuse to deal with us in terms of an arms sale,” said Abdel-Hafidh Ghoga, a spokesman for the rebels’ provisional transitional national council.

He did not elaborate or say where the rebels would get the money for arms.

Britain and France are pushing for the U.N. to create a no-fly zone over the country, and while the U.S. may be persuaded to sign on, such a move is unlikely to win the backing of veto-wielding Security Council members Russia and China, which traditionally object to such steps as infringements on national sovereignty.

Gadhafi said in a Turkish television interview that Libyans would fight back if Western nations imposed a no-fly zone to prevent his regime from using its air force to bomb government opponents staging a rebellion.

He said imposing the restrictions would prove the West’s real intention was to seize his country’s oil wealth.

“Such a situation would be useful,” Gadhafi said. “The Libyan people would understand their real aims to take Libya under their control, to take their freedoms and to take their oil and all Libyan people will take up arms and fight.”

In eastern Libya, an Associated Press reporter at Ras Lanouf near the front line of fighting saw an explosion from the area of the Sidr oil facility, 360 miles (580 kilometers) east of Tripoli.

Three columns of thick smoke rose from the area, apparently from burning oil.

Mustafa Gheriani, an opposition spokesman, said the government artillery hit a pipeline supplying Sidr from oil fields in the desert. An oil storage depot also was hit, apparently by an airstrike, he said.

Gheriani accused Gadhafi forces of intentionally targeting oil facilities as a warning to Europe that the chaos in Libya will hurt oil supplies.

“Gadhafi thinks he can put pressure on Europe, but I think this is just going to work against him,” Gheriani told the AP.

Shukri Ghanem, chairman of the Libya’s National Oil Corp., said the Sidr explosion was from “a small tank for diesel” that caught fire and he insisted it would not affect oil production.

Ras Lanouf is the westernmost point seized by rebels moving along the country’s main highway on the Mediterranean coast. Four bodies were brought to the morgue at the hospital in Ras Lanouf, doctors said.

In Cairo, an Egyptian army official told the AP on condition of anonymity that Maj. Gen. Abdul-Rahman bin Ali al-Said al-Zawi, the head of Libya’s logistics and supply authority, was asking to meet Egypt’s military rulers.

Diplomatic attempts to calm the crisis accelerated Wednesday.

A Libyan envoy met with Portugal’s foreign minister in Lisbon on Wednesday, and an envoy will hold talks in Athens on Thursday with Greece’s deputy foreign minister. The visits come ahead of a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels on Thursday to discuss the situation in Libya.

The violence in Libya has taken a toll on the country’s oil production. For the past week, government forces and rebels have been battling around several key oil ports east — Brega, Ras Lanouf and Sidr. At their peak, those three export terminals handled about 715,000 barrels of crude per day, or roughly 45 percent of the country’s exports, according to figures published in industry publication Africa Energy. A fourth eastern port, Marsa al-Harigah, handled another 220,000 barrels per day.

In total, those four ports would then account for almost 60 percent of the country’s crude exports.

“We were already seeing Libya as pretty much being closed,” said Samuel Cizsuk, Mideast oil analyst with IHS Global Insight in London. “It was only a question of time before the escalating violence would damage oil facilities.”

“Libya has been discounted from the global markets,” he said.

The British Broadcasting Corp., meanwhile, said three of its staff had been detained, beaten and subjected to mock executions by pro-regime soldiers while attempting to reach Zawiya on Monday. The BBC said the men were held for 21 hours before they were released, and have since left Libya. It reported the details of their detention in bulletins late on Wednesday.  (*)

 

 
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China: Iran entitled to nuclear energy

Iranian technicians are seen at the Isfahan Uranium Conversion Facilities (UCF), 420 kms south of the capital Tehran, file photo.

March 10, 2011 (KATAKAMI.COM / PRESS TV.IR ) — China has reaffirmed Iran’s right to peaceful nuclear technology, urging Tehran at the same time to expand its cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Li Song, the deputy head of the Department of Arms Control of China’s Foreign Ministry, said Wednesday that as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Iran enjoys the right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy, as reported by Xinhua.

Li, however, called on Tehran to strengthen cooperation with the IAEA and to implement the resolutions of the UN Security Council (UNSC).

“It is our hope that Iran will fully implement the relevant resolutions of the IAEA Board and the UN Security Council, and strengthen its cooperation with the agency with a view to enhancing the confidence of the international community in the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program,” Li said.

He also called on the IAEA to provide further information regarding certain aspects of its latest report on Iran’s nuclear program, including its sources of information.

The official also urged the IAEA to promote a proper solution to Iran’s nuclear issue.

Iran has vehemently rejected allegations against its nuclear program, saying it only seeks the peaceful applications of nuclear technology.

In its latest report issued on February 25, the UN nuclear agency once again confirmed that Iran’s nuclear program has never been diverted to nuclear weapons production.

The report, however, urged Tehran to halt its uranium enrichment activities, as demanded by four resolutions previously imposed by the UNSC based on the false assumption that Iran may have a hidden program geared towards weaponry.

The Islamic Republic says it has been cooperating with the IAEA even beyond its legal obligations, reiterating that it has answered all questions regarding its nuclear program.   (*)
 
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