Daily Archives: March 13, 2011

Palestinian Authority (PA) slams Israel's new settlement plan

A Palestinian man walks on his property overlooking the Israeli settlement Har Homa in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. ( Photo : Press TV )

PALESTINE, March 13, 2011 (KATAKAMI.COM) — The Palestinian Authority (PA) has condemned Israel’s approval of a plan to construct hundreds more illegal settlements in occupied Palestinian territories, Iranian Television PRESS TV reported on Sunday.

Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erakat says the PA “strongly condemns the decision of the Israeli government to speed up and increase the building of settlements.”

“It strongly condemns the settler attacks against the Palestinian people in the West Bank and we ask the Quartet to urgently intervene to stop the actions of the settlers,” he told AFP.

The condemnation came after Tel Aviv ordered construction of hundreds of settlements in four areas of the occupied West Bank.

“The ministerial committee responsible for settlements had decided to build several hundred units at Gush Etzion, Maale Adumim, Ariel and Kyriat Sefer” in the West Bank, announced the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a Sunday statement.

Censuring the decision as “a mistake,” Nabil Abu Rudeina, the spokesman for Acting PA Chief Mahmud Abbas, said that the Israeli regime is moving to create “big problems.”

“The decision taken to build new settlements is a mistake and unacceptable,” said Rudeina, adding “It will destroy everything and will lead to big problems.”

The move would further complicate the stalled talks between Israeli and the PA officials.

Early this month, Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics said that the illegal settlement construction in the occupied West bank has climbed sharply in the past five months.

The data, released by the bureau on March 5, indicates that the Israeli regime started over 114 settlement units during the 10-month construction freeze Tel Aviv announced in November 2009.

The 114 units, the construction of which began during the so-called freeze, have now been completed. Additionally, the building of over 1,175 other units that started before the partial moratorium went into effect, have also finished.

The data also reveals that construction of over 427 housing units has begun since the expiration of the freeze in late September.

Israel’s insistence to resume its West Bank settlement construction projects — deemed by the international community as illegal — prompted Palestinian Authority negotiators to walk out a new round of US-sponsored direct talks.

Palestinians have repeatedly voiced concern over efforts by the Israeli regime to wipe out the Islamic and Palestinian identity of the occupied territories, East al-Quds in particular, to effectively render the establishment of a future Palestinian state unfeasible.   (*)
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Posted by on March 13, 2011 in World News



Over 10,000 deaths feared in quake-tsunami, nuclear crisis continues

Residents walk through debris in Minami Sanriku, Miyagi, northern Japan Sunday, March 13, 2011 after Friday's catastrophic earthquake and tsunami. (AP Photo/Kyodo News)

JAPAN, March 13, 2011 (KATAKAMI.COM) — The death toll from Friday’s devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit northeastern and eastern Japan will likely surpass 10,000, the Miyagi police chief said Sunday as Japan grapples with widespread damage and a crisis at one of two affected nuclear plants.

As reported by Kyodo News Agency on Sunday, Japanese authorities scrambled to control overheating reactors at the quake-hit Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, and some 180,000 people joined more than 450,000 other evacuees from quake- and tsunami-affected regions by moving out of a 20-kilometer radius from the plant a day after one of its reactors partially melted Saturday.

The magnitude of the country’s biggest recorded quake was revised upward the same day from 8.8 to 9.0, making it one of the largest in history in the world, the Japan Meteorological Agency said, adding that a major aftershock is still quite likely while removing its tsunami alert for the archipelago.

”We have no choice but to deal with the situation on the premise that it (the death toll) will undoubtedly be numbered in the ten thousands,” Naoto Takeuchi, head of the Miyagi prefectural police, said in a local disaster task force meeting.

The death toll confirmed by police topped 1,000 in Miyagi and other areas in the evening, excluding more than 600 bodies that have been found in Miyagi and Iwate prefectures on the Pacific coast.

Also, local governments have been unable to contact tens of thousands of people, and at least 20,820 buildings have been fully or partially damaged in quake-hit areas.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan issued an instruction early Sunday to boost the number of Self-Defense Force personnel sent to quake-hit areas to 100,000, one of the largest for an SDF operation, Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa said.

”I would like to ask for maximum efforts in order to save the lives of as many people as possible,” Kan told a morning meeting of the Cabinet-level emergency disaster headquarters held at his office. ”We will do everything to rescue stranded people.”

The SDF had dispatched 65,000 personnel by Saturday night, but will increase the number to 100,000 in one or two days, Kitazawa told reporters.

At the Fukushima nuclear plant, the radiation level exceeded the legal limit at one point, but Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano dismissed concerns that the level would affect human health and said trouble with the No. 3 reactor there has not led to a ”meltdown,” a critical situation where fuel rods have melted.

A combined 37 people have been exposed to radiation near the plant, however, and 160 more are feared to join them, according to the Fukushima prefectural government and the national government’s nuclear safety and disaster management agencies.

In Miyagi, about 200 more bodies were found in the city of Higashimatsushima, and about 10,000 people in Minamisanriku, over half the town’s population, remain unaccounted for, police said.

About 4,400 people remained isolated as of Saturday night in the tsunami-swamped town of Onagawa and neighboring Ishinomaki city, in schools, hospitals, inns and the Onagawa nuclear plant where they had been evacuated to, Miyagi officials said.

In Iwate Prefecture, north of Miyagi, many bodies were found Sunday morning under the rubble in Rikuzentakata, and the U.S. military in Japan is poised to airlift about 640 isolated residents there by eight helicopters, the police and the Defense Agency said.

About 5,000 houses in the city had been submerged by quake-triggered tsunami, and the city office has confirmed that only 5,900 of its population of about 23,000 had taken shelter.

The Iwate government also said it has been unable to communicate with the mayor and officials in Otsuchi after the town office was swept away by a tsunami while the mayor and town officials were apparently inside the building. A nursing home accommodating 30 elderly people was also washed away in Ofunato city.

The Fukushima prefectural government said it was still unable to contact 1,167 residents, including 918 in the town of Namie, boosting the tally of those unaccounted for in its latest data.

Helicopters from the Maritime Self-Defense Force sent to check the extent of damage spotted bush fires at seven places in Miyako city early Sunday, the Defense Agency said.

Communication failures were also found to have extended further. Nippon Telegraph and Telephone East Corp. said 475,400 fiber-optic services were disconnected as of 6 a.m., up 76,500 from 8 p.m. Saturday, in addition to 879,500 subscribed phone lines that remained out of service in areas centering on Iwate and Miyagi.

A total of 11,400 base stations of major cellphone operators NTT Docomo Inc., KDDI Corp. and Softbank Mobile Corp. stayed inoperative as of 7:30 a.m., disrupting phone calls and emails via mobile phones across wide areas, the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry said.

Areas in Iwate, Miyagi and seven other prefectures remained unable to receive TV signals as of 10 a.m., it also said.

Ground SDF troops, meanwhile, rescued about 5,800 people in the Miyagi town of Kesennuma and its vicinity, the Defense Ministry said.

An increasing number of search and rescue teams were arriving in Japan, with a total of 69 governments and five international institutions having offered assistance, the Foreign Ministry said.

In the evening the weather agency lifted the tsunami advisory that remained for the Pacific coast stretching from Hokkaido to Kyushu after downgrading its tsunami warning to an advisory in the morning for the Pacific side of the Tohoku region in northeastern Japan.

The government adopted a decree late Saturday designating the quake a serious disaster eligible for increased state subsidies for reconstruction.    (*)
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Posted by on March 13, 2011 in World News



Libyan TV: Gadhafi forces take oil town of Brega

Muammar Al Gaddafi

BENGHAZI, Libya, March 13, 2011 (KATAKAMI.COM) – Libyan state television reported Sunday that forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi have retaken the oil town of Brega in eastern Libya, swiftly advancing on the poorly equipped and loosely organized rebels, AP reported on Sunday.

The report could not immediately be verified. Libyan TV has issued faulty reports claiming territory in the past.

Gadhafi’s forces pushed the front line miles deeper into rebel territory Saturday to just 25 miles (40 kilometers) outside Brega, the site of a major oil terminal. Sunday’s report declared the city has been “cleansed from armed gangs.”

The rebels have seen a string of defeats in recent days — a major setback for opposition forces who just a week ago held the entire eastern half of the country and were charging toward the capital, Tripoli.

The rebels have called for a no-fly zone, saying they are no match for the Gadhafi regime’s fighter jets. On Saturday, the Arab League asked the U.N. Security Council to impose a no-fly zone, increasing pressure on the U.S. and other Western powers to take action that most have expressed deep reservations about.

In surprisingly swift action and aggressive language, the 22-member Arab bloc said after an emergency meeting that the Libyan government had “lost its sovereignty.” It asked the United Nations to “shoulder its responsibility … to impose a no-fly zone over the movement of Libyan military planes and to create safe zones in the places vulnerable to airstrikes.”

Western diplomats have said Arab and African approval was necessary before the Security Council voted on imposing a no-fly zone, which would be imposed by NATO nations to protect civilians from air attack by Gadhafi’s forces.

The U.S. and many allies have expressed deep reservations about the effectiveness of a no-fly zone, and the possibility it could drag them into another messy conflict in the Muslim world.

Outside the rebel stronghold of Benghazi deep in opposition territory, Al-Jazeera cameraman Ali Hassan al-Jaber was killed in what the pan-Arab satellite station described as an ambush.

Correspondent Baybah Wald Amhadi said the crew’s car came under fire from the rear as it returned from an assignment south of Benghazi. Al-Jaber was shot three times in the back and a fourth bullet hit another correspondent near the ear and wounded him, Amhadi said.

“Even areas under rebel control are not totally safe,” he said. “There are followers, eyes or fifth columns, for Col. Gadhafi.”

On Saturday, a resident reported fighting between government forces and rebels inside Gadhafi’s territory in Misrata, Libya’s third-largest city, 125 miles (200 kilometers) southeast of Tripoli.  (*)
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Israel to build settler homes after Palestinian attack

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pauses during the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Sunday, March 13, 2011. Israel said Sunday it has approved hundreds of settler homes after five members of an Israeli family, including three children, were knifed to death as they slept in a West Bank settlement over the weekend. (AP Photo/Ronen Zvulun, Pool)

JERUSALEM, March 13, 2011 (KATAKAMI.COM) – Israel said on Sunday it would build several hundred homes for settlers in the occupied West Bank, a day after a Palestinian attack killed an Israeli couple and three of their children in a settlement.

As reported by Reuters on Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened a special session of a ministerial committee on settlement to approve the step after pledging publicly the stabbings on Saturday would not deter Israel from building more homes for Jews in the West Bank.

Troops searched outside the settlement of Itamar, near the Palestinian city of Nablus, for the attacker or attackers who snuck into the home of Ehud and Ruti Fogel at night and knifed them and three of their children, aged 11, 4 and 3 months, as the family slept.

A 12-year-old daughter found their bodies after returning home from an evening youth group meeting.

With anger high in Israel and among settlers, Netanyahu’s office said in a statement that “ministers decided to authorize construction” of several hundred housing units in the Etzion bloc of settlements and in Maale Adumim, Ariel and Kiryat Sefer.

The move was likely to draw international dismay and harden Palestinian resolve not to return to peace talks frozen over Netanyahu’s refusal to extend a 10-month moratorium that expired in November on housing starts in West Bank settlements.

“This decision is wrong and unacceptable and will only create problems,” said Nabil Abu Rdainah, a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Expanded construction in West Bank settlements could bolster Netanyahu within his governing coalition, which is dominated by pro-settler parties, including his own right-wing Likud.


No group claimed responsibility for the attack but the Hamas Islamists who rule the Gaza Strip said they offered their “full support” to any actions taken against settlers.

A senior figure in Hamas’s exiled leadership, Izzat al-Rishq, said on Saturday: “We had nothing to do with it.”

A funeral for the family was to be held later on Sunday.

Several hours after the attack, Abbas put out a statement condemning “all acts of violence against civilians, regardless of who carried them out and their motives.”

Netanyahu, who spoke with Abbas by phone, said the statements by the Palestinian leadership were not strong enough and it must move to end what he termed incitement against Israelis in Palestinian schools, mosques and media.

No starting date was given for the new housing projects, in settlements Israel has said it intends to keep in any future peace deal with the Palestinians. Israel’s left-leaning Haaretz newspaper put the number of planned homes at 500.

The World Court has deemed illegal Israeli settlement in the West Bank, territory captured along with the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem in a 1967 war.

Some 500,000 settlers live among 2.5 million Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Palestinians fear the enclaves will deny them a viable state.

Violence in the West Bank has dropped significantly since its peak during a Palestinian uprising a decade ago, although tensions had risen earlier in the week when Israeli troops fired live rounds at Palestinians after they clashed with settlers.

Ten Palestinians and one Israeli were wounded in the confrontation.  (*)
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Hamid Karzai to NATO: ‘Your Fight Is Not in Afghanistan’

Afghan President Hamid Karzai

AFGHANISTAN, March 13, 2011 (KATAKAMI.COM) — Afghan President Hamid Karzai says international troops should leave Afghanistan and take their fight against terrorism across the border into Pakistan.

As reported by VOA News on Sunday, Mr. Karzai delivered his latest criticism of NATO efforts Saturday in Asadabad, capital of eastern Kunar province, where he was visiting relatives of civilians killed in a raid by international forces.

The Afghan leader said his government has shown NATO that the terrorists and militants are not in Afghanistan, but instead are hiding in neighboring Pakistan.

The French news agency quoted Mr. Karzai as saying that Afghans are a tolerant people, but by now , “Our tolerance has run out.”

The topic of civilian casualties has been a sensitive one for Afghanistan and its Western allies.

Earlier this month, NATO’s top commander in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus, apologized for an airstrike that killed nine children in Kunar province – the result of miscommunication, according to the coalition. Mr. Karzai has warned that NATO could face “huge problems” if the accidental killing of civilians does not stop.

A joint report this week by the U.N. mission in Afghanistan and the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission says there were nearly 3,000 war-related civilian deaths in 2010 – an increase of 15 percent over 2009’s toll. The study concluded that insurgents and militants were responsible for about 75 percent of those deaths.

Meanwhile, NATO said two of its troops died Saturday, one in eastern Afghanistan and another in southern Afghanistan. NATO has a policy of not releasing names and nationalities of members of the force.  (*)

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Afghan President Hamid Karzai seeks end to NATO operations

Afghan President Hamid Karzai



AFGHANISTAN, March 13, 2011 (KATAKAMI.COM) — Afghan President Hamid Karzai says US-led forces must stop operations in his country amid growing discontent between Kabul and Washington over civilian causalities, Iranian Television PRESS TV reported on Saturday.

Karzai made the remarks in the city of Asadabad where a recent NATO attack left over 70 civilians dead.

“I would like to ask NATO and the US with honor and humbleness and not with arrogance to stop their operations in our land,” Karzai said on Saturday.

“We are very tolerant people but now our tolerance has run out,” Karzai added.

The remarks also come days after nine children were killed in a NATO helicopter raid while they were collecting firewood in the eastern province of Kunar.

NATO says the children were mistaken for militants.

President Karzai condemned the killings and US President Barack Obama apologized for the incident.

Afghanistan has also rejected the United States’ apology for the death of nine children in a NATO airstrike. Karzai said expressing regret is not sufficient for the killing of the young boys.

His comments also come as US-led forces have recently shot and killed a relative of President Karzai in an attack on his house in Kandahar Province’s Dand district in southern Afghanistan.

US Special Forces arrived in helicopter in Karz village and stormed the house of Haji Yar Mohammad Khan on Wednesday night, Press TV has learned.

Moreover, foreign forces have killed two civilians in the eastern province of Nangarhar.

The victims worked for a private company which provides services to Afghan and foreign forces. Eyewitnesses say they were killed in their homes in the city of Jalalabad.

Civilian casualties from US-led operations are a major source of tension between the Afghan government and foreign troops. More than 2,400 civilians are estimated to have been killed in 2010 by both foreign forces and militants.

Insecurity is on the rise across the country despite the presence of over 150,000 US-led forces there.  (*)

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Photostream : Emergency at another reactor of Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant

Nuclear accident rated at level 4 : The Japanese government rates the accident at the Fukushima Number One nuclear power plant at level 4 on an international scale of 0 to 7. Two radioactive substances, cesium and radioactive iodine, were detected near the Number One reactor at the plant on Saturday. Their presence indicates nuclear fission of uranium. The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said that fuel in the reactor partially melted. It's the first such accident in Japan. A level 4 on the International Nuclear and Radiologocal Event Scale includes damage to fuel and release of significant quantities of radioactive material within an installation. It's the same level as a criticality accident at a nuclear fuel processing plant in Tokai Village in Ibaraki Prefecture, south of Fukushima, in 1999. The agency called the accident very regrettable even though it was triggered by an earthquake. ( Photo : NHK)

Second Japanese Nuclear Reactor At Risk of Exploding : Nuclear safety agency says the cooling system has stopped working at the Fukushima number three reactor, VOA News reported on Sunday. Japan's nuclear safety agency says there is an emergency at another reactor at a quake-hit power plant. Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said Sunday that the cooling system at the number three reactor at the Fukushima nuclear plant has stopped working and risked a possible explosion following a blast Saturday at the plant's number one reactor. VOA reporters close to the plant say aftershocks are still rocking the area, more than 24 hours after the original 8.9-magnitude jolt and tsunami hit on Friday afternoon, local time. An explosion Saturday damaged a building housing the Fukushima facility's number one reactor, however officials say the reactor itself remained intact.Officials say radiation from the plant appeared to have decreased after the blast on Saturday. But authorities did not say why and the extent of the ongoing danger was not clear. Authorities had called on all residents to move at least 20 kilometers from the facility and as a precaution against radiation poisoning, authorities say they are distributing iodine tablets to people in the area. (Photo : RIA Novosti )

In this video image taken from NTV Japan via APTN, smoke rises from Unit 1 of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Okumamachi, Fukushima prefecture, Japan, Saturday, March 12, 2011. Japan’s Government spokesman Yukio Edano said the explosion destroyed the exterior walls of the building where the reactor is placed, but not the metal housing enveloping the nuclear reactor, however the government has ordered the evacuation of all people within a 12-miles (20 Km) radius of the plant. As reported by RIA NOVOSTI on Monday, Another reactor at Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant has lost its emergency cooling system, international media reported on Sunday, quoting Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency. Additional water supply to the Number Three reactor should be established urgently to avoid a blast due to overheating, an agency official told a news conference. On Saturday, a powerful blast hit the Fukushima Number One power station, about 250 km (155 miles) northeast of Tokyo, which was badly damaged by Friday's devastating earthquake and tsunami. The explosion destroyed the wall the reactor turbine building, but Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said the reactor itself, covered with a steel container, was not damaged. In a report to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Japanese authorities assigned the accident at the Fukushima Number One power station the level 4 on the international INES scale that runs from 1 (anomaly) to 7 (major accident), the DPA news agency reported. According to the IAEA's definition, a level-4 accident is defined as having "local consequences," such as a "minor release of radioactive material." (AP Photo/NTV Japan via APTN)

In this photo released by Tokyo Power Electric Co., the Fukushima Daiichi power plant's Unit 1 is seen after an explosion in Okumamachi, Fukushima prefecture, Japan, Saturday, March 12, 2011. As reported by Kyodo News Agency on Sunday, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Sunday another reactor of its quake-hit Fukushima nuclear power plants had lost its cooling functions, while at least 15 people at a nearby hospital were found to have been exposed to radioactivity. The utility supplier notified the government early Sunday morning that the No. 3 reactor at the No. 1 Fukushima plant had lost the ability to cool the reactor core. The reactor is now in the process of releasing radioactive steam, according to top government spokesman Yukio Edano. It was the sixth reactor overall at the Fukushima No. 1 and No. 2 plants to undergo cooling failure since the massive earthquake and ensuing tsunami struck Japan on Friday. The disaster raised fears over radioactive leaks from the plants after cooling systems there were hampered, most seriously at the No. 1 reactor. An explosion Saturday at the No. 1 plant blew away the roof and the walls of the building housing the No. 1 reactor's container. The government and nuclear authorities said there was no damage to the steel container housing the troubled No. 1 reactor, noting that the blast occurred as vapor from the container turned into hydrogen and mixed with outside oxygen. (AP Photo/Tokyo Power Electric Co.)

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Posted by on March 13, 2011 in World News


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