Daily Archives: March 17, 2011

Libya: Gaddafi forces bomb rebel-held Benghazi

Pro-Gaddafi forces are better equipped than the rebels

LIBYA, March 17, 2011 (KATAKAMI.COM) — Forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi have launched their first bombing raids on the main rebel-held city of Benghazi, BBC reported on Thursday.

BBC correspondents in the city heard the sound of low-flying aircraft and explosions on the city outskirts.

Mustafa Gheriani, spokesman for the opposition Transitional National Council, said the city’s airport had been attacked.

He told that the bombs had missed their targets.

Benghazi, Libya’s second city, has a population of a million.

A UN Security Council vote on action in Libya could be held later on Thursday.

Western countries want a no-fly zone to halt the advance of government forces.

Following the toppling of the long-time leaders of neighbouring Tunisia and Egypt earlier this year, Libyan protesters started to demand that Col Gaddafi step down after 42 years of autocratic rule.

They quickly seized much of eastern Libya, but in recent days pro-Gaddafi forces have retaken several towns.   (*)

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Posted by on March 17, 2011 in World News


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Kremlin : Meeting of High-Level Russian-Turkish Cooperation Council

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, right, and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan head to a news conference after talks in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, March 16, 2011. ( Photo : Kremlin.Ru )

RUSSIA, March 17, 2011 (KATAKAMI.COM) — Trade and economic ties development was among major topics at the Council meeting, co-chaired by the President of Russia and Prime Minister of Turkey on Wednesday.

Following talks between Dmitry Medvedev and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a protocol on the operation of the Russian-Turkish Public Forum, and an Agreement on cooperation between the Federal State Unitary Enterprise National Television and Radio Broadcasting Company (VGTRK) and the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT) were signed.

The leaders also exchanged notes on the entry into force of the Agreement between the Government of Russia and the Government of the Turkish Republic on Terms for Reciprocal Trips by Citizens of the Russian Federation and the Turkish Republic and the Agreement between the Government of Russia and the Government of the Turkish Republic on Readmission.

The Russian participants in the talks included Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin, Presidential Aide Sergei Prikhodko, Economic Development Minister Elvira Nabiullina, Industry and Trade Minister Viktor Khristenko, Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko, and Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation CEO Sergei Kiriyenko.


Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (R) chats with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a signing ceremony on March 16, 2011 in the Moscow's Kremlin. (Photo : Kremlin.Ru )


Press statement following High-Level Russian-Turkish Cooperation Council meeting

PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA DMITRY MEDVEDEV: Mr Prime Minister, ladies and gentlemen,

Prime Minister Erdogan and I chaired the second meeting of the High-Level Russian-Turkish Cooperation Council today. This Council was established only a year ago, but it is already working at full steam, and I hope that it already brings concrete results. We have established its key organisations: the Intergovernmental Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation, the Special Strategic Planning Group, and the Public Forum. These are the three institutions operating within the High-Level Cooperation Council’s framework.

I think all of these institutions are performing quite well, and we have indeed taken our relations to the level of a multifaceted strategic partnership. I believe we have an immense potential for expanding our trade and economic cooperation even further. Turkey has been one of our country’s major trade partners, after all. In 2009, our bilateral trade came to close to $40 billion. In 2010 it came to $25 billion – the result of the crisis, of course. We plan to increase our trade over the next five years, as we said clearly during my visit to Turkey, and take it to a level unprecedented in our relations – as high as $100 billion a year.

I think that the main potential for developing our trade relations in this way lies in the links between the various cooperation directions we are pursuing, the links between the big projects and the trade ties that exist between our countries’ small and medium-sized businesses, which all add their contribution to our overall bilateral trade.

As far as the large projects are concerned, I have to mention the energy sector projects of course, South Stream, and the Samsun-Ceyhan oil pipeline, which we discussed in quite some detail today.

Certainly, there is also the construction of Turkey’s first nuclear power plant which is obviously a very important matter too. The colossal tragedy that has struck Japan has no doubt put construction of nuclear power plants into the public gaze, and everyone is asking themselves, can nuclear energy really be safe? The answer is clearly that it can be and is safe, but only if the right decisions are made on nuclear power plants’ location, design, and operators. If these conditions are fully respected, nuclear energy is absolutely safe and extremely useful for humanity.

We have agreed with our Turkish friends that the nuclear power plant built in Akkuyu will use a completely new triply integrated management scheme unifying the three key areas of the plant’s construction, ownership, and operation. This will increase our responsibilities, but our Turkish partners also have every interest in this model.

Turkey is one of our privileged partners in the innovation sector, of course. It is not by chance that we seek to develop these ties with Turkey. We expect to continue our cooperation in the telecommunications sector (one of the subjects we specifically discussed today), the pharmaceuticals industry, and space research.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (R) gives an historic photo to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a signing ceremony on March 16, 2011 in the Moscow's Kremlin. ( Photo : Kremlin.Ru )

We think there are good cooperation prospects in investment, and in the banking and infrastructure sectors. We also want to pursue our ties in the construction industry. Our relations in this sector are good overall. Likewise, we want to keep developing our cooperation in light industry in line with the agreements we have, and in agriculture and the metals sector. We have a good example here. Just a week ago, a modern metallurgical plant was launched in the town of Iskenderun. Russian and Turkish companies worked on its construction together.

Certainly, we also want our Turkish partners to be involved in the subcontracting projects that are implemented within our preparations for the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Sochi is close to Turkey after all, and this gives our Turkish friends some advantages.

We likewise welcome Turkey’s involvement in preparations for the other major international events that Russia will host in the coming years. I am referring to the World University Games in Kazan in 2013, and the football world cup, of course, as well as other opportunities in Russia today.

We will also intensify our humanitarian ties, our contacts in culture, science and education. Our bilateral Public Forum met today, and its co-chairs reported on the results and have just signed a special document. I think this is very important too, because our ties must not be limited to the economy alone.

We have a huge amount of tourism between our countries, and we just signed a document on this area too, which will undoubtedly do its bit as it opens the road towards fully visa-free travel.

Naturally, Mr Erdogan and I discussed not only domestic and bilateral matters, but also talked about international security, the problems in our region of course, in the Middle East, and in North Africa, given what is happening in that part of the world at the moment and the serious problems that a number of countries face right now. We discussed a few matters concerning the situation in the Balkans, in the Trans-Caucasus, and certainly spoke about Black Sea region cooperation, which is obviously very important for both countries, given that we are two major players in the Black Sea region.

We noted that Russia and Turkey are both ready to make their contribution to ensuring regional and global security. We will continue this cooperation on a bilateral basis and in multilateral forums.

Once more, I want to thank my colleague, Prime Minister Erdogan, for today’s constructive work and for the good spirit in which our talks took place. (*)

Source : Kremlin.Ru
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Posted by on March 17, 2011 in World News


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U.S. first lady Michelle Obama to write book about White House garden

File pic : First lady Michelle Obama holds dill while harvesting vegetables in the White House garden with school kids in Washington June 4, 2010. Photo : Reuters/Larry Downing

WASHINGTON DC, March 17, 2011 (KATAKAMI.COM) – U.S. first lady Michelle Obama will write a book about the kitchen garden she started at the White House and her efforts to promote healthy eating, the Crown publishing group said on Wednesday.

As reported by REUTERS on Thursday, the as yet untitled book will be published in April 2012, and will see Michelle Obama describing how she was inspired to plant the first edible garden on the White House’s South Lawn since Eleanor Roosevelt’s World War Two era “victory garden.”

She will also share some of her family’s favorite healthy recipes, said Crown, a unit of Random House publishers.

Crown said Michelle Obama received no advance and would donate the proceeds to a charity to be determined later.

The book will include photos of Obama’s White House garden as well as other community, urban and school gardens around the United States,

The first lady has been a strong advocate of healthy eating and exercise and in February 2010 launched her “Let’s Move!” initiative aimed at beating child obesity and improving the quality of food in U.S. schools.   (*)

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Gen. David Petraeus reveals that son served in Afghanistan

U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Stephen Petraeus, Alpha Company, 3rd Platoon, 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, back to camera, speaks to Afghan local nationals after searching their house for weapons in the Chak District, Sept. 24, 2010, in Wardak province, Afghanistan. (AP Photo/U.S. Army, by Pfc. Donald Watkins)



WASHINGTON, March 17, 2011 (KATAKAMI.COM) — Challenged by a congressman to “be honest” about how long American troops might have to fight in Afghanistan, Army Gen. David Petraeus revealed that he has a personal stake in ensuring that the U.S. war objectives are met — his son, Stephen, whose recent combat tour was kept “very quiet”, AP reported on Wednesday.

In an emotional exchange with Rep. Walter B. Jones, R-N.C., Petraeus said “if I ever felt that we couldn’t achieve our objectives,” he would be “very forthright” not only with his superiors in the military chain of command but also with President Barack Obama and members of the Congress.

Noting that Obama has said the U.S. will have combat troops out by the end of 2014, with the Afghan government in position to provide its own security, a skeptical Jones said he could imagine a senior military leader coming before Congress in 2015 and pleading for more time and more sacrifice.

“You know, 15, 16, 17 years, for God sakes, how much more can we take, how much more can we give treasure and blood?” Jones asked.

Petraeus replied: “I may not be at this table, probably won’t be, in 2015, but I’ll tell you that my son is in uniform, and Lieutenant Petraeus just completed a tour in Afghanistan, which thankfully we were able to keep very quiet, and left in November after serving as an infantry platoon leader. We’re very proud of what he did. He thinks he was doing something very important.”

His son, 2nd Lt. Stephen Petraeus, served in Afghanistan as a member of Alpha Company, 3rd Platoon, 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team. (*)

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Kremlin advisors urge Medvedev 2012 bid

A think-thank that advises President Dmitry Medvedev on Wednesday urged him to run for a second term in 2012 on a platform of modernising Russia that contrasts him from his mentor Vladimir Putin. (AFP/POOL/File/Dmitry Astakhov)

MOSCOW, March 17, 2011 (KATAKAMI.COM / AFP) – A think-thank that advises President Dmitry Medvedev on Wednesday urged him to run for a second term in 2012 on a platform of modernising Russia that contrasts him from his mentor Vladimir Putin, AFP reported on Wednesday.

The issue of which of Russia’s two leaders will run for president one year from now has remained an open question that attracts almost daily debate.

Both Putin — who is widely seen as Russia’s de facto leader despite his official status as prime minister — and his presidential successor Medvedev have vowed not to run against each other and decide the issue in private.

But the Institute of Contemporary Development — set up by Medvedev when he came to power in 2008 — urged the Kremlin chief to come out fighting by painting a dark picture of Russia’s future under a new Putin term.

“One year from now, we will not only be choosing between programmes and personalities, but (also) between the start of changes and the end of hopes, between a future and new hard times.”

The 95-page report added that “the next election cycle still has a chance of starting Russia’s true modernisation — deep and systemic.

“Preparations for this… are well within the current president’s reach despite the massive obstacles and limitations,” the report went on.

It also warned that Medvedev’s removal from the Kremlin would see Russia return to “deepening stagnation” and “social and political anarchy”.

Medvedev has prided himself on his economic modernisation effort and Russian media interpreted the report as the first indication of how Medvedev intended to base a future campaign.

The Interfax news agency wrote in an analysis that Medvedev would be “resetting democracy” — a reference to the “reset” in political ties that Russia enjoyed with the United States in recent years.

The Vedomosti business daily said an updated version of the report will be unveiled at a May 17 ceremony whose list of invited speakers includes Medvedev himself.

But Putin’s top spokesman told Vedomosti that he did not see the publication as part of a future election campaign.

“No one has yet declared their candidacy,” Dmitry Peskov told the business daily. “It is too early. This is not the time.”

Various members of Medvedev’s inner circle have issued previous hints that the president would like to serve another term despite widespread speculation of an imminent return by Putin.

The former spy Putin was Russia’s most popular politician throughout the past decade and many analysts think the ultimate decision about 2012 rests in his hands.

Analysts also question why Medvedev would even need a programme: whichever of the two men runs is assured almost certain victory due to unrestricted media access and the dishevelled state of Russian opposition ranks.

Institute head Igor Yurgens indirectly confirmed that the report was not commissioned by Medvedev or his Kremlin aides.

“This is our attempt to present an election programme for President Dmitry Medvedev because we hope that he makes the decision and runs,” Kommersant quoted Yurgens as saying.

“No other progressive-leaning candidate has the time to promote himself.”   (*)
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Over 13,000 dead or missing in Japanese earthquake

Over 13,000 dead or missing in Japanese earthquake

JAPAN, March 17, 2011 (KATAKAMI.COM / RIA NOVOSTI )  — Japanese authorities confirmed on Wednesday that more than 13,000 people were killed or are missing as a result of last Friday’s devastating earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan, the NHK TV channel said.

Police figures put the number of confirmed dead at 4,340.

Large parts of eastern Japan were left devastated after a 9.0-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast last Friday, sparking a powerful tsunami.

The earthquake knocked out cooling systems at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Complex, raising fears of a nuclear meltdown as blasts and fires were reported.   (*)
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Posted by on March 17, 2011 in World News