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April 12, 2010

Car bomb explodes near MI5 army base in Northern Ireland

Car bomb explodes near MI5 army base in Northern Ireland

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Monday, April 12, 2010

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A car bomb has exploded outside an army base in Northern Ireland that is the headquarters for MI5 domestic security services. The attack has been claimed by dissidents from the Real Irish Republican Army, a more radical splinter group of the IRA.

According to police, Real IRA members hijacked a vehicle from a taxi driver in Belfast; Al Jazeera reports it was commandeered at gunpoint. A bomb was planted in the car, which was then driven to the rear of the Palace Barracks.

The explosion comes several hours before the Northern Ireland Assembly was scheduled to appoint its first justice minister, and only minutes after the Belfast power-sharing administration regained control over justice and policing in the province for the first time in nearly four decades.

An Ulster Unionist member of the Belfast Policing Board, Basil McCrea, commented on the explosion, saying: “It’s obviously people trying to make a statement about the transfer of policing and justice powers. We are going to have to expect more of this over the next period of time […] There will be people who will try to disrupt the process,” as quoted by the BBC.

He commented that he believed the incident was a “one-off” occurrence, and said he tried to reassure concerned locals in the area.

Police said IRA dissidents held a Belfast taxi driver at gunpoint in his home and used his vehicle to carry the bomb to the rear of Palace Barracks. Witnesses report hearing an explosion shortly after midnight local time; Al Jazeera puts the precise time of the detonation at 00.24 local time (23.24 UTC). One man was hospitalised following the bombing, although there are no reports of deaths.

According to a local journalist, security has cordoned off the area near the explosion.



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April 11, 2010

Officials: Almost 100 killed in air raids in Pakistan

Officials: Almost 100 killed in air raids in Pakistan

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Sunday, April 11, 2010

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According to officials, almost a hundred people suspected to be insurgents were killed in northwestern Pakistan early on Saturday by air strikes conducted by the military.

The strikes were made in tribal areas in the Orazkai and Khyber regions, located close to the Afghan border.

The reports say that in Orakzai, 54 people alleged to have been rebels were killed during an ongoing conflict at a checkpoint near the town of Baizoti. A further 42, suspected of being insurgents, were killed after military aircraft bombed a location believed to be a gathering place for members of the Lashkar-e-Islam rebel group, according to a local official speaking to the Associated Press.

“At least 42 militants of Lashkar-e-Islam were killed and two militant hideouts were also destroyed. The death toll may rise as dozens of others were also injured in the airstrike,” commented Khyber administration chief Shafeerullah Wazir.

An unnamed official for the military also confirmed the air raids occurred, saying to the Agence France-Presse news agency that “[t]he air strike was launched on a tip-off that a meeting of the Lashkar-e-Islam group was going on in Tirah.”



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Eurozone offers Greece 30 billion euro in loans

Eurozone offers Greece 30 billion euro in loans

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Sunday, April 11, 2010

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Member states of the eurozone have offered to give Greece thirty billion euro in emergency loans for the debt-stricken country, should the latter want it.

The loans’ price will be determined using formulas by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and will be set at around five percent.

The Luxembourgish prime minister, Jean-Claude Juncker, speaking on behalf of eurozone finance ministers, commented that “[t]he total amount put up by the eurozone member states for the first year will reach 30bn euros.” He added that “[t]his is certainly no subsidy” to Greece.

The prime minister also noted that financing would be “completed and co-financed” by the IMF. European Union monetary affairs chief Olli Rehn remarked that the IMF would make a “substantial contribution” to the loan package as well, perhaps around ten billion euros.

The Greek economy has spent more than it has earned for several years now, and currently faces a budget deficit equal to 12.9% of its economic output, or a total debt of 300 billion euros. The country intends to try and reduce the deficit to 8.7% this year.



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April 9, 2010

British Airways and Iberia sign merger deal

British Airways and Iberia sign merger deal

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Friday, April 9, 2010

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An Iberia Airbus A321-200
Image: Adrian Pingstone.

A British Airways Airbus A321-200
Image: Adrian Pingstone.

British Airways (BA) and the Spanish airline Iberia have signed a merger deal, which will create one of the largest air carrier groups in the world.

The two announced the merger yesterday, and said that the deal, which has been expected for a long time, is to be implemented by the end of 2010. The move will make a group with a market value of US$8 billion. The deal has been negotiated since July 2008.

Under the plan, both companies keep their own brands and operations, but will be owned by International Airlines Group, a new holding company. It will be listed in London, but taxed in Spain.

The airlines believe the merger will save $530 million annually. In February, BA reported a loss of $102.4 million for the final three quarters of 2009, whilst Iberia posted an operating loss of $629 million.

Meanwhile, investors in BA will receive an IAG share for every BA share they own, and stockholders in Iberia 1.0205 shares for each share in the Spanish airline; thus, BA shareholders will take 55% of IAG.

“The merged company will provide customers with a larger combined network,” commented BA chief executive Willie Walsh. “It will also have greater potential for further growth by optimising the dual hubs of London and Madrid and providing continued investment in new products and services.”

Meanwhile, Iberia chief executive Antonio Vázquez remarked: “This is an important step in creating one of the world’s leading global airlines that will be better equipped to compete with other major airlines and participate in future industry consolidation.”

Independent aviation specialist James Halstead said he believed the merger was necessary for BA to remain competitive amongst other European air carriers. “BA’s unique position at Heathrow could help it survive for a short while, but in the long run it needs more than just Heathrow. The main point of the Iberia deal is to be able to cut costs and put the combined company in the position that Air France-KLM and Lufthansa are already in,” he said, quoted by The Independent.



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April 8, 2010

Eurozone economy did not grow at all in last quarter of 2009

Eurozone economy did not grow at all in last quarter of 2009

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Thursday, April 8, 2010

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According to revised official figures, the economy of the eurozone, the sixteen European countries using the euro, did not grow at all in the final quarter of last year. Eurostat reports that the number was revised from an initial figure of +0.1%.

Meanwhile, the eurozone’s lost more than 2.2% in a year-on year comparison, more than the initial estimate of 2.1%.

According to the numbers, Ireland saw an output drop of 2.3% in the last quarter of 2009, while Greece, the country in the eurozone with the most debt, had its economy contract by 0.8%. Italy was down by 0.3%, Germany saw no gain, but France posted a 0.6% quarterly growth.

The Associated Press reports the stagnation was unexpected by analysts, and will only reinforce expectations that the European Central Bank will keep the key interest rate at one percent for most of 2010.



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April 3, 2010

At least twenty dead after mudslides in Peru

At least twenty dead after mudslides in Peru

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Saturday, April 3, 2010

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According to local authorities, at least twenty people in Peru were killed by mudslides in a village in the northeastern part of the country on Friday.

The incident occurred in the Ambo village, in the region of Huanuco. “As of 12:00 pm [17.00 GMT] […] the death toll stands at twenty people,” commented Hipolito Cruchaga, the Civil Defense chief of the region, to media.

Cruchaga reported that fifty people were hurt by the mudslide, and put the number of missing persons at 25. However, other reports said as many as several hundred people were missing.

According to local media, some dead bodies had been found and taken from the Huallaga River; other corpses were dug out of the mud.

Jorge Espinoza, a senior official for Huanuco, remarked: “An entire village, some 400 people, has completely vanished. Some will be saved, but it appears the majority were buried.”

Authorities say the mudslide started when torrential rains caused a small lake on a mountain to overflow, spilling water into a ravine.



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March 31, 2010

Double bomb blasts kill at least twelve in northern Caucasus

Double bomb blasts kill at least twelve in northern Caucasus

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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Russia
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Two bombings in the northern Caucasus region of Russia have killed at least twelve people and injured another eighteen.

The explosions occurred in Kizlyar, a town in the Dagestan province. The first bomb was detonated in a car near a school, killing two police officers, at around 08.30 Moscow time (04.30 UTC). According to Russian interior minister Rashid Nurgaliyev, police tried to stop the car before it blew up, as they had thought it looked suspicious.

The second explosion was caused by a suicide bomber disguised as a police officer. He had approached the scene of the first bombing as passerby and security gathered, and set off explosives.

According to officials, many of the dead were policemen, among them the Kizlyar police chief.

“In the blasts, twelve people have been killed, nine of them were police officers, including the Kizlyar police chief. Twenty-three others have been hospitalized, suffering with various injuries,” commented a spokesman for the Investigative Committee of Russian Prosecutor General’s Office, Vladimir Markin, to Interfax. He also noted that a criminal investigation into the bombings has been started.



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March 29, 2010

Russia removes two timezones

Russia removes two timezones – Wikinews, the free news source

Russia removes two timezones

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Monday, March 29, 2010

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The Russian government has decided to remove two of its eleven timezones, in the country’s first step towards time reform, first started by president Dmitry Medvedev last November.

The affected regions were Chukotka and Kamchatka, the easternmost provinces of Russia; and Samara and Udmurtia, which are now on Moscow time. Each of these regions was moved back an hour. Kemerovo was also moved back an hour, but this did not eliminate a time zone.

The changes were implemented on Saturday night, when most of the country was due to put their country ahead for summer time; however, affected areas instead didn’t change their clocks at all.

“It’s possible that this could also aid the strengthening of Russia’s position as a link in the global information infrastructure,” Medvedev remarked earlier this month.

“Reducing of amount of time zones is very efficient for managing, for accordance of actions, for approximation of far regions to the center,” commented Arkady Tishkov, who is a deputy science director of Geography Institution for the Russian Academy of Sciences. Tishkov speculated that the number of time zones could eventually be reduced to six.

Meanwhile, an online petition has been posted opposing the time change for the Samara province, and it has garnered close to 13,000 signatures. “Trips take place to many regions of the country and world where time, you understand, far from always corresponds with Moscow,” the text of the petition read, adding that “[i]n the winter, darkness will come almost at lunchtime, which isn’t convenient and is psychologically quite hard.”



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March 26, 2010

Heavy earthquake hits the Philippines

Heavy earthquake hits the Philippines – Wikinews, the free news source

Heavy earthquake hits the Philippines

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Friday, March 26, 2010

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An earthquake with a magnitude of at least 6.0 has struck the Philippines, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) has reported.

The epicentre was 130 kilometres (80 miles) from the country’s capital, Manila, at a depth of eighteen kilometres (11.2 miles). The temblor started at 01:29:25 local time (05:29:25 UTC), the USGS said.

Some media reports contradicted the USGS’ reports, saying that the earthquake’s magnitude was 6.1.

No reports of damage, injuries, or casualties have been reported, although many people working in the capital’s central business district rushed out of buildings when the tremors started, according to Al Jazeera.

The chief of the Philippine seismology institute, Renato Solidum, said to the Agence France-Presse news agency that the earthquake was felt throughout the suburbs of Manila and provinces nearby. According to the Philippine News Agency, the tremors were felt in Quezon City and Lubang Island as well.



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March 25, 2010

Osama bin Laden threatens retaliation if 9/11 suspects executed

Osama bin Laden threatens retaliation if 9/11 suspects executed

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

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Khalid Sheikh Mohammed after his capture.
Image: Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Osama bin Laden.

In an audio tape posted on Al Jazeera, a voice identified as that of Osama bin Laden has warned the United States that al-Qaeda will retaliate if the US decides to execute the alleged mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks.

“The White House has declared its wish to execute Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other alleged conspirators]. The day the United States takes such a decision, it would be also taking the decision that any of you falling into our hands will be executed,” said a voice on the 74-second-long tape, which is believed to be Bin Laden’s.

Osama also denounced US president Barack Obama, for “oppressing our prisoners that you are holding, beginning with the mujahid [holy warrior] hero Khaled al-Sheikh Mohammed.” He said that US politicians “oppressed us and still do, especially by backing Israel, which occupies the land of Palestine”.

“God willing, our attacks against you will continue as long as you maintain your support to Israel. America should not dream of security until we enjoy it as a reality in Palestine,” the tape continued. “They used to think that America across the oceans is protected from the rage of the oppressed until our reaction was loudly heard at your home on the 9/11 with God’s help.”

Khaled Sheikh Mohammed is expected to stand trial in the US, along with four accused co-conspirators, in 2011. It is currently unclear whether he will be tried in a civilian or military court; prosecutors say they will seek the death penalty.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs responded to the message in a statement. “The president has rightly increased our tempo and put pressure on the al-Qaeda network. We see that al-Qaeda has nothing to spread but hate and that’s why the administration will keep up the pressure to destroy the al-Qaeda network,” he commented.



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