International News January, 2012

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International News

January, 2012

  • The Imam Al-Khoei Foundation building, a globally prominent Islamic cultural centre in New York is struck by two Molotov cocktails, the types of bombs usually made of glass bottles filled with flammable liquid and corked with.

  • U.S. president Barack Obama sings into law tough new sanctions targeting Iran’s central bank and financial sector, in a move likely to deepen acrimony between Washington and Teheran.

  • A magnitude 7 earthquake hits a wide area in eastern and north-eastern Japan, rattling buildings in Tokyo and jolting the nation still recovering from last year’s devastating earthquake and tsunami.

  • Pakistan joins the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on a two-year term as a non-permanent member.

  • Gaza’s Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniya hails the ‘martyrs’ killed when Israeli commandos stormed a Turkish vessel in 2010 trying to break the blockade of the Palestinian enclave.

  • A purported spokesman for Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram issues an ultimatum to Christians in the country’s north and threatens to confront troops after the President declared a state of emergency in hard hit areas.

  • Fiji’s military strongman Voreqe Bainimarama says he would lift emergency laws in place since a 2009 political crisis and begin discussions on a new constitution.

  • Israel’s chief negotiator Yitzhak Molcho, his Palestinian counterpart Saeb Erakat, Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh and representatives of the West Asia peace quarter gather in the Jordanian capital Amman for their first face-to- face meeting in more than 15 months.

  • An adjudicator slashes by nearly 90 per cent the multi-billion dollar settlement that Venezuela was required to pay oil giant Exxon Mobil Corporation, marking a resounding victory for Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in a long-standing battle over the nationalization of foreign-owned assets in his country.

  • Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmed Davutoglu commences a crucial visit to Iran to pursue a crowded agenda that includes revival of nuclear talks between Tehran and the global powers as well as ways to align perceptions of the two countries in their regional backyard.

  • Two white men, Gary Dobson and David Norris, convicted of killing Afro-Caribbean teenager Stephen Lawrence 18 years ago in one of Britain’s most horrific racist attacks are jailed for life as police said they were determined to bring the remaining nine suspects to justice.

  • The Pakistani Taliban dumps the naked and bullet-riddled bodies of 15 paramilitary personnel kidnapped two weeks ago in the lawless tribal belt and vow to take ‘harsh revenge’ for operations against militants by the security forces.

  • Iran says the West is waging “an economic war” through sanctions, after European diplomats said there was a preliminary agreement for an EU ban of oil from the Islamic republic.

  • Making a rare appearance at the Pentagon to announce a ‘strategic review’ of the defence budget, President Barack Obama speaks cautiously of his plan to trim down 490,000 troops and potentially close to $1 trillion in funding without compromising national security.

  • China’s official Xinhua news agency welcomes a bigger U.S. presence in Asia, but only if it helps promote peace, after President Barack Obama unveils a new military strategy.

  • Turkey’s former Army chief Ilker Basbug is detained over an alleged bid to topple the Islamist-rooted government in the latest confrontation likely to inflame tensions with the powerful military, becoming the first such high-ranking military commander to be arrested as a suspect since a former chief of staff in the 1960s.

  • The Iranian government welcomes a U.S. Navy rescue of 13 of its nations from pirates near the entrance to the Gulf, in a rare respite from months of rising tensions between Tehran and Washington.

  • For the first time in 83 years, the United States Department of Justice announce a ‘major’ change in the definition of rape towards one that takes cognizance of male victims and also does away with ambiguities surrounding the question of consent.

  • Japan says it will soon require atomic reactors to be shut down after 40 years of use to improve safety following the nuclear crisis set off by the 2011 tsunami.

  • The head of the Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill calls for political reforms in Russia in response to mass protests even as he urges protesters to show restraint.

  • Cargo ship Rena breaks in to two pieces off Tauranga Harbor, New Zealand, losing up to 300 containers overboard as the stern began to sink.

  • Iran concludes yet another military exercise to deter a military attack amid a massive Iran-centered military build-up by American and Israeli forces, whose command posts extend into the heart of Europe.

  • Bobby Jindal, the first Indian-American Governor in the U.S. and a possible contender for the White House, begins his second term as the chief of state of Louisiana following a landslide victory, taking the oath of office in Baton Rouge.

  • Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim is acquitted in Kuala Lumpur in a surprise end to a politically-charged sodomy trial he has called a government bid to cripple his opposition ahead of upcoming polls.

  • Chinese President Hu Jintao calls on the next generation of the Chine’s leaders to present a ‘new face’ of the ruling Communist Party and to curb rampant corruption amid rising public anger against graft.

  • Amir Mirzai Hekmati, an American ex-Marine, who also holds Iranian citizenship, is sentenced to death by an Iran judge in Tehran for spying for the CIA.

  • Nicaraguan ex-rebel Daniel Ortega, joined by allies from Iran and Venezuela, starts his third mandate as President in Managua with a legislative super majority that has provoked fears of authoritarianism.

  • Retired generals Kenan Evren and Tahsin Sahinkaya, the leader of the 1980 Turkish coup and a co-conspirator are charged with crimes against the state after an Ankara court approves an indictment.

  • Tensions between Iran and the West, already on razor’s edge, rise further after a young Iranian nuclear scientist – Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan Behdast, the 32-year old deputy director for commercial affairs at the Natanz uranium enrichment facility – heading for work is assassinated, 48 hours after Tehran declared that its capacity to enrich uranium had recorded a significant advance.

  • Mitt Romney, former Governor of Massachusetts and frontrunner in the race for the Republican presidential nominee, wins the primary in New Hampshire garnering close to 40 per cent of the vote and a second straight victory after the Iowa caucus.

  • U.S. drones, breaking an undeclared lull, resume their campaign over Pakistan’s tribal territory carrying out a strike.

  • China and India catapulted to the forefront of astronomy research with their decision to join as partners in building a Hawaii telescope, which will be the world’s largest.

  • Myanmar’s government and Karen National Union (KUN), one of the country’s most prominent ethnic rebel groups sign a ceasefire after decades of fighting, the latest in the country’s apparent bids to reform.

  • Scotland Yard is announced to investigate allegations that British intelligence agencies were complicit in the rendition and subsequent torture of a one-time Libyan dissident Abdel Hakim Belhaj, now a commander of the rebel forces who toppled the Qaddafi government.

  • Myanmar pardons a number of prominent dissidents, journalists and a former Premier under a major prisoner amnesty, intensifying a surprising series of reforms by the Army-backed regime.

  • In an escalating war of words with the United States Russia accuses Washington of working to change the regimes in Iran and Syria.

  • Russia believes fragments of its Phobos-Grunt probe, which spiraled back to the Earth after failing to head on a mission to Mars crashed into the Pacific Ocean.

  • Myanmar democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi receives the insignia of Commander in the National Order of the Legion d’honneur, in recognition of her long struggle for democracy, from French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe (left) and French Ambassador Thierry Mathou during a ceremony at the French Embassy in Yangon.

  • Kazakhstan’s ruling party – President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s party, Nur Otan – sweeps snap parliamentary elections.

  • Al Qaeda militants seize full control of Radda in Bayda province, some 160 km south of the capital Sana’a, overrunning army positions, storming the local prison and freeing at least 150 inmates.

  • French Director Michel Hazanavicius jokes that he was ‘speechless’ after his audacious black-and-white silent film ‘The Artist’ sweeps the nominations for the 2012 Bafta (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) awards, regarded as a stepping stone to the Oscars.

  • Controversial radical cleric Abu Qatada wins his long legal battle against being extradited to his native Jordan to face prosecution on charges of terrorism after the European Court of Human Rights rules that if he was sent back he was likely to be tried on the basis of evidence obtained under torture.

  • In a surprise move, the British government decides to scrap a judicial inquiry, set up amid much fanfare by Prime Minister David Cameron in 2011 into allegations of complicity of British intelligence services in torture of terror suspects.

  • China announces to accelerate plans to expand a railway network in Tibet to reach two towns near the border with India and will also consider building a railway line to Nepal.

  • Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi launches her historic bid for a seat in Parliament in the latest sign of change after the end of decades of outright military rule.

  • The Kankesanthurai (KKS) harbour – lifeline of the Jaffna peninsula is cleared of all shipwrecks in record time.

  • Wikipedia goes dark, Google blots out its logo and other popular websites protest to voice concern over legislation in the U.S. Congress intended to crack down on online piracy.

  • A federal indictment in Mclean in Virginia accuses of costing copyright holders at least $500 million in lost revenue.

  • After months of persistent and often angry denials, Rupert Murdoch’s Britain media group admits attempts to cover up the News of the World phone hacking scandal in a move that is likely to further damage its reputation.

  • Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani appears before the Supreme Court in Islamabad in response to a contempt notice and defended his stand in not reopening graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari.

  • External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna concludes his ‘successful’ visit to Sri Lanka by handing over the completed section of the Galle-Hikkaduwa railway link to Southern Railway project authorities.

  • Actor Jude Law, his former wife Sadie Frost, and ex-deputy Prime Minister John Prescott are among a string of high-profile figures whom Rupert Murdoch’s British media group, New International, has been forced to pay millions of pounds in compensation over phone-hacking by the now-defunct News of the World.

  • A Pakistani judicial review board ends the house arrest of Malik Ishaq, the head of the banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi who was detained in 2011 after his group was blamed for a string of attacks on the minority Shia community.

  • Dutch teen Laura Dekker becomes the youngest sailor to complete a solo circumnavigation of the world, a year after going to court for the right to make the attempt.

  • A series of coordinated bomb and gun attacks by a radical Islamist sect, targeting police stations and the headquarters of Nigeria’s secret police in northern city of Kano, kill nearly 150 people and injure several others, including Indians.

  • Cuban dissident Wilmar Villar is buried in his hometown of Contramaestre in eastern Cuba.

  • Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa launches a tri-lingual initiative, aimed at ensuring that all in Sri Lanka learn the three main languages in use – Sinhalese, Tamil and English.

  • The power base of Australia’s ruling Labour Party is when a key independent MP withdraws his support after Prime Minister Julia Gillard breaks an agreement on gambling reforms.

  • Egypt’s Islamists led by the once-banned Muslim Brotherhood clinch two thirds of seats in Parliament in historic polls after the ouster of strongman Hosni Mubarak.

  • Croatia votes to join the European Union, delivering a greater than expected yes vote in a referendum watched nervously in Brussels for fear of a backlash.

  • Hailed as a ‘great leap forward’ in China’s growing economic presence in Britain, the China Investment Corporation (CIC) buys a 8.68 per cent stake in Thames Water, Britain’s largest water and sewerage company serving about 14 million customers.

  • The oldest sitting federal judge in the U.S. – District Judge Wesley Brown passes away at the assisted living centre where he lived in Kansas.

  • With an eye on the dependence of recession-hit economies of Greece, Italy and Spain on Iranian oil, Foreign Ministers of the EU countries in Brussels decide to shift the ban on oil imports on Iran to July 1.

  • Islamist MPs take stage as Egypt’s Parliament meet for the first time since a popular uprising ousted Hosni Mubarak, while their supporters mass outside to cheer the historic event.

  • Syria rejects the Arab League’s wide-ranging plan to end the country’s 10-month crisis, saying the League’s call for a national unity government in two months is a clear violation of Syrian sovereignty.

  • Pakistan and U.S. find themselves at odds with each other again with Islamabad rejecting the American probe into the deadly NATO cross border strike that left 24 Pakistani soldiers dead and Washington standing by it ‘100 per cent’.

  • Egyptians pour into Tahrir Square to mark one year since the launch of the uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak, with activists vowing to revive revolution and the ruling army labeling it a day of celebration.

  • Animal rights activists, led by a costumed ‘injured bull’ and waving banners in Tamil, Hindi and English, hold a protest outside the Indian High Commission in London demanding a complete ban on ‘jallikattu’ which they describe as a ‘stain’ on India’s reputation.

  • Even as Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani attempts to mend fences with the military leadership, the Parliamentary Committee on National Security decides to summon Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz, whose allegations authored the ‘memogate’ controversy.

  • Political tensions flare in Papua New Guinea when an ex-soldier loyal to Michael Somare stages a mutiny to declare himself military chief and demand the veteran leader’s reinstatement.

  • The Arab League halts its observer mission to Syria, sharply criticizing the regime of President Bashar Assad for escalating violence.

  • The former Soviet President, Mikhail Gorbachev, calls for a national referendum in Russia on a political and constitutional reform to end ‘Caesarism’ and assert ‘people power’.

  • Several Taliban negotiators begin meeting U.S. officials in Qatar, discussing preliminary trust-building measures, including a possible prisoner transfer.

  • Immigration Minister Damian Green announces to bring soon new rules as part of what he describes as the ‘transformation of British immigration policy’, under which ‘fewer but better’ migrants would be allowed to live there.

  • A team of inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) arrive in Tehran to start a new round of nuclear engagement with Iran which could lead to talks involving the six-global powers.

  • Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani lauds his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh, describing him as a ‘genuine person’ keen to resolve all bilateral issues.

  • President Barack Obama defends the use of drones to strike suspected terrorists in Pakistan and elsewhere, saying the clandestine programme was ‘kept on a very tight leash’ and enabled the United States to use ‘pinpoint’ targeting to avoid more intrusive military action.

  • Russia invites Syria’s government and opposition leaders to Moscow for urgent talks on ending violence.

  • A nuclear reactor at a northern Illinois plant in Byron is shut down after losing power.

  • Japan’s Cabinet approves bills aimed at bolstering nuclear safety regulations following the 2011 Fukushima disaster, including one that will put a 40-year cap on the operational life of reactors.

  • February, 2012

  • At least 74 people are killed in fan violence after a football match in Egyptian city of Port Said.

  • More than 100 people, most of them students, are feared killed after a ship carrying 350 sinks off the coast of Papua New Guinea,

  • Britain’s Energy and Climate Secretary Chris Huhne, a senior Liberal-Democratic figure, is forced to leave the government after being charged with perverting the course of justice by lying to the police over a speeding offence in 2003. He is replaced by Business Minister Ed Davey.

  • Kaing Guek Eav, a Khmer Rouge jailer, who oversaw the deaths of some 15,000 people, has his sentence increased to life.

  • Russia and China veto an Arab League-backed resolution at the United Nations Security Council that calls on Syrian President Bashar Assad to step down while India along with the United States and 12 others, back the move.

  • Syrian forces unleash a barrage of mortars and artillery on the battered city of Homs killing more than 200 people.

  • Florence Green, the last known World War I veteran passes away at the age of 110.

  • Mexico’s ruling conservative party selects Ms. Josefina Vazquez Mota, a 51-year old economist and former Minister, as its candidate for presidential elections on July 1, 2012.

  • Queen Elizabeth of Britain celebrates the 60th anniversary of her accession to the British throne.

  • At least 44 people are killed when a 6.8 magnitude earthquake hits in a narrow strait between the island provinces of Negros and Cebu in central Philippines.

  • Sharon Stone receives the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 11th Annual Aarp Magazine Movies for Grownups Awards in Beverly Hills.

  • Maldives, the island nation of luxury resorts, erupts into a coup like political crisis, resulting in the resignation of Mohammed Nasheed, the island’s first democratically elected President, and Vice President Mohammed Waheed Hassan is sworn in as the new President.

  • The 200th anniversary of British novelist Charles Dickens kicks off across the globe.

  • United States approves construction of two 1,100 megawatt Westinghouse Toshiba AP1000 at power generator to Vogtle in Georgia, making them the first to be built in America in more than three decades.

  • The Greek Parliament passes harsh austerity measures and reforms required to secure a second international bailout in two years.

  • Sudan and South Sudan sign a ‘treaty of non-aggression’ on their disputed border in Addis Ababa.

  • Best selling author Jeffrey Zaslow is killed in a car accident in the state of Michigan.

  • The 48-year old American R&B star Whitney Houston who regularly stormed the pop charts and the most feted female performer of all time passes away.

  • British singer Adele wins every award she was nominated for, including Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best Short Form Music Video for Rolling in the Deep. Her second album, 21, is named Album of the Year at the Grammy Awards.

  • French film-maker Michel Hazanavicius’s black and white silent movie The Artist wins all the top prizes, including for the Best Film, Best Director and Best Screenplay at the 65th BAFTA Awards.

  • Pakistani’s Supreme Court indicts Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani for contempt of court in the National Reconciliation Ordinance implementation case. This is the first time a Prime Minister is charged in this way.

  • Europe’s first Vega rocket blasts off from the European Space Agency’s launch site in Kourou, French Guiana with nine satellites on board in an inaugural flight aimed at giving Europe a vehicle for scientific satellite missions.

  • United States President Barack Obama presents the 2011 National Humanities Medal to Amartya Sen, the 1998 Nobel Prize winner in Economics.

  • United States President Barack Obama announces an increase in the tax rate from 20 to 36.9 per cent for the wealthiest Americans.

  • The President of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad unveils Iran’s first domestically produced, 20 per cent enriched nuclear fuel for research reactor.

  • At least 300 inmates are killed when a fire sweeps through a prison in the town of Comayagua in Honduras.

  • After bilateral talks between the Commerce Ministers of India and Pakistan Anand Sharma and Makhdoom Mohammad Amin Fahim in Islamabad, Pakistan agrees to liberalize trade with India and concedes to put in a place a small negative list of goods by February 2012.

  • Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping on a high-profile tour of the United States insists that the US respect its ‘one state policy’ regarding the territories of Taiwan and Tibet.

  • Germany’s President Christian Wulff resigns after the request by prosecutors for Parliament to lift his immunity for prosecution in a scandal.

  • Anthony Shadid, two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning foreign correspondent passes away at the age of 43.

  • United Kingdom and France at the annual Franco-British summit in Paris decide to further strengthen their cooperation in the defence sector and will jointly produce a combat capability stealth drone.

  • The Presidents of Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan, Hamid Karzai, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Asif Ali Zardari at the trilateral meeting in Islamabad pledge against allowing their territories to be used against each other, strengthen regional stability, fight terrorism and drug trafficking besides promoting trilateral trade.

  • 137 members including India vote to approve the United Nations General Assembly’s resolution on Syria.

  • Pope Benedict XVI elevates Indian archbishop George Alencherry to a cardinal at the Vatican.

  • Italian documentary Caesar Must Die, directed by Paolo Taviani and Vittorio Taviani wins the Golden Bear award at the Berlin Film Festival.

  • Indologist Professor Johan Frederik Staal passes away in Thailand at the age of 82.

  • Eurozone finance ministers seal a 130-billion euro ($172 billion) bailout for Greece to avert a chaotic default in March 2012.

  • Information and Communication Minister of Nepal Jaya Prakash Prasad Gupta is jailed for one-and-half years and fined 8.4 million Nepali rupees for multiple corruption cases in the 1990s including giving licences to media houses. This is the first time that a minister is jailed on corruption charges.

  • Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd resigns from the post.

  • Veteran war correspondent Marie Colvin of The Sunday Times is killed with French photographer Remi Ochlik in Syria while fleeing bombardment in Homs.

  • Jennifer Aniston gets her own star on the Walk of Fame in Hollywood.

  • Simultaneous attacks on mostly Shia targets across Iraq kill at least 60 people. At least 32 persons are killed in Baghdad.

  • Abdrabhu Mansour Hadi takes the constitutional oath to become Yemen’s new President, formally removing Ali Abdullah Saleh from power after a year of protests paralyzed the Arabian Peninsula nation.

  • The 72-year old Chandra Bahadur Dangi of Nepal receives a certificate from Editor-in-Chief of the Guinness Book of World Records Craig Glanday after being declared the world’s shortest living man. Dangi, who measured at just 21.5 inches (54.6 cm), snatches the title from Junrey Balawing of the Philippines.

  • A French love story The Artist becomes the first silent film to win the Best Picture Oscar after the ‘Wings’ in 83 years as it scoops five top honours at the 84th Annual Academy Awards in Los Angeles. Maryl Streep wins the Best Actress award for The Iron Lady while Jean Dujardin grabs the Best Actor award for The Artist.

  • A court in Madrid acquits Spain’s renowned human rights judge Baltasar Garzon of breaching the terms of an amnesty by trying to investigate atrocities committed during the Franco era.

  • Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard convincingly wins a leadership vote against rival Kevin Rudd.

  • According to the report of Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the world’s 100 largest arms dealers, excluding China, sold weapons and military services worth $411.1 billion in 2010, a rise of one per cent from 2009.

  • Syrian forces shell opposition strongholds, killing at least 25 people.

  • The News of the World phone-hacking scandal claims its biggest scalp yet when James Murdoch, Rupert Murdoch’s heir apparent, resigns as executive chairman of News International.

  • North Korea agrees to suspend nuclear weapons tests and enrichment and allow international inspector to verify and monitor activities at its main reactor, as part of a deal that included an American pledge to ship food aid to the isolated, impoverished nation.

  • Cannes Film Festival selects actress Marilyn Monroe as the icon for its 2012 festival.

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