Syria State Media: 80 Police Officers Killed in Northwest Violence

Posted June 6th, 2011 at 1:30 pm (UTC-5)
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The Syrian government says 80 police officers were killed Monday from an attack and gunbattle in the northwestern part of the country, where anti-government protests have raged for days.

State media blamed “armed gangs” for Monday's deaths in the town of Jisr al-Shughour and called the incident an “ambush.” The government has continued to raise the death toll throughout the day and vows to respond “firmly and decisively.”

Syrian rights groups say earlier, at least 35 people, including six security force members, died in Jisr al-Shughour and in nearby Khan Sheikhoun Saturday and Sunday during a government crackdown on people demonstrating against President Bashar al-Assad.

The reports cannot be independently confirmed as the Syrian government has severely restricted the media and expelled foreign reporters.

The clashes over the weekend began after thousands of residents turned out for the funerals of other anti-government protesters killed in the crackdown.

In the central city of Hama, residents and activists say the Syrian military withdrew Sunday. Similar reports came from southern villages, although sources say the situation in those areas remains tense.

Rights campaigners say at least 65 people died Friday, mostly in Hama. Witnesses say security forces used live ammunition to disperse tens of thousands of protesters who took to the streets after Friday prayers, demanding Mr. Assad's resignation.

Syrian activists have been protesting almost daily since March for democratic reforms and an end to President Assad's 11-year rule.

Rights groups say at least 1,100 people have been killed in the continuing crackdown and more than 10,000 arrested.

Despite official denials, protest organizers say at least 25 children are among the dead. The victims include a 13-year-old boy who was reported to have been tortured and killed by security forces – an accusation Syrian authorities dispute.

Gazprom: Ukraine Gas Prices Will Not Change

Posted June 6th, 2011 at 1:30 pm (UTC-5)
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Russia's gas monopoly Gazprom says it will not change the price it charges neighboring Ukraine.

Gazprom chief executive Alexei Miller said Monday the company will not invent any kind of new pricing formula for anyone.

Ukraine has been trying to renegotiate the price it pays for Russian gas. It also wants to charge Moscow a higher fee for gas that Russia sends through Ukraine to the European Union.

Russia pumps the majority of its gas exports to Europe through Ukraine. But Moscow has suspended the deliveries several times in recent years during pricing disputes with Kyiv. The disputes have interrupted Russian gas supplies to many European countries during cold winter months.

Gazprom is the world's largest natural gas extractor and Russia's largest company. The company has a monopoly over Russia's pipelines and fuel exports.

Yemen VP: President Saleh Coming Back ‘In Days’

Posted June 6th, 2011 at 1:20 pm (UTC-5)
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Yemen's vice president says President Ali Abdullah Saleh will be returning to Yemen “in days” after undergoing surgery in Saudi Arabia for a shrapnel wound.

Yemen's state media quoted Vice President Abd al-Rab Mansur Hadi Monday as saying the president is recovering well. The vice president is serving as the country's acting leader in Mr. Saleh's absence.

Mr. Saleh was wounded in a rocket attack Friday on his presidential compound. Ruling party officials insist Mr. Saleh will return to Yemen, but analysts say it is not clear whether his Saudi hosts will allow him to go back home as president.

In Washington, U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the Obama administration would like to see Yemen move to a peaceful transition of power in Mr. Saleh's absence. But he offered no opinion on whether or not Mr. Saleh should be able to return.

Meanwhile, opposition tribesmen in Yemen say government snipers in the capital, Sana'a, have killed at least three supporters of tribal leader Sheikh Sadiq al-Ahmar.

The shootings Monday came a day after the vice president ordered government forces to vacate opposition-controlled areas of the capital, while al-Ahmar began to evacuate his militia from government buildings and called for an end to the fighting.

Scores of people have been killed in two weeks of clashes in Sana'a.

Mr. Hadi met with U.S. Ambassador Gerald Feierstein Sunday to discuss cooperation with Yemen's opposition coalition. Mr. Hadi also met separately with military commanders, including several of Mr. Saleh's sons.

The Washington Post reported that U.S. and European diplomats, including Feierstein, urged Yemen's opposition to refrain from setting up interim government committees before Mr. Saleh is formally out of power. The newspaper cited a U.S. embassy spokeswoman as saying Washington is continuing attempts to push its onetime ally out of power.

Joyful celebrations broke out in Yemen Sunday, after word spread that the embattled Mr. Saleh had left the country. But expressions of concern also emerged about whether Mr. Saleh's 33 years in power have really come to an end.

Nearly 400 people have been killed since the popular uprising against Mr. Saleh began in January.

Countries Fail to Reach Agreement in Climate Talks

Posted June 6th, 2011 at 1:10 pm (UTC-5)
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Countries around the world arguing about who should commit to greater cuts in greenhouse gas emissions have run out of time to agree on a new deal once the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.

Speaking Monday at the start of a two-week session in Germany on the climate, the United Nations' leading climate official, Christiana Figueres, said it is unlikely that any new deal would be ratified in time to succeed Kyoto.

That would potentially leave the world without a legally binding text to curb nations' greenhouse gas emissions. But Figueres said interested countries are coming up with creative ways on how to deal with that gap.

The 1997 Kyoto Protocol requires the almost 40 industrialized nations that have signed onto the agreement to cap their emissions. Despite the efforts, the International Energy Agency says that in 2010 energy-related carbon emissions were at a record high.

Negotiators disagree as to whether industrialized nations should impose deeper cuts on their emissions, or whether rapidly developing nations should do more instead.

The International Energy Agency says that in 2008, the five leading emitters were China, the United States, Russia, India and Japan.

Santorum Enters 2012 Presidential Race

Posted June 6th, 2011 at 1:00 pm (UTC-5)
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Former U.S. senator Rick Santorum is the latest Republican to formally join the 2012 race for the White House, joining a field of candidates hoping to unseat President Barack Obama.

Speaking in his home state of Pennsylvania Monday, Santorum thanked supporters and said he is running because he has the courage to fight for America. He said President Obama has done a poor job of running the country, and he accused the president of wrecking the economy and having a weak foreign policy.

Santorum is a social conservative. He joins other prominent Republicans hoping to win their party's nomination and face Mr. Obama in November 2012. The others include former state governors Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty, former U.S. House speaker Newt Gingrich, and current Texas Representative Ron Paul.

The 53-year-old Santorum has made frequent trips to key election states like Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. However, in a recent Gallup opinion poll, he ranked well down in the field of announced and possible Republican hopefuls, garnering just 2 percent support.

Santorum served two terms in the U.S. Senate before being defeated in his re-election bid in 2006.

Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin has not said whether she will enter the race. She was the Republican vice presidential candidate in 2008.

Macedonia’s Ruling Party Wins Elections

Posted June 6th, 2011 at 1:00 pm (UTC-5)
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Macedonia's Prime Minister Nicola Gruevski has won the country's general elections, but will have to form a coalition to govern.

In final results announced Monday, Mr. Gruevski's conservatives won 39 percent of the vote — not enough to govern alone. The main rival Social Democrats, led by former prime minister and president Branko Crvenkovski, got 32.7 percent.

Mr. Gruevski called the elections a year early, after opposition parties walked out of parliament in January to protest the jailing of a popular TV channel boss for alleged fraud. The opposition claimed the crackdown on the TV station was politically motivated.

The main task of the new government will be to revive the economy, fight 32-percent unemployment, and speed up the Balkan nation's bid to join the European Union and NATO.

Macedonia became an EU candidate state in 2005, but so far it has failed to gain membership because of Greek objections to the former Yugoslav republic's name.

Athens rejects the name Macedonia because it says the term implies territorial ambitions towards Greece's northern province of Macedonia — a charge Skopje denies.

US Stocks Fall

Posted June 6th, 2011 at 12:55 pm (UTC-5)
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U.S. stock market indexes fell in Monday's midday trading. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped one-tenth of a percent, the S&P 500 slid four-tenths of a percent and the NASDAQ was off three-tenths of one percent.

European stock markets were mixed at the close of trading. London's Financial Times 100 index rose one-tenth of a percent to finish at 5,863. The CAC-40 in Paris moved down seven-tenths of a percent to end at 3,863 and the DAX in Frankfurt dropped three-tenths of one percent to hit 7,085.

Earlier in Asia, Tokyo's Nikkei index fell 1.2 percent to close at 9,380. Hong Kong markets were closed for a holiday.

The price of gold rose more than $8 to trade at $1,550.90 an ounce.

The dollar was lower against the yen but gained value compared to the euro.

Ban Ki-Moon Seeks Second Term as UN Secretary General

Posted June 6th, 2011 at 12:50 pm (UTC-5)
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United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has formally announced his candidacy for a second five-year term as the head of the world body.

The 66-year-old former South Korean foreign minister said Monday he had sent a letter to the 192 U.N. member states to “humbly” offer himself for a second term. Mr. Ban has been secretary general since January 1, 2007, and his term ends on December 31.

Mr. Ban said he was proud of what had been accomplished during his first term.

The secretary-general's bid for a second term has the backing of the United States and other key members of the U.N. Security Council, and he appears almost certain to be re-elected.

Diplomats say Ban is expected to run unopposed and the UN Security Council should give its approval. The UN General Assembly could then hold a formal vote before the end of June.

Syria State Media: 40 Police Officers Killed in Northwest Attack

Posted June 6th, 2011 at 12:45 pm (UTC-5)
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The Syrian government says at least 40 police officers were killed Monday in an attack in the northwestern part of the country, where anti-government protests have raged for days.

State media blamed “armed gangs” for Monday's deaths in the town of Jisr al-Shughour and called the incident an “ambush.” Earlier in the day, the government reported that 28 police officers were killed in the town.

Syrian rights groups say at least 35 people, including six security force members, died in Jisr al-Shughour and in nearby Khan Sheikhoun Saturday and Sunday during a government crackdown on people demonstrating against President Bashar al-Assad.

The reports cannot be independently confirmed as the Syrian government has severely restricted the media and expelled foreign reporters.

The clashes over the weekend began after thousands of residents turned out for the funerals of other anti-government protesters killed in the crackdown.

In the central city of Hama, residents and activists say the Syrian military withdrew Sunday. Similar reports came from southern villages, although sources say the situation in those areas remains tense.

Rights campaigners say at least 65 people died Friday, mostly in Hama. Witnesses say security forces used live ammunition to disperse tens of thousands of protesters who took to the streets after Friday prayers, demanding Mr. Assad's resignation.

Syrian activists have been protesting almost daily since March for democratic reforms and an end to President Assad's 11-year rule.

Rights groups say at least 1,100 people have been killed in the continuing crackdown and more than 10,000 arrested.

Despite official denials, protest organizers say at least 25 children are among the dead. The victims include a 13-year-old boy who was reported to have been tortured and killed by security forces – an accusation Syrian authorities dispute.

Syria State Media: 28 Police Officers Killed in Northwest Attack

Posted June 6th, 2011 at 12:05 pm (UTC-5)
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The Syrian government says 28 police officers were killed Monday in an attack in the northwestern part of the country, where anti-government protests have raged for days.

State media blamed “armed gangs” for Monday's deaths in the town of Jisr al-Shughour and called the incident an “ambush.”

Syrian rights groups say at least 35 people, including six security force members, died in Jisr al-Shughour and in nearby Khan Sheikhoun Saturday and Sunday during a brutal government crackdown on people demonstrating against President Bashar al-Assad.

The reports cannot be independently confirmed as the Syrian government has severely restricted the media and expelled foreign reporters.

The clashes over the weekend began after thousands of residents turned out for the funerals of other anti-government protesters killed in the crackdown.

In the central city of Hama, residents and activists say the Syrian military withdrew Sunday. Similar reports came from southern villages, although sources say the situation in those areas remains tense.

Rights campaigners say at least 65 people died Friday, mostly in Hama. Witnesses say security forces used live ammunition to disperse tens of thousands of protesters who took to the streets after Friday prayers, demanding Mr. Assad's resignation.

Syrian activists have been protesting almost daily since March for democratic reforms and an end to President Assad's 11-year rule.

Rights groups say at least 1,100 people have been killed in the continuing crackdown and more than 10,000 arrested.

Despite official denials, protest organizers say at least 25 children are among the dead. The victims include a 13-year-old boy who was reported to have been tortured and killed by security forces – an accusation Syrian authorities dispute.