Google: Chinese Hackers Break Into E-Mail Accounts

Posted June 1st, 2011 at 6:55 pm (UTC-5)
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Google says computer hackers in China have broken into the e-mail accounts of hundreds of people, including senior U.S. officials, journalists, and Chinese political activists.

The Internet giant says the scheme to steal user passwords from G-Mail accounts originated in Jinan in eastern China. It gave no details of whose accounts were violated but the White House says it has no reason to believe that any U.S. government accounts were attacked.

Google says the hackers gained the information with a scam called “phishing.” Victims are lured into revealing passwords and other information by responding to fake messages that appear to have come from friends or other trusted sources.

Chinese authorities have not commented.

Chinese-based hackers launched a much wider cyber-attack against Google last year.

Beijing tightly controls Internet material to shield users from what it says is harmful material such as pornography. But human rights groups accuse China of censoring pro-opposition activists.

No More Missing After Joplin Tornado; 134 Dead

Posted June 1st, 2011 at 6:50 pm (UTC-5)
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Officials say they have accounted for all the people who were missing after a powerful tornado hit the central U.S. city of Joplin, Missouri last month.

Missouri public safety officials say 134 people have been confirmed dead.

Authorities have said the bodies of some victims are so badly damaged, it has been necessary to use DNA and dental records to identify them.

The tornado tore through Joplin with winds topping 300 kilometers an hour, tearing apart homes and buildings, crushing cars and snapping trees.

The U.S. National Weather Service says the tornado was the deadliest to hit the U.S. since 1947. This has been the deadliest year in the United States for tornadoes since 1950.

On Sunday, U.S. President Barack Obama traveled to Joplin and praised the city's residents for their response to the storm. He also promised the people of Joplin that the government will support recovery efforts “every step of the way.”

Indian Yoga Guru to Proceed With Hunger Strike

Posted June 1st, 2011 at 6:20 pm (UTC-5)
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A famous yoga guru in India has rejected an appeal by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to call off an anti-corruption hunger strike.

Swami Ramdev vowed Wednesday to proceed with the fast, after holding talks with several government ministers sent to meet him in the capital, New Delhi.

Ramdev told reporters millions of Indian people will be joining the struggle to fight government corruption, and he called for a corruption-free society.

Ramdev's hunger strike will be the second by a prominent figure in recent months aimed at pressuring Mr. Singh's administration to pass a new tough anti-corruption law.

In April, 72-year-old Indian social activist Anna Hazare carried out a five-day hunger strike. He ended the strike after reaching a deal where the government pledged to form a joint committee aimed at passing a new anti-corruption law.

The committee will be led by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

Mr. Singh's government has been beleaguered by a series of recent corruption scandals. The biggest involves the sale of telecom licenses at below-market rates, allegedly causing the government to lose up to $40 billion.

The prime minister has said he wants anti-corruption legislation introduced at the next parliamentary session scheduled to begin June 30. He said his party is committed to cleaning up government.

Many Indians see corruption as the country's greatest national crisis.

The hunger strike tactic comes from the non-violent approach of Mahatma Gandhi, the architect of India's independence from Britain. Hazare called his campaign a “second battle for India's independence.”

Google: Chinese Hackers Break Into E-Mail Accounts

Posted June 1st, 2011 at 6:20 pm (UTC-5)
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Google says computer hackers in China have broken into the e-mail accounts of hundreds of people, including senior U.S. officials, journalists, and Chinese political activists.

The Internet giant says the scheme to steal user passwords from G-Mail accounts originated in Jinan in eastern China. It gave no details of whose accounts were violated but says the victims have been notified and all accounts have been secured.

Google says the hackers gained the information with a scam called “phishing.” Victims are lured into revealing passwords and other information by responding to fake messages that appear to have come from friends or other trusted sources.

Chinese authorities have not commented.

Chinese-based hackers launched a much wider cyber-attack against Google last year.

Beijing tightly controls Internet material to shield users from what it says is harmful material such as pornography. But human rights groups accuse China of censoring pro-opposition activists.

Deadly Street Battles Kill 41 in Yemen’s Capital

Posted June 1st, 2011 at 6:15 pm (UTC-5)
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Yemeni government forces and fighters loyal to tribal leader Sheik Sadeq al-Ahmar continue to exchange heavy gunfire in the capital, Sana'a, battling for control of key positions as more foreign diplomats leave the impoverished, war-torn country.

The fighting in Sana'a raged until dawn Wednesday and continued in bursts throughout the day. Medical officials and witnesses tallying deaths say at least 41 people from both sides were killed in the battles.

The clashes have engulfed the northern Hasaba neighborhood, where tribal fighters seized a number of government ministries and buildings. Loyalist artillery fire has heavily damaged the compound of al-Ahmar, the strongest rival to President Ali Abdullah Saleh, and the government cut the area's electricity and water supplies.

Mr. Saleh's forces also used mortars and rocket-propelled grenades Wednesday to attack the headquarters of Brigadier General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, the country's most powerful military leader.

General Mohsen defected to the opposition in March. He is from the influential Hashid tribe, along with al-Ahmar, whose fighters last week joined a nearly four-month anti-government uprising to force Mr. Saleh from power.

The fighting has caused a number of countries to close or scale back their diplomatic missions. Kuwait said Wednesday it had evacuated its embassy staff, joining Italy, Qatar and Germany in suspending operations in Yemen. The U.S. last week moved most non-essential staff out of the country.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday that Mr. Saleh's refusal to step down is prolonging the crisis. She told reporters in Washington “we cannot expect this conflict to end unless President Saleh and his government move out of the way.”

Battles have been raging on several fronts in Yemen.

The southern city of Taiz remained in lockdown Wednesday, with Republican Guard troops patrolling the streets. Earlier this week, security forces brutally dispersed anti-government protesters from the square they had occupied since February. At least 25 people have died in Taiz over the past few days.

Yemeni troops are also continuing to battle militants for control of the southern city of Zinjibar, which was seized by hundreds of Islamist fighters on Sunday.

US to Boycott UN Racism Conference

Posted June 1st, 2011 at 6:15 pm (UTC-5)
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The United States says it will not participate in an upcoming United Nations conference against racism.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who had lobbied the administration of President Barack Obama to boycott the event, said Wednesday she “commended” the decision to withdraw from the event, which she said was likely to be take over by anti-Semitic and anti-American voices.

In December, a group of 18 lawmakers led by Senator Gillibrand sent a letter to the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice, asking her not to participate in the conference “as long as it undermines the very goal of fighting discrimination with a demonstration of anti-Semitism.”

The conference, scheduled to be held in New York City this September, will commemorate the World Conference Against Racism, held ten years ago in Durban, South Africa.

Israel and the United States walked out of the Durban conference in protest against delegates' attempts to brand Israel as an apartheid state guilty of racism.

The United States also boycotted a 2009 meeting intended to carry forward the work of the Durban conference.

The State Department said a draft declaration from that meeting would limit freedoms of religion and speech and would unfairly label Israel's policies as racist. But it said the United States would “work with all people and nations” to put an end to racism and discrimination.

North Sudan Proposes Solution to Abyei Crisis

Posted June 1st, 2011 at 5:35 pm (UTC-5)
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North Sudan's government has laid out proposals for resolving its dispute with the south over the oil-rich Abyei region.

North Sudanese forces occupied Abyei on May 21, prompting tens of thousands of residents to flee the area, and raising fears the north and south could return to civil war.

The northern government suggested setting up a rotating administration for the contested region. It also has called for replacing international peacekeepers in Abyei with an African force.

A top aide to U.S. President Barack Obama met with Sudanese leaders on Wednesday and voiced Mr. Obama's “deep concern” over the north's military presence in Abyei. The White House said Homeland Security and Counterterrorism advisor John Brennan urged a “rapid and peaceful resolution to the crisis.”

The north has previously rejected calls from the United States, United Nations, and south Sudan to remove its troops from Abyei.

South Sudan is set to declare independence July 9, after voting to split from the north in a January referendum.

Abyei was scheduled to vote the same day in January on whether to join the north or south, but the sides could not agree on who was eligible to vote.

An international monitoring group has accused North Sudan of committing war crimes in the region, saying northern troops are looting and destroying buildings in Abyei's main town.

The U.N. refugee agency said Tuesday that more than a third of the huts in Abyei have been burned down. It said most of the area's population has fled southward, and warned that insecurity is affecting the delivery of aid to the displaced.

On Tuesday, the African Union said North and South Sudan had agreed to create a demilitarized border zone, with joint patrols stretching the length of their 2200-kilometer-long boundary. Ethiopia has said it would consider sending peacekeepers to help monitor the border if both sides request it.

North and South Sudan fought a 21-year civil war that ended with a 2005 peace agreement.

Mladic to Face War Crimes Charges in UN Court

Posted June 1st, 2011 at 5:20 pm (UTC-5)
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Former Bosnian Serb military chief Ratko Mladic will make his first appearance before a war crimes tribunal Friday, following his capture after 16 years on the run.

The United Nations tribunal in The Hague will ask the former general to identify himself and enter a plea to 11 counts of the indictment for war crimes and crimes against humanity, including genocide, during the Bosnian war in the early 1990s. Mladic is entitled to postpone the decision on how to plead by a month.

Chief U.N. prosecutor Serge Brammertz hailed Mladic's arrest saying he must be held accountable for using his power to destroy communities and tear the nation apart.

Mladic arrived in The Hague Tuesday from Serbia where he was arrested last week.

Bosnian Ambassador in the Netherlands Miranda Sidran Kamisalic, who visited the detainee, says he seemed in good physical condition and was articulate.

Mladic's lawyer had tried to delay his extradition arguing that he is physically and mentally unable to face the trial, but a Serbian medical team declared him fit.

The Hague tribunal indicted Mladic in 1995 for war crimes and crimes against humanity, including genocide, in connection with the massacre of 8,000 Muslim males from Srebrenica and the three-year siege of Bosnia's capital Sarajevo.

He is detained at the same facility as his one-time political leader, Radovan Karadzic, whose trial on war crimes charges has already begun. Karadzic was captured in 2008 in Belgrade where he had lived under an assumed name.

Serbian President Boris Tadic has said Belgrade will make every effort to capture the remaining top war crimes fugitive, Croatian Serb Goran Hadzic. He also expressed hope that the European Union will set a date for talks on Serbia's candidacy to join the 27-nation bloc. Mladic's capture was the EU's key condition to consider Serbia's membership.

Oil Prices Plunge on Economic Data

Posted June 1st, 2011 at 4:35 pm (UTC-5)
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Here are the prices of some key commodities traded in New York on Wednesday:

The price of crude oil slid $2.41 to close at $100.29 a barrel after a series of reports on jobs and manufacturing sparked concerns that the U.S. economic recovery may be starting to stagnate.

Coffee prices fell almost 9 cents to $2.56 a pound.

Copper fell 7 cents to $4.10 per pound.

Cocoa declined $46 to finish the day's trading at $2,953 a ton.

In Chicago trading, wheat prices fell 23 cents to end at $7.59 a bushel.

Rice prices fell 50 cents to close at $14.56 a hundredweight

Pakistani General Rules Out North Waziristan Offensive

Posted June 1st, 2011 at 4:30 pm (UTC-5)
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A top Pakistani army commander says the military has no plans to launch an offensive against Taliban and al-Qaida-linked militants in the North Waziristan tribal region.

Lieutenant General Asif Yasin Malik refuted media reports earlier this week that said the military was planning such an operation at the request of the United States. He said Pakistan will undertake that type of offensive when it is in the country's national interest.

The general also described the situation in North Waziristan as “calm, peaceful and stable.” He said he has more than 30,000 troops in the region and reported no change in the status of those forces in recent days.

Army officials have said Pakistani troops are stretched thin undertaking military operations in other areas.

Militants have launched a number of attacks against Pakistani security forces following the May 2 killing of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

On Wednesday, police say about 200 militants crossed the border from Afghanistan and attacked a security checkpoint in the country's northwest, killing at least five police officers.

The attack occurred in the town of Shaltalo, in the Dir tribal area along the border with Afghanistan's Kunar province.

Also Wednesday, military officials say a helicopter carrying the head of a paramilitary force crashed into the Indus River in eastern Pakistan, with all five people on board feared dead.

The helicopter was transporting Major General Mohammed Nawaz, who commands the force known as the Punjab Rangers, when it went down in Punjab province.

Police say the cause of the crash is not clear, but that bad weather may be to blame.