Monday, August 30, 2010

Putin says 2012 polls important to him

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has said the 2012 Russian presidential elections are of greater concern to him than to anybody else, in an interview with Kommersant newspaper.

Ever since Dmitry Medvedev replaced Putin as president in 2008, there has been widespread speculation that Putin plans to return as president at the 2012 elections.

Putin has refused to be drawn on his plans for the election, in contrast to Medvedev. Speaking at Stanford University during his landmark U.S. visit in June, Medvedev said he may run for a second term if he secures enough public support.

"[The 2012 presidential elections] are of concern to me, just like they are to everybody, but actually of greater concern to me than to anybody else. But I am not making a fetish out of them," Putin said.

"On the whole, the country is developing steadily," he said. "I can't see any major problems; the crisis has hampered us a little, of course, but on the other hand, it has helped [us] concentrate on our priorities."

"It is important that the 2012 problem doesn't pull us away from this path of steady development," he said.

Despite growing public dissatisfaction with the government, most recently over the state's apparent inability to take control of the wildfires that ravaged central Russia this summer, Putin continues to be the country's most popular politician.

Opinion polls show that most people in Russia believe that it is he who actually runs Russia, not President Medvedev.

Putin said he was not bothered by the recent fall in the approval ratings of Medvedev and himself.

"I don't follow [the ratings] but I see that they are wobbling; it is the crisis. After all, so many people have fallen on hard times, I understand them," Putin said.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

14 killed in Nepal plane crash

All 14 people aboard a small plane heading for the Everest region, including four Americans, a Japanese and a Briton, were killed when the plane crashed in bad weather near the Nepalese capital on Tuesday.

"Our teams have now reached the site and I can confirm that there are no survivors. All 14 people are dead," said Bimlesh Lal Karna, head of rescue operations with the civil aviation authority.

The Agni Air plane was returning to Kathmandu after it was unable to land at Lukla, its intended destination in a popular trekking spot in the Everest region of eastern Nepal, home ministry spokesman Jayamukunda Khanal told AFP.

Thousands of travellers fly into Lukla, 140 kilometres (90 miles) northeast of Kathmandu, every year to access the stunning Himalayan range that forms Nepal's northern border with Chinese-controlled Tibet.

Local villagers said they saw the plane crash into a field next to a school about 15 miles south of Kathmandu and break up on impact. The cause of the crash was not immediately clear.

"There are small pieces of the plane all over the field and you can see body parts. We are all so shocked," villager Pratap Lama told the Kantipur radio station.

Relatives of some of the passengers gathered at the airport in Kathmandu to wait for news.

"My cousin is a trekking guide and he was flying up to take a group of tourists to Everest base camp," Ganesh Rijal, 40, told AFP.

"He got married recently and his wife is in deep shock. I have been waiting here for hours, but nobody has been able to tell me anything."

The 550-metre-long (1,800 feet) sloping airstrip at Lukla, perched on a hillside 2,757 metres above sea level, is considered one of the most difficult landings in the world.

The last major accident there was in 2008 when a Twin Otter plane carrying 18 people crashed killing everyone on board.

The airport is used by climbers heading for the heights of Everest, though now is the low season for both mountaineering and trekking.

Tourism is a major foreign currency earner for impoverished Nepal and the number of visitors has increased since a civil war between Maoist guerrillas and the state ended in 2006.

Earlier this year, the government announced an ambitious plan to attract a million tourists to the country in 2011 -- around twice the number that visited in 2009.


Monday, August 23, 2010

Bus accident kills 22 in Pakistan

At least 22 people were killed and several others were reported missing when flood waters swept away a bus in Pakistan’s central Punjab province on Monday.

The Peshawar-bound bus turned turtle when it was hit by strong torrents of water in Rajanpur district of Punjab.

Officials said 22 people were killed while 15 were rescued.

A search had been launched for others who were missing, they said.

“The road was closed near Khad Buzdar village due to the danger of water torrents from nearby hills. But the driver ignored the warning and drove on,” a rescue official said.

He said the death toll could rise further.

Last week, over two dozen people were killed in the flood-hit Muzaffargarh district of Punjab when a tractor trolley carrying 40 displaced people was swept away by flood waters.

The devastating floods sweeping Pakistan have killed over 1,700 people and affected 20 million.


Friday, August 20, 2010

43 whales dead in NZ mass stranding

Rescuers have failed in their first attempt to refloat more than a dozen pilot whales stranded on a remote beach in the north of New Zealand.

Dozens of volunteers tried in vain to refloat the whales at high tide on Karikari beach.

The volunteers are surrounded by 43 dead whales that are thought to have washed up on the beach earlier today.

Polly Raharuru-Toby has been on Karikari beach and says only 15 whales are still alive.

"It's just sad to see the whales come up. It's hard to see them die there when we're trying to get them all back out again," she said.

Another attempt will be made to refloat the surviving whales at first light tomorrow.

If unsuccessful they will be lifted into trucks and taken to a more sheltered beach a kilometre away.

Marine mammal specialist Anton van Helden says mass strandings are often triggered by a single whale in distress calling out to other whales for help.

"It's a pretty good survival strategy out in the open ocean, for these oceanic animals, that if an animal's in trouble or ailing in some way, that they essentially communicate with other whales to help, so that other animals come and attempt to buoy them to the surface," he said.

It is not the first time there has been a mass stranding of whales on the beach.

In 1997, 101 whales were stranded on Karikari beach.


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Petrol bomb gang attack UK ministers in Pakistan

A petrol bomb hurling mob forced two Cabinet ministers touring floodravaged Pakistan to be airlifted to safety.

A five-car convoy carrying Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell and Tory Party Chairman Baroness Sayeeda Warsi was caught up in a violent demonstration against fuel price increases.

Witnesses said the convoy was pelted with petrol and stones before being re-routed to a nearby airbase. The group were later flown out of the area in an army helicopter.

The ministers, returning to the capital Islamabad, were attacked near the town of Nowshera in a region known for its links to the Taliban.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: "The ministerial party was re-routed to avoid a large, ongoing public protest as a precaution and are now continuing their programme."

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

9/11 families criticise Obama for backing mosque near Ground Zero

Family members of 9/11 terror attack victims have criticised US President Barack Obama for backing a proposal to build a Muslim community centre and a mosque near Ground Zero, citing the Constitution and principles of religious freedom, ahead of the trial, and added that he absolutely has his "priorities confused".

"I think the President absolutely has his priorities confused," Fox News quoted Debra Burlingame of 9/11 Families for a Safe and Strong America, as saying.

"He should be focusing on putting Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his cohorts on trial and allowing them to plead guilty as they said they wanted to do, rather than lecturing the families of those firefighters and their children about religious tolerance at ground zero," she added.

A White House spokesman, however, said politics wasn't a factor in Obama's comments about the proposed mosque near Ground Zero.

"The President felt obligated to make sure all Americans are treated fairly, regardless of their religious views," Deputy White House Press Secretary Bill Burton said. (ANI)


Thursday, August 12, 2010

Pakistan floods cause 'huge losses' to crops

Pakistan flood refugees dodge an army truck carrying relief supplies in Muzaffargarh, Punjab province
The overflowing Indus river is wreaking havoc in Punjab and Sindh provinces

Pakistan's floods have caused "huge losses" to its crops, the country's food minister has told the BBC.

Nazar Muhammad Gondal said significant amounts of the grain, sugarcane and rice harvests had been washed away.

Meanwhile a senior religious scholar has said that flood victims living in difficult conditions should not have to fast over the Muslim Ramadan period.

And Pakistan's UK envoy has denied that most of the money given for flood defences has been lost to corruption.

High Commissioner to London Wajid Hasan dismissed the allegation by pressure group Transparency International, and insisted his government was doing all it could to help people in need.

Floodwater triggered by heavy monsoon rains is still surging south along the Indus River, forcing people from their homes.

Food Minister Gondal said grain stocks had been destroyed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (formerly North West Frontier) province, but some remained in southern Punjab province.

"We have losses in cotton, in sugarcane, in rice, in pulses and in tobacco - these are huge losses for the future," he told the BBC's World Today programme.

"These are the nation's cash crops which will really affect the economy of Pakistan."

Mohsin Leghari, a member of the Punjab regional assembly, told the World Today aid workers were being attacked by desperate, starving people.

"Their crops have gone, their livestock has gone, the infrastructure, the roads are gone," he said. "Right now our land link with the rest of the country is gone."

Mufti Muneebur Rehman, one of the country's top religious scholars, told the AP news agency that flood victims can perform their Ramadan fast later in the year.

The Ramadan period began on Thursday. Muslims throughout the country go without food from dawn to dusk each day for a month to control their desires and show empathy for the poor.

'God's punishment'

Pakistan's meteorological service warned of floods in Hyderabad, Sindh province, and Kalabagh and Chashma in Punjab.

But forecasters also said the monsoon system should ease over the next three days.

The UN has launched an appeal for more than $450m (£290m) to help the 14 million Pakistanis affected by the floods. At least 1,600 people have died and many more are missing.

The US, which has already committed $55m to relief efforts, announced it was contributing another $16.2m to the UN refugee agency and the International Red Cross.

But in a statement this week, the Pakistani Taliban described the floods as God's punishment on the country for accepting secular leaders. They urged Pakistanis to boycott foreign aid.


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Hope fading for survivors of China floods

Residents mourn their missing relatives in the landslide-hit Zhouqu County of Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Gansu Province August 11, 2010.

Flooding has already killed over 700, and chances are slim that the 1,000 more listed missing will be found

Hopes were fading of finding more survivors from flooding and landslides in northwestern China, as teams worked Wednesday to stave off disease outbreaks, three days after the disaster that killed at least 702 people.

More than 1,000 people were listed as missing, but with suffocating mud, stones and debris covering many houses, the chances of finding anyone alive were considered slight.

Instead, troops and rescue teams joined by traumatized survivors turned to recovering bodies and seeing to the needs of the living. Clean drinking water was a primary concern, with most local sources destroyed or too polluted to use.

Entire communities in Gansu province's Zhouqu district were swallowed up when the debris-choked Bailong River jumped its banks on Sunday, releasing wave after wave of mud and rubble-strewn water. While torrential rains were the direct cause, tree cutting that left the dry hills exposed and the weakening of cliff faces by a massive 2008 earthquake were seen as contributing to the disaster.

Buildings were torn from their foundations, their lower floors blown out by the force of the debris-laden water. Three villages comprising hundreds of households were buried entirely and much of the county seat left submerged.

On Wednesday, disinfectant crews in protective suits sprayed chemical disinfectant across the ground and over machinery, the smell of death heavy in the air. State media reported numerous cases of dysentery, while infected wounds, a lack of sanitation, clean drinking water and accumulating garbage all present the risk of typhoid, cholera and other diseases.

More rain is expected in the region in coming days, the China Meteorological Administration said. At least 45,000 people have evacuated their homes and the Civil Affairs Ministry reported the delivery of 7,000 tents and 21,400 blankets to the area, with thousands more on their way. Zhouqu has a total population of 134,000, but it wasn't clear how many needed emergency shelter.

Rescue crews were largely reliant on hand tools, with heavy equipment either unable to traverse the difficult terrain or mired in mud up to several metres deep.

Shen Si, a member of the Tibetan ethnic group native to the area, watched forlornly as troops dug to reach the bodies of her relatives inside their buried home.

“My mother and father were in their 60s and my younger brother, all three of them, are buried here in our house still,” she said.

Throughout the area, bodies were seen wrapped in blankets and tied to sticks or placed on planks and left on the shattered streets for pickup.

China's leadership has ordered teams to continue the search for survivors and the ruling Communist Party's all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee met Tuesday to discuss rescue and relief work.

“It is now a critical time ... We must give the highest prominence to the protection of people's lives and properties,” it said in a statement.

Flooding in China has killed about 1,800 people this year and caused tens of billions of dollars in damage across 28 provinces and regions.

Monday, August 9, 2010

More than 1,300 die in China flood

More than 1,300 people are feared dead after flash floods and landslides struck north-west China.

The disaster in Gansu province covered entire villages in water, mud, and rocks.

Vehicles carrying aid supplies choked the road over bare, eroded mountains into the remote county seat of Zhouqu. Bodies wrapped in blankets were collected and laid on truck beds, although the government had not updated the death toll since Sunday night.

Work was under way to restore power, water and communications in affected areas in the southern part of the province, and it was not known how many of the missing were in danger or simply out of contact.

Hoping to prevent further disasters, demolition experts set off three sets of charges to clear debris blocking the Bailong River upstream from the ravaged Zhouqu, which remained largely submerged.

The blockage had formed a two-mile artificial lake on the river that overflowed, sending torrents crashing down onto the town. Houses were ripped from their foundations, apartment buildings shattered, and streets covered with a layer of mud and water more than a yard deep.

Authorities were rushing in water, tents, blankets and other emergency supplies and Premier Wen Jiabao flew to the area on Sunday to oversee relief efforts.

Mr Wen visited hard-hit areas including the Sanyan valley, where a village of 300 households was completely buried in mudslides, the official Xinhua News Agency said. It said more than 680 villagers have been rescued, but gave no word on numbers still believed to be trapped.

State broadcaster CCTV showed Mr Wen comforting victims and promising government reconstruction support. At one point he is shown calling out to people waiting to be pulled from their buried home, saying: "Don't move! We're getting you out."

China's worst flooding in a decade has killed more than 1,100 people this year, with more than 600 still missing. The floods have caused tens of billions of dollars in damage across 28 provinces and regions.


Friday, August 6, 2010

Hiroshima marks 65th atomic bomb anniversary, calls for end of nuke weapons

Japan's Hiroshima marked the 65th atomic bomb anniversary on Friday for the first time with the presence of the UN chief and U.S. representatives, calling for a world free of nuclear weapons.

UN Secretary-general Ban Ki-moon attended the ceremony in Hiroshima Peace Park. Before Hiroshima, he also for the first time visited Nagasaki, the second Japanese city the United States dropped an atomic bomb on during World War II.

Ban was joined by representatives from over 70 countries, including U.S. Ambassador to Japan John Roos, who was the first U. S. representative to do so, and French and British officials.

"I feel honored to be the first U.N. secretary general to take part in the peace memorial ceremony on the 65th anniversary. And I am deeply moved. ... I come here for world peace." Ban said at the memorial ceremony.

"When the atomic bombs fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I was one year old. Only later in life could I begin to understand the full dimension of all that happened here," he said.

Calling nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation a top priority of his work, Ban said "the moment has come" for the world to become free of weapons of mass destruction.

"We see new leadership from the most powerful nations. We see new engagement in the U.N. Security Council. We see new energy from civil society.," he said, adding important progress was made at the nuclear summit in Washington, which "we will build upon in Korea in 2012".

Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba made a peace declaration at the ceremony, urging Japan to take the lead in the pursuit of abolishing nuclear weapons by 2020.

"Now the time is ripe for the Japanese government to take decisive action," he said. "It should begin to 'take the lead in the pursuit of elimination of nuclear weapons' by legislating into law the three non-nuclear principles, abandoning the U.S. nuclear umbrella, legally recognizing the expanded 'black rain areas,' and implementing compassionate, caring assistance measure for all the aging hibakusha anywhere in the world."

A moment of silence was observed at 8:15 a.m., the time of detonation of the atomic bomb over Hiroshima, which killed about 100,000 people in a blink.

Also present at the ceremony was Prime Minister Naoto Kan, who vowed to adhere to Japan's three antinuclear principles.

After the ceremony, Ban delivered a speech on nonproliferation of nuclear weapons, met with representatives of hibakusha societies and presented flowers at a monument for Korean who died in the bombing.

"They (hibakushas) have given me a good direction of what the United Nations Secretary General and what other world power should do in helping them to realize their dream and aspirations to see the end of nuclear weapons," Ban said.

"I respect Ban for his effort in nuclear reduction. The tragedy of Hiroshima should not be repeated. We should abolish nuclear weapons. The voice of us Hibakusha must be heard," said Kazushi Kaneko, Director General of Hiroshima council of A-bomb sufferers organizations, in an interview with Xinhua.

"We hibakusha should try our best to forward our experience to the others so as to avoid similar disasters to happen again," said 84-year-old Kaneko, who himself was a hibakusha.

U.S. Ambassador Roos' visit was largely quiet, but according to a press release from the U.S. embassy, Roos noted, "For the sake of future generations, we must continue to work together to realize a world without nuclear weapons."

Hiroshima citizens and Japanese media had hoped Roos' visit could bring President Barack Obama himself to the city later this year, when the president comes to Japan to join the APEC summit in Yokohama. However, according to Kyodo News, Obama said he had "no plan" to visit the city at the moment.

The U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima, which took place on the morning of Aug. 6, 1945, led to the deaths of an estimated 140,000 people toward the end of World War II.

On Aug. 9, a second nuclear bomb was dropped on the city of Nagasaki, and six days later, Japan surrendered. In the years since the war, many people have developed diseases that are considered related to exposure to radiation created by the bombs.


Thursday, August 5, 2010

Floods ravage Pakistan's heartland, threaten south

Flood-stricken Pakistanis wait outside a relief centre to get food supply on the outskirts of Peshawar, on Wednesday. Photo: AP.

Flood-stricken Pakistanis wait outside a relief centre to get food supply on the outskirts of Peshawar, on Wednesday.

Floodwaters ravaged hundreds of villages in Pakistan’s main province of Punjab on Wednesday, destroying homes, soaking crops, and threatening more lives. Aid workers warned that bloated rivers would soon surge into the country’s south, prompting more evacuations.

This year’s monsoon season has prompted the worst flooding in Pakistan in living memory and already killed more than 1,500 people. The U.N. scrambled to provide food and other assistance to some 3.2 million affected people in a nation already struggling with an Islamist militancy and a poor economy.

After causing huge destruction in Pakistan’s volatile northwest, floodwaters deluged villages and some urban centres in Punjab, the richest and most populous province. The army used boats and helicopters to move stranded villagers in the area to higher ground.

Water levels were so high in large tracts of Kot Addu and the nearby area of Layyah in the south of the province, that only treetops and uppermost floors of some buildings were visible.

Military spokesman Maj. Gen. Nadir Zeb told reporters on Wednesday that at least 30,000 people have been rescued from flood—hit zones in Kot Addu and nearby areas over the previous 72 hours. He warned that more flooding was expected as weather forecasts predicted more rains in the next few days.

“People must cooperate with us, and they must leave those areas where floods are going to hit,” he said.

Monsoon season in Pakistan usually lasts about three months, through mid—September. In a typical year, the country gets an average 137 mm (5.4 inches) worth of rainfall during the monsoon season. This year, it already has received 160 mm (6.3 inches), said Muhammad Hanif, head of the National Weather Forecasting Centre in Islamabad.

The rains are falling about 25 to 30 percent above normal rates, Mr. Hanif said. The northwest, which has been hit the hardest, experienced “once—in—a—century” rains, and can expect more wet weather in coming days, though at normal levels that should allow some recovery. The vast majority of deaths have been reported in that region.

Punjab in the country’s east and Sindh province in the south, however, should expect significant rainfall, he said.

At least 47 people had been killed in Punjab since flooding began in late July, Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority said. Nearly 1,000 villages have been affected and some 15,000 houses destroyed in the province, the U.N. said.

The rush of muddy water over river banks in Punjab threatened to destroy vast stretches of crops that make the province Pakistan’s breadbasket. Numerous crops have also been lost in the northwest.

The loss of farm produce is one reason the U.N. has warned of serious food shortages, and the World Food Programme has estimated that 1.8 million people will need to be fed over the next month.

Rescue workers have struggled to deliver aid because of washed—out bridges and roads and downed communication lines.

Several foreign countries have stepped in to help. The United States sent six large military helicopters from Afghanistan to help with the relief effort. The four CH—47 Chinook helicopters and two UH—60 Blackhawk utility helicopters arrived at Ghazi Airbase in Pakistan on Wednesday, a U.S. Embassy statement said.

But many flood victims have complained that aid is not reaching them fast enough or at all. That anger could spread as floodwaters threaten Sindh province. Authorities expect several districts will be hit by rising waters in Sindh, which is on track to experience its worst flooding in 34 years, the U.N. said.


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Iran's President Ahmadinejad challenges Barack Obama to TV debate

The provocative proposal came as Iran dealt with a new wave of international sanctions - driven by Washington - aimed at pressuring the Islamic Republic over its nuclear programme.

"Toward the end of summer we will hopefully be there for the (UN) General Assembly and I will be ready for one-on-one talks with Mr Obama, in front of the media of course," Mr Ahmadinejad said in an address broadcast live on state television.

"We are ready to sit down with Mr Obama face-to-face and put the global issues on the table, man-to-man, freely, and in front of the media and see whose solutions are better."

Iran’s hardline president suggested such a debate last September, but his offer was not taken up by Washington. He has said Mr Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, had declined similar invitations because he was “scared”.

Mr Ahmadinejad has on various occasions blamed the United States for “global disorders”, particularly the global financial crisis.

His call on Monday comes after a series of punitive sanctions imposed on Iran by the UN Security Council, the United States and the European Union over Tehran’s controversial nuclear programme.

Mr Ahmadinejad criticised Mr Obama for missing what he said were “historic opportunities” to repair relations with Iran, with whom the United States has had no direct diplomatic ties for more than 30 years.

Mr Obama had in March 2009 extended a hand of diplomacy towards Iran in an attempt to break the deadlock between the two countries, but since then, the animosity between the two nations has steadily worsened.

Mr Ahmadinejad said: “Somebody should answer questions whether the US government is dominated by the Zionists or the Zionist regime is controlled by the US government.”

Israel, like the United States, has not ruled out a military strike against Iran to halt its nuclear programme.

Mr Ahmadinejad, under whose presidency Iran has been slapped with four sets of UN sanctions, has remained steadfast in pursuing a sensitive uranium enrichment programme, which Washington and other world powers want Tehran to abandon.

Iran says it is not enriching uranium for any military aims.


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

45 killed in street violence after Karachi official is assassinated

A Pakistani man rides past by burning shop in Karachi after a lawmaker was slain.
The assassination of a prominent lawmaker in Karachi triggered a wave of revenge attacks that had claimed at least 45 lives as of Tuesday and raised fears of a new cycle of reprisal killings in Pakistan's largest city.

So-called targeted killings, often motivated by political feuds and sectarian divisions, have plagued Karachi for years. This year, however, their number has risen sharply, with an estimated 170 people slain in targeted killings and reprisal attacks. Last year, the total was 152, according to government figures.

As in years past, many of the attacks this year have centered on the rivalry between two powerful political parties, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement and the Awami National Party. The MQM party, which dominates government in Karachi, represents descendants of Indian migrants who settled in Pakistan when the country became independent in 1947. The Awami party, a secular movement, represents Karachi's large Pashtun minority.

The violence that swept through Karachi was fueled by the killing of Raza Haider, a senior MQM leader and a member of the Sindh provincial legislature. Haider, 51, was attending a funeral Monday at a mosque in Karachi's Nazimabad neighborhood when gunmen on motorcycles appeared and shot him and his bodyguard dead.

Haider's slaying spurred a wave of reprisal killings that left at least 45 people dead by Tuesday afternoon. Dozens of stores, buses and cars were set ablaze late Monday night as police struggled to stem the violence. At least 93 people were injured.

On Tuesday, dozens of shop owners closed and traffic on many city streets was almost nonexistent, as residents feared another wave of unrest. Pakistani paramilitary forces were deployed throughout the city to maintain calm. The government also shut down Karachi's colleges.

Fueling the cycle of targeted killings that plagues Karachi every year is the nexus between Karachi's organized crime leaders and the city's political heavyweights. The affiliations revolve around rival gangs' never-ending battle for the city's prime real estate, which can generate millions of dollars in profits.

MQM leaders stopped short of blaming Haider's murder on the Awami party, but they accused the ANP of aligning with Karachi's powerful gangs and stoking the city's endless cycle of violence.

"ANP publicly supports the land mafia," said MQM leader Raza Haroon. "We are not saying that ANP is directly involved in the killing of Raza Haider, but they should be investigated. ANP is instigating Pashtuns and fanning ethnic violence."

Amin Khattak, the ANP's provincial general secretary, said MQM's claims about ANP were unfounded. "MQM fears that the demography of Karachi may be changing in favor of ANP and the Pashtun community, and that's why they kill Pashtuns," Khattak said.


Monday, August 2, 2010

Israel President denies calling British 'anti-Semites'

Israel President Shimon Peres has denied calling Britishers "anti-Semites," even while criticizing Britain for its consistent pro-Arab stance against Israel.

Peres said he views Israeli relations with Britain as "of the greatest importance" and has the "highest regard" for the way in which the latter stood alone against Nazi Germany during the Second World War.

"President Peres never accused the British people of anti-Semitism, the president does not believe that British governments are motivated by anti-Semitism, nor were they in the past," The Telegraph quoted his spokesman, as saying in a statement.

The paper also states that during the interview with an Israeli historian named Benny Morris, Peres claimed there had always been something "pro-Arab" and "anti-Israel" in the British establishment.

On being asked whether this was due to anti-Semitism, Peres replied by saying "Yes, there is also anti-Semitism. There is in England a saying that an anti-Semite is someone who hates the Jews more than is necessary. But with Germany, relations are pretty good, as with Italy and France."

The President's office replied that his comments were driven by dismay and that some Britons lack the ability to understand the grim reality of living under the threat of terrorism. (ANI)