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Iran court says it is considering bail for American hikers
By the CNN Wire Staff
September 14, 2011 5:12 p.m. EDT

Tehran, Iran (CNN) -- The Iranian judiciary said Wednesday it is considering a request for setting bail in the case of two American hikers convicted of spying and sentenced to eight years in prison.

"The two U.S. nationals accused of spying have not been released and their attorneys' requests for setting bail is being considered," the judiciary said.

The statement, posted on the judiciary's website, seems to contradict accounts previously given by the hikers' attorney and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Attorney Masoud Shafiee said Tuesday his clients, Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer, would be released from Tehran's Evin prison after a $500,000 bail was paid for each of them.

On Wednesday, an Omani plane was en route to Tehran carrying an Omani official who will be working on any negotiation, a Western diplomat told CNN.
But it was not clear whether the hostages would be free to leave, the source said.

Fattal and Bauer have been held for more than two years. They and a third hiker, Sarah Shourd, were arrested July 31, 2009, after apparently straying across an unmarked border between Iraq and Iran while hiking in northern Iraq's Kurdish region. They said they were unaware they had crossed into Iran, but Iranian authorities said they were spies who entered the country illegally.

Shourd, who is Bauer's fiancee, was released last year for medical reasons, although authorities said her case remains open.

Last month, Fattal and Bauer were convicted and sentenced to eight years in prison -- five years for espionage and three years for illegal entry, according to Iranian media. Their appeal is pending.

In an interview with NBC that aired Tuesday, Ahmadinejad said the hikers could be released "in a couple of days" but did not mention bail.

The president suggested there is a need for the United States to release Iranians held in its jails.

"OK, these two persons will be released," Ahmadinejad said. "Is it going to be over? We do it, for example, in (a) humanitarian gesture. Is it going to solve the problems? I hope so."

But in the statement posted Wednesday, the judiciary said that "the case is currently being considered by the presiding judge, and any related news will be given by the judiciary."
"No other source is entitled to provide news about this case," it said.

The contradictory information may point to a long-simmering rift in the Iranian government. In Iran, the clerics, not the president, control the courts. In addition, the hikers may have become a political hot potato in Iran.

In April, a public spat erupted between Ahmadinejad and Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Top officials and media outlets close to Khamenei criticized the president, and several of his top aides were reportedly arrested, one for "sorcery." On April 17, Ahmadinejad fired Intelligence Minister Heidar Moslehi, and Khamenei vetoed the move. The president publicly denied any disagreement.

But public criticism has also targeted one of Ahmadinejad's in-laws and chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei. He and several others in the government are considered by Iran's hardliners to have strayed from the path of revolution and the direction set by Khamenei, as well as the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who led the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran.

Mashaei's nationalistic statements and his alleged contacts with the West, including the United States, have caused the clerics and the hardliners to launch an open campaign against him. They are reluctant, however, to attack Ahmadinejad directly, as Khamenei supported him after his re-election, according to a political analyst.

The heads of two of Iran's three branches of government, meanwhile, are brothers -- Ali Larijani is the speaker of parliament, and Ayatollah Sadegh Amoli Larijani is the head of the judiciary. The two may well attempt to thwart what they consider to be anti-cleric and anti-revolutionary actions by Mashaei, who is close to Ahmadinejad, the analyst said.
Separately, a human rights group issued a statement criticizing Ahmadinejad for using the hikers as political pawns.

"Ahmadinejad is trying to use the hikers' release for political gains on the international stage," said Hadi Ghaemi, spokesman for the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. "No one should be fooled. The question is, why were these young men deprived of their liberty for so long on trumped-up charges and without proper judicial proceedings? Moreover, why isn't anyone held accountable for this injustice?"

The organization said it welcomed the news of the hikers' possible release, but noted they have been held for more than two years "without any substantive evidence supporting the espionage charges against them. Their detention and sudden release is seemingly another example of politically motivated arrests and prosecutions by the Iranian judiciary and impunity for officials that bend Iranian laws and violate human rights."

Amnesty International issued a statement Wednesday calling for the hikers' immediate release.
"The Iranian authorities must stop treating Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal as pawns -- both in their dealings with the U.S. government and in domestic political rivalries," said Philip Luther, Amnesty International's deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa.

"All available evidence and the authorities' conduct throughout the trial suggests that the Iranian authorities have known all along that these men were not spies," he said. "Rather, it appears they were probably held in order to try to gain political concessions from the USA."


Libya NTC head Abdul Jalil wants help battling Gaddafi
15 September 2011

Mustafa Abdul Jalil says he believes Col Gaddafi is planning attacks

The head of Libya's National Transitional Council (NTC) has appealed for weapons as NTC forces fight to capture parts of the country still loyal to Col Muammar Gaddafi.

Mustafa Abdul Jalil told the BBC that the ousted leader was in southern Libya and planning revenge attacks.

A written message attributed to Col Gaddafi appealed to the UN to stop "crimes" against his birthplace Sirte.

Meanwhile, senior officials from Nato countries are due to visit Tripoli.

"We say to the leaders coming tomorrow (Thursday) that they will be safe," Mr Abdul Jalil said.

Earlier, the US said it was encouraged by the increasing control the NTC was exercising over security forces in the country.

'Fierce battles'
Gaddafi loyalists still control four areas, including Sirte on the Mediterranean coast, and Bani Walid, south-east of the capital Tripoli, as well as Jufra and Sabha.

Mr Abdul Jalil said many pro-Gaddafi forces had fled to Sabha in the southern desert.

"There will be fierce battles in Sabha with equipment that we do not yet have, and we ask for more equipment to retake these places," said Mr Abdul Jalil.

He said Col Gaddafi had possession of "all the gold" and would be planning attacks on cities, oil fields and power plants.

Col Gaddafi has previously said he would rather die than flee Libya.

NTC officials say members of the former leader's inner circle took gold and cash with them when they fled south across the border to Niger last week.

Mr Abdul Jalil was speaking in his first BBC interview since moving to Tripoli at the weekend from the anti-Gaddafi stronghold of Benghazi.

He confirmed that the NTC would not move the whole of its administration to Tripoli until the last pockets of pro-Gaddafi resistance had been captured.

Earlier, he held talks with senior US envoy Jeffrey Feltman, who pledged Washington's support for the NTC and said the US would reopen its embassy in the capital as soon as possible.

"We remain encouraged by growing command and control over security and police forces," said Mr Feltman, the assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs.

source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-14923551


Deaths in attack near kindergarten in China
Officials say four killed in Gongyi in Henan province by axe-wielding man in latest incident involving children.
Sept. 14, 2011

A man armed with an axe has killed a child and three adults as they made their way to a kindergarten in central China, officials say.

Police have detained Wang Hongbin, the 30-year-old attacker who allegedly carried out the deadly assault in Henan province's Gongyi city early on Wednesday morning, the city's government said in a statement.

He also seriously wounded another child and adult in the assault.

"According to locals, the suspect Wang Hongbin has a history of mental health illness," the statement said.

Local news reported that the adult victims were all parents taking their children to the nearby kindergarten.

The incident is the latest in a series of violent attacks involving children that have forced authorities to increase security around China's schools and kindergartens.

At the end of August, eight pupils were hurt when a staff member at a day care centre for migrant workers' children in Shanghai went on a stabbing spree.

The female worker used a box cutter to slash at children aged between three and four years old at the Little Happiness Star nursery in an eastern suburb of Shanghai, according to local news reports.

The suspect in that case was also believed to have suffered from mental health problems.

Last year, at least five major attacks took place at schools in China, killing 17 people, including 15 children, and injuring more than 80 others.

Two of the attackers were executed and two others committed suicide. The suspect in the fifth attack was sentenced to death in June 2010.

Studies have described a rise in the prevalence of mental disorders in China, some of them linked to stress as society becomes more fast-paced and socialist support systems wither.

source:http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia-pacific/2011/09/201191453057464781.html


Mid-East shuttle dipomacy ahead of Palestinian UN bid
14 September 2011

Senior US and international envoys have begun a fresh round of shuttle diplomacy to try to head off a Palestinian bid for UN membership.

US diplomats Dennis Ross and David Hale, as well as EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and Middle-East envoy Tony Blair are in the region to try to revive stalled peace talks.

Palestinians are preparing a bid for UN membership later this month.

Israel has warned of "harsh and grave consequences" if the move goes ahead.

Mr Ross and Mr Hale arrived in Israel on Wednesday and held talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Ehud Barak, the US State Department said.

They were due to travel to the West Bank on Thursday for talks with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.

Baroness Ashton also held talks with Mr Netanyahu on Wednesday morning, and announced she was extending her visit for further talks in the evening.

"I hope that in the coming days what we will be able to achieve together will be something that enables the negotiations to start," she said.

Analysts say the 27-member EU could split over the issue of Palestinian statehood if it comes to a vote at the UN, with some states backing the effort and others likely to oppose it.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday spoke to Mr Blair - who represents the Quartet of international Middle East negotiators - and to Baroness Ashton, state department spokesman Mark Toner said.

"This is part of our intensive effort here to find a way forward," he added.

The last round of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians broke down a year ago.

Since then, the Palestinians have launched a campaign to join the UN as a full member state with international recognition based on their 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as a capital.

The UN begins its annual General Assembly general debate in New York on 21 September.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, speaking on Wednesday, warned of dire consequences if the Palestinians went ahead.

"From the moment they pass a unilateral decision there will be harsh and grave consequences," he said.

"I hope that we shall not come to those harsh and grave consequences, and that common sense will prevail in all decisions taken," he added.

Some hardline Israeli politicians have called for Israel to annex sections of the West Bank if the Palestinians go ahead.

source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-14924778


Hugh Grant, J.K. Rowling among celebs in British phone-hacking probe
By the CNN Wire Staff
September 14, 2011

London (CNN) -- Hugh Grant and J.K. Rowling are among dozens of celebrities given permission to participate in a top-level inquiry into phone hacking by British journalists, the judge leading the investigation said Wednesday.
Judge Brian Leveson gave "core participant" status to politicians, celebrities and the families of murder victims "who have, or may have, suffered as a consequence of press activity."

British Prime Minister David Cameron set up the Leveson Inquiry in response to public fury at the News of the World newspaper, which shut down this summer after accusations its journalists had illegally eavesdropped on people as they searched for stories.

Most British newspaper groups, including News of the World publisher News International, also got core participant status, as did its former editor Rebekah Brooks.

So did the Metropolitan Police, which has been accused of bungling the original investigation into phone hacking. Officers are also accused of taking bribes from journalists.
Lawyers for core participants can examine witnesses at the inquiry.

Police are investigating both the phone-hacking and bribery allegations, and lawmakers are conducting their own separate probes.

A parliamentary committee investigating phone hacking will recall News International chief executive James Murdoch, whose company published News of the World, a spokesman for the panel said Tuesday.

Former senior News Corp. executive Les Hinton is also being called to appear before the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, the spokesman told CNN.

James Murdoch -- who gave evidence before the parliamentary committee in July with his father Rupert -- will face fresh questions from lawmakers after Hinton testifies, provided that the latter agrees to attend, the spokesman added.

A News Corp. spokesman told CNN James Murdoch was "happy to appear in front of the committee again to answer any further questions members might have."

Lawmakers are seeking to determine whether James Murdoch misled them about the scale of illegal eavesdropping at News of the World in previous testimony.
The scandal surrounding News of the World, which also involves accusations of bribing police, has forced two top police officers to resign and put Prime Minister David Cameron under pressure for hiring another former News of the World editor, Andy Coulson, to be his spokesman.

Coulson resigned from that job earlier this year.
Hinton -- one of Rupert Murdoch's longest-standing employees -- resigned as head of News Corp.'s Dow Jones unit and publisher of The Wall Street Journal in July. He was formerly chief executive of News International, the British arm of News Corp. which published News of the World.

Mark Lewis, a lawyer representing hacking victims, and legal firm Farrer & Co. -- which has represented News International in a number of cases, including advising them on how much they should pay out in settlements over hacking claims -- have also been asked to appear on the same day as Hinton.

Lewis told CNN Tuesday that the mother of a victim of the July 7, 2005, terror attacks in London is now to join a civil case against the News International newspaper group over alleged phone hacking -- illegally accessing a person's voice mail. Sheila Henry, whose son Christian Small died in one of bomb blasts, will be the sixth participant in the civil action, he said.

Lewis said he also is representing Natalie Rowe, a former escort agency owner who sold a story to the Sunday Mirror newspaper in 2005 alleging that Conservative Party politician George Osborne had taken cocaine before he was elected. He has always denied the claim.

Rowe believes she was the victim of phone hacking after a story appeared at the same time in News of the World, Lewis said. The Metropolitan Police told Rowe in the past few weeks that her details were listed in the documents of Glenn Mulcaire, a private investigator used by News of the World and jailed for hacking royal voice mail in 2007, he added.
Australian broadcaster ABC News aired an interview with Rowe on Monday that suggested Osborne had helped Coulson get a job within the Conservative Party in exchange for News of the World giving a positive spin to the Rowe story in an editorial piece in 2005.

Rowe is to sue News International for damages over the alleged phone hacking, Lewis said, and the case would "undoubtedly look at the future relationship that existed between Andy Coulson and the Conservative Party and the subsequent cases."

A spokesman for Osborne, now chancellor of the exchequer -- Britain's equivalent of a finance minister -- denied the allegations when contacted by CNN Tuesday.
Meanwhile, a group of shareholders filed a lawsuit against News Corp. in the United States alleging that the board has failed in its duties to shareholders by allowing Rupert Murdoch "to use News Corp as his own personal fiefdom."

"The board has not lifted a finger to engage in any oversight of Murdoch's rule, even when it was provided with clear and unmistakable warnings that News Corp.'s business practices were not only unethical, but also illegal," the lawsuit claims, adding that Murdoch had sought to siphon value away from the company for the benefit of his family and friends.
The board did nothing about alleged improper conduct at News of the World despite phone-hacking allegations and court cases being brought to its attention in 2002, 2007 and 2008, the lawsuit states.

Parliament's Culture, Media and Sport Committee quizzed four former senior News International employees last week as they looked into James Murdoch's role in the phone-hacking scandal.

Among them was ex-legal affairs director Jonathan Chapman, who, under grilling, named Hinton as the person who had approved a large payment to Clive Goodman, the paper's royal correspondent who was jailed over phone hacking, after Goodman was dismissed from News of the World.

The other three to be questioned were former News of the World editor Colin Myler, the paper's ex-legal manager, Tom Crone, and its former top human resources officer, Daniel Cloke.

In his testimony, Crone said Murdoch must have known that phone hacking at the News of the World was not confined to Goodman.

Murdoch would only have given Crone authority to settle a lawsuit against News of the World if he had understood that there had been more illegal eavesdropping, Crone said.
James Murdoch ordered the best-selling Sunday paper closed in July amid public fury at the accusation that the voice mail of schoolgirl Milly Dowler was hacked after she vanished in 2002. She was later found dead.

London's Metropolitan Police opened a new investigation in January into phone hacking and police bribery. More than a dozen people have been arrested. All are currently free on bail.

The Leveson Inquiry opened last week by taking applications from people and organizations wanting to participate, including News International.

The Metropolitan Police, several newspaper groups and more than a dozen suspected victims of phone hacking applied to be considered "core participants."

Hinton had been with News Corp. for 52 years before his resignation in July.

For much of that time, he played a critical role in Rupert Murdoch's media empire. In a letter to Murdoch at the time of his resignation, he apologized for being "ignorant of" the alleged misconduct at News of the World.

source: http://edition.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/europe/09/14/uk.phone.hacking/index.html?hpt=hp_t2


Bodies hanging from bridge in Mexico are warning to social media users
By Mariano Castillo, CNN
September 15, 2011

(CNN) -- Social media users who denounce drug cartel activities along the Mexican border received a brutal warning this week: Two mangled bodies hanging like cuts of meat from a pedestrian bridge.

A woman was hogtied and disemboweled, her intestines protruding from three deep cuts on her abdomen. Attackers left her topless, dangling by her feet and hands from a bridge in the border city of Nuevo Laredo. A bloodied man next to her was hanging by his hands, his right shoulder severed so deeply the bone was visible.

Signs left near the bodies declared the pair, both apparently in their early 20s, were killed for posting denouncements of drug cartel activities on a social network.

"This is going to happen to all of those posting funny things on the Internet," one sign said. "You better (expletive) pay attention. I'm about to get you."

The gruesome scene sent a chilling message at a time when online posts have become some of the loudest voices reporting violence in Mexico. In some parts of the country, threats from cartels have silenced traditional media. Sometimes even local authorities fear speaking out.

Mexico's notoriously ruthless drug gangs regularly hang victims from bridges and highway overpasses.

And bloggers who specialize in sharing news about trafficking have been threatened in the past. But this could be the first time users of such social networks have been targeted.

Investigator Ricardo Mancillas Castillo said he had not encountered a threat against Internet users in his four years based in Nuevo Laredo. But the signs of torture -- the cuts, the disembowelment -- were along the lines of what officials are used to seeing in drug-related violence.

In the case of the two victims found on the Nuevo Laredo bridge Tuesday, their ears and fingers were mutilated, said Mancillas, who works for the public prosecutor's office.
There are no witnesses, and it is a nearly impossible task to identify the perpetrators, he said.

Thirty-six hours had passed since the bodies were found Tuesday morning, but no one had come to claim them and they remained unidentified, Mancillas said.

It will be nearly impossible to determine if the two victims actually posted anything about cartels on the Internet, as people don't usually use their real names online, he said.
The placards threatened those who report violent incidents through social media networks. It listed two blogs by name, Al Rojo Vivo and Blog del Narco.

They were signed "Z," a possible reference for the Zetas cartel, which operates in the area.

Blog del Narco is a website that deals exclusively with news related to drug violence in Mexico. Its creator remains anonymous.

On the Al Rojo Vivo forum, where citizens can make anonymous tips, one person wrote: "Don't be afraid to denounce. It's very difficult for them to find out who denounced. They only want to scare society."
One Twitter user echoed that sense of defiance in light of the threats.

"Enough! If we shut up today, we will have lost the ground that we have gained. This is the time to show what we are made of," the owner of the @QuestoyQuelotro Twitter account wrote.

In a statement sent to CNN, Blog del Narco said its site is not dedicated to denouncing crime, as are other sites.

"In addition, we are not in favor or against any criminal group, we only inform as things happen," the statement said.

More than 34,600 people have died in drug-related violence since Mexican President Felipe Calderon announced a crackdown on cartels in December 2006, according to government statistics. Other reports have listed a higher toll. The latest Mexican government tally was released in January.


Heavy rains, floods kill 233, affect 5.5 million in Pakistan
By the CNN Wire Staff
September 15, 2011

Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) -- Heavy rains and flooding have killed at least 233 people in Pakistan, a disaster agency spokesman said Wednesday, as a weather forecast calls for more rain over deluged parts of the country.

Seven people have died in the past 24 hours, said Irshad Bhatti, a spokesman for the National Disaster Management Authority.

At least 5.5 million people have been affected by the flooding since August, said Zafar Iqbal Qadir, chairman of the disaster authority.

Kristen Elsby, spokeswoman for the United Nations children's fund, or UNICEF, said 2.7 million children are among the affected. She said half of the 300,000 people in camps are children.

The flooding has inundated more than 4.5 million acres and damaged an estimated 80% of cash crops in Sindh province, in southeastern Pakistan. At least 1.19 million homes have been damaged, the authority said.

And the rains are not over.

"Scattered thunderstorm/rain with moderate falls at isolated places is expected over most parts of the country," according to a weather forecast posted on the disaster authority's website Wednesday.

Bhatti said there was no chance of the floodwaters receding anytime soon. He said the worst affected areas are the Sindh province cities of Badin and Mirpurkhas.

The United States, Iran, Japan and China are among the countries that have provided or pledged aid, the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan reported this week.

The current disaster comes a year after devastating floods displaced more than 20 million people.

More than 1,700 people died due to the floods in 2010, Pakistani authorities said. Those floods caused $9.7 billion in damage to homes, roads, farms and other parts of the southwestern Asian country, according to estimates from the World Bank and Asian Development Bank.

source: http://edition.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/asiapcf/09/14/pakistan.flooding/index.html


NZ tuition fees among world highest
Sept. 15, 2011

Tuition fees at New Zealand universities are among the highest in the world, according to a new report.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's (OECD) latest edition of Education at a Glance looks at education across 42 locations.

The report analysed education at all levels in 34 OECD member countries as well as Argentina, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, the Russian Federation and South Africa in 2008 and 2009.

New Zealand had the seventh-most expensive tuition fees for universities, with entrants paying more than $3600 a year.

United States universities top the list, charging more than $7300 every year and Korea, United Kingdom and Japan fill out the top four.

Tertiary Education Union president Dr Sandra Grey said the Kiwi rates indicate the tug between the state versus students paying for education fees.

"This is the trade-off between how much we feel students should contribute to their own education and how much we're prepared as taxpayers and as a Government to put into those institutions."

The report also showed Kiwis are flocking to some form of further training. New Zealand had the fourth highest entry levels into university or vocationally-orientated tertiary education.

"We've had a big push in New Zealand for what is loosely called a mass tertiary market model which is the right of open entry so people do, if they want, have the opportunity to study," said Dr Grey.

Women are dominating the tertiary system, and make up the majority of students and graduates in the OECD. The report showed women tend to populate the education, health, welfare, humanities and arts fields, while men were the majority in engineering, manufacturing and construction fields.

The number of international students coming here to study at university rose 2 per cent, but Australia, Canada, France, Germany, US and the UK continue to attract more than half the world's students.

Top 10 Most Expensive Tuition Fees
1. United States
2. Korea
3. UK
4. Japan
5. Australia
6. Canada
7. New Zealand
8. Netherlands
9. Portugal
10. Italy

source: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10752019


11 dead, 212 hurt after trains, bus collide
Liliana Samuel
September 14 2011

Buenos Aires - An Argentina train slammed into a bus and was then struck by another train on Tuesday in a huge rush-hour crash at a suburban station that killed at least 11 people and injured 212, police said.

Firefighters worked frantically to pull people out of the wreckage and rush the injured to hospitals, officials said.

Police said they have confirmed the deaths of 11 victims. Officials said as many as 30 of the injured were very badly hurt, suggesting the death toll could climb substantially.

Argentina's transportation secretary Juan Pablo Schiavi said most of the fatalities were among people who had been aboard the bus, including the driver.

The crash occurred at 7am (10.00 GMT) as thousands of commuters were pouring into the Flores district station in southwestern Buenos Aires on their way to work.

“A train entering Flores station hits a bus from the 92 Line, drags it and smashes it against the platform,” said Gustavo Gago, a spokesman for the Buenos Aires train operator.

“At that point, the train goes off the track, invading other tracks in its path and is struck laterally by a train that was entering Flores,” from another direction, he said.

Newspaper seller Lucas Sanz, 31, whose stand is 10 metres away, said he heard “a deafening noise and I saw the bus smashed into the train.”

“Terrified people began exiting the cars in all directions,” he said. “The police arrived quickly and began taking charge of the crowds that came in waves.”

Fire chief Omar Bravo said firefighters “rescued people who were in the bus, in the train and on the platform,” including a two-year-old toddler who was found under the platform.

Rescuers succeeded after two hours in freeing two people whose legs were trapped in the wreckage, one of whom was a conductor on one of the trains.

Authorities were investigating reports that the bus driver failed to heed a train crossing signal and breached the lowered barriers meant to signal that it is dangerous to cross the tracks.

“It was one of the saddest, most serious accidents in recent years,” said Bravo.

In March 2008, 18 people were killed and 47 injured when a bus was hit by a train in Dolores, 212 kilometres south of Buenos Aires.

In February, a long distance train struck a suburban passenger train, leaving four dead and 120 injured.

Argentina's deadliest train tragedy was in 1970, an accident that killed 200 people on Buenos Aires' north end.

source: http://www.iol.co.za/news/world/11-dead-212-hurt-after-trains-bus-collide-1.1137148


UBS discovers $2 billion loss in rogue trade
By the CNN Wire Staff
September 15, 2011

(CNN) -- Swiss banking giant UBS discovered that rogue trading has cost it an estimated $2 billion, it announced Thursday.

The "unauthorized trading by a trader in its investment bank" could cause the bank to record a loss in the third quarter of this year, it said.

The loss would potentially be among the largest costs ever to a bank in rogue trading. Rogue trader Jerome Kerviel cost his bank, Societe Generale, almost $6 billion, and was sentenced to three years in prison last year.

UBS said no client positions were affected by the loss announced Thursday, which is still being investigated.

Nick Leeson, the subject of the Ewan McGregor movie "Rogue Trader," lost about $1.3 billion for his bank, Barings, in 1995, forcing it to close.


Israel warns against unilateral Palestinian move
By the CNN Wire Staff
September 14, 2011

Jerusalem (CNN) -- The unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state would have "dire consequences," Israel's foreign minister warned Wednesday, a day after Palestinians said they would take the proposal to the United Nations.

Avigdor Liberman did not elaborate in his comments on Israel Radio, but said previous Israeli concessions like the withdrawal from Gaza had not resulted in peace.

Frustrated with stalled negotiations with Israel, Palestinians plan to appeal to U.N. member states to recognize their territories as an independent country.

But a United Nations report warned Wednesday that the Palestinians are not yet ready politically for statehood, even while it said the government did carry out basic functions.
"Government functions are now sufficient for the functioning government of a state," the U.N. Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process said, calling it "considerable achievement."

But Israeli occupation has contributed to keeping Palestinian politics "stagnant," Robert Serry's office warned.

"There is only so much that can be done in conditions of prolonged occupation, unresolved final status issues, no serious progress on a two-state solution, and a continuing Palestinian divide," Serry said.

The Palestinians currently have non-state observer status at the United Nations.

The United States has said it will veto full Palestinian statehood if the question comes to the U.N. Security Council.
"It should not come as a shock to anyone in this room that the U.S. opposes a move in New York by the Palestinians to try to establish a state that can only be achieved through negotiations," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said last week. "So yes, if something comes to a vote in the U.N. Security Council, the U.S. will veto."

Instead, the Palestinian Authority is expected to go to the General Assembly, where it could get "observer state" status, similar to the position that the Vatican currently holds. A vote in its favor is all but assured.

"Some of the members of the United Nations, important members, it seems to me that they're coming to the realization that this is not theatric, because this is real," Palestinian U.N. envoy Riyad Mansour said.

The upgraded status would give the Palestinians greater access to U.N. agencies, including possibly the International Criminal Court, where it could make criminal claims against Israel.

The Obama administration has expressed concern that Palestinian action at the United Nations could intensify conditions on the ground and delay already-stalled negotiations with Israel.

"Our objective is not to intensify with anyone or to isolate anyone, or to de-legitimize anyone," Mansour said. "Our objective is to legitimize our rights and to advance the cause of the two-state solution."

The U.S. State Department has sent two diplomatic envoys to the region to help Mideast Quartet envoy Tony Blair gain Israeli and Palestinian approval on a Quartet statement on a set of principles in advance of the Palestinian bid next week.
source: http://edition.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/meast/09/14/israel.palestinians/index.html


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