BUENOS AIRES, Argentina - Amid an ongoing dispute over the Malvinas Islands between Argentina and Britain, the Argentinean industry minister has called on the country’s top companies to stop importing British products, Press TV reports. Argentina’s Industry Minister Debora Giorgi on Tuesday called the bosses of at least 20 top firms to urge them to import goods produced elsewhere instead of Britain.
The move comes in the hope that it would press Britain to negotiate over the future of the Malvinas Islands as the government of Argentine President Cristina Fernandez has recently stepped up its campaign to assert sovereignty over the islands.
Argentina had also banned two British cruise ships from docking in a port in its southernmost city of Ushuia in the Tierra del Fuego province Monday morning.
The Malvinas Islands, located about 300 miles off Argentina's coast and home to about 3,000 inhabitants, have been declared as part of the British Overseas Territories since Britain established its colonial rule on the islands in 1833.
Argentina, however, has repeatedly dismissed the British claim over the island.
Tension has been rising ahead of the 30th anniversary of the 74-day bloody war fought between Britain and Argentina in 1982 over the islands which ended with the British side claiming victory over Argentineans. A year after the war, the UK enforced the British Nationality Act of 1983, which offers citizenship to the islanders. Tensions between the two countries have also re-escalated since 2010 when London authorized oil prospecting around the islands.
LONDON, U.K. - Forget expensive lotions and potions — the key to becoming immortal could be found in flatworms, scientists say. The worms, which live in lakes and ponds, hold the remarkable ability to regenerate — effectively living forever. If one is cut in half, the head portion grows a tail and the tail portion grows a head. Nottingham University scientists have created a colony of more than 20,000 worms, all from one original, whose bodies and organs don't seem to age. Knowing more about how the worms safely do this could help stem cell scientists achieve their Holy Grail — the growth of new hearts, livers or brain cells in a dish.
NEW DELHI, India - Millions of workers of all political hues will go on strike across India on Tuesday to express their anger at soaring prices and to back demands for improved rights for employees, trade unions and political activists said. The strike, which will include workers from state-run phone companies, bus drivers and postal workers, is a new headache for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's government as it grapples with weakening economic growth and faces elections in several states. Workers linked to the ruling Congress party will join the protest and have promised further action if their demands are not met.
The protests are not expected to significantly affect banks and financial markets in Asia's third-largest economy, but traders said there could be some volatility in the bond market if volumes are lower than normal.
The strikers have a long list of demands. Among them, they want the government to take measures to contain inflation, provide universal social security cover for workers in the vast unorganised labour sector, and to stop selling stakes in state-run companies. "We will have to think about our future course of action if the government does not come forward with proposals on how it will react to our demands," G. Sanjeeva Reddy, president of the Indian National Trade Union Congress, the ruling party's trade union, said.
CANBERRA Feb 27 — Australia Prime Minister Julia Gillard won a Labor Party leadership vote over former premier Kevin Rudd by 71 votes to 31 today a party official said. Gillard called the vote to stamp her authority on the party and stop Rudd’s push to regain the leadership after his sudden resignation as foreign minister last week That move followed weeks of mounting infighting between the two camps. Gillard languishing in public opinion polls now faces a tough task to lift support for Labor and its minority government ahead of general elections scheduled for late 2013.
KUANTAN, Pahang, Malaysia - Various shades of green were spotted at the Kuantan Municipal Council field here as more than 5,000 supporters of Himpunan Hijau 2.0 gathered to protest against the construction of Lynas Corporation's rare earth processing plant in Gebeng. The rally is part of an ongoing effort to stop the construction of the RM2.5 billion Australian-owned plant, citing health concerns from its radioactive waste.
The Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) has given the company 10-months to submit plans for the permanent disposal facility, which is among conditions the company has to fulfil for a temporary operating liscense.
Protesters, including opposition lawmakers, vowed Sunday to pressure the government to scrap the project. Many wore green T-shirts with the words “Stop Lynas” and some shouted “Destroy Lynas” during the two-hour rally in the Pahang state capital of Kuantan.
Lynas says its refinery could meet nearly a third of world demand for rare earths, excluding China. It also may curtail China’s stranglehold on the global supply of 17 rare earths essential for making high-tech goods, including flat-screen TVs, mobile phones, hybrid cars and weapons.
Malaysian activists and Pahang residents have sought a court order to halt the Lynas plant.
An International Atomic Energy Agency team, which assessed the Lynas project last year, found it lacked a comprehensive long-term waste management program and a plan to dismantle the plant once it is no longer operating. Malaysia’s last rare earth refinery by Japan’s Mitsubishi group, in northern Perak state, was closed in 1992 following protests and claims that it caused birth defects and leukemia among residents. It is one of Asia’s largest radioactive waste cleanup sites.
Illustrated picture MANILA, Philippines - A Central Luzon man thought to have been buried several weeks ago turned out to be alive. Jasper Soriano, 25, of the village of Quintong in San Carlos City, Pangasinan was last seen alive by his mother, Leonarda, on February 2. On February 10, a body of an unidentified man, believed to have been a victim of extra-judicial killing, was found in the nearby town of Binalonan. Leonarda claimed that the body was Jasper's.
She identified Jasper by a scar on the upper left portion of his chest, a report by GMA News said. The mother also said the shape of the legs and the facial features resembled that of her son.
Leonarda made funeral arrangements and buried the body. Several days into the mourning period, Quintong residents heard rumours that Jasper was alive.
Ruby Oria, Soriano's wife, searched for her husband and found him alive in Nueva Ecija, a province in Central Luzon.
Ruby said she had to slap and punch Jasper to reassure herself that the person she spoke to was not a figment of her imagination.
TV top footage showed residents of Kaohsiung running into the streets, fearing their buildings might collapse.
Taipei: A shallow 5.9-magnitude earthquake sent panicked people fleeing onto the streets in Taiwan's second-largest city of Kaohsiung on Sunday as rail services were temporarily suspended. The quake struck 57 kilometres east of the city at 10:34 am (0234 GMT) at a depth of just four kilometres, the US Geological Survey said. The Hong Kong Observatory measured the quake at magnitude 6.0, while Taiwan's Seismology Centre put the magnitude at 6.1.
Services on a high-speed railway linking Kaohsiung with Taiwan's capital of Taipei in the north were halted temporarily, railway officials told AFP.
There were no immediate reports of injuries or major damage.
The greater metropolitan area of Kaohsiung has a population of nearly three million people.
Taiwan is regularly hit by earthquakes as the island lies near the junction of two tectonic plates.
In September 1999, a 7.6-magnitude tremor killed around 2,400 people in the deadliest natural disaster in the island's recent history.
ABBOTTABAD, Pakistan — Under powerful floodlights and surrounded by rings of soldiers and police, heavy machines began Saturday night to demolish the three-story compound in northwestern Pakistan where Osama bin Laden lived for years and was killed by U.S. commandos last May. Each blow helped eliminate a concrete reminder of the painful and embarrassing chapter in Pakistan's history that the al-Qaida chief's discovery and death in a town not far from the nation's capital represented.
Pakistan was outraged by the covert American raid in Abbottabad because it was not told about it beforehand — a decision the U.S. explained was driven by concerns that someone in the government might tip off bin Laden.
The terror leader's death was cheered across the globe, but many Pakistanis were angry that the U.S. violated its territory and that its troops were powerless to stop American soldiers from attacking a compound located next to the country's equivalent of West Point, the elite U.S. military academy.
Just as U.S. Navy SEALs waited for the cover of darkness to descend on bin Laden's compound by helicopter from neighboring Afghanistan, Pakistani authorities held off on tearing it down Saturday until the sun had set, said local residents.
Thousands of enraged Afghans have taken to the streets for a fourth day, after US soldiers inadvertently set fire to copies of the Koran. In the deadliest day of unrest so far, at least 12 people died across the country, as mobs charged at US bases and diplomatic missions. More than 20 people have been killed since the unrest began, including two US soldiers who died on Thursday.
President Barack Obama has apologised for the Koran-burning incident. In a letter to his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai, Mr Obama said the books had been "unintentionally mishandled".
US personnel apparently put the books into a rubbish incinerator at Bagram air base, near Kabul.
Most of the deaths reported on Friday were in western Herat province, which had seen little unrest previously.
A group of demonstrators tried to attack the US consulate in Herat city, burning police vehicles and leaving several officers injured.
Hospital officials confirmed four people had been killed, but it was unclear how they had died. Another four people died near the town of Adraskan, 70km (45 miles) south of Herat city.
Elsewhere in Afghanistan:
About 1,000 people took to the streets of Baghlan, north of Kabul, and one person was reported killed
In Kabul, hundreds of people poured on to the streets to take part in several rallies after Friday prayers; police said a protester was shot and killed accidentally when other demonstrators opened fire
Two demonstrators were killed in Khost province
Several thousand people protesting in Nangarhar blocked a main road
Reports say isolated protests have also broken out in Pakistan, where there is a tradition of angry anti-US rallies. Muslims consider the Koran the literal word of God and treat each book with deep reverence. various apologies from Nato and the US have not cooled the anger on the streets, says the BBC's Orla Guerin in Kabul.
BANGKOK — A huge fire swept through a crowded Thai border camp home to thousands of refugees from neighbouring Myanmar on Thursday, destroying hundreds of homes, the authorities said.
The blaze started at about midday (0500 GMT) and quickly spread around the Umpiem Mai refugee camp, said Poth Ruwaranan, head of Phop Phra district in western Tak province.
He told AFP that there were no reports of casualties, but Sally Thompson of the Thai Burma Border Consortium (TBBC), which provides food and shelter at ten border camps, said she had heard of children suffering burns.
Thompson said more than 1,000 houses, three mosques and two nursery schools were destroyed -- "about a third of the camp" -- while Poth put the figure at 300 homes
Residents were not allowed to leave the camp, so those who lost their homes would have to stay with relatives or friends on the site, he added.
Camp manager Khetthai Wongsuwan later said the fire had been extinguished and food was being distributed for those affected.
More than 17,000 displaced people from Myanmar were staying in the Umpiem Mai camp as of December, according to figures from the TBBC, a group of international non-governmental organisations operating along the border.
KABUL - Afghanistan's decade-long conflict has forced more than half a million people to flee their homes — many of whom are at risk of disease, hunger and possible death in city slums across the impoverished country, Amnesty International warned on Thursday. Increasing attacks by militants, as well as airstrikes and operations by international and Afghan forces, are on average uprooting 400 people daily, said a report by the human rights group, with thousands seeking refuge in Kabul and other cities. Afghan officials, said the London-based group, claim those fleeing fighting are "economic migrants" and are reluctant to provide or allow aid agencies to provide proper facilities, cautious that it will lead to permanent illegal settlements.
Not only is shelter inadequate, but clean water and food is scarce for many families who left a rural farming lifestyle, yet have been unable to earn an income and adapt to an urban cash-based economy, said the report.
Unsanitary conditions and poor access to health care have led to high rates of diarrhoea and skin infections amongst children. Women are forced to give birth amidst the filth and with no trained midwives, said Amnesty International, increasing the risk of maternal and infant deaths in a country already ranked among the world's worst. According to reports, International donors which fund over 90 per cent of Afghanistan's total public expenditure should ensure that their humanitarian assistance addresses the needs of internally displaced people," Horia Mosadiq, researcher of Fleeing war, Finding misery said, "Even with its limited resources, the Afghan government can aid its displaced citizens."
DENPASAR - Indonesia said on Thursday it would evacuate 60 foreigners as well as female prisoners from the Kerobokan prison in Denpasar, Bali, Agence France Presse reports. The jail is currently under the control of rioting inmates. Fighting broke out late on Tuesday when inmates attacked a guard post near the entrance, forcing officers to flee. Police said they shot two prisoners in the legs when they confronted a mob wielding sticks and throwing bricks. On Wednesday, Indonesian police stormed a prison on the resort island of Bali to regain control after inmates took over and set part of it on fire in a riot during which at least two prisoners were shot and wounded, officials said.
The prison, about 10 km (six miles) north of the world-famous Kuta beach, is home to 1,200 inmates. The Australian prisoners include convicted drug traffickers Schappelle Corby and the so-called Bali Nine.
Fighting broke out late on Tuesday when inmates attacked a guard post near the entrance, forcing officers to flee. Police said they shot two prisoners in the legs when they confronted a mob wielding sticks and throwing bricks.
Hundreds of armed police and army personnel stormed the prison at around 7 a.m. (midnight Tuesday GMT). Steady gunfire could be heard for 15 minutes coming from inside the prison, according to a Reuters witness.
Police later said they fired only warning shots and regained control about an hour later.
However, several inmates could still be seen at a guard tower in a different part of the prison near the main road about an hour after police said they had retaken control. "Long live Kerobokan's inmates," the prisoners shouted.
National police spokesman Saud Usman Nasution told Reuters: "We are trying to make the inmates go back into their blocks." Conflict at the prison first started about a week ago when two inmates had a knife-fight, leading to a split in the wider prison population that developed into a bigger fight between two rival groups, Nasution said.
Pro-Israeli US Republican presidential candidates have openly promoted anti-Syrian terrorism during a primary election debate, calling for arming Syrian armed gangs through the support of Turkey and Saudi Arabia. The hawkish candidates made the remarks during a primary election debate in the US State of Arizona, the last one scheduled before voters head to the polls in Michigan and Arizona on February 28 and Super Tuesday on March 6.
"We need to work with Saudi Arabia and with Turkey to say, 'You guys provide the kind of weaponry that's needed to help the rebels inside Syria,'" said Mitt Romney, a former Massachusetts governor.
Newt Gingrich, the former Speaker of the US House of Representatives, also boasted that American allies were covertly helping to destroy the Syrian government.
"There are plenty of Arab-speaking groups that would be quite happy. There are lots of weapons available in the Middle East," he said.
The comments came after the Obama administration announced that the US will consider military assistance to armed groups fighting the Syrian government.
“If we can't get Assad to yield to the pressure that we are all bringing to bear, we may have to consider additional measures,” said US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, but she declined to elaborate on what those measures might be.
Senior US Republican Senator John McCain has also insisted that it is time for the international community to offer growing assistance to the Syrian opposition.
President Assad said on Monday that some foreign countries are fueling unrest in Syria by supporting and funding armed terrorist groups fighting against the government. He said that they are blocking attempts to end months of unrest in the country and preventing it from treading the path of reforms. Syria has been experiencing unrest since mid-March 2011. Damascus blames “outlaws, saboteurs, and armed terrorist groups” for the unrest, asserting that it is being orchestrated from abroad.
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina - At least 49 people have been killed and over 600 others injured after a packed train slammed into the end of the line in the capital Buenos Aires' busy Once station, officials said. Federal Police Commissioner Nestor Rodriguez said that the dead from the Wednesday crash -- Argentina’s worst in more than 30 years -- included 48 adults and one child. Emergency workers were pulling out scores of people, who were trapped inside the first car, Buenos Aires' emergency medical director said.
“There are people still trapped, people alive, and there may have been fatalities. We don't know if there are dead people” Argentina’s Transportation Secretary Juan Pablo Schiavi said.
Schiavi said the train entered the station too fast and hit a shock-absorbing barricade at the end of the platform at about 26 kilometers per hour speed, smashing the front of the engine and crunching the leading cars behind it.
He added the accident, which took place shortly after 8:30 am local time may have been caused by brake failure.
Trains in Buenos Aires are usually packed with people standing between the seats. Passengers said windows exploded as the tops of train cars separated from their floors, and many were thrown to the floor by the force of the hard stop. According to local media, the worst accidents in the Argentinean history include a 1970 crash that killed some 230 people and another in 1978, in which about 55 people perished.