Pope makes call to spread faith on Easter

20 04 2014
MPope makes call to spread faith on Easter
Pope Francis called on Catholics to bring the message of God “to the very ends of the earth” during an Easter vigil mass in St Peter’s Basilica.

Francis said the core of the Easter message was about returning to the basics of faith and asking: “Have I gone off on roads and paths which made me forget it?”He said there was a need to recover “the fire which Jesus has kindled in the world and to bring that fire to all people, to the very ends of the earth”. The message reiterates his previous calls for a Roman Catholic Church that is closer to ordinary people, more international and less “Vatican-centric”.

The mass wrapped up a series of Vatican ceremonies leading up to Easter Sunday the holiest day in the Christian calendar, which celebrates the belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Tens of thousands of people are expected at mass on Easter today in St Peter’s Square where the pope will deliver a blessing from the same balcony of the basilica where he first appeared on the night of his election last year.

The Vatican then hosts a historic event on April 27 the first double papal canonisation, with popes John Paul II and John XXIII being declared saints.

Hundreds of thousands are expected for the celebration, including many pilgrims from John Paul II’s homeland, Poland. On Good Friday, Francis attended a traditional torch-lit ceremony at the Colosseum in Rome where he called for help to “abandoned people” and railed against “the monstruosity of humankind”.

Prayers read out during the ceremony touched on pressing social issues including drug addiction, unemployment, prison overcrowding and domestic abuse. Francis also instructed the Vatican almoner to give out charity to homeless people around Termini railway station, with each receiving a 50-euro ($69) note and an Easter greeting from the pope.

On Holy Thursday, Francis washed the feet of 12 disabled people at a centre in Rome. Last year, he had performed the traditional pre-Easter ritual on 12 inmates at a youth detention centre, including two young Muslims. Popes performing the ceremony — which commemorates the gesture of humility believed to have been carried out by Jesus for his 12 disciples — have usually washed the feet of priests.

Nawaz Sharif  orders judicial inquiry of attack on Hamid Mir

20 04 2014


PM orders judicial inquiry of attack on Hamid Mir


Nawaz Sharif has ordered a judicial inquiry of the attack on Geo News senior anchor and renowned Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir.

A three member judicial commission will be formed to conduct the probe. The decision was taken during a high-level meeting summoned by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to discuss the attack on Hamid Mir.

The federal government has also announced Rs10 million award for information leading to the arrest of Hamid Mir’s attackers. The identity of the person providing the information will not be disclosed.

Hamid Mir was attacked shortly after arriving in Karachi on Saturday evening. The Geo News senior anchor’s car was targeted as he left the airport. He was shot six times and is recovering after surgery.


20 04 2014
Modi to file nomination from Varanasi on 24th April 
Modi to file nomination from Varanasi on 24th April
BJP Prime Ministerial Candidate Narendra Modi will file his nomination papers for Varanasi Lok Sabha seat on 24th April.
Talking to reporters in Lucknow on Saturday, Amit Shah, the close aide of Modi said, the BJP wave would turn into a tsunami, after Modi files his nomination.


Taking a dig at Rahul Gandhi’s claim for bringing up overall development, he targeted UPA government for failing miserably in eradicating corruption and other evils in the country, despite being in power for a decade.

BJP leader Amit Shah has demanded an inquiry into allegations linking Congress candidate Ajay Rai, who is pitted against BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi in Varanasi, to illegal gun trade.

Talking to reporters in Lucknow on Saturday, Amit Shah said, both the Congress President Sonia Gandhi and party Vice President, Rahul Gandhi are silent on the issue.

He said, they should react and clarify Congress’ stand on this issue. 

Senior Congress leader and Union Commerce Minister Anand Sharma on Saturday alleged that BJP is indulging in “political plagiarism”.

Addressing a press conference, Sharma said that BJP simply “copy-pasted” the Congress manifesto in its vision document. 

He also said that voters would keep “the personality cult and authoritarianism” out of power.

BJP PM Candidate Narendra Modi and Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi held election rallies in Assam on Saturday. 

Both the leaders hit out at each other in a war of words. Narendra Modi, questioned the Congress on its silence with regard to inflation. 

Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi responded terming the BJP politics as divisive. 

Lucknow’s Sports College – New Champion of Coca-Cola Cricket Cup

20 04 2014



Lucknow’s Sports College – New Champion of
Coca-Cola Cricket Cup


Stun Al Barkat Malik School of Mumbai in Final Match


Mumbai, 20th April 2014: Sports College, Lucknow defeated Al Barkat Malik M. I. English School, Mumbai by 24 runs in the final match and become champion of the 3rd edition of the Coca-Cola Cricket Cup under-16 school tournament, played at HPCL Ground in Mumbai on Sunday.


Sports College won the toss and opted to bat first. However, Al Barkat Malik School bowlers Jahangir Ansari and Shubham Singh’s three-wicket hauls rattled top order batsmen and clinched four wickets in initial overs. It was middle-order batsmen Vijay Yadav and Nitin singh, who stabilised the situation and scored runs patiently. Their 50-run partnership in 70 balls for fifth wicket took their team’s score to respectable 188 runs.


In reply, Al Barkat Malik failed to keep their winning spree and were bowled-out at 164 runs. All credit goes to Sports College’s acute fielding as they managed to run-out the openers Rayjan Khan (duck) and Pushkar Sharma (1). Bowlers Shahid (3/22) and Ankit (2/21) did rest of the job and helped their team to bundle-out the opponents in 42.2 overs.


Captain Shoeb Khan held one end with his inspiring knock of 61 runs. He received commendable support from Jahangir Ansari (25) but rest of the batsmen failed to build stable partnerships with them.


Shoeb, skipper of the losing team, was adjudged Man-of-the-Match for his all-round performance (61 runs & 2 wkts).


Brief Score


SC-L:  188 all out in 43.5overs [Vijay Yadav 38 (41 b 3x4), Nitin Singh 29 (46 b 4x4), Ashutosh Maurya 23 (35 b 3x4), Govind Yadav 22 (26 b 1x6, 3x4), Mohsin Ali 21 (31 b 4x4); Jahangir Ansari 3/46 (7.5 ovrs), Shubham Singh 3/25 (8 ovrs), Shoeb Khan 2/45 (9 ovrs), Arslan Khan 2/35 (9 ovrs)].


ABMMIES-M: 164 all out in 42.2 overs [Shoeb Khan 61 (103 b 2x4), Mohd Aman 23 (32 b 4x4), Pratik Mhatre 24 (32 b 4x4), Jahangir Ansari 25 (30 b 1x6, 3x4); Mohd Shahid 3/22 (5.2 ovrs), Ankit Singh 2/21 (9 ovrs), Ankur Baliyan 1/30 (5 ovrs), Vijay Yadav 1/25 (7 ovrs)].

Modi : Cong ruled States no security for women; Rahul hits back

20 04 2014
Modi alleges  Cong ruled States  failed in ensuring security for women; Rahul hits back
BJP PM’s candidate Narendra Modi alleges that Congress ruled States have failed in ensuring security for women while Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi hits back at BJP saying that that only a few industrialists are benefited by BJP’s policies.

Addressing an election rally at Vishrampur in Chhattisgarh, BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi on Sunday alleged that Congress ruled States have failed in ensuring security for women.Accusing Rahul of misleading the country on issues of women’s safety, he said seven of the top 10 states in terms of crimes against women were ruled by Congress.

Sharpening his attack on Narendra Modi, Rahul Gandhi on Sunday said the BJP leader would have “ousted” even Atal Bihari Vajpayee like party veterans Jaswant Singh and L K Advani had the former PM continued being in public life.

The Congress Vice President took a dig at Modi for his statement at rallies asking voters to make him the “chowkidar” (watchman) of the country, saying the BJP PM candidate was a “chowkidar” only to businessmen and had ousted senior leaders and “brought in Adani”.

“He (Modi) boasts of development in Gujarat but it was not a single man who changed Gujarat. It was the hard work of labourers and farmers who made Gujarat. “He wants to get the keys (control) of the country in his hands but what happened in Gujarat? People gave him keys but he brought in (businessman) Adani,” Gandhi said at a public meeting in Karauli, Rajasthan.

“A group of Sikh farmers from Gujarat told me that their forefathers migrated from Pakistan to Gujarat and they put in their hard work and efforts to make the land allotted to them fertile. Now, Gujarat government officials have asked them to leave the state saying they were outsiders, he said, adding the same treatment was meted out to senior leaders in BJP.

Meanwhile, Arwind Kejriwal on Sunday reached Congress bastion Amethi to campaign for AAP’s Lok Sabha candidate Kumar Vishwas, and said both Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi must be “defeated” in the country’s interest.

The former Delhi Chief Minister and AAP chief began his roadshow and corner meetings here backing Vishwas, who has been pitted against incumbent MP and Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi in the May 7 Lok Sabha polls.

Attacking Rahul and BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi for their development claims, Kejriwal said their defeat would be in the interest of the nation and the people must end the tradition of dynasty politics.

He alleged that Gandhi family took the votes of Amethi people on sentimental ground, but never thought about the district’s development.

Comparing his 49-day reign in Delhi with Rahul ten year rule here, Kejriwal said that he solved more problems in a short span than the Gandhi scion did in a decade.

BJP moves EC to ask govt to stop making key appointments

20 04 2014


BJP moves EC to ask govt to stop making key appointments
BJP on Saturday moved the Election Commission seeking directions from it to ask the government to stop making key appointments during poll and sought action against the Prime Minister’s media adviser for allegedly violating the election model code by listing achievements of the government. 

“The government must be instructed that it doesn’t make any appointment to important posts as it is in violation of the model code of conduct,” BJP general secretary J P Nadda said after leading a party delegation to Deputy Election Commissioner Sudhir Tripathi and handed over a memorandum to him. 

BJP also moved the poll body seeking action on deletion of names of over one lakh voters in Pune Lok Sabha constituency and asked the EC to allow all such voters to exercise their franchise at a later date. 

The memorandum demanded an immediate stop to appointment of teachers being made in Kendriya Vidayalayas across the country despite the model code being in force. 

In its complaint, BJP has alleged the PM’s media adviser Pankaj Pachouri made a very brief mention on the issue on which the press conference was held and talked at length about the achievements of the Prime Minister. 

“The media adviser is also a government employee and he is violating the model code of conduct by speaking about the government’s achievements. 

We have demanded a thorough inquiry into it and apropriate action in this regard,” he said. 

“The Prime Minister also has landed himself in the collateral responsibility of explaining this indiscretion,” the memorandum states. 

The BJP memorandum alleges the PM’s media adviser has “frontally violated” the provisions of section VII of the model code of conduct that states that the party in power shall ensure that no cause is given for any complaint that it has used its official position for the purpose of election campaign. 

International news updates

20 04 2014
Iran says nuclear experts to hold talks in New York 
Iran says nuclear experts to hold talks in New York
Iran and world powers will resume technical talks next month in New York ahead of further negotiations on a lasting nuclear deal, a senior Iranian official said on Saturday.
The talks will take place from 5th to 9th May on the sidelines of a Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) review conference that is to be held at the United Nations, deputy foreign minister Abbas Araqchi told the state broadcaster IRIB. 

He said the Iranian delegation will be led by Hamid Baeedinejad, like previous rounds, without providing further details. 

The meeting will come a few days before a new round of talks between Iran and the so-called P5+1 group of world powers, set to begin May 13, that seeks a comprehensive agreement over Tehran’s disputed nuclear activities. 

The sides met in Vienna last week, with negotiators from Iran and the five permanent UN Security Council members – the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France – plus Germany agreeing to “move to the next phase” of their talks. 

They will now move to draft the final accord, after clinching an interim deal in November under which Iran froze some nuclear activities in return for minor relief from painful Western sanctions. 

A lasting deal may involve Iran slashing its number of centrifuges – used to enrich uranium – changing the design of a new reactor at Arak and giving UN inspectors more oversight. 

Tehran has said in recent weeks it would need further, more powerful centrifuges to feed nuclear plants it says it hopes to build in the future. 

Western nations and Israel have long suspected Iran of secretly pursuing nuclear weapons alongside its civilian programme, charges adamantly denied by Tehran.

Pak journo Hamid Mir shot at in Karachi 
Senior Pak journo Hamid Mir shot at in Karachi
Senior Pakistani TV journalist Hamid Mir, who faced threats from Taliban and other terror groups, was today shot at in Karachi by four unidentified motorcycle-borne gunmen near a bridge on way to his office. 
Mir, 47, sustained bullet injuries after he was shot at near Natha Khan bridge soon after he left the Karachi airport for his office, initial reports in Karachi said. 

GeoTV reported that Mir, who has security guards with him, called up office to inform them of the attack on him. 

He was rushed to a hospital in a private car. Four gunmen riding two motorcycles opened fire on Mir’s car about six kilometers from the airport, GeoTV said. 

Dawn reported that the gunmen opened fire at the vehicle at 5:30 pm and Mir was admitted to hospital in a state of unconsciousness. 

Geo News Islamabad bureau chief, Rana Jawad said Mir told him after being attacked that the gunmen were following him and continued to fire at the car. 

A popular news anchor, terrorism expert, and security analyst, Mir currently hosts political talk show Capital Talk on Geo TV. 

In November 2012, a bomb was recovered from under his car which was believed to have been planted by the Pakistani Taliban. 

Russia warns US, declares military near Ukraine as deal stalls 
Russia warns US, declares military near Ukraine as deal stalls
Russia declared on Saturday that its military is massed on Ukraine’s doorstep and warned against further US sanctions as a deal it had struck with Washington appeared to stall because of intransigence by rebels it backs in the former Soviet republic. 
A threat by US President Barack Obama that more sanctions would befall Moscow if the agreement, reached on Friday with Ukraine and the EU, failed was “absolutely unacceptable,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russian television. 

“Our Western colleagues are trying to push responsibility towards our side. 

But it must be underlined: it is a collective responsibility,” he said. 

He pointedly declared that “there are troops close to the Ukrainian border”.

“Some are based there, others have been sent as reinforcements due to the situation in Ukraine,” he added. 

The comments appeared to be a warning shot to Washington that the situation could quickly degrade if Moscow were punished for a failed implementation of the accord. 

The White House reiterated that it was watching Moscow to see if it is holding up its end of the deal. “We expect and we will be watching whether Russia does or does not uphold its responsibility to use its very considerable influence to restrain and withdraw those irregular militia from the buildings and spaces that they’ve occupied,” said National Security Advisory Susan Rice. 


US tracing Putin’s secret accounts is “absurd” – presidential spokesman


The report in The Times on potential sanctions targeting President Vladimir Putin’s alleged secret personal wealth, is “apparently a hoax” presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Ekho Moskvy radio.

The British newspaper reported that American financial investigators, who previously traced Al-Qaeda funding, would find the secret $40 billion of Putin’s money in numbered Swiss bank accounts, so that it can fall under US sanctions.

“Why would anyone be scared of sanctions, especially as absurd as these?” Peskov commented. “This can only be joked about.”


US drone strike kills 10 Al-Qaeda suspects and three civilians in Yemen


A US drone attack in central Yemen killed 10 Al-Qaeda suspected militants on Saturday as they were traveling by car. However, three civilians were also killed and five wounded in a nearby vehicle. The attack followed on the heels of an intelligence report that pointed to planned attacks on civil and military targets in al-Bayda province, the state news agency Saba said. A source in the High Security Committee said the attack targeted some of the most “dangerous and leading elements of Al-Qaeda.”




Militants ambush Algerian Soldiers, killing 11 – reports


Islamic militants ambushed Algerian troops during a routine mountain patrol near the capital Algiers, killing 11 soldiers, a security source told Reuters on Sunday. The attack, which occurred in Tizi Ouzou, 120 kms (74.5 miles) east of Algiers, marked the deadliest in years against Algeria’s security forces. Al-Qaeda’s north African branch, ‘Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb’ (AQIM), is reportedly operating in Algeria.


​Eight killed in Mexico plane crash


A small Hawker 800 flying from the Mexican Caribbean island of Cozumel to Ramos Arizpe crashed in the municipality of Ramos Arizpe in the North of the country, the government of the state of Coahuila said. All eight people on board were killed. The cause of the crash was not immediately apparent.



6.1 magnitude earthquake strikes off Papua New Guinea, no tsunami warning issued


A 6.1 magnitude earthquake has been registered 96 km (60 mi) southwest of the town of Panguna, Papua New Guinea, according to the US Geological Survey. The quake occurred at 00:15 GMT. The epicenter was located at a depth of 18 kilometers. Currently there is no information on possible casualties or damage. This comes just hours after a 7.5 magnitude earthquake struck off Papua New Guinea’s eastern coast, prompting a tsunami warning which was later canceled. Last week, a tsunami warning was issued for Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and Vanatu, after two earthquakes hit the Solomon Islands within hours.


Death toll in S. Korean ferry disaster rises to 46 as divers find 10 more bodies


The official death toll in the South Korean ferry disaster has risen to 46 after divers retrieved 10 more bodies from the inside of the sunken boat overnight, AP reports. Earlier, the South Korean government stated that 36 were confirmed dead after three additional bodies were recovered. A rescue team reportedly broke a glass window and successfully entered the vessel. They are now looking to retrieve more than 200 bodies – many of them children – from the wreckage of the ferry that capsized on Wednesday. Of the 476 people believed to have been on board the ferry, over 250 are still unaccounted for.


Oldest nuclear plant in France shuts down after incident, no threat posed


France’s oldest nuclear plant, Fessenheim, was shut down on Saturday following an incident away from the reactor, a spokeswoman from French electric utility company EDF told Reuters. The incident occurred when a valve in control of the steam supply to the turbine generator accidentally closed. Fessenheim’s reactor 2 automatically shut down following the malfunction. No danger was posed. Experts are working on fixing the problem, but it is still not known when the reactor will restart. Reactor 1 of the plant has been out of operation since April 9, following a leak in a water supply pipe. “These are two incidents that have no bearing on the security of the plants nor for the environment,” the spokeswoman said.


Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood leader jailed for insults


Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed El-Beltagy has been sentenced to one year in prison for insulting the judiciary, a local court announced on Saturday. Ousted President Mohamed Morsi and 13 other Muslim Brotherhood leaders also face charges of encouraging the killing of protesters during demonstrations outside the presidential palace in 2012. “The court has decided to imprison the accused, Mohamed El-Beltagy, for one year on charges of insulting the judiciary,” Reuters quoted a senior court official as saying. Security and judicial sources stated that this is the first sentence to be handed down to a leader of the organization since it was outlawed last year.


Two killed, three kidnapped as armed militants attack Sudan oil field


Armed militants have killed two security officers and kidnapped three workers in an attack on an oil field in Sudan’s main oil-producing state of West Kordofan, Reuters reported, citing army spokesman Al-Sawarmi Khalid Sa’ad. The abducted workers include two foreigners – citizens of China and Algeria – and one Sudanese citizen. Security forces are still tracing the perpetrators, the source said. West Kordofan has been the target of a number of attacks by armed militants attempting to disrupt oil production.


Heartbleed bug could infect Healthcare.gov website


US citizens who used the healthcare.gov website to enroll in insurance plans under the government’s healthcare reform law are being told to change their passwords to protect against the notorious Heartbleed internet security error. The Heartbleed bug is an encryption bug that silently puts the passwords, personal information, and credit card data of millions at risk. However, a post on the website says there is no indication that any personal information is at risk.



Boko Haram claims responsibility for explosion that killed 75 in Nigeria


Islamist Abubakar Shekau, the leader of Nigeria’s Boko Haram, has claimed responsibility for a bombing at Nyanya bus terminal in the Nigerian capital of Abuja, which killed at least 75 people. In a 28-minute video message acquired by AFP news agency, Shekau not only admitted Boko Haram’s responsibility for Nigeria’s most deadly attack to date, but added that the group has fighters in the capital. Boko Haram has also been blamed for the kidnapping of 129 students from a girls’ school. Fourty-four girls have so far managed to escape, according to the government. The remaining 85 students are still missing. 


Tsunami warning issued as 7.5 quake strikes off Papua New Guinea coast


A strong earthquake measuring 7.5 on the Richter Scale has struck off the coast of Papua New Guinea, according to the US Geological Survey (USGS). The quake’s epicenter was at a depth of 30.9 km and a tsunami warning was subsequently issued for Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands, according to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. “This event is the latest in an ongoing sequence of seismicity in the same region over the past week, which began with M 7.1 and 6.5 earthquakes on April 11, just to the northeast and southeast of the April-19 earthquake, respectively,” stated USGS.



Bahrain car explosion leaves 2 killed and a third wounded


The explosion was in the mostly Shiite village of al-Maqshaa, outside the capital Manama, according to the Interior Ministry’s Twitter account, as Reuters reports. It added that the car had signs of explosive substances inside. The explosion killed two people and wounded a third. In recent weeks Shiite villages in Bahrain have seen several explosions, with a bomb attack in March leaving three policemen killed. The US ally is still struggling to control the restive Shiite population in Bahrain.



16 die in Yemen drone strike


Thirteen suspected Al-Qaeda fighters and three civilians have been killed in a drone strike in Yemen. “An air strike targeted cars suspected Al-Qaeda militants were in and killed 13 of them in the Sawma’a area of [central Yemeni province] al-Bayda,” a security source told Reuters. The drone targeted two cars early on Saturday morning. While the Yemen government did not state who undertook the attack, the Yemeni government said that it was aimed against senior Al-Qaeda fighters. The US has stated that it uses drones in the country. However, it generally declines to comment on its activities.



Northern Ireland police arrest man for Belfast shooting


A 26-year-old man has been arrested in Northern Ireland after the shooting of a prominent republican hardliner. Tommy Crossan, a senior member of the Continuity IRA, was fatally shot on Friday afternoon in west Belfast. Crossan had been strongly opposed to the 1998 peace deal. Northern Ireland has been predominantly peaceful since the signing of the Good Friday agreement. However, there have been occasional outbreaks of sectarian violence, which have intensified over the past 18 months. More than 3,600 have died in sectarian troubles between Catholic Irish nationalists and union protestants who wish to remain part of the UK since the ‘troubles’ began in the 1960s.



Holy Fire lit in Jerusalem ahead of Orthodox Easter


The Holy Fire, described by Orthodox Christians as an annual miracle, was lit at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem on Great Saturday, or Holy Saturday, the day preceding Orthodox Easter. The Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilos III, has passed the Holy Fire to the pilgrims, including the Russian delegation, which will deliver it to Moscow. The Holy Fire, which symbolizes the miraculous light of the Resurrection, has been brought to Russia from Israel every year since 2003. This year it will be taken for the first time to Crimea, a former Ukrainian region that became part of Russia in March.




​3 more bodies found at Korean ferry wreck site


The official death toll in the South Korean ferry disaster has risen to 32 after divers lifted three more bodies from the wreck. More than 300 are missing or have been confirmed dead following Wednesday’s sinking of the ship. Prosecutors are carrying out a criminal negligence investigation on the ferry’s captain, 68-year-old Lee Joon-seok and 55-year-old helmsman Cho Joon-ki, who entrusted control of the ship to the inexperienced third mate, a 25-year-old woman identified only by her surname, Park. All three were arrested.


Four kidnapped journalists freed in Syria


Four French journalists, who were captured by Syrian rebels from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Syria in June 2013, are now free and in good health, says French President Francois Hollande, according to AFP. The journalists were found by Turkish soldiers on the border with Syria. They were immediately taken to hospital.


​Car bomber kills 6 in western Syria


A suicide bomber has blown himself in a car up at a checkpoint near Salamiya in western Syria, killing at least six people, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR). Meanwhile, a Syrian government official who spoke on condition of anonymity said four people were killed and nine injured. The city, located 33km southwest of the Hama province, has witnessed fierce fighting in recent months.


​Search resumes for four missing Nepali guides after Everest avalanche


Nepali climbers have resumed the search for four missing Sherpa guides after an avalanche swept down a slope on Mount Everest on Friday, killing 12 Nepali mountaineering guides. Helicopters will be involved in the search. “I sat and counted 13 helicopter lifts – 12 were dead bodies, flying overhead suspended by a long line from a helicopter,” Tim Rippel of Peak Freaks Expeditions wrote in a blog. The avalanche hit the most popular Mount Everest route as hundreds of foreign and Nepali climbers were trying to climb Everest’s 8,848 meter peak.


NASA’s SpaceX launches supplies to ISS


The SpaceX Dragon supply ship blasted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida on Friday, carrying two tons of cargo for the International Space Station. The supply vehicle will reach the orbiting space module on Sunday. SpaceX is carrying an external backup computer, which is crucial in case the main one fails. Storms cleared out of Cape Canaveral just in time for the mid-afternoon launch.


Algeria’s Boutefika wins fourth term


Algeria’s ailing president who has chronic health problems has taken more than 81 percent of the vote, according to the interior minister. The 77-year old who suffered a stroke last year beat five other opponents without doing any personal campaigning. A coalition of Islamist and secular parties had called for a boycott of the vote calling it a sham and three other presidential candidates pulled out of the race saying the result would be a foregone conclusion. Violence marred the election process, particularly in Kabylie, a restive Berber region east of Algiers, with 70 people wounded in protests.



Storms threaten NASA’s 2nd launch attempt to space station


Stormy weather threatens to interfere with Friday’s attempt to launch SpaceX, NASA’s commercial space supplier. The unmanned Dragon cargo ship contains two and half tons of supplies for the space station, including materials needed for urgent spacewalking repairs. On Monday NASA’s first attempt to launch Dragon was thwarted by a leaky rocket valve.




Magnitude 7.5 earthquake strikes Mexico


A magnitude 7.5 quake hit Mexico on Friday, shaking buildings in the capital and sending people running out into the street, Reuters said. The powerful earthquake was centered in the western state of Guerrero, north of the beach resort of Acapulco, according to the US Geological Survey. There were no reports of major damage.


Obama adviser Axelrod to help UK Labor election campaign


Britain’s Labor Party has recruited a top adviser to US President Barack Obama’s campaigns to help with its leader’s election bid next year, AP reported. The UK opposition party said David Axelrod will join its election campaign team as senior strategic adviser. Axelrod, a key figure behind Obama’s two presidential victories, will take part in regular strategic discussions with party leader Ed Miliband. Axelrod said on Thursday that both Miliband and Obama had the vision to focus on the “experience of everyday people.”



14 killed in car bombing in Homs – Syria TV


A car bomb that exploded outside a mosque in a pro-government district of the central city of Homs killed 14 people, Syrian state TV reported. The bombing occurred as worshippers were leaving the Bilal al-Habshi mosque on the edge of Akrama after attending Friday prayers. Opposition activists confirmed the bomb attack in the predominantly Alawite district but had no immediate details on casualties, AP said.


Japan to hunt fewer whales this season


Japan will target fewer whales when its Pacific hunt begins next week and will observe them in the Antarctic next season with the aim of resuming full-fledged commercial whaling, AP reported. Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said on Friday the Pacific catch target was being slashed by nearly half – to about 210 from the current 380. “We will continue our research hunts aimed at collecting scientific data and seek to resume commercial whaling,” Hayashi said. Last month, the International Court of Justice ordered Japan to suspend its Antarctic program because it was basically commercial and not scientific.


Russia urges Libya to facilitate release of kidnapped foreign diplomats


Moscow has urged the Libyan authorities to facilitate the release of kidnapped foreign diplomats. The government should do its best to find the diplomats as soon as possible and free them, the Russian Foreign Ministry said. The authorities should also punish those responsible for the kidnapping and take measures to defend diplomatic missions in Libya, the statement said. Laaroussi Kontassi, an adviser at the Tunisia’s embassy in Tripoli, disappeared Thursday morning in “unclear circumstances,” days after gunmen kidnapped the Jordanian ambassador


S. Korea school vice principal commits suicide after ferry accident


The vice principal of a high school whose pupils died or are missing in a South Korean ferry accident has committed suicide by hanging himself, Reuters reported. Kang Min-gyu, 52, had been missing since Thursday and appeared to have hung himself with his belt from a tree outside a gym where families of the victims were staying. Out of 475 passengers and crew on the ship, about 340 were students and teachers from the Danwon High School in Ansan, a town near Seoul. They account for about 250 of those missing.


Rouhani parade speech: Iran will deter any attacks


Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Friday during a military parade to mark the country’s National Army Day that Tehran had the might to deter any attacks as its military displayed a range of drones and missiles, Reuters reported. Unlike predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Rouhani did not use his speech to lash out at the US and Israel. “We don’t support any aggression… We support dialogue,” Rouhani said in the live broadcast. He touted Iran’s diplomatic outreach, and AP quoted him as saying that Iran announced to the world: “We are not after war, we are after logic, we are after talks.”


At least 12 Nepali guides killed in Everest avalanche


An avalanche swept down a slope of Mount Everest on Friday, killing 12 Nepali mountaineering guides, a Tourism Ministry official said. The first major avalanche this climbing season hit the most popular route as hundreds of foreign and Nepali climbers flock to the mountain to attempt to climb its 8,850 meter peak. Three Nepali guides were injured and some people may be missing, Reuters quoted Tilak Ram Pandey, an official at the ministry’s mountaineering department, as saying. The avalanche hit the Sherpa guides between base camp and camp 1 early on Friday.



Japan sends soldiers, radar to remote island, risking China tension


Japan is sending 100 soldiers and radar to its westernmost outpost, a tropical island off Taiwan, Reuters said. The deployment could risk angering China amid a dispute over nearby islands that both countries claim. Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera will break ground on Saturday for a military lookout station on Yonaguni. The island is home to 1,500 people and just 150km from the disputed Japanese-held islands claimed by China. Yonaguni is now defended by two police officers, and the move is part of a plan to improve defense and surveillance in Japan’s far-flung frontier.

Media agencies


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