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Daily Archives: 06/27/2010

Carla Bruni comments on Samantha Cameron's "maverick style"

June 27, 2010

(TELEGRAPH.CO.UK)  “Aristocratic but bohemian, practitioner of yoga and close to the ecological cause, this mother of three has retained from her youth a dolphin tattoo.

“A maverick style for a woman who, when questioned about her husband, does not hesitate to speak not only of his good qualities but also of the minor failings of everyday life.”

Mrs Bruni-Sarkozy and her husband, Nicolas Sarkozy, met up with the Camerons earlier this month to commemorate General Charles de Gaulle’s 1940 radio broadcast to Nazi-occupied France.

While Mrs Cameron, who is six months pregnant, appeared in an understated black and white dress, Mrs Bruni-Sarkozy wore a £970 Christian Dior shift and £500 Christian Louboutin kitten heels.

It is not be the first time that Mrs Bruni-Sarkozy has commented on a British Prime Minister’s wife.

Last year Sarah Brown was depicted in a pencil drawing on the site with straggly hair, a grin and an oddly shaped ear.

In a comment on social networking site Twitter, Mrs Brown wrote: “bit bemused by illustration of me.”

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NATO: Change in command won't affect Afghanistan mission

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Brig. Josef Blotz

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June 27, 2010

KABUL, Afghanistan – A NATO spokesman stressed today that military operations to secure vast areas of Afghanistan would not be delayed by the ouster of the top commander in the war and mounting casualties.

NATO and U.S. forces are continuing their work as they await the arrival of new commander Gen. David Petraeus. He is taking over from Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who was ousted by President Barack Obama after he and his aides were quoted in Rolling Stone magazine making disparaging remarks about top Obama administration officials.

There has been concern that the leadership shake-up will further slow a push into the volatile south that has already been delayed by weeks in some areas and months in others. But NATO spokesman Brig. Josef Blotz told reporters in Kabul that the worries are unwarranted and the military is not pausing because of the changes.

“We will not miss a beat in our operations to expand security here in Afghanistan,” Blotz said, repeating the assurances of many diplomats in recent days that the change in leadership does not mean a re-evaluation of strategy.

The top American military officer, Adm. Mike Mullen, flew to Afghanistan on Saturday to assure President Hamid Karzai that Petraeus would pursue the policies of his predecessor, including efforts to reduce civilian casualties.

Blotz said Petraeus was expected in Kabul in the next seven to 10 days.

Operations appear to be continuing apace, according to NATO statements. Two recent air strikes in the north, east and south killed at least nine militants, including two local Taliban commanders, NATO and Afghan officials said. No civilians were injured, NATO said.

Eight other militants were killed in a NATO-Afghan military operation in eastern Ghazni province, according to Gen. Khail Buz Sherzai, the provincial police chief.

NATO deaths also are climbing daily. A U.S. service member was killed in a bomb attack in the south and two others in a firefight in the east on Sunday, said Col. Wayne Shanks, a U.S. forces spokesman.

June has become the deadliest month of the war for NATO troops with at least 93 killed, 56 of them American. For U.S. troops, the deadliest month was October 2009, with a toll of 59 dead.

Blotz said the deaths do show that the fight is getting harder in Afghanistan, but said that does not affect NATO’s resolve.

“We are in the arena. There is no way out now. We have to stay on. We have to fight this campaign,” he said.

Blotz said about 130 middle- to senior-level Taliban insurgents have been killed or captured in the past four months.

But Taliban attacks against those allied with the government or NATO forces have also surged. In the latest such violence, the headmaster of a high school in eastern Ghazni was beheaded by militants on Saturday, the Education Ministry said. A high school in the same district — Qarabagh — was set on fire the same day.

Obama confident he'll make trip back to Indonesia

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President Barack Obama of the United States, left, and President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia, right, meet on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Toronto, Sunday, June 27, 2010. Also pictured are Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, second right, and Indonesian presidential spokesman Dino Patti Djalal.

June 27, 2010

TORONTO  (THENEWSTRIBUNE.COM) – President Barack Obama insists he’ll make it to Indonesia yet.

He’s twice postponed presidential trips to the country where he lived with his mother and Indonesian stepfather between age 6 and 10.

Obama held a meeting Sunday at the global economic summit in Toronto with Indonesia’s president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. And while Obama didn’t announce a new date for the trip, Obama did say, “I am confident we are going to get there.”

Trips were set to Indonesia and Australia this year but pressing domestic matters – the health care debate in Congress and later the Gulf of Mexico oil spill – led to the delays.

The United States and Indonesia have a strong relationship, Obama said, and he looked forward to making it even stronger.

Two challenges, he said, are working to promote climate change and improving education for young people.

Yudhoyono agreed and said he was pleased by the two countries’ common interests.

Photostream : Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez meets Syria's President Bashar al-Assad

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Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez (R) listens to military honours alongside his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad (L) at the Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas on June 26, 2010. Assad is in Venezuela as part of a Latin American tour aimed at consolidating ties, which will also take him to Cuba, Brasil and Argentina. (Photo : Getty)

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Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez (R) speaks with his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad (L) at the Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas on June 26, 2010. Assad is in Venezuela as part of a Latin American tour aimed at consolidating ties, which will also take him to Cuba, Brasil and Argentina. (Photo : Getty)

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Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad (L) is welcomed by Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez at Miraflores Palace in Caracas June 26, 2010. Assad is on a rare visit to Latin America aimed at extending Syria’s diplomatic reach after emerging from Western isolation, and attracting investment for his country’s ageing infrastructure. (Photo : Getty)

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Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez, second right, looks up while speaking with Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, right back to camera, during a welcoming ceremony at Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, Saturday, June 26, 2010. Bashar al-Assad is in Venezuela for a two-day official visit. (Photo : Getty)

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Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez, left, walks accompanied by Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, right, during a welcoming ceremony at Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, Saturday, June 26, 2010. Bashar al-Assad is in Venezuela for a two-day official visit. (Photo : Getty)

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Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez (L) speaks with his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad (R) at the Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas on June 26, 2010. Assad is in Venezuela as part of a Latin American tour aimed at consolidating ties, which will also take him to Cuba, Brasil and Argentina.  (Photo : Getty)

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Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez (L) and Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad (R) talk during a meeting at Miraflores Palace in Caracas June 26, 2010. (Photo : Getty)

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Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad (L) shakes hands with his Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chavez at Miraflores Palace in Caracas June 26, 2010. Assad is on a rare visit to Latin America aimed at extending Syria’s diplomatic reach after emerging from Western isolation, and attracting investment for his country’s ageing infrastructure. (Photo : Getty)

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Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez (R) is decorated by Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad (L) at Miraflores Palace in Caracas June 26, 2010. Assad is on a rare visit to Latin America aimed at extending Syria’s diplomatic reach after emerging from Western isolation, and attracting investment for his country’s ageing infrastructure. (Photo : Getty)

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Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez (R) speaks as Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad listens during a ceremony where the two countries signed an economic agreement at Miraflores Palace in Caracas June 26, 2010. Assad is on a rare visit to Latin America aimed at extending Syria’s diplomatic reach after emerging from Western isolation, and attracting investment for his country’s ageing infrastructure.

World Leaders Gather for G20 Economic Summit

General view of a G8 summit working session at the Deerhurst Resort in Hunstville, Ontario, 26 Jun 2010
General view of a G8 summit working session at the Deerhurst Resort in Hunstville, Ontario, 26 Jun 2010

June 27, 2010

(KATAKAMI / VOA) World leaders have gathered in Toronto for the Group of 20 summit to discuss how to sustain the still-fragile global economic recovery.

A draft communiqué for Sunday’s summit says the top industrialized and emerging nations have had good results from their efforts so far, but notes that “serious challenges remain.”

The G20 leaders say the recovery is “uneven and fragile,” with unemployment in many countries at unacceptable levels.  The group also says work is needed to reform financial institutions.

On Saturday, U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner urged world leaders to find the correct balance between economic stimulus and deficit reduction.  He said Japan and some European countries must do more to boost domestic demand rather than just trying to cut their budgets.

He made the comments in Toronto ahead of a working dinner hosted by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, attended by U.S. President Barack Obama and other G20 leaders.

Mr. Obama and others say they are concerned that cutting spending too drastically could stifle economic growth.

Protesters faced off with police Saturday in Toronto, smashing storefronts and torching police cars.  At least 130 people were arrested.  Canada has spent more than $1 billion on security for the two summits taking place in the country.

The G20 summit follows a 2-day meeting of the Group of Eight leading industrial nations in Muskoka, north of Toronto.

The G8 leaders issued a final statement Saturday condemning North Korea for the sinking of a South Korean navy ship, which left 46 sailors dead.  The G8 also repeated its call for Iran’s leaders to do more to respect freedom of expression and the rule of law.

After the G8 Mr. Obama flew to Toronto by helicopter with British Prime Minister David Cameron.  President Obama also held one-on-one meetings with Chinese President Hu Jintao and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, among others.

In addition to the G8 nations – the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Canada and Russia – the larger G20 includes Brazil, China, Indonesia, Mexico, Argentina, Australia, India, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey and the European Union.

Photostream : Ghana won, Obama We Are Sorry …

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Ghanian national football team supporters, one of them carrying a placard ‘Obama we are sorry’, celebrate in Accra after Ghana beat the US 2-1 after extra time in Rustenberg on June 26, 2010 during the World Cup football tournament in South Africa. The Black Stars are bidding to become the first African side to reach the semi-finals of the tournament. Asamoah Gyan was Ghana’s match-winner, smashing home the winning goal in the third minute of extra time after shrugging off a challenge from Rennes club-mate Carlos Bocanegra on the edge of the American penalty area. (Photo : Getty)

Ghanian national football team supporters in Accra, one of them carrying a placard reading ‘Obama we are sorry’, celebrate after Ghana beat the US 2-1 after extra time in Rustenberg on June 26, 2010 during the World Cup football tournament in South Africa.  (Photo : Getty)

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Ghana’s striker Asamoah Gyan acknowledges the crowd after defeating the USA 2-1 in extra time of their 2010 World Cup round of 16 football match at Royal Bafokeng stadium in Rustenburg, South Africa, on June 26, 2010. Ghana will play in the quarterfinals against Uruguay in Johannesburg on July 2.  (Photo : Getty)

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Ghana’s striker Asamoah Gyan celebrates after scoring in extra time during the 2010 World Cup round of 16 football match USA vs. Ghana on June 26, 2010 at Royal Bafokeng stadium in Rustenburg.  (Photo : Getty)

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RUSTENBURG, SOUTH AFRICA – JUNE 26: Kwadwo Asamoah of Ghana celebrates victory as Benny Feilhaber of the United States looks dejected during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Round of Sixteen match between USA and Ghana at Royal Bafokeng Stadium on June 26, 2010 in Rustenburg, South Africa. (Photo : Getty)

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Ghana’s Asamoah Gyan reacts after scoring the winning goal during the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between the United States and Ghana at Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg, South Africa, on Saturday, June 26, 2010. Ghana won 2-1 in extra time, advancing to the World Cup quarterfinals. (Photo : Getty)

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Ghana’s Asamoah Gyan, center, and Ghana’s Kevin-Prince Boateng, right, celebrate following the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between the United States and Ghana at Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg, South Africa, on Saturday, June 26, 2010. Ghana won 2-1 in extra time, advancing to the World Cup quarterfinals. (Photo : Getty)

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RUSTENBURG, SOUTH AFRICA – JUNE 26: Goalscorer Asamoah Gyan (R) celebrates victory with Kwadwo Asamoah (L) following the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Round of Sixteen match between USA and Ghana at Royal Bafokeng Stadium on June 26, 2010 in Rustenburg, South Africa.  (Photo : Getty)

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RUSTENBURG, SOUTH AFRICA – JUNE 26: (L-R) Anthony Annan, Lee Addy, Sulley Muntari and Asamoah Gyan of Ghana celebrate victory after the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Round of Sixteen match between USA and Ghana at Royal Bafokeng Stadium on June 26, 2010 in Rustenburg, South Africa.  (Photo : Getty)

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Ghana’s Asamoah Gyan, left, shakes hands with United States’ Landon Donovan, second from left, as United States’ Benny Feilhaber, sits on the pitch, during the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between the United States and Ghana at Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg, South Africa, Saturday, June 26, 2010. Ghana won 2-1 in extra time, advancing to the World Cup quarterfinals.  (Photo : Getty)

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Ghana’s players Anthony Annan, left, Lee Addy, center, Sulley Muntari, back right, and Asamoah Gyan, front right, celebrate following the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between the United States and Ghana at Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg, South Africa, Saturday, June 26, 2010. Ghana won 2-1 in extra time, advancing to the World Cup quarterfinals. (Photo : Getty)

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United States head coach Bob Bradley, left, and Ghana head coach Milovan Rajevac shake hands after the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between the United States and Ghana at Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg, South Africa, on Saturday, June 26, 2010. Ghana won 2-1. (Photo : Getty)

Admiral Michael G. Mullen to Arrive in Israel for Work Visit, 27 Jun 2010

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TEL AVIV, ISRAEL – FILE FEBRUARY 15, 2010 : In this handout photo provided by the US Embassy in Tel Aviv, Chairman of Joint Chief of Staff Admiral Michael G. Mullen in a Generals Discussion with IDF Generals at the IDF HQ on February 15, 2010 in Tel Aviv, Israel.

June 27, 2010

(IDF) Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the United States Military, Admiral Michael G. Mullen, is expected to arrive today, Sunday, June 27th, 2010, for a brief professional visit to Israel. Admiral Mullen will be hosted by the Chief of the General Staff, Lieutenant General Gabi Ashkenazi‏.

During the visit, Adm. Mullen will hold a private meeting with Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi, as well as a discussion with senior commanders of the General Staff, including Deputy Chief of the General Staff, Maj. Gen. Benny Ganz, Head of Israel Defense Intelligence, Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin, Head of the Strategic Planning Directorate, Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel, Military Attaché to Washington, Maj. Gen. Gadi Shamni, and Commander in Chief of the Navy, Vice Admiral Eliezer Marum. The meetings will focus both on cooperation between the two militaries and on mutual security challenges‏.

Photostream : G8 Summit

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Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev (R) and France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy chat during a coffee break during the G8 summit at the Deerhurst Resort is Huntsville, Ontario, on June 26, 2010. The leaders of the Group of Eight richest nations began summit talks on June 25, 2010, in an exclusive Canadian lakeside resort, with the fragile economic recovery due to top the agenda. (Photo : Getty)

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Italy’s Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi (R) watches as German Chancellor Angela Merkel paints part of a picture during the G8 Summit at the Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville, Ontario, June 25, 2010. The picture is a copy of a painting by a famous Canadian contemporary artist, which a local artist has reproduced with blank patches for G8 delegates to fill-in. Picture taken June 25  (Photo : Getty)

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Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (L), British Prime Minister David Cameron (C) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel paint during the G8 leaders summit at the Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville, Ontario, on June 26, 2010.

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Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan (2nd L), Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (3rd L), British Prime Minister David Cameron (2nd R) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) paint during the G8 leaders summit at the Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville, Ontario, on June 26, 2010.

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British Prime Minister David Cameron, left, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel participate in a G8 Working Session with other world leaders during the G8 Summit at the Deerhurst Resort in Hunstville, Ontario, Canada, Saturday, June 26, 2010.

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Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev (R) speaks with Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron during their meeting at G8 leaders summit at the Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville, on June 26, 2010. Russia and Britain agreed on the eve to renew ties recently strained by suspicions of murder and spying, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and British Prime Minister David Cameron said. Meeting on the sidelines of the G8 summit in Canada, the leaders agreed to relaunch relations between Moscow and Britain and seek closer cooperation.

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Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev (R) shakes hands with Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron during their meeting at G8 leaders summit at the Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville, on June 26, 2010. Russia and Britain agreed on the eve to renew ties recently strained by suspicions of murder and spying, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and British Prime Minister David Cameron said. Meeting on the sidelines of the G8 summit in Canada, the leaders agreed to relaunch relations between Moscow and Britain and seek closer cooperation.

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G8 leaders (L-R) EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, Japan’s Prime Minister Naoto Kan, Italy’s Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, United States President Barack Obama, France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy, Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron and EU council President Herman Van Rompuy take part in a photo opportunity between G8 leaders and the “My Summit 2010” youth leaders at the G8 Summit at the Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville, Ontario, June 25, 2010.

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G8 leaders (L-R) EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, Japan’s Prime Minister Naoto Kan, Italy’s Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, United States President Barack Obama, France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy, Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev take part in a photo opportunity between G8 leaders and the “My Summit 2010” youth leaders at the G8 Summit at the Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville, Ontario, June 25, 2010.

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(L-R) Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, US President Barack Obama, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and British Prime Minister David Cameron, leave following a 2010 G8 Summit photo with the My Summit 2010 Youth at the Deerhurst Resort at Muskoka, in Huntsville, Ontario, Canada, June 25, 2010.

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Leaders attending the G8 Summit walk at the Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville, Ontario June 25, 2010. (L-R) Italy’s Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, U.S. President Barack Obama Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy, EU council President Herman Van Rompuy, Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev, Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron, Japan’s Prime Minister Naoto Kan and Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

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G8 leaders Stephen Harper(R), Prime Minister of Canada, Naoto Kan (2nd R), Prime Minister of Japan, David Cameron(3rd R), Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Dmitry Medvedev (2nd R), President of Russia and Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, on their way to having their Family Photograph taken June 25, 2010 in Huntsville, Ontario.

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Heads of state, from left, Italy’s Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi of Italy, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Japan’s Prime Minister Naoto Kan,European Union Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy of the European Union walk for G8 group photo session at Deerhurst Resort in Ontario, Canada, Friday, June 25, 2010.

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G8 leaders Nicolas Sarkozy (R), President of France, Barack Obama (2nd R), President of the US, Silvio Berlusconi (2nd L), Prime Minister of Italy, and Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission on their way to having their Family Photograph taken June 25, 2010 in Huntsville, Ontario.

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U.S. President Barack Obama (L) talks with fellow leaders alongside France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy (2nd L), and Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper (C) after taking the 2010 G8 Summit group photo at the Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville June 25, 2010.

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US President Barack Obama (C) talks with fellow leaders alongside French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper (3rd R) and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi (2nd L) after taking the 2010 G8 Summit family photo at the Deerhurst Resort at Muskoka, in Huntsville, Ontario, Canada, June 25, 2010.

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United States President Barack Obama (back to camera) talks with, from left, Japan’s Prime Minister Naoto Kan, EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, Italy’s Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy, Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron after the G8 leaders posed for a group photo at the G8 Summit at the Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville, Ontario, Canada, Friday, June 25, 2010.

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Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan (L), U.S. President Barack Obama (R) and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi (C) take part in the 2010 G8 Summit family photo at the Deerhurst Resort at Muskoka in Huntsville, Ontario, June 25, 2010.

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US President Barack Obama (3rd R) talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel (3rd L) alongside EU President Jose Manuel Barroso (L), French President Nicolas Sarkozy (2nd L), British Prime Minister David Cameron (C), Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper (2nd R), and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (R) after taking the 2010 G8 Summit group photo at the Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville, Ontario June 25, 2010.

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Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, center, and G8 leaders European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, left, Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan, Italy’s President Silvio Berlusconi, United States President Barack Obama, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Russsia’s Dmitry Medvedev, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron and World Bank President Robert Zoellick poses for the official family photo at the G8 Summit in Huntsville, on Friday June 25, 2010.

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The leaders of G8 sit down for their first working session of the day at the G8 Summit at Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville, Ontario June 26, 2010.

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U.S. President Barack Obama (R) speaks with Italy’s Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi during a meeting at the G8 Summit at the Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville, Ontario June 26, 2010.

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Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev prepares his papers as the leaders of the G8 sit down for their first working session of the day at the G8 Summit at the Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville, Ontario June 26, 2010.

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U.S. President Barack Obama (L) and France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy (R) confer as the leaders of the G8 sit down for their first working session of the day at the G8 Summit at the Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville, Ontario June 26, 2010.

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France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy smiles during a meeting at the G8 Summit at the Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville, Ontario June 26, 2010.

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Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi reacts to a conversation with U.S. President Barack Obama (not shown) during a G8 Working Session with other world leaders in Hunstville, Ontario, Canada, Saturday, June 26, 2010.

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From left to right: European Council President Herman Van Rompuy of the European Union; Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi of Italy; Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso of the European Union; Prime Minister Naoto Kan of Japan; attend a leaders working session at the G8 Summit at Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville, Ontario, Canada, Saturday, June 26, 2010.

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Prime Minister Naoto Kan of Japan, attends at G8 working session at the Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville, Ontario, Canada, Saturday, June 26, 2010.

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President Barack Obama of the United States and Prime Minister Naoto Kan of Japan, left, are seen as they attend a leaders working session at the G8 Summit at Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville, Ontario, Saturday, June 26, 2010.

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President Dmitry Medvedev of Russia, right, reacts during a meeting with Prime Minister Naoto Kan of Japan during the G8 summit at the Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville, Ontario, Canada, Saturday, June 26, 2010.

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Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan, left, holds a bilateral meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel during the G8 Summit in Huntsville, Ontario, Canada Friday, June 25, 2010.

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British Prime Minister David Cameron, right, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, left, share a word during a G8 Working Session with other world leaders during the G8 Summit at the Deerhurst Resort in Hunstville, Ontario, Canada, Saturday, June 26, 2010.

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US President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron walk from Marine One helicopter upon arrival in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, June 26, 2010, for the G20 Summit.

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Family of captured Israeli soldier launches march to Jerusalem to press for his release

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Motorbikes follow a car during a rally calling for the release of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in Tel Aviv June 25, 2010. Shalit was captured by Palestinian militants four years ago in a cross-border raid.

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June 27, 2010

JERUSALEM (KATAKAMI / FOX NEWS / AP) — The family of a captured Israeli soldier is setting out on a 12-day march to Jerusalem to press Israeli leaders to make a deal with his Hamas captors to free him.

Sgt. Gilad Schalit was taken captive by Gaza Strip militants four years ago. His parents say they will camp outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s official residence until their 23-year-old son is released.

Schalit’s father, Noam Schalit, said before starting the march on Sunday that the family “won’t wait any longer in our home.” He called on the government “to put an end to this sad saga.”

Thousands are expected to join the Schalits’ march.

Israel is reluctant to free some Palestinian prisoners Hamas wants released because they were involved in deadly attacks on Israelis.

UNESCO awards Iran president for revival of Shushtar aqueduct system

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June 27, 2010

(IRAN’S PRESIDENCY WEBSITE)  The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization representative to Iran has awarded a plaque of honor to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for revival of Shushtar aqueduct System.

The award was conferred on the president after a ceremony held in Shushtar on Wednesday to mark the first anniversary of registration of Shushtar aqueduct system with UNESCO in presence of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

President of the Islamic Republic of Iran referred to Shoushtar water canals as signs of the advanced and exalted culture of the Iranians over 2000 years ago, arguing, “These monuments are reminders of the extreme value that the Iranians attached to water and its significance in the human beings’ lives.”

President Dr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said that the cultural heritage of Shushtar, in Khuzestan Province, southwestern Iran, belongs to the international community and is a source of honor for the world’s peoples. He pointed out that this heritage should be revived so that the international community would come here and become familiar with the humane elevated Iranian culture.

President Ahmadinejad considered monotheism, demand for justice, and reliance on science as the features of Iranian culture and civilization throughout the course of history and emphasized that today the world is in need of this culture and values more than ever, while their absence leads to confrontation, poverty, discrimination, massacre, and unforgivable crimes.

UNESCO registered Shushtar Historical Aqueduct System last year as the 10th cultural heritage of Iran.

Shushtar, Historical Aqueduct System, inscribed as a masterpiece of creative genius, can be traced back to Darius the Great in the 5th century B.C.

Thousands protest summit in Canada; vandals smash windows, torch police cars

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June 26, 2010

TORONTO (KATAKAMI / FOX NEWS/AP) — Black-clad demonstrators broke off from a crowd of peaceful protesters at the global economic summit in Toronto Saturday, torching police cruisers and smashing windows with baseball bats and hammers. Police arrested more than 150 people.

Police used shields, clubs, tear gas and pepper spray to push back the rogue protesters who tried to head south toward the security fence surrounding the perimeter of the Group of 20 summit site. Some demonstrators hurled bottles at police.

“We have never seen that level of wanton criminality and vandalism and destruction on our streets,” Toronto police chief Bill Blair said.

The roving band wearing black balaclavas shattered shop windows for blocks, including at police headquarters, then shed some of their black clothes, revealing other garments, and continued to rampage through downtown Toronto.

Protesters torched at least three police cruisers in different parts of the city, including one in the heart of the city’s financial district. One protester jumped on the roof of one before dropping a Molotov cocktail into the smashed windshield.

Blair said the goal of the militant protesters was to draw police away from the security perimeter of the summit so that fellow protesters could attempt to disrupt the meeting.

Police arrested at least 150 people Saturday, but Blair said many suspects remain at large.

Blair said officers have been struck by rocks and bottles and have been assaulted, but none was injured badly enough to stop working.

A stream of police cars headed to Toronto to reinforce security there after the smaller Group of Eight summit ended in Huntsville, Ontario, about 140 miles (225 kilometers) away. Security was being provided by an estimated 19,000 law enforcement officers drawn from across Canada, and security costs are estimated at more than US$900 million.

The vandalism occurred just blocks from where President Barack Obama and other world leaders were meeting and staying.

“These images are truly shocking to Canadians,” Canadian Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said in a statement. “We are taking all measures necessary to ensure Canadians, delegates, media and international visitors remain safe.”

Previous major world summits also have attracted massive, raucous and sometimes destructive protests by anti-globalization forces.

Police in riot gear and riding bikes formed a blockade, keeping protesters from approaching the security fence a few blocks south of the march route. Police closed a stretch of Toronto’s subway system along the protest route and the largest shopping mall downtown closed after the protest took a turn for the worse.

“Free speech is a principle of our democracy. But the thugs that prompted violence earlier today represent in no way shape or form the Canadian way of life,” said Dimitri Soudas, the chief spokesman for Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

A media bus taking photographers and cameramen to a hotel where the G-20 leaders will have dinner was turned back after police deemed it unsafe.

Dozens of police officers later boxed in a number of protesters from both sides of a street in a shopping district. The protesters encouraged the media to film it and they sang ‘O Canada’, Canada’s national anthem, before being allowed to disperse.

At another location at the provincial legislature police also boxed in demonstrators before tackling some and making arrests.

Saturday’s protest march, sponsored by labor unions and dubbed family friendly, was the largest demonstration planned during the weekend summits. Its organizers had hoped to draw a crowd of 10,000, but only about half that number turned out on a rainy day.

Toronto’s downtown resembles a fortress, with a big steel and concrete fence protecting the summit site.

On Friday, hundreds of protesters moved through Toronto’s streets, but police in riot gear intercepted them, preventing them from getting near the summit security zone downtown.

Previous global summit protests have turned violent. In 1999, 50,000 protesters shut down World Trade Organization sessions in Seattle as police fired tear gas and rubber bullets. There were some 600 arrests and $3 million in property damage. One man died after clashes with police at a G-20 meeting held in London in April 2009.

At the September G-20 summit in Pittsburgh, police fired canisters of pepper spray and smoke and rubber bullets at marchers.

G-8 Expects Israel May Take Action on Iran, Berlusconi Says

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June 26 (Bloomberg) — Group of Eight leaders expect Israel may decide to take action against Iran out of concern that the country is building nuclear weapons, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said.

Since “Iran is not guaranteeing a peaceful production of nuclear power, the members of the G-8 are worried, and believe absolutely that Israel will probably react preemptively,” Berlusconi told reporters today in Huntsville, Ontario, after a two-day meeting with other G-8 leaders. He didn’t elaborate.

Iran says its nuclear program is for civilian purposes such as power generation and has rebuffed United Nations Security Council demands to suspend uranium enrichment. The Security Council imposed a fourth set of sanctions on Iran on June 9, backed by Russia and China.

G-8 leaders, in a statement today after their meeting, said they are “profoundly concerned by Iran’s continued lack of transparency regarding its nuclear activities and its stated intention to continue and expand enriching uranium.”

Karzai backs new U.S. commander in Afghanistan

Adm. Mike Mullen: "My message will be clear: nothing changes about our strategy."
Adm. Mike Mullen: “My message will be clear: nothing changes about our strategy.”


June 26, 2010

 

Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) — Afghanistan’s president has backed the selection of Gen. David Petraeus as the top NATO commander in Afghanistan, saying he is “experienced” and an “expert commander” with knowledge of his war-torn nation.

President Hamid Karzai made the comments Saturday as he met Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a statement from Karzai’s office said.

Later Saturday, Mullen flew to Islamabad to meet with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari.

Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Pakistan’s army chief, and U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Anne W. Patterson also attended the meeting, which dealt with bilateral relations, the fight against militants, and regional security, a Pakistani government press release said.

Mullen was in Afghanistan on a scheduled visit that took on new significance after Gen. Stanley McChrystal was removed from his position this week as commander of the Afghan war, a day after Rolling Stone magazine published critical comments about top White House officials by members of McChrystal’s staff.

President Barack Obama nominated Petraeus, the head of U.S. Central Command and the architect of the surge strategy in Iraq, to take McChrystal’s place.

According to the statement, Karzai told Mullen that McChrystal was an “excellent” military commander who worked to avoid civilian casualties, forge coordination between Afghan and international forces, and take “useful steps” in training, developing and equipping Afghan forces.

Mullen assured Karzai that Petraeus would continue these efforts.
// Both men said that improving the fight against terror and pursuing a lasting peace “is our priority and more important than any time before,” the statement said.

“Stunned” by the Rolling Stone article, Mullen had said he agreed with Obama’s decision to remove McChrystal. He had said that he planned to discuss the shift in leadership with Afghan military and civilian officials.

“My message will be clear: nothing changes about our strategy, nothing changes about the mission and nothing changes about the resources we are dedicating or the commitment we are making to defeat al Qaeda and its extremist allies in the region,” Mullen said in a Pentagon press briefing Thursday. “We cannot lose the momentum we have together with our partners, allies and friends.”

An explosion near the foreign ministry in Kabul during Mullen’s visit Saturday caused a scare, but police said the blast was an accident and not an attack.

Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, a Taliban commander disguised as a woman was shot dead Friday night in Afghanistan when he fired at troops, NATO’s International Security Assistance Force said.

Authorities identified the man as Ghulam Sakhi, the senior Taliban commander in northern Logar province.

ISAF said intelligence sources tracked Sakhi to a compound near the village of Qal-eh Saber in Pul-e ‘Alam district.

After Afghan troops called for women and children to leave a building, Sakhi came out with the group, disguised in women’s attire.

ISAF said he pulled out a pistol and a grenade and fired at troops. Afghan and coalition forces shot him and he dropped the grenade, which detonated and wounded a woman and two children.

Authorities say Sakhi was involved in improvised explosive device attacks, ambushes and indirect fire attacks. He also kidnapped and killed a National Directorate of Security chief in Logar province.

In other Afghan fighting, several insurgents in Zabul province were killed in a “precision airstrike” on Friday night and bomb attacks in southern Afghanistan killed three NATO-led service member on Saturday.  (*)

Report: North Korea plans meeting to elect new leaders

An undated picture shows Kim Jong Il inspecting the Rakwon Machine Complex in North Pyongan province.
An undated picture shows Kim Jong Il inspecting the Rakwon Machine Complex in North Pyongan province.

June 26, 2010

(CNN) — North Korea’s ruling party plans to hold a meeting with its representatives in September, state media said Saturday.

The meeting is “for electing (the party’s) highest leading body,” the North Korean Central News Agency said.

An announcement by the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea says it hopes to make “great changes” as it marks its 65th anniversary this year.

“We are now faced with the sacred revolutionary tasks to develop the WPK … into an eternal glorious party … and further increase its militant function and role to glorify the country as a country prosperous and powerful socialist nation,” the announcement said.

Leader Kim Jong Il is believed to grooming his son, Kim Jong Un, as his successor. Recent dramatic changes in North Korean leadership appear to be paving the way for an eventual transfer of power, analysts say.

Earlier this month, Jang Song Thaek, Kim’s brother-in-law and long thought to be his right-hand man, was promoted to vice-chairman of the powerful National Defense Commission, state media said.

Jang’s appointment is crucial, said Kim Sung-han, a professor at Korea University in Seoul. Jang provides a support network for Kim Jong Un, who is his nephew. Jang is also a top military official, according to the professor.

His appointment signifies the power succession process is taking place and that he plays a key role as “liaison between the party and the military,” the professor said.

The 68-year-old leader of the communist nation suffered a stroke last year.