International news headlines

by Tina Charon and Patrick McPartlin

Middle East

Libya

For the moment the US, UK and France are continuing air strikes against the country. A second raid was lead early this morning and destroyed a building in Libya’s capital Tripoli. The building was one of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s command centres. US officials have said that Colonel Gaddafi himself was not a target of the air strikes.

The Arab League, Russia and China have condemned the attacks. Arab League General Secretary Amr Mussa said, “What has happened in Libya differs from the goal of imposing a no-fly zone. What we want is the protection of civilians.” He has also announced that an emergency meeting of the 22-member Arab league is about to be set up.

In reaction to the strikes, Gaddafi promised the West a “long, drawn-out war, with no limit.”

The West is likely  to continue the strikes in Libya. For now, there are no plans to deploy ground troops. The Libyan intervention is the West’s biggest intervention in the Arab world since the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq.

Syria

Demonstrators in Syria have set fire to several buldings, including symbols of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. Around ten people have been killed this weekend during violent clashes between anti-government protestors and security forces. Police are trying to disperse the protestors.

People have appealed for the end of Syria’s 48-year-old emergency law, and the resignation of  President Assad, who has been running the country for almost 50 years. In Deera, the internet and most other forms of communications have been blocked, along with the electricity supply.

Asia

Japan

The earthquake in Japan could cost about $235 billion, the World Bank said today, which represents 4% of the country’s GNP. The earthquake could also have other economic repercussions on the rest of Asia.

The electricity has been restored to three reactors at Fukushima nuclear power station, but the cooler systems are still not yet operating. The nuclear situation still remains “very serious”, according to the UN nuclear watchdog, the IAEA.

Japan has raised the alert level from four to five on the nine-point international scale of atomic incidents. However, the government maintains that the level of radioactivity present in the air and in the tap water does not appear to be dangerous.

So far, 21, 500 people have died, and more than 13, 000 others are still missing.

Philippines

A 6.1 magnitude earthquake hit the northern Philippines on Sunday evening, shaking the capital Manila and and other cities. So far, there are no reports of major damage or casualties. A tsunami can be expected, according to the government’s volcanology and seismology institute.

The epicenter was located in the ocean, about 120km from the city of Laoag.

“It’s quite big, so we are calling and checking on islands in the north, but there are no reports of damage yet,” Ismael Narag, officer in charge of the seismology department at the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, said.

Europe

France

The far-right National Front (FN) has gained ground. The preliminary resulsts of the French local elections suggest that Nicolas Sarkozy’s party UMP has lost points and popularity. The FN surged to 15% at the cantonal elections this Sunday, just behind the UMP, which has about 17% of the votes.

It is thought that FN president Marine Le Pen, daughter of controversial former FN leader Jean-Marie Le Pen, could become Nicolas Sarkozy’s biggest rival for the presidential election, due to take place next year.

Germany

Angela Merkel has announced an “measured exit” from nuclear power, in response to the Japanese crisis. The German Chancellor said that this disaster meant that nuclear energy could no longer be “business as usual.”

Britain

Former Labour MP Phil Woolas will not face a criminal trial over his controversial election leaflets during the 2010 campaign, according to the Crown Prosecution Service. The leaflets falsely implied that Woolas’ Lib Dem rival Elwyn Watkins was ‘wooing Muslim extremists.’ Woolas has been banned from standing for election for three years.

Ireland

Plans are being made for a supercasino on the banks of the River Liffey in Dublin. The Treasury Holdings group has submitted the plans for the development to the Department of Justice, which would cost around €3million. They claim it could generate up to 2200 jobs, and attract up to three million visitors a year. The venture is slated to boost the Irish economy by €75million, and generate more than €40million per year in income.

US and Canada

United States

American telecoms giant AT&T is set to buy its rival T-Mobile, from parent company Deutsche Telekom in a deal expected to be in the region of $39billion,  making it the largest telecoms company in the US.

President Barack Obama is set to continue his tour of Latin America, with Chile set to be the President’s next stop following his successful tour of Brazil.

The US ambassador to Mexico, Carlos Pascual, has resigned over leaked diplomatic cables in which he doubted Mexico’s chances of controlling the country’s drug gangs.

Canada

Canada have sent six fighter jets to assist in the patrolling of the no-fly zone above Libya. The aircraft will be supported by 150 military personnel, according to Lt General Andre Deschamps, Chief of the Air Staff.

Latin America

Haiti

Counting is underway in the delayed Haitian Presidential election, with preliminary results expected at the end of the month. The race between popstar Michel Martelly and former First Lady Mirlande Manigat is expected to be very close.

Colombia

René ‘El Loco’ Higuita has announced his intention to run for mayor of a municipality near Medellin. Higuita, famed for his ‘scorpion kick’ save against England at Wembley in 1995, was jailed in the early nineties for his role in a kidnapping case but is expected to run independently for mayor in the  Guarne municipality in the department of Antioquia. He retired from football just over a year ago after 24 years as a professional footballer.

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