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Egypt brokers ceasefire after Israel-Palestinian bloodshed

News4u - News Desk :  Sources close to Gaza militant groups said early Sunday that they were trying to call a halt to rocket fire that brought deadly retaliatory Israeli air strikes.


But Israeli police said that rockets continued to rain down on southern Israel, with the latest falling well after the reported deadline for the truce to take effect.


that 12 rockets were fired into Israel since midnight, the last, shortly before 7:00 am. None of them caused casualties.


Sources close to Gaza’s ruling Hamas movement and to Islamic Jihad, which was at the forefront of fierce cross-border fighting on Saturday said that Egyptian intelligence officials helped broker a ceasefire due to take hold at 6:00 am (0400 GMT).


“The efforts and intensive contacts led by senior Egyptian intelligence service officials led to a national consensus to restore calm” with Israel, a leader of one Palestinian group, who asked to remain anonymous, told AFP.


On Saturday, Israeli air strikes killed nine Islamic Jihad militants, while retaliatory rocket fire killed one Israeli, one of the bloodiest exchanges between the two sides since since a tacit ceasefire was agreed between Gaza Palestinian militants and Israel in late August.


The first Israeli attack early Saturday afternoon killed five members of the Al-Quds Brigades, Islamic Jihad’s armed wing, said Adham Abu Selmiya, spokesman for Gaza’s emergency services.


Another three militants were critically wounded, he added.


As tit-for-tat fighting continued into the night, Israeli aircraft struck more targets in Gaza, killing four more militants and wounding at least two, witnesses and Palestinian officials said.


At least two of the militants were killed as they tried to fire a Grad rocket into Israel, an Al-Quds spokesman said.


The Israeli military said of the first raid that the air force had fired on a “group of terrorists preparing to fire long-range rockets” and that the attack had “prevented the attempted firing.”


The other strikes were aimed at similar targets, it said.


Reprisal attacks began after sunset Saturday, and police said that by mid-evening 21 rockets had been fired from Gaza into southern Israel.


One Israeli, wounded by shrapnel in Ashkelon, later died in hospital, Israeli medical officials and police said. Four others were wounded, two of them seriously.


The city of Ashdod, the nearby town of Gan Yavneh and the city of Ashkelon, to the south, were all hit, police said.


One rocket was fired towards the city of Beersheeva in the Negev desert but appeared to have struck open ground, police said.


A statement released by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said he had phoned the mayors of Ashkelon, Ashdod and Beersheeva and told them that the military’s “tough response will be even tougher if necessary.”


“The recent escalations are very worrying, said Richard Miron, a spokesman for UN Middle Eastenvoy Robert Serry.


“It’s vital to de-escalate now, without any delay. We strongly appeal for calm and an end to violence and bloodshed,” he said in a statement.


A statement from the Al-Quds Brigades claimed responsibility for the fire and it posted a video on its website that it said showed the launching of five of the rockets. AFP


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India’s baby Nargis one of world’s seven-billionth inhabitant

News4u - News Desk : The world’s population touched another milestone on Monday as India and the Philippines welcomed “symbolic” seventh-billionth babies.

A baby girl, born to 23-year-old Vinita and Ajay at a local community health centre at 7.20 am in Mall (UP) on the outskirts of Lucknow, was welcomed as the seventh-billionth baby, Bhagyeshwari, executive director of NGO Plan India, which is conducting the exercise, said on Monday. The girl has been named Nargis, she said.

The Philippines also welcomed a seven-billionth baby at a government hospital in Manila. Danica May Camacho was born just after midnight.

Meanwhile, as the world readies to welcome its seventh billion inhabitant on Monday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for “unity of purpose” among people across nations to address problems of climate change, economic crisis and inequality.

“Some say our planet is too crowded. I say we are 7 billion strong. But we will only be able to use that strength for the benefit of all if our societies are built on mutual respect and understanding,” Moon said.

The world’s population will reach the landmark seven billion mark on Monday. Moon said the world must come together “on this special day… in the name of the global common good.”

He said while the world has made remarkable progress as it has aged, with more of its children surviving and more people living under democratic rule of law, the progress cannot be taken for granted.

The world is “under threat from climate change, economic crisis, joblessness, inequality and intolerance. Around the world, too many people live in fear. Too many people believe their governments and the global economy can no longer deliver for them,” he said.

The answer to the current turbulent times is “unity of purpose.”

“Global problems demand global solutions. They compel all nations to unite in action on an agenda for the world’s people.”

The UN Chief said the challenge for nations is to build a more just, tolerant and inclusive world.

“We all have something to give and something to gain by appreciating each other’s diversity and working together in common cause.”

Meanwhile, UN Population Fund’s (UNFPA) Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin said actions taken now will decide whether the future of the seventh billion baby will be healthy, sustainable and prosperous or marked by inequalities, environmental decline and economic setbacks.

“The world must seize the opportunity to invest in the health and education of its youth to reap the full benefits of future economic development or else face a continuation of the sorry state of disparities in which hundreds of millions of people in developing nations lack the most basic ingredients for a decent life,” Osotimehin said.

He said planning and the right investments in people will empower them to make choices that are not only good for themselves, but also for a world of seven billion.

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China coal mine gas blast kills 29 workers

News4u - News Desk : BEIJING: A gas explosion at a coal mine in central China has killed 29 workers, Chinese authorities said on Sunday.

Six other miners survived Saturday evening’s blast at a state-owned coal mine in Hengyang city in Hunan province, China’s State Administration of Work Safety said in a statement on its website.

Five of the workers were rescued, while one climbed out of an air shaft of the Xialiuchong Coal Mine, the statement said.

The work safety administration said rescue work was complete as no other miners were working at the time of the explosion.

Song Yuanming, the chief of the provincial coal mine safety bureau, told state broadcaster CCTV that there was a large outburst of gas in the mine 250 meters (820 feet) underground that was ignited by sparks produced by machines.

CCTV said that the mine’s operating license had been revoked in the first half of this year because it did not adopt measures to pump out dangerous gases from underground, but that the mine continued production without permission.

China’s coal mines are the most dangerous in the world. Demand for coal induces many producers to sidestep safety regulations, although conditions have improved and a number of small, illegal mines have been shut. Annual fatalities are now about one-third of the high of nearly 7,000 in 2002. AP


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Powerful earthquake hits off northeastern Taiwan

News4u - News Desk : TAIPEI: A powerful earthquake has struck off northeastern Taiwan, but there were no immediate reports of casualties or damage.

Taiwan’s Central Weather Bureau says the quake registered magnitude 6.5, while the US Geological Survey puts it at 5.5.

The earthquake struck Sunday morning at sea, about 141 km east of the Taiwanese county of Keelung. Keelung is about 17 28 km east of the capital, Taipei.

Earthquakes frequently rattle Taiwan, but most are minor and cause little or no damage.

However, a magnitude-7.6 earthquake in centralTaiwan in 1999 killed more than 2,300 people. AP


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Twelve children dead in Ecuador bus accident

News4u - News Desk : QUITO: At least 12 children were killed and seven others injured when the bus in which they were travelling drove off a cliff in the Andes mountains of northern Ecuador, state media has reported.

The victims, all between the ages of seven and 10, were part of a student group travelling on a bus that plunged into a ravine in the Concepcion area, north of Ibarra, the capital of Imbabura province, the Andes news agency said.

The report did not specify the total number of passengers on board or the fate of the driver.

Traffic accidents are the second leading cause of death in Ecuador. More than 40 people were killed in a bus accident on Christmas Eve last year. AFP


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21 killed in series of shootouts in Mexico

News4u - News Desk :  MORELIA: Mexican authorities say at least 21 people have been killed in three shootouts between soldiers and gunmen and a fight between rival drug gangs.

At least 15 deaths occurred in three gunbattles in the western state of Michoacan yesterday, said the spokesman for state prosecutors, Jonathan Arredondo.

He said 10 gunmen were killed in a shootout with an army patrol that was attacked in the township of Patzcuaro, an area of Michoacan popular with tourists. Five other people died in two smaller confrontations in Michoacan, and one federal police officer was wounded.

Michoacan is the state where President Felipe Calderon launched his armed offensive against organised crime in 2006. The state holds gubernatorial elections November 13.

Much of the state’s violence has been attributed to a pseudo-religious drug cartel known as La Familia and more recently to an offshoot gang, The Knights Templar.

In the northern state of Sinaloa, six people were killed Friday during a shootout between two groups of armed men on a highway in the town of Guamuchil, assistant state prosecutor Martin Robles said.

All six dead were taken to a funeral home, and gunmen later burst into the facility and carried away three bodies. The other three victims were apparently passers-by caught in the crossfire, Robles said.

Sinaloa is considered the home of the drug cartel of the same name. AP


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Ban voices concern after deadly violence in Gaza and southern Israel

News4u - News Desk : UN :   

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed deep concern today at the recent escalation of violence and bloodshed in both southern Israel and the Gaza Strip that has reportedly left around a dozen people dead.


In a statement issued by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban condemned rocket fire launched from inside Gaza, which has killed an Israeli civilian in the country”s south, and called for its complete cessation.


He also urged Israel to exercise maximum restraint after the country”s military forces reportedly killed 10 alleged militants in Gaza.


“He hopes that the parties will fully respect the calm as brokered by Egypt,” the statement noted, referring to a reported ceasefire organized by Egypt.


Mr. Ban added that the Office of the Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, headed by Robert Serry, remained actively engaged with the Israelis and Palestinians in supporting efforts to end the violence.


The deadly attacks have taken place just weeks after Israel and the Palestinians agreed to a prisoner exchange that senior United Nations officials said they hoped would lead the two sides to make further hard decisions towards an eventual peace agreement to end the long-running conflict.

Cyprus: First day of talks positive and productive, UN says

News4u - News Desk : UN :  The Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders have held “positive, productive and vigorous” discussions during the first of two days of talks between the leaders and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, a senior United Nations envoy said tonight.


Speaking at Manhasset, outside New York, where the talks began this morning, the Secretary-General”s Special Adviser on Cyprus, Alexander Downer, said the UN was pleased with the way that the talks involving Greek Cypriot leader Dimitris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu were progressing.


These two days of talks represent the fourth time that Mr. Ban has met directly with the two leaders in a bid to strengthen the wider UN-backed process aimed at reunifying the Mediterranean island, and follow a meeting in New York in November last year and talks in Geneva in January and July this year.


Mr. Downer said Mr. Ban met with Mr. Christofias and Mr. Eroglu for two hours today to discuss four core issues: governance and power-sharing, especially regarding the presidency property territory and citizenship.


Mr. Downer and B. Lynn Pascoe, the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, then held extensive discussions with the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot delegations that focused on the same core issues.


“I think it is fair to say, and I am quoting the two sides here, rather than using my own words, but it certainly reflects the United Nations” own view, that these discussions have been positive, productive and vigorous — appropriately vigorous and certainly positive and productive,” Mr. Downer said.


The talks between the two sides will resume tomorrow morning, with Mr. Ban scheduled to participate from tomorrow afternoon until the talks conclude tomorrow evening after a working dinner.


Mr. Downer stressed that it was not the role of the UN to arbitrate in the process or force the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots to reach convergences on core issues.


“What we have been doing is talking to the two sides extensively about the positions they have as well as discussing the other side”s positions so there is a full understanding of the positions. But at the end of the day the two sides, where they make convergences, have to make their own convergences.”


The UN-backed process began in 2008 with the aim of eventually setting up a federal government with a single international personality in a bi-zonal, bi-communal country, with Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot constituent states of equal status.

The UN has had a peacekeeping mission (UNFICYP) in place on Cyprus since 1964 after an outbreak of inter-communal tensions.

US police arrest about 30 Wall Street protesters

News4u - News Desk : PORTLAND (OREGON) Police in Oregon arrested about 30 anti-Wall Street protesters early Sunday, dragging and carrying them to waiting vans, after they refused to leave a park in an affluent district. 

In Tennessee, protesters defied a curfew for a third consecutive night. 

The arrests in Oregon came during a week of clashes between police and demonstrators supporting the Occupy Wall Street movementthat led to arrests in Oakland and San Diego, California; Atlanta; Denver, and Nashville, Tennessee. 

In Oregon, protesters from the Occupy Portland movement marched to the Pearl District, with some saying they viewed its residents as part of the wealthy demographic they’re protesting. 

Dozens of them gathered in Jamison Square on Saturday evening to defy a midnight curfew to vacate. 

As police moved in, most of the protesters backed off but a core group of about 30 sat in a circle in the park and awaited arrest. 

An Associated Press photographer said most of the protesters were carried or dragged away. There was no violence during the arrests, which took about 90 minutes. 

The protesters _ all appearing to be in their 20s and 30s with many were wearing Halloween-style face paint _ were handcuffed before they were placed in police vans and driven off. “We are the 99 percent,” one arrestee continued to chant. 

Police said they arrested more than two dozen people on charges that included criminal trespassing, interfering with a police officer, and disorderly conduct. The showdown came in the shadow of high-rise condos in the middle of the Pearl District, with some residents watching the events from their balconies. 

In Tennessee, about 50 demonstrators in Nashville chanted “Whose plaza? Our plaza!” early Sunday in defiance of an official curfew. 

Police sporadically made their rounds, but authorities signaled no immediate attempt to make arrests as law enforcement agents had done on the two previous nights. 

Elizabeth Sharpe, 20, took part Sunday and said she was inspired by the Occupy Wall Streetmovement after seeing a 2003 documentary called “The Corporation”. She said she felt the need to be an activist in the movement that expresses opposition to perceived greed on Wall Street and across corporate America. 

“How can I as an individual change this?” she asked, speaking with an Associated Press reporter. With the Occupy moment’s far-flung reach across American cities, she said she felt there was strength in numbers, adding, “I got for the first time a glimpse of hope.” 

Some danced to keep warm on a chilly morning and others shivered in the frosty air, huddling under blankets. 

The protesters have been galvanized by the friction between state officials and the local magistrate. 

Nashville magistrate Tom Nelson has said recently that there’s no legal reason in his city to keep the demonstrators behind bars and he has released them after each arrest. He has refused each night to sign off on arrest warrants for more than two dozen people taken into custody. 

In Denver on Saturday evening, authorities moved into an encampment of protesters and began arresting demonstrators just hours after a standoff near the steps of the Colorado Capitol turned into a skirmish that ended in police firing rounds of pellets filled with pepper spray. AP

Honoured to have wax statue at Tussauds: Kareena

News4u-Entertainment  Desk-Bollywood actress Kareena Kapoor, who unveiled her wax statue at Madame Tussauds in London yesterday, says it was a proud moment for her. 


Kareena’s statue would share the museum space with wax statues of fellow Bollywood stars Shah Rukh Khan, Hrithik Roshan, Amitabh Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan.



Kareena’s statue is a replica of her image from the song ‘Mauja Hi Mauja’ from the movie ‘Jab We Met’.



“It is an honour and a privilege to have my own wax figure at Madame Tussauds, and even more so to launch a global Bollywood exhibition. This is a moment of pride for Indian cinema,” Kareena said in a statement.



“The figure looks incredible and is so life-like, I did a double take when I saw it myself - they have really done a superb job of capturing my essence,” she said.



Kareena was accompanied by her mother Babita when she unveiled the statue.


The 31-year-old actress made her acting debut in 2000 with ‘Refugee’, and went on to deliver several hit movies like ‘Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gam’, ‘Chameli’, ‘Omkara’, ‘Jab We Met’, ‘Golmal 3′, ’3 Idiots’ and others.



The global exhibition, featuring statues of Bollywood stars, will be taken to six major cities around the world.



Kareena’s statue took four months to create, costing 150,000 pounds.



Actress Kareena Kapoor

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