UN approves $7.5-billion peacekeeping budget
The United Nations has adopted a peacekeeping budget plan for the year starting in July totaling more than 7.5 billion dollars.The budget was approved in a vote at the General Assembly on Friday. The money will cover UN peacekeeping activities in 14 places.
The total is up about 200 million dollars from the previous year to fund new activities. They include peacekeeping in Mali, where government and opposition forces have continued to fight, and an intervention brigade added to the existing UN mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Egypt’s opposition claims to have 22 million signatures for Morsi’s resignation ahead of mass protests
Pressure on embattled Islamist President Mohammed Morsi is building, as opposition claim more people want him to resign, than those who voted him into office. There are fears that huge protest rallies scheduled for Sunday will descend into violence.
NSA spied on EU diplomats in Washington, NY and Brussels –media report
Not only European citizens, but also employees of the EU diplomatic missions in Washington and the UN were under electronic surveillance from the NSA, Der Spiegel magazine reports citing a document obtained by whistleblower Edward Snowden.
UK’s far right leader arrested marching to Woolwich
Tommy Robinson, the leader of the English Defence League (EDL) and another member of the far-right party have been arrested for violating a police order not to march to a site in Woolwich, south London, where a soldier was murdered last month, the group said. The march to honor the memory of Lee Rigby, a soldier who was publically hacked to death by two British converts to Islam, went ahead anyway. Police said the EDL’s plans risked causing “serious public disorder.”
Highly radioactive water detected in Fukushima-1 well, 6 meters away from Pacific
The operator of Japan’s crippled Fukushima-1 nuclear power plant said on Saturday that high levels of radioactive substances, including strontium, have been detected at a well at the port of the facility, just six meters from the Pacific Ocean, the Japan Times reports. Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) said 3,000 becquerels of radioactive substances per liter were detected in groundwater from the well – which is 100 times higher than the maximum legal limit. “It is true that radioactive contamination has been found from groundwater near the sea, but we do not know whether tainted water has made its way into the Pacific,” a TEPCO official said.
US Vice President personally asked Ecuador’s President to reject Snowden’s asylum request
US Vice President Joe Biden has asked Ecuador to reject NSA-leaker Edward Snowden’s asylum request, Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa said during his regular Saturday television broadcast. The White House has confirmed that Biden contacted Correa earlier on Friday morning to discuss the matter. Correa reiterated that there will be no decision made on Snowden’s asylum request unless the whistleblower is on Ecuadorean territory. Snowden remains in Russia’s Sheremetyevo Airport, where he arrived after he fled Hong Kong.
US Vice President Joe Biden has asked Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa to turn down an asylum request from whistleblower Edward Snowden.The former National Security Agency contractor Snowden revealed the extent of the US government’s communications surveillance activity. He is now wanted in the United States for espionage.
Snowden is currently holed up at a Moscow airport. He has requested political asylum from Ecuador.
President Correa spoke in a TV program on Saturday. He said he talked with Biden on the phone on Friday upon request from the US side.
Correa said he told Biden his country can’t consider the asylum request until Snowden arrives in Ecuador or shows up at one of its diplomatic missions.
He added he told Biden the request would be judged in accordance with Ecuadorean law.
‘The French betrayed me and I consider myself practically Russian,’ – Depardieu
French actor Gerard Depardieu, who recently received Russian citizenship in protest against high taxes in France, has praised his adopted homeland during a press conference during the annual Moscow Film Festival, saying he has a “French-Russian heart”. “You can’t change your nationality but you can choose a state, a life, liberty and democracy, as I see it,” said the actor, who is promoting his new film, Rasputin. “I am friends with Putin,” continued Depardieu. “He has a very strong personality; he is exactly the kind of leader Russia needs at the moment.”
Scores of Chinese Uighurs attack police station in Xinjiang
Around a hundred Uighur separatists riding motorcycles and wielding weapons have reportedly assaulted a police station in Hotan in the western region of Xinjiang, in what officials labeled a “terrorist attack”. The Muslim Uighur minority say their cultural and language rights are being suppressed by central authorities and the ethnic-Han majority. Earlier this week 35 people died in similar clashes in the region.
S. African police shoot stun grenades at anti-Obama protesters
South African police fired stun grenades at hundreds of protesters on Saturday who were demonstrating against US President Barack Obama’s visit to South Africa, according to AFP. Three loud bangs were heard as police tried to move the angry protesters away from the area. Obama’s visit to the country has caused some controversy among a coalition of trade union groups and left-wing political organizations which planned a “national day of action” to coincide with his visit. The groups have indicated that they are cynical about American foreign and trade policies, and that they feel Obama has done nothing to the advantage of South Africa, but merely continued American foreign policies, to which they had hoped for an end.