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Posts Tagged ‘strikes’

N.Korea warns of more strikes, blames US as carrier heads in

In Uncategorized on November 25, 2010 at 5:20 am

SEOUL, Nov 25, 2010 (AFP) – North Korea on Thursday blamed the South and the US for provoking its artillery bombardment and warned it was ready to strike again, as a US carrier headed in for war games off the tense peninsula.

World powers agonised over how to deal with the volatile and nuclear-armed communist regime over its attack on a Yellow Sea island, in what one veteran North Korea watcher labelled a diplomatic “problem from hell”.

Isolated North Korea charged in a statement that “the US can never evade responsibility for the recent exchange of fire”, which saw four people killed when Pyongyang’s forces shelled the island in disputed waters on Tuesday.

An armed North Korean soldier (L) and civilian talk on the banks of of the North Korean border town of Siniuju across the Yalu River from Dandong in northeast China’s Liaoning province on November 25, 2010. AFP

“If the warmongering South Korean puppets fail to return to their senses and commit another reckless military provocation, our army will carry out second and third rounds of powerful physical retaliatory strikes without hesitation.”

The warning came as the US and South Korean navies plan to hold a four-day naval exercise in the Yellow Sea from Sunday that will involve a strike group headed by aircraft carrier the USS George Washington.

Although the show of allied maritime firepower had been scheduled well before this week’s attacks, the US military said, it would also demonstrate the US “commitment to regional stability through deterrence”.

South Korea also said Thursday it would “sharply increase military forces, including ground troops, on the five islands in the Yellow Sea and allocate more of its budget toward dealing with North Korea’s asymmetrical threats”.

Enraged by the first shelling of its civilians since the 1950-53 Korean War, South Korea was still counting the cost of the attack on Yeonpyeong island, which lies near the tense post-war sea demarcation line.

The explosions that shattered the calm of the remote islet killed two marines and two civilians, wounded 18 others, left 22 buildings in charred ruins and sent hundreds of terrified residents fleeing to the mainland.

US President Barack Obama has pledged to stand “shoulder to shoulder” with ally South Korea, where 28,500 American troops are stationed, facing off across a Cold War era frontier.

The world has often been baffled by the regime ruling impoverished North Korea, which has staged two nuclear tests, fired missiles over Japan and this month showed off to a US academic a modern new nuclear facility.

Many observers believe Tuesday’s attack was meant to highlight the military credentials of the leader-in-waiting — Kim Jong-il’s little-known 27-year-old son Kim Jong-Un, who two months ago took a key military post.

North Korea has also rejected a proposal by the US-led United Nations Command, which supervises the armistice, to hold military talks on the attack, Yonhap news agency reported citing a South Korean defence official.

While the US, European powers, South Korea and Japan have long pushed hard to sanction the regime, China and Russia have favoured a softer line with Pyongyang, a Cold War era ally and neighbour to both.

When an intergovernmental expert panel found that a North Korean submarine in March torpedoed and sank a South Korean corvette the Cheonan, killing all 46 sailor aboard, China refused to blame the Pyongyang regime.

Premier Wen Jiabao said in Moscow that “China is firmly committed to maintaining the peace and stability of the Korean peninsula and opposes any provocative military acts”.

It was not clear whether Wen was referring to the North Korean shelling or to the planned US-South Korean military exercises. Beijing has bitterly opposed similar war games there in the past.

North Korea expert Peter Beck, with the US think tank the Council on Foreign Relations, said: “In the wake of the Cheonan sinking, Beijing showed us that they are more than willing to put up with Pyongyang’s worst behaviour.”

“Given that this incident brings us closer to the brink of war than the Cheonan, Beijing might conclude that enough is enough and quietly put their foot down, but I am not holding my breath.”

Source: SGGP

Olympian strikes silver in women’s Taekwondo

In Uncategorized on November 19, 2010 at 2:02 pm

Moderate quake strikes Indonesia

In Uncategorized on November 16, 2010 at 3:55 am

Sarkozy sends police to open fuel depots blocked by strikes

In Uncategorized on October 15, 2010 at 10:26 am

PARIS, Oct 15, 2010 (AFP) – President Nicolas Sarkozy sent in police Friday to reopen fuel depots blocked by strikers, as France’s bitter battle over the right to retire at 60 escalated.

But even as police forced open the gates of some depots, strikers threw up new pickets at other distribution centres across the country to fight against moves to hike the retirement age to 62.

A tanker truck drives pas French gendarmes securing the oil terminal in Fos-sur-Mer on October 15, 2010 after police moved in to reopen three fuel storage depots blocked by striking workers. AFP

Sarkozy took the decision to send in the police in order to prevent fuel shortages amid reports of panic buying after eight of France’s 12 refineries shut down operations because of the strikes, his office said.

Workers at a depot in Fos-sur-Mer, near the Mediterranean city of Marseille, did not resist when police intervened to reopen a facility that had had been shut since Thursday, unions said.

Police also reopened depots at Bassens and Lespinasse in the southwest and Cournon d’Auvergne in the centre of the country.

But strikers threw up fresh pickets in at least five fuel depots on Friday, at Caen and Ouistreham in the north, Le Mans and Vern-sur-Seiche in the northwest, and La Rochelle on the Atlantic coast.

France’s main unions have upped the ante in their fight against pension reform, calling for their members and supporters to hold the fifth in a series street rallies on Saturday and another one next Tuesday.

A nationwide day of strikes and demonstrations last Tuesday brought more than a million people on to the streets, and workers in some sectors have kept up their stoppages since then.

High school pupils have also demonstrated in several cities in what is traditionally interpreted in France as a sign of hardening resistance.

Pupils threw stones at police at two schools north of Paris on Thursday and officers clashed with youths and made arrests in the northern city of Lens.

On Friday more than 300 schools were affected by student protests, officials said, and in the Riviera city of Cannes a police officer was injured by a stone thrown during a student protest.

“There have never since 1995 been as many protestors … from both the public and private sectors, and now from all generations,” Bernard Thibault, the head of the powerful CGT union, told LCI television.

In 1995 then president Jacques Chirac backed down over pension reform after a three-week transport strike that paralysed France.

But despite the ongoing strikes and protests, the current government shows no sign of backing down on what is a cornerstone of the Sarkozy’s reform agenda as he prepares for his likely re-election battle in 2012.

Key parts of the reform, part of efforts to rein in France’s public deficit, have been definitively passed by the upper house Senate and the government hopes for it to be passed in its entirety by the end of the month.

Unions and the Socialist opposition say the right-wing president is making workers pay an unfair share of the bill for the financial crisis and have made alternative proposals for funding the deficit.

Source: SGGP

Quake strikes Iran for second day: reports

In Uncategorized on August 1, 2010 at 3:19 pm

TEHRAN, July 31, 2010 (AFP) – A 5.8 magnitude earthquake struck southern Iran on Saturday, reports said without providing details on any casualties, a day after a weaker quake injured over 270 people in the country’s northeast.

The latest temblor rattled the southern province of Kerman at 11:22 am (0652 GMT), the website of state television reported, citing the geophysics department of Tehran university.

It disrupted communications, but there were no immediate reports of casualties.

Fars news agency said the epicentre was in the town of Negar in southwest Kerman. It also said there were no immediate reports of casualties, and added the area where the quake struck was rural.

On Friday, a 5.7 magnitude quake rattled northeastern Khorasan Razavi province, leaving at least 274 people injured, ILNA news agency reported, adding only 12 victims were hospitalised.

Iran, including the capital Tehran, sits astride several major fault lines in the earth’s crust, and is prone to frequent earthquakes, many of which have been devastating.

The worst in recent times, of magnitude 6.3, hit the southern city of Bam in December 2003, killing 31,000 people — about a quarter of its population — and destroying the city’s ancient mud-built citadel.

Source: SGGP

Air France strikes flight deal with Vietnam Airlines

In Uncategorized on April 3, 2010 at 9:08 am

(AFP file) Security personel guards two Vietnam Airlines’ aircrafts at Hanoi airport

PARIS, April 2, 2010 (AFP) – Air France signed a code share agreement with Vietnam Airlines that will allow clients to fly directly from Paris to Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City, the French company said on Friday.

The flights, three times a week, will be operated by Vietnam Airlines in a Boeing 777-200 using Air France’s “AF” flight code starting July 3, the airline said in a statement.

The deal will allow Air France to offer six flights to Hanoi per week and seven to Ho Chi Minh City, which includes routes stopping over in Bangkok.

Under the agreement, Air France will operate later this year non-stop flights between Ho Chi Minh City and Paris, also three times a week.

Vietnam Airlines, which will join the SkyTeam alliance that includes Air France this year, has a fleet of 70 planes and carries nine million passengers per year.

Source: SGGP

Air France strikes flight deal with Vietnam Airlines

In Uncategorized on April 3, 2010 at 9:08 am

(AFP file) Security personel guards two Vietnam Airlines’ aircrafts at Hanoi airport

PARIS, April 2, 2010 (AFP) – Air France signed a code share agreement with Vietnam Airlines that will allow clients to fly directly from Paris to Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City, the French company said on Friday.

The flights, three times a week, will be operated by Vietnam Airlines in a Boeing 777-200 using Air France’s “AF” flight code starting July 3, the airline said in a statement.

The deal will allow Air France to offer six flights to Hanoi per week and seven to Ho Chi Minh City, which includes routes stopping over in Bangkok.

Under the agreement, Air France will operate later this year non-stop flights between Ho Chi Minh City and Paris, also three times a week.

Vietnam Airlines, which will join the SkyTeam alliance that includes Air France this year, has a fleet of 70 planes and carries nine million passengers per year.

Source: SGGP

Israel warns of new Gaza assault after air strikes

In Uncategorized on April 2, 2010 at 1:08 pm

JERUSALEM (AFP) – Israel on Friday threatened a widescale military operation against the Gaza Strip after a string of air strikes which injured three Palestinian children following rocket attacks from the enclave.

(AFP file) Palestinians inspect the site of a destroyed factory after an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City.

Israel’s deputy prime minister, Silvan Shalom, warned that the military would soon launch a new offensive on the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip unless the rocket fire was halted.

“If this rocket fire against Israel does not stop, it seems we will have to raise the level of our activity and step up our actions against Hamas,” Shalom told public radio.

“We won’t allow frightened children to again be raised in bomb shelters and so, in the end, it will force us to launch another military operation,” said the deputy premier.

“I hope we can avoid it, but it is one of the options we have, and if we don’t have a choice, we will use it in the near future,” he said.

Three Palestinian children — aged two, four and 11 — were hit by flying glass in one of the six overnight raids, said Moawiya Hassanein, head of the Palestinian emergency services in Gaza.

There were no other reports of casualties.

The strikes came after a rocket fired by Palestinian militants landed near the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon late on Thursday, causing damage but no casualties, the army said.

Nearly 20 rockets have been fired into Israel in the past month, including one that killed a Thai farm worker, in the worst spate of violence since the end of Israel’s 22-day assault on the territory launched in December 2008.

Since the war, which killed some 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis, Israel has routinely responded to sporadic rocket fire with air raids against smuggling tunnels and workshops which Israel says are used to make rockets.

Three of the Israeli strikes overnight targeted an area near Khan Yunis, in southern Gaza. Two of the missiles hit a guard post of the Islamist Hamas movement’s armed wing, the Ezzedine Al-Qassam Brigades.

A fourth raid destroyed a workshop in the refugee camp of Nusseirat, in central Gaza, according to Hamas and witnesses.

In two other air raids, Israeli fighter planes targeted points in the west of Gaza City, destroying a small dairy factory in the Sabra district, according to witnesses.

The military said it hit “a weapons manufacturing site in the northern Gaza Strip, a weapons manufacturing site in the central Gaza Strip and two weapons storage facilities in the southern Gaza Strip.”

“The (army) holds Hamas as solely responsible for maintaining peace and quiet in the Gaza Strip,” it said.

The rise in rocket fire comes amid mounting tensions in the region sparked by Arab fears that Israel has been moving to deepen its hold on annexed, mainly Arab east Jerusalem.

It has also been accompanied by fresh clashes along the Gaza-Israel border.

On Tuesday, a Palestinian teenager was killed and several others were wounded as Israeli troops fired on protesters near the border of the blockaded territory.

And two Israeli soldiers, including an officer, were killed along with two Palestinian gunmen during fierce clashes last weekend when Israeli tanks carried out a brief incursion into Gaza.

Source: SGGP

BA cabin crew threaten more strikes

In Uncategorized on March 28, 2010 at 10:29 am

LONDON, Mar. 28 (AFP) – British Airways (BA) cabin crew entered the second day of a four-day strike Sunday, forcing cancellations and bringing disruption for travellers amid no sign of an end to the bitter dispute.

The Unite trade union, which represents cabin crew, is staging its second walkout in a week and says that there is likely to be more ahead unless BA makes them an acceptable offer.

A British Airways plane flies over striking British Airways cabin crew at Heathrow Airport. AFP photo

“Until such time as a sensible proposal comes on the table, this dispute will continue,” Unite’s Steve Turner told the BBC Saturday.

“There are no talks that are scheduled right now. We’re willing and available to discuss matters with the company at any point in order to reach a sensible, negotiated, acceptable agreement on behalf of our members.”

The strikes centre on what the union says is BA chief executive Willie Walsh’s “slash and burn strategy” to cut costs which it claims would lead to a two-tier workforce and damage standards of customer service.

But Walsh has warned the airline could fold in a decade unless the changes he wants are carried out.

“We are trying to transform the way we operate because the industry is changing and the economic conditions have changed so radically that we’ve got to change,” he told the Daily Telegraph Saturday.

“We’re doing this to make sure BA still exists in 10 years. If we don’t do this, BA won’t exist in 10 years.”

The latest wave of strikes follows three days of action from March 20 which came the day after talks between the two sides broke down.

BA says it will fly more than 75 percent of customers booked to travel during the disrupted period.

A BA spokeswoman said Saturday that London’s Gatwick and City airports were operating as normal and enough staff had turned up to the airline’s main hub at London Heathrow to crew the revised timetable.

Walsh visited Heathrow’s Terminal 5 to talk to passengers who had their travel plans disrupted and said he found customers “very positive”.

“At the same time, I am deeply sorry for those customers who have had their holidays and their plans disrupted,” he said in a video message.

Unite claims six Heathrow flights were loaded with passengers then unloaded because of lack of crew and that many long-haul services were leaving 30 percent below capacity. This is denied by the airline.

Some passengers caught up in the strike voiced frustration at Heathrow.

John Cawley and his family were heading to Newark in the United States ahead of a Caribbean cruise but had to hire a minibus to get to Heathrow from Manchester, northwest England, after their internal flight was cancelled.

“It seems there are no certainties with BA at all,” he said. “We’re having to take this trip one step at a time, once one bit is over we start to worry about the next one. There are question marks over everything.”

Outside Heathrow, striking cabin crew set up picket lines and were joined by staff from Iberia, the Spanish airline which is in talks to merge with BA.

The union has claimed the cost to the airline of the strike action would be 100 million pounds (111 million euros, 149 million dollars).

By contrast, BA has said that last week’s walkout would cost seven million pounds a day and that an assessment of the cost of the full seven-day action could only be made after it was finished.

BA said last month it expected to notch up a record loss in the current financial year due to weak demand for air travel.

Walsh has also denied accusations that he was trying to break the union, after the claim was made in a letter from 116 industrial relations experts from universities across Britain, published in The Guardian on Friday.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has condemned the strike but, just weeks before a general election, faces accusations of a weak response from the main opposition Conservatives because Unite is a major donor to his Labour party.

Source: SGGP

NKorea vows ‘nuclear strikes’ in latest threat

In Uncategorized on March 26, 2010 at 10:23 am

North Korea’s military warned South Korea and the United States on Friday of “unprecedented nuclear strikes” as it expressed anger over a report the two countries plan to prepare for possible instability in the totalitarian country, a scenario it dismissed as a “pipe dream.”

The North routinely issues such warnings. Diplomats in South Korea and the U.S. have repeatedly called on Pyongyang to return to international negotiations aimed at ending its nuclear programs.

“Those who seek to bring down the system in the (North), whether they play a main role or a passive role, will fall victim to the unprecedented nuclear strikes of the invincible army,” North Korea‘s military said in comments carried by the official Korean Central News Agency.

The North, believed have enough weaponized plutonium for at least half a dozen atomic bombs, conducted its second atomic test last year, drawing tighter U.N. sanctions.

A South Korean elderly man watches a documentary picture showing U.S. Gen. Douglas MacArthur, commander in chief of U.N. forces in the Korean War, second from right, at a photo exhibition of Korean War (1950-1953) in Seoul, South Korea.

Experts from South Korea, the U.S. and China will meet in China next month to share information on North Korea, assess possible contingencies in the country, and consider ways to cooperate in case of an emergency situation, South Korea’s Dong-a Ilbo newspaper reported earlier this month, citing unidentified sources in Seoul and Beijing. The experts will also hold follow-up meetings in Seoul in June and in Honolulu in July, it said.

The North Korean statement Friday specifically referred to the March 19 newspaper report.

A spokeswoman said the South Korean Defense Ministry had no information.

South Korean media have reported that Seoul has drawn up a military operations plan with the United States to cope with possible emergencies in the North. The North says the U.S. plots to topple its regime, a claim Washington has consistently denied.

Last month, the North also threatened a “powerful — even nuclear — attack,” if the U.S. and South Korea went ahead with annual military drills. There was no military provocation from North Korea during the exercises.

China, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the U.S. have been trying to persuade North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons in six party talks. The North quit the negotiations last year.

The fate of the North’s nuclear weapons has taken on added urgency since late 2008 as concerns over the health of leader Kim Jong Il have intensified.

Kim, who suffered an apparent stroke in 2008, may die within three years, South Korean media have reported. His death is thought to have the potential to trigger instability and a power struggle in the North.

Gen. Walter Sharp, the top U.S. commander in South Korea, says the possibility of turmoil in the North is of real concern, citing the country’s economic weakness, malnourishment in both the military and general population, and its nuclear weapons.

“The possibility of a sudden leadership change in the North could be destabilizing and unpredictable,” he said in testimony before the House Appropriations Committee hearing earlier this week.

Source: SGGP