Apr 18 2011

Six In The Morning

U.S. secretly backed Syrian opposition groups, cables released by WikiLeaks show

By Craig Whitlock

The State Department has secretly financed Syrian political opposition groups and related projects, including a satellite TV channel that beams anti-government programming into the country, according to previously undisclosed diplomatic cables.

The London-based satellite channel, Barada TV, began broadcasting in April 2009 but has ramped up operations to cover the mass protests in Syria as part of a long-standing campaign to overthrow the country’s autocratic leader, Bashar al-Assad. Human rights groups say scores of people have been killed by Assad’s security forces since the demonstrations began March 18; Syria has blamed the violence on “armed gangs.”

Anger on streets as ‘national hero’ generals are jailed for war crimes

By Vesna Peric Zimonjic Monday, 18 April 2011

Up to 30,000 Croats took to the streets of the capital Zagreb over the weekend to protest against the jailing of two generals for war crimes in the Balkans wars on Friday.

Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac are considered national heroes in Croatia. General Gotovina was jailed by the war crimes tribunal in The Hague for 24 years, and General Markac received an 18-year sentence. Both were found guilty of orchestrating a campaign of murder and looting that led to the expulsion of some 200,000 Serbs from Croatia in 1995. A third general, Ivan Cermak, was acquitted of all charges and arrived in Zagreb late on Friday.

Japan PM under fire in polls

irishtimes.com – Last Updated: Monday, April 18, 2011

Most Japanese want a new prime minister to lead the massive rebuilding needed after last month’s earthquake and tsunami, newspaper polls showed today, as the head of government was again scolded in parliament for his handling of the disaster.

Japan is also struggling to bring the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant under control after it was damaged by the March 11 natural disasters and began leaking radiation, a process that could take the rest of the year.

Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco) said yesterday it hoped to achieve a cold shutdown to make the reactors stable within six to nine months.

Full recovery could take even longer, the government has said, while rebuilding the shattered northeastern coast has yet to begin.

Chinese dogs saved from cooking pot

April 18, 2011 – 5:09PM

Hundreds of dogs being trucked to Chinese restaurants were spared a culinary fate after about 200 animal lovers mobilised to stop them ending up on dinner tables, state-run media said on Monday.

A truck crammed with the dogs was forced to stop on a highway in eastern Beijing on Friday by a motorist who swerved his car in front of the truck and then used his microblog to alert animal-rights activists, reports said.

Siege of Misrata: Death toll mounts



“Some 80% of the deaths are civilians,” said Dr Khaled Abu Falgha, administrator of the city’s main hospital.

Medical staff have seen a sudden rise in the number of people brought into the hospital in the last week suffering gunshot wounds to their heads and necks — the preferred target zone of marksmen.

Another six beds in the intensive care unit are occupied by men brought down by snipers posted around the city by forces loyal to Gaddafi.

Nationalist True Finns make gains in Finland vote

A nationalist party has taken nearly a fifth of votes in Finland’s general election, the electoral commission says.

The True Finns finished just behind the conservative NCP and the Social Democrats on around 19%.

While the Social Democrats have called for changes on EU bail-outs, including the planned Portuguese rescue, True Finns opposes the plans altogether.

A hostile Finnish government could theoretically veto the package.

Unlike other eurozone countries, Finland’s parliament can vote on whether to approve the measures.