Iranian MPs’ “Death to America” chant — how will Sen. Obama and McCain react?

Iran speaker warns nuclear agency — BBC News

Iran’s new parliament speaker has warned that it could set limits on future co-operation with the United Nation’s nuclear agency, the IAEA.

Former nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani said parts of the agency’s latest report on Tehran’s nuclear programme had been “deceitful” and “ambiguous”.

Addressing parliament in a speech broadcast live on radio, Mr Larijani accused the IAEA of secretly sharing information about the Iranian nuclear file with Tehran’s critics in the UN security council.

“Parliament will not allow that such deceptions are made,” Mr Larijani said.

“If they continue along this path, the new parliament will intervene in the case and set a new line for co-operation with the IAEA.”

The comments drew chants of “God is great” and “Death to America” from the audience of MPs.

Senator John McCain has consistently attacked Senator Barack Obama over his continual commitment and promise to speak “without preconditions” to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has in the past called the U.S.’ main Middle East ally, Israel, a “stinking corpse” which should be “wiped off the map”. Sen McCain has also accused Iran of killing American service personnel in Iraq.

Today, as above, Iranian MPs have started speaking about “Death to America”. Does Sen Obama really want to talk to the leader of a country whose members of parliament — and President Ahmadinehad himself might harbour similar, if less explicit, feelings — want Americans dead? How will the two camps react to this? Will they let it slip past? Will Sen McCain take the opportunity to hit Barack Obama? Or will we see Sen Obama speaking out against this — which would be a first?


ICJ awards Pedra Branca to Singapore

The International Court of Justice has awarded sovereignty of a strategic rocky outcrop in the Singapore Strait/South China Sea called Pedra Branca to Singapore, ending a 28-year dispute over the islet. Singapore, which has maintained sovereignty for over 150 years (including under the British colonial government), had argued that it should continue to hold sovereignty.

The ICJ’s 16-member bench voted 12-4 in favour of awarding Singapore sovereignty, although they also voted 15-1 to award sovereignty over two of Pedra Branca’s outcrops, Middle Rocks and South Ledge, to the country in whose territorial waters these lie. In the case of Middle Rocks, it is Malaysia, although the waters around South Ledge, remain under negotiation pending the delineation of the maritime boundaries surrounding Pedra Branca (which Malaysia calls “Pulau Batu Puteh” — both names mean “White Rock”) and the Middle Rocks.

This is a major blow to Malaysia’s embattled Prime Minister, Mr Abdullah Badawi, who has come under a lot of pressure in recent days. It will be interesting to see how the two countries react.

UNSG Ban in Burma: junta ‘to allow foreign aid workers’

Original post:
The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has arrived in Burma and has toured the devastated Irrawaddy Delta in a helicopter. He will meet Senior General Than Shwe, the leader of the military junta.

The former Australian Foreign Minister under ex-PM John Howard, Mr Alexander Downer, has just been on the BBC World Service. He described a prior meeting of his with Sen. Gen. Than as “polite” but warned that Mr Ban will get a “polite but cold” reaction from the junta.

Still, the recent agreement with the Association of Southeast Asian nations is a good step forward in terms of the relief effort. More can still be done, but it’s a first step.

Let’s see what Mr Ban accomplishes.

(Side note: foreign journalists, normally banned from Burma, have been let in if they are part of the UN’s press corps. Will be interesting to see how the junta handles them.)

Update (0705 UTC May 23): The BBC is reporting that following talks between Mr Ban and Gen Than Shwe in the junta capital Nay Pyi Taw, Burma will allow in all foreign aid workers now. Whether there will still be restrictions on them is yet to be seen.

Rangers fans’ behaviour following UEFA Cup final

I may be a Liverpool fan, but when it comes to the game north of the border, despite Liverpool’s close ties to Celtic, I am partial towards the blue half of Glasgow. What occurred last night following the 2-0 loss to Zenit St. Petersburg in the UEFA Cup final in Manchester was unacceptable.

Some Rangers fans — it is important to stress that a majority of Rangers fans were not involved — behaved rowdily, drunkenly, and unprofessionally, dragging the club’s name into mud. A pack of 200 fans allegedly chased police officers — who needed to call in police dogs — and one officer was badly injured in the violence.

Rangers, credit to them, have come out and condemned the behaviour of these fans — who cannot be called that. UEFA has praised the city of Manchester’s handling of the event and subsequent trouble. I cannot beg to disagree. A number of MSPs — from both Scottish Labour and Scottish Conservatives — have called for an inquiry into the use of police force.

It seems as though this was necessary for the officers to protect themselves.

Rangers will go back to Glasgow defeated. They will also go back to Glasgow with shame on their name thanks to these idiotic people who rampaged through Manchester. If Rangers can identify any of these fans it would be in the club’s best interest to ban them from Ibrox Park to serve as a warning to the rest of their travelling support not to misbehave at such a big event.

On a related note, Celtic legend Tommy Burns passed away today at 51 after losing a battle to cancer. Condolences to his family and Celtic during this difficult period.

Almost 15,000 dead in China quake: Xinhua

Breaking NewsAs of 1130 UTC: Nearly 15,000 people are now known to have died.

2355 UTC: CNN reports that pandas at the Wolong reserve are safe.

1245 UTC: 18,000 or more buried alive in one town alone. A panda sanctuary close to the epicentre has not yet been contacted and there are fears for the panda population, as well as staff and tourists — including foreigners, with at least 15 British tourists involved, the BBC reports.

0925 UTC: The death toll is now 11,922, according to CNN.

2330 UTC: As of 2200 UTC, Xinhua was reporting at least 10,000 deaths in Sichuan Province.

1505 UTC: Xinhua now reporting a toll of 7,651. Hundreds still trapped in collapsed buildings — including two chemical plants.

1500 UTC: Xinhua is now reporting that the death toll is at least 7,000. 50 bodies have been pulled from the earlier-mentioned collapsed school building.

1330 UTC: China’s state-run Xinhua news agency reports that 3,000 to 5,000 people are feared dead in a single county — Beichuan — alone following a Mw 7.8 earthquake that hit earlier today.

107 are already confirmed dead and 900 are trapped in a collapsed school building. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and military forces are already on their way to the affected areas. The quake was felt as far away as Beijing (950 miles from epicentre) and Bangkok, Thailand.

China’s rapid response to this disaster is in direct and stark contrast to that of the military junta in Burma, who continue to control aid into the country there following Cyclone Nargis.

Tropical Cyclone Nargis — the aftermath

Will update with latest news on the aftermath of Very Severe Cyclonic Storm Nargis, which hit Burma (Myanmar)1 last weekend.

1800 UTC Friday May 16: State media is now reporting an official death toll of near 78,000 people. Another 56,000 are missing.

1140 UTC Wednesday May 14: The tropical disturbance previously located in the Gulf of Martaban has moved over the Irrawaddy delta and could become a cyclone in the next 24 hours. However, while it will bring more rains and some gales to the delta, it will more likely make landfall in Bangladesh.

0825 UTC Tuesday May 13: Burma continues to insist that no foreign aid workers are required in the country. A new tropical disturbance has developed over and south of the Irrawaddy delta and is moving north. It is likely not to have enough time to develop into a cyclone, but will bring heavy rains to the delta.

1430 UTC Monday May 12: BBC News ticker: “LATEST: Burma says 31,938 died in this month’s devastating cyclone.”

0945 UTC Monday May 12: That U.S. aid plane has now landed in Rangoon.

0630 UTC Monday May 12: The BBC reports that the first U.S. aid flight to Burma has taken off from Bangkok. Three Doctors Without Borders (MSF) flights are also due in Burma today.

1345 UTC Sunday May 11: A cargo ship carrying enough aid for 1,000 survivors has crashed into a submerged tree and sunk in the Irrawaddy delta, dealing a blow to relief efforts. All on board survived.

1325 UTC Sunday May 11: New toll from the junta: 28,458 dead; 33,416 missing.

1250 UTC Sunday May 11: Reports that the Burmese junta has let the WFP distribute 38 tonnes of its aid which had been impounded in Rangoon upon arrival. If this is true and the junta are no longer controlling the distribution it’s good news.

0720 UTC Sunday May 11: Daily Mail journalist reports that two trucks of UN aid were driven to an abandoned pagoda and left there without distribution. Shameful.

0100 UTC Sunday May 11: The UN says that it fears only a quarter of aid has reached survivors of the cyclone. The ICRC has said it hopes seven more flights will arrive before Monday — but will they all be impounded?

1525 UTC Saturday May 10: Two more WFP aid planes have had their cargo impounded upon arrival in Rangoon. The junta continues to insist it will control aid distribution, severely hampering relief efforts. This also means that the eastern states of Burma bordering Thailand will likely see little to no aid, as there is an uprising against the junta there.

0755 UTC Saturday May 10: There’s a new official toll. The BBC is now reporting the official toll to be 23,335 dead; 37,019 missing.

0145 UTC Saturday May 10: CNN’s Dan Rivers — now out of Burma — reports that there was a massive police effort to find him while he was in the country. If the junta are now going after foreign journalists, they are wasting crucial resources and time on this instead of helping survivors. Another reason to pressure the junta more.

0130 UTC Saturday May 10: BBC reports “There are reports that a senior general over-rode requests from his officers to divert army resources to help the cyclone victims – in order to maintain security for the [constitutional referendum].” Two correspondents in the Irrawaddy delta are now reporting outbreaks of dysentery. The Burmese UN envoy now claims that his country is ready to accept help from anyone.

(Older updates after the jump)
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Indiana people are s***?

This video allegedly shows an aide to Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton telling Clinton backer James Carville this about an upcoming primary: “Indiana? Those people are shit.”

Well, as the BBC’s Justin Webb reports, it’s a hoax. It’s been dubbed; the footage taken from a documentary.

Is this what Sen Obama’s supporters have stooped down to?