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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

U.S. Ambassador, Three Diplomats Killed in Libya Attack

The U.S. ambassador to Libya was killed with other three Americans in an attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. Unidentified armed men entered the consulate overnight amidst an uproar over a U.S.-produced film said to insult the Prophet Mohammad. A crowd of protesters shot at the building and lobbed handmade bombs inside the walls of the complex. Reports suggested that Ambassador Christopher Stevens and his staff went to the consulate in an attempt to evacuate the site after it came under fire and were attempting to leave to a safer place when gunmen launched an attack, causing a retreat into the burning compound. The Libyan doctor who treated Stevens said that he had died of asphyxiation, most likely from inhaling the smoke within the building, with no other injuries. Speaking at the White House, U.S. President Barack Obama said the attacks would not break the bonds between the U.S. and the new Libyan administration, before adding: “make no mistake – justice will be done”. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, speaking before Obama, said that the attack was carried out “by a small and savage group, not the people and government of Libya”. The last time an U.S. ambassador had been killed in service was in Afghanistan, in 1979. Ambassador Adolph Dubs was killed in a firefight after Soviet and Afghan soldiers tried to free him from kidnappers in the Kabul Hotel.

German Court Approves Eurozone Bailout Fund

Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court ruled on Wednesday that the country could ratify Europe’s bailout fund, calming fears that it would remove the region’s main tools to resolve the debt crisis, but added that the German parliament should be given veto rights over any increase to the country’s contribution to the €700 billion ($900 billion) European Stability Mechanism (ESM). The euro climbed to a four-month high against the U.S. dollar after the ruling. “This is a good day for Germany and a good day for Europe”, said German Chancellor Angela Merkel. A first meeting of the ESM board of governors had already been set for the beginning of October, a sign that it should be operating soon. The operation of the fund is fundamental to the viability of the bond-buying plan announced by the European Central Bank a week ago.
Sovereign Debt

Somalia’s New President Survives Insurgent Assassination Attempt

Somalia’s newly-inaugurated president survived an assassination attempt two days into his tenure as bomb blasts shook the site of his meeting with the visiting Kenyan Foreign Minister. Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was holding a press conference in the Jazeera Hotel when the two explosions killed at least five people and wounded another three. “The president is safe. All the people who were inside the hotel are safe”, said Ali Houmed, spokesman for the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). Al-Shebaab, an Islamist group that has been waging war against Somalia’s Western-backed government for five years, claimed responsibility for the attack. “We are responsible for the attack against the so-called president and the delegation”, said Al-Shebaab spokesman Ali Mohamud Rage to the AFP news agency. “Nothing personal, but the whole process is like an enemy project”, continued the spokesman, referring to the United Nations-backed electoral process.

Israel Says the U.S. Has No “Moral Right” to Prevent Attack Against Iran

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denounced U.S. attempts at preventing an unilateral strike on Iran, saying that no country had the “moral right” to prevent Israeli action. “The world tells Israel to wait because there is still time”, said Netanyahu. “And I ask: wait for what? Until when? Those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before Iran don’t have a moral right to place a red light before Israel.” The Israeli Prime Minister said that a clear lack of deadlines or consequences would only embolden Iran. “If Iran knows that there is no red line or deadlines, what will it do? Exactly what it is doing today – continuing to work unhindered towards obtaining nuclear weapons capability and, from there, nuclear bombs”, he said. Reports in the Israeli press indicated that the Prime Minister’s obstinate stance on Iran had earned him a snub from the White House, as U.S. President Barack Obama turned down a request for a meeting during the United Nations’ General Assembly later this month.

U.K. Government Apologises for 1989 Hillsborough Football Disaster

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron said he was “profoundly sorry” for the failures and cover-ups in the wake of Britain’s biggest sporting disaster, a crowd crush at Hillsborough football stadium that killed 96 spectators in 1989. Cameron was addressing Parliament about an independent report that found that the police had deflected the blame for the disaster towards Liverpool fans to cover their failures. The victims died in an overcrowded enclosure at Hillsborough, in Sheffield, a tragedy that sparked a change in English football and brought in all-seated stadiums. The disaster is still a contentious topic in Liverpool, particularly because government officials at the time were quick to vilify local fans. The then-press secretary to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher incensed victims’ families by blaming the deaths on a “tanked-up mob”. “On behalf of the government, and indeed our country, I am profoundly sorry for this double injustice that has been left uncorrected for so long”, said Cameron. “It was wrong that the families have had to wait for so long – and fight so hard – just to get to the truth”.

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