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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Ahmadinejad Uses U.N. Speech to Accuse Western Powers of Discrimination

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad used his speech before the U.N. General Assembly to accuse the main powers of using the organisation to bully smaller nations. “The existence of discrimination of members is a great insult to all. The existence of discrimination and monopoly in the UN is in no way acceptable”. His speech was boycotted by the U.S. delegation to protest his anti-Israel views, though no other Western nation chose to leave the hemicycle during the speech. Ahmadinejad’s speech took a messianic and esoteric direction near its end, with the Iranian president suggesting that the Mahdi would arrive to “cut through the ignorance by opening the gates of science and knowledge” and ending with a remark that all those present “can sense the scent of the soulful breeze of the spring”. Microphones in the hall caught one of the dignitaries present suggesting that it had been an “unusual speech” and that he was not aware that “the Saviour would come to take us to heaven”.

Police and Protesters Clash in Greece Amidst Nationwide Strike

Police in Athens clashed with anti-austerity protesters in Athens during the first nationwide strike in the country since Prime Minister Antonis Samaras took power in June. The clashes began after 50,000 protesters marched onto Syntagma Square, where the Greek Parliament building is located, chanting “We won’t submit to the troika” and “EU, IMF out”. As the rally dispersed, some hooded youths threw stones, bottles and petrol bombs at riot police, who responded with rounds of teargas. The strike halted flights at the country’s major airports and shut down schools, hospitals, commercial establishments and transportation services, coming a day after the country was reported to have requested two more years and another €30 billion to comply with targets set by the troika.

Massive Explosions Hit Damascus, Rock Army Headquarters

Twin explosions targeting the Syrian army command centre rocked Damascus on Wednesday morning. A Syrian state television anchor read a statement shortly after the blasts from an “official military source” saying that no senior military personnel had been injured. The statement also said that the explosions were caused by a car bomb near Umayyad Square and a separate bomb in the General Staff building. Gun battles began shortly after the blasts and the Iranian television channel Press TV reported that one of its correspondents, 33-year-old Maya Nasser, a Syrian national, died in a sniper attack amidst the fighting. Rebels from the opposition Free Syrian Army claimed responsibility for the bombings, but insisted that dozens had been killed in the attack.

China, Japan in Tense Talks on Disputed Islands at the United Nations

A meeting between the Foreign Ministers of China and Japan at the United Nations in a bid to resolve the question of the disputed islands in the East China Sea, called Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japan, ended with no breakthrough on Wednesday. “Although the atmosphere was a bit severe, the Chinese side laid out its own case and the ministers agreed to continue the dialogue”, said a Japanese official to the AFP news agency. A statement released by the Chinese Foreign Ministry said that the “Chinese side will by no means tolerate any action by the Japanese side on the Diaoyu islands”, but that talks should continue. Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba met at the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York.

Radical Muslim Cleric Granted Injunction Against Extradition to U.S.

Radical Muslim cleric Abu Hamza was granted a temporary injuction against his extradition from the U.K. to face charges in the United States, including counts related to the taking of hostages in Yemen in 1998, advocating jihad in Afghanistan in 2001 and conspiring to establish a terrorist training camp in Oregon in 2001. Although it is not known why a senior British judge accepted his application for an injunction, government sources had previously suggested he could try to argue he was not fit to travel to the U.S. The move comes two days after he lost a final appeal at the European Court of Human Rights along with two other terror suspects. The U.K. Home Office had argued that it would remove the suspects from the country “as soon as possible”.

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