South Korea and U.S. reach deal on beef imports
SEOUL, South Korea: More than 10,000 people rallied in central Seoul on Saturday night to protest beef imports from the United States, despite an announcement hours earlier that Seoul and Washington had agreed to restrict the shipments to allay South Koreans' concerns about mad cow disease.
Although the protest was smaller than a June 10 rally that drew at least 100,000 people, it indicated that President Lee Myung-bak had a long way to go before regaining public confidence.
American trade envoys agreed to restrict beef exports to cattle less than 30 months old, officials said earlier in the day. Younger cattle are considered to pose less risk of mad cow disease, a fatal brain illness that is sometimes transmitted to humans.
Nigerian youths blow up oil pipeline and cut output
ABUJA: Armed youths blew up a Nigerian crude oil pipeline operated by U.S. major Chevron, a militant group said on Saturday, cutting more output from the world's eighth largest oil exporter.
The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) said it was contacted by youths claiming responsibility for Thursday's attack on Chevron's Abiteye-Olero crude pipeline.
The military said about 120,000 barrels per day of crude oil production was shut by the sabotage.
"For production to have stopped, this shows the damage was serious," said the government's Army Brigadier-General Wuyep Rintip, head of the Joint Task Force in the western Delta.
A Chevron spokeswoman confirmed that one of its pipelines was damaged, but declined to say how much output was affected.
French PM hails "transformation" in Algeria ties
ALGIERS: France and Algeria signed defence and civil nuclear power accords on Saturday in what Paris called a sign of transformation in sometimes stormy relations with its former north African colony.
Making the first visit by a French premier in 22 years, Prime Minister Francois Fillon declared French firms would not be driven out of the north African country by armed groups, following the death of a Frenchman in a bombing this month.
"We will not give in to threats," El Watan newspaper quoted him as saying in an interview marking his two-day visit to France's largest trading partner in Africa, which still suffers sporadic attacks by rebels fighting for purist Islamic rule.
Al Qaeda's north Africa wing said it was behind twin bombings that killed a French engineer in Algeria on June 8 east of Algiers and vowed more attacks against "crusaders".
The engineer was the first French citizen killed in political violence in Algeria since the 1990s when the country plunged into a civil conflict that killed up to 200,000 people.
Italy struggles with immigrants and aging
ROME: It is an everyday symbol, touching almost, of Italy's troubled demographics: an older Italian out for some air, at times arm in arm, with a immigrant aide. The aides are often here illegally but have been tolerated because they do work few Italians do: care for the nation's rapidly aging population.
But much as Italy is growing older, it is also more worried about crime. And in the eyes of many Italians, for whom immigration is a relatively new phenomenon, immigrants also have a central role in this. Under a law proposed by the far right wing of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's new government, it would become a felony offense to come to Italy illegally, punishable by prison.
"These days on the streets, you see a lot of policemen, sometimes in plainclothes, stopping people and demanding their documents," said Pilar, 31, a Peruvian here illegally who takes care of a 76-year-old Italian woman. She would not give her full name for fear of being deported. "If they stop me, then what will I do?" she asked.
The law would be one of the strictest in Europe, and the proposal has drawn strong opposition from center-left political parties, human rights organizations, the Vatican, the United Nations and Italian prosecutors worried about overwhelmed courts.
In Italy, where life expectancy is increasing and the birthrate is among the world's lowest, the market for foreign home care aides is expected to swell. Istat, the Italian statistics agency, predicts that in 10 years 13.4 million Italians - nearly a quarter of the population - will be 65 or older. By 2040, they will account for one-third of all residents.
Domenico Volpi, 82, a retired expert in children's literature who keeps busy writing essays and textbooks, said he would be lost without Brigida Parales, who moved here from Ecuador eight years ago. She cooks his meals, cleans his house, reminds him to take his medicine and keeps him company.
"She's indispensable," Volpi said.
Parales is one of the few legal aides. Many more are not, and human rights experts fear that if the new law is passed, employers who do not want to deal with the hassle of legalizing their illegal help (and who fear possible judicial repercussions), might decide that their aides are eminently disposable.
The anticrime package was drafted as one of the new government's first acts in response to widespread fears among Italians that unregulated immigration had increased crime.
"Families are both perpetrators and victims" of illegal immigration, said Maurizio Ambrosini, a professor of the sociology of immigration at the University of Milan. "They want tough laws on illegal immigration, but they are the reason that many immigrants come to Italy illegally."
Assurances have been numerous that the police will not be trolling public parks looking to handcuff domestic workers taking their older charges for a walk. Welfare Minister Maurizio Sacconi has suggested that exemptions could be made for some of the 405,000 foreign domestic workers who applied to be legalized last December. But the heated political debate of recent days suggests that finding a compromise will not be easy.
The sheer numbers involved - estimates for illegal domestic workers vary from 300,000 to 700,000 - have also opened debate on recent changes to the traditionally tight-knit Italian family.
Shells from Pakistan hit Afghan bases
KABUL: Artillery shells fired from Pakistan landed in an Afghan army compound and close to an international military base in Afghanistan on Saturday and NATO forces returned fire, the alliance said.
Elsewhere in Afghanistan, an improvised explosive device (IED) killed four U.S.-led coalition soldiers in the southern province of Kandahar, the scene of a large anti-Taliban offensive and an insurgent jail break.
Tension has mounted between Afghanistan and Pakistan in the last week after Afghan President Hamid Karzai threatened to send troops across the frontier to hunt down Taliban militants based in Pakistan's lawless border region.
"An ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) forward operating base and an Afghan National Army compound in northeastern Paktika province were attacked with indirect fire from across the Afghanistan-Pakistan border today," an ISAF statement said. No casualties were reported.
Three artillery rounds landed near the ISAF base and three rounds landed inside an Afghan army compound, it said. "ISAF forces determined the origination of the rounds to be in Pakistan and returned artillery fire in self-defence."
Pakistan pays tribute to Bhutto
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's new government paid tribute to slain former prime minister Benazir Bhutto and asked President Pervez Musharraf on Saturday to spare thousands of prisoners held on death row.
Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani made the plea for their sentences to be commuted to life imprisonment in a speech to the National Assembly to commemorate Bhutto's 55th birthday.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has estimated that about 7,000 people in Pakistani jails are awaiting execution.
Gilani, a member of Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party (PPP), said the act of mercy would be a "big gift to the nation".
Israel trains to raid Iran but capacities in doubt
Officials, who declined to be identified given the censorship around Israel's strategic capabilities, said the air force would be unlikely to deliver more than a one-time blow to an Iranian nuclear programme, which international experts believe may require as many as 1,000 strikes to be destroyed.
"A hundred warplanes are enough for a raid but they do not make for an air campaign, and that is what is needed to deal conclusively with Iran's capabilities," an official said.
"Israel wants to go it alone against Iran as a last resort only."
Asked why the exercise might have been leaked in the United States, the official said only: "There's a lot of brinkmanship."
Iran presses on with nuclear enrichment "non-stop"
TEHRAN: Iran is pressing on with uranium enrichment "non-stop", its envoy to the U.N. nuclear agency was quoted as saying on Saturday, despite a world powers' offer of economic incentives to coax Tehran into halting such activities.
The Islamic Republic also appeared to dismiss any suggestion of freezing nuclear work it says is for generating electricity but which the West suspects is aimed at making bombs.
Six major powers, including the United States, last week offered Iran help in developing a civilian nuclear programme and other benefits in their latest attempt to resolve a long-running row that has helped pushed oil prices to record highs.
Iran's chief nuclear negotiator said Tehran was ready to start negotiations "based on a win-win principle," the official IRNA news agency said. But it "will not bow to any illogical demands that would deprive it of its rights to continue with its peaceful nuclear activities," Saeed Jalili added.
Australian Aborigines protest state intervention
SYDNEY: Indigenous groups held protests across Australia on Saturday on the first anniversary of the start of a paramilitary style government campaign aimed at countering alcoholism and sexual abuse in remote communities.
The Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER) came into force after a report that found widespread sexual abuse of children and alcoholism in aboriginal communities.
The scheme has split indigenous communities, with some noting that measures under the policy, including alcohol bans and controls on the way individuals can spend welfare payments, have improved life for children.
Critics say that sending in police and soldiers without consultation is discriminatory and demeaning.
"Implementing the intervention, it's just like an occupation. It is an occupation of our lands by the military, by the police and by the bureaucrats," Aboriginal activist Vincent Forrester told Reuters Television at protest in central Sydney attended by a few hundred people.
Australia's 460,000 Aborigines make up about 2 percent of the country's 21 million population and have consistently higher rates of unemployment, substance abuse and domestic violence as well as a life expectancy 17 years less than other Australians.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd apologised in February for the historical mistreatment of Aborigines, including a decades-old assimilation policy under which children were forcibly removed from their families.
Despite the NTER, Aboriginal children remained vulnerable to sexual abuse, the author of a report into the problem said on Friday.
"They're more vulnerable because they're not in a school situation, they're not in any disciplined situation. They're just left in a house," said Rex Wild, the co-author of the Little Children Are Sacred report which led to the intervention.
The government says progress has been made in getting Aboriginal children into schools and providing basic healthcare.
Indigenous affairs minister Jenny Macklin said in a statement on Friday the government was committed to the plan.
But 100,000 Aborigines still live in squalid housing and many children are still absent from school, figures show, and communities themselves report mixed results.
"The measures have caused an enormous amount of hardship for Aboriginal communities," said Paddy Gibson, the organiser of the Sydney march.
"People's income, their basic rights to social security have been taken away on the basis of their race. Income quarantining measures, the seizure of 50 percent of people's social security payments ... means that people are going hungry."
In a report from the Mutitjulu community in the shadow of Uluru, or Ayers Rock, The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper asked elder Bob Randall what the policy had brought to his community.
"Lots of Toyotas," Randall told the paper, referring to the vehicles driven by officials involved in the programme.
But the report also cited the community's chairwoman, Judy Trigger, as saying that women now had money to spend on food "instead of it going on grog (alcohol) and ganja".
At a protest in the northeastern state of Queensland, Aboriginal rights groups called for A$1 billion (483 million pounds) to be spent on fixing problems in communities and the repeal of the intervention, Australian Associated Press reported.
Bosnian Muslims and Croats clash after Euro match
MOSTAR, Bosnia: Dozens of people were admitted to hospital late on Friday after Bosnian Muslim and Bosnian Croat football fans clashed following Turkey's defeat of Croatia in their Euro 2008 quarter-final, officials said.
Around 1,000 police, including special forces, cordoned off the town centre and used teargas to separate the rival fans, who hurled rocks and bottles at each other.
Gunshots and car alarms could be heard as fans attacked cars and smashed nearby shop windows.
Many Bosnian Muslims back Turkey in international competitions for historical and cultural reasons that date back to the five centuries of Ottoman rule in the Balkans, while Croats regard the Croatian national team as their own.
"Dozens of people were admitted to hospital, including four police officers of whom one with serious injuries," a local doctor told Reuters.
Mostar has a history of soccer-related violence. The southern Bosnian city has roughly an equal number of Croats and Muslims, who were enemies during a 1993-94 conflict but later became allies against Bosnian Serbs.
Mostar's rival soccer fans last had a major clash in 2006, after the town's Muslims supported Brazil in a World Cup match that saw the Croats lose 1-0.
One boy was shot and seriously wounded and six policemen were injured when they used tear gas to separate fans who were hurling rocks and bottles at each other.
In 1998 a woman was killed by a stray bullet during celebrations of Croatia's World Cup quarter final victory.
Serbian Socialists in talks with Democrats
BELGRADE: Serbia's Socialist Party has broken off coalition talks with the nationalist bloc and is starting negotiations with the pro-European alliance led by the Democratic Party, officials said on Saturday.
Socialist leader Ivica Dacic told the state news agency Tanjug there was "no common view regarding the key issues" with the nationalists.
Options for the country now were a new election, a Socialist coalition with the pro-European bloc, or a government without the Socialists.
A Socialist alliance with the Democrats has been seen as a done deal in recent weeks, with media and political sources saying the two parties had been in secret talks for some time.
A statement from the Democratic Party, led by President Boris Tadic, said: "Coalition talks (with the Socialists) ... will begin tonight at 8 p.m. (7 p.m. British time)."
The Democrats came first in the election on May 11, but fell short of the 126 seats needed in the 250-seat parliament.
The nationalist Radicals and the DSS of outgoing Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica joined forces after finishing in second and third place.
They were brought together by their virulent opposition to membership of the European Union, which backed independence for the province of Kosovo in February.
But efforts by the nationalists to lure the Socialists, and their 20 MPs, into an alliance stumbled on the EU issue. The Socialists refused to freeze Serbia's bid for EU membership, arguing that the resulting economic progress is key to the generous social policy they stand for.
The Democrats have made clear they are ready to seal a coalition with the Socialists at any cost, in the spirit of a 'forgive-and-forget national reconciliation'.
Once bitter critics of former leader Slobodan Milosevic's aggressive nationalism in the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s, the Democrats now say they will help the Socialists renew their image and could water down economic reforms to accommodate the Socialists' populist agenda.
Political sources say the Democrats would also offer the Socialists several powerful ministerial posts and lucrative positions in Serbia's many state companies.
Britain turns over documents on torture claims
LONDON: Britain has turned over classified material to U.S. military prosecutors at Guantánamo Bay about a British prisoner's allegations that he was interrogated and tortured in Morocco after secretly being taken there by the CIA, according to the British Foreign Office.
The prisoner, Binyam Mohamed, was charged by U.S. military prosecutors last month with conspiracy and material support for terrorism, and the Foreign Office said in a letter to his lawyer that the evidence it gave to the Pentagon could be "exculpatory and relevant."
In the letter, which has not been made public, the Foreign Office acknowledged that it had previously denied - to the defendant's lawyers and to a parliamentary committee - having had any information pertaining to Mohamed.
The Foreign Office told the lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, that it could not reveal the contents of the classified material, but that the U.S. prosecutors had an obligation to turn it over to the defense before any trial.
The U.S. government under President George W. Bush and the British government under Prime Minister Gordon Brown have been at loggerheads over Mohamed's case for nearly a year. In August 2007, Britain sought Mohamed's release and return to Britain, but the Bush administration refused.
"The government's request for Mr. Mohamed's release and return stands, and we will continue our close engagement with the U.S. over his case," the Foreign Office wrote June 6 to Stafford Smith. It added, "As you know, we have also written to the U.S. authorities asking them to investigate Mr. Mohamed's allegations of mistreatment."
Carter shines in All Blacks win over England
CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand: Daniel Carter produced a sublime all-round performance to lead New Zealand to a 44-12 victory over an outclassed England side in the second test at Lancaster Park on Saturday.
Carter, whose only mistake was to slice his first kick, embodied New Zealand's dominance by setting up Richard Kahui's try, scoring himself and slotting three penalties and four conversions for a personal tally of 22 points.
Ma'a Nonu, Sione Lauaki and Jimmy Cowan also scored second-half tries for the All Blacks while Danny Care and Tom Varndell scored consolation efforts for England when New Zealand's defence fell asleep close to the line.
Replacement flyhalf Olly Barkley converted Care's try.
"We're reasonably happy, 44-12 is a good result against a good England team so we're pleased with that," New Zealand coach Graham Henry told reporters.
New Zealand again experienced lineout problems but of more concern would be the ankle injuries sustained by lock Ali Williams and captain Richie McCaw, both of whom limped off during the first half.
Carter opened New Zealand's account with a second-minute penalty before he set up debutant Richard Kahui with a ghosting run through a poor defensive line.
The flyhalf converted to give the All Blacks a 10-0 lead within 13 minutes and, while New Zealand dominated territory, they could not extend the lead until Carter added his second penalty 10 minutes later.
Carter, who was held up over the line five minutes later, managed to score from the resulting attacking scrum and convert to give the All Blacks a 20-0 lead within 30 minutes.
England blew two certain first-half tries with Varndell being forced into touch while fullback Mathew Tait lost the ball forward with the line open.
"We didn't deserve to be 20-0 down at halftime. Quite the opposite, we thought we deserved to be even," England caretaker coach Rob Andrew said.
England's first points came from Care's dart after a quick tap penalty before the All Blacks struck back with tries to Nonu and Lauaki, who went over untouched from an attacking scrum immediately after England centre Mike Tindall was sin-binned for the second week in a row.
Varndell then scored his side's second try, while Cowan completed the scoring after the final hooter when he took a quick tap penalty and scrambled over for the try.
"From coming 20-0 at halftime I think it was 17-12 until the hooter," said Andrew.
"We were a bit naive, to be honest, to try and play on when the game was over and I think we chased the game a little bit too much in the last 10 minutes."