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Egyptians pack Tahrir for protest and celebration

CAIRO (Reuters) – Egypt’s new military rulers, promising to guard against “counter-revolution,” faced political pressure on Friday to purge the cabinet of ministers appointed by Hosni Mubarak as thousands of protesters gathered in Cairo. On the eve of the rally that will also celebrate two weeks since Mubarak’s removal, the…

Tens of thousands rally across Yemen

SANAA — Tens of thousands of Yemenis demonstrated after the main weekly Muslim prayers around the country on Friday to demand that veteran President Ali Abdullah Saleh step down. In the capital, thousands poured into a main square near Sanaa University, many of them women, chanting “Out, out!” and “God…

Red Crescent in Libyan aid effort overstretched: EU

SOFIA – The Red Crescent, which is the only humanitarian aid organisation currently on the ground in Libya, is already overstretched and facing a severe shortage of medical supplies, EU’s Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva said Thursday. “What particularly worries us is that with the exception of the local organisation…

US steps up pressure on Gaddafi

WASHINGTON – The United States Thursday called on the UN Human Rights Council to dump Libya and consulted key allies on imposing sanctions, accelerating the international drive to halt Moamer Kadhafi’s brutal protest crackdown. US officials meanwhile nervously awaited the weather-delayed sailing of a chartered ferry carrying nearly 300 Americans…

China proposes death penalty for organ traffickers

SHANGHAI – Organ traffickers in China could face the death penalty under a draft law being reviewed by the country’s top legislature, state media reported Thursday. Those convicted of “forced organ removal, forced organ donation or organ removal from juveniles” could face the same punishment as for homicide, which ranges…

European freighter docks with space station

TOULOUSE, France – A robot freighter laden with seven tonnes of supplies docked flawlessly on Thursday with the International Space Station (ISS), its European controllers said here. The Johannes Kepler teamed up with the ISS at 1708 GMT after an eight-day orbital flight covering some four million kilometres (2.5 million…

Oil soars close to $120 on Libya fears

LONDON – Oil prices rocketed close to $120 on Thursday, levels unseen since mid-2008, as growing instability in Libya stoked supply jitters across the Middle East and beyond. Brent North Sea crude for delivery in April rallied as high as $119.79 per barrel, the highest since August 22, 2008. It…

Algeria lifts state of emergency after 19 years

ALGIERS – Algeria on Thursday lifted its state of emergency after 19 years following unprecedented protests last month that threatened President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s decades-old regime, against a background of revolts across the Arab world. President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has “ordered the cancellation of the extension of the emergency measure put in…

Don’t test Israel, Netanyahu warns Gaza militants

JERUSALEM – Israel on Thursday warned militants in the Gaza Strip not to “test” the Jewish state, as fighter jets pounded targets across the coastal enclave after a Palestinian rocket attack. Slamming into a house, it was the first rocket to strike Israel’s city of Beersheva since the devastating 2008-2009…

Gaddafi blames hallucinogens, Osama bin Laden for insurrection

BENGHAZI, Libya – Moamer Kadhafi blamed Al-Qaeda on Thursday for an insurrection wracking Libya as he addressed his divided nation for the second time this week to galvanise support for his crumbling regime. Speaking on state television, the embattled Kadhafi insisted the uprising against his 41-year rule was not a…

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