- - Sunday, December 26, 2010

UNITED NATIONS

Israel to boycott U.N. racism meeting

UNITED NATIONS | Israel vowed Sunday to boycott a 2011 U.N. summit commemorating a controversial conference on racism that became overshadowed by disputes over the Middle East.

Canada has already said it will not take part in events marking the 10th anniversary of the Durban declaration on racism and some U.S. senators are urging the United States to boycott the meetings, which were called for in a vote at the U.N. General Assembly on Friday.

“Under the present circumstances, as long as the meeting is defined as part of the infamous ‘Durban process,’ Israel will not participate in the meeting scheduled to take place in U.N. headquarters in New York in September 2011,” said Israel’s U.N. mission spokeswoman Karean Peretz.

Israel and the United States opposed the resolution — which passed 104-22, with 33 abstentions — that called for the new follow-up summit to the 2001 World Conference Against Racism in the South African city of Durban.

Insisting that “Israel is part of the international struggle against racism,” Ms. Peretz said “Israel regrets that a resolution on an important subject — elimination of racism — has been diverted and politicized by the automatic majority at the U.N., by linking it to the Durban Declaration and Program of Action that many states would prefer to forget.”

CHINA

China’s Wen seeks to assure public on inflation

BEIJING | Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao tried on Sunday to reassure the public about the government’s ability to control inflation, a day after China raised interest rates amid worries that rising prices could hurt social stability.

Mr. Wen’s remarks underscore the government’s concerns about anger over inflation — an especially sensitive topic in a society where poor families spend up to half their incomes on food. Rising incomes have helped offset price hikes, but inflation undercuts economic gains that help support the ruling Communist Party’s claim to power.

“I can tell everybody, the government has complete confidence in tiding over this difficult stage together with the masses,” Mr. Wen said while taking questions from callers during a visit to China National Radio’s offices, according to a report on the station’s website.

Mr. Wen expressed confidence in the government’s ability to control price increases, pointing to large grain reserves as well as moves to support production by reducing and waiving taxes.

Inflation jumped to 5.1 percent in November, a 28-month high, despite a crackdown on speculation and repeated moves to curb a flood of money circulating in the economy from massive stimulus spending and bank lending.

NIGERIA

Christmas weekend violence kills 38 in Nigeria

MAIDUGURI | Dozens of armed men attacked the church on Christmas Eve, dragging the pastor out of his home and fatally shooting him. Two young men from the choir rehearsing for a late-night carol service also were slain.

The group of about 30 attackers armed with guns and knives also killed two people passing by Victory Baptist Church. The assailants only left after setting the church and pastor’s house ablaze.

Danjuma Akawu, the church’s secretary, managed to escape after he and others climbed over the church’s fence.

“I cannot understand these attacks,” Mr. Akawu said. “Why Christians? Why Christians? The police have failed to protect us.”

At the opposite end of the city, the Rev. Haskanda Jessu said that three men attacked the Church of Christ in Nigeria an hour later, killing a 60-year-old security guard.

At least 38 people died in Christmas Eve attacks across Nigeria, including the six killed at churches in the country’s north by suspected members of a radical Muslim sect. In central Nigeria, 32 died in a series of bomb blasts in the worst violence to hit the region in months.

YEMEN

Anti-terror unit set up in al Qaeda bastion

SAN’A | A Yemeni security official says his country is setting up regional anti-terrorism units to confront al Qaeda operatives in their strongholds.

The official said Sunday the special units will operate in four provinces believed to house senior al Qaeda leaders in a bid to “uproot” terrorism from Yemen.

Yemen has highly trained, U.S.-funded anti-terrorism security units. This is the first time officials have said the units will be based in the heartland of al Qaeda.

The move follows a conversation between Yemen’s president and a top U.S. counterterrorism official, who urged San’a to take “forceful” action against al Qaeda and improve cooperation.

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