- - Wednesday, September 22, 2010

RUSSIA

Medvedev bans sale of missiles to Iran

MOSCOW | Russian President Dmitry Medvedev issued a decree Wednesday banning all sales of S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems to Iran.

Russia signed a 2007 contract to sell the sophisticated systems that could boost Iran’s ability to defend against airstrikes. Israel and the United States have objected to the deal, and no such missiles have been delivered yet.

Mr. Medvedev’s decree also prohibited exports of tanks, aircraft and sea vessels to Iran.

The S-300 is capable of shooting down aircraft and missiles at ranges of more than 90 miles and at altitudes of about 90,000 feet.

The United States and Israel opposed the sale because the weapons likely would be used to protect Iranian nuclear facilities.

CANADA

Government loses bid to ease gun laws

OTTAWA | Canada’s minority Conservative government narrowly lost its bid Wednesday to relax the country’s gun-control laws, an issue that is likely to feature heavily in an election campaign expected within the next year.

The House of Commons voted 153-151 to retain a national registry of rifles and shotguns the government says is a waste of money and penalizes law-abiding hunters and farmers. The Conservatives enjoy significant support among rural voters.

“The people of the regions of this country are never going to accept being treated like criminals, and we will continue our efforts until this registry is finally abolished,” Prime Minister Stephen Harper told reporters after the vote.

Opposition parliamentarians, most of whom backed the registry, say it helps curb crime.

The program was set up in 1995 in the wake of a 1989 massacre in Montreal, when a gunman with a rifle killed 14 women at a college.

ISRAEL

Jerusalem flares up after Palestinian is slain

JERUSALEM | An Israeli security guard killed a Palestinian in an Arab neighborhood of Jerusalem on Wednesday, triggering clashes between police and rioters, including in the compound of the al-Aqsa mosque.

Police said they entered the plaza to push back Palestinians who had thrown rocks at the nearby Jewish prayer site the Western Wall.

The Palestinians withdrew into the mosque, Islam’s third-holiest shrine, and there were no immediate reports of casualties or further confrontations, a spokesman said.

Palestinian officials said the killing of a 32-year-old resident of East Jerusalem and subsequent police response had undermined nascent U.S.-sponsored peace negotiations. Israeli authorities said the guard, who provided government-funded protection for a small Jewish settlement in the Silwan district, opened fire on dozens of Palestinians who had blocked and stoned his car before dawn.

At least seven Israeli civilians and a policeman were hurt in the clashes, police said.

POLAND

Dalai Lama hails Poland’s Solidarity

WROCLAW | Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, hailed Poland’s 1980s freedom-fighting Solidarity movement Wednesday as the trade union that peacefully toppled the Polish Communist Party turns 30.

“Spiritually, emotionally, I was involved with your Solidarity movement,” the Dalai Lama told an audience of 6,000 in Wroclaw, southwest Poland, at a lecture marking three decades since the rise of Solidarity, the first free trade union in the entire Soviet bloc.

“I think in terms of global change in this part of the world, Solidarity definitely made change, including the Soviet Union. It really made an important impact,” said the 75-year-old Tibetan Buddhist leader, who has been living in exile for the past 51 years after communist China’s 1950 invasion of his Himalayan homeland.

After an unprecedented two-week-long strike at the Lenin Shipyards in the Baltic Sea port of Gdansk, Poland’s communist regime signed an agreement on Aug. 31, 1980, with strikers led by shipyard electrician Lech Walesa that paved the way for the creation of Solidarnosc [Solidarity].

YEMEN

Al Qaeda battles Yemeni troops

SAN’A | Al Qaeda militants holed up in a village in south Yemen on Wednesday fought off repeated attempts by government troops backed by tanks and heavy artillery to retake the besieged town, officials said.

Thousands of people have fled Hawta and the surrounding area in Shabwa province since security forces laid siege to the village three days ago. The operation signals an escalation in the government’s U.S.-backed campaign to uproot the terrorist network’s local offshoot, known as Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

Shabwa officials said at least four al Qaeda fighters and a civilian have been killed since the fighting began Saturday, while medical officials said at least nine soldiers have been wounded in the past two days. More than two dozen suspected militants have been detained.

From wire dispatches and staff reports