- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Pyongyang-bound metal stash seized

BEIJING | Chinese customs authorities have seized a stash of vanadium, a strategic metal used to strengthen steel, hidden in fruit boxes on a truck bound for North Korea, an official said Tuesday.

Vanadium has defense and nuclear applications - alloys with vanadium are used in missile casings - but it was not clear what the stash would be used for.

The seizure comes as the United States has been rallying international support for strict enforcement of a new U.N. resolution adopted to punish North Korea for its May 25 nuclear test. The sanctions seek to deprive the North of financing and material for its weapons program, and allows inspections of suspect cargo in ports and on the high seas.


Thousands flee to Yemen, U.N. says

MOGADISHU | Thousands of Somalis fleeing the fighting around the capital have massed in a northern town, trying to cross the Gulf of Aden into Yemen, the U.N. refugee agency said Tuesday.

The exodus comes as the country’s beleaguered president, Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed, prepares for a meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in Nairobi, Kenya, next week.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said nearly a quarter-million Somalis had fled their homes since May 7, when newly unified Islamist insurgents launched a concerted attack on Mogadishu, the capital. The State Department said some of the insurgent leaders have links to al Qaeda.


Civil servants asked to tweet

LONDON | The British government has told civil servants: Go forth and tweet. The government published guidelines Tuesday for its departments on using the social-networking site Twitter.

In contrast to Twitter’s limit of 140 characters per message, the document runs 20 pages, or more than 5,000 words.

It tells civil servants their tweets should be “human and credible” and written in “informal spoken English.” It advises government departments to produce between two and 10 tweets a day, with a gap of at least 30 minutes between each “to avoid flooding our followers’ Twitter streams.”

The advice says Twitter can be used for everything from announcements to insights from ministers, and in a crisis could be a “primary channel” for communicating with the electorate.


Troops surround militant hideout

MAIDUGURI | Army troops traded fire with Islamic militants Tuesday and surrounded the suspected hideout of a radical Muslim leader accused of orchestrating three days of violence in Africa’s most populous nation.

A tense calm returned to several towns elsewhere in northern Nigeria after authorities imposed curfews and sent security forces into the streets to quell militant attacks against police, which have killed dozens of people since Sunday.

Sporadic gunfire was reported through the day in Maiduguri, capital of Borno state, where some of the worst violence occurred Monday. Police exchanged intermittent fire with militants as they tried to raid their camps in the city, according to a local journalist.

Later in the day, the army sent armored vehicles to Maiduguri and deployed them in a residential district that is believed to be a stronghold of the sect. Officers said they believed militant leader Ustaz Mohammed Yusuf was holed up in a house in the district.


Military to replace civilian president

SUVA | Military-led Fiji announced Tuesday that its aged and ailing president would step down this week and be succeeded by a former army commander, a move observers say will consolidate the military’s rule in this South Pacific nation.

Self-appointed Prime Minister Commodore Frank Bainimarama, who took power in a bloodless 2006 coup, said President Ratu Josefa Iloilo will retire Thursday. Vice President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, a former military chief, will serve as acting president until the Cabinet and chief justice decide on a replacement.

Mr. Iloilo, 88, who has been president since late 2000, was widely seen as being under the influence of Commodore Bainimarama even before the coup, when the military chief toppled the elected government of Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase.

Mr. Iloilo announced Commodore Bainimarama’s appointment as prime minister after the coup. In April, he withdrew Fiji’s 1997 Constitution, fired the country’s judges and imposed media censorship under continuing emergency regulations.

From wire dispatches and staff reports.

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