- - Sunday, January 8, 2012


Cameron: Hold vote soon on Scottish independence

LONDON — A referendum on Scottish independence should be held soon because the uncertainty about the issue is damaging Scotland’s economy, British Prime Minister David Cameron said Sunday.

Mr. Cameron, who said he would be strongly opposed to the breakup of the United Kingdom, promised that the British government in coming days would set out the legal situation for a referendum.

“The uncertainty about this issue is damaging to Scotland and Scotland’s economy because you have companies and other organizations asking, what’s Scotland’s future - is it within the United Kingdom or not? That’s damaging,” Mr. Cameron told BBC TV.

In elections in May, Alex Salmond’s Scottish National Party won the first overall majority in Edinburgh’s Parliament since it opened in 1999 and promised to hold a referendum on independence from Britain.


Government braces for strikes amid Islamic violence

LAGOS — Nigeria on Sunday braced for nationwide strikes while also seeking to stop a wave of Islamic attacks on Christians, as anger mounted in Africa’s most populous nation and largest oil producer.

The strikes set for Monday over soaring fuel prices led to a massive security deployment, as well as long lines at some gas stations, with several running dry, and warnings from unions that residents should stock up on food.

Security forces are already under heavy pressure over spiraling violence blamed on an Islamist terrorist group, Boko Haram.

On Saturday, the head of Nigeria’s Christians warned that Islamist attacks suggest “religious cleansing,” while vowing to defend themselves.


Government demand Kurds turn over fugitive veep

BAGHDAD — Iraq’s Shiite-led government on Sunday demanded that authorities in the semiautonomous Kurdish region hand over the country’s top Sunni official to face terrorism charges, turning up the heat in a political crisis that is stoking sectarian tensions.

Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi fled to the Kurdish north in December, just as the last American troops were leaving the country and charges against him were being drawn up.

The government accuses him of running a hit squad that assassinated government and security officials years ago. Mr. al-Hashemi denies the allegations. Fellow Sunnis, who made up the dominant political class under the regime of Saddam Hussein, see the charges as part of an effort to sideline them.


Regional council fires security chief, Saleh ally

SANAA — A top official in Yemen’s Taiz region said Sunday the regional council has fired the region’s security chief, another blow to embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Council head Hamoud al-Sufi said the body voted to remove Brig. Gen. Abdullah Qairan after reviewing the province’s security situation. Gen. Qairan commanded security during some the bloodiest crackdowns on anti-regime demonstrations.

Taiz has been a hotbed of protests during the 11-month popular uprising seeking to oust Mr. Saleh. Security forces have killed dozens of protesters there.

Gen. Qairan is one of a number of pro-Saleh leaders to lose their posts in recent weeks under mounting protests targeting those seen as corrupt.

Mr. Saleh signed a power-transfer agreement, but remains in office.


President warns of attacks during Catholic ceremony

MANILA — President Benigno Aquino III warned on Sunday of a possible terrorist attack, including bombings, during an annual Roman Catholic procession in Manila that draws millions of devotees.

Standing with top military, police and defense officials, Mr. Aquino told a hastily called news conference that several terrorists planning to disrupt Monday’s religious procession have been sighted in the capital. Police are attempting to arrest the suspects and disrupt any planned attack, he said.

“The sad reality of the world today is that terrorists want to disrupt the ability of people to live their lives in the ways they want to, including the freedom to worship,” Mr. Aquino said.


TV anchor quits to form political party

JERUSALEM — One of Israel’s most popular television personalities is quitting the news business to get into politics.

Channel 2 TV announced the resignation Sunday of Yair Lapid, who is expected to launch his own party. Mr. Lapid, 43, is a best-selling author and columnist who has anchored Channel 2’s top-rated weekend news edition for the past four years.

From wire dispatches and staff reports



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