Coup de chaos - News Page

Iteration 1:

23 November 2012

Coordinated terror attack rocks American heartland

For IBC News in Washington, I'm [Anchor].

Budget clash leaves EU summit close to failure

For IBC News in Brussels, I'm [Brussels Correspondent Name].

The leaders of Britain and France staked out starkly different visions of the European Union's future Thursday, leaving a summit on the EU budget teetering on the brink of failure after the first day.

‘’I have my doubts that we will come to an agreement," said German Chancellor Angela Merkel after a chaotic day of bilateral negotiations and a belated, short joint session of the 27 leaders.

While British Prime Minister David Cameron is seeking to keep payments into EU coffers as low as possible, French President Francois Hollande called for sustained subsidies for farming and development programs for poorer nations.

With each of the 27 nations having the power of veto over the 2014-2020 budget, the summit negotiations could stretch over the weekend, perhaps without result.

Cameron voiced the concerns of several countries that do not want to see an increase in the bloc's spending plan at a time when many member states are cutting budgets at home.

"No, I'm not happy at all," Cameron said about EU President Herman Van Rompuy's offer to cap spending for 2014-2020 at (EURO)972 billion ($1.25 trillion) in spending commitments.

"Clearly, at a time when we're making difficult decisions at home over public spending, it would be quite wrong it is quite wrong for there to be proposals for this increased extra spending in the EU," Cameron said.

Van Rompuy's revised proposal late Thursday did not yield further to Cameron's demands for cuts, keeping to the same total.

The EU budget primarily funds programs to help farming and spur growth in the bloc's less developed countries, and it amounts to about 1 percent of the EU's gross domestic product.

Hollande and Merkel said another summit meeting might be necessary.

‘’We should not consider that if we don't get there tomorrow or the day after, all would be lost," Hollande said.

"Germany wants to reach a goal, but there might also be the need for yet another stage," Merkel said.

The European Commission, the EU's executive arm, supports more spending, arguing that cross-border initiatives will help create the economic growth and jobs that the bloc of a half-billion people needs, particularly during a financial crisis that has pushed some countries into recession.

The amount of work Van Rompuy has to do to bring the conflicting views closer together was highlighted earlier Thursday as the bilateral meetings preceding the summit overran, forcing the opening discussions to be delayed by 2 1/2 hours.

Bilateral talks will resume early Friday, with a first joint session set for noon to see if a compromise is within reach.

Facing an ever more vocal euroskeptic electorate at home in the U.K., Cameron is under huge pressure to veto any seven-year deal which would make the budget bigger. The U.K. and other countries that contribute more then they receive from the budget such as the Netherlands, Sweden and Germany claim an austerity budget is the only justifiable outcome at a time when almost every member state has to cut its budget to lower debt.

Meanwhile, 15 of the EU's most financially and economically vulnerable countries have joined forces to oppose any cuts to funds earmarked for economic growth and development. These countries include not only traditionally poorer member states, many in Eastern Europe, but also those hit hardest by the financial crisis, like Greece, Portugal and Spain.

They argue that they need sustained, even increased, help to close the wealth gap on the continent and that EU institutions need the means to implement their jobs and growth policies.

"Certain countries want to make drastic reductions in the budget. That's a big mistake," said Elio Di Rupo, Belgium's prime minister.

There is no set deadline for a deal, but the closer it gets to 2014, the tougher it will be for a smooth introduction of new programs.

"In talks with colleagues, I had one message. If this doesn't work out at once, let's be sure that the mood is not that dark that we have to spend months on patching up personal relationships," Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said.

If there is no deal up to 2014, there would be a rollover of the 2013 budget plus a 2 percent increase accounting for inflation.

30 November 2012

Wave of attacks in Iraq kills at least 43 people

Back-to-back explosions tore through tents housing Shiite pilgrims in southern Iraq on Thursday, the deadliest in a wave of bombings that killed at least 43 people nationwide, officials said.

The attacks in Hillah began with a roadside bombing near tents set up for Shiites commemorating the 7th century death of the Prophet Muhammad's grandson, Imam Hussein. That was quickly followed by a car bomb targeting emergency response teams.

The explosions, which occurred in a busy commercial area, killed at least 29 people and wounded as many as 90, a police officer said, making it the deadliest attack in the city this year.

Twisted and charred vehicles were left outside damaged stores as shopkeepers collected their strewn merchandise from the bloodstained pavement. Hillah is 95 kilometers (60 miles) south of Baghdad.

Ali Hussein, 44, was walking near his house when he heard the two thunderous explosions near the commercial area about 200 meters (yards) from his house.

"I rushed to the blast site and I saw burning cars and pieces of flesh everywhere," said Hussein, who owns a grocery store. "There were small blood pools all around the place," he added, blaming the security forces who "should do better in order to protect the innocent people."

Just hours earlier, a parked car exploded near the shrine of Imam Hussein in the Shiite city of Karbala, killing six people and wounding 20, another police officer said.

Karbala, 90 kilometers (55 miles) south of Baghdad, is one of the holiest cities in Shiite Islam and the place where Imam Hussein and his brother, Imam Abbas, are buried. Hundreds of thousands of Shiites flock to their golden-domed shrines every year.

Such religious ceremonies have often been targeted by Sunni insurgents seeking to foment sectarian violence and undermine the Shiite-led government.

A suicide bomber also drove his explosives-laden car into a police checkpoint in the mainly Sunni city of Fallujah, 65 kilometers (40 miles) west of the capital, killing three policemen and wounding 11 others, a police official in the city said.

And in the northern city of Mosul, a parked car bomb went off as a police patrol passed, killing two people and wounded two, police said. Another police patrol was hit by a roadside bomb in the town of Balad Ruz, 70 kilometers (45 miles) northeast of Baghdad, killing one policeman and wounding six others.

In other violence, a roadside bomb killed an Iraqi soldier and wounded five others in Taji, north of Baghdad, and a parked car bomb struck a restaurant in Madain, southeast of the capital, killing a civilian and wounding 12 others, according to police.

Five health officials confirmed the casualty figures. All the officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to release the information.

The nationwide death toll was the highest since Oct. 27 when 40 people were killed in a string of bombings and other attacks around the country.

Although violence has ebbed since the peak of insurgency several years ago, attacks are still frequent against security forces, government officials and civilians. No one claimed responsibility for Thursday's bombings, but car bombs, shootings and roadside devices are the hallmark of al-Qaida in Iraq.

Iteration 2:

23 November 2012

30 November 2012

2 charged in Fla. with terror support, conspiracy

Two South Florida men of Pakistani descent have been charged with plotting to provide material support to terrorists and to use a weapon of mass destruction within the U.S., federal prosecutors said Friday.

The men were identified as brothers Sheheryar Alam Qazi, 30, and 20-year-old Raees Alam Qazi. Both are naturalized U.S. citizens originally from Pakistan and both were arrested in the Fort Lauderdale area, prosecutors said.

Few details about the plot were provided by prosecutors or outlined in a brief, three-page grand jury indictment. Authorities said the case was not an FBI sting operation but declined any additional comment.

"Any potential threat posed by these two individuals has been disrupted," said Miami U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer.

In Washington, Justice Department national security spokesman Dean Boyd called the case "an ongoing, very active investigation" but provided no specifics.

The indictment charges that the two provided money, property, lodging, communications equipment and other support for a conspiracy to obtain a weapon of mass destruction between July 2011 and this week. The goal was to "use a weapon of mass destruction (explosives) against persons and property within the United States," prosecutors said in a news release.

It wasn't clear whether the conspirators actually did obtain explosives or what their potential targets might have been.

The Qazi brothers had initial court appearances Friday, but court-appointed attorneys for the two did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment. An arraignment and bail hearing is scheduled for Dec. 7.

They are both charged with conspiring to provide material support to terrorists, which carries a maximum 15-year prison sentence, and with conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction. The maximum is life in prison for that charge.

South Florida has seen several high-profile terrorism cases, including the conviction of al-Qaida operative Jose Padilla and the convictions of five men accused of plotting to join forces with al-Qaida to destroy a landmark Chicago skyscraper and bomb FBI offices in several cities.

More recently, a Miami Muslim cleric and one of his sons are facing trial on charges they provided thousands of dollars in financial support to the Pakistani Taliban terrorism group.

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