Egypt Independent: World-Main news en Pakistan's PM threatens to clear protesters camped in capital <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, weakened by weeks of demonstrations calling for him to resign, threatened on Wednesday to clear a protest camp established more than a month ago outside government offices in Islamabad.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Protesters led by Imran Khan, a former cricket star, and Tahir ul-Qadri, a firebrand cleric, have been locked in a bitter stand-off with the government since mid-August, refusing to leave their camp until Sharif steps down.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The protest leaders accuse Sharif of rigging last year&#39;s election which brought him back to power in a landslide.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;Up until now, we have tolerated all this and acted with decency and patience,&quot; Sharif said in televised remarks.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;Otherwise it&#39;s no hard task for us to clear the way and clear the streets.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Pakistan&#39;s opposition leaders ordered thousands of their supporters this weekend to resist any government attempt to quash their protests, prolonging a political crisis in the coup-prone country.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Khan&rsquo;s party said it had not backed down from its demand that Sharif quit and was ending dialogue with the government after 100 activists were jailed over the weekend.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;We have not withdrawn our demand for the resignation of the prime minister,&quot; said Jehangir Tareen, the party&#39;s secretary general. &quot;There is no point in continuing the dialogue with the government after the crackdown on our workers.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The confrontation turned violent last month, with thousands trying to storm Sharif&#39;s house and briefly taking the state television channel off the air.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Violence in the usually quiet capital has alarmed many people in a nation where power has often changed hands though military coups rather than elections.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Some ruling party officials have accused the military of instigating the unrest in order to destabilize Sharif so that it can exert more influence over him. The army has denied it was meddling in civilian affairs, saying it is neutral.</div> Wed, 17 Sep 2014 09:46:00 +0000 Reuters 2438460 at sites/default/files/photo/2014/09/17/94/supporters_of_the_chairman_of_the_pakistan_tehreek-e-insaf_pti_political_party_imran_khan_listen_to_his_speech_during_what_has_been_dubbed_a_freedom_march_in_islamabad_september_16_2014..jpg Nearly 50 dead in Syria air strikes on central province <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>At least 48 people including rebel fighters have been killed in Syrian government air bombardments around a town in the central province of Homs, a monitoring group said on Wednesday.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Two days of air strikes left women and children among the dead, including a mother who was killed along with five of her children, said the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors violence in Syria through a network of sources.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Around a dozen fighters and multiple rebel commanders were also confirmed killed in the bombardment, which targeted Talbiseh, a town north of the city of Homs on the country&#39;s main north-south highway.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In May, Syrian rebels had abandoned their last stronghold in the heart of Homs city, which had been an epicenter of the revolt against President Bashar al-Assad.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The death toll from the bombardment on Talbiseh - which took place on Tuesday and Wednesday - is expected to rise because dozens of people including children were in critical condition, the Observatory said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>More than 190,000 people have been killed in Syria&#39;s conflict and millions more displaced, according to the United Nations. The conflict began more than three years ago as a peaceful protest movement and turned into civil war after a government crackdown.</div> Wed, 17 Sep 2014 08:56:00 +0000 Reuters 2438458 at sites/default/files/photo/2012/07/18/72636/2012-07-14t221545z_1_cbre86d1puh00_rtroptp_2_syria-crisis-icrc.jpg Ukraine, EU ratify landmark pact at heart of crisis <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>The Ukrainian and European parliaments on Tuesday simultaneously ratified a landmark pact at the heart of the ex-Soviet country&#39;s bloodiest crisis since independence.</p><p>The vote on an accord that decisively steers Ukraine towards the West came just moments after parliament agreed to offer limited self-rule to the pro-Russian east to try to end a bloody five-month separatists uprising.</p><p>But renewed deadly fighting in the east has heaped further pressure on a fragile truce, and raised new questions about whether President Petro Poroshenko will succeed in keeping his splintered country together.</p><p>Poroshenko said the adoption of the 1,200-page cooperation agreement with the European Union was Ukraine&#39;s first step towards membership of the 28-nation bloc.</p><p>&quot;Tell me, who will now dare to shut Ukraine&#39;s doors to Europe?&quot; the pro-Western leader said.</p><p>&quot;Who will be against our future membership of the EU, towards which today we are taking our first but very decisive step?&quot;</p><p>Lawmakers rose for a rousing rendition of the national anthem sung with their right hands solemnly placed on their hearts. European MPs in Strasbourg also all stood and cheered.</p><p>But the historic occasion was muted by the two sides&#39; decision to bow to Russian pressure and delay until 2016 the implementation of a free trade deal that would pull Ukraine out of a rival union being built by the Kremlin.</p><p>The rejection of the same EU association agreement deal by Kremlin-backed president Viktor Yanukovych in November triggered the bloody chain of events that led to his February ouster and Russia&#39;s subsequent seizure of Ukraine&#39;s Crimea peninsula.</p><p>The decision by Kiev&#39;s new pro-Western leaders to still strike the agreement saw Moscow cut off gas supplies and allegedly orchestrate a separatist revolt in the industrial east that has now claimed more than 2,700 lives.</p><p>Russia&#39;s denials of involvement have not spared it from waves of punishing Western sanctions that have left President Vladimir Putin more isolated and acting less predictably than at any stage of his dominant 15-year reign.</p><p><strong>Three years of self-rule</strong></p><p>But a European-mediated truce Kiev and Moscow clinched on September 5 has offered the first significant glimmer of hope that the crisis may at last be abating and allowing East-West tensions to mend.</p><p>Lawmakers in the 450-seat Verkhovna Rada parliament also Tuesday adopted a peace plan drafted by Poroshenko that offers three years of limited self-rule to parts of the rebel-held territory.</p><p>The measures give Poroshenko a big political boost ahead of his trip to Washington for crunch talks with US President Barack Obama on Thursday and a special appearance before the Congress.</p><p>The legislation also crucially guarantees the right for Russian to be used in all state institutions -- a particularly sensitive issue in the war zone.</p><p>The Ukrainian leader argued Monday that his plan offered Kiev the best way out of the crisis because it guarantees &quot;the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of our state&quot;.</p><p>But some political leaders and especially members of right-wing groups that played a small but instrumental role in protests that forced out the old regime, have questioned whether Poroshenko was ceding too much to Moscow.</p><p>The broad-ranging political proposals allow local legislatures in rebel-held regions to set up their own police forces and name judges and prosectors.</p><p>Snap local polls on December 7 will establish new councils in the areas in Ukraine&#39;s vital coal and steel belt that will seemingly not be accountable to Kiev in any way.</p><p>A separate law passed in the same closed-door hearing protects from criminal prosecution &quot;participants of events in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions&quot; -- a measure that appears to apply to both the insurgents and Ukrainian government troops.</p><p>Amnesty International has accused fighters on both sides of abuses that might be classified as war crimes.</p><p>Yet the broader autonomy offer appears to have done little to sate insurgency leaders who want membership in Novorossiya -- a charged term Putin uses to describe a tsarist Russia that incorporated parts of Ukraine.</p><p>Insurgency leaders and officials in Kiev have traded blame daily for who was responsible for repeatedly breaking the ceasefire.</p><p>Local authorities said four civilians were killed in separate shelling incidents in Donetsk and another in the neighbouring village of Makiivka -- bringing the total number to 10 in two days.</p><p>Kiev said at least three Ukrainian soldiers were also killed Monday in a new rebel advance toward the long-shuttered Donetsk airport that had been one of the war&#39;s main flashpoints since Poroshenko&#39;s election at the end of May.</p><p>Western allies kept up the pressure by launching more than a week of US-led NATO war games in western Ukraine on Monday that are meant to send a blunt message to Russia about having any thoughts of pushing its troops deeper into the former Soviet state.</p><p>Russia has tens of thousands of soldiers in Crimea but denies NATO charges it sent more than 1,000 elite forces to help the militias launch a surprise counter-offensive at the end of last month.</p> Tue, 16 Sep 2014 12:58:00 +0000 AFP 2438452 at sites/default/files/photo/2014/06/27/94/ukraines_president_petro_poroshenko_c_poses_with_european_commission_president_jose_manuel_barroso_l_and_european_council_president_herman_van_rompuy_r_at_the_eu_council_in_brussels_june_27_2014..jpg Obama to send 3,000 troops to tackle Ebola <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>The United States announced on Tuesday that it would send 3,000 troops to help tackle the Ebola outbreak as part of a ramped-up response including a major deployment in Liberia, the country where the epidemic is spiraling fastest out of control.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The US response to the crisis, to be formally unveiled later by President Barack Obama, includes plans to build 17 treatment centers, train thousands of healthcare workers and establish a military control center for coordination, US officials told reporters.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The World Health Organization has said it needs foreign medical teams with 500-600 experts as well as at least 10,000 local health workers, numbers that may rise if the number of cases increases, as it is widely expected to.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>So far Cuba and China have said they will send medical staff to Sierra Leone. Cuba will deploy 165 people in October while China is sending a mobile laboratory with 59 staff to speed up testing for the disease. It already has 115 staff and a Chinese-funded hospital there.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But Liberia is where the disease appears to be running amok. The WHO has not issued any estimate of cases or deaths in the country since Sept 5 and its Director-General Margaret Chan has said there is not a single bed available for Ebola patients there.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Liberia, a nation founded by descendants of freed American slaves, appealed for US help last week.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>A U.N. official in the country said on Friday that her colleagues had resorted to telling locals to use plastic bags to fend off the killer virus, for want of any other protective equipment.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Medecins Sans Frontieres, the charity that has been leading the fight against Ebola, said it was overwhelmed and repeated its call for an immediate and massive deployment.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;We are honestly at a loss as to how a single, private NGO is providing the bulk of isolation units and beds,&quot; MSF&#39;s international president Joanne Liu said in a speech to the United Nations in Geneva, adding that the charity was having to turn away sick people in Monrovia.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;Highly infectious people are forced to return home, only to infect others and continue the spread of this deadly virus. All for a lack of international response,&quot; she said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Obama, who has called the epidemic a national security crisis, has faced criticism for not doing more to stem the outbreak, which the WHO said last week had killed more than 2,400 people out of 4,784 cases in West Africa.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>More Effective</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The president will visit the US Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta on Tuesday to show his commitment. The stepped-up effort he will announce is to include 3,000 military forces and a joint forces command center in Monrovia, capital of Liberia, to coordinate efforts with the U.S. government and other international partners.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The plan will &quot;ensure that the entire international response effort is more effective and helps to ... turn the tide in this crisis,&quot; a senior administration official told reporters on Monday, ahead of the president&#39;s trip.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;The significant expansion that the president will detail ... really represents ... areas where the US military will bring unique capabilities that we believe will improve the effectiveness of the entire global response,&quot; he said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The treatment centers will have 100 beds each and be built as soon as possible, another official said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The US plan also focuses on training. A site will be established where military medical personnel will teach some 500 healthcare workers per week for six months or more how to provide care to Ebola patients, officials said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Obama&#39;s administration has requested an additional $88 million from Congress to fight Ebola, including $58 million to speed production of the ZMapp experimental antiviral drug and two Ebola vaccine candidates.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Officials said the Department of Defense had requested to reallocate $500 million in funds from fiscal 2014 to help cover the costs of the humanitarian mission.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The US Agency for International Development (USAID) will also support a program to distribute protection kits with sanitizers and medical supplies to 400,000 vulnerable households in Liberia.</div> Tue, 16 Sep 2014 11:48:00 +0000 Reuters 2438447 at sites/default/files/photo/2014/09/16/94/u.n._convoy_of_soldiers_passes_a_screen_displaying_a_message_on_ebola_on_a_street_in_abidjan_august_14_2014..jpg