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US suspends Pakistan talks in killer 'diplomat' row

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Pakistanis are fed up with American wannabe cowboys thinking they can just shoot their way around their country.
The US has suspended all high-level bilateral talks with Pakistan over its refusal to grant diplomatic immunity to an American official.

Raymond Davis has been in prison since last month when he admitted to killing two men who he said tried to rob him in the city of Lahore.

Congress is threatening to cut off Pakistan's aid because Davis is a US embassy employee and should be immune from prosecution.

US Congressman Silvestre Reyes says reports that he may have been a spy on an espionage mission are irrelevant.

"I don't know what his job is, but I do know that he had diplomatic status. The issue of what he was doing at the time is not an issue for the government," he said.

"He was accosted by two criminals, known criminals with criminal records. He protected himself."

USA

Confirmed: US 'diplomat' under arrest for double murder in Pakistan is 'former' US Special Forces

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© (AP Photo/Fareed Khan)
A Pakistani demonstrator shouts slogans while others hold banners during a demonstration against Raymond Allen Davis, a U.S. Special Forces employee under arrest for double-murder in Pakistan, Saturday, Feb. 12, 2011. Any U.S. pressure on Islamabad to release an American held for shooting dead two Pakistanis will be 'counterproductive,' a senior government official said Saturday. The U.S. insists the American, Raymond Davis, is an embassy staffer who has diplomatic immunity and that he shot the two Pakistanis in self-defense when they tried to rob him at gunpoint in the eastern city of Lahore in late January. Usual BS then.
Islamabad - Pakistan's standoff with Washington over a jailed U.S. Embassy worker will not thwart talks between the two countries and Afghanistan, a Pakistani government spokesman said Sunday.

Tensions between the U.S. and Pakistan have been rising over the detention of American Raymond Allen Davis for killing two Pakistani men he says were trying to rob him.

In an apparent step to show its displeasure, the United States on Saturday postponed a meeting with Pakistani and Afghan officials to discuss the war in Afghanistan. Pakistan prizes such gatherings as a way to assert influence in Afghanistan.

The meeting was to have taken place next week. The U.S. did not directly cite Davis' continued detention as the reason, but U.S. diplomats have said the talks could become a casualty of the dispute.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Abdul Basit said he is confident the three-way talks will continue.

Pistol

U.S. 'Diplomat' Raymond Davis' Double-Murder Could Bring Down Pakistan Government

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© Mohsin Raza / Reuters
Policemen stand next to a car, which police said a U.S consulate employee was travelling in when he was engaged in a shoot-out, after it was brought to a police station in Lahore January 27, 2011. The U.S. consulate employee shot and killed two gunmen in self-defence in the Pakistani city of Lahore on Thursday, police said.
The scene could have been scripted in a Hollywood action thriller: For two hours at the end of last month in Lahore, U.S. diplomat Raymond Davis was closely pursued by two visibly armed men on a motorbike. He noticed them tailing him from a restaurant to an ATM, and through the crowded streets of Pakistan's second city. They were close by when, in a crowded intersection, Davis produced his own handgun and fired seven shots. The diplomat was apparently a crack shot, and all seven bullets found their mark, killing his two pursuers. Davis then called for back-up, and a four-wheel-drive vehicle raced onto the scene, striking a Pakistani bystander who was killed by the impact. But the people in the vehicle, whose identities remain unknown, escaped from the scene having failed to retrieve Davis, who was later arrested nearby. In custody, Davis has told Pakistani authorities that he acted in self-defense, and has invoked diplomatic immunity, an international convention that protects diplomats from prosecution in the countries where they serve.

Two weeks later, Davis remains behind bars, facing murder charges. And the incident has plunged the already troubled relationship between Washington and Islamabad to a new low. Pakistani officials say Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last week canceled a meeting with her Pakistani counterpart and is considering withdrawing an invitation for President Asif Ali Zardari to a trilateral summit with Afghan President Hamid Karzai later this month. But at home, Zardari faces intense pressure to prosecute Davis. The hitherto obscure employee of the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad has now become a lightning rod for the fierce anti-American sentiments shared by an overwhelming majority of Pakistanis.

MIB

Executive action: Two men killed by American 'diplomat' in Lahore worked for Pakistani ISI

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The two men gunned down by US national Raymond Davis in Lahore last month were working for ISI which was tailing the American because he was spying and "encroaching on their turf", according to a media report. The two men were sent to track Davis by the ISI, which believed that he had crossed "a red line" and needed to be followed, four unnamed Pakistani officials were quoted as saying by ABC News. The men Davis shot had been following him for at least two hours and recorded some of his movements on their cell phone cameras, one of the Pakistani officials said.

In late January, Davis was asked to leave an area of Lahore restricted by the military, the officials said. Davis' cell phone was tracked and some of his calls were made to the Waziristan tribal area, where the Pakistani Taliban and a dozen other militant groups have a safe haven, one official said. Pakistani intelligence officials saw Davis as a threat who was "encroaching on their turf," the official was quoted as saying.

Stormtrooper

Egyptian army issues ultimatum, threatens to begin arresting protesters

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Egypt's army has threatened to arrest protesters in Cairo's Liberation Square where, despite clearance orders, citizens are still massed, refusing to leave until their demands are met.

The pro-democracy protesters have been cordoned off by police and military soldiers, reported a Press TV correspondent on Monday.

The protesters are demanding a clear timetable for the transfer of power to a civilian government.

They have called on the army to fulfill its promises following its takeover of power.

This comes as Egypt's military has refused to answer the protesters' call for a swift transfer of power to a civilian administration, saying it will rule by martial law until a presidential election is held in September.

Attention

Update: Mubarak ill but not in coma says Egyptian State Media

Hosni Mubarak
© Agence France-Presse / Khaled Desouki
Hosni Mubarak
Egypt's state media denied reports on Monday that former leader Hosni Mubarak was in a coma but admitted he was ill.

The Egyptian daily Al-Masry Al-Youm reported on Sunday that Mubarak was gravely ill and had slipped into a coma after mass protests forced him from power on Friday.

The 82-year-old former head-of-state is in a "severe psychological condition and is declining treatment, despite his illness," the pro-government Al-Gomhuria daily said, citing sources close to Mubarak.

Question

Mubarak Mystery: In Egypt, In Germany, In Coma?

mubarak
© AFP/Getty Images
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo in December 2010
Many aspects of Hosni Mubarak's life - from his health to his wealth to his daily whereabouts - were closely guarded secrets during his nearly 30 years as president of Egypt. After being ousted from office last week, not much has changed.

The Egyptian daily Al-Masry Al-Youm reported Sunday that Mubarak had slipped into a coma. The paper repeated rumors that the 83-year-old former head-of-state also fainted twice during his infamous I-won't-quit speech last week, delivered just a day before he did indeed step down.

Another report, from an Israeli French-language magazine named JSS News, claims that Mubarak was on death's door in a hospital in Baden, Germany. Mubarak has long been rumored to be suffering from cancer, and JSS News claims that he is already in the terminal phase of his cancer suffering.

Despite these rumors, an Obama administration official told a reporter at the Washington Post Sunday they believed he was actually in the seaside resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh, where he has long had a private residence. Egypt's prime minister also supported this report.

Passport

Canada: Immigrant Visas to Drop 5 Per cent: Records

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© Tom Hanson/Canadian Press
Figures from Citizenship and Immigration Canada show the government will issue about 11,000 visas this year to parents and grandparents of Canadian residents, down from more than 16,000 last year.
Cuts would most affect overseas parents, grandparents

New figures indicate the federal government hopes to reduce overall immigration next year by five per cent, mainly by cutting back on family reunification visas.

Among the hardest hit by the lower immigration targets will be parents and grandparents seeking to join their children in Canada, according to numbers obtained from the Citizenship and Immigration Department through the Access to Information Act.

The figures indicate the government will issue about 11,000 family reunification visas for parents and grandparents overseas, down from more than 16,000 last year.

Richard Kurland, the Vancouver-based immigration lawyer who filed the access-to-information request, said he is surprised the government has decided to grant fewer visas to parents and grandparents, considering how the Conservatives have courted new Canadians as voters.

Kurland told CBC News the slashed rate and the 140,000 applicants already in the queue mean a parent could wait 13 years for a visa if he or she were to apply today.

"Frankly, there's a better chance of the parents seeing a coffin before a Canadian visa," he said.

X

Egypt crisis: BBC blocked in Iran over Mubarak coverage

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© REUTERS
An opposition protester shouts in front of an army tank in front of the presidential palace in Cairo.
Iran is electronically blocking the BBC's Persian language television broadcasts over its coverage of the mass protests in Egypt, according to Britain's state broadcaster.

The interference began on Thursday evening after the BBC's Iranian service showed extensive rolling news coverage from the demonstrations against President Hosni Mubarak.

"It is believed that it is the impact of this coverage which has prompted the jamming," the BBC said in a statement. "Satellite technicians have traced that interference and have confirmed it is coming from Iran."

The BBC said it suspected the Iranian authorities may have acted after an interactive TV show allowed Iranian and Egyptian viewers to exchange their views on the crisis.

Peter Horrocks, director of the BBC World Service, said it would continue to try to broadcast in the Islamic Republic.

Arrow Down

US regulators shut banks in Florida, Michigan, Wisconsin and California

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Washington - Regulators on Friday shut down small banks in Florida, Michigan, Wisconsin and California, lifting to 18 the number of bank failures this year. The weak economy and bad debt brought down 157 banks nationwide in 2010.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. seized the banks: Sunshine State Community Bank of Port Orange, Fla., with $125.5 million in assets; Peoples State Bank, based in Hamtramck, Mich., with $390.5 million in assets; Badger State Bank of Cassville, Wis., with $83.8 million in assets; and Canyon National Bank, based in Palm Springs, Calif., with $210.9 million in assets.

Miami-based Premier American Bank agreed to assume the assets and deposits of Sunshine State Community Bank. First Michigan Bank, based in Troy, Mich., is acquiring the assets and deposits of Peoples State Bank. Royal Bank, based in Elroy, Wis., is assuming the assets and deposits of Badger State Bank. Pacific Premier Bank, based in Costa Mesa, Calif., is assuming those of Canyon National Bank.

In addition, the FDIC and First Michigan Bank agreed to share losses on $331 million of Peoples State Bank's loans and other assets.

The failure of Sunshine State Community Bank is expected to cost the deposit insurance fund $30 million; that of Peoples State Bank is expected to cost $87.4 million; that of Badger State Bank, $17.5 million; Canyon National Bank, $10 million.