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Najib Mikati appointed new PM of Lebanon

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Lebanon's incoming Prime Minister Najib Mikati
Lebanese President Michel Sleiman has issued a decree appointing Hezbollah-backed candidate Najib Mikati as the country's new prime minister.

Mikati won 68 votes out of the parliament's 128 seats to be poised as the new prime minister following two days of discussions between lawmakers and Sleiman.

Caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri had also nominated himself for the post.

His government collapsed nearly two weeks ago following the resignation of 11 ministers from the coalition cabinet in a dispute over a US-backed tribunal investigating the 2005 assassination of Lebanese former Premier Rafiq Hariri.

In a televised speech shortly after his installation, Mikati reached out for all Lebanese factions and called on them to overcome differences and participate in an inclusive unity government.

"Nothing justifies the refusal of any political party to participate" in the next government, he added. "My hand is extended to all Lebanese."

He called for an end to all political divisions in the country and the establishment of mutual trust "based on national dialogue whereby we can discuss all issues of difference far away from any insult."

Light Sabers

2 protesters, 1 policeman killed in Egypt as demonstrations spread across Middle East

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© Adam Makary
Protesters gather in Tahrir square in downtown Cairo, Egypt.
Two protesters and a police officer have been killed in Egypt as anti-government demonstrators have taken to the streets to demand political and economic reforms.

The protesters were killed in clashes with security forces in the city of Suez on Tuesday, and the police officer was killed in a demonstration in Cairo on the same day, AFP reported.

On Tuesday, the opposition called on political activists to hold nationwide demonstrations against the government.

The protesters say it's a day of revolt against torture, poverty, corruption, and unemployment. Some have gathered outside the Supreme Court and the parliament building, calling for the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak.

The police have fired tear gas to disperse the protesters in Cairo, injuring several people.

Over 30,000 police officers have been deployed to the city center to crack down on the demonstrators.

Demonstrations have also been held in Alexandria and other parts of the country.

Light Sabers

Lebanon breaks out in protests as Hezbollah-backed candidate wins PM vote

Pro-Hariri supporters hold rallies on "day of rage", as lawmakers vote to back Hezbollah's candidate for prime minister.


Supporters of Saad Hariri, Lebanon's caretaker prime minister, have held violent demonstrations in protest against Hezbollah's nomination of a candidate for the post of prime minister, a move that brings the group one step closer to controlling the government.

Lawmakers in Beirut voted on Tuesday to back Najib Mikati, the candidate Hezbollah had proposed, as a prime minister. He gained 68 votes to Hariri's 60, putting the Hezbollah-led opposition in a position to form a government.

Demonstrations were called across the country, with thousands gathering in the northern city of Tripoli, and on the highway linking Beirut with the southern port city of Sidon. Hariri, the caretaker prime minister, held a national address after the protests calling for calm and rejecting violence in the public demonstrations.

Rula Amin, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Beirut, reported that the protests were "angry", and that journalists were being targeted by the crowds.

Family

Black Mother Jailed For Sending Kids to 'Wrong' School District

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© unk
An Ohio mother of two was sentenced to 10 days in jail and placed on three years probation after sending her kids to a school district in which they did not live. Kelly Williams-Bolar was sentenced by Judge Patricia Cosgrove on Tuesday and will begin serving her sentence immediately.

The jury deliberated for seven hours and the courtroom was packed as the sentence was handed down. She was convicted on two counts of tampering with court records after registering her two girls as living with Williams Bolar's father when they actually lived with her. The family lived in the housing projects in Akron, Ohio, and the father's address was in nearby Copley Township.

Additionally, Williams-Bolar's father, Edward L. Williams, was charged with a fourth-degree felony of grand theft, in which he and his daughter are charged with defrauding the school system for two years of educational services for their girls. The court determined that sending their children to the wrong school was worth $30,500 in tuition.

Pumpkin

Huh? Jared Loughner pleads NOT guilty to Arizona shootings

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© EPA
Jared Lee Loughner, Greenbaumed?
Witnesses reported Loughner smiled broadly throughout the hearing, including moment when his lawyer entered plea of not guilty

Jared Loughner, the suspect in the shooting of Democratic congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, pleaded not guilty in court, in his first response to the charges.

Silent but displaying the grin that has become his trademark, Loughner made his second appearance in public since the attacks on 8 January at the federal courthouse in Phoenix, Arizona.

He is alleged to have killed six people and injured a further 13, including Giffords, during a deadly shooting rampage at a public meeting at a supermarket car park in Tucson.

Witnesses inside the courtroom reported that Loughner - shackled and dressed in an orange jump suit - smiled broadly throughout the hearing, including the moment when his lawyer entered his plea of not guilty.

Bad Guys

New Zealand: Seal-Attack Duo to be Charged

Baby Seal
© Auckland Zoo
The baby seal being tube-fed liquids at Auckland Zoo after it was brutally beaten and found by a DOC ranger in a west Auckland stream.

The Department of Conservation will lay charges against two men who admitted beating a seal pup with a boat oar and left the bloodied mammal to float down a West Auckland creek.

Two men, a 39-year-old from Massey and a 22-year-old from Henderson, were seen bashing the 1m fur seal at Henderson Creek at around 8pm on Monday night. Witnesses reported the attack to police who yesterday questioned the pair.

The 1-year-old seal's head was swollen on one side and its nose and muzzle bleeding after the attack.

"We're hoping the injuries are fairly superficial. One of our rangers picked it up from police [on Monday night] after they were looking after it at the water's edge," DoC biodiversity programme manager Phil Brown said.

The seal is now being treated at the New Zealand Centre for Conservation Medicine at Auckland Zoo.

Che Guevara

Egypt Simmering as Protests Spread; Regime Takes Down Twitter

Angry Coptic Christians protest
© Press TV
Angry Coptic Christians protest earlier this month in Cairo.
Egypt's protests today appear to be the largest public call for democratic reform and an end to the Mubarak regime for years.

The scope of Egypt's protests today, calling for greater freedom and downfall of strongman President Hosni Mubarak, is unprecedented.

Though tens of thousands took to the streets of Cairo in 2005 calling for democratic reform, today's protests are far beyond the action in the capital. Reporters and activists on the scene in Cairo say there was a spirit of anger and defiance in the crowds and there were protests of varying sizes in at least a half-dozen Egyptian cities.

By late afternoon, thousands of protesters converged in Tahrir Square, not far from the US embassy, the Interior Ministry and the five-star hotels looming over the Nile. Police water cannons and tear gas barrages did little to deter them.

For now, it's hard to imagine the aging Mr. Mubarak and the apparatus of the state being swept from power in the same way that President Ben Ali was chased from Tunis. Egyptian military spending is much higher than in Tunisia and the circle of people who have everything to lose if the system is upended much wider.

Megaphone

Former BBC newscaster Peter Sissons treated as a lunatic for daring to dissent against Global Warming cult

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© RexMailPix
Concerns: Peter Sissons checks a report for accuracy, but says his time at the BBC was categorised by poor leadership and the fact that journalistic mistakes were not punished
Institutionally biased to the Left, politically correct and with a rudderless leadership. This is Peter Sissons' highly critical view of the BBC in his new memoirs, in which he describes his fascinating career over four decades as a television journalist. Here, in the latest part of our serialisation, he reveals how it was heresy at the BBC to question claims about climate change . . .

My time as a news and ­current affairs anchor at the BBC was characterised by weak leadership and poor ­direction from the top, but hand in hand with this went the steady growth of political correctness.

Indeed, it was almost certainly the ­Corporation's unchallengeable PC culture that made strong leadership impossible.

Leadership - one person being in charge, trusting his or her own judgment, taking a decision and telling others what to do - was shied away from in favour of endless meetings of a dozen or more ­people trying to arrive at some sort of consensus.

Laptop

Hackers break into Nicolas Sarkozy's Facebook page and announce his resignation

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The message was posted on Mr Sarkozy's Facebook page and was sent to thousands of 'friends
Hackers have managed to break into the Facebook page of French President Nicolas Sarkozy and post that he would be quitting next year.

The message meant that more than 350,000 'friends' of the head of state would have been sent messages informing them of his apparent resignation.

Many passed the message on to thousands of others, creating a storm of interest into whether the resignation was genuine.

In a misspelled post, Mr Sarkozy is meant to have written: 'Dear Compatriots, given the exceptional circumstances facing our country I have decided not to put myself up for re-election in 2012.'

The post also included a reference to another Facebook page, 'Farewell to Nicolas Sarkozy', which suggested people meet outside Le Fouquet's restaurant in Paris on May 6, 2012, to celebrate his resignation.

Ambulance

Mexican police: Gunmen open fire at soccer game, 7 dead

Mexico shooting
© CNN
A body lies below a sign that reads Live Better in Spanish -- a slogan in Juarez's anti-violence campaign.

A group of heavily armed men opened fire at a soccer match between two local teams in western Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, killing seven people and wounding two others, according to a municipal police spokesman.

The soccer field is at a community center opened four months ago as part of a program to decrease drug violence in a city that has been racked by violence and killings linked to drug cartels. Police said Monday they had not determined a motive for the shooting.

The dead from the shooting Sunday evening were males ranging in age from 19 to 26, police said. At least one was a soccer player -- an image from the scene showed the dead player face down on turf. Above him was a posted sign reading in Spanish, Live Better -- a slogan in Juarez's anti-violence campaign.

Three victims died at the scene, while four others died on the way to area hospitals.

The gunmen -- reportedly traveling in three vehicles -- sprayed the soccer field with about 180 rounds from assault rifles around 6 p.m., just before the game got started, police said.