World briefs – April 5

The United Nations and French forces opened fire with attack helicopters Monday on the arsenal of this country’s entrenched ruler, as columns of foot soldiers finally pierced the city limit and surrounded the strongman’s home.

United Nations joins battle for Ivory Coast

The United Nations and French forces opened fire with attack helicopters Monday on the arsenal of this country’s entrenched ruler, as columns of foot soldiers finally pierced the city limit and surrounded the strongman’s home.

The fighters aiming to topple strongman Laurent Gbagbo had succeeded in taking nearly the entire countryside in just three days last week, but they faltered once they reached the country’s largest city.

With the help of the international forces, the armed group fighting to install the country’s democratically elected leader Alassane Ouattara pushed their way to the heart of the city to reach Gbagbo’s home. They have surrounded it, and as of early Tuesday they were waiting for him to step down, said a close adviser to Ouattara who could not be named because he is not authorized to speak to the press.

Monday’s offensive which included air attacks on the ruler’s home, as well as three strategic military garrisons marked an unprecedented escalation in the international community’s efforts to oust Gbagbo, who lost the presidential election in November yet has refused to cede power to Ouattara even as the world’s largest cocoa producer teetered on the brink of all-out civil war.

UN peacekeeping chief Alain Le Roy said after briefing the Security Council about the action in Ivory Coast on Monday that the international forces had targeted areas around the presidential palace where Gbagbo’s forces were using heavy weaponry.


Obama declares bid for re-election in ’12

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama announced he is running for re-election and setting into motion a vast campaign machine that some expect to raise an unprecedented $1 billion.

Such a campaign war chest will mount a daunting challenge for whoever emerges from a crowded Republican field still jostling for the nomination and the difficult task that goes with it of removing a White House incumbent.

Obama launched his run at a second term in an email sent early Monday to 13 million supporters. He exhorted them to join forces behind his leadership and the changes he has battled for in a nation riven with hyperpartisan political divisions.

The president formally stepped onto the long road toward the November 2012 election even as he is enmeshed in a monumental battle over how much and on what the federal government spends taxpayer dollars. Without a compromise in the next couple of days he and the Congress could be overseeing a partial government shutdown for lack of funding.

Obama said he was running again because the fight was not finished in keeping the high-flown promises that carried him into the White House in 2008.


Crews to recover bodies, wreckage from flight

PARIS — Specialists could start pulling up bodies and wreckage from an Air France plane found on the Atlantic Ocean floor within a month, after the stunning deep-water discovery raised new hope of determining the cause of the 2009 crash.

Investigators said Monday they still haven’t found the plane’s “black box” flight recorders, and it’s unclear whether they remain attached to the fuselage, or whether they’re even still intact after nearly two years in sandy depths of 3,900 metres.

All 228 people aboard the plane were killed when Flight 447, en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris, slammed into the ocean northeast of Brazil on June 1, 2009, after running into an intense high-altitude thunderstorm. The cause of the crash is unclear.

French officials said Monday that undersea robots have located bodies, motors and most of the Airbus jet in a fourth underwater search operation, after the last two search efforts turned up nothing. Investigators have said without the recorders, the cause of the crash may never be determined.

France’s air accident investigation agency, the BEA, showed photos of the wreckage — intact wheels from the plane’s landing gear, two engines dusted with silt, a panel of the fuselage.

The BEA did not show images of any bodies. French officials said identifiable bodies have been found and will be raised to the ocean surface, but would not say how many or further comment out of respect for the victims’ families.


Troops fire wildly at protesters

SANAA, Yemen — Military forces and police snipers opened fire Monday on marchers calling for the ouster of Yemen’s embattled president, killing at least 15 people and sending a strong message of defiance to U.S. and European envoys seeking to broker a peace deal after months of bloodshed.

The melee in the southern city of Taiz — part of an intensifying crackdown on the opposition — underscored the resolve of President Ali Abdullah Saleh to cling to power even as protest crowds resist withering attacks and crucial allies switch sides and call for his 32-year rule to end.

It also showed the challenges facing behind-the-scenes diplomatic efforts to quell the nearly two-month-old uprising in a nation that Washington considers a frontline battleground against al-Qaida’s most active franchise.

“We will stand as firm as mountains,” Saleh told a gathering of pro-government tribesmen.

In Taiz, witnesses described troops and gunmen, some on rooftops, firing wildly on thousands of protesters who marched past the governor’s headquarters in the city’s second straight day of violence. Some protesters — including elderly people — were trampled and injured as marchers tried to flee, witnesses said.

Saleh has been a key ally of the United States, which has given him millions in counterterrorism aid to fight al-Qaida’s branch in the country, which has plotted attacks on American soil. So far, Washington has not publicly demanded that he step down. But the diplomatic efforts are a clear sign that the Americans have decided the danger of turmoil and instability outweighs the potential risks if Saleh leaves.

Mustafa al-Sabri, a spokesman for a coalition of opposition parties, said U.S. and European diplomats had been in contact with Saleh. They also asked opposition leaders for their “vision” for a transition.

In response, the opposition over the weekend gave the Americans a proposal that Saleh step down and hand his powers to his vice-president, who would then organize a process to rewrite the constitution and hold new elections, al-Sabri said.

The six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, which includes Yemen’s neighbours Oman and Saudi Arabia, also offered to try to mediate a peace deal.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said American envoys “continue to consult intensively” with Yemen’s government and the opposition, but he refused to give details of any specific U.S. plans.

Saleh has offered no hint of compromise as long as protests rage.

“We are prepared to explore the peaceful transfer of authority in the framework of the constitution. But arm-twisting will absolutely not work,” he said on Sunday.

On Monday, he showed an even harder edge. “We are standing firm, and we will defend constitutional legitimacy by all means,” he told backers.

“We will stand as firm as mountains and will remain faithful to the people.”

Saleh has offered to step down early at the end of this year if a transfer of power acceptable to him is reached. But the opposition fears that Saleh is using the discussions over stepping down to stall for time — either to stay in power or to ensure he is succeeded by one of his sons.

The U.S. Embassy has not commented on any diplomatic efforts, saying only in a statement over the weekend that “Saleh has publicly expressed his willingness to engage in a peaceful transition of power; the timing and form of this transition should be identified through dialogue and negotiation.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A vial of the Medicago vaccine sits on a surface. CARe Clinic, located in Red Deer, has been selected to participate in the third phase of vaccine study. (Photo courtesy www.medicago.com)
Red Deer clinical research centre participating in plant-based COVID-19 vaccine trial

A Red Deer research centre has been selected to participate in the… Continue reading

Asymptomatic testing will now be available for "priority groups" who are most likely to spread the COVID-19 virus to vulnerable or at-risk populations. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS
Red Deer jumps to 449 active COVID-19 cases on Sunday

1,516 new cases identified in Alberta

The QEII was closed Sunday morning due to a pole fire. (Photo courtesy City of Red Deer)
UPDATE: QEII near Red Deer reopens

The QEII has been reopened after being closed due to a pole… Continue reading

Innisfail RCMP are investigating a single-vehicle crash that happened west of Bowden on March 21, 2021. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Bashaw RCMP investigate fatal collision in central Alberta

Bashaw RCMP are investigating after a fatal collision Saturday afternoon. Police were… Continue reading

A damaged unicorn statue is shown in a field outside of Delia, Alta. in this undated handout photo. It's not often police can report that a unicorn has been found, but it was the truth Saturday when RCMP said a stolen, stainless-steel statue of the mythical beast had been located in a field not far from where he'd been taken. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Mounties get their unicorn; stolen statue of mythical beast found in Alberta field

DELIA, Alta. — It’s not often police can report that a unicorn… Continue reading

Investigators from the Vancouver Police Department were in Chilliwack Saturday, collecting evidence connected to a double homicide. (file photo)
Police investigate shooting death of man outside downtown Vancouver restaurant

Vancouver police say one man was killed in what they believe was… Continue reading

Dr. E. Kwok administers a COVID-19 vaccine to a recipient at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to start registering people 18 years and older for COVID-19 vaccines

VICTORIA — The British Columbia government says it’s inviting people 18 years… Continue reading

San Jose's Tomas Hertl, center, celebrates with teammates Patrick Marleau, left, and Rudolfs Blacers, right, after Hertl scored a goal during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Minnesota Wild, Friday, April 16, 2021, in St. Paul, Minn. (AP Photo/Stacy Bengs)
Patrick Marleau set to break Gordie Howe’s games record

For Patrick Marleau, the best part about Monday night when he is… Continue reading

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a press briefing at the White House, Tuesday, April 13, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Half of U.S. adults have received at least one COVID-19 shot

WASHINGTON — Half of all adults in the U.S. have received at… Continue reading

People are shown at a COVID-19 vaccination site in Montreal, Sunday, April 18, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Federal government to send health-care workers to Ontario, Trudeau says

MONTREAL — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says federal departments and some Canadian… Continue reading

People cross a busy street in the shopping district of Flushing on Tuesday, March 30, 2021, in the Queens borough of New York. Access to the COVID-19 vaccine in the United States is growing by the day. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kathy Willens
Despite COVID-19 vaccines, Americans in D.C. not feeling celebratory — or charitable

WASHINGTON — This might make Canadians jealous of their American cousins for… Continue reading

A man pays his respects at a roadside memorial in Portapique, N.S. on Thursday, April 23, 2021. RCMP say at least 22 people are dead after a man who at one point wore a police uniform and drove a mock-up cruiser, went on a murder rampage in Portapique and several other Nova Scotia communities. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Memorial service in Nova Scotia marks one year since mass shooting started

TRURO, N.S. — A memorial service is planned for today in central… Continue reading

In this April 23, 2016, photo, David Goethel sorts cod and haddock while fishing off the coast of New Hampshire. To Goethel, cod represents his identity, his ticket to middle class life, and his link to one the country's most historic industries, a fisherman who has caught New England's most recognized fish for more than 30 years. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
‘It’s more than just a fish:’ Scientists worry cod will never come back in N.L.

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — The latest assessment of Atlantic cod stocks, whose… Continue reading

Most Read