Sabtu, 28 Disember 2013

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

U.S. intelligence estimate sees big rollbacks in Afghanistan -report

Posted: 28 Dec 2013 07:50 PM PST

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A new U.S. intelligence estimate predicts that gains the United States and allies have made in the Afghanistan war in the past three years will be significantly rolled back by 2017, even if some U.S. troops remain, the Washington Post reported on Saturday, citing officials familiar with the report.

The National Intelligence Estimate also predicts that Afghanistan will quickly fall into chaos if Washington and Kabul fail to sign a security pact to keep an international military contingent there beyond 2014, the newspaper said. The pact must be signed for the United States and its allies to provide billions more dollars in aid to the impoverished country.

The newspaper cited officials who have read the classified report, which includes input from the 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, or were briefed on its conclusions.

"In the absence of a continuing presence and continuing financial support," the intelligence assessment "suggests the situation would deteriorate very rapidly," the newspaper quoted one U.S. official familiar with the report as saying.

But the newspaper said some officials felt the report on the potential outcome of the longest war in U.S. history was overly pessimistic and did not take into account progress made by Afghanistan's security forces.

"I think what we're going to see is a recalibration of political power, territory and that kind of thing," the paper quoted one official as saying. "It's not going to be an inevitable rise of the Taliban."

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has balked at signing the security pact that would permit U.S. forces to stay in the country beyond 2014, and U.S. officials have said that unless a deal is reached to keep perhaps 8,000 U.S. troops, the Taliban insurgents might stage a major comeback and al Qaeda could regain safe havens.

(Writing by Vicki Allen; Editing by Peter Cooney)

Skier, snowmobiler die in Wyoming avalanches

Posted: 28 Dec 2013 04:35 PM PST

(Reuters) - A skier and a snowmobiler died less than two hours apart this week in separate snow avalanches in western Wyoming, a National Forest official said on Saturday.

The skier, Michael Kazanjy, 29, was buried under four feet (122 cm) of snow on Thursday and could not be uncovered in time to save his life, said Bob Comey, director of the Bridger-Teton National Forest Avalanche Center. Kazanjy was skiing in back-country near Jackson, Wyoming.

The snowmobiler, Rex J. Anderson, 39, died in an avalanche less than two hours later near the Idaho border.

Anderson was in a group of several snowmobiles and got caught in a 100-yard-wide (91-metre-wide) slide that left him buried under six feet (1.8 metres) of snow, according to a report on the avalanche center website.

He was dug out in less than 10 minutes, but died, Comey said.

People can quickly suffocate under heavy snow, which also can have a crushing effect on their bodies, Comey said.

Snow conditions were not especially hazardous on Thursday when the deaths occurred, Comey said. The avalanche center posts detailed information on snow conditions.

"Our mission is to give people the information they need that is available," Comey said. "We have no control over the decisions they make."

(Reporting by Kevin Murphy; Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis, Kevin Gray and Vicki Allen)

Five decapitated bodies dumped in Michoacan capital

Posted: 28 Dec 2013 02:45 PM PST

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Five severed heads and their bodies were dumped in two spots Saturday morning around the capital of the western state of Michoacan that has been plagued by worsening drug gang violence this year.

Three sets of bodies and heads were displayed in the street in a township on the northern edge of Morelia and the other two were left in the town square of a community in the southern part of the capital, according to a statement from the state prosecutor's office.

Michoacan's murder rate rose in 2013 compared to declines in most states. Last month, dozens of mutilated corpses were found buried in mass graves in an area on the border between the states of Michoacan and Jalisco.

Nationwide, murders peaked in 2011 amid a military-led war against drug gangs, official data shows. President Enrique Pena Nieto, who ends his first year in office, shifted focus away from battling drug cartels to pushing a series of economic reforms through a divided Congress.

Violence spiked in Michoacan in recent years and masked groups of vigilantes took power in some rural communities in 2013, claiming the government was failing to stop gang extortion and violence.

Michoacan's murder rate has nearly doubled since 2006 as traffickers increasingly turned from marijuana plantations to producing methamphetamine in crude labs hidden amid the state's mountains and avocado groves.

Decapitations became an increasingly common form of gangland vengeance across Mexico since five heads were tossed onto a barroom dance floor in the Michoacan town of Uruapan in 2006.

(Reporting by Tomas Sarmiento; Editing by Vicki Allen)


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