In brief: Iran launches first pilotless bomber
TEHRAN, Iran – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Sunday inaugurated the country’s first domestically built unmanned bomber aircraft, calling it an “ambassador of death” to Iran’s enemies.
The 4-yard-long drone aircraft can carry up to four cruise missiles and will have a range of 620 miles, according to a state TV report – not far enough to reach archenemy Israel.
“The jet, as well as being an ambassador of death for the enemies of humanity, has a main message of peace and friendship,” Ahmadinejad said at the inauguration ceremony.
The goal of the aircraft, named Karrar or striker, is to “keep the enemy paralyzed in its bases,” he said, adding that the aircraft is for deterrence and defensive purposes.
Fired policeman holds tourists
MANILA, Philippines – A dismissed policeman armed with an automatic rifle seized a bus in the Philippine capital today with 25 passengers aboard, most of them Hong Kong tourists, in a bid to demand his reinstatement, police said.
Six hostages, including three children, were subsequently released.
Police sharpshooters took positions around the bus, which was parked near a downtown Manila park, and negotiations to free the remaining hostages were under way, deputy director of Manila police Alex Gutierrez said.
Others on the bus included three Filipinos – a driver, a guide and a photographer – Manila police chief Rodolfo Magtibay said.
The hostage-taker, identified as former Senior Inspector Rolando Mendoza, was armed with an M-16 rifle. He demanded that he be given back his job on the police force a year after he was fired, Magtibay said.
JERUSALEM – Israel’s prime minister demanded Sunday that any future Palestinian state be demilitarized and recognize Israel as the Jewish homeland, as he staked out his starting position for new Middle East peace talks.
Benjamin Netanyahu said reaching a deal will be difficult but possible. The conditions he laid down, coupled with a swift Palestinian rejection, illustrated just how difficult the task will be for the U.S. to meet its goal of brokering peace within a year. Talks are set to begin in Washington next week.
“We want to surprise all of the critics and skeptics. But to do that we need a real partner on the Palestinian side,” Netanyahu told his Cabinet on Sunday. “If we discover that we have such a partner, we will be able to quickly reach a historic agreement between the two peoples.”
Parties seek support from independents
CANBERRA, Australia – Leaders of Australia’s two major political parties lobbied for support from independent lawmakers to stitch together the nation’s first minority government since World War II.
Australia’s dollar was trading lower Monday as uncertainty remained over results of the weekend federal elections, with the ruling Labor Party losing seats to the Greens party in a backlash over the government’s shelving of plans to charge major polluters for every ton of carbon gas they emit.
The final results of Saturday’s vote may not be known for a week or more but both Labor and the Liberal Party-led opposition conceded neither would achieve the 76 seats needed to form a government.
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Hip-hop singer Wyclef Jean said Sunday he is not abandoning his presidential bid just yet and will try to get the courts to overturn a decision disqualifying him.
Speaking to the Associated Press, Jean said his lawyers will file an appeal with the national electoral dispute office.
Jean said he has a document “which shows everything is correct” and that he and his aides “feel that what is going on here has everything to do with Haitian politics.”
“They are trying to keep us out of the race,” he said, referring to Haiti’s political establishment.
Haiti’s elections board rejected Jean’s candidacy Friday night – presumably because it decided he didn’t meet residency requirements, although the board did not cite a reason.