The Global Note: Turkey & Syria…Terror Alerts…The Queen In Northern Ireland…Olympic Inspiration

By Tom Nagorski

Jun 26, 2012 10:58am

SYRIA

-A WARNING FROM TURKEY…As the crisis with Syria over the downing of a Turkish warplane showed no sign of easing, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, issued a blunt warning to Damascus: Don’t push us too far. “Every military element that approaches the Turkish border from Syria in a manner that constitutes a security risk or danger would be considered as a threat and would be treated as a military target,” he said in a speech after a NATO meeting, adding that “the rules of engagement have changed.” “We warn the Syrian regime not to make any mistakes, not to test Turkey’s decisiveness and wisdom.” Earlier today, Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister accused Syrian forces of opening fire on a Turkish search-and-rescue plane during the search for the F-4 Phantom jet. The two pilots from the first plane are still missing NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the alliance considered Syria’s actions “unacceptable” and that NATO countries had “expressed their strong support and solidarity with Turkey,” he said.

-STRONG REPORT FROM INSIDE SYRIA…The BBC’s Ian Pannell is out with a powerful piece from Northern Syria - where he travelled with rebel forces.

-VIOLENCE NEARS DAMASCUS…Activists are reporting heavy clashes between Syrian rebels and the elite Republican Guard in two suburbs of the capital. As Al Jazeera notes, Damascus is essentially under Assad’s forces but clashes erupt regularly in the suburbs between troops and rebels.

-EXPLOSIONS NEAR HOMS…The town of Talbiesh came under heavy bombardment at dawn. Explosion and rocket fire can be seen and heard in this clip.

EGYPT: WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH…THE LOSERS LEAVE?

Shorouk News reports that a Cairo airport official says Hosni Mubarak’s last prime minister – the loser in Egypt’s presidential vote – has left the country for the United Arab Emirates. The official says Ahmed Shafiq flew out of Egypt at dawn Tuesday, just hours after the country’s prosecutor general opened an investigation into allegations that he wasted public funds during his eight-year-term as a civil aviation minister under Mubarak.

NEWS ABOUT TERROR

-NORWEGIAN WOULD-BE TERRORIST IN YEMEN?…From the AP and our own Rich ESPOSITO: A Norwegian man has received terrorist training from al-Qaida’s offshoot in Yemen and is awaiting orders to carry out an attack on the West, officials from three European security agencies told The AP on Monday. Western intelligence officials have long feared such a scenario — a convert to Islam who is trained in terrorist methods and can blend in easily in Europe and the United States, traveling without visa restrictions. Officials from three European security agencies confirmed Monday the man is “operational,” meaning he has completed his training and is about to receive a target. All spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the case publicly. They declined to name the man, who has not been accused of a crime. “We believe he is operational and he is probably about to get his target,” one security official said. “And that target is probably in the West.” A security official in a second European country confirmed the information, adding: “From what I understand, a specific target has not been established.” European security services, including in Norway, have warned in recent years of homegrown, radicalized Muslims traveling to terror training camps in conflict zones.

-MI5 CHIEF GIVES RARE PUBLIC SPEECH…In a rare public speech, the Director General of British spy agency MI5, Jonathan Evans spoke of how an increasing number of British citizens are travelling to Arab countries for terrorist training. Evans said as many as about two hundred British residents may be involved with militant groups in the Middle East. In his first speech in almost two years, the MI5 chief said that the Olympic Games were dominating British security concerns. (not on camera)

-CYBERTHREATS…Evans also warned that state-sponsored and criminal cyber attacks risked “real world damage” – an “astonishing” cyber espionage threat on an “industrial scale” from specific nation states. “The extent of what is going on is astonishing,” said Evans, “with industrial-scale processes involving many thousands of people lying behind both state-sponsored cyber espionage and organized cyber crime.” Though Evans did not name any countries, ABC News has separately learned from sources that the U.K., the U.S. and several European allies have a robust discussion underway on how to counter cyber espionage by perhaps the most significant state operator — China.

-LONDON TERROR WIDOW BEHIND KENYA ATTACKS?…The Daily Mail is reporting the 28-year-old widow of one of the bombers in the July 7, 2005 terror attacks in London is wanted for questioning in Mombasa, where investigators there say she and two other men were behind a plot to bomb hotels in December and planned a grenade attack at a sports bar there that killed the British tourists the same month. Her husband blew himself up on the London subway in 2005 killing himself and 26 others.

QUEEN’S HISTORIC TRIP TO NORTHERN IRELAND

The Queen has begun a two-day visit to Northern Ireland today – it’s part of her Diamond Jubilee tour – and tomorrow she is to meet a man whose organization has made war on the Royal Family – Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness. Speaking for the first time about the meeting, the former IRA leader acknowledged to the BBC that the royal family had been “badly hurt” by the 1979 murder of the Queen’s cousin Lord Mountbatten. Today the Queen visited Enniskillen, scene of a deadly IRA bombing a quarter century ago.

EURO CRISIS

-EU TO REWRITE EUROZONE BUDGETS?…In a bid to find a comprehensive, more-than-a-bandaid approach to the Eurozone debt crisis, the EU would gain far-reaching powers to rewrite national budgets for eurozone countries that breach debt and deficit rules under proposals likely to be discussed at a summit this week, according to a draft report seen by the Financial Times. The proposals are part of an ambitious plan to turn the eurozone into a closer fiscal union, giving Brussels more powers to serve like a finance ministry for all 17 members of the currency union.

-SPANISH BANKS DOWNGRADED…Spain’s battered banks have taken another hit, this time in the form of a sweeping downgrade by Moody’s. The ratings agency said it was cutting its views on the debt issued by 28 Spanish banks, including international heavyweights Banco Santander and Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria.

-GREECE FINANCE MINISTER DROPS OUT…Greece just can’t cut a break. Greece’s designated  finance minister resigned on Monday after being hospitalized, an unexpected blow to the new government of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras as it struggles to manage the country’s financial crisis.

-CYPRUS BAILOUT…Cyprus, the fifth eurozone country to seek emergency funding from Europe, may need a bailout of up to 10 billion euros, over half the size of its economy, a European official said on Tuesday.

CHINA: FORCED ABORTION HUSBAND GOES MISSING

Karson YIU flags this from Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post: Deng Jiyuan, the husband of Feng Jianmei who was forced to undergo an abortion earlier this month, has gone missing. This comes after a weekend of threats and protest outside the hospital where Feng is still staying. Their local townspeople unveiled banners are calling them ‘national traitors’ for granting the German Magazine Stern an interview on Friday and called for them to be further punished, including being driven out of town. The husband’s sister told the SCMPost her family became worried when they had not seen or heard from her brother since Sunday. We tried calling Deng but it went straight to a “user unavailable” message.  However, late Tuesday afternoon, Deng’s sister told the Telegraph’s Malcolm Moore that she had located her brother and that he is safe.

MURDOCH CONSIDERS SPLITTING NEWS CORP IN TWO?

The Wall Street Journal reports that News Corp. is considering splitting into two companies, separating its publishing assets from its entertainment businesses, say people familiar with the situation. The split would carve off News Corp.’s film and television businesses, including 20th Century Fox film studio, Fox broadcast network and Fox News channel from its newspapers, book publishing assets and education businesses.

OLYMPIC TORCH RELAY – INJURED SOLDIER CARRIES THE FLAME

A moving story from the U.K.: A British paratrooper injured in a bomb attack Afghanistan in 2006 who lost both his legs below the knee has walked with the Olympic torch through the northern city of Doncaster. Flanked by hundreds of supporters, he walked nearly a half an hour with an assistant to support his arm.  Ben Parkinson also broke his back, pelvis, shattered his arm, chest and suffered a brain injury. The BBC has the full story of his recovery – and today’s milestone.

FUKUSHIMA REACTOR “BULGE”

From Akiko FUJITA in Tokyo: More troubling signs for reactor 4 at Fukushima – TEPCO says they’ve discovered a new, larger “bulge” in the outer concrete wall, nearly 1 month after the discovery of a “bulging” wall in a similar area. Any signs of structure damage at reactor 4 are reasons for alarm because more than 1500 spent fuel rods with large amounts of radioactive cesium still sit atop an already heavily damaged reactor building – covered in nothing more than plastic. While reactors 1-3 suffered meltdowns, some scientists have warned that reactor 4 has the most potential for setting off a new catastrophe. In response to its most recent discovery – essentially a wall that is tilted about 1.5 inches – TEPCO says it has no bearing on the “structural integrity” of reactor 4.

TATTOO CRACKDOWN

FUJITA again: The city of Osaka is unleashing a full-scale crackdown on employees who have tattoos. Tattoos have traditionally been associated with yakuza or Japanese mafia membership here, and are banned in public settings – including swimming pools, public baths, and gyms. Some major employers have banned them as well, but with younger Japanese increasingly choosing to ink themselves for reasons other than to show off their loyalty to a gang, some companies have backed off in recent years. The mayor of Osaka says – no more. He recently surveyed 50,000 city employees, requiring them to disclose any tattoos they had. Today, they announced that (gasp!) 10 out of 17,000 teachers admitted to being tattoed up. Now, they are considering whether to move these workers into “less public” positions.

RUSSIAN MOM THROWS CHILDREN OFF BALCONY

Surveillance video shows a 30-year-old mother calmly walking in the lobby of her apartment building moments after she tossed her two sons aged 4 and 7 from the 15th floor balcony of her apartment. Both boys died. The video shows residents in the building approaching and restraining her until police arrived.

KATE’S HATS UNDER THE HAMMER

Two hats worn by the Duchess of Cambridge are to be auctioned at a fashion auction in London, in a rare opportunity to snap up some royal style. The ‘Passion for Fashion’ auction being held today also includes a hat signed by Michael Jackson and a dress owned by Liz Taylor, but the stars of the show are the two black straw hats once worn by a future princess.

$500 FOR A MOTORCYCLE

First came the $2200 cars and now a motorcycle for just $500.  Yamaha Motors  plans to develop its cheapest motorcycle globally in India, to be sold for about $500.

NATURE SLIDESHOW

-BABY RHINOS…An Indonesian official says an endangered Sumatran rhinoceros has given birth to a male calf. It’s only the fifth Sumatran rhino to be born into captivity. Indonesian Forestry official Novianto Bambang says the 12-year-old Ratu gave birth just after midnight Saturday at Indonesia’s rhino sanctuary in Way Kambas National Park on Sumatra island. He says both mother and calf are doing well and are being monitored by vets and international rhino experts.

-…AND A PREGNANT PANDA?…From Akiko FUJITA in Tokyo…rumors are buzzing around Tokyo’s Ueno zoo – that Panda “Shin Shin” may finally be pregnant. Zookeepers say her hormone levels are higher than usual, leading to speculation that a baby may be on the way. She’s also lost her appetite (which is apparently normal for pandas in the late stages of pregnancy). As a precaution, the zoo is temporarily closing the panda exhibit, to monitor Shin Shin’s condition. If she gives birth – it will be the first time a baby panda is born at the Ueno Zoo, in 24 years.

DO YOU FEEL OLD?

Today is the 15th anniversary of the publication of the first Harry Potter book in the UK.

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