Vladimir Putin set to bait US with nuclear aid for Tehran

Russia is considering increasing its assistance to Iran’s nuclear programme in response to America’s calls for Nato expansion eastwards and the presence of US Navy vessels in the Black Sea delivering aid to Georgia.

The Kremlin is discussing sending teams of Russian nuclear experts to Tehran and inviting Iranian nuclear scientists to Moscow for training, according to sources close to the Russian military.

Moscow has been angered by Washington’s promise to give Georgia £564m in aid following the Russian invasion of parts of the country last month after Tbilisi’s military offensive. Kremlin officials suspect the US is planning to rearm the former Soviet republic and is furious at renewed support for attempts by Georgia and Ukraine to join Nato.

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Qatar warns against attacking Iran


Qatari emir, Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani

The emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, has warned that Doha will not allow any country to turn the Persian Gulf into a war zone.

His remarks on the subject come in an environment of long-standing US and Israel threats to launch an attack against Iranian nuclear installations under the pretext that Tehran, a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), is planning to secretly weaponize its civilian use nuclear program.

The international nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has strongly denied the charge with. IAEA chief Mohammad elBaradei stating he would resign if Iran is attacked on this pretext.

Tehran insists that its program is purely for electricity generation.

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Record bail-out in US of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

THE US TREASURY will today announce a rescue of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, two giant American mortgage banks, in what is likely to be the biggest financial bail-out of recent history.

The move may trigger a bounce in global stock markets tomorrow. However, analysts warn that some of the uncertainties that plagued the markets last week, including worries over the duration of the credit crunch, will persist.

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9% of homeowners are late with bill or in foreclosure, study says

WASHINGTON – An industry group says a record 9.2% of American homeowners with a mortgage were either behind on their payments or in foreclosure at the end of June, as damage from the housing crisis continued to mount.

The latest quarterly snapshot by the Mortgage Bankers Association on Friday broke records for late payments, homes entering the foreclosure process and for the inventory of loans in foreclosure.

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Huge rise in the price of food

Supermarket food prices are soaring, with the price of key items rising at several times the rate of inflation, figures show.


The rising cost of the shopping basket

The price of fresh food has risen by 12 per cent since the start of the year, while meat and fish now costs 23 per cent more on average. Meanwhile chicken and ham have risen by 42 and 45 per cent since January, placing the former staples out of many consumers’ price range.

The rises in the price of both basic pasta and basmati rice have also smashed through the 40 per cent barrier.

Even so-called slump proof tinned foods have registered a price rise of 15 per cent – more than three times the Government’s official inflation rate of 4.4 per cent.

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Russia accuses West of provocation in Georgia

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian President Dmitry Medvedev accused the United States on Saturday of provoking Moscow by using warships to deliver relief aid to its ally Georgia, with which Russia fought a brief war last month.

“I wonder how they would feel if we now dispatched humanitarian assistance to the Caribbean, suffering from a hurricane, using our navy,” Medvedev said, adding that a whole U.S. fleet had been dispatched to deliver the aid.

Russia has also accused U.S. warships of rearming Tbilisi’s defeated army, a charge dismissed as “ridiculous” by Washington.

NATO in turn has rejected talk of a buildup of its warships in the Black Sea, saying their recent presence in the region was part of routine exercises.

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200,000 civilians flee fighting in north Pakistan

Intense fighting in the Bajaur tribal district in north Pakistan has forced more than 200,000 people to flee their villages, an International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) official has said.

“There is a real war shaking the Bajaur region at the moment,” said Pascal Cuttat, the head of the ICRC Pakistan delegation, with government forces “facing heavy opposition.”

Pakistan’s forces have launched a number of major military offensives in recent weeks against militants in the Bajaur district, which is thought to be an Al-Qaeda stronghold.

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Asif Ali Zardari, widower of Benazir Bhutto, elected president in Pakistan

Asif Ali Zardari, the widower of the assassinated former prime minister, Benazir Bhuttto, has been elected president by the country’s parliament and regional assemblies.


Mr Zardari is a shrewd politician. He has taken firm control of Bhutto’s ruling Pakistan People Party Photo: EPA

According to an unofficial tally, Mr Zardari secured at least 458 out of 702 electoral college votes, including over 280 votes in the parliament.

“It’s not only a victory for Mr Zardari and the Pakistan People’s Party but it’s a victory for … Benazir Bhutto’s dream of a democratic political system,” said Farzana Raja, the party’s spokeswoman as Mr Zardari’s supporters chanted “long live Bhutto”.

Members of Pakistan’s national assembly, senate and four provincial assemblies were seeking to replace Pervez Musharraf, who resigned as president last month.

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Hanna death toll rises to 500 as storm nears hurricane status

Tropical storm Hanna is closing in on North and South Carolina with receding flood waters in Haiti revealing the corpses of nearly 500 victims of the deadly weather system.


Hurricane Hanna as it nears the US coast Photo: AP

Hanna, the eighth tropical storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, closed in on the US east coast on the verge of hurricane strength after leaving “catastrophic” conditions in Haiti, which it battered with strong winds and torrential rain for several days.

Read moreHanna death toll rises to 500 as storm nears hurricane status

Pakistan cuts supply lines to NATO troops in Afghanistan

In a move seen as the latest fallout from Wednesday morning’s US attack on South Waziristan, the Pakistani government has ordered that supply lines to NATO troops in Afghanistan be immediately severed for an indefinite period of time.

The move comes as thousands of protesters marched through South Waziristan’s capital of Wana chanting “death to America”. Officials cited repeated attacks which had made it difficult to provide security for transportation across the only border crossing, but Pakistani media cited other sources who said the move came as the government feared retaliation from South Waziristan tribesmen if they didn’t respond to the US attack.

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