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Dec. 10, 2010 at 8:40 AM
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Palestinians to halt commitments to Israel

RAMALLAH, West Bank, Dec. 10 (UPI) -- The Palestinian Authority plans to stop coordinating security with Israel, a senior Palestinian official told al-Quds al-Arabi.

Khana Amira told the London-based Arab-language newspaper the Palestinians are also considering canceling other commitments to Israel in response to the U.S. announcement that peace talks have failed.

Amira said the Oslo Accords and the so-called road map are also under consideration, The Jerusalem Post said.

The Oslo Accords, signed by Israel and the Palestinians in a 1993 ceremony in Washington, set the framework for future negotiations and relations between the two sides. It was officially called the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements.

The road map, first outlined in 2002 by U.S. President George W. Bush, was a plan proposed by the United States, European Union, Russia and the United Nations to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with a two-state solution -- a secure Israel alongside a peaceful democratic Palestinian state.

Yasser Abed Rabbo, an adviser to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, intended to convene a PLO and Fatah central committee meeting in Ramallah Friday to discuss the Palestinian plan, the newspaper said.

Palestinian officials told al-Quds al-Arabi the authority is willing to give the U.S. administration another chance and expects U.S. President Barack Obama to take steps to renew peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.


Liu honored despite China's protests

OSLO, Norway, Dec. 10 (UPI) -- Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo was honored Friday during the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo, Norway -- an empty chair marking his absence.

"We regret that the laureate is not present. He is in isolation in a prison in northeastern China," Nobel committee secretary Geir Lundestad told the audience. "Nor can his wife or closest relatives be with us. ...This fact alone shows that the award was necessary and appropriate."

The audience offered sustained applause and a standing ovation, The Washington Post reported.

A portrait of Liu, serving an 11-year sentence for subversion, was on stage during the ceremony.

China, which reacted vehemently against the selection of Liu for the Nobel Peace Prize, blocked broadcasts of the ceremony on television and Internet sites, the Post reported. The government prohibited Liu and his family members from leaving China to attend the ceremony and barred other activists from traveling or gathering in public places.

Uniformed and plainclothes officers guarded Liu's home, where the dissident's wife is under house arrest, the BBC said. Reports indicate other instances of house arrests, travel restrictions and forced relocations.

Chinese experts said awarding the prize to Liu is "gross interference" in China's judicial system, the country's state-run news agency Xinhua reported.

"Giving the prize to figures like Liu Xiaobo has clearly demonstrated the Nobel committee's anti-Chinese attitude," said Gao Mingxuan, a Chinese criminal law expert. "They (Nobel committee members) are obviously harboring political motives."

It was the first time the award was not presented to a laureate in person since 1936 when Carl von Ossietzky, a German pacifist jailed by the Nazi regime, was prevented from attending the ceremony.


WikiLeaks backers threaten British sites

LONDON, Dec. 10 (UPI) -- A band of computer hackers said it will freeze U.K. government Web sites if WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is extradited to Sweden on sexual assault charges.

The hacker network, called Anonymous, brought down the Web sites of MasterCard, Visa, PayPal and the Swedish government in "Operation Payback" after the businesses severed ties with WikiLeaks and the Swedish government issued an arrest warrant against Assange on unrelated sexual assault allegations. Assange, in a London jail, denies the allegations, saying they're part of a smear campaign.

"They will go after the weakest links because they want to see results. They will probably test a few sites and then decide," Gregg Housh, a U.S. Internet activist who once worked with the hackers, told The Daily Telegraph in an interview published Friday.

Assange is scheduled to appear in magistrate's court Tuesday.

WikiLeaks, a whistle-blowing site, obtained and released for publication more than 250,000 U.S. State Department cables that included frank discussions about world leaders.

The sites so far hit by Anonymous were victims of "distributed denial of service" in which they were overloaded with "visitors," forcing them to crash.

One hacker told the Telegraph the operation is "definitely an information war."

"The core principle behind it is information is free, governments keep information to themselves, WikiLeaks releases it to the general public and the war occurs," the unnamed hacker said.


Monster storm predicted

BUFFALO, N.Y., Dec. 10 (UPI) -- A huge storm followed by arctic cold threatened much of the upper part of the United States.

Forecasters predicted a monster storm this weekend -- possibly the worst of the season -- stretching from the Great Lakes to the central Appalachians, dumping snow and rain coupled with high winds over a wide area with blizzard conditions possible. Accuweather.com predicted poor travel conditions through much of the area but it was unclear where the rain-snow divide would come.

The snow is expected to begin over Iowa Saturday and then spread east and north, dumping 6 to 12 inches with higher amounts expected in lake-effect regions, possibly as much as 3 feet.

The Buffalo, N.Y.-area already had 4 feet of snow on the ground and in Western Michigan 12 to 18 inches of snow had fallen since Sunday.

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