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May 19, 2011 at 10:02 PM   |   Comments

Hamas, Netanyahu reject Obama speech

JERUSALEM, May 19 (UPI) -- Both Hamas and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu Thursday rejected U.S. President Barack Obama's remarks on a Middle East peace.

"We will not recognize the Israeli occupation under any circumstances," said Hamas spokesman in the Gaza Strip, Sami Abu-Zuhri, adding: "We object to intervention in our internal affairs."

Ynetnews.com also quoted Abu-Zuhri as cautioning the Palestinian Authority against endorsing Obama's positions and said the Arab world doesn't need a lesson in democracy from the United States.

Netanyahu said Obama's call to return to Israel's 1967 borders is impossible since those borders are indefensible.

"Israel believes that in order for peace to prevail, the establishment of a Palestinian state cannot come at the expense of the state of Israel's existence," Netanyahu said in a statement issued by his office. "The Palestinians, and not only the United States, must recognize Israel as the Jewish people's nation-state."

Obama's speech came ahead of Netanyahu's planned visit to Washington. The Jerusalem Post said Netanyahu plans to stress Israel's need to maintain a presence along the Jordan River and his disappointment about the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation.


$25M bin Laden reward won't be given

WASHINGTON, May 19 (UPI) -- The United States will not pay the $25 million reward for the capture of Osama bin Laden, officials say, because no human informants contributed to finding him.

Citing a senior U.S. official, ABC News reported Thursday the determination not to pay the reward was based on the fact that the May 2 raid in which the al-Qaida leader was killed in Pakistan resulted from electronic intelligence.

"We do not expect a reward to be paid," a senior U.S. official familiar with the search for bin Laden said.

The $25 million reward was being offered through the federal Rewards for Justice program.

Officials ABC said were involved in or knowledgeable about the search, said no informant came forward to cooperate with the CIA or military officials in the hunt for bin Laden -- who was located as a result of a mistake by one of his associates, combined with electronic surveillance.

Informants have collected millions of dollars in rewards for information used in the search for Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, ABC reported.


Strauss-Kahn indicted on sex charges

NEW YORK, May 19 (UPI) -- A New York judge Thursday granted former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn bail following his formal indictment for sexual assault.

The bail agreement calls for Strauss-Kahn to post $1 million cash bail, submit to electronic monitoring, be confined to a Manhattan apartment under 24-hour armed-guard and waive extradition should U.S. authorities need to get him back from France. The judge also required posting of a $5 million bond.

The Manhattan apartment was rented by Strauss-Kahn's wife, The New York Times reported.

The indictment accuses Strauss-Kahn of seven counts of sexual assault on the hotel maid, who testified Wednesday he allegedly forced the woman to submit to oral and anal sex and attempted to rape her.

Strauss-Kahn had been on suicide watch in the protective custody wing of Rikers Island after being denied bail.

Strauss-Kahn, claiming he is innocent of sex charges in New York, resigned Thursday as the International Monetary Fund's managing director.

"It is with infinite sadness that I feel compelled today to present to the executive board my resignation from my post of managing director of the IMF," he said in a statement released early Thursday by the organization. "I think at this time first of my wife -- whom I love more than anything -- of my children, of my family, of my friends."

The resignation comes four days after Strauss-Kahn, 62, was removed from an Air France plane at John F. Kennedy International Airport and arrested.

Strauss-Kahn is accused of sodomy, for allegedly forcing a Sofitel hotel maid to perform oral sex and submit to anal sex after he came out of his luxury suite's bathroom naked Saturday. His attorney, Benjamin Brafman, has suggested any encounter was consensual.

Strauss-Kahn, a former French finance minister, had been expected to declare his candidacy on the Socialist Party ticket for the French presidency and was considered one of the candidates most likely to defeat President Nicolas Sarkozy.

The IMF Sunday appointed John Lipsky, a U.S. banker, to manage the organization until a new managing director is found.

In his resignation statement, Strauss-Kahn said, "I want to say that I deny with the greatest possible firmness all of the allegations that have been made against me."


Report: Mine owner to blame for blast

CHARLESTON, W.Va., May 19 (UPI) -- A state report on a 2010 coal mine disaster in West Virginia blames the mine owner, saying it built a culture in which wrongdoing became acceptable.

An independent team of investigators appointed by the former West Virginia governor, Joe Manchin, issued their report Thursday on the National Technology Transfer Center Web site.

The Upper Big Branch report, subtitled "A failure of basic coal mine safety practices," echoed preliminary findings by federal officials that the blast could have been prevented if Massey Energy had observed minimal safety standards.

The report detailed what it called a pattern of negligence that led to the deaths of 29 miners on April 5, 2010, the worst U.S. mining disaster in 40 years.

"A company that was a towering presence in the Appalachian coalfields operated its mines in a profoundly reckless manner, and 29 coal miners paid with their lives for the corporate risk-taking," the report said.

The report cited poor ventilation, non-functioning safety mechanisms on equipment, and coal dust, which in violation of industry regulations had been allowed to accumulate, "behaving like a line of gunpowder carrying the blast forward in multiple directions."

A number of individuals subpoenaed by the State of West Virginia during the examination of the disaster declined to be interviewed by investigators, invoking their Fifth Amendment rights, the report said.

© 2011 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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