World Scene – 3/16/10

Tuesday's World Events   —   Posted on March 16, 2010

(World Scene from, from wire dispatches and Washington Times staff reports)

THAILAND – Thousands demand elections

BANGKOK | As many as 100,000 people demonstrated peacefully against Thailand’s government at a partylike rally Sunday, but the capital was being kept on edge by their threat to continue protesting until Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva calls new elections.

Loud pop music and rural delicacies such as spicy papaya salad competed with fiery rhetoric for the attention of the crowd, many of whom had come from provinces in the countryside. The festive tone was aided by hundreds of new arrivals disembarking from boats festooned with red banners on the Chao Phraya River.

The so-called Red Shirts – comprising followers of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and their allies – rallied along a boulevard that is a traditional venue for political protests.

The protesters are demanding Mr. Abhisit dissolve parliament and call new elections, which they believe will restore their political allies to power. The Red Shirts set a deadline of noon Monday for Mr. Abhisit to heed their call, or face disruptive street protests.

CANADA – 2 snowmobilers killed in avalanche

REVELSTOKE, British Columbia | An avalanche that killed at least two people at an informal snowmobile rally in Canada’s Rocky Mountains may have been triggered by three daredevil sledders who apparently unleashed a deadly wall of snow on up to 200 people below, witnesses said Sunday.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said an even worse tragedy may have been averted because many of the snowmobilers had come equipped with avalanche recovery equipment and dug people out even before rescuers arrived at the scene.

Despite avalanche warnings, about 200 people had gathered on the mountain for the Big Iron Shoot Out, an annual unsanctioned event known for its party atmosphere and stunt riding that has become popular among people who enjoy snowmobiling in the deep snow of back country British Columbia.

INDIA Two arrested in Mumbai terror plot

MUMBAI | Indian police said Sunday they prevented a major terrorist strike in Mumbai by arresting two men who were preparing to attack several targets in the city, the country’s financial and entertainment hub.

K.P. Raghuvanshi, chief of Mumbai’s anti-terrorism squad, said the two Indian men – both residents of the city – had targeted a popular shopping mall, a market and a state-owned gas facility. He said Abdul Latif Rashid and Riyaz Ali were arrested late Saturday in Mumbai’s Matunga suburb.

Police said the men had links with terror groups in Pakistan and were acting on directions from handlers there.

India has blamed Pakistan-linked Islamist militant groups for a deadly November 2008 terror attack on Mumbai in which 166 people were killed. Last month, 16 people were killed in a bombing in a popular bakery in the nearby city of Pune.

EGYPT – Synagogue event canceled in protest

CAIRO | Egypt canceled the inauguration of a restored synagogue Sunday citing objections to Israel’s treatment of Muslims in the occupied territories as well as purported excesses during an earlier ceremony.

Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities spent seven months restoring the ruined Ben Maimon synagogue in Cairo’s ancient Jewish quarter and had been set to unveil it to the press Sunday, a week after its rededication in a private ceremony.

Council head Zahi Hawass called off Sunday’s event following criticism in the press of the synagogue’s rededication ceremony, which was attended by Israeli diplomats as well the American ambassador. The cancellation was largely symbolic as the restoration is complete and the synagogue has been reopened.

JAPAN – Strong earthquake rattles buildings

TOKYO | A strong magnitude-6.6 earthquake hit off the eastern coast of Japan Sunday, rattling buildings across a broad swath of the country, including the crowded capital.

There were no reports of casualties, with only light damage to structures near the epicenter, according to local officials.

The quake hit at 5:08 p.m. and was felt most strongly in central Fukushima prefecture about 130 miles northeast of Tokyo, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.

The earthquake was centered about 50 miles off the eastern coast at a depth of about 25 miles, the meteorological agency said.

NOTE: The World Scene above was published at on Monday, March 15, 2010.

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