Queen Elizabeth and former Irish Republican Army commander, Martin McGuinness, have made history by shaking hands in peace. It was a long-awaited encounter symbolizing Northern Ireland's progress in achieving reconciliation after decades of violence. The Queen and McGuinness met privately in a Belfast Theatre during an arts event. McGuinness was the IRA's chief of staff when the outlawed group assassinated the queen's cousin, Lord Mountbatten, in 1979, one of the most high-profile victims of a four-decade conflict that claimed 3,700 lives. The IRA formally abandoned its campaign to force Northern Ireland out of the UK and disarmed in 2005. McGuinness' Irish nationalist party, Sinn Fein, had refused all contact with British royals until the Queen came to Belfast yesterday as part of her Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
MEANWHILE….In a separate confrontation Tuesday night, one Catholic man was hospitalized after rival Protestant and Catholic groups clashed on the hilltop overlooking Catholic west Belfast. The Protestants were trying to vandalize a massive political display erected by the Catholics featuring an Irish flag and a slogan rejecting the queen.
Gunmen raided the headquarters of a Syrian TV station, killing seven employees, kidnapping others and demolishing buildings. The government blamed terrorists and described the killings as a "massacre." An eyewitness talks about the raid….. more >>
Queen Elizabeth II rang in her diamond jubilee year with record-setting celebrations that will continue with a concert gala Monday.
The queen of England will enjoy performances by Elton John, Paul McCartney, Tom Jones, and Stevie Wonder, among others, at Buckingham Palace today.
Organizers of the event ensure an "imaginative" use of the palace, but the focus of the huge crowd as well as millions of television viewers will remain on the 86-year-old queen. more >>
While Syria's ongoing massacres and abuses are front and center, little attention is given to another serious issues reported by the Syrian Orthodox Church that militant Islamists have expelled the majority of Christians from the Western city of Homs. It's an ongoing ethnic cleansing of Christians by members of the al-Qaeda linked group: Brigade Faruq.
Another man has been charged in the French massacre. It is the brother of 23 year old Mohamed Merah who confessed to killing three Jewish schoolchildren, a rabbi; and three para-troopers before that . Abdel kader Merah was handed preliminary murder & terrorism charges for helping to plan the attacks, but he has denied any role. Police continue to investigate whether the murders were linked to an international network of Al Qaeda extremists like Mohammed claimed, or whether the two worked on their own. Mohamed's 32 hour standoff with police ended with his death after 32 hours.
Pope Benedict drew a crowd of hundreds of thousands at an open mass yesterday in Mexico. With the ongoing drug related violence facing Mexico, the Pope's message focussed on renewing of hearts and faith in troubled times. Preaching about persistence in the midst of evil, Benedict compared the need for a pure, humble heart in modern times to the situation in Biblical Israel. more >>
It was in the 1990s when he decided to build the world’s largest pick-up truck complete with a full suite of luxurious rooms. The most recent twist of extravagant news to keep United Arab Emirates billionaire Sheikh Hamad Bin Hamdan Al Nahyan’s name in the spotlight is having his name etched in the sand so big the letters can be seen from space.
A satellite image from space confirms the enormous letters of the name “HAMAD” carved into the sand on Al Futaisi Island in Abu Dhabi. The name stretches a staggering two miles long and will likely be a permanent fixture on the distant island.
The island of Futaisi lies near the barrier island of Bahrani, in a shallow sheltered lagoon-type complex to the southwest of Abu Dhabi Island. more >>
Southern Californians are on a "Royal Watch" starting today as Britain's Prince William and his wife, Catherine, arrive to begin a three-day swing through Tinseltown. However, according to Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, private secretary for the Royals, the popular newlyweds will not be sightseeing the Hollywood Hills, strolling down Venice Beach, touring the famous Kodak Theatre, or shopping on Rodeo Drive.
The Royal Tour is about charity and work in an effort to “reflect issues important to the duke and duchess.”
"All of the events the couple will attend reflect issues important to the duke and duchess, and are examples of why they chose to visit Los Angeles as part of their first official Royal Tour," according to Lowther-Pinkerton. more >>
The buzz in Los Angeles is thick with rumors about who will get to rub shoulders with Prince William and the former Kate Middleton. The rumors are also flying in tinsel town about where the royal newlyweds will stay during their U.S. trip from Friday to Sunday.
The couple will spend the night at the residence of Dame Barbara Hay, who is the British Consul-General, in Los Angeles during their three-day visit.
Hay said she will host Brit Week’s annual VIP reception at her Hancock Park house Friday evening and it is rumored that celebrities and who’s who in L.A. politics are vying for an invite. more >>