Bloomberg To Use Own Funds For Aid Program

NEW YORK, Aug. 4 (UPI) — New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg will kick in $30 million of his own money to help fund changes in how the city interacts with at-risk youth, officials said.

The program would overhaul how the government works with young black and Latino men — a disproportionately undereducated, incarcerated and unemployed segment of the city’s population — to improve their circumstances, The New York Times reported Thursday.

Starting this fall, the Bloomberg administration said it would locate job-recruitment centers in public housing complexes where many young black and Latino men live, retrain and relocate probation officers to try to reduce recidivism, establish fatherhood classes and include academic progress of male black and Latino students in its school assessment.

Despite falling crime rates and rising graduation rates, city officials said African-American and Latino men, especially in the 16-24 age group, rank low by nearly every yardstick, including arrest rates, school suspensions and poverty.

“The magnitude of the disparities is stunning,” said Linda I. Gibbs, deputy mayor for health and human services. “It’s tragic.”

Vietnam Receives Patrol Aircraft

PARIS, Aug. 4 (UPI) — Vietnam’s marine police have taken delivery of the first of three Airbus Military C212-400 light STOL aircraft.

The C212-400 incorporates the latest systems and technologies, such as a Flight Management System and will be used primarily for maritime patrol role and missions such as coastal surveillance and missions to counter illegal fishing, drug traffic and smuggling.

“We are very proud of the trust placed by the Vietnam marine police in Airbus Military, and look forward to the upcoming entry into service of one of our highly versatile products to help enforce law on the Vietnamese coast,” said Rafael Tentor, the Spanish company’s head of Light and Medium Programs said.

Airbus said Vietnamese pilots and aircraft maintenance specialists were trained to operate the aircraft at the company’s facility in Seville.

The second short takeoff and landing C212-400 will be delivered this year and the third in 2012.

The C212-400 is a turboprop aircraft with a maximum payload of about 2.8 tons and a maximum speed of 195 knots.

Airbus Military is part of the EADS Group.

Turkey Names New Military Leaders

ISTANBUL, Turkey, Aug. 4 (UPI) — Turkey’s civilian and military leaders named a new slate of commanders to head its armed forces, officials said Thursday.

The new leaders were named following the surprise resignation of the chief of the general staff and three other military leaders last week, The Wall Street Journal reported.

In making the appointments, officials reportedly looked beyond politics by passing over some of the most senior generals in line for promotions, the report said.

Turkey’s new Chief of Staff is Gen. Necdet Ozel. He was previously head of Turkey’s paramilitary police force. Chief of Land Forces will be Gen. Hayri Kivrikoglu. He is in line to succeed Ozel.

Adm. Emin Murat Bligel is the new commander of the Navy; Gen. Mehmet Erten is chief of the Air Forces, and Gen Gekir Kalyoncu replaces Ozel as head of the Gendarmerie, the national police force.

Hebrew Desired As Only ‘Official Language’

JERUSALEM, Aug. 4 (UPI) — Some Israeli lawmakers have proposed making Hebrew the only official language in Israel, dropping English and Arabic, officials said.

English and Arabic are currently accepted as official languages in Israel, Haaretz reported Thursday.

The lawmakers’ bill would give Arabic “special status” and says Arabic speakers “have the right to linguistic access to the services of the state, as determined by law.”

The bill would also make democratic rule subservient to the Israel’s definition as the “national home for the Jewish people,” Haaretz reported.

One of the bill’s sponsors, Zeev Elkin, said the proposed law would also give courts legal arguments supporting “the state as the Jewish nation state in ruling in situations in which the Jewish character of the state clashes with its democratic character.”

Additionally, the bill calls on the state to “act to in-gather the exiles of Israel and [further] Jewish settlement within it, and allocate resources to this end.”

Elkin said he isn’t concerned about how the bill would affect Israel’s international image.

“If we were talking about the world in which the United Nations equates Zionism with racism, there might be a problem. But today, the world is ready to accept this,” Elkin said.

Tour Bus Crash Sends 28 To Hospital

WHITNEY POINT, N.Y., Aug. 4 (UPI) — A bus carrying tourists from Niagara Falls, N.Y., to Newark, N.J., crashed into a gully along Interstate 81 in New York, injuring 28 people, police said.

Authorities said weather likely was a factor in the accident Wednesday in which the bus veered into a gully and landed on its roof, WBNG-TV, Binghamton, N.Y., reported Thursday.

“At the time of the accident, there was a heavy downpour right here, which contributed to it,” said New York State Police Sgt. Todd Burdick.

However, officials said a cause hadn’t been determined.

Many of the passengers — tourists from Poland — freed themselves from the wreckage but rescue crews helped free one woman pinned beneath the vehicle, Burdick said.

“They had to actually dig the dirt underneath the bus to free the lady,” Burdick said.

“It was a combination of efforts from the four fire departments, they did an excellent job,” said Brett Chellis, Broome County emergency management director.

Interstate 81 South near the Whitney Point exit was closed for several hours after the crash.

State police said the bus was licensed to Princeton Holdings of Morrisville, Pa.

Thaci: NATO Deal Is Unworkable

PRISTINA, Kosovo, Aug. 4 (UPI) — Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci says an agreement to remove roadblocks in Kosovo’s Serbian-run north is unworkable.

Thaci said the agreement reached by KFOR Cmdr. Erhard Buhler and Serbian government officials won’t work, the roadblocks won’t be removed, and an embargo on Serbian goods would remain in force, B92 reported.

European Union and United States officials want Serbia to allow Pristina to take control of northern Kosovo as a condition for membership in the European Union, the daily newspaper Blic reported.

Thaci previously accused Serbian Prime Minister Goran Bogdanovic of being responsible for the tense situation in northern Kosovo. He said Bodganovic motivated Serbs to perform illegal activities to keep tensions high.

“They are not only requesting a dialogue on technical issues from Belgrade, but also that Serbia makes concrete steps that will allow full integration of northern Kosovo with the remaining parts of the province,” a Serbian government official said

Bogdanovic called for all sides to stop the violence that has sporadically broken out near border outposts.

Glass Falls From Second Toronto Building

TORONTO, Aug. 4 (UPI) — Glass cascaded onto downtown streets from a second Toronto high-rise building this week as engineers try to determine what’s causing the incidents.

The most recent shower of glass came from the 16th floor of the 42-story Festival Tower Tuesday night, the Toronto Star reported. No one was injured, but a side street remained closed Thursday with scaffolding erected to protect pedestrians.

An entire glass panel fell from the building in May, but was stopped before hitting the sidewalk by an overhang, the newspaper said.

Another downtown high-rise is also having problems with large glass balcony panels shattering, most recently Monday, when two panes rained down.

That 37-story condominium has had eight glass partitions disintegrate since December. The city has ordered all of them removed and the developer said it could take months for replacements to be installed.

Engineers told the Star and the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. the most common reasons for glass to shatter are imperfections in the glass or improper installation that doesn’t allow for heat expansion and cold contraction.

Toronto has had near-record high temperatures this summer.

Israeli Cabbies Protest High Diesel Costs

TEL AVIV, Israel, Aug. 4 (UPI) — Hundreds of Israeli taxi drivers blocked a main road in Tel Aviv Thursday to protest the high price of diesel fuel, observers said.

The protest over diesel prices was one of several rallies over economic and social issues called across the country, Haaretz reported.

Taxi drivers blocked a key road in Tel Aviv before driving slowly to a rally Thursday morning to protest the government’s decision to suspend the tax imposed on fuel prices, excluding taxes on diesel oil, Ynetnews reported.

“We refuse to be considered second-class citizens,” Tehuda Bar-Or, chairman of the Taxi Drivers’ Organization, told Ynetnews. “The prime minister has to understand diesel is petrol, too. He’s discriminating against the people driving diesel vehicles, and especially against taxi drivers.”

Other protests were called over housing, child-rearing costs and the country’s educational system, Haaretz said.

So-called “stroller marches” were called in 11 locations throughout Israel to protest the high cost of raising children in the country. Teachers called for a march to the home of Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar to rally against various policies the Education Ministry enacted under his leadership.

Kremlin May Sell Rosneft Shares

MOSCOW, Aug. 4 (UPI) — An aide to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said the Kremlin might sell its stake in private oil company Rosneft by 2017.

The Kremlin owns more than a 75 percent stake in Rosneft, the country’s largest oil company. The Kremlin reportedly wants to offload around 25 percent of that by 2013 as part of a $59 million privatization program.

“The government has suggested a full withdrawal from Rosneft’s capital before 2017,” presidential economic aide Arkady Dvorkovich was quoted by state-run news agency RIA Novosti as saying.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin in April resigned as board chairman of the Russian oil company. His move followed orders by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to have state officials pull out of executive positions at major institutions in an effort to increase competition.

Dvorkovich suggested in January that a potential deal between British energy company BP and Rosneft was part of the privatization effort. Board members at Anglo-Russian venture TNK-BP, however, complained that proposal violated the terms of its shareholder agreement with BP.

Gadhafi Son: He, Militant Rebels In Talks

TRIPOLI, Libya, Aug. 4 (UPI) — One of Moammar Gadhafi’s sons says he’s trying to forge an alliance with radical Islamic elements among Libyan rebels to drive out the more liberal dissidents.

The leading Islamist whom Saif Gadhafi identified as his key counterpart was Ali Sallabi, who confirmed to The New York Times the two have had discussions, but dismissed suggestions of an alliance.

“The liberals will escape or be killed,” Saif Gadhafi said during an interview. “We will do it together. Libya will look like Saudi Arabia, like Iran. So what?”

Sallabi said Libyan Islamic militants supported the rebel leaders’ calls for a pluralistic democracy without the Gadhafis, the Times reported Thursday.

The son also intimated the Gadhafis would help Islamic radicals try to defeat the liberals.

“You want us to make a compromise. OK. You want us to share the pot. OK, But with who?” Gadhafi said.

He said he knows the radicals are “terrorists … bloody … [and] not nice. But you have to accept them.”

Gadhafi said he and his Islamic counterparts would announce a joint communique from Tripoli and the rebels’ provisional capital of Benghazi.

“We will have peace during Ramadan,” he told the Times. The Islamic holy month just began.

Gadhafi also appeared to be trying to capitalize on dissension in the rebels’ ranks following the assassination of their top military commander, Gen. Abdul Fattah Younis. Suggestions have been made that Younis was killed by an Islamist faction.

“They decided to get rid of those people — the ex-military people like Abdul Fattah and the liberals — to take control of the whole operation,” Gadhafi told the Times. “In other words, to take off the mask.”