Monthly Archives: April 2013

Karzai confirms US has been giving him ‘loads of cash’

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Monday that his national security team has been receiving payments from the U.S. government for the past 10 years. Karzai confirmed the payments when he was asked about a story published in The New York Times saying the CIA had given the Afghan National Security Council tens of millions of dollars in monthly payments delivered in suitcases, backpacks and plastic shopping bags. During a news conference in Helsinki, Finland, where he was on an official visit, Karzai said the welcome monthly payments were not a “big amount” but were a “small amount,” although he did not disclose the sums. He said they were used to … Continue reading

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Venezuela’s opposition leader to challenge vote in court

Venezuelan opposition candidate Henrique Capriles has vowed to challenge President Nicolas Maduro’s narrow victory in the 14 April presidential poll in the Supreme Court. Mr Capriles announced on Thursday his movement would pull out of an audit of the vote, which he agreed on last week. He said the proposed conditions for the audit were unfair, calling the process a “joke”. The opposition leader claims votes were “stolen” by Mr Maduro’s government. Mr Capriles said his movement would boycott the audit because the electoral authorities had not accepted his demand for voter signatures and fingerprints to be examined. The electoral council failed to meet his “deadline” of 25 April to … Continue reading

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Jordanian King warns Syria is heading for a break-up

Jordan is urging the Obama administration to intensify efforts to find a political settlement to the Syrian conflict, warning that its northern neighbor appears increasingly headed toward either anarchy or a breakup that could imperil the region for decades to come. Jordan’s monarch, King Abdullah II, presented a blunt assessment of the two-year-old conflict during meetings this week with congressional leaders and White House officials, citing evidence that a long-feared splintering of Syria along sectarian and tribal lines appears to be speeding up. At the White House on Friday, the king described a ‘fragmentation of Syrian society, which is becoming more and more alarming.’ “We’re now seeing the surge of … Continue reading

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Woman indicted in Cuba spy case flees to Sweden

The US Justice Department on Thursday announced the indictment of a former State Department employee for allegedly spying on behalf of Cuba, but it is unable to arrest her because she lives in Sweden, a country that does not extradite citizens accused of espionage. Marta Rita Velazquez, 55, a graduate of Princeton University and Georgetown University Law School, was indicted nearly a decade ago on charges of conspiracy to commit espionage. Velazquez lives in Stockholm and is aware of the charges against her, the Justice Department said. But the extradition treaty between the United States and Sweden does not allow extradition for spying. “Espionage is considered a ‘political offense’ that, … Continue reading

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Brazil’s Santos Cruz to head UN’s DR Congo mission

The UN has appointed a Brazilian general credited with bringing a Haiti slum under control to lead peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Gen Carlos Alberto dos Santos Cruz will lead 20,000 troops, including a new combat force charged with targeting rebels in the east of the country. This is the most offensive mandate given to any UN peacekeeping force. Gen Santos Cruz told the BBC his troops would be trained to consider civilians and private property in DR Congo. “The most critical area is nowadays the eastern part of the country,” he told the BBC’s Newsday programme. “I am ready to face the most difficult of scenarios. The … Continue reading

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Kidnapped Syrian bishops’ whereabouts remain unclear

Confusion surrounds the whereabouts of two Orthodox bishops kidnapped in Syria on Monday, but who were said to have been freed on Tuesday. There were reports that the two men, Yohanna Ibrahim and Boulos Yaziji, were back in the city of Aleppo. But other sources with links to the bishops have told the BBC this is not so and their families are still worried about their whereabouts. They had been returning from the Turkish border when they were seized. It was not immediately clear who had kidnapped them. Bishop Ibrahim is the head of the Syriac Orthodox Church in Aleppo, while Bishop Yaziji leads the city’s Greek Orthodox Church. They … Continue reading

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Syrian leader accused of using chemical weapons in war

A senior Israeli military intelligence official said on Tuesday that Syrian President Bashar Assad used chemical weapons last month in his battle against insurgent groups. It was the first time that Israel has accused the embattled Syrian leader of using his stockpile of nonconventional weapons. Israel’s assessment, based on visual evidence of alleged attacks, could raise pressure on the U.S. and other Western countries to intervene in the Syrian conflict. Britain and France recently announced that they had evidence that Assad’s government had used chemical weapons. Although the U.S. says it has not been able to verify these claims, President Barack Obama has warned that the introduction of chemical weapons … Continue reading

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Gen Musharraf avoids treason charge by caretaker government

The caretaker government in Pakistan has said it will not put former military ruler Pervez Musharraf on trial for high treason. The government said such a move exceeded its mandate and a decision should be taken by the winner of next month’s polls. The former president, who led Pakistan for nine years, is currently under house arrest in Islamabad. He was held last week over the illegal detention of judges in 2007. Mr Musharraf has described all the cases against him as politically motivated. In a written reply at a court hearing, the interim government said that its mandate was limited to organising elections and tackling the security threats in … Continue reading

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Tension in Pakistan as Gen Musharraf is remanded in custody

Pakistan’s former leader Gen Pervez Musharraf has been remanded in judicial custody for two weeks over claims he illegally detained judges in 2007. Mr Musharraf, who ruled Pakistan between 1999 and 2007, was arrested on Friday. The High Court ruled that the allegations amounted to an act of terrorism and ordered him to appear at Islamabad’s anti-terror court. His farmhouse, on the outskirts of the federal capital, has been declared a “sub-jail in view of threats to his life. In the morning, Gen. (retd.) Musharraf was taken to court from the Islamabad Police Headquarters where he had spent the night in the Inspector-General’s suite amid tight security. He was also … Continue reading

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Syrian and African rebel movements listed as sex predators

The U.N. Security Council on Wednesday heard accusations that Syria’s army and intelligence agency and a pro-government militia are sexual war criminals for rape and assaults on women and children, along with the al-Qaida movement in Mali and various African rebel movements. The “name and shame” tally of alleged sexual predators and outlaws was in a report published as a Security Council document as part of a debate on “Women in Peace and Security.” It was drafted by Zainab Hawa Bangura, the U.N. chief’s Special Representative for Sexual Violence in Conflict. “For too long has war been waged on the bodies of women… for too long have women borne the … Continue reading

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