Monthly Archives: June 2013

China ‘sex-tape’ official Lei Zhengfu jailed for 13 years

A Chinese official at the centre of a sex tape extortion scandal that became an internet sensation has been jailed for 13 years for accepting bribes. Lei Zhengfu, formerly a senior official in China’s Chongqing district, was sacked from his post after a sex tape featuring him was put online last year. He has also been fined 300,000 yuan ($48,000; £32,000). The investigation into his activities began after the release of the sex video which captivated public opinion. Lei was also convicted of accepting bribes of around 3.16m Chinese yuan ($510,000; £330,000). His lawyer says he may appeal, Chinese state media reported. A businessman who lured the official into the … Continue reading

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US Senate passes far-reaching immigration reform bill

The US Senate has passed a broad immigration reform bill that includes a path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants. The 68-32 vote comes after months of debate and a recent deal to boost border security spending significantly. But the legislation faces a tough road in the more conservative House. House Speaker John Boehner has said he will not advance legislation that lacks support of most of his fellow Republicans, who remain resistant. After the bill’s passage on Thursday, President Barack Obama said the vote brought the US “a critical step closer to fixing our broken immigration system once and for all”. “Today, the Senate did its … Continue reading

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Hagel calls on Russia to hand over fugitive whistle-blower

US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel has called on Russia to hand over US whistle-blower Edward Snowden to the United States. Hagel said he believes that Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor and now fugitive who has admitted to revealing highly classified U.S. government surveillance programs, is probably still at a Moscow airport. “I would hope that the Russians do the right thing here and turn Snowden over to the United States,” Hagel told reporters during a Pentagon news conference, adding that he did not know if Moscow has made a final decision on what to do with the man now charged with espionage. Hagel called the Snowden affair a … Continue reading

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Tourists killed at north Pakistan mountain camp

Gunmen have killed 11 people, including at least nine foreign tourists, after storming a hotel in northern Pakistan. The nationalities of the victims have not been fully confirmed, although they include a number of Ukrainians and Chinese. One Pakistani also died. The assault happened at the base camp of Nanga Parbat, the world’s ninth highest mountain, in Gilgit-Baltistan. It is the first such attack on tourists in the region. The Pakistani Taliban has told the BBC it was responsible. A spokesman for Tehrik-e-Taliban said the attack was in retaliation for the killing of its second-in-command, Waliur Rehman, who died in a suspected US drone strike in May. The group said … Continue reading

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Sao Paolo and Rio de Janeiro brace for new protests

Security is being increased in Brazil’s biggest cities after protesters announced they would go ahead with mass demonstrations that would take them to the streets “to celebrate” the reversal of a public-transport fare increase announced on Wednesday. The protests, which were originally triggered by the increase, have since grown into a much wider movement. Demonstrators are angry at corruption and spending on next year’s World Cup. The authorities in the city of Rio de Janeiro have erected barricades around the state legislature building, which was vandalised during protests on Monday. The state governor’s office, Guanabara Palace, has also been secured by a double layer of barricades. Workers have also fenced … Continue reading

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Lebanese president urges Hezbollah to pull out of Syria

President Michel Suleiman has called on the Lebanese Shi’ite Muslim Hezbollah movement to pull its guerrillas out of Syria, saying any further involvement in its neighbour’s civil war would fuel instability in Lebanon. Hezbollah militants spearheaded the recapture of the strategic border town of Qusair two weeks ago by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which now appear to be preparing for an offensive in the northern city of Aleppo. “If they take part in a battle for Aleppo, and more Hezbollah fighters are killed, it will lead to more tension,” Suleiman told the Lebanese newspaper As-Safir in an interview published on Thursday. “This should end in Qusair, and … Continue reading

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‘Ex-gay’ group Exodus International shuts down

A prominent US Christian group that purported to rid gay people of same-sex attraction through prayer has said it is shutting down. Three-decade old Exodus International made the announcement alongside an apology from President Alan Chambers to people “hurt” by its treatment. He acknowledged “the shame and guilt you felt when your attractions didn’t change”. The move comes as California seeks to ban “conversion therapy” of gay people. The state passed a law in September banning the therapy for minors, with Governor Jerry Brown saying it had “no basis in science or medicine”. The law only applies to licensed therapists, not ministers or others; supporters of the therapy have appealed. … Continue reading

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Iran’s president-elect hopes all will seize chance of friendly ties

Iranian President-elect Hassan Rohani held out the prospect on Monday of better relations between Iran and the world, including the United States, and progress on resolving the nuclear dispute. But the moderate cleric who scored a surprise election victory on Friday insisted Washington and the West must recognize what he said was Tehran’s right to enrich uranium, not interfere in Iran’s internal affairs and end their hostility. Rohani said his new government, to be formed after his inauguration in August, would “revive ethics and constructive interaction with the world through moderation”. “I hope that all countries use this opportunity,” he told his first news conference since his election win. Asked … Continue reading

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US state department officials in ‘sex and drugs scandal’

The US state department failed to fully investigate allegations against its officials involving prostitution, a drug ring and assault, media report. A leaked internal document obtained by CBS News said staff protecting ex-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton regularly solicited sex workers. The report also alleges a drug ring may have provided narcotics to state department contractors in Iraq. But it is suggested the department may have tried to cover up the misconduct. According to CBS, a draft copy of a state department inspector general’s report alleges eight specific examples of improper behaviour by US officials. Some allegations were suppressed, according to CBS, such as an investigation into an unnamed ambassador … Continue reading

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Venezuela arrests Colombians over Maduro assassination plot

T he Venezuelan government says it has arrested nine Colombian right-wing paramilitaries who were plotting to assassinate President Nicolas Maduro. Interior Minister Miguel Rodriguez said the nine had been instructed to go to the Venezuelan capital, Caracas, and carry out the plot. More arrests are expected, he added. President Maduro was elected in April to succeed late president Hugo Chavez, who died of cancer after 14 years in office. In May, Mr Maduro accused Colombian politicians, led by former President Alvaro Uribe, of plotting to kill him. “Uribe is a killer,” he said at the time, adding that the “Venezuelan right” was also involved. Mr Uribe, a critic of Hugo … Continue reading

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