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Thread: Today's Top Islamic News (DAILY)

  1. #2091
    UK charges 4 lawmakers over expenses scandal
    Fri, 05 Feb 2010 17:58:30 GMT

    Jim Devine, one of three members of the House of Commons to face criminal charges over Britain's expense claim scandal
    Four British lawmakers are facing criminal charges over the expenses claims scandal, the country's chief prosecutor said.

    Three members of the House of Commons and one member of the House of Lords have been charged with offenses including false accounting, Keir Starmer said.

    "In four cases, we have concluded that there is sufficient evidence to bring criminal charges and that it is in the public interest to charge the individuals concerned," said Starmer.

    The three lawmakers are from the ruling Labour Party, while the House of Lords member is a member of the main opposition, the Conservative Party.

    Lawmaker Elliot Morley, a former minister, faces two charges for dishonestly claiming mortgage expenses, including 16,000 pounds (25,000 dollars) for a mortgage that no longer existed.

    His fellow colleague David Chaytor faces three charges, including one on using false invoices to claim for IT services and another for claiming almost 13,000 pounds in rent for a London property that he owned.

    Jim Devine faces two charges; He is accused of claiming thousands of pounds worth of cleaning services and stationery using false invoices.

    Paul White, known as Lord Hanningfield, faces six charges over allegations that he claimed expenses "to which he knew he was not entitled" including for staying overnight in London when records show he was actually driven home.

    This comes after last year's revelations by the Daily Telegraph that hundreds of British lawmakers and cabinet ministers had claimed large sums from the public purse for second homes or other personal expenses.

    A report on Thursday ordered over 390 current and former British lawmakers to repay a total of more than one million pounds.

    Among the lawmakers ordered to repay funds is British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who has to repay 13,000 pounds, mostly in excessive claims for a maid.


  2. #2092
    Russia irked by US missile shield in Romania
    Sat, 06 Feb 2010 00:00:27 GMT

    Moscow is concerned with US plans to deploy elements of a missile defense system in Romania, a senior Russian lawmaker said Friday.

    Romanian President Traian Basescu said on Thursday that his country backed talks with the United States on a plan to deploy interceptor missiles as part of a missile shield to protect Europe.

    On Friday, Viktor Zavarzin, head of the State Duma Defense Committee, said the plans could affect the European security architecture as well as ongoing talks on the Russian-US strategic arms reduction deal.

    The Russian foreign minister also said earlier on Friday that Moscow was waiting for clarification from the United States over its plans to deploy missile defense elements in Romania.

    "We expect the United States to provide an exhaustive explanation, taking into account the fact that the Black Sea regime is regulated by the Montreux Convention," Sergei Lavrov said.

    The Montreux Convention regulates military activity around the Turkey-controlled straits of Bosporus and Dardanelles.

    The US plan will allow terrestrial interceptors to be located inside Romanian territory, should the deployment be approved by the country's parliament.

    The administration of US President Barack Obama scrapped a plan to deploy missile shield elements in Poland and Czech Republic after it raised tension with Russia.


  3. #2093
    Merkel supports purchase of stolen bank data
    Mon, 01 Feb 2010 16:03:42 GMT

    Germany hints that it may buy stolen information on tax evaders who have Swiss bank accounts from an informant, in the face of warnings from the Alpine country.

    "Everything should be done to get this data…We should aim to acquire this data if it is relevant (to fighting tax evasion)," German Chancellor Angela Merkel said at a news conference in Berlin on Monday.

    The informant is asking EUR 2.5 million (USD 3.5 million) in exchange for a disc said to contain 1,500 names of Germans who have been avoiding their taxes.

    A finance ministry spokesman, Michael Offer, hinted on Monday that Berlin was looking at the deal from all angels, including legal repercussions, as it would amount to a blow to Switzerland's cherished bank secrecy.

    Offer hinted that a final decision regarding the purchase of Swiss bank data would be similar to the solution that Berlin found to "the case of Liechtenstein."

    He was referring to a 2008 tax scandal when German Intelligence Service reportedly paid as much as EUR 5 million to obtain stolen information on account holders at a Lichtenstein bank.

    He added that while there were several legal questions that still needed to be cleared up, the government hoped to make a swift decision on the issue.

    The data from account holders with other nationalities, including Americans, French, Italians, and Australians, were also in the 2008 file, which Germany reportedly turned over to their respective governments.

    The new venture could retrieve as much as EUR 200 million (USD 7 million) in undeclared taxes for the government, several German papers reported on Monday.

    German Lawmakers debating the issue have arrived at a dilemma with moral and financial arguments on either side. Several politicians say Berlin should not encourage data theft while others highlight the potential tax revenue.

    Swiss President Doris Leuthard warned foreign governments that any dealings with criminals, even for catching tax evaders, would be in breach of law, since the data are stolen material.

    "Generally speaking we believe that it is difficult for law-abiding states to use illegal data," Leuthard said over the weekend.


  4. #2094
    Chechnya clashes kill eleven
    Fri, 05 Feb 2010 11:12:03 GMT

    At least eleven people including five Russian soldiers and six Chechen rebels have been killed in Russia's North Caucasus shootouts, authorities say.

    Fighting broke out in one of Russia's nocturnal operations around the Chechen capital Grozny on Thursday, in which troops attempted to capture a group of rebels in the restive republic.

    "A group commander, a squad chief, a section commander and a rifleman were killed in a shootout. A sniper died as militants attempted to break through federal lines during the second clash," RIA Novosti quoted an unnamed police spokesperson as saying on Friday.

    The latest special operations were supervised by Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov in the forested mountains of southwest Grozny to capture rebel leader Doku Umarov.

    Russia has recently classified Chechnya, Ingushetia, North Ossetia, Dagestan, Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachai-Circassia into a new 'North Caucasus Federal District' with newly appointed leaders.


  5. #2095
    ETA bombs seized by police in Portugal
    Fri, 05 Feb 2010 21:50:29 GMT

    Police in Portugal has seized half-a-ton of explosives in a cache, which Spanish anti-terror sources suspect belonged to the armed Basque separatist group ETA.

    "Around half-a-ton of explosive and bomb-making equipment" were found in the garage of a house in Casal da Averela, near the central Portuguese town of Obidos, a local police chief, Helder Barros told AFP.

    A Spanish anti-terror source said earlier that the explosives found over the border in Portugal "may have been used by ETA."

    ETA is blamed for 828 deaths in a 41-year campaign for independence in the Basque region of northern Spain and southwestern France.

    It has been blacklisted as a terrorist group by a large number of countries including the European Union member states and the US.


  6. #2096
    Haiti quake death toll to rise, PM says
    Fri, 05 Feb 2010 10:20:02 GMT

    The death toll from Haiti's earthquake reaches 212,000.
    The Haitian prime minister warns that the death toll from last month's fatal earthquake is likely to rise, saying the figure has now reached 212,000.

    "The last number I received from my services was 212,000 people that were collected on the streets and different places," Jean-Max Bellerive told CNN Thursday.

    On January 12, a 7.0-magnitude quake rattled Haiti's capital city of Port-au-Prince, demolishing many buildings and leaving more than one million homeless.

    Bellerive added recovery crews are pulling bodies from locations where demolition had been delayed so that rescue teams could search for survivors.

    On Wednesday the premier announced that the death toll had topped 200,000.

    Meanwhile, Haitian police say they have arrested 100 of the 4,000 inmates who escaped from the capital's main prison after the quake.

    "They have already captured 100 of them around the country," police Spokesman Frantz Lerebours was quoted as saying by AFP.

    All 4,000 of the prison's inmates escaped amid the chaos of quake, Lerebours said. He could not say if they were suspected of committing further crimes since then.


  7. #2097
    Missionaries in Haiti child trafficking case face long jail time
    Agencies - Arab News

    CHARGED: Eight of the 10 American missionaries facing child trafficking charges are seen at the police headquarters in the Port-au-Prince international airport in this Jan. 30 photo. (AP)

    PORT-AU-PRINCE: Ten US missionaries faced a long wait behind bars after being charged with child abduction and conspiracy for trying to smuggle 33 children out of quake-hit Haiti.

    In a case that has overshadowed the massive international relief effort, the Americans were formally charged Thursday with “kidnapping minors and criminal association,” according to their lawyer Edwin Coq.

    The five men and five women, who had arrived at the court in confident mood with their luggage packed, bowed their heads in prayer in the back of a jeep as they were returned to police detention.

    Detained a week ago, they now face a long pretrial detention, as Haitian law gives the prosecution three months to draw up its case.

    If convicted, they could face nine years in prison for child kidnapping and further jail time for conspiracy.

    They have denied ill intent, saying they were only trying to help children abandoned after the devastating Jan. 12 quake that killed an estimated 212,000 people and left at least a million homeless.

    Justice Minister Paul Denis said he saw “no reason” why the group from the Idaho-based Baptist charity New Life Children’s Refuge should be sent to the United States for trial.

    “It is Haitian law that has been violated,” he said. “It is up to Haitian authorities to hear and judge the case.”

    As they were escorted into the jeep, some tried to cover their faces with a black jacket. Haitian journalists whipped it off and one threw a stone before being stopped by police.

    The case has sparked outrage in impoverished Haiti where child-trafficking was already rife before the 7.0-magnitude quake struck.

    The US missionaries were held as they attempted to cross into the Dominican Republic with a busload of 33 children aged from two months to 12 years.

    It has emerged many of the children have living parents or relatives, some of whom may have personally handed them over for a better life.

    The defense attorney representing the missionaries said that the group’s leader, Laura Silsby, knew she could not remove the youngsters without proper paperwork, but he characterized the other nine missionaries as unknowingly being caught up in actions they did not understand.

    “I’m going to do everything I can to get the nine out. They were naive. They had no idea what was going on and they did not know that they needed official papers to cross the border. But Silsby did,” Attorney Edwin Coq said.

    Silsby waved to reporters but declined to answer questions as the missionaries were taken back to the holding cells where they have been held since Saturday.

  8. #2098
    Taleban reject deal with West
    Jonathon Burch | Reuters

    KABUL: The Taleban have said they will not enter into any “deal” with the Afghan government or the West, and their fighters will continue to die to achieve a victory.

    At a conference in London last month, Afghan President Hamid Karzai invited the Taleban to a peace council and set out plans to lure fighters down from the hills in return for cash and jobs.

    But in a statement posted on website, the Taleban vowed to “collude” with no one. The statement made no specific reference to Karzai’s proposed talks. The Taleban had initially told Reuters they would decide “soon” on whether to take part in talks.

    The group has repeatedly rejected previous offers of talks before all foreign troops are withdrawn.

    During the past eight years, the Islamic Emirate has not shown any willingness to reach collusion with any party as regards the Jihad, the country and the people, national and Islamic interest,” the Taleban said. “Now, it is not ready to have any illegitimate, valueless deal about the victory, which is near at hand.”

    The luring away of militant foot-soldiers is referred to by the West as reintegration while efforts to make peace with Taleban leaders is being called reconciliation.

    Afghanistan’s allies are backing the efforts to start talks with the Taleban and donors have promised hundreds of millions of dollars for a fund to pay fighters to come in from the cold.

    Western countries, eyeing an exit from an eight-year-old war they no longer believe has a purely military solution, are more amenable than ever to a role for rehabilitated Taleban.

    On Wednesday, British Armed Forces Minister Bill Rammell said about 20 percent of the Taleban were “hardcore, ideological jihadists,” while 80 percent had joined largely to make a living, suggesting these fighters could be won over.

    But at a time when fighters are tightening their hold over much of the country and inflicting record losses on foreign troops, analysts doubt guerrillas would agree to lay down their arms. Similar past programs have lured away only a trickle of fighters.

    The Taleban vowed to continue their fight. “The invading Americans and all their invading allies should understand the objective of the mujahideen of the Islamic Emirate is more lofty and exalted than that the rulers of the White House could imagine,” the statement said.

    These sacrificing mujahideen believe that the obtainment of this lofty goal is only possible through laying down their lives.”

  9. #2099
    Angry protesters receive Clinton in Haiti
    Sat, 06 Feb 2010 08:43:51 GMT

    The UN Special Envoy for Haiti, Bill Clinton (center) arrives in Port-au-Prince on February 5 amid protests about basic supply shortages.

    Hundreds of Haitians have protested slow aid distribution among the quake-stricken people during a visit by former US President Bill Clinton.

    The protesters marched through the capital Port-au-Prince and gathered outside a police station where the Haitian government is operating. "Our children are burning in the sun. We have a right to tents. We have a right to shelter," AFP quoted a protesting woman as saying on Friday.

    Crowds of Haitians held the protests as Clinton arrived in the country. They were complaining about what they describe as corruption among officials responsible for handing out relief supplies.

    Clinton, the coordinator of international aid distribution selected by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for the Caribbean nation, expressed bafflement about slow supply delivery. "I'm trying to get to what the bottlenecks are, part of it is just shipping the volume of food in here that is necessary," Clinton said.

    He also rejected the idea of US 'colonialism' in the impoverished country and said, "What I don't want to be is the governor of Haiti."

    "I want to build the capacity of the country to chart its own course. They can trust me not to be a neocolonialist, I'm too old."

    The remarks comes as the United States has deployed at least 20,000 troops in order to 'maintain security' in the quake-leveled state. However, many people have been wary of the US role in 'spearheading' the reconstruction efforts and accuse the country of attempting to establish military rule.

    Clinton's trip has also been shrouded in criminal conspiracy as regional media outlets have fueled speculations about his possible intermediary role to help release 10 Americans arrested for 'child kidnapping' and trying to 'traffic 33 Haitian children' into the Dominican Republic under the guise of rescue efforts.

    Clinton, however, denied the reports and rejected his involvement in any talks purportedly meant to help discharge the US citizens who may face trial in Haiti. "That's not within my mandate. I know that the State Department and government have had these discussions," noted Clinton.

    Haiti's devastating magnitude 7.0 earthquake on January 12, described as the worst in the country's recorded history, killed a projected 212,000, injured over 300,000 others, and left one million homeless.


  10. #2100
    Siddiqui conviction triggers anti-US rallies in Pakistan
    Thu, 04 Feb 2010 19:02:27 GMT

    Thousands of people have taken to the streets in Pakistan to protest against the US conviction of a Pakistani scientist.

    The protesters chanted anti-American slogans and burnt the US flag after a New York jury found Aafia Siddiqui guilty of attempted murder.

    Siddiqui was charged with shooting at her American interrogators in Afghanistan in 2008. Her lawyers have argued that there is no evidence to show Siddiqui had fired on her interrogators.

    Human rights groups allege that Siddiqui had secretly been held and tortured at the infamous US base in Bagram, north of Kabul, for five years prior to the alleged 2008 incident.

    Relatives of Siddiqui have slammed the US justice system for its ruling against the female Pakistani scientist.


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