Briefs, September 20, 2012

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 20 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 20 September, 2012, 3:08am


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Syrian rebels tear down flag at border

AKCAKALE - Rebels tore down a Syrian flag at a border gate on the Turkish frontier as they fought for control of the crossing. Television footage showed Syrian rebels taking down the flag on top of a government building at the Tel Abyad border gate. The fighting looked to be the first attempt by insurgents to assert their grip over a border zone in Syria's al-Raqqa province. Rebels hold two other crossings on the northern border with Turkey and a third border point would strengthen their control in the north. Reuters

Police fire tear gas at mine protesters

MARIKANA - South African police fired tear gas to disperse protesters near a mine run by platinum producer Anglo American, the first sign of unrest spreading after strikers at smaller rival Lonmin won big pay rises. Within hours of Lonmin agreeing to a pay increase of 11 to 22 per cent, workers at neighbouring mines were calling for similar rises, suggesting more trouble in store after six weeks of industrial action that has claimed 45 lives. Police clashed with an angry crowd in a township at a nearby Anglo American mine outside the city of Rustenburg. Reuters

Wanted drug trafficker arrested in Venezuela

BOGOTA - One of Colombia's most wanted drug traffickers was captured in neighbouring Venezuela with the help of Caracas as well as British and US intelligence agencies, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said. Authorities in Colombia had been closing in on Daniel Barrera - known as "Crazy Barrera" - in recent weeks, arresting 36 gang members. Barrera had a US$5 million bounty on his head from the US and US$2.7 million from Colombia. Reuters

Three held in Murdoch phone-hacking probe

LONDON - British authorities have arrested a police officer and two journalists as part of the investigation into phone hacking by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. The 39-year-old police officer was arrested in Wiltshire, southwest England, by officers investigating inappropriate payments to police and public officials. A 51-year-old journalist from Bristol and a 32-year-old journalist from London were also being questioned. AP

High Court upholds CIA rendition convictions

ROME - Italy's highest court has upheld the convictions of 23 Americans in the kidnapping of an Egyptian terror suspect as part of the CIA's extraordinary rendition programme. The ruling marks the final appeal in the first trial anywhere in the world involving the CIA's practice of abducting terror suspects and transferring them to places where torture is permitted. The 23 Americans all were convicted in absentia. They risk arrest if they travel to Europe. Those convicted include former Milan CIA station chief Robert Seldon Lady, who was sentenced to nine years. AP

Explosion at Mexican gas plant kills 26

REYNOSA - An explosion and fire killed at least 26 people at a Pemex natural gas facility in northern Mexico near the US border, one of the deadliest accidents in the oil and gas industry in recent years. TV footage showed flames leaping into the sky during the blaze at a gas compression station near the city of Reynosa, a key entry point for natural gas to Mexico from the United States. It was the third blaze in about five weeks at state-run oil monopoly Pemex installations in Tamaulipas, a state plagued by drug gang violence. Pemex's top executive said the fire appeared to be an accident. Reuters

Chicago teachers agree to end strike

CHICAGO - Chicago public school teachers voted to end their strike over pay and resume classes in the third-largest US school district, ending a confrontation with Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Eight hundred union delegates representing the 29,000 teachers and support staff in Chicago Public Schools voted overwhelmingly to resume classes yesterday after more than two hours of debate. Emanuel, backed by a powerful reform movement, believes poorly performing schools should be closed and reopened with new staff or converted to "charter" schools that often are non-union. Reuters

Lohan charged after hitting pedestrian

NEW YORK - Actress Lindsay Lohan was arrested in New York on charges that she clipped a pedestrian with her car and did not stop, police have said. The 26-year-old was arrested, they said, as she left a Manhattan nightclub. They said no alcohol was involved. Lohan was charged with leaving the scene of an accident and causing injury and will have to appear in court on October 23. Police said she was driving a black Porsche through an alley when the accident occurred. The victim was treated at a hospital for a knee injury and released. Lohan remains on informal probation for taking a necklace from a jewellery store. AP