Briefs, October 5, 2012

PUBLISHED : Friday, 05 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 05 October, 2012, 4:24am


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Jordan calls for snap poll ahead of key rally

AMMAN - Jordan's King Abdullah dissolved parliament and called early elections yesterday, the royal palace announced on the eve of a major opposition rally to demand reforms. "The king has decided to dissolve the chamber of deputies from this Thursday and to call early elections," a statement said. It gave no date, but the monarch has said he wants polls to be held by the end of 2012. The opposition Muslim Brotherhood said earlier that it was going ahead with its planned rally in central Amman today by an estimated 50,000 supporters. Brotherhood also said it would boycott the polls as they did in 2010 to protest against the lack of reforms, AFP


Google reaches deal in internet copyright case

WASHINGTON - Google and US publishing firms announced yesterday they had reached a settlement in a long-running copyright case over books and journals digitised by the internet giant. The settlement "will provide access to publishers' in-copyright books and journals digitised by Google for its Google Library Project" and "will end seven years of litigation", Google said. The agreement closes a copyright infringement lawsuit filed in October 2005 by five AAP member publishers, but does not affect another long-running legal action involving the Authors Guild for the massive Google Books project. AFP


Mursi's tribute to Sadat 39 years after conflict

CAIRO - Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi laid a wreath at his late predecessor Anwar Sadat's tomb on the anniversary of the 1973 war against Israel yesterday, in a rare homage from an Islamist leader. Mursi was accompanied by top military officials for the televised ceremony marking 39 years since the three-week conflict during Sadat's rule, called the "October 6 victory" in Egypt. Sadat was assassinated during 1981's military parade to mark the war by an Islamist militant group which opposed Egypt's peace accord signed with Israel two years earlier. AFP


Policeman burns to death helping Mugabe

HARARE - A police motorcyclist clearing the way for Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's motorcade burned to death after crashing into a truck. It is the third fatal accident since June involving the 15-vehicle convoy, notorious for sweeping through the streets at high speeds. Reuters


Al-Qaeda waging forest jihad, says Moscow

MOSCOW - Russia's top security official has alleged that al-Qaeda is waging "forest jihad" in Europe by sparking wildfires. "Forest fires in EU countries should be considered one of the new trends in al-Qaeda's 'thousand cuts' strategy," Alexander Bortnikov, the head of the Federal Security Service, told a security conference in Moscow. "This allows them to inflict significant damage on the economy and morale without any serious preparation, technical equipment or financial losses," he said. The Guardian


Iraq's execution toll passes 100 mark

BAGHDAD - Iraq has executed six people despite calls for a moratorium, bringing the number of people put to death this year to at least 102, according to an AFP tally. One of the six was among 23 inmates who were recaptured after a prison breakout in Tikrit last week. Of the 102 prisoners who escaped from the jail north of Baghdad, 47 had been sentenced to death as members of al-Qaeda front group, the Islamic State of Iraq, the interior ministry said. Executions this year have already far outstripped last year's total, when Iraq put 68 people to death. AFP


Teacher who fled with pupil to be extradited

BORDEAUX - A French court has ordered the extradition of a married British teacher who fled abroad with his 15-year-old pupil. The court in Bordeaux said 30-year-old Jeremy Forrest should be handed over to British authorities for running away with Megan Stammers. French authorities now have three days to hand Forrest over to their British counterparts. His French lawyer Daniel Lalanne said the only charge his client could face in Britain was the kidnapping of a minor, for which the minimum sentence was three years. AFP


600 barrels of stolen maple syrup found

KEDJWICK - Police in Canada have seized more than 600 barrels of maple syrup in New Brunswick, after last month's theft of US$20.2 million worth of the sticky liquid in Quebec. Officials are now transporting the syrup back to the region under police protection. Officers executed a search warrant in Kedjwick, New Brunswick, last week. Etienne St-Pierre, the owner of Kedjwick-based exporter S.K. Export, which was searched, said police told him the raid was related to the missing syrup. He said his usual suppliers, small producers in Quebec, sold it to him. AP


Low wage to no wage - protesters get sacked

BUENOS AIRES - The heads of Argentina's coast guard and military police were fired after staging unprecedented wage protests. While wage strikes are common in Argentina, it was the first time in memory that uniformed Argentine military forces have taken to the streets over pay packets. The protests began when officers staged a demonstration against an administrative measure that cut some of their pay cheques by up to 70 per cent. The strike soon morphed into a demand for higher wages generally. Reuters


Snake venom 'safer' drug than morphine

PARIS - The venom of Africa's lethal black mamba may be a safer painkiller than morphine, scientists say. Researchers have used the substance to relieve pain in mice without toxic side effects and hope to replicate the outcome in humans. French researchers wrote in the journal Nature that peptides isolated from the black mamba venom bypass the receptors in the brain that are targeted by morphine and other opioid compounds, and can cause side effects such as nausea. Nor do the peptides pose the same dangers of addiction. AFP